Friday, May 8, 2015

The Garden On Mother's Day

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It's been a long time since I last posted, probably the longest since I started this blog six years ago.  A new Sous Chef named Madison has taken more of my time and energy than I remember a new puppy required,  Add to that the fact that this house then decided it also needed some TLC.

It started with the new roof last summer together with some renovations in the kitchen, a new water heater, plus a new garage door opener.  All this happening while building a new apartment worthy of Madame Mere which, as you know, was a nightmare..  Then we had the two frozen pipes in the winter resulting in extensive repairs to the newly finished apartment.  The death of our beloved Sous Chef, Lucy, took a big toll on the family.  It was the worst experience I have ever gone through, but getting a new puppy right away was the best cure for our broken hearts.  She arrived  two months to the day that Lucy passed away.

Spring surprised us with the need to replace two of the three air conditioning units.  As if that weren't enough, when we turned on the sprinkler system in the garden, guess what?! No dice.  Probably as a result of having to move the pipes on the side of the house due to the rock path we had to build to backstop the water  from the heavy rains we got this Spring.  The maintenance and upkeep of an older house is never ending.

The garden suffered quite a bit this past winter due to the cold weather.  Some of our most beautiful southern plants don't do frost very well,   That includes the Confederate jasmine, gardenias and the hydrangeas macrophylla which bloom on last year's growth.  The poor gardenias which made such a great show a couple of summers ago and were toast last year are now toast crumbs.  They will need to be replaced.  My pride and joy, the Moonlight hydrangea came back and then got hit by the late frost as well.  I am holding my breath and hoping for the best but I seriously don't think it will bloom this year.  I was really looking forward to showing it off to MM.

Every year I swear I will not buy another plant.  Every year I break that promise and buy more than I can chew  For me, plants are the new shoes.

I could not resist the hydrangeas  Mathilda Gutges when I saw them at the garden center. This compact shrub bears attractive deep green leaves and large, rounded flower heads of deep pink in neutral soil, and intense violet-blue in acidic soil.  Our soil is acidic so in order to keep the beautiful lavender color, we decided to plant the pink in the whiskey barrel out back and the deep blues under the trees. 

The clematis put on quite a show and I am proud to say I now have a stress free garden around the mailbox. It's called KISS.(Keep it Simple Stupid) No more hauling a bucket of water up the hill in the middle of the summer sounds like a good idea to me.  It only took me three years to figure that one out.

We have many azaleas out back and they also put on quite a show in April.  This one, though, is my pride and joy although the photo doesn't do it justice.  It was a pitiful shrub when we bought the house but with some pruning and fertilizing  over the last three years it finally decided to join the parade.

The first of the David Austin roses, Winchester Cathedral.

The first of the David Austin Heritage rose.

I can't remember the name of this peony.  I planted it last Fall and it only gave us one bloom...but what a bloom!

The rest of the peonies are ready to burst out, right in Madame Mere's little garden.  Her apartment is to the right with a spectacular view of the garden.

And here they are the next day!

The tried and true, Sarah Bernhard.  She never fails me.

Bowl Of Beauty.

This little fellow was in the rose garden of my home in Connecticut.  When I moved to New York City.  I gave it to MM and it sat for years in the courtyard of her townhouse in Florida.  Who would have thought the three of us would reunite in a small town in Georgia!

Angelonia in front of MM's big window.

The dahlia garden (work in process!)

Geraniums for the deck.

Pots of fresh herbs on the deck.

The obligatory ferns by the front door of a true Southern home!

Winchester Cathedral bushes in the front garden

My feeble attempt at container gardening

Another new addition, the fox tail fern

But none of this would have been possible without the help of my garden crew, always by my side.

 Some of us work a little harder than others....

Keeping up a big garden like this is a lot of work, but I will have to say I rather enjoy it.  It beats getting up on a treadmill and lifting weights. It's funny,  people nowadays pay to exercise and pay again to have some one else do their yard work. Go figure.  Never mind the expense of buying the right shoes and the proper attire to get smelly and sweaty. I remember when I was young and only the very wealthy in this country could afford a full time gardener.  My father cut the grass, albeit in a small tractor, and he and my mother did all the weeding, planting and maintenance of our garden in Connecticut.  There was no Roundup in those days and a weed free lawn or flower bed meant you had to get on your hands and knees and pull.  If you had kids living at home between the ages of eight and sixteen, you had extra help for cheap.  It was called an allowance.  It paid for ice cream and movies. Extra work paid for dates.  Come Fall, you would hire a couple of kids from the neighborhood to help with the leaves.  People were thinner in those days and life was good.   We did not have a drug or a fat problem in this country like the one we have today. 

  Now that the garden is back in shape and I am a few pounds lighter, I will have more time to concentrate on cooking.  That is, unless something else falls apart...AGAIN.


  1. I'm glad to see your house looking so spruce and spring-like; your ministrations are evidently paying off handsomely. I love your spreading azalea; if I had a yard that would be one of the few flowers I would grow (of course fruit trees do count to some degree as flowers). Mostly, I'm afraid that I am the white cat type of gardener.

    I can empathize with your resolutions not to buy more plants. I have the same problem with my moratorium on buying old photographs and documents--I always end up yielding to temptation.

  2. Welcome back, you've been missed! I see you've been so very busy in your beautiful garden. I'm in total agreement with you with regards to getting out there and working off the calories. I've been trying to include my own daughter in the gardening work. Sometimes she bemoans the fact that she has to get her hands a little dirty but in the end, she appreciates getting out there (at least I think she does).

    Glad all is in its place and repairs have been made, and how right you are about older houses - it just never stops.

  3. What a lovely and inspiring post!

  4. A lovely garden! The tulips this year here were the prettiest ever. The lilac season was too short! Love all that you've done and how your peony has moved with you!

  5. I'm green, purple, blue and lavender with envy. Hugs and such to all the lovely ladies at your house.

  6. You make me look like a slug. The weather here in Kansas is so unpredictable that it's been hard to be motivated to plant (our last freeze day is after Mother's Day).You do remind me why I became a gardener. Your efforts are saying, "Well done." So nice that you have a work crew. How lovely of Coco to show you where the best nap spots are. Always good to know. Madison is looking great.

  7. Thank you for such a complete tour of your garden!! Oh those peonies: just gorgeous. yes, our two Jasmine died this winter too; I just planted a "Sweet Summer Love" Clematis which shouldn't mind the cold at all. It has purple pink flowers (well…it should later this summer) and is fragrant. You might look into it.
    No, no, no, don't ever say you won't buy another plant! There is always a new one out there, just waiting for you to choose it and love it!
    And, as to the image of Maddie at the bird bath: well, that is exactly what Sunday would do. But then she would hop up, swirl around maybe twice, and hop out, soaking and oh so happy!!
    Happy Mother's Day and enjoy!

  8. Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden. Your new babe Madison looks ready to join the fun. Just yesterday my son Wellington ask me to make the chicken dish with prunes and potatoes! I told him you shared the recipe on your blog and this morning I decided to see if you posted a new recipe. To my delight I discovered you were "working" more than most in the garden and around the house! Happy Spring to You.


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