Today we’re visiting Narcisse Navarre’s garden.
I’m in the Hudson Valley, New York, and I’m a novice gardener. I’ve been gardening for about five years since we bought our castle in the sticks, which we named Ravensrook after an enchanted castle in one of my novels.
Our garden has various areas. Parts of it, like the pool Butterfly Garden and the Shade Garden, are Victorianesque, with wrought-iron fencing. Our trips to Europe inspired other areas, like the Golem Garden and the Long Walk.
I grow a kitchen garden as well, with many medicinal plants and cooking herbs. I currently grow thirty-two varieties of herbs.
Some of my favorite plants include peonies, hydrangeas, and balloon flowers. I love old-time perennials, especially deer-resistant ones. The cottage garden style appeals to me, as do cut flowers.
All of the gardening my husband and I do is organic. We never use pesticides, and we make our own compost.
I’m a fantasy author and D&D nerd who has always dreamed of living in a castle, so when I saw the fixer-upper in 2013, it was love at first sight. My husband and I lived in the city and hadn’t the first clue about life in the country. Even so, we went for it. How hard could it be, right? Shortly after buying the place, we learned (the hard way) about bee swarms, squirrels in the attic, stink bugs, and all the tools we needed to get by and didn’t own. For a while, the house and the garden were a real nightmare, and we were overwhelmed.
When we began, the house was overgrown, and we had to start by cutting down trees that were threatening the structure. From there, we tamed the wisteria gone wild, which had devoured half the house, and we began learning about plants. For several years I planted things in the wrong places. I admit the amount of work required was intimidating at first, but we took it one day at a time. Gardening is, after all, a great workout and an excellent way to unwind. After a busy day, we would go out there and tackle small chores, and slowly, our ambition grew. The beautiful thing about gardens is that they reward hard graft with abundance and magic.
I can honestly say that gardening has become a passion. For me, living here is a dream come true. I grew up in Cuba in a house with a dirt floor, always dreaming of castles in the sky. My family emigrated to the United States in 1984, and in 1997 I became the first person in my family to graduate from college. I am grateful every day to live in a slice of heaven in an enchanted wood. Ravensrook has it all: turrets, fairies, woodland gods, follies, and amazing summer color. Did I mention I married Prince Charming? Alas, that’s a story for another time.
Enormous rhododendrons loaded with flowers
The castle, surrounded by billows of flowering plants
The garden is full of magical moments.
Overgrown wisteria has been tamed and now gracefully complements the garden.
The sunny garden around the pool
Flowers welcome butterflies around the pool.
Wrought-iron fencing around the garden gives a Victorian air.
Spectacular fall color over a garden sitting area
The enchanted castle and garden
Have a garden you’d like to share?
Have photos to share? We’d love to see your garden, a particular collection of plants you love, or a wonderful garden you had the chance to visit!
To submit, send 5-10 photos to GPOD@finegardening.com along with some information about the plants in the pictures and where you took the photos. We’d love to hear where you are located, how long you’ve been gardening, successes you are proud of, failures you learned from, hopes for the future, favorite plants, or funny stories from your garden.
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