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 

 

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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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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Misty Glasshouse Dreaming

April 19th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Favorite Dreary-Day Escape: Seeking Inspiration at Lyman Conservatory, Smith College Botanic Garden, Northampton, MA

Melancholy mornings, moody afternoons and long, rainy weekends; I can think of a hundred-and-one excuses for a trip to Smith College’s Lyman Conservatory. But when spring is this raw and wintry weather so unrelenting, I really crave the warm, humid comfort of a glorious greenhouse.

Fern House Magic: Lyman’s Wardian Case Vignettes Have Long Been a Point of Delight. This Spot Stirs Up My Shade Garden Fantasies  

 With planting season right around the corner —and annual pot displays on my mind— Lyman Conservatory has once again become my favorite place for a bit of tropical design inspiration.  It’s always great fun to play with exotic colors and textures in seasonal planting beds and summertime pots. Where perennials, shrubs and trees are permanent investments —requiring careful planning and placement— annual and tropical plants are temporary, lighthearted guests in our New England landscape. Like summer lovers, they invite us to kick off our shoes and relax a bit. Go ahead, let your hair down they say. Stop taking this gardening business so seriously.

Here’s a look at few more things that recently caught my eye in the greenhouse . . .

Clivia miniata ‘Grandiflora’. What About Orange? Such an Under Utilized Beauty in New England Gardens. People are Often Scared of Committing to Orange. So Try it in a Pot! 

Inspired by a Light and Airy Touch, I’m Thinking Palm Fronds and Swaying Blossoms to Catch the Breeze on My Balcony. Glowing Brazilian Candles (Triplochlamys multiflora, aka Pavonia multiflora, Malvaceae, Brazil), at Lyman Conservatory, Smith College Botanic Garden And What About Those Shady Spots? Ooh, folia, folia. Double fantasia. Begonia brevimirosa ssp. exotica. Always Consider the Leaf! Hot Pink and Fuchsia? Yes, Yes, Yes! 

I can’t wait to get back to Smith Botanic Garden for another color charge!

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Calamondin Orange Marmalade: Homemade Beauty for Breakfast . . .

March 23rd, 2018 § 7 comments § permalink

Beauty for Breakfast: Calamondin Orange Marmalade & Vintage Roses 

I really, really wanted a vacation this winter, but fate had other things in mind and personal responsibilities held me close to home. So, I’ve been giving myself mini-staycations to compensate a bit. These weekend retreats —usually nothing more extravagant than a new book, homemade pâtisserie or a trip to the greenhouse— have really made a difference. This new awakening —a beauty renaissance of sorts— seems to be giving my days the je ne sais quoi that I have been seeking. Can the key to happiness be as simple as setting a lovely breakfast table with flowers, fresh-baked bread and homemade Calamondin Orange Marmalade? Perhaps it is not so easy, but I think I may be on to something. There is joy to be found in the creation of a beautiful, everyday experience.

Calamondin Oranges are One of the Easier-to-Grow, Indoor Citrus Trees. For Tips, Click Here to Visit My Previous Post on Growing Citrus Indoors.My Own Calamondin Oranges, Freshly Picked from the Tree Making Your Own Pot of Gold: Calamondin Orange Marmalade

Today’s lesson: celebrate the beauty surrounding you by appreciating, using, and savoring what you’ve got. If you’re a gardener, this is pretty simple in summertime. But in winter? You’ll have to look a bit harder. Have a terrarium or beautiful houseplant? Set that in the middle of your dining room table. Have frozen blueberries in your freezer? Make blueberry popover pancake. Grow herbs on your windowsill? Bake a loaf of No-Knead Rosemary Bread. Have a citrus tree? Harvest some fruit and make a batch of marmalade. It’s amazing how gratitude fosters happiness.

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C a l a m o n d i n   O r a n g e   M a r m a l a d e

Special Equipment:

Food processor, non-corrosive saucepan, candy thermometer, canning jars/lids and canning kit

Ingredients:

1          cup calamondin orange juice/pulp/rind (40-50 calamondin oranges)

1          cup water

2          cups granulated sugar

Have an extra-large harvest of Calamondins? This recipe can be doubled.

Method: 

Wash 40-50 calamondin oranges and pat dry. Slice fruits in half at the equator. Holding fruit over a large liquid measuring cup or small bowl, remove seeds and discard. Fit a slicing blade inside a food processor and toss fruit, rind, pulp, juice and all, into the bowl. Pulse two or three times until the rinds are cut up to the consistency of marmalade. Do not over-process or puree. You can also squeeze the juice/pulp into a bowl and slice the rinds by hand if you don’t have access to a food processor.

Pour the fruit juice/pulp/rind into a large, liquid measuring cup. You should have about 1 cup, but the juiciness of fruit varies. Add water to the reach the 2 cup line and stir well.

Pour the orange/water mixture into a medium sized, non-corrosive saucepan (large if you are making a double batch). Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly. Slowly, over 10-15 minutes time, add sugar in small amounts and continue to stir the boiling, bubbling mixture. Be sure each amount of sugar dissolves before adding more. After approximately 20 minutes, use a candy thermometer to check the temperature. Remove from heat when the marmalade hits 228°F.

Carefully pour marmalade into sterilized canning jars and seal. Process marmalade in a boiling water canner (5-15 mins according to your altitude and USDA safe canning instructions). USDA instructions for safe canning may be found here.

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Vintage Roses. Oh. Vintage Roses . . .

March 21st, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Vintage Roses: Beautiful Varieties for Home and Garden

There are books a gardener buys to further her education; design specific titles or academic tomes covering the nitty gritty details of horticulture like entomology, botany and soil science. Practical books. Then there are the books a gardener orders just for sheer, visual pleasure. This latter group is the secret stack you pull up on your lap when the wind is howling and the snow is blowing sideways and you just can not stand another moment of dreary weather. You crave the sun-drenched hues and sweet fragrances of summer. This has nothing to do with practicality. It’s time to dream. You need Vintage Roses.

Rx for Winter-Weary Blues: Pull on Your Most Decadent Robe, Pour Yourself a Glass of Bubbly and Dream Away the Hours with Jane Eastoe’s Vintage Roses

I confess that I am on a complete, unabashed, beauty kick. This whole thing got started a couple of months ago, with a copy of Georgianna Lane’s Paris in Bloom (and yes, to be honest, you’re probably going to want to order it, too). That delightful Pandora’s Box —a gift, courtesy of my dear and thoughtful friend Mel— lead me to European trip dreaming, beautiful tart baking and some mighty-gorgeous garden book buying; including a copy of Jane Eastoe and Georgianna Lane’s Vintage Roses.

Warning: Paris in Bloom is a Beauty Addict’s Gateway Drug

Thanks to Georgianna Lane’s Paris in Bloom, I’m Baking Beautiful Tarts and Ogling Beautiful Flowers (yes, more tart recipes are forthcoming).

It’s late March in New England —land of the purposefully prepared— and I’m fed up with all things practical. I’m sick of wool hats, jumper cables, emergency flashlights, ugly plastic shovels, AAA membership renewal notices and road salt. I’m done with bulky coats, studded tires, four-wheel-drive, insulated coffee mugs, hand warmers, road flares, snow blowers, winter weather advisories and ice scrapers. It’s time for summer dresses, sandals, garden parties and ROSES.

One of my favororites: Munstead Wood, a David Austin introduction, beautifully photographed for Vintage Roses by Georgianna Lane

Roses aren’t practical. In fact, roses are so far from practical, they almost make me dance with giddiness. I’ve been a professional horticulturist all my working life, and if anyone tells you that roses are low-maintenance garden plants they are a) selling you something or b) delusional. Roses are prickly, fussy, demanding divas! Blackspot, powdery mildew, wilt, spider mites, rose slugs, aphids; if you are going to grow roses, this is just a short list of your new enemies. So, call me crazy . . .But what is a garden without a rose?

True, when it comes to the genus Rosa, some species and cultivars do make better garden plants than others. This is where a bit of plant-to-garden matchmaking comes in handy. Thanks to Georgianna Lane’s gorgeous flower portraits, Vintage Roses is a virtual who’s who of garden beauties. But beyond it’s obvious aesthetic allure, Vintage Roses also functions as a wonderful, modern rose-match-making tool for gardeners. In addition to providing historic background on each beautifully photographed rose, Jane Eastoe also carefully lists the growth and flowering habit as well as the cultural requirements of each cultivar.

Another David Austin introduction, Fighting Temeraire is a tall, fragrant, mixed border favorite. This Turner fan also loves the historic art reference. Beautifully photographed for Vintage Roses, in situ, by Georgianna Lane.

I grow a number of the shrubs featured in Vintage Roses, and have planted many in client gardens. I will happily vouch for both their beauty and vigor. Constance Spry —that voluptuous, pink coquette— covers an entire wall with thorny, nasty canes and yet she blooms only once per season.  B U T . . . Oh how I relish the memory of those three, glorious weeks in June for the rest of the year. She’s truly a favorite. And then there’s Rose de Rescht. Such a reliable beauty. Sure, I’m fighting her prickly thorns whenever I snip those short-stemmed blossoms for a bud vase, but she blooms to beat the band. And come late September? Oh those fragrant, cold roses are truly unforgettable.

Vintage Roses Gathered from My Own Garden: Rose de Rescht, Constance Spry and Bibi Maizoon

Sick of winter? Well, join me then. Brew a pot of Earl Grey and serve yourself a decadent plate of pâtisserie. Then, wrap yourself in a luxurious hour or two with Vintage Roses. Soon, the snow will melt and Springtime will draw near. Those dirty snowbanks will soon be but a distant memory. In meantime, you’ll have your vintage roses ordered and be ready to slip those beauties in the ground.

In My Garden, Vintage Beauty Rose de Rescht Blooms Past the Frost

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Neither product nor compensation were provided for the review of Vintage Roses.

Photography, with exceptions noted above, is copyright Michaela Harlow 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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Welcome, Spring?

March 20th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Camellia japonica ‘Imbricata Rubra Plena’ at Lyman Conservatory, Smith College Botanic Garden

The Vernal Equinox occurs at 12:15 p.m. Eastern Time today, but it sure doesn’t feel like spring. True, there may be signs here and there —increasing daylight, bird song, pussy willows— but the air is still chilly and a thick blanket of snow covers the ground. For a couple of weeks, I entertained the idea of jetting off for Spring in Paris, but it seems Winter has that on her itinerary as well. Ho well. Guess I’ll be hibernating in the kitchen with my citrus trees and humidifying my skin at Lyman Conservatory for a wee bit longer!

While Waiting for the Thaw: Tarty Lime Tart to Nibble & Blooming Books to Review

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It Sifts from Leaden Sieves, It Powders All the Wood . . .

March 15th, 2018 § 4 comments § permalink

It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain, —
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem, —
The summer’s empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen, —
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.

Emily Dickinson

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Nibbling Lemon Tart as the Snow Falls

March 11th, 2018 § 2 comments § permalink

Meyer Lemon Tart 

What is it about late-winter snow storms that inspires me to bake? Perhaps it’s the warm oven and comforting aromas, or maybe it’s post-snow-shovel sugar cravings? Either way, this has always been the case for me. Of course, baking during a blizzard —when the threat of a power outage looms large— is a big risk.  So, I try to think of things I can bake in less than an hour. Snow also means using the ingredients on hand, since travel is out of the question.

Walking back from my tractor after making a quick, snow-clearing pass down the drive, I paused to admire the snow-dusted Witch Hazel. Oh, sugar-sprinkled lemon tart? Inspiration struck! Homegrown citrus —lemon, lime and calamondin— I usually have from my own trees (see tips for growing your own citrus here). This year, my Meyer Lemon has been a little stingy —I think I brought it inside a bit late, exposing it to frost— but it has finally relented; offering up 3 ripe fruits. Fresh eggs? Check. Butter? Check. Cream? Oh yes . . . Always. Time for a lemon tart!

Inspiration for a Sugar-Dusted Tart: Hamamelis x intermedia ‘Arnold Promise’

Dressed with Half a Container of Organic Raspberries & Dusted with Confectioner’s Sugar

Hamilton Beech Commercial Citrus Juicer. Less-than-Perfect Lemons = Perfectly Fine Juice for a Perfectly Delicious Tart

I am a fresh citrus lover. Long before I began growing my own lemons, limes and calamondins, I started pressing fresh juice for drinking, cooking, baking and cocktail-making. For years I had a cumbersome and flimsy citrus press, then voila, this fantastic, Hamilton Beech commercial citrus juicer appeared beneath the tree one Christmas and I have never looked back. If you love pressing citrus, this tool will make short work (and fun), of the process. I find that I get more juice (and if double pressing, pulp too), when using a strong press.

M e y e r    L e m o n    T a r t

I n g r e d i e n t s 

One pre-baked, sweet tart shell (see recipe below)

½     cup Meyer lemon juice (about 2-3 lemons & their zest, depending upon size)

2     eggs

3     egg yolks

6     tbs sugar

2     tbs cream

pinch of fine salt

6     tbs best-quality, unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces

Confectioner’s Sugar & Organic Raspberries for Decoration/Serving

M e t h o d 

Juice the lemons, (I love my Hamilton Beech commercial citrus juicer), pressing as much pulp as possible through the strainer, and grate the peels. Add both juice and peel together, in a small bowl (watch for and remove seeds, if hand pressing). Beat eggs and egg yolks together with sugar until just mixed. Add egg/sugar mixture to a heavy saucepan and warm over low heat. Add cream, stirring constantly. Add the juice mixture, again stirring non-stop as you go. Add the salt and then the butter pieces, slowly stirring as they melt. When the mixture thickens enough to coat a spoon, remove from the heat and allow to sit 5 minutes. Whisk to smooth and pour into a bowl. Cover and refrigerate to chill for about a half hour or keep chilled for up to two weeks.

Preheat an oven to 375°F.

Fill the cooled, pre-baked tart shell (do not over-fill), and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until just set (slightly puffed and firmed but still a bit wobbly at center). Remove and allow to cool for an hour before serving or place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

If refrigerating, allow the tart to come back to room temperature (about an hour), before serving. When the tart has reached room temp, garnish with raspberries, dust with confectioner’s sugar & serve.

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P â t e    S a b l é e

(Sweet Dough for 9″ Tart)

Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking Chez Moi

I n g e d i e n t s 

1 ½     cups (201 grams) all-purpose flour

½     cup (60 grams)  confectioner’s sugar

¼     tsp grated lemon zest

¼     tsp fine sea salt

9 tbs (4 ½ oz/128 grams) chilled, best-quality, unsalted butter, cut in small pieces

1     large egg yolk

M e t h o d

Place the flour, sugar, lemon zest and salt in a food processor and pulse to blend. Lift the lid and scatter butter over dry ingredients. Cover again and pulse until the mixture is roughly the size of peas. Slowly add in yolk, mixing in short pulses. Then, increase pulsing to 10 second intervals until the dough forms small clumps. Stop here. Do not overwork. Rinse your hands in ice water, dry and turn the dough out onto a work surface.

Mix with the heel of your hand, smearing across the counter, rather than kneading, until blended. Gather up in a ball and flatten to a disk.

Butter a tart pan (I like to use a removable bottom tart pan), and evenly press the dough over the bottom and up the sides. Do not overwork. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork and cover with foil. Place in a freezer for about an hour or longer —or overnight— before removing to bake.

Center an oven rack and preheat to 400°F.

Place the frozen tart on a cookie sheet and bake blind for 25-30 minutes (or until golden brown). You need not use pie weights if you have properly chilled the tart, it should not shrink much. Remove from the oven and cool for at least ½ hour before adding lemon filling.

Meyer Lemons and Tart

Post-Nor’easter: Eighteen Inches of New-Fallen Snow in the Garden

Meyer Lemon Tart: Antidote to Late-Winter Blues

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Narcissus, Tulipa & Fragrant Hyacinth: Smith Botanic Garden’s 2018 Bulb Show

March 7th, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Tulipa, Narcissus & Sweetly Fragrant Hyacinth at Lyman Conservatory

It’s 3:30 p.m. and snow is falling steadily here in Southern Vermont. The forecast is calling for 5-8  inches overnight. These late winter storms can really give a gardener the blues, but I knew this nor’easter was coming, so I prepared. Bread and milk? Oh, no, no, no. Tulipa, Narcissus and Hyacinthus, thank you very much. I skipped the grocery line and did my pre-storm prep at Smith College Botanic Garden’s 2018 Bulb Show at Lyman Conservatory . . .

Layers of Beauty: Narcissus & Tulipa Stepped Below a Regal Cycad in Lyman Conservatory

Gloriously Fragrant: Deep Violet Hyacinth with Osteospermum & Primula

Classically Arranged Tulips and Daffodils Surround Statuary, Backed by Columnar Thuja

Visiting the Smith Botanic Garden Bulb Show is great fun, of course. However, it can also provide wonderful design inspiration for your own springtime garden. I love seeing how the show is curated each year. With beautifully combined tropical plants and wild tangles of bare and blooming native branches, 2018’s Bulb Show is a strong thematic departure from last year’s Impressionist-inspired installation. The color combinations and fragrant selections were particularly stellar this year.

Bold Color & Texture to Inspire: Red Twig Dogwood & Pussy Willow Branches Combine with Hot Hued Tulips and Clivia at Lyman Conservatory

If you’ve popped a few daffodils in here and there, but never seriously considered planting bulbs en masse, visiting a spring bulb show or a large public garden in April or early May is quite likely all the convincing you’ll need. Looking critically will also provide evidence for why the creation of a well-considered design and planting plan is so important. Flower color, fragrance, form, texture, foliage and plant height are just a few of the obvious considerations when planting spring bulbs. Bloom time and length of flowering, moisture and sunlight requirements, drainage, foliage yellowing/die-back and perennial cover as well as nearby shrub or tree companions must all be taken into account. Bulb shows provide the perfect opportunity to spot flowers you like and combinations you prefer, in real-time. Take a notebook and use your camera to snap shots of plant tags as well as individual flowers and vignettes.

Stepping Up and Back on the Stairs to Observe the Drifts of Color in the Planting Scheme at the 2018 Smith Botanic Garden Bulb Show

Nothing compares to the joy of the first blossoms of springtime. If you happen to be in Northampton, Massachusetts between now and March 18th, 2018, I highly recommend a visit to the Spring Bulb Show in Lyman Conservatory at Smith College’s Botanic Garden. Visiting hours are 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM daily.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday extended hours 10:00 AM – 8:00 PM. The suggested donation is $5 per person. With so much fragrance and color, it’s like stepping out of a black and white film, on over the rainbow, and into the Land of Oz.

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Who, Who, Who? Who Cooks for You? The Beautiful Barred Owl, Of Course!

March 3rd, 2018 § 0 comments § permalink

Barred Owl (Strix varia), Surveys the Garden from a Fence Post

If you’ve spent time in the woods at dusk or dawn —or gone camping anywhere along the east coast— chances are you have heard a Barred Owl, even if you’ve never seen one. This beautiful raptor’s call, “Who cooks for you, who, who, who“, often followed by a maniacal cackle, is one of the first birdcalls that I could identify as a kid. To this day, I delight in barred owl eavesdropping at night. Their conversations (click here and listen to ‘duet’), fascinate me.

Barred owls are quite common in my deeply forested landscape. I often spot them at daybreak or in the lingering twilight —frequently along the edge of the woods. My garden fencepost (as you can see above), is a favorite hunting perch for rodents. How convenient for both of us! The Barred Owl prefers mature, mixed forests, where it nests in hollow tree cavities. Learn more about this important predator here, at All About Birds.

Now all I want to know is, what’s for dinner!

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