Sunday, April 29, 2012

Inspirational Books, Blogs, and Beautiful Gardens

Blooming lilac and crabapple in my garden today.
As a gardener, three sources of inspiration for me are garden books, garden blogs, and visiting beautiful gardens. 


Years before I gardened, when I needed an escape from the stress of my job, I read about gardening and began collecting garden books. My personal library continues to expand, but last week, for Earth Day, I read a book from the church library (where I am volunteer librarian) to our preschoolers there. I have chosen this children's book, The Oak Inside the Acorn by Max Lucado, as my entry for the Earth Day Reading Project sponsored by Michelle at The Sage Butterfly. I feel this is a fitting choice for a post on Inspiration, as Lucado is considered one of America's leading inspirational authors. The lovely illustrations are by George Angelini.

This beautifully written story is about a little acorn who finds it hard to believe he will ever be a big oak tree.  He is afraid to leave the safety of his mother's branches, but he is planted in a farmer's back yard where he grows year-by-year along with the farmer's little girl. He doesn't know what he is supposed to do, but he heeds his mother's advice, "Just be the tree God made you to be," and one day he finds a very special purpose for his branches. The story speaks to young and old.  It is especially important for parents who are raising their children to be unique, and then letting them go out into the world. It encouraged me to answer the question, "What is my place in the world?"


Donna of Garden Walk Garden Talk asked a similar question in her recent Earth Day posting. My place on Planet Earth has changed over the years. Today, I am many things, not least of which is a gardener.

 I am also a garden blogger, finding inspiration from other bloggers. It was my good fortune to meet two of them recently: Carolyn of Carolyn's Shade Garden and Julie who blogs at Wife, Mother, Gardener. It was Julie's idea for Pennsylvania garden bloggers to get-together. It was a wonderful weekend.

From left to right: Carolyn, me, and Julie in Carolyn's garden.


Carolyn's beautiful garden is a true inspiration. One of my favorite spots there is the woodland garden where all sorts of hostas, ferns and native plants can be found. It is how I wish my Woodland Walk looked, but until we eradicate the invasive plants and build a deer fence, I'm afraid it will never happen.

Carolyn's woodland garden.
 It was impossible to pick a favorite, so here are just two of Carolyn's beautiful native plants:
Arisaema triphyllum Jack-in-the-Pulpit
Aquilega Canadensis Wild Columbine
My visit inspired me to start a miniature hosta collection. I purchased three with a little fern, and upon my return home, I planted them in a shallow dish.

I placed the planter next to the swing in my shade garden, where I can admire them when I sit there.

With Julie and Carolyn, HH and I visited Chanticleer, a forty acre garden near Philadelphia. Carolyn gave us a tour ...

Chanticleer is the name given to a rooster, especially in fairy tales.
One of the romantic winding paths at Chanicleer.
Part of an unusual seating group at Chanticleer
I think of this unusual stone chair as 'Carolyn's Chair' because I first read about it on her blog. It inspires me to think more deeply about the seating in my garden.

I loved the plant groupings at Chanticleer. Obviously a great deal of thought is given to the pairings.

Yellow tulip with yellow-edged hosta.
The day before we visited Carolyn and Chanticleer, we went to another inspirational garden, Longwood Gardens at Kennet Square, PA.

The fountain garden at Longwood
The conservatory
Inside the conservatory, HH and I were excited to find a delphinium called Astolat. Our farm, which is HH's childhood home is called Astolat. This is a meaningful name in his family's history.

Delphinium 'Astolat' Pacific Giant Group
Delphinium 'Astolat' Pacific Giant Group
Of course, I  have lots more photos of my visits to these inspirational gardens. Expect more in future postings. And thank you Julie and Carolyn! You prove what I have always thought, Garden Bloggers are the Best!!

Finally, I get inspiration when taking my morning walk around my own garden. Today, not only are the crabapple tree and lilacs blooming, but also my weeping redbud. Unfortunately, my camera didn't pick up the true lavender color of the blossoms.
Weeping Redbud 'Lavender Twist'

In this posting I am not only linking with Sage Butterfly's Earth Day Reading Project meme, but also Donna's  Word4Wednesday at Garden Walk Garden Talk. I haven't forgotten Holley at Roses and Other Gardening Joys whose meme 'Monthly Garden Book Review' I missed this month, but I do encourage you to go over there and get some great reading inspiration. Also, do visit Carolyn's Shade Garden, both the blog and the place if possible; and you will love Julie's Wife, Mother, Gardener blog which is sure to inspire you.

Happy reading, happy blogging, and happy gardening!

Pamela x

With HH at Chanticleer (photo by Julie)

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. YOUR Blog is one that inspires Me!
    I love the shallow dish planting you did - thats going to be beautiful when the plants have grown! Your lilac and crabapple are stunning too! A lovely post Pam!

  2. Wow, you do have some lovely native plants to choose from! Lovely to catch up on your garden and travels.

  3. Books, friends, beautiful gardens - it's a lot to have and to be happy! Wonderful pictures, Pam, and meaningful words. Have a great week!

  4. What a great post, Pam. You must have had a great visit.

  5. What a nice post Pam! It sounds like you had a great weekend with Carolyn & Julie. I would love to have been there! Looks like you had good weather that weekend--I was in Baltimore and it rained. Thanks for sharing this reflective post,

  6. I love your selection for The Earth Day Reading Project. This is such an important book that teaches us so many lessons. Thank you for participating in The Earth Day Reading Project. And you must have had a wonderful get together with some of our blogger friends. Seeing those gardens first hand must have been a real treat.

  7. How lovely to have met up with some like-minded bloggers, it sounds like you had a wonderful time. I love those minature hostas. I keep promising myself one from the mouse ear collection but I haven't got round to acquiring one yet.

  8. It is great to visit with fellow garden bloggers, we can all learn from the benefit of shared experience. I know your visits to these gardens will remain as happy memories for you all. Have a great week!

  9. Pam,
    Wonderful post! It was so much fun to meet you and walk around those pretty gardens. A gardeners dream day!

    I love your hosta planter and it has the prefect spot to be admired from the swing. I love D.'Astolat'and I will look up that book!

  10. Pam, what a wonderful post! And what a wonderful experience, meeting fellow bloggers!

    Steve and I drove down to Philadelphia last year for a day. Chanticleer was closed (it was a Monday) but we got to visit the Wyck. Still hoping to see Chanticleer one of these days!

    Love those jack-in-the-pulpits... have been trying to find some up here for our woodland garden. Your photos of Carolyn's shade garden make me want to plant more trees!

  11. What a wonderful post! How nice that you were able to meet up with other garden bloggers near you and to visit those beautiful gardens too. Your blog and garden are always an inspiration to me. I like the idea of the shallow dish of hosta. Perhaps I could do something like that and set it under the Vitex, near the little seating area I discovered last week :-)

  12. What a great day we had. I am so glad you were inspired, and you have made an inspirational post out of your visit to this area. I think your miniature hosta planter is so cute. I can't wait to see it when it fills in. I hope it will inspire people to order mail order miniatures from Carolyn's Shade Gardens! It's funny: we used the same photos from Chanticleer. "My chair" has already been on my blog and is the most popular photo I have ever posted. But I used both the dogwood path and the hosta with tulips on my Facebook business page. Visits to Chanticleer are always inspiring no matter how frequent. Thanks for a great day. Carolyn

  13. You are an inspiration yourself Pam. I should put down the fiction thrillers which I constantly read and get in touch with something more meaningful, however I know it wont happen.

  14. Great that you met up with Carolyn and saw her fab garden. Love that rooster sculpture and that stone chair could be found a spot in my garden.

  15. I've always wanted to see Carolyn's shade garden and then come visit you after! Your warmth and generosity of spirit comes through in posts as well as in the soil! The delphiniums were a great find and in the last post you mentioned having to remake a garden bed - will you be putting some here? The Astolat garden has a ring about it.

  16. I have just discovered your blog, Pam. What a wonderful post, filled with beautiful and inspiring photos and comments! Thank you.

  17. Your weeping cherry and redbud are gorgeous! Spring pinks are the best, aren't they? I love redbuds, but I think my bright pink crabapple blossoms are my absolute favorite.

  18. Stunning photos in your post. I would so love to visit that conservatory!

  19. I think I went on vacation about the time you posted this, but I wanted to say how impressed I am with your garden - that picture of the lilac and crabapple blooming is just gorgeous! I also am a bit jealous that you got to spend some time with two other garden bloggers! You must have had a wonderful time talking 'plant'! Although you stated that you missed my meme, I am including this post on my List of reviews. I have not read The Oak Inside the Acorn, but I can imagine that it is wonderful. I may try to secure a copy of it for my granddaughter.

  20. Well, summer has come and gone, but I just now saw this blog and wanted to say how much I enjoyed the photos...lovely.