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February 2008
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April 2008

March 2008

The reds are emerging!

High 39F
Low  25 F

The walk in the garden the other day revealed some emerging and lasting burgundies and reds.  The first is our friend Kim's, over at A Study in Contrast, favorite.  Bergenia.Dsc_0033   I love the sound of the word Ber-jean-ia and I like the plant but it is not as vigorous as those patches I see in the magazines of English gardens.  Mine is Bergenia cordifolia which is hardy to zone 3. Since it originates in Siberia my lack of total success with this plant must be a cultural issue.  I need to move some of these around to see if I can get a more vigorous plant. The foliage is green in summer but turns this burgundy red with the advent of cold and they stay this color until the soil and air warms. Dsc_0034 Next in the lineup of reds is the Heuchera  'Peach Melba'  which is one of those new ones with the orangey pink foliage.  This plant usually heaves out of the soil in February when the sun thaws the top layer of soil and then it re-freezes at night.  This year I mulched these with the Christmas tree boughs and they look pretty good.  These are here temporarily until the creeping junipers take over to provide a permanent ground cover.  They are pretty all the time.  Dsc_0019 I did save the best, (just one opinion), for last and that is the rhubarb.  Rhubarb is a garden staple for me.  The first sight of these Dsc_0020 ruby red knobs indicate that there is no stopping spring even if it snows again and temperatures drop.  This patch needed a bit of compost and fertilizer so after photographing I covered them up with thisDsc_0016 blanket of black gold.   


A still life of garden treasures

High so far 35 F
Low  so far 26 F

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Just a quick post with a couple or items I found while checking the garden.  It needs some compost and tilling but the soil is still a bit too moist.  I did find the above squash or bird house gourds and these beans were still in the pod clinging to the tuteur.   It is a reminder  of how busy the summer can be and how easily overlooked some of the vegetables!  It was my good fortune to leave these I think. Dsc_0009 Aren't these the prettiest beans?  I know I planted scarlet runner beans on the structure but I certainly don't remember them being this pretty when I planted them.  The latest fashion designers have not yet received word that pink and black are the colors of the season.   


Bits of green!

High 44 F
Low  26 F

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Finally one of the snowdrops unfurled its' tiny petals to reveal the little green chevron etched on the inner petiole.  I could not detect any fragrance from it today.  Temperatures were still a bit chilly.  Cool temperatures do keep the flowers from aging but with so few flowers around I would rather there be just a bit more warmth.  Green is hiding but is there if you look closely.  Dsc_0007 This is one of the volunteer poppies coming up on the edge of the patio.  Dsc_0006 The chives are also coming up.  I like them in scrambled eggs for the first fresh taste of spring green. Dsc_0025 This, I believe, is the emerging foliage of one of the campanula.  So much color in such little leaves!

The east border receives quite a bit of sun this time of year.  When the sun is shining, that is. Dsc_0035_2 The bleeding hearts' fern like foliage is visible and the accordion pleated leaves of the lady's mantleDsc_0031_2 are starting to play their song.    The green is there, it just takes a bit more time to find it.


Color for Easter!

High 44 F
Low  23 F

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Easter was quite early this year and also quite cool here in New England.  It was a bright,sunny day   which is welcome after rain and high winds last week.  In past years I have had snowdrops and early crocus blooming in late February and early March but this season's very cool temperatures have kept the flower buds on the snowdrops from fully opening and the crocus in good condition for the past few days of cold, sunny weather.  The crocus closeup looks so much more impressive than the smattering of color in front of the house.Dsc_0003 They are still a joyous sight!

Last October I planted  a river of bulbs in the new border (GFSD). Dsc_0006 A river of bulbs on this property requires a strong back, a pickax and, of course, the help of the job supervisor Tucker. Dsc_0008 I have high hopes for great blooms but one never really knows what will develop the next season.  I have learned from my years of gardening to keep hope alive but to enjoy the act of planning and planting in the moment.  I have been keeping an eye on the 'river' area and am gratified to see some shoots emerging.  Dsc_0010a There are already some 'nibble' marks on the tulips but I did spray and will add some dried blood which seems to help repel the deer. What is more gratifying than seeing the fruits of ones labor in the form of these shoots?  Maybe only the blooms.   The gardener waits and watches with cautious anticipation.


Burning of the grasses!

High 45 F
Low 25 F

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Happy St. Patrick's Day.  Here's a bit of the green in tribute!

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This past weekend was set aside for the annual 'burning of the grasses' by the fish pond.  It is an easy way to dispose of the tops of the grass while sweetening the soil with their ashes but care must be taken if there are any trees or shrubs in the near vicinity.  One year I burned the grasses in the Florida bed and the heaths and heathers went up also!  Oh well, room for something else.  Live and learn.  Sunday night some friends came over for dinner and since the time change of last week the burning of the grasses took place about 8:30 p.m. after dinner but before dessert.   One needs a break from eating anyway.  These are all shots in the dark, not my forte, but not so bad.Dsc_0002_2   Here is the first shot with a flicker of flame in the left hand corner of the picture.  Most people would light grasses with a match but the EM had a torch on hand,Torching I will explain later, so, a torch it was.  Click to enlarge the pictures as the expressions on my guests are priceless!  Everyone crowds around since it is usually cold but within a few seconds...Dsc_0006 there is quite a bit of heat!  I forgot about my little statue sitting in the front of the grasses but she does provide a nice silhouette doesn't she and she needed a bit of warmth as it was chilly!  It isn't long before everyone has to back up a few pacesDsc_0014 as these grasses burn fast!  I would say that from start to finish is about two minutes tops!
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Expressions of appreciation!
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The fountain grass will not escape the torch!
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The crowd mills around as we try to decide if the crabapple is too close to the grass behind the bench. Dsc_0030 Rocky, of Dynamic Duo fame, volunteers to provide a physical block from the heat of the burning grasses. Dsc_0039 Any hotter and he would have sacrificed the tree but he hung in there until the heat receded and the tree will live to bloom again!   I think his glass of wine got a little warm though!Dsc_0041   The fire recedes and even Tucker has enjoyed this spectacle! Time to go in for dessert where the torch, once again,Dsc_0045 comes in quite handily for the topping on the creme brulee!

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Here is the scene this morning after the burning!  A clean slate, ready for re-growth and another season!
 


Bloom Day - March 15, 2008

High 40 F
Low  33 F

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There are actually blooms today or, more accurately, buds.  Outside it is gray, cool, and wet but there are signs of life!  The above snowdrops are ready and waiting for a bit of warmth to entice them to spread their wings.  If they are a bit out of focus it is the result of wanting to stay dry.Dsc_0018_2 The crocus are showing color.  The leaves are still bearing the signs of being covered up by leaves and are quite yellow.   Dsc_0004_2 The hellebore  has its' lime green flower bud enlarging every day.  Spring is coming and while it is not quite 'in the air' there is no stopping the seasonal progression of spring.   Inside,Dsc_0005 the Phalaenopsis orchid is blooming, one of the begonias,Dsc_0013 Art Hode, and two of the streptocarpus, Dsc_0010 a pink and a Dsc_0009_2 purple.  I know you've seen them before but I took these pictures today! Also blooming indoors is the Dsc_0014 Anthurium. The flowers are nice on this plant but the foliage is a beautiful, glossy green!  The Dsc_0011 Plasticus lillium is also still blooming and it is quite reliable for color all year long!  Bouquets also count and since there will be company for dinner tomorrow evening, a small bouquet of tulips Dsc_0015 will add some seasonal charm to the table! I can't wait to check out the Bloom Day across the country!  Thanks for visiting!


New England Spring Flower Show!

High 41 F
Low  28 F

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Come into my garden!
This year's New England Flower and Garden Show in Boston at the Bayside Expo Center runs for over a week starting on March 8th and ending on the 16th.  The theme this year is 'Rhapsody in Green'.  I love flowers shows, some more than others. New England winters are long and the flower shows arrive just when the bleakness in the surrounding landscape is at its' peak . At a flower show reality is suspended and perfection in a display is achieved for one short week or less.  Artistic license allows a designer to incorporate impossible planting combinations into the display with flowers blooming out of sync with one another, a trait I find a bit disconcerting if sometimes enchanting.  What I don't like are the crowds packing the hall but, since I am part and parcel of the crowd, this is to be endured and there is always someone interesting to meet.   For me, a flower show must have interesting horticulture, great displays and a good speaker list.  I did find all of these components at the New England show.  There is always something new to learn in horticulture and design and what would a flower show be without mood music?Dsc_0033The music was just an added bonus.
This year orchids seemed to dominate many of the areas at the show including the Dsc_0091 judged floral arrangements ,Dsc_0090 the educational displays Dsc_0032 and the vendor area Dsc_0028 along withDsc_0016 bonsai.  I find bonsai intriguing but have little desire to participate in this form of horticulture.  Some things are best admired from a distance and this blooming witch hazel is one of them.

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The garden displays at the show this year contained quite a bit of natural stone in the form of patio surfaces,Dsc_0013 water fountainsDsc_0014 and walls.   I love natural stone, and I understand why many of the designs use block and man made pavers as they are very easy to work with and are uniform in thickness and size for ease of installation but really, natural stone is so much more pleasing visually!  When you consider that each flagstone piece has to be maneuvered Dsc_0059 and levered into position and then leveled, you can then understand  the skills and time necessary to implement such a landscape.   There were many small gardensDsc_0089 with inviting sitting areas just waiting for occupants.Dsc_0002   This one had a soothing lavender theme and then there is this design which was a rather large display which included a beautiful water featureDsc_0040 and a seating area with thisDsc_0080 interesting  shade canopy. Here is a very traditional tea spot Dsc_0071 and then this modern garden settingDsc_0103 is also represented. This patio was set within an area surrounded by moss berms and bamboo plantings for a serene, green scene!  Dsc_0006

Some designs incorporated animal statuary from the whimsical Dsc_0065 to the wild Dsc_0084

Here is an exhibit on Grass which is educational as well as a pleasing visual compilation of the grass family's contribution to man.  The saga begins with thisDsc_0102 (click to enlarge) rice tablet history and continues with severalDsc_0098 intertwined and adjoining displays.  This custom wheat fence was a delight and this I. M. Pei like  display I found curious.Dsc_0100

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This small garden display seemed to have 'it all' for me.  An inviting entry,Dsc_0055 wonderful window boxesDsc_0052 a small display garden with statuary,Dsc_0053 and an unusual roof. Dsc_0051 I thought it was well composed and executed, a bit conservative, reflecting the New England flavor but with a decidedly modern twist in the choice of statuary.  This was a small, 650 square foot space.  A bit packed with plants but then one has to play to the crowd.

I decided to go to the show on Saturday primarily because of the speaker, Amy Stewart.  I did work in the cut flower industry for a time and found her book 'Flower Confidential' entertaining and informative.  I also enjoy the 'Rant' posts so attending her lecture seemed like an opportunity not to be missed. Dsc_0096_2 She did not disappoint!   A gracious lady and an engaging speaker topped off a day at the flower show!  As flower shows go, this one had several treats!


A drismal start!

High 57 F
Low  37 F
Rain then sun!
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This was the picture that greeted Tucker and me this morning!  Yes, it is true, I live in a castle with a moat!  Poor initial planning and ledge everywhere prevents quick drainage but, then again, this time of year is so muddy that a bit of a foot bath is welcome! Dsc_0002 This is the view of the east border across the fish pond which is located just beyond the grasses which need burning.  This will take place in the next week or two.  The temperature rose today and the wind was quite spring like and by the time I arrived home, the walk was dried up.  If we have a couple more days of wind and sun there will be raking! Dsc_0003 I am looking forward to starting the process of reclaiming the garden.  The edges are blurred and this seems to have been a banner year for acorns.Dsc_0007   I wish the deer would just browse right here! Dsc_0006 This is the ...what do I call this bed...the Florida bed as it is shaped like Florida when you look at it from the deck.  It looks like a mass of leaves doesn't it.  I am going to try to take these same shots at the beginning of every month so that the changes are more apparent.  Do any of you do this?   I think it is probably a good habit to get into. I did see a bit more green todayDsc_0005 and hope that I can clean this bed out this weekend!  It sure needs it!