Down the garden path ...

Down the garden path ...
...and strolling through a garden of memories

~Grandmother Never Bought a Plant~

I suppose that is not literally true since in the beginning she bought vegetables and fruits for eating and then used their seeds to start plants.

Grandmother's garden was filled with many plants--I wish I could remember all of them--including Sweet Gum, Peach, Fig, Weeping Willow, and Magnolia trees; white and blue Hydrangeas, Azaleas, various Roses, Bleeding Hearts, Ferns, Periwinkle; Weigelia, Privet, and Barberry shrubs; succulents, and a vegetable garden.

Grandmother's garden was developed from "found" items, so to speak. My grandmother knew that plants could be started from the seeds they produced (no sterile hybrids for her). She also exchanged plants and cuttings with her neighbors. If she liked a plant, she made as many as she wanted from cuttings or seeds. Her neighborhood was filled with open fields (nowadays, almost gone for the rest of us), and these areas were great places to find plants.

Obviously, one of the things my grandmother brought to this garden and learned from it--was patience. In this era of instant gratification, we forget that good things are worth the wait, that patience really is a virtue, and that there is nothing wrong with frugality, either!

~Gertrude Jekyll, Jim Crockett, Grandmother, & I~

~Gertrude Jekyll, Jim Crockett, Grandmother, & I~


*My grandmother started me down the garden path and Gertrude and Jim push me along. I do know that while all my mentors are deceased, I hear their voices loud and clear -- know the environment in which you want to garden, gardening is hard work, gardens take time to develop, start plants from cuttings, and that nature is not always on our side. In other words, be realistic, be frugal, and have patience.

*Gertrude Jekyll (1843 - 1932; photogragh from her book: Colour Schemes for the Flower Garden) has had the most pronounced influence on English and American gardening. She studied the landscape and designed flower borders, woodlands, and specimen tree and shrubery placement with regard to color, vista, soil, and year-round pleasure. Gertrude Jekyll approached the garden as a canvas. It has been said that Monet planted his gardens to paint them while Gertrude Jekyll's garden was the painting.

*James Underwood Crockett (1915 - 1979; photograph from his book: Crockett's Victory Garden) was the original host of PBS's The Victory Garden, then called Crockett's Victory Garden. I was fortunate to see his weekly shows. He showed that while gardening was work, it was also enjoyable with great rewards. While reading gardening books is informative, it was great to see and hear a gardener in action and see the results. It was good for morale! Jim made a statement on a show about asters that has become famous in my family because not only does it apply to gardening -- it applies to many things in life: Life is too short to stake asters.

*Painting of a child who reminds me of myself and grandmother in her garden: Monet - The Artist's Garden at Vetheuil.

~Gardening in Connecticut~

The Ice Age was not a good thing for gardeners in this area. On its march to Long Island and the sea, the glacier removed the soil down the bedrock and then when it melted, it dropped terminal moraine (rocks) in its wake -- except for southern Long Island where it was nice enough to deposit a glacial outwash plain (sand).

My family gardened on Long Island. When I moved to Connecticut and wanted to garden, I bought a shovel. What did I know? Quickly after that, my husband bought a pick axe.

Gardening here means "digging" out rocks and then going off to buy a truckload of topsoil--and while you are at it: sharp (not play or all-purpose) sand, and a ton of peat moss--to fill in the holes so that your plants may live long and prosper.


Friday, October 5, 2012

The good, the bad, the ugly, and the beautiful!

Butterfly Bush -- and the butterflies and the humming birds do come!
After all the mulling, and laying out, and re-laying out the Cottage Garden, I decided that it needs more depth--I thought that 8-feet would be sufficient! (The Cottage Garden has four sections: annex, front, middle, and back; and each section has a “front, middle, and back” row; designated thus so I can chart where I planted each plant.) There is not too much that can be done about all of it, but we did add about one foot in the back of the front section. All sections will be “brought” forward about one foot along the front edge because my edging plants are growing all over the red concrete slabs we bought from HD to edge the front of the garden. Moving them is just boring work, but at least we don’t have to raise the beds as we did in the back. (The land slopes downward a little and we wanted the garden level.)

The middle section needs more depth also due to the butterfly bush (I can’t remember which cultivar since it has been in my garden for many years) and the Miscanthus gracilimus and Pennisetum alopecuroides grasses that I planted in the back row. They are both tall and bushy. I removed the Pennisetum and planted in the Copper Beech Garden where it can “show-off”. I will have to keep the butterfly bush pruned so I can keep it where it is—it makes a fantastic backdrop! I will also curtail the Miscanthus a bit—it too is a great back-drop and I have my Clematis jackmanii growing over it.
Miscanthus gracillius - Maiden grass

Pennisetum alopecuroides - Fountain grass

Clematis jackmanii

Garden layout with section and row designations to help me figure out what I put where!

I received my plants from Wayside and I am impressed by the nice packing and the good-looking plants: Thalictrum “Lavender Mist” and Belamcanda chinensis.  They are in the ground. Of course, almost every time I put in a new plant, there is either another plant there or too close by! I am getting use to that now and just keep “tap-dancing”. I keep telling myself that not all the plants (new or old) will return in the spring so there will be vacancies.
This weather has been a boon to the insect population and I still have to spray here and there—some of the plants look positively mangy.  I am not too worried since the plants are winding down for the season (and so am I—I am tired of the great out-of-doors when it means a lot of work into the end of the season. I intend to make the garden width-increase THE END!

I don’t know what will be in the next post, but I am sure there will be something, good, bad, or indifferent, for me tell you about. Ho, ho, ho—or maybe it’s hoe, hoe, hoe!