Remembering Mrs. Hardie: 1926 to 2015

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IMG_0339We asked our regular contributor—and resident garden expert—Kathy Hudson to share a special remembrance of longtime STYLE writer Dee Hardie, whom we lost in early December.

Twenty-odd years ago, on a cold night at St. John’s Church in Glyndon, I met Mrs. Hardie. “Dee,” she corrected then, and always. Her daughter Paisley Louise said I would love her mother. She was right. I was writing fiction then, but I was a fan of her mother’s work.

Dee Hardie’s painterly writing in her book Hollyhocks, Lambs and Other Passions: A Memoir of Thornhill Farm, as well as in the magazines House and Garden, House Beautiful and STYLE, brought to life her beloved home in Butler, her travels around the world and her family—husband Tom, daughters Beth and Paisley Louise, sons Todd and Tommy and, later, eight beloved grandchildren.

In spite of a crowd that evening at St. John’s (for an art show), Mrs. Hardie spoke as if I were the only person there. When I shook her hand, she squeezed mine and did not let go. Such was the warm connection she made with everyone. Whether on the telephone, in a stranger’s garden or in west Puerto Rico, where she travelled each winter and became friends with the mother of Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar, Dee Hardie connected instantly and genuinely with others.

Neither she nor I knew when we first met that she would pass the baton (or should I say spade) to me as garden writer for STYLE. That came six years later. Before writing my first horticultural word, I read as many of her garden articles as I could find in those pre-Internet days.

Her voice as a garden writer matched her voice in her essays and in person. She was consistent. She was consistently warm, playful and unassuming. She knew her horticulture, but she also knew that the gardeners behind the plants were as interesting as the plants themselves.

Dee Hardie used her artistic eye and love of color (particularly red) to draw bright pictures in words, which continue to inspire and keep her close.

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