Tag Archives: labyrinth

Wordless Wednesday—In The Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

 

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Penstemon and Snapdragon

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) opening in Meditation Circle

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Angelonia angustifolia (Summer Snapdragon)

Various Thymes in Meditation Circle

Marking Time With A Garden

Snapdragons in Meditation Circle -April 22, 2017

Seven years ago, on January 7, 2011, I wrote my first pbmGarden article. Since that time I have been honored by your presence at my humble garden gate.

Lilium ‘Black Out’ (Asiatic lily)  – May 25, 2017

Initiated as a record-keeping discipline while I was working through some garden improvements, this blog has ended up being a source of deep personal satisfaction. You, dear readers, are the reason. As the garden grew, friendship sprouted. You have cheered me on with your own garden wisdoms and encouraged my efforts large and small.

Snapdragons in Meditation Circle – April 22, 2017

We share a love of nature, we savor gardening moments, we find energy, solace and joy among the trees, birds and flowers. Through our gardens we are nourished.

Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris) – April 26, 2017

It is a pleasure to have you visit. May our paths cross again soon.

Crossing Paths

Looking Back At 2017

Floral designs created for In A Vase On Monday were the majority of my posts this year, but there were some noteworthy moments in the garden itself. With emphasis on spring, my favorite time in the garden, here are a few favorites from 2017. Enjoy this quick view or click on a image to see the images full-size in a slideshow.

Frosty Winter Solstice Morn

December Solstice (Winter Solstice) Wednesday, December 21, 2016 at 5:44 am. This day is 4 hours, 51 minutes shorter than on June Solstice.

Frosty Thyme In Meditation Circle

Frosty Thyme In Meditation Circle

Frost rimmed foliage of Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers' (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Frost rimmed foliage of Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Tuesday View: August 9, 2016

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week and note the changes.

This Tuesday view was taken at yesterday afternoon at 4:53 p.m., about an hour after a storm cloud dropped a small amount of rain. Thunder continued to rumble as I took the photograph.

I have not gardened at all for a week. Most of the thymes still are doing well but some of the original unknown one has died back in a few places (visible at about 4 o’clock in the picture). Otherwise there is little change from last week.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

 

 

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

Tuesday View August 2, 2016

Tuesday View August 2, 2016

Tuesday View August 2, 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week and note the changes.

This Tuesday view shows the early morning garden at 7:14 a.m., under an overcast sky. Several storms this week brought welcome rain, but one also knocked down the larger of two Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) against the fence.

There are fewer flowers this week.  The biggest change I notice this week from last is how brown the neighbors’ sycamore tree has become. At center behind our fence in the photograph, this Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) is often brown and unsightly by this time of year, but  until now it had seemed fine this summer.

One of the first things I planted in the meditation circle was Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue), used to form a wall at one of the turn-arounds help guide walkers along the path.

Meditation Path with Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) at lower right.

This penstemon is evergreen and has proved to be reliable and has produced lots of new plants. They show up in random spots. I leave them for a while and eventually move them into other parts of the garden.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Another penstemon planted at the same time has a lovely purple flower but has proven much less hardy. It is Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple.’ Only one has survived through the years, but I am trying to nurse and encourage it. This summer it has done well and is reblooming now.

Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' and Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ and Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' and Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ and Angelonia ’Serena White’

To wrap up this Tuesday view I must mention the angelonia as it continues to brighten up the meditation circle.

Angelonia ’Serena White’ with Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ in the distance

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

Tuesday View: July 25, 2016

Tuesday View - July 26, 2016

Tuesday View – July 26, 2016

Note: Tuesday is actually July 26. Mixed up the date in the post title because I took the photographs on Monday.

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week and note the changes.

This Tuesday view was taken at Monday 12:52 p.m. instead of at the usual early morning Tuesday time. Yesterday the sun had gone behind the clouds for a few minutes so I took advantage of the photo opportunity.

In a noticeable change from last week the grass is turning brown in spots. Fescue retreats in this type of weather, but should recover once cooler weather returns in the fall. Monday reached 97° F. There has been no rain for 10 days, leaving some things looking a bit desperate.  I have watered 3 times, but it has little effect.

Another detectable difference is in the circle where the path is lazily being restored. Yesterday I uncovered more of the labyrinth pavers, only a few left to go. A friend and I had done a meditation walk Saturday, and I realized that with the path obscured as it was by thyme, it would be easy to turn an ankle or trip. We managed to not hurt ourselves. The thyme released its calming fragrance as we stepped across it.

Meditation Path

Meditation Path

At lower left in the first photo, the edge of a small round border is just barely visible. Here zinnias, planted from seed (maybe mid-June), are finally beginning to bloom.

Zinnias

Zinnias

Zinnias

Zinnias

Zinnias

Zinnias

Looking back north toward the meditation circle, I took a last picture as one of dozens of skippers flying around landed on a Verbena flower. There also were lots of dragonflies and swallowtails but they were camera shy.

Skipper On Verbena Bonariensis.

Skipper On Verbena Bonariensis.

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

Tuesday View: July 19, 2016

Tuesday View - July 19, 2016

Tuesday View – July 19, 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to display a photo of the same view of the garden week by week to observe the changes. I took photographs of the meditation circle around 8:00 a.m. Tuesday but did not have time to post until now.

The top half of the weekly view is filled with bright light rushing in from between my house and the next, while the circle and much of the garden lingers in shade, making it challenging to get a good picture. Every week I participate makes me want a new camera, but I am gently assured by my family the quality issues rest in the photographer not the camera. 

We are still getting some storms but no longer daily. The heat index is high, air is thick and heavy. Mine is definitely a spring garden and in summer I spend little time tending the plantings. After experimenting with a range of finicky perennials, I found this low-maintenance scheme of commingling various thymes in the center of the labyrinth and using purple and white Angelonia to form the walls along the path to be reliable and effective. While the borders start fading under the hot sun, the meditation circle retains some level of dignity.

During a yoga retreat this past weekend I walked a seven-circuit labyrinth, shaded by lovely old trees and accented with the lively sounds of birds and ocean.

Tuesday View - July 19, 2016

Tuesday View – July 19, 2016

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Growing against the back fence, Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) and Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) are not a combination I planned, but they are survivors beloved by pollinators.

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) and Cleome

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) and Cleome

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

Tuesday View: July 12, 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week and note the changes.

This Tuesday view was taken at 6:46 a.m. A bit of rain nearly every day has kept the fescue grass greener than normal for July. Thyme in middle of the meditation circle is beautiful, in full bloom and full of buzzing pollinators.

Just left of center against the back fence you may be able to detect the yellow flowers of Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower), which opened since last week.

Tuesday View - July 12, 2016

Tuesday View – July 12, 2016

Easier to spot in this image, the rudbeckia is quite tall, at least 6 feet, towering above the 4-foot high fence.

Tuesday View - July 12, 2016

Tuesday View – July 12, 2016

Sometimes when checking out the garden it is easy to forget to look up. The sky was was worth a peek this morning.

Tuesday View - July 12, 2016

Tuesday View – July 12, 2016

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

The Tuesday View: 5th July 2016

Meditation Circle at 7:00 a.m. July 5, 2016

Meditation Circle at 7:00 a.m. July 5, 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs‘ Tuesday View encourages garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week.

For my Tuesday view I have selected the meditation circle which at 20 feet in diameter covers a large portion of this 70 foot wide by 50 foot deep garden. The labyrinth is viewed from the top steps of the screened porch, facing west.

The house blocks the earliest morning sun, but soon light slides down on either side and spills along the edges into the garden.

Meditation Circle at 7:51 a.m. July 5, 2016

Meditation Circle at 7:51 a.m. July 5, 2016

This past week I purchased additional Angelonia ‘Serena White’ and completed the planting along the outside right path of the circle. This replaces the last of the fall-winter violas and pansies.

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

At the same time I laid in fresh hardwood mulch and cleaned off the pavers, though multiple rains since then muddied the effect. If I had a do-over I would build up the soil and raise the meditation circle to improve drainage.

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ finished blooming weeks ago leaving behind interesting seed heads.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

I usually leave them until they flop over, which has happened, and am rewarded with new plants.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

Self-seeded young Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' between Angelonia ’Serena White’

Self-seeded young Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ between Angelonia ’Serena White’

Several types of thyme planted in the center and between the paths of the labyrinth are coming into bloom. Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ is the only one I can identify.

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Pink Chintz thyme has no fragrance nor culinary value but it flowers stand erect and draw pollinators (although none would pose this morning).

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

This very finely textured pass-along thyme is likely ‘Elfin.’

Pass-along Thyme (probably Elfin)

Pass-along Thyme (probably Elfin)

After encouraging these thymes for a few years now I am asking them for restraint as they overflow the pavers. I have been trimming back gradually but when they are in flower I find it difficult to do (not to mention it is a tedious task).

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

 

The blue gazing ball sits exactly on center of the meditation circle. This section is lined with Angelonia ‘Serena Purple.’ I like the way it picks up the hues of the Husker Red Penstemon and the soft lavender pink of the thyme.

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ and Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ and Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’, Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz'

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’, Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

The Tuesday View: 28th June 2016

Today I am joining Cathy at Words and Herbs for the Tuesday View, sharing a weekly peek of the same view of the garden. Again I am showing the meditation circle at early morning, around 8:40 a.m.

When I arose the light was rosy and a bit strange. My mind immediately went to taking pictures while the coffee was brewing but the camera was upstairs and my first goal was to pour coffee. My husband for most of our 39 years of marriage brought me coffee in bed but for the past year I have begun doing that for him. Life is a balance you know.

Meanwhile a gentle rain started falling and soon a heavier one.

The Tuesday View: 28th June 2016

The Tuesday View: 28th June 2016

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

The Tuesday View: 21st June 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs recently decided to host the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week.

Last week I joined in for the first time showing the meditation circle at sunset. Today it is early morning, the most peaceful time to be in the garden. The sun is shining now but around 8 a.m. the sky was slightly overcast.

Meditation Circle - Early Morning

Meditation Circle – Early Morning

Not visible in this first picture, the first thing I encountered was a bunny munching leaves of grass just to the right of the bench.

Mostly oblivious, it hopped into the labyrinth and crossed its way toward the back edge of the circle.  Along its route the rabbit tasted different varieties of thyme, which are beginning to bloom.

Thyme For Breakfast

Thyme For Breakfast

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz'

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’

Thyme In Meditation Circle (unknown variety)

Thyme In Meditation Circle (unknown variety)

Soon the bunny moved on to a small group of pansies and violas, leftover from fall and winter.

Bunny And Violas

Bunny And Violas

It is too hot here in summer for pansies so in late spring I replaced most of them with Angelonia. Having not purchased quite enough Angelonia to go around, on the backside of the circle I left three or four pansies until I could get back to the garden center. Scraggly and brown now, they still have a few blooms, enough I hope to keep the rabbit distracted from some newly emerging zinnias.

Angelonia is my favorite annual for the meditation circle “walls.” Sometimes known as summer snapdragon, these flowers bloom and bloom until first frost, no deadheading necessary.

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ with Thyme

Angelonia sp.

Angelonia sp.

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

The Tuesday View: 14th June 2016

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Cathy at Words and Herbs is inviting others to join in posting a photo of the same view of the garden week by week.

Though I often can find a particular plant in bloom to share on my blog, I am not confident my little garden can stand up to a weekly peek of the same view. Cathy suggested using my meditation circle and so I decided to give it a try.

I am fudging a bit already as this photo was taken not today, but rather last night just before 8:30pm as the sun was setting.

As many of you may be aware I created the labyrinth in spring of 2011. I had hoped to plant living walls between the paths using low-maintenance, evergreen perennials; they may not exist though. Since then I have settled on a combination of thymes mixed with a few perennials and annuals for color. The circle is used as a space for walking meditation and the garden itself is my own private peaceful retreat.

Photo Challenge: Circle

Garden View With Meditation Circle - April 19, 2012

Garden View With Meditation Circle – April 19, 2012

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Circle

I have been intrigued by the weekly photo challenge entries for the last few months and decided I would like to participate someday. What better time to get started than on the first day of the new year with the prompt “circle”?

This photo shows the meditation circle in April 2012 when the labyrinth was a year old and the plantings forming the walls were becoming established.

Finding Color Along The Labyrinth

Meditation Circle

Looking Toward Meditation Circle Entrance

In these last days of July the meditation circle has finally come into its own. Originally, when this was a new feature in the garden, I attempted to use only evergreens or semi-evergreens here, but, since I could never find a perfect combination, I have been much happier just supplementing with low-maintenance annuals.

Entrance To The Labyrinth

Entrance To The Labyrinth Is Between Two Rows Of Dark Purple Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Indigo’

A beautiful but tough annual that never needs deadheading, Angelonia angustifolia (summer snapdragon), is providing plenty of color and interest. I know I have mentioned Angelonia before, but it is finally well-established and caught my eye a couple of days ago after a brief morning shower.  It does not mind the heat and scarcity of rain. Its size is a good fit for the narrow space between the paths of the labyrinth, keeping the paths open for easy passage without needing much trimming.

Angelonia ‘Serenita Raspberry’ and 'Purple'

Angelonia ‘Serenita Raspberry’ and ‘Purple’ (Purple turned out to be pink.)

I had planned to use a limited color scheme of white and blue this year, but blue Angelonia were hard to find this year at the time I needed them. Unable to locate enough white plants to use for the entire circle either, I ended up having to settle for a mix of mostly pinks and a few purples (Angelonia ‘Serena White’, ‘Alonia Big Indigo’, ‘Serenita Raspberry’, ‘Purple’ , and ‘Rose’). The ‘Purple’ turned out to be pink also. Though not my first color choices, I have enjoyed them immensely.

Angelonia 'Alonia Big Indigo'

Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Indigo’

Angelonia 'Serena White'

Angelonia ‘Serena White’

Angelonia ‘Serenita Raspberry’, 'Purple' and 'Alonia Big Indigo'

Angelonia ‘Serenita Raspberry’, ‘Purple’ and ‘Alonia Big Indigo’

I need to fill in where the original thyme was planted to define part of the wall. It has spread out from the center, but left patchy gaps in the middle. With that one exception the various thymes are doing well and have been blooming for a few weeks, attracting many pollinators. The goal of the labyrinth (or center of the circle) is planted in Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme).

Angelonia 'Serena White' and Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Angelonia ‘Serena White’ and Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Here is the second Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) I have seen this summer enjoying the thyme.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

There still are a few Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) left from the original planting a few years ago. They have self-seeded and I have left a few, moved some to other parts of the garden and given many away.

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme) and Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme) and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Another penstemon original to the labyrinth is Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue). Of the dozen or so only one survives. I think it likes this summer’s dry weather.

Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)

All in all I love the how the circle has enhanced the garden and I enjoy the peacefulness of the walking meditation.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Garden Views At Mid-April

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

The past week was sunny, hot, rainy, cool—mostly splendidly spring. Dogwood branches dress the back northwest corner. At first the bracts opened a creamy yellow-green, but later changed to white.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

 

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

An afternoon thunderstorm passed through several days ago. That night another storm followed with rain pounding and prolonged streaks of lightening piercing the nighttime sky. Here is a garden view in-between storms.

 

Meditation Circle On Late Stormy Evening

Meditation Circle On Late Stormy Evening

The stones in the circle now need a good cleaning since the driving rain washed mud across the the labyrinth. The upper part of the the circle is filled with Viola that overwintered. Their purplish hue is continued along the back border by Phlox subulata.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Also in the circle are snapdragons that were planted last October. I have never grown them successfully but this year they made it through the cold and now look poised to flower. Dark clumps of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ are putting out fresh new foliage. This penstemon self-seeds freely. The mounds of bright green foliage are white and pink Dianthus.

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

A few days this week I took my coffee outside into the very early morning just as the birds awoke. Those first hours of the day are often the best time to appreciate this little garden’s peaceful offerings.

Not often do I photograph the garden from the position below, that is, standing behind the dogwood at the northwest corner and looking east toward the back of the house.

 

Looking east toward the back of the house. Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood).

Looking east toward the back of the house. Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood).

The brick foundation seems rather bleak and bare from this distance, but move back up close and one can see the first of the native columbine flowers are nodding about. In this border Aquilegia is underplanted with Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm). Soon it will all fill in. I spotted our first hummingbird this week and this area is a big attraction for them.

Garden View With Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) underplanted with Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Garden View With Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) underplanted with Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Garden View With Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Garden View With Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Returning to the dogwood corner, I could not resist sharing a few more views. Phlox subulata looked pretty waterlogged on this morning, but has since recovered.

Garden View from behind Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Garden View from behind Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Meditation Circle And Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Meditation Circle And Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Meditation Circle And Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Meditation Circle And Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Phlox subulata (Moss Phlox) and Anemone coronaria ‘Mr. Fokker’ and 'Bride'

Phlox subulata (Moss Phlox) and Anemone coronaria ‘Mr. Fokker’ and ‘Bride’

Close by the dogwood is where the Anemone coronaria are planted. Since last year only one survived I am happy this area is so colorful. Maybe someone will be able to help solve a mystery. I am curious as to why the centers of some of the white “Bride” flowers look so different.

Anemone coronaria ‘Bride’ With Purple-blue Center

Anemone coronaria ‘Bride’ With Purple-blue Center

Anemone coronaria ‘Bride’

Anemone coronaria ‘Bride’

Sadly the newly purchased Gardenia jasminoides ‘Summer Snow’ fell victim to a late freeze. It was supposed to be a hardier variety but the entire shrub turned brown. Fortunately I was able to return it for a refund.

Pine pollen is in full force, coating everything with a fine yellow dust. Not even the huge storms this week could tamp it down. This will go on for several more weeks.

On a happier note, elsewhere in the garden Irises are gaining inches each day and a few fat buds have appeared. And Peonies, baptisia, clematis and more are making promises for a beautiful spring.

Yinyang Of The Morning Garden

Shady Side, Sunny Side-Meditation Circle on Frosty New Year's Day

Shady Side, Sunny Side-Meditation Circle on Frosty New Year’s Day

They are complementary opposites. Slowly across the meditation circle Yin (darkness) defers to Yang (sunlight).

Happy New Year! The first day of 2015 began frosty cold, but ice crystals on plants in the labyrinth quickly disappeared once discovered by the rays of the morning sun.

Dianthus 'Ideal Select White'

Dianthus ‘Ideal Select White’

Pansy

Pansy

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

I have been dreaming my way through garden catalogs and making plans to fill gaps in the hedges bordering the fence with gardenias, camellias and yet unknowns.

Meditation Circle on Frosty New Year's Day

Meditation Circle on Frosty New Year’s Day

There is a Christmas gift of tulip bulbs to plant this weekend, even as many daffodils are already emerging.

 

Meditation Circle At MidNovember

Meditation Circle In MidNovember

Meditation Circle In MidNovember, 2014

The meditation circle was used for walking meditations this spring and summer, but I never got around to planting anything new until fall. During the first week of October I added red Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) and blue Viola (Johnny-Jump Up). Both are blooming right through the unusually cold, record-setting weather we have had for the past week.

A few violas also volunteered from last year but not in their designated spot.  The planting areas are supposed to form the “wall” between the pavers that form the path.  Instead the violas and actually, quite a few Penstemon Digitalis (Beardtongue) ‘Huskers Red,’ have spread themselves around in-between the pavers. I left most of them for now even though they have not followed the rules.

Early next spring I want to add back some Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft).  This image from  a couple of years ago shows one of my favorite plantings in the circle (of course, it was May). Not much is left of it today except the very reliable Husker Red.

Meditation Circle May 3, 2012 Foreground: Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)  Center: Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) Upper Right and center: Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue) Upper Right: Angelonia

Meditation Circle May 3, 2012
Foreground: Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)
Center: Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)
Upper Right and center: Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Upper Right: Angelonia

When the labyrinth was first conceived I had imagined planting it one time with perfectly chosen plants and reaping the pleasure for years to come, but instead I guess I will reap the pleasure of devising and experimenting with new planting schemes. I had not taken into account at the time such outside forces as drought, standing water or voles.

Several garden visitors have remarked at how the meditation circle has grown in and become more integrated into the rest of the garden. It is true, but in some ways I prefer the more spare and stark look it had when it was first built.

This year the various thymes thickened and crept toward the pavers. I thought I would like that effect but now I am tempted to trim them back to be more tidy. It looks drab now but Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme) in the center of the circle bloomed from the first of July until the end of October. All the thymes should remain evergreen through the winter.

Detail of thymes creeping over the path.

Detail of thymes creeping over the path.

Magnolia Leaves

Today’s monthly garden club meeting featured Jihye Schumann, a designer who began studying floral design 14 years ago in Korea. She demonstrated making arrangements for the home with fruits, vegetables and flowers. Unfortunately I did not have a chance to get pictures of her more elaborate creations, but I did win one of the small ones in a raffle.

Jihye showed how to create a simple and inexpensive display to decorate a tea table by filling three inexpensive glass cups with chrysanthemums from a grocery store and found magnolia leaves.  My photograph does not do this justice. Since I could bring home only one of the cups I cannot show the full effect, but the display of three looked quite nice. She suggested adding candles and a teapot to the three cups of flowers and everyone nodded, envisioning how lovely that grouping might look.

Garden Club Raffle Prize

Garden Club Raffle Prize

The interesting part was how Jihye manipulated the fresh magnolia leaves. First she stacked and aligned about a dozen leaves so they were all pointing the same direction, then she cut them in half with scissors.

Next she restacked the leaves tightly, such that the cut sides all faced down. She inserted the stack into the container with the cut side down. She repeated the process two more times so there were three groups of leaves and then she just added a few stems of flowers for color. Simple, but unusual.

Magnolia leaves, stacked and cut in half provide the foliage.

Magnolia leaves, stacked and cut in half provide the foliage.

Looking Ahead

I love summer but not my perennial garden in summer.

A garden club friend told me several weeks ago she and another were wondering when they could drop by to see my garden. I must have gasped audibly. Laughing but serious, I answered  “next May!”

My garden peaks in spring when the irises bloom. In anticipation I enjoy booting winter on its way and seeing the awakening of plants as the weather warms. Spring is the time when, with the foliage fresh and each first blossom so pure, my hopes and optimism as a gardener are soaring.

But summer!

Though I love summer for the long daylight and easy pace, this particularly dry, hot  and humid summer has challenged my interest, if not my very identity, as a gardener.  Soon after the irises started blooming, the rains stopped coming. Temperatures spiked into what I once thought was the range only of the hottest days of August.

I planted a few zinnias and other seeds, but postponed my planned trips to the garden center to select colorful annuals for planters and for filling in some bare patches in the garden. I pulled out the pansies that had added so much color to the meditation circle all winter and spring, thinking soon I would install some other cheery flowers. I watered a few times but soon it became clear that with the extreme heat a few times would not be adequate to tide the garden over until the next rain. For weeks dense, dark blue-black clouds that formed overhead kept bringing empty promises, either dissipating completely or just drifting away. As the garden dried up I abandoned it for other activities.

Although there are no interesting scenic views to share,  I want to note a few individual plants that have tolerated the drought and heat this summer.

Lantana died back hard during the cold winter. It took a while for it to start blooming this summer but has been happy producing its multicolored florets for several weeks.

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

This little skipper posed briefly for me, but, just seconds before, it had settled upon my hand and sat patiently while I marveled. This was the first time ever I have held a butterfly.

Skipper on fence post just after leaving my hand

Skipper on fence post just after leaving my hand

Last summer I planted the very center of the labyrinth with thyme.

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

 

I learned too late this is not the kind usually used in cooking, but is is slightly fragrant. It is Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme).

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

 

I am pleased the thyme has spread so well and the bees are attracted to the pink-violet flowers.

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Waving above the thyme are a few cleomes sporting seed pods. On one a grasshopper (or maybe a katydid?) found resting spot.

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) and Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) and Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Grasshopper Atop Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Grasshopper or Katydid Atop Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

The zinnias I planted from seed earlier in spring get by without much water. I like that the seed packet contained a good mix, including yellows and oranges, and not just mostly pink.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ began blooming several weeks ago. Here a Hairstreak butterfly (not sure which one) and a bee travel around the cone.

Hairstreak and Bee On Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Hairstreak and Bee On Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Hairstreak and Bee On Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Hairstreak and Bee On Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Finally the bee moves on and the hairstreak emerges into the sunlight.

Hairstreak On Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Hairstreak On Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Three or four gardenia flowers appeared last week on the Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’.

Gardenia jasminoides 'Chuck Hayes'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry) is also blooming this week.

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Last year I planted a row of Alyssum ‘Easter Bonnet Violet’ along the path of the labyrinth. It did poorly but a couple overwintered and now are flowering.

Alyssum 'Easter Bonnet Violet'

Alyssum ‘Easter Bonnet Violet’

Last Tuesday around 5:00 pm we finally had a big thunderous storm. While I just thought my garden seemed nicely refreshed afterwards, I did not realize how much rain had fallen. In fact several neighbors told me later we had five inches. Some of the storms drains a few streets away were overwhelmed. One neighbor shared his video of water a foot deep streaming down the road and into his yard, a small amount of which entered the crawl space of his house.

My garden had some sprawling plants, tangled and twisted after being knocked down by the wind, but largely the garden benefited from the storm. The temperatures moderated appreciably for the rest of the week.

This morning brought another shower, a soft gentle rain this time, and I find myself liking the garden again, imagining it can be redeemed. Who knows? It might be ready by “next May!”

After The Rain. Garden View With Meditation Circle

After The Rain. Garden View With Meditation Circle

 

A Few May Highlights

Even with my normal blinders on I have noticed some rather brash weeds, one standing as tall as the iris the other day. Despite that, the garden this spring has been enchanting—a peaceful and meditative place that also is happily filled with flowers.

A peony novice, I appreciate them more every year. The first I planted several years ago was  Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ and it has just bloomed in the last two days. The cold winter was good for it I guess, as it is loaded with blooms. Last year, just when Pink Parfait’s flowers opened, severe rainstorms turned them into a soggy mess. This spring is different. In the last three weeks we have had heavy, heavy rain, but all coming in a single day—not ideal for the garden in general, but the peonies are lasting better.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait' (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) makes a nice companion plant for the peony.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait' (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

And the Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) has also worked great with my passalong phlox.

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

The Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William) in the northern border continues to add rich texture and color (and as a bonus it holds up well in a vase). One of the nearly black bearded iris is still blooming nearby.

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William)

Last year I had the idea to create a red border (and it could still happen, but I am not actively working on it). With that in mind though last April I planted Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’ in the southern border to accompany a new white peony and a new dark red one. None of them bloomed last year and the dark red peony seems not to have survived, but Pam’s Choice is looking great.

Digitalis purpurea 'Pam's Choice' (Pam's Choice Foxglove)

Digitalis purpurea ‘Pam’s Choice’ (Pam’s Choice Foxglove)

Forming part of the walls of the labyrinth, a large planting of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) has been flowering for 4 or 5 days. These evergreen plants have seeded generously and I have been able to establish them in several other parts of the garden as well.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue) in the Meditation Circle

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) in the Meditation Circle

The penstemon in the meditation circle need to be divided and the pansies are overdue for removal.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

A potted Hippeastrum (Amaryllis), kept over the winter in the garage, bloomed successfully this spring. Now there are two blooming outdoors in the southern border, which I find more exciting. They have been growing outside for a number of years but do not always flower well.

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

Hippeastrum (Amaryllis)

A little ground cover planted last year looked just ok during the winter but it has filled out with lots of dainty blue flowers and is creeping between the stepping stones near the north gate. Its name is Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper).

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)

Another addition to the garden last spring was this dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea, now sporting a lone flower. Named ‘Ruby Slippers,’ it is supposed to have beautiful red fall color, both leaves and flowers. Although this has become a rather shady location, Phlox paniculata still seems perfectly happy, as seen in the background.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'  (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

A garden club friend gave me some yellow Primrose this spring with the warning it spreads like crazy.  Last year I refused the same plant for that very reason. If anyone recognizes it and can give me some details on it I would appreciate it.

Primrose

Primrose

This was a tag-along plant from the primrose. Does anyone recognize it?

Tag along from the yellow primrose

There are three Baptisias in the garden, none of which perform well to my dismay. The deer stripped every flower off the stems of one that lives outside the fenced area just as I began to hold high hopes for it this year. The other two are underachievers, though to be fair, both are perhaps a bit crowded. I love the blue color of the flowers.

Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)

Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)

Along the southern side path plants often decide for themselves where they like to sit. Some years I make suggestions, but this year they have had free rein and I actually love the loose, effusive effect of letting them have their own way. (Self-seeded cleome will have to be removed from the path itself.) The very first bearded iris to bloom were these yellow ones and they are still putting on a show.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear) Along Southern Path

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) Along Southern Path

Along this path Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and white Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) began blooming about a week ago. The red Lychnis did not make it this year.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear) and Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

This tall verbena took hold along the path last year and seems content as the evening approaches.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

After An April Shower

The dreaded pine pollen has dusted every surface with a fine yellow coating for the last week. I hope the heavy, early morning downpour washed much of it away but it will probably be around a few more weeks. For now the garden looks cleansed by the rain, though the spiraea branches (left) are heavy from the weight of the water.

Garden View On Rainy Mid-April Morning

Garden View On Rainy Mid-April Morning

Fall-planted white, purple and blue pansies currently adorn the meditation circle. Other plantings in the labyrinth, selected for their evergreen nature, are Husker Red Penstemon,  dianthus and several types of thyme.

Last night the white pansies shone brilliantly in the early evening light. Their glowing effect makes me think I would enjoy a monochrome planting, all white, lining the meditation path.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Drifts of irises seem to have doubled in height over the past several days. Slowly I am working my way around the garden pulling out the pesky, persistent weeds.

Temperatures last weekend climbed to 80°F. but spring is fickle. There is a freeze warning in effect for tomorrow morning.

 

Winter Storm

The snow storm is right on schedule and these sparrows and juncos are feeding frantically just below my window. Cardinals and towhees are dominating the other feeder but they all keep trying.  A bluebird eyes the situation from the chimes in the meditation circle.

Sparrows and maybe a Junco

Snow is a big event here.  It started falling about 12:45pm and quickly began covering the mulched areas of the garden.

After snowing for 15 minutes (12:58pm)

After snowing for 15 minutes (12:58pm)

A half-hour later the grass is mostly covered.

Snow at 1:27pm

Snow at 1:27pm

The meditation circle filled in quickly. See the little bird near the center?

Snow at 1:54pm

Snow at 1:54pm

2:35 pm. Still snowing. 23°F/-5°C.  After two hours of snow the labyrinth is disappearing.

Snow at 2:35 pm

Snow at 2:35 pm

Snow at 2:36 pm

Snow at 2:36 pm

Neighbors have reported the roads are quickly becoming impassable, but with our errands done we will just enjoy the beauty of the snowfall and cross our fingers the power remains on.

A Fresh Look At The Garden

Snow Garden

We were on the outer edge of a large snowstorm that swept through many southern states yesterday. Arriving later than expected, the storm brought merely an inch of dry, powdery snow to my central North Carolina garden—just enough to delight the neighborhood children and this gardener as well.

Northern Border (facing west)

Northern Border (facing west)

This morning I have enjoyed observing the garden in its winter white garb. In particular I have been watching patterns created by the stones and plants in the Meditation Circle, noticing as sunshine touches the snowy paths and fresh shapes emerge.

Snow Garden

Snow Garden

Sun On Snowy Garden

Sun On Snowy Garden

The birds have been busy at the feeders and and on the ground scratching through the snow, but are reluctant to be photographed. They tuck themselves into favorite hiding places to easily outwait the camera. The Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) is one spot where they are still somewhat visible.

Eastern Towhee in Dogwood

Eastern Towhee in Dogwood

Northern Cardinal in Dogwood

Northern Cardinal in Dogwood

The snow brought a freshness and renewed spirit to the garden.

Snowy Meditation Garden

Snowy Meditation Garden

Meditation Circle In Snow

Meditation Circle In Snow

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle