Winter. Yuck.

Winter doldrums have set in for me.  This week Columbia weather has been very cold.  It's actually the second cold snap we've had since January 1.  And I know more winter is still on the way. The official last frost date for our region is April 15th.  That's a lot more winter to come from today.  Thankfully, we will have some really beautiful weather before that date- it's just that we also may have a few frosts tucked in here…

Peonies

Peonies are absolutely my favorite.  They can carry a scent, bloom profusely, make great cut flowers and even have fall interest.  However, peonies generally do not like the "famously hot" south.  It's just too warm for them.  Here are some tips that can help you succeed with peonies. How to decide! First, peonies need at least 32 hours of sub-zero temperatures in order to bloom.  The winter of 2015-2016 was very mild, and as a result my peonies did not…

Delightful home gardens near Philadelphia

What a treat it was to visit several gardens in the Philadelphia/Brandywine Valley area that were actually personal home gardens.  Thanks to Marian St. Clair and Hortitopia tours, we got to see three of them last week.  This is where the real advantage of taking a tour with a professional pays off.  These gardens are not generally open to the public. david culp David is a garden designer, speaker and garden writer.  His recent book, The Layered Garden, is award-winning.  David…

Philadelphia – the birthplace of the American garden

I just got back from the most amazing tour of gardens!  I went with Marian St. Clair's Hortotopia tours with 27 other women to tour several public and private Philadelphia Gardens for one week.  What a great time! Philadelphia is truly the birthplace of American gardening.  John Bartram (1699-1777) was regarded as "the greatest natural botanist in the world" during his time.  He was a Quaker who's family farm was located just outside of Philadelphia.  Though he only completed a…

Visit Butchart Gardens!

In July I was fortunate to visit Butchart Gardens near Seattle, WA while visiting my son.  Butchart (pronounced like "butch" with an ART on the end) Gardens is actually located in Victoria, BC, Canada.  Every gardener should make a pilgrimage there once in their life!  How beautiful! The garden Butchart Gardens were started by Mrs. Jennie Butchart, whose husband moved to the current garden location in the early 1900s.  They moved there to take advantage of a limestone deposit on…

Summer of 2017 – Epic Fail

Well, I guess not "Epic" fail.  But the summer of 2017 has been one of neglect for my garden.  Now, not everyone will identify with this post, but I'm hoping some of you may be able to garner some encouragement and sense of camaraderie from me.  If your garden still looks pristine, read no further. To be fair, since the first of May I have been to California twice for one week each time, to Florida, to Honduras, to Seattle,…

Visiting Bellevue

While in Seattle last month visiting my son, I dragged my family to yet another garden - the Bellevue Botanical Garden.  While the most famous Bellevue is in New York and houses mentally ill, this Bellevue is for people who are crazy about gardening and plants, which would be me. From their website: "The Bellevue Botanical Garden is an urban refuge, encompassing 53-acres of cultivated gardens, restored woodlands, and natural wetlands. The living collections showcase plants that thrive in the…

Love Japanese Gardens!

The Kubota Japanese Garden is amazing.  I just returned from visiting my son and his wife in Seattle, and together with my husband they tolerated garden after garden with me during my visit.  I had visited this garden last winter, but summer made it perfect. The first place we visited was Kubota Japanese Garden.  A (free) public park since 1987, it was started in 1927 by Fujitaro Kubota, a Japanese emigrant. Today, it is maintained as a public park by…

Abelia is summer’s champion!

It's not your grandmother's Abelia anymore.  I have seen the varieties of Abelia explode during the last six years, and what a great thing!  And what a summer star it is!  I have three varieties in my garden, there are lots more out there. Abelia used to be difficult to incorporate into a suburban garden because it just got too big.  It would grow to over ten feet tall and wide.  It's leaves were lack-luster.  But new varieties have changed…

Get Nature’s Free Plow – Worms!

Worms are nature's free plow and a free soil test.  If you don't have them, you absolutely need them in your soil.  They add moisture and air to the soil as well as nutrients from their "castings" (a nice way of saying poop).  Worms burrow which makes it easier for roots to grow; they break down leaf matter and other organic trash and turn it into soil.  Water filtration is improved and soil ph is normalized.  Worms are virtual miracles…