Friday, June 30, 2017

Gene's Garden

It was three years ago today that I published the first post of this (sort of) gardening blog. So a little over a week ago when His Madness and I were visiting our friends, Gene and Laura I thought it was about time to photograph the garden that first inspired me to fill up my own backyard with plants!

There are many homes with lovely landscaping but Gene has managed to take it way beyond just enhancing architecture or creating curb appeal. He has created a lavish show on a huge scope.

Pouring over photos of English cottage gardens has always been one of my favorite ways to spend an afternoon. I never really gave any serious thought to creating one of my own because most of the plants in those gardens wouldn't be able to survive a Wisconsin winter. Then one day I noticed Gene's backyard had evolved into something out of a fairy tale! Even though his plants are completely different from the ones across the pond, the effect is the same. It all seems pretty obvious now. Duh!

It's easy to see that Gene has a deft hand at putting plants together and keeping them looking beautiful. (A blue sky would have made for better photos but there is something to be said for the soft lighting produced by clouds. As long as it doesn't start to rain in the middle of taking pictures!)

The bird population seemed to be very happy with the beautiful place they get to call home.
The half a dozen birdhouses (or more, I lost count) were teeming with new life.

There isn't the usual abundance of blooms because we were visiting at one of those in-between times when the spring perennials have ended and the summer ones are just beginning to flower. It will soon be a riot of purple, yellow and blue with a little orange thrown in for contrast. We'll be back.

I always forget to mention how great flowers smell!
The Mock Orange filled the whole backyard with it's wonderful sweet fragrance. 

The rain decided it couldn't hold off any longer as we were about to settle down at the table, so we settled for a great view of it from the garden room while we enjoyed a delicious brunch.

 Out on the front porch a shabby chic trellis looks perfect with the lace curtains in the living room.

Gene's has grown a huge patch of milkweed for the butterflies. The windmill belonged to Laura's parents and their initials are stenciled on the fan. I've always thought that was just the sweetest thing. They had a huge garden also and I got a lot of good advice from them over the years.

Here's Gene relaxing in the garden room after brunch. 

It's also where he paints. Doesn't this fairy look like she belongs in his garden?
An acquaintance commissioned him to paint this copy of a poster but to leave off the text.
It looks so much better than the original poster, I think he should keep it. 

One more flower, a Spiderwort. A pretty plant with a silly name, I couldn't leave it out!

Thanks to Gene and Laura for letting me photograph their beautiful garden.
I hope you enjoyed it and thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Happy Summer Solstice!

It has been raining cats and dogs for most of June so it was great that the sun finally got to shine on the longest day of the year! It was surprisingly chilly too but that didn't matter. Summer is here!

After a short inspection of the backyard, Ivy and Burt settled on the bench to enjoy the sunshine and Ivy said, "So Burt, do you know what meteorologists call it when it rains ducks and chickens?"
To which Burt replied, "No, I haven't a clue!"

 Ivy answered, "fowl weather."

Our foul weather was ancient history once the sun came out. It was like a double shot of expresso! I chased this dragonfly around the garden with my camera for quite awhile before it took a break!  

There's not very many flowers blooming at the moment but a few roses have started to open.
The white roses tend to get lost in the sunshine and the blue and purple flowers blend into the green. Ivy rescued her Mandevilla blossom after the wind knocked over the trellis.

The bush that produces these pretty clusters of white roses is called Darlow's Enigma. I bought it because I needed another plant to get the free shipping on my nursery order and I liked the sound of it's name. It's turned out to be a fantastic choice. Not only is it one of only three roses in my backyard that survived the Polar Vortex, it also bloomed into December last year. It has a great fragrance, too.

A closer inspection is always in order . . .

because you'll never know what you might see lurking around the edges . . .

. . . or in the corners!

In another corner Burt is trying out his Gomez Addams impression for Ivy's amusement.

Thanks for visiting and Happy Summer everyone!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Soggy Days

Ivy and Burt are so happy you have stopped by for a visit! Most of the planting and garden chores are done so they are taking a break to enjoy the fruits of the season while our soggy backyard dries out. Summer has just so much to smile about!

Our weather's been alternating between blisteringly hot and lengthy deluges of biblical proportions, complete with non-stop thunder and lightning. All this excitement has been super beneficial to the plants and weeds, so much so that it's become hard to tell them apart! I'm going to need a machete.

A good soaking rain with lots of lightning was always a welcome site to the farmers in the community where I grew up. My Gram referred to them as "electrical storms". She and I would happily stand outdoors, under our south porch and enjoy the show. Probably not the safest thing to do but she lived to be ninety and I'm still here! Still not a good idea. When I went to college it came as quite a surprise to me to see my freshman roommate running for cover at the first clap of thunder.

My unbridled enthusiasm for storms isn't just about flashing lights and loud noises, although I do appreciate the show. It's the benefits to the plant life that really makes me happy. Plants need nitrogen to grow and 78% of our air is made up of it. Unfortunately, plants don't have a way to absorb it from the air. When a bolt of lightning rips across the sky it busts up the nitrogen molecules and some of those free nitrogen atoms combine with oxygen and form nitrates. Nitrates are a fantastic, all natural fertilizer and it gets carried to the ground in the rain which the plants can absorb through their root system. Free fertilizer and a good show all thanks to Mother Nature. Plus, it's less work for me!  

Obviously, apart from their many benefits, storms are not everyone' s cup of tea.
Rain without thunder and lightning can be sort of like tea without dessert for some of us.

 Lately we've either been cooped up inside a lot (with the AC due to the sweltering heat or taking cover from a torrential downpour) so His Madness took the opportunity to whip up this delicious tart! 

It turned out to be just the thing to turn a cup of tea into a party.

Pouring tea is one task His Madness takes very seriously! It always commands everyone's attention. 

Eventually the rain passed, the sky cleared, the sun came out and the neighbors dogs captured Spencer's attention. It was a lovely break but is it time to get back to work? 

Out in the backyard, the wind and rain has taken a quite a toll on this pink peony.

Luckily, there's still a few salvageable blooms and all of the other peony plants are fine.

Most of the flowers, like this Iris are just wet . . .

. . . while the old roses are already dry!

It looks like it's going to be way too wet to do anymore work in the garden today.
Poor Ivy will just be forced to spend the rest of the afternoon curled up with a good book and a kitty.

So, how do you feel about thunderstorms? 

Thanks for stopping by!