In southeastern Tennessee, on a sloped piece of land, there grows a garden that gives the illusion of going on and on, opening up to one new garden vignette after another. Its caretaker, Frances, shares her trials and tribulations in her garden bog, Fairegarden. What drew me to the newest recipient of our Best Gardening Blog 2011 recognition was the slope of the garden (don’t we all have a challenge we have to overcome in the garden?) and Frances’s willingness to share her garden experiences with us, thorns and all
Fairegarden is a pleasurable mix of garden photography and conversation. The bloom-day postings are not only beautiful, but informative. Hats off to Frances for sharing the common and Latin names of all her photographed plants. This extra step turns her photocentric posts into mini garden lessons of their own. Garden enthusiasts will hear themselves in Frances’s writing. As I read her posts I found myself nodding in agreement and thinking, I know exactly what you mean! Case in point: the post Needing Violas, in which Frances writes, “I need violas. Not to be confused with I want violas. I must have violas. Violas, not pansies, although those are nice and some might come to live here in the Fairegarden, to settle into containers and beds as fall turns to winter turns to spring. But it is violas we need.”
In her post Aesthetic Verses Maintenance, Frances writes of the balancing act every gardener faces. Any garden can look good for a season, maybe two, without much skill or effort, but to create a garden that has year-round beauty, even in the winter months, without requiring constant doting gets even the best of us scratching our heads, taking copious notes and experimenting with new plants. As Frances asks, “To be or not to be… better make that to be pleasing to the eye or to be relatively easy to take care of, or even keep alive, that is the question, but can’t we have both?
You’ll have to read Fairegarden to find the answer to this great garden question.
Jenny Koester, AKA The Landless Gardener, is the Garden Blog Editor for Horticulture magazine and the author of The Garden Life and A Year in the Park.