Thinking about “the Way Life Ought to Be”


Help!  My desk is covered with catalogues from every seed and plant company that I ever bought anything from!!!  New tools, new vegetables, new flowers, new ideas to take the cold out of winter and get me thinking about the “way life ought to be”…the reasons why I came to Maine in the first place.   Winter is planning time here in the Horticulture Department at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens…planning to make our dreams and your expectations come true.  We all need to create a vision for what we see as the perfect garden.the one that will inspire and energize those who see it to want to do something similar.  My vision, my dream for our visitors and especially for those who have homes or properties nearby is that they are inspired to plant more flowers and vegetables.

Margaret's Garden
Margaret's Window
Photos by Dick Zieg

Where did this idea come from, you may ask?   I am happy to say that my wife is British, which gives me the opportunity to visit England on a fairly regular basis.  Yes, I have seen some of the gardens you may have heard about like Kew Gardens, Wisley, and Hampton Court; these are not totally the source of my vision for our neighbors in the Boothbay area and beyond.  What really got my attention was that it seemed that people in England valued gardening in general and went “all out” to beautify their properties with flowers and/ or, make the most of their property to grow vegetables. 

Lunch at the Berkley Garden Center

The garden center my wife’s parents often visited has its own 125 seat restaurant that attracts diners there with a full menu for lunches and dinners. As you can well imagine most, if not all, diners make purchases of vegetable and flower plants on their way through the sales area.  This may well explain why many English gardens seem to have a “one of these and one of those” design.  It is difficult to resist buying a beautiful new plant you have seen!  This is a photo of my wife’s aunt’s house in Derbyshire just to give you an idea of what I mean.

This sort of garden is a result of many years of planning, planting and tending as most gardens are.   The garden dream you make come true will be unique but no less a fulfilling accomplishment.  One doesn’t have to immediately take on a project of the proportions in the photo but it is prudent to do some planning this winter surrounded by the catalogues that are piling up on your desk.  I suggest starting out with a small bed of annual flowers, bulbs or hanging baskets and expanding your creation from there.   I really hope that you will take up the challenge and promise me and yourself to do a little “beautification” this year.  Spring will be here before you know it.

~ Dick Zieg (February 18, 2014)