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?
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Stunning, so beautiful, what a labor of love and so worth the hard work. More pictures please!
Hi! Thank you so much! I keep a blog of my house and garden on Tumblr if you'd like to see more pictures. Go to https://nncastle.tumblr.com/ Cheers! -Narcisse
Narcisse, your story sounds magical- except that your magic wand was a spade and pruning shears. And organic compost! The results are beautiful.
Haha! You got that right. There is no magic in gardening except sweat...and lets' not forget weeding. Thank you so much, glad you liked the photos. -Narcisse
Oh, my gosh! Now that is really living the dream. Everything is gorgeous especially that fall picture .
Thank you so much! The fall color is really stunning. We are surrounded by 12 acres of woods which all turn golden yellow so the red maples really pop. I have a ton more pictures on my blog if you want to stop by. https://nncastle.tumblr.com/ x -Narcisse
Of all the gardens posted here, this is the most beautiful! I would love to see the before pictures of your castle and the progression of your gardens. It’s fantastic! I’m breathless!
Awww, you know you've made my year! Thank you. Believe me, there are a lot of "Before" pictures. I started keeping a blog to keep up with the progress. Here's just one example of a transformation. https://nncastle.tumblr.com/post/179081801425/the-fountain-project-turned-out-really-well Cheers, -Narcisse
And of course I googled you! Lol. Are your books on Audible...I listen to books. Keeps me busy in my gardens.
Hi Patty, my books aren't on audible (yet). I'll work on that though. :)
You’ve designed and nurtured a beautiful, creative, romantically dreamy garden. How lucky you were to find your magical castle and to persistently work through the challenges of country living. The results are breathtaking. Between the flowing wisteria, brilliant fall scene, spectacular rhododendrons and sun drenched bird bath and pool gardens, I can’t determine which photo is my favorite. I think I must go back and dwell on each for the 3rd time!
Thank you, Annek. The garden is hard work, but when I go out there and soak in that color and beauty it does recharge my creative batteries. So glad you enjoyed the photos. I'm thrilled to be featured on Fine Gardening. -Narcisse
Enchanting indeed....I absolutely love it. Thank you for sharing your beautiful slice of Paradise...an awesome way to start the day. Enjoy your Blessings.
Thank you! You too!
Oh wow! I'm saving these photos of your castle and garden! I'm so in love with this magical place and what nice things you did with it! Just wonderful!!!!
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed them. :) -Narcisse
A day later and I'm back to enjoy this garden post again!
That's really gorgeous! Congratulations on creating such a beautiful paradise!
Thank you so much! -Narcisse
The American Dream, Baby, has become your Reality !!!! What a gorgeous, fantastical place !!!! And those gardens are beyond.... Loving all the flowers. Cottage is my garden of preference too !
Hah! Yes, definitely living the dream! No complaints here. I thank my lucky stars daily. Thank you, glad you enjoyed the pics. I'll post more on my blog as the summer runs its course. Cheers, -Narcisse
Narcisse, you have done a remarkable job creating a fabulous place - I hereby nominate you for a promotion to 'advanced gardener' from your self-assigned humble title of 'novice'. Remember to send in more pictures in the future!
Thanks for that promotion Cheryl; I'll take it! I'm a novice photographer too so I'll be sure to send in more photos. Glad you liked the garden! -Narcisse
Oh my.... that's all I can say... thank you so much for sharing your beautiful gardens - all of your hard work was worth every bit!
Thanks! I'm hoping to make new gardening buddies here on Fine Gardening and exchange ideas and advice. Cheers! -Narcisse
Gosh- would never have guessed there would be a castle like that in the US! Do you know the origins of your home? Love the gardens- the red maples are so stunning- may be my favorite of your pics- hard to decide, though! Thanks
Hi, the house started off as a French Colonial, but over time the previous owners (now our wonderful neighbors) began adding to it. The front tower came first, then the one in the back (with the wisteria). Finally, the solarium turret was added on. In my blog, I show pictures of the house being built. It was built in 1983, but most of the materials were salvaged from homes from the late 1700's so inside it feels much older. It's nice to have all the history of the house and to know the people who built it. The builder went on to construct a second castle - right next door. Glad you liked the pics! Cheers, -Narcisse
Forgot to ask: what are the pretty streamers fluttering from the tree? Lovely garden art- fabric?
Those are colored ribbons. I went to Bavaria a couple of years back and came across the idea in this one hotel we stayed at. I then bought swathes of satin ribbon and strung them from the juniper. I call that area the fairy grove so it fits the theme. It's also nice to see that splash of color in the dead of winter. -Narcisse
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