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Thursday Doors—Log Cabin

Thursday Doors - Log Cabin

Thursday Doors – Log Cabin

For some time I have enjoyed Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors feature by way of Judy at New England Garden and Thread. Although I focus my blog on gardens and flowers last week while searching for a vase, I spotted a special door to share.

Thursday Doors - Log Cabin

Thursday Doors – Log Cabin

My father was a cabinetmaker as was his father. He worked full-time as a U. S. postal clerk but also managed to run his cabinet shop after work and on weekends. During a slow period one summer when my 3 sisters and I were very young, he fabricated this little log cabin for us. The rustic cabin is an anomaly, quite a departure from his finished pieces crafted for his business, Colonial Cabinet Shop.

I have a faint memory of sitting outside in our backyard on a picnic table while he shaped and notched twigs that would become the logs. As this task took longer than a child’s attention span, soon I wandered off to play.

Thursday Doors - Log Cabin

Thursday Doors – Log Cabin

At one point the chimney was covered with stones, returned now to the earth somewhere, and a section of shingles has been knocked off.

Stones once covered the chimney.

Stones once covered the chimney.

At upper left corner and along right-hand side, shingles are missing.

At upper left corner and along right-hand side, shingles are missing.

On the side wall opposite the chimney is the cabin’s only window.

Thursday Doors - Log Cabin

Thursday Doors – Log Cabin

In elementary school when my class studied the American frontier, I remember taking this little cabin to school along with a book report about Abe Lincoln.

Thursday Doors - Log Cabin

Thursday Doors – Log Cabin

Many times this door has opened and closed, but not often in recent years. It is nice to share it with you today, a portal back to childhood.

Thursday Doors - Log Cabin

Thursday Doors – Log Cabin

A hook from a bent nail formed part of the latch. A hole remains where a nail once served as a door knob.

A hook from a bent nail formed part of the latch. A hole remains where a nail once served as a door knob.

Linked to Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors, April 14, 2016

March Blue Sky And Sunlight

Blue sky and 43 degrees mark the day at mid-morning. As we head toward a warm day near sixty degrees, much of the garden is just emerging from the frosty shadows and many plants are rimmed with ice.  Today at last the Spiraea shrub is beginning to bloom, three and a half weeks later than last year’s very early flowering.





Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – September 2012

Each month Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina of Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides, is an opportunity to examine the contributions of foliage in one’s garden.  It is 83F this afternoon, the first day of autumn, sunny with a gentle breeze.

Primed to focus on foliage I started out walking around the front of the house this morning where glossy leaves of Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne) shone in the early light. The anomaly of red-tinged buds was an unexpected sight.

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne)

Along the north side of the house is a very narrow strip separating our property from the neighbors’ drive. Planted at the northeast corner of the house is a Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ and just beyond are several gardenias (variety unknown) that have bloomed well this year.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Both the camellia and the gardenia are trouble-free but do require some light pruning to keep from extending into the neighbors’ driveway. I had to trim them last month which I think stimulated this new growth on the Sasanqua.

New Growth On Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Listed variously as fall-blooming and winter-blooming, this Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ bloomed last year by November 1.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

A friend rooted the gardenias that grow here now and presented them to me when they were just six or eight inches tall about ten years ago. This view is looking west toward the main garden.

Gardenia in Northern Border

Both the camellia and the gardenias are evergreen with nice glossy leaves.  These shrubs serve to hide utility units from the street, but flowers, such as this creamy Gardenia flower, are a bonus.

Gardenia Flower in Northern Border

Next to the gardenias is a grouping of Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) which add deep green color and texture now and will enliven this area in winter and spring when they bloom.

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)

Moving down beyond the Hellebores the rest of the north side strip is planted mostly with Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) and Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed) that took over. The Aegopodium can be invasive and I have planned for several years to remove it. It will die back in the winter.

Narrow Property Strip

The reddened leaves of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) suggest a sense of autumn.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

This variegated Aegopodium is a shade-loving ground cover.

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed)

Flowering Dogwoods are native here but this is not a good example of one. It turned brown during a three-week dry spell in July and never recovered. Flowering dogwoods usually have beautiful red foliage in the fall.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

The dogwood is setting fruit.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) Fruit

In front of the house near the street the Crape Myrtle that was blown over in July is rallying.  I was unable to match the variety reliably for a replacement so decided to see how it works out to let the tree recover on its own.  There are utility lines nearby so this is the easiest and least expensive approach.

Crape Myrtle

Crape Myrtle

Thanks to Christina for hosting this look at foliage.  For inspiration visit her at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides where you can find links to other Garden Bloggers Foliage Day entries.

Shifting Palette

Western Border With Gladioli, Liatris, and Echinacea

With Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) now in full bloom, the western border is shifting away from the mostly blue color palette of spring. Similar transitions are occurring all over the garden as brighter colors, rich enough to compete with the sun’s bright glare, are beginning to dominate.

Western Border With Gladioli and Echinacea

Western Border With Gladioli and Echinacea

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

[Unfortunately the garden’s beautiful red-orange daylilies became deer food this weekend. They were ruined  along with the garden’s secret hoard of phlox paniculata.]

Plants of white and silver work well as counterpoints against deep, bright hues such as these strong reds. Silver leaved plants such as perennial Dusty Miller, Artemisia and Lavender are useful in that they can make colors stand out, but they also can provide a restful tranquility to the garden.

Dusty Miller


Some white gladioli are already open; the dense spikes of white Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather) should bloom in another 7-10 days; and the white delicate-looking but sturdy annual, Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum), is filling out nicely and should make a good ground cover near the Monarda for the entire summer.

Sweet Alyssum

Drought-free Vignettes

Gladiolus and Liatris Spicata

Today it was announced North Carolina is completely drought-free for the first time in two years.

This could change, as surely many hot summer days are ahead, but this remarkable spring with its generous rains has been a welcoming one for flowers in this Chapel Hill garden.

Gladioli and Liatris spicata have grown strong and tall and Hemerocallis (Daylily) looks well nourished. Even native and drought-tolerant perennials such as Monarda and Echinacea are noticeably healthier, with richer foliage and color.

This evening temperature is 79°F, still quite sunny with blue sky.

Early June Garden Characteristics and Aspects

Earlier this spring a six-foot diameter space in the front yard was left bare after removing a badly sited Chinese Elm. A few weeks ago the little area was planted with a mix of perennials and annuals.  Providing some immediate color were seven of the annual Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon), along with a richly colored perennial, Gaura Belleza (™) ‘Dark Pink’ (Butterfly Gaura).

Now the other perennials are beginning to bloom, Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather) and Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower). This spring bees have found many plants to their liking and the Liatris is proving popular too.

Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather)

Front Yard Garden

Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Cleome (Spider Flower) volunteers in this garden every year and has just begun flowering this week along the southern side path. It originated from seeds purchased by a friend at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. She passed some along to me more than a decade ago. Recently I transplanted a few of the volunteers to other areas of the garden.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Gladiolus is an old-fashioned flower that I read recently is enjoying a bit of a revival. I have always had a few gladioli in my gardens, although my favorite deep dark purple ones died out several years ago.


A steady rain fell this morning until eleven. Skies became blue with plenty of white fluffy clouds for the rest of the day, but the temperature remained cooler than usual for this time of year. A brief excursion to the North Carolina Botanical Garden proved interesting and helpful. I was able to identify my pink yarrow in the southern bed as Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow).  Also a very friendly staff member was digging up and trimming back Tradescantia, a task I have spent many hours doing in my garden, so we fell into a discussion about how to deal with it. She demonstrated for me her technique for digging it out so as to get as much root as possible (using a sideways twist). In the end we agreed it can also just be cut back to enjoy again in September.

All In Good Time

Minty fragrant leaves of Monarda didyma (Scarlet Bee Balm) had emerged by the first week of January, but unlike so many plants that bloomed early this year, Monarda is beginning to flower at exactly the same time as last spring. I have been watching and waiting for several weeks now for the first red flowers to appear, but for this eastern North American native yesterday was soon enough.

Daylily And A Birthday

Daylilies have been blooming all over town this week and this morning I was delighted to see one of my Mercer daylilies has opened. The actual name of this hybrid is, for all practical purposes, lost (although the plant tag is surely stored somewhere safe, awaiting the transfer of all pertinent information, including the name, into my garden records). Update June 4, 2012: This was dug up from a field after I selected it so there probably never was a tag after all.

This daylily was bought in 2006 at Roger Mercers’ Garden in Fayetteville, NC. That year my sister, my daughter and I spent a fun morning exploring Roger’s daylily fields. We each came home with a variety of specimens, having had to make agonizing choices from among many enticing daylily offerings.

During the past year, first my daughter and just recently my sister have relocated to new cities, leaving behind their daylily selections from that day. But this garden, established in 2001, turned eleven years old today! If the picket fence added last year to this garden continues to keep the deer at bay, the Mercer daylilies will continue to bloom here as a nice reminder of a special day we three shared together.

Happy Birthday little garden!

Last Day of May

Canna and Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Early this morning Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Canna waited in the shade as the sun slowly moved to warm these sun-loving perennials.

Echinacea purpurea is native to Eastern USA and bees find it attractive. Later American Goldfinches will enjoy its seeds.

Canna and Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

While it still can this bee should enjoy the Tradescantia (Spiderwort) that abounds in the garden. This week I am making some progress in cutting it back, but am finding it difficult work to remove it by the roots.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Although afternoon temperatures reached 92 degrees, the garden this morning was pleasant and mostly shaded, perfect for welcoming visitors to view the flowers. So when a neighbor and her friend walked by while I was taking pictures in the front side garden, I eagerly asked them to come to the back to see my garden.

This year, more than in any other year, I have felt comfortable with the state of the garden overall and am happy when I can share this place. It is not perfect, of course, but some key garden renovation projects during the last year have made the garden much more cohesive and have given it personality. The meditation circle is one such project and today my neighbor’s friend walked the meditation path, experiencing  a labyrinth for her first time. It was a nice morning in the garden.

Notes On The Garden At Memorial Day

Northern Border

Temperatures reached 87 degrees and the day felt quite humid and summery. The borders appear full and lush, a tribute to the power of adequate rainfall; however, the first flowering period of many plants is past, so deadheading and trimming are on the agenda for this week.

Southern Border

There has been little work done in the garden for the last two weeks, but that must change. The garden is in transition and is very much in need of attention. Echinacea, Gladioli, Liatris and Daylily are replacing Iris, Lamb’s Ear and Tradescantia.

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather)

Shasta Daisy clumps will be covered in bloom any day. Meanwhile Meadow Sage should be cut back to encourage more blooms. Nepeta may need shearing soon as well.

Northern Border, Meditation Circle

Monarda and Lantana are teasing with a bit of color today.

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

This weekend in town I came upon a large and beautiful planting of Baptisia and Autumn Joy, all in full bloom. In this garden all three baptisias lost their flowers suddenly this year after a just a short bloom time, but the foliage remains healthy and green.

Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)

Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy)

Paths in the meditation circle are in some disarray lately. The pine nugget mulch being used this spring is too lightweight to stay in place when rains come. Also the mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ Penstemon has sprawled over quite a bit and requires staking again. Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ is so much better behaved and retains its upright place, (although its self-sown seedlings need to be removed soon).

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

The annual Angelonia ‘Blue’ in the meditation circle has begun to grow now that the weather is hotter.

Angelonia ‘Blue’

There will be plenty of tasks to keep this gardener busy this week but with an abundance of flowers blooming and the scent gardenia wafting through the air, it should be mostly delightful to spend time in the garden.

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Newly Blooming

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

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

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

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

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

Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’? (Butterfly bush)

Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’? (Butterfly bush)

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

Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)

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

Lavender and Pink Achillea

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

Salvia ‘Blue Sky’

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

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’

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

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Basking In The May Flower Garden

The weekend weather has been ideal—sunny with low humidity and slight breezes. With a high of 81°F. today it would have been an enjoyable day to garden.  Instead the garden provided perfect surroundings for lunching on the back porch and later, for sitting on the patio in the warm sun, being very still and watching the birds.

Among the species at the two feeders today were Eastern Towhee, Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Mourning Dove, House Finch, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Bluebird, Common Grackle, American Goldfinch, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Brown Thrasher and some other little ones I could not identify. Spotted a rabbit in the middle of the western border. No hummingbirds yet. That should change when the Monarda, now three feet tall in some places, opens its red flowers.

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Gladioli and zinnias are coming up in several places around the garden (although that rabbit may explain why there are not more zinnias).  They were planted just a couple of weeks ago to fill in some of the bare spots: around the foundation of the house where shrubs were removed last year that had become too overgrown and in the northwest corner where a Carolina Sapphire Arizona Cypress died. Yesterday I transplanted some self-sown cleome into these same bare areas to add more height and texture later in the summer.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

The garden has never seemed so full of bees as it is this year. The Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) in the meditation circle is attracting them, and along the southern path so is Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear). Bees also enjoy Tradescantia (Spiderwort) but I am currently battling its pushy encroachment.  The delight at seeing its first blooms has worn off and I am cutting down large cart loads of it to make room for other emerging perennials. My skin has become very sensitive to its sap and breaks out into a rash if in contact for very long.

Bee enjoying Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

This year I remembered to prune back the Buddleia in early February. That, plus the good rains we have had, encouraged it to a height of five feet and it soon will be providing some color in the western border.  Buddleia is now on a watch list for invasive plants in my area.  If it does not put on a much better show than last year, it will be easier for me to choose to remove it.

Buddleia (butterfly bush). [Maybe Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’]

I intend someday to locate the tag for this Coreopsis. It is a dwarf variety with lovely, strong color.


In front of a long row of Shasta Daisies, which grow along a sidewalk, is a tall spire of Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura). In its first year the gaura has not filled out very much and it is hard to tell if it is just in its sleep year or really does not like its location.

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura), Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Several Shasta Daisy buds are slowly, slowly unfolding.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow) is very floppy, especially in one area where the soil is heavy from clay and though amended, may not drain well enough. The flowers are cheerful anyway and are long-lasting when used in indoor arrangements.

Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow)

Another plant with a lost tag, this Clematis is still forming a few flowers but has not been very showy this year.


Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is starting to bloom around the garden and should provide color and flowers for cutting all summer.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

A Perennial Sweet Pea is entwined among salvia, chrysanthemums, yarrow and daylilies in the southern border. Unlike annual sweet peas, this is not fragrant but I enjoy its old-fashioned appeal.

Perennial Sweet Pea

Sunday Garden Vignettes

The sky was gray since early morning and by early evening soft rain began to fall. At mid-afteroon the garden was a peaceful, serene setting for a leisurely walk.

Echinacea as well as lavender are opening in several places around the garden, just about the same time as last year. Perhaps Spring is slowing down from its frenzied earlier pace. Other observations: Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ will soon be blooming along the southern side path, a bit ahead of that planted in other areas. Liatris spicata is adding feathery softness to the northern border that has been dominated by sword-like iris leaves. Proving to be very weak-stemmed again this year, Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ is falling over into a thick stand of Shasta Daisies. Many of the perennials attract bees, including Veronica spicata, Stachys byzantina, Nepeta and Penstemon. Verbena bonariensis looks strong and healthy this year and the American goldfinches are loving it.

Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 3

Record keeping: Last in a 3-part series of notes about what is planted and what is blooming currently in the garden.

Yesterday I focused on long views of the garden borders to document what is planted in each section.  But yesterday morning there also were fresh new blossoms that can be best appreciated by examining them close up.


Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 1

Forecasts warned today would be 92 degrees. Since there are a few new things in the garden I spent some time selectively watering them very early this morning. With the garden still sheltered at this time of morning by shade from the house, it was a peaceful time to be outside.

View from the Southern Border

With the grass freshly mown the garden is vibrant.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort) has moved into every available bit of soil, making the garden burst with color during the morning. By mid-day the little blue-violet flowers close up, diminishing the garden’s overall impact. I began cutting back large swaths of spiderwort this morning to make room for emerging echinacea purpurea, liatris spicata, foxglove and maybe a few more plants.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) has bloomed prolifically for six weeks and is beginning to go to seed. I removed many of the flower stalks today to make the garden look tidier and to prevent further proliferation of this native wildflower.

The one-year-old ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge is growing well, although I did notice a worrisome brown branch on one. Probably I need to clear some room around the trees to give them adequate sun and air to keep them healthy.

Japanese irises and white and black bearded irises continue to provide color and interest at one end of the southern border. The old-fashioned rose at the other end of the border is waning quickly. A group of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) caught the early morning sun as light began to enter the garden.

April Showers And Flowers

Flowers, flowers.

Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait,’ a peony added last spring to the garden, has just two buds this year.

Peony Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ is opening in several places around the garden, its color a rich dark indigo.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

More fully open another Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ looks pinkish in the late day sunlight. The actual flower color is more like that of the bud in the previous image, a beautiful deep blue.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

In the southern garden bed the black iris continues to stand out against silvery Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear).

Black Iris

Close up the color of black iris is intense.

Black Iris

A couple of pink Achillea (yarrow) opened recently. This is a dwarf variety that stands about 10 inches high.

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) and Catmint (Nepeta) are paired together though happenstance but appear to make nice companions.

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox) and Catmint (Nepeta)

The phlox divaricata is a pass-along plant that has been in this garden and a previous garden forever. It is an old-fashioned, charming favorite.

Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Nepeta (Catmint) makes a nice show a the front of the border.

Catmint (Nepeta)

This Coreopsis was added to the garden last year and did very poorly. It is surprisingly healthy this spring with a deep rich golden yellow.



Except for one hot and dry week April has brought generous rains to the garden. Following a few threats of frost this past week, temperatures reached into the seventies today. Starting very early today, rain alternated with sun throughout the morning and then the afternoon was fair. All day the birds have sung incessantly.

The garden needs attention now, but it is going to be on its own a few more days. After this recent strong period of bloom, some things such as the roses and a few of the irises need grooming as they are beginning to look a little tired. The tradescantia is encroaching in every direction and the eastern red columbine should be cut back soon before it spreads seeds. In the meditation circle Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) is overdue to be pruned back, but the recent cooler weather and rains encouraged it to produce fresh blooms, earning it a few more days.

Iberis sempervirens 'Purity' (Candytuft)

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – April 2012

Christina of Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides hosts Garden Bloggers Foliage Day on the 22nd of each month. I am joining her this month to feature the leaves and textures noted around my garden in the last two days. The days could not be more different moving from sunny 80 degrees yesterday to a rainy 54 degree-day today.

The perennial sweet pea’s tendrils would help it climb if given proper support (that task is on a to-do list somewhere), but it has sprawled for many years among its close neighbors.  This is a pass-along plant and I believe the species is Lathyrus latifolius. Its pink flowers are pretty but not fragrant.

Perennial Sweet Pea

Nearby the sweet pea leaf contrasts with the open feathery leaves of a dwarf yarrow and narrow blades of daylily leaves.

Dwarf Yarrow and Perennial Sweet Pea

On a different yarrow, Achillea x ‘Appleblossom,’ the texture of a forming flower contrasts strongly with the feathery leaves.

Achillea x 'Appleblossom'

Tradescantia virginiana (Virginia spiderwort) is native to this area. There is a succession of flowering on each plant, with each bloom lasting but one day. The leaves are long and grass-like blades.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Spiderwort spreads freely and the entire garden is punctuated with its blooms in colors ranging from blue to purple and even white. Here the spiderwort is offset by the silver, feathery foliage of Artemisia ‘Powis Castle.’

Artemisia, Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Narrow upright leaves appear on either side of lavender buds. Much thicker iris leaves fill the background.

Lavender and Iris Leaf

The narrow leathery leaf of a Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) allows a peek through to the Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine).

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Colorful burgundy and green foliage of Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura) provides interest for much of the year.

Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Blush' (Butterfly Gaura)

This chrysanthemum is a woody-stemmed perennial, another pass-along plant that has been in my gardens for many years. Its leaves look refreshingly green from the rain.


Finishing up this foliage tour around the garden are bright green  and deeply textured leaves of Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue.’

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Visit Christina to see wonderful images of foliage in her garden. Links to the other Garden Bloggers Foliage Day participants will be found in her comments section.

April’s Middle – Garden Views and Notes

Garden Views

The garden was refreshed by gentle rain during the night. By noon today the grass had dried sufficiently for mowing, just in time too so visiting friends could wander around and linger in the garden.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Artemisia, Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Bee On Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

Catmint (Nepeta) and Phlox


Several types of irises are blooming. Newly opened today are the pale yellow Japanese Iris, pass-along plants from a special sister-in-law in Idaho.

Japanese Iris and Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Japanese Iris

This iris with pale lavender standards and dark purple falls is another pass-along from a former neighbor. I brought this and the Japanese Iris from my first garden nearly eleven years ago to help form the foundation of this current garden.

Bearded Iris

A more recent pass-along, this lovely white iris with very large flowers is from a gardening friend now serving in the Peace Corps.

I did not realize the garden had this black iris but am thrilled to discover it. It must have come into the garden at the same time as the white one above. It promises to be gorgeous.

Pass-along plants bring memories of friends and neighbors, but precise identification of these is not possible. I simply remember them by the names of the donors. Here is another iris from my old garden by way of a dear family friend.

Notes on Labyrinth Wall Plantings In The Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

The meditation circle is a year old this week and the evergreen perennials that help define the walls of the labyrinth easily survived the mild winter.

  • Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) – Used in the innermost portion of the circle (goal of the labyrinth), currently this is ending a long bloom cycle that began December, 2011.
  • Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) – Two plants, used to define walls at one of the turn-around points, did so well that three more were added this spring. Self-sprouted seedlings from the original two are growing nearby and may produce some plants that can be added to the labyrinth, although references indicate that ‘Husker Reds’ from seeds will not have the same dark red leaves that plant divisions would.
  • Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) – Not thriving but doing ok. Conditions have been too wet for this herb, but the thyme is beginning to improve and look healthier. May gradually replace them after they bloom.
  • Silver Edge Thyme and Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

    Penstemon  mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) – This penstemon has a wilder look than the Husker Red and seemed scraggly last summer, but during fall and winter looked very green and strong. It was severely sheared in March and has returned with strong, lush look. This plant may become too wide and grow too far into the path.

To complement the perennials, yesterday I added fifteen Angelonia ‘Blue’  between the two left-most paths. Angelonia are annuals that bloomed until October last year, providing a lush look for the meditation circle without much maintenance. Angelonias tolerate heat and humidity, are deer-resistant and do not require dead-heading. They did outgrow the narrow 6-inch space between the paths and had to be trimmed back several times, but the cuttings made lovely and long-lasting indoor arrangements.

Garden Tour Weekend

Touring the gardens on the Chapel Hill Spring Garden Tour this weekend was a great way to gather gardening ideas and see plants that work well in this area. Each garden had a very distinct personality and it is fascinating to see the different styles and approaches to gardening.

I was particularly charmed by the Marson Garden, where I helped out as a tour guide on Saturday morning. The enthusiastic and talented owners, Pat and John, were on hand to answer questions as people walked around their garden, setting a comfortable and friendly atmosphere. Unfortunately the pictures I took do not do this garden justice, but one feature I really like is this bench, created from a rock uncovered during some grading work. Something like this would fit in well with my concept for a seating area in the center of my meditation circle.

Bench at Marson Garden

Back at home

After seeing so many well designed and well tended gardens it was easy to grow an ever longer task list of things to do in my own garden—plants to add, plants to remove, paths to build. Plantings in the meditation circle really need to be completed…

But for today around this garden there was just time enough for a quick glance.

Meditation Circle

Clematis 'Jackmanii'


Batik Iris

Scabiosa columbaria 'Butterfly Blue' (Pincushion Flower)


After cooler days last week the temperature today was about 82 degrees F. There has not been rain for a week and things are starting to look stressed and dry.

Green And Other Colors: Scenes From The Garden

After an overcast morning the sun pushed temperatures to 72° F. today. Strong, blustery winds this afternoon caused plants to sway, chairs to topple, and there was a noticeable chill to the air.

The garden is coming into its own now.  It happened suddenly. The weeding is done, but before all the planned rearranging and assessment could take place, the perennial beds bordering the property starting greening and filling out. The succession of blooms is on its way.

This is the view today from the southern gate entrance looking west.

Southern Border Facing West

Here is the northern border facing west on Sunday. Barely visible just left and behind the dogwood is a new Arizona Cypress ‘Carolina Sapphire’ to replace the one lost last year. Zinnias, gladioli and cleome will fill in the space against the fence this summer.

Northern Border Facing West

Also on Sunday, this is view is looking from northeast to southwest across the meditation circle. In the center of the labyrinth, the white blooms of Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) lasted four months from early December. Now they need to be sheared back.

Garden View From Northeast Corner

As one walks around the garden it is nice to take a closer look a the changes underway. A single bloom opened today on the Iceberg rose.

Iceberg Rose

Ants parade on a ‘Pink Parfait’ peony that was added last year to the garden.

Peony Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Amid a green backdrop the burgundy-purple tinge of this iris bud stands out in the southern border.

Iris in Southern Border

A dark pink outlines the leaves and the flower tip of this Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell).

Veronica spicata 'Pink Goblin' (Speedwell)

Deep blue petals of the spiderwort unfurl in the morning for just one day. In the background are dark burgundy leaves of  Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura).

Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Blush' (Butterfly Gaura), Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

This batik iris is irresistible.

Batik Iris

Flowers are forming on several baptisias in the garden. This is Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke,’ which was discovered at the nearby North Carolina Botanical Garden by former curator Rob Gardner. Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ was introduced in 1996 by Niche Gardens and North Carolina Botanical Garden. This specimen was purchased about three years ago at Niche Garden after one of their Saturday morning tours.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke'

Another rosy-tinged flower, Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena), is framed in front of a stand of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine).

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Raspberry Blush

Iris ger. 'Raspberry Blush'

Newly added to the garden in mid-March, this German Bearded Iris ‘Raspberry Blush’ opened today, earlier than anticipated. This has uncovered a bit of a mystery for me.

I dearly love irises and have grown them for years, my irises have all been the unnamed pass-along variety from friends.  I have never studied irises but this winter I read somewhere that there have been so many improvements to irises in the last five years one really should try the newest varieties and be wowed.  I was intrigued and soon afterwards picked up this plant at a local garden center.

Although the plant tag at purchase time indicated NEW, this seems not to be a new iris at all, but rather one from 1976. Maybe it is new for this particular grower, but apparently my garden’s iris situation is still so nineteen-seventies.

I am not really disappointed in this iris—it is lovely—but I was surprised by its color, height and early bloom time.  The coloration is considerably less raspberry pink than expected. Some descriptions  I came across in researching this iris do mention an orange beard and that matches the specimen in my garden. Its height of about 16 inches is appropriate, as ‘Raspberry Blush’ is classified as an Intermediate Bearded (IB) Iris. This classification of iris blooms early, before Tall Bearded.

Iris ger. 'Raspberry Blush'

The three upright petals are called standards and the three hanging petals are the falls. The beard is the fuzzy part in the center of each fall.

Iris ger. 'Raspberry Blush'

I will begin paying more attention to the irises in this garden and look forward to trying some different ones.

Foggy Morning Garden

Eastern Redbud and Company

Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud)

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

Along the Southern Path

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

Clematis 'Jackmanii'

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


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

Linum Perenne 'Sapphire' (Flax)

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

Meditation Circle

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

Meditation Circle

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

Iberis Sempervirens 'Purity' (Candytuft)

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

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

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

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

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