Art in Our Gardens

Gardeners are hardy, creative folk.  We don’t scare easy.

Think it was the second heat wave of the season.  The day of the tour, dark clouds alternately threatened and acted-out by throwing ten or twenty minute tantrums of heavy sheets of rain on gardens that had been meticulously prepared for the day.  When the storms were quiet, they left behind humidity that hovered like an over protective mom. And staggering heat.  But still the gardeners strolled to look.

Even with the naughty skies, gardeners came out, some wearing wellies and carrying umbrellas, to see and to learn.

The Cumberland County Master Gardener Garden Tour was held back in June and nearly 250 came to tour gardens through out the West Shore.  Each garden had its special appeal and each garden offered educational displays.  I took away ideas from each.   I also loved meeting so many other fab gardeners and talking my favorite plant raps.

But seeing the gardens and the creativity of each of the gardeners firmed-up something that had been percolating in my head for a long time.  I like it when my brain finally makes sense of something.

I’m at core an artist.  While I can equally easily navigate both the left and the right sides of my brain, the left takes the lead every once in a blue moon.

And so in my 20’s when I first got the gardening bug, this new passion of mine didn’t fit my idea of an “acceptable hobby” for an “artist.”  Wasn’t in my self-image.   I WAY got over it though.

But as I meet more and more gardeners and I see more of their gardens, I see how very wrong I was.  I see all gardeners are artists.

I’ve come to know accomplished gardeners who make their living in the arts; like the fab horticulturalist who welds antique keys together for trellises and garden gates.  There is the landscape designer who is also a mosaic artist and accomplished photographer preparing work for a show in DC next year.

Neighbors who are Shakespearean actors have gardens that put mine to shame.  I’ve met a painter who does Halloween art and is hired by companies all over the US to carve pumpkins for them; and man, SHE can grow anything. (story on this witch to come soon)   There is a wonderful Guggenheim Fellow photographer among my gardening friends.  Three local art teachers I know are rocking gardeners, too.

But even without the street cred of fancy shows or awards, there is art in the plantings of gardeners.  And I saw the art elevated in the gardens of the Cumberland County Master Gardeners.

I didn’t get to see all the gardens.  I visited the beautiful gardens of Master Gardner’s Barb Lumby, Jay and Carol Crist,  and Shirley Stark.   I’d stopped by Lori Hegedus’ garden before she had finished up preparing so I could do a preview story for the event.  I took photos of each of the gardens and here is a slide show.  I must say, my video doesn’t capture the beauty of each of the spaces, but here’s a peak anyway.   I’m hoping the show inspires you to join the tour next year!

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About the Author

Laura Mathews

Laura is a garden writer and photographer. She writes online content for gardening websites, writes for gardening publications and blogs for three gardening blogs. Her interests are local food, organic gardening, backyard homesteading and native plants. She assists gardening related clients with social media. And occasionally, she'll offer a solicited opinion as a garden coach.


  1. It’s fun going out on garden tours, despite the weather!

    # Posted on July 25, 2010 at 11:25 pm by meemsnyc
  2. Your absolutely right. I find it a fabulous way to express my artistic side. I’ve always felt that I was at my core an artist, this medium just clicked. Great tour! I enjoyed the pictures!

    # Posted on July 27, 2010 at 5:11 pm by Laura
  3. I love garden tours and you are so right. There are some fine artists in the gardening world.

    # Posted on July 27, 2010 at 5:25 pm by Kristin
  4. Something about artists and gardening. Must be creating something out of nothing and all the beautiful colors. It’s magical!

    # Posted on August 7, 2010 at 5:08 pm by Jen

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