I drove over hill and over dale until I found the white house with the green roof – and a welcoming table in the garden. Prettier than the table, and with a smile that said more about welcome than a pretty table, Carol greeted me under centuries old maples and led me into the garden.
Those who are familiar with the Flower Hill Farm landscape through Carol’s gorgeous photographs, can imagine the gardens that meander downhill, and the hill rising in the distance, just now turning into a tapestry of autumn color. And yet to be there under Carol’s sky, and watch the monarchs flitting and resting in her field made for a truly magical afternoon.
When I arrived it was time for my midafternoon snack and Carol had anticipated my need with beautiful little sandwiches and apples from her tree. She made tea and I uncovered the cake I brought while we chattered and compared notes about our life here in the country. Sometimes people who read our ‘country’ blogs may think our life is one long idyll, but we are busy in and out of our gardens and we had a lot to say to each other.
Carol is an artist. I got to see some of her beautiful paintings, as well as more more of her stunning photographic prints. But as we began our walk through the garden it was clear her artistry takes another form in the garden in a way I will never emulate. She prunes! Her trees and shrubs are graceful sculptures, and yet totally natural and seemingly artless.
My photographs will not do justice to her expertise, but I was amazed at how she has trained this hydrangea. I have never thought about pruning my hydrangea for any purpose except keeping it in bloom.
I loved the Three Graces. Carol has placed and pruned these crabapples to make a fruitful sisterhood providing food and shelter for the birds.
As we walked I couldn’t help but think of the lines in the Christina Rosetti poem, “My heart is like an apple tree/ Whose boughs are bent with thick set fruit.” These laden boughs were for the birds, but there were many other fruitful trees, an echo of the fruitful life Carol has made for herself here.
She led me towards a gateway formed by two trees to a curving path that led to who knew what beauty. From a slightly different perspective the trees framed the stark white birches. Light and shadow. Every artist’s friend.
There were so many interesting and beautiful plants to admire as we strolled. After a while I had to hold myself in check because I had barely to express my pleasure at an unusual plant like this pale sedum when Carol would have offered to dig up a root – or to promise one in the spring. This fall is really too dry for transplanting now.
The autumn afternoon was drawing to a close and we had to say – not goodbye – but a bientot. Til soon. Now that I know the road, and know that Carol’s friendship is waiting at the end, the road will be short.