The Journey to The Ridge – Part I

Flower Farming, Venue

Like many people, my first adult spark of excitement about gardening came indoors, on the couch, watching someone else do it.

It was 2017. My husband Dan and I had settled in to find some DIY shows to inspire us for projects for our new/old house that we had just purchased. A show called “Big Dreams, Small Spaces” popped up on the screen. A charming British gentleman named Monty Don visited between two different spaces with two different groups of people working on developing their dream garden no matter what their budget or situation. And it was mesmerizing!

This was not about aristocrats and their country estates. This was about real people, most with no garden experience whatsoever who planned and planted over months of time — with a little advice sprinkled in from Monty. But these weren’t just pristine spaces meant to entertain friends on the occasional Sunday or just a view from the kitchen window. These spaces were all deeply personal to each of the participants – not just gardens, but truly an extension of their home and everyday lives. Looking to create an edible front lawn to share with your community? Check! Dreams of creating a Japanese garden with a running stream in your backyard? Monty can help!

And I was obsessed! I had never seen anything like this in the years of HGTV my parents made me watch in my childhood. People who had no idea or training were just doing it — “getting stuck in,” as they say — getting their hands dirty and clearing trash filled back gardens or building mud heads (Google it: they are wild!). These spaces were truly transformed. “Big Dreams, Small Spaces” shared with us the transformation over the course of 6 to 9 months in one episode.  But the most important thing of this was that it showed us the possibilities of the spaces we could create with a bit of hard graft and planning.

That first summer we were inspired to root around our garden and see what we had to work with in terms of space and hardscaping. Within the first few months of being in the house we unearthed a hidden brick pathway that has been buried under lawn for years in our back garden. This got my wheels turning about what else we could find and dust off a bit to transform the space.

This was my first real adult garden of my own and I was determined to make something spectacular, even if I wasn’t quite sure what that would be. We started by pulling up grass and added raised beds for zucchini, beans, kale, and tomatoes. We ripped out old ivy and ugly shrubs and started planting roses and hydrangeas. The next year, I started interplanting garlic in our decorative beds in our front lawn, alongside roses, butterfly bushes, tulips, and tomatillos. I voraciously devoured gardening books and podcasts from Monty, The Royal Horticultural Society, Sarah Raven, Joe Lampl’,  Kevin Espiritu, Erin Benzakein and Lisa Mason Ziegler.

Gardeners' World cover

And of course (for those fellow garden nerds out there), on Friday nights, we had Gardeners’ World, a  BBC program that ran for 30 to 60 minutes from spring through fall, filled with major estate gardens and more modest allotments, seed sowing tips and advice on growing veg. That’s right, my fellow Americans. Weekly. Garden. Public. Television. That is not only good, but iconic. The show in its various forms has been on the BBC for over 50 years!

Each episode was filled with tips and tricks and all the fancy Latin names of plants that I immediately saved into a Pinterest page named “Garden Goals.” Every Friday night was like a reset for us, hunkered down on the couch with pizza, ready to be immersed in nature, landscapes, and most importantly – possibility.

Garden planning books and seed catalogues

Follow along to Part II to find out more about the evolution of our garden and our Journey to the Ridge.

January 28, 2023


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