I caught the gardening bug from my grandmother when I was about 8 years old. Summer afternoons would find us pulling weeds and cutting fresh flowers that she would sell on her road side stand. At the time it seemed like a horrible chore, but in reality, she was instilling in me a love of flowers, and gardening, that I still carry today.
When Bryon and I first drove up the driveway of 4072 Cherry Road, the yards were barren. There wasn’t a flower on the entire property, except for a clump of yellow iris and a couple of variegated hostas. With our energy focused on renovating the farm house to become a bed and breakfast, the beginnings of a flower garden would have to wait. The Chanticleer Guest House opened it’s doors for business on October, 2nd 1993 and I promptly started the first garden that fall. With boxes of perennials from my mother’s, and grandmother’s gardens, I began work on a small garden next to the front of the house. Bryon and I had already installed a stone walkway, and the perrenials were a nice addition to our front entrance.
The previous owners had used the area inside our pool fence as a dog run. It was a grassless mudhole that begged to be a flower garden. After countless wheel barrows of manure, the pool garden took shape and we installed a fish pond behind the pool. Peonies, day lilies, iris, phlox, perennial geraniums and seveal rhododendrons were planted. I spent every spare moment either planning my next garden or working on an existing one. My gardening hobby had slowly become a gardening obsession! I was 24 years old and my plan was to transform the entire yard into one huge perennial garden!
My attention turned to our front yard. Our front yard consisted simply of maples and a black walnut tree. The perfect place for a shade garden! Out came the tiller and before I knew what happened, I had dug up the front yard and started planting hostas, spring bulbs, dogwood trees, trillium and a variety of other shade plants. That wasn’t enough! The idea of having spring time weddings convinced us that we needed to construct a gazebo. The gazebo was installed in 1995 and weeks later, the gazebo garden began to take shape. We planted peach trees, which supply us with fresh peaches each August, and thousands of spring bulbs. The gazebo garden was full in a matter of months.
I took a break from garden constuction in 1996 as we embarked on the project to transform our barn into a bed and breakfast. The barn was converted to guests suites over the winter of 1996/1997 and we opened the guest barn in February. I was free that following spring to add another garden, complete with fish pond and creek. I was in heaven constructing the creek and digging the pond, setting stones and planting plants. Shrub roses, perennial grasses, butterfly bushes, lavender and a myriad of other plants couldn’t be planted fast enough!
It’s now 2011 and last month I turned 42 years old. I still enjoy gardening, but I haven’t installed a new garden in over 13 years. I now garden for a couple of hours, instead of all day long! Age has slowed me down a bit, but age has also made our gardens at The Chanticleer more beautiful than ever. We invite you to enjoy our gardens, any time of year, and you’re always welcome to help pull weeds…