Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Spring at Meadowlark


As I sit here it is pouring rain, 49 chilly degrees, and it's going to rain like this (even harder) the next few days. We had a beautiful weekend and because I knew the rain was coming, I got a lot done in the garden. I planted a few new perennials to fill in some empty areas--two new 'Peppermint Stick'  phlox and some new edging plants, Oregano 'Kent Beauty.' I also bought a new Japanese Forest Grass, 'All Gold,' a bright lime green to plant in a shady spot under the pine trees. I also dug up and divided a bunch of perennials to spread around-- some geraniums, heuchera,  nepeta,  and lambs ears. This rain will help them all settle in nicely. If it was a little warmer, I would have planted some zinnia seeds, but those will have to wait.


On Sunday, we went to a yummy brunch at Eileen's house, to celebrate Prudy's retirement. It was a lot of fun and a beautiful afternoon. On our way home in the afternoon, we stopped for a walk at Meadowlark Gardens, mostly because I wanted to see the crabapple trees in bloom. They were, but must be a little past their prime because they weren't as spectacular as I remember them in years past. But there was plenty to see in bloom, all the wildflowers and flowering tree and tulips. We walk there a lot, and it just reminded me how wonderful it is to see everything greening up and to see color again. The peonies were all in bud, but it will be another few weeks before they are blooming.

Purple and white tulips


Jack in the pulpit

White bleeding heart


Grape hyacinth

White garden

White tulips

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday Fleurs (and Foliage)



Dicentra 'Gold Heart'

Japanese Painted Fern

Variegated Solomon's Seal

Bleeding Hearts and Hellebores

Japanese Maple

Euphorbia 'Chameleon'

Iris pallida

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Akebia Vine

My akebia is at its best right now--such a pretty spring green and just starting to bloom. I love the delicate pattern it makes along the fence. It can be kind of invasive so I spend some time in the spring and summer keeping it in check.  It tends to climb into nearby trees and shrubs, but it sure is pretty right now.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry

Harold Fry, 65 years old and newly retired,  is living a pretty dull life in his house in a small English village with his wife Maureen, who spends her life cleaning the house, being annoyed with Harold, and waiting for their adult son David to return home.   When Harold receives a letter from a long ago friend and co-worker, Queenie,  telling him that she is dying and saying goodbye, he feels badly ("Gosh," he says),  and decides to send her a letter. It stirs something in him, because apparently Queenie had done something nice for him twenty years earlier. As he walks to the post office to mail the letter, he finds he cannot stop. He walks to the next post office, and then on.  As crazy as it sounds, he decides to walk the 627 miles from his hometown in Kingsbridge near the English Channel north to the hospice where Queenie lies dying in Berwick-upon-Tweed. He convinces himself that if he keeps on walking, Queenie will stay alive.

"If we don't go mad once in a while, there's no hope.”

Harold starts out in a kind of wonder, marveling at the countryside before him, enjoying the physical task of walking, the fresh air, being out of his confining house (life), enjoying the cast of odd characters he meets along the way and who join him for awhile, lost in their own troubles. The descriptions of the English countryside are wonderful and you begin to feel you are on the journey with Harold.

“... He went under the stars, and the tender light of the moon, when it hung like an eyelash and the tree trunks shone like bones. He walked through wind and weather, and beneath sun-bleached skies. It seemed to Harold that he had been waiting all his life to walk. He no longer knew how far he had come, but only that he was going forward. The pale Cotswold stone became the red brick of Warwickshire, and the land flattened into middle England. Harold reached his hand to his mouth to brush away a fly, and felt a beard growing in thick tufts. Queenie would live. He knew it.” 

As he walks and keeps moving forward,  Harold is also thinking backward, reflecting on his unhappy childhood, and on his role as husband, father, friend. He remembers first meeting his wife, the birth of his son, and thinks about the mistakes he has made in his life, and the troubled relationship with his son David.  The walk becomes more and more difficult, both physically and emotionally,  and he begins to doubt himself, but somehow Harold keeps putting one foot in front of the other.  At one point, people catch on to what Harold is doing and the newspapers get wind of it and Harold is famous for a time.  But ultimately it is Harold alone trying to get to Queenie.  Paralleling Harold’s walk, his bewildered wife Maureen starts thinking about her life too, begins to see Harold in a different way, plants a garden, befriends a neighbor,  and takes down the curtains that have been blocking the world from her house and her life.

Quirky and thought-provoking, I enjoyed the book very much.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hello Peonies

Herbaceous peonies

One of the chores I accomplished in le jardin this weekend was staking my peonies. A few years ago I bought these peony supports that let the herbaceous peonies grow through them and then support the stems.  They have been a great success, no more droopy blooms on the ground.  I have a lot of peonies but I only support the ones in the front garden. The only problem is you have to set the supports before the growing stems get too tall, and they grow so fast in the spring.  I have another row of peonies on the side of my garage and they seem to stand up straighter there--maybe it's because they are in direct sun all day. Anyway, I don't bother with those. My tree peony is another story, it is so big now that I construct an elaborate system of stakes and twine trying to keep it more upright. I want those gorgeous blooms to show at their best!  Doesn't look great right now but once the foliage comes in you don't see any of the supports.

Herbaceous peonies
 My tree peony always blooms around May 1-- a week or so before the herbaceous peonies. I think it may bloom a little later this year, though, we'll see. Everything is a little delayed this spring. But things are looking good!

Tree peony staked

Tree peony

Tree peony in bud

Front perennial garden, April 22

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday Fleurs

My cherry tree in bloom

The past few days have been cool, but sunny, and most important of all, there is color! I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see some color emerge in the garden. I guess a long winter does that to you, but everything just seems so vibrant and so welcome this spring. We have had a couple of freezes this week, but so far I haven't noticed any damage. The only thing I really worry about is my big tree peony. It has lots of buds, and I'm hoping they are okay.

I spent the afternoon outside yesterday, spraying my peonies and roses with a fungicide, trying to ward off disease. I did it last year and it seemed to help.  I also pruned back all my lavenders--I have a lot of really old lavender plants that I prune back every spring and fall. I'm a little worried about a few of the younger plants, they may have fallen victim to the arctic cold winter,  but we'll see. I'm hoping they will rebound. My rosemary plant is dead. I have talked to several other people who have lost rosemary plants this year as well.  I also shellac-ed my gourd birdhouses and finished spreading bone meal around my emerging perennials. Checking more garden chores off the list...

Viburnum carlesii



Viburnum carlesii

Tall snowdrops



Tall snowdrops

Thursday, April 17, 2014



by Linda Pastan

A whole new freshman class
of leaves has arrived

on the dark twisted branches
we call our woods, turning

green now--color of
anticipation. In my 76th year,

I know what time and weather
will do to every leaf.

But the camellia swells
to ivory at the window,

and the bleeding heart bleeds
only beauty.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Spring in Atlanta

I spent the weekend in Atlanta with Julia and it was so nice to see that leafy green city again.  Atlanta is so lush and green, with lots of big, old established trees that canopy the streets.  They are way ahead of us, lots in bloom.  Azaleas are everywhere, along with spring shrubs and flowers. The trees are all leafed out and the dogwoods were at their peak this weekend. The weather was perfect, and we walked to a Dogwood Festival in Piedmont Park on Saturday, filled with craft and art vendors, food, and music. The Atlanta BeltLine is right behind Julia's apartment so we took long walks on that both Saturday and Sunday, joining lots of walkers, cyclists, skateboarders, and runners. It really seemed like everyone in Atlanta was outside this weekend, and we spent most of our time outside, too, walking around the city and her neighborhood,  admiring the houses and gardens. Of course we had some pretty delicious meals too. We also visited Maggie, who lives in Atlanta and we took a stroll around her neighborhood with her and baby Liam. Lots of fun, but just nice to spend some time with my girl.

Lots of curbside gardens

Bike art along the BeltLine

Lunch in Midtown

Happy to see these gingko trees

Maggie and Liam