Favorite Garden – Montrose, Hillsborough, NC

Montrose - favorite gardens (rodney eason) on www.pithandvigor.com

Tucked away in the town of Hillsborough, North Carolina, is one of the most charming and endearing gardens that I have ever visited. This special place, called Montrose, has been gardened since 1977 by Nancy and Craufurd Goodwin. Originally the home of North Carolina governor and senator, William Alexander Graham, Mr. and Mrs. Goodwin have transformed it into one of the most intimate and special gardens in the south.

Montrose - favorite gardens (rodney eason) on www.pithandvigor.com

 

Montrose - favorite gardens (rodney eason) on www.pithandvigor.com

As you walk up the main driveway, you come upon the main house, framed by large trees. Depending upon the time of year, you will possibly encounter ephemeral bulbs which Ms. Goodwin has planted with the effect of a painter’s brush. Montrose was the site of my first encounter with a Colchicum flower. Never had I seen anything so big and so pink protruding from the soil.

Montrose - favorite gardens (rodney eason) on www.pithandvigor.com

Further still, along the right hand side of the house is the informal, formal garden. What I mean by this is that the garden is laid out in a formal pattern but the plant masses are informal. They are allowed to sprawl, lean, and self-seed into the pathways. I remember entering in under a large arbor, flanked by bananas and Lady Banks rose. Walking around the garden on the crushed gravel path, you stop to admire a plant that looks familiar but the name doesn’t quite come back to memory. Nancy Goodwin is a true plantswoman, having operated Montrose Nursery until 1993. On the day of our last visit, she spent hours walking around, engaging in conversation about building the garden and taking care of it.

Montrose - favorite gardens (rodney eason) on www.pithandvigor.com

Fortunately, the gardens are a preservation project of the Gardens Conservancy. If you have never been, please do. This is a Eudora Welty garden. Truly southern and gracefully refined, thanks to the care and stewardship the Goodwins.

Rodney

Photos by Rodney Eason

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rodney eason

Rodney Eason - Director of Horticulture and Plant Curator at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, father of 4, husband to a Renaissance woman. I spent the first part of my life in North Carolina, the middle in Pennsylvania, and now I am determined to become a Mainer  while keeping my southern drawl. I consider the rhetorical question, "you're not from around here, are you?" a compliment. I love great gardens, beautiful plants, and inspiring architecture. Because of this, I am on a lifelong quest to find a garden that artistically combines beautiful plants while being centered around an evocative building. For me, this would be Beatrix Farrand's Dumbarton Oaks, with the plants of Lotusland and Chanticleer, around Fay Jones' Thorncrown Chapel. My wife and I are now making our new home and garden in a 130 year old New England house with a farmer's porch near the Damariscotta River in coastal Maine. When our kids get into college, we want to hike the Appalachian Trail as a family over a summer break. My likes (in random order): the smell of fresh basil and rosemary, bold foliage, India Pale Ale, good running shoes, Top Gear, the smell of New England in the fall (it reminds me a bit of English Leather, which my grandfather wore), and the sound of our family laughing together around the dinner table. I dream of one day owning an old Toyota 4X4 pick-up and seeing the Avett Brothers in concert.
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3 Comments

  1. delphine, paradis express on March 27, 2013 at 4:43 am

    Oh, this place looks so quiet and romantic.

  2. Shenandoah Kepler on March 27, 2013 at 9:32 am

    This place is beautiful and your photos are superb! The photos seem to indicate that the paths are fairly accessible by walker / rollator or even wheelchair? Flat, at least 3 feet wide? I’d love to visit and this one seems like a winner!

  3. [email protected] Trekker on March 29, 2013 at 1:17 am

    I go towards the informal garden so I love your pictures. I have also found that if you look into it deeply enough you can find people connected to a garden who will walk you through it and share this love they have.

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