A Gardener’s Garden

A Gardener’s Garden

Text By Tovah Martin | Photography By Kindra Clineff

Horticulturist and garden writer Tovah Martin shares a peek inside her own garden.

Spring’s onslaught always catches me by surprise. I would be perfectly content to slowly savor the initial smattering of tulips, primroses, daffodils, and cherry blossoms that starts the ball rolling. But spring is not discrete by nature. The garden gathers momentum in a blink. Before I know it, I am knee-deep in a barrage of peonies, iris, columbines, poppies, catmint, alliums, viburnums, and a bevy of umpteen other blossoms. Yes, it is total overload. But who doesn’t love every precocious petal of spring? Being an insatiable collector of all things botanical has its benefits. Spring is when all my investments in time, labor, and sweat equity come to fruition, with dividends.

When I bought the 7-acre northwestern Connecticut property in 1996 nothing was here except for a quaint cobbler shop attached to a converted barn. The inside was just the right brand of funky to fit my taste, but a garden was nonexistent save for one struggling iris hugging the foundation. I once asked an elderly neighbor if plants ever resided in front of the 1790 cobbler shop. “Certainly,” the 96-year-old responded without pause, “there was a potato patch.” The only vestige that remained was opulently fertile soil.