A Peek Inside the Misty Moss Walls: Springtime in the Secret Garden …

May 22nd, 2011 § 4

By May, a cool tapestry of springtime color carpets the Secret Garden path…

This week my design studio and office began slowly migrating back down to the Secret Garden Room, where plants and paperwork happily mingle from late spring through early November. Each day on my way to and from appointments, I pass through the walled garden and along the plant-lined, stone path leading to the drive up and down my hillside. It only takes a few minutes here —engulfed by cool air and familiar fragrance— to shake off the cares of the outside world. This Secret Garden is my sanctuary and my muse. Care to step inside for a peek? Come follow me along the path and in through the moss-covered walls…

To the Right of the Walled Garden, An Old Chair Stands Ready to Support Emerging Rudbeckia Seedlings (other plants here include Muscari, Sedum ‘Angelina’, and Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’, and in back, Abelia mosanensis)

A Crow –from Virginia Wyoming’s Series by the same name– stands sentry, perched atop a wall along the Secret Garden path (click here to read more about the artist and her work)

A favorite old urn sits nestled at the foot of a Moonlight Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’), rising Fairy Candles (Actaea racemosa ‘Hillside Black Beauty’), bright ‘Caramel’ Coral Bells (Heuchera americana ‘Caramel’) and sweet-scented Lily of the Valley (Convularia majalis), in a corner of the garden filled with with bulbs and emerging fiddleheads…

Brushing past the cranberrybush (Viburnum trilobum ‘Baily Compact’), along a path filled with woodland phlox, grape hyacinth, stonecrop, ajuga, daphne and emerging rudbeckia seedlings, the glow of new Japanese forest grass and the nodding heads of jonquil within the Secret Garden beckon…

Between Raindrops, Sunlight Illuminates New Leaves and Coral-Colored Branch Tips on the Blue Green Dragon (Acer palmatum x dissectum ‘Seiryu’), Arching Over the Secret Garden Door…

Lady Ferns (Athyrium filix x femina ‘Lady in Red’) and glossy bergenia (Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’) line the damp, mossy threshold into the walled garden…

And the next step reveals the bottlebrush-blossom tips of dwarf witch alder (Fothergilla gardenii) to the right, chartreuse-colored spurge (Euphorbia, various cvs), the unfolding leaves of a yellow tree peony, (Paeonia mouton x lutea ‘High Noon’), ostrich fern (Metteuccia pensylvanica), Narcissus (N. ‘Sterling’) and Japanese forest grass’ green-gold glow…

Hard to See in the Larger Photos are Some of My Tiny Treasures, Like This Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’ (click to image to enlarge)

Another View of the Center, Secret Garden Wall…

Stepping Inside, A Moment’s Pause to Gaze Upon the Reflecting Bowl Beside the Stone Wall

Deep Inside the Far Corners, Tender Plants Begin to Migrate, Mingling with the Secret Garden’s Full-Time, Outdoor Residents for the Summer Season. Plants from the left: Moonlight Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’), Ostrich Fern (Matteuccia pensylvanica), Hosta ‘Patriot’ and on the chair, a young Streptocarpus hardens off…

Japanese Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Roseum’) Creeps Along the Moss Covered Wall, Moving Slowly but Steadily Toward the Doorway and the Reflecting Bowl; Shimmering Beside the Prized Japanese Wood Poppy (Glaucidium palmatum, featured in last Friday’s post).

Looking back from within the Secret Garden Room, where my summer-season office is already overflowing with design plans and plant lists for landscaping clients…

And tender plants like this asparagus fern (Asparagus densiflorus ‘Sprengeri’) waiting ’til all danger of frost has passed to return to the outside world…

A Special May Pleasure Along the  Secret Garden Path: One of My Favorite Fragrances of Springtime, the Woodland Phlox (Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of Perfume’)

Inside the Secret Garden, Peering Out Beyond the Threshold of the Stone Doorway

For a  Summertime Preview of the Secret Garden Click Here to Visit a Post from last Season.

All Stonework in the Secret Garden and throughout Ferncliff is by Vermont artist Dan Snow

Secret Garden Design & Installation: Michaela Medina. For design inquiries, see my professional services page at left.

Article and All Photographs ⓒ Michaela at 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 used or reproduced or reposted without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

The Gardener’s Eden received no compensation for the editorial mention of any products or services mentioned in this post. Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links here (including Amazon.com 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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A Special Offer on Orchid Evenings from The New York Botanical Garden…

March 21st, 2011 § 2

The Gorgeous Display of Dazzling Divas at The Orchid Show: On Broadway – New York Botanical Garden – Photo ⓒ The Al Hirschfeld Foundation via NY Botanical Garden

Psst… Have you heard about The Orchid Show: On Broadway at New York Botanical Garden? Well, the show is already in full swing —dates are March 5 through April 25— at NYBG’s spectacular conservatory, and features a fantastic line-up of Dendrobium Divas, Cymbidium Charmers and Enchanting Epiphytes in every shape and color! With rare and exotic talent from around the globe, this is one Broadway spectacle you won’t want to miss.

Phalenopsis Orchids at The Orchid Show: On Broadway. Photo ⓒ The Al Hirschfeld Foundation

Ready to rumble? Well, there’s no need to fight for a great deal on tickets… You are in luck! The New York Botanical Garden is generously offering readers of The Gardener’s Eden a special discount on their extra-special Orchid Evenings (March 26 and April 2, 9 & 16 from 6-8:30 pm at NYBG). Buy your tickets online here at the NYBG site, and use discount code 8947 to receive $5 off your tickets to the show —which includes a free, signature cocktail— regularly priced at $30. Visit the NYBG website for a preview and more information about this colorful, scent-sational orchid show!

Thank you to the New York Botanical Garden for the generous offer !

The Orchid Show: On Broadway at New York Botanical Garden – Photo ⓒ The Al Hirschfeld Foundation via NY Botanical Garden

For more information about the show —and to get your tickets— click on the image link below:

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All images in this post are ⓒ The Al Hirshfeld Foundation via New York Botanical Garden, as linked above. Promotional dates, show information and logo provided courtesy of the NYBG website, as linked above.

Article copyright 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without written consent. The Gardener’s Eden is not an affiliate of NYBG, and is in no way compensated for this editorial post.

Do you enjoy visiting The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through the affiliate-links here. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to The Gardener’s Eden, and will help with site maintenance and web hosting costs. Thank you!

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A Silver-Screen Terrarium Goddess: Platinum-Dusted, Red-Velvet-Robed Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’… Hello Gorgeous!

January 18th, 2011 § 3

Hello Silver-Screen, Terrarium Goddess: Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’

Even Her Backside is Perfect – Just Look at That Red…

Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’ Inside a Terrarium, Lined with Sheet Moss…

Substance is important in life. We all know that. But sometimes, every now and again, we just want to be swept off our feet. When I find myself craving a bit of old-fashioned glamour, I click on over to the classics, and drink in the shimmering, make-believe world of Hollywood in its heyday. Back in the 30s and 40s, leading ladies were like royalty, and they really dressed the part: high heels, silken gowns, opera-length gloves, powdered shoulders, ruby lips and platinum bouffants. A movie star was a movie star, and big celebrities knew they must never let their fans down. Style and elegance both on-screen and in everyday life were simply de rigueur.

During this time, legendary photographer George Hurrell rose to fame by showcasing Hollywood stars like jewels in a setting. He knew how to play with light and dark; putting beauty in the spotlight; creating gods and goddesses from mortal women and men. Stars like Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth and Jean Harlow owed much of their power and mystique to the likes of George Hurrell and his masterful touch…

Promotional photograph of Jean Harlow (1933) for the film “Bombshell”, by legendary Hollywood photographer George Hurrell.

When I run across a stunning, botanical beauty like Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’, I can’t help but think of George Hurrell. I ask myself, how can I showcase and bring out the best in this natural star? With her seductive, silvery-pink sheen, green accents and garnet hued under-pinnings, this drama queen demands a spot-light. Of course terrariums are the perfect place to showcase stunners like this one. Begonias thrive in the humid, shady microclimates created by terrariums. And ‘Royal Lustre’s diminutive size (her tiny leaves are less than two inches) makes her the ideal star for a tiny, glass stage. Although she does produce small white flowers, this gorgeous plant’s shimmering, multicolored foliage is the real headliner.

Naturally, dark and handsome companions are the perfect choice for this beauty. But  you can also really play up her pearly-pink coloring with vibrant moss and bright, emerald-green ferns. Do keep it simple –too much clutter will distract from her shining spotlight. And we all know that no self-respecting celebrity likes to be upstaged by her supporting cast. With ‘Royal Lustre’s natural radiance in mind, I chose a tall and elegant —but of course, understated— apothecary jar for this diva. And so far, my glamorous, glass-garden goddess seems to be settling in like she was born to the stage…

With her platinum good looks and mysterious allure, Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’ is the Jean Harlow-esque star of my latest terrarium drama…

A Jewel in the Spotlight – Jean Harlow Photograph (1933) by the Legendary George Hurrell

Begonia ‘Royal Lustre’ may be found online at Kartuz Greenhouses

Find more indoor garden and terrarium ideas on the Indoor Eden page. Or visit the retailers linked below – all are known for fine garden products and terrariums.

Article and Photographs (with noted exceptions) ⓒ Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden.

All content on this site (with noted exceptions) is the property of The Gardener’s Eden Online Journal, and may not be reproduced without written consent. Thank you!

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Gourmet Gardening: Springtime Adventures in Shiitake Growing…

May 28th, 2010 § 2

Shiitake and spinach fresh from my garden

Oh the delicious flavor of fresh shiitake mushrooms. I enjoy most fungi, but I have a particular fondness for the earthy, rich taste and firm texture of the shiitake mushroom. Early spring crops, such as snow peas, sprouts and bok choy combine wonderfully with shiitake in healthy stir fry dishes and soups. However until recently, limited supply made shiitake mushrooms a pricey gourmet delicacy. In the winter of 2008-9, I became curious about growing shiitake mushrooms after experimenting with a few wonderful Asian dishes in David Thompson’s Thai Food cookbook, and I decided to do a bit of research.

Originally discovered in China, the shiitake, (Lentinula edodes), has been consumed in Asia since the beginning of recorded time. Although these delicious fungi were initially harvested from the wild, the Chinese soon began cultivating shiitake, for both medicinal and food use, approximately 1,000 years ago. At first, shiitake were eaten raw, but soon they were steamed and simmered, finding their way into a variety of Asian dishes including Chinese stir fry, Japanese miso soup and dozens of Thai, Korean and Vietnamese dishes. Eventually, as European explorers discovered the delights of Asian cuisine, the shiitake made its way across the globe, and into the ‘New World’.

Fascinated by the history  and  seduced by the flavor of this freshly harvested, gourmet delight, I quickly developed “mushroom growing fever”. Late one February night -curled beside a fire on my blustery hilltop and connected to a world of information and commerce via satellite- with the click of a button, a kit was ordered, and my mushroom gardening experiment began. In the spring of 2009, the first crop of shiitake were planted, (hardwood logs inoculated with spawn-plugs -see details below), and with a rainy season ahead, nature simply took its course. Shiitake require one season to maturity, so there is a bit of a wait for the first crop, but after this delayed start the logs will produce mushrooms for many years – until the logs completely deteriorate. Fast forward to spring 2010, and I am now enjoying and sharing the fruits of my first shiitake harvest…

The first Shiitake – Spring 2010…

The Shitake Garden

How Shiitake are Grown

After doing a bit of research, I ordered my shiitake-spawn-plugs from a company called Mushroom People online. The shiitake spawn arrived in an express package from the USPS in the early spring of 2009. Looking at the tiny packet for the first time, it was hard to imagine delicious shiitake mushrooms resulting from such humble beginnings. When the weather moderated -above freezing- it was time to get started!


Hardwood logs with a diameter of 4-8″ were gathered from storm-damaged trees on the property -oak and beech work well- and cut to 40″ lengths with a chainsaw. After collecting the logs and assembling them in a production line on saw-horses, holes were drilled with a 5/16″ bit to a depth of 1″ to accommodate the size of the plugs. A grid pattern was used to maintain proper spacing -roughly 6-8″ between the holes- for the shiitake.


Next, all of the shiitake-spawn-plugs were set into the pre-drilled holes and gently tapped into place with a hammer.


When set, the top of each plug is flush with the surface of the log, ready to be coated with a warm wax seal …


Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, the cheese wax was melted in a recycled tin can set in a double boiler. Once liquified, the wax is stirred with a clean, natural-bristle paint bush and brought out to the logs to seal the shiitake-spawn-plugs…


Here, as you can see, the tiny plugs are sealed and the logs are ready to be moved to the shiitake garden in the forest…


As a final step, each log is tagged and dated. Here, a photograph of tags placed on the second set of logs, inoculated this spring..

The shiitake garden, 2010

The first shiitake mushroom emerging in Spring 2010

My inspiration: David Thompson’s Thai Food

Article/photos copyright 2010 Michaela at The Gardener’s Eden. All Rights Reserved.

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Great! Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world and link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

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Ode to the Oscars: If They Were Flowers Botanical Stars Shine on the First Annual ‘Conservatory Awards’ Red Carpet…

March 8th, 2010 § 9

Dress by Agapanthus, ‘Lily of the Nile’ © Michaela TGE

As worn by ethereal Rachel McAdams © Steve Gratnitz/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

The great Bard Shakespeare once wrote that “all the world’s a stage”. Well, the thought certainly crossed my mind today as I worked, surrounded by hundreds of surreal beauties inhabiting a small greenhouse temporarily under my care. Last night’s Academy Awards ceremony was attended by some of the most beautifully dressed women in the world, yet none more spectacular than the least of the lovely ladies I encountered in the conservatory today.

So as the watering wand drifted from delicate bud to flamboyant blossom, my inner paparazzo got the best of me. Snap. Snap. Snap. At each and every turn I spotted a starlet resembling one I remembered from the night before. Look there’s Demi’s dress! Oh my God, that must be Helen Mirren’s silver gown. Aisle after aisle, it was a breathless whirlwind of divas and ingenues; with diamond dewdrops-a-sparkling and heady perfume filling the air. What a rush. Best dressed? Why, I simply can not decide. They are all beauties to my eye. So you be the judge. Who is the winner here? And who did I miss as I spun my star-struck head this way and that?

Dress by Pelargonium filifolium © Michaela TGE

As worn by delicate beauty Zoe Kravitz © Steve Granitz/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

Dress by Fuchsia ‘Angel’s Kiss’ © Michaela TGE

As worn by the stunning Queen Latifa © Steve Granitz/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

Silvery dress by Kalachoe pumila © Michaela TGE

As worn by elegant Helen Mirren © Jason Merritt/ Getty via Yahoo.com

Gorgeous ruffled gown by Begonia panasoffkee © Michaela TGE

As worn by ever fabulous Demi Moore © John Shearer/Getty Images via Yahoo.com

Dress by Impatiens namchabarwensis © Michaela TGE

As worn by alluring Mo’Nique © Kevin Mazur/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

Dress by Amaryllis ‘Ema’s Grans’ © Michaela TGE

As worn by radiant Jane Seymour © Frazer Harrison/Getty via Yahoo.com

Dress by Streptocarpus ‘Black panther’ © Michaela TGE

As worn by the mysterious Kristin Stewart © Steve Grantiz/Wireimage via Yahoo.com

Dress by Phalenopsis, The Moth Orchid © Michaela TGE

As worn by the exquisite Meryl Streep © Jason Merritt/Getty Images via Yahoo.com

Dress by Dahlia ‘Karma Choc’ image via White Flower Farm

As worn by ravishing Penelope Cruz © Frazer Harrison/Getty Images via Yahoo.com

Dress, (detail), by Begonia parviflora © Michaela TGE

As worn by triumphant beauty Sandra Bullock © Jason Merritt/Getty Images via Yahoo.com

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All floral images, (with one noted exception) © Michaela at TGE

All Academy Award photos are copyright as noted, used in accordance with the Fair Use Doctrine

All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used or reproduced in any way without prior written consent. Inspired by something you see here? Please give credit where credit is due. It’s a small world an link-love makes for fond friendships. Stealing makes for bad dreams…

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The Old School House Plantery …… Vermont Growers with an Internet Following for Rare Garden, Greenhouse and House Plants…

June 26th, 2009 Comments Off

Aisles of unusual and rare plants at the Old School House Plantery, Brattleboro, Vermont.

Impatiens zombensis (click to enlarge photo)

During the recent, prolonged rainy period in Vermont, John and Diane Miller of The Old Schoolhouse Plantery in West Brattleboro, kindly invited me over to have a look inside their greenhouse. I pass by the Millers nearly everyday on my way to and from other gardens, and I must admit that I have been observing them with great curiosity ever since I noticed the excellent pruning of their apple trees last year. As readers of this blog may have noticed, I do have a slight obsession with artful pruning. Eventually, I got around to stopping in to meet the Millers, and once invited inside their greenhouse I was even more delighted. Although the square footage of their space is modest, the building is absolutely overflowing with gorgeous, rare plants. Tropicals, tender perennials, flowering annuals, houseplants, ferns, succulents; the list of what John and Diane have managed to propagate in this deceptively simple jewel-box goes on and on.

Originally from Great Britain, both John and Diane are passionate, educated gardeners with a contagious enthusiasm for the rare plants they grow. Diane has a doctorate in herbal medicine, and John holds a college degree in horticulture from the UK. The Millers operate the Old Schoolhouse Plantery as a retail business from their home in Vermont, and although locals have discovered the horticultural treasures at this little greenhouse, most of John and Diane’s serious plant collectors have found them online. It seems that once a rare plant enthusiast is seduced by the beautiful and elusive blue  Impatiens namchabarwensis, or bewitched by the tiny bright pink flowers and toothy leaf margins of Impatiens zombensis, there can be no substitute. Unfortunately, mail-order sources for unusual plants such as these are hard to come by. The true collector of rare plants has taken to the internet, Googling and Ebaying their way to the hard-to-find horticultural prizes. Many customers of this cottage-business have found John and Diane by typing the latin names of rare specimen plants into search engines. They then follow links to Ebay or Etsy and purchase their treasures from the Old Schoolhouse Plantery through online-shops. In addition to her propagation skills, Diane is also a skilled artisan, and she sells her hand-crafted goods as well as rare plants on an Etsy shop called Eclecticasia.

Although this introductory post is brief, I will be back with more coverage of the fascinating work going on at The Old Schoolhouse Plantery soon.  Fuchsias, Begonias, Impatiens and other exotic beauties are just the beginning of what you will see here.  John has generously offered to share the process of creating a fuchsia standard, (pictured at bottom), and I am keen to learn more about Diane’s handcrafted flower pots.

Many thanks to the Millers for their time and generosity. If you find yourself wandering through southern Vermont on a road-trip, do check out their little treasure-chest of a greenhouse at 350 Hinesburg Road in Brattleboro, Vermont. The Old Schoolhouse Plantery will be unveiling a new website soon, but until then, their plants can be viewed and purchased online at the  Etsy link above.

impatiens-namchabarwensisImpatiens namchabarwensis , (rare blue diamond impatiens)

fuchsia-standard1/2 standard Fuchsia, ‘Mrs. Lovell Swisher’

Article and photos: copyright 2009, Michaela at The Gardner’s Eden

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