Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Carrots for Christmas

Blueberry Vaccinium angustifolium today
I am excited to belong to the Eastern Pennsylvania Phenology project, recording the timing of seasonal events such as leaf budding, bloom times, and bird arrivals. I wrote about my blog's new purpose in March in the posting, Phenology: My New Favorite Science. (Please click on the highlighted print here for information.) Unfortunately, because I spent most of the last three months in England, I missed the unusual mild spell that occurred this December in NE Pennsylvania which followed an 'odd Autumn'.  As I looked around my garden today, though, I found evidence that this winter season had an unusual beginning, including buds on the blueberry bushes and spring bulbs making an appearance.

Crocus - December 27, 2011
Daffodil - December 27, 2011
 We planted a weeping redbud last spring...

Lavender Twist Weeping Redbud tree, Cercis canadensis "Covey"
        ... on my recent return from England I found it looking interesting but rather bare sans leaves. 

also known as Twisted Lavender Redbud

On closer inspection, are those spring buds I see?

I am so happy with this redbud and can't wait until spring when it is in bloom. Meanwhile, I love the winter interest that the bark provides.

Back to the phenology project: A few miles south of here, dandelions are blooming, and new leaves have been spotted on the elderberries!

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is way down this year, and this is true in my garden. Early morning brings a few visitors to H.H.'s bird feeder, suet and heated water dish, but there are far less than usual for December. I photographed only three or four this morning ...
Downy woodpecker

Tufted Titmouse

I spotted some sweet black-capped chickadees in the woodland walk, but haven't managed to capture them on camera yet.

One benefit of the mild weather is that the ground isn't yet frozen. This enabled H.H. to dig up some neglected carrots in the kitchen garden. Fresh, home-grown carrots with Christmas dinner -- a pleasant surprise.

It is great to be back in the USA and blogging again! Thank you so much, dear friends, for your good wishes and prayers during my three-month ordeal in England. My 92-year-old mother had a fall in September, then a mini stroke, which necessitated a long spell in the hospital. Mom lives alone and, as I am an only child, there really isn't any one else for her. I worked hard to make her house safe for her return from hospital, including replacing the coal fire with central heating, but soon found she needed more care. She didn't want to go into a home, but chose a flat in a beautiful sheltered-accommodation facility where there is 24-hour care. I packed and moved her possessions (she lived in that house for 40+ years, so a lot of boxes went to the charity shop). I installed her in her new flat two weeks ago. She is settling in, but it is a big change for her. However, I am feeling less worried about her now that she is in a safer place.

I am still feeling exhausted and I'm sleeping a great deal. I made three trips across the Atlantic in such a short time, and I am too old for all this jet-setting. But I had a wonderful, relaxed Christmas. Today, I will relax further as I visit all your wonderful blogs!

I hope your holidays are very merry and I wish you a healthy, and blessed 2012!

Pamela x

Black-eyed Junco

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Alan's Garden

Timber bamboo in the forefront
Each time I walk to the bus stop, or the grocery store, from my mother's house in England, I pass Alan's garden. A high fence surrounds the back garden, hiding the botanical delights within, but along the street I pass this magnificent shrubbery, full of textures and color even on a dreary November day. Shades of green and yellow, punctuated with red, blue and silver make a striking contrast. The textures, from soft bamboo to spiky sedge, change with the play of light, shadow and viewing distance.

The clumps of blue bells are of the Canterbury bells family.

Cotoneaster and andromeda
The cotoneaster is sometimes called the burglar plant because its spiky form is often planted under windows to deter intruders.

Conifer being trained into pompom style
Canterbury bells, euonymus, cotoneaster berries, Oregan grape, and unknown leaf.

Skimmia Japonica 'Rubella'
Perennial geranium
A favorite shrub of mine is viburnum and I am delighted to see the remnants of beautiful blossoms remaining here ...

The sunflower stepping-stone is an integral part of the back garden landscape -- on the other side of the fence. 
Alan's lawn is perfect. It is surrounded by beautiful curved beds planted with a variety of shrubs and perennial flowers. A large forest fir, abies forrestii, provides shade near the seating area.

Juniperus squamata 'Blue Star', Eucalyptus, and viburnum

I love the spiky texture of the phormium tenax purpureum
A striking feature of Alan's garden are the many beautiful planters, such as these in a corner by his potting shed ...

A winding, gravel path leads to a secluded sitting area ...

The focal point of the garden is a striking blue pot containing the magnolia 'Mother of the Bride'. It is flowering, although it shouldn't at this time of the year ...

Mother of the Bride

I thank Alan for inviting me into his lovely garden. I am sure you will agree with me, dear gardening friends, that his many hours of work have paid off. I am feeling inspired and hope you are, too.

At this Thanksgiving time, I am thankful for all those friends who share my love of gardening!

Love, Pamela x

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Thursday, October 27, 2011


Honey Bee on Zinnia, October 18, 2011
A few days before I left America for England, there were still bees and butterflies in my autumn garden.  Yes, I am in England again. I came back to my homeland last weekend, after receiving the call that my 92-year-old mother would be discharged from the hospital soon. I knew when H.H. and I left here earlier this month that I would need to come back to prepare her house for her return, but didn't think it would be this quick, although it has been five weeks since she fell. Before I began my journey, I walked around my garden and took a few pictures to post, but this is the first opportunity I've had to do so.

When I toured my garden last Sunday, the only sign of  a butterfly was the monarch chrysalis that I had been watching for a week. I was thrilled when there were eggs, then caterpillars on the milkweed I planted last year, but the chrysalis really excited me, and I hoped the butterfly would emerge before I left for the airport. No such luck.

Monarch Cat on Milkweed

Monarch Chrysalis, October 23, 2011
Maybe next year I'll watch the incredible metamorphosis.

Monarch on Marigold, October 18, 2011
I'm glad I snapped some pictures of my garden before I left, because I believe the temperature plummeted in the Poconos this week, and snow is forecast for tonight. All the following pictures were taken Sunday, October 23.

Come walk with me ...

The fish were still active in the pond

I must tell H.H. to put the succulents in the garage before the weather worsens.

There was still some color in the cottage garden.

Marigolds and Blueberry

Lots of berries on the crabapple tree this year.

The birds will eat well this winter.

The last dahlia

The Johnnie Jump-Ups have bloomed since March

The planters on the patio still look amazing

Impatiens and black-eyed Susan vine in the stone garden.
Fall leaves in the shade garden.

Zinnias in the kitchen garden

Since my last posting, the corn was harvested.

The giant harvester leaving the lower field.
I am always sad to see the corn go; it marks the end of the gardening season. But the upper field looks incredibly beautiful in its autumn colors which seem even more brilliant now the corn is cut.

Upper Corn Field

Finally, I must say goodbye to my mini horse, Dude, and his companion, Billy. I don't think they mind me leaving as long as someone is feeding them. But I'll miss them.

I must apologize for not visiting your blogs lately, but  this is my first opportunity to switch on the computer -- I've been busy cleaning Mom's house, sorting her clothes, visiting the hospital, meeting with social workers, etc. I have also been looking at assisted living facilities, as we don't know how long she will be able to live alone, even with the incredible support she receives from caregivers. I know you will understand if I don't stop by your blog for a while, or write a new post on my own site. There is no internet service at Mom's house and I am writing this in my favorite restaurant. Its not good for me to be around all this food.

I will return to blogging as soon as I can.

Sending love to all my dear gardening friends,
Pamela x

Caterpillar on Dill, 10/23/11
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Saturday, October 15, 2011

October Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

Mid October and summer is hanging on just a little: the bees are still busy, some monarch butterflies have not yet flown south, and the farmer hasn't harvested the corn.  The weather, however, is horrible. While we were in England, Pennsylvania had seven straight days without rain, for the first time in months, but as soon as we arrived home, rain was back in the forecast. As a result, I haven't been able to work outside, and my garden is a mess. Nevertheless it IS Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and I'm heading outside between showers to find some blooms.

Caryopteris has a few remaining blossoms (and bees as you can see from the photo above.)

Caryopteris 'Dark Knight'

Of my three butterfly bushes, one is full of flowers. Maybe that's why monarch butterflies are still visiting my garden.

'Autumn Joy' sedum is still joyful.
There's a late bloom on the honeysuckle.

Fall leaves predominate in the shade garden.

The hydrangeas are showing autumn color.

Oakleaf hydrangea

I love my perennial geranium because it is so long-lasting. There was a conversation on Alistair's blog about the color. In Scotland it is blue; mine is purple. It's thought the color may be due to the soil.
Perennial geranium 'Rozanne'
Lavendar is still blooming in the Cottage Garden

Snake root has just finished blooming in the woodland garden (photo taken last month)
Fall has definitely arrived in my woodland garden. No blooms; lots of autumn leaves.

Weird-shaped seedpod of Sweet Shrub

The pond is still flaunting some color. There is a flower on one of the waterlilies every day.

 Our big bullfrogs (we have three) are very shy. Can you see one hiding behind the water plants?


Trees edging the cornfield are changing color. Daily we expect the farmer to harvest the corn. The colors of zinnias and marigolds in the kitchen garden add to the feel of autumn.

 The knockout roses continue to bloom profusely.

Pots of marigolds flank a red Knockout rose.
The light wasn't good for red roses today, and I could not capture the velvety texture of this one:

The last David Austin rose 
Not to be outdone, the pink Knockout has several blossoms.
A new rose, planted early last month, displays its first flower -- a promise of even greater loveliness next year.

Rosa 'Compassion'

Baby, it's cold out there ...  I'm going to sit by the fire in the den and browse through all the wonderful blogs listed at Carole's May Dreams Gardens for October Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Thank you Carole for hosting my favorite meme.

Enjoy your October garden, whatever season it may be in your part of the world!
Pamela x

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