cheap thrills

2017-02-07 23.13.14As the season goes on ( and boy is it ever a glorious one thanks to Mother Nature being generous with the water works)  each day I stroll around eagerly awaiting to see  what has come into bloom around the next corner. We are in prime summertime; coneflowers, black eyed susans, garden phlox, hydrangeas and many a treasured and sought after plant  ($$$$) are sure strutting their stuff,and while I love to see rare clematis and well grown roses,  if is the cheap thrills that get me the most.

There is such a sense of satisfaction knowing you can create a beautiful landscape on a shoestring budget if you just are a little prepared ahead of time in a few ways.

Fist and foremost buy seeds of things that are easy to both start from seed and save seed from when they are done blooming, things like morning glories, love in a puff vine, hyacinth bean vine, nasturtiums, zinnias, amaranth and cosmos. Dahlia tubers also fall under this heading even though it is a tuber instead of seed you save. It may be a teeny bit of work but worth every bit of  effort in the end when you can fill loads of containers and empty spaces in the garden for next to nothing. Almost all of my annual vines are now started from seed I have saved , initial cost was minimal, and now it is only my time that gets spent as I watch for w week or two and gather the seeds to store over winter.

Nasturtium seeds form quickly as the flowers fade and can be collected as soon as you see them big enough , and before the birds get to them.IMG_2187

Hyacinth bean forms cool electric purple pods and these get left on the vine until brown and then dry and then take the seeds out of the pod and store .DSC_0026

Love in a puff  halicacabum cardiospermum makes these cool puffs after flowering and the seeds are in them, but you can just store the puffs after they are brown

love in a puff

love in a puff

I use little glassine envelopes for all most but not all of my seeds. For things like amaranth and even zinnias you can just pop the whole flower head in a paper lunch bag to deal with later in the winter when you are bored and feel like separating the seeds from all the chaff. Just make sure they are dry before placing them in the bag. With the amaranth a quick vigorous shake of the bag in the spring will send the seeds to the bottom of the bag leaving the rest of the flower stalk intact and  you just take out and pitch  the stalk and pour out the seeds.
image image

I have several large containers that are filled using many of these saved seeds .the first key to success is a large pot + less watering+ greater germination and survival rates. Because i save way more seed than I could ever use, I sow heavily and then thin out the seedlings them later if necessary .

This pot has a mum and a sedum that live in it year round and then I pop in seeds after all chance of frost has passed. This year it was actually very late as I used hyacinth bean seeds which I never plant outside until June 1. I also add a single dahlia tuber in there and by early July the pot is full and fresh looking and will be flowering within  the month lasting through frost. Someone on my garden tour this June happened to be standing next to me and the pot when it was all just starting to grow , and commented  ”I see what you are doing here, how clever! ”

large pot with dahlia, mum, sedum, hyacinth bean vine

large pot with dahlia, mum, sedum, hyacinth bean vine

2017-02-07 23.15.37Another pot nearby gets morning glories every year and this year I added the hyacinth bean as well.Within a week with this heat (finally!) it will be outrageously full and blooming 2017-02-07 23.16.03

You can read more about my use of annual vines for late season interest here

The two large pots on the pool area are even easier. These are quite large and are made to hold the umbrellas. (you can see what I did here) . They are heavy and I actually never change the soil in them partially because of the cement , but mostly because the petunias that I planted in it  the first year they were made ( probably 6 years ago) seed readily  and come back for free. I will admit it takes time  for the seedlings to get to any reasonable size so the pots initially remained quite empty until the middle of July but then I started planting lettuce seed in them very early in the season, Now I grow lettuce in one of them , harvest lettuce all spring , and just as it is starting to get too warm for the  lettuce, the petunias are of a decent enough size to take over and the lettuce gets ripped out while they carry on until frost.IMG_2382

In the second one I actually get celosia to self seed as well, so i just pop in few seeds of nasturtiums and call it a day. this year the chipmunks planted sunflowers in there and although I do not like the look of it I will let them stay, cut the sunflowers for inside once they are flowering , and then move some of the other plants to fill in the gap. You may notice that the petunia growing in here is one of those “illegal ” orange ones. This is a very long but very interesting story you can read about here if you like in an article titled “How the transgenic petunia carnage of 2017 began”, but suffice it to say that petunias do not contain a gene for expressing the color orange so some wacky engineering was going on for them to exist. I actually bought one plant for  a dollar to tuck in this pot  very late in the season and I was very surprised to see it come back.




variegated nasturtium

variegated nasturtiums


Which brings me to my second way you need to be prepared, and that is learn what seedlings of your favorite annuals look like and be aware when weeding what you are pulling. Lots of annuals leave seeds that will happily overwinter in some years, sometimes they can get annoying  like Morning Glory sprouting all over the place  but many times it is delightful to find free plants to either leave growing  where they sprouted or lift and move elsewhere. This little nasturtium seeded itself here, IMG_2390and every petunia I grow was a self planted seedling.

Any way to save a few dollars helps and makes it so I can splurge on the cool new bulbs I have been eyeing!


IMG_2232 IMG_2228It is not too often that I give a presentation on clematis when the garden is in full swing, but as luck would have it I  am headed out to Rockport to talk to a group there and so I have cut some flowers to bring for show and tell ;) IMG_2204 IMG_2218

If I were to make arrangements with any of these clematis,  I would most definitely cut long stems with multiple blooms  but for this talk single flowers will do.

Here is what I cut today:

Hagley Hybrid

Star River

Dr. Ruppel

Ville de Lyon


Catherine ClanWilliam

Betty Corning


Pink Mink

Recta ‘Serious B;ack’

c. mandshurica

polish Spirit

Elsa Spaeth

Triternata rubimarginata


Purpurea plena elegans

Comtesse de Bouchard

alba luxurians

foliage of Mrs. Robert Brydon

foliage of tanguitica Bill McKenzie

seed head from omishiro

and here are a few I like to for their usefulness  in vases

Let’s start with Star River. ( Zostarri) This clematis was bred by Wim Snoeijer from Holland. It has lovely two toned violet flowers that are actually quite beautiful from both front and behind, is an integrifolia ( herbaceous) hybrid that does not climb so is a set of long and untangled single stems with multiple flowers at the tips, and blooms easily for months.2017-01-30 23.23.28 2017-01-30 23.23.492017-01-30 23.32.23 All of these attributes make it the perfect candidate to cut and arrange with.  I adore this clematis in bud and flower both in a vase  and out in the garden, it’s only drawback is it really looks awful after the flowers start to go past. They fade to a dreadful color and I immediately deadhead them , but that is in a no way meant to dissuade you from planting it as deadheading is actually good for the plant will stimulate new growth and more flowers.

Rocuchi is great in arrangements for all of the above reasons and the buds are really cool too so a definite for textural as well as floral interest.DSC_0079


roguchi bud lower right

roguchi bud lower right

while it is nice to have lots of big colorful flowers, you need also filler and foliage too and clematis mandshirica is a great one for that. It is also an herbaceous form, so again, very easy to cut longer stems which are  act just like baby’s breath filling out  between flowers with a goes-with-everything-white froth.

The foliage of both the tanguita group and the herbaceaous heracliefolias could not be more different but both are wonderful to use when cutiing.

The heracleifolias ( like c. stans,c.  urticifiolia, and the one pictured her Mrs. Robert Brydon, ) grow upright and errect and the foliage  always perfect, never bug eaten or browned in the garden, They are also very large and highly textured, great for flower arranging

Mrs. RBry leaves under the yarrow

Mrs. RBry leaves under the yarrow

The tanguitcas on the other hand are long, ferny and wonderful to drape and let hang, you can see the leaves in the photos above

All of the plants in both these groups are quite large, so you can cut at will and not worry about loosing their presence in the garden.

We are due for another stormy and rainy day, our weather has been perfect for my garden . I am grateful that the sprinkler system is getting a much needed break after the drought last year, although without all the watering I gotta admit I am a little bored.


clematis tour

DSC_0079this is a marvelous time for clematis, when the early guys are still trucking along and the late bloomers are just starting, makes for lots of flowers that’s for sure!

Elsa Spaeth is a favorite, in my top ten , and blooms start early and carry on for weeks. Only a handful of clemmies get planted more than once here and she is definitly one. The HUGE flowers, that deep color, the vigor of  the plant, all combine to make perfection.

elsa spaeth

elsa spaeth

Betty Corning s another on my top 10 list.I here back from people I have taught telling me how happy they are to have planted her. She is a show stopper because of the sheer volume of flowers at any one time, disease free foliage and 18 + weeks of bloom. AmazingDSC_0065 DSC_0125

Another vitacella, venosa violacea is just adorable but may get a new home give she is being swamped by other plants where she is

DSC_0113Odoriba is a cross between our natives crispa and viorna. It has cool wide recurving sepals  Delicate to look at, easy to grow.



Catherine Clanwilliam has sure taken it’s time getting going here but after a few year is showing a little more vigor. It is rosy pink throughout  and will twist the tiniest bit after opening

catherine clanwilliam

catherine clanwilliam

a tanguitica called ‘Bill McKenzie is currently blooming way above my head in a tree. It is extremely early this year. the seed heads on this one are fantastic


bill mckenzie

bill mckenzie

purpurea plena elegans is a very diminutive vitacella  that really needs to be grown on it’s own to appreciate. It lives here in a large container in the pool area.

pupurea plena elegans

pupurea plena elegans

Polish Spirit has the stamina and strength of my people. It blooms so long and so hard and the vines themselves are huge. I grow it here up a covered bench and over a gate into rugosa roses AND over my black fence  It is that wonderful!

polish spirit

polish spirit

DSC_0121 DSC_0082

etoille violet is another on my top ten list, it is a flowering  machine and can take quite a bit of shade. I grow it into a crabapple tree and up lattice on the north side of the houseDSC_0110 DSC_0084

this guy is clematis triternata rubromarginata  although it is far more dark purple than my other vine of this variety which is more on the reddish side and it has  green in the mid section instead of white.The flowers are very recurved and twisted like a mini-pinwheel.  It is very unusual but an up close and personal plant given it’s small and dark flowers which do not stand out from any distance.DSC_0062 DSC_0064

roguchi is a  reliable long bloomer that does not twine or climb. It’s buds are just as interesting as the opened flowers which are a very deep dramatic purple. Here it grows in a small raised bed under a maple next to and into a yellow foliaged arborvitae.



this one was sold to me as Snow Queen but I am sure it is Hagley Hybrid. It never fades to pale , instead remaining clearly pinky mauve with textured mid-ribs and  those dark anthersDSC_0086

speaking of dark anthers, this is Countess of Wessex  sporting some very dark anthers indeedDSC_0091

on the arbor with her is Huldine who has been in recovery mode for the last two seasons after consecutive rabbit attacks. The flowers are a little smaller than usual but much better than last years. Both grow into a very rambunctious rambling rose.DSC_0095

flueri is a very compact vine bred by Raymond Evision with  very deep dark coloring. This clematis is placed all wrong here, growing under a dark ninebark and barley visible to the world. It is on the to do list to move this next to something variegated and light so it can be seen by all.




These buds  and the one backward facing bloom below are from Burning Love (or Vitiwester’) which is a lovely  deep red  and has the added bonus of being crossed with a vitacella parent so it is disease resistant .


burning love

i am Lady Q is ever so dainty and delicate with a crisp white center and purple-pink edges. This weekend the pop up tent we were using for garden check- in on the tour went flying in the wind and took her obelisk down, but she weathered the storm quite well loosing only one of her vines.

I am Lady Q

I am Lady Q

Normally Dr.Rupell is one of my earliest bloomer, this year it is a bit behind but welcome all the sameDSC_0069

Star River has been performing quite nicely for many weeks now. I must say I do not care for the fading flowers on this one so have been regularly deadheading it.

star river

star river

Rosemoor is another dark beauty . Rosemoor used to grow here on a willow tutuer I made but last year I swapped it out for this white one and now she really pops


Comtesse de Bouchard is another on the top ten list, you will never regret growing this a stalwart plant , easy care, generous bloomer, just a delight

comtesse de bouchard

comtesse de bouchard

Last but not least are two herbaceous clematis. Arabella has been going strong for 4 weeks  , I may start a herbaceous top ten list just so I can add this beauty to it.



C. recta is in full bud and ready to become a froth of bloomDSC_0089

and two that are done blooming for now but showing off some funky see heads














This weekend the  Garden in the Burrow was open to visitors on the  City Spaces Country Places garden tour to benefit Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston ,MA. Every time any gardener has visitors who are also gardeners it s always interesting to see which  plants get asked about ,and on consistently   there is one that surprises me every tour ; yellow loosestrife or lysimachia punctata.

DSC_0028 (2)

This plant from the primrose family  has been grown as an ornamental since Victorian times  and is a very long bloomer. Sometimes called whorled loosestrife because of the arrangement of the strikingly bright yellow flowers, it could just as easily be called the whorled thug, .

My original plants were lysimachia punctata‘ Alexander’ which is delightfully variegated and far less agressive than lysimachia vulgaris (which given good moist soil will take over just about any space very quickly.)

.Image result for loosestrife alexander

The spread  of ‘Alexander’ may have been slower, but like many variegated plants they started to revert back to all green ( green=more chlorophyll=stronger growth)  and although I tried to keep pulling the green shoots eventually I lost the battle in all but one small space. No matter though because just a few minutes during growing season pulling the growth where it is not wanted is all it needs to keep it in check. Be warned , any root pieces left in the ground will sprout into new plants so if you are trying to eradicate it permanently you work will be much more difficult and take more than one season.DSC_0037

where I let it remain in it’s all green leaved version is in front of a black wrought iron  fence where it fills out under   my collection of eucomis or pineapple lily  grown in pots and several very vibrant daylily varieties. Yellow loosestrife produces  no nectar but does offer lots of pollen to bees and flies . This loosestrife joins it’s family member , the purple leaved lysimachia ciliata ‘Firecracker’ which I let spread all over the back 40 as it so easy care, rabbit proof and great for foliage in arrangements( and it gets just as much attention when in bloom).

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While i do not recommend adding either of these to small gardens , in mine they serve a purpose and are definitely eye catching. Every tour I get asked numerous times what the plant is , and I always honestly tell people it’s aggressive nature  so they are informed before they plant. I am sure it turns many away , but they can always enjoy it here.


The second most asked about plant is a little more uncommon and completely different in just about every way from the lossestrife. It is a plant that has undergone so many name changes i actually don’t know where it ended up finally but I bought it as Centaurea pulchra major and after a few shifts the Beth Chatto Gardens website lists it now as Rhaponticum centauroidesNo automatic alt text available.

. It is a lovely yet harmless thistle looking plant with gray jagged leaves and the flowers look very artichoke like except they are quite squishy. Every tour when they are in bloom I never fail to see someone standing there curiously squishing them then looking for a label. I know of no  nursery that regularly carries this plant , nor a reliable seed source to offer you. This year for the first time I am going to try to save and germinate some because the three I have are not enough.

“Thistle” is a sort of general garden term referring  plants that have jagged and often prickly leaves with flowers that have share that unique thistle form we are all too familiar with when we weed. I grow globe thistle ( echinops spcs) and sea holly (erygium spcs) and cardoon (cynara cardunculus)   which all have the same sort of leaves and curious thistle- like flowers and I would love to have more “thistles” scattered throughout the garden as a foil to the more typical flower forms. .




globe thistleEchinops in particular is a pollinator magnet and I have seen some cool cirsiums featured in Garden’s Illustrated magazine , my brain is spinning with thistle ideas and I think a new Pinterest board keeping track of them all is in order.

Back to the tour: we had about 175 visitors who all seemed to enjoy the various garden rooms , the unusual garden ornamentation, and of course the pool.

Curious that very rarely grown plants like the climbing asparagus, the climbing aconitum, the many herbaceous clematis, never get any love. It just goes to show you that  if used well any plant can be a show stopper in a garden and common doesn’t have to be boring.

Thanks for all who visited , your support for Tower Hill is appreciated  and I hope you left if a little inspriation to take back to your own gardens.

things look pretty good around here

2017 has been pretty good to the garden so far ( am I jinxing myself?)

a pretty mild winter and late spring meant no late kill of buds on trees and shrubs and we had minimal loss of plants in general, there are even flower buds on ALL the hydrangeas! ( please don’t anyone eat them !)


unlike the past few years we had a wet spring so everything got of to a good start and I actually had time to compost and fertilize like I should instead of battling hoses and watering routines ( I like rain, let it rain, to whom should I direct my rain dances?)

at the start of bunny sex season( does that ever even stop?) when it seems litter after litter of the little buggers appear hellbent on garden mayhem,we had a visiting owl who left their beheaded carcasses all over the walkway Apparently , owls eat the brain and head and leave the body which is frankly disgusting even to this bunny hater but it meant the plants could get growing and bigger plants tolerate their chomping better. ( is there anything worse than rabbits ? , did I just invite it here by claiming victory?)

it is not all fun and games though as gypsy moth caterpillars did quite a bit of damage to the river birches and wisteria  , rose sawfly larvae attacked a rose with vicious determination , and a wet spring always means apple scab and dropped leaves for one of my crabapples that is not resistant to it. ( that seems like such  a short list, have I missed something?)

Blooming right now are 10 different roses with more in bud, within the week a bunch of  new clematis should open, with any luck the peony show will still be going , lots of weigelas are in flower   , we still have lilacs and hellebores whose show started in April , and  salvias, foxgloves, dianthus, gaillardias, sedums, smooth hydrangeas, penstemons, yarrow, lillies, mock orange, columbines, siberian iris, trandescantias, comfrey, spirea, geraniums of all sorts, honeysuckles, wisteria, calycanthus,  are all giving the bees, hummingbirds and other pollinators just what they are looking for.


DSC_0001 DSC_0002 DSC_0005 DSC_0013 DSC_0015 DSC_0020 DSC_0012 DSC_0014Should I be waiting for a powerful storm or hail or onslaught of deer or whatever fresh hell may be  around the bend so I can eat my words . Isn’t that always the way in the garden?

On Sunday June 25th  the garden is part of Tower Hill Botanic Garden’s City Places, Country  Spaces tour from 10-4.  If you are local you can get tickets on their website and come visit .

Seriously?   i am so happy to see  beautiful roses, peonies and clematis all blooming in tandem and right behind them all the summer bloomers gearing up for quite the show. Because it all looks spectacular, I am , of course, very worried.

. One week, one week, one week….that is all I need with no new threats of weather or varmints…one blessed week  is that too much to ask? Until then I shall be knocking on wood, crossing all my fingers and toes, looking for 4 leaf clovers, collecting horseshoes and searching for rainbows,

and weeding , always weeding ;)

ps every day I post to Instagram , you can follow my feed here to get a daily dose of beautiful blooms!

file this under “things that are hard for me”

2016-11-29 23.12.33 2016-12-01 06.39.18 2016-12-01 06.40.02 2016-12-01 06.40.17 2016-12-01 06.41.26 2016-12-01 06.42.23 2016-12-01 06.42.41 2016-12-01 06.47.25 2016-11-16 08.29.58 2016-11-25 02.19.03 2016-11-25 02.18.39 2016-11-25 02.18.25 2016-11-25 02.17.41 2016-11-25 02.17.09 2016-11-25 02.16.55 2016-11-25 02.16.19 2016-11-25 02.13.52 2016-11-25 02.13.37 2016-11-16 08.26.47 2016-11-16 08.26.38 2016-11-16 08.25.30 2016-11-16 08.20.11This spring , something really exciting( for me) is finally happening. I have been working with several other Master Gardeners in the Mass Master Gardeners organization to bring our training class to Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston. It all sounded good when we planned it, the class material, homework , and instructors  and are already established . so I just needed to scheduled the physical classrooms, line up some helpers and we would be off! Well, in reality those few things were the least of my work.  We require lots of apprenticeship hours for our students and those all needed to be planned and staffed, a few instructors needed to be replaced so I had to research interview and hire,  a budget needed to be made and followed, we needed a projector and laptop and books and name badges and dry erase markers etc., the schedule and paperwork needed to written and loaded on to flash drives,  and on and on and on. None of these things ( except the shopping) are my forte, I hate to type and hate even more document formatting, I am not great on the phone , and generally write my emails in a very informal style often eschewing capitals and correct punctuation. Contracts necessitate an attention to detail I lack.  Needless to say the amount of hours that I have put into this is astounding, and has been the focus of my time.  It has taken over  the free time I have for garden visits and photo taking and writing here.

But, we have made it through the initial set up and first few weeks and things are starting to get a little easier. We are making list after list of things we will change and do differently to streamline  and make it a better experience for all. I see a light at the end of the tunnel and am back to spending more and more time in my own garden and my work researching , writing and planning new presentations ( including a day long lecture on perennial growing for the class)   and  speaking to loads of garden clubs and other groups which is my favorite kind of work.

One of the best things that  happened  in the midst of all this, is that the weather was simply fantastic in early April and since we host Easter dinner at our house every year including an egg hunt and King Egg contest outside, I felt a great sense of urgency  to get the garden up and running so by the early part of spring the pool was opened and all the furniture out and the garden cleared and ready for it’s spotlight. Physical labor felt oh so much better than sitting at my desk typing and answering emails  so a few long days of cutting, chipping, raking and burning   were actually a joy.  Now, we have been having cooler and wetter weather so all the transplanted perennials are happy and I can just stare out at all the spring bulbs , trees and shrubs that are going gangbusters and not feel the need to grab the rake or hose.


Speaking of the weather,  the odd  weather made my usually pitiful spring garden look lavish as the few spring plantings all erupted at once making for a spectacular display, since I have been on hiatus posting this was zero fun as I could not get the photos to load properly ( that is why they are at the beginning) , words were suddenly changing to italics and I gave up trying to fix it all. Going back to the garden to bend things to my will:)


hey February…I ain’t playing

Dear February,

You got it all wrong. All 28 (or29) days of you I have a plan, and it doesn’t involve the garden.

I call BS on the daffoldils sproutingDSC_0003

the lilac buds showing greenDSC_0010

the honeysuckle leafing out.DSC_0012

I am furious at fully open pussy willowsDSC_0004 DSC_0007

and almost missed the witch hazel bloom DSC_0019

and seriously never care that I don’t see the snowdrops because where they are planted they are covered with snow usually until MayDSC_0027

February, you need to embrace who you really are……snow, cold , and most importantly down time for those of us who garden intensely for so many of the other months of the year. I have things to knit, a stack of books to read, classes to plan and seeds yet to order. Heavy sweaters, hot cocoa, shoveling and dormancy. That is what I expect from you..Get it together,

I don’t need to be obsessed with all the snow and ice damage and certainly am not ready to face the fact that ALL the  young fruit trees were girdled by rabbits despite their tree guards. DSC_0007 (2)

You need to give me back my snow cover and my peace of mind that all is well out there at least for a little while longer.

Maybe March will give us what you so clearly could not be bothered to provide, I am Ok with that, I will will tell it how appreciative I am for stepping up to the plate.

February, I am very dissappointed in you, although I do love what you have done with the heatherDSC_0021

seasonal arranging

December is usually a pretty light work month for me  which is nice because I get to focus on other things. This past weekend I had got to cross an item off my bucket list when my sister, nieces, daughters and I hit NYC to see the  Radio City Music Hall’s Christmas Show with the Rockettes  and we had a fantastic time.  We have also already decorated the house and tree and made our annual visit to Symphony Hall to see the Boston Pops, so I am well into the holiday spirit.

Tonight I will be speaking at the Bet Shalom Garden Club in Needham  about seasonal arranging, so it was time to get back to the life without sparkly dancers in long kick lines and peppy christmas music.

This time of year is probably the toughest time for seasonal arranging. It has been c-c-c-cold ( a few nights in the teens and single digits) and  three snow events  , with the most recent one giving us about 4 inches. Add to that  the stuff I force and grow inside is not yet ready and I find myself  hunting for the elusive spark of inspriation that will start the process of creativity.

I put on my boots and headed out to the garden, and immediately was reminded that nature does all the work for me and there was loads of beauty to work with. I cut

stems of red and yellow dogwood

these beautiful stems of Flamingo willow IMG_20161212_144416193

chamaecyparis and euonymous’ gold splash’IMG_20161212_144352163

branches of Harry Lauders Walking Stick (complete with mysterious animal hairs I really don’t want to think about)1481639281889-1924477952

the last few flowers on the daucus carrota ‘Dara’ from the pot I had thrown in the garage in November and some foliage from a “not dead yet” scented geraniumIMG_20161212_121656992

cardoon and santolinaIMG_20161212_121632586_HDR

blue spruceDSC_0006


stems of ilex vercilata ‘Wintergold’IMG_20161212_121716424

pinecones from  mugo pine

and some branches of a Korean boxwood called ‘Green Velvet’ that curiously get these lovely yellow edges,randomly as far as I can tell. No one seems to be able to define why . It is not all of the leaves on any plant, nor for that matter every plant, nor does it seem to have to do with stage of growth or temperature . Must be garden fairies at work I guess.IMG_20161212_144554647

Once inside I still felt I lacked a direction so I headed back out and stumbled upon a rose called ‘Carefree Spirit’ ( you may have heard me mention in one of my talks) that was sporting this amazing redish foliage , glossy and perfect despite the cold. Violia! IMG_20161212_144325110

DSC_0016Back inside I hit the office where overwintering plants live and cut a few stems of coleus and a few leaves from the Red Shield Hibiscus

IMG_20161212_144335859_HDRonce I had all the foliage ready , I headed out to the market and spent $4.99 0n a bunch of white alstromeria , and put it all together. I ended up keeping the winterberry out as I like the reds and golds alone IMG_20161212_164718272_HDRDSC_0038DSC_0032DSC_0037DSC_0025now I have the rest of the day until I leave for Needham to wrap presents while singing Christmas carols with my new friend Winston. He loves Christmas music! One more reason I believe I was meant to be his bestie !

the best fall garden ever…..inspiration

Now that we are well and truly in the thick of autumn, vibrant foliage, and cushion mums  abound….it is time to look at what others are doing to make their fall gardens so spectacular.

The interwebular connection gives you acces to all sorts of eye candy to help you figure out what to grow and how to grow it . Here are a few of my favorites.

Chanticleer: Although these two books about Chanticleer and their visionary garden designers should most definitely be on your shelf and be welll dog eared ,

the staff there also has  well managed social media including an instagram for the garden itself as well as a few from individual designers

chanticleer Instagram

Chris Fehlhaber

Austin Rae Elscheld

The fall garden there is nothing short of amazing and the accompanying accurate plant ID from knowledgeable plantspeople is a valuable thing indeed.

Others I follow that you are sure to love are Joseph Valentine ( of Juniper Hill Farm in NH), Kelly Norris, Page Dickey, Northwind Perennial Farm,  and really I could go on and on, but get on Instagram, follow the few I have listed here and then click through to their profile to see who THEY follow and then follow those people too. Then your daily scrolll through instagram will be filled with incredible inspiration to draw from,

Kathy Purdy of Cold Climate Gardening has a penchant for one particular fall interest plant, colchicums. You can check out her blog for loads of info on this underused  plant.

Another blog, May Dreams Gardens, hosts a monthly Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. if you read the post Carol puts up ,at the end of it will be links to MANY other bloggers who write a dedicated post on the 15th of each month detailing what is blooming in their gardens. A quick click on each link will tell you who is gardening  in a climate like yours and  you can make note of what you like.

Of course anything written by garden deity Piet Oudolf  will give you more information than you could ever use in designing a home garden.  He aslo has great social media presence and should be followed on any format he posts.

If you are itching to get out and about visit Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston Ma to see loads of well designed spaces and useful plants for multi season interest. Their Carey Award winners are all wood plants for our area that win that merit award based on just that.

Wave Hill, New York Botanial Garden, Coastal Maine Botanical  Garden, all worthy day or weekend trips this time of year , with notebook and camera in hand.

Note New York and Coastal Miane are BOTANICAL gardens while Tower Hill is just BOTANIC . This means nothing to our purpose, but I just find it confusing and kind of funny and wanted to point it out ;)

and of course, you always have me! You can search here for lots of photos and lists of what I grow for September through December interest, and if I ever forget to label just ask!!!!



the last pear

the last pear

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'Samba" mum

‘Samba” mum


sheffield mum

sheffield mum

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the here and now

Late  September though October is probably my favorite time in the garden.

sure, I love the peonies and their brief yet bombacious bloom time is the stuff of my winter dreams.

and the first flush of roses…..just as dreamy  , and even better when they explode along with the bulk of the early clematis

But it is at this time of year, when things are winding down, that I find it so much easier to walk about in the gardens and just enjoy. I know I have at least until the end of  November to clean up the garden for winter , and other than bulbs there is usually very little planting to be done. If something looks ratty it is A-Ok to just cut it back or rip it out as the time for tours is over and no one will see the hole except me.

( just a pause here to wonder why we stop garden touring when many gardens still look so fantastic )

With  fewer plants left that have yet to flower, it is a treat to see buds and anticipate things yet to come.


Now is not the time  fret over slugs or fungus, now is not the time to plan , now is the time to just look and appreciate a season well grown.

coral amaranth

coral amaranth




lablab purpurea or hyacinth bean vinelablab purpurea or hyacinth bean vine


sedum and artemesia

sedum and artemesia


castor bean ( carmencita)

castor bean ( carmencita)


eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate'

eupatorium rugosum ‘Chocolate’


Coral Daisy mum

Coral Daisy mum


 allium senescens var glaucum

allium senescens var glaucum


dreadlocks amaranth

dreadlocks amaranth


a self seeded portulaca

a self seeded portulaca



Nora Leigh phlox

Nora Leigh phlox



clematis terniflora

clematis terniflora


sedum and turtlehead

sedum and turtlehead



a seedling hydrangea paniculata

a seedling hydrangea paniculata


viburnum plicatum f.tomentosum "summer snowflake'

viburnum plicatum f.tomentosum “summer snowflake’



heritage raspberries

heritage raspberries


heptacodium miconioides

heptacodium miconioides


salvia ' greggii'cold hardy pink'

salvia ‘ greggii’cold hardy pink’



daucus carrota and coral amaranth

daucus carrota and coral amaranth






magnolia virginiana seedheads

magnolia virginiana seedheads


dahlia 'Gingersnaap' and mina lobata

dahlia ‘Gingersnaap’ and mina lobata


platycodon gradiflora

platycodon gradiflora


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