Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Philomont "garden" PHair Weekend

This past weekend marked the closing of Historic Virginia Garden Week and we celebrated and worked by being part of the PHilomont "garden" PHair.  Luckily, unlike last year, the weather cooperated and the whole town of Philomont was turned out for this "aPHair" with the annual horse show happening just up the road and beautiful May Day baskets adorning various Philomont homes.

The weekend started, for Peter and me on Friday morning when a big shipment of cast stone urns, planters and garden statuary and ephemera showed up just in time for us to unload and unpack then turn around and repack and reload in order to get it up to the PHair...phew!...or should I say, PHew!  It was an interesting morning watching these huge and heavy wrapped packs of cast stone items being unloaded as gingerly as we possibly could--just because it's cast stone doesn't mean that it's not breakable.  The truck driver was extremely relieved to find out that he didn't have to even try to navigate his 18-wheeler up the s-curve of our driveway.  We had already decided that it would be easiest for all to just open the boxes at the bottom of our hill and deal with this shipment from there.

Opening the boxes meant exploding wood shavings that billowed out of the 2 huge boxes like smokey clouds from a fire.  As the wood shavings met the air they just seem to expand rapidly and it was hard to even imagine how much the statuary stone company was able to pack into even these gigantic boxes. Yet, the more we unpacked, the more excited we got.  Each piece seemed prettier than the last as I imagined how they would look gracing somebody's garden.

The lower part of our yard by the road became a place of great curiosity as cars slowed down to see what, in heaven's name, was going on in the Rinek's front yard.  Spring was definitely springing up all over the place there and I was anxious to see what PHair visitors would like, and maybe, buy for their own gardens.  We pulled out all sorts of planters from replicas of colonial ladie's slippers to pineapple finials.  The cabbages and basket shown here are among my favorite things.  Just think how frustrated the rabbits and even those devil deer will be when they try gnawing on that in your vegetable garden! Not only these, but we also have fence post bunnies and birds, flying pigs and leaping frogs on stakes and did I mention the lovely urns?!  What you are seeing in these pictures is only the icing on the cake.  We unpacked forty-six pieces of garden items out of those two boxes and took only a fraction to this PHair.  Want to see more? Stop by Blooming Hill or my booth at upcoming garden fairs.  I'll let you know where I'll be.

Saturday morning came and we had finally managed to get ourselves all unpacked and displayed for PHair customers and the cast stone urns and statuary were a hit--also a bit heavy but every pound worth the penny.  They certainly added to the lavender, geraniums and live standards along with the pumpkins and vegetables I  had for sale, not to mention Peter's beautiful wreaths, paintings and more.  It's amazing what you can pack into a 10'x10' booth.We had a grand time talking with our neighbors and meeting new people as well and our booth, as always, was welcoming, colorful and a bit reminiscent of a colonial garden...very fitting for a cool spring day in the Virginia countryside.

There were also other vendors there (18 total) with wares to sell--all, my friends, old and new! Pictured are Lucia Pull and company from the Goose Creek Herb Guild, Nancy with her vintage glassware and dolls, Sue and her very unusual and rare collection of "pocketbooks"--lovely purses made from old book covers she collects and crafts into something every woman finds useful and pretty.  There were also other plant and herb growers, flower designers,  a professional, certified arborist to answer all of your tree questions, antique dealers, flower designers and even people selling Amish garden sheds.  And, I certainly don't want to forget my friends (and garden club cronies) Kim of Loudoun Valley Herbs selling her special blend of lavender water along with fresh-cut flowers and Marsha whose husband fashions whimsical garden accessories out of horseshoes--very clever, indeed.

I can't close this blog entry without at least mentioning the wonderful May Day Baskets on display throughout Philomont.  Yes, I know it's a week early but try getting Historic Virginia Garden Week to move to May Day and you'll find it is easier to just ask people to display their creative flower arranging talents around both. These are a few of my favorites.  It was a fun weekend and if you missed it, don't worry, the PHilomont "garden" PHair will return next year and the town of Philomont will never go away.  Stop by...you are always welcome.

Monday, April 19, 2010

2nd Annual PHilomont garden PHair

Who is that loitering on the Philomont General Store Property? And, what in heaven's name does that sign she is leaning on say, anyway?  Well, it's me just making sure you know about the "PHilomont garden PHair" this coming Saturday and Sunday, April 24-25, from 11am until 4pm.  Sponsored by the Philomont General Store, this tiny "PHair" is back in business once again and gaining some attention from not only Philomont residents but also those who hark from the surrounding area as well. After all, what do you have to do anyway on a beautiful weekend...work in your own garden?

Okay, so maybe you do need to pull a few weeds and dig a few holes or just need to loll around in the freshly mown grass like the devil dear in my backyard who now think that "mi casa es su casa." Oh no...don't let that stop you from coming to the "PHilomont garden PHair."  There will be 18 crafters and vendors offering their precious wares to sell  from plants and bird baths to antique glassware, original artwork and even garden aprons to keep you inspired and a bit tidy while working in your own little piece of paradise. I've even heard rumor that there will be wine tastings offered by Willowcroft Vineyards in the Philomont General Store.

If that is not enough to entice you to take a ride in the country, on Saturday, there is also the Annual Philomont Horse Show, sponsored by the Philomont Volunteer Fire Department going on at the Horse Show Grounds just a hop, skip and a jump down scenic Snickersville Turnpike for those of you with an itch to scratch when it comes to everything an old-fashioned horse show offers.  I remember when we first moved here 15 years ago, Peter, Kevin and I went to see what the horse show was all about--apparently, it has always been a pretty big deal around here. Kevin, who was only 3-years-old at the time, insisted on bringing his own toy horse to show everyone there.  However, his mother (moi) ended up carrying it around for him while we watched the events and judging take place. We had a great time meeting our new friends and neighbors, toy horse in tow, and all.

Well, I digress as usual...when you come to visit the "PHilomont garden PHair," also ask for a map to visit the homes who will be participating in the May Day Basket Display.  Yes, I know May Day is not until the following week but the baskets will be on display beginning April 24 through May 2 in celebration of  both Historic Virginia Garden Week which ends April 25 and May Day which is May 1.

So, lot's to see and do in Philomont this coming weekend and that includes me.  I'll be in the "Philomont garden PHair" with plants--my greenhouse is jam-packed with scented geraniums, salad fixin's and pumpkin seedlings--and many other goodies and surprises to show you so make sure you stop by and say hello.  I definitely will be there.

Monday, April 12, 2010

April Blossoms and Blooms

Like the song says, "I've got pieces of April.  I'll keep them in a memory bouquet,"  because some of the "pieces of April" particularly in the garden, are also some of my favorite things. Last week's unexpected heat wave caused the daffodils to fade and the tress and other flowers to flourish all over the place here at Blooming Hill and each of these April bloomers was in a race with another to see who could look their most fabulous, first.   The rainbow of color that the trees and shrubs now boast all at once, is almost too much to believe and even the early green grass got greener with the half inch of rain that came late in the week.

Always in her subtle (and often not so subtle) way, Mother Nature gave me a bit of a start when I turned the corner into the herb garden one breezy morning to find the Yoshino Cherry Tree gently snowing its petals all over the place.  Now, we all know how beautiful the first snow of the winter season can be, but can it really compete with fragrant, fluttering pink cherry blossom petals floating over sprouting flowers and herbs to the gentle rhythm of a fountain?  I think not--at least not during the month of April!

Who can talk about April without at least mentioning tulips?  The tulips throughout the garden beds are a stunning Chinese red standing sturdy against this April's  forces of nature.  A little liquid fence seems to be keeping those devil deer at bay, yet the hot, hot sun of last week tried its best to make the tulips wither before their time. They, along with me, suffered some early wilt but, despite being slapped around a bit by the heat, their resilience still shines in their happy, welcoming manner. The hyacinths are also exhibiting their staying power and are using  the tulips as their inspiration to perfume the brick walkway to the front door.

And then, there is the Pink Dogwood Tree (Cornus Florida 'rubra")--one of my special April favorites.  When it is in full bloom, the entire tree looks like one of those "wrist-let" corsages that  girls wear to their Senior Prom.  The delicate pink-tinged blossoms give the whole tree frothy, "frolicky" and feminine appeal and I keep waiting for Pollyanna to come skipping out from behind it whenever glance its way. It shamelessly flaunts itself, not only in the spring but also in the fall with deep red foliage and branches sprinkled with red berries.  Who doesn't love this tree?

One of my favorite of sweet-scented shrubs is the Korean Spicebush (Viburnum) that sits next to our back porch.  Even during the cool April evenings, its light perfume floats into the kitchen prompting me to keep the door open as long as I can.  Who needs to cook when all you have to do is breathe in its soft and savory smell reminiscent of cinnamon and other oriental spices.  The creamy white pom-poms made up of tiny flowers are also blushed with pink and clustered together to make this large, woody shrub a show stopper during early spring days.

The Eastern Red Bud Tree (Cercis Canadensis) is not about to be up-staged by her pink dogwood cousin, especially when it comes to Senior Prom night.  The graceful limbs are covered with frilly magenta-pink blooms that stand out beautifully against the greening landscape.  These trees, like the dogwoods are plentiful in our area and we are ever-so-lucky that we can enjoy them in person just about wherever we go around here, from the backyard, to the forest to the side of the road where they grace the scenery and bring a bit of colorful serendipity to the setting.


We have lavender and white rhododendron placed in many different beds around our house and while many are showing the ravages of the hungry devil deer from this past winter, the "rhodies" managed to live and tell about it.  This lavender one must have hid itself quite well from those devil deer as it is in full bloom tucked away in a back corner of the house with not a hint of bite marks on it anywhere!  It's frilly blossoms are all in their splendor enjoying their shady respite in this lovely April weather.



Finally, there is this frothy looking bush called Dwarf Fothergilla (Fothergilla Gardenii) down at the entrance of the driveway looking very fussy, with soft, white prickly blossoms that remind me of fluffy bottle brushes --the kind Martha Stewart would use--or, at least, very large and ripe pussy willow blossoms that are just about give way to leaves.  In either case, its puffy flowers soften the driveway entrance providing texture and color against the dusty road.  Its amazing to me that these bushes looks so cheerful and dainty with all of that dirty dust floating around down there.  It's enough to make anything want to wilt but, it goes to show that dainty can also be sturdy and stalwart when it needs to be...you go fothergilla!  These blossoms will turn into unusual creased and fuzzy leaves that also feel a bit leathery and, in the fall, the leaves turn beautiful shades of burnt umber and orange.

There is still so much more to this colorful and blossoming April to show you but it will have to wait for another day as the greenhouse and emerging plants in the garden beds are beckoning me to come and water them because the April sun is strong, even as this new week begins, thankfully, on a cooler note.  Such is an April day to keep in a memory bouquet for sometime off, I'm sure, in the not too distant future, when I could use a bit of springtime color to look back on.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Getting Ready for Spring Happenings

Reality set in all too soon this past weekend after celebrating my birthday last Wednesday with ice cream and cake.  Beautiful weather made its demands clear and Peter and I set to work in the yard, foregoing golf and other fun things in favor of painting, planting and getting the gardens in shape. The gardening season is now in full swing and, there's no rest for the weary!
One of the first and also one of my favorite garden chores during the spring is setting the blue china plate edging up in the lavender knot garden, and the surrounding vegetable beds.  Out came the plates from the attic.  They were quickly and carefully dug into the ground where soil meets stone while the plants sat patiently--and most still are sitting patiently while I write this blog entry.

While some of these plants, seedlings and rooted cuttings will be going into my own garden beds, I will be selling most of them, from rosemary and myrtle standards to scented geranium plants and pumpkin seedlings at upcoming garden fairs that I'll be participating in during the next few weeks.  Hopefully, I'll see you at Leesburg Flower and Garden Show (April 17 and 18)  and the PHilomont garden PHair (April 24 and 25.)  If I don't see you there, not to worry--I'll take pictures to show you all  the fun you missed!

So much still to do, yet the gardens are looking great even for early spring when mowing, weeding, pruning, racking, clipping and finally planting and mulching are all priorities. Phew!  My head is spinning and my back is aching already.

Yes, the gardening season is truly in full swing here at Blooming Hill and you are always welcome to stop by for a visit.  Just bring your own gloves..I can supply the shovels, spades and clippers. All kidding aside, there's no charge for a tour, money, work or otherwise--you just have to appreciate gardens and love plants and flowers!