Plant an Emilie Loring Garden This Year

eager-daffodilsDo these early, sunny days have you thinking about gardening? At my house last week, it was so warm that I threw open the windows and turned off the heat.  The cottontail rabbit that wintered in last year’s brush hopped happily about, and eager daffodils pushed their way out of the ground to have a look.

When the sun warms, it’s time to make garden plans, and Ellen in Ontario has an inspiration: “I am in to do an ‘Emilie Garden’ this year! It would be fun to make plaques with some of her sayings to place among the flowers.”

Yes, let’s!

Garden Plans and Window Boxes

If you have a spare piece of ground, Emilie Loring’s garden descriptions are as good as shopping lists. (Page numbers are for the paperback books.)

There were columns of larkspur in every conceivable shade of blue, clouds of baby’s breath, clusters of Madonna lilies, coreopsis like golden stars, Rose of Heaven petunias with a discreet sprinkling of Purple Prince.  A Certain Crossroad, p. 3

I found seeds for heirloom varieties like “Rose of Heaven” petunias and “Purple Prince” zinnias at Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and I have a longtime fondness for White Flower Farm, the mail order nursery. But you can also look at the photos here and see what your garden center has that is close.

Here is the Meadow Farm garden in A Certain Crossroad:

Her green frock with its over-lay of crystal beads seemed a part of the background of delphinium, spirea, London pride, hollyhocks and honeysuckle. A Certain Crossroad, p. 30

Some of Emilie’s gardens are simply fantastic, the sort you visit on a tour of homes. In fact, they were for her, too. They were the gardens of friends and neighbors, like the “Arcady” garden in Blue Hill that she used for Natalie Andrews’ garden in I Hear Adventure Calling.  It takes several seasons to get the full effect of these perennials, but look how pretty they are together. If you happen to have a broad, terraced lawn with statuary, a fountain, and goldfish, so much the better!

Aunt Rebecca’s garden had been something to write home about, but it couldn’t touch this for charm and color and fragrance, Fran thought, as she stood on the top step of the broad terrace. Pink peonies, gigantic spikes of heavenly blue anchusa, foxgloves and Canterbury bells, stately Madonna lilies and Shasta daisies for a white touch, day lilies for yellow, tall, late purple tulips, against a background of dark rhododendrons. Paths in a velvety green lawn led to the central point, an old-fashioned pool in the center of which a bronze boy blew a horn from which liquid diamonds rose high in the air to tinkle back with the sound of broken glass into water where goldfish flashed like living flames. I Hear Adventure Calling, p. 65

geranium-window-boxOther Emilie Loring gardens are easy to plant and enjoy in an afternoon.

Her brother’s house was… low and rambling, each ruffle-curtained window had its flower box, rosy with geraniums and spilling over with green vines. When Hearts Are Light Again, p. 8

“Scorn not the flower-grower’s best friend. Blooms may come and blooms may go but the geranium keeps on…” Gay Courage, p. 8


…boxes spilling over with yellow and white and purple blooms adorned windows without, snowy muslins were visible within. Gay Courage, p. 8


My sundial garden is oh, so much the worse for having been neglected some seasons. Maybe I can dress it up like the one outside the country restaurant where Linda Bourne and Greg Merton dine in There Is Always Love.

Outside the window an old-fashioned box hedge enclosed a garden with a sundial in the center. Its borders were a gay patchwork of yellow, russet and rose chrysanthemums, invincible purple petunias, valiant orange-king calendulas, towering white and orchid asters and feathery pink cosmos. There Is Always Love, p. 23

Dr. Trevor’s garden (When Hearts Are Light Again) kindles memories of my grandmother’s garden in Wisconsin. Maybe that’s why these particular flowers always make me happy:

She slid off her bicycle and opened the gate of the white picket fence in front of a garden border, brilliant with zinnias, pink phlox, cosmos, tall asters and blue spikes of late delphiniums. When Hearts Are Light Again, p. 8

A Garden Color Scheme

You may want to copy one of Emilie Loring’s color schemes without worrying about the specific plants. This Victorian garden in Nova Scotia has shades in common with the Sargent Gallery garden in I Hear Adventure Calling:


Zinnias in pastel shades of yellow, salmon and mauve towered; giant asters were bursting into bloom; gladiolus in heavenly shades held proud heads high; regal lilies nodded pearly petals above the patchwork of gold, yellow, purple, white, light blue, dark blue, violet, reds of all shades and the green foliage of annuals. I Hear Adventure Calling, p. 132

Favorite Flowers

“A room without flowers is a room without a soul.” There Is Always Love

Easier still, simply plant yellow chrysanthemums to display in a copper bowl on your autumn dining table. I’ve lost count of how many times Emilie used them in her stories.

She had tried to have the dinner as much like those they had had in their own home as possible, even to the mass of yellow and bronze chrysanthemums in the centre of the table. With Banners, p. 38

There was a tall crystal vase of huge golden-yellow chrysanthemums standing on the floor beside the fireplace and a ruddy copper bowl filled with smaller mums of the same color on a table. When Hearts Are Light Again, p. 75

violet-bouquetIf you’re a longtime Emilie Loring reader, you’re probably  wondering, “What about violets?” Admirers are always bringing bouquets of violets to the women in her books, who  tuck them into the waists of their frocks or skating costumes. I don’t know how they keep the flowers from squishing or wilting, and I’ve never seen bouquets of violets available at the florist, but you couldn’t go wrong planting a little patch of them in an Emilie Loring garden and trying it out.

Now that I think of it, though, violets are usually given by the fellow who loses out–Jerry Slade (As Long As I Live), Sebastian Brent (When Hearts Are Light Again), Jim Seaverns (Today Is Yours). The leading man says it with roses–American Beauty, Talisman, Templar… The Talisman and Templar were developed by a Massachusetts man, Alexander Montgomery, in the 1920s, but they have become obscure. If you find a source, let me know!

Emilie Loring Quotes

I love Ellen’s idea to put plaques in the garden–or flower pot!–with Emilie Loring’s sayings on them. What would you choose? I have so many favorites, mine may have to be a scroll written on a garden path.

emilie-loring-believe-in-the-best“Leg over leg, the dog went to Dover.”

“You never can tell at sunup what you’ll bump into before sundown”

“Why not be a master craftsman in the art of living?”

“Why, dearie, I never worried. I just did first one thing and then the next.”

“One touch of lipstick makes all women kin.”

“How far would we get if we waited for certainties?”

“Things have a marvelous, unbelievable way of coming right.”


Alas, our warm weather was brief. It’s back to hot cocoa and fires in the fireplace, but now we go back with a mission.

“Thank heaven for my imagination. I’ll wager I get as much thrill from visualizing what this border will look like as that physician got from isolating the pain nerve. Giant larkspurs, columbine, lilies in succession, holly-hocks, phlox, with mists and drifts of white gypsophila…” Hilltops Clear, p. 45

There are more gardens in Emilie Loring’s books and more ideas in my earlier post, “Emilie Loring’s Gardens.”  I’m having fun with my new copy of Cultivating Garden Style by Rochelle Greayer, which promises “Inspired ideas and practical advice to unleash your garden personality.” Find your inspiration, and say with Ellen, “Dollars to Donuts that I will accomplish it!”


14 thoughts on “Plant an Emilie Loring Garden This Year

  1. Oh dear! I have a dilemma! We purchased a very old lobster trap
    from Newfoundland several years ago that I have stored in our
    garden shed since its purchase. My sis-in-law gave us a talking
    lobster as a joke for our cottage at least 20 years ago. I really
    should not mention all the lighthouses we have acquired owning
    cottages for 35 years! Looks like I may be creating 2 “Emile”
    gardens this year. It is back to the seed catalogues I shall go!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am creating several–no problem at all with two! I’m missing the talking lobster, but I must say, there is no shortage of lighthouses at my house. 😉 Hmmm… maybe with a bit of spar varnish…


    1. Planning a garden and reading Emilie Loring books–two failsafe ways to banish the winter blues! I just ordered Orange King calendula and Purple Prince zinnia seeds for a children’s cutting garden. Big and bright! Happy planning–see Ellen’s comments for even more fun ideas, and let us know how yours go.


  2. Do not end with flowers only! A month or so ago
    I purchased a beautiful new wooden bird feeder at our
    local thrift store for a mere $6.99. It will become the
    Silver Moon Chowder House in my Emily garden. Also,
    I acquired a handmade bird house with frogs attached
    that will now become “Kick, frog kick.” I have kept a china
    parrot on a perch in our basement for many years not wanting
    to discard him so I guess Mephisto will be in the garden to say
    to the local squirrels “Goo’-bye! Goo’bye!” I guess my garden
    will definitely have to be named “Fair Tomorrow.” Have fun!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What inspiration! I don’t have a whole lot of room to garden, two raised garden beds and patio pots. But we always manage to cram them full! I have also been working on a “cutting garden” along the side of the house. It is an area I don’t see or walk by everyday, so if I cut all the flowers and bring them inside I can enjoy them that way. It is an idea that has evolved slowly, but I am looking forward to deciding on which flowers to add this year.
    We also had a warm spell and the spring bulbs are already poking up!! There is even a snowdrop blooming!

    Violets mean Faithfulness in the language of flowers. I looked it up once you pointed out all the rejected suitors bring them to the heroine. I think Emilie knew that don’t you?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have a “cutting garden” on the side of my house, too. It’s really more of a “tugging” garden, because I plant it for the children next door who ring my doorbell and ask if they can pick flowers from my garden. They can still ask permission for the other gardens, but these flowers are just for them, and they can tug away with abandon, any time a pretty flower beckons, no permission required. The sign above reads, “Welcome, Friends.”
      In addition to the traditional meaning of violets, Emilie’s family used them to remember her father. His funeral had many violets, and in Emilie’s wedding, her sister and mother carried violets in his memory. That doesn’t fit in with the jilted suitors, but it adds meaning to violets as she saw them.


      1. How interesting…..maybe Emilie just liked violets.
        A very sweet idea, planting a garden for children to pick. And a clever way to keep them out of the rest of your flowers!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. What a lovely post! I like planting flowers. Sadly, with our hot summer temps, they burnup unless there is a soaking system. So I plant those that will survive. Try the Antique Rose Emporium for the roses you are searching for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I garden in Colorado (dry) and Kansas (hot and humid), both of which have frequent, pelting hailstorms. It’s always an endurance contest between me and the elements. Thanks for the suggestion. The Antique Rose Emporium has “American Beauty,” which, I’ve just learned, is the official flower of Washington, DC. Still looking for the other two…


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