Cyclamen cillicium

On the light of a clear frosty morning, there is a special spot in the Shire Garden that brings happy feelings when you come to it at this time. To see these lovely pink flowers covered in frosting like frost is such a delight.

Cyclamen like these are a little costly so we started with just a few, but over time they have multiplied for us quite nicely. They are not fussy and require a little more shade than sun and prefer well draining soils as they are subject to black rot. They have tuber roots that grow large in time and deliver larger clusters of flowers.

They begin to flower in the autumn and continue through out the winter till early spring when seed is set, once they go to seed they die back and go dominate through the late spring and summer season only to start up again in that following fall. So one must use care when planting summer flowers not to disturb their tubers,

As I stand there with coffee in hand looking upon such wonderful beauty, thinking how tiny yet strong, to with stand the riggers of our New England winters and yet still delivering life even when frozen.

These little guys are members of the less hardy flower shop varieties all come from varicose parts of Turkey. All with different ranges of hardiness.

I hope you plant some in the garden, this way you can say even when winter is in full swing that your garden is always in bloom. That when those days that the winter weather is warmer you will still have flowers to enjoy.

The wonderful part about this is that the rather long winter in thought is shortened and I’m all for that.

A thought; When we really stop and think about time and strength of size, it’s all relevant.

Time can be so fleeting, things can seem so momentary, even our memories of short moments can go from us. For me nature plays a role in helping me to remember short moments. With its changing seasons and their nuances that keep me keen to my memories.

Just the other day I was working in the Shire Garden and thought how beautiful the sun light played with the colors in the early crocus that the rabbits choose to leave me with, wishing that the neighbors dog who was barking in the distance was here to change some of that. In that moment I was hearkened back to a time in my younger days of the spring walks in the rural woods of my family home in Connecticut. I would take our family dog, Jack, that started with him running ahead of me through the bar gate to the meadow path that was well worn from years of foot travel. This path was heavily lined with spring Bluet’s and wild violets they made for a magical walk at this time. Coming closer to the brake in the old stone wall entry to the woodland path the air felt cooler and I for some reason remember that. Jack just ahead of me always looking back to be sure of my movement. The song of the birds fill the air and the shadows of the large tree branches still dormant, criss cross the ground like black lace.

I climbed over several old woodland stone walls that once lined grassy meadows that then, were just a reminder of that time gone by. I remember the smell of the leaves and dampened mosses of the spring woods and that thought filled me with a sense of renewal. I fondly remember how that was the sign then that I was getting closer to the natural woodland springs that at that moment should be teaming with spring flowers. These flowers are referred to as “ephemeral’s” that burst in to bloom just as the season’s are about to change. It is then that they spring forth and bloom in the moments that the trees allow them all of the sun’s light and warmth to produce seed and as the leaves return to darken their growth they die back and sleep till the sun and warmth return. This happens every year, year after year till their climate or environment changes.

Ephemeral – meaning { to last a very short time }.  We use this word to refer to a diverse group of plants that come and go quickly. Some of my fave’s are; Blood Root – Sanquinaria canadensis with their single large white flower and rolled leave and the Dutchman’s breeches, yes I said that, Dicentra cucullaria is a member of the bleeding heart family and the common name says it all, ” small pant like white flowers with yellow belts”. Another is Fumewort, Corydalis solida and are sometimes mistaken as small bleeding heart’s the colors are many. The yellow spring wood aconite – Eranthis lyemalis, I use the common name of, spring butter cup, they would fill the woodland floor for as far as my eyes could see and only for a few days.

Now all of these words took time to tell you about my momentary memory, thinking now how long it took to describe a thought. Now thinking of my family dog Jack and how he loved splashing in the spring water and waiting for me to get there, as if he always seemed to know where I was headed. I’m thinking of you old friend!

A thought; How much time dose one really need, when it comes down to it…. only you know.

Each year as Christmas approaches and the day light hours shorten, my Christmas cactus sets bud. The memories this plant gives to me each time this happens are happy one’s, as my plant has been with me for many years. The plant came to me by way of my grandmother who got hers from her mother whom got hers from her mom, so you see why it means so much to me when it sets bloom.

It isn’t the same plant, sort of a piece or cutting from the original plant so I sort of think of it as the same plant. Grandma always gave cuttings and small potted Christmas cactus as house warming gifts. As she always said” it’s one of the easiest plants to care for and anyone can grow them.” I assume that there are hundreds of that cactus out there some place setting bud in time for the holiday.

Schlumbergera – ” Christmas Cactus ” is from southeastern Brazil consisting of 6 species of bushy cacti with flattened, spineless, rather weeping branches with indented notches at their margins, sort of makes me thing of a scorpion’s tail. This plant was renamed about thirty years ago, it former name that still is marketed today is Zygocactus for anyone who might be interested.

This plant must be taken indoors in cooler climates and makes a easy to care for house plant, thou this cactus, unlike most requires a little more water and humid conditions coming from a tropical environment.

The cultivation for this plant is a semi shady spot with rich well draining soil, as in it’s natural environment it is often found in tree crotches under the canopy. Propagation can be done by small branch or leaf cuttings placed in well draining potting soil and will set roots in about two weeks. Cuttings can be taken year round but after bloom is best, being early spring to early summer, as often, when taken at this time the cuttings have been know to bloom that same year.

With Christmas just around the corner and my cactus ready to bloom my heart is warmed with the thought of all those ladies of  my families past that some how with the simple gesture of a house warming gift, gave with their gift a memory of who they were and that will carry on, as long as we continue to give a piece to the next generation with the story of where it came from.

A simple gift of a Christmas cactus this holiday season could start a generational story of your own, and what a wonder thought that could be. Happy Holiday’s everyone and a Happy and Safe New Year!!

A thought; Simple gifts, when given from the heart can span generations…

I haven’t blogged for a while, I’ve been very busy as I seem to be in great demand these days.  Many people want to restore their old gardens and realize it take more than a gardener to bring it back to life. I am often called the “Garden Whisperer” something I think  that is more spiritual with awareness than anything.

I want to talk about Toad Lilies, ( Tricyrtis ) I know, What kind of name is that for a lily. I believe that the plant blooms when the toads are active in the garden, but for what ever the common name is the plant and flower is quite lovely. It’s a genus of about 20 species, the clumping rhizomatous summer flowering perennials from the woodlands of Asia and are really quite easy to grow and very attractive in their coloring and markings. The flowers, which are star like bells and some with funnel shapes with open tips are held in place by the axils of the leaves. foliage is deep to light green and others are variegated with greens and white offering garden interest throughout the growing season.

These very frost hardy plants prefer partly shady to deep shade, humus rich moist soils, cooler temps the better.

I chose this plant because I find it in older gardens where with time the trees got bigger bring more shade to the garden and thus the planting choices changes with the changing environment, interesting right. That is just a part of what goes into a gardens restoration, uncovering the layers of time and changes in an old garden. Plus it is in bloom now.

I often think of the so many old favorites of the garden and scout high and low for them to return them to some of these gardens of age, it brings their story ( souls ) to life again.

Toad Lilies an old favorite of the shade garden try growing some and see how a mid summers garden is transformed.

A thought; What’s with a name that can change a thought, think on that for a moment?

I would have added some pictures but my blog was hacked and code was changed, Why? forgive this as we fix the problem.

May has been a very busy month for me and the weather this May has been very rainy and on the cool side, but with no deep cold this spring the show of flowers has been fantastic. Everything is lush and full and the gray sky’s makes for more intense colors.

As I have chosen Memorial Day to sit and blog, I feel it only right to pay homage to the men and woman who have given the ultimate sacrifice and to remember the gardeners in my past that labored with love to create special places of their own and for others to enjoy.

The gardener wakes in the early morning knowing that the days work ahead is a labor of means and knowing, that each moment within the garden has purpose that ultimately leads to the spirit of the garden and to the rhythm and story it will tell. As the gardener weeds, to which is the most honorable of jobs, as the job it self clears the way for clear thought and good growth. Then there is the watering,the most noble of jobs as this is the substance of life it self.

The day is often filled with pruning and trimming keeping the garden in control and orderly. Like a doctor the gardener examines and assess damage and disease and finds the best way to heal. The gardener will some days walk up to 10 miles as he tends to the gardens needs and at any given moment the weather can turn, and the duties change.

The best part of the day is gathering the fruits of those labors, the flowers that get cut to grace the house and the fruit and vegetables to be harvested for the table.

As evening comes and the shadows grow long, many times the gardener will take one last walk, to see how the garden feels before night fall, In a prayerful way this walk is slower and the importance now is to understand the feelings of the garden for you see it is a living story, that grows and changes every moment and the gardener knows of it’s importance.

Like most, the gardener understands life and know nothing last for ever as a young person the gardener planted a tree with knowing of the shade it will bring, as a middle age gardener to plant a tree for look and purpose and as a older gardener a tree is planted with the knowing of the shade it will bring to the next gardener, that’s life.

To the gardeners that have gone before me I wish to thank you for your noble deeds of tending to the garden and for the thought you gave to me and to my future friends, a most beautiful spiritual story to behold, that continues to grow and change and gives back in so many way. Memories are seen on ever corner and turn in the garden and the stories are retold as to who and how the garden came to be and of the special touch you gave to it.

A thought; To yourself remain true, be passionate in what you do, with integrity care to the future.

Life is full of new challenges all the time, just as there are always challenges in the garden. Today while walking through the border gardens I noticed how quickly life returns to the garden with just a few warm days and a little warm rain.

The crocus and early snow drops are in full bloom along with clusters of small blue Dutch iris, I planted these bulbs a number of years ago and they have multiplied into quite a nice display of color when I need it the most. Although it is momentary in the garden I treasure these moments as they heighten my spirit in early spring after a long winter.

There is a slight breeze to the air and the sound of the birds and distant wind chimes sing out a combined song that somehow I can remember but can’t put a word to and it heightens my thought.

The sudden move of a cotton tail rabbit,startles me and heighten my attention to look to the whole of the garden and I notice that the flowering ornamental shrubs and trees buds are swollen in size, ready in moments to bring a glorious show to the garden and this heightens my excitement for more of spring to come.

Spring cleanup or the wakening of the garden is a daunting job with winter weed removal and leaves to grind for mulch. There are garden borders to be edged and winter damage pruned away. The forsythia will be in bloom any day now and this is a sign that the roses will need my attention with feeding and pruning, the first for their season and all of this heightens my anxiety to get things done.

While walking through Oak Grove the highest spot of the Shire Garden I noticed that the Arbutus was in bloom and that the green of the mosses was quite eye catching for plants so close to the ground to reach such visual heights and thought how wonderful nature can be.

I sat for a moment next to the oldest oak in the grove to reflex upon the Shire Garden and I remember the work and magical moments I’ve had in this garden and the joy it gives to me, the gardener. Within that moment an idea came to me, that I should set my sights higher for the garden and for my life it self, that I can achieve great things if I believe strongly enough to hold on to what I believe in, and in who I am, that life can have great heights of highs and lows and to remember, we are never given that, that we couldn’t handle and over come. So I am setting new goals for myself and the garden and that heightens new thoughts of how my future will be for not only the garden but how I see my life going forward and I hope that my fears don’t stop the greatness this will bring. I leave with you now my reader >
A thought; Do we allow fear to stop us from reaching the true heights that are meant to be ours?

The other day on my drive home I was thinking how long the winter months can be and how I long for the summer’s green and warmth. Where there is so much work ahead of me in the spring months to come, yet really none of it can be done at this moment, with all of the snow on the ground, thus I feel helpless. O, I can think about the gardens and imagine all kinds of things to be done, making list after list, but this to over loads my senses. I spend some time looking over catalogs and web sites of growers looking for new plants and colors and read everything I can get my hands on gardening, probably a little obsessive, but that’s me. People tell me I’m so passionate about what I do and so driven as well. Like that’s a bad thing. I feel that it’s good to try to be the best at what you love to do and that to set higher standards for ones self is a good and noble thing for self esteem, that brings about strong character.

Being a better person is always my goal and mantra, I try to remind myself of who I am and how thankful I should be for all that I have that is beautiful and good in my life, that we are never given more than we can handle and that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. My glass is always half full and is never empty for me that is fact. Where one door closes another opens with new hopes and dreams and that at the end of the day the knowledge of another days promise to start all over again, how great is that.

When I started to think about what I was thinking about on my drive home I started to laugh and said out load ” why am I thinking about all this. ” Guess I was just checking in on myself to make sure I was still there and that I hadn’t lost my way by not being in the garden for awhile. I have always had a sense of who I am and what I wanted to be and  do. Has it always been easy? No, like many there are a lot of trials and tribulations and bumps in the road, no pun intended. It just might be the effects of a Full Snow Leo Moon that has triggered all of this thought today.

As I pull in to the drive way and glad to be home, I sit there for a moment and look out to the snow covered garden and house and say ” There’s no place like Home “.

A thought; Every now and then it’s good to check in at home to see if all is well.

Well it 2017, its not really a new year for the garden just a new season. This is the time to take a review of the previous seasons. This begins with things that went well and now need to be improved on, the flowers that worked and preformed well and the colors that made the best show.

I like to call this time a Garden New Year because it gives me a start point for reevaluating my gardening thoughts, besides there is usually snow on the ground and my gardening duties are lighter these days. I also use this time to catch up on my reading, education and lecturing.

While looking out the windows into the garden I mentally plan new colors and plant combinations for curtain areas in the garden and spend countless hours on growers web sites and garden catalogs looking for new additions for the Shire Garden. With so much to choose from it can be quite overwhelming.

I will spend time reading through the Shire Garden’s journal of last year and will relive some special moments spent there and make my list of amendments and sub-jested thought at those time, so that with the first signs of spring my work will have purpose with results.

I also take this time to clean and sharpen and repair the garden tools sanding any wood hands to make them smooth to the hand with a little oil to keep the handles in good condition, I also take steel wool to the metal of the tools to remove soils and rust and wipe oil on them as well. The shovels often need to be hammered smooth due to our stony soils and I often have to grind a point back to them for braking ground next season, these also get a oil rub.

This is the best time to plan for a new garden for the new year. Planning begins with what kind of garden you might like annuals or perennial or both, cottage style or borders and how much time you will be able to give to its care. Watch where the tree shadows fall on the ground in the area of the garden and see how long they stay in these areas. This gives you the know, to how much shade  or sun that will be in these areas of the garden and for how long. Although the sun is low in the sky it still gives the tree’s presence to that area when it is in full foliage and the sun is high in the sky of summer. This will also determine the plants that will go into these sections of the garden. This slower paced time gives you time to make lists of the things needed to manifest this garden, saving time and money when the busy spring season begins.

New Years come every year and we use this to mark new beginnings. In the garden this happens with the change of every season and there are always new beginnings everywhere you look. Things come and go all the time and it is a gift of understanding this as a gift of knowing, that every day of the year is a new day and a new start.

A thought; Quote; Dr. David Viscott ” The purpose of life is to discover your gift. The meaning of life is to give your gift away.”

I choose this topic for several reasons, one was its something I do almost everyday with out a lot of thought of doing it, and I’ve never walked with another true gardener who wasn’t bending while talking to pull a weed. I thought that the word itself has a great effect for all of us. Sometimes while in the garden these thoughts come to me and they leave me with a new awareness of knowing.

Weeding, meaning to remove a plant that is not valued where it is growing and is usually of strong growth. One that weeds out obnoxious growth, things or persons. Interesting in it definition right. So with that now in mind I thought that I would like to talk a little about weeds and the act of weeding.

Losses caused by weeds exceed losses caused by any other class of agricultural pest, according to the Weed Science Society of America, yes that’s right the WSSA. There seems to be a society for everything these days.

There is no uniform life duration of weeds, some are annuals, biennial while other are perennial and make for over 50% of our plants that are considered undesirable by some segment of our society.

One of our most notorious weeds is Crabgrass – ( Digitaria sanguinalis ) an annual, reproducing by seed. Our lawn companies use a pre emergent to control this weed in the early spring and gets its name for its crab like growth. If left to grow, its low flat spread can be large and can destroy a lawn. Another weed of the garden is Sorrel – ( Rumex acetosella ) this one is a perennial and can be reproduced by seed it has a creeping rhizome root system which can be hard to get rid of if you don’t pull all of it out. Then there is the deep rooted known as a taproot, Dock – ( Rumex crispus ) this is also a perennial and is also reproduced by seed. If even a small piece of root is left in the ground it will grow back, so all of it must go.

This is just three of the friendly foe that I pull and dig at most of my days and thought what are some of the other kinds of weeding I should be doing in myself and the world around me. How can I make my world cleaner, neater and running smoothly. How and what do I need to weed out and weed through to lessen the weights in my life. What and who in my life is helping or hindering my life’s story, and just like weeding the garden I will decide what is a weed and what isn’t and pull those weeds for a more neat and orderly life that will allow the more beautiful  strength of me to grow and flourish.

A thought; Try weeding, even a small amount of weeding helps.

Finally some well needed rain arrived today, thus giving me a little time to write. We have been in drought conditions for months here and I feel like a horticultural fireman with a garden hose always in my hands.

I always wanted a cutting garden, fresh flowers in the house is a wonderful thing and is very important to Jan and I as we are always cutting flowers from the gardens for Acorn Cottage.  All the while saying don’t cut all the color or show from the garden, we’ve worked so hard to get it that way. So with the thought of fuller arrangements and bouquets of greater interest I have decided a cutting garden it is.

To start with I needed to find the right spot for the garden, one that got plenty of sun and protection from the wind yet close to the house for quick access. I also knew I needed enough space or in this case length to provide room for a large variety of flowering plants. September is a good time to start a new or redo garden project because fall cleanup hasn’t come on in full tilt and the perennials and bulbs are on sale for clearance at the nurseries. The Shire Garden still had a few unclaimed spaces and one was on the north fence which was all shade up to about four years ago when we had three tall trees removed to open the garden more for our daughters wedding.

The North Side Cutting Garden as it is now so named is strange, because when you think of north side you think cool and shade. But after the trees were felled it became one of the warmest and sunniest spot in the entire Shire. With the south side of the fence in full sun all day. This spot would also protect the taller flowers from the wind and will also promise an early start to the spring. I began removing the odd perennials from the front of the  fence and measured about 75 ft. along the fence and about 4 ft. out for depth, any thing deeper and I would have to step into the garden to cut the flowers, something I didn’t want because of flower breakage.

I added some landscape timbers to frame the garden and filled it with about 3 yds. of horticultural compost to a depth of around 10 in. Then I put in drip irrigation so that no overhead water would get on the flowers, only the rain when ever that comes. This would assure years of good flower conditions with strong root growth.

Now comes the fun part the flowers what would they be, with so many to decide from, I know I wanted Oriental lilies, Dahlia’s and Gladiolus and Snapdragon’s there would have to be iris and Campanula of many types plus Sweet peas and a large stand of Delphinium’s with the many shades of blues and white. Dianthus is important as well, with the many new colors of Echinacea ( cone flower ) Gypsophila ( babies breath ) Liatris ( gay feather ) and of cause Peony’s and tall Phlox to name just a few. All make for great cut flowers. When choosing your flowers for the cutting garden keep in mind the combinations that bloom at the same time so to ensure beautiful bouquets. Plant also for seasons of bloom to stretch it as long as you can.

Always deadhead your plants and cut flowers often to ensure constant flowers if you let them go to seed your plants will slow down or stop blooming altogether.

Cut your flowers in the morning while the air is cool and cut them on the slant for more water intake and place the stems in warm water for quick up take. A small note, the more complex the flower is, the warmer water helps to keep them hydrated, wilting may happen sometimes but the flowers will spring back in an hour or so. When they have hardened off, ( about an hour ) they will be ready for your vases.

When placing flowers in the home think of the spots or rooms you find yourself in most of the time, the kitchen, TV room, bedroom or bath. Flowers are meant to be seen and enjoyed, so bring some beauty into your world, even a little goes a long way.

A thought; When life delivers a quite moment, don’t forget to smell the flowers, unless you have allergies than pictures will do.