The months of January and February are the coldest of the winter months here in the southern United States. The cold temperatures and gusty winds have stripped the garden of it's lush foliage and plant material, leaving only the bare skeletons of the trees and shrubs for viewing. This clean slate offers an opportunity to ponder the changes you envision making come spring. This ritual is one I cherish. Gray day?....no problem....you only have to open the cover of your favorite garden book, to pour over page after page of beautiful photos of rose blooms, colorful borders, and lush shrubbery. Instant gloom buster. There are three gardeners whose design philosophy have influenced my garden style. They are Martha Stewart, Rosemary Verey, and Tasha Tudor. I've been fortunate to have met all three of these talented ladies. I met Martha Stewart at a book signing. Her "Gardening Month by Month" has long been a favorite reference for me. The photos in this book are breathtaking.
She autographed my copy. Tasha Tudor's gardens are filled with perennial plants, flowering shrubs, fruit trees, herb beds and vegetables. I attended a lecture by Tasha Tudor. She walked barefoot onto the stage, dressed in her signature 1830's ankle length dress and kerchief. I was struck by her slight frame, since I knew that she performed much of the labor about her home. She tended the gardens, milked her goats twice a day, gathered fire wood, cooked her meals, did laundry, sewed her own clothing from flax she grew and spun, and still made time to sketch and paint. She reached the easel and pastels that awaited her, lifted the chalk and began to sketch as she told the story of her life. The sketches that she completed on stage were to be auctioned for charity, after the event. I was outbid....Sigh. I did stand in line to have her sign my copy of her latest gardening book. At number 524, I was about midway in the line. She only took a 30 minute break before I reached her. What a woman! Each person in the signing line also received this sweet picture of Tasha in her straw bonnet.My long wait was so worth it. When it was my turn, she sweetly shook my hand and asked me about my garden. She was interested in knowing what plants grow well in the southern climate. Then she signed my book. Rosemary Verey has long been a favorite gardener and author of mine. She signed my copy of her book, "Classic Garden Design," at her home in England. Barnsley's garden is one of the most photographed gardens in the world, but it's so beautiful that the photos can't do it justice. I bought this old brass ladle at the antique shop located on the ground floor of the manor.This lovely lady with her hat and pearls, is one of a pair of statues that flank the entrance to the potager. Strangely enough, I think she vaguely resembles Queen Elizabeth. What do you think?
Unfortunately, two of my gardening icons are no longer with us.
Rosemary Verey - 21 December 1918-31 May 2001
Her grave marker reads: Mother, Churchwarden, Gardener
Tasha Tudor - 28 August 1915-18 June 2008
"When I die I'm going right back to the 1830's."