We’ve been using Weatherlow Florals, led by Phoebe Poole, to help with our styling needs for our photo sessions. Naturally, when thinking up a flower garden, I thought why not go straight to the source —and so, we began our collaborative creative endeavor. With all the wedding cancellations this season, I was especially grateful to know that Phoebe was available to plan and plant our flower garden.
I hadn’t realized how much all the past garden touring had impressed upon me until we started working on this landscape. Conservation, setting, scale, wildlife and maintenance are priorities. Sometimes just leaving things alone makes more sense.
I carved out a few areas on the property where I could make some smaller gardens for flowers, vegetables and herbs. Using English and New England gardens for inspiration – Gertrude Jekyll for historical elements, Bunny Williams, and Martha Stewart for guidance on our particular climate, John Brookes for design. Of course, many of my friends and neighbors have lovely gardens and I so enjoy seeing what they’re up to in the garden.
I’m so thrilled about the bounty that will come. I have ambitious hopes for our garden endeavor: edible flowers and bespoke bouquets. And I’ve just found the perfect southern spot for some parterres and a knot garden.
It gives me great joy to further introduce you to Phoebe and her musings on the Marchioness Garden.
Q&A with Phoebe Poole of Weatherlow Florals
Tell us a little bit about the Marchioness Garden. How did you go about designing the garden scheme(s)?
My initial thoughts for the project were to create a garden that would be both useful and beautiful, and embody the Marchioness spirit. To achieve a balance of formality and wildness, I chose to mix annual and perennial cut flower varieties in shades of white, pink, lavender, and blue. The annuals would bring much needed color and lightness to the structured beds, while the perennials would form the foundation for the garden today and into the future.
What were some of the garden goals you and Bethany identified when scheming up the garden?
I was thrilled to find that Bethany and I were kindred spirits in our hopes for the garden – abundant beds of beautiful blooms and foliages, slightly untamed but a pleasure to look at and work amongst, plenty of cut flowers that could be used for arrangements in the home, and the inclusion of herbs and edible flowers for the kitchen.
How do you think about starting a garden from scratch? Do certain varieties work best together versus others?
When embarking on a blank slate garden project, I think it’s incredibly important to focus on the soil and the site, and plan for maintenance factors like watering and mulching – and then the plants can come onto the scene afterwards! If a good foundation is set first, all the rest will fall into place. The Marchioness Garden enjoys plenty of sunshine, so we focused on varieties that thrive in full sun and those that would be hardy enough to subsist on infrequent watering (the clean lines and formality of the garden make an irrigation system difficult to hide). The beds contain combinations of annuals, perennials, and biennials which grow at different rates and bloom at different times and root at different depths – all will be happy companions in the soil together and will provide visual interest for the entire growing season. Also, with the limited space, I strove to incorporate flower varieties that are beautiful throughout their growth stages – those that have beautiful foliages even before they bloom, ones that form interesting pods after their blooms have past, and even varieties that will spread their own seeds so that we can enjoy new plants next season without having to reseed them ourselves!
What do you look forward to the most when it’s in full bloom?
It’s nearly impossible for me to choose one flower variety, as there are myriad blooms that I enjoy and a very long season to appreciate them in – but if I am pressed to decide on one standout for the month of June, I would likely settle on lupine – these wildflower spikes in shades of blue and purple (and many other colors can be found from hybrid species) are a very hardy perennial and great cut flower, and their presence in June always brings me joy.
How should one approach the maintenance of a garden such as Bethany’s?
Caring for the garden should be a pleasure, and can be if the proper systems and thought are put into the layout ahead of time. If you have the luxury of wandering through the garden once per day, to check on and admire the progress, that is best but not required. The soil, if rich and well-drained and full of organic matter, will feed the plants for most of the season without requiring additional fertilizer until late summer. When new plants are put in they will require frequent watering for the first few weeks, but then if they are heavily mulched and if a basic irrigation system is put in place, shouldn’t require water more than once per week during the hot days of summer. Mulch, and good weed-free soil, will also prevent weed growth and after one or two initial weeding passes one shouldn’t have to bother with that loathsome task. Some cut flower varieties require a bit of pinching and deadheading – pinching when they’ve put on some growth but before they start to flower, to make the plants bush out and produce abundant flowers, and deadheading once they’re in full flower to keep them healthy and blooming profusely. Planting should generally be done in a large wave in the spring, of both annuals and perennials, and in a smaller installment in the fall of perennial and biennial planting with a focus on fall-planted bulbs. Again, a weekly pass through the garden for a few hours should be enough to work through all of these tasks on the checklist. Time in the garden can, and should, give an incredible sense of accomplishment and joy.