Country Gardens - - GARDEN KNOW-HOW -


Lay out beds and bor­ders so they curve. Avoid gar­den­ing in straight lines.

Plant close to­gether for abun­dance. Layer plant­ings so they’re lush, full, and packed with color. Pam chooses a gen­tle color pal­ette, but you can also grow a bor­der with lively, con­trast­ing hues.

De­fine space and add height by em­ploy­ing struc­tures such as fences, ar­bors, and trel­lises.

In­clude tra­di­tional English peren­ni­als such as del­phini­ums, roses, phlox, daisies, bee balm, and hollyhocks as suits your cli­mate. For an­nu­als con­sider marigolds, zin­nias, and cleome.

Tuck in ac­cents, such as a bird­bath, bench, or a bright bistro set, to cre­ate des­ti­na­tions or fo­cal points and to in­fuse the gar­den with your per­son­al­ity.

Cre­ate a peace­ful place to re­lax in shady gar­dens where you can sur­round your­self with plants of vary­ing green tex­tures for in­ter­est.

Ar­range groups of pot­ted plants that can mark an en­trance or di­rect the eye. They can also add sea­sonal va­ri­ety.

Don’t worry about fol­low­ing strict de­sign rules. In­clude el­e­ments that have per­sonal mean­ing and that will evoke mem­o­ries.

Fences, ar­bors, and trel­lises de­fine the dif­fer­ent ar­eas in the gar­den and frame views. They also pro­vide struc­ture to grow things ver­ti­cally, a com­mon tech­nique in English cot­tage gar­dens. “I have fences be­hind my shade gar­den and use a tall trel­lis and ar­bors to grow vines up them to have that ver­ti­cal­ity,” Pam says.

“The Po­conos grow rocks,” Pam says. The rocky clay soil plus ex­treme weather pat­terns meant things didn’t thrive the way they did in Eng­land. “Eng­land is tem­per­ate. We gar­dened in Zone 7 or 8. They say we’re in Zone 6 in the Po­conos, but it’s ba­si­cally a Zone 5,” she says. For ex­am­ple, daf­fodils would bloom in Fe­bru­ary in her child­hood vil­lage of Heath Hayes but not un­til May where she lives now. A fa­vorite bloom of Pam’s grand­mother—del­phini­ums—turned out to be dif­fi­cult to grow in her Penn­syl­va­nia gar­den. “I have to treat del­phini­ums like an­nu­als here; they don’t al­ways over­win­ter. And I can’t get a field of them to grow like my mother could,” Pam says. She also planted hollyhocks, which her mother grew eas­ily, but Pam’s

hollyhocks seemed to strug­gle more with rust in her Penn­syl­va­nia gar­den.

To get the gar­den she wanted, Pam re­al­ized she needed more ed­u­ca­tion, so she took classes through Penn State Ex­ten­sion to be­come a Mas­ter Gar­dener. The skills she ac­quired en­abled her to evoke the style of Eng­land’s small fenced gar­dens but on a much larger scale. When bud­get al­lowed, she and Duane in­stalled fences to de­fine spa­ces, but other ar­eas, like the wood­land walk, are open. Duane wanted a pond, for which Pam de­signed an herba­ceous bor­der. In re­cent years she has planted a pal­ette of soft tones in­stead of bold, col­or­ful plant­ings of­ten seen in Eng­land. She also strays from a loose, cot­tage style in her fenced vegetable gar­den, in­stead choos­ing a for­mal ap­proach sim­i­lar to the Colo­nial Wil­liams­burg plots she and Duane saw on their hon­ey­moon.

The prop­erty also now in­cludes a pol­li­na­tor gar­den in the front yard. Bird­houses and gar­den ac­cents Duane finds at flea mar­kets are tucked in here and there. On a gar­den-tour trip in Eng­land, Pam noted that many gar­dens in­cluded a bird­cage planted with ivy, so she worked that into her Po­conos place.

Pam’s grand­son, Jonathan Strunk, has helped her gar­den since he first learned to walk. A teenager now, he helps plant the vegetable gar­dens in spring and tucks in minia­ture gar­dens through­out for vis­i­tors to dis­cover. Pam likes to share her fam­ily’s gar­den­ing past as well as the present with Jonathan.

She hosts English-style teas in the gar­den in spring and fall for friends and fam­ily. Pam rel­ishes the mean­ing be­hind al­most ev­ery fea­ture of her gar­den and takes joy in the knowl­edge that she is pass­ing her gar­den tra­di­tions on to an­other gen­er­a­tion—on Amer­i­can soil. “An English cot­tage gar­den for me is very much about evok­ing mem­o­ries and pass­ing them along to the grand­chil­dren,” she says.


TOP Cold frames added to the side of Pam’s pot­ting shed al­low her to ex­tend the grow­ing sea­son for an­nual plants by a few weeks in spring and fall. ABOVE Col­or­ful wa­ter­ing cans be­come a charm­ing ac­cent when dis­played in a row. RIGHT The pot­ting shed is more than sim­ply a spot to store tools and gar­den­ing es­sen­tials. It also houses a rock­ing chair that has been in Duane’s fam­ily for over a hun­dred years. A friend passed along vin­tage gar­den­ing books af­ter her hus­band passed away; Pam found the per­fect place for them in the book­case next to the rocker.

Pam bought her big-box shed be­cause it came with a sloped roof, clear pan­els on one wall that let light in, and a built-in pot­ting bench. She later added shades to help con­trol the light and in­stalled in­su­la­tion so she could use the shed ear­lier in spring and later into the fall.

TOP LEFT Wind­ing paths sep­a­rate curved beds an­chored by small trees and shrubs and ac­cented with col­or­ful peren­ni­als and an­nu­als. The curves help cre­ate a lay­ered feel in the

Cleome has­s­le­ri­ana ‘Rose Queen’

Pam’s grand­fa­ther grew veg­eta­bles, and she fol­lows some of his tech­niques in her gar­den­ing. “I learned what they call in Amer­ica ‘lasagna gar­den­ing’ but what he called ‘no-dig gar­den­ing,’ ” she says. “He just piled compost, news­pa­per, peat moss, and top­soil on top of each other in lay­ers, which is how I made most of my beds.”

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