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My Pleasure Ground

Last Saturday was the Western Mass Master Gardeners Spring Symposium. I was honored to share the bill with Julie Moir Messervy who was the keynote speaker. I talked about worm farming and Julie talked about garden design and her new book, Home Outside.

Julie had a lot to say, but she set the tone immediately for me in her talk and in her books when she says that her aim is to help us all create our own Pleasure Ground.

A Pleasure Ground is exactly what I am aiming for in my garden. There is the Rose Walk which is a glory in June when the peonies are also blooming. That’s when we invite in friends and anyone passing by for our Annual Rose Viewing to share the pleasures of stopping to smell the roses.


There are the pleasures of watching grandchildren play on the lawn.

There are the pleasures of resting from chores in the Cottage Ornee.


There are the pleasures of an abundant vegetable garden.We all have ways of defining our own Pleasure Grounds – and it is a pleasure for me to visit so many Pleasure Grounds as I travel the garden blogs.

The Worm Turns

I feared my worms had all died during a great winter cold spell. Temperatures in my basement dipped below 50 degrees which I had read was the absolute limit for red wiggler survival. One day I went down to see if I could at least harvest some worm castings for houseplants I was repotting – and I found a worm. More than one worm!

I don’t know how many there are, but although my photo doesn’t show it, the worms I saw do have a white band known as the clitellum. Worms join themselves at the clitella to exchange sperm, and soon a cocoon will form on each worm. Baby worms are in the making.

My worms and I will be at the Western Mass Master Gardeners Spring Symposium on Saturday, March 21 at Frontier Regional High School in South Deerfield. We’ll be joining keynote speaker, Julie Moir Messervy, landscape architect and author of Home Outside, as well as many other knowledgeable presenters. Hope to see you there.

Home Outside

Julie Moir Messervy, the well-known landscape designer and author of books like The Inward Garden, Outside the Not So Big House, and most recently, Home Outside, is coming to town. Messervy will be the keynote speaker the Western Massachusetts Master Gardeners Spring Symposium, Feeding Soil, Self and Soul, on March 21.
Messervy knows that our homes are probably the most important spaces in our lives. We celebrate at home and refresh ourselves at home. We can enjoy our family and friends in our homes, or enjoy quiet solitude.
But when we say we are going home, we don’t only mean into our house. Our home includes our yards and gardens. In her new book, Home Outside: Creating the Landscape You Love (Taunton Press $30), Messervy takes us through the various steps that help us build our outdoor spaces into pleasure grounds that will function as social spaces or private retreats.
One useful aspect of this densely and beautifully illustrated book is how it encompasses a great variety of living and garden styles, in a variety of climates, and in spaces both expansive and intimate.
Designing your space begins with an assessment of your property, “taking an inventory of the existing conditions” and then envisioning the ideal. “This two-step process of weaving dream and reality is at the heart of creating your home outside,” she writes.
The photographs in the book make her points very clear. Also included are many schematic sketches of landscapes with house and planting arrangements that I found particularly useful.
The final chapter is essentially a case study of a cottage in the woods, a tiny house on a small lot that embodies all Messervy’s principles, achieved over a period of time. Even the paint chosen for the house reflects the plantings. The result is charming and encouraging. I can imagine myself coming up with an equally charming plan for my own landscape.

Julie will be at The Feeding Soil, Self and Soul Symposium on March 21 from 9 to 1:30 pm, at Frontier Regional High School in South Deerfield. The cost for the day is $25 or $15 for the keynote speech by Messervy alone. I’ll be there making a presentation with my worm farm. Refreshments will be on sale, also locally produced items. For more information and to register for the Spring Symposium logon to the Master Gardener website, http://www.wmassmastergardeners.org/ or call Rae Davis at 625-0168.