November Gardening 2015

by Jane Ahrens
A detail from William Merritt Chase's painting The Nursery
A detail from William Merritt Chase’s painting The Nursery

From Mélie’s Garden


This summer Helen Scott Reed loaned me a book called, “The Artist’s Garden, American Impressionism and the Garden Movement” edited by Anna O. Marley. The book contains beautiful illustrations of the artwork work of Cecilia Beaux, Mary Cassatt, William Merritt Chase and Childe Hassam. During the years between 1887 through the 1920’s, as these impressionist artists were painting; new suburbs were developing across the country. Americans became passionately interested in landscape design to enhance their new properties. This era was known as “the Garden Movement”. Beatrix Farrand, one of our most talented landscape designers during that era, has a wonderful quote in the book. I think it gives all of us, who struggle to design interesting gardens, credit for the challenging and creative work we try to do.

The two arts of painting and garden design are closely related, except that the landscape gardener paints with actual color, line, and perspective to make a composition, as the maker of stained glass does, while the painter has but a flat surface on which to create an illusion… The painter has another great advantage over a gardener, because, as he cannot possibly transfer to canvas the millions of colors and shadows which make up the most ordinary landscape, he must eliminate so many…whereas the landscape gardener has to put his equally artificial landscape out in real light, among real trees, to be barred by real and moving shadows.

Quite a challenge we set for ourselves being gardeners! Plants are constantly changing and just when you think you have gotten the composition right, the plant is finished blooming or has grown too tall or died back completely. It is the fleeting moments, when it all seems to work, that we treasure. I certainly know that my garden all comes together the way I intended for a very short time. The rest of the growing season it looks ok, but often the colors don’t work or a storm has beaten down the roses or the lilies don’t look as good as they did last year. So, I admit defeat and just go to the beach! But when your garden or planters all come together, for a brief time, try to capture it in a photograph so you can look back on what you created and be proud of what you accomplished.

I hope that many of you will share those photographs of your gardens with and the Fog Horn. They will be an inspiration to our readers during the dark days of winter. Please send them to It will be a lovely way to share our hard work.

Melia, "My Garden, when it briefly comes together in June."
Mélie, “My Garden, when it briefly comes together in June.”

Featured Photo

USCG Eagle passing the Race early morning March 18, 2023 on her return from the Chesapeake Bay . Photo Credit Marlin Bloethe

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