Friday, April 29, 2011

Color for the weekend...

Digitalis purpurea 

I love these beauties! 
This photo was taken at our College Ave apartment.
  ~ May 2007 ~

   With "Color for the weekend," I will be delving into the tremendous store of old photo I have from before my writing days to share with you all.  Hopefully they will be an inspiring end to your week!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Drippy Daffodils

...or "Damp Daffs" for our British friends.
    Here is how to have fun on a rainy day with magnifying filters...
                                 ...concentrate on the rain drops
    ...wait until you gain focus

                                ...and remember a rug to sit upon! 
     Narcissus 'Jenny' in the Driveway Garden this week.

Monday, April 25, 2011

6 Reasons to Garden on a Rainy Spring Day

Here are my reasons for putting on my raincoat, my already mud-caked shoes and gloves, and braving the sprinkling, trickling rain to move my plants around in the spring...

1. The plants are quite hydrated and shaded - less transplant shock to their systems.

2. The earth is soft - less muscle needed for digging and dividing.

3. Weeding is super easy - see #2.
4. No watering in when I am done! - less hauling of the hose is always a good thing.

(Then there are those days when it starts to drizzle and then promptly quits.  In such cases as these, I  am required to lug the hose around the house even though it is technically still "raining". When my neighbors see me watering my plants in the rain, I imagine they congratulate themselves on having proof for their misgivings about my sanity.   Of course I know the truth... that I am only watering the newly planted ones. This gives me comfort.)

5. Tea & cookies for a deserved warm-up/dry-off treat.  I am a dedicated tea drinker... the more flowery, the better.  My current favorites are Tazo's Berryblossom White, Tazo's Vanilla Apricot White and Numi's White Rose tea. I love white tea!
April 2009... Apricot Beauty tulips in our Driveway Garden
6. Because I would miss a day of gardening if I did not! - My husband forced me into confession of this point after reviewing this post in its early stages.  I am crazy (admitted of my own volition).

I am happier with rain dripping down my hood...
gloved-fingers heavy with mud...
hardly being able to hold on to the slick shovel...
getting my coat dirty like a toddler set loose in a mud pit...
as long as I get to be in my garden!

I am an all-weather gardener, you might say.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Song...

for the most important seed that ever fell into the earth...
that is still producing a greater harvest than any the world has ever known.

Matt Maher's song Christ is Risen
Jesus replied, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. ~ John 12:23-24

Friday, April 22, 2011

Color for the weekend...

     If you ever visit Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA, be sure to step out of the beaten path and view their formal waterlily gardens outside.  They have a couple dozen varieties of waterlilies to enjoy. I missed recording the name of this one, but we enjoy a print of it everyday on a blue-painted wall in our home.  ~ Photo taken September 2009.

Here are some views from Phipps' Spring Show 2009
and Phipps' Spring Show 2011.

   With "Color for the weekend," I will be delving into the tremendous store of old photo I have from before my writing days to share with you all.  Hopefully they will be an inspiring end to your week!

Vivid Colors at Phipps Conservatory Spring Show

   Flash back to 2009... My friend Emily & I took our three toddlers (my little girls then 3 & 1) to Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA for their Spring Show.  It was a tulip-filled day of chasing and photographing toddlers all around the glass houses. 

Knock-out vivid colors were the theme for the year. Lots of oranges with purples... red with blue.
And there they go again... Anna at one-year-old, Grace the three-year-old, and Emily's boy Josiah, a precocious two.  They could not have been any cuter while parading through the Sunken Garden. Go here for an interactive tour of the conservatory.

 Wow! Now there is some color to cure a spring fever. These combinations with bulbs and pansies were in the Serpentine Room.

I could not leave out a few shots from their Orchid Room.  This room has a tight path winding through chest-high walls of mountainous-like rocks dripping with orchids, tropical greenery and Spanish moss. Another beautiful, humid experience for the winter weary gardener.
Tulips, snapdragons and ever-so-neatly clipped box in the Broderie Room.  This room was like a fairytale dream to my child's heart.  Here is where they have posted info about renting their facilities for a wedding, so I guess I was not alone in my romantic musings.

An intoxicated sniffer... 
Grace Noel taking after her mommy.  

Just look at that dreamy smile below!

 Anna Rose grabbing all the petals she can reach.


I love this, orange and purple. 

 Yellow and blue with red accents... in the planting boxes around the Victoria Room.

Make sure you do not miss your sneak peek at this year's Phipps Spring Show 2011!
Also, make sure to check back on Sat. April 23rd for a gorgeous photo from Phipps' waterlily gardens!

Monday, April 18, 2011

The All-Weather Gardener

   As I have braved the cold, wet and windy climate this week to spend some time in my garden, I was reminded of an article that I wrote in early winter last year.  Parts of my garden are now looking nice and green already, and parts are still holding on to the hope of renewal... and that is what I am holding on to today for my own heart.

re-post from Dec 2010:
One cold late-autumn day, I stay inside to do the wife-task of ironing collared shirts for my husband... which I actually enjoy, sometimes, when I can put on music and make it a kind of meditative, worship time... one of the few times that I allow myself to slow down and be reflective while still in my house full of chores.

The pile has over a dozen shirts that I have saved up (or maybe ignored) until I must do this task.
     I heat up the iron, turn on the music and  
          let the Lord start to iron out the wrinkles in my heart...

I draw my curtains back so that I can look out onto the Shade Path while I work...
   The song on loop is one of my new favorites, Matt Maher's "Garden"... it is quiet (which I need while my two toddlers and one baby sleep), peaceful, and reminds me of the Lord's presence with me...
And you walk with me
You never leave
You're making my heart a garden
  As I start to relax, I begin to let down from my long day.  Being the mother of three small children can be exhausting!  I give and give, and try to give more though my flesh is howling in resentment.  I am worn from their needs and requests, but also from the battle with my own selfishness.

I am faced in this quiet moment with my sinfulness... the mess that is my life... all that I do not do...
     and all that I do, that I hate...

And I look out at that cold, almost frosted garden...

Everything green is dying down...
   what's left looks  
     broken, brown, shabby...
     on its way into the dormant season...
     the cold, frozen, dead-looking season...

                                  ...Like my heart
                                                    looks and feels.

   Our Shade Path is very near to the sidewalk and the road, and our home is situated on a fairly busy street headed into the downtown area.  Many, many times in this fall planting season
I have been out gardening in the cold afternoon... sometimes in the rain with water dripping down my hood... sometimes with fingers mostly frozen.   

And they pass me by.

The cars... the kids walking home from school.  And I feel the weight of curious,  
                    unbelieving eyes as they see me out there in that nasty weather.
                                                                               I think to myself, "They must think I am crazy."

  And what am I doing?  I am perfecting my garden.
That brown mess.   Beloved mess.  Truly, I am out there because I love it!
I love admiring what is there, even in this harsh season.

  I am tweaking the beauty that will exist next year... moving seedlings... planting hundreds of bulbs...
The beauty is hidden, dormant... cannot be seen by normal vision right now.
Only through eyes of faith can I see it already full of flowers... 
new growth... new color combinations... new heights of beauty. 
And you walk with me
You never leave
You're making my heart a garden

...the chorus sings on and I am suddenly struck: I am a garden!
I am brown and broken, yet loved by my Gardener
He tends me in the most caring way...
looking happily at the new growth here and shuffling more bulbs there...  
and He is making my heart beautiful.

Like me, He is an all-weather gardener...
     enjoying me right where I am,
          and patiently working into me the beauty that is to come

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Tips for applying mulch

"Beautiful! Glorious! Delicious!," my plants cry out. 

You know you are a real gardener when just thinking of rotting plant & animal material gives you excited butterflies in your stomach... as opposed to the queasiness that most people feel in their stomachs.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Color for the weekend...

More from Washington Boulevard:

Coral azalea, white and pink rhododendron...

an unidentified but beautiful  
iris on the hill near the woodland.

 ~ Photos taken May 2007

     With "Color for the weekend," I will be delving into the tremendous store of old photo I have from before my writing days to share with you all.  Hopefully they will be an inspiring end to your week!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day ~ April 2011

Daffodils at Gilmore Gardens!
(Alt. title: No more mowing the curb strip!!!)

  For the past year-and-a-half, I have been hard at work getting rid of the grass monoculture that occupied the wide strip between our sidewalk and the road. (Here is a great article on all the fun you can have in this unappreciated area of your garden.)

  After I lasagna-layered it with cardboard boxes and leaf litter, most of the sod smothered over the previous winter.  Last spring, I intensively planted it - actually my darling husband lent most of the muscle for this root-filled area - with extras from the rest of the yard.  Hemerocallis, artemesia, pachysandra, Sedum 'Acre', hosta, forget-me-nots... anything I could throw at it on a short budget.  Some mulch on top gave it a nicer look. 

   I ended up adding a forsythia that I rooted myself a few years ago when still living in our College Ave. apartment, and the daffs (Narcissus 'Topolino') were added last fall.  And here it is for its first beauty show!

   Narcissus 'Topolino' flanking the walkway to our back entrance.  Everything is already (and purposely) green in the Driveway garden - a trait to be sought after, as suggested by C. Lloyd himself (read more in Succession Planting for Year-Round Pleasure).

   Tulipa 'Ice Stick' is new to the Hill Garden this year. Wonderful to have such an early tulip, especially since we are running behind by a couple of weeks this year. Last year in April we were already enjoying our main tulip show!

    View from the tulips on the Hill Garden to the forsythias and pachysandra in the front of our home.  I love how the little purple in these tulips is picked by by the red barberry stems.
   Hellebores orientalis hyb...  a new one to our garden and I really like its soft pink color on the Shade Path.


Hellebores orientalis hyb. with it first buttery blooms.

   On to the blues: Scilla siberica in the backyard creates such a fun scene in our little rock garden by the maple tree and in the cracks of the patio.

  Surrounding our Circle Lawn, Anemone 'Blue Shades' is in full bloom now and looks lovely coming up through the loosestrife shoots (Lysimachia punctata 'Alexander').

Thanks to Carol at May Dream's Gardens for hosting 
Garden Blogger's Bloom Day!

Spring Photo Contest @ Fine

Tulips 'Design Impression' and 'Pink Diamond'

Flaunt your spring photos for the Fine Gardening Spring Awakenings Photo Challenge. 
Enter your images with a short description by midnight tomorrow, April 15th.  
The grand prize is a $100 certificate from White Flower Farm.

Fine Gardening has been one of my favorite garden magazines for over five years now... and as I thought about the photos that I would like to enter, I also thought of all the beautiful photography that I have seen from my fellow Blotanical members.  Hope you all enter and see what happens :)  Maybe add some Allium 'Purple Sensation' or some Iris pallida 'Variegata' this year...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Phipps Conservatory ~ Spring Show 2011

What a lovely family day-out on Friday! We all enjoyed the sights... and the perfumed scents!... of the spring flower show at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, PA. 
   It is always a nostalgic journey for me to this conservatory.  One step into the greenhouse and I am flooded by the sights and scents that I adored as a child.  Gazing at the vaulted ceiling of the glass house... being surrounded by magical tree ferns... color and blooms everywhere!... and the over-powering fragrance of tulips and hyacinths in an enclosed area.  I particularly remember seeing a photo of my sister and I smiling all bliss in our Easter dresses (complete with bonnets) while standing by a giant white bunny surrounded by tulips.  There started the miracle of the glass house for me, child of the snowylands.

   This amazing combination was my favorite, as I am always a lover of purples and chartreuse.  It was in the East Room, which includes a meandering stream bed. This adorable tulip is T. 'Blue Spectacle', here with a maidenhair fern (similar to Adiantum capillus-veneris) and dark-leaved coral bells (similar to H. 'Plum Pudding').   What a wonderfully lively combination!


   Some shining whites...  Tulipa 'White Triumph' with white caladiums (similar to C. 'White Christmas') stand in front of one garden urn and hedging (above left).   The dazzling Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum) in a pot with ferns and blue lobelia (above right).

   The Darwin hybrid tulip (Tulipa 'Design Impression') has uniquely yellow-edged leaves.  Here it is in a planting box with the white caladium.

   Tulipa 'Design Impression' (above left). Interior of single late Tulipa 'Pink Diamond' (above right).

   Amazing blooming hybrid azalea bonsai (Rhododendron 'Southern Indica'), now 20 years in the making.

Do not miss some vivid glimpses of the 2009 Spring Show!
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