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Dear Friend and Gardener

Bugs and Butterflies in My Garden


Coneflower with bee

“Chances are, you have never thought of your garden — indeed, of all of the space on your property — as a wildlife preserve that represents the last chance we have for sustaining plants and animals that were once common throughout the U.S.” Douglas Tallamy.

Most of us welcome birds and butterflies to our gardens, but don’t spend much time thinking about bugs, except for pesky mosquitoes and Japanese beetles. Yet, even bugs, and there are hundreds of species of bug in our local landscape, are essential to our local ecosystem.

When we lived on 60 acres in Heath I didn’t worry about having a healthy ecosystem. After all, we had those 60 acres that included wild fields and woodlands to feed the birds and butterflies. My intent in any planting was just to bring some of the best pollinator plants close to the house so that I could enjoy watching pollinators at work.

Our move to Greenfield meant we had an opportunity to create our own wildlife preserve on our small lot. We also had to consider how to handle a large wet area. I was thrilled with the idea of making a garden that would welcome and support the butterflies and bees – and the bugs. My husband was happy that this kind of garden eliminated most of the lawn.

The new lot was mostly grass, but this was not fine turf and I was happy to see the lawn was filled with clover and violets which provide lots of early pollen for bees. It was a happy day for me when I realized what some consider lawn weeds are really important nectar plants.

Some of the pollinator plants that I brought with me from Heath include: spring blooming foam flower and irises; summer blooming coneflower, Russian sage, bee balm and yarrow; and fall blooming asters.

Yarrow and coneflowers make my hellstrip a pollinators diner.

Yarrow and coneflowers make my hellstrip a pollinators diner.

Then I turned once again to my favorite expert on sustaining wildlife, Douglas Tallamy, Chair of the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware. He is the author of the brilliant and inspiring book Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens. He also has a website, www.bringingnaturehome.net with lots of information and lists of plants that will help you bring nature to your home garden.

Everyone loves butterflies, but I never thought of them as pollinators. They are not like honeybees who have the equipment to pack pollen into ‘baskets’ on their knees, but even with their smooth and spindly butterfly legs they do pollinate plants. Butterflies will welcome nectar plants but they really count on host plants, those plants where they can lay their eggs, confident that the hatching caterpillars will be able to eat that plant.

Host plants for butterfly caterpillars can be quite specific. We all know that monarch butterfly caterpillars need milkweed. Other plants for other butterflies include spice bush or Lindera benzoin, clover, snapdragons, sunflowers, sweet fennel, parsley, dill, carrots, as well as sycamore, river birch, chokecherry, oak, poplar, locust and willow trees. Of course, there are many other host plants for the many species of butterfly.

In our new garden we planted river birch, chokecherry and spicebush as butterfly host plants. We also planted orange milkweed, Asclepius tuberosa, a smaller showier milkweed than the kind found in the wild. Since host plants are so specific for butterflies there is no way I can support many species, but I am doing what I can.

We are not purists, but we have concentrated on using native plants. Native plants and native bugs evolved at the same time over centuries. Native bugs know exactly the kind of greenery they need to thrive. And the native plants know they can spare some foliage to support the bugs without harming themselves. I do not get upset when I find insect damage on my viburnams. I know they can spare a few leaves.

That does not mean I don’t go around with my soapy water to collect and drown the Japanese beetles that are starting to appear. Japanese beetles are non-native bugs, but they seem to enjoy roses and raspberries and my yellow twig dogwood.  Nature is not neat.

Strictly speaking, spiders are not bugs. But they eat bugs. I may not be very aware of their presence because many spiders are tiny, but big or small, all spiders are welcome in my garden.

We have planted the eye catching native buttonbush with its bottlebrush-type flowers, and summersweet, Clethra alnifolia, with its fragrant white panicles of  summer bloom. Both welcome bees and butterflies to sip their nectar, and neither minds wet sites. With those large shrubs I achieve two goals.

We have planted other excellent perennial pollinator plants that like or tolerate wet sites. Sanguisorba canadensis, American burnet, has tall 4-5 foot flowering spikes of flowers beginning in midsummer, as does culver’s root or Veronicastrum virginicum. Possibly more common is Joe Pye Weed, with its pink-ish flower heads.

We have not completed our planting plan, but are well on our way to supporting butterflies, bees and other bugs. We are well on our way to creating a garden that is lovely and a joy. We are also learning many lessons along the way, another joy.

Between the Rows   July 18, 2016

On the Road in Minneapolis and Environs

Amy Murphy, me and Rebecca Warner

Amy Murphy, me and Rebecca Warner

For the past three days I’ve been travelling around the Minneapolis-St. Paul area with 60 other garden bloggers including my sister Massachusetts bloggers Amy Murphy (OF GARDENS) and Rebecca (THE SUSTAINABLE-ENOUGH GARDEN). We’ve seen beautiful plants, stunning design, and some real surprises.

Prairie Dock Leaves

Prairie Dock Leaves at Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

The enormous Prairie Dock leaves we saw in a field at the Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden were among the many amazing plants we saw on our tour.

Red Baneberry

Red Baneberry

We found red baneberry in the wetland area of the the Wildflower garden, but we saw it in other gardens, as well. It is very poisonous!

Vera's Garden

Vera’s Garden

Vera’s Garden on a steep, erosion prone back was turned into pollinator’s heaven by volunteers who worked at Vera’s Cafe. The cafe is gone, but the garden remains which keeps the bees, butterflies and other pollinators very happy.

Vera's Garden

Vera’s Garden

Some times wild looking and sometimes elegant, Vera’s Garden is right in the center of Minneapolis.

Scree Garden

Scree Garden

Lee and Jerry Shannon have many garden beds in their 2/3 acre including this unusual scree bed. Scree is a term for gravel, so this is not quite a rock garden, but it is not planted in a deep soil bed either.

Pollinators on dill

Pollinators on dill

The Shannon garden includes many pollinator plants like this dill. Buzzing away.

Ordway Japanese Garden

Ordway Japanese Garden

Too little time was available for the Ordway Japanese Garden. We were having fun but we were on a tight schedule. Even the koi seemed to feel the rush. They were leaping about.

formal vegetable garden

Squire House Gardens formal vegetable garden

I have never seen such a formal and productive vegetable garden as Martin Stern’s Squire House Garden. But still more delight is found along the curving paths.

Weeping asparagus

Weeping asparagus

Looks like asparagus, but how could this climbing, weeping thing be aparagus?  I don’t know, but it is! Weeping asparagus at the Squire House Gardens.

Woutrina DeRaad mosaic blackbird

Woutrina deRaad mosaic blackbird

This mosaic sculpture of a blackbird was only one of the many mosaic sculptures created by Woutrina DeRaad and arranged throughout her amazing gardens. This garden was the last of the 22 gardens/nurseries we visited during our three day tour and you will be hearing more about them over the next few months.

Garden tours, whether local or in more distant locales always provide food for thought, and new ways to handle old problems. I know that I was particularly inspired by two of the gardens and I’ll fill you in soon.

Here’s What Permaculture Looks Like


Nancee Bershof’s Bioshelter in the center of her permaculture garden

Bill Mollison, considered the Father of Permaculture, said it is “. . . the harmonious integration of landscape and people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.”

Nancee Bershof became interested in permaculture after her husband’s death, and her departure from medicine. She was looking for new interests and permaculture fascinated her. She took a course that led her down a new road, supplying food, and non-material needs like community and friendship.

Nancy Bershof

Nancee Bershof

She moved to a new house and property eight years ago, setting about creating a permaculture landscape. Using  Mollison’s description she has created gardens that do provide food, energy, shelter and some non-tangible benefits as well. Of course, starting any new garden does not happen in one year

The house sits fairly close to the road, so most of the acre of her property lies in back of the house where Bershof began my tour by showing me around the personal ornamental garden with its shady covered deck, and a sunny patio ringed by more shade. This garden had changed radically two days earlier when a large limb of an old and very tall willow came down during the night. While Bershof told me that she planned to leave this arching limb as a work of art, it was clear that it changed the garden. Where there had been shade there was now bright sun.

We then walked through the gate into what was a very different sunny garden that gave me my first real understanding of that a permaculture garden looks like. Bershof said  that she did not create this alone. Dave Jacke, author of EdibleForestGardens, created a site plan. “That plan got me started, but not everything happened as planned.” That sounded right to me. I have never known a plan that was carried out in every detail.

She also said “Esthetics are important to me. What looks good, feels good. I wanted it to be lovely.”

The view from the gate was not that of manicured borders, but it was lovely. There was a multiplicity of garden beds, but also a greenhouse in the center of the space. Bershof began by walking me through the gardens, but made me wait for a tour of the Bioshelter.

An important element of permaculture is the planting of perennial crops. It is easy to name off raspberries, blueberries, peaches and other fruit bearing shrubs and trees, as well as many herbs that we grow in our gardens. It is not so easy to come up with perennial vegetables. And yet they exist.

Perennial sea kale

Perennial sea kale

Bershof pointed out the sea kale, perennial arugula, skirrit, ground spinach and Turkish rocket. We nibbled as we went along and there was nothing weird tasting that would deter most people from eating them.

Tom Sullivan whose business is Pollinators Welcome helped Bershof lay out quadrants of pollinator beds that would attract bees and other pollinators to the garden. These beds teach two lessons. Pollinator beds need to have masses of any particular pollinator plant to make them easier for pollinators to find, and they need different varieties of plants to provide food all season long. Many of these plants, like bee balm, are also native to our area.

Companion planting of asparagus, basil and tomatoes

Companion planting of asparagus, basil and tomatoes

We walked past a perennial asparagus bed that was interplanted with annual tomatoes and basil. Bershof explained that this was a good companion planting, much like the Three Sisters garden she grows composed of corn, beans and squash. Unfortunately, she was battling the moles who were eating her corn roots, killing them and leaving the bean vines no way of climbing.

From this garden I could see a large planting of Jerusalem artichokes, and fruit trees including peaches, persimmons and paw paws. We were also at the chicken yard where eight hens are currently penned although they are free range when garden crops are not at risk.

The chicken house is a part of the Bioshelter, which is much more than a greenhouse. Keith Salzburg of Regenerative Design designed the building which includes the large greenhouse. Right now raised beds hold cucumbers and a tall fig tree. Covered bins dug into the ground contain worm farms that handle kitchen scraps. There are also the beginnings of a hydroponic project.

The long interior wall of the greenhouse is lined with black barrels filled with water that heats up when the sun is shining and then moderates temperatures when outside temperatures fall.

The other side of that wall is the tool shed where many well kept tools are hung. The third and final section of the bioshelter is the hen house.

There is separate space for feed. The rest of the space has egg boxes, a ramp to the outdoors and an automatic chicken door that opens at 6 am and closes at 9 pm after the chickens have tucked themselves in for the night. Bershof was especially pleased with this particular labor saver.

The bioshelter is a part of Bershof’s goal to use less water, less energy and have a smaller carbon footprint.

As we concluded my tour Bershof showed me what she calls the community garden, where friends have their own plots. “Right from the start, one of my goals was to share this site. I didn’t want to garden alone, but to have space where we could work together.” I think that counts as the important non-material need for sharing and friendship.

Between the Rows    July 11, 2016

All the Presidents’ Gardens

All the President's Gardens by Marta McDowell

All the President’s Gardens by Marta McDowell

I just finished reading All The Presidents’Gardens which gave me a whole new perspective on Fourth of July celebrations. Our views of our presidents sometimes take the form of some character defining story, like young George Washington and his cherry tree, or singular achievement like Thomas Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase or Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal.  In All The President’s Gardens: Madison’s Cabbages to Kennedy’s Roses – How the White House Grounds Have Grown With America Marta McDowell gives us an engaging history of changes in our nation through the history of the White House Gardens.

It all begins, of course, with George Washington who never planted a garden for the White House because it did not exist when he took office. However, it was President Washington who signed an agreement, after contentious discussions, brokered by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison that named a ten acre site on the Potomac as the new capital city. Washington also appointed the architect Pierre L’Enfant to design the new city, and he himself chose the site for the White House on a rise with expansive views. Unhappily, Washington died before the White House was built or gardens planted.

Washington and Jefferson had their country estates and a passion for plants. John Adams was a farmer and he was the first to occupy an unfinished White House, and that was near the end of his term of office. He was defeated in a bitter race by Jefferson who spent most of his two terms concentrating on new buildings for the capital, and larger landscapes than those surrounding the still unfinished White House.

When James Madison took office the White House grounds were described as muddy, “disgusting scenes.” Madison began planting and the oldest plant list for the executive mansion is dated March 31, 1809. Flowering shrubs and trees, pines, hollies, lilacs and roses were ordered and planted along with a substantial list of vegetables for the president’s table. Some of those vegetables might have been bought from the Shakers (United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Coming) who were making a good business of raising seed and marketing it in seed packets, a technique they invented. Things were beginning to shape up when the British burned the president’s house and destroyed the gardens in 1814.

John Quincy Adams found his single term as president so trying that he turned to the gardens for respite. He worked with John Ousley, the new head gardener, and found a place where he could please himself, not the demands of the political world.

Marta McDowell

Marta McDowell

McDowell gives full credit to the head gardeners with a special section titled First Gardeners from Thomas Magraw who served under James Madison, and John Ousley who served from 1825-1852. John Watt served under Lincoln and it was he who fudged his books to help Mrs. Lincoln who always spent way beyond her allowed dress budget. Henry Pfister was another head gardener who worked for a quarter century, caring for the great greenhouses that provided flowers for White House arrangements, for Grover Cleveland’s wedding to Frances Folsom, and provided a beautiful welcoming space for Ida McKinley who suffered from epilepsy.

So many stories. Teddy Roosevelt brought his rambunctious family and their pets including Peter Rabbit who earned a state funeral in the garden.

It was Helen Taft who supported the plantings of Japanese cherry trees along the tidal basin – a project that took time and great cooperation with Japan to bring the project to fruition.

President Wilson had sheep on the White House Lawn when there was a shortage of men to mow

President Wilson had sheep on the White House Lawn when there was a shortage of men to mow p photo courtesy of Library of Congress

The White House gardens did their bit during the World Wars. Gardener William Reeves was gardener-shepherd to Wilson’s flock of sheep on the White House Lawns. A victory garden took the place of sections of lawn during WWII.

Harry Truman watched while rolls and rolls of sod were laid out around a cherry tree in full bloom that was planted in preparation for the arrival of the Queen of the Netherlands. Eisenhower put in a putting green and arranged to have helicopters land on the South Lawn.

Many of us may have our own memories of The Rose Garden being installed by President Kennedy in 1962, or President Carter bringing trees from his Georgia farm. Michelle Obama put her stamp on the garden in 2009 by making a food garden that includes varieties from Jefferson’s garden at Monticello. This garden was intended as a demonstration garden that would help teach children about healthy eating. School children came to work in the garden to gain an understanding of the food they ate. Bees were added to the garden as well as a pollinator bed. All of it makes a great teaching garden.

In addition to the excellent section on First Gardeners, McDowell gives us an extensive list of plants grown in the gardens.

My own mantra about gardens (and life) is that Everything Changes. This engaging book gives us the history behind the changes in the White House gardens, and perhaps makes us wonder what changes will come in the future.

In this year with its own extraordinary presidential campaign, I want to stress that All The President’s Gardens is not about politics but a history of garden styles, trends, and needs of the White House, reflecting the styles and tenor of the times told in a charming conversational way.

At one time there were great greenhouse for food and  cut flower production, as well as a beautiful space to visit.  Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

At one time there were great greenhouse for food and cut flower production, as well as a beautiful space to visit.  1889 Photo courtesy of Library of Congress

Between the Rows  July  2, 2016

Shadow Study

Shadow. My husband and I have not been in complete agreement about how shady our back garden is. The question is how will our shade loving plants fare if the garden is not as shady as I think it is. Hence, our Shadow Study.

Shadow at 8 am

Shadow at 8 am

Shadow is not only an afternoon phenomenon. Our house is sited directly facing east which means the house throws  a long shadow in the morning.

Shadow 9 am

Shadow 9 am

The shadow is moving, but the South Border and most of the North Border is still in full shadow.

Shadow at 10:15 am

Shadow at 10:15 am

At 10:15 most of the planting beds in the back garden are in the sun.  Half of the south border is also in the sun.

Shadow 11:30 am

Shadow 11:30 am

The back garden is essentially in full  sun, although a portion of the North Border is shaded by our neighbor’s maple tree, and a portion of the South Border is shaded by our lilac tree.

Shadow 12:30 pm

Shadow 12:30 pm

The Shadow at 12:30 pm. Full sun in the back garden.

Shadow at 1:20 pm

Shadow at 1:20 pm

The whole back garden  is in full sun. This photo show how the shadow is beginning to creep across the Hugel Project in the west.

Shadow 3:40 pm

Shadow 3:40 pm

The western edges of current beds are beginning to be touched by shade.

Shadow at 5:25 pm

Shadow at 5:25 pm

We have come full circle. The back garden is again in full shade.  My numbers are not precise but we can comfotrably say that from 10 am til 5 pm the back garden is in full sun except for the northwestern corner which gets shady earlier.  That is 7 hours of sun. The rule is  that 6 hours of sun counts for full sun on plant cultivation cards. My husband is right, BUT (a wifely but) I want to say that plants can be very adaptable.

The Shadow Study has been done when the days are the longest in the year. We didn’t get the Study done on the Solstice, but maybe we will do another study at the Fall Equinox and see what we learn then.

These photos also show  that work is moving apace on our kitchen/bath/laundry room renovation. Give us another month and the garden will be  glorious and so will the kitchen, etc.

Choose Plantings for Your Favorite View

Section of the view from my dining room, hydrangeas, roses and lilac

Section of the view from my dining room, hydrangeas, roses and lilac

Do you have a favorite chair? Is it near a window? Does your dining table sit near a window? Do you enjoy the view from your window?

Oddly, our new house in Greenfield does not have many windows that look out at the garden. Only one upstairs window (in my office) gives a view of the back yard. The kitchen window is too high to see much of anything except the most westerly area of the garden. Fortunately there is the dining room window which looks out onto a section of the South Border, which will ultimately be the most floriferous view.

Last week my husband and I were having dinner and admiring the view of newly blooming roses, I was so happy to have this joyful view. Then I realized that the view from a window is not usually a part of garden planning or design. Yet a view that will please, whether flowery or serene green, can give us hours of pleasure.

I am looking forward to enjoying a better view of my garden. We are about to embark on a kitchen renovation which will not only give me a kitchen where I can cook and bake more easily and efficiently, it will also give me new windows that will allow a fuller view of the garden. The windows will also help define and frame an area I might want to concentrate on as I plan new plantings. They will give me another chance to create a beautiful view from inside the house.

When planning a vignette, a limited view of a small space, you have the advantage that accrues to a small space. You can plant something special that might be quite expensive, but can also be the star of this relatively small space. I’m already thinking about an intersectional peony like Bartzella.  Intersectional or Itoh peonies are hybrids of herbaceous and tree peonies. An Itoh peony would be ideal because it would have strong stems that keep the flower heads high and don’t get beaten down in the rain like herbaceous peonies. In addition, because of because its primary and secondary buds, it has a long bloom season.

If flowers are what you long for, but no longer feel up to a whole garden full of demanding flowers, it is still possible to create a flowery view. You might consider an annual bed. Just a few flats of starts will give you a riot of color. I can imagine tall annuals with gentle colors like sweet peas, cleome or cosmos or the brilliant colors of zinnias. These can be fronted with low growing annuals in companionable colors like blue Felicia daisies, pale marguerite daisies, osteospurmums (another daisy-like plant) in shades of pink, purple, blue or white, and salvias.

An annual bed might also be an experimental bed, an opportunity to try out different flowers, colors and flower forms. Starting this kind of bed will not be costly, and will not chain you to a choice, because all the frost-bitten plants will end up in the compost pile at season’s end. Just remember this is an experiment so be sure to keep a few notes so you can repeat the flowers you like next year.

A different way to have flowers in your view is to plan a perennial selection that will give you one or two flowers for each season. For example you could begin with daffodils, then have astilbe, achillea and daylilies. Dahlias have a long season of bloom, especially if you keep cutting them for bouquets. The more you cut, the longer the season and the greater the bloom. Some smaller dahlias will begin blooming in midsummer but you can have dahlias with all their shades of color and form until the first heavy frost. One autumnal choice that surprised me was the Japanese anemone that blooms into the fall. And of course, there are asters and mums, which also have many colors and flower forms.

You could plant for the birds. Perhaps you could have a small tree like a dwarf crabapple near the window along with a bird feeder and a birdbath. An expert birdwatcher once told me that the sound of water is the best way of attracting birds. The tree branches and foliage would give the birds protection and shelter if they became alarmed. My eyesight is such that I really need to be able to get pretty close to birds if I am going to learn to identify them.

In my new garden I am concentrating on having more green than color. Green is not a single color and a green view could include bright shades like golden threadleaf chamaesyparis contrasting with dark green mugo pine. Perennials like hostas are available in dozens of shades of green from brilliant chartreuse to dark green, to blue-green. Variegated hostas will also provide a symphony of greens brightened with shades of white.

Garden art on Hawley Tour

Garden art on Hawley Tour

Another view could be a piece of art set against shrubs and flowers. I’ve never managed this, but I did get to the point in Heath where I demanded neatness of the view of the backyard. Wheelbarrows, lawn mowers, buckets of weeds, all were forbidden to mar the view of pink, white and green kiwi foliage rambling high on the shed wall above the roses. Serenity was what I wanted with my first cup of coffee in the morning.

So, what view do you have that pleases you? Flowers?  Greenery? Statuary?

What view would you like to have? When will you get it?  If not now, when?

Between the Rows  June 25, 2016


Vignettes of Greenfield Garden Tour Gardens

Front Garden

Front Garden

The Annual Greenfield Garden Club Tour gives us the opportunity to see many styles of garden to inspire us, and give our imaginations something new to consider. This serene front yard planting belongs to Andrea Hall.

Serene fountain

Serene fountain

Andrea also set up a handsome fountain in a backyard nook by the back door that follows through  on a circular/curving theme in other sections of the garden. Notice all the hostas which she loves.

Grove of containers

Grove of containers

Of course, some gardeners take a very different approach to the garden approach. Bill Benson has over 100 containers filled with annuals, herbs, vines, and vegetables.



And yet, Bill’s back garden is a veritable jungle with shrubs, perennials and serene ferns and hostas. Riotous and exuberant.

Drooling hippo fountain

Drooling hippo fountain

Set in the middle of a large shady but floriferous bed is the “world famous” Drooling Hippo Fountain. David Sund has refreshed the gardens at the McInernery’s new home, but the Drooling Hippo is a legacy from previous owners. Lucky they. They have joy, serenity AND vegetables in their gardens.

I’ll have more vignettes from the Greenfield Garden Club Tour soon.


Greenfield Garden Club Tour June 25


Elise Schlaijker

Elise Schlaijker

Elise Schlaijker’s extensive gardens will be a part of the Greenfield Garden Club’s annual garden tour which will be held on Saturday, June 25 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Schlaijker is one of those gardeners who loves food gardens and flower gardens equally, although she admits that the big 30 x 30 foot vegetable and fruit garden was her first priority when she moved to Greenfield eight years ago. I wrote about Schlaijker when her gardens were new in 2010. Now that she is 82 and has come through a back surgery, she has made some adjustments in her routines. The chicken house is empty. Handling water and feed during the winter became too difficult so the hens were given away.

While she showed me around the side garden which she can view from her large deck, two young men were buzzing around the lawns and the labyrinth. “I no longer mow the lawns myself,” she said with a smile.

The deck itself is decorated with houseplants brought out for the summer, and is ringed with Gold Heart bleeding heart and a variety of hostas. The side garden’s large lawn is ornamented with shrub and perennial beds. These contain familiar and beloved plants like rugosa roses in red and white, other shrub roses, lilacs, herbaceous peonies and an exuberant climbing hydrangea in one corner.

Bartzella, I toh peony

Bartzella, Itoh peony

However, a gardener is always finding new enthusiasms. In addition to the beautiful and familiar herbaceous peonies, Schlaijker has added Itoh, or intersectional, peonies, to her plantings. Itoh peonies are a hybrid created by crossing herbaceous peonies with tree peonies. Like herbaceous peonies Itoh’s are cut back in the fall, but the advantage is that they hold their blossoms high, even in the rain, and have a longer bloom period because they have primary and secondary buds. When Itoh peonies were first made available they were very expensive, but they are now more reasonable in price. In any event, Schlaikjer says, “I indulge myself in the plants I love.”

On the other side of the house is a wild looking bog garden, which includes a buttonbush, a dappled willow and a handsome crane. There is also a sweeping quarter moon bed that includes two dappled willows, a redbud and two more Itoh peonies. I was particularly looking at all the graceful curves in her garden which are so elegant and pleasing.

A gently curving path edged with wide flower borders leads to the stone labyrinth. When she built labyrinth I was one of the people who brought a stone to help build it. Schlaijker meditatively walks the labyrinth almost every day, but the building of the labyrinth included the connections to, and love of, a whole community. In the center of the labyrinth is a tiny gazebo. Inside the tiny gazebo is an extraordinary, throne-like chair. This was carved from a maple tree trunk by a friend in Michigan where she had lived for so many years. This throne, with its carvings of a bear, turtle, squirrel and other creatures, is comfortable and magical. If you hum or sing while sitting on the throne you can feel and hear the reverberations of sound.

Elise Schlaijkers gazebo

Elise Schlaijker’s gazebo in the center of her labyrinth

The flower borders leading to the labyrinth are filled with more Itoh and herbaceous peonies, nepeta, foxgloves, irises, and sedums. The borders include flowers as exotic as the Itoh peonies, but also as humble as the local native yellow foxgloves.

Of course, the fenced and netted vegetable garden is a very important part of Schlaijker’s garden. There are raised beds for vegetables, but it turns out that nets do not deter burrowing creatures like voles, moles – and rats. “Nowadays I can’t grow root crops, carrots, potatoes, beets . . . critters eat every one,” she said. Still she is able to grow lots of greens: collards, kale, broccoli, chard as well as garlic, tomatoes, lettuce, squash, and cucumbers as well as parsley and basil.

One section of the fenced vegetable garden is given over to highbush blueberries and a black currant bush. That section is netted over the top when the berries begin to ripen.

Beauty is to be found even when she walks towards the vegetable garden provided by a bed including  Japanese primroses, goatsbeard, clematis, and European ginger which she insists spreads itself generously. Here and there are bowls of water on the ground to satisfy the thirst of birds, or perhaps even a toad or two.

Elderberries and different raspberry varieties that give her a long season grow beyond the fenced garden. Schlaijker also has several apple trees, but her peach tree is no more.

Elise Schlaijker’s garden is just one of the nine unique gardens on the tour, each with its own special attractions.

Tickets to the Greenfield Garden Club Garden Tour can be purchased ahead of time at the World Eye Bookstore for $15. Or call Jean Wall at 773-9069. On the day of the tour tickets will be $18 and can be purchased at 40 High Street. Those who have bought tickets at the World Eye must also go to 40 High Street to pick up a map for this self-guided tour. There will be curb-side service.

Between the Rows  June 18, 2016

Three Views of The Lion’s Fairy Tale Rose

Lion's Rose

Lion’s Fairy Tale rose, Kordes

I am so happy with my Lion’s Fairy Tale Rose, one of Kordes Fairy Tale Series. I planted it last summer and did not expect nor get any flowers. Still, it took hold and came through our odd winter weather, mild until it got bitter cold very late in the season. One of the things I like is the way it produces clusters of bloom.

Lion's Rose

Lion’s Fairy Tale Rose

I love the creaminess of this white rose as it begins to bloom. I am not the only one to consider this a magnificent rose. In 2002 it won the German ADR Rose Award and in 2006  it was given a Gold Medal in the Gold Standard Rose Trials. The foliage is almost as beautiful as the rose.

Lion's Fairy Tale

Full blown bloom of Lion’s Fairy Tale rose

The full blown blossom remains lovely. This rose will grow to be about four to five feet tall with a fairly upright growth habit. I realize now that I planted it too close to Thomas Affleck which is quite a large rose, and will have to move it in the fall when it goes dormant. It will move to the North Border (which gets plenty of sun) where Fantin Latour and the Alchymist climber have also taken up a new residence.


New Roses for a New Garden

Passionate Nymph's Thigh rose

Passionate Nymph’s Thigh rose

Thirty-five years have passed since I planted my first rose bush in Heath. In the months before our move from New York City I read and re-read Onward and Upward in the Garden by Katharine White. It was her experience and thoughts about roses that particularly touched my dreams of a romantic garden in the country. I had never grown roses, and never even really paid much attention to roses. My dreams and limited experiences had been with herbs and vegetables.

That book inspired me to plant my first rose, Passionate Nymph’s Thigh, from Roses of Yesterday and Today. Who could resist that name? Over time I bought more roses from that nursery, focusing on roses of yesterday like the Queen of Denmark, Fantin-Latour, Celsiana and the Rose of Ispahan. These were hardy antique roses that were fragrant and disease free.

Applejack, Buck rose

Applejack, Buck rose

I did add modern roses over time, including Buck roses hybridized by Griffith Buck for cold hardiness. Applejack, one of my favorite roses, was a hardy Buck rose. These were not noted for their fragrance, however. I also added more and more rugosas that were hardy, disease free and fragrant. MountBlanc is my favorite white rugosa, and Dart’s Dash an energetic deep pink was also a favorite.

I also collected roses from friends like Rachel’s Rose, Purington Pink and the Buckland Rose. There is only one drawback to all these roses. Most of them are fragrant, but none of them bloom all summer.

Purington Pink rose

Purington Pink closeup

Of all those roses, it is only the hardy and energetic Purington Pink that I brought with me to the new Greenfield garden. But it is not the only rose I planted.

Over the years I learned more about efforts by hybridizers to create hardy roses that do bloom for a long season. These new hybridizing efforts were brought about by environmental concerns about poisons used on roses, and new attitudes toward proper garden management. Several years ago, after meeting Peter Kukielski who was then curator of the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden at the New York Botanical Garden, a new world of long blooming, disease resistant, and often fragrant roses opened up for me.

Kukielski is currently working with the American Rose Trials for Sustainability which has been running rose trials in different locations for the past few years. In 2017 they will announce their first round of sustainable roses. The A.R.T.S. website (www.americanrosetrialsforsustainability.org) declares “ . . . strict trialing protocol ensures that every A.R.T.S.® trial garden is ‘no spray.’ Remember, the goal is to identify the rose varieties which need little to no input.  Ensuring that no pest control products or fertilizers are applied to the plants within the experiment ensures that we get accurate real world results which are both reliable and repeatable.”

Lion's Fairy Tale rose

Lion’s Fairy Tale – Kordes rose

I cannot wait for the first trial results, because I want more roses in my new garden which is much smaller and has particular problems. What does a rose bush need? Roses must have at least 6 hours of sun to thrive and produce good bloom. Roses need good air circulation. Roses need good soil that is rich in humus, has a pH between 6 and 6.5, and drains well.

Roses need water, but they do not like to have their feet wet. Sections of my new garden are very sunny, and I can build good soil, but most of my soil is heavy clay that does not drain well. I have to find areas that will not leave the roses in standing water during the spring thaw or after long, heavy rains.

Thomas Affleck rose

Thomas Affleck rose in Heath

Although I knew I was taking a gamble I could not let a whole garden year go by without planting some roses. The south side of our lot gets plenty of sun, and the soil is better there than in the backyard. Last spring and early summer we started planting our shrub border which includes hydrangeas, lilacs, and a viburnam.

When choosing roses for this garden I tried to use all I have learned over the years. I again planted the pink centifolia Fantin-Latour for its history and romance even though it will bloom for a short season. I also planted the low and dependable pink polyantha The Fairy and Knockout Red. Knockout Red is an EarthKind rose, and you can count on any EarthKind rose to be beautiful and dependable, even though it is not fragrant.

Some of the roses I chose are new varieties that are considered groundcover roses, not as tall as other rose bushes, very full and bushy with a long bloom season. These include Oso Easy Paprika, and Peach Drift.         Purple Rain, Polar Express, the pink Zaide and creamy Lion’s Fairy Tale are all hybrids from Kordes with good disease resistance. Kukielski told me I could count on all Kordes roses to be among the best long blooming, disease resistant roses I could have. Many are fragrant.  NewFlora (www.newflora.com) is the U.S. distributor for Kordes.

Oso Easy Paprika

Oso Easy Paprika

I also had to have two of the other roses I had in Heath. Folksinger is a peachy hardy Buck rose, and Thomas Affleck is the amazing deep pink rose I grew near my entry. It had big blossoms that began in mid June and continued into November.

With all these new sustainable coming on the market there will be no excuse for any gardener to avoid roses because they are too fussy.

Sources: Antique Rose Emporium www.antiqueroseemporium.com; Chamblee’s Roses www.chambleeroses.com;  Roses of Yesterday and Today www.rosesofyesterday.com

Between the Rows   June 11, 2016