Saturday, August 26, 2017

Best Books of Summer and Fun at the Fair

Summer is winding down fast; I know this because today is the last day of the West End Fair. Time to review some of the best gardening books I've read this summer. I've picked out four in no particular order: two of them by Lee Miller who blogs at 'A Guide to Northeastern Gardening.' The name of her blog is also the title of her first book. Lee's newest book is Landscape Design Combinations. My third pick is Carol Michel's Potted and Pruned; as many of you know Carol blogs at 'May Dreams Gardens' where she hosts Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Finally, I must include Jenny Rose Carey's wonderful book Glorious Shade that I reviewed HERE. I'm illustrating this posting with a few of my fair entries.

Sunflower got Best of Show

by Lee Miller

This easy-to-read book has good basic gardening information that is especially useful to the beginning gardener (although as an experienced gardener I learned a few new things.) The book is illustrated with beautiful photographs. The dozen or so chapters cover many aspects of gardening from choosing long-blooming perennials and deer-resistant plants to planting techniques and maintenance tips. My personal favorites are the chapters on planning a butterfly garden, on four-season garden design (I struggle with this as I don't feel I have enough winter-interest in my own garden), and the section on weeping evergreens. I learned how to rejuvenate daylilies and the proper planting technique for trees. I love Lee's use of evergreens in the landscape. The book, like her blog, makes me wish I could tour Lee's gardens in person.

'Tea time' floor display: top shelf shows baking shortbread; bottom tea tray.
by Lee Miller

Lee's latest book, Landscape Design Combinations, complements her first as she explains design principles, how to combine color, how to include hardscape elements, and more. She gives step-by-step instructions and provides labelled illustrations. One of my favorite photographs in her first book, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, is of a raised cottage garden bed that she shows in this second book with the plants labelled, adding much useful information. I learned there is a seedless, non-invasive loosestrife with a stunning color, Lythrum virgatum 'Morder's Gleam.' If only I could find space for it. My favorite chapter is the one on border designs with great ideas that are easy for the beginner gardener to adapt. Another section is on container gardening and I used Lee's tips to make a succulent planter this year. As Lee points out, shrubs and trees are the backbone of the garden and she gives sound advice on using them in the landscape. She is great at showing how to combine trees, shrubs, and perennials.  The book has a valuable section on planning. Lee concludes with a little bit of the history of garden design. There is a useful glossary at the end. As with her first publication, I feel this book is most beneficial for newbees although there is something for everyone.

Lee and I have something in common apart from our love of gardening -- a long career in education. While I just 'retired to garden', however, Lee started a whole new career in the horticultural industry and has self-published two books. I admire her so much.

My shelf displays at the fair
by Carol J. Michel

Carol's book, Potted and Pruned: Living a Gardening Life, is a must-read for gardeners new and experienced. This collection of 36 essays, reflecting the author's philosophy about gardening, has the ring of truth for all of us. The book is full of the 'seeds of wisdom' with more than a few 'kernels of encouragement.' We are privileged to numerous hilariously funny accounts of her garden experiences: she is Captain HortHero to the rescue of a weedy bed; she uses the word 'frass' as a swear word (frass is insect poop.)  I recognize myself frequently as I read -- yes, Carol, I have GADS, too! We get a glimpse into her garden, for example one of my favorite chapters explains how Carol came to name her garden and each part of it. I've done this in my garden but not as cleverly: I call my vegetable garden 'The Kitchen Garden' (original, eh?) while Carol calls hers, with it's raised beds arranged like pews,  'The Vegetable Garden Cathedral'.  I love the letters she writes to her favorite T-shirt, to a 'common' daylily, to Summer, and (my favorite) to Drought with a plea for it to leave the garden. In my best-loved part, Carol explains how to use temporary botanical names when you don't know the actual one. This hilarious chapter offers the most useful advice for me as I become more and more forgetful. I'm laughing out loud as I write this, recalling her witty suggestions. I find Carol's book not only hysterically funny but full of charm and true to the real life of a gardener. Her five secrets for happiness are fun to discover. 

I met Carol in Pasadena at the GWA conference the year she received an award for her blog. She is a very knowledgeable lady with a horticultural degree from Perdue.  She gardens in Indiana where she calls herself a 'gardenangelist.' She is certainly a 'gardener', one we can all identify with, she is an 'angel' with a true appreciation of all that Nature offers, and an 'evangelist' with wise words to new gardeners.

Some of the vegetables we entered.

Thank you to the four authors I've mentioned, not least Jenny Rose Carey, for giving me information, making me smile, and adding to the excellence of this summer.

Grandson Jon baked zucchini bread; I baked scones

It was an excellent summer culminating in a successful participation in the West End Fair. Jon and I submitted 44 items: perennial flowers, annuals, herbs, vegetables, shelf displays, and a floor display. We were awarded 31 ribbons including 16 first places and three Best of Shows. But the best part of the event was working side-by-side with my wonderful grandson!

The zucchini bread took a first place, my scones only a third -- Great job, Jon.
Young man with his pet hen. (Don't know  him.)

To those bloggers in the northern hemisphere, I hope your summer was as wonderful as mine. We had far too much rain and not enough sun here, but still good. To those of you entering spring in your part of the world, I wish you a successful season.

Our prayers go out to those in the path of Hurricane Harvey.

Pamela x

Herb Entries

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.

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Garden Is the Talk of the Town

My garden is featured on the television show 'Talk of the Town' for the entire month of August, airing at a variety of time slots. If you are outside the viewing area, you can watch the program by clicking HERE. My segment is the first eight minutes of the hour-long show. You'll see what bloomed in my garden in July when the shooting took place. At that time the garden was peaking, but there are still plenty of flowers for August's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, so I'm linking with Carol at May Dreams Gardens where gardeners from around the world show off their bloomers on the 15th of each month.

You can see some of my August flowers in the picture above -- top: purple cone flower Echinacea purpurea, bottom right: phlox Phlox paniculata 'Bright eyes', bottom left: foxglove Digitalis x hybrida 'Foxlight™ plum gold.' I planted 'Foxlight plum gold' with some delphiniums in June -- choosing them because they are iconic English cottage garden plants. The label on the foxglove said it would bloom all summer. I didn't really believe it would, but as you can see there are still lot of beautiful flowers on the plant. As an added bonus, one of the delphiniums has started a second bloom.

Here they are when I first planted them:

Yarrow, foxgloves, and delphiniums in June 2017

I planted purple cone flowers, bee balm, shasta daisies, and phlox many years ago; they continue to star in my summer cottage garden. In the cutting garden, a variety of zinnias steal the show with their vibrant colors. My favorite is 'Zowie! Yellow Flame.'

The Cutting Garden

The orange and yellow zinnia is my favorite, Zinnia 'Zowie! Yellow Flame.'

The profuse planting in the Abundance Garden demonstrates how I chose its name. The obedience flowers are in full bloom and attracting a huge number of bees.

Cleome and Obedience in Abundance

Another bee magnet is hyssop. See how many are in the picture below.

Left: hyssop; top right: chocolate mint; bottom right: giant blue lobelia

The herb garden in the trug on the patio is flourishing. This year, however, the canna plants in the patio tubs have no flowers. Lesson learned: don't place too many corms in each planter. (Well, I couldn't separate the tight clumps.) But their striped leaves are lovely still.

Herb garden and cannas. Pushing through the fence is 'Pinky Winky' hydrangea.

'Pinkie Winkie' is turning red.
The little bunny (bottom right) is happy with lawn clover and no longer in the kitchen garden,

That little rabbit, called Nuisance, did a lot of damage in the kitchen garden. I found a spray deterrent that he didn't like and he moved out, I'm happy to say. The kitchen garden's biggest disappointment this year, however, is the failure of the tomatoes to turn red, due to the cool, wet summer with not enough hot sun.

Green tomatoes; Swiss chard and cabbages in the coldframe; onions drying; leeks.

Of course, we had more zucchini than we could handle even with only one plant, and a glut of cucumbers gave us a stock of freezer pickles. Tomorrow I'm canning red beets. We even have some bush beans now the bunny moved out. A productive year in spite of the crazy weather. The sun and heat have been so lacking, my sunflowers did not begin to bloom until today.

The sunflowers had no blooms two days ago.

For GBBD -- a sunflower bloom at last!

A few more pictures:

The red daylily is 'Chicago Apache'

Finally, hostas are still blooming in Serenity Garden:


The television shoot took 4 1/2 hours for the eight minute segment, but Marie and Kim were a lot of fun to work with. I think the team did a great editing job; I'm happy with the result. (You wouldn't want to hear me talk for four hours anyway.) I hope you enjoy it.

Wishing my dear garden friends a happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and, of course, thanks to Carol for hosting our favorite meme.

Pamela x

(BTW -- have you checked out Carol's wonderful book, Potted and Pruned: Living the Gardening Life? I will tell you about it in my next posting when I will review some of the best gardening books I've read this summer.)

Sit and watch the corn grow.

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.