Monday, August 8, 2011

Once upon a garden


Just as a true writer has to write, Kathryn MacDougald has to garden.  No matter where she has lived (and she's had to move several times in recent years), she's immediately created a beautiful garden. 

Kathryn is my business partner and executive producer of A Gardener's Diary.  She is also a garden designer.  I have long marveled at her talent and taste; she can turn the ugliest duckling of spaces (both interior and exterior) into something fabulous in no time at all.  When my daughters come back to Atlanta for a visit, they always want to take friends to see what Kathryn has done to her interiors.  Every room is stunning.

The garden you see here was built over two decades.  Kathryn is a rockaholic.  She rescued the big stones from a house that burned next door to me.  She also singlehandedly built a cobblestone driveway that is out of view of this photograph.  She hauled and installed every heavy Belgium block, and there must have been thousands.

What you can't see in this photograph, taken the year before her husband's family sold the three-plus acre property, are the perennials hidden by the tall poppies.  Kathryn was forever changing the plantings, and you could rely on discovering the very latest introductions and learning some new and intriguing plant combinations.

But alas, this garden is no more.  The log cabin, dating from the early 20th century is gone, too.  The latter was sold and dismantled so it could be reconstructed elsewhere. The rocks and cobblestones are stored at a friend's farm.

Today, if you ride by the property, you can catch a glimpse of a big new house being built over the area where the garden and log cabin once were.  On the one hand it seems sad, but if you go by Kathryn's present home, you feel better.   She's got lots of things growing (many plants have followed her from house to house; others reside with friends and relatives), and already her garden is something to be envied.