Early Winter

November 20th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Secret Garden, Mid-November 

Winter arrived early this year —more than a month early, with 8″ of snow on November 15th, to be exact— leaving me a bit underprepared. Mother Nature decides when the seasons change, and she couldn’t care less about our plans. Those bulbs you bought on sale in late October? Guess you’ll be potting those up now, silly fool. Put off that brush clearing? Welcome to the jungle next spring, sweetie. Half-stacked firewood? Baby, it’s cold outside and it will be inside as well if you don’t smarten up. Old Man Winter caught you lounging on the terrace with that mug of hot chocolate, and he had a good long laugh. You call yourself a New Englander? Oh, now you shall pay!

Dark. Cold. Snowbound. More December 20th than November 20th in Vermont

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Of Rust & Rain: November’s Garden

November 10th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

The Leaves of Enkianthus campanulatas ‘Red Bells’ Flicker Against Grey-Green Microbiota decussata. This Beauty is Equally Stunning in Springtime. Click Here to Read More

Early November’s combination of thick frost, cold rain, wet snow and high wind has taken a toll on late season color in the garden. Trees along the ledgy ridge line —particularly the delicate birch– stand naked now; having long since been stripped of their leaves. Still, in the protected pockets, a few burnished blossoms and leafy gems remain: Japanese maple, enkianthus, hydrangea and of course the conifers. Winter is coming. Soon, only the garden’s bare bones will remain.

Chalky White Lines Etch the Land: Betula papyrifera. Bark & Branches Make the Winter Garden. Read More Here.  

Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’ in November. Read More About Limelight Hydrangea Here.

Floating Leaves of Fire from the Blue Green Dragon (Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’)

Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’ with Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’ at Secret Garden Door

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Mum’s the Word? I Can’t Keep a Secret! Visiting Smith College Botanic Garden’s Fall Chrysanthemum Show, 2018

November 4th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Watch Out, Gucci: Evan’s Dream Chrysanthemum (Fukuske, Spider Class), in Pale Pink Couture at Smith College Botanic Garden. 

We’ve all been invited to some obligatory formal event or other —black tie, couture gown, rsvp— only to send our regrets at first politely permissible moment. Don’t get me wrong. Parties are great fun, but sometimes it’s hard to beat your cozy pajamas. Well, don’t let the 2018 Fall Chrysanthemum Show at Smith College Botanical Garden be the soirée you skip this year, because luckily, only the flowers are required to play dress to up —and boy have they ever! Yves Saint Laurent, Valentino, Gucci; yes, they’re all there and you get to play paparazzi. It’s a spectacular, end-of-season, horticultural ball —don’t miss it!

A Glorious Ballroom Awaits: Lyman Conservatory at Smith College Botanic Garden

The Chrysanthemum Show runs from Saturday, November 3, 2018 to Sunday, November 18, 2018 at Lyman Conservatory. Hours are 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays (perfect for date night). Entry fee is a suggested $5 donation. No jacket required!

Redefining Wall Flowers – Steamy, Hot House Mums, Pressed Against the Glass at Smith College

Very Valentino: Chrysanthemum x morifolium ‘Lili Gallon’ in White-trimmed, Maroon Velvet Ruffles, with a Few of Her Gorgeous Girlfriends

Hot Pink Fashionistas: This Catwalk of Chrysanthemums Sure Knows How to Make and Entrance

Sassy Saffron Spiders! Couture Chrysanthemums at Smith College Botanic Garden

Persimmon-Hued Spiders to Rival Yves Saint Laurent 

And a Waterfall of Cascading Chrysanthemums, Trained in Traditional Japanese Style

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Bittersweet Endings: Nod To November

November 2nd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Bittersweet Reflections (Acer palmatum x dissectum)

November arrived quietly this year; creeping in with melancholy whispers of fog and chilly rain. Bittersweet leaves glow along back roads and pile up in water-logged ditches. Suddenly, the skeletal lines of late autumn have reappeared. Winter is coming. We can feel it now, in our bones. Dia de los Muertos. From our Mexican neighbors I’ve learned to appreciate and celebrate the beauty of death in life. The cycle is coming to close. Embrace it. Spring will come again . . .

Miscanthus purpurascens with Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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A Bit of Seasonal Hocus-Pocus

October 29th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Blood-Red Leaves and Blackened Wings? Must be the Season of the Witch . . .

Whispers of Fog Fade the October Garden

Muting Golden Hues to Bronze and Rust

Whilst Chilly Raindrops Shimmer the Autumn Weaver’s Webs

Lengthening Shadows Darken Pools & Haunt Mirrors

But Fear No Evil Spirits. Through Misty Glass, Ezekiel Guards the Wild Domain

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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The Nightmare Before Christmas: Autumn Snowliage in Vermont

October 27th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

The Blue Green Dragon has Her Autumn Fire Cooled by Old Man Winter

Mother Nature had early tricks in mind for Vermont this Halloween, though fortunately, she and her pal, Old Man Winter, kept things light. Autumn snowstorms can be devastating to deciduous trees and shrubs here in New England; especially when the more fragile species are still in full canopy. Two years ago, to the day (October 26-27, 2016), fall foliage held late, and my garden did not escape Winter’s early wrath so easily.  There was heavy, wet snowfall and a great deal of damage. Thankfully, this year’s snowliage was light and for the most part, less Nightmare Before Christmas and more pre-Halloween treat . . .

And the Lovely Scarlet Leaves of this Cornus kousa Catch a Premature Chill

Snow-Dusted Loungers, Shiver out on the Balcony

Taking in the Chilly-Looking, North-Western View

Frozen Leaf-Dance in the Water Bowl. Perhaps it’s Time to Gather in the Pots

And Tuck the Secret Garden in for a Long Winter’s Nap 

Fire and Ice: Cornus kousa in Snow. 

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Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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American Yellowwood: The Garden’s Crowning, Golden, October Glory

October 26th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Cladrastis kentukea: Our Glorious, American Yellowwood Tree

I’ve always been baffled by the rarity of American Yellowwood trees in New England gardens. With a glorious canopy of fragrant, cascading white blossoms in May/June, a rounded, full crown of disease-free leaves throughout the summer season and clear, golden fall foliage in late autumn, this tree is a garden designer’s dream. Hardy in USDA zone 4-8, with a mid-size stature of 30-50′, and full, rounded 40-50+’ crown, Cladrastis kentukea has become one of my favorite landscape trees.

Given full sun and average moisture, Cladrastis kentukea thrives in New England’s cool climate. There is one reputed flaw: American Yellowwood branches are fragile and can be vulnerable to ice damage; but that certainly hasn’t stopped designers and home gardeners from planting Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) or Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum). My own Cladrastis kentukea tree has settled in to its adopted Vermont home, gracing the garden for approximately 10 years now. Protected from prevailing winds by a dense landscape filled with other plantings, my Yellowwood tree has weathered a number of early and late season ice storms, as well as heavy, annual snowfall, with no trace of damage. She did take a number of years to bloom, but now rewards my wait with a lush, fragrant canopy in early June, followed by dangling, decorative seed pods in autumn.

A Garden Designer’s Dream Tree: Native North American Beauty with Fragrant Spring Blossoms and Late Autumn Foliage in Clear, Brilliant Yellow

Because of Yellowwood’s deep-rooting habit, she plays nicely in mixed borders with other plants. Her shifting, seasonal hues are a special joy to work with from spring through late fall. I like to pair this beauty with soft blue or gold bulbs in spring, followed by perennials and woody plants with blue-violet flowers and golden-orange to scarlet autumn foliage. These colors sing out together against a bluebird sky and glow like lanterns in late October fog. An unusual, beautiful addition to the landscape, Cladrastis kentukea is a tree worth seeking out or requesting at garden centers; especially those specializing in native, ornamental plants.

Glorious, Fragrant White Blossoms with Golden Centers Cascade from the Branches in June 

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Tête-à-tête with Chocolate Skillet Cake, Raspberries & Autumn Leaves

October 24th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Chocolate Skillet Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting and Raspberries (Gluten Free Version from Bravetart). Cast iron pan from Lodge.

What is it about the first blast of chilly, autumn air that brings out my seasonal craving for baked goods? Do you experience this phenomenon as well? Luckily, my family has plenty of October birthdays to celebrate, providing the perfect excuse to indulge! There’s nothing quite like the smell of vanilla and warm brown sugar to put me in the fall spirit. Usually, at this time of year, I’m more inclined toward apple pie. But I’m surrounded by a family of chocolate lovers, and to be honest, who can really resist? Toss a handful of late-season raspberries on devil’s food cake, and I am more than ready to compromise with the party goers!

Although I am an experienced and confident cook, sweets aren’t a daily part of my diet and baking is still something of a novelty for me. Over the past couple of years, in an effort to get more satisfying results, I’ve invested in a new kitchen scale (weighing ingredients really is key), a couple of confectioner’s gadgets and a few cookbooks written by professional bakers. I’ve been following Stella Parks on Instagram and enjoying her creations for Serious Eats, for awhile now —which is where I spotted this chocolate skillet cake— and find her recipes not only easy enough for a beginner, but consistent crowd-pleasers as well. And there’s nothing quite so sweet as praise to encourage a new baker, right?  So when Stella’s new book, Bravetart came out last summer, I checked the mailbox regularly, eagerly anticipating the arrival of my pre-ordered copy.

I have not been disappointed! One of my goals has been to add a few gluten-free options to my sweet repertoire. It seems that whenever I attend a big party, at least two or three people have a gluten intolerance, and they are unable to enjoy conventionally made desserts. That seems very unfair! Fortunately, Stella has includes gluten-free versions of her recipes in Bravetart; all with clear and simple instructions. I’ve made the gluten-free version of her chocolate skillet cake twice now this month —using her homemade wheat-flour substitute— with great results. This weekend however, I was in a hurry. So, for the version below, I simply used Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Flour. Perfection in a pinch.

Chocolate Skillet Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting and Raspberries (Gluten Free Version from Bravetart). Cast iron skillet from Lodge.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Skillet Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting & Raspberries

Adapted from Serious Eats & Stella Park’s sweet cookbook: Bravetart

Special Equipment: Lodge 12″ cast iron skillet, whisk, hand-held mixer and offset spatula

Cake:

6 ounces unsalted butter

6 ounces freshly brewed, black coffee

1 1/2 ounces Divine or other Dutch cocoa

3 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped (I used 70%)

8 ounces light brown sugar

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

3/4 tsp kosher salt

4 large eggs

4 1/2 ounces Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour* (or use Stella’s recipe)

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

Frosting:

6 ounces Endangered Species milk chocolate, or your favorite brand, finely chopped

8 ounces heavy cream

Salt to taste

1/2 pint fresh-picked raspberries (or other seasonal berries), for garnish

Method:

For the frosting:

Heat the heavy cream to a simmer in a 10″-12″ cast-iron skillet. Add chopped chocolate to a heat-proof bowl. When the cream is bubbling at the edges, pour on top of the chocolate and whisk. Add salt to taste and continue to whisk until blended smooth. Allow mixture to cool approximately 15 minutes. Cover and refrigerate until ready to finish the cake.

For the cake:

Center oven rack in lower-middle. Preheat to 350° F.

Warm the butter and coffee over low heat, in the same 10-12″ cast-iron skillet, stirring until butter has completely melted. Remove pan from the heat. Carefully mix in the cocoa and the chopped dark chocolate, stirring until well blended. Add in the brown sugar, salt and vanilla. Gently whisk in the eggs. When combined, add the flour and baking soda. Whisk to combine until smooth.

Slide the skillet into the hot oven and bake until firm. This took approximately 25 minutes in my 12″ Lodge skillet. Bake 5-10 minutes longer in a 10″ cast-iron skillet. Watch carefully, because oven temperatures and pan thicknesses can really vary baking times. Remove the cake from the oven when a wooden stick pulls clean from the center, and cool for approximately 2 hours at room temperature before frosting.

Finishing:

When ready to frost the cooled cake, remove the milk chocolate ganache from refrigerator and stir. Stella suggests beating the frosting with a spatula until it reaches a yogurt-like consistency. I opted to use a hand-held, electric mixer, and whipped the frosting on medium high for a minute until light and fluffy. Gently top the cooled cake with the ganache, using an offset spatula to create swirling patterns. Top with fresh-picked raspberries.

*If you wish to make this cake conventionally, as opposed to gluten-free, simply use 4 1/2 ounces of regular, all-purpose flour in place of the Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten Free Flour. We could not taste the difference, nor did we notice a change in texture or density, either way!

Ready, set  . . .Devour!

Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Blue Green Dragon’ Morphs from Green to Pink to Red-Orange Fire 

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Beyond the Sweater Drawer: Gardening In Layers for Autumn Color & Texture

October 18th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Stunning Abelia mosanensis, Backed Up by Lovely Lindera benzoin and Miscanthus sinensis ‘Variegatus’, Together in a Stellar Second Act.  

Getting dressed for October weather in New England usually involves a tank top, t-shirt, bright sweater and weatherproof jacket. As the season grows colder, this list grows to include colorful wool socks, hat, scarf, gloves and a stylish pair of warm boots. Eventually, I’ll put away the tank tops and t-shirts and pull on the long Johns before adding everything else. Our wardrobe colors and patterns may switch up but our bones remain the same.

Callicarpa dichotoma, Rudbeckia hirta Stand Out Against Glowing Amsonia hubrichtii. Beauty to Brighten the Dreariest of Days.

Once you know your plants, designing a garden for autumn isn’t much different from planning your fall wardrobe. When creating a planting plan for any season, I start with basic garden structure of trees and strubs (aka “the bones”), and then select perennials and annuals to flatter throughout the growing year. It’s important to consider how things will look in the big picture —just like standing in front of a long mirror and turning side to side, before you head out the door— as individual layers and details fade away and others appear or color up in changing weather.

Amsonia illustris Shines Against Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’s’ Frost-Kissed Leaves. This Pairing Gets Bolder in Late October, When the Witch Alder Glows Bright, Orange-Red

A good understanding of color —how to work relationships between harmonious and complementary hues— comes in handy when designing a garden, as does a good mental database of plants and how their textures and appearances shift throughout the seasons. Certain leaves will morph from green to red, others will glow orange or gold, and some will just blacken and shrivel! As foliage fades, little details like berries, bark and seed pods really begin to matter; popping against the moody grey landscape and glistening in frost. Knowing what to cut back, and when, can make all the difference between a beautiful first frost and early winter blahs. When in doubt, leave it standing and make notes! You can always pull out the shears later. These are the elements of plant-driven design that fascinate and thrill me; familiarity with them will give you a great three, and even four-season landscape.

Layered Autumn Looks Go Way Beyond the Basic. This Meadow Walk Planting Design Features Trees, Shrubs, Perennials and Grasses for Depth. From Bottom Left: Amsonia illustris, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Cornus kousa, Clethra alnifolia ‘Ruby Spice’, Aster oblongifolium ‘Raydon’s Favorite’, Betula papyrifera, Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’, Persicaria amplexicaulis, Juniperus horizontalis and Rudbeckia hirta. 

Blue-Violet Aromatic Asters (A. oblongifolius), Complement Beautifully with Golden Amsonia illustris. Color Harmony Comes Later in the Season, as the Asters Fluff Up to White Tufts and the Amsonia Bleaches to Bone.

A Different Angle on the Meadow Walk Reveals How Layers of Trees, Shrubs and Perennials Vary the Visual Experience —Color, Texture, Form— Leading Down the Path, Toward the Secret Garden Stairs.

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Second Thoughts & Encores . . .

October 15th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

With a Backdrop of Golden Clethra alnifolia and Side-Show of Blackened Rudbeckia Pom Poms, Glistening Asclepias tubersoa (Butterfly Weed), Parachutes Await a Breeze

Some things in life are one-hit wonders, and others are worth a second thought or three. When it comes to gardening in a cold climate, I’m always looking to get the most out of my growing year. With this in mind, I am generally pretty picky in my selection of plants. With rare exceptions (fragrant plants like peonies come to mind), I ask at least two seasons of performance before I’ll let any newcomer through my garden gate. Points of consideration: flowers are a real plus, but their absence is not a deal-breaker; good bones are always important, especially for trees and shrubs; foliage —dramatic or changing— is considered a high value asset in both herbaceous and woody plants; and colorful berries/drupes/seeds/calyxes/tufts/bark are always very desirable.

The three plants featured here are unusual knock-outs both in bloom and again, later in the season with other special effects. Butterfly Weed (Aesclepias tuberosa), gets double points as a beautiful butterfly magnet; foliage for caterpillars and later, brilliant orange flowers for adults. But it’s autumn that brings out this plant’s hidden treasure: spiky, dramatic seed pods that split to release silver-white parachutes into blue October sky. Magic!

Recently Featured, Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), is an Autumnal Double Feature worth Repeating. Here Seven-Son Flower’s Calyxes Shimmer Alongside Rose-Tipped Tufts of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), recently featured, is another butterfly favorite in the late-season garden. Watching Monarchs dance about the fragrant blossoms would be gift enough, but the long-showing rose calyxes offer an unusual hue at this time of year. I love this plant paired with purple-tinted Ninebark leaves (Physocarpus opulifolius, ‘Diablo’ is my favorite), and silken tassels of Maiden Grass (Miscanthus sinensis).

Another less-common beauty, Fingerleaf Rodgersia  (Rodgersia aesculifolia), offers three season interest from early to late in the garden year. Creamy white or pink cultivars bloom on sturdy stems in late spring through early summer, looking fresh and cool above gorgeous, dark green foliage. Then, in early autumn, the boney remains begin to ruddy up to purplish ruby, just as the leaves morph to gold. Sweet alchemy! Don’t grab your shears just yet, though. Left standing over winter, the flower heads will slowly shift from dark brown to jet black —perfection with sparkling frost or a light dusting of snow.

With gorgeous foliage and beautiful summertime flowers, Fingerleaf Rodgersia (Rodgersia aesculifolia), is just a great garden plant, all the way around. Still, I think her best attributes are on display in autumn, when her gilded foliage is offset by a bejeweled crown, shifting from complementary ruby-violet to dramatic jet black bead.

So many garden plants offer more than one season of beauty, but sometimes, it takes a bit of sleuthing to discover them. Of course it helps to haunt great public gardens and commercial displays at this time of year. Make notes for shopping clearance sales at garden centers or return in spring to snap up those collectible, rare gems before they’re all sold out. The best plants are always worth at least a second thought!

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Into the October Fire

October 11th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Cranberrybush Viburnum (V. trilobum), turns up the heat with Lindera benzoin Blazing Gold Beyond

It’s yet another wet and dreary day here in Vermont, but even the non-stop rain can’t seem to extinguish this October’s fire. Here’s a peek at the week’s highlights in a few snaps made between showers . . .

Red, Orange and Gold — Oh My!

Within the Secret Garden, Damp, Earthy, Fall Fragrance Fills the Air

Autumn Alchemy: Silver Bells Turn to Gilded Leaves. Halesia tetraptera

Viburnum trilobum & V. plicatum with Miscanthus purpurascens & Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ 

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Sweet-Scented Seven-Son Flower: Heptacodium miconioides Blossoms Welcome Autumn . . .

September 23rd, 2018 § 5 comments § permalink

Heptacodium miconioides in and amongst September garden favorites: Rudbeckia, Solidago, Miscanthus and Physocarpus opulifolius

It’s no secret that we northeastern gardeners struggle with a limited growing season. Bare trees for nearly six months is a bit much to take. We want to hold onto the glory of autumn. Where winters are long and summers are short, early and late blooming plants —especially those with expanded foliage/bark interest, spring through fall— are key to getting the most out of the gardening year. When it comes to extending interest in the latter part of the gardening season, it’s hard to beat the beauty of Heptacodium miconioides. Commonly known as Seven-Son Flower, this unusual, low-maintenance shrub or small tree (hardy in USDA zones 5-8 with a preference for full sun and average, well-drained garden soil), is just beginning to turn on her charm in early September, when many other blooming trees and shrubs have long since faded away.

Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides). September’s Sweet-Scented Bloom 

Fountain-shaped and substantial enough for the back or center of a large border (approximately 15-20′ high and 10′ wide), Seven-Son Flower may be grown as a multi-stem shrub or trained as a small tree. Shiny, medium green leaves cover branches throughout the growing year and then come late summer, Seven-Son Flower welcomes migrating Monarch butterflies. hummingbirds and bees with sweetly fragrant clusters of white flowers (each whorl containing seven blossoms).

But wait, as they say in late-night infomercials, there’s more! Although we gardeners would be more than happy with any shrub blooming this late in the growing season, the deliciously fragrant flowers are only half Heptacodium miconioides‘ surprise. After her blossoms fade, reddish purple fruit appears, surrounded by brilliant rose calyces. These spiky, sepal-like casings spread wide open, giving the appearance of a second flowering flush. I love the cherry red color against bone white tufts of feathery Maiden Grass. October surprise indeed! And just when you think the show is over, beautiful, two-tone exfoliating bark will take you by surprise as you stroll through the garden on the first frosty mornings of late fall and then continue on throughout the winter months.

Rose Calyces with Wide-Open, Sepal-Like Form, Persist Late into the Autumn

Although this beauty can be a bit hard to find, she’s worth seeking out. I love her planted beside Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ and Miscanthus sinensis purpurascens, supported by a cast of simple, late blooming perennials like Rudbeckia, Solidago, Aster and Chrysanthemum. Color and texture to extend garden beauty from late summer into autumn and early-mid winter. What a delight!

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Autumn Florals: An Introduction to Pastel Drawing & Painting at Beautiful Walker Farm, Dummerston, Vermont

September 14th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Come and Learn Pastel Drawing and Painting Techniques with Beautiful Walker Farm Flowers as Our Subject

Come join me at beautiful Walker Farm, RT5, Dummerston, VT on the first day of fall –September 22nd– for an introductory floral still life workshop focusing on pastel techniques and materials (hard and soft pastels, pastel pencils, paper supports, and various fixatives), with gorgeous, WalkerFarm autumn flowers as our subject.

Autumn Florals: An Introduction to Pastel Drawing & Painting for Beginners

September 22, 2018

10 am –  12 pm

Walker Farm, RT 5, Dummerston, Vermont

$45 Special Introductory Price Includes Materials & Fresh Cut, Walker Farm Flowers

Introductory Class Limited to 10 People

To reserve your place, please email: michaela (at) thegardenerseden (dot) com

 

Article and Images copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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These Last Golden Days

September 13th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Monarch on Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

With little more than a week of summer remaining, I find myself looking back on the season with a twinge of sadness. Although I adore autumn, I wonder how it arrived so quickly. Spring was late this year, and our hot, rainy summer went a bit too fast. When did the Hermit Thrush stop singing? Where did the wild raspberries go?

September’s Garden: Rudbeckia fulgida, Miscanthus purpurascens, Miscanthus sinensis, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’, Hepacodium miconioides

Glancing across the room, blushing hydrangea, golden wildflowers and ripe peaches fill my countertop. It’s still summer, but it’s certainly feels like autumn on this misty, moody day. Perhaps a stroll through the garden and a home-baked galette will raise some cheer.

Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’

 

Article and Photography copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Welcoming Late Summer’s Slow, Shadowy, Seductive Beauty . . .

September 4th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Ligularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’ in the Secret Garden

September is truly my favorite Summer month. In fact, now through early December is my preferred season to be outside and in the garden. Everyone loves springtime, of course, but when you’re employed in the field of horticulture and landscape design, it’s hard to find the time to enjoy it. May and June are busy, busy months in the garden. September is different. Although the days are getting shorter and my task list is getting longer, things still seem just a little less urgent. We’re still in a summer state-of-mind. The first day of autumn is three weeks away and plenty of hot, hazy days remain. My hammock yet beckons.

Of course it’s the September garden that I adore: sky blue asters, voluptuous hydrangeas, showgirl dahlias, fragrant fairy candles, feathery grasses. I love to wander through the blowzy perennial borders at this time of year, gathering bouquets and admiring butterflies. And sometimes I’ll just sprawl out in the middle of lawn, watching fluffy, white clouds drift by while listening to the chorus of crickets.

September’s Quiet Summer Beauty

Actaea simplex ‘Hillside Black Beauty’, Ligularia dentata ‘Britt-Marie Crawford’, self-sown Rudbeckia hirta ‘Becky’ and Hakonechloa macra ‘All Gold’, in early September 

 

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Going Buggy: Let’s Talk About Tussock Moth Caterpillars

September 2nd, 2018 § 4 comments § permalink

On the Left, Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Lophocampa caryae), and on the Right, White-Marked Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Orgyia leucostigma)

Suddenly, it’s September, and everywhere I look, there are hints of a changing season. One of the first autumnal signs I’ve noticed this year is the appearance of fuzzy, colorful, and boldly-patterned Tussock Moth caterpillars. Although these hungry little critters do tend to skeletonize the foliage of certain trees, and sometimes, during large infestations, they can cause trouble with crop trees, their late-season noshing is usually a minor aesthetic issue, (Hickory Tussocks mainly munch deciduous elm, ash, oak, willow, nut and of course, hickory trees, while White-Marked Tussocks and Definite Tussock Moths, usually prefer apple, birch, elm, maple, cherry and sometimes conifers such as balsam fir and larch).  However, the black and white, Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar (Lophocampa caryae, pictured atop, at left), has recently caught some bad press as a “venomous caterpillar”. So, what’s the scoop?

The Definite Tussock Moth (Orgyia definita), is Easy to ID with its Yellow Head and Body, Black spots and White-Blond Hairs. 

Indeed, the spines of many Tussocks –including, but not limited to the black and white, Hickory Tussock Moth Caterpillar— do contain a venom to ward off predators. When handled, this venom can rub off on the skin, sometimes causing a red, stinging, itchy rash. For most people, the reaction is mild, and can be treated with ice and over-the-counter rash medication, however some individuals –particularly children and adults with sensitive skin– will experience more discomfort than others. For this reason, it’s best to avoid handling all Tussock Moth Caterpillars, unless wearing gloves. Most wild creatures do prefer to be left alone, so I try to simply observe and enjoy insects, and all other wild things, from a respectful distance, without touching or disturbing them at all.

For more information about Tussock Moths and their Caterpillars, visit BugGuide.net or MothAndCaterpillars.org.

Look, But Don’t Touch! Some People Experience Allergic Reaction to Tussock Moth Caterpillar Venom. Avoiding Contact is the Best Defense. Most Creatures Prefer Not to be Handled Anyway. 

Article and Photography copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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You Can Judge This Beauty By Its Cover! Stylish Succulents: Summer Book Review

July 17th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Stylish Succulents – Beautiful and Brainy 

It’s that time of year again: summer heat has taken its toll on neglected pots of annuals, your house-sitter forgot to water the hanging baskets, and the gorgeous Dahlias out by the pool were beheaded by deer. It’s mid-July, summer is just getting started! Now what? Well, let’s hope all of these things have not happened at your house this year, but if you are a life-long gardener, sooner or later you’ll have to replace at least a few annual displays during the growing season.

Seeking a bit of fresh inspiration for containers in a new deck garden design, I requested a review copy of Stylish Succulent : Japanese Inspired Container Gardens for Small Spaces, and I’m delighted with both the beautifully photographed designs and instructions! From hanging containers to tabletop displays and wall gardens, this book is filled with fantastic projects and ideas . . .

Have a bigger garden project in mind? Although this book is geared toward small spaces, many ideas are easily expandable to suit larger containers. Looking for something creative and green to do with older kids and teenagers? This is the perfect way to introduce a little artistry and horticulture into idle, summer vacation days.

Succulent pots and hanging baskets always make beautiful accents on hot, sunny decks, but my favorite how-tos in this book are the simple, succulent wreath and wall tableaux projects. I especially love the wild-looking Tillandsia wreaths and can’t wait to create one of my own. Pick up your own copy of Stylish Succulents, and get out there!

Complete instructions, with step-by-step illustrations, make this a true, project-lover’s book

.At my request, a copy of Stylish Succulents was provided by Tuttle Publishing for independent, honest review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

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In Search of the Slow, Sweet Summertime

July 15th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

It always happens in mid-May . . .The summer ahead seems endless in late spring and I schedule too many things on my calendar. Over-booked and over-worked, I inevitably catch a cold and fall behind on everything. This year, the cold set me back a couple of weeks —in June! But, here I am. I made it back, with a moment to spare.

Now, I just have to play catch up in my own garden, which as usual, has become a neglected riot. I need and want to make a few design changes here, and this WILL be the year it all happens (insert knowing chuckle)! But for now, this mantra applies: “I weed, therefore I am”. Oh, and thank goodness for Rudbeckia hirta. Self-sown, Black-eyed Susans always seem to tie the blowzy garden together and make everything alright. If only I could grow them on my head.

Where to start? Well today’s goal is pretty simple: pull out the hammock. Yes, the hammock is still in storage, which is just plain ridiculous. How can I keep up with my book reviews without th trusty hammock? Have you kept up with your this year? Go ahead …Inspire me!

Article and Photography copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Fiddle Dee Dee: Ostrich Fern Harvest

May 8th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) in the Secret Garden

Hoo Wee! It’s fiddlehead season again in Southern Vermont, and don’t you blink or you’ll miss it. Normally just two weeks long, fiddlehead season is particularly short with spring’s late arrival this year. So when I noticed bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis), and troutlily (Erythronium americanum), beginning to bloom on the forest floor, I rushed right out in the early morning hours with a big harvest basket. Time to visit the damp, woodsy lowlands and forest streams, seeking out the tightest, brightest, green Matteuccia struthiopteris fronds.

It’s Fiddlehead Season! Beautiful in the woodland garden and the dinner plate: Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris) 

Matteuccia struthiopteris makes a tall, elegant, ground-covering ornamental in damp shade. Hardy in zones 3-7, it can reach 3-6′ high and its spread, by underground rhizome, can lead to 6-8′ colonies. This is a great plant for naturalizing in a high understory, and for pairing with spring ephemerals; such as Sanguinaria canadensis, Erythronium americanum, Phlox divericata, Tiarella cordifolia, and woodland bulbs of all kinds.

By late spring, Matteuccia struthiopteris makes a lovely, softening backdrop and filler plant toward the back of the border. It’s a great plant for pairing with ephermerals and early-blooming bulbs.

Although I cultivate Ostrich Fern in my secret garden, it also grows wild here in the Vermont woodlands surrounding my studio and home. When I go out foraging for fiddleheads, I look for the deep green, shiny curl of Matteuccia struthiopteris. Often, the fertile, dark brown, spiky fronds —which persist, tough and upright, through the winter months— lead me to the emerald green fiddleheads at the base of each fern. I’m careful to harvest only one or two from each plant.

After Harvest, I Soak Fiddleheads in Cold Water, and Rinse Thoroughly to Remove Sand and Brown, Papery Husks. Once Cleaned, Steam for 7-10 Minutes or Blanch for 10-15. Then, Use in Salads, Stir Fries and Pastas or Bag and Freeze for Later.

Ostrich Fern fiddleheads should not be consumed raw. Instead, after thoroughly cleaned (see instructions above), be sure to steam (7-10 minutes), or blanch (10-15 minutes), fiddleheads to al dente. Once steamed or blanched, these delightful greens may be eaten in a variety of ways. Toss them in a simple soup or salad, sauté in butter as a side dish, add them to favorite pastas and risotto or enjoy them in savory tarts and quiches. Cleaned and sealed in airtight bags, raw fiddleheads will keep fresh several weeks in the fridge. Once steamed or blanched, they may be bagged and frozen for up to 9 months.

Article and Photography copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Heaven on Earth: Meet Narcissus ‘Abba’, Spicy Sweet Fragrance of Springtime

May 2nd, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Hello, My Sweet. Narcissus ‘Abba’

It’s May again, and this year, her perfume is sweeter than ever. Springtime. Oh, she really made us wait. Somehow though, the yearning just makes everything seem richer. This morning, I flung open the studio doors and for the first time this year, I brought my coffee pot outside on the terrace. Immediately, a warm breeze caught my hair, and filled my nose with a most-beloved, familiar scent. Abba. Abba, oh!

Narcissus ‘Abba’ —double-flowered, division 4 daffodil with 3-5 florets per 13″-18″ stem— is one of my favorite, cut-flowers for springtime. Some years, Abba blooms early here in Vermont. If I am lucky, she arrives with the song of our Hermit Thrush, in the first weeks of April. This year, her creamy, golden-orange-flecked blossoms happen to be opening in May. I’ll take it. Hardy in zones 5-9, Abba, like most daffodils, prefers full sun and good drainage. The scent is quite heavenly; sweet, with a hint of spice. Be sure to plant these in early autumn if you live up North. They take some time to settle in. Once they do, you’ll be rewarded again and again. Deer and rodents will snub her, but I can’t get enough of my dear Abba.

Deliciously Sweet with a Hint of Spice. Perfect for Beside the Bed

Article and Photography copyright Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto: Planning Garden-Destination Travel

April 29th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

A Tea Garden at Koto-In, from Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto. Photograph: John Einarsen

Almost every passionate, ornamental gardener has a dream destination file; a box, drawer or folder filled with clipped photos, articles and maps of exotic landscapes waiting to be explored. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been caching field notes to the Zen Gardens of Kyoto, Japan. From Ryoan-Ji’s world renown Dry Garden and Koto-in’s glorious maples to the famed Moss Garden of Saiho-ji and the Temple of Poets, Konpuku-Ji; there are so many ancient and alluring places to see, that I can hardly imagine where to start. But if we want to make our dream garden-tours reality, a plan is needed and a great guide book is a good place to begin.

Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto

With travel planning in mind, I recently selected a copy of John Dougill’s Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto for review.  While I can not deny that John Einarsen’s gorgeous images drew me in and held me spellbound, I found Dougill’s detailed descriptions and the book’s format —with and introductory section devoted to Zen and Japanese culture, followed by a chronological listing of Kyoto’s Zen temples— has really helped me to prioritize my itinerary. My itinerary? Yes, I said that. The time has come. Now the clock is ticking and my date book is open. It’s time to get serious about this trip.

Stone Water Basin. Photograph: John Einarsen 

I am particularly interested in Moss Gardens and Tea Gardens. The connection between these spaces and the Zen practice of traditional, Japanese Tea Ceremony is especially intriguing to me. Moss-covered, stone basins, so often seen in Japan, inspired my Secret Garden’s water bowl. I find the hypnotic power of a shady, cool, reflective surface to be peaceful, calming and centering. Koto-In, famous for its Tea Gardens, Moss and Maples, is the first garden I flagged to visit. However, the author mentions that this place can be over-run with tourists in autumn. I love this kind of insight, as it helps me to consider when and how to see this special place without missing out on my reason for being there. I am also drawn to the suggestion of water in stone. With this in mind, dry gardens —such as Ryoan-Ji— are must-see stops on my list. I have waited a long time to make this extended trip and I want to thoroughly plan it, without destroying the spontaneity I love. Dougill thoughtfully mentions many of the little tips I like to know in advance when doing a lot of sightseeing; such as where to find a good restaurant.

Where do your garden travel dreams take you? Do the Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto call your name? I am loving my hardcover copy of this guidebook, and plan to download the Kindle version for my iPad as well. I’m sure I’ll want Dougill’s valuable tips and advice in my backpack as I explore Kyoto’s treasure trove of ancient gardens.

.At my request, a copy of Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto was provided by Tuttle Publishing for independent, honest review. No other compensation was received. All opinions are my own.

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Photography copyright John Einarsen, provided by and used with permission of Tuttle Publishing, all rights reserved. All other content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden Online Journal and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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