I have lived in Nelson since Nov, 1995, and started gardening here with a few buckets of plants brought from my first garden in Chatham, NY. I inherited a beautiful garden from its prior owner, Anne Robertson. In the months prior to our move, she introduced me to some of her favorite plants, many of which were completely new to me. I fondly remember her description of epimedium as the “Cadillac “ of ground covers. Over the years, I have shared her favorite plants with countless gardeners. For those who remember the Robertsons, they will immediately understand my predicament. She was an incredible gardener, with impeccable taste, and with years of gardening experience. Not only did she love “this” garden, she also wrote about it for the town of Nelson. A copy of her small book resides in the Nelson Library; and likely, in many of our homes.

Here I am now, many years later, asked to contribute a regular feature on gardening. I have a tough act to follow! But, in a way, this comes at a good time. I had been thinking about writing about my gardening experiences. One of the wonderful things about living in Nelson, is that opportunities mysteriously come your way. I have no real writing experience, and have never kept a diary or journal. Despite this inexperience, I look forward to sharing my evolution as a gardener with all of you. Here’s a little photo-essay to get things started. For me, gardening has much to do with people. I cherish the memories of those who have contributed to my life and joy in gardening. I am happy to have started this series with memories of Anne.

Anne’s epimedium, the cadillac!

Very hardy, Strong plant which thrives in shade, including the dry areas under trees. Its flowers are exquisite and delicate; with colors in yellow, white, pink, lilac. It grows as a “clump”, rather than spreading its roots into its neighbors. Plant Height is about six inches making it a good choice for the front of the border, where its natural appearance and attractiveness through the entire growing season can be admired.

Anne’s dictamus or “gasplant”

This was another plant I had no knowledge of prior to my move to Nelson. It is tall, and stately, and does not require staking. It does not fall in the rain. The leaves are a deep forest green and the entire plant is quite “architectural”. It has a very interesting seedpod. However, be careful with the seed pod particularly in hot weather. It can cause quite a dermatitis. This, too, was a “memorable” gardening experience! So, look and don’t touch! I confess, I sometimes cut the pods off. Despite its great beauty in the garden and potential use in flower arrangements; I do not like its fragrance….so I leave it in the garden.

Anne’s peony

I think this is perhaps my favorite peony. It has a simplicity and elegance that is breathtaking. This peony requires no staking, as it holds its flowers even in the rain.
Also, it self seeds in a very well behaved manner. Every summer, I investigate the base of these plants, looking for progeny to share with other “patient” gardeners. It will take several years to bloom.

Pink epimedium in Kathleen Vetter’s garden