It has been said that the hardest part of making a garden is getting it started. Starting a garden requires the confidence and faith to know that the simple act of turning over that first spade of dirt will eventually result in the gorgeous perennial border you have always dreamed of. Or, having enough assurance that the simple straight line you draw on a piece of graph paper will eventually turn into the central path that defines the architectural backbone of your entire garden.
In the same way, the toughest part of any new writing endeavor is getting that first word on the page. When I considered what the initial blog entry from Juniper Hill might look like, I have to admit I thought less about what I would say and more about what that first entry’s visual impact would be. In other words--to put it in gardening terms--I wanted to skip the digging and get right to the dreamy part. The web is, after all, a tough place to compete as a writer. There’s an ocean of information, web sites, and blogs out there and it’s no secret that attention spans aren’t getting any longer. So, I wanted something compelling enough to capture the attention of the reader who might somehow trip over my blog as they browse their way along the information highway on their way to Google.
I first imagined a couple of glorious garden photos, nestled there among a few words of welcome like some sort of floriferous fireworks display. Photos that would jump right off the page and grab you faster than a shot of Kniphophias on nitrogen. But, then I thought,... like one too many Kniphophias in the garden, that would somehow feel cheap. And, anyway, it didn’t help that we are buried in waist deep snow here in New Hampshire right now, so current photos of the garden are a bit boring and monochromatic to say the least. Knock your socks off flower power is not exactly part of the landscape here right now.
So, I decided that, since this first blog entry represents the beginning of something, I would stick to that theme and tell you a little bit about a place where lots of things have begun in our garden. And, instead of floral splendor (there will be plenty of time for that later when the snow melts), I would include this rather boring picture of a small table and chairs. Did I just lose you?
Not long ago, I found myself stuck at an event where the level of conversation never rose much above the weather, the latest political scandal, or what a fool Snookie made of herself last week on Jersey Shore. Obviously, this wasn't a group of gardeners, whose conversation always centers around interesting topics like..."what's the best way to kill a slug." However, knowing that I was a gardener, someone in this group did ask me an interesting question, which was..."what do you think is the single most important tool you have in your garden?" Feeling a little blindsided by the question, I blurted out..."my Felco pruners." Then, on the way home, I thought... what a stupid answer! That can't be right. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Felco pruners but are they really my most important gardening tool? Did they really play a significant role in defining this garden?
With a little more reflection, and a slight stretch of the imagination, I came to the realization that my most important gardening tool was not really a gardening tool at all. It was, in fact, the little millstone table and chairs shown in the photo above. It’s the spot, tucked away in the corner of our kitchen, where I sit every morning, have my breakfast and coffee, and then plan what my day in the garden will look like. It’s also the place where, for inspiration every morning, I read any gardening book or magazine I can get my hands on. It’s literally the spot where every design plan in our garden was hatched; where almost every plant was chosen; and where the seed of every idea I’ve had about gardening here at Juniper Hill has sprouted. It’s one of those special places where things begin; somewhat uncomfortably, I might add. I mean, just get a load of those chairs!
I suspect that every gardener has a spot like this in their home or garden; a place that’s tucked away somewhere in a kitchen, den, library, potting shed, greenhouse, or corner of the garden; a place that serves as a little incubator for gardening ideas. I’m not the type to get too mystical about the whole thing but I like to think that these special places are imbued with certain inspirational powers that we don’t understand very well and that, in the end, they certainly contribute as much to our gardens as any single favorite gardening tool.
So, from my special little spot in the kitchen to your special corner, wherever it might be, I say welcome to Notes from Juniper Hill where I hope, together, we can build a conversation around a huge variety of gardening topics.
There will, of course, be regular postings to the blog about the happenings here at Juniper Hill, both from the farm and the gardens. But, in addition, there will be several regular special features that I hope you will find interesting. There will be featured gardeners, both the famous and the not-so-well known; featured gardens that I have visited and fallen in love with; profiles on plants, covering both the stalwarts of the garden but also those new “exotics” of the current season that create near riots at the local nursery. And, there will be talk of books, art, and garden photography.
While I have you here, take a look around the site where you’ll find more detailed information on the farm, the gardens, and a little bit about who I am, as well. You can be confident that much of what you’ll read in future entries in this blog has been formulated, over a cup of coffee, on that little, rather uncomfortable bistro chair.
And, OK, since you’ve been kind enough to wend your way through this textually laden post and make it to the end...here’s a little flower power to reward your efforts. It’s not a Kniphofia OD’d on nitrogen, but Hydrangea macrophylla 'Purple Majesty,’ one of my favorite hydrangeas that we use liberally throughout the garden here. I’m not sure it jumps off the page but, sitting here in the middle of winter, it does make me yearn for things to come. So,...let's begin!