Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Filipendula Rubra

Filipendula rubra is an imposing plant when it is happy in the garden. It prefers damp, even boggy soil. With adequate moisture it will quickly grow into a lush mass.
I created a small bog garden a few years ago with a rubber pond liner buried about 1 and 1/2 feet under rich soil. The little garden is only about six feet long. Unfortunately I planted some filipendula in this garden along with more delicate plants, Japanese iris, trollius etc. By the end of the first summer the filipendula had filled the little garden and eaten most of the other plants. I dug out the filipendula and put it in another somewhat drier garden with some raspberry wine monarda. But the last few summers have been very wet and the filipendula and monarda have create a wild and colorful mass that I just leave to its own devices. Weeds are no match for these happy giants. In the bog garden the filipendula returns each spring but I am quite ruthless about evicting it.
The lovely cool, sunny weather continues. Heaven.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Lady Bells

Adenophora liliifolia or lady bells is a lovely, graceful weed. It grows every where in my garden, especially where I don't want it. I can't imagine an easier flower to grow. It is hardy from zone 1 to 10! It prefers sun but grows well in shade. About two feet high the lovely spires don't need staking. The soft blue purple never clashes with neighbors.
We have finally had a few days of sunshine after a long month of rain. It is cool though which is fine with me. My husband is fretting because there may be no tomatoes this summer but I will gladly give up the vegies for cool weather.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Apple Blossoms

It has been so mild this spring that the flowers seem to be ahead of schedule. I already have a few peonies, iris and even poppies open in the garden, flowers that usually come in June in New Hampshire.
The fruit tree blossoms have passed. They were beautiful in mass and as individual blooms carrying the promise of fruit next fall. The deep pink maroon of the unopened buds is lovely with the chartreuse of the new leaves.
It is a dry spring and I had to drag out the hoses today to water seedlings and transferred plants. I bought many large annuals last week that I hope will quickly fill garden gaps. I planted tithonia, the new double click cosmos, larkspur, agrostemma, hollyhocks in six packs, annual asters, verbena bonariensis, and lavatera. Now I will anxiously hope for rain.

Find of the Day: I love the simplicity and the elegance of the lines and shape of this handcrafted sterling silver gingko leaf ring from esdesigns on Etsy. The ring will be made to order in any size.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Lilacs are the state flower of New Hampshire. I grew up in Southern Connecticut where lilacs bloom in April but here they don't bloom til the second week of May. They are welcome at any time; it is impossible to imagine a New England spring without the scent of these beauties.
I like the newer hybrids with their huge blossoms and rich colors but for aroma I don't think the old fashioned lilac species can be beat. Old lilac trees can be huge and unless they are pruned you can end up with blooms across the top that can only be enjoyed from a second story bedroom. But an old gnarled lilac bush is a lovely site even without bloom.
Be careful if you do prune because the blooms are formed on old wood, if you prune too much there will be no flowers in the spring.

Find of the Day:
Landing in Flowers is a ttv (through the viewfinder) photograph by Barbara Carter from her bird series. It has a beautiful subdued painterly quality, tranquil, elegant. Ttv photography is difficult with stationary objects, amazing with this living creature.
Visit Barbara Carter's Etsy shop to see all of her bird images.

Monday, May 11, 2009

The Last Daffodil Days

Yes in northern New England we still have a few lingering daffodils in mid May. I thought the very hot April days we had a few weeks ago (90 in New hampshire in April is not normal!) would shorten their season but the cool rains which followed seem to have prolonged the blooms.
I am very partial to the pink cupped beauties like the daffodil in the first picture. Another frilly ballerina.
The doubles are as lovely as a rose or peony.
Last summer was very wet and cold and I had a difficult time keeping up with the garden. The weeds thrived on the wet climate and my neglect so I am just now seeing the garden through the weeds. It is a huge job but very safisfying.
I am also doing some consolidation, there is just too much garden for one person to manage especially the beds carved out of the back field. I am giving them back to the field so the plants have been moved to older beds except for the peonies which I will move after they bloom.

Find of the Day:

A room full of stars, magical. I would love these stars in any room; imagine a sun room or green house full of stars, decorating the ceiling, dancing in the plants and flowers
These are hand crafted Moravian paper stars from the Starcraft on Etsy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

The First Daffodils of 2009

I'm very excited my daffodils have begun to bloom! Today I worked in the garden (with help from my little dog Rory) raking off leaves and weeding.

i took the top picture today using the TTV method, shooting through the viewfinder of an old Kodak with my digital camera. It is a little unwieldy holding both camera but very interesting.

The second photo is a daffodil photographed under water through the side of a vase. The frilly petals remind me of a tutu so I call this one Yellow Ballerina.

Find of the Day:
This is such a pretty necklace, the little glass flowers remind me of daffodils. The necklace is made of sterling, Czech glass flowers and Swarovski crystals. You can see it and more lovely jewelry at AliBaliJewellery on Etsy.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The Little Iris

The little iris have begun to bloom in the lawn with the crocus and chionodoxa. There are many varieties, the one pictured here is Iris histrioides 'George' which is a deep red purple verging on magenta.
But these iris come in many colors all shades of purple and blue, yellow and white. You can see a wide assortment in the Bent and Becky's Bulbs catalogue.
Unfortunately they are not very perennial for me and I have to replant them every few years. I think this fall I will try them in garden soil rather than the lawn; maybe they will be happier there.

Find of the Day:
Another new form of art, at least for me. This is traditional Japanese Temari, which means 'hand ball' in Japanese. It is an ancient art originally created to make balls for children.
This temari was created by Barbara Suesse, author of Japanese Temari:A Colorful Spin on an Ancient Art (available on Amazon). The ball is filled with rice hulls, covered with soft yarn and then embroidered.
So beautiful it takes your breath away. More of her work can be seen and purchased at her Etsy shop,

Snow Crocus

The little snow crocus are still going strong in my front lawn. They have been joined by the larger purple crocus and other little bulbs but are still the stars in my eyes. I love the exquisite markings though they are so tiny you must get down on your belly to appreciate them.
I will plant more this fall for my pleasure and sadly the pleasure of the many little animals who love them just as much as I.

Find of the Day:
I have never seen anything like this; I am amazed by the ingenuity and creativity of artists like Jennifer Maestre who made this pendant.
It is made of pencils, this is not a drawing or painting or photograph, it is actually pencils carved and arranged then laminated and covered with epoxy. Beautiful, and original. Her work can be seen and purchased at her Etsy shop jenmaestre.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Glory of the Snow

My snow crocus finally have some company in the garden: Glory of the Snow (chionodoxa), puschkinia, and the little iris reticulata.
I am very fond of the chionodoxa which flower so early and so reliably. Although I like the little blue ones I especially love the slightly taller pink version, c. forbesii 'Pink Giant'.
For years I have pronouced chiondoxa with a soft ch, but at a party my friend Abby was talking about her blooms and pronounced it with a hard ch like a K. At first I did not even realize what flower she meant. We of course had a "discussion" of the proper pronunciation. Turns out, of course, that I was wrong (I almost always am in such matters). The correct pronounciation is Chionodoxa=KI-o-no-DOX-a. The KI is a long i. From Gr. chios (snow) and doxa (glory). Thank you Abby.
In any case they are a lovely easy flower and don't seem to get eaten by the little animals who live under the garden, I guess they are not as tasty as crocus.

Find of the Day:
I am always astonished by the work of glass artists: isn't this bowl amazing? Gorgeous, organic shape, and it is beautifully photographed. I would love to have this on a glass shelf in a window.
This bowl in by Heather Palmer of San Francisco and is available from her Etsy shop.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Through the Viewfinder

I have been intrigued by the "through the viewfinder" or TTV photography I have seen on Flickr and Etsy. TTV is a way to use antique film cameras digitally without having to buy or process film. I have been a great fan of "toy" cameras, Dianas and Holgas and Dories since the early 80's but it is becoming more expensive and difficult to buy and process 120 film.

TTV photographs have some of the look of the photographs from the little plastic cameras.

So I bought an old Kodak Duaflex on Ebay for $15.50 and have tried a few TTVs. The Kodak Duaflex (like the more elegant and expensive rolleflex) has a big square viewfinder on top of the camera. You point your digital camera at the viewfinder and actually photograph the viewfinder.

Some photographers make elaborate contraptions that are like long tubes to go between the digital camera and the viewfinder to screen out excess light. I will need to make something if I decide to pursue this area of photography. You can see the glare in the crocus picture especially. If you are interested in finding out more about TTV photography I recommend the Flickr group Through the Viewfinder which has a wealth of information.

Anyway these are my first attempts at TTV. It is certainly fun, I will see what happens when I bring this set up into my garden.

Find of the Day:

What a gorgeous photograph, TTV at its best I think. The photograph, A Song for Spring, is by photographer
Irene Suchocki and is available from her Etsy shop.

Calla Lily

I am hoping that I can stop buying flowers and start picking them in my garden soon. But early spring is painfully slow in New Hampshire and so far all I have in the garden are snow crocus and some snow.

We have a little grocery store on Maine Street and I stopped in a few days ago for some cookies. Outside were pots of daffodils and crocus and other flowers; I could not resist a pot of callas. The clerk informed me that I could just put them in the ground and they would come up next year like tulips. Well yes I said that is probably true in Florida.

No callas are not hardy in New Hampshire or other cold climates, only being hardy where there is no frost. But they are easy to grow in a pot and if you are attentive you can hold them over from year to year. They like lots of water.

Callas are much beloved of photographers and artists. I photographed these with my Lensbaby. Buying flowers is not an indulgence for me, I need them as I need food.

Find of the Day:

This is a platinum print, a print made in a darkroom with traditional methods but using platinum-palladium metals brushed onto paper rather than the more standard silver papers. In addition rather than exposing the paper using a tiny negative in an enlarger, the artist creates a large negative the size of the final print and contact prints it onto the paper. The process is lenthy and labor intensive but the final product is exquisite.

Unfortunately, all I can show you here is a digital rendering of the original print which can only hint at its beauty.

Few people are able to make these beautiful prints today, I encourage all to support this traditional art form.

This calla is part of a limited series from artist Luca Paradisi, an Italian artist working in Ireland. His work is available from the Etsy shop Fineartplatinum.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Forcing Branches

These Korean azaleas are so pretty, I have fallen in love with them. My friend Elaine sent me branches through the mail in early march. They were wrapped in wet paper towels to keep them moist. I put them in water and in a few weeks they began to bloom, all pink and frilly. What a joy, especially this time of year when it is still cold and dank and muddy in northern New England.
The botanical name is azalea mucronulatum 'Cornell Pink'. (Not to be confused with rhododendron yedoense, which is also called Korean azalea). This is a tall azalea which thrusts upward rather than mounding. It needs the same acid soil and dappled shade as other azaleas. It is an early bloomer which makes it a great plant for forcing. Elaine thinks it would be hardy here (she is in Connecticut about a zone warmer I think) and is rated for zone 5 . A flower this beautiful is certainly worth trying even on my cold hillside.
Forcing branches into flower is easy, all you have to do is pick them in late winter and put them is a vase of water out of direct sunlight. I think I will try to be more experimental next year and try things beyond the ubiquitous forsythia (though that is a wonderful flash of yellow in the house when outside it is still all snow and mud).

Find of the Day:
I seem to be featuring a lot of soap on this gardening blog but who can resist soap as beautiful as this? These gorgeous translucent bars could be a centerpiece on the table.
The soap is called Ocean Rain and is a glycerin based soap. Only $4.75 from karenssoaps on Etsy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day

I am sure that the gardens are in bloom in Ireland today, while we are still mired in snow and mud.
My husband is Irish and we had a wonderful vacation there several years ago.
The beach picture was taken at Tonakeera Point in Connemara, one of the world's most beautiful secrets. We had this lovely spot to ourselves even on a sunny day in July.
Irish gardens are beautiful; the second picture here shows the Burren from the Greggins Castle garden.
Think green today! You can see more of my Ireland photos on Etsy.

Find of the Day:

blimey limey squishy delicious fiber batt
How about some Irish merino wool batting fopr your crafting needs? And what better color for St. Patrick's Day than this gorgeous chartreuse with a little hot pink, wow!
This batt can be ordered direct from Ireland from Maisiehandspun on Etsy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Mud Season

In northern New England we have five seasons, summer, autumn, winter, spring and mud. Mud season comes at the end of winter, a few miserable weeks before spring truly arrives, while the frost in the ground thaws.
Today is beautiful, sunny, tantalizing. Little purple crocuses bloom in my lawn. But I am still stuck indoors. The back hill is completely covered in old snow and everywhere else it is mud. I live on a dirt road on a steep hill. Driving during mud season is a challenge, no one can visit without four wheel drive. The garden is soup.
There are compensations, the little crocus, fat little buds on shrubs and trees, and of course this is also sugering season.
But I am still inside with my winter flowers, cyclamen, orchids, geraniums. Beaufitul and elegant flowers, but how I long for the bright yellow daffodils, still weeks away.

Find of the Day:

I had the hardest time chosing from this California artist's beautiful sculptures. In addition to rings and other jewelry she also has simple sculptures in organic shapes, anemones for example. She sculpts each piece from clay so each is a little different. This red rose is a favorite, simple, modern, stunning. And the prices are affordable, only $16 for this elegant ring. Available on Etsy from FancifulForm.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's Still Too Muddy

After finding crocus blooming in the lawn yesterday I am suffering from severe spring fever. But the garden (and my dirt road) are a muddy mess and it will be a few weeks before I can start doing any serious garden work, much longer before I can enjoy my favorite parrot tulips.
Meanwhile I am finding solace weaving flower rings. Here are my two latest. The first is made with very soft colored delicas in rose and peach and pale violet and embellished with three little lucite flowers.
The other is hot, hot pink and is so bright you almost need sunglasses to look at it.
More of my flower rings can be seen (or purchased) on my Etsy shop Beaded Wire.

Find of the Day:
Can you believe this beauty is soap? It is called Lovely Tulips soap and the colors were inspired by the artist's mother's tulip garden. The soap is only $4 and is available from the Etsy shop EpicallyEpicSoap.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The First Day of Spring

I know it is not officially spring but my first crocuses opened today and that is always the first day of spring in my garden. I don't think there is another flower that is as thrilling as these first tiny blooms.
The first crocus are the tiny species crocus just a few inches tall. So far only the the soft purple ones have opened but in the next weeks I will have a parade of purples and yellows and whites many with bronze and brown markings. They have wonderful intricate designs well worth croaching down in the wet muddy ground to inspect and enjoy.
I have been planting 1000 species crocus each fall into my front lawn, though I lose many each year to the little animals who share this hill garden with us. Crocus are extremely easy to grow; the only problem is protecting them from the animals who find them so delicious. Planting lots and scattering them threw the lawn helps. None will come up in my garden unless I plant them in pots or other protective devices.
But to me they are priceless and worth any amount of trouble for the joy they bring each spring.
The second "photograph" here is a scan of my crocus done last spring on my flat bed scanner.

Find of the Day:

I love this print, simply called "Spring Collection" by British watercolorist Jan Harbon. All of the colors and symbols of spring form a joyous wreath around the little crocus. Delicate, exquisite painting. The print is available on her Etsy shop JanHarbon.