The View From Wilder Hill

  • Post published:08/29/2008
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Lilian Jackman, owner, grower and general factotum of Wilder Hill Gardens, invited me over to see the late summer garden. I found her at her shady potting bench, situated so that she could keep working in the heat of the day. I admired the thought that went into the design and siting of the potting bench, but did not feel up to the concept of working all morning, having a little lunch and digesting time and then setting out to work in the heat of the day. “When do you rest?” I asked, but she assured me she had all winter to rest. Knowing Lilian I doubt that this is the truth.

Lilian grows and sells plants at Wilder Hill Gardens. She has recently been adding shrubs and trees to the perennials she has been selling for a number of years. Before I left I had to buy a pot of northern sea oats, a fountain juniper, a pot of artemesia lactiflora and I even took a flyer on the beautiful blue caryopteris which might survive at least a winter or three now that the winters seem a bit milder. These will surround the sourwood tree I just planted.

A walk along the sunny to shady border shows what beauty and structure shrubs bring to a garden.
Most of the garden is sunny with lots of space given over to a cutting garden to provide the flowers that Lilian sells at the Ashfield Farmers Market and for the arrangements she makes for weddings and other events. Right now the State Fair zinnias are in full bloom – along with sunflowers, white David phlox, rudbekia and asters. Lilian’s advice about buying annual plants in the spring is to avoid anything in bloom. “By the time it blooms it is ready to die, which it will then do in my garden,” she said. She also pointed out that if you want to cut flowers for bouquets you want tall flowers. State Fair zinnias are one of her favorites.

Her customers love the red State Fair zinnias best of all. Not hard to understand. Red is my favorite color, too.
There are some real showstoppers in her garden. This castor bean plant, a tender perennial, grows next to her chicken house door.

The rest of the chicken house border continues in a riotous manner, zinnias, hollyhocks, sunflowers, asters and a tangle of morning glories that stayed awake, just for us I am sure.

Have I mentioned that Lilian has gorgeous soil, carefully built and cultivated, the secret of her success?

This is just a sampling of the 2 acres she has under cultivation. The newest project is a half acre of pick your own blueberries. “This is my retirement plan,” she said with a smile. “I’ll sit here when I’m old and greet people when they come to pick the berries. They’ll do the harvest, and bring me a few vegetables and all the town gossip while I sit in the shade”.

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