Monthly Archives: April 2012

Great anticipation with the coming of May to the Shire! May is the month that celebrates flowers, the Greeks and Romans named May the month of the goddess Flora who watches over the flowers so that her sister goddesses Pomona and Ceres could have their days in the seasons to follow. To the Celts and Druids, May held some of their most sacred days, beginning with May Day which is the beginning of a new growing season and many would marry at this time.

Here at The Garden Shire we work weeding and feeding the plants and make ivy garlands with early may flowers to wind around the bird house posts throughout the garden. We do this as our kind of may pole, hoping that our new year will take great flight in color and growth. We know more birds will come and sing their songs and that the butterfly’s are happy. Sometimes its good to have ceremony and traditions that help mark time and season.

Here at the Shire we welcome all the spirits to our sanctuary. St. Francis and St. Fiacre the saints of gardeners, The Greek god Pan and the ancient pagan figure known as the Greenman ” all will receive a special offering in some way.

The May basket on the Fairy garden gate will be filled with violets, they stand for thought, and at this time our thoughts are of flowers of now and in the months to come. A new fairy house will be made of vines and twigs and moss and placed in the fairy garden. All this so that the magic of the Shire will renew it’s self and become stronger than before.

May is the time for planting and here in the Shire we will be busy planting our annual vine seeds of morning-glory, moon flower vine, scarlet runner beans, black-eyed Susan vine and climbing nasturtiums just to name a few. The annual plants will be planted after the May full moon known as the full flower moon went the dangers of late frost are less likely.

After all the work is done and the morning of May first arrives we greet the day with sweet breads and tea and leave some for the fairies in the Garden Shire and in the last days of May’s when work is done we sip may wine to celebrate the rebirth of the Garden Shire.

A thought: Sometimes merriment is found in the simple old-fashioned rite of spring! Good Maying.

Still is the early morning light.

The garden greets me each morning with a sense of newness that refreshes my thoughts. The heat of the morning sun awakens the plants and soil that gives a soul knowing aromatic sent. With a new day comes new growth and bloom.

I speak of this so that I will remember the true wonder of mother earth. She goes about her work every moment, without rest or regret, reminding me that life is but a moment. Like a flower, closed and quite then open and brilliant and finally filled with seed with promise of new moments.

This morning I was greeted by a stunning show of new blooms in the rose garden. It stands out in my mind because not only where the colors so intense but the fragrance was enchanting, just standing amongst the roses, a sense of fullness of life came over me, something I have felt before, but nothing like this. Such things happen to me in the garden and these gifts are very spiritual.

Work in the garden is continues, pruning, planting, weeding and removing spent flowers to encourage new bloom. It is in these moments that my mind will wonder and I find myself traveling to wonderful places.

When working amongst the rhododendrons, China comes to mind and of the gardener who keeps time with order and rhythm, with soft and loud movements in symmetry and with sound. Visually and seemingly silence of the oneness of earth. And I remember such things.

I walk with the herbs and a sense of knowing comes about and this reminds me of so much I need to understand. The bees are most active here and are always going about their work. The colors are sometimes muted with grays and tones of lavender, giving a feeling of soul knowing, what wonderful moments. The herbs take me somehow back in time, to another earth, one more wild and untamed. When just knowing was enough and respect was a way of life. So many thoughts so many soul filled memories of sent, that of faith, ceremony, health and savory foods. What nourishment for body, soul and mind.

The perennial border takes me to England and thoughts of magical cottage gardens. These thoughts heighten my sense of color and design. My spirit is lifted with new ideas and combinations.

The road I travel is sometimes hard and tedious and perhaps boring to some. But there is not a moment that I don’t receive gifts like those I have mentioned they have enlightened me and enriched my mind with new thought and my soul with renewed hope.

A thought:  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.

I love long walks in the woods, things are always changing under the trees new ferns and wild flowers are always making their timely appearance and the smells of pine and maple and oak mix with the smells of hay fern and sweet fern and damp mosses. I like to call all this the soul of the forest.

I have been for years rescuing wild lady slippers from under the contractor’s trucks, and replanting them in groups along the walk through Oak Grove. What a magical walk it becomes in late May early June when the lady slippers are in bloom. However this year I plan to step the path through Oak Grove up a notch by adding mosses and arbutus I also plan to plant large drifts of native ferns and ground ever greens like princess pine ( lycopodium ) and wild ginger.

Oak Grove already has Indian pipes, jack in the pulpit, azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese maples and many viburnum to mention just a few, so a soft moss path is just what the Shire needs.

The mosses that I will now collect along with the rescued lady slippers will be used to cover the path. I do not condone the taking from nature and there are many ways to acquire moss spore and spore receipts, check this or international plant propagators society at

The soil in Oak Grove is very acidic and is perfect for mosses; however I plan to add a little lime just to help with nutrient up take and aid in establishment. The lime I will use will be in liquid form and can be purchased at any good garden center. This form of lime works faster to raise the PH.

I will take off leaves and debris and weed the path then with a steel rake loosen the soil of the path and wet it with the lime and water and begin to place every eight to ten inches colonies off moss clumps.

Over a few months with constant watering the moss should establish and begin to spread in along the open path. A year from now I will sweep the moss path with a soft broom, a trick I learn from an old estate gardener friend who told me that the moss will glisten after such cleaning and he is right it does.

So soon my emerald moss path through Oak Grove will add softness to the daily walks I take there, and may the many elves and gnomes enjoy the new formed road.

To learn more, read Native Ferns Mosses and Grasses by William Cullina of the New England Wild Flower Society.

A Thought: Moss, fern and grass are the canvas to which Mother Nature paints her picture, how

wonderful is that.

We are in  a very early spring, everything seems to be a month early.what is this all about. Here in the shire everything is in May motion, and it’s still April.  The job of transplanting and pruning is on going and everything is getting a boost of plant tone which will make a great difference in the plant’s growth in the weeks to come. Planted new perennials in the front border,and added a boomerang lilac to the shire how great is that! The weather forecast is more dry warm days, where is the rain? Whats going on? Tell me what you think about this weather change?

A thought: Perhaps global warming?

Today is warmer than most and the shire seems to be doing better this year than some. Maybe the mild but wet winter spring we had has something to do with it. In any case things look good. I have finished the watering and have made my rounds of the garden, before the heat of the day. I just love the daily changes in growth and bloom. The small spring flowers are out, crocus, snowdrops, early iris and mini daffodils., the forsythia is opening and the pussy willow are in their full bloom now. So much is bursting into growth.

In the fairy garden the clematis, honeysuckle and ornamental grape and golden hopes are all showing signs of new vigor. Oh! Let me tell you about the fairy garden. You will find it tucked behind a tall fence that is faced by salvaged round white porch columns topped with an arbor covered it mixed vines. There is an old shed door as the gate that allows you to enter into a twenty by twenty-foot place, moss covers the stones that are at your feet and the walls are covered with ivies and many flowering perennial and annual vines. In one corner there is a wood teak bench that sets beneath a woodland arbor usually covered in morning glories and moon vine, I call this a fairy wait, you know a place to sit quietly to wait for and to watch the fairies.  Next to this on the wall is a full length mirror framed in blue and a cherub that watches from above. All about you if you look closely you will see fairy bird houses and angles and more. In the center is a cedar post which plays host to a white clematis and a number of empty blue bottles to hold bad spirits from the shire, all this is topped by a bird house made from an old cut in half oak church column with a whimsical pointed copper roof, and is about three feet high. Here I have planted ferns and hosta, Impatiens, foxglove, coral bells and Campanula to name only a few. The rear wall is made of cut brush stuck it the ground like a thicket, allowing just glimpses to the long view of the shire and is also covered in vines. This is truly a magical spot and many a dawn or evening I believe I have heard the fairies at play.

A thought: Allow the child from within to be free.

Friends, what wonderful people they are. I have several that I turn to for advice because they have a way of gathering and dispensing knowledge. I refer to them as my oracles, for no shire should be without one, at least.

I mention this because from time to time this humble gardener will find himself in a coquetry over plant and color combinations, and it helps to get a second or third opinion. I did mention I am lucky to have several oracles and each has their own unique thoughts, so I choose the one that I feel fits the right situation.

I have decided that at the end of the seasons border where the path entrance to the oak grove begins needed some kind of special beginning. After long and agonizing thought and having driven my wife crazy, I decided to call upon one of my oracles for added insight.

One of the things I love is how others think, and after having shared my thoughts with this oracle, a thought was presented, “how about not marking it at all. Let people find it for them self’s.” So it will be, two stone steps and a path thru the oak grove, where the wild flowers will grow. I just love friends!

A thought: Friends are like flowers, close as buds and surprising you in bloom.

The smells of spring are in the air here in the garden shire. You know that sweet earthy sent mixed with the smells of the early daffodils and magnolia. I also noticed the first sign of the fiddle heads of the ferns, for me this is a sure sign that the winter spring that we had this year in New England is behind us.

I planned this spring to divide and transplant some of my green and white hosta that has done so well in the dogwood garden, to the blue and white board that is just outside of the fairy garden. This border is unusual for it is on the south side of the shire but because of the rather tall stockade fence on the south it is northern exposed so the bright glow in the long shadow of the fence suits the colors of white and blue. Here I have two salvaged white washed urns and pedestals that I will fill with blue annuals and gray foliage. Also there is a wonderful old white bird bath that is in year round use. It is very dear to me as it was a gift from my father many years ago. Blue hydrangea are along the fence with white bleeding hearts, white azaleas, white lilies and soon a mix of white and blue annuals will be planted for season long show, so the addition of the hosta to this border will add to  visual texture.

After a morning of digging and dividing, I replanted the biggest of the hosta roots to the dogwood garden, named for the wonderful pink Kousa dogwood in its center which will flower from June to July. This area I plant with pinks and grays with a touch of white. The remaining hosta roots are headed to the white and blue border just in front of the hydrangea. How magical this will appear when it fills in time.

What I love about days like this is after all those thoughts of gardening during the winter some of them now can be completed.

A thought: If you can imagine it, then it can be!

I want to talk about pansies for a moment, Here in the garden shire they are important, for their little faces make me think of the smiles that flowers bring to people and they announce that spring is marching in like fairies on parade. We’re having a warm spring so far and I’ve planted my pansies early. As you would know how it works here in New England weather can change in a moment and it’s become a little colder the last few days, nights have gone down to 32 degrees or lower. Now knowing pansies and viola’s can take this flux in temperature I wasn’t too worried, but it has been very warm like 80 plus for a week or so and there was a lot of new tender growth. Well I lost a few of the older stand byes of the Delta verities. However I had inter planted some new types as I always like to try new plants called Frizzle Sizzle, it has a vibrant frilly flower,  very showy indeed, they not only held up well but seemed to like the sudden cold snap. I will plant more of this pansy and let you know how they do though out the coming months.

A thought: Always add something new to your life!

Magnolia day, yes you read me right, magnolia day in New England. Here in the Garden Shire I like to think that a touch of the south is about us. I feel like I have a little southern in me, for Mom said that I was conceived there while Dad severed in the Navy. They also gave me a southern middle name of Raye mom liked the way it looked on paper. But enough of that. Magnolia time can be one day to two weeks depending on the type of spring we are having, and this year it’s an early one which means it could be a short show if we get a frost or cold spell.

But what a show, first the famous star magnolia explodes with their beautiful double to single star like flowers that illuminates the evening light. Then there is the sourser magnolia, its large buds burst open to even larger bloom and the view is instantly fill with color. It is so magical that you think that a fairy god mother waved her wand and it appeared, and as fast as the show goes on, it is over and these beautiful flowers fall to the ground and carpet the garden in a wonderful fairy like blanket of color.

So it’s time for sweet spring tea and almond sugar cookies, its southern times at the Garden Shire!

A thought: Sometimes it’s just in your DNA!

This morning with coffee in hand I am making my usual rounds it’s a cool spring morning yet the new rising sun seems to warm me with its first rays. The daffodils are in full bloom and here in New England this is early for them. The peep frogs are peeping filling the morning with their song, and the birds are just waking up. It is the daffodils or Narcissus – Pseudonarcissus from which most of these verities come from that are center stage. (Sorry didn’t mean to get hortie on you, will keep it to a minimum.) I’ve planted so many over the years that I can smell them in the air throughout the garden shire.

Their bloom reminds me of grandma and her flower gardens how she loved looking forward to their show and the many bouquet she would pick to give to friends. She would often tell me the poem of, Daffodil Down, with their beautiful gowns. She said when the sun shines on them their trumpet turn up and on rainy cold days they’d turn their trumpets down.

I think I will plant more verities this year. Thank God it’s spring maybe I’ll forget by fall.

A thought: A morning walk gives way to good thought.