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It is now that time of the year in the garden that we gardeners dread, while also knowing that after the cleanup we get a little rest, just knowing we are putting the garden to bed for the cold winter months ahead is a tremendous task, although the fall cleanup has been going on for a month or so, it is with the first of the heaviest frosts this last week that has me in full cleanup mode. I started last month when the first lite frost touched the day lilies and annuals. I now have tones of leaves everywhere and the first job is to prune and cut back dead plant material making it easier to get the leaves up.

I do some raking but only to pile the leaves as I use a hand leaf vacuum to gather and chop them up, I barrel them and chop them finer in my electric leaf mulcher and will cover the flower beds with a 2 inch layer of leaf mulch. I have been doing this for many years now and the soil has become very rich with organic structure.

I do some late season dividing and transplanting and will plant some oriental lily bulbs and the last of the spring bulbs, to which can be done right up to the time of soil freeze.

This year I plan to leave the spent hydrangea flower head on for winter bud protection from our now low temperatures of zero degrees and below that seem to go on for about a week or more. The down side is that the winter winds tend to knock them off and it make for a rather untidy winter mess in the garden. However, I will cut back the ornamental grasses as the spring mess with them is a large job, when spring cleanup and planting is in full swing.

I do apply some supper phosphate to my early spring plants and bulbs as it will aid in good early root development just as the soil starts to warm in the early spring, I have found this to work very well as the vigor of the plants first start can be seen. Other wise I wait till spring to fertilize the garden when growth is in action.

With most of the garden put to bed and winter protection provided to those who need it, I stand and look about and notice the subtle quite that comes to the garden. I remember how beautiful the flowers were and the hum of the bees and my heart feel heavy with loss. However there is next year, for that I know.

This is the season to give thanks and to acknowledge our blessings. As we give thanks this Thanksgiving, lets remember those in the world who are less fortunate.

Here in the Shire Garden the winter season begins, the sun is low in the horizon and the air is cool and crisp with the smells of autumn. With my coffee in hand and a good days work done, this gardeners going to find a bench to rest his weary bones and muscles and to enjoy the fruits of his labors. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

A thought; Sometimes a good cleanup is all it takes, to make things good again.






  • Imagine, if life could be so simple, that if just a thought could free us to believe that all we wanted could be there for us to receive.
  • Imagine, a world that was safe and beautiful, like a garden with so much to nurture.
  • Imagine, to be able to see everything with one glance and to posses the understanding of it all.
  • Imagine, that you could fly to unimaginable places and times, that only you could create.
  • Imagine, that health and well- being is the way of life and that living freely in the world is just the way it is.
  • Imagine, Love in its many forms was given and received in abundance with grace.

Now know that what is here was once imagined and that you have the power to imagine what now could be here.

Imagination is a good tool if you have one, for it is the very beginning of everything that is proved.

” What is now proved was once only imagined” Mystical Poet William Blake.

A thought; Lets make the world wonderful. Have a great Day!

When I started this blog I wanted it to be different and simple, yet interesting and personal enough to increase some interest with new thought as to how one might view gardening and the love for life. I wanted my reader to think deeper and to look harder at the world around them and to try to have a better understanding of them self and of the life that is all about and around them.

Keeping it simple for me was important, life doesn’t have to be so complicated and words don’t have to be so big and misunderstood that they become meaningless with no value to the reader, thus the message is lost.

The message was from the beginning do what you love, love what you do, and always believe, in yourself, your family and friends, in the world to which you live and in the thoughts that where one door closes another will open and that there’s always tomorrow that is fresh and new.

Believe in miracles, they happen! Believe in what you want and welcome it.

For me it was always going to be about the garden. It is what I love and what I love doing. I love it when the wind blows and shows itself with movement, the rain as it pita pats on the leaves and soil and the warmth of the sun as the flowers look up to follow its movement, The songs of the birds and insects, the peep and crock of the toads and frogs and the flash of the fire flies. I Love the dance of the dragon flies and the constant hum of the bees and the beauty of the butterflies are a feast for the eye. I love the soul filling smells and sents and I love the growth and the beauty that surrounds me and the peace it brings.

My thoughts always wonder and I am often filled with new ideas. it is in the garden where nothing in life matters, thus there is a freedom to be who I am and with my thoughts. Very often I am able to work through problems or find quick solutions, and the word sanctuary comes to mind.

I am passionate about what I do, that is not to say that I am all consumed by it as I have may interest and hobbies it just this one brings me great joy and fulfillment and has always been my retreat and refuge.

So I blog not for notice, but to share a little of what one person loves and loves to do, and if it should happen to help others in any way, then my life purpose will feel complete.

A thought; Sometime sharing just a little of who we are,  can help others to understand who they are.

With these dog days of summer well upon us and the temps in the 80’s and 90’s the draw to the water is strong to cool us off a bit. It is there that we find ourselves caught by the lore of the Lotus {Nelumbo} and the call of the Water Lily {Nyphaea}.  These two beauties spring up from our shallow waters like Goddess and Gods and leave us spellbound by the fragrance and presence, their exotic colors span the rainbow and their fragrance fills the air.

The Lotus { Nelumbo} is a genus of 2 species of deciduous and perennial water plants found throughout the world. They differ from the water lily in that they also grow from the pond floor but rise higher from the water surface with both leaf and flower and for the most part are larger.

The Water Lily { Nyphaea } is a genus of 50 species of both deciduous and perennial water plants with fleshy roots, they are known for their floating foliage which are cleft at the base that at times help to float the either day time or night bloom. They are named for the Greek goddess, Nymphe.

As you may have already realized they have been revered by man for thousands of years and have only been brought in to cultivation in the last 150 years and as water gardening began to increase for the every day gardener so has the demands for these beauties of the waters.

Growing them are easy and though you can harvest them from the wild a reminder to the gather, muddy waters can run deep and if you don’t own the water get permission before you begin. Frost hardy lilies grow in most climates and flower freely though the season, divide the tuber like fleshy roots in the spring or summer every 4 years. Plant in plastic mesh pots made for water plants filled with a heavy loam and aquarium stone mixed and top with pea stone to hold the soil in place and submerge the pot. For the lotus about 20 to 24 inches and the water lily about 12 to 20 inches in water depth is best for an earlier bloom as shallow water warms quicker, yet those in shallow waters will need to be winter stored like the tropical varieties to keep the roots from completely freezing water. Store in a cool place in their pots in boxes of damp sand till the water thaws  and the pots can return to the pond.

I just recently returned from a trip north to my favorite hosta farm Masson Hollow and Jan and I where welcome by the most enchanting view a large still water pond in the middle of a woodland clearing just filled with thousands of water lilies all naturalized on their own we were told, in color shades of white to pink to mauve, it was like a Monet painting and I haven’t been able to get that picture out of my thoughts.unnamed 5 unnamed 2 unnamed 3






One of my most favorite water garden nurseries is Waterford  Gardens, check out their website at waterfordgardens.com and if you get a chance to visit them beware of the enchantment that might befall you, it’s a magical place!

As for the Shire Gardens Frog Pond named for the water feature of a frog, the water lilies are pink and white, the lotus are yellow and the frogs are many, in this pond the water heats during the warm weather and we circulate the water with the fountain to cool it a little, the lilies don’t seem to minded and the fish are happier.

I have so many plants that I favor and my passion for them runs so deep but when such wonders brings me to the water’s edge, I know why so many stories and legends are told about these beauties that thrive in the element of life itself, Water.

A thought; The waters in life can run deep and not always that clearly, but let’s be reminded that from these waters can come great beauty.


As July’s heat come on to the Shire Garden it is the lavender that takes on part of center stage. As I walk through the herb garden the sound of the humming bees are everywhere and the scent of lavender fills the air, it clears the head and mind and for a moment time stands still.

Lavender is easy to grow and does well in poor soil that drains well, requires full sun and a little trimming from time to time to keep it looking neat.

To enjoy more about the history and culture and uses of lavender I recommend this book { Lavender Sweet Lavender } by Judyth A. Mcleod.

I’ve talked about my book of short flower stories called ” The Stories of Laural Island  ”  here is the short story of how I believe lavender came to Laural’s the island of the flowers.


As with most of the world Laurel had its share of illness. Often it was necessary to call upon a shaman or medicine man or healing woman for a curing hand. For they know all of the native healing flowers and plants, as well as where to find them. Gathering and applying such material requires proper timing and experience.

These healers know of such things as anatomy, astrology, mathematics and science, they understood human and Mother Nature. They worked in great rooms called apothecaries, where jars of every kind were filled with the most wondrous and yet strangest of things. All kinds of herbs and fruits and berries hung in the rafters and the room smelled both sweet and bitter at the same time.

The gardens of the healers are spectacular, as they are masters at gardening. The garden hummed with bees collecting the precious honey, everything here was full of life, as it should be in a place like this.

One day, as the healers were working in their herb garden, a messenger arrived from the Queen. He told them, the village had fallen ill, and that their great gifts to heal were needed, with the utmost of speed. They dropped their tools and went straight away to the castle. Upon their arrival into the royal village they found the villagers ill with fever and proceeded on to the Queen.

The healers, by royal command, worked day and night mixing; grinding, boiling and nothing

seemed to work right. This was a fever like they had never seen before. They  applied cool compresses, mixed and administered teas, even melting snow from the  mountain of Lair hoping that the cold water would help. After a while they became frightened that nothing would work, and feeling helpless, the healers decided to ask the Great Spirit for help.

The healers took up their staffs and prayer robes and started their eight mile walk to the sacred grove of oaks used for such strong prayers. Here they would gather and pray to the Great Spirit for a sign or message that would help them bring health back to the people of Laurel.

As they chanted and prayed, the air around them grew thick and developed into a lavender haze and a fragrance of great strength filled their senses. Some of them where over come by the smell and fell to the ground. Suddenly the sky was full of doves, and a great sword covered in a purple flame fell from the sky and pierced the soil in the center of the grove. Those healers, who were awake, watched as the purple flame grew larger from the top of the sword and a voice came to them. “I am the sword of life and to you I have come to answer your prayers of triumph over this illness.” Where the sword met the soil there sprang a plant whose foliage was the color of gray smoke from the flame that burned, and from the top of this plant came small lavender flowers, sword like in shape, and the fragrance from this flower filled the air with a soothing scent. One of the healers spoke out and asked,” What shall we do with this gift and what shall we call it?” the voice answered “This plant will heal much, use it wisely as you will, it will wash the illness swiftly, just as the blade of a sword to an enemy, it is called for it’s healing color, lavender, then the vision was gone and there before the healers stood a gray plant with a lavender flower. They carried the gift into their garden and with its many uses, cured the fever that plagued the good people of Laurel. From that day forward the healers cultivated this plant in long rows and often walked among the lavender plants and its soothing fragrance.

Lavender comes from the Latin word meaning to wash, heal and has proven itself in the healing of troubled bodies and minds.

A thought; Life is full of special moments, take a moment to enjoy them.

Just a few beautiful photos of Lavender, enjoy!

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Woodland gardening can be tricky, soil conditions change from spot to spot and root competition and low PH and soil robbed nutrients abound.

Compost and water is of the utmost importance and since Oak Grove here in the Shire Garden consist of almost all oaks, it  makes for soil conditions to be very acidic and root bound. Know although most woodland plants prefer a little lower PH., most others, if it is to low of a PH., their performance will be less, so I have to prepare small areas for the new plants to adapt to their new home. I clear low brush and dig out the roots of the areas and amend the hole with leaf and garden compost.

Over the years Oak Grove has evolved into a magical woodland walk with paths of moss and wood bark mulch to leaf mulch and growing soft woodland fescue grass to stepping stones, making for a most interchanging and interesting walking experience that changes the mood under your feet. Just doing this brings about a magical feeling that most who walk through have now idea of what is happening.

Most of the wild flowers in Oak Grove are rescued from areas being developed, so creating the right growing conditions for the new plants have become a very important research issue.

Part of Oak Grove’s charm is the tall old oak trees that grow on the higher side of the Shire Garden, thus calling to you to enter the paths through Firefly Knoll at the woodland edge and to enter an untamed but purposeful planting of where the wild things grow.

As the seasons change so do the colors and textures and shadows of Oak Grove, in the spring the may apples and blood root and lady slippers appear then the azaleas and rhododendrons and solomon seal bloom and the early dog wood in time for Mothers Day take center stage. as the tree canopy thickens the grove grows darker and the mushroom and indian pipes show up with the ferns and woodland daisy’s. As the season goes longer hepatica’s and trailing arbutus, gentian’s and hydrangea and cardinal flowers dance their way into glory. Then with the cooler air of autumn come the change once again in the tree canopy of gold and greens and orange to rust and the low wild blue berry brush that is abundant on the woodland floor turns scarlet red and the many colors of the seed berries of the viburnum and holly’s welcome the many birds to their fall feast. With the turn of winter all goes dormant and the evergreens and gray trunks and branches take their turns with a shadow waltz upon the snow.

With all of this happening in Oak Grove the seasons of sound in the woods changes as well and very often those sounds call to us to enter the woodland garden once again for new reasons and experiences. I placed a large and low toned wind chime deep in the grove. The deep temple like tones mixed with the birds and other animal sounds brings a new dept to the woodland garden experience, that is deep in side of our self, one of fear and intrigue and it is that, that moves us forward and into the woods.

Often as a child and sometimes now as an adult child I still believe that on the nights when the moon is full and a lite fog drifts through the woods that the woodland elf’s and fairy’s party and play and very often I swear I see their lanterns all aglow amongst the fireflies, that twinkle deep within the Grove.

Woodland gardening is fun and if you are lucky enough to posses a stand of trees or forest land I would encourage you to cultivate it in to a place of joy and wonder.

A thought; The Fairy creed; To the heavens above and to the Earth we love.




I have had a very busy spring season as this last winter delivered the most snow we have had on the ground for the longest duration that I can remember. With most of the damage to the plants accruing during the melting and compaction, with the weight of that ice braking and crushing things to the ground.

This is the first time in weeks I’ve had to write. The temperatures this winter were well below normal where for several days in a row never got above 10 degrees and below zero was everyday for a time. For many of our plants this was extreme and plants like hydrangea were hit hard and most will have scant to no bloom at all this year and the only hope for some of us will be the repeat bloomers and PeeGee’s that bloom on new growth much later this fall. I am asked all the time about when should I cut back my hydrangea and will I be cutting off the bloom in doing so?

Let me make this simple and easy, in my opinion there are four types of hydrangea,  the big leaf hydrangea ( Hydrangea macrophylla ) is the least hardy under harsh winters. These have both large and small mop head like blooms as well as lace cap shapes.  Pruning these should happen in the spring as the bloom on these are set on the previous years growth. Then there is the smaller leaf hydrangea and largest group the Pee Gee ( Hydrangea paniculata ) and are the most hardy and can be enjoyed for generation and are best known as grandmothers favorite. These most often have large and small conical shape blooms and also have lace cap types as well. Pruning on these can be hard and done in the spring or fall as they bloom on new growth and will set bud and bloom in the same year. However the lace cap varieties set bloom on previous years growth and only dead heading the previous seasons bloom will be required. Then there are the  oak leaf hydrangea ( Hydrangea quercifolia ) and are the fanciest of hydrangea are cold hardy and enjoys more shade than others and need little to no pruning, but only to repair damage or shape, and should happen in the spring as growth appears and bud seat is apparent. Then there is the climber ( Hydrangea petiolaris ) slow starters and some time hard to get to bloom for several years, but are hardy to cold climates and seldom need pruning like the Oak leaf hydrangea, but should never be planted near the house or dwelling as is known to lift shingles and fill attics.

With the harsh winter we had and the snow melt compaction, than extreme cold nights right thru April the exposed tips of the big leaf hydrangea froze, leaving half dead sticks standing. This is a waiting game as we watch to see where the growth will return in order to determine the point of pruning back to active growth.

I have always loved Hydrangea and the thought of not having their presence in the garden as being with less grace. The highs are when the winters are mild and the summer blooms so profuse and glorious, that heaven is truly on earth. The lows are harsh winters with extreme cold and wrong pruning with scant to now bloom and just being left with foliage and thought of what could have been.               cropped-border_edited-1.jpg

A thought; Life is full of Highs and Lows, it’s what we do during them that matters most.

DSC00129With this being the first day of spring I thought I’d keep it simple and as I have many first days of spring to remember now at my age, I thought this was best.

As a young boy spring was the time when the grass is new and time spent playing and rolling in it was a great adventure. As a teen spring meant spring fever and if you had any sense about you, it was hard to find. But as a young man spring meant new begins and courage to charge forward. However as an older man spring is hope and an understanding that life is cyclical and the promise of new life is in the air.

When as a younger man often I would write poetry and small verse, for some reason for me the transition from spring fever to young adult thought, shined through at that time. Jan came across some of my poems and I thought for this first day of spring I would share this small verse with you, one of Jan’s and my favorite.

    To the Sky I look to fly

            From the Soil I Grow to Live

      To the Tree I Hope to Be

           and the Spirit a Life to Live

Thank you for taking a moment to think of spring with me, and hold this simple verse as a gift to grow in strength from where and who you are.

A thought; Reminder that all we really need is all around us, we just need to understand that.




Hope’s Gentle Gem, tender moments, with beauty and grace remember me.

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Latin name ” myositis ” meaning, mouse ear, is a wonderful sky blue and bright-eyed flower of the brook where they grow naturally and abundantly, and when you encounter them in full bloom it leaves you breathless.

As I start to write this, my mind wonders a little and I’m thinking what would I want to be remembered for, what is my legacy to be? I hope one of caring and giving, that I lived each day as if it was my last and that I helped to bring a little heaven to earth by way of the gardens I helped to grow and nurture. That with time would fade and with a knowing that perhaps others might follow in my foot steps will help to forget me not, for I was a part of something bigger than myself. Just knowing this brings me peace.

In any case, forget-me-not’s are wonderful at self seeding, and very easy to grow from seed. So once you plant them they will follow the wind across your garden and surprise you on where they choose to show up, for that alone I admire them. They like most soil types but do really well in moist conditions where they quickly multiply and create great drifts. Beginning their bloom with the daffodils and tulips.

In the nineteenth century they became recognized as a garden flower as a welcoming addition to the pond and waters edge, and quickly became the symbol of one’s undying love and devotion, and became a gift of love and remembrance.

Forget- me- not’s make great cut flowers and will last in a vase for a week or more, the small bright blue flower clusters will brighten any place you put them and people always seem to notice them. Thus remembering them is easy.

These plants grow in many of the countries of the world and have many legends told about them, one of my favorite is the one  where God after creating the earth comes to name all of the animals and plants and after doing so, he starts to return to heaven when he hears a tiny voice at his feet saying ” what about me? ” He bent down and picked up the little plant whom he had forgotten, and said, ” Because I forgot you once, I shall never forget you again, and that shall be your name.”

When they are in bloom, which is most of the season, I can’t help but to be reminded of so many people and places that have come and gone in my life, some with joy and some with sadness and regret, but always with a knowing that this beautiful little humble flower reminds us never to forget and to go forward with great beauty.

In the words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: ” Silently one by one, in the infinite meadows of heaven, blossomed the lovely stars, the forget-me-nots of the angels.”

A thought; Let’s not forget where we came from and to be aware of where we are going. Forget-me-not!

As I am writing, the waxing moon is becoming full and its rising in the horizon is large and intense, and with the clear cold evening star lit sky the moon looks larger and brighter than ever. The reflexive sun light creates long branching finger like shadows of the trees across the glistening drifts of snow and a sense of mysterious knowing happens.

The Shire Garden is quite now and only the haunting hoots of the large snow owl fills the evening air. As the moon slowly rises higher, the shadows move and the scene changes once again, the shadows shrink and the white of the snow appears more blue in tone and the evergreens grow darker in color and the stars twinkle more intensely. I notice now that the heavens have opened up to me and the clouds of the galaxy are noticeable.

This full moon on March fifth is called the Worm moon, as March is the month to which the worms begin their work. How ever here in the Shire garden there lies three feet of snow upon the ground and I think the worms might be confused below the frost that lies beneath the snow.

This next week with the waning moon I will start some of my seeds as this is the best time to do so. It is believed that root start is strong during this phase of the moon’s cycle. Thus well established roots will help thrust forth leaves and stem growth as the new to waxing moon brings upward growth to the next full moon.

The moon and sun and stars have always played and important role in the garden as well as in animal husbandry, and farmers know this well. If you spend enough time in the garden you will come to understand just what I’m talking about, the heavens have a lot to do with what we are doing on earth and we are best to know  and to accept that as fact.

I told you a year ago or so that I planed to garden more by the stars and for the last year it has proven to do the garden well, things seem to be in more harmony with each other and the growth and colors have been better and the weeding less, [ not to sure what that is all about ] but I’ll take it any way. So you see working with the universe and in harmony with the energy around you, beautiful things happen.

Make a simple moon cycle chart on paper and plan your daily work around the phases of the moon, go to www.moonconnection.com  you’ll be surprised by how much better things will workout in the garden as well as in your life. Perhaps for the first time you will really experience the strength of a full moon rising, you may even want to howl!

When I look at the moon I often find myself to be reflective in thought, I get a sense of mystery and a touch of romance and always feel like I’ve been here before. Perhaps its that lunar lure people talk about or maybe its just magic with a touch of imagination.

A thought; When we allow the rhythm of the universe in, we to glow like the moon and stars.