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Saturday, February 16, 2008


Over the river...

And through the woods...

Step through the door...

(Stay tuned, there's more!)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - February

Today is my first contribution to "Garden Bloggers Bloom Day". A great big thank you to Carol at for letting me know about this event. As I understand it, on the 15th of each month garden bloggers photograph what is blooming for them that day.

I thought for sure that I would not find any blooms as I walked around our chilly garden this morning. While I didn't find anything actually blooming, I was pleasantly surprised to find some plant material worth photographing.

While the crocuses and the snowdrops still have a chance to sneak up and surprise me, the first flower bud visible is on the stand of Hellebores out front. This one clump of Hellebores gives me the most wonderful bunch of seedlings each year. Two years ago it was almost decimated when the oil delivery truck backed up through this bed (OUCH) but it is finally starting to fill in that spot again.
Here you can see lots of little black berries still on the Liriope. These berries must taste awful or must be poisonous because we have tons of birds and bunnies look for nibbles around here.

More Hellebores, this one looked so nice with the sun shining through and the crispy brown oak leaves. I also love the way the Hellebore foliage looks in the summer when they are finished blooming.

Lots of Sempervivum (Hens & chicks) in the garden. They look so frozen right now. This one here turns a deep red once the season warms up but for now almost all the varieties have this grayish greenish coloration.

Here's another Sempervivum, I didn't bother to copy down the names for this post as they don't look like they will during growing season. While their fuzzy webs aren't visible in the winter, the light frost gives them a similar appearance.

More buds here on the Pieris japonica by the back shed. I can't wait to smell them when they begin to bloom.

The Silene armeria seedlings are everywhere, just carpeting the ground. This year I think I will have to pot them up and share them with friends. They're not at all invasive, one year I almost lost them. Now I leave them be so they can seed about to their hearts content. A simple pass with a cultivator pulls them out any undesired location. To see what they look like in bloom you only have to scroll down to my Valentine Pink post and see them combined with the Edelweiss.

So, no pretty eye candy today but who daughter Lauren is coming home for the weekend! Homesickness has struck again and she's taking a bus and a train to get here. I've got to stock up on some of her favorites and hang her bedding outside so it smells like "home".

What's blooming for you today?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Ode to Bleeding Hearts

Happy Valentine's Day!

Ok, I doubt this is an original blogger topic. I'm guessing that many of you garden bloggers out there will be posting some kind of photo with Bleeding Hearts in them.

First of all, the botanical name for bleeding hearts is Dicentra. There is Dicentra spectablis which I grow in pink and white and the smaller, more delicate Dicentra eximia which I have in white and probably red (somewhere). Today I'll break my rule about using botanical names since the nickname fits so perfectly here.This photo is a lousy shot of some foliage (daylily perhaps?) and the lovely blue/green cut leaf of Dicentra eximia. I don't know if I still have red bleeding hearts in the garden, I can't wait to find out!

When my Dad was alive he loved to be outdoors and putter around his garden although nobody would call him an "experienced" gardener. Dad had the largest clump ever of these little bleeding hearts in full sun. The only thing Dad added to the soil was his grass clippings and you should have seen the worms he had (they were like hot dogs).

For years in my own garden I had a monster clump of Dicentra spectablis (the larger bleeding heart) growing in full sun along my gravel driveway. The spot was the lowest in our property so it always got the most moisture and it was amended every year with manure. I finally dug that clump out and divided it. It would stop you in your tracks when it bloomed but because it was so large it created a huge ugly spot in mid summer.

I really had no intention of following the herd and writing about bleeding hearts today but something happened that changed my mind. Last night I was cruising by here when I stopped suddenly. My daughter Lauren, who is away at college in Pennsylvania actually left me a message on my Valentine's Day Pink posting. Not only did she leave a message but it was gardening related! I tell you, the earth almost moved under my feet when I saw that :-) Anyway, Lauren loves bleeding hearts, we've always grown huge clumps here so this Valentine's day I dedicate my bleeding heart post to her and of course my husband Don who puts up with all my idiosyncrasies and my younger daughter Emily.

The white bleeding hearts grow quite happily here too. Most fortuitous for me, they also self sow (although not as readily as the pink variety). In early spring when they first break through the soil the white variety has a much lighter green foliage than the pink bleeding hearts have. It's easy to differentiate the two and know in advance what color the seedling will become. I don't always try to save the pink seedlings but I separate out every white seedling that I can find. Come Mother's Day weekend when we hold our plant sale, these bleeding hearts sell out before we even officially open the door.

To answer Lauren's question, I did not include a photo of bleeding hearts in my pink posting only because I don't have one that I like! For all the photos I do have of them, not one of them is very well composed (as you are probably now noticing).

This little white bleeding heart with the pink tip showed up one year in a bed where I thought I only had a red variety. For many years I thought it was a unique seedling and I've been trying to increase it. Just this year I saw images online that show the same traits so now I think maybe it's a plant I just forgot I planted there. Bet that never happens to the rest of you :-)

My personal experience in growing these bleedings hearts is that they have an amazingly long bloom season for a perennial. As I mentioned earlier in this post, the larger varieties will die back in the summer heat and leave an awful hole behind which you need to disguise with later growing perennials. The eximia variety though does not lose it's foliage in the summer and I think it would actually prefer more sun and more compost than I've given it in the past. We'll see if I remember to move it around this year and do some experimentation.

Thursday's are my day to volunteer up at our high school so I'll sign off now. I wish all of you a heart filled Valentine's Day.

With love,

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

It's raining, it's pouring...

It's February. After a wild evening of snow, wind, ice and a crazy drive to the high school and back (1 hour to go 3 miles and come home again) we are being deluged with rain. With all this water around me, I thought I'd make some lemonade with these lemons and post about water in the garden.

Water in the garden can have the most amazing effect. Moving water creates soothing sounds that can mask the man-made sounds that seem to fill our world. But, even still water can calm us. The photo above shows a sight I came across while touring a garden in Michigan. Not too many of the visitors even saw this water feature, it was tucked away in a corner of the garden.

When I asked the home owner about this water feature she quickly explained that it was therapeutic. She told me that whenever she went into town and the woman at the bank was nasty to her, she'd come home, walk up to this spot and dunk the manikin's head under water. Sounds very therapeutic to me :-)

There are no water features here in my own little piece of heaven other than a monstrous swimming pool and a kiddie pool for our wonder-doodle Calie. Maybe that's why I find myself so drawn to water features where ever I go, I need one of my own! This second photo was taken at Wave Hill in New York City. I don't know what caught my eye first, the amazing plant material, the charming children that were entranced by this pond or the young man that was in the pond working so hard!

I would totally be remiss if I didn't encourage everybody to go on garden tours. Yes, tours of the public botanical places such as New York Botanical Gardens or Old Westbury Gardens are amazing, but the tours I'm talking about are through smaller, private gardens. Many plant societies and garden clubs run annual and regional tours. Most of my tours have been as a member of the American Hemerocallis Society (that means Daylilies, not a blood disease). Even if you aren't crazed with daylily collectoritis you will find many things totally unrelated to daylilies on those tours. You can go to the site at and click on "Conventions/Meetings" to find a tour that might be near you. You do not have to be a member of a local club or the American Hemerocallis Society to be on the tour but be forewarned, you might want to join after the tour :-)

So, on to the photo above. I took this photo in a garden in Mississippi and I wish I still knew the name of the man who had created this amazing garden. He dug canals all around his garden (it was on a lake if I remember correctly) and in the canals he had barges with daylilies growing in them! Now that's a man who likes to keep busy.

This last photo shows a pond in Ed's garden. Ed is a coworker of my husband Don and he has the most delightful garden here on Long Island (truthfully though I took this photo at least 10 years ago). Just under Ed's kitchen window he put in a small pond. First he dug the hole, then he layered it with carpeting he had found at the curb. On top of the carpet he put a rubber liner and around the edges he put small rocks he had found.

Although it's not in the photo, there was a small waterfall so that when the family ate at the kitchen table they could open the window and hear the water. How delightful is that!

Right now the only sound of water here is rain pelting the south side of our house. I will just sit here and be thankful. When steady rain comes in from the north, we end up with some of it in our basement.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Valentine's Day Pinks

(Edelweiss surrounded by a sea of Silene armeria)

Today's post is an early tribute to Valentine's Day.

One of my favorite blogs at is Cottage Magpie at

Angela's posts are so beautiful, even the ones not about gardening just tickle the senses and warm the heart. Angela has asked other bloggers to join in and submit pink garden photos for Valentine's Day. I've never joined in on a blogging event like this, what fun!

Of course everybody sees the color pink differently, and there are so many different shades of pink. There's hot pink, Barbie pink, pale baby ribbon pink and lavender pink such as I see echoed in the above combination of Echinacea (Purple cone flowers which have no purple to my eye) and Hemerocallis (Daylily) 'Eggplant Escapade'. Hmm, that doesn't seem right with two plant names that sound quite purple but they look pink to me.

Zinnia's are such simple, happy flowers. I love this hot pink bloom, wish I could cut one and put it right next to my computer monitor right now!

Sheesh I'm suffering CRS today. I been really wracking my brain to come up with the botanical name for this plant and I'm still drawing a blank. Honestly, I'm giving my self a headache just trying to remember what this is. Guaranteed I hit the "publish post" button and then I remember :-)

And finally...tah dah...I saved my favorite for last. A pink sweet pea. Don't know where I photographed this as I don't think I've ever grown sweet peas. Sure makes me want to try though!

So why don't you join on in? Swing by Angela's place at, read what it's all about. Then scroll down and read the comments people leave there as they will link you to more gardening sites that are posting pink flowers too.

Thinking pink,

Monday, February 11, 2008

Baby it's Cold outside!

(Taken in 2001, this photo shows my old cottage garden.)

After somewhat balmy February temperatures (for Long Island), we woke up this morning to 8 degrees (-13.3 Celsius). Brrrrrrr! My poor plants have no warm snowy blanket on them, I hope they are all sound asleep right now.

(2007 brought us beautiful walkways (safe too) but no more cottage plants here.)

So what's a garden crazed person to do when it's too cold to even go for a walk? Visit other gardeners online! Last fall my blog was added to a gardening blog site at Unfortunately, I was in the middle of a garden funk, burnout after years of planning and participating in a national garden tour. With no posts being made to my blog and no visits on my own, my blog at lingered at the bottom of the list, almost in no-man's land.

Ah ha! Once the holidays finally barreled through here, that feeling began to creep up on me. You know that begin to haunt the 635 section at your public library. When it comes time to check out your books you always seem to have the heaviest stack in sight! Scraps of paper begin to appear all over with mysterious words scribbled on them such as "Lysimachia ephemerum - Must have!". It's times like this I'm thankful I don't have a house keeper. She'd probably find these notes and think I have some rare disease.

At this time of year your car automatically stops at the local hardware giant where even though you know it's awfully early, you find yourself lingering at the gardening section trying to avoid the fact that it's still stuffed with Christmas clearance items.

(The view from our breezeway out to the street, summer of 2007)

Once back at home, you can't stay away from your computer. Stored in this little box that sometimes drives me insane are thousands of glorious photos of gardens, perennials, bulbs, trees, shrubs, herbs, annuals, tropicals and so much more. Better yet, you are only a click away from visiting others. Others who understand this itch you can't scratch, the need to get out in the garden and get some dirt under your fingernails.

(Luscious plants waiting to be adopted by winter crazed gardeners)

The first sign of spring around here is almost always a visit to Hicks Nursery Flower and Garden show. This morning I was sure I'd have another six weeks to wait for that event but after visiting I was thrilled to find out that opening day is February 29th!

Hooray, that's not far away at all. Of course, I know that the first week of March is too early for most plant purchases. Still, the smells, sights and sounds of that show are the best tonic for this spring fevered individual. Pots of Hellebores in full bloom, seeds galore and lots of summer bulbs will come home with me. Oh yes, of course some deliciously scented Primrose and Pansies for the kitchen table come home too.

Best of all, there's always a new idea or concept to see at Hicks. It may not be the Philadelphia flower show, but it's here on Long Island and we love it. This last photo (number 5 for those of you counting photos) shows a concept that I loved at last year's show. I've already got the iron gazebo but it disappears from view in my garden. By bordering this one with moss rock and tucking those plants in, you have an instant (almost instant) garden oasis.

Off to dream about the garden, and don't forget, come visit us at While you're there, browse around, hit the favorites and popular tabs and don't forget to click on me and say "hello" while you are there!

Thinking green...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Foliage fun

So, what do you do if you have lots of foliage but it just doesn't have any pizzazz? Add some whimsy and you will suddenly have a spot that will put a smile on your face, even on gray, lousy weather days.

I came across this woman "swimming" in a garden while on tour in Michigan. If I ever see this for sale I just have to get one for my own garden!

Bowling balls were everywhere in a garden I had toured in North Carolina. Luckily for me they were easy enough to find and I too have added bowling balls in my own garden. They sell for about $5 at garage sales around here. Just stay away from the plain black ones and look for some patterned or glittered balls.

The foliage in this shot isn't the prettiest but you can see one of my pink bowling balls. It's been in my garden for almost 4 years now, longer than any gazing ball has ever lasted.

Scratching your head about what you want to add to your garden? Surely you can find something whimsical :-)