Monthly Archives: June 2013

Campion Hill



Sometimes it is the smallest of actions that have the biggest of results, take this garden genius move made by my friend Barbara. Barbara lives near me and faces many of the same gardening challenges I do, with one extra one  ….the HILL! All the people in my neighborhood who live on the outer  side of the street have lots that are backed by steep hills leading into wooded areas. Very private, very rustic and yet when you move into an area devoid of vegetation, very difficult to decide what to do with.

People have solved the problem in many different ways. One guy installed a large waterfall and accompanying landscaping down his…..$$ka-ching! Some planted grass ( heaven have mercy .. what a chore) ,some planted evergreens and shrubs ,and some did nothing and have what are referred to here as “hell-hills”.

Barbara has been busy doing the evergreen/shrub thing, and after a few years now has a lovely assortment of “stuff” on the hill.

But, a few years ago, in a moment of pure divine inspiration, she took home six flowers of the ever popular beach plant,   rose campion (lychnis coronaria) that had gone to seed and spread the seeds on the hill.

Rose campion is a biennial ( meaning one year of just vegetative or leaf growth followed by a year of flowering then dying, but not before sending out lots of seed to re-sprout). While the plants were growing she took the liberty of moving those who were in unfortunate locations to better ones and making sure the seed was getting spread all around as evenly as humanly possible, and VIOLIA!001


Makes me crazy with garden envy!013

Makes me jealous beyond words!009

Makes me want….A HILL!!!!!!017

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Books and Blooms…or…. the day that tried to bring me down

One of my speaking topics, Grow It , Cut it Arrange It! sums up exactly what I think a garden should be, infinitely shareable. At any time during the growing season I feel like I should be able to go out clippers in hand and return inside with a bounty of flowers, foliage , berries , branches, seed pods, and  even veggies and turn it all into a lovely arrangement  to sit on my table or travel with me to cheer a friend, celebrate an event or grace the table of a favorite neighbor. To that end, I plant lots of things that perform well as cut flowers AND still look good in the garden. Way back in the day there was a separate cutting garden here but that is now the penned in home of the strawberries and the flowers for cutting are instead grown everywhere.

Last  week our library was having an event to commemorate its 125th anniversary, and part of it was a Books and Blooms display. For the uninitiated ( as I was until recently) that is when you are given a book cover and you “interpret ” it with a floral arrangement. Similar things are done in art museums annually using paintings. I was asked to not only interpret a book cover but to also kindly provide two small arrangements for the cake table. I am a huge supporter of our library as I read  and research in hundreds of books a year and the cost without this resource would be astounding , so with a grateful heart I of course said yes! Our local garden club had offered a stipend for the arrangers to purchase floral material, but I can’t even imagine with the wealth of plants in this yard I could ever need one.

My book was called Quite a Year for Plums, by Bailey White.004In the interest of thoroughness, I tried to read it,  I really really did, but alas could not  get through it. The story seems very sweet, but not at all my reading taste. Anyway, all I am supposed to be relaying in my arrangement is the cover, so no harm done.

 Here is a picture of the arrangement almost finished(. I am waiting for the official library photos for the final one.)018

I wanted to focus on the chickens, or more precisely the chicken on the right, as followers of this blog are aware chickens do not live at The Burrow ONLY because Wil has firmly said ”NO!” in a tone that means business, but I love them. I go visit them at the town fairs around us  every year and dream.

Back to the flowers,  I used white peony , flamingo willow , elderberry and blue fescue grass to say “chicken feathers” 015a clematis called ‘Gravetye Beauty’ to illustrate the beak . 017 I also added some new growth of a “Fat Albert’ spruce..awesome name… to mimic the sky on the book jacket and tall branches of plum tree leaves and a large branch of a pear tree with teeny pears.

The back of the arrangement mimics the back of the book too020021

The small table arrangements were ninebark and crabapple branches, peony, red roses, elderberry, guara, Just an FYI, we currently have no kitchen, no sink, no countertops, and for two days no water as a pipe was accidentally cut during our remodel. Therefore my office , which has now become our kitchen, also became floral arranging central.  The library gala was also on the day of a huge fundraiser Bill and I host for the Jimmy Fund Clinic in Boston.  It was all in all the opposite of fun and I hope if I ever get to do it again the timing will work out better. I will say that I am pretty proud of myself ( and the garden ) for pulling it off!001




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Isn’t it funny how sometimes when two things are paired up together  the whole is greater than the sum of  it’s parts? This holds true for   Cheryl and Bill ( a superb pairing if I do say so myself lol, our 26th anniversary was Thursday), beer and pretzels, pinot grigiot and seafood dishes, any dessert topped with made from scratch whipped cream, and boy I am hungry and in need of drink! I am sure Aristotle, from whom this quote was taken, had far more altruistic things in mind, but I have no problem borrowing his phrase and applying it to my own happiness, including the over the top pairing of roses and clematis.

Right now both plants are secondary stars in the garden as the peonies are blooming and no bloom no how takes away from their little bomb of joy. But when roses and clematis  are growing intertwined and cozy they certainly stand heads and shoulders above their counterparts growing alone.

Here are a few pictures of rose/clematis combinations I use here  in the Burrow huld

001 (4).





I am also including a glam shot of  some of the  peonies  because , well ,they deserve their moment of fame. 004

On the pairing side you can see one paired up with sweet peas, a stellar combo  I will repeat. DSC_0012 (2)

Furthermore , because who can get enough of great plant pairings?? , I give you 009

a container with coral Magic carpet rose and Lucia Dark Blue lobelia


Double pink Knockout roses grown as a standard above a boxwood hedge017 (5)


 and that same rose underplanted with this bright smiley orange pansy001


and last a peony ( unknown division given to me  by my sister) growing with nepata ( the clematis to the right is c.texensis’Gravetye Beauty)

happy Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. Head on over to to see what going on in other great gardens!





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Non-vining clematis, the best garden surprise


Although clematis are most widely known as climbing vines, there are a large number of them that do not have any aspirations to reach the sky at all. You may think that makes them underachievers, but in reality that desire to stay close to the ground  adds quite an unexpected dimension to the garden.

Some, like clematis  durandii  and clematis rooguchi, grow like a typical clematis vine, they just lack the modified stems ( called petioles)  that reach out and grasp onto things to project themselves upward. They make useful  long flowering ground covers  but  can also be tied up into shrubs or onto trellises if you prefer.( Photos courtesy of google image as mine are not blooming now nor did I bother to ever take a photo of them apparently.)rooguchiclematis_durandii_2









Another that grows in this way, but could not look any more different is clematis xheracleifolia ‘Mrs, Robert Brydon’. This clematis ,left to its own devices, will grow sort of up and out, kind of like a groundcover that hovers if that make sense to you.Its leaves are about twice as large as a typical clematis and look hydrangea-ish. I tie a few stems of one I grow up onto the fence so I can see the wonderful display of star shaped blue and white flowers up close and personal. I have a second one that I built   its own berm for so it can cascade down, which is I think the perfect way to grow this variety.mrsrobertbrydonleaves of robert bry

I have also seen it used very effectively growing near the edge of  raised stone wall where it could froth over the edge at will. I even saw a gardener on youtube  that had tied the stems of her Mrs. Robert Brydon together at the base and the overall effect was that you were looking at a hydrangea bush .Very clever.

The best part of this clematis is the gorgeous large textured  leaves that look healthy all season long, wait, no it’s the unusually colored blooms…no wait again, its the fact that it blooms in late August/September when the garden needs a lift. Well, I guess it is all of those things and  more that make this clematis a wonderful garden addition. It is also very easy to propagate by cuttings which can not be said for most of its cousins.

A newer non climbing variety, a cross named ‘Arabella’ has an interesting twist. Unlike the other non viners  it’s flowers are upwardly turned , smothering the plant with lovely purplish flowers that fade to pale blue. I have only had this plant for a year and can’t wait to see it fill out. It is blooming here for the first time this week amidst chives, a buddleia that is just leafing out and other assorted yet to bloom perennials.011 (4)




Clematis integrifolia is a species that grows like a typical herbaceous perennial, dying back to the ground in the winter, then shooting up multiple stems of new growth in the spring. From these stems hang delicate little downward facing bells . The species is purple, but there are many other varieties including  a pink called ‘Rosea” and a white that sports purply foliage in the spring called ‘ recta purpurea’. Most are about 2 feet high, but a few including ‘Fascination,’ which gets to about 5 ft, grow longer. This photo does not do it justice ( google it) it has’ fascinating’ nodding bells clearly edged in white piping and is a standout in the garden.013 (2)

Integrifolia is ever so useful at the base of roses where there canes may be bare, in front of a shrub, or just thrown in a mixed border where it can be supported by sturdy neighbors ( think catmint or  peony foliage). If it is grown without any support it will flop on the ground when it is in bloom, so either pea stake it, use peony rings, or grow it with other plants to help it stay upright.

Here is a close up of ‘Rosea’015 (2)

as well as a wider shot of it in the garden where it is nestled between a spirea’ogon’ , a Rose of Sharon sporting a veil of clematis ‘Dr. Ruppel’ and a mix of other perennials.006 (4)

All of the clematis mentioned here either die back to the ground on their own over winter or get cut to the ground in early spring making them easy to take care of. Any of them can be grown in sun to part shade and any of them with the exception  ’Mrs.Robert Brydon’, can be squished into the garden just about anywhere and provide you with a bounty of  flowers popping out from unexpected places in the garden beds.






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The sweet smell of spring…late lilacs and dianthus




Lilac 'Miss Canada'

Lilac ‘Miss Canada’Miss Kim

Lilac Miss KimTinkerbelle

Lilac Tinkerbelle034006007008010013

Pinks Pinks and more Pinks..all with that wonderful clove like fragrance and  enchanting diminuative blossoms. What a magical time in the garden!



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