Monthly Archives: August 2012

A time capsule (of sorts)

This summer has been very very busy. I could add about 6 more “very”s to that sentence to make it more accurately reflect my feelings, but you would be bored reading it and I think   you get my drift with just  the two.

I started the summer with a getting ready for a big garden tour, and that is how I am ending it as well. In between there was worrying about the rabbit damage, weeding , deadheading, and watering ( boy was there ever watering!).We did lots of day trips, and a few overnight beachy things , we visited lots of people and attended cookouts and pool parties. All in all it was pretty fun. Somehow, someway, in amidst all the chaos, there were flowers. Lots. A bounty you might say.

And how do I know this? The flower presses are groaning with the weight of layer upon layer of the pressed blooms and the heavy books that help weight them down before they go to the big press in the cellar.

Even on the busiest of days I have to stop here and there in the garden to grab a few leaves, blossoms or seedheads to get in the presses or I won’t have enough material for all the Pressed Flower Workshops I have coming up starting in September and going right through next May. They are stacked up from the very latest mums on the top all the way down to the spring blooming clematis on the bottom.

They are a real treasure , and one that I will now get to enjoy workshop by workshop , as I go through them to decide what to bring when.

Often , when I open a folded sheet of tissue paper and see what lies in between it’s folds, I  actually sort of squeal out loud ( just a little) when I see what lies there. It is like going back in time through the year of my garden, and often it is the only time I really got to enjoy whatever floral material is peeking out at me.

Dianthus? I remember you! You lit up the pink garden for weeks while I was spreading compost and mulch. Pretty geranium flowers?  You carried on through  the back 40 for the whole of spring while I was out caging clematis plants off from the bunnies, and you will make  a new layer in the fall section after the re-bloom you are so graciously giving me now.

Queen Annes Lace,  we picked you after Erin’s first driving lesson from the sides of the parking lot she was circling, and then the girls and I  spent a pleasurable afternoon setting up cups filled with food coloring and watching you drink  up  the colored water and transform before our eyes.

And on and on it goes, paper by paper book by book, a virtual time capsule of the blooming year here in and around the Burrow.

For those of you who will be attending a workshop in the coming year, now is a great time to press from your garden. Cosmos, roses, dahlias, black eyed susans,ornamental grass plumes and blades, artemesia, fall colored leaves, the list goes on and on. As we get closer to a frost (gasp!) you will also feel far less guilty about picking the perfect bloom to press ,it’s time in the garden is limited anyway.

For quick tutorial on pressing methods click here and get started on your own garden time capsule.


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Welcome to the garden, please have a seat

I have been on more garden tours than I can count over the past 20 or so years. I have seen contemporary gardens, country gardens, cottage gardens, shade gardens galore, ponds, fountains, every kind of plant and planting scheme imaginable. I am always struck by two very different things. First, no matter the style or plant material, I love them all. A garden is such a great place for exercise, creative expression, nourishment for body and soul and the optimal place for decompression. Everyone should have some sort of outside space that they can enjoy . Which leads me to the second thing……..there are never enough chairs.

I have walked around garden after garden that have  brought  me down path after path. Plants can be arranged beautifully, artwork is there for  enjoying ,or the view out into the countryside is stunning, but you have to stand. This always strikes me as so absolutely contrary to the whole point of creating such a special place. Why would anyone just stroll out past border after border (especially in the larger gardens) and not think,”Hey, wouldn’t a bench here be splendid?”

I don’t get it. Gardens are meant to be enjoyed , both from a distance and close up. Sitting outside watching the antics of birds or the grace of a  butterfly is better than Valium ( but not alcohol……..  sitting in the garden goes GREAT with alcohol).

You can plant your backside in a lot of locations here in the Burrow. Two of my favorites are the little deck off the kitchen for birdwatching and taking pictures and the front porch for coffee in the morning and  drinks and conversation in the evening. But even beyond the structures near the house, there is available seating in every garden you walk through.

The rock garden has a bench and chairs placed on either side of the path for chit-chatting. There are two Adirondacks in the back placed under a maple tree for a nice rest with great view.

Under the back arbor is a cement bench that is highly uncomfortable but will do if you need a quick rest after weeding , which you are welcome to do here at any time.

Two more Adirondacks flank the shed, and a longer bench under another maple rounds out the back.

In the dogs garden there are several small benches , and this larger one looks back toward the house.

There is also a comfy swing that we often sit on to coverse with the girls when they get home from school.

One more bench under yet another maple looks into the front garden and is now backed by a lilac hedge planted last weekend.

Most of the benches and  seats were bought at yard sales or flea markets , for very small sums, but they don’t feel like the cheap seats ( I couldn’t resist) when you  sit a spell and take in some scenery.

None of this is entertainment seating, that is all found inside the fence that goes around the pool  on a deck , in a gazebo and under a shade structure. It is all very choppy space under there and I wish I had planned it so large groups could gather in one place instead of 3 smaller areas, but it still works OK. Someday I would love to take down the deck and hardscape the whole area, but not until Bill forgets how much he spent on the new railings I begged for a few years  ago.

Take a good look at your outdoor space, and add a seat or two here and there. I know I would l be grateful to have one offered to me if I was touring your garden!


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The tale of two containers and a view from the porch

So very many puzzling things happen when you try to take a little piece of land and make a garden. Most of the time , if you observe long enough , you can figure out what is going on, but sometimes no matter how hard you look , the answer remains hidden.

So here is the puzzle of the week . Two containers, exact matches for one another, planted with some annuals. Each started with the same potting mix into which was planted 2 coleus plants in the center (from the same 6 pack) and 4 impatiens , one placed in each corner (also from the same flat). They were placed right next to each other in the garden and get the same amount of filtered sun and water .

So then why  did the coleus in one container take off running , filling out and now shadowing and crowding out the impatiens, and yet in the other the coleus remains small and it is the impatiens that have grown large and are definitely in charge .

Can’t figure it out. Makes no sense AND it offends my need for symetry and order . Now the question is…do I leave them planted  as they are and be happy they are  full and healthy …OR do I take then apart and try again for my matching bookends for the garden space in which they sit?

and the answer is…drum roll please……I have waaaaaay too much work to do around here to mess with anything that is doing well, so they will stay as is , I may just find a new home for them where their assymetry will be an asset and not a flaw.

Within the next few weeks, I have several plants that need to be replaced due to health issues , lots that needs cutting back, the remains of 3 yards of loam I am using to refresh some beds and augment  a new bed  that will soon be home to  be a new lilac hedge, weeding, deadheading, and so very much more. Anything that  looks good  will be left alone.

My favorite time of the year in what we refer to as the Dogs Grden, is just begining.

In bloom are the rose of sharons,……………………………



…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..the limelight hydrangeas, .



…………………………………the heavenly scented summersweet, (this is one called ‘Ruby Spice’ ) .



the red knockout roses, the late daylily’ franz hal’,sunflowers, dhalias, potentillas in yellow and pale pink, and the ‘heirloom’ raspberries are about to errupt into full August fruit.

This garden is down near the front of our property and is the view from the porch where we often have breakfast lounging in oversize comfy wicker chairs, and sit to watch storms or enjoy a cool evening on the secluded couch near the back shielded from the street by a veil of sweet autumn clematis.

The garden has lots of issues up close, as it is the dogs playground and plants are constantly trampled, chewed and broken, but seen from the porch it looks wonderful, and as a bonus in August the drift of the summersweet scent makes any evening spent out there a true joy.

Here comes Pumpkin up the path to join us!

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