The Song of Summertime Salad …

June 28th, 2011 § 2

The Song of Summertime Salad

On long summer days —in order to beat the heat and burning rays of the noontime sun— I typically start my day quite early. There are many things to love about the daybreak hours, from birdsong and dew drops to shimmering morning light. If I’m working nearby, I try to come home at mid-day for lunch on the terrace. I love dining al fresco beneath the dappled shade of my two silverbell trees (Halesia tetraptera), and when I’m expecting to be very busy —particularly when the mercury rises— I like to make a garden-fresh salad and chill it in the fridge ’til I get home. Sometimes I make this feta and green bean salad (click here for recipe), but often I just mix up a simple bowl of arugula and leaf lettuce and toss it with fresh feta and homemade dressing. I call it the Song of Summertime Salad, because according to rumor, I hum when I’m out gathering the greens …

The Path to My Potager is Lined with Perennials and Herbs (Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ and ‘Patriot’, Valerian officinalis, Aruncus dioicus ‘Goat’s Beard’)

Vegetables, like this potato, also produce pretty flowers

Rounding the Corner to the Kitchen Garden Entry

A Basket of Zinnia Dresses up an Old Collapsing Chair

Fragrant Dianthus Attracts Butterflies & Gardeners Alike (Tiger Swallowtail)

Although I plant few red flowers, scarlet is truly my favorite color

Sweet, Sweet, Summertime Scent

Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ with Dew Drops

Freshly Harvested Arugula and Leaf Lettuce…

A basket of herbs and potager posies {The pretty, “Everlasting Sunshine” plate is from Anthropologie; a gift from my good friend Mel}

With Freshly Harvested Greens, I Prefer My Dressing Homemade and Light

Coming Home for Lunch on the Terrace is One of my Favorite Summertime’s Pleasures

The Song of Summertime Salad

Salad Ingredients:

2     Cups Freshly Harvested Arugula Leaves

2     Cups Fresh Red or Blush Edged Leaf Lettuce

1     Cup Any Other Green (Spinach, Beet, Chard, Dandelion)

3/4  Cup Crumbled Feta Cheese

1     Cup Fresh Edible Flowers (I like Pansies & Nasturtium)

Fresh Herb Dressing Ingredients:

1/2   Cup Olive Oil

1/4   Cup Champagne or White Wine Vinegar

2      Tbs Fresh Squeezed Lime, Lemon or Orange Juice

2      Tbs. Fresh Chopped Basil

2      Tbs. Fresh Chopped Summer Savory

2      Tbs. Fresh Chopped Pineapple Mint (or any other mint)

2      Tbs. Fresh Chopped Lemon Thyme

1/2   Tsp Kosher Salt

1/4   Tsp Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Directions for Dresssing: Whisk oil, vinegar, citrus juice together in a small bowl. Add salt and pepper and whisk more. Stir in the chopped herbs and pour into a lidded jar. Refrigerate.

Directions for assembling salad. Triple wash all greens and dry out the leaves in a salad spinner. Crumble the feta over the leaves while gently tossing. Shake the jar of dressing and slowly add while tossing to just coat the leaves. Save the extra dressing and use within a week. Transfer the salad into a large serving bowl and toss pansies and nasturtium on top.

Serve Chilled and Enjoy! xo M

So Pretty and Refreshing

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

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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Misty Mountain Top: Painted Ledges & Secret Garden in Summertime Fog …

June 27th, 2011 Comments Off

The Entry Garden on a Misty, Late June Morning (Left to right foreground:Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Summer Wine’ & Sambucus racemosa ‘Sutherland Gold’- see descriptions below for other plantings)

Sunny summer days are glorious; filled with shimmering, gold fields and blue, shadowed valleys. I love long strolls through garden paths with the sun’s warmth on my skin. We’ve had quite a bit of rain lately, and grumbling about the weather —that favorite New England pastime— has reached a fever pitch. But secretly —I must confess— I love the moodier weather. There’s just something about the painterly quality of soft morning mist, and the way the garden’s colors sing against grey skies…

Entry Garden Ledges Viewed from the Opposite Side (Kalmia latifolia ‘Pink Charm’, Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’, Juniperus horizontalis ‘Wiltonii’, Miscanthus sinensis variegatus with a rambling rose of unknown provenance)

The Secret Garden’s Late June Beauty

Cornus kousa in foreground, backed up by Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’ spilling over the wall

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

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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An Unexpected Garden Guest …

June 26th, 2011 § 9

North American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) in a Marshy Area at the Edge of the Forest

The young black bear seemed content; bathing in the pool, while sampling wild berries and greens

We kept a watchful eye on one another throughout the visit

On my way out to the car yesterday afternoon, I caught a bit of motion just beyond the driveway where my forest meets a marshy area. It took me a moment to realize that I was looking straight into the eyes of a black bear. I froze in my tracks and for a tense few minutes, we sized each other up. Closer to my car than the house, I tentatively moved forward and slipped inside the passenger side door. The bear seemed unfazed. Slowly, the shiny, black animal made its way to the water line for a bath. I watched from the safety of my car as my guest splashed about the pool of rainwater and sampled some wild berries. I took these photos from my car window.

Living such a remote area, I see many wild animals here. But, it’s been quite some time since I’ve had such a close encounter with a bear. North American black bear —the only species of bear living in Vermont— are rarely aggressive, but it’s always best to play it safe and keep your distance. Read more about this amazing animal from the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Website by clicking here.

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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Al Fresco Dining in the Garden: Fireworks Restaurant’s Lush New Courtyard & Bold Container Design …

June 25th, 2011 § 4

My Tiered Container Garden Design and Installation at Fireworks Restaurant in Brattleboro, Vermont

Wrapped up a busy work week in the pouring rain yesterday with finishing touches on my garden design and installation for Fireworks Restaurant in Brattleboro, Vermont. This lush, outdoor dining space will soon feature a stone water bowl created by a local artisan. But all good things take time. So, while waiting for completion of the handmade water feature, I placed a shallow bowl of brightly-colored annuals from local Walker Farm (bold orange Cherry Lantana & curly New Zealand Hair Sedge) atop the pedestal to hold its place.

Fireworks Restaurant is my favorite, local place to enjoy a delicious cocktail and relaxed dinner with friends, leisurely weekend brunch or romantic evening with my beau. So when über-talented chef/owner Matthew Blau asked me to design a courtyard garden for his wonderful eatery, I immediately began sketching as we spoke. Much to my dismay, my initial design idea for a corner fire bowl was nixed by local safety codes. However, I quickly decided that a water feature would be equally romantic and inviting in this lovely outdoor space. The project involved a second re-design when it was determined that the pre-existing flag stone patio had to be replaced with cedar decking. Last autumn, I drew up plans for a deep, tiered corner planter (constructed of cedar with an interior base liner) and narrow, matching boxes to screen the alley way and accent an existing mural. This spring, Matthew commissioned a local artisan to create a handmade, stone water bowl (currently being carved in his studio). Over the past couple of weeks —between numerous thundershowers— I set to work filling the planters with potting soil and a combination of boldly colored shrubs, sensual grasses and bright annuals. It’s been so much fun working on this project. If you find yourself in the tri-state region (VT/NH/VT), please stop in for fabulous dining in the new garden! As for me, well, I can hardly wait for a clear evening, to enjoy my first dinner at Fireworks Restaurant beneath the stars …

Just installed this week, the plantings will fill out and form a lush backdrop for the planned water bowl (Permanent plantings include Hydrangea vine {Hydrangea petiolaris}, Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Coppertinia’, Sambucus racemosa ‘Sutherland Gold’, Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Hameln’. Annual plantings include Cherry Lantana {Lantana camara}, New Zealand Hair Sedge {Carex camans ‘Frosted Curls’} and Orange/Red Butterfly Weed {Aesclepia curassavica ‘Silky Deep Red’} All annual and tender perennial plants are from Walker Farm.

Although the centerpiece of annuals will eventually be replaced by an artisan-made stone water bowl, the design would also work with a variety of focal points. At one point, we hoped for a fire bowl, but local fire codes ruled that out early on in my planning.

The double alley-side planter boxes were designed to screen the view and provide enclosure on the backside, and to both soften the fence and add style to the inside of the courtyard garden. Plantings in front planter include Dwarf Zebra Grass, Butterfly Weed.

I designed an extra planter for the backside of the fence, and filled it with three Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’. Eventually these shrubs will reach the top of the fence and screen the courtyard dining space from the back alley/parking space. With a bit of pruning, they will form a dense, dark, living wall; highlighting the boldly striped grasses and annuals on the interior side.

Original Design Sketch for Alleyway (Modified to Slightly Longer Planter Box)

Soon, the central, tiered-corner planter will feature a handmade stone water bowl, created by a local artisan

The original design sketch for an interior planter (now raised and modified to suit cedar decking)

Details & Notes…

All annual and tender perennial plants are from Walker Farm in Dummerston, Vermont

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

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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Of Raindrops & Rose Petals …

June 24th, 2011 § 2

Rosa ‘Bibi Maizoon’ with Raindrops

In and out of the studio today, I’ve been more than momentarily seduced —and completely delayed— by the scent of English roses along the Secret Garden path. The spicy, rich fragrance of Rosa ‘Bibi Maizoon’ —reminiscent of much older cultivars— fills the damp, heavy air on this rainy afternoon. I often marvel at the power of scent, and this delicious rose is literally a waking dream. Although quite sad that I can not share the intoxicating olfactory experience of this rose, I hope I’ve captured some of Bibi’s beauty in these snaps of her raindrop-laden petals. Find more information about Rosa ‘Bibi Maizoon’ in my previous post, by clicking here…

Words & Photographs ⓒ 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 used or reposted, reproduced or reused in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Studio Days: A Peek at the Process … Designing Gardens & Landscapes

June 22nd, 2011 § 3

My Studio Desk —With Freshly Cut Sarah Bernhardt Peonies— Overlooking the Steel Balcony and Entry Garden (that’s Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’ viewed from atop the wall/balcony)

Currently working on three large landscape designs and several smaller garden projects, I’m taking full advantage of today’s inclement weather to play catch up on work —drawings and planting plans— in my studio. June is always a busy month for garden designers, and this year is especially so. With many design projects happening all at once —and at various stages; from preliminary drawings to primary installation, to finishing touches— I thought it might be fun to share a few things on my desk. I’ll keep you posted on the progress of these exciting projects throughout the summer…

Scanned sketch of a current, large landscape design project: terraced gardens with low-maintenance, relaxed plantings for a new home in Vermont

Scan of my design sketch for a tiered, corner planter and water bowl feature in a courtyard nook at a Brattleboro, VT restaurant. The planters are now installed and the core plantings have been installed (awaiting custom stone water bowl and finishing touches)

Sketch of my design for new, custom-built, raised planter boxes & container gardens filled with softening shrubs, grasses and vines to screen this same restaurant’s seating area & create a sense of privacy and enclosure for this intimate outdoor dining area (interior view)

Alley side view of the custom, raised planter boxes I designed for this intimate dining space

The custom-built cedar boxes with copper-finish, ready for installation of water bowl feature, and plantings

Copy of the initial, roughed out planting plan for the BMAC Sculpture Garden (with architectural details by Chip Greenberg). The final planting plan was twice modified to suit permanent pieces by artists Dan Snow (installed) and Jim Cole (awaiting installation)

And below, a large project nearing completion. My landscape design for the Brattleboro Museum and Arts Center Sculpture Garden, with primary hardscape and major plantings installed. ‘Rock Rest’ is by Vermont artist Dan Snow. The stone walkway, garden hardscaping, tree and lawn installation is by Turner & Renaud Landscaping. The installation of shrubs and perennials is by your’s truly …

BMAC Sculpture Garden (installation-in-progress) with Dan Snow’s piece, ‘Rock Rest’ in the foreground. Stepping stone walkway, garden hardscaping, lawn and tree installation is all by Turner & Renaud Landscaping. Garden design and plantings (ongoing) by Michaela.

BMAC Sculpture Garden with installation-in-progress. Stone walkway and garden hardscape, lawn and tree installation is by Turner & Renaud Landscaping. Garden design and plantings (ongoing) by Michaela

I know there’s a bit of sunshine out there somewhere, not far behind those dark grey clouds!

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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A Warm Welcome to Sultry Summer …

June 21st, 2011 Comments Off

A Warm Welcome to Summertime with Pyrotechnic Flower Bouquets

Summer begins today at 1:16 pm EDT, and I’m welcoming her with open arms. After a long, cold winter followed by a wet, drizzly spring, I’m more than ready for hot and hazy, hammock days and sultry summer evenings. There are so many things to love about summer: picnics in the afternoon before a night filled with fireworks, leisurely days spent skimming stones on the river, strawberry shortcake for supper and picking homegrown tomatoes straight off the vine to eat with juice running down your chin, dancing barefoot on the terrace to Cachao with a chilled glass of sangria, and dining al fresco beneath a canopy of stars…

What are some of your favorite summertime pleasures?

Romantic Weekend Picnics
Cool Dips on Hot, Hazy Days
And Strawberry Shortcake for Supper (click here for recipe)
Afternoons Filled with Music and Al Fresco Dining on the Terrace
And Cool Sangria on Sultry Evenings (click here for my not-so secret-anymore recipe)

Here’s To Summer, My Friends … Cheers!
xo Michaela

Words & Photographs ⓒ 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 used or reposted, reproduced or reused in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Thoughts on Wild Beauty …

June 20th, 2011 § 3

Prince Pickerel on the Secret Garden Water Bowl

I’ve worked in many kinds of gardens: clipped, controlled and formal; sprawling, loose and informal. And it’s fair to say that I delight in landscape design of all kinds. Still, I find that my favorite gardens tend to walk the line between wild and tame. Too much order leaves little room for natural surprises. Tightly maintained gardens often lack mystery and magic. A bit of benign neglect can offer a world of wonder; room for nature to flourish. Let the reigns fall too loose, however, and the garden will disappear altogether. Balance is the key. I like to garden in harmony with nature. Thinking of my work as a dialogue, I always try to listen a bit more than I talk.

What grows in the area surrounding your garden? Are you settled into a woodland, a meadow, a seaside dune? What is nature saying to you? What can you add to the conversation?

I paint the gardens in my care with structure and then allow nature to take a blender brush to the boundaries, blurring the edges. Ferns tumble, vines ramble, and wildflower seeds self-sow with abandon. The look I love is loose and relaxed, but soothing as opposed to chaotic.

Rambling Roses and Juniper Sprawl along the Ledge in my Entry Garden. This rose has travelled with me through three moves. It came from an old foundation in back of my childhood home. The cultivar? I haven’t a clue. In this case, a rose is a rose is a rose. The look is wild and the smell is sweet.

I’m happy to live with a few minor imperfections in my garden. When it comes to natural beauty, perfection is imperfection. The bee on this rose seems to agree…

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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Pretty in Pink: The Red Horse Chestnut, Aesculus x carnea ‘Fort McNair’ …

June 18th, 2011 § 9

Aesculus x carnea ‘Fort McNair’

Dodging raindrops between appointments yesterday as I ran up the entryway walk, I couldn’t help but stop when I noticed the loud hum of bumble bees, hard at work in the pretty, pink blossoms of my horse chestnut tree (Aesculus x carnea ‘Fort McNair’). Rainy, cool weather has prolonged the bloom period of this lovely new addition to my garden, giving us all more time to enjoy her late-spring beauty. Planted a year and a half  ago —with Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’ to back up her gorgeous yellow-throated rose flowers— this young tree has already begun to develop the lush, rounded canopy for which she’s known. Bumble bees love this flowering tree and —if I’m standing still long enough— I can also catch hummingbirds darting between branches as they sample fresh, sweet nectar from her enormous (7-10 inch panicle size) blossoms…

Aesculus x carnea ‘Fort McNair’ (that tall dark and handsome fella in the background is  Fagus sylvatica ‘Riversii’)

Hardy in USDA zones 4 – 7, Aesculus x carnea cultivars grow slowly; eventually reaching 30 – 35 ‘ in height, with a similar spread. Because of its smaller size, red horse chestnut makes an excellent and adaptable shade tree for smaller landscapes. Although it isn’t fussy about soil type, horse chestnuts do prefer to be sited in full sun, with even moisture and deep, well-drained soil.

Aesculus x carnea ‘Fort McNair’

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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Pausing as Spring Dances with Summer: A Moment at the Verdant Threshold …

June 14th, 2011 § 2

The Secret Garden Door in Late Spring

Sunny days and sultry evenings alternate with cool mornings and moody rain showers as Springtime dances toward Summer. The month swept in with dramatic beauty: wild thunderstorms followed by golden sunsets; mist-covered hills illuminated by pink afterglow. This is a busy time of year, but every morning and evening, I make time for a stroll through the garden. With so many changes this week,  I couldn’t help but notice that Summer —wearing her most luxurious, emerald gown— is already flirting at the threshold of my garden door…

Aquilegia ‘Spring Magic Rose & Ivory’ blooms beside the water bowl (planted with Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’, Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’, Athyrium nipponicum ‘Pictum’, Cryptotaenia japonica atropurpurea and Glaucidium palmatum)

Lady Fern (Athyrium filix-femina ‘Lady in Red’ with Heuchera and Phlox divaricata ‘Clouds of Perfume’)

Rodgersia aesculifolia and Matteuccia pensylvanica with various Heuchera and Euphorbia

Cimicufuga racemosa ‘Hillside Black Beauty’, Paeonia moutan x lutea ‘High Noon’, Matteuccia pensylvanica, Hakonechloa macra ‘Aureola’, Lamium maculatum ‘White Nancy’

The Secret Garden in June. Atop:Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’. Below: Heuchera americana (various cultivars), Euphorbia, Rodgersia aesculifolia, Matteuccia pensylvanica, Bergenia ‘Bressingham Ruby’, Hosta ‘August Moon’

Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’ Tumbles Over the Secret Garden Wall

In the entry garden, Cornus kousa takes center stage in full bloom this week, and in the background, Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’  cascades in a waterfall of deep cerise

The softer side of June: Aruncus dioicus, Hosta ‘Blue Angel’ and Hydrangea petiolaris with free-sown Valeriana officinalis

Kalmia latifolia ‘Pink Charm’ (Mountain Laurel) Just Coming into Bloom on the Ledge in the Entry Garden

Ferny and Feathery in Shades of Green and Ivory: Aruncus dioicus (Goat’s Beard) with Dennstaedtia puntilocula (Hayscented Fern)

The Stone Seat with Baptisia australis, Aruncus dioicus and Tsuga canadenis

Moon Urn and Terra Cotta Pots with Verbena, Stobilanthes dyerianus (Persian Shield), Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’, Lysmachia nummularia

Iris germanica (cultivar unknown), Miscanthus sinensis ‘Morning Light’ and Artemesia ‘Powis Castle’ in the entry garden

Wish I could share the beautiful fragrance of Abelia mosanenisis with you. Exquisite… Quite like a powdery memory. (Read more about this season spanning beauty and her icy juniper companion here).

Iris germanica ‘Senlac’ glows in the afternoon light, backed up by Hosta ‘Big Daddy’

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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Gathering Bouquets Between Raindrops & Simple Tips for Fresh Cut Flower Care

June 12th, 2011 § 7

Peony blossoms are of course my favorite cut flower, and by growing many cultivars, it’s possible to extend the flowering season for a month or more

After two days of steady rain, I slipped outside this morning to wander around the garden between raindrops and gather fallen flowers for fresh bouquets. Poetic as drooping blossoms look when tumbling from perennial borders, I can’t imagine leaving them on the lawn to be devoured by snails. Oh no. In fact, the main reason I grow peonies is for cutting, and I’ve planted many other perennials, annuals, trees and shrubs with fresh flowers for bouquets in mind. False indigo (Baptisia australis), iris, columbine (Aquilegia), fox glove (Digitalis), old-fashioned roses and  poppies (Papavar orientale), are some late spring favorites for the vase. I love all colors, but I am particularly fond of deep violet, blue and cerise colored blossoms. I also cut foliage for flower arrangements, including entire branches from shrubs and trees. Of course fragrance trumps almost all other considerations when it comes to fresh cut flowers, so lilac (Syringa), fragrant abelia (Abelia mosanensis), roses, lily of the valley (Convularia majalis) and of course peonies, will always be planted in excess throughout my garden…

My studio desk with blue, false indigo (Baptisia australis) cut fresh from the garden

Whenever I see tiny bud vases at flea markets, I snap them up. I also use old spice jars, recycled perfume bottles and salvaged medicine bottles for tiny bouquets

Peonies are, of course, kept as close to nose-level as possible. With blossoms as pretty as these, it seems like gilding the lily to add anything extra to the simple blue-green, glass canning jar

Simple Tips for Fresh Cut Flower Care

Cut flowers when it’s cool in the garden. Morning or evening.

Use sharp, clean pruners or shears.

Carry a bucket with you while cutting and place flowers in tepid water.

Cut flowers in bud or just as they are beginning to open.

Cut stems long, but take care to remember the rules of pruning; particularly when cutting roses, lilacs & other shrubs (revisit this basic pruning post).

Strip off lower foliage and side branches as you go (anything below the waterline of the intended vase).

Sear sappy/milky stems with a flame or boiling water (poppies, hollyhocks, etc).

Hammer the bottom and strip bark from woody stems.

Arrange flowers in a clean vase, filled with tepid water.

Add a tiny bit of sugar and a few drops of bleach (hydrogen peroxide based is fine) to the vase when you arrange flowers.

Check and change the water in vases every other day.

A combination I love: Blue Siberian Iris with Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’ (read more about Physocarpus opulifolius here)

Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’, and the branches of many other flowering shrubs are beautiful in arrangements

Beautiful Baptisia australis looks gorgeous atop a dark dresser or dining table

Weigela florida ‘Red Prince’ produces lovely cerise blossoms on strong branches (read more about this beautiful, tough shrub here)

Words & Photographs ⓒ 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 used or reposted, reproduced or reused in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Strawberries & Homemade Granola: Fresh Fraises des Bois for Breakfast …

June 9th, 2011 § 1

Fresh Picked Alpine Strawberries or Fraises des Bois (Fragaria vesca) & Homemade Granola

One of the best things about June —besides peonies— is fresh picked strawberries from the garden. I have a small but productive patch of fraises des bois (Fragaria vesca) —better known as alpine strawberries— in my potager (click here for more information about this wonderful berry). And right now, the alpine strawberry plants are producing so many plump, juicy fruits, I hardly miss the few that I know Mr. Catbird is snatching. For the past few days, I’ve been strolling down to the kitchen garden at dawn to fill a basket with these sweet, ruby red beauties for my breakfast. I love them tossed on top of homemade granola in the morning, and later —if it’s hot— they are wonderful mashed up in a strawberry mojito (click here for recipe) or a strawberry flirt (click here for that little number). Alpine strawberries are easy to grow in patio pots or window boxes; making them the perfect fruit for container gardeners.

The still, early morning hours are ideal for pulling a few weeds and watching butterflies. This week I spotted a viceroy (which looks like a miniature monarch), several painted ladies and more tiger swallowtail butterflies. All of the pollinators seem drawn to the chives and sage in particular, but also to the recently planted cosmos, calendula and ageratum. Which reminds me, I need to get back over to Walker Farm. I have a little extra space around the fence line, and I aim to fill it with more fresh flowers for cutting!

Alpine Strawberries (Fragaria vesca) and My New Red Chair

Alpine Strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are the Sweetest of June Treasures

Top Two Photos: Viceroy Butterfly.  Above: Chives for Butterflies, Bees & Me

In winter, I like to add raisins and other dried fruits to my granola. But in summer, I think fresh berries are the way to go. So at this time of year, I prefer a honey-nut granola recipe to complement the tart taste of fresh fruit. The blend below is based on a simple recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking, which I discovered while reading Adam Roberts’ very funny food blog, The Amateur Gourmet. This is a fun recipe to make with kids, because the granola turns out best when you mix it with your hands!

Alpine Strawberry (Fragaria vesca)

Cultivated Alpine Strawberries (Fragaria vesca) are Larger Than Truly Wild Fruit but Smaller Than Standard, Cultivated Varieties

Honey-Nut Granola with Fresh Alpine Strawberries

Ingredients: (makes about 3 1/2 cups, multiply and add twists, as you like)

2          cups rolled oats

1          tsp cinnamon

1          tsp salt

3 1/2   tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4      cup honey, plus extra for drizzling

1/4      cup brown sugar

1         tsp vanilla extract

1         cup (+/-) of lightly chopped nuts (cashews, macadamia, etc)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325° Fahrenheit. Select a large baking sheet (or cookie sheet) and line with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, mix together the vegetable oil, brown sugar, honey, vanilla with a fork or whisk. Set aside.

Mix oats, nuts, cinnamon and salt together in a large bowl.

Pour the liquid mixture over the dry ingredients and combine. The best method for even coverage is to use your hands.

Spread the mixture out over the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake 10 minutes, remove pan and drizzle with a little more honey. Turn the granola with a spatula. Return to oven for another 5 – 10 minutes. Watch carefully, as it’s easy to burn. Remove from oven and turn the granola again. If the mixture looks less than golden brown, return to oven for another 5 minutes. Remove the granola from oven and allow it to cool completely.

Serve with fresh berries and milk or yogurt, and a drizzle of golden honey on top. Store extra granola in an airtight canister (it keeps well for a couple of weeks, if it lasts that long).

Ever-Bearing Alpine Strawberries/Fraises des Bois (Fragaria vesca) Produce Delicious Fruit All Summer Long

Succession Sowing of Seed and Planting of Vegetable Starts Continues All Summer Long to Insure a Steady Supply of Greens, Root Vegetables and Fall Crops

Looking Past the Garlic Greens, Peppers, Bean Pole and Into the Heart of the Potager

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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Plow & Hearth

Black Dragon Holds a Splendid Flower …

June 8th, 2011 § 7

Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’: Black Dragon Holds a Splendid Flower

Wu Long Peng Sheng. Translated from Chinese, the name means, ‘Black Dragon Holds a Splendid Flower’. I haven’t seen the black dragon, but I keep looking. Maybe he’s hiding in the fern covered ledges; waiting to pounce if I pick this beautiful, magenta blossom? I wouldn’t blame him for being upset. His flower is, without a doubt, the most splendid in the early June garden. So if I’m found later this week —smoldering near the Japanese maple— you’ll know why. I couldn’t resist. The fragrance is incredible…

P. suffruticosa ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’ blossoms late May through early June

Paeonia suffruticosa ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’ is a glorious tree peony from China. Hardy in USDA zones 4-8, it will grow 5-6 feet tall and slightly less wide over as many years. Tree peonies bloom about a week before most herbaceous peonies, but I have a bit of overlap in my garden with many of the early blooming, P. lactiflora cultivars. Tree peonies are among the longest-lived garden plants, and have been cultivated in China and Japan for centuries. Unlike their herbaceous relations (Paeonia lactiflora), tree peonies will tolerate a bit of light shade. In fact, they perform best and their delightfully fragrant blossoms last longer, with protection from hot afternoon sun. Be sure to prepare the soil well, with plenty of compost, and site all tree peonies in moist, but well-drained locations. Pruning of winter damaged wood should take place in very early spring, and pruning for shape should happen immediately after the blossoms have faded. P. suffruticosa ‘Wu Long Peng Sheng’ makes and excellent cut flower, and when I look closely —deep inside the petals— I can almost see the Black Dragon’s fire…

Fiery Heart of the Black Dragon’s Flower

Words & Photographs ⓒ 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 used or reposted, reproduced or reused in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Peony Petals & The Heady Scent of June

June 7th, 2011 § 3

Sweet Dreams are Made of Silken Peony Petals

When the early morning air is moist and still and the garden is filled with pale light, I step outside to drink in the fragrance of springtime. Of course, there are many flowers at this time of year; iris, laurel, roses and baptisia. But there is one flower, above all others, that will always be my favorite. Unabashedly voluptuous, undeniably feminine and exquisitely fragrant; to me peonies define the month of June…

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Raspberry Sundae’

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Kansas’

Paeonia lactiflora ‘Mother’s Choice’

Top Photo: Melange Vase by California artist Aletha Soulé

Photographs ⓒ 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 used or reposted, reproduced or reused in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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Moonlight & Shadow on the Rocks … Mysterious Japanese Hydrangea Vine

June 6th, 2011 § 4

Moonlight & Shadow on the Rocks. Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’ in The Secret Garden

Moonlight Hydrangea Vine. Her name evokes silver-lined clouds in a velvet sky, and midnight strolls through the Secret Garden. I picture a heroine with long tousled tresses, holding a candle by the forest gate. It’s a fairytale of course, and in the distance, wolves howl and trees echo with the shrieks of yellow-eyed owls. There’s a chill in the dark woodland air, but the maiden’s young lad is due to arrive and, in spite of the late hour, she wanders down the length of stone wall to loose the iron latch. As her long, graceful fingers trace the mossy walls, clouds part and the moon appears from behind shadows. Hours pass and time stands still, but her suitor is nowhere to be found. Tenacious and faithful, night after night, she clings to the rocks; lighting the stoney passage with her luminous glow; waiting in moonlight and shadow….

Moonlight Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’)

Moonlight Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’) is a delightfully mottled, self clinging climber; attaching itself to walls, fences, trees and most any other surface with self-adhering, woody stems. Hardy in USDA zones 4-9, this perennial vine prefers light to near-full shade and moist, woodsy soil (though it will tolerate a range of conditions). Although this isn’t a true Hydrangea, eventually —given the right conditions— Schizoprhagma hydrangeoides will  –after as many as four to five years— produce lovely, white, hydrangea-like blossoms in early June. Of course, I look forward to seeing the flowers, but the blossoms are really a small bonus. In the dark recesses of my Secret Garden, it’s all about foliage! Frosty and luminous throughout the dog days of summer; the leaves take on a bronzy cast with the approach of autumn’s chill. Moonlight Hydrangea Vine is a true woodland beauty, beyond compare. I love using this gorgeous climber in my shade garden designs, and if you too are looking for a stunning vine for low-light spaces, it’s high time you make this mysterious lady’s acquaintance. Soon, Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’ could be lighting a candle-in-the-night just for you…

The Leaves of Moonlight Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides) Take On a Bronzy Cast by Early Autumn in the Semi-Shade of the Walled Garden

The New Leaves of Moonlight Hydrangea Vine Emerge Light Green in Early May, And Quickly Develop Gorgeous, Pewter-Hewed Mottling

Moonlight Hydrangea Vine (Schizophragma hydrangeoides ‘Moonlight’) Along the Outer Walls of the Secret Garden in June

Article and Photographs ⓒ 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 used or reposted, reproduced or reused in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

All Stonework is by Vermont Artist Dan Snow

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

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Silvery Heirloom Treasures for the Vase: Nodding Stars-of-Bethlehem …

June 6th, 2011 Comments Off

A late spring bulb for cutting: Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem (Ornithogalum nutans) sitting pretty in a vase by New Mexico artist Heidi Loewen

They are commonly called the Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem, and I think it may be the perfect name for this beautiful, silvery flower. Five autumns ago, with my late-spring cutting garden in mind, I ordered and planted a handful of these heirloom beauties (circa 1594) from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs, even though they are listed as only marginally hardy this far north (USDA Zones 5-8). And although the exotic looking little stars haven’t naturalized as they do in warmer locations (see warning & plant information at bottom of this post) they have returned each and every year; forming three small clumps near the studio foundation. Striking in the garden, to be sure, I actually prefer this green and white flower in a vase; where I can appreciate her subtle charms. Gathered in a porcelain vessel by New Mexico artist Heidi Loewen, I happen to think these silvery stars are just the picture of late spring loveliness…

Some flowers are even more striking in a vase than they are in a garden. To my eye, Ornithogalum nutans is just such a beauty

I like to display the Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem very simply, here gathered in a porcelain vase by New Mexico artist Heidi Loewen

Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem (Orinthogalum nutans) from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs

The beautiful, sea-green vase by New Mexico artist Heidi Loewen was purchased on a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1999. The Orinthogalum nutans bulbs were purchased from Brent & Becky’s Bulbs. And although neither source is an affiliate of The Gardener’s Eden, I am a happy customer of both.

***Nodding Star-of-Bethlehem (Orinthogalum nutans) is native to Europe and Asia and although it is not currently on the USDA invasive plant/noxious weed list, it has been reported as potentially invasive in certain Mid-Atlantic states (Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC & Virginia) and in some counties of other states, including Washington state. Please note: this species should not be confused with Orinthogalum umbellatum (African origins) which is on the USDA noxious weed list and is widely reported as invasive in natural areas.***

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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Plow & Hearth

Honey Colored Evenings in the Garden And Iced Tea with Lime & Peppermint…

June 5th, 2011 § 2

An Evening on the Terrace in Sultry, Honey Colored Mist

Voluptuous French Lilacs Drape to the Ground

Vanilla Sky: Garnet-Hued Japanese Maple Leaves, Luminous at Sunset

June evening. It’s late in the day, and the glow of mist-diffused sunlight –warm and sweet as honey– filters through the perfumed garden. It’s time to relax after a long week of designing, planning, shopping and planting new gardens. French doors swing wide to the sun-soaked terrace, and I kick off my shoes. Strolling past the heady lilac and luminous, garnet-hued maple, I slowly make my way down the potager path. Golden straw warms the soles of my feet as I  fill a basket with fragrant herbs and fresh greens for dinner. Rounding the far corner of the garden, the scent of crushed peppermint fills the air. A tall glass of iced tea springs to mind, and I gather a bunch of aromatic leaves for my pitcher. And suddenly, I realize, it’s beginning to feel a lot like summertime …

Iced Tea with Lime & Peppermint

Ingredients (Serves Two)

1 quart/liter        Boiling Water

1 ounce               Fresh Lime Juice (about one lime)

1 tsp                    Artisan Honey

1 good bunch       Peppermint Leaves (to crush & for garnish)

2 teabags              Black Tea

Directions:

Crush 5-6 sprigs of peppermint at the bottom of a small, heatproof, glass pitcher. How much mint is a matter of personal preference. I think 3 springs per glass (about 15 leaves each) is a good place to start. Add lime juice and muddle. Add two bags of black tea and slowly fill the pitcher with one quart/liter of boiling water. Stir and pour in the honey. Allow the mixture to steep and cool to room temperature (you may also make ahead and refrigerate with a lid). Fill two glasses with ice and pour the tea over the cubes. Garnish with a fresh sprig of mint and serve on a sultry afternoon. It’s almost summertime…

You may also enjoy this recipe for Lemon-Mint Sun Tea, Brewed in the Garden (click here for past post)

Prefer something stronger? You will love this Cuban Mint Julep (aka Mojito) recipe (click here)

Savoring the Pink-Gold Twilight Hours of Late Spring

Plants from top: In pot, Calibracho ‘Callie Orange’. In border: Syringa vulgaris ‘Mme. Lemoine’ & Weigela florida ‘Java Red’. Backlit tree: Acer palmatum ‘Bloodgood’. Above on hillside: Betula papyrifera (paper birch).

Article and 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!

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

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A Garden of Beautiful, Magical Surprises: Meet the Hummingbird Moth …

June 4th, 2011 § 2

A Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris thysbe) samples Ozark Bluestar nectar (Amsonia illustris)

Out early in the garden this morning, I stopped to photograph the Ozark Bluestar (Amsonia illustris), blooming along the path. I wanted to share springtime images of this beautiful, native perennial, which I often feature in my garden designs. In autumn, Amsonia turns chartreuse, followed by a gorgeous golden yellow/orange color (see previous post for photos), but it’s also beautiful throughout the growing season; with lovely blue flowers in May/June and fine, feathery green foliage. I grow various Amsonia species and cultivars in my own garden, and as I stopped to focus in on a flower, I was treated to a magical surprise. A hummingbird, butterfly or bee? No, actually this lesser-known pollinating insect is an amazing Hummingbird Moth (Hemaris thysbe); though many people mistake this master of disguise for a hummingbird, hence the common name.

The Hummingbird Moth moves very quickly from flower to flower, gathering nectar with its long proboscis. Although I have tried to capture a photo of this fast-moving insect many times, I have never been successful until this morning. And wouldn’t you know it, the opportunity occurred by complete accident! Adult Hummingbird Moths feed on the nectar of many native and non-native flowering plants; including Beebalm (Monarda), Phlox, Lilac (Syringa), Amsonia, Blueberry (Vaccinium), and other blossoms attractive to their fellow pollinators, the butterflies and bees.

If you look carefully, in this photo you can see the Hummingbird Moth’s extended proboscis (a butterfly-like feeding tube/tongue)

The Hummingbird Moth is a member of the Sphinx Moth family, but although its larvae (a small green hornworm, with yellow legs) closely resemble the tomato hornworm/Five-Spotted Hawk Moth (Manduca quinquemaculata) and tobacco hornworms/Carolina Sphinx Moth (Manduca sexta) —notorious vegetable garden pests, which I wrote about last year in this post (click here)— Hummingbird Moth caterpillars feed non-destructively on the foliage of native shrubs and trees; including viburnum, cherry and plum (Prunus), snowberry (Symphoricarpos), hawthorn (Crataegus) and honeysuckle (Lonicera). So, should you happen to see small green “hornworms” on your ornamental trees and shrubs, don’t harm them! First, look them up here on Bugguide.net, as they are likely to be the larvae of our beautiful pollinating friend, the Hummingbird Moth! Magical creatures like the Hummingbird Moth count on us to help them by avoiding the indiscriminate use of pesticides (even organic pest controls, including Btk).

Article & 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, reproduced, republished or reposted without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

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