Monthly Archives: June 2012

Today I have decided to change the Pink and White Garden into an Angel Garden. Sometimes these ideas just come to me and I know this is a good one. I plan to purchase annuals and perennials that best represent the Angels, now how cool  is that. It started early today as I was weeding in the Front border and the annual angelonia was just looking so good. Last year I planted some in place of snapdragon’s and I was pleasantly surprised. They also made for great cut flowers so I planted many more colors of them this year. There is also a spreading series I am trying and so far so good. By the way the common name for angelonia is ( Angel Flower ) so I think I got the message.

Now to help keep things simple at this time, because my ideas are all over the place. I plan to do research on-line a little later on flowers assisted with stories of Angels. However for now I know to sit and draw out a planting design for the look and feel I would like my Angel Garden to have, I already have a white round top arbor with a white bench in this space and that will stay. The white autumn clematis and the late summer Skies are Blue clematis  cover this arbor and they will stay this will remind me of the blue sky and clouds above. The pink Kousa Dogwood and the many white and green Hosta will stay.. Everything else will have a new place in the Shire.

Now the new plants, there will be for perennials, Daylilly’s – ( Hemerocallis fulva ) they will remind me to cherish the beauty of everyday and the gift it is. Nigelia – ( N. damascena ) it is said to be true love of the Angels in the mist. Lilies of all kinds will fill this garden to call in their presence.  I will plant a Butterfly bush – ( Buddleia alternifolia ) the caller of the Angels of color, butterflies are these you know. Then come the annuals, there will be small marigold – ( Tagetes ) of white and gold, angel fly with wings of gold feathers and these flowers hold that secret. There also will be angel flowers – ( Angelonia ) of many colors and their up ward growing feature will remind me also that the angles are never that far away, all I have to do is look up to see and feel them around me. A thought also came to me to add a fruit to this garden and it will be a potted lemon tree – ( Citrus limonia ) because it is believed that the fruit of this plant will cleanse your body inside and out and will energize your soul. It will also remind me that some messages although sour , can be sweet-smelling and beautiful as a result.

I often call upon the angels and their response is soft and knowing. Over the ages the angels have guided us. Harold in new beginnings, helping to keep order, safety and fullness in our lives. So it is only fitting that I create a special space to glorify and support those angels in my life. I can tell you that if you wish deeply and faithfully believe, the angels in your life will respond.

This Angel Garden will also have a figure of an angel and the search is on!  So its off to find an angel that will be right at home in the Shire, however I know they are here and for that I’m thankful.

A thought; Truely believing and holding to that belief is all it takes.

I haven’t talk about the Frog Pond very much but it is one of my best spots, for something is always happening here. So I truly believe water is the sources of life. This day the pond lilies are in bloom, the first for this season and the bull frogs are singing them in. The air around the pond is filled with their fragrance and I am spell-bound by their bewitching these perennial below the water rise and float with water sprite magic.

Nymphara – ( water Lilly ) is a genus of 50 species of herbaceous, submerged aquatic perennials, growing world-wide. They are noted for their showy, sometimes fragrant flowers and floating foliage.

There are so many color and sizes from minis no bigger than 2 ins to the large Victoria that can support a small human standing on them.

Here at the Shire I have only a few for the pond is full of gold-fish and frogs and the sun is very important to them. But what would a frog pond be if we didn’t have a few. Besides I like to pick them in the morning before they close and dry them in silica sand, because we place them on the Christmas tree to remind us that summer is only a season away.

Every garden should have some water feature and a pot filled with water and a water Lilly growing in it can be a thing of wonder. So make a splash with water plants and open a whole new world of sound, fragrance and color.

A thought; Things that lie so deep, can change still waters.

Father’s Day is here once again. This is the one day that I truly get to do whatever I want and no one will bother me. I get up a little later and have whatever I want for breakfast and  I eat where ever I choose too. With my coffee cup in hand I head out for my morning walk through the garden. I felt that because it is Father’s Day I might start my walk to the Column Garden to see how the golden hops are looking with the morning sun on them. Just as I thought, what a wonderful golden sight hanging on top of the white columns a great way to start a good morning.

The gate to the secret Fairy Garden is special for on it hangs my grandfathers shovel where I have planted hens and chickens in the spade portion, and my grandmothers favorite trowel. This always reminds me to remember them and their love of gardening. I opened the gate and walked into the Fairy Garden where my daughters often went to read, and looked out to the semi hidden long view of the Shire. In that moment as I stood there with my coffee in hand, I saw a vista view of dappled sun light on the hundred or so hosta I had planted over the years. Why I didn’t see this before, in this light, is beyond me, but here it was. The view had a mystical sense to it, like a fairy tale moment, something completely far away about it, as if to say here is where the elves play.

The many different shades of greens and whites and chartreuse and yellows. The many sizes and textures of foliage’s and just the way the sun shows through the oak canopy  and dances on them, makes it seem sir-real. I just stood there in wonder. As I came back to my reality, I looked around me in the Fairy Garden and noticed my obsession with mini hosta. I have planted them in every thing like tea cups with hosta-Mouse Ears and tea pots filled with hosta-Little Bo Peep, to wall planters filled with tiny hosta-Dragon Tails. With whimsical names like hosta-Tick Toc I couldn’t help but to tuck this one in an old wall clock. So I think I’m hooked on hosta. Then looking up again at the long vista, just seeing the huge foliage of the hosta-Dark Shadows and hosta-Golden Empress to hosta-Jack of Diamonds and then all the other medium size like hosta-Lemons and limes and hosta-Stetson Ruffles, hosta-Stitch in time and hosta-blue powder and the list could go on and on.

I have just recently started planting them in pots and placing them all around the garden, when I like to change the over all look every now and then.  Hostas – Striptease and hosta-Praying Hands, as well as hosta-Red October are great for this. So this opens up a whole new area for hosta gardening.

Hosta, Plantain lily – Lilaceae, a genus of about 70 species, most are clump forming and come from China, Korea and Japan. They like fertile, moist but well-drained soil. Hostas love shade but will tolerate some sun for short periods of time. So every garden should have many of these beauties, there are so many to choose from. Here are some of my favorite hosta nurseries. Mason Hollow Nursery –  and Vermont Flower Farm – and New Hampshire Hostas – check them out, once you start there’s no coming back, you’ll be hooked on hosta.

To learn more about hosta use these helpful websites and [Edit: Webpage no longer exists] also and there is always the American Hosta Society.

So I guess you know now I’m a hosta nut who for whatever reason see’s the world differently than most. And I just want to say Happy Father’s Day to me, it’s my special day. I’ll take the last sip of my morning coffee and head in to the Blue and White Border to spend a little time remembering my dad and to start some tidying up in the Shire.

A thought; Sometimes things just get out of control, so laugh!

Sounds strange doesn’t it, but it is the word to describe a form of tree, more so fruit and shrubs pruned to shape. When I suggest this to clients for their gardens the response is,” sounds expensive”. Sometimes they are, especially if you purchase one already trained from a nursery, however it is very easy to do on your own. I recommend a good book on pruning and training of trees and shrubs or google espalier that should get you started.

The reason for this blog is to tell you that I decided to ad a few espaliers to the garden. The two new additions will go in the vegetable terrace just outside the kitchen door. Here we container grow all our vegetables because space is an issue I thought this was the best way to handle our fruit needs. After I choose the two trees of dwarf varieties, red delicious apple, ( Malus – Delicious ) and pear – Harrow sweet, ( Pyrus-harrow sweet} I needed to choose the containers they would be planted in. This would mean a container that could with stand our sometimes cold winters and be big enough to sustain root growth for many years.

The area they are to be trained to grow in is narrow and there is a wooden walk way with a rail on the south-facing wall of Acorn Cottage, I plan to grow them on this rail, making the space more decorative and useful. For us over the years our trees have grown in and the only really sunny spots for vegetables is now close to the house and being empty Nester’s our vegetable needs are fewer in numbers, so container kitchen gardening is great.

With great care I choose trees that are straight and that have several lateral limbs and as luck would have it they are also bearing some fruit. I have placed the two matching pieces of fired pottery in front of the rail support posts and filled the base with some crushed stone for good drainage. The soil I will use is a good mix of compost loam and sand, however a good potting compost mix would work as well. You just don’t want soil that will hold too much water for long periods of time, for if the winter is very cold the pots could freeze solid and crack and could suffocate the roots and kill the tree.

At this point I will attach two bamboo poles half way up between the posts and rail to train the first two limbs tying them to the poles and will train the upper two limbs to the rail creating a double T shape, I will finish by removing the center lead and other unwanted limbs to create the flat horizontal look that is so typical of espaliers, thus the job is complete.

I look forward to years of fresh apples and pears, and am now thinking of other walls and spaces to train other specialty trees on with different shapes for interest. That means new-found space to plant in and with Father’s Day coming another trip to the nursery, YES!

A thought; Sometime conforming is necessary for the means.

It’s evening here, after a day of weeding, pruning and tying, this gardener is tiered.The Shire is in full growth and everything demands this gardeners attention. Feeding has begun, for the annuals need that now. But with all this work the garden is a famous show and even with the work the rewards are worth every moment. The lady slipper’s are in full bloom and the childhood memories fill me with a new strength of such special orchids that grace our New England woods and I know my efforts are blessed. The poppy’s are popping and the lupine are showing color and the knock out roses are a show beyond shows and every thing is great in the Shire. I want to take this time to mention the pansies I spoke of earlier this spring, they are still going strong, so look back in my blog on pansy talk, these guys are winners. Just think pansies in bouquets all summer and fall. I hope that my blog in some way,is a help to you, if any thing it helps you to stay in the garden, physically or in mind.

A thought; A thing of beauty is worth the work.

As I work quietly in the garden, I stop for a moment to enjoy my labors. In that moment as I knelt weeding, I noticed the sounds of the garden. The wind as it rustled through the many different leaves. The many different bees and their hums and the chorus of birds with their many sounds. Then I hear the soft sounds of my chimes and my heart races as I begin to understand the Shire is very much alive and the sounds of this music from within the garden is its life force.

The grasses whistle an Russel with the wind and the fountain in the frog pond trickles and splashes while the frogs serenade each other, and the oaks creak as they sway. The dragon flies swish as they pass and the sounds of the gardener as I lovingly care for the garden, as I listen, I know that the soul of the garden song is revealed.

I know you think this  man has been in the sun a little to long. Perhaps so! But I’ll tell you, take a moment, a quiet moment, and listen. I mean really listen. You’ll understand, this gardener hasn’t been out in the garden that long.

They say everyone has a soul song , one of their very own. I believe in that, all you have to do is truly listen for it. Well I know now this garden has a soul song, just as I know it is very much alive and growing.

I am also writing this because many ask me should I add wind chimes to the garden, and the answer is yes. But you must first listen to the garden and let it help in the tones. Like high or low tones, if the sound of the garden has lots of birds then a lower tone might be in order where a garden full of bees might like to have higher tones and some gardens need a balance of both tones because of so much sound, like the Shire. We have high tones and chimes in the Fairy Garden and long low tones in the Oak Grove in the distance where the birds all sing.

I write about this because  sometimes it helps me to understand, sometimes in the garden, thoughts bring me to do so.

A thought; The music in your soul will make you whole.

Today I am writing about firefly knoll. This area in the garden shire lies just behind the season’s perennial border and the outer edge of the oak grove. Here, three pencil thin Irish junipers stand at about twelve feet tall now, as if guarding the forest edge. You will also find variegated Weigela, who in the evening give one of their best shows. Small azaleas are grouped here and there, and the late May show is like a lower ruffle to the rhododendron bloom in the oak grove beyond, this all runs to the Frog pond that lies at the furthest end. I allow the grass to grow taller in this area leaving it a little untidy looking through June, July, and August. I live with the constant comments of how unkempt it looks behind the season board. Keeping good notes of just who has mentioned this to me.

Around the Fourth of July we hold an at dusk party in the Shire. We have drinks with ice cubes that have small lights in them, and sweets of many kinds. As evening arrives the show begins first just a few twinkle than hundreds and this last year I swear thousands. All around us they fly and flash and land. Oak Grove looks as if the fairies from all over arrived to celebrate. This is one of the most magical moments here in the Shire. And conversations of childhood memories are everywhere. My list of commenter’s is growing smaller each year as more and more of them realize the comment were not unnoticed and their invite didn’t arrive ; however I may have to add a another night of festivities.

Fireflies are an endangered insect, as their breeding and nesting ares like woodland edge meadows are disappearing do to over developing, and light pollution, yes light pollution, too much night-light and they fail to mate. So leave a small area in your garden to nature, let the grass grow taller and the leaves stay longer, and by all means ignore the comments. Because the mid summers night magic is so enchanting that all the things you believed in as a child, you will once again know that they might come true. To learn more on fireflies or lighting bugs go to; for how you can help.

Here at the Shire we believe! And the garden always shows us the way.

A though: Childhood dreams are an older person’s pursuit.

The Front Border

This year is the year of the self-sown foxglove glory. Everywhere I look there are large drifts of foxglove,  How wonderful nature can be! As I look out about the Shire I can see them in large groups some in Oak Grove amongst the azalea’s and ferns, and the Seasons Boarder is like a post card you would like to frame. Even the Fairy garden has them and the front perennial boarded has a grand display. Some of them reach the height of four to five feet and must be stalked. As I stand before these sites I can’t help but think, this is the reason for these flowers to associated with fairies and elves, their hood shaped bell-like flowers could be used for hats or dresses, what merriment that would bring. How great it would be, if when the gentle wind blew if they could chime and imagine what magic that would bring. The bumblebees are humming about them and the Humming birds have found them too. All of this activity of celebration just for foxgloves is welcomed, for this is a show folks, and here at the Shire all our friends are invited.

Digitalis grandiflora ( foxglove ) Is a native of Europe and N. Africa and W. Asia there are some 22 species of perennial and biennials and are grown for their tall spikes of tubular two-lipped flowers.

Medicinal properties of digitalis have been known since ancient times and are still used in the treatment for heart ailments.

Season Border

Digitalis grows well in slightly acid soil that is well-drained and partly shady to filtered sunny spots suits them well. When this is met you will have them return for many years to come never knowing where they will turn up. So plant some foxgloves in the garden its one of those plant every garden should have and enjoy a little old world charm, it’s also good for the heart and just looking at them here in the Shire does this gardeners heart a world of good.

A thought; Your heart will tell you what you need to feel.

Peonies and Poppies, now what magical thoughts this brings to mind. Peonies make me think of grandma’s garden and the wonderful bouquets she would have of them on the parlor table or of Victorian lady’s hats ringed in them. Then the poppies, my thoughts go to the honor they represent or the magic they brought to Dorothy on the way to the Emerald City in OZ. You see flowers are some times a bridge that help us in thought of memories, and to coin a phrase; ” and that’s a good thing “. Both plants bring many memories to so many and all are uniquely individual. Think about them and see if you can’t find some moment with either or both of these flowers, I’m sure you have one or two!

Here in the Shire Garden they are just beginning to start to bloom and the bud set in both are heavy. So another magical moment it being set up for center stage and I think is going to be a show stopper. More to come on this.

Paeonia ( peony ) are 33 species in genus of perennials, Native to Eurasia with 2 being native to the west coast of North America.

The name is classic Greek and arose from the medicinal uses that some have been associated. Paeon – the pre – Apollonian physician of the gods, is a story that shows us a young Paeon holding a wound of magical herbs that flow like blood with the power to heal. The stories say the healing god Asclepice became dangerously jealous, because Paeon posses a very strong healing wound that Zeus changed Paeon into a plant to save him. from Asclepice.

Although associated with healing, the word ” paeon ” also means a hymn of praise – originally to Apollo. This is  much more fitting to the plant that so graces  our gardens with their beauty.

Here at the Shire we grow Paeonia – lactiflora Hybrids, like Miss America, large white flowers that are heavy in sent, and Sara Bernhardt and Shirley Temple, double pinks with peony classic sent that are great as cut flowers. 

Remember they like full sun, and plant in rich but well draining soils. Cut flowers just as the bud begin to crack open for a longer cut flower life. Those ants, well don’t worry they actually help in the garden to open the buds. Also don’t bury them to deep.

Papaver ( poppy ) there are 50 or so annual, biennial or perennial species and many are from the temperate parts of Eurasia and Africa. Poppies are also associated with medicine, but of a different kind if you know what I mean. Although some of their seed were used in cooking other were used to alter state of mind and thus housed a very special magic of its own.

The Shire has two of my Favorites, Papaver rhoeas ‘ Mother of Pearl ‘ and ‘ Shirley Series ‘ this one self seeds and always delights me with where they will pop up in the  Shire.

The  Peony and the Poppy, while both have a history in healing, both bring memories to the soul, and a knowing that  simple things can bring great pleasure.

A thought; May the memories made today will stay with our souls forever.