Tag Archives: lavender

In A Vase On Monday—Lavender And White

Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox) and Lavender-2

Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox) and Lavender

Monday is here again bringing the chance to practice flower arranging by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.

With a Monday vase in mind I have had my eye on a white phlox that began blooming last week.   New to the garden this year, this one is called Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ and is a dwarf garden phlox. Last night I gathered two of the only three blooms on the plant to use today. For companions to the featured phlox I selected a large bundle of lavender and some echinacea.

The day was busier than expected so I abandoned the idea of formally arranging the flowers and decided to eliminate the echinacea altogether.  Using a Portmerion botanic vase that reflects the lavender and white coloring of today’s blossoms, I massed the phlox together in front and the lavender together in back for a simple display.

Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox) and Lavender

Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox) and Lavender


Once I photographed the flowers I was not satisfied with the design.  My use of space struck me as more flat and two-dimensional than I would like. So in the end I decided to add an echinacea or two to get something happening on another plane. It took more than two but I liked the result.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox) and Lavender

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox) and Lavender

Adding the echinacea made the arrangement more dynamic and definitely gave it a pop of color.

Phlox Are Less Dominant Than In First Arrangement

Phlox Are Less Dominant Than In First Arrangement

It is always instructive to explore and experiment with these arrangements. If I were to start over I can think of several other ways I might try to assemble the flowers. But this is it for today.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox) and Lavender

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox) and Lavender


Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

In A Vase On Monday—Roses And Lavender

Roses and Lavender

Roses and Lavender

It is the first Monday of May and I am joining Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday to create a floral arrangement from materials gathered in one’s own garden.

This weekend when I saw my old-fashioned rose had begun blooming I immediately decided to feature it in my Monday vase. It is a sentimental favorite.

A pass-along rose

A pass-along rose

I brought this rose from my previous garden when we moved here thirteen years ago. It was a pass-along from my mother’s cousin, a sweet woman whom I consider my gardening mentor. She was the source of many other pass-along plants as well. My mother had also grown this same rose, as did my maternal grandmother, so each spring when I see these deep pink buds, they bring tender memories.

Roses and Lavender-2

Lavender branches seemed a perfect choice for greenery and for contrast included Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage). I selected a few salmony-pink Dianthus as filler flowers.

Roses and Lavender-6



When doing formal arrangements I always underestimate how much material is required. With a bare spot still needing to be filled I remembered a piece of Allium Nigrum had broken off in the garden the other day before it even had opened, so I had brought it inside. It worked fine to finish this week’s vase.

White flower of Allium Nigrum was a last minute addition to the arrangement.

White flower of Allium Nigrum was a last minute addition to the arrangement.

Materials List
Old-fashioned Rose
Dianthus ‘Ideal Select Salmon’
Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage)
Allium Nigrum

This design is my loose interpretation of a traditional round design. The rose stems were not strong enough to work with easily, but the arrangement went together without too much fretting. I used floral foam set into a 4-inch diameter, shallow dish to hold the flowers, envisioning that the arrangement would sit atop a crystal vase. Because I had not been careful to conceal the sides of the plastic dish, the effect was imperfect though.  I tested the arrangement on a round, straight-sided black ceramic pot and also without an extra vase.  In the morning perhaps I will gather a few concealer leaves or flowers to resolve that issue.

Roses and Lavender-5

The roses and lavender are wonderfully fragrant. My husband remarked how nice the house smells tonight.

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Visit her to see what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Garden Recordkeeping Part 3

As September 2013 winds down I have some photographs and notes to record. This is the third of several posts.

Lavender, Echinacea and Saliva Along Southern Border

Lavender, Echinacea and Saliva Along Southern Border

Sometimes pictures of my garden are just too ugly to show. I think my photography has improved more than my gardening skills since I began blogging, as I try to find ways to show parts of the garden without revealing how it all really looks. No one wants to see, I reason, the spent flowers or unweeded patches, the air conditioner units or brick foundation, the odd item left out of place on the patio, the neighbors’ cars or such. And of course I want to show the garden at its best. So often the views I show are from the same points, where I can compose an image that hides some of the truth.

But I started pbmGarden in January 2011 as a way to plan and design changes for the garden. The blog was to be a way to work out ideas and document the progress of the garden. I was reminded of that point when I looked at yesterday’s pictures of the Southern border, compared to images from when I first began the blog 2.75 years ago.

In the picture above, taken yesterday, I was down on the ground trying to capture the freshness of this Echinacea about to bloom in front of French Lavender. The salmon-colored Salvia should be in the frame as well. Oh, and I told myself to try not to show utility boxes on the side of the neighbors’ house.

Below, here is another view from yesterday of the same area, looking from the middle of the garden toward the Southern border with its Blue Point Juniper hedge. Among other criticisms I was struck by how much flat wall I could see of the neighboring houses.

Garden View- Southern Border 2013-09-28

Garden View- Southern Border 2013-09-28

But it is actually helpful that photographs can go beyond the photographer’s vanity to show an honest record. When I look back at that border just after planting that hedge in February 2011 it is clear to me I have made some progress in this garden.

One of my big goals at the time was to gain some privacy so I could better enjoy gardening. Looking at the Southern border then one could easily understand why this was important. The yards were wide open.

Blue Point Juniper hedge  2-20-2011

Blue Point Juniper hedge 2-20-2011

Standing in my yard a month after the Blue Point Juniper hedge had been installed and looking toward the Southern Border (and the neighboring house beyond), I realized privacy was coming no time soon. I began making arrangements for a fence.

Blue Point Juniper, Southern Bed 3-18-2011

Blue Point Juniper, Southern Bed 3-18-2011

The fence was a costly budget item for this garden but when now when the lantana and other perennials die back in this winter, the garden will still retain a sense of enclosure and privacy.

Garden View- Southern Border

Garden View- Southern Border

Standing at the opposite side of the garden, again looking toward the Southern border, I notice how much the Blue Point Juniper hedge has grown.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

While looking back through some photographs of the garden’s history today I was reminded how helpful it is to have lots of those images that tell the stark, ugly truth. They are useful in evaluating progress and in setting and recalibrating goals for the garden.

Of course for the blog it is always fun to throw in a beauty shot as well. Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) is blooming in several places around the garden.

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

A Lime Green Fancy

For the monthly garden club meeting tomorrow all members have been asked to bring along a mug of flowers to set on a table, just for the fun of it. I used a lime green mug to hold Ranunculus, Iris, Alstroemeria, Solidago, Lavender and Juniper. It will be fun to see all the flower-filled mugs.

Flowers In A Mug

Flowers In A Mug


Ranunculus and Iris

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – January 2013

Euphorbia 'Blackbird' (Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

It is a sunny but cold day. Frigid temperatures moved in today and are expected to remain for the rest of the week.

Today I am joining Christina of Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides for Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD). It always seems repetitious to post foliage from the same few plants but perhaps that illustrates a good point. These are year-round workers in my little garden.

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge) grows in a pot on the patio where I plopped it last spring. It has done pretty well there but I still hope to get it planted in the ground one day.  In the future I plan to rely on small shrubs and perennials, such as this Euphorbia, in my pots, with maybe an annual or two for color. The planters seem much more cost effective and long-lasting this way.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird' (Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

I am partial to silvery-leaved plants and Artemisia has been a reliable one for the borders. This is Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood). It needs some new companion plants as it seems rather solitary at the moment.

Artemisia 'Powis Castle' (Wormwood)

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

In a span between the back garage steps and the southern entrance to the garden is a five-foot long hedge of Lavender. Although it did not bloom very well last year, the silvery leaves provide year-round interest in this dry area. Spilling over across the slate path, the lavender has become quite woody in places and needs to be trimmed back, but I am guessing now I should wait until after it blooms in spring.



Along the Southern side path that leads to the garden are more silvery plants. On the left are drifts of Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion), a rather old-fashioned plant. Though I have grown it for many years I do not see Rose Campion used frequently in other gardens around here. In the summer this path is filled in with Cleome. Originally it was lined with a small mixed shrub hedge that succumbed to severe drought a few years ago.

Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

Just at the lower right side of the path Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) is creeping back. I used a heavy hand with it last year and removed many plants, as it had spread too aggressively. In this part of the garden, which can seem a bit dark in the winter, the silvery foliage of Lamb’s Ear and Rose Campion is welcome. These plants are easy to grow and come back every year (or more accurately, never really die back).

The blue slate stones need to be readjusted and the entire garden needs a good mulching. Where does that mulch get to? It seems to just evaporate.

Please visit Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides for more Garden Bloggers Foliage Day entries.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – June 2012


I embarked on a major garden renovation in January 2011, installing some new privacy shrubs, a picket fence and a meditation circle with a labyrinth.  These projects made a large impact on the garden and measurably increased my enjoyment of it. So I coasted for a year, just enjoying the flowers, but lately I have begun thinking again about various aspects of the garden’s design, structure and views.

Fortunately Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides hosts Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) each month, and this prompt provides an opportunity to examine the role foliage plays in the garden.

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

Summer officially arrived this week and temperatures in the nineties reinforced this changing of the season. This time of year the sun’s glare can pale even the strongest-colored blossoms, making the garden appear washed out. Strong foliage color and varying texture can add interest, especially during these next couple of months. I am often drawn to plants with leaves of deepest greens, reds and purples and find these plants help anchor the garden in summer.  Silvery foliage, such as that found in Lavender, Dusty Miller and Artemisia, is equally useful and serves to complement the dark-leafed plants.


Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Canna’s strong form and deeply patterned, smooth, waxy leaves add interest at many levels as it grows.


This week the first reddish-orange canna flower appeared. (The actual blossom looks yellowish in this picture, but in fact is orange, similar in color to that of the Echinacea cones in the background.) The long, slender leaves of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) are quite graceful and delicate when juxtaposed with the boldness of the Canna’s leaves.

Canna and Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Several weeks ago I transplanted some of the volunteer Cleome (Spider Flower) seedlings from the Southern path to other areas of the garden that needed filling in. These transplants have not grown very tall yet, just 2-3 feet, but they can reach 4-5 feet. The medium green palmate leaves are but one part of the interesting and complex structure of Cleome.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

This Cleome below is opening in front of a stand of Monarda stems; the mid-range dark purple is Setcreasea ‘Purple Heart,’ a reliable plant used as a ground cover in this garden. A gift from a friend many years ago, Purple Heart dies back but easily survives the winters here.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Setcreasea ‘Purple Heart’

When viewing the Cleome flower from above, the foliage assists by providing the perfect backdrop for the flower to be seen.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

The garden holds many examples of foliage variations, but over time as plants have migrated, decreased, multiplied or died out altogether, many original plant pairings have ceased to exist. Much of what is left is happenstance. As I consider the garden’s overall design, I need to look closer at foliage and other characteristics of plants in the garden, noting what combinations work well and under what circumstances.

Check out other GBFD bloggers by visiting Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides.

Newly Blooming

Fragrant Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’ and a few other plants are newly blooming in this Chapel Hill garden today.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Long before the garden’s picket fence was installed ‘Chuck Hayes’ was planted as a low privacy hedge in the western border. Both evergreen and deer resistant this gardenia variety is very cold hardy in this area. It prefers regular watering, but seldom is anything watered in this garden beyond a week or two after planting. The hedge is benefitting from the very significant amounts of rain the garden has received all winter and spring. It also responded well to the Epsom salts I applied a month ago when some of the leaves began to yellow. Many of the original ‘Chuck Hayes’ shrubs were lost to drought and the spots left bare are gradually being replaced with taller plants that can provide more privacy.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Nearby the first clusters of flowers have opened on the Butterfly bush (possibly Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’).

Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’? (Butterfly bush)

Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’? (Butterfly bush)

The bees are finding plenty of food, including this Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell), which actually has been blooming for a few weeks now, not just starting today. It seems much revived after last night’s elaborate thunder and lightning storm that brought heavy amounts of rain.

Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)

Pale delicate flowers of Lavender are open today at last and bees are finding it irresistible.  In the background are drifts of pink Achillea and the ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge planted last year.

Lavender and Pink Achillea

The first blossoms of Salvia ‘Blue Sky’ appeared today, revealing this flower’s characteristic azure blue brilliance atop a 5-foot flower stalk.

Salvia ‘Blue Sky’

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’  is not quite open, but a little of the white flower is visible. The soft grass-like foliage provides a nice texture in the northern border.

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’

One more newly opened flower today, a cheerful Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy). There are many large clumps of this herbaceous perennial all around the garden, so soon this single blossom should have plenty of company.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Eastern Redbud and Company

Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud)

The native redbud showed a few spots of pink against the gray bark last week. What a difference a few days can make—today its lovely color is full of promise. This particular tree is poorly situated, crowding out and being crowded by two ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress. The site was meant to be temporary for this once tiny twig, but time got away and now this once tiny twig is about to bloom again in its default permanent location.

Along the Southern Path

At the top of the Southern path outside the garden entrance is a Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ with a few newly formed buds.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Lavender’s young leaves are soft, silvery and fragrant.


Nearby, fresh growth abounds on the Linum Perenne ‘Sapphire’ (Flax), although (oops!) last year’s brown has not been trimmed away. This herbaceous perennial was reintroduced last spring after many years of absence in this garden and I look forward to seeing its pale blue flowers.

Linum Perenne 'Sapphire' (Flax)

Irises are tucked all around the garden, different kinds and all gifts from friends. All should have been divided years ago. Some irises along the Southern border have leaves more than a foot tall, others are but 3 or 4 inches so far. When the irises bloom this garden will be in its peak.

Meditation Circle

The meditation circle has provided so much pleasure since its completion last April and I am grateful I will not to be digging my way through Spring this year.

Meditation Circle

I have experimented with a few evergreen perennials the last eleven months to learn what might live easily in the narrow 12-inch spaces between the stepping stones of the labyrinth. Once imagination and budget for perennials ran low last summer, annuals were used to help the circle look vibrant and colorful. The evergreen nature of the chosen perennials helped maintain interest throughout the winter.

Iberis Sempervirens 'Purity' (Candytuft)

In the center of the meditation circle Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) continues to be a showy feature. The newer ones planted this winter (shown in front) will soon catch up in size to those original ones in the back.

Though most are green, several of the Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) seem to be just hanging on.  It has been too wet for thyme to thrive and the thyme need to be given a better home. This variety is not tall enough to provide much impact in the circle.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

The three new Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are doing well, as are the original two from last year that were tested for performance in this site. The foliage is lovely close-up but does not provide a lot of contrast against the brown mulch when seen from a distance. When in bloom the tall white spires were lovely last year.

The outermost green plants on the far right of the meditation circle are also Penstemon, though not nearly as well behaved, a bit scraggly in fact.  They are Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ and have recently had a severe shearing to tidy them up. They weathered winter well and have remained very green.

A Camellia And More

Spied a pink camellia blooming just around the corner of the house the other day and today was the first opportunity to check it out. Though the past several days of rain have left this blossom wrinkly and tired, I still admired its interesting waxy, translucent skin. There will be many more blossoms soon, as the beautiful shrub itself is tightly packed with buds. For now the name of this camellia is lost, probably written down somewhere safe though.


Here are a few other scenes from today’s garden:


In early spring first the lenten roses, then the daffodils and spirea dominated the garden. By mid-April the first bearded iris had opened. Now, three and a half weeks later, a few irises, along with the old-fashioned rose and the clematises, remain in bloom.  Take a quiet stroll around the perennial beds and it is easy to notice the garden again is in transition.

Verbena bonariensis

A verbena bonariensis is blooming and echinacea (purple coneflower) are beginning to open.

Several foxgloves are forming their complex flowers. Nearby an ‘Irish eyes’ rudbeckia already has reached two of its expected five feet.

The monarda (bee balm) also is tall and seems primed for a big display of red and fragrance.

A soft gray mound of artemisia accents the border and a perennial Dusty miller is creeping through the garden. Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) will soon add its bright reddish-orange color to the blue palette that has predominated the garden in early spring.


The very tips of the white tubular flowers of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are becoming visible.

These two penstemon are planted inside the meditation path forming a wall at one of the turnaround points.


One of the small pink yarrow is just beginning to open among the lamb’s ears. Rising only 10-15 inches, it has a lacy flower and a dark green, feathery-soft foliage.

Lavender will soon be adding its beautiful color and unique fragrance to several locations. The lavenders responded positively to severe pruning in February.


A Garden Highlight

An exciting highlight is the single bloom on the peony recently added to the garden, Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait.’  Although its planting tag indicated a June bloom, it was ready yesterday without regard to the calendar, as was the gardener.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Changes Bring Chores

As the focus transitions away from roses and irises there are many required tasks this week that will help keep the garden looking nice. The faded iris blooms and the bloom stalks need to trimmed back to tidy up, although the leaves need to remain for several months before being trimmed back to 6 inches in a fan shape. Is this the year the irises will finally get divided?

Rose Campion

The southern path is full of white rose campion, but none of the favored magenta-hued rose campion survived the winter.  Deadheading is a must if they are to continue to look attractive and to keep them from self-sowing so heavily.

The many Eastern Red Columbine is done for this year and needs to be cut back severely; it will maintain a nice green mound all summer.

Tradescantia is pretty now but needs to be thinned, as it has spread too widely. Many were sheared heavily ten days ago. The daylilies, the sweet peas–all overgrown.  The spirea finished its bloom weeks ago and should be pruned back hard to maintain its size. Other chores abound.  The fence installation was completed last week and paths to the gates need to be improved.

How to finish planting the meditation circle is still an interesting problem to solve, something to ponder while working on these maintenance tasks this week and contemplating transitions.

Assessment and a Few Garden Chores

The sunny, warm, 53-degree day made it seem imperative to accomplish some chores in the garden today. Having missed, well ignored, the fall cleanup tasks lists that gardening columnists wisely reissue annually, it must be acknowledged that the garden’s many plants are begging to be trimmed and tidied. It had been nice though to leave some things for the birds to enjoy and for adding extra visual interest when December brought unusual amounts of snow.

Lavender and Artemisia, June 2006

Trimmed back both an English Lavender and an artemisia (‘Powis Castle’) that overrun the stepping stones each year (shown here in June 2006). A few sections of lavender that had a good root system were optimistically tucked gently into some pots on the patio.

Echinacea and Canna, June 2006



Cut back a stand of shasta daisies and several echinacea (purple coneflower). Removed the browned stalks and leaves of both the canna and the wild ginger that live along the southern garden path.  The canna and echinacea are shown here as they looked in June 2006.

Wild Ginger, October 25, 2009



The wild ginger blooms were significant during September-October 2009, but not this past year, nor the preceding three or four years. Its flowers though were so fragrant and strikingly beautiful during that one time, there are no plans to abandon the wild ginger.

Daffodils Emerging, January 19, 2011



Daffodils are shooting up out of the earth today. When did that happen? Actually, seeing the inch or two of green pushing though the soil this morning was the impetus it took to push this garden’s caretaker outdoors this mid-January day.  The temperature made it up to 60 degrees by late afternoon.



Winter gardening projects, some light (as today’s were), some serious, offer opportunities to assess the garden’s strengths and weaknesses. Assessment is a valuable exercise if this garden truly is to be redesigned and rejuvenated this year.