Trials and Miscues

I’ve never been much of a gardener choosing to make a yard as low maintenance as possible.  In Maine, however, it’s impossible not to get a little excited about gardening as flowers are, in the words of one daughter, so brave and outspoken.

All you have to do to see that is visit a nursery

where the selection of growing things edible and decorative is overwhelming.

My attempts at gardening so far are mostly trials and even more miscues.  What I am striving for is a cutting garden  with blooms lasting through the summer and into the fall.  While that is possible, there’s lots to learn about what works.  Take delphiniums which are beautiful to look at, but they get so top heavy they topple over, especially after a rainfall.

And, that flower around them, which I think is a type of geranium, is the right height, but rather than stand up it spreads all over the place destroying other plants with their weight.

So what have I learned about gardening? A successful garden has a blend of annuals and perennials.  That means investing in new plants every year, but to get the right combination of color and texture, it’s worth it.  Thanks to a series of trials and miscues I realize that defining scale and developing a cohesive color scheme is a must to avoid chaos.

Flowers and herbsPerhaps the most important lesson is that successful gardening can be done in pots! It is ever so much easier to combine interesting plant materials in pots than to try to balance them in a garden.

 As I continue to learn to create the bigger picture, I’ll not abandon my successes!

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Gardens Galore

First Glimpses

As soon as we’ve pulled into the driveway, I’m out of the car to get a first glimpse of what is new in the yard.  

This time of year is still springlike in Maine, so first blooms are just visible.

Rarely are any of my tulips still in bloom, but thanks to a late spring arrival, they are still showing off.

The climbing hydrangea appears to be ready for a banner season

 and rhododendrons are just beginning to bloom.  A day or two of sunshine and they will be a mass of color.

peony budPeonies are still just tight little buds, but it won’t be long until they are in full bloom.  That i can never get enough of!

I can never remember the name of this bold beauty that stands tall and lifts its head to the sky.  When they are done, I dry a few to use in fall bouquets.

The discovery that always brings a smile is this one that stays hidden

jack in the pulpit 2keeping the jack in the pulpit that lives inside a secret.

At the same time I see beauty and the promise of what is to come, I notice all the work that needs to be done in the yard.  That’s always the case, but there is plenty of time to get it done.

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Garden Beauty

sep-cruise_080908_1497Folks in Maine like their gardens, and from early summer through mid fall the landscape is dotted with color that my daughter describes as brave and outspoken.  Sometime during this period I enjoy going to Northeast Harbor to visit Asticou Azalea Garden.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a treat to begin the adventure with lunch at the historic Asticou Hotel.

img_7377No lunch there would be complete without a popover, a trademark here and at the Jordan Pond restaurant in nearby Acadia National Park.

img_7360Lunch over, it’s a few steps to the garden which is as peaceful as the sign suggests it should be.

img_7359This time of year there are no azalea or rhododendron blooms. Rather there are layers of calming green textures and the beginning of fall color.

img_7364Listening in the quiet, I could hear the soft trickle of water passing beneath the lily pads, a few of which still wore their flower.

img_7361This day there was a light blanket of fog which created an air of mystery and contributed to the garden’s tranquility.  On a sun filled day, there is an entirely different energy here.

img_7369Other than a half dozen people the only visitor was a bee sipping nectar from one of the few remaining flowers.

img_7373Moving through this beautiful garden was like a walking meditation and for a few moments it was possible to just be.  That’s a special gift.

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From Bud to Beauty

peonypeony: a type of plant with large pink, red or white flowers named after Paeon, a student of Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing

peonyCan you imagine this beauty being used to relieve headaches and help with asthma as it was in ancient times?

peonyFrom the time a peony is a tight little bud

peonyattracting ants with the nectar that forms on the flowers 

peonyuntil it drops its petals in a snowy mound, it is a thing of beauty.

peonyWho can bear to leave them outside to be weighted by rain and buffeted by wind

peonywhen inside, blossoms, alone or clustered, can brighten a room

peonyor add color and texture uniquely their own.

No wonder peonies are a favorite for so many people, and I am no exception.  Having them in my own back yard, at least in Maine, is a special treat and I savor each blossom from bud to finish during its short blooming period.  Not only do I relish a peony’s incredible beauty, I’ve even learned to pronounce  pe-e-ny rather than pe-o-ny as my great grandmother used to say!

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The Scoop

Seeing Differently

In the 23 years we’ve been coming to Maine, this is the earliest we’ve arrived and what a difference.  Snow is melted. Ice is gone from the harbor. Temperatures have risen to the 40’s.  Spring, however, still seems weeks away.

Maine/Rockport HarborIn the yard trees are bare.

IMG_4375Gardens are brown with no hint of the color that is to come.

IMG_4376Their green leaves may have found their way through the cold ground, but tulip blooms are hidden inside.

IMG_4371That I can see, only one lone flower is bravely showing its color.

dirt roadThe dirt road where I walk is not yet open to traffic.  Quite honestly, I wish that were the case all year as it is more peaceful to say nothing of being safer when there are no vehicles on a road heavily used by walkers and bikers.

Rockport HarborRocks where we have summer picnics and often crowded with painters capturing the beauty of the harbor are bare.

IMG_4378Here and there snow melt is rushing to the sea, 

IMG_4381and for the first time I see the beginning of what will become bushy large leafed plants.  I would never have guessed this lovely would be the source of their birth.

StoneledgeReturning from a walk I see our house through the woods, a sight that in a few weeks will disappear.

Rockport HarborOn the harbor, quiet occasionally is interrupted by a lobster boat returning from setting traps and for now paying no attention to the 5 MPH speed limit.

Rockport HarborDocks float languidly waiting to be secured where property owners are lucky enough to have a pier.

Rockport HarborIn preparation for the more than 200 boats that will soon fill the harbor, the harbor master, a most capable female, locates the buoys that will secure the vessels.

eagleAs I sit looking out and thinking of and appreciating the differences I’m noting, look who stops by for a visit. Moments like this are just one of the many things that make life here so different than in Houston.  Without the contrasts, I don’t know that my eyes would be so open in both places.

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Taking It All In

Sometimes we are in such a hurry we fail to pay attention to all that is around us.  Realizing that we never know what tomorrow brings, I want to take it all in, hold on to it and appreciate the wonder that is everywhere.

foggy morningSometimes it’s stopping  on a foggy morning to appreciate the window boxes planted on an old barn.  There are no houses around, and I can’t help but wonder who makes the effort.

dahliaThis time of year dahlias are in full glory, and I want to acknowledge each waxy petal.

butterflyI pay special attention to the butterfly that is soon to head south, perhaps making its final journey.

Perry CreekI don’t want to miss the magic of a full moon shining on the water

gardenor the fading summer beauty of a neighbor’s garden.

fall leavesI salute the first red leaves on the tree outside the door knowing they are symbols of the season just around the corner.

Yes, I want to take it all in because who knows what tomorrow brings.

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Grow It!

As referenced in my last post, fresh and local is readily available these days at farmers markets, but what about in your own back yard or rooftop or patio?

gardenGardens can be anywhere you can put a planter, and they don’t have to be major projects that require lots of digging, planting and maintenance.

gardenIf herbs are your fancy, they are easily grown in pots

gardenwhich can work beautifully into a patio setting.  Not only do they add color and texture but herbs are the absolute easiest to grow with no more than a little TLC.

gardenMy daughters came up with very clever  ways to garden.  One used wine crates to create multiple growing spaces for herbs, lettuces and tomatoes.   Since they are wood, it is a good idea to have drainage holes in the bottom of the crates and to line them with plastic to keep them from rotting.

gardenThis daughter chose watering troughs from a farm store for her garden, and they have worked great.   These are totally filled with dirt which makes them a little heavy should they need to be moved.  An alternative would be to fill them about 2/3 full with styrofoam packing material which would lighten them considerably and still leave plenty of room for dirt.

gardenWhere there is yard space, a raised garden is perfect. It is simple and inexpensive as it only requires a wood or, as in this photo, stone frame and enough dirt to fill it.  I have found this to be a very successful way to expand my vegetable selection, and a 4×8 dimension makes it very easy to work.

gardenThis has to be my favorite garden in that it is as visually appealing as it is practical.  Finding the old tubs is a bit of a challenge, but you could just as easily use galvanized ones.

gardensgarden

gardensWith all the interest in gardening, there is no shortage of books on the subject.  These three, for example, are loaded with helpful hints.

What I love about having my own little garden, be it in pots or in a raised bed, is the satisfaction that comes with knowing I did it.   I check on my growing things every day, and I am so pleased when I can harvest that first basil stem, tomato, lettuce or radish.  If you haven’t tried growing some of your own fresh and local, get started…..NOW!

If you have gardening tips or stories, I’m betting the rest of us would love to hear.

i so appreciate your visit and the comments you leave behind

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