Thursday, June 26, 2008

Shan and Susan's Garden Tour

Sit back and relax a while and take a tour of some gardens in Montgomery County with me. We shall start at Shan and Susan Smith's garden.

Any garden tour you take to Shan and Susan Smith's idyllic garden in the woods would have to start with the ponds. Both are man made, but the one with the waterfall surrounded with massive rocks is a koi pond; which is intensively managed. The koi were wonderful! Can you see them swimming around in the pond in the first picture?

Shan will tell you they are a BIG part of the garden and he loves them and water very much. While we were there (myself, Nancy and Julie), Shan fed the fish. It was amazing and they were quite a bunch! Quite a ravenous bunch! And wonderful to watch amongst the gardens.

The next two pictures are of a special pond Shan and Susan had built. Shan's late father was the Montgomery County Soil Conservation Officer. As such, one of his tasks was to help farmers control erosion and prevent run off. Ponds help control erosion and conserve soil. Shan's dad designed this large and natural pond (pictured below) for Shan and Susan. The pond is named after him (Lake Billy Frank), and is a special pond because he just passed away last year. Tuesday, June 24th would have been Shan's father's 82nd birthday. I know they miss him very much.

The pond fits into the wooded setting and reminds me of a campsite at a far away park lost in the woods. Very serene and calm. The water was quite sparkly and the setting beautiful.

No garden tour post would be complete without a picture of the gardener and some of the visitors. The last picture on this post shows Shan taking some visitors around his garden.

Shan tells me he and his wife estimated they had over 100 visitors to the garden. All visitors were very nice and enjoyed the coolness of the woods, beautiful ponds, and gorgeous fish.

One of my personal favorite parts of Shan and Susan's garden was the replica of a statue you can find in Brussels, Belgium. It is of a bronze boy 'peeing' in the pond. A bit of whimsy that all gardens need! Plus who doesn't love that European feeling?

I also enjoyed talking to both Susan and Shan and want to share an anecdote or two. I am going to try to share at least one per garden. I did visit all gardens and enjoyed them all. There was a wide range of gardens and they were all as varied as the gardeners who tended them.

One thing Susan told me that was a funny story was this:

I had commented on how big and lush her impatiens were on the side of the porch. She said, "Funny story, our one and only neighbor had ordered a truckload of manure to be delivered. The delivery truck driver made a mistake and dumped it on the side of our house in front of the porch instead of at our neighbor's! The impatiens and everything I plant in this spot grows very well!" Yes, I can imagine that was funny! I am sure the neighbor and delivery truck driver were not happy about the situation, but it is still a funny story and one neighbor's lost manure is another's gain of a lush garden.

Another poignant part of their garden aside from the pond which is such a part of Shan's late father, is "Ms. Kitty's Tree". Shan spotted a variegated dogwood at a local nursery. He really wanted it but the nursery owner said he could not sell it because it was promised to his wife. But then he relented and sold Shan the dogwood. The nursery owner's wife came down with cancer and passed away within months of Shan acquiring that tree. Now Shan and Susan call it Ms. Kitty's tree and told the nursery owner. He was touched and honored. Aren't gardens good for a laugh and a memory? Look for more posts on the individual gardens to come....including mine.

in the garden....

Thank you Susan for sending me the pictures and thanks for hosting us on a private tour on Sunday! And thanks for trusting me!


  1. Hi Tina, thanks for sharing those stories and the wonderful gardens. Those are large ponds, that must be a big property. I loved hearing the personal stories and wish someone would accidently dump a load of manure at our place!

  2. How beautiful! Maine can't have Koi, someone a short while ago had them in a tank in his resturant and the goverment wanted them destroyed! He hid them in NH and went to court, got a waiver, thank god!

  3. I LOVE their ponds! I want one. I had a very small one once, by the neighbors through the woods had this big dog that love to come for a visit and I would always find him in that little bitty pond. He eventually destroyed it.

  4. Tina,

    I love tours! Thanks for this one...the water looks wonderful and I would be using it on the garden! Have I missed all the tours of PPS gardens?


  5. The koi pond and waterfall looks great! Do they use any kind of mosquito control for the other pond?

  6. What gardener wouldn't want a load of manure accidentally dumped in their yard!

  7. No problem with our mosquitos .... we do have a few bats and some "OFF" for us! Thanks for all of the comments, Tina. You did a much better job writing than we would have! We are very blessed to have this place we call "Heaven, 'til we get there".

  8. Loved the fish pond. Very nice with the large rocks. Bella would love a big pond like the one for her father in our yard for her to jump in when it was to hot. Maybe someday!

  9. I'm glad you got to visit the other gardens on the tour. Really like the ponds. Bet they can't keep the geese out of

  10. Beautiful. I would love to have a pond and waterfall in my garden. The sound of falling water is so relaxing plus it attracts lots of birds.

  11. Good morning all! I was up late last night so posted this at midnight. Unusual for me but I am glad I did.

    Shan and Susan-So glad you visited and answered the comment. I like the bats at night to eat the bugs here as well. And I am very glad you liked my write up. I have two other gardeners info so they will follow as well. You definitely have 'Heaven til you get there' and thanks for sharing!

    Frances and Dave, Yes, a load of manure is welcomed here in the right spot! Maybe a gift suggestion for Mr. Fix-it? (Who doesn't read this so I will have to prompt him.:)

    Jillybean and Christine, Ponds are nice! For all dogs. My BJ has been known to jump in a bathtub pond so this would be good for him. Bella and neighbor's dogs as well.

    Sarah, I think the geese would have a hard time because of all the trees. But I bet birds do like it. Deer too for a quick drink or two.

    Gail, I am not sure about missing the PPS tours. I would have to find my letter. One day I am going to do them down there but for this year at least I have seen other gardens. Yeah!

    Dawn, Why are koi outlawed in Maine? Do they take over or something? I know they are a type of carp but I wouldn't think they would do well in the wild. Maybe though. They are expensive and beautiful. No wonder the guy hid them. In Chinese restaurants down here they always have ponds with tons of koi. So restful.

    Still have to complete schoolwork. ttyl

  12. Roses and Lilacs, Maybe try a fountain to go with the roses? It would fit right in. The sound of running water is relaxing.

  13. Seeing those pictures makes me want to beg the Saint to dig a pond! Lucky for him our property is not quit right for a pond. With this drought, it would probably be dry anyway!

    Beautiful Koi pond! Waking up to that view each morning would be like a little taste of heaven...

  14. Oh what a magnificence garden to vist. It must take a lotta work but well worth it.

    Susan and Shan, What a great outlook to call your great place heaven, till you get there. Speaks volumes!

    Dawn that restaurant is in Freeport and it was quite a battle for the guy. Tom has 4 tanks and 2 of them are the big ones like you see in doctor or lawyers office and he has sone Koi's (shhhh, don't tell). LOL Two of them he got free!!! One time when we went to Portland for the monthly MDA support meeting he got it at Petco. We always go early to shop and had gone to Petco and there it was in a bucket. Someone had dropped of some fish and later when Petco got ready tp put them in tanks the knew what they had and did'nt place it in a tank. They were going to dispose of them so Tom talked them into letting him have them but they could not charge due to them being illegal. It was in the winter and probably would have died in the van so they put them out back and we picked them up after the meeting. The are so big we call them Bruiser and Cruiser.

  15. Wow, thank you for sharing this beautiful garden. It is spectacular! Cam's grandparents have a beautiful scenic garden, similar to this one, wit a gazeboo, koi pond, waterfountain, and the scenic atmosphere. Gorgeous!

  16. Beautiful Gardens. Thank you so much for sharing. I would be sitting by the Koi pond for hrs on end. It looks so peaceful. I see why they call it what they do.
    Yes, Thank you Shan & Susan for sharing your piece of "heaven".

    Curious also to know why they are not legal.

  17. I had an experience this morning that I thought you all may like to hear about it.
    I was coming home after running errands & as I turned onto my street a car was stopped. I looked to see why she had stopped---it was a baby bird sitting in the middle of the street in front of her car. As I passed by I pointed to the bird---after I passed she pulled into my side of the street to avoid hitting the baby bird. I only wish she had gotten out & moved the bird off the road---so hard for me to get in & out of vehicle or I would have done it. Hopefully the bird moved off the street.
    Aren't people great sometimes.

  18. We do have geese fly into our big pond and one year we had a couple stop and lay eggs and we had little baby goslings for about a week until they moved on to bigger and better places. They were so fun to watch and I understand that the male was the one who sat on the eggs until they hatched!

  19. Beautiful garden! And, it does look heavenly --thank you for sharing with us. Hope you all stay cool --and still hoping for a nice rain shower:) See you all later --kiddos need to swim soon, just waiting on the sun to go down a bit more --don't want to fry them:)

  20. Skeeter, I hope the Saint knows how lucky he is not to have to dig a pond. Bulldozers help I think.

    Mom, Wonder why koi are not welcomed in Maine? Tom has Bruiser and Cruiser in a large tank?

    DP, A pond in your near future? Since Cam's parents have one? They are restful.

    Lola, You said it best, people are great and most care about living things. I am sure the baby bird will be fine. What a good experience.

    Susan, The males should sit on the eggs every now and then-shouldn't they?lol Be careful though they can be pretty protective. Glad you changed your user name so I can know which one of you I am talking to. Though of course talking on here is kind of like talking to the world.

    Anonymous, Definitely, UNDER ALL METHODS DO NOT FRY THE CHILDREN! lol

  21. I ran errands today and came home with the Saint a prize! A Pitch Fork to assist him in the compost! Okay, it is my prize as now he will flip the compost more often and with ease! LOL....

    That was sweet Lola! I have gotten out and moved turtles out of the road but never came across a baby bird!

    Wish I lived on the water so I could enjoy waterfowl...

    I heard thunder! Yeah, maybe a pop up shower to follow...

  22. Tina, we have two shovels, I can dig too.... LOL....

  23. Skeeter, You have me beat. Only one shovel here. I don't know what I'll do should I break it or loose it. I do have long spades though. Pitchforks are the best for turning compost! Jimmy moved a bin the other day and surprised me by getting a pitchfork. At first he thought a snow shovel would work. Nope. I do hope you get some rain. The weatherman is promising us some this weekend. It is hot. Almost done with school-for this week! It is a lot of work for an online class!

  24. I'm not quite sure why they are illegal in Maine, I do think outside ponds have something to do with it. Feeder fish (goldfish) have a disclaimer "not for ponds" and they are carp. Think large goldfish (carp) can take a certain amount of freezing just not completely. And they do eat everything!
    I think it's awful the goverment orders animals destroyed because of what they are.
    Mom, Tom is very lucky.

  25. The Koi's are illegal in Maine as they are afraid someone will throw one in a pond or lake. Since Maine is well known for great fishing they are afraid all the good fish would be gone in time as the Koi's are very invasive.

  26. Thanks Jean for info. I thought that may be the reason.

  27. Saint says he will try out that new fork Saturday! I will be mowing grass today and once again, in 97 degree steamy sticky yuck... Rains went all around us yesterday and we had about 10 sprinkles on our land! LOL... Today and next two days have better chances for rain though.

    Our water pipes have air in them. Utility company says to run the water and I feel guilt doing that with this drought. They are sending someone out to open up the fire hydrant nearby to bleed the lines a bit. I may go run naked in it to cool off! LOL… Water in glass is cloudy with a zillion bubbles and sizzled like an alka-seltzer!

  28. Koi fish are illegal here because they threaten our native fish. Irresponsible owners, who didn't know how large they could get and things like that, have been dumping them in our lakes and rivers when they no longer want them. Koi are an aggressive fish and have depleted several of Maine's Native fish and take their food supply. That is why Koi have been outlawed here. You have to get a special permit to have them, and they have to be accounted for at all times. You must check with the state and update it for the amount of fish you have if 1 dies and stuff like that. I think that the law is good if it will preserve Maine's native fish.

  29. Mimi-They have found koi fish in our ponds further up north if memory serves right.