Sunday, March 29, 2009

Borrowing Days

According to old "English" garden lore, the last three days in March are referred to as "blind" days and gardeners of old often refrained from planting seeds from March 29 through 31 because the weather is often cold, stormy and windy. This tradition has it that these last three days of March are "borrowed" from April.

The saying goes..."March borrowed from April three days, and they were ill. The first was snow and sleet. The next was cold and weet. The third, a freeze and the birds' nests stuck to the trees."

So...maybe, I'll go to a movie today.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mellow Yellow

Eventhough the weather has been dreary during these last few days of March here in Philomont, the color yellow in shades ranging from limey lemon to coronation gold have been emerging in nature to brighten my mood. Daffodils and forsythia are the main culprits who sprinkle the countryside with their cheery freshness, but I can't ignore some of the beautiful willow trees and landscape shrubs that adorn neighbor's yards as well as the roadsides. Even the occasional dandelion is a welcome sight on these cloudy, chilly days. Not far behind yellow, pale pinks and vibrant purples of the cherry trees are beginning to show themselves as well. Can the redbud and dogwood be far behind?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This past weekend, we added two and one-half tons of pea gravel to our stone paths and walkways, cleaned up and edged garden beds. And, one more thing...we got another fountain going on the back patio. What did you do for fun?

Raking up leaves, pine needles and other debris out of the garden beds and, especially giving them nice, crisp edging with the old and trusty garden edger (isn't that a clever name?) once again spruces them up quickly and provides the entire yard a with bit of a face-lift after winter. Now, all we need is a little rain and some warmer weather to encourage some spring growth and new color. This cold and dry March, so far, is proving to be stubborn in handing the keys over to more spring-like days but that doesn't mean there isn't work to be done in anticipation of the garden rewards to come.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Signs of Spring

In spite of lots of clouds with very little rain and cool weather for the past several days, I know that spring is coming even without the calender telling me that it is due to arrive this Friday. Why? The daffodils are blooming and will soon be coming on strong. A toad appeared from somewhere and decided to rest on the driveway for a spell. He still looks a bit drowsy from a long, cold winter. In the green house--rosemary plants are blooming, pansies and petunias are popping all over the place and, best of all, the clivia I've had for at least 5 years (a gift from my mother-in-law) finally decided to bloom! Not just one bloom--but another on the way...better late than never. What a way to usher in spring with a burst of blooming colors.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

New Garden Project

This weekend begins a new chapter in the life of the kitchen garden that needs a facelift as well as a whole new image. For the past several years, this garden, located in the backyard, between the patio and the greenhouse, has been a catch-all for everything from tomatoes, lettuce and a few vegetables, to herbs, to cutting garden annuals for fresh and dried bouquets and a holding bed for rosemary, mrytle and lavender standards not to mention whatever else I fancied at the moment and could cram into it's limited space. The four smaller beds that surround the main raised, rectangular frame will continue to be used that way, to some extent, but the center bed will be transformed into an english knot garden of sorts using Varigated Boxwood (Buxus microphylla 'Elegantisima'), English Boxwood (Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruticosa') and English Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia 'Betty's Blue'.)

The pictures posted show how the bed looks now--barren and sparse because, afterall, it's only March 14, what this garden looked like last summer in bloom sometime during June and a proposed illustration of what the center focus bed will look like, once established...keep your fingers crossed...I'll keep you updated as we go. We are scheduled to be part of a local garden tour the first weekend in May--this should be interesting.

Monday, March 9, 2009

What a difference a week makes...

I woke up this morning to a bright and blustery March Day...much more like the way I like to think about March, rather than last Monday morning when we had snow and ice covering much of the ground. We've reached that time of year here in Northern Virginia when it can be winter one day and summer the next...forgetting spring and fall altogether.
It was another work weekend at the Rinek household because of the temps in the 70's and my 300 plus lavender bushes were in bad need of pruning before they begin breaking new growth, probably by the end of the month or the first week of April. And, like every other plant in the spring, when lavender starts to "green up" it goes fast and then we are really far behind and don't get the bushes pruned as well as we hope. After years of back breaking work cutting with basic hand shears, I decided we'd try using an electric hedge trimmer or, in this case, a battery powered one. Pete stopped at Home Depot on the way home from work on Friday and started pruning lavender shrubs early Saturday morning. He didn't quit until Sunday evening. I'm not sure that I would heartily recommend this technique for pruning lavender shrubs just yet...I'll let you know after I see how prolific they are this spring and summer but, it did go faster. I think Peter's back is fairly stiff this morning and he needed a couple of aspirin to loosen up but he doesn't complain...much.

It's been a long two days of work, but I think it was well worth it. I can say that because Peter did all of the lavender trimming while I raked it up and got it down to the burn pile with some help from Kevin. In any case, Peter cut back the bushes harder than usual which I think will only benefit them in the long run. I have over 40 different varieties of L. Angustifolias and over 20 different varieties of L. Intermedias with L. Latifolias, L. Stoeches and more intermixed throughout this collection. Somewhere, in the early part of May and depending on the weather, lavenders will start blooming and continue with strong first flushes of blooms through the middle of July. Many of these bushes will continue to produce a few blooms through August and each and every bush is a site to behold when they are at their peak.

However, there is no free lunch in life and here at my house, I harvest just about every lanvender plant's flower production to hang and dry for potpourri, bouquets, sachets and pommanders that I will sell at various local fairs...more on that later. Each summer, by the time I'm trimming the flowers off of the 197th bush, with almost that many more bushes to go, I begin to realize why lavender is not so cheap to buy. It takes a lot of blood sweat and tears, literally, throughout the entire year to keep these lavender plants happy and performing well. Good pruning, especially for older shrubs, is the first step in the process. They may look brown, brittle and a little bit dead right now (that's the lavender bushes I'm referring to--not me) but in a few short weeks they will spring to life and just beholding their beauty makes the time and effort we put into lavender here at Blooming Hill all worth while.

Friday, March 6, 2009


Guess who I found snoozing by our Philly Show souvenir? I think I startled him a bit. The sun streaming through the front door windows on this wonderfully warm and pleasant afternoon, made the entry hallway a comfortable place to stretch out and relax. However, I have a sneaking suspicion Tucker was laying there also admiring this wonderful piece of garden statuary and thinking to himself what good taste his owners have...good dog!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Flower Show Souvenir

Weighing in at 85 pounds, our newest garden statuary addition, a beautiful concrete basket of fruit and flowers bought at the Philly Flower Show. The vendor we bought it from thought we were a little crazy to think we could get this home on a bus that was parked three blocks from the show but Peter was determined. It's lovely in our entryway for the time being and our shoulders and backs are still paying the price of carrying it home. Thank you to my friend, Arlene, who helped me get the base to the bus while Peter lugged the fruit basket on his shoulder...whew...but, it was worth it.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Philly Garden Statuary

One of my favorite things in a garden, aside from the flowers and plants of course, is garden statuary. I think garden structures and statuary really lend character and ambiance (whether classic, modern and even whimsical) to plantings and have many statues in my own yard. I took more than a few pictures of these at the flower show...each one I came upon, to me, seemed prettier than the rest and, pictured here are just of few of what I saw. As you can tell, I favor more classic elements in garden statuary.

Peter loves water features. If any of you have ever visited us here at Blooming Hill, I'm sure you know that already since you have seen the three different fountains and counting around our property...not to mention the pond down near the road which is a pond and then not a pond depending on the time of year and the amount of rain we get. Peter wants very much to put in a reflection pool in the back yard and I have been holding him at bay. However, after seeing a few examples of refleection pools at the Philly Show, I'm not sure how much longer he'll be able to resist the urge, or shall I say "instinct" to build just one more water feature...he's a Landscape Architect, for heaven's sake, and his mother is a hoticulturist...he comes by it naturally. Anyway, enjoy a few more pictures of the Philadelphia Flower Show...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Philly Flower Show

Peter and I had the good fortune to be able to attend the first day of the Philadelphia Flower Show yesterday with my some of my friends from the Night Bloomers Garden Club. This year's theme, Bella Italia, is most appropriate and touring the enticing display gardens will transport you to Italy, if only for a moment. It was the first time that I had ever attended this fabulous show and, obviously, my pictures will not do it any justice so, my advice to you is to just go yourself. Given the economy, it's probably a slow day at work anyway. And, if you live anywhere on the East Coast, the weather is still very much in winter mode. March came in like a lion, yesterday...just go to the show and enjoy yourself. You'll have a wonderful time and all the beautiful displays, plants and events, not to mentiuon the marketplace, will take your mind off of your troubles and help you to think spring.
Tommorrow, I'll show some of my favorite garden statuary featured at the show and also the new little addition we bought at the marketplace for our garden collection...