Lilac blossoms always say spring is here…and this year, earlier than expected! Mine are already blooming along with spirea near by. Plant this easy, old-fashioned lilac shrub near your bedroom window, 6′ away from foundation, of course. When in bloom, the delightfully delicious fragrance drifting through an open window will awaken you with an unforgettably soft sweetness. Lilacs are simple to grow in the right spot and with just slight care…depending on where your garden grows!! Here in Virginia, my lilacs are living in a sunny spot in spring and as the trees turn green their leaves begin to shade the shrubs in the late afternoon.

April in the garden…if you succumb to the frenzy of packed spring displays at garden centers offering tempting pots of annuals and perennial plants that you have to read tag info, such as it is,  or ask an onsite gardener, hopefully, before buying?? Whoa! It’s okay to get swept away by the beauty of all those blooms after a winter of none, for some but not me. BUT, be sure your choices will suit your SITE…that they will naturally thrive in your SOIL and prevailing climate…as I’ve said for over 25 years…Learn to love the plants that LIKE where YOU live!

ALL GARDEN CENTERS DO NOT BUY FOR LOCATION! THEY BUY TO CREATE AN EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO BLOOMS AND COLOR, WISHES AND WANTS! This is a lovely site and I’m sure a joy to visit! Seek out the extraordinary independent centers such as the one shown below! You will typically find knowledgeable gardeners willing to help!

Time Well Spent…an hour or two spent adding a new layer of mulch to your garden beds will save you hours later on pulling weeds from your garden! Now is the TIME to do it! Apply a 2-3 inch layer of fresh mulch when soil is moist, after a spring rain is ideal, but you can also simply give a good spray from the hose. It’s also a good time to add a top dressing of homemade compost or well-rotted manure just before you apply fresh mulch. As for which mulch to use…I prefer and typically specify deep rich, earthy brown shredded hardwood mulch…NO CHIPS, or COLORS!! Always be sure to avoid direct contact with woody plant stems and especially tree when adding mulch. Mulch piled up around tree trunks like a teepee can especially do great damage.

A place to sit or put supplies you need…Always a good idea to have a chair or bench along a garden path…for those countless times I have spent looking for gloves or trimmers this now saves my sanity.

garden chair

So by now you should have trimmed all your lavender and any other silver leaved plants…santolina, Russian sage, curry, artemisias, and such

NOTE: while working in your garden, if the soil sticks to your boots or clogs, it is too wet for sowing seeds but is ideal for transplanting! Seeds are best either scattered or pressed into slightly moist soil and then sprayed to settle in for sprouting.

rose DA

Blooming this week in my garden…delicate and enchanting, this David Austin rose, Princess Anne, should be an inspiration to add old roses to your garden. No more difficult hybrid teas!  An Austin rose is typically a nice shrubby plant with deep green leaves and many-petaled, richly fragrant blossoms. In the 1960s, English rose breeder, David Austin, created some lovely new “old roses” by crossing Old Garden Roses with more modern floribunda roses in order to achieve superb fragrance, delicate blooms, winter hardiness and repeat flowering…all with the charm of old roses. Moving several times over the years, I have always included many Austin roses in my gardens. Knowing that there are NO perfect roses…I believe Old Garden or Antique Roses come pretty close…Mr. Austin sought to achieve perfection with his new roses and in my view has come awfully close capturing their romance, beauty, versatility, subtle colors and outstanding fragrances. I always feel a sense of nostalgia as the old or Austin carries me away to the time of English poets. The apricot rose, Lady of Shalott, is an especially nice pure apricot color. A rolled rim Italian terra cotta pot is the perfect container for this rose that I’ve placed just behind a large group of Provence lavender plants in my garden…

Coffee Break…I really love a cup of good, strong, freshly ground and brewed coffee and I only drink organic coffee that is shade grown and fair trade. Many years ago it was difficult to find certified organic coffee but today there are several hundred companies that grow and roast organic coffee beans. Why bother you ask? I learned decades ago about saving the rain forests and WHY…aside from the obvious contribution of so many trees absorbing CO2 for the good of the planet…coffee beans were grown in the shade, under the forest canopy, their natural habitat. Of course some farmers soon found that you could grow coffee a lot faster if you cleared the forest canopy and grew it in the sun! But the biggest problem with growing coffee in the sun is the constant need for dousing it with synthetic chemicals and pesticides…you take a plant out of its natural growing condition and it needs help. As a result, coffee is considered #1 out of the top 10 products to avoid because of chemicals and pesticides used for growing. Thankfully there are farmers once again committed to growing only the finest and purest beans…in the shade and without chemicals or pesticides! It does cost just a wee bit more but I think we’re worth it!!


APRIL in Paris…okay, well one can dream to be there again!!

Here’s to a happy spring time, filled with perfect weather and rainfall!


From Holly and ME!









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