Monday, March 30, 2015

In a Vase on Monday

One of the many joys of garden blogging is linking with gardeners all around the world to see what is growing in their yards each week of the year. This is especially gratifying during those months when nothing is blooming here. One of my favorite memes, 'In a Vase on Monday,'  cheers me on those bloom-barren days. 'In a Vase on Monday' is hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden. My recent, enjoyable exploration of Cathy's wonderful blog revealed that she lives in a part of England near where I was raised. Needless to say, I am now a follower. Now, for the first time this year, I have something blooming to place in a vase: the branches I forced last week. This posting, therefor, is my initial participation in Cathy's meme.

To learn how I forced the branches you can read last week's posting here. I forced forsythia, crabapple, bridal veil spirea, and mock orange. The forsythia is blooming, the other branches have fattening buds. I added pussy willow boughs that I bought from Shoprite.

White hoary frost on Ground crunches beneath my feet Forsythia blooms

Read more at:
White hoary frost on Ground crunches beneath my feet Forsythia blooms

Read more at:
Fattening buds on the crabapple.
Green buds on the spirea and mock orange.
Pussy willow's furry catkin.

The vase I used is a new acquisition from Home Goods. We were looking for accessories for our bathroom renovations when we came across this beauty. I purchased a matching dinner plate to complete the look.

Flowering Bulbs Update

The bulbs I showed in my last posting, tulips, hyacinth, violets and daffodils, are now in full bloom...

I wish you could smell the wonderful perfume of the hyacinth.

I deadheaded the daffodils and await  new buds to open. I made a vignette atop the jelly cabinet in the kitchen. Lots of pretty English china in that spot.

I placed tulips on each bathroom vanity, as an excuse to show off the renovations now they are completed.

Peach-colored tulips in the downstairs bathroom.
Red tulips on the new Victorian vanity in the master bathroom.
If you have two pennies,
spend one on a loaf
and one on a flower.

The bread will give you life,
the flower a reason for living.

Chinese proverb

Going back to my vase of forced branches: I probably wont participate in the meme every week, but I will be sure to visit Cathy's blog regularly to check out her arrangements and concoctions from bloggers around the world. Wont you join me?

What are you placing in a vase today?
Pamela x

Pussy willows and vase gifted to me by my friend Karen some years ago.

~~ 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.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Celebrating the Arrival of Spring

Spring arrived on the 20th, and not a minute too soon. To celebrate, I indulged in my first-day-of spring traditions: forcing branches and buying pots of spring flowers. I decided to force some branches first, as there was a snow storm forecast for later that morning. I saw that the old snow had melted enough for me to reach the forsythia, inaccessible for weeks, at the edge of the Woodland Walk. I thought I should get out there before the route was again blocked by the white stuff. On the way, I was thrilled to find the first snowdrop, peeping through leaf debris in the shade garden. Yes, spring has arrived in my garden!

"And the Spring arose in the garden fair,
Like the Spirit of Love felt everywhere;
And each flower and herb on Earth's dark breast
Rose from the dreams of it's wintry rest. 
The snowdrop and then the violet,
Arose from the ground with warm rain wet."
-- Shelley

I gathered branches of forsythia, crabapple, bridal-veil spirea and mock orange. I prefer to do this on the day I prune my shrubs and trees, but it was too cold for me this week with temperatures still below freezing. I would have preferred milder temperatures for today's job because when it's mild, branches and buds are more pliable and better transition from cold outdoors to warm indoors. But, despite the cold, I didn't want to break with tradition.

I added floral preservative to a bucket of warm water and set it on one side. I filled a sink with hot water (but not hot enough to scald my hands) then, holding the stems underwater, I recut each branch at at a sever angle a couple of inches above the original cut. Hot water is important because it contains the least amount of oxygen which can block water from being taken up, preventing hydration. After recutting the branches, I placed them in the prepared bucket of water and put them in a cool place. I will change the water and add new preservative each week. As the buds start to swell and burst into bloom, I will arrange the branches in vases.

The forsythia needs pruning, but it was too cold for me!
I placed the recut branches in warm water containing floral preservative.

I finished the task just as the promised snow started to fall. We left immediately for the store to look for flowering bulbs.

Snowing again

But first, we stopped at Tractor Supply to visit with the baby chickens and ducklings. Their arrival is a sure sign of spring. I couldn't get good pictures with my phone, but you all know how cute the fluffy little chics are. I'm still trying to persuade H.H. to let me keep a couple of hens and a rooster. This is a farm after all.

We went to two stores for flowering bulbs. The first one, Weiss, had beautiful tulips. They were  in full bloom and very spring-like. I though, however, they wouldn't last long, so we tried Shoprite. All their flowers, except the miniature daffodils had buds. I bought a red tulip and a yellow one, a hyacinth, a violet, and the miniature daffs. Then I spotted a dear little shamrock that would look lovely in one of my miniature gardens, so I bought that, too -- well it is still March. Oh, and some pussy willow to put with the branches I forced.

Happy with my purchases, we headed home. By this time, a couple of inches of snow had fallen and the roads were treacherous. I was so glad H.H. was driving. We couldn't make it up the mountain road, so he had to back down and take another route. We arrived home safely!

The mountain road leading to our farm was snow-covered and slippery.

I watered all my purchases and lovingly placed them on the dining room table where I hope they will bring joy for several weeks, at least until I have plants (more than one snowdrop) blooming in my garden. 

Tulips, miniature daffodils, violets, shamrock, and hyacinth bring spring into the dining room.

Mini daffodils in an antique teapot; shamrocks in the sugar bowl.
Daffodil Narcissus 'Tete-a-Tete'
Irish Shamrock Trifolium dubium
Tulip, Tulipa

I placed the violet under a cloche that H.H. found at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. He paid $3 or $4 for it. Great find, eh?

Violets under the cloche.

I watered my houseplants, too, and couldn't resist photographing the fabulous buds on my zee zee plant.

Beautiful spring buds on the zee zee plant.

I am linking with Donna at Garden's Eye View for her Seasonal Celebrations meme. (Click on the colored words to read other gardeners' celebrations.) I agree with Donna with my whole heart when she says, 

"As I don’t want to hurry up life, I have decided to embrace each moment of each day in each season….even if it means I have to wait another month for spring to arrive in my garden." 

I am too old to 'wish my life away' now. And in spite of the snow, I enjoyed my first day of spring.

How do you celebrate the arrival of spring and all it's promises?

Pamela x

~~ 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.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Garden Railway

Our top field is still blanketed in snow

Winter may have taken its last gasp in the Poconos, but spring has NOT yet sprung in my garden. Looking at garden blogs around the world today, I see irises, hellebores, tulip trees, crocuses, more hellebores, daffodils, columbines, and even roses (the roses are in New Zealand.) For a taste of spring, check out these and all the wonderful gardens on Carol's blog where she hosts Garden Blogger's Bloom Day on the 15th of every month. The snow has started to thaw here, but no blooms, just a (thinner) blanket of white. I'm sorry Carol, but I will be posting about a trip we took in warmer times, as I dream of the promise of spring coming to my yard.

My grandson, Jonathan, whom you have met several time on this blog, loves miniature trains. We took him to Longwood Gardens, near Philadelphia, PA, to see their garden railway, last year. He was there for the trains; I was there for the plantings.

See the hot pepper bottom right?

It may not be edible, but the ornamental hot pepper certainly warms up this space. An interesting annual for garden and planters.

Ornamental Hot Pepper Capsicum annum

A mix of textures near the waterfall in the garden railway

There were lots of grasses. I wished I had a 'map' of the plantings, or that there was more labeling. If a plant is not growing in my garden, I often have trouble with its identification.

 Beautiful blooms ...

Goldenrod Solidago 'Fireworks'

... and of course there were the trains, which Jon absolutely loved.

A pretty coleus at the edge of the track
They used a variety of screening, including this bamboo fence.

Jon and H.H. were reluctant to say 'goodbye' to the trains, but there is so much more to see at Longwood. We went into the greenhouses, sat by the pond, enjoyed the many fountains, and finally my favorite, visited the new meadow garden.

Rosa 'Maria' (my daughter's name is Maria)
The enormous lily pads are amazing
The main fountain area
I was eager to see the new Meadow Garden at Longwood.  This ecologically sensitive landscape offers more than three miles of walking and hiking with accessible boardwalks and interesting bridges. There are open fields, lush wetlands, and diverse habitats for flora and fauna. Other highlights include a Pollinator Overlook, eastern deciduous woodlands where the Lenni-Lenape lived, and the Webb farm with nineteenth century cow pastures.
The new Meadow Garden

“A garden, to be a work of art, must have the soul of the native landscape in it.”
-- Jens Jensen, Landscape Architect

 I resolve to return this year to spend a whole day in the meadow.

 Before we left Longwood Gardens, we lingered at my favorite spot which is so peaceful and serene....

A favorite spot if mine.

Thank you, Carol, for hosting Garden Blogger's Bloom Day; again I offer my apologies for deviating from the rules. Carol says you can have flowers every month of the year. I agree: if not in my garden, then in my memories.

Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.
Pamela x

One of the many beautiful trees ...
... with interesting bark ...
... and fruit.

     Japanese Flowering Dogwood, Cornus kousa

~~ 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.