Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Morning Fleurs

It's a beautiful morning here today, I was up early wandering around outside, pulling weeds, taking some photos of this pretty daylily which just popped open this morning. This weekend was a maintenance kind of weekend, I spent some time getting the garden back in order after the fading of the spring and early summer blooms.  I cut down the baptisia (which was huge) to about half, sheared the perennial geraniums,  deadheaded lots of roses, and pulled out armfuls of larkspur. Daisies, purple coneflowers, phlox, and daylilies are just starting to come in. There are some open spaces in the garden now, but I know the baptisia and geraniums will fill in. Or I might transplant a few zinnias. It's hard for me to see empty spots in the garden after all the lushness.

This daylily just started to bloom and I love it with this lavender achillea. When the phlox comes out in a few days it will be sea of pinks and lavenders.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Garden Moments

"Sometimes the most memorable garden moments are the most fleeting, as when a single leaf, backlit by the sun, is transformed from opaque to a translucent tracery of veins more beautiful than any stained glass. I hate to leave my garden for any length of time because it means I miss these moments, or the more predictable blooms of favorite plants."

David Culp, The Layered Garden

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

New Gardening Books

When this new collection of gardening books came into the library recently, these colorful covers about four of my favorite plants definitely caught my eye and I snapped them all right up.  (Well I do like dahlias, but I'm not having much luck with them. Out of the four tubers I planted in May only one has come up. That one is doing well, though!)

But I do have a lot of snowdrops, sedums, and salvias, so it was fun to look through these books. The books are published by Timber Press, in association with the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, and are written by experts on each plant. The photography in the books is beautiful, with gorgeous close-ups and showing the plants in different gardens and alongside companion plants. There are recommended cultivars and tips on growing and using in the home garden.   I think they would be a good addition to any garden library!

And aren't they pretty?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sunday Morning in DC

Morning activity on the National Mall

On Sunday morning we decided to go downtown early to see the new Degas/Cassatt exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. We got there at 10 am to grab a parking space and because the Gallery doesn't open until 11 am we walked around the Mall, visiting my favorite little pocket garden, the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden,  and the Hirshhorn Sculpture Garden. I just love that Ripley garden, it is the perfect size and filled with really interesting plants. Sandwiched between the Hirshhorn and the old Smithsonian building, it is easy to miss, but it a beautiful little oasis in DC, definitely worth a visit. It was a beautiful morning to walk around the Mall, especially so with a chocolate croissant and coffee from Bakery Paul.

National Gallery of Art
 The exhibit was great, not too crowded as we were early. Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt were contemporaries and good friends, and had a lot of influence on each other's works. They collected and supported each other's works. It was interesting to see their works together, and especially the portraits and drawings Degas did of Mary Cassatt. I was especially interested because I am reading a book right now, The Art Forger, which is about a woman who is a sort of expert on Degas and there is a lot of talk about Degas and his techniques, so it was even more interesting to view his paintings.

Burghers of Calais by Rodin

Monumental Head by Giacometti

Mary Livingston Riley Garden

Friday, June 20, 2014

Greens: June

Anemones, Solomon's Seal, Geranium

I think one of the reasons I like to garden so much is because I just like being surrounded by all those calming shades of green. I love all the greens of my garden as much as I like the blooms. They are such a good backdrop to all the colors of spring--daffodils and snowdrops, larkspur and peonies-- and then they really come into play when the colors die down and the greens become the backbone of the garden for the rest of the summer. And greens are so fresh and cool in the hot days of our summer.  I have pockets of color coming in the summer--zinnias, asters, daisies, coneflowers--but really the garden is the greens.  I love to take photos of all the greens at different times of the year,  so here you go~~June greens.

Kousa Dogwood

Hellebores, Hosta, Japanese Painted Fern, Anemone

Styrax tree

Mini Hosta

Lady Fern

Euphorbia, Hosta, Sedum


Variegated Alyssum

Hosta 'June'

Sorrel, Lime Thyme

Variegated Solomon's Seal
'Limelight' Hydrangea

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My Garden

"My garden, with its silence and the pulses of fragrance that come and go on the airy undulations, affects me like sweet music. Care stops at the gates, and gazes at me wistfully through the bars. Among my flowers and trees Nature takes me into her own hands, and I breathe freely as the first man."
~~Alexander Smith

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hoeing the Garden

St. Francis of Assisi was hoeing his garden when someone asked what he would do if he were suddenly to learn that he would die before sunset that very day.

"I would finish hoeing my garden," he replied. 

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Sweet Tooth

I enjoyed this book by Ian McEwan. My book group at the library discussed it this week, and while most people liked it, a few did not, thought it was totally unbelievable, didn't like the characters, etc. Some people were expecting a spy novel, since the main character is working for MI-5. A spy novel it is not, although it takes place during the Cold War of the 1970s.   The story begins with  Serena, a young woman in her twenties, who works as a low-level employee for MI-5, the British domestic counterintelligence agency.  Sweet Tooth is the code name for an undercover operation that will pay long-term stipends to up and coming writers with an anti-Communist bent,  under the guise of a shadowy literary 'foundation.'  Because she likes to read fiction, Serena is tasked with recruiting a young author, Tom Haley. Of course there is romance, and the two begin a relationship, with all the expected complications of deception.

There are so many layers of deception and betrayal in the book, and many twists and turns. I liked the cleverness of the story, and I appreciate McEwan's writing.  I liked that it is a 'literary' novel, with lots of references to books and authors, to the relationship between writer and reader. Snippets of Tom Haley's short stories are included too, 'stories within the story.' No spoilers, but the book is worth reading for the last chapter alone.

Monday, June 9, 2014

In Bloom: Larkspur

The larkspur is the star of the garden right now.  I love everything about larkspur, its ferny foliage, the pastel colors, the ease with which it re-seeds itself.  When it is done blooming and the seed heads dry, I just sprinkle them throughout the garden and so far I have had luck with reblooming every year.  I used to try and grow delphiniums,  which I love for their deep blue colors and vertical interest, but they just don't do well with our hot and humid summers. Larkspur lets me have that look and those colors and it seems to like it here.  My garden never looks better than when the larkspur is blooming.

Friday, June 6, 2014

'The Cruel Winter' of 2014

Oakleaf hydrangea getting ready to bloom,  June 6

"I must start with a warning not to despair about plants apparently killed by the frosts, ice-rain, east winds, and other afflictions they have had to suffer. They may look dead now, but their powers of revival are astonishing. You may have to cut some shrubs down to ground level, but my recommendations would be not to dig anything up rashly until you are quite, quite certain that it has no intention of putting out green shoots again. This certitude may not come until the summer is well advanced. I remember the agreeable surprises we got after the cruel winter of 1940."
~~Vita Sackville-West, April 1947.

'Endless Summer' Hydrangea, June 6
Lacecap hydrangea, June 6

I have been enjoying reading Vita Sackville-West's book, In Your Garden, which is a collection of her gardening columns in the British newspaper The Observer from 1946-1950. Reading the passage above made me think about the hydrangeas and other plants which have suffered severe winter damage this year.  I love reading these old garden books, and seeing how much is the same. Here we are, 75 years later, fretting about the same things. Gardening is so timeless.

Lacecap hydrangea 'Blue Bird,'  June 6

This was a bad winter for the hydrangeas. And rosemary. Everyone I know lost their rosemaries.  And the really cold temps and the frequent snows did some major damage to the hydrangeas around here. The professional gardeners we met on our Pennsylvania garden tour in May all mentioned their winter-damaged hydrangeas, but made the same cautions as Vita Sackville-West--don't give up on them. Don't cut out the dead wood until July, they told us.  My oakleaf hydrangeas are fine and have flowers budding, as do the 'Limelights.'  It is the old fashioned mopheads (hydrangea macrophylla) and the lacecaps (hydrangea serrata) that are looking kind of sad.  I have two 'Blue Bird' lacecaps and a variegated 'Mariesii' lacecap that all looked pretty much dead well into spring (I've had them for years).  But in early May I finally saw leaves coming up around the base.  They all have pretty good growth now, but an 'Endless Summer' (a reblooming variety) is struggling. I think they will all be okay in the end, but there probably won't be many flowers this year.  Maybe in another 75 years people will be reading about the cruel winter of 2014.