Monday, December 31, 2012

Looking Forward

It's December 31st, and it seems that I'm supposed to be looking back over the year.  But I'm not.  I'm looking forward!

Spring snowflake - Leucojum vernum

I'm not counting down the hours or minutes until midnight.  I'm counting down the days until the first irises, and daffodils, and crocus bulbs emerge.  Spring starts a whole new gardening year after being cooped up from the cold.  And I can't wait!


There's something magical about seeing the earth renewed after its winter slumber.  Something poetic.  Last year, Stacy of Microcosm, waxed poetic thirteen (or fewer) ways about the crocus, and asked us to join her.  It was a fun lesson in patience and anticipation waiting for the first crocus bulb to emerge.


But the best part about spring is that it turns gloriously into May.  I know - May is not technically a separate season.  But for gardeners, it is!


Before I started gardening, May was for graduations and holidays.  But now it's much, more more.


It's the month I look forward to the most, because it seems that the entire garden bursts forth in blooms in the merry month of May.  You can literally watch the grass growing, and the buds opening. I guess that's why Carol of May Dreams Gardens named her blog after this particular month.


Of course, May also heralds in the start of summer.  And when I think of summer, I think of roses.  Glorious, beautiful roses that bloom all summer and in my dreams all year long.  Some summers we have the nightmare of a drought, but the thrill of seeing the garden filled with roses blooming is what I most look forward to each year.


It's also always fun to find another gardener that has fallen completely head over heels in love with roses and has the same dream for their garden.  Recently, I've found the blog of a new rose addict, Janie of Alabama Rose and Flower Garden from a Non-Green Thumb, and her words make me yearn to see in my roses in bloom again.


Other rose lovers that keep me dreaming of summer (to name just a very few, and in no particular order) include:
Redneck Rosarian
Hartwood Roses
The Garden Diary
Organic Garden Dreams
Dirt Therapy
If Only Sweat Were Irrigation
Sequoia Gardens
Garden Musings
A Rose is a Rose
Joyful Reflections
Peacock orchid

Of course, summer eventually morphs into fall.  It comes late in Texas, but it does finally come.  And my eyes stray from the roses to the camellias.  Gardeners are a lot like playboys.  Every pretty bloom turns our head, and we can't be expected to have only one love!


And I'm not the only one that has fallen for the camellia's charm.   It seems everyone that has camellias fall madly and deeply in love with them.  Garden of Aaron and Christine of The Gardening Blog have both fallen under the spell of blooming camellias.  But perhaps the biggest camellia lover I know is Carolyn of Carolyn's Shade Gardens.


But as beautiful as they are, when the fall blooming camellias begin to bloom, it's almost bittersweet.  I know that when they begin to bloom, winter is on its way.


The garden begins to shed its summer clothing, and puts on her heavy coat of evergreens.  The gardener turns to books, berries, inside blooms, and of course, to dreaming of spring - and to another year of gardening.

Christmas cactus

Goodbye 2012.  I'm ready for 2013!

Friday, December 28, 2012

A Pond Farewell?

Over the years, my pond has been one of the most beautiful places in my garden.   When it was first conceived, it was just a small pond with a black liner.  It was outlined with irregularly shaped rocks, giving it an informal look.  But I never really liked it that way.  Black widow spiders found that the crevices made the perfect spot for a home.  The liner was hard to clean.  And the informal shape and style didn't fit with the rest of my garden.

So, I enlisted the help of my son, and we dug the pond larger and deeper.  For the first few years, it was the place where people gravitated to.  Sounds from the fountain soothed thoughts, and cleared minds.  Fish swimming to and fro brought joy.  Children found pleasure in feeding the fish.  They would come willingly, with their little mouths wide open (the fish, not the children).

Just as I believe all gardens should have roses, I think all gardens should have a water feature.  Unfortunately, I think I might break my own rule.  Or put a water feature elsewhere.

You see, late this past autumn, we realized the worst had happened.  The pond has sprung a leak.  There was a crack in the cement.

Out went the fish, to the big pond.  Out went the water.  And repair supplies were bought.  But it didn't get repaired.  Instead, the hustle and bustle of the holidays took over all our free time.  The weather hasn't been cooperative for pond repairs, either.

And so it has sat empty, sad, and lonely.  And I have contemplated the pond's future.

I  have contemplated the best way to repair it.  And I have contemplated whether it will need repairs in the future.  I have contemplated whether I want something that needs repairs every several years in my garden.  And I have contemplated what my garden would look like without it.  Now, that's a lot of contemplation!

My garden won't be the same without the pond, that I know.  No sound of water running.  No fish swimming.  No children gently sliding their little hands into the water, hoping to touch a golden scale.

But something else could be easier to maintain.  And I'm beginning to understand how important that quality is in a large garden as one gets older.

So will I bid a fond farewell to my pond?  I haven't quite decided.  But I am certainly giving it a lot of consideration.

If your pond went on the blink, would you repair it, or replace it?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Garden Book Reviews December 2012

I rarely find a garden book that will hold my attention all the way through.  But The Laskett: The Making of a Garden by Roy Strong captivated me.  I found myself enchanted with the way the author wound the story of his marriage around the story of making their garden.

And what a garden he and his wife made!  Situated on four acres, this garden is known as the largest private formal garden created in England since 1945.  All the trials and tribulations of making a garden are told here: waiting for small plants to mature, creating a garden along with working a career, diseases that wiped out portions of the garden, tweaking another portion of the garden for years before it finally came together, and of course, having a limited amount of funds available to spend.

This book may be a personal story, but, as gardeners, one in which we can all relate.  His journey is our journey.  For instance, when he realizes that color and foliage make the garden interesting and beautiful all year, it brings to mind when I first realized that, too.  When he waits for years for the right piece to be placed in a spot of the garden, finally spending a bonus on a piece of statuary, it recalls times that I have let a part of the garden lie undone until I was able to afford what I had envisioned there.  When he talks about how his gardening friends influenced him through the years, I think of all the gardeners I know (mostly virtually) and all the ways in which they have influenced my own garden.  When he says at one point that it takes 15 years to make a garden, I look back in time (and forward, in my case) 15 years and realize that my garden will take about that same amount of time to complete.  These stories inspire me to continue in my own journey.

He does give some gardening advice in his book, but it is so woven into the story, that I found myself taking notes.  I never take notes!  But, I didn't want to lose the advice, and was afraid I wouldn't find it again without reading the entire story all over.

How much did I love this book?  So much so, that I left it on my bedside table for a few weeks after I read it, just so I could see and touch it, in order to remember the inspiration it gave me.

This my last post until after Christmas, so I wanted to say
Merry Christmas!
And if you don't celebrate Christmas, I wish you a
Happy Holiday

Now it's your turn!  You are invited to join us on the 20th of each month with your own garden book review.  Any book with a garden influence qualifies!  Please visit each of the other participants, too!  :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

A Late Bloom Day Post

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking I don't have any blooms!  Yes, we've had temperatures in the low 20's for several consecutive nights.  And that has really done a number on my roses and other blooming plants.

But the reason I'm late for Garden Bloggers Bloom Day is because I've had company.  Although I do have to admit I almost hated to go outside.  I dreaded seeing the garden in this state.  And I wondered myself if there would be any blooms outside.

Well, most of the rose blooms were frozen on their stems.  Only a few had a fresh bloom or two left.  How these few still look good, I'm not sure.  But I was thrilled to see them.


And the camellias I planted just so I would have blooms in the winter also had their blooms frozen on their stems.  Quite sad.  All except for Green's Blue:

Green's Blue camellia

This camellia is in a very sheltered area, next to a brick wall.  Perhaps that's what saved it.  I'm not sure, but even the buds look like they escaped harm and will bloom as usual.

Anything else blooming?  A few surprises:

Gaillardia, scabiosa, and a confused dianthus.

And, of course, the reliable pansy.

But, you were almost right.  Not much is blooming now.

So, if you're thinking that January and February may be completely bloom-less months, that just may be the case.  I'm actually surprised to say, that's fine with me.  I no longer dread to go out into the garden.  There may be hardly any blooms out there, but that's o.k.  I've realized that the beauty of the garden now is not from flowers, but from form.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Deck the Wall

Sometimes the hardest part of designing a garden is narrowing down the many options.  Take my brick wall, for instance.  This brick wall is part of the winter garden.  A wall with no windows.  And it is one of the first things that you see when you drive up to my house.  So, the gardener in me decided it needed plant material.

I chose to put a holly hedge to cover the width and length of this wall.   It has taken 10+ years for these dwarf Burford hollies to reach the top of the wall, which is about 8 ft tall.  I am thrilled that my wall of holly is finally starting to look the way I envisioned it when I planted it all those years ago.

Now I just have to figure out how to keep it trimmed without falling off the ladder!

Of course, decking a wall with boughs of holly is not the only option.  I decided to go back through my photos to see how many ideas I could find to spruce up a blank wall.

Here is a vine covered trellis on one of my brick walls:

Here's a 'false window', with an ivy frame.  You could also do this with a mirror.  I've also seen pictures of quirky terra cotta faces hung on a wall and framed in the same way.  I bet you could think of lots of different and interesting things to frame with ivy.

It would be very festive, and add just a touch of romance, to use Christmas lighting in a diamond design with ivy growing along it.  (I have just the spot to give this a try!)

Of course, you have the choice of an evergreen ivy, or a deciduous ivy that turns a beautiful shade of red in the fall.

Then again, how about some blooming vines instead of ivy?  Clematis is popular.  A climbing hydrangea would be beautiful if you have the right shade conditions.  Moonflowers would be lovely.  I love my crossvine, but it needs a lot of room to spread:

Instead of vines, you may wish to have a wall filled with climbing roses.

Or, why not try vertical gardening?  You could fill the entire wall, of just hang some small pots:

For another romantic touch, and some soothing background noise, try a wall fountain.

No photo, but I drive by a wall frequently that has a pyracantha espaliered upon it.  It is beautiful.  I would love to find a spot to do that!

I need another wall!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Diamonds and Dirt

Mary let out a startled scream.  "My diamond!"  "My diamond's missing!"  Everyone ran over to her.  Sure enough, her large diamond was missing from the ring she wore on her manicured hands.  Frantically, we began searching.  We went over every square inch of the carpeting.  We shook her dress, hoping by some miracle it would drop out of a fold.  We patted papers.  We moved staplers.

When we had looked everywhere, we did what people do when they don't know where else to look: we scanned the ceiling.  It was no use.  We couldn't find the diamond.

Mary was deflated.  The ring in which the diamond had fallen out of had been her mother's, handed down after her mother's passing.  Not only was the diamond valuable in monetary terms, it was also sentimentally valuable.  We were all saddened by Mary's loss that day.

Then, about two weeks later, another woman let out a startled scream.  "A diamond!"  "There's a diamond in this file!"

Perle d'Or

Of course, we all knew whose diamond it was.  Mary was cheerfully summoned.  I'll never forget it.  The smile on her face shone brighter than the diamond that was miraculously found that day.

Some say that diamonds are a girl's best friend.  Perhaps that is true for some women.  Some women, like Mary, wear diamonds well.  Their hands are soft.  Their nails are the perfect shape, and painted the perfect shade of soft pink.  Their diamonds go perfectly with their never-a-hair-out-of-place coiffure, and a piece of lint would not dare disgrace their dress.

Gruss an Aachen

I am not like Mary.  My fingernails are cut short.  Most of the time there is dirt under them.  I have scratches on my hands (and most of the other parts of my body, too) from rose thorns.  My hair has twigs and leaves sticking out of it more often than not.  And my clothes are generally, at best, described as comfortable.

So, when my husband and I were shopping for diamonds before we got married, I wondered what the jeweler was thinking.  My sweet, loving, adoring husband kept urging me to try on a large diamond.  But I just kept thinking about my hands digging in the dirt, and of Mary losing her diamond.


I chose the smaller stone.

Probably only gardeners can relate to my choosing dirt over diamonds.  (And of having continually dirty fingernails.)  But, I'm happy with my choice.  Look at all the beauties in my garden!  To me, they are just as lovely as any gem.

Flower carpet 'Appleblossom'

Which would you choose?  Diamonds or dirt?

(The photos were taken a few days ago, before this last cold front.)

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dancing the Waltz

It was a holiday party, and my eyes scanned the room.  One couple caught my eye.  More specifically, the woman did.  They were dancing the waltz.  

It was not her dress that was so noticeable.  A black dress, of a modest length, with sleeves made of a sheer material.  Nice, but nothing out of the ordinary.  Diamond rings and pearl earrings sparkled in the soft light.  Her jewelry complimented, but did not compete, with her beauty.   

And yet - some may not have even considered her beautiful.  She had lines of experience written on her face, showing a life filled with both tragedy and laughter.  When she smiled, it was genuine, and it brightened her entire face, but it also exposed teeth that were not perfect, and that had yellowed with age.

Mrs. Dudley Cross

What was it that made this woman so special? 

She was tall.  Large.  Not overweight, but strong, or big-boned, as we used to say.  She could never be described as petite, or delicate, but she long, lean legs, and a waist that curved in ever so slightly.

No, there was something more to this woman.  Something charismatic.  Finally, I realized what was so enchanting.  

She was graceful.  The way in which she danced was light and airy.  Her feet barely met the floor, as if the wind were pushing her along.  She could have been sprinkled with fairy dust, it was that magical.  She danced the waltz with her husband, but he was just a frame to her picture of charm.  

Generally, graceful is not something one sees every day.  But there is a rose in my garden that is just as graceful, just as lovely, and just as mesmerizing as the woman that was waltzing.

The rose 'Mrs. Dudley Cross' is not tiny, or petite.  She is large, growing to 8 ft tall and wide, although she would still be described as shapely.  Her blooms nod down, almost the way in which Princess Diana always seemed to shyly bow her head.  Her color is delicate, as if she is innocently blushing.  Her almost thornless branches are light and airy.  She has a charismatic pull to her, and I find myself drawn to her fragrant blooms.  And yes, she is still blooming in my garden.

She would benefit from a strong, dark, solid hedge behind her.  When the wind blew, it would seem as if they were dancing.  I presume they would be dancing the waltz.

If you want to know more about Mrs. Dudley Cross, click HERE.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Presents Under the Trees

Do you buy yourself a Christmas present?  Sometimes all those pretties are just so hard to resist!  At my house, the Christmas tree is up and decorated.  And there's not one present under the tree for me.  :(

So, - I bought myself a present!

Actually, I bought two!!!

You see, now is the time to buy camellias from nurseries and garden centers.  And I just couldn't resist! So, I purchased a camellia 'Cleopatra' and a camellia 'Kramer's Supreme'.  Cleopatra is a beautiful light pink sasanqua camellia, so it will bloom in the fall, while Kramer's Supreme is a red japonica camellia, which will bloom in early spring.

Camellia sasanqua Kanjiro

Pictured here is the camellia 'Kanjiro', blooming now in my garden.  You can easily see why I truly needed more camellias!   They are a present that keeps on giving.  Their colorful blooms light up the shade, warm up the cold, and decorate the garden for winter.  Their evergreen leaves shine throughout the year.  And even the bees appreciate a shrub that blooms in winter, while everything else is slumbering.

Besides, I was just trying to save St. Nick from having to squeeze them down the chimney!

Of course, these two presents for me, by me, are not actually going under the Christmas tree.  They'll be planted under the trees in my winter garden, where next year I'll be gifted with the presence of their blooms.

So, while I may have presents under the trees in the winter garden, technically, I still don't have any presents under the Christmas tree!

Really, I should buy myself something to put under there!  ;)

Have you bought yourself any plant presents lately?

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Comfort Food

When I think of winter comfort food, chili comes to mind.  Ooey-gooey macaroni and cheese.  Bubbling hot lasagna.  

Salad?  Uh, not so much.

But, that's what's growing in my garden. 

Five different types of lettuce:  
(Lolla Rossa leaf lettuce, Paris Island Cos romaine lettuce, Tom Thumb butterhead lettuce, Salad Bowl lettuce, and Yugoslavian Red butterhead lettuce)



All together, they make a wonderful salad.

It may not be the usual winter comfort food, but I take comfort in the thought that my salad was freshly picked just 10 minutes prior to eating it.  Surely, that does a body good! 

So, my new winter comfort food is - salad!

I'm joining The Gardening Blog for  Garden Bloggers Harvest Day.

Monday, December 3, 2012


I just love it when spring blooms get confused and bloom in winter.  This makes some gardeners worried, but the weather here is so mild, and so many plants get confused, that I've learned that it usually does no harm.  They will usually just go dormant again when/if the weather gets colder and then bloom again in the spring.  Besides, a bloom is a bloom, and something to be cherished, whether the bloom is in or out of season.

Something else to be cherished is the garden blogging community.  I just love that there are other garden lovers in which to converse with, learn from, relate to, and befriend.  Sometimes they surprise me, too.

I got one such surprise from Sherry of If Only Sweat Were Irrigation.  Sherry has bestowed upon me the Beautiful Blogger Award.  Sherry's garden is full of roses, too.  She gardens in Florida, which is different from growing roses in Texas.

Of course, I am required to answer a few questions:

1. What would you do if you won $10,000 tomorrow?  
     I'd do the happy dance, then run out and buy the garden ornament I've been bugging my husband about for months now.
2. Best lifetime moment? 
     Laughing with my children.
3. Are you happy? 
     Always.  Well, almost always.
4. Do you prefer Facebook or Twitter?  
     Neither.  I'm old-fashioned that way.
5. If you could change something in your life what would it be? 
     I'd purchase the afore-mentioned garden ornament.  (Just kidding, honey!)  :)
6. What is your biggest vice/habit in life? 
     The garden.  It makes me wish for more, like that afore-mentioned - well, you know.
7. What is a good point about you? A negative point? 
     I love to be challenged, thus - I'm easily bored.
8. What is your most embarrassing lifetime moment? 
     I have so many, I usually just shrug them off.
9. What is your favorite flower? 
10. What's your biggest love in life? 
     My family.

I also want to mention Jason at Garden in a City, and Ms. Grubbyfungus from Three Pea Homestead.  Both of them awarded my blog the Sunshine award (Jason several months previous, Ms. Grubbyfungus recently), but since I had already received this award, I must decline.  But, still, I appreciate the thought.

A big Thank You from me to Sherry, Jason, and Ms. Grubbyfungus.  Instead of passing the award along, I would love instead to tell every garden blogger how much their friendship, knowledge, comments, and passion for gardening mean to me.

Thank you, all.
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