By Caroline Biggs

Published on July 2, 2015

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Photography by Brittany Ambridge

After penning a string of best-selling books documenting her adventures in decorating, Charlotte Moss is turning her focus outdoors. In Garden Inspirations, she explores her love of landscape design and the ways nature has influenced her life as a collector, entertainer, and crafter of beautiful rooms. In addition to guiding the reader through her own botanical sanctuary in East Hampton, New York, Moss offers advice on everything from floral arrangements to outdoor seating plans. She also profiles the lives and philosophies of notable gardeners of the past, such as Beatrix Potter and Lady Bird Johnson. “The opportunity to visit other homes,” says Moss, “to study their details, and to photograph them never fails to remind me of what attracted me to gardening in the first place.”

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"There is a certain wicked pleasure to derive from vicarious gardening.” —Charlotte Moss

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Gardening, like any creative endeavor, is as much about dreaming and imagining as it is about plotting, planting, and trimming. I’m a gardening enthusiast, an advocate for digging, clipping, and potting. But, most of all, I just enjoy being in my garden.

Vita Sackville-West formulated several principles of gardening that would serve the novice well. First: have a plan. (This applies to most things in life.) There’s the architecture of the garden, the seasonal ebb and flow, a color scheme. . . . Second: be ruthless. If it doesn’t work, if it isn’t beautiful, if it doesn’t please you, then OUT. Cut your losses and move on. Third: perfection isn’t a goal. A little unruliness, the occasional random self-seeding, is OK.

Also, there’s no such thing as a green thumb. Gardening is a skill acquired with patience, a stiff back, and, all too often, an exhausted wallet. Mix all of this with some good soil and a little compost, and one day you, too, might acquire one of those totally enviable (and nonexistent) green thumbs.
Actually, I think I came by gardening naturally. The visuals of my grandmother’s house are still so clear: flowers and plants in the house, and a sunporch full of plants, many of them grown from cuttings. This is what surrounded me and sparked my curiosity as a child. The garden has a way of bringing people together, fostering the Southern hospitality I grew up with.

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The view from the pool of Boxwood Terrace, the designer’s East Hampton home.

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Read more in “Garden Inspirations” by Charlotte Moss.