Montrose Gardens

How to explain to you this almost magical place in Hillsborough, North Carolina?

Nancy Goodwin and her husband, Craufurd, bought this historic property of sixty acres in 1977. They have restored the house and outbuildings, but most importantly they have designed, planted, tended and loved the acres of gardens here. Montrose is now on the National Register of Historic Places as well as being a project of The Garden Conservancy.

For a wonderful and more detailed  article all about Montrose, take a look at Anne Raver’s article in The New York Times.


Nancy and Craufurd hosted a “Garden Containers at Montrose” talk and workshop a few weeks ago. I was absolutely delighted to be included!
Craufurd, an economics professor at Duke University, gave us an hour’s talk about the kinds of containers he has collected and curated since 1977. The most fascinating and unique were his “Recycled Vessels from the American Farm” which includes such things as copper jelly kettles, kettles for “scalding critters, and cast-iron wash pots. We listened as we sat in the antique filled library of one of the original (1844) out buildings surrounded by original Bloomsbury Group artwork! Yes, they have been collectors for decades.

Needless to say, I was enjoying every minute of the talk, the people, and the surroundings.

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Iron Work in both fencing and planters.


This is an example of a special-purpose cast-iron vessel: perhaps for boiling molasses.

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A fine example of an American urn from about 1880 to 1930. These were made for the new, emerging middle-class home in America.


The “new” modern ceramic with glaze…

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We did a slow walk through of all the gardens, in the drizzle and light rain, ending with collecting our five plants to take home and work with.

Montrose Plants

And….here are my five plants, plus some pansies, in the green glaze planter I bought a year ago.

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Here is the book by Nancy with lovely illustrations by Ippy Patterson. It is a gem! Nancy’s love of gardening and her special relationship with everything at Montrose comes through on each page. It is an intimate portrait and yet it is universal for all gardeners.
I highly recommend it:
Montrose: Life in a Garden

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Hope you have enjoyed this unique garden tour as much as I did!




My neighbor and friend has beautiful gardenia bushes. They are in her protected courtyard and flower profusely every year.
Envious? You bet..

So, how about some cuttings? She most generously gave me LOTS of healthy cuttings!

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Look at these glossy, gorgeous leaves. Her bushes are all in containers and seem very happy.




Here is my short video tutorial on how to make cuttings and grow healthy gardenias:

I know, I know: I’m telling you to use clear glass, and here I have a green glass vase. So, the lesson is that a color will work!

Here is what you need to remember:

• Use only healthy, green, intact cuttings
• Use glass bottles: no, they don’t have to be clear!
• Wrap a paper towel around the stem, about half way down.
• Put into the bottle so the toweling acts as a cork
• Leave in moderate light for several weeks
• When they have developed small white roots you can put them in sterile potting soil. Leave in     partial sunlight. Gardenias like moisture and humidity, so try putting the pot on a tray with pebbles and only water from the bottom i.e. the pebbles.

 I, of course, am going to have SO many perfectly rooted cuttings and no where to put these gorgeous plants! So if you live near me, email me and I will gladly give you a rooted gardenia.

One wonderful benefit of buying some glass bottles was having fun with them in my photo shoot today. We are going to be getting a lot (8″?) of rain in the next few days, so I was out tending my gardens this morning and cut many end-of-season flowers.

I just love how these look like an old-masters painting. Well, sort of….


I have more fall flowers and colors over on Instagram. Hope you will follow along.

Happy weekend everyone!






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This is one of my new favorite products!

How do you clean your hands when you’re travelling or on the road?
Maybe you use a small bottle of “hand sanitizer” or maybe you just wait until you get to a sink.

You have to try these!
Here is some information from the company,
based in Santa Barbara, California.
“Herban Essentials uses the highest quality, 100% pure, therapeutic grade, steam distilled or cold pressed essential oils. In addition to the lovely pleasing scents, essential oils are endowed with antibacterial, antiseptic, and unique therapeutic properties.

Essential oils have tremendous healing and therapeutic properties and we have experienced their benefits first hand. We only create products we love to use ourselves.  Our goal is to make it easy to take  essential oils on the go; the most common use for our towelettes is to cleanse hands and kill germs, but there are millions of ways to use our wonderful wipes.”

In my purse, all set to go:


You can buy them here.

I have only used the Lavender…and can say, without a doubt, that the scent is the best there is for any kind of towelette.  But at the same time, it cleans and refreshes better than anything else I have tried.


Herban Essentials: a new essential to carry with you!

And, as promised, I have the name of our winner of the
Perfect Linens Giveaway
It is Elaine O. !!!
Congratulations and enjoy your new sheets! Yes, Elaine was contacted and said,
“You’ve made my day!”