A traditional picket fence, with its recurrent vertical lines, visually defines a cottage garden.
FG: What functions do these patterns serve?
RG: A garden needs patterns to hold it together. Some types of patterns rely on piecing together little bits of something. For example, mosaics are one of the oldest art forms on earth. It’s the same as patchwork, stonework, or a jigsaw puzzle. We can also do this by pulling together various aspects of our lives, of our heritage and experiences, and weaving them into our gardens.
FG: Did you approach the making of your garden as a type of patchwork?
RG: Yes, in the sense that the goal was to take many facets of something and blend them together as a whole, so that no one single element stands out. My garden is a total evolution of all my life experiences—where I’ve been, what I’ve seen and learned about plants, people, gardening, history, and all the romantic nuances that you could ever conjure up. The only reason I can give you a plan of my garden is that it’s now done. I’ve also used things that were on this property, like concrete pavers and terra-cotta pots left over from the previous owners, who had built several greenhouses. I’ve used both the pots and the pavers to create patterns within this garden. They have a visual effect, and they also are like old cloth being recycled into a quilt.