Monday, June 29, 2009

Water, Weed, and Prune

The thing about gardening is, it's never done. My plants are all in the place that I want them in the back yard, but in the past month I have completely neglected the front yard. It is overgrown in a chaotic almost joyful sort of way. Yes there are weeds, there is watering and much pruning to do but it is all part of gardening. We are definately in summer, the yellows are bright and warm and the pink is on the wane (mostly because the japanese beetles are arriving and devouring the roses) Here is some of the latest chaos in the front yard...

Saturday, June 27, 2009


I'm just about done with the garden redesign and am just taking a moment to remember other things I love.
Yesterday my friend Patty posted a pic of embroidery work she just finished and I was reminded of these wee samplers I picked up for a buck or two last fall. I don't know who RS is but I remember using these same bright and cheerful colors when I learned to embroider. The transfers she used struck a memory. My transfers were given to me by my grandmothers and I have a weakness for old transfers. I'm obviously not alone in this love and some of my favorite blogs feature vintage transfers: q is for quilter, turkey feathers and stichado.
Have a wonderful Sunday!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Look up

Tonight we had a rarity, mammatus clouds in the sky after a storm rumbled by (no rain, but some thunder). How neat are they!?! Brad and I had never seen anything like them...

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Seamus Loves Bubbles.....

And the special girls who make those bubbles happen!!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday Garden Update: Hydrangea

Who doesn't love hydrangeas? They are my favorite staple in the garden and I have quite a few considering the size of my garden. I love them because the blooms are so varied and linger through the summer and best of all, they remind me of my Nanas.

I have two white hydrangea bushes (I think they are referred to as "smooth" hydrangeas). My late neighbor Jeanette gave me a cutting from her garden and I never look at the bushes without thinking of her and how we used to chat when we would weed at the same time. Often we would be kneeling by her hydrangea bush when we would hear the children next door giggling and laughing as they played in their baby pool. Jeanette called this "good music to weed by."
The flowers of this bush are very large and heavy. Years ago I learned to loosely wrap the base of the bush with wire fencing, not unlike a vase, for extra support during storms. In spring the fencing is hidden by the lush foliage and blooms.
I love the lace caped hydrangea, it looks sugar sprinkled, a confection for the eyes. My bush has flowers of pink, blue and purple. They sprinkle their colors on the ground and make that part of the garden magical. In the fall the leaves of this bush turn a pretty red for added color.

Then there are the traditional big leaf varieties. I am fortunate to have three of these and one is truly special: a multi-generational hydrangea. My paternal grandmother, Nana Elsie, had two hydrangeas: one in the front yard and one in the back. As a child, I loved the flowers and they made wonderful home bases when we played tag.
My maternal grandmother, Nana Betty admired them greatly, especially the bush that bore flowers of both pink and blue (in one bush). When Nana Betty received a cutting she grew her bush on the front corner of her home. She had the tiniest city garden you could imagine, even smaller than mine and it was amazing what and how she grew things. When I began to garden, she gave me a cutting of that bush. I guess that makes it a three Nana (so far) bush. Someday I hope to be able to give my grandkids a cutting when they begin to garden.

Another passalong plant is my oak leaf hydrangea that I received from my dear friend Molly. Molly was and is my gardening mentor. She brought the cutting along when she visited us a few years ago. The bush is now bigger than me and just starting to bloom. The leaves of this turn a bright red in the fall and remain on the branches through most of the winter, giving the garden some much needed color.

I have one more hydrangea bush called "The Swan" but it is just beginning to bud up now. We call the Swan the "motherload" because the flowers are so huge. There is also a peegee hydrangea tree in my front yard which I love because it reminds me of my Aunt Carole. The tree blooms in mid summer. More on these babies as they develop!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Chick Eggs

I'm still cleaning up the garden from the hail storm. I am figuring it will take a few more days. In addition, the boys (pups) were a bit naughty yesterday and completely smashed a portion of my garden (yeh as if I didn't have enough damage from the hail!). Fortunately, I am moving so much stuff in the garden right now that the portion they messed up was going to be changed anyway. As I cleaned out the bed, I found an old gift: chick eggs.
About 8 years ago, my brother brought Nicholas (his grandson) to visit Paddie and play in our gardens. Nicholas was only 3 yrs. old at the time and his favorite activity was marching on the various paths. As I talked to my brother, Nicholas approached me with his hands behind his back.
"Aunt Michele, I have a present for you," he said and stuck out his chubby fists which clasped two smooth rocks. "Look chick eggs! When they are done, you will you have nice soft chicks to pet in your garden."
Today as I cleaned out the garden, I stumbled upon my chick eggs. I have always kept them in the lower garden, close to the patio because they were such a special gift and also, because I want to see the chicks when they hatch.
To this day, I think this is one of the best and most magical gifts I have ever received. Think about how the reasoning a 3 year old goes through to create the gift: the sequence of the stones, the eggs, the wonderful feeling of petting soft chicks; what a thoughtful and kind present!! Other images from the garden:
Hail torn hosta Two bad dogs contemplate what other mischief they can create:

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hail! Hail! Or Stormy Weather........

Well we were lucky to not have rain yesterday. This afternoon a heck of a storm blew in. It was the worst one yet, tons of rain, terrible wind, leaves being ripped off the tree out front and blowing onto our windows. After the storm, the leaves were still stuck to the window but that wasn't the worst part...
Hail, lots of it, it's been an hour since the storm left and the hail is still out back, it fell so thick in some places and was an inch or more deep in different pockets throughout the garden. I took a variety of pics to show DH when he gets home (below).
We are so fortunate, despite the challenging weather, to have such great local weather people. Our daily routine includes watching the local morning program to find out what to expect in the garden. Our TV channel, WFMZ, has the best meteorologists. Matt Broderick and Ed Hanna make weather interesting and I can rely on their predictions, they are that accurate.
Today Ed shared some interesting tidbits. There have only been 3 days so far this month that we haven't had any rain. In addition, he cited some interesting temps. In April the highest temp was 91; May the high was 85; in June so far the high temp has been 83. What a strange year!!!
Tomorrow I know what I will be doing, I'll be staking all my plants that got squashed this week. Egads :)

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Gone Fishing...

Here is an old photo from when we were at the shore two years ago. Last year I used my vacation time to do quilt events. This year, DH is using his to go fishing. Sometimes we all need a break and I think Gone Anywhere is a healthy thing to do.

Paddie thought so too :) She is the only dog I could trust to take the shore because she didn't have to be reminded to stay close or be careful. She loved the shore but mostly she loved it because she was with us and didn't have to share the attention with Ted (there IS a rivalry there). I love this pic of her because she seems to be posing like a good poodle diva should :D

Friday, June 12, 2009

Friday Garden Update

It's been a lingering spring here in eastern Pennsylvania with plenty of rain, frequent cool weather, and small spurts of heat. All this has been a fantastic recipe for the garden which is just blooming beyond all expectations!

I rarely buy plants for the garden, there is an abundance of self sowers and we are limited on plant space in the city but I just had to buy this when I saw it! Black Lace Elderberry is the name of the bush and it has a wonderful pink flower and fantastic foliage. In the fall it does produce edible berries (good for my birds, I doubt I will make elderberry jam). I just love the foliage. This particular plant my nursery had put aside; it had been overwatered and they were nursing it back to health (hence I got it for a bargain price). I am so looking forward to the sculptural quality this will add to our garden when it fills out!

Things have been so busy here that I didn't get to prune the tea roses this year. At one point, my husband told me that one of the canes had to be trimmed that it had fallen off the bush. I never got to that chore either but interestingly enough, this happened:
The cane lays on the ground and I finally get long stemmed roses!!!!!!
I'm starting to prune the roses but I have to wait til all these blooms have faded because I just love them and the fragrance this year as I clean the beds has just been...........intoxicating.
Denise's peony next door which I get to enjoy every morning :)

This sweet rose is from our arbor in the front of the house. If I remember propery, I think this is a New Dawn but to be honest, I don't really care what the names are anymore. As long they bloom and are happy...... that's all this Nana really needs.