"A compound of small separate buildings situated in an abandoned plant nursery.
When I was a child, I always enjoyed walking through older nurseries with my mother,
smelling all the different flowers and plants as we strolled down dirt paths
damp from watering in the bright sun or in the shade of trees.
Littered about were lath houses, sheds and pavilions,
and yet the architecture seemed incidental to the landscape--
a landscape that had sometimes broken free of its containers and taken root.
It seemed a magical environment and the kind of place
in which I could happily imagine living:
this shed the bedroom, this one the kitchen,
the rose-covered pavilion and dining room,
all scattered throughout a maze of landscaped 'hallways'--
a true marriage of architecture and landscape."
My mouth dropped open in astonishment when I read this, for it was exactly my own personal dream house of decades that Appleton had written about, his own words coming as if from my heart.
My sisters and I grew up going to nurseries in McMinnville, Tennessee with our father, gardener extraordinaire, garden center and later nursery owner himself. Years later I continued visiting nurseries with my husband when he and his brother owned one of the many Mom & Pop garden centers that existed before the big chains drove most of us out of business.
Even on vacations we always visited nurseries. One we stopped at with our two youngest sons was high in the North Carolina mountains above Lake Lure.
It was a hot summer day, even in the mountains, when we spotted the nursery and stopped, always on the lookout for rhododendron and mountain laurel. A breeze and the sprinklers going soon cooled us down as we wandered from one faded wood building to the next, Zack and Defee exploring with R.H.
I strolled along behind, looking off to the mountain peaks and valleys that I love so much, thinking that I could happily make my home here in a heartbeat. There was a two-story brick house off to the side, home to the family that owned the nursery, but I would have chosen instead to live in the old buildings, walkways leading from one to another, letting me choose a different function--with minimal alterations--for each building.
A family could have breakfast in the shed that faced east with the morning sun shining on glasses of orange juice and newly laid eggs, sunny-side-up.
Choose another building that faced west for all to gather at day's end for a supper of mountain trout...
And then move outside on the porch to eat warm blackberry cobbler, squashing buttery crust into melting vanilla ice cream, swallowing the last bite as the sun disappeared in an orange glow behind a far off mountain peak.
In between times, they could each escape to a room of their own to read....
[Mitch Shultz on Pinterest]
[flickr: kelly_k's photostream]
And to dream...
The woman who owned the nursery was worn down to a frazzle by the care of it. Her husband had "passed over" and all their children who had grown up there and put in their own sweat equity now had jobs they preferred elsewhere. There was one man there that day, her only hired help. She was sitting on a future gold mine of property probably, but to us it was a peaceable kingdom that we envied.
It was just one more family-owned-and-operated small agricultural business fading away to nothing and destined to be swallowed up by developers.
Unless either Marc Appleton or I bought the place that was our dream home.