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Montrose: Life in a Garden

By
Nancy Goodwin
Nancy Goodwin
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Duke University Press
ISBN electronic:
978-0-8223-8719-0
Publication date:
2005

Something is blooming every day of the year in the renowned gardens at Montrose, Nancy Goodwin’s nineteenth-century property in historic Hillsborough, North Carolina. Since moving to Montrose with her husband Craufurd in 1977, Goodwin has transformed more than twenty acres into an extraordinary complex of interlocking gardens that come in and out of focus as the seasons overlap and change.

Beautifully written and illustrated, Montrose: Life in a Garden is Goodwin’s affectionate biography of her gardens, recounting how and why each section was developed over the years, including the Dianthus Walk, Nandinaland, Hellebore Slope, Mother-in-Law Walk, Snowdrop Woods, and Jo’s Bed. It is also a meticulous month-by-month chronicle of a specific year in these gardens—a year that saw a punishing drought that threatened Goodwin’s no-irrigation policy, a damaging December ice storm, and the beginnings of a plan to preserve Montrose in the future.

Working on her knees for long days throughout the year, Nancy Goodwin always has a vision of how her gardens will appear in twelve months or in twelve years. She will spend weeks, for instance, planting hundreds of snow drops along a woodsy path in order to enjoy a fleeting week of exquisite beauty in coming years. She never puts anything into the ground without imagining what form, color, and texture it will add to a bed. With tireless patience and unflagging optimism, Goodwin will wait years to see a single plant bloom.

Following Goodwin’s activities throughout the year, readers will learn the fundamentals of maintaining a four-season garden in Zone 7 in the South. Award-winning garden illustrator Ippy Patterson has provided more than 160 lavish illustrations of the gardens at Montrose and these meticulously detailed drawings appear throughout the book.

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