Category Archives: Wil

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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Burn Day…in which Wil makes the rare appearance in the garden and on the blog

DSC_0099Every year sometime in April we  have a day long brush burning here in The Burrow. Burn Day is one of the rare days that Wil  is actually a worker bee in the garden, but let’s be clear, that only ever  happens when there is the chance to use power tools ( like leaf blowers, chippers, and chainsaws) ….and  that most primitive and powerful of all man’s tools…fire.  Although I do not enjoy any activity that involves a gas powered anything in my hands or even worse, strapped on my back, I do love Burn Day. There is something about fire  that makes me feel like master of my universe ,even if I am only  conquering the brush pile .

For a week before Burn Day  I have to work like a crazy person to get everything pruned and all the branches and logs in one location ready to be further cut down and thrown on the flames

What goes on the pile?

All the water sprouts and suckers from the apple trees ( those willowy branches growing straight up into the air )

One third of the oldest branches from the colored dogwood bushes. The  bark  from these starts to gray with age and pruning them severely will stimulate new growth with brilliant colorDSC_0100

The top 2/3 of the 4  ’Limelight’ Hydrangeas( hydrangea paniculata )…they get enormous and only flower on new wood so get cut back hard

Any large shrub I am coppicing ( wiki definition here). In The Burrow I coppice smoke trees, willows, and any die-back shrubs like buddleia, caryopteris, and elderberry

Loads of branches that get cut  because of  winter damage and loads more that have had the bark stripped by the  voles and rabbits who hide under the snow and thwart all my efforts to erradicate them. The voles also happily live under trees in the ground munching their roots for sustenance and usually killing their host . This year I lost an 8 foot hemlock and a crab apple.DSC_0103

I also try to get any other pruning for size constraints or shaping done now , but inevitably miss something, so whatever got cut after Burn Day last year goes on the pile as well.

After wicked winters the pile is quite large, and this year was no exception.DSC_0083

To add to the fun of the fire, Wil got to use the chain saw to cut apart two very large willow trunks we took out last fall, the big leaf blower to clean up the mess he made doing that, and the little leaf blower  as a bellows to get keep the fire raging. DSC_0096 As if that was not more than enough in the tool-o- fun department, I  bought this beauty  at the Boston Flower Show in March. It is a Telescoping Ratchet  Lopper form Ironwood Tools.DSC_0089

While walking around to see the vendors  on my  break from the Q&A booth, I happened to overhear the young kid who was selling these giving his pitch to someone .I have a ratcheting hand pruner that I adore as the ratcheting mechanism saves lots of wear and tear on the hands and was instantly sold . This larger version is a dream and it cut through all  the  branches( even those  with very large circumferences) quite easily.

Wil was initially a disbeliever in my new pruner, but  was soon pleasantly surprised  by how effortless it made the work. He also wanted me to know  that it looks like it is making a face at us, frowning or maybe grimacing .  The effect  is ever better if you use the handles to repeatedly open and close it’s scowl while making scary noises like any eight year old boy ( in a 50+ year old body) would . Hmmmm….I should have videod that!  DSC_0091

For safety , we use a hobo barrel ( an oil drum with venting holes drilled  into it)  made by my brother and what may be the best  gift I have ever received.  All the brush needs to be cut to fit into it , and so there we stand by the pile  all day long cutting and stoking and getting smoke in our eyes .On the surface it may not seem like a great way to spend a spring day, but  starting with a massive pile of  brush and watching while it all disappears down to ash and embers…. that, my friends ,is a  rockin’ good time.DSC_0094

oh yeah, and I must admit that  spending the day in the garden with Wil at my side is pretty cool too.

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A New Favorite Rose

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

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It’s coming…

Picture1This weekend on Saturday night at  precisely 2:00 am begins our Daylight Saving Time, initially proposed as  a way to save electricity used by incandescent lighting (it did not) , it’s new purpose is to provide us more daylight in the evening after we presumably get out of work and are looking to frolic outdoors.  Although it means an hour of lost sleep to us in Spring (I don’t know about you but every few years I miss something because I forgot about the time change) , it is a lift to the spirit to have it light out at 6:00 pm and does help me get over  my tendency to hibernate in the cold dark months of winter. Love it or hate it, it is also the signal to get going  on plans for the garden, and that is exactly what I have been up to.

I am planning a complete overhaul of the side yard including the addition of three white pyramid tutuers I ordered from White Flower Farm,tutr planted with several new clematis hybrids and climbing roses. Pouring over rose catalogues and the clematis offerings of my favorite online nursery sources was one of the joys of winter and I have settled on two clematis ‘I am lady J’ ( in honor of my gram who was Jane)SONY DSCand ‘Wildfire’5CLEWILD and two roses, ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ and climbing’Iceberg’.  there will also be a hydrangea tree h.paniculata  ’Quickfire’  I am transplanting  from elsewhere in the garden, some little bluestem grasses  along with  the 5 different spirea cultivars that are currently in the area that will be rearranged . The planning has been a wonderful respite from the gloom of February, but now I am sort of dreading the execution which will involve bringing in new soil , lots of digging  and I am sure a few frustrating moments when the garden fails to meet the glorified pink purple and white plan in my head.

I have also been ordering  a number of plants I saw on garden tours over the summer that I fell in love with including hydrangea serrataPreziosa’  and a knautia called’ Thunder and Lightening’ . I will stop the list there lest Wil actually reads the post through , does the math , and cancels the credit card I use for online ordering. Shhh. I am trusting you not to tell.010

As always I am following my own advice and have stocked up on seeds of interesting annual vines for late season display ( morning glories, moonflower, cup and saucer vine, sweet peas, cypress vines, asarina species, nasturtiums and thunbergia alata …. I adore this one and I have many packets of seeds I saved from last year’s hyacinth bean vines, bottle gourds, pretzel beans etc. You should get on this same task  if you haven’t already. Make sure you add sweet pea lathyrus odoratus’Cupani’ to your orders/plans , it is a strong bloomer, divine  in color and scent, and heat tolerant. Happy Shopping!!!
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Fall Clean-up Stinks

003As I may have mentioned 50 times or so lately, I have  been very busy for  the last few weeks  and the garden  has not gotten much attention. Other than the most brief foray to pick the last of the raspberries for breakfast or cut a few stems for a quick arrangement I have not ventured out there at all. That is all about to change as fall clean-up is looming large over my head.

Every time I look out there and wonder when the crew will arrive to cut back, dig up, prune, rake leaves  and spread lime and /or compost , I get that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach because ,honestly, that crew is me. Usually I am not bothered by the workload at all. I leave lots of things standing for the birds to have cover and seeds and to provide winter interest so the perennial bed work is minimal. I don’t bring in all the garden ornaments, just what will break during freeze thaw cycles or things made of wood that will rot if left out in all the snow. I don’t do the heavy pruning until the dead of late winter …in my high boots and mittens, wading through feet of snow. But the fact of the matter is that even though the chores are minimal, the time I have to devote to them is nonexistent. Between lectures and workshops, college visits with my older daughter, an out of town wedding, and various other commitments I am wondering how I can possibly get it done.

Today I started a triage style list starting with the  things that absolutely positively have to get done or that should have been done already.

Bulbs that remain unplanted, expensive pottery that has to get stored before it cracks from the weather, a few plants that need  to go in the ground or just went in the ground and need water as there has been zero rainfall for what seems like ever, you get the idea.

Then I moved onto things that should get done, but if they don’t, all will be okay…like raking leaves , spreading compost, and cutting back the daylily beds.

Just when I was starting to feel like I was getting a handle on the situation and heading out to start the first few items, Wil announced that he had made an appointment to have the septic system pumped ( an utterly disgusting ,but given the fact that 4 loads of laundry and 7 showers running a day here are the norm, necessary chore) and we had to get the cover dug out today between our weekly football watching date and going to the market ( made necessary by the same people who brought us the showers and laundry).

Of course you know where this is going if you have a septic system… no one ever remembers where the cover is. Oh, we have a general idea, but as for specifically digging a small hole just to excavate said cover in the few minutes available to us today, not a chance in hell.

What ended up happening is just like every other story of my life, painfully comical. Wil started to dig in the garden bed we were sure it was buried in, but he has an injured hand , so who do you think had to assume shovel duty? ( me). We  enlisted the help of the oldest shower hogging laundry producing food guzzler ,CJ,  to dig hoping we could get it done faster. CJ and I  unearthed the entire top of the tank EXCEPT the cover in the fist 30 minutes. Moving further to the left  we struck the large cement paver I had  put right under the mulch three years ago to mark the cover’s location that had somehow  managed to work its way to 2 feet under the ground. It was then  we realized we had left ourselves no more room to put shoveled out dirt in order to get to the cover that lay beneath it and actually had for the last few minutes been piling dirt ON TOP of it.

A little dirt shuffling and a lot of swearing later, we finally managed to find and dig out the cover. I stayed outside to replant all the things we had to rip out of the garden while digging,   the guys went in to catch up on the football game, and while staring in the general direction of the large hole was thinking about

a. how did I forget where  the GD thing  was for the fifth time since we moved here

b .how the hell did that paver we placed to help us locate the cover get so deep down in the soil?

c. why in the name of all things garden-y did I plant perennials on top of the cover???  and most importantly

d. omg omg omg aren’t  there actually TWO covers that we need access too?

I quietly mentioned this to Wil when I came in , and we made the decision to convince ourselves, that no, there were not in fact two covers , and even if there were why couldn’t it be emptied via the one. I will try to plead ignorance and hope and pray that if I am correct, I can beg or pay   the people who come to pump it to find the second cover and dig it out. For reasons that boggle the mind, the last plant left standing, the last plant that may actually be growing over the other cover ,is an 6 foot tall 4 foot wide clump of the ornamental grass miscanthis sinesis, whose root system will take a pick axe and Paul Bunyan to extricate……and now I will leave you wondering if you think I know even the tiniest little bit about what I am doing over here.



And BTW Happy Halloween! Halloween arrangement made using winterberry ilex verticillata ‘Winter Gold’, calicarpa dichtoma ‘Early Amethyst’, solanum atropurpureum a nasty thorny garden oddity nicknamed Malevolence (wear gloves my friend! there are even spiny thorns protruding from the leaves) millet, ornamental pepper ‘Black Olive’, , seedpods from baptisia australis, seedheads from helenium atumnale, spathifolium , and ‘Matchstick’ and ‘Copper Penny ‘mums 020029 033


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Plant Profile: Clematis ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon’


















Although clematis ‘Mrs Robert Brydon’ does not make my “Top 10 Clematis” list, it does, in fact, place pretty high up on my “Must Have Plant” list. Let’s go over the reasons, shall we?

-It is a superb non twining ground cover plant that will quickly cover the space under the shrubs in your border with it’s lovely disease free leaves

-It can also be tied up onto a trellis, bird netting, a pole, or any other vertical object you have handy

-It will scramble happily down a berm, hill, or even better cascade over a rock wall

-It is definitely on the “Top 10 Easiest to Grow” clematis list

–It will grow in many light conditions and is fairly drough tolerant once established

-It is a breeze to propagate via cuttings , your gardening friends will love you if you give them this plant

-It blooms late in the season ( late July to Sept) when so many other things in the garden are winding down

The only reason it does not place among my top ten clematis is generally  plants earn their space  there because they  have a very long bloom time and sadly this one does not.  I may reconsider that though as the foliage on this one never browns or gets any foliar disease which more than makes up for a shorter flowering time.

For years I have struggled with the correct name of this clematis. It has dubious parentage and I have seen it for sale under many names including clematis heracleifolia x jouiniana ,  clematis x jouiniana ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon’, clematis jouiniana var. davidiana ‘Mrs Robert Brydon’ but thankfully the International Clematis Registry at Hull University has it now listed as plainly clematis ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon. Whew.

I love that the name conjures up the  old fashioned practice of calling a married woman by her husbands name, not because I am a believer in the oppression of the fairer sex , I did not even legally take Wil’s name I just sort of added it  on to mine to avoid confusion for the kids when they were in school and may ditch it when they are done. I just like the thought , however imagined it may be, of a graceful and charming world with proper manners , polite conversation  where you are adressed as such, and maybe a white glove or two thrown in for good measure.  Actually my garden club has only recently disbanded the practice of having our members listed as “Mrs. Husbands Name and Surname” making me Mrs. William Monroe which is funny and maybe just a bit ironic.006

Back to the clematis, ‘Mrs. Robert Brydon ‘ is a dream to take care of. It will get pruned to 8-12 inches in the springtime, but since, as its various names all suggest, it is herbaceous , it may have already pruned itself for you by dying back to the ground over the winter. It will grow pretty slowly at first eventually getting  large leaves on stems that are 6-8 feet long. When it flowers, which is happening right now here in The Burrow, it is spectacular. The flowers are the loveliest shade of white-ish blue, a color I find dreamy in the garden and are massed along the top third of the plant.

I have seen this plant frothing over a stone wall, tied up at the base so it looked like a hydrangea bush, trained onto fences and poles and here I created a berm for it to sprawl down( bottom photo)) in the Dogs Garden and it romps all through shrubs and other plants like this  variegated weigela in the rock garden ( below ) and in all instances it looked phenomenal.007016


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As Seen on TV

004This summer I have amusingly fallen prey to the hype of the enthusiastic sellers of “can’t live with out” products on TV…well, sort of .


I do not, as a rule . watch a lot of television. I enjoy well produced period dramas like The Tudors  which was a Showtime series, Downton Abbey on PBS  and others of their kind, but generally buy the DVDs or watch them using the On Demand feature of our cable system. Once in a while a series will capture my attention but usually after it has gone in to syndication and some sort of marathon of episodes is being run during bad weather or while I am suffering from a chest cold  that keeps me on the couch .I think this is true of many people who garden or spend lots of time in other outdoor activities. Sometimes it has to do with time , as in there is not enough of it, some times it has to do with things there are too much of,like  great books to read , physical exhaustion , and poor quality programing. Also there are no good gardening programs being aired currently a and I wistfully think  back to when HGTV actually included GARDENING programs in their line-up instead of the quick makeover BS they offer now. Erica Glasener where are you?? In the spring on Mothers Day I received a bunch of garden related gifts from hubby and the kids, and this year Wil was brave enough to venture into the stores without a request list from me and I ended up with this…ph2phit is a pocket hose.  Funny thing is, it works and is quite possibly the best new garden tool I have seen in ages. It lives up to all the claims, it weighs next to nothing, is durable, holds water pressure like any other hose, will not kink and when you turn the spigot off  it writhes back into its portable little shape expelling residual water as it does so when you pick it up none of that excess water drains out on you or on the garage floor as you put it away.

To be fair, I never saw this on TV, and thus was never curious if it worked or not. Now many stores like Walgreens and CVS around here have a section of shelves brimming with As Seen on TV products and that is where it came from. To be fair to Wil as well, I left it in its box just knowing that certain disappointed awaited until he took it out and used it first and was ever so pleasantly surprised.

I have never uttered the statement “Wow! I really like this hose”  EVER, until now ( and I have been through more than you can count), but guess what? I like it, I really like it! Thanks Wil!!! I may ditch all my other hoses, I only wish it came in a more subdued color.

Bouyed by our success we bought a Magic Mesh Screen. This year we had to rebuild the gazebo that makes up the side of our deck. The roof needed replacement, there were rotted floorboards , and the door was warped. When the structure was again sound and freshly painted, we decided to give the Magic Mesh a whirl knowing we could always replace  the door if it did not work out.

 This screen cost only 19.95 ! and you could get 2 for just adding in the extra shipping and handling! Oh ! The hype! Oh ! The exclamation marks!


But guess what (again)? I works!  The gazebo in reality was hardly ever  used because the door swung open awkwardly into the area near the chiminea and then it felt closed off  and a bit claustrophobic inside when you sat down. The Magic Mesh is a walk-through screen that self closes with magnets ,so no door problems and it feels more open than it did with the door, As a bonus, the dogs can get in and out and in and out and in and out ( any of you with canine buddies will know what I mean) without our help.008


We were on a roll!!!

Then came a purchase that was all me. Any of you who have heard me speak on Clematis  know my experience with QVC (my gram was a fan). One day stuck at home with the flu in the springtime I tuned in to this home shopping network only to see them selling a tree form of one of my favorite hydrangeas,  ‘Quickfire’.  “Quickfire’ is a paniculata hydrangea that has large cone shaped flower clusters that appear on new wood  in the later part of the summer but these blooms appear a full month before  its popular cousin ‘Limelight’  and last just as long. The flowers  will turn mauve as they mature and the stems will darken as well.Without hesitating at all I ordered it and have been rewarded since with a vigorous and thriving plant that is showing the spectacular red stems ‘Quickfire’ is known for and its early and floriferous blooms. In short, amazing!





Maybe I need to work in some more TV time so I can order more fun things for the lowest price ever if I order in the next twenty minutes with an upgrade to priority shipping that come with a limited lifetime warranty and full money back satisfaction gaurantee !

ps You may have noticed I have “font” issues in this post. I tried a new plug in to change the font and you can clearly see it is , unlike the Pocket Hose , Magic Mesh and Quickfire Hydrangea , neither useful , practical or lovely :(





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Dear Santa 2012

Dear Santa,

It has been such a wonderful year here in The Burrow,one so full of friends ,flowers and fun that it seems almost crass to wish for more. But that is not going to stop this gal from writing up a list of thing I would love to see for 2013.

Let’s start with the practical…my hip has been bothering me. Not in a way that forces me to sit a lot or scale back my gardening too much, just mostly an old lady annoyance due to arthritis I have had for a long time. If you could see fit to send  an elf or two on a permanent loan to me to help out here and there when the work load gets tough I sure would appreciate it.

Moving on to the charitable , I have a long wish list from Landreth Seed Company including these amazingly well put together gifts of seeds sacks , and you don’t even need to guess which one is on my list…the antique vines!

Landreth is the oldest seed catalogue in the USA and in recent years as we have seen the fall of so very many mom and pop nurseries and many specialty plant suppliers it would be nice  if lots of gardeners added a few Landreth items to their list to keep the company going strong. Their catalogue is the best in eye-candy ( which BTW does not pack on the lbs like other Christmas candies are wont to do) and I would also recommend the bulb forcing vases and any or all of the Thomas Jefferson weather instruments. I have met the owners at flowers shows where they vend, and they are super people who are dedicated to their company and it’s mission of heirloom gardening .

I have sent some handy dandy emails to Wil  and dropped  some post-it-note adorned catalogues on his  desk, but should he forget or decide I am lucky enough in life to just be married to him and should thus not pine for silly trinkets , here are some suggestions for under the tree.

This vase.








..this twine holder .





.and…well, really anything else that appears in the At West End catalogue ( or website) , or from Terrain.

While you are thinking of me, please ensure that the over 100 shrubs and 10 large-ish trees I planted in a landscape job done impossibly late in the season ( AND which turned out to be the bog I insisted it was to the owner who vehemently denied my claim although I have the mud and muck covered boots and jeans to prove it ) live through the winter  and leaf out in the  springtime …or at least live until I get paid.

For my garden I wish only the same one thing I wish for every  year……Snow,snow and more snow. At least 50 inches minimum scattered throughout a lovely cold winter with at least two hunker down by the fire for days blizzards ,pretty please. Last year you may have missed this wish as it was all tied up in a long list and I forgive you for letting it slide just the once. Deprive me again and well….well.. I can’t finish that sentence because I prefer to remain on the “nice” list and the words I was going to string together may have been naughty.

Just remember,OK?  Snow.

Thanks you Santa,

and Merry Christmas from all of us here in The Burrrow




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some things should come with a warning label

This June 13th Bill and I will celebrate 25 years of marriage, I say “celebrate” but I mean I will be out speaking about clematis in Sommerville and he will be , um , somewhere else ( I haven’t even asked him if he is home or out that night).

I wonder if he knew everything about me  in 1987 that he knows about me in 2012 if he would have run for the hills. Did he ever picture a house chock full of kids , mad crazy with all sorts of things to amuse them and keep them fed and clothed? I think not, we had talked about having 1 child, gave in to the second so the first would not be lonely, then went ahead and had 4.

Did he picture being married to a wacky dog lady who would in a heartbeat fill this house with corgis, but only doesn’t because , to be honest here, he has limits and would leave me as he does not love them they way I do (but he obviously loves me enough to allow two)

Did he picture weekends spent hauling rocks from various locations to arrange in flower beds, hole digging for trees and plants, mulching , and pruning? Nope, he hates yard work with a passion, his time spent there is only for me , and that is sweeter than any other gift a girl could get.

Did he ever ever ever imagine learning to shoot a pellet gun to save his wife’s garden from the rabbits that aim at every turn to decimate the plantings? I am sure it never crossed his mind.

Did this man who would spend entire days watching movie after movie, either at the theatre or at home, right up until the very last credit has rolled, envision day trips on Saturdays instead to Tower Hill Botanic Garden, or annual garden tours, or better yet long drives to distant nurseries?  Nope , nope and nope. Yet he does, and tries valiantly to engage me in garden related conversations, commenting on plant combinations, unusual looking shrubs, or pretty flowers, and the best part is no matter where we go , he always says…”Your garden looks better” and he steals another piece of my heart.

So after 25 years, kids, dogs, gardens,  ,and  more happiness than I could ever have imagined,  Happy Anniversary Bill!

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When Life Gives you Lemons

Hard to believe that anyone in their right mind would consider an unseasonably warm and snow free winter “lemons”…but alas…that is how I feel. I am a New Englander through and through. I like my seasons long and unendurable, giving me cause to wish myself into the next one. Whether too hot, too cold, too much ice, or too much rain, it is part of being a New Englander to comment,  complain, obsess and fixate on the weather here.

Other than the two vicious and early snowstorms in October, any precipitation we have had has been in the form of rain. Cold, wet ,dreary rain. The bright side of winter is the snow, it makes even the coldest day seem bearable, and gives one a reason to curl up with a good book or a knitting project and veg on the couch guilt free. Rain does not give one a warm fuzzy curl up on the couch feeling. The snow also provides a lovely white blanket over all  the gardens that are now brown and dead and should have been cut back but weren’t because, after all, who would see them under all the snow?? GRRRRR.

More snow benefits…. It insulates the plants from the cold air temps and protects them from drying winds

It buries many smaller shrubs and evergreen perennials keeping them safe from marauding wildlife

It shows the tracks of said wildlife so I can hunt them down where they live

and you can sled, cross country ski and snowshoe over some of the finest land God ever created.

Well, you know the saying: “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade”. So, on the “lemonade” side  of things, we have been able  to be outside  pruning and stacking brush from the earlier storms, working  in our shirtsleeves and no gloves. This year will be the first time we have ever been able to burn brush in January, usually we can’t navigate the yard or even find the brush that has been buried under snow. I have also started some other cleanup and painting  projects out there, and we were able to clean the garage and load up the shed.

Back to the “lemons” side….no one comes inside all red cheeked to sit and warm up with a mug of hot cocoa while the mittens dry in front of the fire.

and while we are in “lemon” territory, let me celebrate , quite literally..LEMONs (or potential lemons anyway)

As you may  recall, Bill bought me an untagged lemon tree for Christmas last year from a vendor who shipped it unprotected in sub-zero weather. I thought for sure it was a goner, it placed it in the garage to await it’s fate. In a moment of weakness and guilt , I brought it inside and placed it in a sunny window where surprisingly it has flourished and come back to life. This week I noticed while watering that is was loaded with buds, which means flowers, and may eventually mean LEMONS!

That surely is a bright spot in this very gray, very ugly, very un-wintery winter.

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