I am excited to introduce you to Ethne Clarke the current Editor-In-Chief of Organic Gardening Magazine. Ethne has had a long and admirable career in magazines, book writing and making us all fall in love with gardens around the world through her words. Organic Gardening is a stalwart promoter of clean gardening and living in a way that works with the land (rather than chemically trying to impale it). It is a lovely magazine that is worth checking out it you are not familiar with it.
The Organic Gardening Team is giving away a year long subscription to the magazine; all you have to do enter is leave a comment here or on the studio ‘g’ facebook page (you can enter twice by commenting in both places). I will pick a winner by random on Monday November 5th. Comment and share a favorite plant….a tip for the season…a new purchase or project…a story about weathering Hurricane Sandy….whatever you want…just join in the conversation to win! – Rochelle
How would you define your style?
Smorgasbord garden: a little of this, a little of that. For me the garden exists for the plants, not the other way around. I love Tony Avent’s principal of “drifts of one.”
What is your garden like?
I have an urban garden: I ripped out the grass and now have a jumble of all the plants I love to eat, to sniff, and to gather. Flowers, herbs, fruits, vegetables. It’s only three years old, and has changed three times, but in creating it I realize I have utilized some of the features of my one-and-half-acre garden in England: formal perennial borders, a “Long Walk” from front to back, old roses, lilies and bulbs to max out spring, and quiet places to sit and admire. The climate in Pennsylvania reminds me of Norfolk, England, where we used to live. However, I do have plants that I grew in Texas…cacti and succulents. Living postcards to remind me of my garden in Austin, which was all native plants and much influenced by vibrant Mexican patios and décor, and the wonderful limestone of the region.
My one day garden would look pretty much like this, but the plant mix might be quite different and the hardscaping materials too, as I believe it’s so important to respond to “place” when creating a garden so that it and you fit comfortably in your surroundings. Who wants to be a fish out of water?
Do you have any favorite or sentimental plants or flowers?
I still have plants from my Austin, TX garden and we left there nearly 10 years ago: agaves mostly and a couple of cacti. After living 30 years in England and gardening there, coming to Texas was a revelation and renaissance. And the start of a never-ending love affair with a place. I fell in love with the bluebonnets, the grasses, the natives, and the whole wacky vida loca. So, now in Pennsylvania, I am reminded of the garden I made there by my old spiky friends and the chimnea on the porch.
What is your earliest or favorite gardening related memory?
My favorite memory is snowdropping with my friend Mark Brown — holder of the French national collection of snowdrops — crawling around on our hands and knees peering into the heart of the little white bells to check their green markings, always looking for some new “variety.” I miss those days. But in Pennsylvania, I have a clutch of snowdrops from a garden in Carlow, Ireland, not far from where my mother was born, and those bring such rich memories and joy each spring.
My earliest garden memory is sowing zinnia seeds with my mother in our back yard in Park Forest, Illinois. She was Irish and my grandfather had a big farm and garden filled with lilies and roses, so I get the gardening bug from her and him I sure.
What are three cardinal design rules that you apply to outdoor projects?
Keep it simple and keep it fitting. Suit the plants to the site, not the other way around — it never works. Be inspired by what others do, but make it your own. Always.
Ethne Clarke recommends….
1. Places for great autumn inspiration: The wine country hills of Napa or the Val d’Orcia in Tuscany: spare but verdant and the essence of autumn harvest in the empty fields, ripening vines and olives and lavender being shorn for the season. I just returned from the second annual Organic Gardening Getaway tour- this year’s had us cruising around Sonoma and Napa organic wineries, last year we explored organic family farms in Tuscany – these landscapes have always inspired me!
2. Right about now I’m thinking about not only what will go into my garden next year, (just planted Italian garlic and cracked open a seed catalogue), but what will go in Organic Gardening’s 2013 issues- it provides my vicarious garden thrills for winter…
3. Watching the leaves fall (and my husband rake them up) reminds me to clear the beds of foliage build-up and keep the compost pile happy by adding some chopped up brown matter.