Saturday, November 18, 2017

I Am Thankful for my Award-Winning Cottage Garden


July 2017 Cottage Garden

I am already missing beautiful blooms in my gardens although the growing season has barely ended -- having lasted longer than usual. On this cold, rainy Saturday, I spent a pleasurable hour sorting photographs I took this year. It was a difficult task picking favorites for each month to publish here. I chose several from July when my cottage garden peaked, and when the judges from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society (PHS) came. I was thrilled that they awarded my gardens their blue ribbon for the second time. The first time was for the 2015 Gardening and Greening Contest; click HERE to read about it. This year my garden was selected from over 350 entries. Again, PHS hosted a reception in Philadelphia to honor the award winners. H.H. and I were delighted to attend.

They gave me a certificate and a sign for my garden.

In addition to the sign for my garden honoring my accomplishments, next March they will give me two tickets for the 2018 Philadelphia Flower Show. The theme is 'Wonders of Water.' Can't wait! At the reception, large TV monitors displayed a continuous slide show of the award-winning gardens. Gardeners anxiously waited for theirs to appear.

A photograph of my garden displayed on a screen at the reception.

The slide show gave me some good ideas. Take a look at this unique fishpond:

Fishpond in an award-winning garden


It is always a pleasure spending time with fellow gardeners and it's fun meeting up with old and new friends. H.H. and I were so happy that Jenny Rose Carey was there. Jenny Rose is the director of PHS Meadowbrook Farm, author of Glorious Shade, and fellow Brit. I've mentioned Jenny Rose on several occasions in this blog. It was great that we had the opportunity to 'catch up' on happenings since we last met. I was able to thank my dear friend again for all the help she gives me with my book.

My husband, myself, and Jenny Rose.

Good food, drink, and camaraderie with  fellow gardeners.

Now for the pictures I chose of my 2017 gardens. I know you've seen them all before, but please bear with me. I believe this was my gardens' best year yet, as most of the plants loved the long spell of cooler, wet weather that we experienced this summer. Here are pictures from April through October 2017:

The entry garden in April
May Blooms
June Cottage Garden

The following photographs, all taken in July this year, show how the gardens looked when the PHS judges visited.

Cottage Garden Hollyhocks

Abundance Garden
Serenity Garden

Front Porch

The Pollinator Garden

Froggy Pond

The Kitchen Garden

Dude and Billy captured the judges' hearts

Here are August, September, and October to complete the year's round-up of my favorite 2017 pictures:

Serenity in August
September Zinnias
Early October Kitchen Garden, Abundance Garden, and one of our cornfields.

Yes, it was an excellent year in my gardens.

With Thanksgiving upon us, I reflect upon all that makes me thankful, especially my family and friends. High on my long list, however, is how very thankful I am for my garden. Among its many blessings, it gives me peace and tranquillity in this troubled world.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.
Pam x




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Monday, November 6, 2017

Harvesting Corn and Cutting Down Perennials


With a clematis still in glorious bloom by the kitchen garden gate and with trees holding on to their leaves, it doesn't seem like November. But when our farmer harvested the corn, I realized that the growing season should be over.  I love the cornfields around my garden; the tall plants give a sense of enclosure, of protection. I'm sad when the fields are bare again. Look through the arbor (above), dear gardening friends, and at the following pictures to see the fields before and after the harvester did its work.

Before
The Harvester Arrives
After
The corn is gone  marking the end of the growing season.

Looking at blog postings from previous years, I see how unusual this fall continues to be. Often, here in the mountains by early November we have experienced a snowfall, the trees have shed their leaves, and I have completed most of the tasks toward putting the garden to bed. This year: no snow, fewer falling leaves, loads of tasks for this gardener to finish.

The walnut trees are bare, however, except for an abundance of walnuts. On the other hand, we have maple trees in full leaf even now.

Lots of walnuts on the trees this year.
Maple tree with golden foliage today.

The miniature weeping redbud is beginning to drop its leaves, lower ones first.

Dwarf weeping redbud 'Lavender Twist'

The foliage on the viburnum is a lovely deep red.

Interesting happenings (for this time of year) in the cottage garden include blooming 'Knockout' roses and healthy, green water plants. Frost has not touched the water hyacinths so I am loath to remove them and close the pond. The fish are still active -- usually before November they disappear to the bottom where they hide under rocks.


The pond and cottage garden

Perennial geranium 'Roxanne' with its pretty purple/blue flowers - not giving up.

I have cut down those perennials that have finished blooming, especially the ones that are prone to powdery mildew, such as beebalm and phlox. I usually leave purple cone flowers standing for the goldfinches to enjoy the seeds, but this year some of them were infected with aster yellows, so I removed most, being heedful not to compost any diseased plants. I cut down the shasta daisies, obedience plants, yarrow, and gooseneck loosestrife when they began to look ugly. I love how the shasta daisies and yarrow grow basal foliage after they are cut back, and I'm careful to cut off the stalks and dead plant material without disturbing this new growth. The peonies and daylilies are gone, as they don't add anything to the winter garden. I need to cut back all my hostas and remove their leaves as soon as I can, because they harbor slug eggs that will hatch out and ruin next year's growth.

I must clean up the hostas in the Serenity Garden.

I've emptied less than half of the containers of annuals and still have many to tip out. The Boston ferns, however, are surprisingly beautiful even now.

The Boston ferns under the pergola are far from over.

I feel the need to restore order and tidiness to my kitchen garden. I will remove the remaining Swiss chard which is past its prime, weed beds, rake, and add compost. I must clean out the coldframe and prepare it for the early spring planting. So much to do this late in the year ...


Fortunately, there are numerous plants I can leave until spring to add winter interest, such as the seeds of sedum 'Autumn Joy' and all my grasses. My friend Katharine suggests I allow my new Joe Pye Weed to display its large, round, lacy globes all winter long. She told me how beautiful it will look with snow on it. I don't cut back my anise hyssop because it is more likely to survive the cold temperatures if you leave the tops to collect leaves and snow for insulation.

I try not to be in a hurry to rush out and cut plants back, as it's better to wait until after a few harsh frosts have killed back the tops. This year, it's a long wait.

Whatever the weather where you live, enjoy the rest of this season, dear fellow gardeners.

Love,

Pamela x


 Mums on the front porch
H.H. found these mushrooms



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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Native Flowers, a Beautiful Wedding, and a Budding Photographer



These lovely purple asters were blooming at Tyler Arboretum, near Philadelphia, when we were there for a wedding a few weeks ago. The wedding was gorgeous; time spent with family a joy. Of course, I was thrilled that the event was held in a beautiful botanical garden -- the bride and groom could not have picked a better venue for me. The ceremony was scheduled for the afternoon and we took advantage of free passes to visit the arboretum in the morning. H.H and I spent a pleasant couple of hours strolling the pathways through the trees with my son and his two boys. Naturally, I took pictures of the various native plants we encountered. My 12-year-old grandson, Mateo, asked if he could use the camera. I set it on automatic, gave him some basic instructions such as how to hold it, and handed it over. He took some great pictures! So much so, that I asked him to photograph the actual wedding. Now he thinks he may be a photographer when he grows up. Here are a few of Mateo's pictures, interspersed with some of mine:

Bee on aster       Photograph by Mate0

Frost aster Symphyotrichum pilosum      Photograph by Mateo
Winterberry holly Ilex verticillata
Sorry I don't know what this is. Do you?
Ox-eye sunflower Heliopsis helianthoides   Photograph by Mateo

As well as native plants and majestic trees we were interested in the educational information provided on signs around the park. We learned that the man-made brushpile structures were created to give habitat for some animals.

Brushpile habitats

Honeysuckle Lonicera

The boys loved the numerous tree houses that dot the arboretum. 

Birds eye view from a treehouse. Mateo is the boy wearing a hoody.
Nature-made sculpture   Photograph by Mateo

My daughter-in-law, Mateo's mother, officiated at the wedding, making the event even more special for us.

Photographs by Mateo

I was so impressed with Mateo's work, and with the care he took of the camera. We gave him a new name: Lord Lichfield.  (My friends in England will know that Patrick Lichfield, during his lifetime, was the royal family's renowned photographer.)

We wish Kristi and Eric a beautiful life together. Thank you for including us in your special day.

Pamela x

Photograph by Mateo


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