THE OUTSIDER, BOTANIZING GLOBALLY, GROWING LOCALLY with HANNAH GARDNER, UK
Hannah Gardner is a gardener, writer, and mother – she is a garden designer and plantswoman with a passion for traveling the world to learn about and meet plants and their communities in their places from Estonia to the Canaries, Northern Israel to the wildflower meadow of her home in Wiltshire, England.
Her longtime column in Gardens Illustrated entitled ‘The Outsider’ is a trove of adventurous armchair plant and garden travel for readers. The botanical lessons she learns globally inform her organic horticultural work right at home and give inspiration to all of us for better botanical holiday making ourselves. These lovely informative and inspiring columns are astoundingly illustrated by the artist Alice Patullo.
A long time gardener, Hannah (along with many of us) made a new garden in lockdown – digging up her drive and making an adventurous dry gravel garden that she is experimenting in and loving.
Hannah is a firm believer in Imaginative Possibilities born of broadening our horizons by immersing ourselves in this plant world - 3 miles from home or 3000 miles from home.
Hannah joined me from her work potting shed at Blackwell House/Bayntun Flowers.
Hannah also leads botanical garden trips, including one to Japan in 2022, and you can follow along with Hannah's work and plant adventures online at the NewBritishlandscapes.cok.uk and on Instagram @astrantiarose
Photos courtesy of Hannah Gardner, New British Landscapes. Bio Photo of Hannah by Jason Ingram. All rights reserved.
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Thinking out loud this week:
Last week we talked about Adventurous gardening – adventurous landscape design of integrity and adventurous garden design mindset = this week we’re deep into plant and garden adventures. Literally – which I think is particularly apt in this summer of 2021 when people can and are traveling once again and those of us garden folk who may be traveling rarely miss a chance to meet new plants and be inspired by gardens on our own adventures.
Hannah Gardner’s philosophy is predicated on the idea that the more she meets plants in their places, the more she knows about them in her garden, and the more in fact she knows about the plants she loves native to her own place.
I believe this to be true as well – this honing of our own sense of place and renewing our sense of sight and wonder by knowing and immersing ourselves in other places whether they are 3 miles away or 3000 miles away.
As this week’s episode airs, I am just back to my own home place from travels to Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and New Mexico. I have seen new to me gardens – some of them quite old and met many new to me gardeners – which is always not just a treat, but an expansion for me.
At the Nantucket Garden Festival, I got to sit at some length on the pews of the old Quaker’s Meeting House with a doctor who is a new gardener and is intensely considering how to integrate more hands on plant medicine into her work with patients, sitting with us, the ecological/environmental director of the local land bank considering how to really bring greater conversation and interaction between the very very different populations of the small beautiful island – those who visit the island and those who work the land making the visitors conveniences possible.
In Maine, hosted by the Beatrix Farrand Society, I spoke in the old barn at Garland Farm, the last home and garden of Mrs. Farrand, with the perfect dooryard garden, and I got to meet so many wonderful gardeners and garden appreciators – there were young and elders in the audience who stayed after to again chat with me more about how their exact work in the garden and with the land might be amplified to have even greater impact in addressing the challenges of our time. I met up with, chatted and toured with great gardeners Peggy Cornett, Stephen Orr, Christin Geall, Cassie Banning, Erin Dilworth, Mary Roper, Caleb Davis, Christine Pelletreau, Stephanie Burnett, Michaeleen Ward.
As a surprise Severine von Tscharner Fleming of The Greenhorns and The New Farmer’s Almanac – a new society and your farmer advocate showed up in Maine – and having interviewed her for The Earth in Her Hands, it was a joy to be able to hug her, chat with her in person, and introduce her to the audience so she could inspire them as well.
What’s the point of this long-winded travelogue? I return home ever more deeply believing that the more we as gardeners connect and cross pollinate the greater the potential for positive growth we are in this world. From the 20 something working gardeners to the 80 something garden lifers still listening eagerly learning and loving this garden life. I loved hiking around, garden visiting, and botanizing on roadsides and grand estates to meet plant friends, but it’s the ecosystem of gardeners that moves me both figuratively and literally - it’s this ecosystem that grows me.
Just like Hannah Gardner in our conversation, I come home full and renewed in perspective from my botanical adventures.
So thank you ecosystem of gardeners out there growing the world better. It’s good to meet you – again and again – every one of you different, every one of us powerful.
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