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Last Day to Win

The Roses at the End of the Road

Today is the last opportunity you have to win a copy of my book about life on and off the Rose Walk, and Debra Lee Baldwin‘s book, Succulent Container Gardens: Design Eye-Catching Displays with 350 Easy-Care Plants. Click here and leave a comment by midnight tonight, December 6. I will announce the winner, chosen at random tomorrow morning by 9 am.

Four years ago, on December 6, the Feast of St. Nicholas, I gave myself a present that was sweeter than I ever imagined.  I began this blog and began new friendships, found new ideas and resources, and great enjoyment. And all I was looking for really, was a way to document the way my garden grew. I got so much more, including the encouragement to write The Roses at the End of the Road, which gave me a new way of sharing my pleasure in the Rose Walk. And the Rose Bank. And the Shed Bed.

I’ll be sharing that pleasure in front of the Festival of Trees at Tower Square in Springfield, today from noon to 2 pm and 4 to 6 pm where I will be signing my book and chatting with rose gardeners, and potential rose gardeners. Hope to see you there.


Bloom Day – October 2011

Ann Varner Daylily

In spite of the warm fall, with only one real frost, the garden is beginning to die. Its demise seems to have been hurried by the three days of rain we just had. All these photos were taken in the rain. This is the very last daylily of summer. Ann Varner is a real trooper. Behind her you can see there are a few Buttercream nasturtiums crawling around, and it has been so warm that even the canna foliage isn’t completely fried.

Double Red Knockout roses

The double red Knockouts on the Rose Bank are still putting out a few blooms, as is Pink Grootendorst and ‘The Fairy.’ Too few to photograph.

'Thomas Affleck'

‘Thomas Affleck’ on the other hand is still blooming and budding, right near the entry walk. I got a lot more than I bargained for when I bought this rose.

This chrysanthemum, one of six (only three survived a spring bunny attack) is just beginning to bloom amid a tangle of black netting (against the bunnies) weeds and morning glory vine.

Its sister mums have been blooming for a while and the rain is making them look a bit bedraggled.

Love Lies Bleeding

Most of the potted plants are pretty well gone. I did not get the show I expected from Love Lies Bleeding, but I did not expect it to survive our frost either. You can see the petunias behind are still blooming.

Neither did I expect the lantana to be blooming still. I couldn’t resist that funky, wiry grass, but you can see I have a lot to learn about container planting design.

I love this annual salvia, my faux lavender hedge around the roses in the Shed Bed. The photo might be slightly out of focus, but I am going to blame the softness of focus on the rain.

The cascade of morning glories was still blooming in the dim showery light yesterday morning. ‘Granpa OttI’ is one tough old guy. I am really going to miss him, and they cannot go on much longer.

The rains were torrential yesterday afternoon, but it looks like we might have some sun today.  It is trying to peek out the patches of blue sky.

To see what else is bloom around the country be sure and visit our gracious hostess at May Dreams Gardens.  When I first began participating around three years ago I never dreamed that I would be creating a wonderful, and useful, record of what the garden was doing in every season. I send grateful thoughts to Carol every month.

Color may be all gone from the garden, but the last few days have finally started bringing a vivid blush to our woodlands. I had to drive to Springfield and even in the rain, on the highway, the drive was a pleasure.


Lorene Forkner’s Garden

Lorene Forkner, one of the organizers of the fabulous Seattle Fling, invited us to her own garden which is not large, but filled with enough plants and art of interest to keep me inspired for the next decade.

I cannot help it. It is the roses that catch my eye first.

This rose cluster was so heavy it would have been on the ground in my garden, but Lorene whipped up a support.

My question is – did she have this loopy metal thing hanging around, or did she have someone do the twisting intentionally?

Lorene was very offhand about having this gabion at the entry of her garden whipped up by a welder. I just learned this word ‘gabion’.

She used other gabions to provide the seating around a firepit. And a place for firewood. Many of her ideas will be available for us all to ponder when her book, Handmade Garden Projects comes out soon from Timber Press. Do you think if I gave this to my husband for Christmas he would take it in the proper spirit?

We bloggers swarmed through the garden, oooing and ahhhhing, taking photos, making notes, and sometimes just sitting and taking it all in.

Many Seattle area gardens had succulents in a pot, as did Lorene.

Nobody else had succulents AND a bowling ball.

I love sweet peas which must not have any trouble in the cool climate.

These edible peas certainly got everyone’s attention.  Did anyone get the name written down? Please let me know.

This little deck on  the hill drew a crowd. What a viewing post.

I have dozens of photos but what I felt in this garden was Love. Love of plants, of the garden, of her friends, of the community, and of all of us. She, and the other organizers, made this trip a perfect delight.

Inspiration From Seattle – One

Shelagh Tucker with tomatoes and sweet peas

Compared to Heath, Seattle has a mild climate, and yet gardeners there share some of our problems. Generally, it does not get hot in Seattle. Gardeners go to great lengths pampering their tomatoes in an attempt to achieve juicy ripeness. Shelagh Tucker has a small greenhouse in her sloping back garden, but she also grows her tomatoes in a raised bed sort of hot house to provide the heat tomatoes require. Behind her, in another raised bed are beautifully trained flowering sweet peas.


I was surprised to see so much lavender growing in Seattle gardens, great healthy clumps. Lavender does not need the heat that tomatoes do, and enjoy the wet mild winters.

Potted succulent

Because of all the seasonal rain I could see why containers with all manner of succulents are popular.


I love santolina but have never been able to overwinter this pretty herb with its yellow button flowers. It is used widely in arid climates, but Shelagh has used gravel extensively in her garden to help retain heat, and provide sharp drainage for her plants.

Shelagh took a leaf from British gardener Beth Chatto’s book on gravel gardening to design a stunning garden featuring gravel and stone to capture heat, provide paths, and provide drainage for plants like thyme in front of her house.

Stone Mosaic

Stone and gravel become art in this beautiful mosaic.

Waterlily pool

While I am familiar with the many small in-ground pools that gardeners install for plants or fish, I was particularly fond on this raised pool which was so elegant.

'Heritage' rose

Of course, I always pay special attention to the roses in a garden.  David Austin’s ‘Heritage’ is one of my favorites even though I cannot keep one alive very long myself.

Shelagh Tucker’s garden was the first garden we visited on our tour and it set the tone for the unique and personal gardens that followed.

Lily Season

Daylily Bank

I have not done with posts about my great trip to Seattle to tour amazing gardens with 70+ garden writers  and bloggers, but I am so happy to be home and to see the glories of lily season.  Our Daylily Bank is now in full bloom and it got a lot of attention when the Heath Gourmet Club was here on Saturday night to enjoy a delicieux dinner a la Francais.

Black Beauty lilies

The Black Beauty lilies have been blooming in the Herb Bed right in front of the house for several years, along with a crimson bee balm. A great, but unintentional combo.

Last year I got a little bloom from Lilium henryi (gold) and the White Henry lilies, but this year they are putting on quite a show. There is another white lily with a deep red throat in this group. I don’t know what it is, but I think it was a bonus that came along with a big order I sent Old House Gardens that does have wonderful bulbs.

Seattle skyline

If you do want to see some of  the wonderful sights of Seattle log on to my friend Layanee de Merchant’s post.

Japanese Garden at the Bloedel Reserve

Or see what Francis at Fairegarden had to say about other damp scenes at the Bloedel Reserve.

Home Again Jiggety Jig

Bloedel Reserve in the rain

I’ve said farewell to all the gardens of the Seattle area including the beautiful Bloedel Reserve on Bainbridge Island.

And I’ve said farewell to Tacoma

Chihuly bridge

with its amazing Chihuly Bridge.

I’ve stored up memories of my visit with my dear friend Kathryn Galbraith, children’s author extraordinare and her lovely garden.

Kylee Baumie and Kathryn Galbraith

I’ve bid farewell to all the garden bloggers like Kylee of Our Little Acre and my dear friend Kathryn.

Seatac Airport

Now I’m at the  very busy Seatac airport where I got my very first pat-down. Note to all artificial hip travellers: Show your official card BEFORE you go through the security machines! A very nice and informative young woman did the honors. I hope that is the most exciting event of the day. Except for being back in the arms of my beloved.

GWA and Flowers of Glass

Cambridge, MA Feb. 2

I left home Tuesday afternoon, racing the storm, because I was planning on having lots of educational fun in Cambridge while I was staying there visiting with my son. I had scheduled a visit on Wednesday to see the Glass Flowers at Harvard’s Museum of Natural History and then a meeting with other garden writers on Thursday.  The storm stopped, but so did a lot of traffic in town. The Museum was closed!

Porter Square Bookstore

The Museum was closed but not the Cambridge Main Library. I set off, but the going was nasty. The fine mist froze on my eyeglasses.  I decided to spend a happy hour in the local bookstore instead. Flowers, Chic and Cheap: Arrangements with Flowers from the Market or Backyard by Carlos Mota is a beautiful book with some arrangements that are very a la Constance Spry.


Thursday things were a bit better but I was glad that my son drove me to the conference center where NE Grows! was in full swing.  Our wonderful local company OESCO was there showing off all their wonderful tools and getting a lot of attention.

Botanical Interests Seeds

Botanical Interests Seeds is a fairly new, but excellent seed company.

Hart's Seeds

Hart’s Seeds is another good company, but they have been around for over 100 years.  All those seeds make me feel that spring will come.

Colleen Plimpton

But no more time for NE Grows!  The garden writers awaited.  I met Colleen Plimpton and bought her new book. It looks wonderful.  Our group shared lots of garden talk.  Lots of writing talk. Our speaker, Betty Mackey of B.B. Mackey Publishing,  gave us linformation about Print on Demand publishing. That’s POD. I am enjoying Who Does Your Garden Grow that Betty published. Now I feel au courant.

Passiflora gracilis

The meeting broke up a little earlier than I expected. If I hurried I could make it to the Museum of Natural History and see those Glass Flowers, made with lampwork techniques, by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka, father and son, beginning in 1887 and ending in 1936. Their purpose was to enable Professor George Lincoln Goodale to teach botany with absolutely correct models. You will hear a lot more about the Blaschka flowers soon.  It was a full day! And today I will be home.

Snow and Ice – And Snow Again

Yellow Birch

For more Wordlessness, click here.

Most Viewed Posts 2010

As I review and renew in my garden, I thought I ought to look back at the year on the commonweeder.  The 5 most popular posts were not what I expected.

In February Mycotecture got many visitors – and continues to be visited.

In March the New York Times had an article about Femivores, women who love their chickens too much. Or something like that. I have chickens so I had to comment. Chickens – and their houses – are a popular topic on my blog – and elsewhere in the world.

In July I went to Buffalo to meet with 70 other bloggers and tour the many wonderful gardens in readiness for the Buffalo Garden Walk. My post Mirrors in the Garden – A Trend? continues to get visitors.

Carol Dukes at Flower Hill Farm

In September I visited Carol Dukes at Flower Hill Farm. We are almost neighbors. It is no surprise to me that this post was so popular. Carol and her magnificent photos have many devoted fans.

Walden Pond

My Muse Day post in December was about our trip to Walden Pond the day after Thanksgiving. As a devoted fan of Henry David Thoreau I was happy that so many others wanted to share our visit. I never cease to thank Carolyngail for hosting Muse Day.

One popular post did not surprise me. In January my dear friend and mentor Elsa Bakalar passed away. In July we celebrated her life in her garden – and that month her garden, now tended by artist Scott Prior and his wife, was featured in Horticulture Magazine – with a nod back to the article that Elsa and I had published in Horticulture in 1986. Elsa’s life touched many gardeners, locally and across the country through her book and lecture tours.

2010 was a happy year for me on the commonweeder, with increasing readership, and I look forward to 2011 and the pleasures of the garden and garden friends with great anticipation.

Another Winner!

Chosen by a random number generator Ellen Sousa of Turkey Hill Brook Farm is the winner of Recipes from the Root Cellar!  In her comment she mentions that there is a passageway between her garage and basement that maintains a consistent temperature that allows her to store winter vegetables so she’ll be able to put this cookbook to good use. Congratulations, Ellen.  I will get Ellen’s address and send this book right out. I’m sure she will find a some recipes perfect for the holidays.

Ellen will be celebrating the publication of her own book, The New England Habitat Natural Garden, this spring. Two hoorays and congratulations to Ellen.

Don’t forget, tomorrow there will be my third Giveaway – of particular interest to those who have, or want to have, a beautiful perennial garden.

Thank you Storey Publishing for being so generous and helping me celebrate my third blogoversary.