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.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Practicing Sustainability in the Garden

Grow native plants such as butterfly weed in your sustainable garden.

While researching sustainable gardening for my August newspaper article, I found a blog post I wrote on the subject in 2010. I think it is worth repeating. I've brought the information up to date and added some recent photographs. (I kept some of the original pics -- weren't Dude and the grandchildren cute back then? Well, they still are!)

What is Sustainable Gardening?

Most people are familiar with the term 'organic gardening' but what about 'sustainable gardening?' I like to think of practicing sustainability as 'adding to' the earth, rather than 'taking away' from it. This means my garden sustains itself as much as possible. Here are seven ways I practice sustainable gardening:

    1.     Making Compost

I have three compost bins, and some compost piles.  My mini horse, Dude, would produce great compost I'm sure, but the only storage places are under the many, many walnut trees on the property. I'm afraid the juglone produced by the trees contaminates the compost -- as a result we lost vegetables two years in a row. So I stick to my compost bins that produce 'black gold' from garden cuttings, and the like.

Dude has other attributes such as being great fun for the grandchildren.

I recently harvested compost from the bottom of the middle bin by raising the door at the bottom.

Many of my gardens are lasagna gardens, made by layering newspaper and organic materials.

This is how the Serenity Garden began.

 2.     Limiting Chemical Pesticides and Fertilizers

Using compost means I need less chemicals. I also use seaweed or kelp as a fertilizer to feed the earth and encourage a natural rate of plant growth. When making new beds, I cover weeds with cardboard or newspaper instead of applying herbicides. A chemical-free garden is a safe place for children. Without chemical pesticides and fertilizers you can still produce a bountiful harvest.

My grandson, now aged 14, still helps me in the garden.

      3.     Increasing Water Retention

Mulching is a great way of helping the soil retain water. As those who follow my blog know, I use Canadian cedar mulch. I place soaker hoses under the mulch, but I mainly water by hand as I collect rainwater in barrels from gutters on the barn, tractor shed, and house roofs. We have a total of five water  barrels.

Barrel collecting water from the house roof.
Barrel collects water from the tractor shed

    4.     Reducing the Lawn Area

Lawns use more water and fossil fuels to maintain than any other planting. I eliminated most of the lawn in the cottage garden since I wrote the original article. We still have far too much lawn area, but I’m working on it!

The pond and cottage garden occupy a former lawn area.

     5.     Encouraging Pest Predators

Ladybugs are great predators for getting rid of aphids. Releasing ladybugs and praying mantis is a wonderful experience for children and a treat for your garden.

     6.     Removing Invasive Plants.

Multiflora rose is one of our biggest scourges. It is pretty in the spring, but kills all in it’s path. You have seen the following picture on my blog before:

There is a tree under there.

When we removed the multiflora rose, we revealed a pear tree. H.H. made the most of the tree's naturally formed 'eyes' and 'mouth' and added a nose from a tractor part, a rake for a moustache, and a straw hat.

Our rakish pear tree

      7. Restoring Native Plant Communities.

Invasive species can upset the delicate balance of a local ecosystem and even make some native plants extinct, therefore it is important to restore native plant communities. Native plants generally require less fertilizer and other additives. They encourage native wildlife such as pollinators. Some of the many native plants that I've added to my gardens over the years include columbine Aquilegia canadensis, wild ginger Asarum canadense, butterfly weed Asclepias tuberosa (lead picture above), turtlehead Chelone 'Hot lips', Joe pye weed Eupatorium fistulosum, dwalf crested iris Iris cristata, liatris Liatris spicata, and beebalm Monarda didyma.

Turtlehead, bottom left, with buds about to burst into bloom today.

Joe Pye Weed. This one is 'Little Joe' -- it doesn't grow so tall

Practicing sustainable gardening is one of life’s challenges. It is a challenge that provides me with a great deal of satisfaction knowing that I am 'giving back to the earth.'

How do you practice sustainable gardening?
Pamela x

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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Fabulous Flowers and a Purer Pond for July GBBD

At last, I can see the fish in Froggy Pond thanks to Scott from Sugar Hollow Farms. He vacuumed the sludge from the bottom, installed a skimmer, and performed some magic. Over the years, our pond proved to be a money-pit due to some bad decisions we made earlier on, but the expense and work seem worthwhile as I enjoy its relaxing beauty today.

I stole the name, Froggy Pond, from my blogger friend Diana in South Africa; she used the name first. Click here to see her environmentally friendly water feature. She graciously said I could use the name, so I guess I didn't really steal it. Our Froggy Pond has lots of real frogs as well as fake ones.

The pond was ready in time for the BIG EVENT last week when the local television channel arrived to shoot a piece for their program, 'Talk of the Town.' It was fun but exhausting -- 4 1/2 hours to make a ten minute segment. They filmed the gardens while I told their story. I demonstrated square-foot gardening and how to extend the gardening season with cool-season plants. I showed how to use row covers and a coldframe. (Yes, I was able to show off my new one!) Under my direction the hosts of the show, Marie and Kim, planted cabbages and such. The program will air in August.

Preparing for the TV shoot and for an upcoming 'Open Garden' event (tomorrow) was a great deal of work. We mulched with the fine cedar mulch that we discussed in my last posting; I am pleased with the result. The cottage garden is 'peaking' and showing off an incredible array of blooms for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day that occurs on the 15th of every month -- thanks to our lovely hostess Carol at May Dreams Gardens. Carol gardens in Indiana but we grow several similar plants -- visit her blog to check them out.  Let's take a walk around my gardens:

The hydrangea bed - front and right of Dude and Billy's paddock.
I have two types of hydrangea: mopheads and paniculata:

Left and top right: mophead Hydrangea macrophylla. Bottom right: Hydrangea paniculata
Hydrangea Hydrangea paniculata Pinky Winky® and Morning Glory vine

Several of the hostas in Serenity Garden are in bloom including the miniature hostas in the fairy garden.

Serenity Garden
One of the Fairy Gardens with miniature hostas

Due to the frequent, heavy rains this summer, my roses are very poor with black spot on the leaves and mushy blooms. The clematis fared even worse. Has anyone else had this experience?

Top: Pink Knockout rose. Bottom: perennial geranium.


A very dark red (maroon?) hollyhock appeared this year. I think I planted a double one of that color last summer. It is beautiful but not as I remember it. Hollyhocks are a classic cottage garden flower.
Hollyhock Alcea rosea
Mombretia Crocosmia 'Lucifer'

I love the combination of colors in the Horseshoe Garden right now: peachy daylilies, golden brown-eyed Susans, and pink veronica.

Left to right :Brown-eyed Susan Rudbeckia triloba; Veronica longifolia; Daylily Hemerocallis

H.H. painted the bicycle on the kitchen garden fence a classy, dark purple. When dressed up with petunias it looks quite fetching.

 The Kitchen Garden is blooming:

Bottom left: Zinnia Zowie™ Bottom right: blooms on cucumber plants.

And with all my blooms the garden is buzzing with bees and fluttering with butterflies. I'm welcoming back the monarchs and glad I planted so much milkweed.

Left: Agastache .Top right: monarch on milkweed. Bottom right: fritillaria on purple coneflower.

Finally, in the garden room I have a beautiful new bromeliad, given to me by a dear friend who visited me and my garden recently.


Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day everyone,

Pamela x

Pollinator Garden

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Friday, June 30, 2017

Garden Tours and a Mulch Epiphany

Northview Gardens

I took some wonderful garden tours this month beginning with the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's Ambler Garden Tour near Philadelphia and ending with the Monroe County Garden Club Tour in Stroudsburg. The highlight of the Ambler tour, for me, was Northview Gardens, home of Jenny and Gus Carey. You may remember Jenny Rose Carey from previous blog postings: click here and here to learn more. Jenny Rose is the author of Glorious Shade and I was anxious to see the gardens for myself, having spent hours poring over the beautiful photographs of them in her book. Northview covers 4 1/2 acres with 31 distinct areas: from the Blast From the Past Garden, Italian Garden, Dry Garden, Herb Garden, and Victorian Stumpery, to the Fountain Garden to name a few. I cannot begin to do justice to these fabulous gardens in the space of my little blog and include just a few photographs here. The lead picture above shows some of Jenny Rose's June blooms -- of course they were way ahead of ours in the Poconos. Note the bottom left picture of the three -- that is a Blacklace elderberry Sambucus nigra with a rose entwined through its branches. This is typical of the beautiful plantings throughout the gardens. Don't you love the pink of that poppy and the deep blue of the bell flowers?

As I said, this posting shows just a small number of the garden spots (and plantings) I fell in love with:

The Forgotten Garden's Grasses, Shrubs, and Evergreens
Top: Redbud Allée. Bottom: Magnolia macrophilia.

Jenny Rose practices sustainable gardening, using no pesticides. She mulches with leaf mold, pine needles, and small rocks. She also uses ground covers such as the patchwork of sedums pictured below. Since the tour I purchased a tray of various types of sedums which I planted hoping they will form, eventually, a small patchwork quilt under my delphiniums. Well, that's one of the reasons for garden tours, isn't it -- to find ideas you can use in your own garden? I do like to use ground covers rather than mulch. And mulch was on my mind during this tour -- I'll explain this later.

Various sedums form a patchwork ground cover.

Of course, I fell in love with Jenny Rose's sheds. The top photograph shows Jabba the Hut, a summer house. The bottom one is Rose Cottage, the most beautiful 'potting' shed I have ever seen. (The actual potting takes place in the Potting Area behind Rose Cottage.) Here we met Hanna, Jenny Rose's head gardener. She showed us inside Rose Cottage which houses a seed repository and tidily arranged tools on beautiful tool racks. (I felt embarrassed thinking back to when Jenny Rose visited my gardens and I showed her the inside of my tiny, untidy potting place.)

'Jabba the Hut' and 'Rose Cottage'

The water gardens were crystal clear. (We are still working on ours. I'm hoping the new skimmer will do the trick.)

Top: The Waterfall Garden. Bottom: The Pond Garden.

Finally (yes, I know there was so much more), I loved the many whimsical elements at Northview, but my favorite was the copper teapot fountain. So appropriate for an English gardener.

Whimsical elements add charm at Northview

I hope you enjoyed this little taste of the loveliness that is Northview.

There were several other gardens on the Ambler tour and I will feature one more here. This beautiful garden, originally part of the estate of an adjacent manor house, has a Tuscan flair with its fountains, stone walls, circa 1880's wrought iron, and flagstone terrace.  As we climbed the hill to the property, I immediately saw it as the antithesis to Northview. With the straight lines of the flower beds and the neat, black dyed mulch, this garden has a very definite 'landscaped' look that is in stark contrast to the naturalistic feel of Jenny Rose's garden. The type of mulch a gardener chooses is based upon personal taste. Until this year, I used black dyed mulch on my beds; I like the way black mulch makes the flowers 'pop.' But lately I've had the desire for a more natural, organic appearance. Comparing these two gardens reinforced my feeling that I should give black mulch a rest.

Straight lines, black mulch. A beautifully landscaped property.

The question remains, if not black-dyed mulch then what? In the vegetable garden I use cedar mulch because it contains a chemical that limits bacterial and fungal growth. It is brown and has medium-sized flakes of wood in it. While it is great in the kitchen garden, I don't like the way it looks in my flower beds. As for other mulches: I don't have enough leaf mold, there are pine needles in the Woodland Walk only, I don't like rocks as mulch except in a dry garden. I must use mulch of some sort, however, to suppress those darn weeds and stop the rain from splashing soil/mud up the siding of the house. I puzzled about this for a few weeks.

The next garden tour we took was in our local area of the Poconos. Here are just a very few pictures from some of the gardens we visited:

Hostas and a bog garden in Barbara and Kerry Teats' garden.
Praying mantis and dragonfly sculptures in Ken Lang's garden
Flower-decked gate inviting you
 into Cecillia Yost's swimming pool garden

Robin and Brad Teets' entry garden and her glass garden art.

One of my favorite properties on this tour has a stunning entry garden with a curved, stone pathway up to the front door. Instead of the usual shrubs in the foundation plantings, there are colorful perennials and vines. The large garden at the back of the house features several bird baths and sculptures made of glass -- the repetition of glass material giving the garden cohesion.  Another idea to copy: the gardener buys large glass plates from flea markets and thrift stores and places them on plant stands for inexpensive and very attractive bird baths. BTW -- she uses a finely shredded brown colored mulch and it looks quite natural.

So where am I with MY mulch problem? I processed my experiences from visiting a multitude of gardens, did research online, and reread the section on mulches in Jenny Rose's book. Then it came to me! Natural cedar mulch that is shredded as fine as possible! I'll let you know how it works out.

Happy Fourth of July to all my American friends!

Pamela x

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