Tag Archives: meditation garden

Sunday Album – Early Morning Light

Early Morning LIght – Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’; Dahlia, Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

A little over three months ago I would have risen early on Sunday morning and prepared to teach a gentle yoga class, which I always concluded with a guided meditation. Some classes are resuming this week but on a limited schedule and with a much different format. I feel it will be a long time before I am back in that world, although I am optimistic it will happen.

I spent this early morning photographing the garden in the midst of calm and solitude. Quiet but for birds running through their morning routine. Even bees were asleep.  There is a clarity the garden invites, a stillness not still. Presence, knowing, awareness. The garden makes it possible.

Our house faces east and hides the morning sun from the back garden. Light slips in first from either side softly tapping the back fence and working its way into the western border.

Western Border – Dahlias

Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Deco’ and Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’

Dahlia ‘Tsuku Yori No Shisha’

Here is one of the sleeping bees.

Dahlia ‘Labyrinth’

Dahlia ‘Tsuku Yori No Shisha’ and D. ‘Labyrinth’; Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’

Dahlia ‘Labyrinth’

Dahlia ‘Labyrinth’

Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Deco’

Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Deco’

Dahlia ‘David Howard’

Southern Border – Sweet Pea and Daylily

Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea)

Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea)

Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Western Border – Oakleaf Hydrangea

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hope your Sunday has been full of light

Wordless Wednesday—Around And About

Southern Side Path

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’

Southern Border (Facing North)

Passed along as Japanese Iris

Iris hybrid

Iris germanica ‘Immortality’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’ and Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’ and Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’

Paeonia ‘Madame Emile Debatene’

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Chrysanthemum, Daylily, Old-fashioned Rose

Old-fashioned Rose

Rhododendron ‘Robin Hill Gillie’ (Azalea Gillie)

Southwest Corner

Hellebore, Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells), Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) in sunlight

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells)

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells), Tansy

Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells), Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Hellebore, Tansy, Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox), Iris

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear), Iris tectorum (Japanese Roof Iris)

Southwest Island

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)  April 22, 2018.

Buxus x ‘Green Mountain’ (Green Mountain Boxwood), Dahlia ‘Fireworks’, Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’, Coreopsis, Iris

Dahlia ‘Fireworks’, Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’, Snapdragon, Dianthus

Dahlia ‘Fireworks’

Dahlia ‘Fireworks’

Iris, Coreopsis

Meditation Circle

Meditation Garden at Early Morning, from Southern Border facing North

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle. Looking toward SW Corner

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle. Looking toward SW Corner

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’, Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle. Looking North

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle.  Facing NW

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’, Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle. Facing NW

Western Border

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

Erysimum ‘Sugar Rush Purple’ (Wallflower)

Nepeta ‘ Psfike’ (Little Trudy Catmint), Dusty Miller

Northern Border

Iris germanica, Old-fashioned Rose, Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Iris germanica

Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Iris germanica, Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Iris germanica

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony), Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Iris germanica

Clematis ‘Niobe’

Iris germanica ‘Raspberry Blush’ April 22, 2018

Barbara Katz’s Garden—2017 Garden Bloggers Fling

Many attendees of the 2017 Gardens Bloggers Fling have reported eloquently about the gardens we visited in June in Washington, DC and surrounds. (See 2017 Capital Region Fling Overview). I managed to write about only a couple of the gardens after returning, but there are a few more I personally wanted to share with you.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

On one morning our first stop took us to a private garden in Maryland created by Barbara Katz. This garden visit was a highlight of the Fling. By way of introduction here is the official tour description:

“Landscape designer Barbara Katz is the owner of London Landscapes, LLC and the creator of this lushly planted hillside garden. The lot slopes 12 feet up to the property line near a 200 year old oak. A waterfall and small pond make use of the slope, attracting birds and wildlife. Filled with annuals and perennials, the garden has a strict color division with plants in tones of orange, white, and purple on one side and yellow, pink, blue, and maroon on the other.”

The day began auspiciously. Humidity and oppressive heat had dogged us the previous day, but then cleared out overnight, leaving the early hour air noticeably fresh.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Front View From the Drive

Upon our arrival Barbara greeted us warmly in her driveway and described how she came to own the property.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

As a landscape designer she had worked with clients on this garden for years. When she learned the clients were planning to move she found it difficult to leave the garden to destiny, and figured out a way to purchase the home. Barbara directed us to the left side entrance toward the hillside garden in back.

Side Garden

As the path was narrow we queued to enter. (I later circled back around to capture this image.) We happily inched our way along, stopping to admire beautiful plantings. Each step brought delight.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Other Flingers have written so well about the plantings, the color combinations, the hardscape and water features in the Katz garden. I simply will share some glimpses of the garden and my reaction.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

As I moved along what stood out to me was the sense of place, a feeling, the impact of being in a special setting.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Before ascending the steps I first traveled the base of the garden. New vignettes opened up with every step.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

This garden really spoke to me. As I explored the paths leading to, from and around the garden, I felt transformed, overcome by the beauty, appreciative of the vision and work that leads one to create such a space.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

After surveying the garden from below I worked my way up the stone steps alongside the waterfall.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

At the top of the garden I found this circular lawn perfectly satisfying. It seemed quite secluded. Just behind where I stood to take this picture there was a shady spot with a wooden bench. Across the way, a gazebo beckoned. I headed in that direction next.

At top of the garden lay a circular lawn on one side, a gazebo across the way.

Looking down from the gazebo side the steepness of the property is evident.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Notice the three empty chairs below on the left? I worked my way toward them.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

I settled on the edge of a seat. From this vantage point I could gaze up at the plantings. I could pause, admire and contemplate. The garden itself was a meditation.

Barbara Katz’s Garden- Bethesda, Maryland

Though surrounded by the din of 50 enthusiastic Flingers, the quiet force of the peaceful setting was more powerful. Human voices receded, even as sounds of birdsong and trickling water reverberated. I felt practically alone in the garden. Noticing. Breathing.  At ease.

This is a garden with a soul.

 

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 23, 2016

Tuesday View August 23, 2016

Tuesday View August 23, 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.

We were away last week so it has been two weeks between Tuesday views. This scene was taken at today at 8:29 a.m. Again the sunlight has found the tops of the trees but has not yet entered the garden, the contrast making for a poor quality photograph. The sun is not actually so harsh as this looks, but the image underscores how on summer mornings moments in the garden are best enjoyed during this early shady period.

The fescue grass is dying back, patchy with brown spots and an annoying annual grass has snuck into the lawn over the past several years. It grows faster than okra and cannot be kept trimmed.

One of the original thymes along the path has turned completely black the last two weeks. It began discoloring after I trimmed around the pavers, so perhaps I damaged it but I think it is stressed from the weather. In past years it has recovered but it looks messy now. The Pink Chintz thyme in the center is still blooming and Angelonia contributes lots of color.

Tuesday View August 23, 2016

Tuesday View August 23, 2016

Overall the garden is in retreat. There will not be much to see from here on out until early spring when bulbs start peeking out again.

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 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.

Early June In The Garden

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Having missed an end of May report, I am compelled to record some of the special garden joys of early June.

Recently Annette wondered about the white flower she was expecting on her Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’. I assured her these plants do have white flowers and promised to follow through with a planned post to show how these penstemon are looking in my own garden.

I planted Husker Red penstemon in the meditation circle as an evergreen choice for a section of the “wall.” It has thrived, reseeding freely, enabling me to establish new plantings throughout the borders and to pass along specimens to friends.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Other penstemon planted in the labyrinth at the same time have not fared as well. One of my favorite colors, this purple one is called Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’. Of a dozen or so plants only this one remains in the meditation circle, but last summer I was able to transplant a piece into the northern border.

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

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

Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ was added last year and has done great this spring.

Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Bees love these penstemons. They also have been enjoying tradescantia, foxgloves, Verbena bonariensis, echinacea and recently blooming Blue Sky salvia.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Digitalis Foxlight 'Ruby Glow' PPAF (Ruby Glow Foxglove)

Digitalis Foxlight ‘Ruby Glow’ PPAF (Ruby Glow Foxglove)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) with Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) with Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Bees really love Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear). It will soon need cutting back but I hate to when the bees are so enamored of it.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

I like Echinacea in early summer. The flowers are fresh and take on so many forms before finally opening their petals. In the background at right is the meditation circle with Husker Red penstemon blooming. I also planted Angelonia in white and purple for color throughout the summer.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Here are more echinacea with explosions of pink flowers from Red Rocks Penstemon in the distance.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

A pass-along dahlia overwintered successfully and began blooming this week. (Thank you Libby!)

Dahlia sp.

The dwarf oak leaf hydrangea has finally put on its first big floral display after taking several years to get established.

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

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

My favorite pass-along old-fashioned rose had a few new flowers this week. Unfortunately I spotted a Japanese beetle on one. Those haven’t been a problem in several years.

Old-fashioned Rose

Old-fashioned Rose

Three of five August Beauty gardenias survived near the northwest gate, where they were planted to provide a screen for the air conditioning units. It has taken them much longer than expected to grow but with the heavy rainfall this spring they finally look healthy and are blooming.

Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

And finally to close I leave you with some favorite photographs of a second purple gladiolus that opened this week. The sunlight coming in from behind made the centers of the flowers glow like fire.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

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

Wednesday Annotations

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Echinacea are opening up all around the garden this week, mostly the species E. purpurea. Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ is a hybrid coneflower with a rich red center. At first it seems to be all cone, but eventually petals emerge.

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Over the past several weeks I have removed all the red snapdragons and most of the ‘Husker’s Red’ penstemon from the meditation circle and replanted it with annuals that should perform well through the summer. I was happy with the labyrinth this spring, its walls planted in taller, fuller plants, but stepping to the next stone became like navigating an obstacle course.

For the new simplified planting scheme I used several shades of Angelonia (Summer snapdragon) to add color without blocking the path. I wanted blue and white, but when I was ready to buy the blue plants were scarce. From the penstemon at 11 o’clock around clockwise to 5 o’clock I used Angelonia ‘Serena White’.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Angelonia 'Serena White'

Angelonia ‘Serena White’

With the hot dry weather in May, it was difficult to get these established, and I had to break my rule and water nearly every day in the month. We finally had a little rain yesterday and today is overcast, a welcome reprieve.

To complete the plantings on the other side, I used Angelonia ‘Lavender’ (in bloom on the far left path) and Angelonia ‘Raspberry’ on the interior path (not blooming yet).

Angelonia 'Lavender' and Angelonia 'Raspberry' In Meditation Circle

Angelonia ‘Lavender’ and Angelonia ‘Raspberry’ In Meditation Circle

Angelonia 'Lavender'

Angelonia ‘Lavender’

At the labyrinth entrance with larger and darker flowers are Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Indigo.’

Angelonia 'Alonia Big Indigo'

Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Indigo’

I could not resist slipping in another gardenia to show. A single flower of  ‘August Beauty’ is blooming for the first time. Three of five bushes survive that were planted in August 2012.

Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

 

Vibrant Blooms At Mid-May

Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima'

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

At mid-May there is a profusion of flowers as the garden launches a noticeable shift toward summer. Several very hot days last week signaled it was time, and although the temperatures quickly moderated, the transition was underway.

The days are dry, clear and sunshiny. After the luxury of ample rains throughout winter and early spring, I am having to water some of the new shrubs and other recent purchases.

I am fairly new to the world of peonies and I wonder what took me so long to understand their allure. Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’ was at its best this past week. Meanwhile Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ is just getting started with its display.

Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima'

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia 'Festiva Maxima'

Paeonia ‘Festiva Maxima’

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait' (Peony)

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait’ (Peony)

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ has been reliable for years while other clematis have come and gone. I added two new ones this spring. It has been blooming for a full month and continues to add new flowers.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

I love having white plants in the garden and have long admired white clematis. This new Clematis ‘Henryi’ is tucked into a corner against the house where the fence begins.

Clematis 'Henryi'

Clematis ‘Henryi’

Also new this spring, Clematis ‘Niobe’ is promised as one that will bloom all summer and I hope eventually it will add interest along the stark white fence at the northern boundary.

Clematis 'Niobe'

Clematis ‘Niobe’

A pass-along yarrow opened up this week in the southern border. Echinacea is opening in the southern side path as well in many parts of the main garden.

Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)

Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

After a beautiful season many of the bearded irises are looking tired, just as the Siberian iris are gaining strength. These Siberians were, guess what, pass-alongs! A Chapel Hill friend rescued for me from her neighbor’s divisions one year.

Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris)

Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris)

I pulled out the blue pansies on one side of the meditation circle last weekend and added white angelonia. Already the tamer color scheme appeals to me.

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Even without the meditation circle remains vivid this week as the red snapdragons continue to thrive, making it a difficult choice to remove them. I have more of the angelonia waiting to replace the snapdragons though so I must be disciplined and discard them soon. Adding to the energy in this area are two dozen Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue). I like the rich foliage topped with delicate white flowers.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)-2

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)-2

The original planting in the labyrinth started with about 3 Husker Reds and many Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple.’ Only one Pike’s Peak Purple remains but Husker Red has been increasing. I have been encouraging every visitor to the garden to take some home. It is valuable for it evergreen foliage.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)-2

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)-2

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

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

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

I added several new Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ to the garden this year, though not in the meditation circle. Having either purple or red in the name of a plant does not always mean red.

Penstemon x mexicali (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Penstemon x mexicali (Red Rocks Penstemon)

The view from the garden bench is filled with blooms. Soft breezes stir the chimes. Towhees, robins, cardinals and an especially persistent Carolina Wren add to the pleasure.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Warning

Garden View

Garden View

When I am an old garden I shall wear purple

With a red plant that doesn’t go and doesn’t suit me.

–With apologies to Jenny Joseph (read full poem “Warning“).

In my dream garden there are blues of every sort, purples and greens. A few genteel spots of soft yellow, refined and restrained, break up the space. Accents of sophisticated whites highlight the borders.

Iris germanica 'Immortality'

Iris germanica ‘Immortality’

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)

Iris In Southern Side Path

Iris In Southern Side Path

Iris germanica

Iris germanica

Japanese Iris

Japanese Iris

Salvia nemorosa 'May Night' (Hardy Sage)

Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’ (Hardy Sage)

But this spring I am loving the over-the-top combinations brought on by a happenstance purchase of dark red snapdragons late last autumn. (A single pink stow-away found its way here too). I grew up believing pink and red did not go together any more than purple and red.

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

My mantra for this garden always has been based on peace, calm and contemplation. But every morning when I peek out I smile at the riot of color. It is over-the-top. When I am working outdoors the word gaudy bubbles into my thoughts, but I cannot stop smiling.

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle

Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) in Meditation Circle

When my husband and I take breakfast, lunch and supper on the screened porch overlooking the garden, we sigh in amazement and smile. A garden that makes us smile—what more?

Northern Border

Northern Border

Salvia nemorosa 'May Night' (Hardy Sage) and Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’ (Hardy Sage) and Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Salvia nemorosa 'May Night' (Hardy Sage), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox), and Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) and Iris

Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’ (Hardy Sage), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox), and Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon) and Iris

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) and Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) and Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) and Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) and Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) and Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) and Antirrhinum majus (Snapdragon)

So what of this outrageous color? The garden will be 14 years old at the end of May. It is a teenager, not grown old at all, just finding itself.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear) In Southern Side Path

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) In Southern Side Path

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.

Late March In The Garden

Garden View from Above

Garden View from Above

Grass is at its most verdant this time of year in deep contrast to the surrounding perennial borders. But with iris, monarda, columbine and phlox reaching upwards and filling out, soon the focus will shift. In the meantime a crescent of viola in the meditation circle are fairly ostentatious and a few hyacinths add color to the northern border.

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Blue Jacket’

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Blue Jacket’

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Woodstock’

Hyacinth orientalis ‘Woodstock’

Last week I purchased more Iberis, one of one of my favorite ground covers. It needs to be planted right away, but rain is pouring down this morning. This is Iberis sempervirens ‘Snow Cone’.

Iberis sempervirens 'Snow Cone' (Candytuft)

Iberis sempervirens ‘Snow Cone’ (Candytuft)

This time of year I hear the garden center call. While many gardeners are dealing with seeds and seedlings, I am just itching to add some things to the garden that offer immediate gratification.

For several weeks though I have been single-mindedly working on garden cleanup and finally yesterday I completed the weeding—I made it around the entire garden and those pesky things will not dare return. Now I can concentrate on some planting fun.

From this upstairs view of the garden one can see much more white fence than evergreen shrub. Succumbing to drought and other excuses, over the years countless shrubs have died out and been replaced, only to have them die out also. The five Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’ (Blue Point Juniper) have been the exception.

Garden view from above, with Juniperus chinensis 'Blue Point' (Blue Point Juniper) hedge along southern border.

Garden view from above, with Juniperus chinensis ‘Blue Point’ (Blue Point Juniper) hedge along southern border.

I had intended to make a plan to add shrubs to the garden over the fall and winter. The Chuck Hayes gardenia hedge along the back fence has dwindled to a mere five bushes and this harsh winter has contributed further to its demise. Two days ago I dug one gardenia out completely and pruned another way back nearly to ground level to try to revive it. Only one other looks healthy and it is hidden out of view behind the spirea.

Yesterday, without a plan but under the magical spell of springtime, I explored a local garden center to look for new shrubs. The nursery aisles were bursting, with more temptations being unloaded all the time.

Although what I came home with are not perfectly well-suited to the garden, they spoke to me.  Shade loving plants for a garden that has little shade? Surely I can convince them to thrive.

Soon I had selected a pink single camellia with a delightful and strong, sweet fragrance. Its name is Camellia X ‘Koto-no-kaori’.

Camellia japonica hybrid 'Koto-No-Kaori'

Camellia japonica hybrid ‘Koto-No-Kaori’

It features an upright form, reaching 8-10 feet at maturity. I will wait a few days to plant it as the temperature is supposed to dip into the twenties this weekend. Koto-no-kaori needs light shade, which will be a bit of a problem. We plan to lop off some lower branches of the juniper in the southwest corner, so I may be able to work the camellia under its protection somehow.

Camellia japonica hybrid 'Koto-No-Kaori'

Camellia japonica hybrid ‘Koto-No-Kaori’

I use to see Acuba growing on UNC’s campus and found those yellow dotted leaves fascinating. Now, realizing how useful its foliage can be in flower arranging, I have been focused on acquiring one. Welcome Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’ (Gold Dust Aucuba), but where will I put you? Your mature size is 6-10’ H x 4-6’ W and your foliage burns in sun.

Aucuba japonica 'Variegata' (Gold Dust Aucuba)

Aucuba japonica ‘Variegata’ (Gold Dust Aucuba)

One shrub that can take full sun is Buxus x ‘Green Mountain’ (Green Mountain Boxwood). This upright, cone-shaped evergreen is a moderate grower, maturing at 5′ H x 3′ W. It has bright green foliage.

Buxus x 'Green Mountain' (Green Mountain Boxwood)

Buxus x ‘Green Mountain’ (Green Mountain Boxwood)

Looking around the nursery I became distracted from shrubs at some point with predictable results. These two sun-tolerant perennials are Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ and Euphorbia ‘Shorty’. I have grown Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ in a pot for a number of years, but finally decided to try some others. These should form nice mounds.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'  (Ascot Rainbow Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (Ascot Rainbow Spurge)

Euphorbia 'Shorty'  (Shorty Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ (Shorty Spurge)

Last fall’s Sweet William seeds are still in their packet, so I bought a healthy-looking clump of Dianthus barbatus ‘Barbarini Mix’. This old-fashioned plant is one I always want in the garden.

Dianthus barbatus ‘Barbarini  Mix’ (Dwarf Sweet William)

Dianthus barbatus ‘Barbarini Mix’ (Dwarf Sweet William)

Oh, I did find a new gardenia that claims improved cold hardiness (zones 6-10). Gardenia jasminoides ‘Summer Snow’ features fragrant, double white flowers and grows 4-5′ tall. I may even go back for a couple more of these. I hear the garden center calling.

Gardenia jasminoides Summer Snow (Gardenia 'Summer Snow')

Gardenia jasminoides Summer Snow (Gardenia ‘Summer Snow’)

Garden Regeneration

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue) forms part of the Meditation Circle wall

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) forms part of the Meditation Circle wall May 25, 2014

Four years ago yesterday I posted my first entry on pbmGarden entitled, “Garden Regeneration.”  The first paragraph written then works just as well today.

The garden has been neglected the last few years. Too many frustrations: deer, noisy surroundings, drought, and life’s distractions. Time again to focus on what is important and to create a peaceful setting. (January 7, 2011)

Four years later the garden has been mildly neglected for a few months, but not years. Voles are my current nemesis and instead of drought the rains have been frequent. Though details of that first post are fluid and can easily be swapped one for another, the original intention is still clear to me: Time again to focus on what is important and to create a peaceful setting.

Japanese Iris and Iris germanica (Bearded iris) May 8, 2013

Japanese Iris and Iris germanica (Bearded iris) May 8, 2013

Though I long for it, I no longer think the garden will just one day finally become perfect and stay that way. Even when the irises bloom and the garden is at its best, I know it represents only one point in the nature’s cycle and change is already taking place. But I am reassured the ebb and flow of the days and nights through the seasons will produce more opportunities for me to seize.

Some goals set in January 2011, although met, continue to challenge. The labyrinth is one achievement that brings immense satisfaction.

pbmgarden Labyrinth Design

pbmgarden Labyrinth Design March 2011

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle Under Construction April 8, 2011

Garden View with Meditation Circle May 6, 2011

Garden View with Meditation Circle May 6, 2011

Garden View With Meditation Circle May 10, 2014

Garden View With Meditation Circle May 10, 2014

While documenting days in pbmGarden over the last four years, what I have known but need to continually relearn is this task of focussing and creating is a process, a long, sometimes arduous journey of personal change and development. The garden is a refuge as I work out this path. My goal of garden regeneration has really become gardener regeneration.

Meanwhile what I had not expected when starting pbmGarden on WordPress was finding such kind and knowledgeable blogging friends who brighten my days with encouragement, advice and humor. For five years prior I had diligently recorded garden observations at another site, without the benefit of knowing those of you who now stop by regularly or peek in occasionally. Once in a while I think my garden would profit from me spending less time blogging and more time gardening, but in reality the support I receive from you actually helps keeps me going.

As I say happy birthday to my little garden blog, I also wish to send a heartfelt thank you for visiting here.