Personal Garden Strolls - By Appointment

New patio august 2019
The New Patio

As the garden unfolds, slowly this season but with a bit more attention from this quarantined gardener of a certain age, I am thinking of all of those who embrace gardening and all those who have not realized just how gratifying and calming in can be to garden and then relax in the garden. Right now, the oak leaves lie heavy upon the perennial borders and while many gardeners embrace leaving them in place to decompose and feed the soil I have found that they smother many perennials and are better carted off to the compost heap to decompose and then return to the beds as a light covering of compost. Bulbs are an exception and most will push their tiny, mighty shoulders right through the oak leaves. How can there be such strength in something so small and delicate?

Snowdrops en masse

At my age, I have too many borders but I do have a lot of time, especially these days when pestilence lurks seemingly everywhere. So, this year, the gardens should be glorious from all the attention. It is early yet in my garden in New England and just the bulbs are blooming-the tiny bulbs. I am thinking that it might be nice to let people - my friends, neighbors and family know when the garden starts to shine. Not en masse but gently. I am thinking that I could call a neighbor who has never seen my garden and invite them to stroll, alone and at their leisure.

Left handed mitten garden 2019
Left handed mitten garden

We are all looking for safe alternatives to crowded places. Public gardens are closed right now and probably will be for another couple of months. When life begins to return to normal, there may be a new normal with people keeping their distances at least until a vaccine is developed for this latest virus. This could take more than a year. So, that said, just maybe my garden could provide a bit of relief for someone else.

Long border august 2019
Long border 2019

Perhaps no one will come but it may be worth a try. Personal Garden Strolls. That could be just the thing. It might be something for everyone. If you lived close by, would you visit? We could all start a PGS movement. I am still thinking about it.


Twice a Year is Not Enough

Winter aconiteAfter many years of blogging the blogger tends to repeat herself just as Mother Nature does in the garden. That said, each season is slightly different in the garden. More rain, less rain, more sun, less sun, lots of snow, a little snow, no snow. The winter of 2020 has been a winter of no snow. It is up to the gardener to notice the subtleties of nature in the garden. This garden blogger has been lazy. Blogging twice a year is not enough. That needs to change. Starting here, starting now. Today it is warm for February, 48F currently and it is raining. The tuteur has fallen over and the birdbath tilts precariously. Here in New England the freeze and thaw of the ground is a powerful force most visible in the collapse of stone walls and the tilting of tuteurs. Tuteur on sideContainers left outside, freeze, crack and sometimes totally break. Walkways heave and pitch. Mother Nature launches some plants right out of the soil. Never a pretty sight for a gardener. Heaved rose rootsStill, the buds swell, the tiny bulbs bloom and garden tasks await. February in the New England garden can present some opportunities if the temperature is over 40F and the rain and the wind stop for a bit. It is easy to see the invasion of the bittersweet vine and brambles which can be clipped and later removed. The lawn is littered with broken branches and just tidying up brings quite a bit of satisfaction. I wouldn't call it gardening though. Is is more garden maintenance than actual gardening. Bending and stretching after a couple months of reading and relaxing remind the gardener, especially the aging gardener, that garden tasks need to be done in shorter spans of time. Purple early crocusNo more are there eight hour days of spring cleaning. An hour or two of light tasks done every few days is probably smarter for everyone but very necessary for those of us who have been gardening for decades. This past week there was an unexpected day of warmth. Temperatures soared to nearly 60F. The  snowdrops unfurled with their sweet scent, the small clump of purple crocus opened against the foundation and the winter aconites raised their sunny faces to the sky. I had trouble taking a picture of the snowdrops. Snowdrops with beesThe honey bees (where do they hide in my garden in the winter?) were landing on my camera with either curiosity or annoyance at the interruption. Snowdrops en masse   Winter aconite group
Today with rain, the flowers are clenched and tight but this year there is a larger patch of snowdrops, a little 'puddle' of winter aconite and this gardener is paying closer attention to both the garden and the blog.


Form Follows Function - June, 2019

Newpatio1Anyone who gardens knows that nothing ever stays the same. I started gardening many years ago on my plot of land. The first garden was a vegetable garden but as the gardening addiction grew a border became a goal. The first was a border behind the house. It was southwest facing and away from the hubbub of a daily life filled with active kids, their friends, and pets. It was a border which would not suffer from thrown balls and furry feet. But, it was behind the house. It provided a nice respite from a long day. I clearly remember taking friends over to see it and one of them audibly gasped at the display. Nirvana to a gardener's spirit and soul. As the kids grew, the niche carved out of the woods for the homestead grew bigger-pines were cut down for more sun and more play area. There was a sandbox added and the woods were pushed back a bit further.  A sunroom was added to the house necessitating the cutting of more trees. The large pine holding the swing hit the dirt. The kids didn't use it anymore anyway. A patio was added and many a meal has been enjoyed on that patio. The area adjacent to the patio was the bird feeding station and it is situated right in front of the double, west facing window. Very useful for entertainment during cold winter months but a difficult area to plant in season as it had an irregular shape. It was a wild space in the summer. PatiotobeBee balm scampered around with abandon and a stray sunflower arose from the bird's sloppy dining habits.  The existing patio seemed smaller for friends more than ten. PlanviewThe garden evolves and so does the garden space. Louis Sullivan, architect, lived by the principle 'Form Follows Function' and while he applied it to buildings, it has become a maxim for landscape design as well.
As such it seemed an additional patio space would be a good solution to the problems of space and Ongoingconstructionpatiothat of taming a garden. There would be more room for sitting and chatting. More space for fun. A nicer space to view from the living room window. Work began. With the help of my awesome neighbor, Rocky, I started the dig. The Equipment Manager, also known as husband, Chris,  was not really on board for another project. He left for Maine for two weeks. I started work. I planned to add a rectangular addition to the curved patio. I kept many wheelbarrows of soil were removed from the designated area? I know I removed about ten before Rocky showed up with superior strength and a bigger wheelbarrow. I think it must have been 30 or 40. Processed gravel was added and then sand. The brick arrived. 630 bricks-I had to get 200 more as we went a bit bigger. Rocky is in construction and he has a good eye for leveling and all things construction. We decided during the process to add a rill under the drip line of the house. I love the rill and it has handled 2.6" of rain with no problem. WithrillWe finished the day the EM arrived home. He was less than thrilled but I do think he is now embracing the space since we have had a couple gatherings which have been much more comfortable with seating and space.


We have had morning coffee on the new patio and evening wine. I saw my first cedar waxwings from the patio chair. Have they visited before? Were they there in the garden all the time and I never noticed? Cedarwaxwing2I don't think so, I think they came to celebrate the new patio.