Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Pieces of a Rainy April Morning

The Herb garden, greening up.

The cafe cutting garden will be ready for tables very soon.
Planting seeds between the existing rows of salad greens.
I spent the better part of this morning taking advantage of the heavy mist that has been falling since yesterday and worked in the gardens.  I potted up small lavender plants that are ready for sale, planted seeds in between the rows of green lettuce and colorful radicchio in the salad portion of the parterre garden, added plants to the cafe cutting garden, lingered in the herb garden and pulled weeds out of the nice, soft dirt in every garden.  By lunchtime, I was feeling fairly damp myself, with hair plastered to my head, clothes splattered with mud and soggy, wet feet.  It was a glorious morning to be outside and enjoy the weather...Truly!...if you are a gardener.

The pink dogwood tree looks like a Mother's Day corsage.
I could just live in these branches filled with pink!
I glanced at the pink dogwood, in full bloom and shining brightly in the gloom of the drizzle.  It reminded me of a beacon in the night welcoming sailors, coming home from sea duty, as they look toward their port for familiar lights to greet them after many months away.   It looked happy, all tangled up in pink blossoms and relishing the raindrops!

Bittersweet beauty, blooming heart.
I really like the color pink!
Another piece of this rainy April morning was the bleeding heart bending and drooping gracefully, catching raindrops and hiding fairies under it's fanned-out and pointed leaves.  The rain, lending these flowers a certain sleepy peacefulness, created an almost bittersweet aura about them.  Bleeding heart owns a quality of humility that many pretty flowers simply do not possess.  Yet, in the language of flowers the bleeding heart represents elegance and fidelity.

Lavender lilacs - truly lovely!
Lilacs budding out
The deep purple and very tight buds of a Miss Kim lilac bush.
And then, within the the deepening green of the pine trees, I spied from the corner of my eye, puffs of lavender nestled in the arms of heart-shaped leaves--lilac blossoms beginning to unfold on this rainy morning and scenting the air with their sweet fragrance.  Lilacs were my mother's favorite flower and, if you grew up in the Midwest, like I did, you would know why.  Lilacs love the cold, harsh winters and cold springs of that area, more so than they do here in the mid-Atlantic, making them a spectacular flower--big and fluffy and showy in their lavender, pink or white splendor.  They can be very lovely here as well, although they never seem to display quite the panache as I remember them when I was a little girl in the suburbs of Chicago.  Perhaps because lilacs are one of the first blossoms of spring in the Midwest making them part of garden royalty there.

In any case, the lilac bushes in my yard are lavender conveying the first flutterings of  new found love--love of rain and spring and flowers galore.  This springtime morning was certainly glorious and, because of the much needed rain, nothing could dampen my spirits.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Far From the Maddening Crowd

The crowds at the Flower and Garden Festival this past Saturday.
That's me gearing up in my booth for the crowds early Saturday morning.
The 18th Century English poet and author, Mary Howitt, put it so aptly when it comes to describing spring, even in this up and down weather, here in Northern Virginia, when she wrote, "Buttercups and daisies, oh, the pretty flowers; coming ere the Spring-time, to tell of sunny hours." After a busy and blustery weekend spent at the Leesburg Flower and Garden Festival, her poem made me want to stop rushing through my days filled with weeding, planting, housework and store work, and take in the serene beauty that is unfolding all around me even as the cool days and chilly nights of the past week can't seem to stop the bursting forth of spring.  In the words of Martha Stewart, "It's a good thing!"

Virginia Bluebells!
One of the venues on the Waterford House and Garden Tour.
Yesterday, my friend, Linda, and I spent the better part of the day walking through the gardens of Waterford, Virginia as part of the 80th Annual Historic Virginia Garden Week.  I don't get to Waterford very much except for in the fall when they have a large craft fair that draws visitors from all over to enjoy the historic homes and the autumn  leaves. However, I do believe this quiet village is even prettier in the spring when the cherry blossoms, dogwoods, forsythia, wisteria, tulips and irises come to life.  And, while the homes are beautiful by themselves, they are almost no competition for the spring blossoms and the greening landscape.

An old pump house.
A garden trellis made out of tree branches

The day was a chance for me to take a step back and enjoy the simple yet elegant and colorful vignettes highlighted by sun and springtime in a hamlet reminiscent of colonial days when life could certainly be harsh, but not on this day.  This day was all about the peace and beauty Mother Nature offers up for us to enjoy, coupled with good old American garden ingenuity.

More tulips!
One of the many stairways to heaven???
Early spring herb garden.
Simple steps lined with flowers leading to patches of perfectly coiffed green carpets under blue skies helped create welcoming outdoor rooms and tidy parterres filled with herbs and edibles.  And the tulips--ohhhh, the tulips were the reigning queens in gardens and borders that lined the streets as we walked along and took in the sites.

Sheep in repose, enjoying the weather.
Creeping phlox spilling over a rock wall and surrounding a dogwood tree in bloom.
Candy-tufted stone steps.

It was a wonderful day spent touring and savoring the gifts of nature, cared for by Waterford's fortunate residents, both past and present, whose love of history and gardening is so evident in this colonial-style village.
Redbud in full bloom
Hellebore's bowing their heads in the sun.
Stone paths through a parterre.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

April Showers Bring May Flowers!

The Yoshino Cherry Tree in full bloom, swaying in the rain.
Violas and primulas, jumbled together and loving the rain.
Hiding amid the tulip greenery.
The yard literally turned green, Friday morning, as a glorious half inch of rain fell on Blooming Hill after enduring a very hot and dry spell, this past week, which, coincidentally, goes along with the legendary homage to precipitation in the short and sweet poem of "April flowers bring May Flowers!"   You could just see the grass, bushes and trees lapping up the wetness and relishing the early spring sweetness as raindrops danced in the fountains. And, for once, no hard driving wind came along to spoil the party--just steady, lovely rain.

Winter reds turning to spring greens.
"Buttercup" star magnolia blossoms collecting raindrops.
Tulips and hyacinths unfolding.

This famous saying, April showers bring May flowers, came about way back in 1557 when a merry and wise old English chap by the name of Thomas Tusser compiled a collection of writings titled "A Hundred Good Points of Husbandry" as in thrifty farming techniques.  In terms of the month of April, he wrote a short, two line poem that actually went like this: "Sweet April showers, do bring May flowers" explaining that this month brings about big 
changes in the seasons from snows to rains to growing things. Since April has already taken us on a roller coaster ride from temperatures in the 30's and 40's and freezing rain, to temps in the low 90's with blazing sun, to rainy days and high humidity and back into the 40's, it certainly seems that Thomas Tusser knew what he was talking about.