Suzie Cranston’s Birdhouse Garden

When Suzie Cranston’s world was rocked by the death of her son, Peck, a sign saying ‘Peace begins in the garden’ inspired her to create a garden that would celebrate his life.

Beautiful at any time of the year, my sweetheart and I often pause to admire it on walks through our quirky little neighbourhood, Fondren, in Jackson, Mississippi. More than twenty years after starting the garden, Suzie is eager for others to enjoy it as much as she does. She welcomes visitors with a broad smile, pointing out things they may have missed: flowers, garden art, a new birdhouse and, in particular, things that Peck would have loved, such as the tortoises which appear everywhere. 

Red roses with an assortment of birdhouses

The extensive collection of birdhouses will command a visitor’s first impressions, but any garden-lover will soon be drawn by the cottage garden-style planting on either side of the white picket fence. Roses, daylilies, echinaceas, gaura, camellias, dahlias, cannas, tradescantia and ferns tumble together in a riot of colour.

A hand-painted garden hut with flowers and garden art

Round the back of the house, the flowers and whimsy continue. Suzie has created a happy space that’s always full of life to celebrate her son. The flowers attract bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Although the birdhouses are rarely occupied, the garden is filled with birdsong in the day and the chirping of green anoles cuts through the dusk.

A craftsperson in her own right, Suzie has gathered together a collection of garden art of many styles with help from her friends. A classical statue of St. Fiacre looks out through ferns; a ceramic rabbit peeps over flowers near to a large, elongated metal one. The birdhouses really deserve a post of their own. I liked the textures and colours of these insect-themed birdhouses and loved the natural bird house made from the lower trunk and roots of a tree with a driftwood roof.

Birdhouses made from tree roots hanging from a tree

Flowers catching the light under a row of bird houses

You may remember this pink birdhouse – several bloggers admired it when I posted a close-up view of it covered in snow a few weeks ago. The natural planting falls midway between a cottage garden and a flower meadow. I love the way the light creates a pointillist effect as it falls on the gaura and other flowers.

Painting of Peck on the garden outhouse

I feel sure that Suzie would want me to finish this garden tour with this painting of the person who inspired it, her son, Peck Cranston, shown here as a boy holding a tortoise. To see a picture of Suzie and learn more about the story of her garden, take a look at this article: Flock Together.

Suzie is a wonderful advert for the benefits of gardening. As she says, “My yard makes me so happy… and people stopping by to visit it makes me even happier.”

I’m sharing this as part of the weekly challenge: tour guide.

44 Replies to “Suzie Cranston’s Birdhouse Garden”

  1. How inspirational that something so tragic inspired such beauty. Thanks for sharing, Susan!

  2. Looks fabulous. I often think my own garden lacks garden art, and this garden is an inspiration!

      1. We have some very plan insect hotels but I must get more imaginative. Project for the summer I think!

    1. Some are occupied from time to time, but not as often as you might think. I imagine the kind of birds that live in communities don’t find places like this very often. You’ve made me think of Chaucer’s ‘Parliament of Fowls’ which made me smile as today is Valentine’s Day – the idea of a flock of birds getting together to choose their mates and discuss the pros and cons of them all moving into Suzie’s yard for the season (size, location and variety of the boxes, height from the ground etc). Needless to say, that’s a flight of fancy from the original poem!

  3. I could spend hours in this naturalistic/cottage style (my style) garden. I could imagine being here after a day’s work or if I need some inspiration or simply wanting to be alone and relax. Her personality energy love and hard work shine through in this little piece of paradise. Kudos for transforming a negative experience into a positive one. And for sharing it with us.

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