Years ago, before we moved to Connecticut Country House, we lived in a sweet little English cottage-style house – our first house. There we created our first rose, herb, and perennial gardens. In the spring and summer we were always outside trying our best to make the most of our tiny property. Each and every weekend, and sometimes after work, our neighbor Simon would also be outside tending to his spacious and pretty spectacular gardens. I was in love with those gardens. I secretly coveted them from across the road. Even though our domains were so different in size, style, and site, we had two things in common: 1.) Simon and I naturally had the same humble gardener sensibility – our uniforms of dirty sweats, tee, and baseball cap – I’m sure if our colleagues from work were to bump into us, they wouldn’t recognize us – Simon a brilliant physician, and me, the interior designer. And 2.), we both paid close attention to the details of our domains; trying to cultivate beauty in every corner.
That’s how I found out about Gooseneck Loosestrife, a hardy perennial with multiple green leaves and a curly cone shaped white blossom made up of many tiny blossoms, that from the side has the silhouette of a goose’s head. Simon told me that once you plant Gooseneck Loosestrife, you will have it forever, and give it plenty of room, because very much like mint, it has runner roots that can make it quite invasive. Simon had extensive patches of the loosestrife planted in hard to plant areas, and as a gracious fellow gardener (he the master, I the novice) dug up a small patch of it from where it needed dividing and gave it to me to plant where I needed a tried and true filler. And boy, was he right. It grew effortlessly, and multiplied unbelievably. Ten years later, when we moved to Connecticut Country House, I dug up a small clump of it and planted it in our new garden.
We have since transplanted and divided the Gooseneck Loosestrife many times into various parts of our property that are sunny, yet troublesome spots for growing anything – and the loosestrife prevails! You plant them and that’s it. Last summer, where we transplanted a small (approximately 2 feet square) patch, has now doubled and even tripled in size. When it does get out of hand by popping up in unwanted places, I simply pull it out by the roots and all. I also like to cut them for arrangements in the house: strip the leaves off the bottom half and just pop into a water filled container (with loosestrife, I like to use solid containers as opposed to glass, because the leafless parts of the stems are not that pretty). I get beauty inside for a few days, as well as helping to promote continued bloomage (two or more stems will grow from the cut and give you multiple blooms).
I miss our old neighbors and their inspirational and aspirational gardens . But I think of them and those good ol’ gardening days every time I look at those huge patches of Gooseneck Loosestrife making their way up the hillside by our old barn.