Garden In The Burrow

plants and rants by gardening diva Cheryl Monroe

  • Aug 21

    For those of you who use Facebook, you may be aware of a trend on Thursdays to post photos from “back in the day” of your kids, your pets, house , friends, or events you were attending .It is called Throw Back Thursday , or TBT ,and it is kind of fun to see the  old photos and have a fond memory brought to mind. Also, if the pictures are of me, I like to see how young and/or skinny I appear compared to now even if my hair was big enough to deserve it’s own zip code.I have posted a few TBTs , but  I especially like the ones of the garden.

    When I first started gardening , my grandmother ,who was undoubtedly my #1 fan, would always walk around the yard when she visited with her little insta-matic camera snapping shots. She would promptly develop the film  ( unlike me who still has undeveloped rolls in my desk from the 90′s) and carefully label the backs of the photos with the location and date. I did not appreciate it at the time  but it has given me a wealth of memories from my first efforts to get The Garden in the Burrow growing, and some pretty great memories of my gram as well.Just seeing her perfect cursive handwriting on the back can send  me back in time daydreaming of busy times here when the kids were little and the the hustle and bustle of life with them and the garden was my entire existence.Scan0018 Things sure have changed, my gram is gone, the kids are older, and the garden unbelievably on the verge of being overgrown in spots which still amazes me considering where we started.

    (Just an FYI for those of you who may be unfamiliar with the beginnings of the garden here, our house was built on a lot that had zero vegetation, not so much as a blade of grass, and no soil, just sand. that is certainly not the case any more.)

    Here are a few photos , some hers some mine , that show some of the gardens along the way ……..

    (the only human is wee little  Erin standing next to the payhouse..she is  headed to college next week )

    The Red Shed Garden

    The Red Shed Garden

    shde2

    The Dog’s Garden

    shed 3

    Pathway to the Pink Garden

     

    The kids playhouse after and before

    The kids playhouse after and before

     

    Part of the rock garden

    Part of the rock garden

     

    The back 40

    The back 40

     

  • Some Days

    Filed under Posts
    Aug 6

    Some days doesn’t it seem that almost nothing could possibly go your way?

    And some days it  feels like every one who could get in your way, undermine you, disappoint you, piss you off or otherwise offend, did just that?

    And some days it feels like the ick will never end, you will never each your safe place ,put on your slippers , grab a  beer and just forget it all went down like it did.

    On those  days you actually know better than to utter “What else could possibly go wrong?” because you know full well something will

    And on  those days I am never more grateful for the garden ( and to be honest for the beer too) and the fact that a quick walk through, even if it is nightfall, will change my attitude, settle my soul and calm my spirit.

    I give you white and gray at dusk…..004007033035001002011016014012019028024032031029036

  • Aug 2

    Fans of this blog may be aware that I have a completely irrational, overwhelming ,and life-pervasive fear of snakes. I hate the way they move and hate their little reptilian faces. I scream like a mad woman  when I find them outside. I have on occasion been known to pulverize them with bats, spear them with spades and smash them with rocks when they startle me in the garden.

    You can read about what happened when one entered my house here….it was not pretty.

    I even imagine them when I see hoses, the striped backs of chipmunks, curvy branches on the ground, and god forbid the stray piece of twine falls on the pathway.

    What makes it all the worse is that

    a. I am afraid of almost nothing else. Bumps in the night, strangers in the woods, spiders, Friday the 13th, heights, all scare me not one whit. I even overcame my fear of flying ( albeit with valium and alcohol) so I could travel with Wil.

    b.I spend almost all of my time where snakes like to be ..the beautiful garden I personally made with rock walls , shady hideouts, warm sunny composting piles and plenty of bugs, mice etc for snacking.

    So , therefore I find it most surprising that a pretty good sized garter snake has made himself a home  right next to the chicken wire structure where the grass clippings are sent to decompose  and I am A_OK with it.

    I think, first of all ,that knowing full well that a  hot pile of grass clippings at the edge of a wooded area was going to be a snake nirvana kept me aware and always thinking one may be there at any time. When I am caught off guard is when the mayhem ensues. Secondly, even though I discovered said snake while weeding out pokeweed 3 inches from his face and not only jumped 6 feet away but screamed like a crazed lunatic, said snake never moved , not even a tongue flick. His calm cool demeanor may have saved his life.

    Mr. Cool Pants Snake, just stayed still watching me, and chilling in his warm grass pile, so I decided to put my big girl panties on and continue to weed  and see what he did.  well, Mr. Cool Pants Snake did what he was doing before…nothing.

    It took every fiber of courage I could muster, but I left him there to do whatever snakey things he does and went back to life as usual. I have had to go out to the back several times since for a minute or two here, and he has been in the same general spot, sometimes all coiled up, sometimes a little lankier and spread over the  grass. Each time I have looked and confirmed his location and that he was still being Mr. Cool Pants and not trying to come anywhere near me, and I have let him be. Granted I was supposed to water all of the area out back this week and may have put that off a smidge as I was feeling a little too over-exposed to all things reptile, but when I did go out yesterday  he was there, all chill and realxin’ , watching me like always , still as can be.

    Today I introduced Mr. Cool Pants Snake to Wil  as he has to mow this morning and I did not want him to get startled when he dumped grass clippings on Mr.CPS. It took us a while to see him as he was all spread out and blends so well into the woody/ grassy location he now calls home . We had almost given up  looking  but when Wil  reached in to grab a weed I saw MR. CPS clear as day inches from his  hand.  I backed up a little but did not scream, I am pretty proud of that.

    It is a small victory , I will grant you that. If Mr. CPS starts to get more comfortable and starts thinking we are friends or approaches me in any manner , things may change rapidly ( and by that I mean he may die a very very violent death). But for now at least I am able to be in his presence and not pee my pants or go hog wild smashing him with a shovel.

    Here he is, all chillaxing …just in case you give me more credit than is due, no, I did not take the photo. That would really be asking too much of me . I stood next to him ( well, about 10 feet away) while Wil did.002

     

     

  • Aug 1

    Those of you who have heard me speak on “Design With Vines” know I am crazy about Morning Glories. Well let’s be honest all Ipomea species really have my heart.001 (4)

    I love Ipomoea quamoclit, commonly called cypress vine for it’s featherly foliage and sweet star shaped flowers.

    I love Ipomoea sloteri ( or x multifida) foe it’s vry cool palm shaped foliage and the hummingbirds love the flowers.006

    But it is the old fashioned morning glory, or Ipomoea purpurea that ranks # 1 for me. So easy to grow, covered in sweet little flowers  in colors I adore, and don’t even get me started about all the new varieties I have yet to try.

    But this post isn’t meant to do homage to my old -timey fav, it is meant as a reminder to get some Morning Glory seeds started in the house for winter bloom.  I may have admonished you not to been stingy in using all the seeds in your annual seed packets, but that came with a caveat to save just a few  Morning \Glories for the first week of August. Well, it is just that, so go find them.004

    Soak the seeds in warm water overnight to soften the outer coating, then stick them in a pretty pot the next morning that has some sort of trellis or small obelisk in it. You can even use three pretty twigs arranged tee-pee style from a white birch tree if you prefer. Place it in a sunny spot near a window and you will be so very happy in December when you awaken on a dreary morning to find your first flower opening with the sun.

    I like the foliage of the variety ‘Picotee’. It is a little fuzzy and thicker than the others, the flowers are very attractive too having that cute little frilly white edge. I have startted Picotee  indoors several times, and even combined it with a second variety for even more color.023 (3)

    One year I placed two in one pot and that worked well .005 (7)023 (2)

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    .This year I plan to try Grandpa Ott 001 (7)and a new one for me called Sunrise Serenade which has a very unique flower form in smashing ruby red. Fingers crossed for this one to bloom like mad.

    If you have other annual vines seeds hanging around and have the space , give them a go as well. Last winter I grew Love-in-a- puff  Halicacabum cardiospermum in the window as well and it climbed and flowered well until late spring.054

     

     

  • Jul 24

    This morning I went out into the garden with the camera. My intent was to take a bunch a pictures and write a long post about how certain areas of the garden really bother me at certain times of year. July is especially tough for the Pink Garden and the Dog’s Garden as the former is planted to be stunning in spring when I need the wake up call from spring to get me out working and the later is planted to knock your socks off in Fall so I don’t dwell on the waning gardening season. Right now one needs deadheading and cutting back and the other is pretty but not even shadow of what it will be in a few weeks.

    Instead, I found myself snapping photo after photo of loveliness .027002

    Could it have been the storms that came through last night ? They seemed to refresh everything after an oppressively  hot day and dry spell.028004

    054Could it be the magic created by filtered sunlight back-lighting the garden ?  The softer light was  all the more enjoyable after days of intense summer sun that seemed to sap the life out of me.008013

    Could it have been that I am always so smitten  by the birds and the butterflies that are my daily visitors? They were out in large numbers today.040007

    017

    Could it be that around every corner there seemed to be a new combination of blooms or flowers  and art that had yet to be seen this season? Certainly these few caught my eye.010

    046

    036Could it be that  sometimes as a gardener you see  the faded blossoms, the need for division,the weeding yet to be done and loose sight of  the beauty in the seed heads,or  the exuberance and bounty in a such a lush garden ?003048 029

    Whatever it was, there was a definite attitude adjustment in the time I wandered around.021

    It is dry and  comfortable , with the heat and humidity gone for a few days so I could take my time and really see what was going on out there….043 038 012

    015.

    ………and it was absolutely delightful.

    Don”t worry though if you missed my ranting, I am reasonably certain it is only only the most brief of holidays and will return sooner than you  can blink!

     

  • Jul 14

    July 15th is no time for  garden Bloggers Bloom Day post. Let’s be serious here and realize that to talk about and photograph all that is bloom here on July 15th would take days and the post would be so long even the most dedicated reader would grow bored, so instead I give you some thoughts on the annuals I am growing here ( and loving) this year.

    You have probably heard it said that you start out as a gardener planting annuals and then as you learn more ,switch to growing  perennials and as you age replant yet again  with shrubs. While I agree that it does take some time to mature as a gardener and learn what works best in your yard, , costs the least and maybe requires the least maintenance, I don’t think we as gardeners should ever give up on annual plants.

    From a cost standpoint, yes, replanting an entire bed with annuals every year can be pricey. BUT if you take the time at the end of the season to collect seeds from your favorites to plant up next year ,or even just buy inexpensive seed packets,  the cost can be minimized.

    From a work standpoint, yes starting loads of plants from seed is not easy and takes some space, but a sunny window will work for some things you want to start early and I have found that annual seeds started outside when the soil temp is warm take off like crazy and catch up or surpass any little annual plants bought at the nursery for $$$ .

    This year I started some nasturtiums( Moonlight and Cherries Jubliee) I ordered from Renee’s Seeds inside in a large pot set by the slider in the kitchen in late March , and then started some outdoors when it was warm. Honestly, there is little difference right now. The ones I started in the house are blooming in the pot outside now, but the others are very close to flowering, so the 6 weeks or so or growth the early birds got actually only bought me maybe an extra week of bloom. Note to self…plant them outside when soil is warm and save aggravation of tripping over large pot set on kitchen floor for 6 weeks in the spring.002004

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    .And let’s be frank, very few perennial plants can give the sheer volume of bloom annual plants do , and adding just a few in key places in the garden can keep the place looking super swell all season long. I made sure I tucked a few of theses beauties in several garden areas and containers.

    Here are a few of my other faves form this year’s garden :

    Agrostema githago ‘Milas’  a tall (36 inch) ethereal bloomer that fills the space between other plants beautifully., a must for any cottage gardener, will self seed.agrostema

    Sweet peas , my favorite is  ’Cupani but  a new one for me this year  ’Fire and Ice’ may be stealing my heart.  ”Fire and Ice’ has extra large flowers that start out purply- pink and fade gloriously into a denim blue. Add in heavenly  fragrance and we have a real winner here, destined to be replanted every springfire and ice sweet pea005

    Petunia exserta; this sweet and rare petunia species gets it’s name from the fact that its’ stamens and stigma are exserted (thrust forward) and it is also this quality that makes it a hummingbird magnet. Most petunia hybrids have little nectar to offer these cute little garden friends, but apparently this one has plenty given the rate at which it is visited. This plant was found in the wild in a small area in Brazil in 2007 and slowly seeds have been collected and sold and now  you can buy the plant from Annies Annuals too. I started mine from seeds graciously sent to me by Nan Ondra of Hayfield . It will do well in a shadier location than most hybrid petunias like.petunia exserta

    Cerinthe major purpurascens or Blue Honeywort: This steel blue- foliaged charmer is a great addition to containers and I especially love it with bubble gum pinks, like Supertunia ‘ Vista Bubble Gum’ It has tubular flowers the pollinators enjoy and seeds around which is of great benefit to the cost conscious gardener ( or one who has lots of gardening friends)024

    Lanai Peach Verbena is an annual I bought to use in several containers. here it is with a red and white  Nemesia. No matter what is is paired with it looks awesome.DSC_0040

    This container has a petunia hybrid ( name long lost) that self seeds every year both  in the pot it was grown in and the ground around it. This year while waiting for it to sprout I threw in lettuce seeds and have been harvesting it every time I walk by on my way from the grill. The lettuce is getting ready to bolt just as the petunias are filling in.lettuce and perunias

    Convolvulus tricolor   ‘Blue Ensign’, a morning glory relative, is just starting to bloom in the two containers I planted it in. The seeds cost next to nothing but  these cheery blue flowers are worth a million when they greet me on my morning walk down the walkway to the Pink Garden. This plant is a compact bushy one, not a vine at all, and will bloom until frost. 007 I am posting some other pics I snapped of other annuals knowing that for the most part they are readily available in most garden centers, but it is all in the way you pair them that makes it work. I hope they inspire you to add many annuals to your own garden space !

    DSC_0027 pelargonium

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    053

     

     

  • Jun 30

    012Saturday I had a lovely group of women here visiting from Milford, MA. On a garden tour when I am walking around with guests , I tend to  point out plants that are great performers, answer  questions about unusual things, and  never miss an opportunity to tell a visitor when to stick their nose in a flower…after all fragrance is one of the great joys of growing them!

    The two most fragrant things in the garden now are the calycanthus florida, or sweet shrub that spreads its wonderfully fruity scent all over the Dog’s Garden for almost the whole growing season ( I have chatted about it before, and can’t recommend enough that you purchase and plant one immediately) and my new favorite rose called ‘Kiss Me’ .046

    First off let me say how much I adore the name, Really love it. Find it charming and romantic. Want to say it over and over. Think Wil should be around when I do.

    ‘Kiss Me’ is a relatively new introduction from the Easy Elegance family of roses. They are bred to be long blooming , disease resistant, and grow on their on roots (not grafted).Those of you who have heard me talk on roses know I want it all…..disease resistant, water wise, fragrant,hardy, and lovely blooms…and don’t want to spray anything or fret about delicate specimens that succumb to every insect and pathogen east  of the Mississippi. This rose meets all my criteria, and them some.

    I will admit  that in order to achieve my rose goals, I sometimes have to stop short on one or another of the criteria. Sometimes it is bloom size, or maybe fragrance. This rose does not require even the smallest of compromises.

    Kiss Me is  a beautiful color, one that appears peachy from a distance, but is actually more pink than peach up close . Kiss Me’s  sturdy stems are just loaded with buds, and the fully opened flowers are about 4 inches across and  have the  romantic look of English Roses. The scent is sweet and slightly fruity, sort of like my other most favorite rose, David Austin’s  ’Christopher Marlowe’

    So far the foliage looks glossy and untouched by the dreaded blackspot, and talk about vigorous! I ordered  this rose from White Flower Farm and it came as a rose typically does, a few bare canes and roots. I  placed it in a large container  just temporarily until I found it a permanent home……3 months later it is still in the container and doing beautifully. An added benefit of my laziness is that the container lifts it up to perfect height for inhaling the delightful scent, no bending needed! I will plant it in the ground in the fall and keep my fingers crossed it does well over the winter,but my experience with Easy Elegance roses on the whole is that they do fine here and I am sure it will overwinter without a problem.052

  • Jun 27

    In case you were unable to stop by for a visit on my last Open Day, the garden will be open briefly this Saturday at 10 am until noon . About 30 clematis vines are in bloom and the summer perennials are starting to shine. if you need more info or directions contact me using the CONTACT link above.001

  • Jun 22

    This time of year, especially in one that we gets plenty of water , the garden behaves like a ginormous beast. In order to have a cottage garden that looks like it effortlessly grew together in the perfect blend  of annual , perennial, shrub,  herb and vegetable , the exact opposite of “effortless’ is required.

    Some self-seeding plants like the hummingbird favorite Husker Red’ penstemon gets a little overzealous and must be weeded out where they are too prolific,

    penstemon escapee

    penstemon escapee

    Some plants that line borders decide instead the pathway is EXACTLY where they meant to grow  and they must be trimmed or staked and  tied.028

    rose cane in the path

    rose cane in the path

    false indigo

    false indigo

    Some plants never cease coveting their neighbors space and must be ruthlessly reminded to keep to themselves

    dogwood growing through EVERYTHING

    dogwood growing through EVERYTHING

     

    prolific raspberry canes

    prolific raspberry canes

    so many things growing into the geraniums

    so many things growing into the geraniums

    Some “great ideas, like letting ox-eye daisy ( a weed)  stay just until it is done blooming because I love it ( it must be deadheaded immediately to prevent seeding) or letting the violets stay in the Pink Garden because they are larval food for butterflies, prove to be very bad ideas indeed. Now the weeds must be reckoned with so in the end there will still be a Pink Garden and not just violets and daisies.

    daisies

    daisies

    Trying to remember where I seeded what is forever a challenge, I think I go through twice as much seed as I truly need due to inattention  and forgetting to water, or mistakenly weeding out all the zinnias. Every year I swear I will use markers, and this year I even did in a few places, but coincidentally those I placed have just served as skinny plastic  tombstones for plants that did not make it.035

    In a good year all the clematis I usually adore becomes a nightmare of growth, seemingly feet a day that must be tied

    'Gravetye Beauty'clematis

    ‘Gravetye Beauty’clematis

    in and trained.

    When huge flushes of bloom happen, huge amounts of time must be spent deadheading so the garden does not look like a big brown mush ball.

    peony waiting to be deadheaded

    peony waiting to be deadheaded

     

    It ain’t easy making it look easy ;)

    But looking at all the beauty that surrounds me, I guess it is hard to  complain

    butterfly on mock orange

    butterfly on mock orange

     

    rosa 'Julia Child'

    rosa ‘Julia Child’

     

    Salvia'cardonna'

    Salvia’cardonna’

     

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    view into back garden

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  • Jun 18

    A random comment on someones Facebook page this morning got me to thinking about how much garden knowledge swimming in my brain I take for granted that the whole world knows. The post was a photo of a butterfly on what was described as “late lilacs” and I know for a fact the poster knew full well what she was referring to was a particular variety of lilac that blooms late in the season, but the person who commented   took it to mean that like many plants here in the Northeast the lilac was “blooming late”  because of the long winter.

    That lead me to the notion that I should write a little about the many differences between  plants that all share the same name.

    First off , in a little trip down botanical latin lane, a plant gets it’s name from a combination of first; its genus name, then it’s species name, then if applicable it’s cultivar name. ( Let me be clear that is an oversimplification as there are more names that can get added on but this is meant to be a quick lesson to clarify a specific point)

    So for instance, the lilac of most peoples childhood that is the true harbinger of spring in the colder parts of the country ,and blooms light purple  and spreads it heady fragrance around the ‘hood is syringa  vulgaris or common lilac  and it’s white companion is syringa  vulgaris  ’Alba’ So syringa is the genus name , and all lilacs share this as their “first name” if you will, then they may have different species names and/or different cultivar names.025 (5)

    The common  plant is so regular in it’s bloom time it is often used as an indicator plant to let us know figuratively where the garden stands in it’s waking cycle in spring.

    From there the lilac world explodes and many species, interspecific hybrids, and cultivars of species with colors that range from the white and purple we are familiar with to the darkest of the dark purples, pinks, mauves,  some with yellowish tints and even one that sports flowers that are white and purple together. These all bloom at various times and are usually classified as early , mid-season and late with regard to when they flower.

    They all have defining characteristics that separate them from their family members, like syringa x lacinata that has finely cut leaves, or  syringa’Charles Joly with its dark dramatic flower color, or ‘Sugar Plum Fairy’ that is very short and compact. If you choose carefully, and you live in Z7 or lower,  you can have lilacs from late April/May to September and in can also find ones that will fit in any garden large or small.

    Here in the burrow I grow a number of different lilacs that stretch my lilac season from early spring until September. Impossible! you say. But yet, true.

    The earliest to bloom are the straight species, syringa vulgaris. This one and syringa vaulgaris  “Alba” I use so I can pick and smell lilacs when my winter weary gardener’s body is ready for a dose of  spring. Despite that ,they are definitely not may favorites because their leaves are prone to get that icky white coating called powdery mildew as the weather heats up.

    Right on their coat tails appears the lovely and mysterious ‘Charles Joly’  which I love to see arranged in silver vessels, and blooming simultaneously, the bi colored ‘Sensation’.

    Charles Joly

    Charles Joly

     

    Sensation

    Sensation

    Next in the show is the very compact lilac I use to hedge in the front garden called ‘Tinkerbelle’. It stays relatively short, maybe 3 or so feet and blooms with deep pink buds opening to paler pink highly fragrant flowers weeks after the common lilac. I just cut off the spent blooms this morning and this delightful shrub will send forth the odd bloom here and there throughout the rest of the summer.tink

    Another great re-bloomer is a newer introduction called ‘Bloomerang’. It looks very similar to the common lilac only grow a bit shorter topping out at 5 ft or so and blooms  along with ‘Tinkerbelle’ then again in August and September.Lilacs in the late summer is a gift  every gardener who can grow them should take advantage of!

    Bloomerang

    Bloomerang

    After that begins the show of the beautiful syringa x prestoniae ‘Miss Canada’  a taller lilac ( 8-10 ft) that is covered in rosy pink buds and pink flowers.001 (11)

    Right next to it grows two more later bloomers ,’Donald Wyman’ and ‘Miss Kim ( syringa pubescens supspc. patula..…I told you there could be more names!)  ’Miss Kim’ has the added benefit of beautiful foliage color in the fall when it turns a deep reddish-burgandy.

    Donald Wyman

    Donald Wyman

    Miss Kim in Fall

    Miss Kim in Fall

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    This long row of lilacs is frequented by many butterflies who enjoy the nectar  they provide, and because they bloom later in the season these lilacs are  available  to  many more butterflies than the earlier bloomers who may be out when the butterflies are not.006 (7)

    By the way, Lilacs are also a caterpillar host plant for our Eastern Swallowtail butterfly… in the interest of biodiversity I plant a number of host plants for Lepidopteran species, and was ever so pleased to find out a few years ago that the genus syringa is a host plant to over 20 of them.

    So there you go, a little min- lesson in choosing plants for your garden. Remember all plants that share a genus name are not alike, and if you explore those differences when planning what you will grow your garden will be all the better for it.

     

     

     

     

     

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