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All Creatures Welcome

R. odoratus with background'All Creatures Welcome' is what the sign would say if Kris Green had one inviting passersby into her garden. The chairsThe chairs sit empty but inviting in the center of the garden. They are begging for a rump or two to sit and survey the quiet complexity of this verdant space. NinoThere is the resident pup, Nino, seen here surveying the kingdom and then there is the pollinator condo Kris has devised to provide an invitation to visit and a bit of security for nature's winged critters. Pollinator condoI imagine some crawlers lodge here as well. All are invited. Kris is a fellow blogger, an Interpretive Horticulturist at Blithewold and a friend and this past summer I was invited to visit her garden in Bristol, RI. Hakon with backgroundNow, we both live in the same state and the smallest state at that but Bristol is right on the ocean and my garden sits in the western hills a full zone colder than Kris's garden. That is one reason it is such a fun to visit. ClerodendronShe easily grows this Clerodendron shrub which would succumb to cold in my garden. (Perhaps I should give it a try.) There are other treats as well. Mondard punctataMonarda punctata adds subtle color and wonderful form to the front border. Kris has a creative eye along with busy hands making a small but sensory packed jewel of a garden. Cleome and hyssopShe has an artist's eye as evidenced by her clear mastery of texture and color. The echo combination of agastache and cleome is just one example. Sambucus and petasitesShe knows full well that August can be a tired time in the garden and she has embraced the nuances of lace and leather here in the borders. DSC_0027If you happen to sit in the chairs, there is a lovely view of the deck complete with perfectly potted plants and upon entering the house, it is clear that an artist and gardener lives inside. Mirror and ClawThe living room even has a living wall. Wooly pocketKris was born with her unique perspective which she has honed in life along with her horticultural skills. She works in the greenhouse and gardens at Blithewold Mansion and Gardens and she writes their blog with wit and wisdom and always a quick turn of phrase which you can read here. We can all look forward to more of Kris's writings as she is completing work on a new book, the contents of which remain a mystery. Kris GreenDue out in the fall, it promises to be filled with a fresh approach to the age old art of gardening. While Kris is never in anyones shadow, she prefers to keep a low profile but should you stop in at Blithewold, take the time to talk with Kris and also with Gail, Dan and Fred. You will recognize her from her smiling picture above and hereKris Green on the rightstanding just behind and to the right of the enigmatic and always interesting Michael Dirr.  Thank you to Kris for a lovely day in her garden with her, Nino and the critters.

Where Chickens Reign Supreme

ClematisAlmost two months ago I posted about a rather famous garden with a rather famous garden blogger,  Susan Harris, of Garden Rant fame. I had the pleasure of visiting Susan's garden while visiting with another famous garden blogger/author. The week's Flight's of Fancy - Armchair Travels takes us to the garden of my hostess, a multi-talented person who has become a friend, a travel companion and a confidant. This garden has been seen by many of us in pictures but we have only seen a portion of the garden. We all do edit our garden through our pictures, picking just the best to show. I find that it is difficult to show any garden as a whole with still shots. Imagine my delight when I found so many interesting garden spaces which I cannot ever remember seeing in this blogger's pictures. The gardens surrounding this home are well planned and just plain pretty if pretty can be plain. Attention to detail is seen at every turn. The approach to this home is along a winding, sloping drive bordered by woods on the right and a field on the left with hawthornes flanking the drive. IMG_5462In November, the red berries were in opulent profusion and the appreciative birds were seen enjoying these jewels. The field is kept neat and tidy by a neighbor who hays it during the season.Top of the HouseThe top of the house comes into view first and the reveal is slow, anticipation building for what is to come. MtThis blogger has a few chickens but in addition she also has a cat, a pig, some dogs and many vegetables. Well, yes, the pig is not alive but I don't remember seeing it before. There are always treasures to be found if one looks closely. The front garden was a surprise to me. Matching your foliage with your chairsThe entrance to any home should be approachable and inviting. This entrance has a nice wide walkway of brick with a color coordinated and dog friendly entrance. The front chair matches the fall color on the maples, the azaelas are re-bloomers, the hellebores are immense and the view from the front step is expansive.Mist in the meadowYou may remember seeing this view but now I can place it in this landscape as a view from the red chair on the front step. Another surprising feature of this garden is the garden seating. Trip to Robin'sI have seen at least one of these sets of chairs but the others were a surprise. I am fairly sure that this gardener rarely sits for very long in any of these seats but they are all inviting, all placed in wonderful spots and all ready for a warm body or two as the size would indicate(the chair/bench, not the body). Mt1The vegetable garden is classic and even in November it is yielding flowers, foliage and vegetables. The fencing and welcoming gate with arbor are the perfect complement to the traditional architecture of this home. This gardener is a serious cook and greens were picked for the wonderful meals I enjoyed here. You may have identified this gardener by now but here are a few more traditional views I have seen on her blog.
Classic Chicken CoopFirst, The Chicken Castle and next the chairs which we see most often facing the woods. Serenity gardenI call this the Serenity Spot but my dear friend probably has another name for this special place. One of the great perks of garden blogging is the unexpected pleasure of developing friendships with others who have similar interests. If you don't recognize the beautiful haven featured here, it belongs to Robin of Bumblebee blog. Sophie, Robin, SarahThank you so much, Robin, for a wonderful visit.


Addendum: Since visiting, the beautiful white rooster pictured in the first collage, the beloved T. Boone, has passed on to his next perch. He was a regal and beautiful cock. He will be missed.

Can You Name This Garden?

An inviting entryIt is obvious that a garden lover lives here. But who? Can you guess from the pictures? This past week I had the pleasure of visiting the gardens of two garden blogger friends and the garden of an American President. There will be other posts. I thought it might be fun to show pictures of this garden and have you guess who gardens here. This garden has been pictured on this gardener's blog, in magazines and even on a book cover. I have seen many pictures of this garden but I have not seen it in person before this past week. November is not an optimal time to visit a garden but this gardener showed no reluctance in sharing her (first clue) garden. Front gardenIt has a very small front garden on a quiet street in a cozy neighborhood. The lower gardenThe side garden leads down a slope to the back garden but the best view of the back garden is from the deck on the house. From the deck one can look down into garden which elbows up to the woodlands. The above view has been seen by many of us but I don't remember seeing the birdhouses on the tree or, at least, noticing them. It is a climbIt is a climb down many steps to the lower level. When you are down in this garden it feels secluded and very private. Contemplative bench in the Susan Harris gardenThere is a bench for contemplation which sits along a path to the woods. There are chairs at the top of the garden which look like they are actually used since the umbrella has been added for comfort during hot, sunny days. The chairsIt was a rainy day but the foliage was glowing yellow, amber and copper while the evergreens provided green contrast. You can see the textures of this garden right through the fallen leaves. DSC_0024Textures carry a garden through the seasons and this garden is full of texture which shows the skill of this gardener. Behind the Blue WallThis view was a surprise to me as I don't think that I have seen this photographed.  From a distance, this looks like an underwater scene with the ivy mimicking seaweed. The watering cans might give it away upon closer inspection but this is a clever treatment for a dark, under the deck, area.  Have you guessed whose garden I visited on this day? Susan HarrisIt was the garden of the always smiling, ever energetic and daring Susan Harris. Daring because she is leaving this garden after 26 years of nurturing. I call that daring. I have known Susan for three years and while she is famous for many things,The Lawn Reform Coalition, Garden Rant, Gardener Susan and Garden Center Blogging, her commitment to gardening, the environment and her friendship are what make her famous to me. Thank you for the visit, Susan. I thoroughly enjoyed the view and can't wait to see what you do with the new garden.

Garden visitors

DSC_0009 I find it a true honor to be visited by another garden blogger.  Even though....the garden is a fall garden with little blooming.  My eyes seem to have grown weary of it with its declining foliage and flowers.  I don't think I could live in a place without the change of seasons.  I look forward to the changes and to the change in garden duties. I digress.  I always want to know from a visitor what is different from their expectations.   DSC_0023
Garden bloggers and gardeners are a friendly, kind group so I know that they would never be discouraging.  At least the ones I know who are not into gardening as a competitive sport.  Robin, of Bumblebee blog fame, came to visit over the weekend on her way back to her home in Maryland from a business trip to New York.  I met Robin in Chicago at the Chicago Fling and we had wonderful conversations which were carried on in Buffalo this year.  Robin arrived on Friday afternoon and was greeted first by the pups.  Since Robin loves dogs, this was a good beginning and each pup received a present and a box of cookies.  DSC_0030
I should mention here that she was missing her own two mini dogs, Sophie and Sarah.  Tucker and  Cooper were quite happy to try and make her feel welcome.   After initial introductions to the EM we took a spin around the garden, wine glasses in hand and dogs by our sides.  It was a beautiful, golden afternoon. DSC_0079
  I am not sure we spoke about the garden more than in passing.  We just had too much to catch up on.  What books are you reading?  How was the drive?  How is the family, dogs, chickens?  It didn't matter what the garden looked like.  It was enough to be in it with a fellow garden lover just enjoying the incandescent afternoon and each others' company.  I did ask her how the reality of the garden differed from her impression through this blog.  She said 'It is much bigger'.  Maybe it is time to get out the video camera.  Anyway, the time spent was not enough.  There are conversations yet to be had.  I am looking forward to our next visit and that is as it should be.  Garden bloggers are welcome here. 

When friends come to August.

August is not the peak bloom for these gardens and with little rain in the past month, the only thing to look forward to are garden vegetables DSC_0020
and visits from friends even though apologies are profuse given the wilting and parched foliage in the gardens.  Gardeners do understand though.  Kris, here pictured in Buffalo admiring the hydrangea which is dressed to match her outfit,  IMG_2310

from A Trench Manicure blog and Blithewold blog came all the way from Bristol, RI and, bonus, she brought her Mom, Patricia.  Now, I know that you know that Rhode Island is the smallest state in the Union and it takes less than two hours to drive north/south or east/west from one end of the state or side of the state to another.  What you may not realize is that Rhode Islanders rarely leave a ten mile radius from their homes without packing a lunch and planning multiple bathroom stops.  I am not sure if this anomaly happens in other states but here, it is just the way it is.  Kris and I are both exceptions to this rule, of course since we both made it to Buffalo and that is quite a jaunt. IMG_2171 Elizabeth's pink hydrangea

As an Interpretive Horticulturist at Blithewold, Kris rarely gets away from the gardens which she tends and bends with her talented, artistic eye and lots of physically hard work but she had vacation days and took one to come visit.  She also brought some treasures from her own garden. DSC_0002

Is there a more thoughtful gift?  I do love a bouquet and this one includes silver eleagnus, penstemon seed heads and other choices from her garden.   It was such a pleasure to show her and her Mom around although I had to extract a promise from her to come back when the gardens are less stressed.  I couldn't even use the line "If you had only been here last week" since all of August has been a challenge.  That is the way of gardening though and gardeners stick together.  There is little explaining to do to someone who, all too well, understands that Mother Nature has her own plan.  This August it is time to take pleasure in the smaller views and the company of friends.  DSC_0030
  There is no better way to spend a warm, sunny afternoon.  

Nepal - Phase IV - Seti River Camp

IMGP3292 (Picture credit: Randy Blough)
It has been over two months since my return from the Nepal adventure.  The fourth phase of our trip involved river rafting on the Seti River for a half day, camping over two nights with treks each day to neighboring villages, and then a final morning of rafting before boarding a bus for the Chitwan Forest.  The Seti river runs from the Himalayan Mountain Range with a crystal blue, meandering footprint.  Our first day on the river was actually just a half day but beautiful and fairly easy to navigate.  IMGP3290 Photo credit Randy Blough
The EM had the luxury of a trip to Vietnam in the 60's courtesy of the U. S. Government and he said that the gorges and vegetation along the river were reminiscent of the Central Highlands of Vietnam.  I think he enjoyed this trip a bit more than his government sponsored sojourn.  We had a wonderful river navigator, Hurdi, who had a ready smile and interesting stories. IMGP3405 

Photo credit: Randy Blough
  There were only a few rough rapids at this time of year and little to fear from them.  Our crew IMGP3397 Photo credit: Randy Blough
actually knew how to paddle and we were allowed to help with the steerage on occasion when Hurdi needed a bit more help.  The helmets make all of us look like Mensa members but they were a necessity.  My camera was actually put into the waterproof bag for the water portion of the trip so Randy helped me out with these pictures.  We traveled down the river for  a bit more than half a day before stopping at the Seti River Camp IMG_0807
which was very well appointed with permanent tents, a kitchen,dining hall, and the outdoor fire pit for campfire sessions.  We settled into our tent IMG_0854
and after a bit of relaxation went down to the fire pit where all gathered for discussions IMG_0817
and recaps of the day. IMG_0825
The second day of our river adventure started with breakfast and then a hike to a local village.  The hiking trail  was situated on the upper banks overlooking the Seti River. IMG_0827
  We visited the local sawmill where two men were sawing this beam into planks.  As you can see, they were working quite hard. It is interesting to be taken back in time to a place where hand tools are the major means of construction. IMG_0830
Work kept on as we all stopped to watch and learn. IMG_0829
This suspension bridge is necessary for the local people to get from one side of the river to another. Most of us enjoyed walking to the center for a long view down the river and the requisite photo op.IMG_0833
  All along the river there were houses scattered here and there and in each field there was a high platform which allowed the farmers to sound the alarm if and when the monkeys arrive as they can decimate a crop in a very short amount of time.  IMG_0837
We were greeted at the village by the children.  Some of us came with pencils for their schoolwork and our guide passed them out to the kids as they scampered along beside us.  They seemed a serious group with shy smiles.IMG_0836
They had this handmade barrow of a sort and they took turns riding down the hill on the fork at the two front wheels which had a total diameter of four inches at the most.  They were carved from wood.  They really picked up some speed on this little contraption.  IMG_0851

It is a colorful village and we were  there on the weekend so school was out and some of the villagers were busy digging new latrines while others were making the local beverage in this pot on the fire.IMG_0847
  The kids followed us around and sat for photos.IMG_0850
I love the expression on this little girl's face as she seems to be saying 'Yes, that's my brother'.  They have learned to ask to see the picture on the back of the digital camera. Baby nepal
This baby sat placidly unaffected by our presence. IMG_0852
We did have a bit of excitement back at the river camp.  While we were sitting by the fire pit the honeybees returned to their nest after several months of absence.  They swarmed in and then settled on this log they call home within just a half hour or so. IMG_0855
There were plenty of flowers here for them to visit and the amount of butterfliesIMG_0856
at the river camp was extraordinary.  Our third morning was our last and we set out IMGP3396
once again for a leisurely ride down the river to our bus which took us to the Chitwan National Forest.  The last portion of our adventure.

Gail and Layanee's big adventure!

High 72 F 
Low  58 F

Entry garden and rose garden at Blithewold, click to enlarge

Many of us have had the pleasure of meeting and spending time with fellow bloggers.  Many of us actually blog in order to share our passion and addiction for plants and all things gardening.  How could fellow gardeners be any other than strong, caring and well-rooted people?  I think it would be impossible. Many of you have already met at the Austin Spring Fling and know the joy of which I speak. I have met a few other bloggers, Pam from Digging, by phone, Heather from Heather's Garden, stopped in at Ledge and Gardens with her husband for a great visit and chat during the summer.  This past few days  I had the extreme pleasure of meeting and sharing plant passions and addictions along with many other topics with the award winning, Blotanicals, fellow blogger, Gail from Clay and Limestone.  Our big adventure started when I picked Gail up in Providence where she had spent the weekend enjoying the company of her son.  Sad to say I did not get to meet him as he was already at work but I did meet his friend, Val, and we chatted long enough for her to feel comfortable enough to let Gail go off with a total stranger.

We headed straight to Blithewold to meet up with Kris Greene, hort expert, gardener, artist, and fellow blogger.  Blithewold is a beautiful place due to the efforts of the staff there which includes Kris, Gail, Fred and Dan.  We made our way to the north garden,Dsc_0008 slowly as there was so much to see, and there was Kris working away neatening all even though it looked quite pristine in spite of the heavy rains of the weekend.  Kris was able to give us a tour of the gardens and point out some of the exceptional plants on this estate.  Here is a picture of the Clerodendron in full berry. Dsc_0006 It is the Harlequin Glory Bower and if I were near the coast it is a plant I would definitely have in my garden. It is a zone warmer at Blithewold than at Ledge and Gardens. Dsc_0007_2 The close up shot of the berries shows their striking  navy blue color with the red bract.    Dsc_0010 This Sequoia is the second largest in the northeast.  Dsc_0009 The  tree and shrub beds are filled with interesting specimens and edged and layered to great effect.   The above path leads through the bosquet and over to the greenhouse area where the annual display beds Dsc_0025 are in full glory. Dsc_0017 This is a new bed with the blue seat in the background and that large blue plant is the Salvia uliginosa which Kris writes about in her last post.  It is large, stunning and a beautiful blue.Dsc_0018   I took many pictures but the story they don't tell is the conversation between three plant lovers.  How can you resist the obvious when you see a plant such as thisDsc_0011 one called 'Hairy Balls'.  I know, there are three but that just leads to more mischief!  We had to move along to sample the ground cherries which neither Gail or I had ever tasted. Dsc_0037 Kris and Gail picked and I shot photos with their permission.  Ground cherries are curious looking little berries hiding behind a paper coat Dsc_0034 and Kris's description of their flavor as somewhat like kiwi is an apt one although I did taste a hint of melon and perhaps some oak.  Oh, no, that would be oak!   About Gail, she has a great curiosity about all things.  That is a gift which I enjoyed immensely. Dsc_0038 You can see the fun my compatriots are having in the garden.   We foraged, we ate, and we moved on as the ground cherries stimulated our appetites and we knew it was past the lunch hour for all of us

.  We moved on down to the pond gardens and the rock gardens Dsc_0043 and then made our way back through the bousquet where we said our goodbyes to Kris who still had a half day of work in front of her.  I can't thank Kris enough for sharing her garden, information, seeds,  and work with us both.  We have the memories shared to return to on those wintry, blustery, non-gardening days. 

Gail and I stopped for lunch and then proceeded to visit my sister as she was right across from the apple orchard where we picked up some local fruit.  Gail was exposed to family!  She survived and even thrived as my sister, Sue, is charming if I do say so myself (she hates to garden but has other gifts).  I was killing time until we could go to Lois's garden.  Dsc_0108
Lois's primula in spring!
I didn't take pictures this time at Lois's but she has been blogged here before and has a most incredible garden and she gave us a great tour.  On to Ledge and Gardens.  Gail will have to tell you about that.  We walked, talked, and had dinner with the EM.   I love to entertain in small groups and a group of one is even better.  You can get to know a person and, for me, that is one of the great pleasures in life. Gail and I had more adventures the next day but I will end this now with the end of a perfect day spent in the company of a contemporary and a garden and plant lover. I thank you Gail for seizing the day, so to speak, and coming for a visit to Ledge and Gardens.  We parted with  much more to talk about and that is a great way to part.  I so look forward to our next adventure!      


High 81 F
Low  62 F

As Heather stated over at Heather's Garden, it has taken us many months to finally meet but on Saturday she arrived with VPH in tow.  All of you who have met a fellow blogger know the thrill of finally meeting in person.   The joy of being able to share the garden with another who appreciates the hard work and the finished,  or should I say evolving, garden.  No garden is ever really finished as it is the process rather than the product.  Plants fail and new ones arrive and combinations of colors are tweaked.  Two gardeners with remarkable similar foot wear and nail color!  How could these two fail to be friends?Dsc_0003   I had set aside the above pictured bee balm which seemed quite appropriate given Heather's wardrobe choice for the day.  Dsc_0009 Besides her beautiful smile and VPH (a very charming man) she brought along this wooly thyme which is now planted in the corner of the Florida bed.  I think it will do well there and the picture I took was dappled with sun and shade so I will have to take another.    Tucker was quite the host and his good behavior is indeed just his nature.Dsc_0004    He was  excited to show Heather around. Dsc_0005_2 We did have a chance to chat for a while as it started to pour as soon as Heather and VPH arrived so we passed the time discussing all manner of gardening until the rain slowed down.  Pictures do come out so much better in the filtered light of a cloudy day.  Also, the wetness enhances the colors and other than wet feet it is more comfortable to walk around the garden without the bright, searing sun.  Thank you Heather and VPH for stopping here at Ledge and Gardens.  I look forward to our next visit and I have now added the calendar back to its' rightful place on the wall by the computer.  It has all of my starting dates for the tomatoes, peppers etc. so it is going to have to be archived. Dsc_0048 What a great picture this one is for August! I have added a note on the 2nd of August which reads "Heather and VPH visit for the first time".  If any other bloggers ever visit RI,  I would be honored to share my garden with you in person!