Tag Archives: meditation path

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.

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.

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’)

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.

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.

 

Rainy Spring Morning

Another rainy Saturday morning means I will not be working in the garden today. This year I have spent much less time outside preparing the borders than in previous years, partly due to prolonged winter and partly due to my own lack of motivation. My inertia is slowly being replaced with interest and anticipation now and I am beginning to look forward to some productive days reconnecting with my garden.

Garden View In Early Morning Rain-March 29, 2014

Garden View In Early Morning Rain-March 29, 2014

Looking down upon the garden from an upstairs window I can see the garden is starting to awaken.  I am not a huge proponent of grass, but this week the fescue lawn seemed to turn green and grow inches overnight. It looked lush and lovely after the first mowing of the year.

I removed one of the leaning junipers against the back fence yesterday, thinking the other would recover, but this morning it is leaning to the left again. I don’t come to these decisions easily even when the evidence is so clear, but okay, it has to go too.

The winter has been colder and more prolonged than in years past. I began wondering how today’s garden view compares to recent years.  As I already admitted, I am behind on garden tasks so the weeding, trimming and mulching has not been completed this year. Interestingly, many of the other photographs from this time of year were also of early spring rainy mornings.

2011. Here is the garden with the meditation circle under construction.

2011.  Meditation Garden Circle-March 24, 2011

2011. Meditation Garden Circle-March 24, 2011

2012. Spring was extremely early in 2012 and the garden advance quickly that year.

2012.  Meditation Garden On Rainy Spring Morning-March 24, 2012

2012. Meditation Garden On Rainy Spring Morning-March 24, 2012

2013. Last year spring was cool.

2013.  Garden View-March 31, 2013

2013. Garden View-March 31, 2013

2014. Waiting.

2014  Spiraea flowers

2014
Spiraea flowers