Montrose Gardens

How to explain to you this almost magical place in Hillsborough, North Carolina?

Nancy Goodwin and her husband, Craufurd, bought this historic property of sixty acres in 1977. They have restored the house and outbuildings, but most importantly they have designed, planted, tended and loved the acres of gardens here. Montrose is now on the National Register of Historic Places as well as being a project of The Garden Conservancy.

For a wonderful and more detailed  article all about Montrose, take a look at Anne Raver’s article in The New York Times.


Nancy and Craufurd hosted a “Garden Containers at Montrose” talk and workshop a few weeks ago. I was absolutely delighted to be included!
Craufurd, an economics professor at Duke University, gave us an hour’s talk about the kinds of containers he has collected and curated since 1977. The most fascinating and unique were his “Recycled Vessels from the American Farm” which includes such things as copper jelly kettles, kettles for “scalding critters, and cast-iron wash pots. We listened as we sat in the antique filled library of one of the original (1844) out buildings surrounded by original Bloomsbury Group artwork! Yes, they have been collectors for decades.

Needless to say, I was enjoying every minute of the talk, the people, and the surroundings.

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Iron Work in both fencing and planters.


This is an example of a special-purpose cast-iron vessel: perhaps for boiling molasses.

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A fine example of an American urn from about 1880 to 1930. These were made for the new, emerging middle-class home in America.


The “new” modern ceramic with glaze…

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We did a slow walk through of all the gardens, in the drizzle and light rain, ending with collecting our five plants to take home and work with.

Montrose Plants

And….here are my five plants, plus some pansies, in the green glaze planter I bought a year ago.

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Here is the book by Nancy with lovely illustrations by Ippy Patterson. It is a gem! Nancy’s love of gardening and her special relationship with everything at Montrose comes through on each page. It is an intimate portrait and yet it is universal for all gardeners.
I highly recommend it:
Montrose: Life in a Garden

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Hope you have enjoyed this unique garden tour as much as I did!