by Barbara Nevins Taylor
The season is just too short and I always try to keep the color in my end-of-summer garden for as long as possible.
So I just cheated and added a big pot of purple asters. But beyond the brick walls of my tiny urban garden, it’s always a pleasure to see other people’s gardens hanging on, too.
That’s why during the second week of August, when my friend Jeanmarie Woods said she wanted to look at gardens in the hills above the harbor in Camden, Maine, I joined her eagerly.
Jeanmarie plans to remake her garden in Mt. Desert, Maine, next year and hoped to find some good ideas, and I enjoy seeing what people like to grow.
Midway through our walk, we spotted Lynette Walther, working away as though it were May or June. Lynette, on her hands and knees, struggled to dig up an old bush she considered a predator. She was eager to substitute a friendly type of rhododendron.
She greeted us like old friends when we stopped to admire the wide variety of colorful perennials and annuals that surrounded her white frame home. “My husband said, ‘You’re moving things again,'” she laughed. “You always have to move things. Sometimes they outgrow a spot, or they don’t work where you put them.”
We had discovered a true garden expert. Lynnette won the National Garden Bureau’s Exemplary Journalism Award. She’s a retired college professor and writes about gardens in Maine and Florida where she divides her time. She’s the author of Florida Gardening on the Go, a guide to planting small gardens. She’s also written a cookbook and contributed to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Gourmet Vegetables.
But she didn’t tell us any of that. We learned the backstory later. The day we met, she was happy to show us around her strategically planted garden and point out what she liked.
Everything gave her pleasure, from the seasonal lantana to Rose of Sharon, her clematis, which still bloomed, to oak leaf hydrangea and other hydrangea varieties, purple worts, a multitude of ferns, rapidly fading Echinacea, which is very popular in Maine, phlox, plants that looked like purple salvia and a small cascade of Japanese Hakone grass that grabbed our attention.
I loved the purple stargazer lilies that took center stage in the front of her home.
The care Lynette Walther took with the plantings surrounding them made the lilies look like the prize in a beautiful bouquet.
Lynnette gave Jeanmarie simple, straight-forward advice.
“Don’t be afraid to experiment and move things when you don’t like them in a particular place,” she said. She surprised us when she didn’t tick off a list of fancy growers to supply plants. Instead she suggested the growers whose plants you can find practically anyplace, “Proven Winners. I always have a lot of luck with them,” she said. Then she got back down on her hands and knees to continue her struggle with the bush.