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Creating an English Garden on the Prairie

...or how I made a garden from scratch

It has taken almost thirty years to renovate this home and create this garden in Oklahoma City.

"Ignorance gives one a large range of probabilities.” ~ George Eliot

Thank god for ignorance. When my husband Jamie and I bought our 1935 home in Oklahoma City almost thirty years ago, I knew nothing: nothing about renovating a home, starting a family, or creating a garden. I was blissfully naive, okay clueless, and had few reservations about having children, sandblasting the peeling paint off a historic old house with questionable brick integrity, or starting an English garden in a decidedly un-English climate. That was before I looked at everything, EVERYTHING, through a garden lens: epic hailstorms, record drought, and economic downturns, not to mention torn disks, wayward basketballs, and surly neighbors. Maybe it was the arrogance of youth or watching too many happy-ending movies when I was a kid, but I think ignorance was the fuel to my motivation. Motivation to dream, then create, the garden- centered world I live in now. This is the story of how I did it. It wasn't always pretty, or happy, or easy. But create it I did, and for that I am forever in its debt.

Huge allium heads along with larkspur, sedum, and nasturtium make me pause and reflect.

A gardening neighbor and friend of mine once met the famous gardener Penelope Hobhouse while waiting for a flight out of LaGuardia. She was starstruck, as we gardeners tend to be when we meet our favorite horticultural icons. When Ms.Hobhouse inquired as to where she gardened, my friend told her Oklahoma, to which the famous gardener responded with admiration and comprehension. “Ah! Then you are a TRUE gardener! she said.” An extremely validating acknowledgement to my gardening friend of just how difficult it can be to garden in the land of the Dust Bowl. The best compliment a visitor can pay me is to express their disbelief that I have created this garden in Oklahoma! on our red clay, with our relentless wind, torrid summers, and whiplash temperature swings.

Living in a four season garden is very important to me. Fall...

...and Spring being especially dear in Oklahoma where summers can be almost unbearable.

Winter beats out summer in my seasonal affections, especially when a beautiful snow blankets the garden.

I hope to share some of what I have learned about gardening in a difficult environment in the middle of a city and without a lot of experience, help, or financial resources. Every place has its language of beauty, as does my Oklahoma home. I try to reveal the beauty of this home and its geography, and to nurture and love where I am. I learned that I didn'’t have to move to a farm in the country, acquire a Tuscan villa, or even make a major life change to enhance and beautify my daily life. I simply needed to start a garden. As can you. I hope these posts motivate you to

start a garden and live a garden lifestyle of your own.

(Please subscribe and follow along as my garden pilgrimage continues in future posts...)


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