Berkshire Garden Style • Into Spring
Spring in the Berkshires means fluctuating temperatures, persistent snow flurries and microclimates where ground thaw is present in one part of the garden while another part remains frozen. The garden team is about to get our hands in the soil again, planting, mulching, gently spring ‘cleaning’. This month I want to talk about things that pique my interest - both new and old - in the springtime as we move from spending much time indoors on both planning and resting, to being outdoors with more energy, more light and more activity.
I’m excited about so many things this year - we have a brand new workroom with much more space for potting and caring for our plants indoors. We have a brand new shed in order to house our tools, compost and potting soil supplies and lay out our dahlia stock. We have new seeds this year - some rare kale varieties in particular - and I’m excited to grow my favorite brocolli! We are building new raised beds for our dahlia, sweet peas and rare brassicas gardens. So many new things fill our senses with joy as we step out the door and into the garden each day. We see the first foliage of tulips, daffodils and crocus. We hear the cardinal chorus. We feel the beginnings of warmer days on our skin.
What remains amidst the new foliage, the dawn chorus, the warmer air though, are the bones - the architecture - of the garden, the stalks of last year’s perennials that we left up for the insects, the bare trees, and deadwood of my apple espaliers in my meadow which allow focus for the eye. These and other ‘foundations’ provide much interest this time of year when there is little color or greenery in the garden. Other times of year, such architecture provides support or structure for the plants and the people that spend time in the garden. Structural elements that are of particular interest to Berkshire Garden Style are ruins, organic found objects, rusty metal and weathered wood. One of our gardens, aptly named The Potting Shed, is located in an old stone greenhouse foundation of the Wheatleigh Estate. At this time of year these foundations are particularly beautifully exposed, awaiting the bloom and flush of the coming months. Stones, weathered wood, foundations and other outdoor architectural pieces are a lasting effect of the large estate homes, the Berkshire Cottages which once dominated our landscape. You can still find remnants and pieces of interest if you walk through Ashintully Gardens, or Chesterwood. These properties where structural elements have been allowed to remain alongside the grand landscape of mountain vistas make space for the old bones of the garden to remain year after year as the flora blooms.
And so while I am super excited about my new workroom, my new shed and my plans for sharing the launch of my dahlia workshops I enjoy the simple act of going outside for pleasure and noticing the not so new features which hold my gaze. In my garden my eyes rest on the structures now visible after winter decay and I take pleasure in the beauty of these elements which provide the foundations, the supports and the aesthetic compliments to a Viridissima garden.