Epimediums and Hellebores Thrive in Dry Shade

  • Post published:04/06/2014
  • Post comments:2 Comments

Dry shade is a challenge in the garden, but epimediums and hellebores, two very different plants, both turn dry shade into an opportunity. For years I admired epimediums in other gardens, always asking the name of the beautiful low plant with heart shaped leaves. Sometimes I got no answer, but even when I did I was incapable of remembering the word epimedium. I finally saw a pot of this plant at the Blue Meadow nursery in Montague and,…

Tree Peony Extraordinare – Guan Yin Mian

  • Post published:03/18/2014
  • Post comments:6 Comments

Guan Yin Mian is my favorite tree peony, a native Chinese plant.  Guan Yin is the bodhisattva of compassion, or in terms more familiar, the goddess of mercy. During our years in China I became familiar with Guan Yin who is much given to appearing in visions, giving women the babies they and long for,  and who laughs that  we can struggle so - as she helps us. She is often shown wearing a gown with a rice…

Ginkgo – The Ancient Maidenhair Tree

  • Post published:01/20/2014
  • Post comments:0 Comments

While we were living in Beijing we became fascinated with the ginkgo tree, sometimes called the maidenhair tree. This is an ancient tree and fossilized leaves dating back 270 MILLION years have been found. They saw the rise and fall of the dinosaur. Today it grows in many temperate and sub-tropical areas of the world because it is so unusual and beautiful and because it is so adaptable. It even tolerates pollution and is used in cities as…

My Ornamented Life – Part 4

  • Post published:12/17/2011
  • Post comments:3 Comments

During our two different years in Beijing, China, Henry and I were untethered from all our usual responsibilities and routines. This was sometimes exciting, and sometimes unnerving as we learned about the 5000 years of Chinese history and culture, made wonderful friends from around the world, ate great food, and saw amazing sights. We learned about the great Chinese classic, Journey to the West, and read the children's version. We also met a five year old American boy…

Beauty Heart Radish

  • Post published:01/14/2011
  • Post comments:1 Comment

One of the New Plants for 2011 profiled in the new issue of The American Gardener published by the American Horticultural Society is a Watermelon Radish from Renee's Garden.  I am ashamed to say that when I first came across this beautiful vegetable in Beijing I insisted on calling it a turnip. Who ever heard of a radish as big as a baseball?  My Chinese colleagues insisted on calling it a radish, but in spite of the fact…

Thanksgiving with Chinese Characteristics

  • Post published:11/25/2010
  • Post comments:5 Comments

I wanted to share a special Thanksgiving memory today. Thanksgiving is a harvest festival, with gratitude for the fruits of the soil that have sustained us through another year. It is also a time of gratitude for the other blessings of our life,  especially the family and friends with whom we celebrate. Sometimes it is the Thanksgivings celebrated far from those we love that have a special place in our memory. As the current news is so filled…

Autumn Equinox, Moon Festival – Two Cultures

  • Post published:09/22/2010
  • Post comments:3 Comments

Today (or tonight actually, at 11:09) we in the west mark the Autumnal Equinox, when the length of night and day are exactly equal. Since it is the sun that determines the length of the day we could consider this a solar 'festival'. The solstices and equinoxes occur at about the same day every year. In China festivals are calculated by a lunar calendar, which means they are movable feasts, as is the Christian Easter. The most important date in…

Three Lilies

  • Post published:07/27/2010
  • Post comments:0 Comments

Last fall I planted six lilies in the herb bed right in front of the house. Three Henryi lilies which are gold, and three white Henryi lilies, all from Old House Gardens, one of my favorite bulb suppliers.  White Henryi was the first to blossom, dazzling white with its golden throat. Then this lily bloomed. I've got a bit of a prop to hold up the blossom so I could photograph it. It is neither the white or…

Muse Day May 2010

  • Post published:05/01/2010
  • Post comments:0 Comments

"What, if anything, do the infinity of different traditional and individual ideas of a garden have in common? They vary so much in purpose, in size, in style and content that not even flowers, or even plants at all, can be said to be essential. In the last analysis there is only one common factor between all gardens, and that is the control of nature by man. Control, that is, for aesthetic reasons." Hugh Johnson Hugh Johnson created…

Year of the Tiger

  • Post published:02/17/2010
  • Post comments:7 Comments

The Chinese Year of the Tiger has been rung in with drums and dancing, and jiaozi, the delicious stuffed dumplings  that are said to be shaped like silver money and symbolize a year stuffed with good things – and riches. We have celebrated many Chinese New Years since our first trip to live and work in Beijing in 1989. While there we learned that while there are 12 animals in the 12 year Chinese zodiac, the full cycle…