I recently visited Bedrock Garden in Lee, New Hampshire, and felt that I was awake and bright. A.D.
Jill Noni is a talented designer who has won numerous awards at the Boston Flower Show. Walde uses her skills to create metal sculptures from small to large, as well as to work with other media. Bob Jill is a natural builder and architect who allowed her to put her art on the landscape with water features, walls, roads and much more. They are truly a couple who make each other’s best.
When I visited the gardens, Jill was fortunate to be my guide. Visiting the gardens with me was also run by John Forty, a non-profit executive and horticulturist who managed the gardens. We spent about three hours exploring the gardens, and I learned many plants that I had never seen before.
Bedrock Garden is full of amazing things that delight, enlighten and inspire visitors. I am grateful that I have a large garden for my own efforts and how much Jill and Bob have added to their gardens.
For years, the Bedrock Garden was open for a few weekends during the summer, but five years ago, Jill and Bob decided that they should take the future of the garden seriously, as some were approaching. They created nonprofits, hired John Fortin as director and thought about how to differentiate between public and private spaces.
At the time of the outbreak, they had created a parking lot and a tourist center, away from their old farm, where they had lived for more than 40 years. They have created a family environment that is as enjoyable as the children themselves.
Next to the parking lot, children can enter the gnome house, which is made up of a huge empty fig tree covered with a metal roof reminiscent of Jill’s mushroom hat. She saw the amazing bowl on the side of the road and immediately touched her brake to ask. Luckily, she was the first to ask, she found. (Five other people stopped and asked him that day, she told me, but she was the first).
I consider myself well exposed to the horticultural gallery in New Hampshire. Bedrock Garden is in Zone 5b, which means it will not be colder than 25 degrees Fahrenheit for most years. But Jill grew up with many plants that I had never seen before, including many trees in Japan or China.
Jill Nuni used plants in amazing ways. So, for example, she uses beetle’s “blood of oxen” heritage for beetles for their purple leaves deep in the flower bed. Annual effort, but very impressive. When a hollow tree was cut down, Bob cut it into two-foot sections and overlapped the sections between the two trees, so that pedestrians would see it as binoculars. He can see where the branches are growing. They call it “Log Jam.”
Jill made good use of ornamental grass throughout the garden. Miscanthus spp. But she also uses it in the shade. “He is smart in the shadows,” she said, “I like him.
Metal sculpture is an integral part of every garden. At the beginning of our visit, I admired the space created by creating a series of 11-inch steel beams, consisting of 11 arches, 13 feet high and 7 feet wide. “I use the sky,” she said. She beautifully bent each metal frame into a Gothic arch, discovering the lines of the Gothic cathedral. And she’s developing fast-paced reinforcements in Europe to wear the steel frame as part of the installation – one on the arches and attached to the metal. They will finally reach heaven – the tip of the arch.
In the garden, there are two metal “Chiwaras” inscribed with masks made by Malian Bambara people. I told Jill the Antalope myth in Mali, where I had worked with the Peace Corps for many years. The people of Bambara admire the ants they have taught to sow the main crop. The ant shook the ground, and threw some fertilizer into the soil containing the seeds. So Jill celebrated with a glimpse of her beauty in her stylish masks.
So if you can, plan a visit to Bedrock Garden. There is a guided tour every day, and two days a week. Or wander around and study the design elements – see how Jill uses amazing and inspiring plants, and how she adds to the fun and excitement. This is a garden you should visit, even if you don’t have much space or energy to raise Jill and Bob. Bring lunch and plan for the day. You will be glad you did. And if you have kids in your life, think about attending the Fair Hobbit House Festival October 9-11. Learn more at www.bedrockgardens.org.
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