Monday, May 30, 2011

June, So Soon!

How, in heaven's name, did we arrive at the front door of June so soon? It was only the beginning of May, it seemed to me, just yesterday with soaking rains and cool nights that opened to dewy mornings. Where peonies bloomed in dappled sunlight and cornflowers glowed in the breezy afternoons that led to lilacs fluttering in the early dusky evening when the tree frogs and crickets sang their familiar twilight vespers.

Good-by May.  You were such a lovely month this year offering up emerald fields filled with frothy, blooming buttercups that caught my eye on sun-drenched afternoons.  You sneaked right by me in between garden club events, gardening tours and just plain gardening.  Somehow, you slipped through my fingers, perhaps while I was on my knees weeding.  I will miss you, May.

Yet, June looks promising as the first of the lavenders begin to swell and blush slightly in lovely shades of powdery blue to dusty pinks, hinting at their royal purple bloom soon to come.  Each lavender will begin to burst, during June, on it's own time schedule--no one else can tell them when, they just seem to know when it is their time--as it is their job to welcome the honeybees into the summer garden, with their sticky feet and fluttery wings.  Giant Oriental poppies wave like crimson flags signaling landing points for lady bugs and humming birds during the day while lightening bugs shimmer in the grass and rise through the leaf-laden trees and into the warm, clear sky. Ahhhhh, June--you have your own attributes, don't you?

Like May, June is no stranger to beauty in the garden landscape. Roses are at the ready to take the peonies' place as the princesses of the perennial garden borders. Even their prickly branches cannot deter their elegant form and grace. Red to pink to yellow to creamy white, roses are amenable to every other flower in the garden, warm and welcoming so much so that bugs and other garden pests cannot resist them either, so enjoy them in this warm and humid Virginia weather while they last.  Even the roadside wild rose, intertwined with fragrant honeysuckle vine, is eager to welcome the new month.

And the herb garden...oh, the herb garden, a favorite respite place of mine. Aromatic and lush with green texture that is topped off with bursts of color like ice cream sundaes covered with candied sprinkles while perfectly coiffed rows of lettuce in the salad garden show off their juicy sprigs of spicy and sweet leaves ready to eat. I pick them now before the warmest weather sets in for good causing lettuces to abandon garden and bolt for cooler climates.

May along with most of the pansies may have left town until next year but the  false indigo true-blue false indigo and the fairy-pink wigellea will stay a while longer to greet the day lilies, zinnias and impatiens who in turn will open the door for cosmos and cleomies, morning glories and marigolds to make their own fabulous entrance into the summer garden as June moves gaily along. So, Happy Memorial Day and farewell May, until we meet again, next year.

It's June's turn now.  I have no idea how you came about this year so soon but, come to think of it, I'm glad you are here.Welcome June!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Art of the Watering Can

This past Saturday morning, while walking through the gardens with visitors, one of my friends, Dee, made the comment that it must take me a long time to water all of the plants.  It gave me pause to think about it because depending on the time of the season and how much rain has fallen, it can take up to a couple of hours every couple of days.  However, watering planted pots is often an entirely different issue since many pots require using a watering can instead of the easier and faster gardening hose.  And, of course, depending again on the temperature and precipitation effects, plants in pots need to be watered more often than plants in garden beds. Sometimes, I think a watering can is permanently attached to the end of my arm.  Hence, I have come to appreciate it's purpose as well as it's beauty and simplicity.

Watering cans in my Blooming Hill Shop.
Vintage piece in my Blooming Hill Shop.
Having been around since probably the beginning of time in some way, shape or form, the watering can was so named near the end of the 17th Century in England.  Until then it was called, among other things, a watering pot, and it's appearance probably hasn't changed much since then either.  Perhaps, the handle has moved and the spout has become shorter or longer, bent than straight, and the rose has become detachable.  However, beyond that, the watering can really has stayed the same in the world of gardening.

Watering Can on a garden stake in my Blooming Hill Shop.
English comedian, John Cleese once described it as "A large cylindrical, tin-plated vessel with a perforated pouring piece, much used by the lower classes for the purpose of artificially moistening the soil surface." He gave it a bad rap, totally uncalled for. Perhaps he didn't see the beauty in it's form and function.  Even Martha Stewart has said, among it's many uses and delights, it's a "good thing" for washing off muddy feet fresh out of the garden. 

In the evolution of things gardening, the watering can, nowadays, comes in a plethora of shapes, sizes and colors and even though the garden hose is far more efficient, in my opinion, the watering can is , either inside or out, as well as for their muddy feet or anything else that may need a gentle shower of soft rain-like droplets so as not to disturb a plant's or a pet's or a foot's delicate features.

Beyond that, a watering can's presence, with it's craftsmanship and artistry, is essential in the garden from the lowly dollar store plastic example to the proper English piece made in gleaming copper or the much sought after, zinc variety.  Watering cans offer grace and beauty whether they are "frilly and fru-fru" or austere and simple.

Flowers and fairies embellish vintage cans in my Blooming Hill Shop.
Vintage can all gussied up in polk-a-dots in my Blooming Hill Shop.
I love watering cans in all varieties, but especially all glammed up and not too heavy.  Here are few from my shop all flowered and fairied up and ready to go.

When it comes to my watering can, the rose is nice to have but not really essential since I'm more concerned with getting water to the roots rather than adding water to the petals which can encourage early wilting.

I know I could not live without my Haws Watering Can with it's long spout and just big enough to carry a lot of water without being too cumbersome.  The little Haws is really not very useful at all, but it sure is cute. 

And, speaking of cute...who can forget that watering cans can also be made purely for vanity and looks.  Not every watering can has to be a workhorse.  But, in my opinion, they have to be pretty and unique in some way. These are two of my favorites as well.  Both are old and passed down to me from my mother's house. Obviously, when it comes to watering cans, form and function can mean many things to me.  In any case, watering cans are pieces of artistry both in the garden and in the home.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I hope you had as lovely a day as I had.  After lunch, I had the chance to browse in a store while Peter and Kevin were off playing tennis with Andy and Chris Rinek (Peter's nephews and Kevin's cousins who came to visit.) I came a across a small book titled Mother's Aprons Strings, a small "gifty-type" book filled with motherly advise, euphemisms and remembrances and fell upon this page where an anonymous person--a gardener of course or at least the child of a mother who gardened had written, "If I had a flower for every time I thought of my mother, I could walk in my garden forever." 

What a lovely reminiscence on this very special day when we think of our mothers, especially,  and also aunts, sisters and daughters--all loving caregivers in some way or another whether they have children of their own or not. 

I remember my mother, who long since has passed away, loved peonies and lilacs in particular, and I think of my mother-in-law who loves all flowers, but mostly herbs and still takes time to teach her friends how to make intricate "tussie-mussies" full of meaning, nostalgia, hopes and promises. 

So, on this Mothers Day, I strolled through my own gardens and took time to think of my mother, Georgia, quite the character in her day, as well as my mother-in-law, Lynn.  I thought of my sister, Chris, and all of my sisters-in-law, nieces and female cousins.  I named them in my heart, one by one.  

I recalled my friends, the young girls to grown women throughout my life, and their love and support for me.

I know I am truly blessed with a garden full of wonderful women that not only come in and out of my life but also come in all shapes and sizes, each one a unique and beautiful individual.

As early as it is in this growing season and considering my penchant for lavender, I find that I have an affinity toward pink flowers, or at least all shades corresponding to and complimentary colors of pink, threading together the textures and hues throughout their garden homes, a very feminine trait, indeed.  Who can resist pink in all of it's simplicity and complexity?

Although they may appear fragile and delicate on the outside, flowers are tough as nails on the inside, withstanding the forces of nature (maybe that's why she is called Mother) offering up beauty and grace even in unforeseen growing conditions.They are stern yet elegant and flutter with ease while flirtatiously batting their pretty petals at the sky.

The ever-changing flowers in my garden seem closely related to the ever-changing landscape of my life. Yet, even after all of these years, I know that my mother's love is constant, just as I know the flowers will keep growing in my garden because "if I had a flower for every time I thought of my mother, I could walk in my garden forever."

Happy Mother's Day! I hope you had as wonderful a day as I had.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Grand Opening Gift from April to May....

Happy May! It was a wonderfully busy week, this last one of April that is, weather wise-wise, activity-wise and even flower-wise. The showers of April gave way to sunshine on the last day of the month only to return again to herald in the arrival of May and even though it rained on May Day, it did nothing to dampen my spirits. How could it when the flowers at this time of the year are this luscious looking?

No matter the weather, I think May Day certainly brings out the best in flowers.  Even the pink tree peony bloomed in honor of our Blooming Hill Grand Opening  So, sit back, take a load off and enjoy the show about the week leading up to our very special event..

The rain came in torrents on Wednesday and rushed through our small ponds, over the driveway and down through the stream bed. It circled the new shop but never touched it, even though it seemed as if there was standing water everywhere.  A sign of good craftsmanship, I believe and a good sign, in general, for sure! 

Friday, the electrician who wired the garden shop, Eddie Moore, stopped by to wish us luck and took a look at the place all decked out. He and Tucker had become fast friends during the past few weeks and I can't decide which one will miss the other more.  However, we did get the seal of approval from Dominion Virginia Power as well so we were good to go by Friday evening for Saturday festivities.

Also, on Friday evening, our friend Dennis, in honor of our new shop, brought us the most beautiful flower arrangement of creamy white roses and stock, chartreuse hydrangea and merlot-tinted hellebore's--all fluffy and ladened with sweet fragrance. It rivaled Kate Middleton's bridal bouquet! We placed it front and center on the tea service table Saturday morning and brightened the already sunny day. It was so thoughtful of him to think of us and share in the celebration of our Grand Opening. Thank you so much, Dennis. Come anytime!

By Saturday, all of that rain was only a memory as we finally greeted the day of our Blooming Hill Garden Shop Grand Opening. After mowing the lawn, weeding and mulching garden beds, reorganizing the greenhouse for the umpteenth time, setting tables for tea and also setting up a small tent at the PHilomont garden PHair, it was suddenly 10am on Saturday morning.  Time to put away the hammers, nails and garden tools and greet our  guests.

Below are a few pictures of the shop if you did not get a chance to stop by on Saturday.  Go ahead and peruse the place.  The Shop looks bright and lovely and airy.  Kind of like home, don't you think?
That's me in behind the counter!
Pillows galore along with the garden decor.
Lovely iron garden chairs frame a Pembrook drop leaf table and a rustic cupboard.
Every bit ready to greet friends and customers!

It was a busy first business day here at our Blooming Hill shop serving tea, sharing garden knowledge, making new friends and especially welcoming old friends. A perfectly perfect way to bid adieu to the first full month of spring and set our sights on a new chapter with May Day baskets at the ready.  Even the prodigal son returned home to help out, if only here and there and for a few weeks, after a very busy sophomore year at college.

Stop by and visit me here at Blooming Hill.  I'm here, for sure , on Fridays and Saturdays.
So, here we are now in the first week of May, already. The month of flowers and sunshine and garden tours and events galore with a store full of garden boot.  A new chapter for us in spring to look forward to with pieces of April to savor in May. What glorious!