Saturday, April 15, 2023

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, April '23

"The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also." --Harriet Ann Jacobs

My soul is revived on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Many plants are blooming early this year, but looking back my pictures look remarkably similar to previous years. Comparing years is what is special about this meme. Thank you, Carol. Take a walk with me and see the miracle that is spring again in my cottage garden.

The cherry tree is in full bloom today. Snow Fountain Weeping Cherry Prunus x 'Snofozam'

We opened the pond. Robert is making some repairs, and it is looking great. I love miniature trees; I have four varieties around the pond. They look gorgeous in spring. The cherry tree is the first to bloom; next will be the weeping redbud.

Dwarf weeping redbud Cercis canadensis 'Lavender Twist'

I'm spending a lot of time cleaning up, pruning, and planting as I want my garden to look its best for the photographs for my book. I tire more quickly, and the hot weather (90 degrees F yesterday) makes it more challenging. I am happy more seasonal temperatures are returning this week. I am so grateful for Duane's help with the heavier work.

Arctic fire™ red twig dogwood Cornus stolonifera 'Farrow'

There are loads of daffodils still. Bottom right is my favorite 'Tahiti"

Primrose Primula vulgaris

April 19, is Primrose Day. It is said that the primrose was the favorite flower of Benjamin Disraeli, twice prime minister of England -- Disraeli died on this day in 1881 and Primrose Day was born. I have several of these lovely plants in my English cottage garden. They are just beginning to bloom.

Dianthus is new to my garden. My daughter gave me this beauty for Easter.
Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris,
Marsh marigold Caltha palustris

Marsh marigold is the first plant to bloom in the rain garden.

Here is the first tulip to bloom each season, Planted by my husband's mother more than 50 years ago.
Forsythia Forsythia x intermedia behind the fences in the Serenity Garden
I am so sorry to say goodbye to bloodroot Sanguinaria canadensis.

Bloodroot is one of my favorite spring blooming native plants.

Brunera 'Jack Frost' has its first forget-me-not type flowers
 Helleborus and Pulmonaria
Japanese andromeda Pieris japonica 'Mountain Fire' in the Woodland Walk

 I sprayed the hosta buds with deer deterent and I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

Now I'm going over to Carol's blog to see what is happening around the world on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Won't you join me?


Pamela x


Creeping Phlox, Phlox subulata

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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

The First Full Day of Spring

It's the first full day of spring, and I started 400 zinnia seeds under lights in my dining room today. I took a quick stroll around my gardens. Compared with gardeners south of here, I have few blooms. I appreciate the infrequent ones I find: crocus, hellebore, and (today) Pulmonaria's pretty pink and blue flowers. I have considerably more snowdrops this year -- thanks to Frank of Sorta Like Suburbia. Daffodil tips are appearing everywhere, and even a few tulips. Spring will be fabulous when it ultimately arrives at Astolat.

Garden planning is well underway for the new gardening year. I began, as always, with an assessment of last year's gardens for what worked and what didn't.

Four gardens that worked well in 2022. Clockwise from top left - Serenity Garden, Rain Garden, the all-white Stone Garden, and the bountiful Kitchen Garden

Although the Serenity Garden is working well, I plan a few changes: Adding more foxgloves and some lavender and replacing the lamium. The lamium ground cover is pretty in spring when blooming, but the leaves turn black when the temperature soars in July. I ordered some hardy plumbago (Ceratostigma) to begin the replacement process.

I planted more annuals in the Cottage Garden last year and the zinnias were lovely. This year I want to remove some of the aggressive gooseneck loosestrife and add the native Babtisia 'Twilight Prairieblues.' Of course, I ordered delphinium, a cottage garden must have, that behaves like an annual in my garden. In addition, I am increasing the hollihocks plants. There were few blooming last year.

 My most successful garden in 2022 was the new meadow:

I will reseed the meadow with annuals and hope some perennials make an appearance this summer.

This year, I gave seed purchases, plant purchases, and my garden design more thought than usual, as my garden must be at its best for the photo shoots for my book. I sometimes tell clients, 'Do as I say, not as I do,' but now I'm trying to match what I do with what I write in the book. For example, I include companion planting in a chapter on vegetables. Although I always rotate my crops, I am generally haphazard with what I produce and how I mix plants. This gardening season, I will grow nasturtiums in the zucchini bed because I'm writing that nasturtiums reduce the squash bug population. 

I made my kitchen garden plan. I organized seed packets according to planting dates.

My plan shows where I am companion planting, interplanting, relay planting and succession planting.

I haven't started the spring garden chores because it has been too cold to venture out. As I age, I can no longer tolerate cold and dampness. I have plant stalks to cut down in flowerbeds and the meadow, shrubs and trees to prune, and weeding to do. I plan to start this week as temperatures rise.  Have you made a start yet?

Wishing you a Happy Spring and the BEST gardening year!


Pamela x



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Saturday, January 14, 2023

A Longwood Christmas 2022


They still need to dismantle the Christmas Tree in the Rockefeller Center, New York, so there must be time for one more Christmas post. It's become a tradition for Duane and me to go to Longwood Gardens for their Christmas event. This season we went just a few days before the display ended; Jonathan accompanied us. It was spectacular. As always, my iPhone photographs don't do justice. The article, The Art Behind the Lights, is on Longwood Garden's blog for great pictures and an exciting read. You can see the Rose Arbor lantern there. How could I stand and admire it and not take out my iPhone? 


When we first arrived, it was still light outside, so we strolled up the hill to the Conservatory, planning to enjoy the lights outdoors after dark. The 4.5-acre greenhouse contained stunning plants and displays, as always. The main exhibition hall was a delight of golds and reds reflected in the pool.

Exhibition Hall

My favorite plants were the lilies and orchids. I am not fond of the smell of lilies, but I must say the white ones were gorgeous. Walking down to the orchid house, we passed under living chandeliers that were another favorite, with their white orchids. I know I have a thing for white blooms.


My favorite display of all, however, was the floral shop. The designers of the clothes on the mannequins outdid themselves. And what about that armchair and cushion? Amazing!

The Floral Shop

As darkness fell, we went outdoors. With more than 50,000 lights, they had created a winter wonderland.

The fire pits throughout the gardens were welcoming on the cold night.

It was fun to walk through the tunnel in the meadow garden as the lights constantly changed color.


I was interested in the meadow at night. Small lights highlighted the plants, and the large tree in the distance was spectacular. I felt vindicated in leaving my meadow uncut when the plants died back. At Longwood, they use burning to clear the meadow in spring. I can't do that as my meadow is surrounded by wooden buildings. I will cut it down instead.


The Meadow

The Italian Garden

Walking back to the visitor's center.


We stayed at a nearby hotel overnight before driving Jon home. He returned to college at Pitt the next day, saying our little trip was a fantastic ending to his Christmas vacation. Happy New Year to all my gardening friends!


Pamela x

This morning, I found a snowdrop pushing its way up in the Serenity Garden! Only a gardener would show a poor picture like this, but you understand. I'm so excited about the new gardening season!

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