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When it comes to winter flowers very few plants will give as much as they do. They also rush images of Scottish moors where they grow so freely. As the snow melts away, the evergreen flower filled spiked mounds are breath-taking. Just the hope that spring could be so close, yet here in the winter cold are flowers in the snow and it makes me wish I had planted more of them.

The two names are used loosely in the gardening world. As the term heath should be applied to the ericas and daboecias genera. These groups have the long bloom range  and varieties of this group can be found in bloom year round. Heather is the term for callunas, genera, and have a larger foliage color range and most bloom mid summer through the fall. Now I know this was a little confusing, so let me make it simple, Heaths and Heather are evergreen shrubs most are low mound growing and most are needle  like foliage. Heaths are a little taller and looser in growth habit and heather is lower and more compact in growth, making it easier to know what you are looking at. The fun thing with these plants is you can have them in bloom all year, and in my book that makes them a real garden winner.

These group of plants are under the element influence of water and do best when planted under the astrological signs of, Scorpio – Pisces – Cancer.

Go to this website,  www.hickoryhillheather.com  Love it and the winter pictures of their heather in bloom are amazing.

I found that the heaths are easier than the heather to grow and all love full sun and a more acid soil PH of about 6.0. They are good for container gardening as well as for rock and alpine gardens.

As far as I’m concerned call all of them either heath or heather it doesn’t matter. Because the joy of gardening is the fun of being able to do so.

 

A thought; Sometimes things just look the same but they are different.

Sometimes a quiet moment is just what the soul calls for. A moment when everything seems to stand still, even thought is contentedly quiet and nothing matters and time is just time.

While sitting in the garden a sudden stillness came upon me and  the garden seemed timeless, I could see everything at once and my thoughts where clear yet empty.

Then all at one time, sadness, joy and emotions come rushing in and the moment of stillness is swept away in a wave of thought and feeling, as I recall hearing no sound, felt no wind or sun and how everything in that still moment was as it is. The memory of that  stillness stays with me as I reflect and I will use this experience as a reminder of how wonderful unforeseen moments in the garden can be…….

I write about the garden as I experience and lovingly tend to it.

A thought; In still moments I am given strength.

 

Walking the primrose path meant a life of pleasure with everything that comes with that. Sense I have not always found my path to pleasure to be primrose like, I kind of  hoped that by creating such a path it might help to keep me focused.

The name primrose is from the Latin word primus meaning – first, because it is among some of the first plants to bloom in the spring.

Primrose’s astrological element is earth so to plant these plants either in the sign of Taurus ( April 20 – May 20 ) or Virgo ( August 20 – September 20 ) or in the southern regions Capricorn ( December 20 – January 20 ) I have found during these periods the conditions for their growth and flowering will be at their best.

Their are about 430 species of mainly herbaceous perennials and are found throughout the northern and southern hemispheres. So take sometime to look them up and discover the vast world of varieties there are.

I’m going to talk about the Genus Primula Polyanthus it is a fully frost – hardy evergreen perennial that we purchase from our local grocer or nursery in the early spring for their bright colors. Hardy zones USA 6 – 10

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How can we not take a few of these home when winters can be so bleak. Just remember a sunny window and keep them moist and they will bloom right till it is time to plant out in the garden and as an added surprise they most often will bloom again in  the cool days of autumn that same year.

Over the years I’ve planted about 150 or so of these spring beauties along the sunny  path that runs on the north side of Oak Grove this leads to my compost area so as you may know I am quite often on this path and each April and May I walk my primrose path. I put a little more lime in this area, as they like a more alkaline soil.Growing between rocks and logs amongst the moss and under the flowering shrubs they truly are a breath of spring when we need it the most.

This is the time of year our markets are flooded with them, so do your home work and brings some color in to your life, now when we need it the most and perhaps you too might think about a primrose path.

A thought; Simple pleasures bring such joy!

 

 

For some time now I’ve been planting for the winter garden. It is actually all of the Shire Garden, All around the garden there is winter plant material, they are there either for their berries, bark and foliage or seed pods, for their color or texture, and twigging  will bring. All for the way they  look within the ever changing winter light and for the way they hold the frost and snow. Most are planted in easy view from the inside of Acorn Cottage, so that we might see them as the weather changes the picture within our window frames.

I love watching the birds as they try to gather the berries and seeds and their sounds are welcomed to the quiet of winter.

Gardening is at a slower pace now, being more of a visual type then a physical one. I will use this time to see as I would say, “ the bones of the garden “ and correct shapes and lines to better the health and future growth and view throughout the garden.

I will also take time to review last years annual flower combination and decided what we will use for the up coming seasons. Using this time to research new cultivars and old stand byes. Some of which I will share with you a little later this season as I gather more information on them.

For know I will leave you with some pictures of the Winter Shire Garden

     

 

A thought; When all is still, beauty is heightened!

 

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The Wind is blowing, snow is on the ground and the temperature is hovering around 30 degrees with a wind chill of about 10 degrees below zero. Burrrrrr! I knew this was the case as I looked out to the garden and saw the effect it was having on the evergreens. The rhododendron foliage was curled down tight as never before and the Taxus or yew’s are a very dark green almost black in hue. The evergreen azaleas look tight as well. All this tells me that the temperatures are well below normal and that nature is doing all it can to protect itself for harm’s way.

This all comes about with water lose or freeze in the foliage and is also seen in the summer droughts, its natures way of protecting these plants, the looseness or tightness will let you know just how cool or dry it is for the plant.

However a little later in the morning as the sun came up higher and shone on them I noticed that the top of the plants opened and unfurled telling me that things will warm a little more today and I thought how wonderful nature is and how much we don’t notice any more.

I ventured out to take some pictures of what I was seeing, and my breath froze still in the air. Yes, it was very cold, colder than its been for at least eight years and my thoughts went to the newly fall plantings and was glad I left more leaf mulch on them this year, Why I did this at the time I wasn’t sure but I am glad I did. I believe that when you allow yourself to go on instinctual feelings, it always works to the best. Who, after five years of mild winters would have thought that this kind of cold would be with us now.

Well, spring will tell us everything, what survived and what didn’t. I pray now for a milder rest of winter and will dream of the summer to come, it’s what we gardeners do now…..

A thought; When we look to nature, most questions can be answered.

 

 

 

 

I will take this time to answer a question that is often asked of me. ” You write often about observances and feelings and sounds in the garden, yet at times give just a few how too’s ?” Let me answer this first with a question. Would you rather read about another step by step project for your garden that thousands have shared before and with just a few tapes on the computer will show again, another take on the project?

I gave this much thought before I started to write. I looked deep within myself and asked what really moves me to garden, I knew the planting of seed was fun and the growth that followed and the anticipation of harvest, but really what kept me gardening. For there are plenty of moments when just giving up or finding time for anything to do with the garden other than gardening, would be easier than the work its self. What kept me there?

What kept me there was the human side, with a feeling that I was a part of something special, a place of beauty and growth and renewal, a place that for whatever reason had an effect on others and myself and all of it was being transmitted through who I am and what I could create. So I hope that by writing about the other part of gardening, the feelings and emotional side with the healing and heighten awareness it brings, will be the thing my blog will bring to the gardeners tool shed and will give trust and strength to continue to believe in who and what they are to their garden quest.

I can tell you that I have visited many gardens of all types and it is the gardens that are tended by passionate gardeners that transcends all of the feelings of even the greatest gardens in the world. They hold special powers and they are exspiranced and not just viewed. They leave you with a feeling of knowing and a wanting for more.

So not to negate all who want answers to the” how to”, I’ve started a new page entitled – Gardeners Hints, here I plan to share helpful simple garden cures and growing tips used by estate and home gardeners for years, with a few of my own thrown in.

A thought; The Garden Shire will help me be the gardener I Am.

Just a moment in time is all it takes sometimes to bring an awareness to how we garden. Over the years I’ve had plenty of these so-called moments, when it seems that time stands still or races buy or a view that I see every day some how in a moment is viewed differently and you wonder how you missed it before this moment. What was it that brought this thought or vision to my notice at this very time? Was it the way the sun shined on the spot or plants, or the way the wind or clouds change the textures or colors. To be aware of the moment is everything, staying in that moment is the work that is truly at hand. The longer we stay the more we understand.

How about a feeling that comes over you, over whelming yet fulfilling, like some how you missed it before, but how? After all the garden is in your trust and you as the creator and or care taker should have known of this by now. Feelings in the garden, I believe is a true connection between gardener and plant and earth. This is how the garden tells us what it needs and as a way to say thank – you.

This could be proof that the garden has taken on a life of its own and that some how through no knowledge of your own, has connected to you and through the love and devotion you give to the garden, is now giving back to those who can see and feel the beauty of life itself.

I have taken some time in the last year to listen a little more deeply and to look a little longer and to move more slowly through the garden and I have found so much more to the garden than I have in the past. I have adjusted my thoughts to be more open and not so dispelling. All gardens to me have a presences, but I have found the gardens that have a passionate gardener shows the world that place of presences.

If you look back through my blog you will read of the many moments that I am speaking about. If you understand what I’m writing about, then you have created something very special, and this special tool that you posses is wonderful and should be shared with others.

A thought; A moment in time, can bring great changes..

Holiday traditions are fun and we look forward to their season. They mark time and renews our beliefs, not only in others, but also in ourselves.

It is greening time in the Shire Garden and for as long as I have lived and my families have been celebrating, greening time is met with great joy.  Every third week of December around the 21 st we venture  forth to gather fresh evergreens for the house and garden.

Some of us couldn’t possibly conceive of a Christmas without evergreens. They give the deepest pleasure and warmth throughout the holiday season. Not to mention the walks and adventurous stories they bring.

Our adventures begin with the cutting of the firs and spruces. We prune small branchs from many different areas around the trees as to keep their shapes and appearance good. These greens will remind us of strength.

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The holly is next and with great joy we give thanks to its protection  It will reminds us of a safe home and the color it brings to our decoration will heighten our awareness. We will prune many types like green and white variegated with it bright red fruit, the small Japanese holly with its black fruit and the golden berry holly for it colors of green and gold.

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Then we cut pine with the softness it will bring and the cones of plenty that we will use thought-out our holiday show. It will remind us of soft moments and to keep them well.

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The ivy comes next and will tie us all together as a reminder that life is circular and like the seasons are sure of return, this holds us together and life is complete.

We  return to Acorn Cottage and lie the greens about us on the floor to choose of them what will be used for the wreaths and garlands and what will be used in greening window boxes and pots. While this is happening I will go to the garden and prune arms full of winter berries, ( Ilex – verticillata ) which brings the feeling of Christmas home.

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Reminder that cut greens if used to far in advance to the holiday will dry out and fade. So replace dried material with fresh and always watch for fire hazards.

The greening day ends with hot egg nog and carols as they are placed about the mantel and shelves and tables. How festive the house and gardens look and how full my heart is with soul.

Here from The Garden Shire we wish all a safe, healthy and magical holiday and a wonderous New Year!

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A thought; If you were to start a tradition what would it be?

Through the many years of my gardening, stories and tales of flowers and plants have come to me by way of visitors, fellow gardeners and books. Over those years these stories and folklore have given a new life to the garden and a deeper connection to the plants themselves, making them almost human and my bond between them stronger. Each time I walk through the garden and notice a certain plant or flower I remember the story that brings it to life and it hold a place in my heart as well as in the garden.

I want to bring to your attention to, two books: Wildflower Folklore and Garden Flower Folklore, Both written by Laura C. Martin.  These are a fun and quick read, filled with all kinds if information. They were given to me by a much older gardening friend who believes that with the coming of age, wisdom is bestowed and found in the simplest of things. This older friend also knows of my love of story telling while in the garden and thought this the perfect gift. He was right!

I often find myself thirsting for the stories that tell of a plants history, culture and myths. How they get their names and the stories behind those names.

These two books, filled that thirst, everything is met, with a brief description of each plant and basic growing instructions, the family name, genus and more. A true wealth of information and a fun read. Get these books and increase your knowledge of plants. You will want to read them over and over again it’s that good.

A good gardener is wise to fill their thoughts with such stories and information as I believe it brings a greater depth to gardening.  Knowledge without feeling and meaning, are all three individually, shallow and would leave a lot to be desired.

Make these books a gift to your winter reading list, and believe again in the world around us that is so special.

A thought; Folklore, myths and legends bring a new level to knowledge.

 

The other evening a great owl took off from the Oak Grove trees as I approached. I’d heard him many nights as I lie in bed, so it was a pleasure to greet the old fellow, even for that fleeting moment.

It’s a majestic spectacle to view the trees silhouetted black against the deep blue sky, the trees make me feel a little humbled as I realize how proudly they stand against the elements which the seasons thrust upon them.

For me its a natural instinct to stoop and pick up an acorn or two for my pocket, but, by now most have been eaten or destroyed by the squirrels, rendering most, less beautiful.

I use this time alone to polish up old dreams and to consider mental notes I’ve stored throughout the past year, if for only old-time sake. Like things I planned to do, but never got around to, and most likely won’t this year either. Now I try to really reflect on the holidays and the last-minute things to do.

Nature is carrying on in her magical way, reshaping the view, sounds and sent, without much fanfare. The pines have dropped their cones and shed their needles again, right on schedule., The seeds have fallen and a blanket of snow will soon shelter them. Everything is there, all in place, revitalizing itself for the spring. Everything stands still…..

I hope you will make time in your daily lives for some simple observance of all that is truly beautiful around you. Nature is never dull it is full of life and wonder.

I often wonder if my thoughts, while in the garden, are a bore to my readers, for they are only thoughts and observances to hopefully give the world insight into who this gardener is.

A thought; Simple thought, quite moments, is oneness, revel in it.