HOME, Sweet homestead…

Scent, structure and style…must haves in the garden!  Plan a scent scheme dream…your garden can easily be a place filled with fragrance wafting through the air from dawn to dusk. Scent evokes intense emotions and response, especially when associated with a special memory of a place, a person or an event. I still remember how lovely my grandmother smelled when she hugged me…it was Yardley in those days…lavender scented soap, ‘toilet’ water and fresh powder…

Smell is considered to be the first of our senses to develop…we all react to those scent memories first learned as babies.

An inviting entry path filled with lavender and roses while fragrant phlox and Annabelle hydrangeas intrigue and tease the senses all summer. Cedar structure holds climbing roses…adding a vertical element to the mix.

Perennials, herbs, shrubs, vines, bulbs and of course, old roses all have fragrant members of their group! Let your nose be your guide while choosing what you want as part of your scent scheme…here are just a very few, easily grown and cared for almost anywhere.

Perennials: phlox, lilies, peonies, iris, daisies, coneflowers, dianthus, verbena

Herbs: rosemary, lavender, thyme, pineapple sage, lemon verbena, mints, patchouli

Shrubs: lilac, butterfly bushes, mock orange, viburnum, gardenia, hydrangeas

Vines: jasmine, honeysuckle, sweet autumn clematis and others, wisteria, chocolate vine

Bulbs: daffodils, hyacinths, Oriental lilies, acidanthera, tuberose, lily of the valley

A tip for extending phlox blooms…leave some of the flower stems long, cut some back by 1/2 and some by 1/3…this group of 3 variables will promote longer flowering as well as a variety of heights.

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Make an entrance, my dream scheme entry path to the house...lavender spills over the gravel, rosemary behind and climbing roses against the wall. Of course, the wall and the gate add structure and interest while inviting you into the home. As you approach, the garden beckons, making you feel as if you’re being let in on a well-kept secret. The dream idea is there and can easily be adapted to your site…a cedar, iron or white picket fence could also create the perfect atmosphere for your garden…from rustic to refined as shown below…

Fresh herbs, intensely aromatic, are an essential ingredient in the garden as well as obvious necessities for all types of cooking…and plant-powered medicine. I really cannot imagine having or designing a garden without herbs! From years ago, I remember summertime meals at grandmother’s, eaten outside on a huge table covered with oilcloth, sitting on the swept yard under gigantic old oak and sycamore trees. The food laden table held the scent of rosemary and pepper on tiny new potatoes, fresh basil chopped on huge slices of just picked tomatoes, sweet corn-on-the-cob dripping with newly churned butter and sprinkled with parsley, lemon verbena on strawberries and just cranked vanilla ice cream…all creating vibrant flavors, tastes and memories never forgotten.

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Elderflower…shown above by my creek bed at the edge of the woods…is a plant from Mother Nature’s healing wildflowers. The wonder of elderlower, those frothy white blooms, appear in early summer standing tall along side creeks, country road ditches, flourishing at the edge of shady moist woodlands…is astounding. Both their blooms and berries, used for tea or tincture, offer therapeutic qualities as an anti-inflammatory and colds and sinus treatment, are also rich in Vitamin C and many other medicinal benefits.  The sweetly scented creamy white flowers are used to easily make a refreshing drink as well as a cordial. The lovely bottle of St. Germain shown is a French elderflower cordial with a hint of citrus that adds a bit of additional zip to a glass of white wine or sparkly Prosecco!

NOTE: ONLY the flowerheads and berries are usable!

My garden has gotten so thick that the plants cross over much of the paths…I just plunge on through along the meandering walkways stirring fragrance into the air.

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Along the way I keep several of my antique galvanized watering cans, full of water, for any plant emergencies I might find on my walk. The walkways and gravel paths through my garden link the areas of different planting schemes offering glimpses of eye-catching accents, sculpture, benches and vine-covered trellises.

bluedoorSimply defined, a garden is a place where plants live…the gardener here has created a garden that surrounds you in delightful fragrance and color for most of the year…the result of a planned dream scheme!

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                              The chicks are out playing and pooping in the RAIN!!

So it is time to go out to their pen to clean and add fresh alfalfa and pine shavings…

Till next time, dear friends, from Holly and me…Happy Gardening!

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May…discover the delights of spring.

Early morning spring walk through the woods…

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From darkness to dawn, magnificent oaks, elms, pines and sycamores stood silent…not a dog barked, not a bird chirped among the dark farm houses down beyond the woods. Then, the solitary chirp of a cardinal started in the trees and soon others began adding their mellifluous voices…birdsong filled the air against a rustling of leaves in the breeze. As daylight broadens in the eastern sky, the morning mist cleared away as I stood looking and listening to the expressive cooing of doves in the treetops while more birds joined the burble. Stopping for a moment by a fallen tree, a sudden flicker of movement catches my eye. A tiny bird, jaunty with a flirting tail, alighted on a branch across my path and began chirping off at my intrusion to the minute wren’s world. Sitting on the fallen tree, Holly by my side, listening and watching as squirrels began to scamper in search of nuts  while a doe followed by her twin fawns meandered by just a few feet away from me, I know there is nothing like this experience of hearing and watching and being a part of the dawn chorus.

From my back porch…

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Enjoying a lite lunch outside in the garden on a warm spring day, I have the perfect spot to look over and study the innermost secrets of my garden in harmony with its surroundings. The profusion of unseen activity shows in the soft falls of lavender & purple iris, the sun lighting up apricot, blush pink and white rose bloom, the richness of an amethyst clematis flower opening to the brightness gracefully weaving up and over the garden arch, clumps of deep pink chives in blossom mingled with the grayish tinge of French thyme edge the path in front of several pink and white roses…my garden, my many jewels!

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Petal Power…Late spring to early summer heralds the flowering of peonies in my garden with their showy voluptuous blooms…shown here with one of my favorite hydrangeas…Annabelle! The repeated use of this all season blooming white hydrangea acts as a transition from the perennial garden to my wild cutting garden.

As a “country gardener” I’m not concerned with current trends…I much prefer the traditions of the past by including familiar plants such as peonies, foxgloves, hollyhocks, “pinks”, iris, roses, phlox, blooming shrubs, roses and all kinds of herbs in my garden and for clients that ask me to design gardens for them.! In a “too fast-paced” world these plants offer a reassuring sense of enchanting chaos for me…my garden and my home are my joy…my comfort everyday.

Annabelle, coneflowers white & pink phlox and more…

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Fresh-faced annual appeal…I’ll go along with some annuals that are ideal for filling any gaps in a garden from early mid-summer to fall. Tucked in among perennials sometime in early spring, heirloom plants such as tall and wispy cosmos, bachelor buttons, love-in-a-mist and cleome will create a haze of color and texture…save the seeds to create new plants from year to year.

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It’s just that simple…extend the bloom time of annuals and perennials with regular deadheading, if you have time! Just cut above a strong leaf joint instead of simply cutting off the flower. Prompt removal of flower heads and their stems promotes new side shoots and continuous flowering. Along with consistent moisture, good mulch and some foliar feeding…the plants will bloom longer than if left alone. Also, if you want to collect seeds, be sure to let some flower heads alone to create seed pods.

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Vintage Charm…over many decades my homes have been filled with pieces I have been drawn to and collected, eclectic pieces that fill my home and every room that reflect the gracious marks of time and use…when everyday objects were made to last…along with a few whimsies that often inspire conversation. My heart is always drawn to the charm of French pieces…to use, to care for and lovingly pass down to the next generation who will hopefully appreciate their passage through time and travels.

During spring and summer…a chilled glass of white wine pairs very well with fresh cheese and fruits of the season. One of the most sublime food and wine combinations is fresh goats cheese, crispy baguette and a glass of Sauvignon Blanc.  The same SB also flatters the flavor of fresh cut asparagus and grilled salmon. For an even sweeter treat, try a nice Sauternes with a classic French style fruit and custard tart for dessert.

Here…chick, chick, chick! My little chicks are now 6 weeks old, living in their pen and are growing like proverbial weeds…of course I do give them fresh watercress, clover, meal worms and corn on the cob to peck at…everyday!!

spring       Enjoy every spring day!

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