How many gardeners do you have?

We visit gardens large and small, public and private, tidy and wild — and always ask the same question: “How many gardeners do you have?”

I was reminded of this last Friday, as I weeded the parking strip in preparation for a group of about 20 coming over on Saturday afternoon.  It was a reunion for our Charleston and Savannah trip at the end of March; the last time these folks had seen the garden it was February at our planning meeting — surely it could look better than that?

One gardener (me), that’s my answer to the question, although, of course, Leighton helps wherever he can and wherever I’ll let him.  That’s sometimes the answer we get in private gardens we visit, but if we ask another way (“You do all this work yourself?”) then often we’ll hear that there’s a man half-day a week or something.

My favorite answer to the question was from Mrs. Cartwright-Hignett at Iford Manor.  When we asked her how many gardeners she had to maintain the landscape, which was designed and built by Harold Peto in the early part of the 20th century, she said “We have two gardeners and a husband.”  And that’s quite a feat, because the garden is fabulous, even though they have had to shore up the hillside and rebuilt a long gravel walk so that the whole thing doesn’t slide into the Frome River.

Next month, I’ll be leading a garden tour in my own backyard, so to speak.  I’m taking a group from the Ladew Topiary Gardens around to Seattle-area gardens.  We’ll visit Tina Dixon’s garden, which is a real treat.  Beautifully landscaped beds, funky artwork and a surprise around every turn.  Tina owns Plants a la Cart, a container gardening business.  To help keep her own garden in top shape, she employs a gardener.  I love this:  a gardener with a gardener.  I guess that’s my goal.

 

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