My Garden: Starting Green
A garden in Garrison, New York ended up converting a bookkeeper into a passionate gardener.
This My Garden, in Garrison, New York, which belongs to Marilyn Young and her husband, Eric Erickson, was featured in our September/October issue and we also have a number of web-only photos in this slide show.
The story of this garden is by the owner, Marilyn Young, as told to Cynthia King.
My husband and I had almost given up looking for a house in the country when we stumbled upon a neglected Craftsman cottage in Garrison, New York.
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As I began to work on the garden, I pulled up a bit of the weedy shrub that filled the yard and took it to a nursery. "Honey, you got trouble," the nursery worker said—Japanese knotweed; Ailanthus, and bittersweet turned out to be co-conspirators. I soon learned how to swing a mattock, and my husband got very good with the chainsaw.
In the process of replanting after clearing the invasives, I became an avid gardener.
The first winter, I sat in front of the fire reading rose books. At some point, I gave into covetousness and ordered two dozen bare root roses from Pickering Nursery in Canada. When they came, I looked out at the expanse of dirt and rubble and thought, "Where the hell am I going to plant these?" That was the beginning of my obsession.
Vita Sackville-West is my rose mentor. I would read her books and buy her favorites, like Albertine and Goldfinch, then compare her notes to my own.
Of course, once you hvae roses, you have to get clematis vines to grow over them becasuse the rose bush can look skanky after it's bloomed. I love the small flowered ones like Betty Corning because they're great for arrangements.
I am also proud of my deer-proof mixed hedgerow and all of my hardscaping; without it, the whole thing would just be pretty fluff. My husband, Eric Erickson, is a painter who used to work for John Loring at Tiffany; he drew the gardens's lines and built many of the stone walls, steps, and paths.
I used to work for the designer agnès b., and that French sensibility has always been big with me—they love good garden furniture. I really don't understand how people can work so hard on their beds and then stick white, plastic, cheapo furniture beside them. The tables, chairs, and benches are the sculpture of the garden. They should be beautiful too.
I'm pretty passionate about this whole thing. When I moved here 14 years ago, I was a bookkeeper for an architect; now I work part-time at Wave Hill and have gardening clients of my own.
The garden in winter.