Thursday, July 30, 2009

Going Out on the Loveliest Limb

I did something a little gutsy this week, on a lark.

This is one of my all time favorite homes in the greater Goshen area. Every time I drive by, I risk my very life because I cannot take my eyes off of it. I passed by on Monday and got to thinking...

Long story short, I tracked the homeowner down and called her, the very next day. I am learning that sometimes you just have to ask. I'm realizing that when the worst that can happen is that you are rejected, well, that's really not that bad at all.

I eeked out my feeble request - to photograph her gardens - and without skipping a mili-beat, Mrs. N said, "Oh, sure you can!" I could tell, just by the tone of her voice, that she was a keeper. Oh, she also told a perfect stranger to come on over anytime, which didn't exactly hurt her case.

So, two days later, camera, notebook and 2 fresh-from-the-oven banana nut muffins in hand, I set out.

I was greeted by this.

Let me pause here to say that before this day, I had only seen and admired the front of the house. I had no idea what was hiding behind.

Mrs. N walked me to the back of the property and swung open her potting shed, then turned me loose.

This shed nearly made me weep. What I mean is, it is my dream to one day inhabit a shed of this general form. It had high pitched white ceilings and cozy furnishings and a back wall made entirely of repurposed, old windows. I wanted to lie down and nap for a spell on the little rest my head on the wee ticking pillow. Alas, there were gardens beckoning.

I think I've already mentioned my love for hollyhocks. According to Mrs. N, this is the first year she's had success with them.

Of course, I don't believe that...but it sure was nice of her to say.

Do you know what's even more fetching than a leggy, pink hollyhock? One encircled by a cage of grape tomatoes.

This is the back porch of the shed. Everything reminded me so much of True Blue Sarah's dad, Larry. He would have eaten this right up.

Can we talk for a moment about the raised flower beds?

1. Rusty windmill.

2. Viny pretties.

3. Zinnias a go-go.

4. Bewitching roses.

At each area of the property, I had to force myself to keep moving. This raised bed garden was probably my very favorite stop. It was magazine-worthy.

Birdhouses were sprinkled all over the property. Had I not been high on pollen, I may have thought to keep count.

This mossy, stony niche made my heart ache a little.

And then there was the barn.

I said, out loud, to myself and the honeybees, "I am in love" more than once.
I can tell from here that you believe me.

Mrs. N told me post-shoot that her very favorite flower is the daylily, in many of its varieties. She is planning to move in a year or so (I know) and plans to take some of these with her.

I was so taken by her attitude and zestiness. She has lived in this home for 20 years and I gathered that she now lives there alone. She said it's hard to think of leaving, but she knows it's time and she hopes the new owners will love the gardens, but who knows...?

At every turn, I found a wagon, wheel barrow or other rusty curiosity overflowing with blooms in the loveliest combinations.

I have an inkling that this has a story behind it.

Mrs. N's garden is entirely naturalized. She does not deadhead anything in the Fall, but allows the birds to take their fill. Come Spring, she clears out the dead growth and waits to see what will pop up, and where.

One thing in particular that I asked her about was the massive quantity of zinnias and other annuals all over the 5-acre property. She plants them each year using starts, not seeds, because her experience is that the established perennials will often overpower seed growth.

And fertilizer? In her own words, "Each March I go and buy a big bag of 6-24-24 horse manure mulch from one of the Amish guys, then I haul it around and fling handfuls of it into the beds." The end.

As intimidating as gardening may seem to a beginner such as myself, she made it seem easy and above all, fun. In fact, she specifically said that she shies away from planning her garden, since she feels that over-planning can easily turn gardening into work and diminish the fun, carefree nature of it all. (Sidenote: She has been gardening for 15 years. Something to aspire to!)

Before leaving, she thanked me for stopping by and said that she enjoyed sharing her garden with me. "I do all of this work and I'm the only one here to appreciate it." I offered to leave my blog address, so she could double-check my work, but she politely declined, saying she prefers to "live like a dinosaur" and does not have a computer.

As we were saying goodbye, a friend pulled in unexpectedly, and Mrs.N shouted out, "Hey! I've been needing to talk to you!"

And that was that.

So, today, and tomorrow and every day that follows, I will be hooked on gardening and hooked on learning from whomever is willing to share, and hooked on lunging out onto those limbs and just asking.

Now, go check out what others are hooked on and inspired by.


  1. What a great way to spend a day!

  2. Absolutely beautiful! Way to get in there and ask like a champ. I do that more and more now when I need new spots for photo opps. People are generally pretty proud of their "compounds".

  3. WOW...what a gorgeous home. That yard! That BARN!!! I would have been in heaven and the owner sounds like a doll....I am so glad you asked her to take photos!!!

  4. She sounds like a kindred spirit for sure. What a wonderful attitude about gardening.

    You've inspired me to go out on more larks. :-)

  5. I literally swung the laptop towards my husband and told him, "I want to live THERE."

    "On the corner of green and beautiful please"

    Where do you live again?? Because I may become a neighbor of yours in say....oh about one year's time.


    Thanks for going out on a limb. It sure was a gorgeous view from there!!

  6. Sooo lovely! Thank for sharing. I love that little mossy place too!

  7. You've told me your love for this house before when we have passed it by. Holy cow, were you right. What an amazing treasure. That little shed is, as you would say, swoony. Glad you were so brave to ask to spend some time with Mrs. N and her beautiful yard/garden. By any chance, did you she show you the inside of her house too?

  8. Are you kidding me? Kidding me. Amazing, all of it. I need a drive by. Are you tempted in the slightest to keep an eye for that for sale sign? And the heck is ticking? Seriously?! It's onto I go, I guess. And that is absolutely the most visually stunning and picture perfect rose I HAVE EVER SEEN. Larry would be so proud of you, and she must be a kindred spirit of his in the making, with her love for the daylily. Well done, my true blue. Well done! ps. the story might have been a touch more moving if you had actually wrote that you weeped at the sight of the shed. ;) At first, I thought that's what you wrote. That would have been awesome. I'm sure you were weeeping on the inside. Nancy Drew would be proud of you. So am I.

  9. That was beautiful. I loved her shed and barn and house and and... Just lovely:) Great pictures and story. You should be a reporter and get paid to go around doing that. Wouldn't that be the best job in the world??

    Wish I lived close. I want to buy her house.

  10. Thanks. You did everybody a service. The street-side view is great enough by itself. Amazing.

  11. I would have wept too!

    Please drop by and enter my giveaway.

    Have a blessed weekend!

  12. oh my gosh! Seriously?? Next time I'm coming with you!

  13. What a beautiful garden! Thanks for sharing it with us.

  14. That is the most AMAZING property. It's like right out of a fairy tale.

    I love that the potting shed had the vibntage diamind pane windows, I love those and everything is so lovely. No wonder you love driving by it and how nice of her to visit with you... Love your Blog and I'm so happy I came across it.

    If you have a chance, stop by my Blog and say hi!

    Have a wonderful day,

  15. Seriously jealous over here! You took great photos...I heart that potting shed (oh how I've longed for one of my own)!

    :) T

  16. Really cool! And I admire your braveness for just "calling her up". Wow!

  17. What a way to brighten up my day!! And wooohooo at those hollyhocks! :o)

  18. What a beautiful garden! Thanks for sharing. :) Also, thanks for visiting my blog and for your sweet compliment. Stop back by anytime!


  19. Thanks for taking a risk to share this beautiful spot! I would love to wander through in person-it looks amazing!

  20. Oh, I am so glad you asked...that is one fantastic garden!! I love it and would love to inherit such a homeplace. Meaning the work would already be done!!

  21. WOW What a garden. I think my favorite is the raised beds. That was very sweet of her to let you explore her yard. This is my first visit to your blog and I love it. Can't wait to come back and visit.

  22. What Can I say?! Will you be moving in a year? That garden and potting shed was twenty years in the making! Give all us newbies hope! I can't help but wonder if you are a writer for a living if not you have missed your calling! Traci

  23. I found your blog through Remodeling This Life, and I just had to sign up to Follow. Beautiful photographs, and I love your napkin curtains. ;) I am learning to sew....

  24. You are so much braver than I ever will be! For heaven's sake, I freaked in the drive-thru at Taco Bell yesterday (there's a sad marital story behind that one.) :) Curious where this house is. Beautiful!

  25. What a beautiful house and garden, thanks for sharing x

  26. So GLAD that you asked...and shared it with all of aunt is similar in her love for gardening and her generosity in sharing...I should take my camera and take a couple of hours and drive to her place! You'd love it, too!

  27. I just found your blog and I'm glad I did. Lovin the pics! Thanks for sharing them. Take care.

  28. I came over from The Inspired Room and I just have to say -- this is THE best post I've read in a really, really long time. I can't believe those pictures were of real-life, not magazine, gardens. That is incredible. The red wagon with the name "Anthony" kind of tugged at my heart a little tiny bit...

    Perfect! Thanks for the post!

  29. I'm so AMAZED that you called her and did that. How awesome and brave! Love every detail and that barn makes my heart sing! And those hollyhocks...and rusty wagons...and that shed...
    Looks like I'm moving to Goshen in a year!

  30. A fantastic post! So glad you stopped to visit this beautiful garden. Thanks for giving us all a little bit of courage to follow our heart in the littlest ways each day. Oh, how you were rewarded (and Mrs. N as well!)