Of Icy Pink Winter Mornings . . .

February 13th, 2014 Comments Off

Departure:copyright_2014_michaela_medina_harlow:thegardenerseeden.com:michaelaharlow.com:all_rights_reserved Dawn Departure

In celebration of icy-pink winter mornings . . .

Barton_Island_at_Dawh_copyright_2014_michaelamedinaharlow_thegardenerseden.com Misty Dawn at Barton Island, Surrounded by Shimmering Ice

pink ice on the cove - michaelamedinaharlow - michaelaharlow.comA Glazed, Raspberry-Cream Morning on Barton Cove

Processed with VSCOcam with m5 preset The Pleasures of an Early Rise. Follow Me Here on Instagram, for Daily Doses of Wonder

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

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Enchanted . . .

February 12th, 2014 § 6

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset Sleeping Beauty, Softly Dusted Before Dawn 

In the early weeks of February —as skies begin to blush earlier each morning and light lingers longer in evening— winter takes on a certain softness. Traces of pink, peach, lavender and rose paint the horizon at dawn, and whispers of powder-grey fog stir the valley’s hush. Overnight snowfalls dust the forest with a fresh a coat of sparkling white, creating a magical scene by daybreak. Enchanted.

frost_on_the_window_copyright_michaela_medina_harlow_thegardenerseden.com

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Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

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Caramel-Drizzled, Spiced Coffee Cake, Daylight Savings & Winter’s Last Hurrah

March 9th, 2013 § 5

Caramel Drizzled Coffee Cake ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.com Caramel-Drizzled Coffee Cake Takes the Edge Off a Winter Storm

Late winter snow storms are real heart-breakers. And it seems that, no matter how many times we’re hit by an early March ‘weather event’, I’m always caught by surprise. Songbirds are returning, buds are swelling on trees, and clocks are about to spring forward to daylight savings time (p.s. Don’t forget to move clocks ahead an hour before you turn in tonight, as DST starts 3/10/13).

It’s just starting to feel like a new season, and then. . .  It hits. A wet, heavy snowstorm. Doesn’t seem quite fair!

At times like these, I usually feel the need to bake something to lift my weary spirits and give me energy to dig out; something warm and golden and just a little bit gooey. What to do? I scanned the kitchen and my eyes focused in on my Finca Rosa Blanca coffee beans, sitting on the countertop. Mmmm. That’s it! Something like . . .

Caramel-Drizzled Coffee Cake

(ingredients for one 10-inch tube cake or two smaller cakes)

1/2 lb (2 sticks) of butter at room temperature

1 cup of granulated sugar

3 eggs at room temperature

2 1/2 cups of all purpose flour

2 teaspoons of baking powder

1 teaspoon of baking soda

1 teaspoon of salt

3/4 cup sour cream or plain, Greek yogurt (full fat or 2%)

1/4 cup espresso or very strongly brewed French roast coffee, cooled*

5 teaspoons vanilla extract (or rum for a twist)

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Caramel Topping

1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)

1/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Method

This is a very simple cake, but first, make yourself some espresso or some very strong French roast coffee to wake yourself up. Then, set aside 1/4 cup of espresso/coffee to cool and preheat your oven to 350° fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 10″ tube or Bundt pan (you can also use other shapes and types of pans of similar size, or make two cakes in 8″ spring-form pans, as I did for the photo). Now go gather your ingredients.

In a large bowl, blend the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg together with a fork. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream or Greek yogurt with the espresso (or coffee) and 5 teaspoons of vanilla, and set aside. In a large mixing bowl (I use a stand mixer), beat the butter for a few seconds, add in the sugar and beat a minute or two. Add in three eggs at room temperature and beat until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Very slowly, combine the dry ingredients to the large mixing bowl, and beat until smooth. Add in the sour cream or yogurt/coffee/vanilla mix and beat the mixture a bit longer.

Pour the cake batter into the buttered/floured pan, stick it into the oven and set your timer to bake for 45-50 minutes. It’s done when the top is golden colored and a stick pulls out clean from the center of the cake. When done, let rest for 5 or 10 minutes and then remove the cake form/invert to cool. Flip the cake onto a serving platter. Now, at this point, I like to prick little holes in the cake with a stick or fork so that some of the caramel drizzle gets inside. That’s up to you.

To make the caramel drizzle: combine the brown sugar, yogurt and vanilla in a small bowl and stir well until blended. Set aside until cake is cooled and then drizzle over to your heart’s content (and set some aside for sinfully delicious dipping).

*If you’d rather not add coffee (even decaf?), you can omit this ingredient and instead use one full cup of yogurt or sour cream in the main cake.

Snow-Covered Nest ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.com

Now, if you’re like me, you hate waiting, so you go outside to shovel while your cake bakes. This gives you the heart to clear snow from the roof, which has slid down and piled atop the already snow-covered terrace and drifted into the walkways. Finish that off, then come in, drizzle the coffee cake, have a thick slice, and then go back out to clear the pathways, cars, truck, tractor and utility areas. Meanwhile, your partner-in-crime plows and pushes back snowbanks, while troubleshooting a stalling engine on the ’86 Chevy. Winter sure is a lot of work!

I recently read that shoveling snow by hand burns something like 400 calories (or more) per hour. Of course, the heavier the snow  the harder you work, and the more calories you burn. Oh, and don’t worry, this probably won’t be the last work out you get before spring. Keep that shovel ready. You’re gonna need a LOT of coffee cake to clear the nest!

Snowy, Sunlit Viburnum trilobum ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenersedenFrosted Viburnum trilobum Along the Sunlit Walkway

Lavender Hills ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.com To the Southwest: Warm, Lavender Hills

March Sunset in the Garden After the Storm ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.com Sunset in the Northwest Gardens, After the Storm

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Farewell to February . . .

February 28th, 2013 § 5

February Sunrise ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina - thegardenerseden A Soft, Snowy Farewell on the Last Day of February

A foot of new snow fell on the hilltop yesterday, coating the last morning of February in a blanket of soft white. With longer days and warmer temperatures ahead, there’s much to look forward to in March. But for now, there’s the beautiful stillness of my sleeping garden to enjoy at apricot-tinted dawn and smoky-pink sunset . . .

Sunset in the Winter Garden ⓒ 2013 Michaela - thegardenerseden.com A Dramatic Season from Start to Finish . . .

February 28th in the Garden ⓒ 2013 Michaela - thegardenerseden.comWinter Still Holds the Garden Seat . . .

Winter at the Secret Garden Door ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina - thegardenerseden.com Laces the Treetops . . .

Cornus kousa with a Dusting of Snow at Sunrise ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina - thegardenerseden.com Blushes the Sky . . .

Blonde-Streaked Garden in Late Winter ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina Harlow - thegardenerseden And Paints the View

Snow in the Back Garden ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina - thegardenerseden February is the Shortest Month . . .

Southern Hills in Snow ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina  - thegardenerseden.com But She Always Seems to Linger the Longest . . .

Winter View to the North ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina - thegardenersedenClinging with Chilly Fingers to the Hills

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Love The One You’re With . . . Renewing My Appreciation Of Winter

February 22nd, 2013 § 12

Snowshoeing and Shadows in Winter ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina  thegardenerseden.com Snowshoeing the Woodland Trails . . .

Time is relative, and it always seems to pass most slowly when you’re waiting. At this time of year, many of us in New England start to feel a bit down. Winter is a long season here, and in spite of what the calendar might say, it often lasts well into early spring. For me, living in the future —counting the days until apple trees blossom— only makes the winter seem longer and more brutal. When I was a child, like most children, I loved winter. Back then, snow storms meant adventure: cancelled classes, homemade cookies, sleds and snow forts. Of course once you grow up, other realities —shoveling, plowing snow, power outages and rising fuel costs— begin to steal the fun away from wintertime.

This year, I decided to take back winter, and focus on the joy. Instead of longing for the scent of moist earth and the colors of springtime, I turned my attention to the delights of snow and ice. I chased away the February blahs on a fast-moving toboggan and lightweight snowshoes; entertaining myself by flying down the driveway and rediscovering the joys crashing through paper-thin ice. Amazing what a bit of fast-paced activity will do for your mood!

Beech Leaf in Icy Pool ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina - thegardenerseden.comA Half-Frozen Brook, Filled with Fallen Beech Leaves . . .

Tiny Speck of Orange on Ice ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina Harlow - thegardenerseden.com And Torn Specks of Orange on Ice . . .

Winter Green ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina Harlow - thegardenerseden.comNaked Branches Dancing in Chilly Pools, Swaying with Winter Worn Leaves and Hints of Spring Green

My twelve-year-old dog, Oli adores the winter. And why not? There are animals to track and snowballs to chase and opportunities to roll in fresh, white powder. He lives for a belly-deep blizzard; the chance to grab an enormous stick and “lead” the plow down my long, winding drive. He whines and wiggles and wags his tail, impatiently waiting for the engine to turn over so his fun can begin. Oli never seems to mind the cold when he’s moving. In fact, I can often see him smiling though the snow; digging to China as I struggle to connect an extension cord and charge yet another dead battery. “Winter is great fun.”, he says, “Quit your complaining and you’re bound to notice.”

Oli ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina - thegardenerseden.com The Joy of Finding Abundant Beauty and Surprise in Snowy Forest, on a Sunny Winter’s Day

Oli’s right, of course. Winter is both fun and amazing. And so I vow from this day forward to end the seasonal lament. No more waiting for the arrival of sweet springtime. She’ll be here soon enough. And if you find yourself suffering from the blues, join me in building a snowman. And remember, as Stephen Stills once sang . . .

“If you can’t be with the one you love, honey, love the one you’re with . . .”

Sunset Over Barton Cove, Gill:Turners Falls, Massachusetts ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow From a Recent Flight Above the Valley: Winter Sunset Above Barton Cove, Gill, Massachusetts

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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A Tiny Garden Guest, Cloaked in White

February 11th, 2013 § 4

Stoat, Ermine, Short-Tailed Weasel ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina Harlow - thegardenerseden.comMustela erminea, Commonly Known as an Ermine, Short-Tailed Weasel or Stoat

Meet the beautiful, white-cloaked ermine (Mustela erminea), also commonly known as the stoat or short-tailed weasel. This curious, swift-moving mammal —closely related to ferrets, weasels, otters, wolverines and badgers— is native to the woodlands, mountainous regions, wetlands and moors of North America, Europe, Asia and the Arctic Circle. Although considered a carnivore —with a diet consisting mainly of mice, birds, insects, reptiles, amphibians, fish, rabbits and other small rodents— I have observed the ermine eating both nuts and berries in my garden. In fact, the little fella pictured above has become a regular guest at the bird feeder. The short-tailed weasel changes coats from brown to white, as suits the season, and is often called a stoat in summer (brown & white coat with black-tipped tail) and an ermine in winter (white coat with black-tipped tail).

Despite its tiny size (10-14″ long & 6-16 oz) the ermine is a fierce hunter; capturing larger prey, such as squirrel and rabbit, with sharp teeth and claws. Short-tailed weasels are solitary creatures —females raise litters solo— with an average lifespan of 4-6 years in the wild. Although its changing coat makes for a fine seasonal camouflage, the ermine is often a victim of predators; including hawks, owls, fox, coyote, dogs and both wild and domestic cats.

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Fast Forward into Stormy February . . .

February 7th, 2013 § 4

Canada Geese on Barton Cove ⓒ 2013 Michaela - thegardenerseden.com JPGCanada Geese Slip & Slide on Thin Ice – Barton Cove, Gill, Massachusetts

I simply can not believe that an entire week has passed… My goodness we are already well into February! And have you heard? There’s a big storm brewing on the east coast. They’re calling it Nemo. Sounds rather ominous, doesn’t it? I have to admit that because I work from my home/studio in winter, I am affected very little by winter storms. Still there are some precautions to take and preparations to make.

Mostly, it’s an excuse to bake something… Something delicious… Something like homemade bread! If you are with me in New England, stay safe and warm. Looks like it’s time to batten down the hatches!

Whole-Wheat-Bread-ⓒ-michaela-thegardenerseden1Click Here for Whole Wheat, No-Knead Bread Recipe or Click Here for Rosemary No-Knead Bread Recipe

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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January Twilight . . .

January 28th, 2013 Comments Off

January Moon at Twilight ⓒ 2013 michaela - thegardenerseden.comWolf Moon Rise in the Twilight Mist of Condensation-Coated Glass

Is this really the last week of January? Impossible! The weeks have flown by with several exciting garden designs on my drafting table and daily painting sessions in my studio. It’s been a busy month, and I’ve been away from my computer. Good to take a break once in awhile, I think. But I’ve missed you and there’s much to share: a spontaneous trip, a dreamy stroll through a nearby conservatory, and tempting garden catalogs piled a mile high. . .

 I don’t mean to be keeping secrets, but I’ve just a few things to finish up before our next tete-a-tete. So, meet me back here soon, won’t you? I’ll put on the tea kettle and perhaps we’ll bake something special. . .

Ninebark & Conifer Forest ⓒ 2013 Michaela - thegardenerseden.com The Hush of Fine, White Snow . . .

japanese maple tree in snow ⓒ 2013 michaela - thegardenerseden Softly, softly falling . . .

Winter Balcony ⓒ 2013 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.comAnd Snow-Dusted Memories of Summer’s Sweetest Tete-a-Tetes.

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Brightening the Winter Landscape with Bold Bark & Colorful Conifers . . .

January 15th, 2013 § 2

Red Twig Dogwood (Cornus sericea) in a Sea of Green Conifers ⓒ 2013 Michaela Medina Harlow - thegardenerseden.comA Shot of Luminous Color in the Wintry Landscape: Cornus sericea Lights Up the Entry Garden in January

It’s easy to create a colorful garden in June, but can beds and borders still be bright in January? Of course! While undoubtably more subdued than midsummer, a midwinter landscape can include a complex variety of hues. When perennials are fast asleep beneath snow and deciduous trees and shrubs stand skeletal in the wind, the winter landscape relies upon broadleaf evergreens, conifers and the pigment-rich bark of deciduous woody plants for color. Individually, these trees and shrubs add tremendous interest to the winter garden, but when used together, even more dramatic results are possible. I like to play green, blue, rust and gold hues of conifers against one another, and in combination with the colorful red, yellow, orange and multicolored bark of deciduous trees and shrubs to enhance their impact.

Microbiota decussata (Siberian cypress) with a Dusting of Snow ⓒ 2013 michaela medina:thegardenerseden.comSiberian Cypress (Microbiota decussata) is a Long-Standing Favorite. Form, Texture & Four-Season Color: This Gem Has it All! Shown Here is a Section of a Mass Planting of Microbiota in My Own Garden. Notice How the Background of Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), Brings Out the Rust-Red Color of the Siberian Cypress. Proper Pruning of Both Plants is Critical to Keep the Edges Feathery and Light.

Some of my favorite trees and shrubs for colorful, stand-out bark include red osier and red/yellow twig dogwood (Cornus sericea and Cornus alba, respectively), willow (Salix), striped maple (Acer pennsylvanica), paperbark maple (Acer griseum), and paper birch and river birch (Betula papyrifera and Betula nigra, respectively). When it comes to conifers —although I have a tough time choosing— I admit a soft-spot for feathery Canadian hemlock (Tsuga canadensis), colorful Siberian cypress (Microbiota decussata) and brilliantly hued false cypress (Chamaecyparis), as well as textural Juniperus (juniper) of all species and colors. I’m also quite fond of the silver-blue spruce clan, spiky, multicolored pines and dramatic, two-toned firs.

Betula papyrifera with Juniperus in snow ⓒ 2013 michaela - thegardenerseden.comThe Peeling, White Bark of North American Native Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera) Creates Beautiful, Peachy-Cream Vertical Lines in the Landscape. When Played Against Green Conifers, the Effect is Quite Stunning on a Winter’s Day.

Never one for wrapping, tenting or coddling woody plants, I demand a great deal from all of the trees and shrubs in my own landscape, as well as in the gardens I design for others. In New England, deciduous trees are bare for nearly half  the year. So when designing gardens for my clients, four season beauty is always a top priority. In addition to color, many deciduous trees offer textural interest with exfoliating and curling bark. These elements add wonderful dimension to the landscape, even during winter dormancy. When choosing and positioning woody plants in the landscape, consider placing shrubs and trees with colorful or exfoliating bark in front of or near conifers with complementary and contrasting hues to bring out the best in both. If space allows, plant in masse for greatest impact, and combine with a foreground or side accent of sturdy, ornamental grasses (such as Miscanthus) for buff and blond hues and softness. For more about textural bark, click back to my previous post on the subject, here.

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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January Inside the Sky . . .

January 10th, 2013 § 3

Wintry River ⓒ 2013 michaela harlow

Light. Texture. Pattern. The sky offers a bit of fresh perspective; revealing the beauty of Winter’s bones. High above the valley —retracing fields, roads, rivers— the familiar becomes strange, and the strange becomes familiar, once again…

Red Barn Aerial ⓒ 2013 michaela harlow

River Through the Trees ⓒ 2013 michaela harlow

winter's barn ⓒ 2013 michaela harlow

Railroad Crossing Over the CT River with Fields at Sunset ⓒ 2013 michaela harlow

like a boat on the river ⓒ 2013 michaela harlow

Traintracks Across the CT River ⓒ 2013 michaela harlow

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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The Warmth of January Sunlight . . .

January 5th, 2013 § 5

winter sunrise beauty ⓒ 2013 michaela : thegardenersedenSunrise in the Winter Garden 

When the Honey-Gold Sun Pours Warm Over the Garden, Winter Can Be So Lovely

Hydrangea petiolaris -Consumed Rock ⓒ 2013 michaela - thegardenerseden.comSnow-Dusted Boulders, Consumed by a Web of Climbing Hydrangea (H. petiolaris), Illuminated by Winter’s Sunglight

sunrise snow squall ⓒ 2013 michaela - thegardenersedenAnd the Paper Birch, Delight of White, Vertical Line, Dance in a Sparkling Swirl of Backlit Flurries (Betula papyrifera) 

Vanilla Icecream with Melted Butterscotch ⓒ 2013 michaela - thegardenerseden.comA Winter’s Day: Like Melted Butterscotch on Frozen, Vanilla Ice Cream (Fagus grandifolia & Tsuga canadensis)

Top photo: Cornus kousa & Miscanthus sinensis

Garden Design/Installation: Michaela Medina Harlow

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Dramatically Draped in Sequins & Lace, In Swept the White Witch of Winter…

December 28th, 2012 § 3

Christmas Tree in Snow ⓒ 2012 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.comWinter Swept in Upon a Blue Velvet Evening …

Winter is a drama-queen. In she sweeps on her snowy chariot, with a chilly air. She bears little resemblance to her sisters; coquettish Springtime, carefree Summer, or even melancholy Autumn. Wrapped in sheer white lace and silver sequins, Winter certainly possesses bare-boned beauty and elegance, but she can also be cruel, cold and unforgiving. How will she treat us in the coming year? Let us hope she keeps her dark shadows to a minimum and her stormy drama light; enchanting us with blue velvet evenings, sparkling, moonlit nights and shimmering, sun-kissed mornings…

Snow and Sleet Blasted Window ⓒ 2012 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.comWrapped in White Satin & Crystal-Coated Lace…

Snow-Bound Garden Chair ⓒ 2012 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.comShe Danced & Swirled About the Garden with a Long, Heavy, White Cloak, Covering Everything in Her Path…

Kalmia latifolia with Snow ⓒ 2012 michaela medina - thegardenerseden.comSleep Well, Sweet Laurel, Cozied-Up in Winter’s Soft Blanket (Kalmia latifolia)

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Crystal-Coated & Sugar Plum Kissed . . . . Late Night Garden Party with Jack Frost

November 29th, 2012 Comments Off

The Entry Walk and Ledges, Sparkling in Sunlight After Jack Frost’s Midnight Ball

I love surprises. A life lived predictably seems terribly boring to me and a garden kept under tight control leaves little room for romance. For months now, I’ve been encouraging readers to leave seed pods and other garden remnants standing over winter for the sake of wildlife. But I have an ulterior motive of course . . . Beauty! Whenever I design a garden, I like to keep the work of the great artist, Mother Nature in mind.

Mountain Laurel and Maiden Grass, A Sparkling Duo on the Rocks (Kalmia latifolia & Miscanthus sinensis)

November is often a spectacular month for hoar frost, and this year has been exceptional so far. Why bother cutting back the garden and then decorating for the holidays, when Mother Nature and her seasonal assistants are more than happy to do the work for you? Have I been late to meet you this week? Well now you know why! I just can’t help but stop and admire the work of Mother Nature’s coolest apprentice, Jack Frost! At this time of year, Jack’s handiwork is simply a masterpiece in the early morning light. Care to sneak a peek at his beautiful surprise?

Beautiful Throughout the Garden Year, Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’ adds a Spectacular bit of Neon to the Ground in November. Isn’t She Just the Definition of Fire & Ice?

Sugar Plum Kisses: Jack’s Lips Leave their Mark on Violet Leaves and Citrus Blades (Heuchera & Carex)

With Many Shrubs Already Stripped Bare by Hungry Birds and Rodents, the Frost-Coated Red Berries of This Cotoneaster Really Catch the Eye (C. horizontalis var. perpusillus)

The Gift of Beautiful Surprise: Why I Encourage Über-Tidy Gardeners to Leave Seedpods Standing! (Agastache & Rudbeckia)

Creeping Blue Rug Juniper and Fallen Oak Leaves Sparkle in Icy Blue and Rust (Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’)

Spiked Remnants of Black-Eyed Susan and Fluffy Goldenrod Capture the Crystalline Spirit of Wintry Festivities (Rudbeckia hirta and Solidago)

Lupine Leaf: Green Star in a Sea of Sparkling Crystals 

Delicate, Sparkling Lace: Heath, Heather & Juniper on the Rocks (Erica carnea, Calluna vulgaris, Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’ and Juniperus x pfitzeriana ‘Sea Green’)

Native Labrador Violets with a Shimmering, Sugary Coat of Ice (Viola labradorica)

A Prelude to Winter: Siberian Cypress (Microbiota decussata), Canadian Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) and Juniper (J.x pfitzeriana ‘Sea Green) 

Garden Design: Michaela Medina Harlow

Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Attracting, Supporting & Observing Wildlife in the Late Autumn Landscape

November 19th, 2012 § 1

Wild Turkey Wander in My Country Neighbor’s Meadow, Beyond the Roadside Saplings. Wild Turkey are Omnivores, Feeding on Fern Fronds, Buds, Seed, Fruit, Berries, Insects, Grubs and Amphibians. Turkey are Often Spotted in Open Fields, Pastures, Wetlands and Orchards by Day. By Night, Turkey Seek the Cover of Mixed Forest, Where They Roost in Trees. Find More Information About Wild Turkey on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Website, Here. 

One of the benefits of rising early  —and commuting to and from various landscaping projects in and around the backroads of southern Vermont— is the opportunity to spot wildlife in fields, rivers, and forests at the break of day. Deer, fox, turkey, squirrels and songbirds all tend to be on the move around sunrise and sunset. I enjoy watching wildlife in my garden, so I make an effort to attract birds and squirrels by providing feeders filled with supplemental food and shallow dishes of fresh water, in addition to naturally occurring berries and seeds provided by native species of trees and shrubs planted in my landscape.

In addition to his horticultural pursuits, my father is a lifelong, avid outdoorsman, and my interest in the northern forest and its wildlife was both inspired and encouraged by him. Although I now take for granted the ability to identify birds by both sight and sound, this information was slowly taught to me by my father, when I was very young. By placing a small bird feeder or two and source of water (such as a shallow, frost-proof birdbath), near the kitchen window, a child’s natural curiosity will be sparked by observing a source of wild activity. Once introduced to bird watching, learning to identify different species and recognize other wild creatures becomes an exciting challenge. Cornell’s Lab of Ornithology website, All About Birds is a free, and excellent source of accurate information for budding birders. In addition to feeders, planting even the smallest of backyard gardens will almost immediately attract a wide variety of creatures (some more welcome than others, no doubt), providing endless opportunities for kids to encounter and observe wildlife. Tips for creating bird habitat are available on the Cornell website, linked above. You may also want to check out the Audubon website and publications like Birds & Blooms Magazine (online and in print), for more backyard garden ideas.

Ozzy, My Resident Red Squirrel, and His Friends Gather Each Morning to Forage Nuts and Seeds, Scattered About the Terrace. Red Squirrels are Most Commonly Spotted In and Around Native Conifer Forests (Particularly in Stands of Hemlock, Spruce and Fir). Read More About the Red Squirrel in My Previous Post, Here.

Black-Capped Chickadees Seek Shelter in the Hedge of Physocarpus opulifolius, while Taking Turns at the Feeding Stations Below. Chickadees are Omnivores. The Natural, Late-Autumn & Winter Diet of a Black-Capped Chickadee Includes Foraged Seeds, Berries, Insects and Spiders. Chickadees Cache Food in Hidden Spots for Later Use. Learn More About This Curious, Social Bird on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Website Here. 

New gardeners are often more focused on flowering plants, and pay less attention to the overall landscape. Yet, from a songbird or chipmunk’s perspective, the woody plants in your yard are of far greater significance. By planting deciduous trees, shrubs, conifers and ornamental grasses, gardeners can create vital shelter for birds and small animals in the landscape. When planning and planting new gardens, consider nut and fruit producing shrubs or small trees and seed producing ornamental grasses —particularly native species— as a backdrop to flowering perennials. If you enjoy seeing wildlife in your garden, leave seed producing perennial plants standing over the winter, to provide both food and cover for small creatures on the move. Resist the urge to cut or mow the wild, natural areas, for these are the spots to enjoy wildlife over the winter months. Visit the Audubon website for more ideas on how to create, protect and preserve natural, wildlife friendly areas in your community.

Native Winterberry Branches (Ilex verticillata) Provide Sustenance for Hungry Birds, Squirrels and Other Creatures. Find More Garden-Worthy, Fruit and Seed Producing Plants in My Previous Post, Here.

Native, Broadleaf Cattail Provides Excellent Habitat for Wildlife (Typha latifolia). There is Much Debate Surrounding the Native Status of Narrow-Leaf Cattail (T. angustifolia) and the resulting hybrid between it an T. latifolia, T. x glauca. Although Some Consider Cattails “Invasive”, In Addition to Providing Food and Habitat for Wildlife, They Also Help Stabilize Wetlands and Filter Pollutants from Moving Water. When Choosing Cattails for the Landscape, The NWFS Suggests Planting the Confirmed, Native Broadleaf Species (T. latifolia).

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) Is An Important Source of Food for Wildlife; Including Crow and Other Over-Wintering and Migratory Birds. Read More Here.

Nuthatch Foraging on Tree Bark. Photo ⓒ Tim Geiss

Sapsucker Visiting a Suet Feeder. Photo ⓒ Tim Geiss

Titmouse Lighting on the Branch of a Backyard Tree ⓒ Tim Geiss

Some Additional, Excellent Resources for Gardeners and Wildlife Enthusiasts …

The Audubon Backyard Birdwatcher: Birdfeeders and Bird Gardens

The Backyard Bird Feeder's BibleThe Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible: The A-to-Z Guide To Feeders, Seed Mixes, Projects, And Treats (Rodale Organic Gardening Book)

projectsforbirdersgarden200Projects for the Birder’s Garden: Over 100 Easy Things That You can Make to Turn Your Yard and Garden into a Bird-Friendly Haven

 Special Bird Photographs Taken for This Post Are, As Noted, ⓒ Tim Geiss. All Other Photography and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All images, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without asking first. Thank you! 

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Mild Days & Mid-Winter Pruning

February 19th, 2012 Comments Off

Although the Ice and Snow are Beautiful, Winter Damage Must be Cleaned Up Every Year & Now is the Best Time to Tackle Major Structural Tasks (Above: Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’) …

Although the old “prune in June” rule applies to certain woody plants in some situations —-those that blossom in early spring, such as lilacs (click here for how/when to prune lilacs) or the removal of suckers from the base of tree trunks, for example— and of course broken branches can and should always be removed whenever they are noticed, major structural pruning of deciduous trees and shrubs is best tackled during winter dormancy. I love winter pruning tasks, and find that warm, sunny days in late February, March and even early April (depending upon your climate, of course) are perfect for shaking off cabin fever and getting back in the garden! But, before you start cutting, take the time to clean and sharpen your tools, and take a long walk around the garden; examining the skeletal form of your plants while keeping an eye out for winter damage caused by heavy snow-loads, ice and wind. See any cracked branches or snapped limbs on your ornamental trees and shrubs? Any damaged trees or large shrubs located near power lines should be dealt with by a professional landscape contractor or arborist. But small pruning tasks —especially those within easy reach— can be handled by most gardeners at this time of the year.

Red Twig Dogwood Adds a Beautiful Glow to the Winter Landscape. I Thin 1/3 of the Stems Each Year —Cutting Each Shoot All the Way Back to the Ground— in Late Winter or Early Spring to Encourage New Growth with the Beautiful Bright-Red Bark! (Of course, always wait ’til the ice melts before pruning branches and limbs).

Much as I love sculpting trees and shrubs to achieve their finest form for my clients, I get even more excited by the opportunity to teach other gardeners how to correctly prune the woody plants in their home landscapes, all by themselves! And as intimidating as it may seem, there’s nothing complicated about the process of pruning. A good book (such as this favorite by Lee Reich), a sharp pair of bypass pruners, and a broken branch or forgiving/neglected old shrub are all you really need to get started. For an introduction to pruning basics, travel back to a post from 2009 by clicking here.

Crushed Witch Alder (Fothergilla major): What a Mess! Click Here for Tips on How to Prune Out Winter-Damaged Branches

Below are three basic pruning cuts to practice. Remember, always clean and sharpen blades between specimens. For more specific tips, begin by revisiting my previous introductory article, and the cut-specific posts linked below!

Removing a Broken or Damaged Limb: Learn how to correctly make this cut with a Grecian Saw: click back to a detailed, tutorial post by here.

Learn how to properly prune plants with opposite budding patterns, like this Hydrangea, by clicking back to my tutorial post on the subject here.

Shrubs and trees with alternate budding and branching patterns require a slightly angled cut, sloping away from the bud. Learn more about how to prune alternate branches in my previous post here.

Post-pruning clean-up time. All pruning tools are cleaned with rubbing alcohol, sharpened with a whetstone, and oiled before returning to the garden room for storage

Felco 8 bypass pruners are the perfect tool for tending to the small branches of ornamental trees and shrubs as well as fruit-bearing woody-specimens in your landscape. Click here for more pruning tool suggestions.

Lee Reich: The Pruning Book – I Consider This Book an All-Time, Garden-Maintenance Classic!

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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The Drama of a Crystal-Coated Garden: Mid-Winter Ice Storm Beauty …

January 28th, 2012 § 8

Sunrise Through Crystalline Cornus kousa Branches

Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ Greets Daylight in an Icy Ensemble

Beyond the Kousa Dogwood, Sparkling Twigs of Viburnum x burkwoodii ‘Mohawk’ Gleam Against the Still-Dark Hillside

Sunrise moments after an ice storm are always beautiful here on my Vermont hilltop. But the subtle drama of the storm itself —freezing rain, fog and mist— are equally compelling; pulling me like a siren song from the cozy warmth of my studio. And although it took an effort to walk through the garden pathways in such slippery conditions, the surprises I found round each and every corner made the chilly, wet excursion more than worthwhile …

Yesterday Afternoon at Twilight: The same Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’) with a Very Different Look

The Berries of Tea Viburnum (V. setigerum) Dangle Like Exquisite, Ruby-Encrusted Jewels from Chilly Ear Lobes

Icy Globe: Viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’

Fanciful, Fridgid Ferns, Rise From Frozen Ground: Ostrich Fern (Mattecuccia pensylvanica)

The Beauty of Glazed, Variegated Daphne Foliage (Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’)

In the Calm, Quiet Fog, I Can Almost Hear the Cold-Hearted Cry of this Ice-Burdened Crow (Sculpture by Virginia Wyoming)

Tempting the Tongue: Icicles on Steel Cable

Decked-Out: The Underside of the Balcony’s Steel Grid, Shimmering with Ice

Hops Vine Tangled  with Ice (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’)

Subtle, January Light through Freezing Fog (Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’)

A Garden of Winter-Muted Colors in Ice and Fog

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Winter Crescent …

January 20th, 2012 § 2

Winter Crescent 

Up early this frosty morning —pulling on winter woolens and running outside to enjoy new-fallen snow— and as I sipped my morning coffee, I savored a breakfast of crescent moon and a sky spread with apricot-blueberry jam.

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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First Morning …

January 1st, 2012 Comments Off

First Morning in Freezing Fog and Mist

Welcome 2012 !

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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