One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it brings. ~W.E. Johns
I am always excited when it is time for another interview post. After receiving an award from Julie@Gardening Jules, I had promised to do several interviews of some amazing bloggers and share them with you. It is such a pleasure talking at length with bloggers. Getting to know online friends more intimately.
And for this next interview, I am driving (figuratively) south to the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania to visit with Pamela Hubbard@Pam’s English Cottage Garden. I have known Pam for about as long as I have been blogging. And I am always inspired by her beautiful and creative gardens, especially the way she incorporates native plants into her cottage garden…a favorite garden style of mine.
So lets meet Pam ..
I was born in England. I taught first grade in the school that I, and my father before me, attended as children. In the sixties I married and had two children. I immigrated to America in 1978 where I met my second husband, Duane. We have four grandchildren: all boys. In this country I was an elementary school librarian for more than ten years, then an elementary school principal for twelve. I retired to garden in 2005 and then began studying to be a Penn State Master Gardener.
1. Pam, why did you start your blog?
I started my blog eight years ago for two main reasons: I wanted to share my passion for gardening with others and I wanted a record of my progress toward achieving my dream of creating an English cottage garden in the Poconos. I derive great pleasure from looking at my early postings and realizing I have attained this dream!
2. What a great dream and accomplishment, Pam. I assume that your blog name comes from your love of English Cottage Gardens. Tell us about this type of garden, and why you love it so much?
While I am very proud to be a naturalized citizen of the USA, like many expats I feel the need to maintain my heritage. My grandmother had a small cottage garden that I remember fondly. Creating something similar in the Pocono Mountains began in my dreams long before I retired. I love this style because it is quintessentially British. Ethne Clarke described an English cottage garden as,
… above all things a place of uncontrived beauty,
easily enjoyed, where labour is well rewarded
and quiet pleasures satisfied.
Ethne Clarke and Clay Perry
English Country Gardens
Ethne says it all.
3. I couldn’t agree more with Ethne. Pam, I know you live on a farm. That must be a wonderful experience. Can you tell us more about it. Its history, etc.
Duane and I live in the circa 1850 house where Duane lived all his life, Astolat Farm. There were no gardens here as the property was a kennel where Duane’s mother raised Shetland sheepdogs. She was hailed as the worlds top Sheltie breeder in her day having twice won Best-of-Breed at Westminster Dog Show. Originally the place was called Astolat Kennels. My mother-in-law took the name, Astolat, from her favorite book, Idylls of the King, a Scottish legend by Alfred Lord Tennyson very appropriate for a kennel with a Scottish breed of dogs.
4. What a fabulous heritage for your husband’s farm and family. And you have some farm animals too; a miniature horse and pigmy goat. How did you come by these unique creatures? What are their names?
Dude and Billy are my gardening buddies. Dude is a tiny miniature horse and Billy is an overgrown pigmy goat. My mother bought Dude as my retirement gift when he was seven years old. My husband bought baby Billy as a companion for Dude because this is a small crop farm with no other animals. Dude and Billy are inseparable.
5. Oh Pam how special they are. Besides English Cottage Gardening, do you have some other types of gardening you enjoy?
I enjoy many types of gardening. Besides my English cottage garden I have a shade garden, a woodland garden, a container garden and a kitchen garden. I also enjoy miniature gardening, a wonderful activity for children, so one of my grandsons, Jonathan, helped me make several fairy gardens that are situated around the property. I like to garden indoors during the winter and recently discovered the joys of making terrariums and dish gardens, other forms of miniature gardening.
6. Wow Pam that what a diverse number of gardens to keep you busy all year. Recently you have been getting all kinds of honors for your gardens, including from your local fair. Tell us more about that.
I enter vegetables and flowers in our local fair every year. I couldnt do this without Jonathans help. He stays at our house for Fair Week, preparing all the specimen jars and choosing the best vegetables to show. On opening day he helps me set up displays. After the judging it is such fun to check our exhibits to see if we won any ribbons. We always seem to do well and last year I received my first Best in Show award. In addition, last year was special because the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society awarded my garden their blue ribbon. I felt very honored.
7. From all your pictures, Pam, I would say these honors are so well deserved. Besides your garden, what are some other creative endeavors that bring you joy?
Writing brings me so much joy. Unlike you, however, Im not a creative writer. How I wish I could write poetry like yours, Donna. All my writings are research based, and of course, Im talking about garden writing. I write a monthly article about Gardening in the Poconos for our local newspaper, the Pocono Record. Also, my articles have appeared in various online sources. Im currently writing an article for an English publication, The Cottage Gardener. I love garden photography, too, but feel Im not very good at it. Every year I say Im going to take more photography classes and I am happy to say I just signed up for some.
8. Oh Pam, how wonderful to be published in so many publications. And I can’t wait to hear more about the photography class. What would you say is your creative process?
My work, whether designing a garden, writing about gardening, or teaching gardening classes, is completely research based. When Im writing, I begin by reading, reading, and more reading. For material I go to the land-grant colleges my favorite being Penn State Extension, of course, as Im a Penn State master gardener. Research-based writing tends to make for some rather dry prose, so I liberally include personal stories from my own experience.
Research is very important , and I am so glad you remind us of it. And I think those personal stories are also important so gardeners know you have such extensive experience.
9. Let’s shift gears a bit. I know you have traveled to many places, so where would you like to travel next?
I just finished planning a summer vacation. Duane and I feel there is still so much for us to see in the USA, so this year we will explore some parts of New England we havent yet visited via a few gardens, of course. I have a son and his family in Arizona, but would you believe I never visited the Grand Canyon? Next years trip, maybe.
Oh The Grand Canyon is a must…lots of history and fabulous spots to visit in Arizona.
10. Tell me what famous person or not so famous person would you like to meet?
I would like to meet Dame Judy Dench, one of the most celebrated actresses of my generation. Her work spans so many genres from Shakespeare to comedy, and I love all of it. I admire how she continues to devote herself to her craft despite being unable to read her scripts due to macular degeneration. The infirmities that come with aging (she recently had knee surgery) do not hold her back, and in this respect she is my role model.
She is an amazing actress, and person…and I agree a fabulous role model.
11. If it is possible to pick a favorite book or song, what would you choose?
This is the most difficult question, Donna, because I have so many favorite books. I read at least one novel, usually historical, each week and often my favorite is the one Im reading at the time. Right now it is The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. This is the second time Ive read this book, as I wanted to refresh my knowledge of the story and characters before reading Grissoms recently released sequel, Glory Over Everything. In the gardening genre, my favorite is The Cottage Garden by Christopher Lloyd. I nearly said Christopher Lloyd in answer to your last question, but he passed away in 2006. I havent yet visited his garden, Great Dixter, and nearly gave that in answer to your travel question.
You know I would love to visit some of the great gardens of Great Britain, so maybe some day we can visit together!
12. After several year of blogging, I am always fascinated to know what keeps someone blogging. So Pam, what keeps you blogging?
As Im sure you know, I am obsessed with gardening, and garden blogging is part of the passion. My garden continues to evolve, every year is different, and therefore I continue to have much to say about it. In addition, I made so many wonderful gardening friends who follow my blog and/or I follow theirs. I love belonging to this greater gardening community and it keeps me blogging.
13. The blogging community is amazing. Is there anything else you want to tell us about your life, and what might be next for you?
I have my first book in the works. Its been on my desk for a long time, but I was forced to put it on hold through a couple of years of ill health. Now my health is at an optimum level and Ive turned back to my book with great enthusiasm.
Just want to end by saying how honored I feel that you asked me to participate, Donna. I enjoyed answering your questions enormously. Thank you, my friend.
Pam the pleasure has been mine, my friend! As I said, I love these interviews as I get to know my fellow bloggers on a different, more personal level. I hope one day soon to drop by and visit your lovely farm and gardens…and meet Dude and Billy in person. And you continue to inspire me to keep expanding my creative horizons. I hope you will keep us posted about the book project.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know Pam a bit more. I know I certainly did!
Please make sure you visit Pam in all the amazing places she hangs out.
- Pam’s English Cottage Garden blog
- Pam’s Facebook Page
- Instagram (her favorite spot to hang out)
All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Living From Happiness, 2014-2016. Photos are the sole property of Pam@Pam’s English Cottage Garden, and their use in this post is by permission of the photographer.