Just beyond the lily pond garden a stunning sweep of Spanish bluebells adorns the base of a big oak.
Money Isn't Everything
Lesson number one is this: A fat wallet is not the most important factor behind a nice garden. "Money isn't as important as will," Donna states. "You just have to want it badly enough." This leads to lesson number two: Never pass up an opportunity to learn. "I read garden books and magazines all the time and visit lots of other gardens," she says. "Wherever I go, I take a notebook with me." If something puzzles her, she never hesitates to ask. "There's no such thing as a dumb question," she insists. "The more I know, the more I know I don't know--and the more I want to know. Asking is how you learn."
Obviously, Donna has learned a lot. The magnitude of her education sinks in when you discover that she designed every border, structure, waterfall, and walk you see here. "I'm totally self-taught," she says. "If I can do this, so can you. You don't have to go as crazy as I did--you can just have a normal-size garden. You can get there if you really want to."
Creating the Look
Donna describes her garden's predominant style as "very English." When asked to define this, she says, "Romantic, cottage-like, fragrant, soft, but with a bit of punch so it's not boring. I like formal structure but prefer the plants to look like Mother Nature was given free rein. I like for them to spill over into the paths and over walls and be really exuberant."
In this style, shrubs--both evergreen and deciduous--are every bit as important to the look as flowers. Shrubs give the borders year-round structure. They also provide Donna the opportunity to blend contrasting forms, such as upright, horizontal, and weeping, to create interest. "I especially like planting weeping things next to the water," she says. "It just feels right."