|Seattle gardeners, Jim and Suzette Birrell (with grand-sprout)|
The great thing about the private gardens we visited during the 2011 Garden Bloggers’ Fling in Seattle, Washington, was that they were all designed and maintained by the homeowners, themselves. It’s inspiring to see the work of professional garden designers (which some of the homeowners were), but it’s also fascinating to see labours of love which speak to the true meaning of the word amateur.
The first two gardens were next door neighbours. While I call them “duelling gardens” in the title, I doubt that they duel – no more than any two avid gardeners. Instead, I’m thinking of our British-born mum, who’d have pronounced it “jewelling.” Each, in its very distinctive way, was a garden jewel.
Interestingly, I preferred the garden of Shelagh Tucker, whose front garden was inspired by Beth Chatto’s Gravel Garden and whose back garden was composed of flowery garden rooms accented by salvaged stonework. My husband preferred the more practical and open approach of the Birrells next door, with their vegetable beds and constructed pergolas, fences, and a stunning blue shed. Well, I think we all lusted after the shed.
It turns out that in the Birrell family – whose garden my husband preferred – the main gardener is Jim. I liked the garden created by Shelagh. This led me to wonder: is this gender divide coincidental, or are there male and female preferences in garden styles? I researched this question online, and found some discussions here and here. Now, take a look at the duelling slideshows. Then tell me: what do you think?
(For those of you who can’t view these slideshows on the iPad, I’ve embedded the links to the appropriate Flickr set into each of the titles below.)