Monday, August 6, 2018

Mid-Summer Garden Glimpses, Maintenance

Since mid-July and my last garden updates, we have had nearly 10" of rain in our Zone 7a region. That's about double our average rainfall for this time of year! No doubt, there are lots of weeds, mushrooms and other new growth (plus maintenance!) throughout the landscape that I've captured to share with you on this mid-summer garden glimpses post.

The mushrooms create their own sort of fantasy garden, one in which I somehow expect to see little gnomes under those fungal umbrellas.
The rain has encouraged continued growth throughout the garden beds, such that it almost looks more like late spring than mid-summer. Raindrops on morning blooms are always delightful sightings, as seen pictured on the anemone below.
Since it was raining so much, I divided and transplanted a few of my Mexican sunflower plants to a second area. It's a space in an otherwise bare section of my east landscape bed, where my perennial bee balm had been knocked down and blooms already spent from storms. Between the rain and high temperatures, the Mexican sunflowers are doing well in both areas where I have them.
Hosta plants are beginning to push their blooms too.
Such high temperatures, and so much rain! My husband likes to pluck the Bermuda grass (not planted, just creepers among our fescue) from our lawn because it stays brown when the fescue grass is nice and green.
Pulling the Bermuda often creates bare patches, so I've been planting grass seed (overseeding method, explained here). With all the rain, it's working beautifully, as you can see in the area just outside the steel edging in the photo below. Obviously I could do more, but that area was nothing but dirt before.
Liriope grasses are pushing blooms now also, and will have dark berries later in summer and early fall.
If you recall, I mentioned trying a different vine on my trellis that bridges the entry from my courtyard to the landscape. I planted hyacinth bean vine on Mother's Day weekend from seed at the trellis base. Here's what it looks like now, below. The trellis is completely covered, and the vine is trying to take over my magnolia!
The view from the courtyard, looking through the trellis opening:
As per any plant that blooms for the first time of the season, I was excited to see the hyacinth bean flower in late July.
Even more exciting, about two weeks later, was seeing the seed pods where the flowers withered.
Hyacinth bean vine is an annual in my region, so even though its growth rate is fast, I won't need to worry about the seed pods sending off new plants (at least I don't think I do). I can just collect what I want to save and reseed for next year.

In the maintenance department, I've been able to slow down the watering thanks to Mother Nature, and mainly just tend to weeding. I'm not transplanting anything more until fall, and I typically quit feeding my annual blooms by August. We scheduled pruning of the magnolia (which will be the first time in 14 years). It is infringing on the access of the trellis on the landscape side and starting to grow over our gutters of the house's second story. We also had a growth inhibitor injected into the ground surrounding the magnolia to retard its future growth rate.

But then the storms created more in prune control of trees on the riverbank.
We had some pretty high winds that took out some leaf-heavy branches of our sassafras and silver maple on the riverbank surface. Our city is great in providing service for fallen branches, as long as you gather them into one area and call for pickup. We'll be having those trees thinned out, and dead branches cut out (multi-trunk, as seen behind the guys in the right frame of the collage above).

The storms also created some fairly major damage on the lower riverbank. In the photo above, you can see various trees below the street level. We have a total of eight trees on our property near the water's edge. They are river birch and silver maples, mostly just to stabilize the bank. Until they don't. What we now have is a mess, and a new estimate for storm damage pruning.
With all the water and additional rains, one tree completely split and fell (onto our neighbor's property). There's one lean-to - a tree that is at a 45° angle into another tree, which caused that tree to have a 90° angle broken limb. There's another lean-to out over the water, and a couple trees that will look stupid if we leave them standing. A total of six trees will come out and be dragged up the riverbank for disposal. $$$$$ And no, we can't just cut and let them fall into the river, but if a storm knocks them into the river, that's different.

In other maintenance, my containers with the braided hibiscus contracted thrips. I'm pretty sure the high heat helped the colony of tiny red boogers grow. What I'm not sure about is how healthy the plants - one particularly - was/were when I purchased in May. But hey, after they're planted, who wants to dig them out and return them? I'm sure that's what the big box stores hope for too.
So I bought an organic fungicide/insecticide, covered the base plants (lantana, which bees and hummingbirds were feeding on already) with plastic, and doused the plants. They're still pushing blooms, but I had to repeat the process again, two weeks later.

In the neighborhood, I spotted an ambitious squirrel one morning, hauling a peach across the street, carrying it with his teeth alone! When he got to the lawn across the road, he dropped it, and was trying to re-situate it.
It would've been much easier for him to pick up what I later found, the first acorn of the season.
Then there was this little robin fledgling in my landscape about a week ago (below), whining and chirping for his momma all evening, first in the mulch behind the boxwoods, then in my courtyard. I had to literally shoo him out because we close our gates at night. When he tried to fly over the brick wall, he clung, and then scaled back down the wall like he wasn't quite sure of his wings yet. He was still around the next day, in the rain, still whining for his momma, so I knew he was okay.
Last week also brought a few less humid days, so I found myself sitting outside, intent on just reading all afternoon.
Here's the thing, though. When I sit outside, I soon start looking critically at things around me. In the photo above, you can see the tops of the trees on the riverbank across the street (the highest most trees in the photo frame). Those are the ones to be control pruned, as is the magnolia against the house. More than that, though, I start looking at the interior landscape, and before you know it, I was pruning and weeding. So much for relaxing in the garden. Do you find yourself doing that?

Thanks for taking the time reading, allowing me to catch up on my gardening journal. You can easily find other garden posts at this link. What's new in your zone? Fire, rain, pestilence? Feel free to leave your comments and share! I love reading them all.

(A special thanks to readers of Kathryn's blog, The Dedicated House Sunday Showcase From Make it Pretty Monday, for this post being featured!)
Rita C. at Panoply

Sharing: Pieced Pastimes, Best of the Weekend, Amaze Me, DIDIBNOTPInspire MeMake it PrettyThe ScoopDagmar's HomeCelebrate Your Story, SYCDelightsome Life H&GGrace at Home, Gardens Galore

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Life is but a dream

I just wanted to give pause and pay tribute with thoughts of a blog friend today. I just read Kris' blog post this morning, letting readers know of Mary Ferguson's passing away. She wrote the blog, mydogsmygardenandmaryYou may recognize Mary from her profile picture below, and her lovely comments she may have left on your blog in the past.
I have a very sweet story I want to relay to my readers about Mary and my recent purge. I had a set of dishes which I had created a tablescape with back in January.
Mary wrote this comment on that post:
My aunts (3) had this pattern and when my Aunt Nell died mother got her dishes. I was living in So CA when my mother died and I had to go back to Ohio to make the funeral arrangements. MY mother was living with another lady and was in the process of moving to an apartment. Well of course when I got there the lady said she didn't know where my mother was moving to, which I didn't believe, but what could I do. So I had my mother shipped to Roanoke, VA and the funeral home came and picked her up at the C & O station. We took her home to Springwood, VA where she was buried.

Sorry to give you so much background, but I did find 2 platters and one plate of the Azalea china. I have always wanted to finish the the set, but life got into the way.

I really love this pattern, it is stunning. So I really enjoyed your tablescape of these beautiful dishes. It is certainly a wonderful table for Valentines Day.

Everytime I look at them in the hutch I have wonderful memories of times past.

I then wrote to Mary and asked her if she would like to have these dishes as part of my purge. She declined, but then wrote me back the next day, saying this:
Rita, after not sleeping all night thinking about those beautiful dishes that I have wanted all of my life since I was 21. 
That was enough for me to box them up and get them sent to Mary!
Her reply, knowing they were soon coming:
I am so excited to think that I have finally found these dishes.  You can rest assured that they will be loved very much.  I can hardly wait to tell my friend Phyllis, Around the House (blog) as we were just talking about them the other night and she was looking them up on Google as we talked,  she is going to faint.

I have treasured those 3 plates that I have since 1956 and they have traveled from Clifton Forge, VA to Jefferson, Ohio, Peoria, IL, Chicago, Il, Fresno CA, San Diego, CA, Anaheim, CA and the last 35 years here at my home in Fullerton.  I can't begin to tell you how much they will be loved and to say thank you ever so much.

After boxing them all up, and letting Mary know the cost to ship, I wanted to be sure she was willing to bear the cost of shipping. Mary's reply came swiftly:
Yes, I still want the dishes and I am so excited.  Once again thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I never dreamed in a million years that I would ever get a set of these dishes. 
On February 24, I received this email from Mary:
Dear Rita:
The dishes arrived about 4 p.. and my postman stacked them on the porch.  I got them inside but didn't have time to unpack or check anything out.

This morning I kinda slept in for me - got up made my coffee, fed the dogs had a little breakfast and I started unpacking.  You get first prize for packing - nothing was broken and everything was perfect.  I had a wonderful time unpacking all those beautiful dishes.  Oh they brought back such wonderful memories of our Sunday dinners.  I guess when I was about 9 years old I fell in love with beautiful dishes and it has continued off and on through the years.  When I quit working and retired then I started collecting again.  Not old dishes but pretty ones to do tablescapes.

These beautiful dishes are so loved and the story will continue long after I die.  I am leaving them to my granddaughter, Kelly.  I am going to write a short story about these stunning dishes for Kelly and the history of them.  I will probably do a post about them.

I am putting the check [for shipping] in the mail after I finish this email.  Off to a luncheon for a friend who's back in town for a little while.

Enjoy your weekend and thank you from the bottom of my heart - they have a good home.
Another email, reiterating her excitement, that same day:
Rita, I can't begin to thank you for this beautiful gift.  I shall treasure it for the rest of my life and plan on leaving it to my sweet beautiful granddaughter.

I can't believe that your sisters dil didn't want the dishes.  I love when there is history to them.

So sorry about your friend passing.  It's so hard to give up people that we love.

I am exhausted after the Chinese New Years party and attending a luncheon that was here from the Philippines.  I have the dishes all set out on my dining room table ready to be placed into my hutch.  Some of the pieces are stunning and I haven't seen anything like that before.  My friend Roberta picked me up to go to lunch and I showed them to her.  She was stunned and thought that they were beautiful.
So again my friend, thank you so very much.  I;m off to bed.

Have a terrific Sunday.
On March 1, we were all getting spring fever. Mary wrote this email:
My friend  came over and helped me clean out my hutch and we put the beautiful dishes in there.

Thank you again -  I love them.

Have a great warm weekend.  I worked in the yard all morning planting some foxgloves (one of my favorites).
March 19, a note from Mary:
I wanted to do a post about the beautiful dishes and I didn't want to mention your name if you did not want me to.  I can word it differently.  Just let me know what you would like me to do.

I wrote Mary back, saying sure, she could post whatever she wanted to. Mary had some health issues and was awaiting a procedure that I know she mentioned being concerned over. I don't know if she passed away before, during or after that procedure. 

Mary, I sure hope a glorious table is set for you as you envisioned it. I'm happy for you. You will be missed.

In other thoughts, my dad would have been 100 years old today! He was a good man, and I hope he's celebrating his heavenly birthday with all his family and friends who have passed from this earthly life. Life is but a dream.

Thank you all for your readership and friendship. Blogging has brought many friends into my life.

Rita C. at Panoply

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Morning Glory, "Bee"ing Served Alfresco

Welcome to Panoply, where the theme for today's tablescape is Morning Glory, "Bee"ing Served Alfresco! Like many of you in the Northern hemisphere, we are experiencing the hottest of summer days here (welcoming the respite of some occasional rain!), so the key for alfresco dining is to "bee" versatile. I'll explain as I share today's tablescape, which is centered around morning glories and their bee pollinators.
As the vintage leather menu and honey pot above suggest, let's picture ourselves at the Beehive Tavern for a little morning brunch, perhaps starting with any number of recipes found here*, made with honey or bee pollen products. (*Note: I have not made any of the recipes, nor can I endorse or deny the benefits claimed).

Our place settings start with a set of Morning Glory enameled plates, placed atop my very versatile ivory chargers. The flatware pattern mimics a honeycomb with its checked pattern. While I don't have any morning glories planted in my own garden, I do find the occasional wild morning glory vine attempting to establish itself, tangling in and among the branches of other shrubs or perennials. While the vines can be invasive, when intentionally planted and controlled, they send beautiful blooms and are great pollinators.
French stemware with bee motifs, and salad plates with bee and honeycomb design are complementary to the theme, as are the French bee linen napkins. A single morning glory bloom in hand-blown glass sits atop the salad plates. These are actually napkin rings, doing double duty as place cards for guests.
Mini beehive, honey lemon cakelets** were prepared and served on a Morning Glory round tray. The tray was perched on an ironstone pedestal for table serving at a level above the plate service. (**I did make this recipe and liked it well enough to repeat, especially since Mr. P. liked the cakelets. They freeze well also).
A metal dip dish set in a bee motif can serve up any number of small sides, from jams to cream cheese spreads or flavored butter.
The metal backs of the cushioned chairs are embellished with wired burlap ribbon, embroidered with bee motif. They're simply cut to fit, and bent into a tucked fold along the length of the chair back. Opposite the chairs, a teak wood bench was used, with comfortable throw pillows for leaning into.
A vintage quilt is used as the table covering. Its pale yellow color and frayed edges show signs of timewashing and wear, a perfectly imperfect addition to the outdoor setting. A chaise recliner sits at an angle near the table setting, while a large, cantilever umbrella shades guests from the sun.
"The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry." ~ Robert Burns

The morning I prepared this brunch setting outside - around 8:30 am - the heat and humidity were already extreme. No worries! Looking at the photo above, you can see one side of my sunroom windows, and French doors are just left of the hibiscus container planting. Just swing open the doors, turn on air conditioning, or opt for the fan and open the windows, and we have ourselves a modified alfresco table setting, where it's much cooler. And that, my friends, is what I mean when I say the key to alfresco dining is to "bee" versatile! You never know what your weather may bring, so always try to have a Plan B in mind. 
Now, would you like to have a seat indoors or out? Please, either way, "bee" my guest!
Morning Glory, "Bee"ing Served Alfresco Source List
Chargers - Pier 1
Morning Glory Dinner Plates, Round Tray - MacKenzie-Childs
Nordic Ware Bee Hive Cakelet Mold (not pictured, but used for baking), Bee Plates, La Rochere French Bee Water Stems - Sur La Table
French Bee Napkins - French GardenHouse
Morning Glory Blown Glass Rings/Place Cards - WV Marketplace, Capitol Market
Bee Dip DIsh Set, Flatware (Fortessa Luca) - Horchow
French Bee Burlap Wire Ribbon - Foxglove Antiques & Etc., Abingdon, VA
Quilt, Honey Pot, Bee Tavern Menu, Ironstone pedestal - Estate Sales, Vintage/Antique Finds

Joining with several others this week, we are each presenting our ideas for alfresco dining. You'll find the rest of the participants' links conveniently located below. A special thanks to Chloe of Celebrate and Decorate for organizing us and keeping us inspired! I think you'll certainly "bee" inspired by visiting my friends at each and all of the links.


As always, thank you for visiting today. If you're new to my blog, I'd love for you to join in the conversation with a comment so I'll know you were here! Regardless, I hope you leave feeling a little more inspired.
Rita C. at Panoply

Sharing:  Pieced Pastimes, Best of the Weekend, Amaze Me, DIDIBNOTP,  Inspire MeMake it PrettyThe ScoopDagmar's HomeCelebrate Your Story, SYCDelightsome Life H&GGrace at Home, Vintage Charm

Monday, July 23, 2018

Art Walk in the Garden

Hello, everyone! If you're visiting today via Amber's blog post at Follow the Yellow Brick Home, welcome! Today I'm participating with a group of fellow bloggers, taking you through my garden, sharing my touches of vintage decor interspersed throughout my landscape. A quick stroll through my Zone 7a garden is one of the things I love doing early each morning in the growing season, especially summer months. I like adding artful objects among my plants, but try to use restraint so it doesn't appear as clutter (like someone's yard sale). Let's have a walk around and I'll show you what I mean. It's an art walk in the garden!

Mixed floral wreaths are my favorite way to add color on the front porch of the house. For the adjacent landscape, I keep one large yard flag at the far back so it draws the eye from the street. I rotate my collection of flags through the monthly holidays.
Also on the porch is an antique cast iron urn in the corner, filled with either a plant or other seasonal decor. A metal orb and vintage sundial rest at the base of the urn. The urn is decorated with a couple of flags the last week of May and first week of July.
Below is my current view in late July of the East side of the garden, as seen through the garden gate. Knockout roses trained against the brick wall (L) are in their second flush. Dwarf butterfly bushes are now blooming in foreground, mounds of spirea just beyond, and butterfly bush tree forms in back. My limelight hydrangea is blooming behind the bench, and the flag is central to the landscape, with hostas at the base.
Opposite of the view captured above, another sundial sits on an antique concrete pedestal in a now open area where an azalea was previously situated (transplanted this past spring further left). The pedestal is now situated among a wood  and copper tuteur (with clematis in bloom, in the background), and a hand-blown glass orb on a copper pipe with forged leaves. 
At dusk, the orb lights up with all the other landscape lights, and gives the illusion of a low-lying moon in the front garden.
This year I added a hand-thrown pottery totem in the garden, with a single frog prince sitting on a lily pad. The artist who created it also makes other clay ornaments which can be stacked additionally on the metal stake for a true totem, but I used my "less is more" restraint here.
I like how he peers among the Otto Luykens shrubs behind my Summer and Fall seasonal cherubs.
Pictured below are the other seasons - Winter and Spring - in the summer garden. 🙂 My four seasonal cherubs were sourced from a local antique store.
Ultimately, the frog prince ended up on one side of the front annual flower beds, peering behind the boxwoods. I wanted to be able to see him as I come and go through the front door. The same is true for seeing a cast iron bunny which rests on the stoop on the other side of the front beds. Both are hardly visible to passersby, unless they're looking really closely.
My favorite little guy in the garden reads all day, every day. I received him as a gift more than 10 years ago, and I named him Augustine. He's a brut at just 3 feet tall and 250 pounds!
The art doesn't end in the garden. Even though my sunroom is architecturally enclosed, that part of my house is really an extension of the outdoors with an all-glass ceiling and French doors which open to the outdoor courtyard. I have a collection of garden items, and keep several in my sunroom on my baker's rack, some year-round. The antique seed box on the bottom shelf was an auction win/purchase several years ago. Recently harvested lavender dries from hooks on the top shelf.
The water pail on my baker's rack with a string of lights pouring from the spout is a new look this summer.
This little cast iron bird on branch has been perched in a birdbath and also used as a doorstop before, but right now it rests on a shelf with a small nesting pocket and scrabble tiles stating the obvious.
On the sunroom floor beside the baker's rack are a couple found crates, filled with random garden tools I pick up at [mostly] estate sales. At any time these tools may be placed in service. I just like collecting them for their shape, trademarks, handles, cost (cheap!) - all these reasons, as if I needed one.
Back outside, through the French doors of the sunroom, a couple more water pails are kept in the courtyard, mostly for replenishing the birdbath on hot days, and for gentle watering of transplants. The abandoned nests were extracted in early July from the courtyard roses.
The birds were smart when they built their nests against the brick wall, behind the thorny climbers. One was on the far left climbing rose in the photo below, the other on the far right. At the base of these roses (archive photo from May), you can see a few pieces of yard art (L to R): dancing frogs, my rain gauge, my Bunny Van Gogh, a small birdfeeder, and a wind chime hanging on the light fixture.
By July, most of this art at ground level can hardly be seen for the lavender growth.
Another area of knockout roses are planted in the front garden and are blooming for the second time this season.
Just behind these roses are the Lord Baltimore hibiscus plants I did not stake for the first time in this garden's history. They're still blooming, and can be seen from inside the house, but not visible from beyond the roses.
That's okay, though, because the birds still love the privacy the plants provide while bathing in their favorite birdbath of mine, just behind the roses and at the edge of the hibiscus. I caught these two robins from just inside the garden gate, taking turns jumping in.
One of my new favorite flower beds is on the west side of my landscape. Against the wall I have a large specimen plant, a Weeping Cedar Atlas (you can read more about it by clicking on the link). In front, I have (L to R) coneflowers (transplanted last year), zinnias (planted this year from seed), years old salvia and black-eyed Susans, all in repeat plantings, with barely visible sedum (Autumn Joy) as bookends in the flower bed.
A broken zinnia flower stem after a rainstorm inspired me to cut more flowers in the garden, and make the bouquet pictured below. This is one of the very best perks of having a garden, and there's no better art than God's beauty in nature!
An overhead view of the flower bouquet: a rose in bloom with bud on stem, coneflowers, black-eyed Susans, the single zinnia, limelight hydrangeas, and butterfly bush stems. A virtual bouquet, from me to you!
I'll leave you with a shot of my guardian angel in the garden. He's a thumbsucking cherub, perched on one of the brick fence posts and looking west, over the landscape. In the background is an age-old, very tall sassafras on our riverbank, with the city hills beyond as its backdrop. A little slice of heaven in the city. I hope you enjoyed this little artwalk through my Zone 7a garden today.
Postscript 7-25-18:
I have added a video walk through of my garden, taken on the evening this post was published (July 23, 2018). I've added commentary, noting some of the plantings and pointing out a few of the hardscape mentioned in this post. I hope you enjoy it.

I'd like to thank Amber from Follow the Yellow Brick Home for organizing this group of bloggers with a tour of our vintage gardens, whether it be flowers, vignettes or both. I hope you enjoyed your art walk in my Panoply garden. Next on the garden tour is Laura at Decor to Adore. I know you'll want to spend time visiting her, as well as the other bloggers on the tour, and you can easily do that with by clicking on the picture links conveniently located below. Enjoy the tour!

If you're new to my blog, I hope you'll join in the conversation with a comment so I'll know you were here. If you enjoyed this art walk in the garden, you may enjoy my latest post of closeups of the plantings in my summer landscape, here. Feel free to browse my menu bar (on my main web page, just beneath my header), or use the search button on the sidebar, just below the labels, which you can also scroll through to see my main topics. Thanks for your visit!

Lora B. Create and Ponder | Beauty For Ashes

As always, thank you for your visit!
Rita C. at Panoply

Sharing: Pieced Pastimes, Best of the Weekend, Amaze Me, DIDIBNOTP,  Inspire MeMake it PrettyThe ScoopDagmar's HomeCelebrate Your Story,Garden Party, SYCDelightsome Life H&GGrace at Home, Vintage Charm

An InLinkz Link-up