Enchanted . . .

February 12th, 2014 § 6

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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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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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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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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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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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Snow, Fog & Ice: Quiet Garden Beauty On a Winter’s Day …

January 13th, 2012 § 4

The Garden, Cloaked in Ice-Cappeded Snow (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’)

Awoke this morning to find Winter —after a long and inexplicable absence— has finally returned; cloaking the garden in shades of alabaster and cream. Vibrant shades of red and gold punctuate the stark landscape; jewel-like accessories on Winter’s cool, icy ensemble. Driving conditions are treacherous in the hills today, but who would want to depart with such beauty to admire?

Winter’s Vibrant Red and Gold (Viburnum setigerum berries backed up by the blond blades of Miscanthus sinensis)

Icy Branches Dance in a Wild Swirl of Flurries (Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’)

Secret Garden Entry on a Winter’s Day (Foreground: Daphne x burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’ & Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’)

Frozen Remnants of Japanese Forest Grass (Hakonechloa macra ‘Nicolas’)

Secret Garden Entry Border in Winter (Ilex verticillata ‘Red Sprite’ & Juniperus chinensis ‘Sargentii’)

Frozen Strands of Honey-Colored Beauty (Chamaecyparis pisifera ‘Gold Mop’)

Tartarian Dogwood Lights Up the Forest Like Flames in the Ice and Fog (Cornus alba ‘Siberica’) 

Delicate, Crystal-Coated Switch Grass (Panicum virgatum ‘Heavy Metal’ in foreground & Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’ in back)

Like Crystal-Crusted Rubies: Cotoneaster Berries in Snow (Cotoneaster dammeri ‘Eichholz’)

Fading Flame Grass and Weigela’s Brown, Twiggy Bones (Miscanthus sinensis ‘Purpurascens’, Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’)

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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Sticks, Stones & Magical Forest Mystery

December 28th, 2011 § 4

Sticks and Stones: A Forest of Mystery 

Winter has arrived —swirling snowflakes and glazed pools all around— and yet the earth remains open in much of New England. Patches of snow dot my Vermont hillside, but elsewhere —in fields and forested areas nearby— the ground has yet to freeze and there’s nary a trace of white stuff. Woodland walks through leaf-stewn paths reveal glowing green moss and shining, emerald-colored Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides).

With long shadows stretching out in winter light, this week of mild weather has provided a perfect opportunity to explore the quiet of nature. And what delights have I found? Along the woodland pathways of someone else’s forest, I discovered tiny surprises crafted from sticks, stones and seed pods. Inspired by the magic of this mystery forest, I found myself falling in love all over again with the simple, artistic power of sticks and stones …

More artistic inspiration —and beautiful, master works in stick and stone— may be found in these long-time, favorite books …

Andy Goldsworthy: A Collaboration with Nature

Dan Snow: Listening to Stone

Stone by Design: The Artistry of Lew French

Early Winter Reflections

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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Peace on Earth …

December 24th, 2011 § 3

Wishing You All Things Merry & Bright – Happy Holidays

Michaela

Dreaming of a White Christmas …

December 23rd, 2011 § 2

Sometimes Dreams Really Do Come True … 

An Early Morning Welcome to Wonderland with a Garden of Sleeping Beauty, Blanketed in White!

Fresh Snow Coats the Secret Garden Door Like Fine Ivory Lace 

And Could There Be a Merrier Welcome to Christmas …

Than a Pretty, Snow-Coated Entryway?

All Stonework Featured Here is by Vermont Artist Dan Snow

Garden Design by Michaela Medina

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!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Sparkling Texture & Dramatic Structure: Creating A Beautiful Winter Garden …

December 18th, 2011 § 2

The Entry Garden at First Light in Early December, After a Dusting of Snow

I often wonder why I bother to mourn the end of autumn when there’s so much magic and beauty to be found in the garden during this quiet time of the year. As we near the winter solstice, I find myself every bit as enchanted by the garden as I am during the spring and summer months. My morning walks are cold —no doubt— and my finger tips burn a bit as I run them over the frosty stone walls. But the rich, visual rewards of those nippy strolls at first light make every shiver worthwhile.

Frosted Viburnum setigerum (Tea Viburnum) Fruits

Some gardeners prefer to cut back the perennials in their beds and borders in late autumn and early winter. And there is an argument to made for this approach. Certainly, there are places within the garden where I fuss over tender plants; protecting them from cold with mounds of compost or blankets of evergreen boughs. But by and large, I prefer to leave perennials standing throughout winter; that I might enjoy both the bold and delicate textures and how they sparkle with snow and ice after storms. Vertical lines, relief and pattern, both in the garden’s hardscape as well as in the more ephemeral plantings, are key to creating structure and beauty in a winter garden.

Seed Pods Provide Food for Birds and Beauty for Human Eyes: Rudbeckia hirta and Solidago with Sparkling Frost and Snow

Textural Grass Catches Light, Snow and Ice in the Quiet Season. Switch Grass (Panicum virginicum ‘Heavy Metal’) with A Light Morning Glaze…

Climbing Hydrangea (H. petiolaris) Adds Texture and Color to A Grouping of Boulders, and Provides Nooks and Crannies for a Dusting of Fresh Snow…

I often talk about the “bones” of a garden when I discuss design with my clients. This framework, or skeleton, is what gives the landscape shape throughout the year. Walls, fences and arbors, trellises and obelisks, benches and chairs, sculpture and boulders are all examples of objects that add to a garden’s hardscape and structure. Living plants, particularly dramatically shaped trees and shrubs are also helpful in creating a season-spanning garden design. In terms of defining outdoor space, hedges —both formal and informal— alles, espalier fences, and other features are useful in building permanent trans-seasonal walls.

Sculpture and Lichen-Covered Stone Catch Snow: Here, the Guardian Stands Sentry at the Edge of the Forest

The Rusty Color and Grid-Patterned Seat Make this Bench a Valuable Winter-Garden Object

Perennials May Fade at Autumn’s End, but Dan Snow’s Stone Seat and Evergreen Conifers Remain (Young hemlock: Tsuga canadensis)

Here in New England, field stone has long been a popular material for dividing garden spaces, and it will always be my personal favorite. From retaining walls and steps, to formal and free-form sculpture, I am most fond of this natural and versatile material. Throughout the seasons —but especially during the quiet season of winter— Dan Snow’s stonework is the central architectural feature and design element in my garden. Because Dan’s walls are comprised of subtly colored and textured rock —often softened by blueish lichen and emerald moss— they seem quite alive, even though they are technically inorganic. Whats more, the arrangement of the stonework itself —whether stacked horizontally, vertically, or arranged in dramatic and shifting pattern— adds artistry to the garden’s bare architecture in winter.

Steps and stairs —though they can be constructed from a wide variety of materials— must safely function and enhance a garden throughout the seasons. What we call “hallways” in our homes are the “pathways” in our gardens. These frequently-traveled spaces are as important outdoors as they are inside the house. Stepping stones, pea stones and gravel all add texture to the garden throughout the year. And in winter, walls, pathways, steps and other architectural features become highly exposed design elements. As crazy as I am about plants (and we all know that’s pretty crazy) my primary focus when designing a garden is always on the underlying structure. Build your garden before you decorate it with plants –and build it well, for it will hold, protect and exhibit your botanical treasures as your house contains, shelters and displays all of your worldly possessions! In winter, outdoor rooms are as stark as an empty house. And usually, the more attractive the garden’s architecture, the more beautiful the winter garden…

Stone Wall and Juniper Line the Winter Garden Walkway. Dan Snow Added both Candle Niches and Seats within the Wall, Creating Opportunities for Rest and Display Throughout the Seasons…

Stone Steps by Dan Snow Look Beautiful with a Dusting of Snow, and the Varied Height of the Sloped Setting Makes a Lovely Display for Frost-Proof Pots and Evergreen Plants…

Winter is a Fine Time to Enjoy Works of Art —Both Large and Small— in the Garden. Dan Snow’s Fire Sculpture Looks Particularly Beautiful in the Snow…

Structural elements and textural interest provide nature with a three-dimensional canvas for wintery works of art. And although it’s possible to spend a fortune on architectural details and plants, keep in mind that even the humblest cast-aways —flea market benches, unwanted boulders, simple fences and wire cables, twig teepees and homemade works of art— are just as effective when it comes to creating spaces and adding tactile elements in the garden. The rusty surfaces and cracked edges of second hand and found objects often enhance a snowy landscape. Set things out in the garden and move them around until you find a spot that feels right. Begin by using what you have on hand and playfully experiment with the beauty of the winter garden…

The honey-colored remnants of Golden Hops Vine (Humulus lupulus ‘Aureus’) add beautiful texture to a simple cable rail along a deck in winter. Be on the look-out for perennials and vines with persistent papery, dried flowers and seed heads -these textural elements are key to winter garden detail…

A Mass Planting of  Flame Grass (Miscanthus sinensis ‘purpurascens’ ) Forms a Season-Spanning ‘Screen'; Adding Texture and Color to the Garden Throughout the Seasons, in Addition to Providing Enclosure and  Natural Transition to the Meadow and Mountain Tops Beyond

Old wire chairs, even if they are no longer functional, provide endless interest in the garden throughout the seasons. In winter, this ivy-patterend chair casts a gorgeous shadow in the snow…

At the Garden Entryway, the Texture of Juniperus horizontalis and the Natural Stone Ledge Both Stand Out with a Dusting of Snow and Create a Backdrop for Other Plantings Throughout the Seasons…

Boulders —Remnants from Site Excavation— Make a Pretty Vine-Covered Grouping at Garden’s Edge (Hydrangea petiolaris)

Dan Snow’s Stone Steps Dusted in Snow

This design article was adapted from a previously published post which appeared on The Gardener’s Eden 12/2010

All Stonework Featured Here is by Vermont Artist Dan Snow

Garden Design by Michaela Medina

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!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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The White Witch’s Early Winter Trick: A Morning of Sparkling Autumn Treats

October 28th, 2011 § 4

The Trick of Winter: Cornus kousa Fruits & Fall Foliage in Early Snow

It seems the White Witch of Winter decided to pay us an early Halloween visit last night. Far more accustomed to her raven-haired sister at this time of year, we were all taken a bit by surprise. And though it’s much too soon for her tricks, an early morning walk through the garden revealed a delightful combination of Autumn’s treasures intermingled with Winter’s sparkling treats …

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy? Winter’s Icy Coat Covered Autumn Leaves & Rudbeckia Seeds on an Autumn Morning at the Secret Garden Door

The White Witch’s Trick is an Early Morning Treat: Frosty, Scarlet Leaves of Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’

Autumn Taken by Surprise: The Icy Backlit Blossoms of Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’

A Tug of War Between Two Seasons: Beyond the Stained-Glass Leaves of the Secret Garden Lies a Path of Snow-White Pom-Poms

Wind-Driven Snow and Frosty Leaf Shadows Haunt the Studio Wall

The Battle for ‘Bloodgood': For a Fleeting, Frigid Moment, the Warmth of Autumn Meets the Chilly Hand of Winter

Tasty Looking Treats: Pink October Icicles at Sunrise

Leaves Like Frosty, Lemon Granita: Snow-Coated Halesia tetraptera Foliage  is a Fine Treat Indeed 

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, 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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Autumn Swirls in a Dance with Winter: A Fleeting Glimpse of Frosted Fantasy …

October 27th, 2011 § 2

An October Snow Squall Temporarily Coats the Scarlet Leaves of This Brilliant Viburnum with Fresh Frosting (V. plicatum var. tomentosum ‘Shasta’)

A Different Kind of October in the Secret Garden

A First For Me; Damask Roses in the Snow (‘Rosa De Rescht’)

Candy-Coated Autumn Colors …

And Jewel-Like Leaves, Flash Frozen in Time

Snow Kissed Hydrangea: Could There Be a Prettier, More Poetic, Late-Autumn Scene? (H. paniculata ‘Limelight’)

Snow Mixed with Fruity Colors: A Most Delightful, Frosted Confection

Blood Red Japanese Maple Leaves (Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’) Remind Me of That Bombshell-Classic Lipstick: Cherries in the Snow

The Beauty of Two Seasons, Blurred into One

Snow Softly Covers Cinderella’s Pumpkin as She Readies for the Icicle Ball …

And the Dahlias Bow as They Take Their Last Dance 

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, 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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Reining in the Tumbling Floral Chaos: Mid-Summer Garden Maintenance …

July 29th, 2011 § 6

Summer’s Wild, Tumbling Jumble (Juniperus squamata ‘Holger’, Hydrangea quercifolia, Amsonia hubrichtii, Adenophora confusa, Rudbeckia hirta, Sedum, Hosta and Adiantum pedatum)

While out enjoying a morning stroll around the garden, taking in a blissfully cool and misty start to my day, a few flower stalks and juniper branches caught my attention by snapping at my ankles and tickling my knees. Ah, the tumbling jumble of summertime garden chaos! I do love a lush and laid-back garden, but every year at about this time, I embark upon a bit of disciplinary activity in my flower beds and shrub borders. After all, there’s a fine line between beauty and beast in the garden!

I begin my annual, mid-season grooming by pulling out a pair of hand-shears and bypass pruners —giving them a quick once-over with a whetstone and oiled rag— and heading out to the garden with my mobile beauty-salon (a basket filled with rags, oil, rubbing alcohol, natural twine and a few bamboo stakes). Like many seasoned hairstylists, after years of experience, most of the tasks I perform are so instinctive to me, that I fall into a state of gardening-zen while giving late July haircuts. But now that I’m doing more teaching and garden coaching, I’ve started to actually think more about the how and why of this horticultural beauty routine, in order to communicate the process to others…

Agastache, a bird, bee and butterfly favorite, always benefits from a mid-summer haircut. Shearing the spent flower heads from this plant now encourages a second wave of bloom later in the summer. Because this is an aromatic plant, it’s quite a pleasant job. But try to do this very early in the day, in order to avoid disrupting foraging bees.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Becky Mixed’ is still in full bloom on the Wildflower Walk. As the flowers fade, I will leave most of the seed heads standing for finches and other small birds, as well to enhance the winter-garden. But if flower stalks fall into the path, tripping or whacking passers by, I will cut them for vases to keep the walkway clear.

The ever-narrowing Secret Garden stairs! Time for some haircuts! Heuchera and Adenophora self sow, and cutting them back early will prevent their spread. Spent blossoms spilling into the stairs are snipped off at the base. However, I happen to like the excess, so I allow those flower heads to the sides of the steps to multiply as nature intended. Prickly new juniper growth is cut all the way back to the main branch. Remember to clean pruners with rubbing alcohol between specimens

If you are relatively new to gardening, probably the most important thing to remember is that getting to know the plants you care for —their identities, growth habits and blooming routines— is key to making them look their best in your garden. Think like Edward Scissorhands for a moment and imagine vegetative growth as hair. Ironing curly hair straight may be fun once in awhile, but when it comes to day to day style, the best looks work with nature. What’s true for people is also true for plants. If you need help identifying the plants in your care, a good encyclopedia —like this one from the American Horticultural Society— is a great garden-library investment.

Once you are familiar with your plants, it’s much easier to decide how and when to spruce them up. Some plants need very little tending. In fact, many perennials are best left to do their own thing until they finish blooming, or until they are cut back to the ground in early spring. For example, after Hosta finish blooming, I remove the spent flower stalks to keep the plants looking tidy. However, I leave the seed heads of most Echinacea and Rudbeckia standing, in order to provide food for birds. Actaea simplex is left to do her own thing in the garden, while Asters are Chrysanthemums are pinched back until mid-July in order to encourage fuller, more floriferous plants (but never later, in order to avoid nip by early autumn frost). Nepeta, Veronica, Agastache and Geranium are sheared back after blooming to encourage a second wave of blossoms, while Aruncus dioicus and Valerian are cut back simply to make the plants look tidier. Many annual flowers, particularly those in window boxes and hanging baskets, also look best when given a mid-season haircut (and remember to keep fertilizing weekly for best bloom). Miss any opportunities this season? Remember to make a note of it in your garden journal for next year…

Veronica spicata –a pollinator favorite– is a long-blooming perennial. Because of its front-and-center location in this border (backing up Rudbeckia hirta and dancing with the slender blades of Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’) this plant is a very good candidate for mid-season maintenance. Shearing the top blooms off this cultivar, V. spicata ‘Sunny Border Blue’, will help keep the plant tidy, and encourage another full wave of bloom in a couple of weeks.

I try to leave flower heads standing as long as possible in the garden, even if they seem a bit faded. Flower nectar and pollen still provides sustenance to garden guests —like this bumble bee— even though blooms may be past their prime. Later, seeds of this Echinacea, and many other flowers, provide late season food for finches and other small birds.

When cut back after flowering, Geranium ‘Brookside’ will look tidier and often produce a second, if slightly less lush, wave of bloom in autumn.

Learning to work with plants and maintain an attractive garden is a life-long process for all gardeners. Most experienced green thumbs are happy to share their knowledge, and many local garden clubs, botanical gardens, greenhouses and nurseries offer free or low-cost workshops and seminars on garden maintenance. When working with perennial gardeners at all experience levels, I often recommend two excellent books for further study and reference. First, The Well-Tended Perennial Garden by Tracy DiSabato-Aust (pictured and linked below) is a classic how-to and when-to manual for every gardener’s bookshelf. And last year, while reviewing gardening titles for Barnes & Noble, I discovered Nancy Ondra’s The Perennial Care Manual (also pictured and linked below) which I now consider the definitive plant-by-plant guide (includes an encyclopedia with many of the more popular perennials) to perennial maintenance. The macro-photos in this book include pruning details, pest ID shots and clear pictorial guides to division, propagation and more. This book would make a great gift for new gardeners, mid-level perennial enthusiasts and experienced horticulturalists alike!

Garden looking a bit loose, shabby, blowzy? Pull out the shears and pruners, a tarp or wheelbarrow and channel your inner Edward Scissorhands! Have a quick question? Feel free to drop me a line in comments and I’ll pass along what I’ve learned. Have fun out there…

My top recommended how-to with great pictures: Nancy Ondra’s The Perennial Care Manual

A classic for every gardener’s bookshelf: Tracy DiSabato-Aust The Well-Tended Perennial Garden

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, 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!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links (including Amazon book links). A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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