Lost in the Garden Zone

I’ve been planting my cottage garden for about 4 years, which includes a number of smallish plots around my house in New England, near Boston.

I like getting lost in what I call the garden “zone.” It usually starts out innocently enough as I sit with my morning coffee on the front steps. Mmm…doesn’t the sun look great spilling over the garden, the yellow Daffodils are nodding next to the cobalt blue Scilla of early spring. On a light breeze, I can smell the familiar scent of lilac. I congratulate myself, once again, for having planted it so close to porch. The yellow and purplish Pansies in the window box look like great floppy hats.

All this before the grand display of June and July, full of various roses, the stunning grace of Peonies with Iris, the delicate blue and white Bell Flowers, and so on. I also enjoy the waning colors of fall, the subdued ruddy browns, burnt oranges, and reds. My Hydrangea, now darker pink, is tangled nicely with the purple Russian Sage. No matter the season (except the dreaded winter of course), it always starts the same way.

“I’ll just snip off that brown stem,” I say to myself. Clippers in hand, I wander happily, nothing like a session in the garden to sort out the problems of the world and clear your mind. Except that hours later I can still be found puttering around, by now the sun is blazing. I bought a wide-brimmed cotton hat just for that purpose and I try to remember to put it on.

I’ve also discovered that gardening is not for the faint of heart. Forget that picture-book image of long ago, the one with the frail maiden and the dainty basket of cut flowers. Gardening turns out to be a good workout. Lugging mulch and top soil around does wonders for the muscle tone. In the 3rd year, I dug a hole deep enough to fall into. It wasn’t until then that I realized why plants refused to grow in certain parts of my garden. I hadn’t gone down deep enough to find a number of leftover tree roots. I bought a saw, and sawed and sawed, until finally I wrested one out, landing backwards with a big thump. With a dirt-encrusted arm, I brandished an overgrown root. It looked like an enormous tooth from a root canal gone awry.

Five summers later, all my dirt digging, catalog browsing, and note scribbling, have paid off. This was the first year that I saw the successive colors I imagined. When I wrote this entry, the crisp fall air had yet to settle in and I was still in denial about summer being over.

Garden Reading Notes
To keep myself sane in the winter, I read anything about gardening I can get my hands on. I learned a lot from Color in Your Garden, by acclaimed Brit Penelope Hobhouse. It’s a big useful book organized by color with large photos and charts which clearly identify bloom time. By the way, you wouldn’t want to mess with Penelope, just by the stern look on her face and stiff tweed coat, you can tell that her advice is to be taken seriously.

Lisa G.



  1. Hello,

    Congratulations on your first post. I look forward to reading more. Like you, I find myself getting into the zone. I cease to notice time going by and am always surprised to see how sore I am the next day :0)

    I found you on Blotanical. Welcome!
    Noelle (azplantlady)
    Plant Guidelines and Tips for the Desert Garden

  2. Well, this perfectly describes how my gardening days go. Especially the part about the tree root. I am glad i discovered your blog. Welcome to blotanical!

  3. Flowers said

    Your blog Lost in the Garden Zone looks wonderful. It was nice going through your blog. Keep it up the good work. cheers 🙂

  4. Nell Jean said

    Time in the garden leads to great insight.

    I came here by way of Blotanical where I noticed you are a new member. Welcome. I hope you’ll read the FAQ under the Help tab for an oversight to navigating the site and join us in Picks and Clicks and Plots and things.

    Nell Jean
    Secrets of a Seedscatterer

  5. Getting lost in the zone is fun, isn’t it? I get “sucked in” to the garden all the time in summer. A ten minute container grooming session turns into a full fledged bed transplatation. Thanks for the colorful pictures.

    Christine in Alaska

  6. Enjoyed your post and I know how it feels for a few years to go by before you see what you could see in your head for a few years finally be seen by everybody else!

  7. Jean said

    Lisa, What a challenge to start a New England gardening blog in December, but it looks as though you have some summer reminiscences to get you started. Your photos are lovely. As a fan of the blue and yellow combination, I especially love the delphinium and coreopsis (?) in the last photo.

  8. That is a great book, one of my favourites. I have quite a few of Penelopes books, she is a very interesting writer.
    My husband is always wondering why I am so strong, between gardening and lugging aroung heavy buckets of water at the flower shop, I get quite the work outs.

    • Thanks, Deborah. Do you have another favorite Hobhouse book?


      • Lisa, I really like her book called “On Gardening”. It is her experiences designing her own personal gardens over the years. I am a sucker for those kind og books, I guess they were the predecessors to blogs.

  9. Clare said

    I’ve watched your garden’s development from the beginning….congratulations! It looks beautiful.

  10. David said

    Hey, what a great start to your blog. Excellent photos, lovely descriptions of the flowers. You capture the gardening experience beautifully.

  11. Charles Coe said

    Good stuff. I know something is well written when the I can enjoy reading it even when I don’t share the same degree of passion for the subject. In addition to gardening enthusiasts, this blog will appeal to those of us not inclined to do the digging ourselves, but who like to sit in a rocking chair-refreshing adult beverage in hand-and admire the fruit of someone else’s labor.

  12. Kim said

    Wonderful to read, Lisa..especially given this time of year as snow begins to fall..K

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