Tuesday, October 29, 2013

For the Love of Blue and White

Blue and white china plate border fringed with cheery yellow marigolds.

Lettuces being reigned in by china plates in late spring.

The people who visit us here at Blooming Hill are always pleasantly surprised by the blue and white china plate border we have in our English Knot Garden.  After 15 years of putting the border out in early spring and pulling it all back in late in the fall, our plates are now expanding to other beds and borders throughout the property lending a colorful twist to the flowers and plants, three seasons of the year.  The blue and white border is garden "artwork" in progress as it's design, although stays roughly the same, seems to change from year to year.  When I first started out, I had nothing but my mother's blue Miessen and old flow-blue china out there, much to everyone's shock.  Through the years friends and visitors have given me plates to replace those and now the original Meissen and old flow-blue are back gracing my dining room cabinets and walls.  

The blue and white china border in early spring last year, framing the knot garden before it starts to bloom.
Mid-summer in the knot garden finds blue and white china plates and lavender compliment each other nicely. 
Creating borders with blue and white china plates has become somewhat of a ritual for us, as the gardens would not have the same personality without them.  Somewhere around April 1, no joke, we gather up our collection of old and new plates placed carefully in the attic for safekeeping and reintroduce them to the elements of nature.  In the spring, the china plates bring color and shine to the brown earth with small plants just beginning to burst forth.  During the summer, they add a touch of sophistication to the lettuces and tomatoes and a complimentary dash of whimsy to the stately lavender woven together with boxwood.

Plates gathered and stacked at the end of the season, waiting to be washed.

First rinse in the big farm sink before loading into the dishwasher.

All nice and clean after a hot shower in the dishwasher.
Then comes the bitter-sweetness of fall when the blue and white plates strain to peak out from under almost elephant ear-sized rhubarb leaves and a thickening carpet of fallen pine needles and fading petals.

The colors of fall out in the lavender field with a strange metal bird structure, soon to be painted blue and white, like the china border.
So, as it goes year after year, while the end of October is a quiet pause between bright summer and somber winter, it is as well for my blue and white plate border.  By November 1, the blue and white china plates have been gathered, washed and put away for a well deserved rest in order to reappear the following spring, brightening the gardens once again.  Our garden plate collection has even expanded to bunny rabbits, kitty cats and, of course, chickens!

It's a tradition that we have grown to love, in spite of the work involved, and it's oh so worth the rewards of quiet beauty and stately grace the blue and white china border gives back to the gardens every year.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Where The Sun Always Shines!

Six days of rain (and counting) and over six inches of it sitting in my gardens here at Blooming Hill have done nothing to dampen my spirits when it comes to fall.  Quite the opposite really, since August and September were both pretty stingy when it came to dolling out moisture for the gardens.  In any case, I spent much of last week either down in my workroom filling velvet pumpkins with lavender potpourri or at the Virginia State Arboretum dodging raindrops and greeting die hard gardeners as they shopped for plants and decor, at Blandy's Arborfest, to fill their autumn gardens in anticipation for next year's spring.

Truly, you gotta love a gardener--always optimistic when it comes to planting plants and embellishing their landscapes. American movie actress and icon, Audrey Hepburn, once said,
"To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." In somewhat the same vain of hope and faithfulness, one customer informed me, as one of the more virulent bands of rain was unleashing its fury over us, that "a fifty percent chance of rain also means fifty percent chance of sun, too!". Okay--whatever.  He was, at least, a happy camper.  And, by the way, if it is raining on you, that means  a 100% chance of rain, but I don't think that guy was in the mood to hear that.

So, here I am, this Columbus Day Weekend, still sticking to my story of a glorious fall filled with pumpkin totems, scarlet colored leaves, strange looking scarecrows and sunny golden days.  And, as my Swedish grandmother, Helga, used to say about her beloved 'lil stuga' (translation: cottage often located near a body of water--yep! Close enough!) in Wisconsin, "The sun always shines there."  So, as it goes, it also shines at Blooming Hill, (under my travelling tent or on my property) no matter the weather.

Stop by and see us October 19 and 20 during Loudoun County's Annual Fall Farm Tour and enjoy a lavender-infused tea brought to you by Loudoun Valley Herbs and featuring our signature lavender ice cream.  I have it on good authority that the sun will be shining.