I'm Heather and I'm an avid gardener with a cottage style who gardens in central New Jersey on our 1.4-acre property, Cape Cottage Garden.
Here's how the garden began. A few years after I moved to Princeton, NJ from New York City with my husband and two boys, I decided to tackle the garden.
Before breaking ground, I can remember leaning on my shovel, one hand on my hip, surveying what faced me. Aside from mature trees and some nicely-designed pachysandra beds out front, the garden was in poor shape. Forsythia bushes rambled throughout the back yard, eating up a third of the available space. The bushes were so thick and tangled that if one of our boys kicked a ball into the thicket, we told them to just forget about retrieving it!
Underfoot, the lawn was thin and patchy - more brown than green due to lack of care and light thanks to the prior owners' trampoline, bonfire pit and zip line. An old relic of a tree house stood in the East Garden. A bug-infested picnic table had been strewn in the back yard. Aside from the pachysandra, a few boxwoods and a handful of hydrangeas, there was no other landscaping. The place was untamed - but trembled with possibility.
My willingness to take on the garden was probably helped by the fact that my father is an avid British gardener who used to own a garden and landscaping center in Florida where I grew up, and that my aunt on my mother's side runs a flower farm. The gardening genes run strong in my family. Creating a beautiful garden just felt possible.
Another reason I think I felt undaunted is that we've moved a lot. As busy professionals, my husband and I at one point had lived in seven different places in and around New York and Chicago over a span of just fourteen years. Facing that many blank canvases helped me discover that I could create beauty anywhere, whether we were in our starter home, a city apartment or our dream house - which is what Cape Cottage Garden is for me.
Since breaking ground in 2016, I've had the immense pleasure of seeing the garden inch closer to becoming the romantic, English-style cottage garden, brimming with flowers and butterflies, that I had originally envisioned. Aside from some occasional help I get from our lawn people to sculpt a hedge, trim a tree or create an edge, I do all the garden design and maintenance myself. I often post about my gardening journey on Instagram @cape_cottage_garden. Recently, the garden was named a Runner Up in the 2022 Reader awards by Garden Gate Magazine which was an exciting moment for a long-time subscriber like me.
When I’m not in the garden, I keep busy co-leading a communications strategy firm in New York City that helps people become better presenters. I also enjoy entertaining, interior design and family life with my two boys and college sweetheart, Bob. I'm also a member of the Garden Club of Princeton, where I'm currently serving as a horticulture co-chair.