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By Ariana Mangum M. Ariana H. Mangum is the daughter of artist William G. Mangum and the grand-niece of Charles S. Mangum, founder of the School of Public Health at UNC. Born in Chapel Hill, she has lived in a number of places including Italy, and recently returned to North Carolina to care for her aging parents. She has worked as a landscape designer and gardener through her company Les Jardins Cachet.

A Gift In A Garden

By Ariana Mangum Posted April 18, 2014 at 6:00 am

Have you noticed that it is easy to come up with ideas for others, but when it comes to ideas for yourself it is sometimes more difficult? No matter how many magazines or books you look through or gardens you see, there is often a block as to how to proceed with your own. This was my dilemma in deciding how to design my own garden. I knew what I liked, but was unable to decide on what I wanted.

When I received the call to come and see a garden as a prospect to tend and care for, I was very excited. The homeowner was well thought of by one of my clients, so I was looking forward to meeting her.

As I entered the street, I saw it was a house and grounds I had admired from the road. There was a view of a Japanese garden with a red bridge and pagoda-like pavilion overlooking a pond. A weeping cherry tree was the focal point – it looked like a picture you would find on a postcard. As I turned the corner, I was met by an iron gate which opened to a long driveway, with layers of blue Hydrangeas and pink roses on either side. It was gorgeous and very welcoming. At the end of the drive, flowering peach trees were tucked against the garage and scented pink azaleas served as parterres under the trees. It was a vision of loveliness. I was inspired; this design would work in my garden.

That afternoon, I returned to assist the lady of the house in planting her terrace with roses. As she showed me to the terrace, it was as if I had entered into the door of inspiration. Every garden she took me to was exactly what I had wanted in mine, and I was walking into one lovely area after another. It was breathtaking to see, and even the air was scented by the gardens.

The terrace was being re- done with knock out roses – my job was to plant the roses according to her specifications. I was intrigued; she did everything with knowledge, skill and expertise, and her taste was flawless. Her gardens were an extension of her vision and talent, and I would grow to admire her. She was my inspiration, and as I worked in each garden she would teach me about many things – not only about gardening, but about life. She would take time to talk with me about many topics, including history, gardening and architecture. She inspired me by giving me magazines, and gave me names of books to read, gardens and museums to visit, and then we would discuss their history.

Her home was a lovely Georgian-style manor house she had restored, and although the gardens had been planted, she needed some assistance in keeping them tended.

She had been in business for herself and as a fellow business woman, she gave me ideas and recommendations to increase my business and make it continuously successful. I found her to be like no other person I had known.

She was always kind and warm to me and as I listened to her, I learned so much about myself through our weekly discussions: my likes, my dislikes, my family and moving forward to what I wanted. She opened my eyes to the world I was interested in knowing.

The spring and summer had brought me a bounty and a harvest of many good things. And though now it was time to leave, I had been given a gift: it was the gift of finding myself, my inspiration, my family and its history, and what was important to me. I will always remember this lovely lady with great fondness.

Mrs. M. had given me the world.

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