Category Archives: corgis

about me

I was gently reminded the other day that maybe my ” About Me ” page here on the blog needed updating so this morning I set to the task. It was quick really, a few minor changes, but it got me thinking about the whole idea of the page itself as well as the biography I am so often asked for. I find these things difficult to write. Impossible , really. I don’t know what to tell, what to keep to myself.

I refuse to re-write the bio today, it is just to hard. But I will add some fun facts  here just because I can. So what do you want to know?  It doesn’t matter..instead, here is what I am going to tell you ;)


I have cold feet. Always. Don’t know why, and despite this fact I am most always barefoot ( indoors and out) , hate socks and wear shoes only because it is the social norm. I take them off the second I can. My feet are cold with or without them.

I am allergic to the sting of certain bees and wasps, as in deathly so. I don’t know which ones until I get stung which makes my chosen work and hobby a challenge.

I have an irrational fear of snakes, compounding the challenge of life in the garden. Seriously, some days this fear keeps me inside. I have been forcing myself to look at pictures of them all winter. I actually let a few National Geographic photographers grace my Instgram feed ( WHY do they like snakes so much?)  so every day I have to look at a few and not scream . I know they are photos and not the real thing, but trust me, it is a start toward acceptance .Overcoming this , if it ever happens , will take many baby steps over a long period of time. Never ever try to help me by bringing me one to touch, hold or be within 10 feet of, I am not there yet and  you will set me back in my quest for peaceable co-existence with these vicious despicable creatures. Then we can’t be friends anymore.


A corgi dog will always be near me. When we loose a pet the pain can be unbearable. I used to say I would never ever put myself through that again, but truthfully , when they cross the rainbow bridge to doggie heaven they leave a huge dog -shaped hole in your heart that can only be filled by another of their kind. They drive me absolutely bonkers some days ( corgis are followers and need to be where you are at ALL times) and they can be expensive, but I can not be without one …or two….I haven’t tried three at a time yet , but it could happen.DSC_0021

I have very definitive garden likes and dislikes. You can mostly tell my likes by the blog and what I write about, what I speak about, and photograph.

There are certain plants I do not “get”, like Japanese Maples, tropical looking foliage plants ( like rogersia, gunnera, , palms ,etc) and 98% of  the alpine plants meant for the rock garden. Others seem to enjoy them , and that is fine. I always appreciate a well done garden  and do not object to them in those spaces, but  you will never see them here.

Another garden design feature that will never grace The Burrow is an artificial  pond. If Mother Nature floods the place, I will deal with it, but  until then, no pond.

As much as I like  the idea behind Piet Oudolf’s natural prairie style , it is not for me. I like bigger flowers, fewer grasses, and a more defined garden area with nicely shaped shrubbery and a few  formal elements to spruce the  place up. Like Vita Sackville-West and  her famous garden Sissinghurst …blowsy yet contained. If my yard ever looks like a prairie, worry about me. I have gone missing or hurt and no one is keeping up with the weeding.

favorite flowers: Clematis, roses , dahlias, mums, lily of the valley,lilacs  and peonies

favorite woody plants: viburnums, hydrangea, honeysuckles , and willows of all kindsDSC_0001

favorite tree: any birch

favorite garden writer : It is a toss up between Henry Mitchell and Christopher Lloyd

New plant obsession: Mosses , liverworts ,and lichens…..really …really obsessed.

Also, someone asked me the other day if I recycled pictures, in other words did I post things here or on any of my social media from the garden past. The simple answer is no, or rarely. If you see a photo here on FaceBook or Instagram they almost always were taken that very day and unless I say otherwise they were taken here. I am pretty proud of what I have accomplished on my little acre and love to share it, and I have an ego the size of Montana . What you see is my work and current .





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more firsts for the garden, both good and bad

If you have been hearing a loud “WHOOT WHOOT!”  in the atmosphere lately it is probably me because I HAVE POPPIES!!! ( or shoud l I say “poppy”)

After the lupines I figured it was just too much to ask the gardening gods to let me have a poppy or two, so even though I scattered seed AND started a flat that I planted out in spring I held out no hope to see any of them make it to blooming stage. One year they actually got big enough to tease me with all their  dangly fuzzy buds, but just like every other time those were quickly eaten off by the rabbits . DSC_0020With plants that cost $$$ I am always willing to go the extra mile to protect them if necessary, but with anything from seed I sow and pray and hope maybe one day to have success.

Well, that day is now, and I refuse to complain that only one single solitary plant made it because one is enough to see plenty of flowers and to also ensure i have some seed for next year.DSC_0021poppy

The poppy that made it is unfortunately of unknown name. Erin and I went on a garden tour in Maine last year for the Garden Conservancy fundraiser and at one of the sign in tables the owners were handing out poppy seed heads. We managed to spill many all over the car  on our way home  and then again I spilled them all over the couch when I was seed organizing, but thankfully there are a million in each pod so I still had plenty to sow.  They are just delightful and I am beyond thrilled to have them whoever they are.

Another first is a day lily cross  that I had absolutely  nothing to do with. It is dreadfully ugly.  I guess I have reached the magic number of gardening years after which things start willy nilly procreating without my attention. Good for lily cross

The next first , and one that is just plain gross, is the first ever sighting here of a mole.

Last week Wil called out to me from the garage in that very special tone he uses that lets me know something is wrong/scary/broken or hurt and when I came to rescue him from the big bad whatever, he informed me that a large rodent had made it’s way into the garage and I needed to locate and evict it. From his description I was expecting  a capyberra or another R.O.U.S  , but alas I could not find it and then sort of forgot about it…….that is until I went out near the pool two days ago and saw what  had once been a mole floating dead in the water. It was pretty small for what I was expecting , but really, those things are disgusting. The next day another had joined it’s sibling in the great  mole hill beyond the sky, and it was then that it dawned on me that what Wil saw in the garage was probably the mama.  I inquired about the R.O.U.S. and was told that yes, it may have been smaller than described, and yes it was moving slowly  ( it appears the size and scary frantic activity related to me originally  may have been embellished).

Mama mole  is clearly not doing a good job in the mothering department. A suburban garage is not good mole raising habitat and especially not when it is adjacent to a very large chlorinated body of water. I have been searching around for tunnels  but so far nada.

We also have our first capture of the green tree frog,  a pond dweller, yet happily hanging here in the hydrangea,DSC_0001

It is curious to me when a new critter arrives and I can’t help but wonder how in heaven’s name they found their way here. We have had those yucky  yellow spotted salamanders even though they would most certainly dehydrate before they got to the nearest vernal pond . We have had foxes, of course rabbits, evil reptiles that shall remain unnamed, and every bug and bird known to exist in MA. We now have a pair of hawks that circle overhead hunting  which is a little disconcerting for corgi dog owners…word to the hawks, I keep them well fed  and thus they are too fat for you to fly off with…take note. I am patiently waiting for a bear and of all the things that have shown up here for a snack I am bewildered by the fact that a bear is not among them.Although my development  abuts state forest and conservation land on all sides and there are year round bird feeders everywhere, the only bears seen  in town are in the more populated areas that have smaller  woods close by. Curious.

As for the rest of the visitors, I wonder who is sending out the message that this former desolate sand pit is now a dream vacation land with a 24 hour buffet? Really, it needs to stop.

What follows are just some random photos of the garden taken in the past few days, a little eye candy if you will. Enjoy your week!DSC_0027 DSC_0025 DSC_0023 DSC_0019 DSC_0017 DSC_0012 DSC_0016 DSC_0004 DSC_0002 DSC_0033 DSC_0032 DSC_0028 DSC_0024 DSC_0022 DSC_0021 DSC_0019 DSC_0012 DSC_0010 DSC_0007 DSC_0007 (2) DSC_0006 sweet pea Salmon Rose

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Fairy Garden

Yesterday I gave a talk, and at the end of it showed off  pictures of  the fairy houses Faith and I have made.  When you think about it, humans have an odd attraction to things in miniature (babies, puppies, shots..well maybe I shouldn’t count miniature alcoholic beverages..but given the fact that I could use one after my 5 hour drive yesterday through biblical rain and flooding,closed roads and a punctured tire , I will include them anyway)… but I digress..

Little tiny mini houses and their coresponding gardens and decorations are just a smile waiting to happen upon those who find them.

Here in the burrow, we have many fairy houses hidden  under bushes and plants in the dogs garden. There are little colonials , a treehouse, and a few farmhouses. Miniature thrift is used for hedging around a number of them and dwarf conifers adorn their little yards. Fences, arbors and walkways help define their “lots”, and each yard has an assortment of garden tools, birdbaths, and benches.

In late fall they are all collected up and placed inside in the cellar to minimze the destruction, but also because in the spring time we like to re-locate them to a new area -where they remain hidden unless looked for.

Fairy House purists(if you will) will tell you that the house should be assembled using only twigs, shells, and bark etc. But here they are made of pine boards, or other similar construction because a fairy house made of bark will be carried off by the local wildlife (dogs included) in an instant. As it is every spring the house are stripped of all their twigs and moss roofs by the birds building their nests and every pinecone, acorn or other natural ornament will be promptly stolen by chipmunks and other critters. First to dissappear  are always the twig chairs, followed by the gazing balls made using marbles, then the treehouse ladder. Some happy mouse family must have some rockin digs furnished with it all.

Before all the houses get put away, some are assembled in to containers for fall decorating. This one is bejeweled with winterberry berries and even has it’s own corgi dog.

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July In Pictures

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For Winter Interest -Look up!

Winter Interets is supposed to be, especially  here in New England, the myriad of  objects d’art and well thought out plant choices we use in the garden to make our winter garden just as stunning to look at as the garden in summer.  But THIS winter, honestly… why did we bother?  ! WHO COULD POSSIBLY SEE IT??  You know I am a snow lover, but with the constant storms and low temps the snow pack has risen to unbelievable heights and the garden is all but lost under it.

I went out to take some pictures this morning because new snow had fallen during the night and before the sun comes out and melts it off the branches the world to me looks so calm,and so beautiful. The blanket of snow conjures up images of snow days off from school, sledding and hot cocoa, yet lest you think I have fallen off my rocker and cracked my head, I know when I fully wake up have coffe and the morning begins it will conjure up images of shoveling, crappy driving conditions and more roof raking.

As I was taking the photos it occured to me that what was in the lens was the tops of things. After 50 or more inches of unmelted snow cover in the past few weeks, here in my garden you can enjoy the lovely tips of the 2   chamaecyparis obtusa ‘nana lutea’ s  I planted so I could see their stunning yellow and green needles against the snow, and you can’t even see their cousin , the glowing golden chamaecyparis psifera’gold mop’ at all.

 Buried also are the hollies and winterberries whose bright berries should pop out against the white blanket that surrounds them, and also provide me with some bird watching too. Really you can’t see even one obelisk,  colored twig, or interesting branch structure, unless it was already more than 5 feet off the ground. So now I wonder,  how much more will I miss?  The stupid forsythia, plum  and other branches I could bring in to force into bloom are in the way back of the yard and I would need snowshoes to go cut any. I haven’t even seen the rock  garden since December. The early blooming clematis vines (c.alpina and c. macropetala) may still be  buried under when their time comes to bloom. The last time we had this much snow , we had to shovel it out of the pool area (where the fence insulates it) In MAY!

Although she is not technically “winter interest” , Pumpkin is providing us with quite  a bit of frolicking fun. The dogs , because of their little legs,  have many paths (gruelingly shoveled out day after day by Erin and I- our side yard looks like a habitrail) but she is adventurous and loves to walk up and over the crusted snow pack. The snow level is even with the new fence, so she could  walk right on outa here, but inevitably her rear end will sink down into the snow as she makes her way and she is scared into turning back. She is also drawn to those irresistable  bobbing tips of all my shrubs poking out of the snow cover.  See her there…behind her is the wire that tops the fence and in front is the top of  hydrangea paniculata ‘limelight’ ( a very large shrub by the way) and a bit of the weeping birch.

So, anyway,….. I did what any desperate person does, and took pictures of the top of things. The crabapples (malus ‘robinson”)  add some nice color,  what you can see of the weeping birch looks cool as well as the Harry lauders walking stick in all it’s contorted glory. The tops of a trellis covered in snow  , the tree tops that look like shrubbery, the few pieces of garden art that are placed up high, are all the winter interest we can see. …….but they are no less beautiful for their scarcity….now where’s that coffee…time for my reality check

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Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

 Merry Christmas to you and the Mrs. I wish I could say that I have been very good this year, but that would be untruthful . Anyway ,I have figured out that some years when I am very bad you are actually much nicer to me, so without worry  here is my wish list for the garden in 2011.

1.) Snow, snow and more snow. Aside from the prettiness factor, a good 2-3 foot layer of snow is the perfect insulation for the plants here in the fabled “hills of Worcester” It also covers up all the crappy chores I never got around to in 2010 and makes me forget for a while all the work that awaits me in spring.

2.) Moderation. A small favor whose impact is immeasurable. No overly rainy springs causing plants to rot at the crown and fungal diseases to abound. No letting Mr. Heat Miser fry us with temperatures from hell and droughts that drive my water bill into quadruple digits. While you are at it, tell the north wind to take it easy on my arborvitae and rhodies, they do not enjoy his dessicaating  breath. In addition, no more “Ice Storms of the Century” either.  Really, all I want is just average, normal temperatures and precipitation please. Again, small favor, big impact.

3.) I asked you for a tree under the tree, a meyer lemon, but your elf in the nursery saw fit to ship it unprotected in an unmarked cardboard box during a spell of artic temperatures. The UPS man left it on the porch and it is dead, dead, dead. I am pretty pissed about it so a replacement would go a long way toward getting back in my good graces.

4.) I could also use the gift of time in the spring to re-landscape around the fence. And if  you could, a little backbone to say “no” to garden tour requests or overly large summer parties that force me to frantically and constantly prune, deadhead and otherwise spruce up the garden. Let’s let 2011 be a year of the “natural “  (read:untidy, overgrown, and messy) look I so prefer.

That’s all, really a very manageable list. I know I can count on you to come through for me.

Happy Holidays! Hugs and Love, Cheryl

                                                                                                                                                                                       photo:                       David, Pumpkin, CJ

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Erin, Tigger, Faith

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A new Welsh Corgi takes to the garden


Boy things have been busy around here. After the passing of Baby Dear, our 11 year old corgi, I had started an e-mail hunt to get on “the list” of a breeder for a spring litter and puppy. I just happened on one breeder website that had 5 new pups that were unspoken for,( for the unitiated in corgi purchasing, this is unheard of) .So, Bill and I took a drive to NH just to see them (yeah,right!) andended up putting  a deposit on a little female pup.

AFTER the deposit was made, (but before the puppy came home) Tigger, our 3 year old male corgi, suffered a complete mental breakdown. The loss of his leader and friend sent him into a tailspin of cosmic proportions. He developed severe fear-agression toward other dogs, fear of the rope that he gets tied on in the yard closest to the road, fear of life in general. So now in addition to puppy training I am in dog training with him trying to gain control of his behavior and move forward. Yee-ikes. This is leaving me no time to garden whatsoever.

On the plus side, the puppy , her name is Pumpkin, adores the garden. She loves the ground cover plants  to hop all over, is thrilled by the arching dangling flowers of the guara, checks out the cool nooks under every shrub, and to my great dismay, puts every plant in her mouth. Neither of the other dogs have ever done this, so now I must brush up on the poisionous no-no’s and really work with her to learn to not taste everything in her path.

Another positive of the mayhem that is my world right now, is that my time spent outside is just viewing and taking in the beauty of the fall garden. Anemones are blooming, as is the black eyed susan vine. The Huchera and Hucherella plants show their vibrant foliage colors when the weather starts to cool and they are truly stunning. Sweet Autumn Clematis evelops the porch in its lovely scent and spray of white flowers,and the pink garden is alive with vibrant dhalias, the knockout roses , and snapdragons. I can finally just enjoy all the work of spring and summer, although not guilt free, at least knowing I have a more important job at this immediate time. All the work of re-edging, moving shrubs, cutting down perrenials will either wait or get skipped altogether.

Another positive side of  current events is that we are finally getting a fence around the side garden which I think will add lots of character, and new places to plant vines, and a whole new shrub bed near the road. Hmmmmmm……what shall I plant? Criteria to be met….1.)fall color….2.)winter interest  (structure,berries,etc)….3.)cheap ;)     ……any suggestions?

sweet atuumn clematis

huchera 'stoplight'

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Baby Dear

On Saturday I was grumpy with Bill. Our weekend was not turning out as planned and as usual in feelings of stress and tension it feels good to hit the dirt to work them out. Out in the farthest reaches of the back 40 there was an area in front of two white pines we used to use as a brush pile. The brush has long been cleared but the ground was still a mess with two hilly areas where grass was growing again and unlevel spaces where weeds were taking over. It has been on my project list since spring. Early in May I had transplanted some forsythia shoots at the edge and now I attacked the grass, weeds and leftover twigs and branches and then in a fit of fury leveled the ground and covered it with pine needles and grass cliipings mixed as a mulch. Now instead of an eyesore I had to pass every time I went out back, it was a nice little grove of sorts that once the forsythia grows in will be lovely.

Then came Sunday and Baby Dear , our 11 year old corgi,was acting out of sorts, very quiet and subdued. At 8 o’clock Erin realized she hadn’t come in from outside yet so she went to get her and she would not climb the porch stairs. Erin carried her in and the girls laid with her on the floor while we had a family movie night. Then Erin carried her to where she likes to sleep and Faith and I gave her a pill that is like doggie advil. Baby Dear has had problems with her back before and has lately been having some other issues as well so I went to bed envisioning a day of vet visits and horrible conversations involving what we could and could not do for her. I awoke Monday to Bill standing over me telling me she had died during the night. That would so suit her personality, always thinking of us, and leaving in the most quiet and unobtrusive fashion. She brought such joy to this household, and they say you no matter how many pets you have there is always one who is your “soul-mate” pet, and she was mine. The hole in my heart is gaping and painful.

We gathered the kids together and got her  wrapped up and they brought out her bowls (she LOVED her food!) and her favorite toys, and we gave her a resting place under the two pines in the little grove I had cleared on Saturday.

That is some kind of gardening providence, how much easier that horrible situation was made by having the perfect place for her, near us in the garden, yet somewhere that will remain undisturbed and be shaded and restful.

We could never have given back to her what she gave to us, the love , the happiness, the comfort. She was a princess of dogs, and truly my Baby Dear. I will miss her in a way words can not describe.

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