Tuesday, October 3, 2017

England is a Garden

"Our England is a garden 
that is full of stately views, 
of borders, beds and shrubberies,
and lawns and avenues ....."

               - rudyard kipling

This morning's gray sky gave way to a brilliant blue as the day progressed. It's the way of Autumn days, and while October usually signals the end of gardening here in the Midwest, not so in England.

I recently returned home from a tour of September gardens in the UK, newly filled with ideas, inspiration. I spent the next few days shopping for plants and filling pots and troughs with pansies, kale  and mums. I did a good deal of the usual cutting back and cleaning up, but I'm not done yet, and it feels really good.

From the formal gardens in London, here a special garden at Kensington Palace to commemorate the anniversary of the death of Princess Diana . . . . 

. . . .to the deep green country gardens of Dorset, punctuated by surprise pops of color and rustic arbors . . . .

 . . . and how about a flock of fancy chickens, settled into their chinoisserie abode, complete with blue and white china accompaniments.

 Water and the reflection it offers is an essential element,

  . . .and can we talk about stone, everywhere and in every form, a favorite accent in every garden are these vintage staddle stones.

 Archways, doorways, gates, leading you from room to garden room, framing the enticing views and offering an invitation as you enter another experience.

Dahlias were the stars of the late summer borders, rising tall and regal above everything else

 Structures, "follies", dovecotes, sheds and huts, magical little buildings around every corner

 Textures, the velvet moss, the lacy leaves and the crisp conifers, greens of every hue softening the edges of giant pieces of stone.

Vistas, living green sculpture as far as the eye can see, 

 Above it all the drama of the most amazing skies

Thatched roofs atop century old cottages in the Cotswolds,  yes they really do still exist and people live in them, people who serve you tea and scones and cakes! 

I have gained a new outlook, and Im eager to consider this season of the year with new eyes. Ill make a list for next year of more late-season plants to try, and for now I will continue to embrace every day with a newness that will not end according to a page on the callender.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sweet Peas and Sweet Corn

Its almost over  . . . . summer.  

I shall use this garden as a paint box, palette and canvas  - Richard Page

Sweet peas and sweet corn, big juicy red tomatoes, farmer 's markets, sudden thunderstorms, blessed rains, butterflies and bumble bees, tender twilights and the hum of cicadas.

Before it all goes away,  take time to savor the end of summer.  Like so many endings, sadness and satisfaction go hand in hand. Heres to those garden classics still hanging on, still giving pleasure and still coloring my world.  

Butterflies and late summer zinnias- perfect partners.

Bountiful blooms to cut for bouquets

Late summer annuals are a riot of bold and happy colors

Good morning from this blue beauty

Here's to remembering the smells and the colors when the snow covers it all up.

Sweet is all I can say - So Sweet!!!!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Memories of May

" I would give you some violets . . ."  Shakespeare

Where did it go, that magical month of May, dancing on, carrying me on a happy journey of fragrance,  progressing from one scent to another, leaving me to wonder how one month can hold so much beauty and pleasure.

I meant to write this blog as it was happening, but I was much too involved in the glory of it all, so instead I'll try to remember it while it is all still fresh in my memory. 

It all began with fanciful pots of Easter Lilies, adding their sweet scent inside my house. It only takes one!

Delicate petals of softly scented Violas and Pansies provided a fragrant bed for an Easter egg.

As May Day arrived, the air outside my back door was infused with the heavenly perfume of Lily of the valley. Stepping out in the early morning for a deep breath became an exquisite ritual.

This wild yellow "Canary" rose (rosa xanthina), is the first rose to bloom in my garden, opening it's golden petals to embrace the statue of St Elizabeth. I couldnt resist burying my nose in the honey-scented blossoms.

Hyacinth, short and stout, the waxy blooms infused with a fragrance that no candle or perfume can capture completely. 

The first Peony, a tree peony with blossoms as big as a dinner plate, appeared like a surprise ghost beneath the euonymous tree, with a brief but beautiful bloom time.

The lovely lilacs were next, perfuming the air outside with their unforgetable fragrance, and providing armfuls  of bouquets.

Bridal wreath, cascading fountains of intense fragrance, just like the ones that surrounded my grandmother's front porch.

The first Rugosa rose, fragrance so enticing, just waiting for the bees to visit.

This iris, like palest blush silk, with a unique perfume that rivals the most famous formulas of the perfumer's world.

The fat buds on the peony bushes slowly unfurl and add their honey scented perfume to the garden's medly.  

Mock Orange blossoms, so thick and fragrant the branches bow beneath their weight.

A crown of May Flowers for my resident garden sprite, with beauty as fragile and fleeting as the pleasures of childhood

So farewell to May, a month like no other, with memories to make me forever grateful, forever glad.

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Garden - Writing it down

"For those who have not got very good memories for the names of plants, I strongly recommend them if they can draw to make a little colored sketch, however small on the pages of a gardening book next to the name of the plant.  This will be found a great help to the memory."
- Mrs. C.W. Earl

Looking back is often the best way to look ahead . . . . 

The Gardening year begins for me as soon as the new year arrives, and arriving with it are much anticipated new plant and seed catalogs as well as new- fallen snow. Waking  up early in the morning after a snowfall, I am always reminded of the beauty of "bones" in my garden. Frosted like pastries, the trees, shrubs and garden structures take on new dimension.

My attempts at keeping records of my garden have taken many forms over the years, beginning with lists and notes written hastily at the end of a hot day in 1990, and continuing today with my ongoing efforts to include  illustrations with my notes.

I like to experiment with markers, 
colored pencils and watercolor on the page

I recently discovered a garden journal written by the 
gardener who lived in my house over 60 years ago.

The pages inspired me as background 
for a new series of paintings, to be turned into note cards.

Finished notecards, themes taken from the 
heading of each journal page, 
Vegetables, Tulips, Narcissus and Plans

Rumpled pages, rusty tools, soiled gloves and mossy pots, more inspiration for looking back, forming new ideas and making plans. What worked well, what didn't work as planned, what to move, what to divide, and what to add . . . its all there in the notes.  

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Winter Garden

There comes a time when the risk to remain tight in the bud is more painful than the risk it takes to blossom - Anais Nin

The garden outside is having a winter's rest,  but inside I still need the blessing of blooms, 

Time to bring some life into the house, 
time for making a merry mess, 
gather the pea gravel, soil, bulbs and pots.

Those tiny fingers of green will soon stretch to become graceful green ribbons, finally topped with fragrant white blossoms.
TIP - for shorter, less floppy stems, a splash of vodka in the water of your Paperwhites , especially at the beginning of their growing period, works wonders!

The wonder of bulbs, the magic of growth!
Sleeping beneath the frozen soil, the perennial Daffodils I planted last Autumn are not nearly ready to spread their cheer . . . .

 . . . .but no worries as the Paperwhite Narcissus are only too happy to share their sweet fragrance inside, bringing with them a promise of Spring to come.

Narcissus Tete a Tete, like warm butter on the window sill

Take the bulb into your hands
Feel the dry skin, the lifeless tangle of roots at the bottom

See the little green finger emerging at the top
Hope, is it hope?

Make a bed of soft soil or small rocks
Tuck the bulbs in with a drink of water
then wait with hope

Days later look at the green sprout, taller now, 
growing towards the light in the kitchen window
It is hope, hope lives

My Winter Wonderland inside, let the ice and snow cover everything outside! I can wait . . . .