BOOKS AND BOUQUETS

                                                                                 

While  cleaning  the library, I came across the book that was instrumental in changing my life.

                                                                                                

 This book was  on the sale rack at Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Boston 30 years ago.

What an inspiration. I wanted to fill every room with wonderful bouquets…. how difficult could that be? After all, the arrangements in this book were done in a small bathroom in NYC… (with access to the wholesale flower market.)

                                                                                     

Without a nearby flower market but with a perennial catalogue firmly in hand I bravely placed an order. My future son-in law (although we didn’t know it then) cleared a border alongside the house for the plants.

                                                                                            

While I awaited the delivery I read a Gertrude Jekyll book; exactly which one I do not remember, as one of her books inevitably led to the next. The one thing I  did know , was that the plants had to be arranged beautifully out-of-doors as well as supply material for bouquets.

                                                                                                      

I soon discovered that plants take a few years to develop, and flower arranging is way harder than it looks. Still I am glad for the experience, it makes me so appreciate the talent of my friends who can ‘throw’ an incredible arrangement together in a heartbeat!

                                                                                          

 30 years later my bouquets are  simple and mostly easy one of a kind blossoms from shrubs not perennials, they require way too much maintenance.

                                                                                               

                                                                                               

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WILKERSON MILL GARDENS

Yesterday I had occasion to visit WILKERSON MILL GARDENS  in Palmetto Georgia.

 Long one of my favorite nurseries for underused and hard to find plants; they now specialize in hydrangeas, every one imaginable, and the good news is they are available mail order!

            Above, pink “Annabelles”! (Hydrangea arborescens “Invincibelle“)

                                                                         

                                                                           

Love the “Hydrangea Blue” wagons!

                                                                 

I also noted some other very desirable plants to lust over. (below)

                                                                        

Above , Red Lotus Tree (Manglietia insignis)  in the Magnolia family…I never heard of it before.

Above, the incredible foliage of “Moonlight” climbing hydrangea (Schizophragma hydrangeoides “Moonlight’)

So if you are in Georgia, pack a picnic and go visit, if not, check the website for all the information you need to grow gorgeous hydrangeas and find a few you are not familiar with. Connect here.

No, this is not a paid review, but if  information on plants and planting are considered…I get an abundance of that!

CONNOISSEURS GARDEN TOUR 2

To continue the garden tour…

all were meticulously appointed…

lushly planted pots…

with a Belgian Fence as background, below…

a private putting green that can double as a Bocce Court!

The best treatment for a driveway and large parking court… antique cobbles in asphalt…

Beautiful side door…                                                                                            

A Mediterranean style home deserves a Mediterranean style courtyard, below.

Then there was THE GARDENER….

I’m told he never stops working nor has he ever asked for a raise!  Below, the no maintenance garden…

Interesting treatment for steps….

and finally one of my favorite gardens, below…

There is a marvelous screened porch….

overlooking a stunning English Knot garden.

 Admittedly, I did not get to all the gardens. There were eleven gardens on the two-day tour and I saw only nine, in one day.

I strongly suggest this annual tour held on Mother’s Day weekend to benefit The Atlanta Botanical Garden.  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

GARDENS FOR CONNOISSEURS TOUR

There is nothing like a garden tour for some inspiration and the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s  “Gardens for connoisseurs  Tour” is one of the best.

The gardens, all private, ranged from highly manicured to woodland all in the heart of the city.

Here are some photos I took…..

I  liked the way formal elements were incorporated in to this woodland paradise….

as well as a formidable Bonsai collection.

Also,  the groundplane changed to mark the transition from one garden room to another…..

Then there is the patio area around the house….

And opposite the French Doors……

I could go on and on about this garden, it is 2.75 acres with two creeks and boasts 300 different cultivars of Japanese Maples. I did not want to leave.

In stark contrast, the next garden was about as formal as Versailles! Well actually, Vaux le Vicomte , the predecessor to the gardens at Versailles.

The above garden in search of Edward Sissorshands and an assistant!

The tour will continue. I took over 250 photos!

SEED SOWING

Although we start some basil plants along with the tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. I like to have an entire bed of this delicious herb so I can share with friends and make jars of Pesto to freeze.

This is how I do it. First, I rake the enriched bed to as fine a tilth as I can. Then, I lay the handle of my rake onto the soil where I would like the first row and press down gently to leave a furrow.

                                                                                             

In this case one keeps it  SHALLOW, as basil does not like to have to reach too much for light.

Next, I make sure the subsequent rows are wide enough for my weeding tool to fit comfortably between them.

                                                                                              

When the rows are done I gently scatter the seed as evenly as I can in the furrows.

With my rake I tamp down gently to barely cover the seeds.

                                                                                                         

Water gently, this seed bed will be kept moist till  germination, then watered as required.

PLEASE NOTE:

All seeds have different requirements as to the depth they should be planted, check your seed packet. Some seeds like basil, require a bit of light to germinate, others need a depth of 1/2 inch, or as the case with some beans a full inch.

 I attended the Atlanta Botanical Garden’s Connoisseurs Garden Tour this past week end and have lots of photos to share, which I will try to do within the next day or two, thought the seed starting was a more timely topic for today. Hope you agree.

 

MEANWHILE…. BACK IN THE GARDEN….

While we rush about getting the baby vegetable plants into the potager, the garlic screams  for attention…it is ready….

                                                                                          

it makes itself known by browning leaves, ( 5 to be exact) and a tendency to fall over.

                                                                                       

Another item moves to the top of the ‘to do’ list… this is ‘ Emergency Management Gardening’. They will be cleaned when they cure.

                                                                                                 

MEANWHILE…. back in the garden… The first Hydrangea macrophylla  is open..’.Penny Mac’  I can hear my friend Penny, in heaven, laughing with delight!

                                                                              

 Next to her is ‘Madame Emile Mouillere’, a white mophead.

                                                                                              

Hydrangea quercifolia, Oakleaf Hydrangea, is glorious…

                                                                                                

all three types together, H. quercifolia, H. arborescens ‘Annabelle’ and H. macrophylla. ( below)

                                                                                                

More Clematis blooming…..

                                                                                       

 Above, Estonian hybrids  ‘Ruutel’   and  ‘Piilu’    both raised by Uno Kivistik, the names mean ‘Knight’ and ‘Little Duckling’  respectively.

                                                                                               

 Clematis ‘Odoriba’, with its delightful little bells, ‘Carnaby’ in the corner,  and below, Clematis ‘Confetti’ blooming for the first time.

                                                                                                              

Now I must rush to harvest the seeds of the mustard we grew this winter; indispensable in some Indian dishes, the recipes for which have been waiting while the seeds ripen.

                                                                                                  

I also let the lettuce go to seed.

                                                                                                         

It was a delicious mix of salad greens ( Winter Mesclun Mix) which survived the little frost we did have. The flavor improves I find, when sowing seeds that have been raised in the same soil. (Ask anyone who has tasted my Basil!)

All this to say.. I’m busy…..

                                                                         

as my bees!

PLANTING TOMATOES

Finally the tomato plants are ready to be planted out into the Potager.

We  ‘hardened them off‘ which means exposing them to natural light gradually. (Till now they have been raised under lights.) The first day they were kept in a shady area, then we  exposed them to morning sun for two days, while protecting them from the hottest part of the day.  Finally they are left in full sun and watched carefully. Not a leaf wilted, so we knew these babies were ready to go.

Habitually,we would pot the plants up; that is, put the seed starting cells, as seen in photos, into a larger pot with rich compost. There was just no time this year.

We had prepared the soil beforehand with copious quantities of compost and rabbit manure.

My husband digs a  hole in this rich mix. He  removes the lower leaves of the plant with a pinch, and fills the soil around the  stem up to the top leaves.

The plant  will grow roots all along the stem and  make it stronger (DO NOT DO THIS WITH OTHER PLANTS)

He inserts a toothpick on both side of the stem.  This prevents the dreaded cutworm from wrapping itself around the stem and cutting the plant down at soil level.

When the soil is firmed around the plant, I like to create a small well or indentation around the root-ball to direct the water.

Finally the plants are MUDDIED-IN,  the best description I know for deep and long watering, Then we place the cages around the plants….

We will mulch tomorrow; that is place a 2″ layer of shredded leaves on the exposed soil. These will retain the moisture in the soil and prevent annual weeds from germinating, I hope. We used to do it all in one day…. but we used to be younger.