Garden Conservancy Tour – Margaret Roach’s Garden

We spent part of this soggy Saturday in Columbia County exploring gardens including the garden of Margaret Roach, who was the first garden editor for Martha Stewart Living magazine.  Her garden was part of the Open Days Garden Conservancy tours, a fundraising event for the organization that preserves exceptional gardens across America.

I always see something that I can bring into my own garden designs when I visit the gardens on these tours. In Roach’s garden, it was the masterful play of color and texture. At her country home, where she has garden for 25 years, plants from lowly ground covers to stately trees were visually woven together in an appealing tapestry that is at once both stimulating and subtle. You can tell that a great deal of consideration was given to plant placement.

Everywhere you look, you’ll see several different shapes of leaves artfully planted closely together to showcase color, texture, glossiness and shape. For example, shiny rounded European ginger leaves near a feathery fern next to the hand-like wild geranium leaves, across from the tiny oval leaves of a barberry. It is all about shapes of color and form.

The key to a great garden design is in the details. In the photos below, notice what Roach has created for herself. It is masterfully done. And, something you can do in your own garden. Following aretwo images that really showcase the importance of textures using plants that are readily available.

Another design element that was well done in this garden was the use of color and contrast. In the photos that follow Roach played off two complimentary colors….red and green. Notice the Japanese Maple with a bright yellow-green sedum acting as mulch in the terra-cotta pot. And, at right below, the Smokebush’s purple rosy leaves paired with the fresh green leaves of the wild geranium.

Other noteworthy elements of the garden were a small pond where visitors stopped to appreciate the chorus of frogs and unusual trees such as the Autumn Moon Japanese Maple. At left below is a closeup of the leaves of this tree.  Roach said she moves the small tree into a garage to protect it from ice and snow damage in winter.

If you don’t know about the Open Days Conservancy Garden Tours you can find out more at their website www.gardenconservancy.org. Preserving beautiful gardens for the public to enjoy is the goal and mission of the Garden Conservancy and the funds raised during the garden tours ($5. per garden) go toward this purpose.

I have been to many great gardens through this program and look forward each year to reading the directory that lists the gardens on tour with a brief description. The directory arrives in my mailbox in late winter and I’ve been known to put on the kettle, settle down with a hot cup of tea and begin marking off the gardens I don’t want to miss.

I’ve even been known to schedule family visits in other states around open days tours in those locations. Visiting the gardens of others and talking with those who care for the properties is deeply satisfying. These kindred spirits appreciate what you do, share nursery sources, and often speak the same language….botanical Latin.

If you decide to look at the schedule and want to know if I’ve been to a garden you’re considering, contact me. I’ll share my experience.

If you would like to see more of Margaret Roach’s garden, her website is http://awaytogarden.com.

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