Natalia Braga’s Beautiful Garden – I Was Truly Impressed By Her Compositions
It turns out that Natalia not only has a stunning “old-fashioned” garden but also an absolutely marvelous house. Now I’ll let the garden’s owner speak.
“We hadn’t planned to buy a dacha. Occasionally, we would rent one for weekends with friends. Then one day, while browsing through advertisements, I came across a photo of My Dacha. I showed it to my husband, and he said we absolutely had to go and see it. We never looked at any other dachas before or after that. It was love at first sight. Plus, the owners of the dacha turned out to be wonderful people, and we still keep in touch. This was in 2017, and ever since, my passion for gardening and dependence on the dacha have been growing with each passing year.
We have a typical old dacha in the eastern part of the Moscow region, almost on the border with Vladimir. Our plot is six acres. There’s a pine forest surrounding it. Squirrels, hedgehogs, and a wide variety of birds are a common sight on the plot. Despite its relatively small size, there are many trees on the plot. I can’t even understand how they all fit. Three half-century-old spruces, nine large pines, maple, chestnut, mountain ash, weeping willow, oak, and my beloved old apple tree. The previous owners didn’t have flower beds, only shrubs, conifers, and many ferns along the fence perimeter since they hadn’t been visiting the dacha often in recent years. But there were also no greenhouses or vegetable gardens, which was an absolute plus for me. I only wanted beauty and flowers. Although I didn’t plant much during the first two years as we were busy with cosmetic repairs and settling in.
Of course, I also wanted to evoke the feeling of an old, slightly neglected estate in the garden. However, for that, all the plants need time to grow, and my plantings are still quite young. The soil on the plot is sandy, and the trees consume a lot of water. But I yearned for flowers. I started with planting lacecap and tree hydrangeas, astilbes, hostas, and columbines.
To be honest, even shade-tolerant plants don’t feel very comfortable in the semi-shade of the Moscow region. They all lack sunlight and grow slowly. I have to compensate for it with extra care. But despite that, I decided to plant the Bonica-80 rose. And when it bloomed quite well, I couldn’t resist planting more. Now I have thirty-five rose bushes. Initially, I determined the color palette of the garden to be white, pink, blue, and their mixed variations. I chose roses with an antique flower shape to fit them into the concept of an old garden. Perhaps my roses don’t bloom as well as they do in sunny gardens, but I cherish each flower like a treasure.
In my garden, you can also find catmint, veronica, geraniums, rodgersias, astilboids, phloxes (with ‘Tenderness’ being my favorite, as it’s very resistant to rain), decorative grasses, and daylilies. I planted dogwoods, barberries, spireas, and snowberries as shrubs. Lilac, mock orange, viburnum, and black-fruited mountain ash were already growing on the plot.
All my flower beds are mixed, and I’m waiting for the plants to grow and fill the spaces densely.
The main problem with planting is that the entire ground is entwined with tree roots. This is where my husband comes to the rescue, as we have to remove some of the roots. Now, under a large spruce tree, where not even grass grew before, I have a blooming mixed border. I try to choose flowering plants for June and July since in August, the hydrangeas overshadow everyone with their flower heads.
During the first few years, I tried to grow annuals in pots, but since we don’t live at the dacha permanently, they lacked proper watering. Now, for the summer, I plant geraniums (they withstand everything and continuously bloom), forget-me-nots, and big-leaved hydrangeas, which I bring back to the apartment on the balcony for winter.
My husband shares my love for the dacha. We try to spend as much time there as possible. If it’s not raining, we love to have breakfast, lunch, and dinner outdoors, regardless of the weather.
We have a folding table and two wicker chairs that move around the entire plot. Depending on the weather, we place them in the sun or shade. And we always have plenty of different blankets ready.
The best way to start the day for me is with a cup of coffee in a chair under the old apple tree, wrapped in a blanket. And I fully agree with Andersen: ‘To live, one needs sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.’
I thank Natalia Braga for her fascinating story and beautiful photographs!”