Saturday, April 15, 2017

April Daffodils for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

If late March is for crocuses and hellebores in this little corner of the world, then April is all about daffodils. Sunny yellow and white blooms greet you along the Daffodil Walk leading to the front door.  I bought a box of unmarked, mixed daffodil bulbs so I don't know the name of any of them. I love them all. I planted more daffodils behind the picket fence in Serenity, and several in the garden I call Abundance. Their sunny faces are a wonderful sign that spring has arrived.
I love spring anywhere, but if I could choose I would always greet it in a garden.
-- Ruth Stout

The Daffodil Walk
Daffodil Narcissus
Daffodils in the garden I call Abundance
More daffodils in Serenity

Peeping through the picket fence in the kitchen garden I believe I can see the first bloom on the double daffodil, 'Tahiti', my favorite.
Lungwort Pulmonaria and various Daffodil Narcissus

Today  is Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, celebrated by gardeners all around the world on the 15th of each month. I am sure there are lots of daffodils and other spring flowers displayed on blog postings this day. You can visit our hostess, Carol, at May Dreams Gardens to see.  Let's take a walk to find what other plants are blooming in my garden.
Lungwort Pulmonaria
Creeping Phlox Phlox subulata

Primroses are blossoming in the cottage garden. Creamy, yellow primroses remind me of England almost more than any other flower.

Her fairies climb the bare, brown trees,
And set green caps on every stalk;
Her primroses peep bashfully
From borders of the garden walk.

-- Hannah R. Hudson "April" The Atlantic Monthly, 1868 
Primrose Primula vulgaris

Primrose Primula vulgaris and Grape hyacinth Muscari armeniacum

I must take time to cut some branches of forsythia and add them to my vase of pussy willows on the dining table.

Forsythia Forsythia x intermedia on the bank of Bluebell Creek

Forsythia Forsythia x intermedia peeps over the stockade fence in Serenity

The dwarf trees around the pond are budding or blooming. We plan to open up the pond next week. Frogs are already going in and out of the water where I folded back the netting. 

Snow fountain cherry Prunus x 'Snofozam'

New candles appearing on Weeping spruce Picea abies 'Pendula'

April is a promise that May is bound to keep.
-- Hal Borland

Dwarf weeping redbud Cercis canadensis 'Lavender Twist'

I see vinca has appeared in several flower beds. I dislike the job of pulling it out, but it is a necessary task as I try to keep it under control. My mother-in-law planted it. She called it periwinkle and loved its sweet blue flowers. In her honor, I will never totally remove it, although it is so invasive.

Vinca Vinca minor, Peony Paeonia shoots, and Bearded iris

Of course, there are hellebores still. Their pretty, nodding blooms beautify the woodland walk.
Hellebore Helleborus

What is blooming in your garden today? I'm off to May Dreams Gardens blog; maybe I'll see you there. Happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day.

Pamela x


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Monday, April 3, 2017

Planning the 2017 Kitchen Garden

 I began planning this year's kitchen garden in my head weeks ago. I ordered new seeds in January, but didn't put my ideas down on paper. Before I get to work, however, I must tour the garden to look for signs of the season. Following a mild winter, spring started early, then an unexpected cold spell followed by winter storm Stella put everything on hold. As a result, my spring bulbs are blooming later than last year. My most abundant blooms today are the crocuses. I have every color, so it's difficult to choose a favorite. I do love the deep purple and the white, however the bicolor in the picture above is my best loved today. 

Purple and white crocus in the Woodland Walk and under the crabapple tree.

I wrote about crocuses in 2010. This is what I said:
Since I was a child in England, I have loved Cicely Mary Barker’s Flower Fairies books. Her water-color illustrations and verses are delightful. “The Song of the Crocus Fairy” is the first poem in Flower Fairies of the Spring, and crocus fairies are pictured on the cover. Maybe this is one of the reasons I love crocuses and consequently planted so many in my garden. I planted the four predominant colors: lilac, mauve, yellow, and white. Of the approximately 80 species and 30 cultivars, I have no idea what mine are, as I planted them way before I saw the necessity of keeping labels.

Here is the book that inspired me:

Their history is interesting to me as I assumed they were native to Holland, but found their corms were taken there from Constantinople in the 1560’s. Earlier than that, they were painted on frescos on the Island of Crete. 
Since I wrote that posting, I've added many more crocuses. Here are more of the first ones I planted...


I spot another snowdrop shyly blooming behind the grasses in the Serenity Garden. The plastic marker is broken in half and I have only part of the name '... dapice' so don't know what it is, but it's very pretty.

Snowdrop Galanthus (?)

I have only three varieties of hellebore, so my pictures look the same on every spring posting; I must add some different ones.

Top: Hellebore Helleborus sp. Bottom: Helleborus 'Ivory Prince'
Hellebore Helleborus sp

I planted several of those white hellebores with purple spots in the Woodland Walk, but the deer decimated them. Only one bloom survived their ravishes. This brave little hellebore blossom looks so sad ...

On this day last year the daffodils along Daffodil Walk were in glorious bloom.  Today it seems they have a week, or more, to go. I find one lone daffodil flower in the garden that I call Abundance.

The interesting seeds of calycanthus are still still clinging to the shrub; I couldn't resist taking a picture, although they are more reminiscent of fall than spring.

Sweet Shrub, Calycanthus

H.H. is busy removing the logs of the felled white birch from the paddock. We cut it down after it broke in an ice storm. I love it's silvery trunk and I'm so sad to see the tree go.

Time to sort seeds and make plans. I collect together: new seeds, old ones stored in a mason jar in the refrigerator, last year's kitchen garden plan, a blank plan template, a calendar, and a box in which to organize the seed packets.

I begin by making a new plan, carefully rotating my crops to avoid diseases. I generally plant old favorites and try just one or two new things. This year's new venture is the garlic patch that I planted last fall.

Following the instructions on each seed packet and using the calendar to figure out the starting/sowing dates, I file the packets in a box, using index cards for dividers. I organize the seeds by the date they will be started indoors or directly sown outside. I add this information to a calendar dedicated to that purpose. This year, I cut down on the number of seeds I start early as I wanted to spend more time writing this winter. I see that marigolds and petunias could have been started already. Oops! A job for later today. I also note a few more seeds I need to order, such as parsnips. I kept some left-over seeds, forgetting you should only use fresh parsnip seeds.

Hopefully, the weather will improve enough to begin preparing the kitchen garden beds very soon, as I would like to put out onion sets within the week. We have extra work this year with a broken raised bed and rotted wood supporting the edge of the lasagna garden -- both must be replaced. I have a new project, too: my first cold-frame to be constructed along the south side of the potting shed. I'm excited!

Do you have a new project this year?

Think 'spring' -- or whichever season is starting in your corner of the world.
Pamela x

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I look forward to visiting your blog in return.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Spring Blooms at the Philadelphia Flower Show

"Holland: Flowering the World," the theme of this year's Philadelphia Flower Show presented by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS), celebrates the beauty, color, and ingenuity of Dutch culture. H.H. and I took the train into the city -- later in the week than intended due to winter storm, Stella, dumping two feet of snow at our house -- and it was wonderful to escape from snow, ice and bitter cold into a world of spring flowers. As we entered the show, we were welcomed by a display of 30,000 blooms surrounding bridges, canals and water gardens. The bridges were overflowing with flower boxes and hanging baskets. The sight filled me with awe.

Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's exhibit greets you as you enter the show

We were met by our dear friend, and fellow Brit, Jenny Rose Carey, who is the senior director at PHS Meadowbrook Farm. She is justifiably proud of the fabulous Entry Garden and the part she played in its production.  I looked forward to taking a tour of the show with Jenny Rose as guide.

Bicycles and blooms on the bridge in the Entry Garden
The bridge has a green ceiling with Delft tiles

Passing under the bridge we found 6,000 more blooms forming a giant floral canopy. The blooms were freeze dried then suspended on 16 miles of parachute string. (As Jenny Rose said, it's a good thing the lines of string didn't become tangled while being installed.) With the addition of Euro pop music and a light-show, the effect is stunning.

Hanging field of tulips

The surrounding gardens demonstrate the natural and sustainable approach of the Dutch New Wave Movement. I love the drifts of mass plantings: astilbe, echinacea, fritallaria, lamb's ears, and other perennials; this is the style I try to achieve in my cottage garden. Wild grasses, cherry trees and sycamores enhance the scene. I believe this method is the very best way to garden, with the added benefits of no mulching nor weeding.

Dutch new wave planting

Beyond the PHS's entry garden, the Ecodome is all about green living. It showcases up-to-date sustainable production of vegetables and green technologies, proving the Dutch have more than just tulips in their horticultural arsenal. This is the first stop of the Ecodome's inaugural journey around the world.

Ecodome behind the windmills

I always enjoy the landscape design gardens at each show and this year promises to be special with guest designers from Holland as well as our own top competitors in the field. A local PA landscaper, Mark Cook, was awarded Best of Show with his 'Inner Waters' design. He shows a beautiful reflecting pool with raised berms. I love his stylized windmill sculpture seen through an espaliered cherry tree arch. I also like the way he pruned boxwood into waves. 

Mark Cook's 'Inner Waters' took Best of Show

Jenny Rose's favorite is Nico Wising's design. I'm sorry to say I did not do this justice with my camera. Wising uses natural materials: woven willow and naturalistic plantings (such as fothergilla, that I don't grow, but is now on my 'must get' list). He stresses the importance of using products with a small ecological footprint.

Dutch designer Nico Wising's 'Reconnection'
Fothergilla Fothrgilla major

I have an aversion to chain-link fencing and wont have it in my garden -- until I saw how Carrie Preston, also from Holland, incorporated lacework into her fence. Her show garden is an interpretation of the 'stinze' gardens of the Netherlands' stately homes.

A small part of Carrie Preston's interpretation of the 'stinze' gardens

At the opening ceremony, the Dutch Ambassador presented a new tulip from Holland that took 15 years to develop. It was named 'Philly Belle' in honor of the show.

Tulip Tulipa 'Philly Belle'

Cognizant of the common colors of the US flag and the Dutch flag, white tulips were dyed blue to add to red ones and white ones.

Blue tulips?????????

There are several examples of sustainable roof gardens at the show. The most impressive is Bart Hoes' garden. Jenny Rose showed us how green roofs are made.

Jenny Rose explains how to make a green roof

The bicycle culture of Holland is represented in many displays. In 1967, a Dutch group introduced legislation for their White Bike Plan, creating a bike-share movement that spread throughout the world. The orange and white of this display is very striking. Incidentally, there is a lot of orange in the show: Jenny reminded me of the Dutch Prince William of Orange who became King William III of England in the sixteen hundreds. (Something we had to learn in school.)

Pedals: The White Bike Plan

Here are a few other favorite of mine:

Japan Flowers and Plants Export Assoc. displayed bleached dried flowers in bamboo frames
Traditional Cropped Willow Tree
Gardening in a very small space: a rock garden
Orchids Hoop House

There is much to interest children including interactive and educational exhibits such as 'Butterflies Alive' with more than 1,000 butterflies, a 'Make and Take' crafts area, a railway garden, and a Junior Flower Show. The latter engages children throughout the region from preschool to high school during the school year. Because I conduct workshops (and write) about gardening with children, I was especially interested in some of the show gardens designed by students. As gardeners, we know how important it is to start them young!

Children's Alphabet Garden
Children's garden with fairies. Love the hat.

And finally a 'new favorite' plant I spotted in a rock garden that was designed by a Dutch grower based in England. Sorry I didn't get the name of the cultivar.

Adorable miniature iris

There is so much at the Philadelphia Flower Show, a great deal more than in this posting. I am so glad I am able to attend each year; I think 2017 is my favorite so far. It was extra special because I was able to spend time with a good friend. I can't close without congratulating her on her new book, Glorious Shade, that will be released in April. Jenny Rose showed us the author copy and it looks amazing. The book is available on Amazon for pre-order.  When I get my copy, I'll review it in a blog post.

Jenny Rose's new book

I look forward to next year's event: it has the theme "Wonders of Water" so I'll be able to pursue my interest in water gardens. The Philadelphia Flower Show always puts me in the mood for spring and this one was no exception!

Pamela x