Peach Drift rose
With my first Peach Drift roses I am celebrating my first real Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day in the Greenfield, Massachusetts garden. Peach Drift is a fairly low growing, long blooming, disease resistant rose.
Oso Easy Paprika\
Oso Easy Paprika shares a small bed with Peach Drift. Paprika is a little outside my usual color palette, but when I saw it blooming at the nursery I could not resist.
Zaide, Kordes rose
I am so excited to be able to add Kordes roses like Zaide to my garden.
White Kordes rose
This white Kordes rose is either Lion’s Fairy Tale or Polar Express. I hope I can figure out which when the other white Kordes rose begins to bloom
Purple Rain Kordes rose
Purple Rain has many small blossoms on a sprawly bush.
Folksinger, Buck rose
I love the apricot shade of Folksinger, a Griffith Buck rose. Thomas Affleck put out one flush of bloom but I expect more as the season progresses.
Stella d”Oro daylily
Stella d’Oro, a daylily left by the previous owners of our house is the only perennial on the Hellstrip. But the Hellstrip will be blooming soon. Wait til July.
I’m so pleased with the way this mountain laurel has come through the year. It is such a modest and unassuming shade-loving shrub.
Irises are still bloom, as are the supermarket yellow primroses I planted. There are even a few blooms on the Japanese primroses, and the new elderberry shrubs. I have a couple of arrangements of annuals in large pots and bright red geraniums in pots on our front steps. Very welcoming, I hope. More plants will be bought this summer and I think we will have many more blooms.
Thank you Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting Bloom Day. To see what else is in bloom across our great land click here.
South Lawn May 22, 2015
The South Border did not exist on the day we closed on the house. But we had ideas.
South Border on June 3, 2015
On June 3 we planted three hydrangeas, Limelight, Angel’s Blush and Firelight, as well as two lilacs, deep purple Yankee Doodle and double white Beauty of Moscow. Shrubs were planted in the ground with the the addition of Martin’s compost.
Once shrubs were in the ground we built the lasagna beds around them with cardboard and compost so that we could plant perennials – and an annual or two.
Now, one year later, with additional plantings of roses, virburnams and various groundcovers like lady’s mantle, and sedums the view from Office Window 2 is quite different.
Eastern end of the South Border
The eastern end of the South Border includes the hydrangeas and lilac in the rear with roses in the front. Low growing Purple Rain begins on the left, then you can see the tiny white buds of a white rose (Lion’s Fairy Tale I thinks. Thomas Affleck pink follows then the apricot Folksinger and another white which is either Lion’s Fairy Tale or Polar Express, both of which are Kordes roses.
South Border 2
You can see the white rose from the previous photo, then The Fairy which is not yet blooming but loaded with buds and doing splendidly. To the far right is the wonderful Zaide, a lush Kordes pink.
South Border 3
This photo gives you a better view of Zaide, and Kockout Red ends this section of the South Border. There is only one other very small rose beyond the Knockout and we’ll have to wait for next year for her blooms. I hope you notice the tall mullein that Mother Nature planted for us at the very edge of the driveway. So far so good! The Main Garden behind the house is also doing well. Keep Watching.
Paul Redstone’s water gardens
The Forbes Library Garden Tour is this Saturday, an opportunity to see unique private gardens.
If you are lucky retirement from the everyday world of work is an opportunity to make happy changes, and possibly even make a dream come true. This opportunity has been beautifully and artfully used by Paul Redstone, and Jesse and Jack Martin. They both gave up country homes and properties and moved to ‘the city,’ Northampton, where they now live next to each other. They all love to garden, treasure their friendship, and have very different approaches to making a garden.
I spoke to Redstone while sitting on his deck listening to the falling water in his water garden. I could see cattails and water lilies, but he said the water garden was really all about the music of the moving water falling over the stone. His wife passed away ten years ago and when he moved to town about six years ago he thought it was time to make his dream of a musical water feature come true. With the encouragement of a friend he did some renovations on his new house so he could have room for a printmaking studio, and finally built the water garden he had longed for.
I asked if this was a house where he could age in place. He laughed. “I didn’t think of it at the time, but I guess it is. The kitchen is now more efficient and I have a bedroom on the ground floor. The water garden is sited where I can see it from the bedroom.”
He designed the stone water garden on a rise, with various sections that provide music, a home for three koi and occasional frogs and bogs for breathtaking lotuses. It is surrounded by irises and a delightful carpet of ground covers. While he needed help to build the stone infrastructure, he is completely responsible for all the plantings.
His main goal in the garden is to eliminate lawn. The sunny front yard has a variety of groundcovers including bearberry and cotoneaster. Gorgeous irises were beginning to bloom the day I visited. One of the stunning shrubs is a calycanthus with its wine-red blossoms.
The garden around the water garden holds a broad range of plants, raspberries and thornless blackberries from Nourse Farm, and plum trees, arborvitae, hollyhocks and wonderful native plants from Tripple Brook Nursery. He said he doesn’t make elaborate plans but “gardens according to my whims. If something doesn’t work out it is easy to send it off.”
Paul Redstone’s Calycanthus, or Carolina allspice
Jesse and Jack Martin
Jesse and Jack Martin live right next door. While they have very different styles, they spend a lot of time strolling through each others’ gardens and swapping notes.
Jack and Jesse Marti
Jesse and Jack left Beckett to look for a gentler climate that would make life a bit easier, but also provide more scope for their garden plans. In Northampton they have found a community rich in cultural opportunities, and a warmer climate.
Unlike Redstone, they like lawn and have a lush greensward in front of the house leading to a handsome shrub border that continues around the side of the house. Lilacs are pruned every three years or so, removing trunks that are more than a thumb width, keeping them vital and strongly blooming. A turn into the back garden is around a wisteria covered arbor they built themselves to provide a seating area in the shade.
A flowery border in front of the conifer privacy screen
They removed the 50 foot tall hemlocks that separated them from their backyard neighbor. “Those trees were so wide they took up half the yard,” Jesse said. Now there are slimmer Emerald Green and American arborvitae providing privacy and a background for the perennial border which also holds several birdhouses and a bird bath. The Martins welcome the birds and provide for their needs. “The cardinals and robins love the straw mulch. It is so much fun to watch them tossing the straw and searching for seeds.”
“We like the idea of textures – The upright blooms of the irises, and the fluffiness of the poppies.” Jesse said. The peonies were heavily budded. “We aim for a progression of bloom, but actually early summer has the most flowers.”
I was amazed by the large Harry Lauder Walking Stick. I have only seen this as a small shrub but it was beautiful as a small tree. Another particularly important small tree in the garden is the intensely fragrant witch hazel that blooms in February, right next to the hot tub. “
Redstone and the Martins make good use of a variety of irises.
As we strolled through the garden Jack and Jesse couldn’t help pulling a weed or two. They said they wandered through the garden every day, admiring and weeding. After the tour we sat in the shade of the screened porch. “The whole purpose of the garden is to have something beautiful to look at during that first cup of coffee, or in the afternoon. We often invite Paul over,” Jack said.
The Redstone and Martin Gardens are two of the eight unique and inspiring gardens on this 23rd self guided Forbes Library Garden Tour, on Saturday, June 11 from 10 am to 3 pm, rain or shine. Advance $15 tickets are available at Forbes Library, Baystate Perennial Center, Cooper’s Corner, Hadley Garden Center, North Country Landscaping and Garden Center and State Street Market. On the day of the Tour tickets are only available at the Forbes Library for $20. There will also be a raffle that for compost, a landscape consultation and garden supplies. All proceeds benefit the Friends of the Forbes Library, funding programs, events and projects.
Between the Rows June 4, 2016
Tovah Martin, Author of The New Terrarium
The Greenfield Garden Club brought Tovah Martin, author of The New Terrarium, and many other books, to town to not only talk about terrariums, but to hold a workshop. The site was the elegant Brandt House B&B, the weather was rainy, but the spirit was one of excitement and creativity.
Audience for terrarium talk at The Brandt House B&B
Many members of the Greenfield Garden Club, and other gardeners in the community filled all the Brandt House space to get some preliminary instruction about terrariums, and jolts of inspiration.
The Kestrel Shop in Northampton was on hand with some of the needed plants and supplies, but attendees brought a variety of glass containers for their creations.
Terrarium workshop attendees
It didn’t take long for workshop attendees to get to work.
Unique terrarium tools
One of the tricks of the trade is a cork on a skewer to make a soil tamper. Less awkward to fit in the container than fingers.
While we are still working on our house I can’t imagine a space for a terrarium, but after seeing all these inspiring terrariums, I did think of some friends who might like a terrarium even if they don’t like weeding and pruning outside.
Green River Cemetery, Greenfield, MA
Memorial Day was created as a day to remember those who died in the service of our country, beginning right after our Civil War. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan, a founder of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union army veterans, declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30 by decorating soldiers’ graves with flowers. There is some thought that the day was chosen because so many flowers are in bloom around the country on that date.
Albert Karlson who worked at the Green River Cemetery beginning in 1959, had been superintendent for 15 years when he retired in 1993. He was one of a line of men who made sure there were flowers for graves of soldiers – and everyone else. He did this with the help of a crew and a large greenhouse, 75 feet long and 25 feet wide.
Karlson grew up working on family farms. As he grew older he also worked in his father’s market which sold the produce and poultry that was raised on the farm. Eventually he enrolled in the two year program at the Stockbridge School of Agriculture studying floriculture. In the summer between those two years he worked for a florist. His interest in growing flowers showed itself early.
However, after graduation he went to work for the Park and Shop supermarket. It was not until he met and married Virginia in Greenfield that the opportunity to return to flowers arrived. His wife was working for the tax collector and heard that the Green River Cemetery was looking for staff. He got a job there in 1959.
When I visited with Karlson he told me that the cemetery greenhouse was busy all year long. “We grew about 3000 geraniums, mostly red, and thousands of other bedding plants: coleus, ageratum, marigolds, begonias, all kinds of flowers including herbs, and trailing plants for containers at some of the graves,” he said.
“When those spring plants were cleared out of the greenhouse we started chrysanthemum cuttings that would be in bloom in the fall. They were used in the cemetery for bouquets, but we also sold them to some of the area florists.”
Karlson went on to say that they also planted flowers on the 150 or so graves that were listed for Perpetual Care. People would include a bequest in their wills, providing money to the cemetery to be used for planted flowers on their graves every year. He explained that over the decades that tradition has died out. They used the interest, but eventually even the principal was gone. When I visited the cemetery I could see that certain monuments were stamped on the back “Perpetual Care.”
Green River Cemetery Chapel
I thought maybe there was no work to do in the winter, but Karlson explained that the road to the Chapel had to be kept clear of snow. Not only was it used for services, a mausoleum had been built below where caskets could be kept during the winter until the ground thawed out and graves could be dug. The mausoleum is no longer used because now there is heavy equipment that can dig graves in every season.
Karlson also said there was plenty of paperwork. Careful records of the deeds to each plot and burials had to be kept.
When I visited the Green River Cemetery I looked for the site of the greenhouse which would have been behind the caretaker’s house, a building that is now used as offices for the Northeast Region and North Quabbin Child Advocacy Group. Karlson explained that the greenhouse was probably built at the turn of the 20th century and though it was maintained by painting and repairing the glass, the years had taken their toll. One winter, only a few years before he retired, there was a terrific blizzard with heavy snow and winds. The greenhouse collapsed and it was too expensive to rebuild. Nothing is left of the greenhouse. Nowadays, plants for the cemetery are purchased. It is Snow and Sons who mow the lawns and keep the grounds looking as neat and beautiful as was intended when it was opened in 1851.
Green River Cemetery is one of the early “rural’ cemeteries to be founded. The founders were inspired by the beautiful MountAuburnCemetery created in 1831 which was designed to offer consolation to the bereaved, but its park-like plantings recreated a pastoral beauty that was also intended to provide meditative space for others who might come to stroll under the majestic trees, and among shrubberies and flowers.
Jeff Hampton, current President of the Green RiverCemetery, told me that the couple of weeks before and after Memorial Day are the busiest days for the cemetery. Families bring bouquets blooming with memory, with love and gratitude to those who went before.
Albert Karlson is one of a long line of men who served the dead and the living with the flowers they grew and planted.
Those of us who might visit the cemetery to mourn or to meditate will receive solace, or inspiration and encouragement as we see time and lives spread out before us. Some monuments have been worn to near illegibility but there is the imposing monument for Governor William Barrett Washburn, and the graceful marble sculpture created by Daniel Chester French for the Russell family.
Green River Cemetery monument by Daniel Chester French
I do not have family or friends lying in the Green River Cemetery, but as I strolled beneath the trees among the graves I sensed the entwining lives of the community, affections shared and the silence of those memories.
Between the Rows May 28, 2016
View from the office on May 4, 2016
The view of the new garden from the office at the beginning of May shows a good recovery from April snow and frigid temperatures. You can see the nearly wood filled hugel at the back border.
Hugel wood from Hawley
A big May project was collection logs for the hugel at the west end of the garden. This load came one of the two Hawley friends who donated logs to the project. We are so lucky to have good Hawley friends – who also have logs to share.
Hugel almost filled on May 22, 2016
With a little help from our friends in Greenfield and Hawley we have just about all the logs we need in the hugel. Now we need soil!
May 29, 2016
Daughter Betsy and her man Mike, and Henry made pretty quick work of the 7 yards of soil/compost mix from Martin’s Farm. All of it was spread over the hugel logs in 2 hours! It will have to settle before we can plant in it.
Bridge of Flowers plant sale
Of course, I needed more plants for the lawn beds. I bought perennials and annuals at both the Bridge of Flowers plant sale and the Greenfield Garden Club Plant Sale. Beautiful plants, columbine, ferns, epimediums, geraniums, annual salvia, sedums, daylilies, and many many more, now all planted in the ground, or in container.
May 29, 2016
You can’t really see that there is bloom, but the Japanese primroses from a Rowe friend are finishing their bloom, and the lilacs in the South Border are also finishing. The irises and roses have buds and Oso Easy Paprika rose actually does have bloom. Still, even without bloom you can see there is substantial change in the new garden in the lovely month of May
Nameless tree peony
This year there were a lot of peonies, including a woodland peony, for sale at the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale. This is a testament to the health of the peonies on the Bridge and in our gardens. They thrive and eventually have to be divided.
In the olden days, peonies were cut back and divided in the fall then replanted into a sleepy autumn garden. Nurseries sold peony roots in the fall and gardeners spent the winter dreaming of those shoots poking up early in the spring.
Nowadays no one hesitates to divide peonies in the spring, and nurseries sell potted well budded peonies. Instead of dreaming of spring shoots, gardeners can plant their new peonies and wait a very short time for the bloom period to begin.
I can understand the desire to have two peony planting seasons. They are beautiful and glamorous, coming in a variety of colors including white, pink, red, and some less common shades of coral and yellow. In Heath I had a very unusual peony called Green Lotus that had raggedy white petals tinged with green around a golden center. It did not bloom for very long each season, but I just loved its unusual color and form.
Peonies do come in many types and forms. Most of us are familiar with herbaceous peonies, peonies that need to be cut back to the ground in the fall. Herbaceous peonies can be single, semi-double like Coral Charm, or double like Kansas. The fully double peony with hundreds of ruffly petals hiding all signs of stamens is probably what most of us think of when we hear the word peony. A kind of double double is the bomb form which has the double grouping of petals in the center set on a ring of guard petals.
There is also the Japanese or Imperial form which has a few petals surrounding a large central cluster of stamens that have been transformed into stamenoids looking like a dense center fringe, usually gold. Gold Standard is an example. The anemone form is very similar and is sometimes considered a variety of Japanese peony only with petaloids of the same color instead of staminoids in the center. Show Girl is a striking example.
Woodland peonies are a subset of the general herbaceous class. Woodland peonies are shorter and have finer foliage, blooming early in the season. They have a simple form, but they provide an extra wonder in the fall when the seed pod bursts open to reveal cobalt blue and scarlet seeds.
P. Japonica seed pod
Each peony will bloom for a couple of weeks, but there are early, mid- and late season varieties so you can enjoy peonies for six weeks. Many of them have notable fragrance.
I also grew two tree peonies. Guan Yin Mian was a lush shade of pink and she was named for the Goddess of Compassion. The other, also pink, lost its name in my record books, never to be revealed again. Tree peonies do not grow into tall trees, but into large sturdy shrubs. They do not get cut back in the fall. The woody infrastructure of a mature plant can hold dozens of large blossoms. These fragile looking peonies are actually extremely hardy and bloom before the herbaceous peonies.
Guan Yin Mian tree peony
There are cities in China where tree peonies were born that celebrate peony season with festivities. Closer to home is the CricketHillGarden in Thomaston, Connecticut which has its own Peony Festival from May 12 through June 21. The gardens are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am – 5 pm. No admission is charged. You can go simply to admire the range of peony beauty, but I cannot imagine anyone resisting a purchase. Peonies, fruit trees and berry bushes will be on sale.
The newest variety of peonies are the Itoh peonies, also called intersectionals. Toichi Itoh, a Japanese nurseryman, was the first to cross the tree peony with the herbaceous peony. Now there are American hybrids which hold their blossoms high without supports. Although the stems are strong they do get cut down in the fall, returning bigger and more floriferous the following spring. Bartzella, a yummy yellow, was an early variety and became very popular, but there are others in shades of lavender, pink, coral and red.
Itoh peonies are mid-season to late bloomers. Like all peonies the foliage stays green and healthy all summer.
Peonies are one of the longest lived and most carefree plants in the perennial garden. They all need full sun, and good, well draining soil with a pH of 6.5 or 7. If you buy peony roots in the fall the herbaceous and Itoh peonies should be planted two inches deep. A deeper planting will not harm the plant, but it will not make blooms. If you have a non-blooming peony, dig it up and give it a shallower planting hole. That should take care of the problem.
Tree peonies do need to be planted more deeply. About five inches of soil should cover the root. Also, if you are planting tree peonies think carefully about the site. They need sun but also need to be protected from strong winds.
Peonies should be watered and mulched the first year, but that is all the special care they will need. After that, you and your children can enjoy them for decades.
Potted peonies can be found in local nurseries now, or you can wait and buy peony roots in the fall from mail order nurseries. Cricket Hill Gardens; Klehm’s Song Sparrow Nursery; and Peony’s Envy.
Between the Rows May 21, 2016
Kamata Nishiki tree peony
It is tree peony season on the Bridge of Flowers in Shelburne Falls. There are a number of tree peonies, but not all of them have retained their names. No matter. They are all still stunning. We have been promised a few days of hot weather. I hope the tree peonies don’t mind too much.
Shimanishiki tree peony
This tree peony took a beating in the rain – and now here we are fearing the hot sun.
Nameless tree peony
Of course other flowers and blooming trees are blooming on the Bridge, but the Tree Peonies are particularly ephemeral and I wait for them every year.
Tovah Martin photo by Kindra Clineff
Tovah Martin, gardener and author, has devoted a good part of her life to houseplants. Most of us have a limited view of what houseplants we might put on our windowsills, but when she found herself working at the wonderful Logee’s Greenhouse in Connecticut she fell in love with the hundreds of houseplant varieties put into her care.
Over the years Martin has written books like Well-Clad Windowsills: Houseplants for Four Exposures, The Unexpected Houseplant: 220 Extraordinary Choices for Every Spot in Your Home; The Indestructible Houseplant: 200 Beautiful Plants That Everyone Can Grow; and The New Terrarium: Creating Beautiful Displays for Plants and Nature. Her knowledge about the needs and benefits of various houseplants, as well as their beauty, sometimes sculptural and sometimes romantic, is encyclopedic, and her prose is a delight touched with humor.
As a part of the 25th Anniversary celebration of the Greenfield Garden Club, the Club is bringing the notable and charming Tovah Martin to Greenfield on Sunday afternoon, June 5 to give a lecture on terrariums, followed by a book signing, and then a terrarium making workshop. This event will be held at the gracious Brandt House on Highland Avenue.
Martin looks at terrariums as a practical way to have a whimsical or calming snippet of nature at hand, no matter what kind of houseplant space you might have. When I spoke to Martin I asked when she became an expert on terrariums. “I’ve made terrariums my whole adult life. Actually even before that. And now I give workshops for every age group from Brownie troops to senior citizens,” she said.
Terrariums are always a popular type of garden from the charming berry bowls filled with a bit of American teaberry with its shiny petite foliage and red berries, to fish tanks turned into a woodland scene. “Terrariums are the smallest landscape you’ll ever have to design,” Martin said. Participants in her workshop should bring their own container but other terrarium materials will be provided. “Almost any glass can be used for a terrarium,” she said. She added that she has a pretty good eye and is frugal so she is a regular at Goodwill stores. No glass container is too humble, large wide mouth mason jars work just as well.
The New Terrarium by Tovah Martin
“Everyone should have nature by their side and terrariums make it easier. Terrariums are self watering, they almost grow on auto-pilot. Terrarium plants get the humidity they need, especially in the winter when our houses are so dry from the heating systems,” she said.
In her workshop she will demonstrate, and guide participants in the making of a terrarium that includes soil and plants, using surprising tools and giving useful tips. She will cover the basics of construction, and care from every angle including watering and light sources. Terrariums should not be placed in the sun, which is one reason they are such a good solution for the house that does not have much in the way of sunny windows, or possibly an office with limited light.
Beyond the closed terrarium that I am familiar with Martin points out that a terrarium is also an ideal environment for handling cuttings and making new plants, or for starting seeds. She said not all terrariums need to be closed and that even an open terrarium environment can help conserve moisture and will keep a plant happy with less work.
Extra pleasures on June 5: Michael Nix will be providing music, Kestrel of Northampton will be selling terrarium plants and supplies, and the World Eye will be selling books. Tickets are available at World Eye Books or can be ordered by calling Jean Wall at 773-9069. The cost of the lecture is $25 and $50 for the lecture and the workshop. Garden Club members get a discount of $20 and $40. For more information log on to the Greenfield Garden Club’s website http://www.thegreenfieldgardenclub.org/special-events.html
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It is Plant Sale Season. Today the Bridge of Flowers is having their annual plant sale that will include shrubs, annuals and perennials; many are divisions of plants on the Bridge. There will be a great variety from asters to peonies to violets. Master Gardeners will be on hand to do soil testing. The sale will be held on the TrinityChurch’s Baptist Lot on Main Street in ShelburneFalls from 9 am to noon, rain or shine. All profits benefit the Bridge.
Next Saturday, May 21 is the Garden Club of Amherst’s plant sale under the tent on the Common next to the Farmer’s Market from 8:30 am to 2:30 pm. Profits benefit conservation efforts and a scholarship fund.
On Saturday, May 28 The Greenfield Garden Club will hold its annual Extravagaza on the lawn of St James Episcopal Church on Federal Street from 9 am to 2 pm. In addition to plants donated by club members there will be a tag/book sale, a bake sale and face painting for the kids. Rain or shine. Profits benefit the grant program for area schools.
Between the Rows May 14, 2016
Bridge of Flowers set up for annuals
Yesterday the Bridge of Flowers held its annual Plant Sale and it was a great success! The sale included perennials from the Bridge itself as well as from area gardeners. Shrubs and trees as well: pussy willows, thornless raspberries, Japanese maples. Lots of special peonies! Japanese jack in the pulpits. Amazing. Hillside Nursery sent a few of its rare wildflowers down. In addition the master Gardeners were there to do soil tests, there were garden books from the Shelburne Booksellers, cards from the Friends of Robert Strong Woodward, and lots of cookies, muffins, cakes and coffee! To keep up our strength.
Checking over the plant choices
So many choices! Let’s look again. Let’s confer. It takes the whole family to make the final decisions about what to buy.
Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale line
Once decisions are made it’s time to get in line. There are always old friends, and maybe a new friend to talk to about plants and gardens and the weather – and everything.
Bridge of Flowers frolic
Of course, some people would rather race and frolic than look at the plants. There is no getting around the fact that the Bridge of Flowers Plant Sale is an important social community event. Joy!
I was almost ready for my nap after the Plant Sale site was cleaned up but I had to take a few minutes for a revitalizing stroll over the Bridge. The pink dogwood on the Shelburne entry is in full bloom.
The Carolina silverbell is one of my favorite blooming trees, just one of the many blooming trees and shrubs on the Bridge of Flowers.
The Pearl Bush (Exochorda) is in full heavy bloom. An absolute glory. Very satisfying to know that the Plant Sale supports the purchase of all the gorgeous flowers, trees and shrubs on the Bridge of Flowers. Now – time for a nap.