As I was finishing a photo shoot at the Biltmore Estate’s Tiffany exhibit and the gardens inspired by the lamps for Country Gardens magazine, I had some time to kill before needing to get to my next appointment.
After chatting with The Hop’s owners, Greg and Ashley about gardening, I asked if they could suggest a garden for me to visit. They did, recommending Christopher Mello’s garden.
With a belly full of Salted Caramel on a homemade waffle cone, that was the best ever, I headed to Christopher’s garden.
I’m not the best with directions, but I did manage to find Christopher’s garden. It’s fair to say, “You can’t miss it.”
When I arrived at a garden, I did my usual and sought permission to enter, first. Entering one’s garden, is not unlike entering a ship, it’s always best to ask for permission. Calling out, I heard a voice, echoing my hello. Meekly, I ask if it’s OK to visit the garden.
Hidden in a secluded area, on a hot summer day, Christopher Mello stands to greet me. I introduced myself and after getting all the niceties out of the way, we began touring.
When someone learns I work for gardening magazines, I feel the need to manage expectations; no, I wasn’t there on some official capacity; I’m just a girl who loves gardens. But in the case of Christopher, he had no expectation. He was as calm and casual as a cucumber. Sporting a straw hat and wearing killer smile, he was just happy to share his garden with me.
As we chatted and toured, Christopher pulled seeds from plants I admired and as we chatted, we shared our love for J. C. Raulston and the arboretum bearing his name. In the spirit of J.C., my pockets bulged with seed to spread in my own garden, Helen’s Haven™. Christopher even shared a red clover I admired.
The best gardens I visit are those that express the personality of the gardener. In my mind, you can have the finest from all that the gardening world has to offer, but if it isn’t you , it shows; it’s just another garden…but one without a soul. Christopher’s garden had soul.
The man is an artist, so his personality showed in an artistic way. We gardeners, although have a shared love of the act of gardening, come at gardening in very different ways. I come to gardening through wildlife; Christopher comes to gardening through art. While I collect garden art, Christopher’s garden is art.
I found Christopher to be an enchanting and gifted story teller. I could have spent hours in the 100 degree temperatures, hearing more of his gardening tales; but alas, I needed to get going, and besides, my photo card (and pockets) were full.
With a promise to stay in touch, I left Christopher’s garden. I plan to share with him Bobby J. Ward’s book, Chlorophyll in His Veins, J. C. Raulston Horticultural Ambassador. In the spirit of sharing in the garden, which J. C. was so famous for, and as Christopher did for me, I will do for him. Until we meet again, Christopher…