A Garden with Bling!

I love ornaments in a garden. Art enhances and enlivens, adds whimsy and visual interest. I developed garden islands and paths in Virginia where one might turn a corner and discover a surprise… water bubbling in a container, or statuary, or a small frog hiding in the leaves. It’s a fun way to personalize a garden.  On our last move, we sadly surrendered most of our garden art, saving just a few favorite pieces for the limited space we have now.

So it was with delight that with a Rolling Green Nursery outing for all employees last August, I was able to visit Bedrock Gardens in Lee NH where nature and art are spread over a 20-acre themed landscape. We meandered on paths through a variety of gardens with wonderful names like Dark Woods, Spiral Garden, Shrubaria, Conetown, Wiggle Waggle, The Fruit Loop, all enticing  you along the pathway to the next garden space.

One-of-a-kind art and sculpture claim a larger than life presence in each garden, well-placed, whimsical, abstract and sure to bring a smile. Horticulture is breathtaking with unusual trees, shrubs, grasses, all placed perfectly in well-designed gardens. Amazingly, this garden is the magnum opus of two talented owners, Jill Nooney, the artist (and much more) who creates and designs, and her husband, Bob Munger, the retired doctor who makes it all happen for her. They have enhanced the natural beauty of their gardens reflecting the passion and personality of each of them.

Visiting the horticulture and garden design is an absolute destination by itself but add in the art and it’s like stepping into another world for those interested in everything: landscape, sculpture, and art. Read more at their website, Bedrock Gardens.

Jill Nooney’s barn full of farm implements and more just waiting for the next project.

We were fortunate to be guided through the gardens by our co-worker, Hobson, who pointed out unique horticulture and the various art sculptures. Hobson is a faithful volunteer at Bedrock Gardens.

Hobson Jandebeur, co-worker and Bedrock volunteer

The gardens have a playful quality about them and it set the tone for our merry band of garden and horticulture experts. Sounds of laughter were heard everywhere and smiles were seen on every face during the day as we strolled. If the intent of the owners was to educate, entertain, and amuse in an atmosphere of tranquility, they succeeded. The garden certainly worked its magic on us.

Click photos to enlarge:

The gardens have recently been taken over by the Friends of Bedrock Gardens, a group that is transforming private gardens into public gardens and a cultural center.

Good Humor at Rolling Green Nursery

Life is for celebrating and all the employees at Rolling Green Nursery did just that when the owner had a milestone birthday a few days ago. Major kudos to Rick Simpson who pulled off a first-rate surprise for his wife, Beth.  And I was lucky enough to be on duty that afternoon when the call came in over employee’s radios. Come to a party on the far side of the property!

joy, oh joy…..

Happy Birthday, Beth!

Happy Birthday, Beth!

Not only were two delicious cakes being cut for party-goers, Rick had another surprise for Beth and all of us.

And there it was….the Good Humor Ice Cream truck complete with the jingle-jangle music from days of yore.  There were bomb pops, creamsicles, drumsticks, ice cream sandwiches, fudgesicles, Snickers ice cream, klondikes, snowcones.

And there I was….transformed into an 8-year-old sitting on the front stoop licking the drips from an ice cream bar after chasing down the ice cream truck, quarter in hand.

Good Humor Ice Cream Truck

And I couldn’t resist this:

HEATH ICE CREAM BAR

good

to

the

very

last

drip!

Heath Bar Ice Cream

Officially a Drought

The National Weather Service has announced that New Hampshire is experiencing a moderate drought. We’ve had scant rainfall this spring. You might ask: Where’d all that record-setting snow melt go? I wondered, too.

The answer is two-fold: Our snow was ‘fluffy and dry’ according to Alan Dunham, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Taunton, Massachusetts and the water content of our snow was low. Secondly, according to Michael Rawlins, an assistant professor of geosciences and a hydrology specialist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, the small amount of water in the soil has evaporated. The upper surfaces of soil were saturated but with little precipitation, it’s gone.

Rolling Green1

It’s been hot and dry at  my work place, Rolling Green Nursery, but just seven minutes of overhead watering first thing in the morning on the hottest days give perennials enough moisture until we can get a hose to them all.

The National Weather Service tells us that summer will bring extended dry conditions to southern portions of New Hampshire. Voluntary water restrictions are already being put into effect. Thankfully, we aren’t experiencing the dire conditions that western states are enduring but we’re having a small taste of it and the National Weather Service is predicting a dry summer for us in southern New Hampshire. Mild droughts are more common here than many realize and data tells us that droughts are expected to become more frequent as our climate changes.

However, our collective wish was answered yesterday when the heavens finally opened for a good part of the day. Today we have a soaking rain and tomorrow should bring the same. We will need a lot more though!

I took a walk around my own landscape this morning and saw some happy plants just soaking it in. There is nothing quite so beautiful as a life-sustaining rain. Hover over photo to ID plants or click to enlarge.

My Ten Favorite Photos of 2014

Les over at A Tidewater Gardener annually posts his ten favorite photos from the year and he challenges readers to do the same. Since we have downsized and no longer maintain our acres of gardens, I’m not as serious about garden photography and rarely carry my heavy 35mm camera around my neck. But I do carry the world’s most popular camera in my pocket at all times. My iPhone! Not sure about these being my favorite photos but they jumped out at me while scrolling through hundreds!

Since we spent most of the winter under a blanket of snow, I thought I should add at least one photo of the beauty it can bring. Taken on February 8, prints in the snow show where animals come to the stream banks.

Click on photos to enlarge.

IMG_8150I love photos that tell a story and there’s one here. Peaceful demonstrators in Keene NH braved the elements for several hours for a cause on February 7. I can almost hear them talking amongst themselves…. maybe seeing whose turn it is to get some coffee.. among other more important things.

Make Love, Not War!Keene NH also provided another photo that I like. A rainy, gray day was brightened only by taillights at a stoplight on April 15. With family in Keene, we visit this area on a regular basis.

IMG_9886We ventured out of the Granite State for this photo. Two lovely ladies in straw hats were admiring a seaside garden on the rocky shores of the Atlantic. We toured several Cape Neddick Maine gardens on this day during Garden Conservancy Days, June 22.IMG_1338Anyone who knows me knows I am interested in insects and have hundreds of photos and IDs The plump fellow below, the jumping spider, claimed the watering hose as his own at Rolling Green Nursery this summer. These are brave and scary looking spiders, but, oh so harmless. Whenever I moved in, he moved closer. They stalk prey and can pounce a few inches but I just give them a puff of air and they fall to the ground and scamper away. I really like these spiders because they have personality plus. July 12.

The second photo below was a two-for-one. I was photographing the tachinid fly and didn’t see the second insect until I downloaded the photograph. The tachinid is a nectar eating fly as an adult, but one that lays eggs in insect hosts. This time the lowly hover fly is the victim seen just below her body. I don’t like these flies very much as butterfly caterpillars are often victims. July 16.

IMG_1635 IMG_0712Rain drops on vegetation after an all night soaker is always interesting to me. The new growth on this spirea is an especially nice color. May 19.

rain dropsThe sunflower below was a volunteer from our bird feeder. Several seeds that the birds overlooked germinated but only this one grew tall and straight and eventually fed the chickadees many ripe sunflower seeds. (Staring at the center long enough may hypnotize!)  August 26.

volunteer sunflowerFinally, the highlight of 2014 was a vacation with the youngins to Bethel, Maine. Below are two photos from that hiking, swimming, boating trip in August.

IMG_2741IMG_3346

Container Plants in Zone 5

In Virginia’s zone 7b, I could leave most of my container plants outside all winter. Rake some leaves over pots in a sheltered corner and they’re good till spring. It’s definitely NOT what you want to do where I live in New Hampshire…. zone 5b. I tried my southern method last winter and lost all plants and the pots. I don’t have too many container plants yet as I’m still designing my small landscape… one that involves the removal of trees, a decision made by the residents in our association. Next year I may have an all sun garden and my landscape plan will change accordingly.

My favorite container I designed this summer is a variety of sedum… some bought, some bits being swept up and discarded after cleaning up around plants at work. They’re the easiest plants to root so I threw tiny leaves into the pot when I arrived home from the garden center. Most flourished. Some grew too much and had to be transplanted to the ground.

They eventually merged into one another, blending yellows, greens, reds, and blues. They grew tall. They cascaded over the pot. It was a showstopper and I want to save it. So, today, into the unheated garage the pot has gone. Sitting in the light of a window, I’ll hope for the best for this blend of magic so it can again shine for me next summer.

Click to enlarge photos.

Autumn in New Hampshire

Orange pumpkins, colorful gourds, vibrant mums, and Indian corn at garden centers and roadside stands tell us that fall has officially arrived. Although today, September 23, marks the first day of fall, subtle signs have been all around us for weeks.

Click photos to enlarge.

Rolling Green Nurserygourds at Rolling Green Nursery The change of seasons seems to begin around the time of our Harvest Moon when days begin to shorten, nights become cooler, and frequent morning mists create crystal dew drops on spiderwebs and fading blooms in the garden.

Harvest MoonGrasses become the star of the late summer/fall garden. The inflorescences of various species of grasses, whether fuzzy or lacy, replace the fading flowers of summer.

grasses at Rolling Green NurseryFall seeds, such as this milkweed seedpod, ripen slowly. The milkweed pod opens late in the season and releases hundreds of seeds attached to fluffy white hairs that aid in dispersal by wind.

Milkweed Seed Pods at Rolling Green NurseryIn my garden, a volunteer sunflower from our bird feeder slowly changed from glorious to battered and faded, but it is busy producing small sunflower seeds.

The magical transformation of leaf color comes a bit later to the Seacoast of New Hampshire. But with the cooler nights, mild days, and intense blue skies, colors are beginning to be teased from the maples.

MapleThe biggest sign of fall so far, I spotted while working at Rolling Green Nursery. When is the last time you saw a handsome puppy fully outfitted in a lovely argyle  sweater (It’s a people sweater!) on a cool day? That’s the surest sign that Autumn has officially arrived.

JD in his argyle sweater at Rolling Green Nursery

The Fairies Are Coming…

It’s Portsmouth Fairy House Tour time again. As new residents last year, we stumbled upon the event when we just happened to visit Strawbery Banke that day. (Click HERE to see our adventure a year ago.) Not only did we have a lovely time touring the restored village, we delighted in seeing the whimsical fairy houses tucked into every nook and cranny.  And we were enthralled by the excited, giggling children, most dressed like adorable fairies with wings and tutus, hurrying their parents and grandparents along on their journey of discovery.

This, the 10th year of the tour, organizers have gone all out. On September 21 & 22, there will be over 200 fairy houses designed by artists, garden clubs, gardeners, children, community members at three locations in Portsmouth, NH. So definitely the World’s Largest Fairy House Tour will remain so for another year.

This is the first year that Rolling Green Nursery has not entered a fairy house (see update in COMMENTS below), however, they are contributing in another big way. For weeks, my co-workers have been gathering and drying flowers and seed heads to contribute to the fairy houses being built on Peirce Island in Portsmouth. Our perennial garden ‘clubhouse’ has been transformed. Small bundles of flowers tied with string are hanging from the beams and all four walls, filling the room with aromas of mint and lavender.

Perennial Garden Clubhouse

That’s not all. Inside Rolling Green Nursery, a vast array of miniature furnishings, bridges, animals, bee hives, flags, and tiny fairies are available to make every fairy house builder’s dream come true. Ahhhh…. I wish I was seven again!

Staying Cool…

On hot, dry days at Rolling Green Nursery, overhead sprinklers can buy us a little time in the morning until we can get the hose on plants that flag first in the July heat.

Rolling Green SprinklersThat means a lot of time on sultry days is spent deep watering.  We move slowly through the rudbeckia….

Rudbeckiathe liatris….

Liatristhe sage….

sageIt’s a bit of a relief to slip beneath the covered area to water the shade plants,

Fernsand then it’s back out in the hot sun for a second watering of the Leucanthemum…..

Shastas….until the end of the day when we sometimes need a cool shower ourselves before calling it a day. We love our work!

Heidi

Heidi cools down before heading home for the day

Garden Conservancy’s Open Days 2014

Earlier this spring, I was working in the perennial gardens at Rolling Green Nursery, greeting customers and tending to the plants when I met the owners of one of the gardens on the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days.  I was already holding 2 tickets for the Garden Conservancy’s Open Days tour of private gardens in Cape Neddick, Maine and was looking forward to unforgettable experiences.

This local tour and many others across the country take place on different days to raise awareness of the Garden Conservancy’s work to preserve extraordinary gardens and to educate and inspire the public by opening private gardens on Open Days. Four remarkable private gardens were open this year. Three homes and fabulous gardens offered panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean with mighty waves beating on craggy shorelines. We saw rock gardens, rose gardens, shade gardens, pool gardens, perennial gardens, pond gardens, vegetable gardens, pergolas, container gardens, and even experienced a young eagle swooping low over our heads and landing in a near tree at one home.

Click on all photos to enlarge:

Awestruck is a good word to describe how we felt about these gardens. And I was very excited to visit the fourth garden, the home of Jonathan King and Jim Stott, founders and owners of Stonewall Kitchen, the two shoppers I encountered strolling through the perennials at Rolling Green Nursery.

We stopped for an early lunch at their business, Stonewall Kitchen, a favorite destination of ours for good food and lovely gardens.

Approaching by foot along a graceful curved drive, we could see that the property was a wonderful blending of home and garden. Hornbeam trees and a cedar pergola acted as a screen in front of the house.

Every inch of the entry garden was filled with delight. A mix of cottage-style gardening in one area and clean lines of formal boxwood with connecting pathways added variety and invited visitors to linger here and enjoy the colors, textures, shapes and function of the different garden beds.

We peeked inside the ‘glass house’ and thought… yes, this would be a lovely addition to our home. Magnificent!

We enjoyed the raised-beds in the vegetable garden supported not with wood, but with granite slabs… then on to the inviting pool area with built-in fire pit, containers overflowing with blooms, and handsome pool house.

But the most fun of all was the poolside Meet & Greet by the owners. Down to earth, personable and friendly, we both enjoyed the hospitality of the hosts… and their sweet pups!

I am always amazed at the generosity of folks who throw open their garden gates for a good cause.  We had a fabulous day exploring the wonders of gardening in Maine.

Dogs at Work

At Rolling Green Nursery, dogs are a familiar sight. The owners have a beautiful Hungarian vizsla that serves as the official office manager. She comes out for romps and runs, meet and greets, then waits patiently at the door to go back to work.

Not every garden center is this open to visits from dogs but folks seem to know that Rolling Green is like a walk in the park for well-behaved dogs on leashes.  I pulled out my smart phone to capture a tiny slice of what I see on a daily basis.

These two labs arrived at the perennial garden area about an hour apart. She was off in the distance when Humphrey, the yellow lab rescue arrived.

Both were friendly and obedient, sitting for portraits. At first Humphrey was all cool when he arrived…. that is, until He spotted Her in the distance. Humphrey was besotted beyond obedience and his people were forced to leave perennial garden and take Humphrey to walk among the annuals. Both owners thought this could be the beginning of a new friendship…. elsewhere…. later.

"Kookie, Kookie, Lend Me Your Comb"Shortly afterwards, Kookie, the West Highland terrier rescue, arrived with her owner… and at lunch, I spotted a dog or two watching from windows of cars while owners dashed in for quick purchases.

This one was leash-less but seemed to know the place. Must be a VIP.  I was too busy to investigate.

Maybe the Cute Award should go to this 6-month old Hungarian puli water dog  named Buda for the city of Budapest. It’s the breed of dog that will mature with beautiful long dreadlocks. If you look closely you can see one of Buda’s eyes.

Buda

Things are happening…

… and it seems they are happening all at once around here.

IMG_1969First, say hello to the newest member of our New Hampshire family clan. While our brand new granddaughter and her parents adjust, I have been spending more time with her big brother who is 19-months old and doesn’t quite understand how this tiny new sister can rock his world so.

Slowly, daily routines at their household are falling into place. Big bro now gives sis sweet kisses and he volunteers to assist at her bath time. Life is good.

And since my help is not as critically needed as it was 2 weeks ago, I am back to the world of babysitter-on-call, back to a little blogging and back to the world of gardening… which leads me to my next happening.

My world of gardening has stepped up a notch from almost nonexistent in a condo to grab a shovel, rake, clippers and get-to-work-all-day. I have returned to part-time work at a garden center close by, Rolling Green Nursery, a gardening business with an earth friendly philosophy.

Rolling Green NurseryMy two bosses out in the perennial area are 20-somethings who are hard-working but fabulous and fun to be around. Here is Emily:

IMG_0229And here is Heidi:

IMG_0232New Hampshire can still be very cold one day and warm the next and wet the next. The garden center is slowly coming out of the deep freeze. Days at Rolling Green are spent cleaning and preparing beds and transferring tender plants from the greenhouses throughout the grounds. Life is good.

weeds!

 

Lavender Blue

In the spring, one of the first plants I searched for in local nurseries was Liriope muscari,  a common perennial border plant in Virginia. I was happy to read that with a little care, it can be hardy in our zone 5. So I was surprised that it was not readily available locally and I saw puzzled looks on faces when I asked for it. The word liriope easily rolls off a southerner’s tongue as it is found practically in every garden… usually as a wonderful pass-along plant.

I was absolutely thrilled to finally find some at Rolling Green Nursery. A enlightened worker marched me right to their one flat in a far corner of the property. I bought it all. I knew how easily it divided. Each pot became two. But I wanted more and vocalized my disappointment to my brother and his wife. Imagine my surprise when a heavy box arrived soon after. I was delighted to find carefully packed pass-along Liriope muscari from their garden. The best part of this story is that the plants were passed along to them from a beloved aunt’s garden in Jacksonville FL. Better yet, she obtained her plants from my dear grandparents’ gardens in Richmond VA many years before. So I am the 4th person to benefit from these special pass-along plants! As soon as they are more established, my daughter in Portsmouth will be the 5th recipient.

liriope

There are two species of of the plant and I’ve cultivated both in the past: Liriope muscari, a plant that behaves as a mound of grass-like foliage and Liriope spicata, a variety that spreads as a wonderful groundcover.

When so many garden flowers are beginning to fade in July and August, Liriope is just beginning its show. The flowers are tiny however they are numerous along a spike. The hum of bees working the blooms is music to my ears.

It’s a terrific plant, tolerant of summer heat and lack of water. There are many species and cultivars with variegated leaves of green and white or yellow and white or pink blooms,and different sizes, however the solid green leaves feel cool and inviting to me.

This week, the mower with our landscaping service stopped his tractor and asked, ‘Can you tell me what those plants are that are blooming along your border?’ Of course I could… and if he plays his cards right he may be another pass-along donee.