Gardening is a Way of Showing that You Believe in Tomorrow: Visiting a Bedford Garden

In a Bedford garden - Image (c) Laura Bullock, 2016 all rights reserved
In a Bedford garden – Image (c) Laura Bullock, 2016 all rights reserved

By Laura Bullock

Clematis grow best with sun on their blooms and shade on their roots - Image (c) Laura Bullock, 2016 all rights reserved
Clematis grow best with sun on their blooms and shade on their roots – Image (c) Laura Bullock, 2016 all rights reserved

“Gardening is a way of showing that you believe in tomorrow.” I discovered this quote in the Bedford Garden Club Yearbook and think it so perfectly describes what gardening represents.

Although the definition of gardening ‘is the practice of growing and cultivating plants as part of horticulture,’ that sounds more like a chore than the life-long adventure it truly is.

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Another of the garden beds maximizes the impact of foliage – Image (c) Laura Bullock, 2016 all rights reserved

Recently I visited a Bedford Garden Club member’s gorgeous garden, one that she has been creating over many decades.  There is so much to love – the many islands of plants; their expansive variety, making the most of what she has and using it to its fullest potential; and the overall sense of peace and wonderment that is felt the moment you step into her yard.

One of my ‘musts’ in garden construction (and home construction too), is the attention paid to sight lines.  There are areasof interest to look at or listen to, but just as importantly, standing in one spot you cannot see the garden in its entirety.

The careful placement of the flower beds draws your eye down the yard and naturally makes you curious as to what is around the corner.  Several water features add to the tranquility and dimension.

A row of shrubs and trees stands a t the back of the property.  Instead of being planted in a straight row like soldiers, they were planted in a staggered line, oh so many years ago.  The gardener had the vision to know that the planting would one day produce an undulating effect, and create a soothing feeling. yet At the same time it somehow makes the trees feel taller and protective, standing over the garden.

A tree stump became a plinth - Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved
A tree stump became a plinth – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

She also used what she had, instead of forcing things to be something else.  There are many stumps in the gardens, varying in heights and widths, and instead of grinding them out because they were what many would perceive as an ugly nuisance, she embraced their qualities and incorporated them into the gardens.  On the tops of the tallest ones she mounted statuary and birdhouses, and the shorter ones act as pedestals for flower pots. All add height, dimension and interest, and act as anchors in a sea of foliage.

A massive boulder rises from the earth in one corner of the yard,. Impossible to move, it’s now a feature in the garden – covered with sedum and pachysandra.

The gardener has pushed some limits, asking more of her plants that what is typically expected. Pairing shade-loving ferns with sun-loving irises, or mountain laurel with roses, is not in the ‘rule book’.  But then again it’s hard to reach your fullest potential if you’re always following someone else’s rules and expectations (hmmm… this is starting to sound like motherly advice).

Gardening isn’t about instant gratification – it’s about dreaming and planning and discovery.  It’s also about hope, handling disappointment, and learning to make adjustments.  And it’s about acceptance, forgiveness and trying again, then realizing that the imperfect can be pretty perfect after all.

It’s also a great metaphor for life, but that’s an article for another day.

Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved
A water feature in the garden – Image (c) JMcCT, 2016 all rights reserved

About the Bedford Garden Club

The Bedford Garden Club is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this September.  The club provides lectures and informational gardening sessions once a month, and the public is welcome to attend.  To learn more about the club and the myriad of ways the members contribute to our community, please go to their website at www.bedfordgardenclub.org.


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