Thursday, July 31, 2014

High Tea and Cottage Garden Flowers

A garden brings pleasure in so many ways. One way is to share it with visiting friends; another is to bring beautiful cut flowers indoors. I enjoyed both pleasures recently when some dear fellow gardeners came to my home for high tea. Prior to their arrival, I picked cottage garden flowers to decorate the dining room. My July garden peaked late this year and my arrangements showed a large variety of blooms.

Tea time was fun. I love to set a table with pretty, English china, tea sandwiches, scones with cream, strawberries, trifle, and tea cakes, on a lace table cloth. Best of all was the conversation with like-minded people, following a tour of the garden of course.

Wonderful friends share my English tradition.

The white jug was given to me by my friend, Karen, some years ago. I filled it with phlox, cleome, Queen Anne's lace, and purple cone flower. I added spikes of Russian sage, gooseneck loosestrife, and obedient plant.

Pink phlox 'Bright Eyes' with cleome and Queen Anne's lace.
As you may remember, I removed all my echinacea after it was struck with aster yellows. I planted a different variety far from the infected bed, hoping it wont suffer the disease.

Echinacea Purple Cone Flower
For the table arrangement I used white shasta daisies, tiny yarrow, and Queen Anne's lace, punctuated with colorful nasturtiums, delphinium, and marigolds.

Table arrangement.
Yellow thread-leaf coreopsis and pink cleome also add color.
Shasta daisy is a must-have cottage garden flower

I added a yellow dill flower.
My friend Karen brought flowers from her garden. Karen introduced me to the joy of growing zinnias many years ago, but this year my zinnias were very disappointing. Hers, however, left me gasping with envy. Large and colorful, they made a striking bouquet.

Karen uses hosta leaves in her arrangements, to great effect. 

She decorated the mason jar with burlap and ribbon. How lovely is that?

Thank you, Karen, and all my wonderful friends, for an enjoyable afternoon of flowers, food, and conversation.

Enjoy the rest of your summer (it's going too fast.)

Pamela x

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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

What's New in My July Garden?

My new mophead hydrangea, Hydrangea macrophylla 'Perfection', was in bloom when I returned from England.  H.H. did a great job watering the plants while I was settling my mother's affairs. It was strange going back to my homeland when she wasn't there, but I found the strength to do it. Going back will not be so difficult next time. Unfortunately, H.H. must have watered the weeds, too, because they were prolific. The daily down-pouring of rain this last week hasn't helped, nor the fact that we didn't have time to mulch before I left. At last, now I have finished mulching, just in time for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, which Carole at May Dreams Gardens hosts on the 15th of each month.

It is difficult to post new pictures each year when you have been blogging for a long time, but fortunately gardens change/evolve and there is always something fresh to see. In the shade garden the false hydrangea vine bloomed for the first time. The flowers are fading now, but you can see the delicate tracing of their white petals.

Schizophragma 'Moonlight' False hydrangea vine.

Near the swing, the rain knocked down the hostas in the large hosta bed that we call Connie's garden. I love this circle of hostas more each year.

Before leaving the shade garden through the arbor into the cottage garden, I stop to admire the white hydrangea, 'Pinky Winky', that has doubled in size this year. Its white blooms are beginning to turn to pink, and by fall they will be almost red.

White lacecap hydrangea at the end of the fence.

Lacecap Hydrangea 'Pinky Winky' turning pink

The cottage garden looks different this year because I removed all the echinacea when it was infected with yellow asters disease. I replaced it with cleome and started some monarda which I hope will fill out over the next several years. But the garden just doesn't look the same without the purple cone flower.

 The dusky-pink bells of the campanula are lovely. This plant spreads, but is easy to pull out when it becomes too bold.


There is a lot of white in the cottage garden this year, and I'm glad for the splash of red from the crocosmia near the pond.

The bright red Crocosmia 'Lucifer,' Montbretia makes a statement.

A new addition to the pond is the lotus plant which we bought for its enormous leaves. Our pond is in full sun and we look for ways to add shade. The flower is fabulous so I am hoping it will bloom this year.

Nelumbo nucifera is commonly called sacred lotus

Not many of the annuals I grow from seed were successful this year, but the snapdragons are putting on a fine show in the new addition to the cottage garden.

Snapdragon 'Cinderella Mix'

My favorite clematis has climbed over the arbor we installed last year at the entrance to the kitchen garden.

Clematis 'Tie Dye'

The perennial border that we call 'The Obedience Garden' is fuller than ever this year. The pink phlox are in bloom at one end and the red monarda at the other.

The Obedience Garden

I've had so many disappointments in the kitchen garden this year mainly due to the destructive rabbit who lives under the potting shed. He ate every single red beet and two types of Swiss chard when they first germinated, despite H.H.'s best efforts with deterrent. I was in England at that time. So there will be no pickled beets to enjoy next winter.

New this year, I planted borage for the blue flowers to attract pollinators.

Borago officinalis Borage planted in the nearest raised bed in this picture.

Do you see the colorful tin sculpture of a bird house in the picture above. I added this whimsical piece to my garden last year. A bluebird has taken up residence.

The bluebird waits patiently, on top of the shed, for me to leave the kitchen garden.

My favorite bloom in the kitchen garden is the blossom on the new (to me) variety of bush bean. Such delicate colored petals.

Provider Bush Bean

My garden is continually changing ...
A garden shouldn't just bloom and look pretty, it should develop like the rest of life. Otherwise it, and we, live only to be spaded under.  Emma L. Roth-Schwartz
Happy Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day,
Pamela x

Tea in the garden.

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Friday, June 20, 2014

Preparing the Garden for Summer

The first day of summer arrives June 21 with the summer solstice, although Memorial Day (in May) was the  unofficial start of summer in America. Each season brings specific gardening chores, but there are more tasks in spring than at any other time. I confess I love the busyness of May and June and the satisfaction I feel as each chore is completed. I am frustrated that the wet weather of this June forced me to take breaks in my summer preparations. But a walk around my garden shows how much I have completed.


The biggest chore was to spread compost on every bed in the kitchen garden and on all the flower gardens. H.H. and I try to give the plants three to four inches of the good stuff at the beginning of every growing season. I didn't need to test the soil before amending it this year, but before spreading compost, I weeded. I begin the annual chore of keeping ahead of the weeds as soon as the first one appears. I don't mind weeding when it is raining lightly as it makes weeding easier, but I was forced indoors by heavier rain several times this month.


Kitchen Garden begins to sprout.

I planted my vegetables later than usual. The late spring is my excuse, and I'm hopeful that the harvest will be sufficient, in spite of the efforts of the rabbit who lives under the potting shed. I spray a deterrent, but the daily rains wash it off, and the little bunny nibbles away. H.H. offered to shoot it, but that bunny is far too cute.

Because of the brutal winter, I needed to prune back the roses very harshly, removing all the dead canes. I lost one rose completely, and my favorite, 'Peace,' barely survived. In addition, the rhododendon was badly damaged by the winter weather.

Usually my roses and peonies bloom at the same time in June, but as you can see from the first picture there were peonies but no roses at the beginning of the month.

I wish you could smell the peonies.

Today, the peonies have been beaten down by the rains, but two roses have started to bloom: the yellow knockout  and the climber, 'Blaze.'

Yellow Knockout Rose

Climbing Rose 'Improved Blaze'


Each fall, I divide perennials that have overgrown their space, and any that I miss at that time I divide in the spring. The bearded iris was enormous and I was able to make four plants from one. I put a large clump in a big, stone container behind the waterfall. Hopefully, the container will curb the plant's further expansion.

Container of Bearded Iris

The bearded iris along Bluebell Creek are blooming

The deer rarely eat iris which is a big advantage. But they pruned the weeping redbud for me...

The weeping redbud has a very uneven 'skirt' due to the nibbling deer.

I divided a large clump of Sweet William to border a flower bed that I totally changed. This is where I planted new perennials this year. The newly arranged bed has its own story, which is for another posting.

Sweet William Dianthus barbatus


H.H. takes care of all water containers. He even provides a puddling dish for the butterflies. This is a shallow dish containing sand mixed with soil or manure and filled with water. The male butterflies flutter their wings in the concoction to extract minerals. This year, H.H. placed one in a sunny spot in the kitchen garden. 

Puddling dish for butterflies

One of the last spring chores is TOUCHING UP THE MULCH which we will do this weekend if the rain stays away long enough.


The most delightful task of the new gardening season is to enjoy every new bloom.

Bleeding heart

Goatsbeard Arucus dioicus

Goatsbeard is a native perennial. The effect if that of a giant astilbe.

My favorite peach-colored iris looking its best.

Knockout Rose


The eggs hatched and two new baby robins emerged

They quickly grew. This one had his mouth open continually.

Very soon they developed wings and left the nest.

The baby robins are gone, but there are baby barn swallows in the stable. Such fun. 

One of the MANY chipmunks in his favorite spot, on the head of the stone dog.

I am linking with Donna's Seasonal Celebrations at Gardens Eye View, as I mark the change of season with lots of chores in preparation for summer. I am reveling in Earth's new birth: blooms, birds, and all sorts of critters. This has to be the BEST time of year.

Enjoy your garden!

Pamela x

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