Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My Mother's Favorite Flowers

When I return to England it wont be the same without my mother.  I sat by her hospital bed, day and night, for eleven days and was holding her hand at the end. What a privilege to spend that time with her.

It was a time of quiet contemplation.
It was a time of anxiety.
It was a time of sorrow.
It was a time of joy.
It was a time of meditation.
It was a time of prayer.
It was a time of remembering.
It was a time of tears.
It was a time of love. *

Mom's favorite flowers are some of my favorites, too. She loved the tulips and forget-me-nots that graced her garden in springtime. That's her spring garden in the picture above and the one below. 

My mother loved forget-me-nots.

 She loved her crocosmia that she called montbretia ...

Mom's hydrangeas were the stars of her summer garden ...

... but her favorite flowers were the roses that my Dad planted all those years ago. It's too late to ask her the name of this perfect, pink beauty.

My mother was never happier than when she was in her garden.

When she could no longer take care of her home and garden, she moved to Cherry Tree Court. There we planted a cherry tree in her honor.  It was displaying its last blooms when I arrived ...

Blossom on Mom's cherry tree.

When she passed away, we placed a plaque next to the tree to show it was planted as a tribute to this wonderful lady.

It was a roller coaster time.
It was a long time.
It was a hard time.
It was a painful time.
It was a time I will never lose sight of. *

* adapted from  More Faith in my Day by Emilie Barnes

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Celebrating the Subtle Signs of Spring

 Exactly two years ago on Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, which is always the 15th of the month, I wrote a posting called March Madness . Please click on the link and scroll through the pictures -- you will be amazed. The temperature was high enough to bring frogs out of the pond and to open up the blooms of daffodils, crocus, hellebores, and many other spring flowers. How different today, with snow and ice still covering most of the garden. But I refuse to be downhearted. This may be the winter that will not quit, however, I am celebrating some subtle signs of spring that put hope into my heart.

At daybreak, for the past couple of weeks, I hear birdsong. The cardinal and the tufted titmouse for sure are serenading their ladies. Not exactly a full dawn chorus, but its a great start. And the male goldfinches on my feeder are looking more yellow every day as their winter olive-colored feathers begin to take on their spring/summer hue. Did you notice this in my first picture?

 As for flowers, I searched the shade garden where the snow had melted .. .

There were no snowdrops near their markers.
I hope the mole and the chipmunk haven't moved them.
I looked for hellebores and primroses and, to my joy, I found buds.

Buds on the hellebore

New leaves and a bud on the primrose.

I discovered several clumps of daffodils where the snow had gone. It will be a couple of months before they bloom, but I am happy to see they survived this dreadful winter.


In the cottage garden, somewhere under all the snow there are crocuses, trust me. I am so glad I planted some evergreens for winter interest, and didn't cut down all the perennials.

There are crocuses under the snow here.
It was good to see some green all winter

The snow is melting slowly and I can see cornstalks above the white of the back field.

Can you see the corn stalks?

 Certainly no frogs near the pond. And I wonder how the fish are faring? The pond was completely frozen over for about a week and we couldn't get near it through the drifting snow. The pond was built very deep, so hopefully the fish are O.K.

A bubbler makes a small hole in the ice covering the pond.

How wonderful, I found some sedum buds! Sedum is so reliable. It is a little 'find' like this that really lifts my spirits.

Sedum, 'Autumn Joy' brings joy to me today!

One, not-so-good sign of spring ... H.H. said he killed a mosquito near the stable about a week ago. I thought he was mistaken as it was very cold. But this morning, when he went to change the water in the bird bath, amazingly there were hundreds of mosquito larvae squiggling around in it. Ugh!

Still some ice on the water, but a mosquito had got into it.

Putting this depressing thought behind me, I took one more turn around the shade garden, stepping gingerly over the ice and snow. Then I saw it ...

The first bloom of spring.

For me this little, budding snowdrop reaffirms that the change from winter to spring is about hope. This is cause to celebrate. I know it is going to be a wonderful new gardening season!

I am joining Donna at Gardens Eye View for her Seasonal Celebrations and Carol at May Dreams Gardens for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day. Thank you, Donna and Carol, for hosting these two great memes.  Please go to their wonderful sites, dear friends; you will be glad you did.

Happy spring!
Pamela x

But starting to wake up at last!

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Friday, February 28, 2014

Why Choose Heirloom Seeds?

Heirloom seeds produce vegetable varieties that have been around for 50 years or more. These are the vegetables your grandmother grew. These are the vegetables that were around before the food pyramid, before the Department of Agriculture, before the huge agrobusinesses that create most of the "food" on store shelves today ... Annie's Heirloom Seed Catalog .

Like most of you, I spent the last couple of months perusing the seed catalogs piled high on my coffee table. You will agree it is the perfect way to spend a cold, snowy winter's afternoon, just dreaming of the perfect kitchen garden. I'm embarrassed to admit I don't buy heirloom seeds as a rule, although I always choose reputable companies that sell organic products. Last year, I contributed to an article in my local newspaper about what to consider when choosing a seed company. A fellow  master gardener, Lisa, also contributed to the article. She said she ordered from Annie's Heirloom Seed Catalog. I didn't think too much about it at the time, but rereading the article today, I decided to learn more about heirloom plants.

Why Choose Heirlooms?

(The italics are from Annie's Heirloom Seed Catalog .)

1. Heirlooms are tough. Many heirloom varieties have been around for centuries, and over the years they've seen diseases come and go. Built-in to their genetic code is the ability to fight off some of these diseases.  
This is the number one reason that sold me on heirlooms. I need some innate toughness in my plants following a less than perfect couple of years in my vegetable garden. I garden organically, with no chemicals, so it is important that I have disease-resistant plants.

I usually only share the successes.

2. Vegetables grown from heirloom seeds are more nutritious than store-bought vegetables. One reason is because they are grown in nutrient-rich soil, and not bred just to look pretty. Heirlooms thrive in nutrient-rich soil, and they pack all of that goodness into every bite. This supports my belief in the importance of first growing great soil.

I add a deep layer of compost to my beds in early spring.

3.  Heirlooms support American farmers. They need our support!

4. Heirloom are open-pollinated. That means if you harvest seeds from your heirlooms and plant them again, you'll get the same great stuff in the next generation. I don't collect and keep seeds usually, because the hybrids I've purchased in the past are unlikely to reproduce a similar plant.

Native flowers in the kitchen garden attract pollinators.

5. Annie assures us that heirlooms taste fantastic!

If only I could get them to eat their vegetables!

Today, I placed an order for organic heirloom seeds and can't wait for them to arrive. I know many of you are way ahead of me, having used heirloom seeds for years, and I would appreciate any hints, advice, or experiences you would like to share. I will keep you updated on my new venture.

My potting shed is ready. And so am I.
Happy dreams of spring!

Pamela x

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