Muddy boots and gardening gloves clutter the back porch, shears are shined and sharpened in the shed, and it's clear a new season has arrived at Seven Gates Farm. In April, the fear that winter might never end is assuaged when the first snowdrops and lilies-of-the-valley poke up around the front porch, talismans of the gardeners who lived here long ago. 

Arranging the yard is an enduring rite of spring, when outdoor furniture comes out of winter storage in the smokehouse and everything gets a fresh coat of paint ~ either sage green or a muted 'whitewash' made by thinning latex paint with water.

Nature's paintbrush becomes pen and ink in winter months, delineating the skeletal trees and bare-branched bushes that form the underpinnings of the gardens at Seven Gates Farm. Although it is cold, there are still garden chores to be done. Burlap sheaths the boxwood to protect it from the winter wind, stray leaves are raked, and after a storm the men take to the shrubs with brooms so the branches don't break under the weight of snow and ice. 


James and Dean are accustomed to being outdoors, and winter is no exception. Oftentimes after lunch they will pull on coats and take a walk with the dog, or just sit outside on the Adirondack chairs to get a 'light fix' that recharges them for the darker days of the season. They delight in the antics of the birds shuttling between the barn-shaped feeder in the side yard and the birdbath in the herb garden, which is warmed by the winter sun.

Hearst Books, 1996