Friday, May 30, 2014

'To This May'

To This May
by W.S. Merwin

They know so much more now about
the heart we are told but the world
still seems to come one at a time
one day one year one season and here
it is spring once more with its birds
nesting in the holes in the walls
its morning finding the first time
its light pretending not to move
always beginning as it goes

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Dumbarton Oaks Gardens


Sunday was such a gorgeous day and we decided to go downtown in the late afternoon and walk around the gardens at Dumbarton Oaks in upper Georgetown. We got there around 4:30 and I've decided that's the perfect time to visit a garden. It wasn't too crowded, the light was perfect, and everything seemed so calm and tranquil.  The gardens are in the middle of a neighborhood, and we saw many people sitting on benches reading the newspaper or a book.  Dumbarton Oaks was originally owned by Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss, who bought the property and gardens in 1920, and then collaborated with famed American landscape designer Beatrice Farrand for the next thirty years, refining every garden detail. There are more than 50 garden benches, most designed by Farrand, encouraging visitors to sit and reflect. The garden was donated to Harvard University in 1940,  and the adjoining woodland was donated to the U.S. government.

One of the things I like the most about this garden is the beautiful ornament--exquisite urns, balustrades, gates, garden benches, columns, finials, steps, and stonework.

The Rose Garden was in full bloom and each bed of roses was breathtaking. Placed in a geometric pattern, the rosebushes are enclosed by boxwood hedges. The fragrance was amazing, with over 900 roses.

I loved, loved, loved this climber, against that stone wall.  I think it might be 'Joseph's Coat.'

The hilly landscape is terraced into different garden rooms (Rose Garden,  Beech Terrace, Herbaceous Borders, Kitchen Garden, Cutting Garden, Pebble Garden, Green Garden, Fountain Garden, and more), which are further defined by hedges, allĂ©es, and gates. All that green is so restful.

The herbaceous borders were a blooming landscape of purples, blues, greens, and silvers.


And the peonies--so gorgeous and lush. I just wanted to lie down right there.

Detail of the Pebble Garden

The Orangery

And finally, this spreading Katsura tree (Cercidiphyllym japonicum), planted in the 1800s, was gorgeous. I can't tell you how many pictures I took of just this tree.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Late Afternoon in Georgetown

On Sunday, after working outside for several hours and planting my new Fothergilla gardenii that I bought a few weeks ago,  we decided to go downtown in the late afternoon. It was such a beautiful day and this was a great time to go. We went first for a walk around Dumbarton Oaks, which was a perfect time to visit and enjoy the gardens. Then we walked around Georgetown for awhile, stopping for dinner outside at La Ruche. There were so many people out and about, it was fun to be there.

And we might have stopped for a cupcake...

Friday, May 23, 2014

Unlovely Marigolds

'African marigolds have about as much freshness as the leather of a new football, without the quality of being easily kicked out of the way'--Christopher Lloyd in The Well-Tempered Garden, 1973

I don't always get my pots and flowers just right.  I am disliking this pot of yellow marigolds more and more every day. We all bought these marigolds up in Lancaster County on our plant-buying trip, when they were small and had the cutest lime green centers--and we all thought they were something special. But alas, as they have grown they have just turned into these big garish puffballs and I really can't stand them. These may be coming out of the pot and going in a far corner of the garden sometime soon.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pot Shots, Mid-May

My pots are all planted, and they look so neat and tidy right now, before they start growing big and blowsy. They're the usual plants, angelonias, lantanas, sweet potato vines, heliotrope, scaveola, million bells, setcresea, 'Diamond Frost' euphorbia, Persian Shield, alyssum, succulents... Some pots are mixed, others have a single variety of plants. I have a lot of succulents, and some scented geraniums, and I also planted a 'Sweet 100' cherry tomato plant this year. Regular geraniums don't do well for me, so I don't plant those anymore.

I always plant a purple pot.

And a pink pot.

And a white pot.

I tried to limit the million bells this year--it's hard because their colors are just so luscious and tempting.

My lemon pot--with 'Lemon Slice' million bells and lemon lantana.

I have always loved sweet alyssum and always buy lots of it. I plant it all over my garden, sticking it in little crevices and corners and between pavers. This year I tried some mixed colors in a stone pot.

And a few succulents (I have lots more).

Great foliage on this 'Centennial' geranium.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Gardener's Prayer

 Gardener's Prayer, by Karel Capek

O Lord, grant that in some way
it may rain every day,
Say from about midnight until three o'clock
in the morning,
But, You see, it must be gentle and warm
so that it can soak in;
Grant that at the same time it would not rain on
campion, alyssum, helianthus, lavendar, and others which
You in Your infinite wisdom know
are drought-loving plants-
I will write their names on a bit of paper
if you like-
And grant that the sun may shine
the whole day long,
But not everywhere (not, for instance, on the
gentian, plantain lily, and rhododendron)
and not too much;
That there may be plenty of dew and little wind,
enough worms, no lice and snails, or mildew,
and that once a week thin liquid manure and guano
may fall from heaven.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Books On My Nightstand

Lots to read lately, the books are piling up on my nightstand. It takes me forever to read a book right now, because I'm so tired at night, I'm lucky if I read 10 pages.
  • Missing You, by Harlan Coben. I liked his early books best, but I'll give his new one a try.
  • The Cuckoo's Calling, by Robert Galbraith. Several people recommended this book written under a pseudonym by J.K. Rowling--I am reading now and like it. Main character is a private detective named Strike!
  • Sweet Tooth, by Ian McEwan. Reading for book group. Better get cracking, it's next week.
  • The Education of a Gardener, by Russell Page. I read recently somewhere that this was one of the best books on gardening. I read it many years ago, but I'm re-reading a little each night.
  • Perfect, by Rachel Joyce. Second novel by the author who wrote The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.
  • Me Before You, by JoJo Moyes.
  • A Fatal Grace, by Louise Penny. After reading a later book in the Inspector Gamache series, I am going back and reading in order. This is number two.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Garden Tour, Part Three

As we continued on our garden tour in Swarthmore, PA, I was so excited to see this cute stone  cottage with a lime green door. When the bus stopped and I realized this was the garden we were visiting,  I was beyond happy. This was just our kind of house and garden, colorful and a little bit quirky. The garden is owned and tended by Joe Henderson, one of the gardeners at Chanticleer Gardens near Philadelphia, one of my very favorite gardens ever (if you are ever near Philadelphia, you have to go).  The smallest of the gardens we visited,  this one seemed the most like our own gardens, in the sense of being manageable and in a neighborhood. I spent a lot of time looking at all the plantings in their great entry garden. Love that chartreuse Japanese forest grass of course, and the climbing hydrangea.

Japanese forest grass

Walking around to the backyard, you pass through a shady garden with lots of hostas, hellebores, and these lovely woodland peonies. I had never seen woodland peonies before,  and they were so pretty.

I loved the use of the stone walls to differentiate the levels of the garden. There were beautiful trees surrounding the property. There was also more ornament in this garden than in the others--the gardener is a metal work craftsman and does all the metal work at Chanticleer, and all the metal work in this garden was done by him.

There was a great collection of bonsai and other potted plants on the terrace. The attention to detail was amazing,  like the oyster shells surrounding a pot, and the carefully placed rocks.


Because it was the last garden of the day, and they knew we had a long bus ride home, the owners were very gracious and had a lovely table set up on the lawn with wine and cold drinks,  cheeses, and fruit, and everyone mingled and asked questions and talked gardening. It was a wonderful way to end the garden tour. We were all very inspired, and I came away with a few things that I am going to work on in my garden:
  • Plant more
  • Plant more of what does well
  • Plant tulips
  • Details matter
A great gardening day with my pals