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Margaret Roach's garden in Upstate New York represents the lessons learned from a lifelong love of foliage and flowers and a philosophy that guides the multiseasonal planting. Different areas of her garden come to life as winter rolls over into spring, which, in turn, heats into summer and finally cools into fall. The summer months is best time to see the meadow and its flowers, as well as the frogs and birds attracted to the water gardens dotting her property. By fall, the viburnums' late-spring flowers have developed into colorful berries. In winter, conifers such as weeping Alaskan cedar and the Korean fir display their evergreen needles or beautiful bark.

In Margaret's vision, her garden follows the cycles of human and plant growth. The first two months of the year are the period of conception, when the raw materials are amassed and the planning takes place. March and April parallel birth, as the first seedlings begin sprouting energetically. May and June are analogous to youth, when the growth of plants is so rapid it seems like you can observe it right before your eyes. July and August are counterparts to the maturity of the adult years, when the potential evidenced by the seedlings in the earlier months is fully realized. As the fall months of September and October arrive, the garden enters into a period of senescence, and finally in the quiet of winter, the garden has reached a sort of death. While many see fall as the time to tend to cleaning and dismantling, Margaret finds that it's the perfect time to consider the changes in color and texture that the plants have undergone during the year, before winter carries them off.

Margaret believes that gardening is a process, never quite finished and always in one stage or another of metamorphosis. These permutations can be taken into account when planning the garden, trying to envision which combinations of foliage and flower will bloom with the best results. She recommends using the site of the garden to determine what to plant. If you have an abundance of sun, don't choose plants that thrive better in shade. Although keeping a garden journal is an efficient way to map out aggregates of flowers and suitable leaves, time doesn't always permit us to take detailed notes. Another solution is to gather together complementary plants and lay them on a flat surface. Take a picture, identify the components, and use the photo as a planting guide.


Margaret Roach's " A Way to Garden" is available on Amazon.


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