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“A Vermont Couple’s Remarkable Garden”

I LOVE that we're finally seeing headlines like this one about couples with names like Joe and Wayne.  They've been together 40 years and finally are able to get married September 1, when Vermont's new marriage equality law takes effect.  Both are garden designers and writers and their 23-acre garden has been a 32-year labor of love in every way.  In all that time it's caused only two disagreements, one of which involved planting a tree on a slant.  "It takes a lot of courage to plant a tree crooked," says Wayne.  You bet.

Adrian Higgins' story covers their garden in glorious detail and is illustrated with huge, fabulous photos.  But it also covers the people, and here's two of my favorite bits:

  • About their having focused on the "manic development of their own paradise" (in Higgins' words), Joe says "I think gay people have always fashioned private worlds because the public world was so unwelcoming." They've been a couple since the late '60s, after all – not a welcoming world back then.
  • The three books they've written together are "deeply autobiographical books of our relationship, and gardening is the lens through which we see the account of that relationship".

And here's a transcript of their online discussion of a few hours ago.

Posted by on August 20, 2009 at 12:35 pm, in the category Uncategorized.
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17 responses to ““A Vermont Couple’s Remarkable Garden””

  1. Bob Vaiden says:

    What can I say but… Great!

  2. Kim says:

    If ANY couple can stay together 40 years, they get a standing ovation from me. And there is an amazing garden in there, too. And amazing is a gross understatement.

  3. greg draiss says:

    It’s a shame we must bring the the gay marraige thing into gardening.

    I admire anyone’s efforts at gardening gay or not. To make it seem like a garden survived in spite of the inability of two people to marry is trite and pandering.

    The TROLL

  4. Pomfretite says:

    Their relationship has obviously been influential in the development of their garden, and it is wonderful to know their history together.

    The “gay marriage thing” is important to many gardeners (including myself). It would be a sad thing to hear gardeners speak only of plants!

  5. angelchrome says:

    Now if only the rest of the country would catch up.

  6. Tara Dillard says:

    The title, A Vermont Couple’s Remarkable Garden, is a question mark about topic.

    Vegetables or landscaping? Agriculture or ornamental horticulture or landscape architecture or all of the above? Curious about direction I had to click.

    Ah, it’s ornamental landscaping. And politics. And sex. And religion. And love. And more. A post by Garden History Girl about your post would be interesting.

    Back to the title. I prefer ‘garden’ but gave it up, when appropriate, and use ‘landscape’. Why? A dear older man contacted me for hire. I rattled on using ‘garden’. Finally, he said, I don’t want tomatoes in my yard. Point taken.

    How often are articles not read because a reader assumes a ‘gardening’ article is about veggies?

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara Dillard

  7. susan harris says:

    Tara, notice in the slide show that Joe and Wayne have a big veg garden, too.

  8. Michele Owens says:

    I highly recommend their book “Living Seasonally” for anybody who grows food in a frigid climate like mine.

    They are not the world’s greatest writers–but they are something more important–people with a sense of how to live.

  9. I would be willing to bet that if this was Wayne and Josephine, two garden designers, writers and lecturers who had been married for 40 years and developing the same garden for 32 years as a partnership and how that influenced the gardens, The Troll wouldn’t have a single thing negative to say about bringing their relationship into the story. He would just belittle the female half of the duo.

    Personally I envy their 32 year history in one very large garden. Talk about a sense of place.

  10. Tara – I agree taht sometimes folks think “garden” means only edibles — I interpret “gardening” as anything a human does to modify or influence plant life.
    When instead someone sees it so narrowly, I worry about how to reach them, but how to re-educate them?

  11. Kim says:

    Christopher C NC said: Personally I envy their 32 year history in one very large garden. Talk about a sense of place.

    Amen. Maybe that’s what made the garden so special and why I envy it so.

  12. I have been to Wayne and Joe’s garden many times, and I know them a bit from Walker Farm in VT where I have served as gardener for some years now. They are brilliant gentlemen, and their garden is truly beautiful. The relationship between these two men is part of the garden’s story in every way. To leave that out would be false. Thank you to Garden Rant for posting this story. I would have missed it without this link. Look at all I am finding here!
    All the best,
    Michaela

  13. Thanks for the link to the lovely article, Susan. The garden and books are famous but the article triggered an internet memory for me.

    Back in the early 1990’s, I hung out on the Prodigy garden bulletin board. In 1993 a group of the BB regulars set up a real-life meeting, with one of their stops was North Hill.

    My online, out-of-state friends wrote of its wonders and sent photos to those of us who couldn’t go. Right now I’m looking at an old photo of Joe & Wayne’s hosta border, and sending them best wishes. It will be a garden wedding, won’t it?

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  14. greg draiss says:

    Oh Christpher Christopher Christopher…….. I would certainly not belittle the female half. You should know better by now.

    “finally are able to get married September 1, when Vermont’s new marriage equality law takes effect”,
    has absolutely nothing to do about gardening and carries no influence on the garden. Statements like that are purley political “hurrahs” after wining a battle.

    If they both drive hybrid cars is that an influenece on their gardens as well? Maybe, but only if their cars are gay too.

    The TROLL

  15. “finally are able to get married September 1, when Vermont’s new marriage equality law takes effect”,
    has absolutely nothing to do about gardening and carries no influence on the garden. Statements like that are purley political “hurrahs” after wining a battle.

    You have obviously never been around the planning and work involved in getting a garden ready for a wedding.

  16. Melanie says:

    Does gardening mean growing vegetables in the US? How peculiar! In Australia it means anything outside – front yard, back yard, vegetables, ornamentals, fruit trees, compost heaps, pot culture, art, sculpture, worm farms etc. The term ‘organic’ might make people think you mean only vegetable gardening.

  17. greg draiss says:

    who sais they had to get married in a garden? If it is that much work plow it under, put in a portable dance floor. Then set up the huge tent>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    The TROLL

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