Ever notice how some people's names are so perfectly suited to their professions? I always wonder if it's really just a quirky kind of coincidence or if their name might have truly started them on the path toward their particular profession. In Madison, the most noteworthy name I ever encountered was Dr. Bonebreak. Though not an orthopedic surgeon, I always thought he had a great name for a medical man. If I remember correctly there once was a horticulturalist on the staff at Olbrich Botanical Gardens whose last name was Desjardins, which is French for "of the gardens."
When it comes to gardeners, the best name I had ever come across was that of garden designer and author Linden Hawthorne. Imagine that; both her first and last names are tree species. Elegant, evocative and amusing all in one breath.
Just the other day I was introduced to Twigs Way (photo below) in the pages of Gardens Illustrated magazine, which I believe is the September issue but they never put the month on the cover. Twigs is a professional garden historian, author, freelance lecturer and researcher, according to her website and the magazine article which looks at a different horticulturalist each month. Twigs also blogs, gives talks and leads tours. Oh, to be in England . . .
My own interest in English history and textiles spurred me into gardening when I realized all the herbs and flowers depicted in Elizabethan needleworks were actual plants and could still be found growing in gardens in the UK and elsewhere. So it's no surprise that I was instantly smitten with Twigs. I went online and immediately ordered her book, "Virgins, Weeders and Queens" about women in the garden. If I like it, I will send off for her latest publication, "The Social and Cultural History of the Carnation."
Helen Dillon, whose celebrated Dublin garden can only be reached by walking through her front door (below), is closing up shop and moving on. I own a couple of Dillion's books and often pull them off the shelf. I'm curious to see how she might solve one of my garden issues as I have long been in awe of her plant combinations and boldness in making changes in her garden. Our last chance to see Helen's garden comes this Friday. Once October arrives, she's outta there. I find it hard to picture such a dramatic departure. Imagine Vita leaving Sissinghurst or Christo leaving Great Dixter, by choice rather than death.
One of my favorite blogs, The Dahlia Papers, visited Helen and her garden earlier this month and shares the story here. Dillion told the Guardian newspaper back in August what plants she's taking to the new garden and what she's leaving behind. I found her comments and experiences geared to those of us who've been working in one spot for a long time. Though part of me can't imagine a life without this garden, I still muse about the possibility of creating one more garden. Perhaps that's completely delusional. Mark would certainly say so. But give it a read and see what you think.
Scott Kunst, the face as well as the founder of Old House Gardens, announced he's retiring in OHG's last newsletter. He noted that he was 30 years old when he first lectured on landscape history, and age 40 when he mailed his first catalog of heirloom bulbs. After OHG wraps up their 24th shipping season next May, he's stepping away from his wonderful business. Initially he thought this would be the end of OHG but Scott's staff has decided to take over and keep the business going. For those of us who've ordered from OHG over the years this is great news.
I had barely ordered a bulb until I got my first OHG catalog and discovered another place where gardening and history intersect. Since then it's been a rare year that I haven't ordered something from OHG. Over the years I've written about OHG and their bulbs and plants both in print and online. You can actually find OHG listed as a category on my blog. But Scott Kunst is the only nursery owner who's ever called me to thank me. He always manages to jot a short note on their catalogs or even on my order form. That personal attention is one of the reasons I've kept coming back. That and the incredible selections they offer.
I hope Scott and his wife enjoy their new found free time. I also hope we will still hear from him periodically. But most of all I hope that OHG can continue to be the fabulous friendly source for unusual bulbs that Scott created.