You could call it a garden filled with art or a collection of exotic and rare species or a peaceful sanctuary filled with pleasing vistas, but Jill Nooney and Bob Munger call it home. They also call it Bedrock Gardens where they invite you to visit.
There are several hobbies that have a way of taking over your life. Gardening is high on that list. What starts as a simple collecting passion inexplicably grows into an all-consuming desire to get one more highly desirable specimen, one more perennial bed, one more acre under cultivation. Not that this explains the phenomenal garden of Jill Nooney and Bob Munger in Lee.The couple has been clearing old farm land and putting their stamp on it for more than 25 years. A fallow dairy farm is now 30 acres of planned gardens with seven acres highly manicured with intensive horticulture and hardscaping. They just tackled one bed, one project at a time. Several architectural elements, including a Japanese-style screen house and a variety of pergolas dot their acreage and serve as focal points while adding a bit of permanence to the ever-demanding needs of trees, shrubs and flowers.Notable garden features include a parterre, or formal garden with pond, an espaliered fence of apple trees, an arborvitae hedge, a wildlife pond and the striking 200-foot "Wiggle Waggle" - just a few of the projects they have completed.Nooney, a trained horticulturist, expanded her vision in the last 10 years to include art for the garden. With a sense of humor and an acetylene torch she has created dozens of sculptures from reclaimed metal. All are placed in garden settings and many are for sale. Bedrock Gardens is also called Fine Art Gardens, depending on whether you feel the art is complementing the greenery or the greenery is just a backdrop for the art. It works either way.Evident throughout the garden is Jill's sense of humor - from her playful sculptures to her amusing place names to a whole bed called "Garish Gardens" for bright and clashing plants and comical sculptures.A sense of humor is also useful when winter, insects or weather take a toll on an established garden. Last year Jill replanted an entire hillock of Praire Dropseed with Hakone Grass because it was under-performing, adding to their challenges of maintaining the garden basically by themselves.Jill realizes a day will come when they will no longer be able to care for their property. "The garden dies with the gardener," Jill laments. Recently they have been proactive in finding a permanent caretaker, be it a charitable organization, foundation, association of garden clubs or private individual. They are almost ready to come to terms on the destiny of Bedrock Gardens. When the ink dries we, and they, hope it remains vital and open to the public for generations to come.
This article appears in the May 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine