I Know a Gardener... I Know an Artist

Yesterday I had the privilege of visiting one of my younger son's babysitters from years gone by. When I left my son with her I knew he was going to be more engaged than when he was with me. It was wonderful! But it's funny how you can know someone in one setting, and not realize they may have a whole other part that is wonderful and you don't know about it. Danielle used to talk about her garden, and I kind of thought she might be talking about the typical soldier geraniums punctuated by alyssum......not that there's anything wrong with that! But Danielle's garden reveals the heart and soul of an artist.

Danielle has a stubborn streak - the kind that comes from adversity. It's what makes her able to make a beautiful garden on a rocky Maine hillside. When she was a girl growing up in France, her home was occupied by Nazi soldiers. She told me she remembers hearing the BBC say that the Americans were coming to Normandy (this was on a hidden radio in her basement). When she heard this, she went to the field and took some of the metal they had hung there to disrupt the Nazi bomber's radar and cut 50 stars from it. Then she ripped an old sheet into strips, and took an old red dress and did the same. This by then twelve year old girl then proceeded to make an American flag from her salvaged bits, and hung it behind the shutters of a window in the occupied house, so that when the Americans came they would know to come there. When the Americans came marching through, she opened up the shutters and they gave the soldiers everything they had. She later determined she wanted to be an American, and emigrated here in the 50's. I am honored to know her, and I think she has a much greater sense of what our country is about than many of us who are born here. Her garden is made in the same way of that make-do flag - with what's on hand.

A view from Danielle's sitting area window!

My friend is selling her house and wanted me to visit her garden before she moves. I brought along a friend to see it with me. Danielle has made his amazing garden all by herself in the course of a dozen or so years. Rock walls and beautiful vistas and weaving a tapestry of plants encircle her passive solar house built on a hillside. She has poured her heart and soul into this garden. It is a major work of art! We walked around, Danielle with her trowel in her hand, using it as a pointer. How appropriate, because her trowel has been her paintbrush.

Everywhere you turn there
is another treasure to see.

See the layers above?

A closer look at this beautiful poppy!

More layers below.
Lots of garden design lessons here.

The edge of her garden
perfectly transitions
to the natural areas.

Below is where Danielle tosses the plants
she doesn't want in her garden.

Even her "throwaway zone" is a beautiful garden.

She makes a feature out of problems -
rocks become rock walls.

Fallen branches become fences...

Dead trees become clematis supports...

I told my friend the view below
should be named "Lupine Lane"

Danielle, below, pointing to a wild treasure
in the dappled shade of her back woods

a Lady's Slipper
growing in the dappled shade

She is proud of the garden she's made,
and I am proud to know her.

I know that wherever the road takes her,
my friend will create beauty.


Kristen Shorey said...

My parents are friends with Denise. My Mom talks about her garden and beutiful home often.I remember when she cared for Josh. Thank you for sharing these beautiful pictures! :)

Countryfolk Keepsakes said...

Dix, her gardens are as beautiful as the person she is.
I can't thank you enough for sharing her story with us! It touched my patriotic heart so!
I agree... I would be proud to know her too.
Thanks again. :> )

michelle sylvia said...

This is such a beautiful post about your friend who truly seems to know the importance of "Country". She has a work of masterpiece in that garden!

I can also feel your heart shine in this post and I know how important your friendship is with her.

Thanks for sharing.


Rebecca said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post! I could look at your Maine countryside photos for hours. Dix, I hope you get lots cuttings and samples for your garden. Hope she is taking some with her too. I regret that I didn't do that. Thanks, Becky... Oh and I just love Elizabeth May Hope. Love how you made her legs and arms bigger, just like the old ones.

Julie said...

What a wonderful inspiration for all of us gardner wanna to be's!!!
Thank's for sharing her BEAUTiful labors of love!!!

"Do not let what you cannot do
keep you from doing what you can do."

John Wooden