Truth be told, I think every gardener likes his or her own garden best. Sure, we go on garden tours all the time, but usually we walk through and think "that was nice." We come home satisfied with what we've created. Maybe we've been inspired to do a little tweaking, but that's the extent of it.
It's the rare garden that stays with us. But every now and then you visit a garden that takes your breath away and makes you want to rethink — maybe even re-do — your whole garden. A garden whose plants and planting patterns, ornaments and atmosphere, subtlety and sensuality keep floating into your consciousness days after your visit.
My garden is mostly green at this season and is heavily influenced by Asian design at all seasons. I shy away from color and drama and most anything that demands a visitor's attention. But I am still lost in awe and appreciation of the garden that Jeannette Golden has created out in the Wisconsin countryside.
Making a garden that feels of its time and place, where nothing is too much or too little is no easy feat. Especially when it's surrounded by a vast landscape.
We often see images of English estates where flower gardens successfully merge into the larger agricultural landscape, but it is not something that is as common here. Perhaps because it is not easily done.
That massive surrounding landscape can so easily throw off the scale of a country garden. Plantings need to relate to the myriad buildings, the trees, the farm pond and distant hills. And in this garden they manage it perfectly.
Plantings close to the house are more open and somewhat smaller in scale . . .
Grass paths remind you this is a "simple" country garden. They function as a bright green ribbon tying all the beds and borders into a cohesive package.
Spots for quiet contemplation are scattered throughout the space (above), as are specimen plants like this Silberlocke Korean fir (below). But Jeannette incorporates these potential prima donnas into the larger plantings rather than letting them steal the show.
A month later I'm still captivated by Jeannette's garden. To put it in a word, I find her garden "incommensurable." That's a word from the late 1500s often found in philosophical books. It means " lacking a basis of comparison in respect to a quality normally subject to comparison." It simply can't be compared.