Stunning garden path

This is the most gorgeous walkway I have ever seen. I saw it in my Facebook Newsfeed, posted by the Raw for Beauty page. It has a Sixties feel, don’t you think? Yet, it looks contemporary too! It’s a work of art!

I have to figure out a way to get this done! Love the colors, the floral bursts and spirals. It probably would cost a fortune, but I am going to try begin to collect and stow away materials that could be used later. Definitely worth getting some estimates for having it done. Simply stunning! Any landscapers out there need website or social media services? I am willing to barter!

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Master Gardeners are awesome!

I am very lucky to work in very close proximity to the Sussex County Master Gardeners, who are a volunteer corps of Cooperative Extension. I am not sure how many are in currently active in the county, but judging from their monthly meetings, we have more than 100 active volunteers. Each talented individual brings something unique to their volunteer service. We have Master Gardeners who write press releases, others who do training of staff and administrative work. Many go out into the community and teach at libraries and garden centers. Others answer phones on our seasonal helpline, and a large portion work in a teaching garden, known as the Demonstration Garden.  Recently my office moved toward the back of the building and my window overlooks the hydrangea section. I can see University of Delaware’s blue and gold tent, under which many free or very low cost workshops are offered during nice weather.

The Demonstration Garden is open to the public, who benefit from the clearly marked flowers, annuals, trees, shrubs and specialty attractions. Each year, something in the garden is added and changed. A big emphasis in the last few years or so has been on Accessible Gardening, or “Making Gardening Smart and Easy” by incorporating raised beds, pulleys and the  many tools that are available to encourage gardening at any age. I can still bend over and kneel to weed and dig, but it is going to get harder as I age. Good to know these resources are around. Nothing should stop anyone from gardening!  Sussex County Master Gardeners do however, have one special day, their Open House, this year on Saturday, July 13, when the Master Gardeners will be there in force, to answer questions, conduct workshops, sharpen tools and share their enthusiasm and knowledge. There is something for everyone; a children’s garden, with fun things to touch, taste and smell, a shade garden, and if I am not mistaken, a beautiful contemplative garden too.

When I retire, and if they’ll have me, I will sign up for the intensive and very thorough training offered by both University of Delaware and Delaware State University’s experts.  In the meantime, I am content to drift past the flowers and sneak a couple of photos on my lunch hour! If you are in the area on July 13, you can too! Here’s more information on the Sussex Master Gardener Open House and here is a link to pictures I took at the 2012 event.

Photos taken with my old Nikon D50, kit lens 55-200mm

Walk through the shade tunnel
Walk through the shade tunnel
Each year the Master Gardeners who tend to this demo garden, add garden art. Love this bird bath!
Each year the Master Gardeners who tend to this demo garden, add garden art. Love this bird bath!
They don't call it bee balm for nothing! These are a pretty shade of  magenta
They don’t call it bee balm for nothing!  Two are busy collecting. These Monarda are a pretty shade of magenta!
A perfect spot to contemplate, read, rest and smile
A perfect spot to contemplate, read, rest and smile
The view from my office window. Hydrangeas!
The view from my office window. Hydrangeas!
All plants are labeled with the common and official Latin name. Those plants that are native to Delaware have a special designation at the bottom right.
All plants are labeled with the common and official Latin name. Those plants that are native to Delaware have a special designation at the bottom right.
This bee has a pollen mother load on its legs!
This bee has a pollen mother load on its legs!
Touch and smell  - part of the Children's Garden
Touch and smell – part of the Children’s Garden
A bold burst of red, just showered by the sprinkler system!
A bold burst of red, just showered by the sprinkler system!
An Acuba and fern share a shady spot
An Acuba and fern share a shady spot
Coral Bells
Coral Bells. As an educational Demonstration Garden, all plants are clearly named.
Herb Garden. Think they'd mind if I snipped a few sprigs here and there?
Herb Garden. Think they’d mind if I snipped a few sprigs here and there?
The wonderful world of bees!
The wonderful world of bees!

What kind of hydrangea is this?

Calling all experts!

I am not a hydrangea expert, just a big, big fan of them!

Three years ago, we took down some gangly, ugly and very spotty red tip shrubs and in their place, we planted a row of what we thought were white hydrangeas. At least that is what the labels said at Lowes, where we made a purchase and aligned them along a short stretch of split-rail fence.

fenceline of hydrangeas
My plans are to mark this area off with stone (wire grass is a problem here) and dress with mulch.

We thought we bought seven, identical white hydrangeas. Two at the far end turned out to be blue lacecaps. Not exactly my plan, but I don’t mind surprises. But the one closest to my garden gate has an altogether different look than any of my other hydrangeas.

The first year, my husband kept mowing it down so it never bloomed. Last year in 2012 it looked like this:

Pink at last! Well, sort of!
Pink at last! Well, sort of!

I was delighted to finally get a pink hydrangea. Sorta, kinda. The pink was very slight, not at all over powering. To my eye, it had a very vintage look and the pink played off well against the vanilla white background color. I loved the old-fashioned delicacy to the blooms. One might say it had even Victorian aesthetic

This year, 2013, the same hydrangea surfaced with a whole new look:

This is the same plant as above, and just as delicate, but now in shades of powder blue
This is the same plant as above, and just as delicate, but now in shades of powder blue

Can anyone comment on what variety of hydrangea this is (as Lowe’s label was way, way off)? Even though it isn’t white, I quite like the surprise and its evolving colors. My soil apparently has quite a bit of aluminum in it, as any pink or rose hydrangeas I have tried to grow have all converted over to blue, and these are my deepest, most stunning blues. It is much harder to turn blue into pink, as you must actually subtract aluminum from the soil. Adding acid or alkaline amendments to the soil really can’t change blue over to pink. I haven’t made any cuttings for indoors as I want it to continue to grow, but it is a variety I wouldn’t mind propagating.

I rather like my mystery plant!

Nice neighbors

We have some new neighbors who have moved next door to us this spring. We’ve been keeping an eye on their mailbox and house as they travel back-and-forth from their old location. They are a lovely couple, and they surprised us with Brazilian coffee and candy! Delicious!

We didn’t have anything quite so exotic to offer in return, but this morning we dug up the first of our red potatoes to share our harvest from three potato plants! with our nice neighbors.

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Blue and white bouquet

Why is it that I wake up on a Saturday morning even earlier than I do when I have to get up for the work week? Rather than thrash around under the covers trying to get back to sleep, I decided not to fight it, and went out int to garden. Still in my PJ’s, and with a light dousing of mosquito repellant, I shuffled outside with kitchen shears looking for puffy candidates. I have about 15 different hydrangea shrubs growing in my yard. Many still not mature enough to use for cuttings (I want them to grow, grow!) But, I singled out a few blooms to harvest and added some lemon balm and my favorite wildflower for arrangements, Pearly Everlasting, as accents.

So here’s a device portrait of my morning labor on the kitchen counter! Gardens are meant to bring indoors!

A bouquet of hydrangeas
Five different varieties here, of hydrangeas, with some lemon balm for trailers and some white pearly everlasting wildflowers for contrast

 

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Baby the rain must fall

Get out your rain slicker, grab your camera and enjoy the garden!

In Delaware, June 2013 has produced record rainfall. Makes going out to the garden a bit of an annoyance, but don’t let a few (okay, a lot) of raindrops deter you from enjoying what you love!  After a rain event, your garden is particularly beautiful.

The addition of freshly-laid raindrops adds a sparkle and glimmer to vegetation and provides a new appreciation for how all the elements work in concert!  This afternoon, we had one of those downpours that arrived sandwiched between sunny blue skies. Perfect petal posing conditions! Now if I could only capture that rainbow!

I have taken my fair share of straight on flower portraits. I submitted hundreds to the new HGTVGarden website and suggested about 20 or so for consideration as their “pic of the week.” But it was a chance photo of rosebush leaves, adorned only by recent raindrops, that earned the editors’ attention and me a $100 prize, which I immediately spent at a local garden store!  This was the photo:

Rain drops on rose leaves
Rain drops on rose leaves

This afternoon, once I saw the sun peep out, I made a dash and took these photos. I used a 85mm micro lens, but I could have easily used my kit lens (55mm-200mm)  and zoom in from a distance, using the flower setting. I get very good results using a shallow depth of field and stepping back from the subject and zooming to 200mm focal length. Certainly, a micro or macro helps! Most importantly, experiment when you photograph your garden. Take photos at different times of the day. A bright sunny day at noon is not necessarily the best condition for nature photography. Vary your angle and don’t be afraid to get close…or wet!

Here are the photos from today. The raindrops add the sparkle and interest on what might otherwise be an ordinary flower photo!

Knock out rose bloom past its prime gets some additional visual energy with raindrops
Knock out rose bloom past its prime gets some additional visual energy with raindrops
A red maple leaf intercepts the rain
A red maple leaf intercepts the rain
Thirsty lace cap hydrangea drinks up all it can!
Thirsty lace cap hydrangea drinks up all it can!
A raindrop dangles on a delicate coral belle
A raindrop dangles on a delicate coral belle
A Knock Out rosebud is bathed in June rain
A Knock Out rosebud is bathed in June rain
Oak leaf hydrangea blooms glisten in water and white!
Oak leaf hydrangea blooms glisten in water and white!
A bay laurel leaf has thrived in this rainy June month
A bay laurel leaf has thrived in this rainy June month
A violet lacecap hydrangea dances in the rain
A violet lacecap hydrangea dances in the rain
Heavy rains can knock off the blooms of a Knock Out rose bush, but this blooming bud looks beautiful in water beads
Heavy rains can knock off the blooms of a Knock Out rose bush, but this blooming bud looks beautiful in water beads

George Harrison’s memorial garden in the UK

The Beatle I admire the most was George Harrison, and my affection for him grew when I learned he was an avid gardener. Olivia Harrison recently posted news of a contemplative garden created in his honor. This is a permanent garden, unlike the one that appeared at the Chelsea Garden Show in 2008, which was also spectacular! And here is another link about the Chelsea tribute garden! And this page has some great videos: http://georgeharrison.com/garden/exhibit/

I particularly love this free- form bench.
I particularly love this free- form bench.source: bhaktivedantamanor.co.uk

This new garden is a meditative garden, according to the media release on George Harrison’s website Do you see the engraving on the left side of the bench? It says, “Now I’m so happy I found you” from his beautiful song on the White Album, Long, Long, Long.

The website describes how the garden was created and provides a diagram of the planning and planting. It looks as though they recycled the Pavilion from the Chelsea garden into this new one. His son Dhani once said in an interview that his father would get lost in his gardening, so intense was his concentration that it would get dark and dinner cold, because George was so focused at the task at hand. I can relate to that. I can’t tell you how many times I put something in the stove or oven, and then ran out to do a little weeding or pruning, only to get carried away and come back to a burnt pizza or soup!

It is a long-term goal of mine to add features, colors, and flowers inspired by George’s music, lyrics, and favorite garden practices. I hope and have suggested that the Harrison estate or The Material World Foundation might put together a pictorial garden book, or even produce a line of garden products inspired by George, his favorite flowers, art, by his lyrics, colors of the 60s and 70s – the proceeds could help promote horticulture in areas or communities where a little color, beauty and contemplation is needed. Hey if Martha Stewart can sell spades and garden art, I think it would be great to have inspiration from a man and gardener who really felt the passion for digging in the dirt and adding beauty and life to our lives!