Tuesday, August 31, 2021

How I Named My Gardens

In the Serenity Garden the dawn redwood, planted two years ago, is now as tall as the house.

I began making gardens at Astolat Farm in the fall of 2005. I had a clean slate. I began with the Serenity Garden and continued from there. This year I extended the rain garden and started preparing a meadow that I plan to seed this fall.  As I 'completed' each one (actually, no garden is ever finished) its characteristics brought a name to mind. As I describe them, below, I believe you will understand what I mean.

The Serenity Garden

Turtlehead (Chelone 'Hot lips') --top right--is blooming today. It is a harbinger of autumn.

The Serenity Garden is a tranquil space punctuated by elegant statuary. Originally, shade was provided by an ancient silver maple and a catalpa, but they stood in a wet spot that eventually hastened their demise. We replaced them with a dawn redwood that loves wet feet. Its bright green, feathery leaves turn orange in fall. My vision was to accentuate the color, form, and texture of plants in this garden. Texture ranges from bold-leaved hostas to the fern-like foliage and dense, feathery plumes of astilbe. A diversity of shades is exemplified by chartreuse Japanese forest grass (Hakonechloa) and variegated lamium’s silver leaves edged with dark green. A vine-covered swing-seat provides the perfect spot to relax.

The Cottage Garden

Even the pond in the Cottage Garden has a  name: Froggy Pond.

This space has all the elements of an English-style cottage garden. It is a riot of color at peak season. The flowerbeds are curved and filled with common flowers such as cone flower, bee balm, Shasta daisy, phlox, and lambs’ ears. The plants seem to have little space between them. Pots, window boxes, and hanging baskets filled with annuals add to the cottage-garden look.  English gardens have vertical planting and here there are trellises of roses and clematis. The focal point of this garden is the pond with its waterfalls, lily pads, and colorful koi fish. An elegant wrought-iron bench surrounded by flowers provides a double pleasure—a beautiful view and the sound of water.

The Horseshoe Garden

Vintage horseshoes, Edward the horse statue, and a butterfly made from horseshoes in the Horseshoe Garden.

I created this horseshoe-shaped garden bed in memory of Dude and Charm, my two miniature horses—I miss them so. A diverse planting provides year-round interest. In spring there are crocus, violets, and bearded iris. Summer brings daylilies, a stunning St. John’s wort with fuzzy, yellow blooms that are bee magnets, and Sunkist Coreopsis. Goldenrod is lovely in autumn and the stems of red-twig dogwood are striking in winter. The bed is dotted with vintage horseshoes that my husband unearthed on this farm where he lived all his life. In the Horseshoe Garden we added a statue of a horse that we call Edward. Our farrier made me a colorful butterfly from horseshoes, completing the theme.

Abundance Garden

The flower border that I call Abundance. The rain garden--bottom right--is planted with native plants.

Every plant here seems to thrive. I acknowledge with no apology that I planted some that tend to be thugs anyway—I chose obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana) and bee balm (Monarda Didyma) in the early days, before I learned what is best to grow in Pennsylvania. Other less-aggressive plants are very happy in Abundance also, especially spring daffodils that continue to spread, anise hyssop (Agastache), cone flower (Echinacea ‘Milkshake’), yarrow (Achillea ‘The Pearl’), several varieties of daylilies, and Salvia (Salvia nemorosa ‘Caradonna’). I made part of Abundance into a rain garden to collect storm water runoff. I filled the rain garden with native plants. They grow in abundance under my sweet Joe Pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum).

The Stone Garden

My grandson made a miniature garden in the broken fountain in the Stone Garden.


Before I retired to garden, I got dirt under my nails by growing flowers in pots, having no spare time to make garden beds nor plant in the ground. I placed the pots at the side of the house to hide the utility stuff—air conditioner unit, generator, and water spigot. Each year I change the plantings in concrete containers. Other concrete features—that add a feeling of continuity—include a curved bench, a birdbath, and a small statue of St. Francis. The area is located under the cover of lilacs and maple trees, so I use annual and perennial plants that prefer shade. I plant large pots with ferns, hostas, and other perennials that I over-winter in the kitchen garden to save cost. I grow coleus from seed, starting them indoors very early in the year. I usually add some tuberous begonias because I love them. I like to use mirrors in all my gardens. The garden got its name from the medium that we use to cover the ground--it is not actually stone, but a lovely, red cinder that crunches as you walk—a natural volcanic material that gives an excellent decorative touch to the area.

Some of my gardens have self-explanatory titles such as The Kitchen Garden.

The Kitchen Garden

Never named my shed, it is simply The Potting Shed. Although the pastor of my church once called it The Shack – I think she may have just finished reading the book of that title. Jenny Rose Carey calls hers Rose Cottage. Why didn’t I think of that?

Have you named your gardens? I’m creating a new meadow garden in the old horse pasture. It will need a name. Any ideas? 

One or two pictures in each collage above show the garden in August. I am linking with Sarah for her Through the Garden Gate meme where you can check out August gardens around the world.   

Happy gardening, dear friends,

Pamela x


I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited! 

I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Well it certainly was fun to hear the stories about the various names you’ve given to your gardens. I’m not sure many people have a big enough garden to have that many names! Mine is simply called Robin’s Nest, other than the veggie garden and the Sunrise Rose Garden. I used to have one small corner that I called The Butterfly Garden, but my while yard qualifies for that now. I’m amused at a horseshoe themed garden, you’ve probably got the only one!

    1. Some of my 'gardens' are quite small--just flowerbeds really. I never thought about having the only horseshoe garden.

  2. I love how each of your gardens have a definite theme or feel to them. It was interesting reading about each one.

    1. Naming the gardens definitely adds interest and meaning to them.

  3. It happened, that our Froggy Pond is horseshoe shaped. And we have 2 horse shoes that turned up in our Porterville garden. A little bit of history adds story to naming parts of our garden.

    1. You are right about the importance of history in the garden--much of gardening for me is about old memories as well as creating new ones.

  4. For as much as I love flowers and color I think the pictures from the serenity garden make it my favorite. I'm sure they're different in person, but the cooling greens and interesting textures.. plus a swinging bench!.. make it a garden I can see myself relaxing in for a whole weekend. Actually that sounds like an excellent idea in itself :)

  5. I love your gardens and the names you have given them as each one has a special meaning. This was such a wonderful read Pam and it makes me want to sit right there in that Serenity Garden and not leave for hours!

  6. Thanks, Pamela. Our gardeners will love how to name their gardens from your experience. The Nature Place Journal will feature each of your named gardens. Photos are great too.
    Shirley Flanagan