Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Winter moments

Cornus florida berries.
Curled plumes of Miscanthus sinensis 'Dixieland'
Wreath on our door made by our friends, Melissa and Jesse.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!

My family's Christmas 2012 photo, taken at the front of our Shade Path garden in October.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Gardening in Pennsylvania ~ December 2012

A pretty little bell flower that I think I remember correctly as Campanula 'Tinkerbell'.

One quiet flower in my mostly frozen garden for GBBD today...
I hope that December finds you all warm and snug, enjoying the festivities and friends of the season.

~~~
Check out May Dreams for Garden Blogger's Bloom Day. I look forward to seeing some more color from other parts of the world this month.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Renick's Christmas Tree Farm

Cut-your-own Christmas tree in western Pennsylvania. A view over a field of Fraser fir trees.
Christmas tree cutting was a success again this year! We really like the new place that we tried for the first time last year, so we returned. Renick's Tree Farm is a bit out there in the woods, but it is worth the drive just to experience it! Highly recommended for any one in the Pittsburgh, PA area who is looking to buy a fresh cut tree or cut your own Christmas tree.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

First Snow at Gilmore Gardens

Snow on the Circle Lawn and Shade Path.
Snow on the Circle Lawn and Shade Path.

After a week of beautiful weather at the end of November, we finally had our first snow of the season at Gilmore Gardens.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Seed heads of Allium tuberosum

Papery Allium tuberosum seed heads glowing in the morning light
Papery Allium tuberosum seed heads glowing in the morning light on our Hill Garden.
An Allium tuberosum silhouette. just after the sun has risen in the sky for a late fall day.
An Allium tuberosum silhouette. This photo is in the same spot, but just after the sun has risen in the sky for a late fall day.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

A bee enjoying Dendranthema 'Sheffield Pink' and double purple Aster hybrida 'Peter III'.
A bee enjoying perennial mum Dendranthema 'Sheffield Pink' and double purple Aster hybrida 'Peter III'.

I hope you are all warmed by good food, good friends and a bit of bright sunshine today!


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The last remnants of autumn...

My kids tramping through the hay and corn maze this autumn.
The last bulbs and Hellebores are in the ground, the kitchen is full of squash from the farm market, and there is a turkey taking up most of the space in my refrigerator. Our annual "Christmas tree cutting" is quickly approaching on our calender.  The end of November is truly here.

And yet... I remember a sunny day walking through the corn maze following two confident little girl leaders, who needed some help getting back to the car. :)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gardening in Pennsylvania ~ GBBD November 2012

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' with its bright autumn foliage around our Circle Lawn.
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' with its bright autumn foliage around our Circle Lawn.

Welcome to November in Pennsylvania!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Plan A New Garden Using Fallen Leaves

Our gardens two months after moving into our new house. The borders consisted of a few newly planted shrubs and raked leaves.
I recently came across these fall photos of our gardens from 2007. We had just moved into our new house and were working hard to make it livable for our family of three. I was expecting our second daughter, chasing our almost-two-year-old and staying up late painting and unpacking every night.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fall Outing at the Park

Most of the colorful leaves of autumn have now fallen for the year, which is necessary of course in order for the earth to add all their nutrients to the soil once more. We were not hit hard in our area by hurricane Sandy, but we have had a constant rain. These photos are from a few weeks ago, when everything was still warmer and brighter.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sorbaria sorbifolia, False Spirea

Red and gold leaved Sorbaria sorbifolia, False Spirea, with Aster hybrida 'Peter III'.
Sorbaria sorbifolia, False Spirea, is a new plant in our garden this fall. Its foliage resembles the Rhus family (sumacs) and it is native to Asia. Other common names for this plants are False Goat's Beard, Appleberry and Ural False Spirea (see Wikipedia).

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Photos of Kids, Leaves & a Hay Bale

Fall kid photos with a hay bale

We took a few photos the other day when we came home with a new bale of hay for our bunny. In addition to providing her with bedding and something to nibble in the winter months, it is an affordable photo prop at five dollars. And they loved playing with it too, which makes for an enjoyable photo shoot.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fall Foliage in Pennsylvania

Yellow maple (acer) leaves and the red-edged oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia) by our Shade Path gate.

The leaves are as brightly colored as the remaining flowers in our Pennsylvania garden (see GBBD Oct 2012). Here are a few photos from the post couple of weeks when we have been out enjoying the sunshine and few warmer days remaining in our zone 5 corner lot.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Autumn Colors

Maple leaves coordinating with the mums at the local park this October.
Maple leaves coordinating with the mums at the local park this October.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Gardening in Pennsylvania ~ October GBBD 2012

Perennial mum Dendranthema 'Sheffield Pink' and double purple Aster hybrida 'Peter III'.
Perennial mum Dendranthema 'Sheffield Pink' and double purple Aster hybrida 'Peter III'.

Welcome to October at Gilmore Gardens in Pennsylvania! 

Everywhere in our area we are seeing the colors of autumn. The trees are in the middle of their foliage change - the earlier ones having dropped most of their leaves and the later ones still holding on to their green. The asters are out in full force, the milkweeds pods are just about ripe and the first nips of frost have just come this past weekend. Some of the annual flowers did not take kindly to the cold, but others have survived to bloom a bit longer. Hope you enjoy your look around our tiny town garden!

Asters and pumpkins add color to the sunny Driveway Garden this fall.
Asters and pumpkins add color to the sunny Driveway Garden this fall.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Shade Path Garden in Early October

The Shade Path Garden in the first week of October.
October is here and has brought some chilly temperatures in Pennsylvania. It seemed to come on us all at once this year. It was quite warm and rainy, but not truly cold until this week which makes it feel a bit shocking, though we all knew it was coming. We have missed a true frost twice in the last couple evenings. Some tender leaves are browned around their edges, but most of the plants are still standing tall. Very soon the annuals will greet the morning as a puddle of mush and will need to be removed post-haste.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pink Dahlias in the Front Walk Garden

Pink Dahlias in the Front Walk Garden
My unnamed, pink dahlias have not been staked very well this year (...what has that gardener been up to anyway!...), but they are still blooming away this fall. 

These are the moments to savor in the garden in Pennsylvania before the coming frost. It looks like it might be a near miss here on this coming Sunday night as they are predicting a low of 34 degrees F (1.1 C). But who can think of that when looking at these summer beauties?  Not me.

See more of the Front Walk garden in all seasons here.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kids' trip to Phipps Conservatory

Kids at Phipps Conservatory
Kids at Phipps Conservatory
We had a really fun trip to Phipps Conservatory with the kids last week. I called my friend and her three little ones to see if they would like to come play for the day with us, and they agreed. This was the first time we had been at Phipps together since the Spring Show years ago. Another friend was kind enough to come along to help us out.

Phipps has added on to their outdoor children's garden this year, making it easier for the kids to run and get their hands into real play. They were all excited to get to pot their own herb (yeah for more basil!), play with the log pieces and get wet, wet, wet! They were quite drippy by the end of the day. Bringing a change of clothing is advisable. And bringing it in with you makes it even easier because there are changing bathrooms outside by the kids garden.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Gardening in Pennsylvania ~ GBBD Sept 2012

Pink Dahlia with Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' in our Front Walk Garden.
Pink Dahlia with Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost' in our Front Walk Garden.
Welcome to Pennsylvania in September! My garden has definitely perked up for fall. We finally had a normal amount of rain for the month, which is the first month since last year. The plants are putting on new growth, looking greener and flowering a bit more. Here are some highlights from around our two-tenths of an acre at Gilmore Gardens.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rest Easy by Andrew Peterson

Pink waterlily from Phipps Conservatory this summer.
Pink waterlily from Phipps Conservatory this summer.

Here is a great song that I have been listening to on the days when I am tired out from all of the demands of being a wife, mother and gardener... or even just tired out from reading my how-to garden journal post from the other day ;) 

Perhaps you might need to hear this song today too?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Ways to Use A Garden Journal

My Date Books turned Garden Journals from the past three years.
My Date Books turned Garden Journals from the past three years.
Do you have a garden journal? Journals are a great idea for furthering your garden education... but then there is the patient work of actually writing in them. Where to begin? How do you scramble to catch-up when you are behind?

One of my favorite garden authors, Rosemary Verey, said, 
"Take note as you go... Learn to build up your knowledge of plants, not only to be able to recognize them but to know what growing conditions they like or dislike, when they will flower, what their leaves will contribute before and after flowering, how they will relate to their neighbors.  This knowledge comes only with familiarity, observation and experience" (Rosemary Verey's Making of a Garden, page 17).

Monday, September 3, 2012

Phipps Conservatory at Summer's End

Tropical walk along the front of Phipps Conservatory with a view toward the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh.
Tropical walk along the front of Phipps Conservatory with a view toward the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh.
Last week, I was able to attend a garden design seminar with guest speaker Gordon Hayward at Phipps Conservatory. The first day was lecture in the Phipps Botany Hall, and the second day was a smaller setting at the nearby Phipps Garden Center.

I hope to share more of my favorite key points from Mr Hayward lectures soon. For today though, here are a few summery photos I snapped on the way around Phipps on the first day. Happy Labor Day!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ornamental Grasses at Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, PA

The captivating combination of tulips and rough grass at Chanticleer Gardens in April this year.
The captivating combination of tulips and rough grass at Chanticleer Gardens in April of this year.
While I am on the topic of ornamental grasses, I thought I would take the opprotunity to post a few photos of grasses being used at a romantic-style garden in the US, Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, PA. Chanticleer happens to be pictured and mentioned by Neil Lucas in his book, Designing with Grasses, and recommended as a great place to see grasses in the US in his garden index.

Ornamental grasses are often considered useful to the garden designer because of their strength of form, their movement and the perseverance that they show in the late summer and autumn gardens. While this is certainly true, these photos that I took on my April visit to Chanticleer with fellow bloggers Pam and Carolyn show how grasses contributed to the lush, romantic look of the gardens even in mid-spring.

I had quite a bit of fun to capturing the afternoon light shinning through the tree, tulips petals and grass.
I had quite a bit of fun to capturing the afternoon light shinning through the tree, tulips petals and grass.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guide to Common Names of Ornamental Grasses

Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola', shinning with yellow tulips at Chanticleer Gardens in April.
Japanese forest grass, Hakonechloa macra 'Aureola', shinning with yellow tulips at Chanticleer Gardens in April.
I am learning a ton about ornamental grasses this summer by reading a book called Designing with Grasses by Neil Lucas. While in the middle of the book though, I started to feel that my head could just not wrap itself around all of the new grass names.  Learning the Latin is one thing, and learning the common name is another. Putting them both together was giving me fits!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Designing with Grasses by Neil Lucas

Grasses flowering in a natural area at our local park.
Grasses flowering in a natural area at our local park.
I am beginning to really delve into the world of ornamental grasses this summer by reading a fantastic book, Designing with Grasses by Neil Lucas.

This book covers many topics including: grasses in natural communities; using grasses to decrease garden maintenance; designing pleasing gardens with grasses by using repetition and form; choosing the correct grass for damp, dry, sun or shade; and discussion of sustainable environmental practices that utilize grasses. It also includes a sizable directory of "Grasses and Grass-like Plants," which is so helpful a reference even while reading this book to help you remember which grass Mr. Lucas is describing at the moment. Beautiful and practical photos are throughout the book to help illustrate using grasses in different types of designs.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Gardening in Pennsylvania ~ August GBBD 2012

Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Mandevilla 'Pretty Pink' in PA zone 5 for August.
Sedum 'Autumn Joy' and Mandevilla 'Pretty Pink' in PA zone 5 for August.
Welcome to August in my Pennsylvania, zone 5 garden! It is not what I had hoped that it would be, but the garden is perking up after having some much needed rain in the past two weeks. I took these photos last night after another rain came.
Large-flowered hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Pink Elephant') in our Driveway Garden is blooming away this month.
Large-flowered hardy hibiscus (Hibiscus moscheutos 'Pink Elephant') in our Driveway Garden is blooming away this month.
More in the Driveway Garden: Hibiscus 'Pink Elephant',white Miscanthus 'Dixieland',  a tall blue Buddleia and Agastache foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee'. The ground cover in front here is Sedum 'Acre' which is a much used cover plant in our gardens.
More in the Driveway Garden: Hibiscus 'Pink Elephant',white Miscanthus 'Dixieland',  a tall blue Buddleia and Agastache foeniculum 'Golden Jubilee'. The ground cover in front here is Sedum 'Acre' which is a much used cover plant in our gardens.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Visiting Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia

Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia, USA
Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia, USA
My family was able to visit a couple of new gardens this summer when we were traveling for our family reunion/vacation. The first was Glen Bernie in Winchester, VA and the second, and more impressive of the two, was the Norfolk Botanical Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia, USA.

Norfolk Botanical Gardens is truly an impressive garden with great attention to detail.  I highly recommend it for anyone in the area visiting Colonial Williamsburg or Virginia Beach. It has something for everyone: grand fountains and vistas, a substantial collection of hydrangeas, acres of native nature walks, an enormous children's garden and play area, a large rose garden, an eagle lookout tower, a butterfly hut and a tram to show you about the place. And the authentic Greek food in the cafe smelled wonderful! We had, however, already eaten our packed picnic lunch sitting in a shady grove. Delightful either way.
Long view from the visitor's center across the canal to one the main fountains.
Long view from the visitor's center across the canal to one the main fountains.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Garden Party at Gilmore Gardens

Our annual garden party in Pennsylvania is in the beautiful month of June!
Our annual garden party in Pennsylvania is in the beautiful month of June!
I wanted to post a few photos of our 3rd annual Gilmore Garden Party that was held the first Saturday in June this year. June is such a beautiful time of year in our gardens, which I am especially appreciating now that the garden is a bit ratty from our dry summer.

I set up the food in the kitchen, since I am shy of being caught in the rain like we were for our first party! We were, however, able to eat outside this year thankfully. The little girls so look forward to dressing up in all their finery. It was a fun, relaxed time of yummy food, walking through the garden and the ever popular hunt for little garden trinkets amongst the flowers. My girls could not wait to find their birdies! In past years, we have had a flower identification hunt with an illustrated guide. It was so nice just to share being in the garden with so many friends.
A garden party needs a yummy cake: Almond cake topped layered with fresh whipped cream and the most scrumptious strawberry icing!!
A garden party needs a yummy cake: Almond cake topped layered with fresh whipped cream and the most scrumptious strawberry icing!!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Green Painted Lawn anyone?

 I happened to noticed this article on the Weather Channel.com the other day that says turf painting is really catching on these days due to the drought. For around $200, you too can have your green dream turf. A few ranting/incredulous thoughts...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Visit to Glen Burnie Gardens in Winchester, VA

The Grand Allee at the Glen Bernie Gardens in the Shenandoah Valley
One of the first stops on our family trip to Virginia this year was to see the gardens at the Glen Bernie House in Winchester, VA. It was a great stop, even with the intense heat that day. I found this garden randomly through UK garden blogger Charlotte, who had posted a photo of the gardens with the above allee of crabapple trees flowering pink in the spring.

They have created a tourist stop that appeals to history buffs as well as gardeners by building the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley on the house property. It includes a Civil War room, a portrait gallery, rooms full of art and artifacts from the region and a room full of miniatures which were collected by the creator of Glen Bernie, R. Lee Taylor. We, of course, set out directly for the gardens and walked through the museum to cool off after lunch.
The Pink Pavilion courtyard was one of my favorite areas at Glen Bernie. The topiary was very neatly kept. A very classical look for this bench area with an iron gate and flanked by busts.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day - July 2012

Potted red Japanese maple (Acer) on our back steps, which are becoming nicely clothed in ivy. This was one of the first turf areas to be planted with ground cover.
Potted red Japanese maple (Acer) on our back steps, which are becoming nicely clothed in ivy. This was one of the first turf areas to be planted with ground cover.
I am joining in very late with a foliage post this July. Here are a few green scenes from Gilmore Gardens, which are truly carrying the garden until the fall flowers begin.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Picking Blueberries in July

July is the month for pick-your-own blueberries in PA, zone 5.
July is the month for pick-your-own blueberries in PA, zone 5.
Picking blueberries in July is a summer tradition at our house. Usually just after Independence Day (July 4th) we make our first trip out to the local blueberry fields with more trips to follow; once a week for three to four consecutive weeks. This year, all of the berries were ripe nearly at the same time and we made two trips in one week, bringing home over 18 quarts of blueberries! Hint: Picking goes much faster with two milk jug buckets tied on your waist at the same time.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rain!

White meadow rue (Thalictrum pubescens) in our Back Woodland with raindrops
White meadow rue (Thalictrum pubescens) in our Back Woodland with raindrops.
We finally had rain yesterday, which all of the flowers and foliage have been yearning for weeks, not to mention the gardeners. It started with a cloud burst and ended with a nice slow rain for the rest of the day well into the evening. Here are a few wet scenes after our downpour in the afternoon...
Hosta, a Christmas fern and Brunnera 'Jack Frost' around a maple on the Shade Path.
Hosta, a Christmas fern and Brunnera 'Jack Frost' around a maple on the Shade Path.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Gardening in Pennsylvania ~ GBBD July 2012

Lavender and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) in the Driveway Garden for July
Lavender and purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea) in the Driveway Garden for July
Welcome to Pennsylvania in July! It has been a hot dry summer here this year, as it has been in most of the US. My gardens have had very little supplementary watering this season. Everything was looking tired around the edges until we had a garden clean-up this past weekend.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Sunny Plant Combination: Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' and Sedum 'Red Carpet'

Sunny plant combination: Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' and Sedum 'Red Carpet'
Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' and Sedum 'Red Carpet'
Two great plants that seem to live together in harmony... the North American native Yellow Tickseed, Coreopsis 'Moonbeam', and the low spreading Stone Crop, Sedum 'Red Carpet'.  

 I caught sight of these two playing nicely at a family stop on our summer trip to Virginia. We also stopped at two great gardens along the way. More photos coming soon!

Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' and Sedum 'Red Carpet' are thriving in this extremely low maintenance garden by a walkway.
Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' and Sedum 'Red Carpet' are thriving in this extremely low maintenance garden by a walkway.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Hello Mr. Snapping Turtle

On a walk a few weeks ago, thought I spied a new lawn ornament near one of my neighbor's sidewalks - and then it looked at me. It's grey color just matched the concrete so perfectly. Such a large snapping turtle is so rare to see at all! Let alone right in the middle of a large neighborhood. There is a bit of wetland just around the corner, so perhaps he was trying for a relocation. 

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Driveway Garden at the end of June

Driveway Garden in June: Asiatic Lily 'Rosella’s Dream', Geranium 'Orion', Lavender, Allium sphaerocephalon
Summer is in full swing around here in PA! It has been hot and the hose has been out more than once for the kids and the new perennials which are barely hanging on through this heat.  It has been a warm summer for sure and quite dry. I am a bit sorry for my garden, though really I am mostly enjoying that it is not a cold and gloomy summer like it is some years.
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