If you’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with Clare, you may detect a hint of the south in her voice. She hails from North Carolina where she attended Duke University for her graduate and masters degrees. It was at Duke where she met her future husband, who convinced her to head north and settle in Old Wethersfield, where they’ve been ever since.
Clare has spent her entire career working for non-profit organizations in various capacities. Her extensive experience provides the Board with a valuable knowledge base. She currently is a fundraiser for Shriners Hospitals for Children.
Why and when did you join CHS? I’ve been a member on-and-off for nearly 30 years. I became interested in CHS when I moved to Connecticut and we bought our first home. It was the time when Roger Swain hosted Victory Garden and we’d watch the show every Saturday after we’d finished in the garden.
Describe your gardening style. At this stage of life, my goal is to create oases of calm around me. The rest of life is chaotic enough these days!.
What do you like best about your own garden? We have lived in our current home on Main Street in Old Wethersfield for 18 years. The neighborhood is well-established with large lots and mature trees. Main Street is well-traveled and our lot is on an open corner. We have created layers of enclosure with hedges and mixed shrub borders and taken advantage of the different growing conditions available from dry shade to full sun. It has grown into a sheltered, private space.
Which plant(s) do you wish you could grow but can’t? I would love to be able to grow plants that thrive in sharp drainage and hot sun — varieties of lavender and santolina come to mind. Unfortunately, my shady yard and river bottom soil won’t support them.
Did someone in your life inspire you to become interested in gardening? Absolutely! That would be my grandmother. She was an artist and had the most amazing woodland garden at her southern home that would change throughout the season with waves of colors and textures. In addition, my dad was an avid vegetable gardener.
If you could be a gardener or horticulturalist from history, who would it be? Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932). She is considered to be one of the greatest and most influential English garden designers. Gertrude pioneered the idea that a garden should be a series of rooms each planted with a particular color scheme. She believed that gardens shouldn’t be too tidy and that self-seeding plants should be allowed to grow where they fall. Her style of ‘controlled chaos’ is more difficult to achieve than it looks. The White Garden at Sissinghurst Castle in Kent England continues to exemplify Jekyll’s design approach.
What gardens do you like to visit? Any garden — a display garden or a friend’s garden. There is always something interesting to see.
What is your biggest gardening mistake? Oh gosh… I’ve had many! I am often too optimistic about my ability to control beautiful garden thugs. I’ve learned to use something like Aegopodium podagraria only when it’s surrounded by concrete, but I’m still fighting Conoclinium coelestinum and Adenophora. My worst recent mistake was to let a large garlic chive go to seed and winter over. It was very romantic in the snow, but I had to dig up the entire herb garden and am still finding seedlings all over the yard.
And when you’re not gardening…? You just might find me out somewhere birdwatching or hiking!