Monday, September 28, 2009

Decorative Fall Berries

Here it is, already the end of September and the Holly bushes are just beginning to hint at signs of blossoms turning into berries in my yard. It seems as though they are late bloomers this year. However, two beauties, both deciduous shrubs in my garden, will show them how it's done right now!

The Winterberry (Ilex Verticullata) with it's bright red berries is a charming standout in the front yard. Peter planted a few of these bushes along with this one at the end of last summer. They are not quite as far along yet, but they promise to be just as "showy" soon.

Beauty Berry (Callicarpa Bodinieri - "Profusion") is what it proclaims itself to be--a true beauty in the garden with it's attractive violet berries set here against the greenhouse. I found this plant a few years ago being sold by a plant grower at the Bluemont fair. It didn't look like much then but I was intrigued by it's name. So far, it hasn't disappointed me at all.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Bluemont Fair - Part II

Well, we did it. We survived the fair and had a wonderful time to boot. The pictures are of us setting up in the early morning chill, before the fair opened for the day on Sunday. (Yes. I am wearing a polartec was cold at 8:30am) Peter and I saw many old friends and made many new friends and it was a lovely two days to spend outside breathing in the lavender perfumed air. Believe me you could really smell the lavender along with eucalyptus, bay, myrtle, Sweet Annie and rosemary but, especially the lavender, even with a cool breeze a good ways away from our booth. The sun helped release the essential oils in the lavender bundles and everyone kept asking, "What do I do to the lavender to preserve the scent, as well as the color?" Actually, not really too much. That is part of the beauty and mystique of lavender itself.

Peter made three eucalyptus wreaths for Sunday and they, along with his painting of Middleburg, were the wow factors of the booth. People visited us under the canopy just because the colors and aromas were so inviting and pleasant. Some people seemed to linger just because of the happy feeling they developed. Lavender--it's like catnip for people with only the nicest of effects to the body and soul. At times, it got a little too crowded under the canopy, but everyone was polite and patient and had a good time.

Now I'm exhausted and have only a few days to get everything ready again and take it off to the Waterford Fair Dried Flower Barn this coming weekend. The Fair itself is Otober 2-4 (Friday through Sunday. Lavender bundles with yarrow and lavender pomanders along with pussy willow wreaths and bags of pressed autumn leaves were my biggest sellers at Bluemont. In the past, this has also been true for Waterford as well so, let's hope the trend continues. Eventhough I won't be having a booth at that fair, I shall be visiting and hope to see you all there.

On behalf of Peter and myself, thank you to all of my friends, both old and new who stopped by to say hello and support our gardening efforts this past weekend. It was a wonderful time.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bluemont Fair

Well, here I am on the first day of the Bluemont Fair. It was a glorious day and the weather had a hint of fall to it but just enough summer left to revel in. These are pictures of the booth taken just as we finished set-up this morning at 9:30am. I was busy through the entire day and sold lots of lavender, rosemary standards, pussy willow and dried flowers. The sweet aroma of all of these dried flowers and living plants combined wafted out of the booth and persuaded lots of visitors to come under the canopy to browse, shop, and especially, to talk about lavender, one of my favorite subjects. I had "Betty's Blue" (L. Angustifolia) plants on hand to sell as well today. It is one of my favorites to have in a garden border with it's deep violet to dark purple blooms. They sit next to some small myrtle standards that are great for the upcoming holidays and not quite as "picky" as rosemary to grow inside during the colder months.

I can't tell you how many times I was asked about how to keep rosemary alive indoors through the winter months. Yes, it can be a persnickety plant, especially inside, but it is do-able if you just keep it in a sunny, cool window, rotate it every other day, fertilize it once a month, keep it watered but not too wet and don't let it dry out completely. Mist your rosemary plant every few days, but not too much. Rosemary needs good air circulation as much as it needs sun. I find that if you put your rosemary plant outside on or twice a week if possible, rosemary will be much more cooperative in surviving the winter. Just remember to bring it in before the sun goes down and the temperatures really take a tumble. In short, pay attention to your rosemary plant and it will reward you with added beauty in your home for quite some time.

One of the first items I sold this morning was a eucalyptus wreath that Peter made so I talked him into making a few more for tommorrow. You see him here in his "creative mode" as I write this. There is no rest for the weary...

Anyway, tomorrow will be another gorgeous day to spend outside and enjoy at a country fair and, that is exactly where you will find me--selling lavender and such. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Prepare for the Fair

Yesterday was "phase-one" for me in setting up for the Bluemont Fair that happens this coming weekend. I gathered baskets of lavender, pine cones as well as bundles and wreaths of pussy willow that will be for sale in the Dried Flower Barn at the fair. I will also have some of this year's favorite pick in lavender plants--"Betty's Blue" to sell in the barn as well as at my own booth. It's a wonderful compact and upright variety that features dark purple flowers and silvery-green foliage that looks great as a border plant in the garden.

No, I did not drive it all to the fairgrounds on the golf cart, even though Tucker would have preferred it that way. However, I did gather it there in order to get everything into my car. There is so much more that I will have in my own booth this weekend at the fair, from even more lavender to Peter's paintings to rosemary standards, lavender and myrtle plants as well as some small crafts I have in store. Whew!...Will I have room for it all? Come and see me there--it should be interesting.

Yesterday was about getting what you see here to the barn at Bluemont safe and sound, and,
these two ladies are my friends, Arlene and Trish, who oversee the dried flower barn throughout the weekend. They have been taking on this job for years out of love for this beautiful little town and for the flowers and crafts that people bring to sell. Both are worthy gardeners and crafters themselves.

Tommorrow, Peter and I set up our booth in the late afternoon and Saturday at 9 am marks the opening of this lovely country fair. Hopefully, all will go well in set-up and I'll have pictures to show you. Stay tuned...

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Sunday Afternoon in the Herb Garden

This positively brilliant afternoon drew me outside to admire the burst of color throughout the yard. My intention

was to start in the herb garden where I was cutting back the trellis laden with Spanish Flag vine, a member of the morning glory family. I have shown it to you before but today, it was especially beautiful, all ablaze in color from crimson to paprika to buttery yellow. It was so pleasant in this garden, I just couldn't bring myself to leave.

The vibrant red pineapple sage has intertwined itself among zinnias that are just as brilliant. Deep azure Mexican petunias (a very tall variety of Bruellia) and heirloom pink 'Ladyfingers' or sometimes referred to as 'Kiss-me-over-the-garden-gate' (Polygonom orientale) compliment the crimson blooms.

The warm sun really brought out the aroma of scented geraniums,'Lady Plymouth' and 'Old-Fashioned Rose' in particular, mixing delightfully with the scent of lemon verbena, so much so, that I had to stop and cut a bouquet of these delightful greens to put in a vase in the house. I'll dry them later to add to potpourri.

The deer seem to have given up on eating the phlox for the time being allowing it to bloom at last here at the end of the summer, probably because the garlic chives and 'Black and Blue' Sage growing in and around it, have made the sweet tasting lavender-tufted blossoms not as appetizing--at least that is my hope.

All in all, I had a perfectly delightful time in the herb garden on this radiant Sunday afternoon in September. I think the dog days of summer are behind us now but all too soon, the cool nights will give way to cold then freezing temperatures. For now, like the song says--"I've got pieces of September (not April). I keep them in a memory bouquet."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lavender Pomanders

I'm still in my cave and I'm still working furiously on preparing lavender bundles, pomanders, sachets and arrangements for the upcoming fairs. It never seems to end...

This past weekend was devoted to making pomanders. I gather lavender blossoms along with some pussy willow catkins into a ball wrapped in tulle. Finish it off with a pretty ribbon and some other dried everlastings and flowers from the garden for garnish and, viola!...a pretty pomander!

Today, I begin on some lovely heart-shaped sachets done in shades of laveder fabrics and, farther afield, a few days to be spent on getting live plants shaped into standards and tying up loose ends on just about everything. I told you, it never seems to end...

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chinese Lanterns

Look what I found growing behind the Fairy Rose at the back corner of the house...Chinese lanterns (Physalis alkekengi). Most people will probably shrink back in horror yelling, "Get that thing out of my garden!" It's highly invasive--coming up where you least expect it to and wherever it pleases, like where I found it in my garden, because of it's wide spreading root system. But the papery orange and green balloon shaped flowers are truly beautiful. In dusky evening light, they actually take on a bit of an "airy" glow that lends texture to the surrounding foliage--somewhat like big orange fireflies popping out of the green darkness.

Despite it's tendency to take over a garden bed, if left unchecked and not weeded out properly, Chinese Lantern is a perennial herb related to tomatillos and some people say they are edible and used for different medicinal purposes, although I would do more research on them if you have any you plans to ingest them. Like anything, I'm sure it comes with it's own set of warnings and problems.

As for me, I don't eat the stuff and don't care to even try a taste. I bought one small plant several years ago at a garden fair for the purpose of drying it for decoration and planted it in a bed where I grow assorted everlastings for flower arrangements. Every year since, I get a couple of weak looking branches that produce a few bug-eaten lanterns. But, this year, it came up unexpectedly in an unassuming corner with plenty of moisture and shade...(note to self--don't let it get out of hand next year even though it looks so unassuming, unique and totally innocent this year!)