PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas April 2024

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Page 71 of 99

Lesson learned. One of the stories I always tell is that when I started my woodland garden I thought, 'Oh, I can grow anything here.' Mountain laurel grows well in Connecticut, but it doesn't grow where I live because I'm on lime deposits, and mountain laurel hates lime. I must have planted 40 mountain laurels, and all of them died. So, I learned to test my soil, see what it needs — you know, get to the basics. Every garden book tells you that, but you get impatient; you don't do it. Sofas don't sprout weeds. When my design clients say, "Oh, I want a garden!" I ask, "Are you sure?" You can dust and vacuum your living room one day a week, and even if you don't get to it, it's okay. The sofa doesn't grow; the rug doesn't get mildew, doesn't have to be mowed. The garden is a living thing that never stops. You've got to be prepared for that, because it can get away from you easily. A walk in the garden. I'm still a weekend gardener — I don't do this garden by myself. I'm very lucky to have a head gardener, Robert Reimer, and his wife, Tricia Van Oers, who does the vegetable garden. When I'm at the house, I walk through the whole garden. In the mornings, I'm in the vegetable garden working, and it's where the greenhouse is. I'm cutting flowers and picking vegetables. It's enjoyable work, getting out the twine and tying up the tomatoes and cutting the flowers and repotting things. In the hottest part of the afternoon, the sunken garden is too hot, so the woodland garden is where you want to be; the birdhouse village has a lot of shade. So, if I'm taking a walk with the dogs late in the afternoon, that's where I might be. My husband loves his fish, so in the evenings we might sit by the koi pond with a glass of wine in the sunken garden. Necessities. Chairs and benches. You've got to have places to sit down everywhere in your garden. You need a place to relax and really enjoy it. The garden right now. The hellebores are poking up. It's February, so it's very quiet at the moment. The winter, when there's not a leaf on a tree or a flower in bloom … it's absolutely spiritual. I have apple trees that have been perfectly pruned for 20 years, and you can see the frames of the trees and their trunks, they're absolutely pieces of sculpture. I have 100-year-old maple trees that have twisted beautiful branches and bark, and you see them so much better in the winter. You learn to love the apricot-brown colors of winter, and the shadows on the brown lawn are absolutely beautiful. The hard winter ground is like a clean slate for visualizing: Is something missing, or maybe I should move this tree. Tools to live by. My Felco pruners are the most solid. I have bought more beautifully made pruners, but they're not as tough, and they don't stand up. Another important tool to have is a broadfork to aerate your soil. Right now, my whole vegetable garden is covered with mulch. Once the mulch comes up, you don't want to till the soil because it breaks it up with all the worms and things you need. So just aerate it. I love handmade tools and have a collection. Wilcox All-Pro Tools and Hudson Grace have some beautiful ones. I started this event in Falls Village called Trade Secrets. It's a garden tour, and there are always people there selling plants and ornaments, and it's where I sometimes buy beautiful old tools. Beautiful handmade ones take a lot of care, because they're not stainless steel and they have wooden handles, so they're not practical for everyday use. On your shelf. From a design standpoint, Russell Page's gardening book (The Education of a Gardener, 1962) is amazing because it really talks about design. I still love to read Vita Sackville-West and Rosemary Verey and Christopher Lloyd and the English gardeners, because my gardens are more like theirs. If you have an arid climate like Texas, you should be reading Piet Oudolf and the people who are doing more native dry gardens. Getting started. Visit the botanical gardens closest to you to see what grows, to see how they deal with your climate, your soils. Then there's The Garden Conservancy. If you become a member, you can see what private gardens are open to the public on certain days in your state. It's so important to see what's growing where you live. Bunny's soapbox. I'm obsessed with water conservation, because although I might not have quite the water situation that Texas does, we're going to have it; the whole world's going to have it. And we've turned a lot more of my property into fields, and I've reduced the amount of lawn to absolutely the minimum. The whole birdhouse village is all a native grass. I've introduced more native things in the woodland garden. Think about your soil; make sure it can hold moisture but still have drainage. And think about what plants tolerate less water. Water in the morning or evening for less waste. It's hard in an urban area, because if you're the one who gets rid of your green lawn, everybody's going to scream. Community groups should get together and sit down and have this conversation. The idea for the pool house's weathered Greek temple architecture came from an 18th century book on garden follies that Williams discovered in France. (Continued from page 69) 70

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