Photography by Steve Parke
Last summer a few of us from your favorite magazine—yours truly, photographer Steve Parke, art director Lisa Gill, and Lisa’s gorgeous niece Liana Scruggs—met up in southern Virginia at this most magical greenhouse that we’d spent months raving about on social media. The light that streams through the slatted roof, the swinging white hammock, the shelves and shelves teeming with colorful potted plants … what better place to feature in our special Magical Spaces issue? I was sure I was lost when my GPS showed I was two minutes away and yet I was still driving on a busy thoroughfare lined by big box stores and then down a street full of normal houses. But that’s where Vaughan House Greenhouse was created—right in the middle of your average town, tucked away in a normal backyard, albeit one with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
The story behind it is even more magical.
Married couple Megan and Mitch Vaughan were parents to a beautiful young son and pregnant with their second, much-beloved child—and over the moon about it. And then Megan miscarried. The couple was devastated. They questioned their faith. Megan had a hard time getting out of bed, and the grief was at times overwhelming. One day a friend dropped off a pot of daffodils, and for the first time Megan found herself feeling cheered. She was determined to keep those happy flowers alive, she says. And then she found herself wanting plants, bright green and thriving, all around her, as many as possible. Signs of life and hope, something she could control and even watch flourish. So she began filling their house.
She’d never been interested in plants before then; she’d never grown anything and even joked that she had a black thumb. But during this time, plants were the only thing that comforted her as she and her husband grieved and as they tried to become pregnant again. Each month the pregnancy tests came back negative, and each month, to combat the disappointment and grief, she’d buy more and more plants. As she describes on their website, “I’d take my time walking through the plant aisles. I’d run my fingers across their leaves, waiting for one to call out to me … I needed to take my time and let the minutes, sometimes hours, in the company of plants work their magic.”
This passion grew, and one day she woke up wanting a greenhouse, a magical space full of light and life. A double rainbow appeared that day in the sky. The yard was a mess, she says, and had a corner that was completely trashed by the previous owners that seemed like the best place for such a structure. It’s where the light was best, the sun setting behind it. She and Mitch cleared out the yard bit by bit and imagined, designed, and built by hand the greenhouse you see here. He was working full time as an engineer at that point and would come home every day and work into the night. It took seven months, and the day the greenhouse was completed was the day they learned they were once again pregnant. A second double rainbow appeared that afternoon, in case the day wasn’t magical enough. They would name their daughter Marigold, who’s now two. (Their son, Maximilian, is five.) Her rainbow baby, Megan calls her.
Megan never planned to become a gardener and didn’t expect to become a social media star either, but images and videos of the greenhouse went viral on Instagram and especially TikTok. More and more people wanted to get engaged at or married in this special place, and now it’s what the couple does full time: tend to this space they built from grief and hope, and host weddings and ceremonies—not to mention the occasional magical photo shoot for an enchanted magazine—for those who want to experience some of that same magic.
The greenhouse has opened still another pathway for Megan, who has of late developed a side passion for the healing qualities of herbs and flowers, and turned her home office into a full-fledged apothecary. The Vaughan House Greenhouse website now sells tea blends and bath elixirs, salts, and soaks. “I am a firm believer,” she says on the site, “that the plants and flowers on this earth were put here by God for us to use to our benefit.”
It’s important to her to keep God in the center of their story. If they hadn’t suffered, they wouldn’t have built this space that has changed their lives so utterly. “I don’t see how you cannot see God’s hand in all of this,” she says. “I see Him everywhere.”