A Fourth of July like no other

Hello! Today is Independence day in the U.S.A., and as an American it is usually a day of celebrations, parades, fireworks, being with friends and family, and wonderful summer time food! But this year, the “omph!” is missing for me. Maybe it is the social restrictions, maybe it is the weather, maybe it is Covid-19 fatigue. But whatever the reason, we seem to be a tiny bit low key this year. So as I was preparing this post, I was looking through pictures of our previous visit to see friends in the States. It was summer time, and it was such a lovely visit. Those Bar-B-Ques were the best. Of course, what is most important in our lives are friends and family. That’s the truth.

I hope that my American friends and family are able to celebrate our country’s ‘Birthday’ today in a fun and safe manner. I’ll be thinking of you all while we celebrate in a low-key sort of way. This day also makes me long for my next visit home, whenever we’re out of the woods with this pandemic…

Stay safe and healthy!

In Peace,
Dana

Artwork from the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, Massachusetts
Artwork from the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston, Massachusetts (from the preamble of the Constitution of the United States of America)
House with Flag in garden
I was walking through a quaint village when I snapped this photo.
flowers and stars and stripes napkins
Some flowers from the garden with Stars and Stripes napkins
Betty & Harold at the 4th of July parade in 2006 in Manlius, NY
Our beloved neighbors when we lived in NY: Betty (far left in blue top) & Harold with my very young children at the annual 4th of July parade in 2006 in Manlius, NY
Fireworks
Maybe the fireworks won’t be ‘live and in person’ this year, but the memories when they were are still vivid!

Take care and thanks for visiting! 🙂

Roses – adding to life’s beauty

Hello, and welcome! Today’s post is about roses. I certainly have quite a few pictures of roses to show you, but I also want to share how I came to have roses in our garden. I love working with my hands. That covers a lot of areas (!) including gardening, flower arranging, and crafting to name but a few of my hobbies. So when we moved into our home all of those years ago, and the garden was like a blank slate, I was in my glory! Top of the list was to add plants which I could use for flower arranging.

Having cut flowers from the garden is something I’ve always wanted. This goes back to the days in the late 1990s when my sister and I would read Martha Stewart’s Living magazine from cover to cover. Of course the magazine would feature Martha’s home(s) which would always be filled with beautiful cut flowers from her garden(s). My sister’s garden was well ahead of mine in those days. Whenever I’d visit her, my bedroom and guest bathroom would be adorned with flowers. It was always such a lovely touch!

Today, many years later, I still love having cut flowers in our home. It has taken time to build up enough plants that I don’t mind cutting some to bring inside – since there will still be enough to enjoy outside. I hesitate to say I have a favorite flower, because I love all of them. Roses, though, they would have to be at the top of the list. I have two requirements when I buy them for my garden now: they have to be scented and they have to be disease resistant. For this reason, my collection includes many David Austin roses.

I’m still learning. Every year I work on my pruning skills (still not there yet!). I also never used to feed my roses, although their beds are always covered in my compost a couple of times a year. So they haven’t been totally neglected! They should be fed twice a year – once in spring (late March / early April) before the leaves are fully open, and right about now – after the first flush of flowers. Deadheading is something I do on a regular basis, as it promotes new growth.

I’ve lost my focus! Back to why my garden is filled with roses. There are many reasons why I grow roses. They have a very long flowering season – from early June all the way through November in some years! Some colors are excellent for drying, too, often being added to my lavender wreaths. I love their scents which you can enjoy throughout the garden. They also keep their scent even after they dry (did you know that?). And they are a perfect cut flower. Whether your arrangement is all roses, or they are combined with other flowers, they are simply beautiful to bring indoors.

Here are some pictures of my roses from the past number of weeks. I think they benefited from our dry spring. Although most are disease resistant, black spot tends to hit when the rain comes (and at this stage, the rains are with us).

I hope you are well and keeping safe. Thanks for stopping by!

In Peace,
Dana

Full view of rose bed
A view of the main rose bed June 7, 2020. The bed is lined with Boxwood plants which we grew from cuttings from other plants from the garden. They are growing really well! The grass on the other hand, was still desperate for water here.
Harlow Carr
Harlow Carr – David Austin Rose
Teasing Georgia open and orange red  buds
I love the dark orange/red color of the buds on this Teasing Georgia – David Austin Rose, which is pure yellow when completely open.
COLLAGE Teasing Georgia David Austin Roses
Our Teasing Georgia – David Austin rose shrub is next to our ‘Playhouse’, with lavender not yet in bloom in front.
small vase yellow rose
A small vase of David Austin roses, featuring Teasing Georgia.
Princess Anne white roses COLLAGE
Our Princess Anne – David Austin tree rose, which has deep pink flowers, sprouted a stem with white roses! Although they are beautiful, I cut it off as I’d prefer the original color.
Princess Anne Tree rose WHITE offshoot single
Princess Anne – David Austin tree rose – a white off-shoot.
Princess Anne open with buds
Princess Anne – David Austin shrub rose
Boscobel COLLAGE
Boscobel – David Austin roses looking different depending on the light. A salmon colored, sweet smelling rose.
Princess Anne shrub rose flower fully open
Princess Anne – David Austin shrub rose
Princess Anne closed flower
The coloring of the Princess Anne – David Austin shrub rose is simply striking!
James Austin full bloom
Very similar in color to Princess Anne is this James Austin shrub rose.
Olivia Rose David Austin roses full plant
This Olivia Rose – David Austin shrub rose is one of the more established shrubs in the bed.
Olivia Rose Austin roses
Olivia Rose Austin roses
Roses and Poppies in sunlight
Poppies have joined the roses
Vase of Peony flowers, roses and Dutch iris
A vase of Sarah Bernhardt peony, Teasing Georgia – David Austin roses, Dutch Iris and ornamental grass, all from my garden.
Vase of peony flowers roses and iris
Vase of Sarah Bernhardt peony, Teasing Georgia – David Austin roses, Dutch Iris and ornamental grass – all from my garden.

I hope you’ve enjoyed the flower show! Take care! 🙂

Poppy: a beautiful flower, or just a weed?

Hello! You are very welcome to my blog. The topic today is poppies, because the garden is just now entering a phase where poppies are everywhere! I once had someone casually refer to poppies as weeds (this was right after I mentioned that I’d planted a mix of poppies in my main flowerbed). Despite this, I do not consider them weeds. I enjoy their fleeting beauty – and it really is fleeting. I also love that there are so many varieties! And if you don’t like where they decide to grow, they are easy to pull out, as long as you don’t wait too long.

I confess that I don’t know the names of any of my poppies. I just refer to either the red ones, or the pink ones, or the ones with the white centers … 🙂 In case you don’t know, they self seed, at least usually! I have a favorite one. It is bright pink with ruffles. I planted this variety quite a few years ago and since then I’ve always had *many* of these pretty ruffled petal flowers every summer. But this year, the area where they normally flower is rather over grown and unruly. So unfortunately, there are no poppies in that bed. But, alas, I recently discovered a single one of these poppy plants growing right in front of my compost!

Slight diversion here, as I tell you about my compost. I have a lot of compost! There are 4 sections, but they look like one big heap. I also have two tumblers, which I use just for food scraps, but that is another story. I throw grass and garden cuttings in the compost – but no weeds. It takes about a season to get dark brown, soil-like, usable compost, which is filled with worms. I recently used the end of last season’s compost, emptying that section, which was perfect timing as the other sections needed to be spread out and turned. But I held off on this job when I noticed the poppy growing right there in front of the compost area. I didn’t want to disturb it. 😉

Finally, the poppy bloomed and I felt it was safe enough for the compost to be taken care of. My son was kind enough to do this big, messy job for me. There was fantastic compost underneath the freshly added grass cuttings! Yes, this is what I get excited about – rich, worm filled, compost! O.K., diversion finished. Back to poppies.

I have a few varieties throughout the garden. Last year I let the lavender colored poppies take over my rose bed. You can see those pictures here. That wasn’t a great decision, although they were fabulous to see when they were all in bloom! So this year I’ve kept them distanced from my roses, and I’m trying to keep the numbers down. Trying.

They might well indeed be considered to be weeds by some, but certainly not by me. I have them growing around the entire garden, and every one of them has their own beauty – whether their delicate or ruffled petals, their markings or lack of markings, or their different colors. Best of all, they are all loved by the bees!

I have a few pictures of my poppies to share with you below. I hope you enjoy them!

In Peace,
Dana

Pink poppy with compost
Pink poppy in front of one section of compost.
poppy-compost-heap
A mess of a compost heap with red and lavender colored poppies. Those are sweetly scented Elderflowers hanging above the compost to the right.
Turned Compost
Freshly turned compost.
First poppy
First poppy to bloom from this single plant.
pink-poppy-with-bee
Pink poppy with bees.
Pink ruffle poppy open
Pink ruffle poppy.
Red poppy + bee
Red poppy with black center and a bee!
orange  poppy white center + bee
Orange poppy with white center and a flying bee!
Red poppy black center
Red poppy with black cross center.
Red poppy opening from bud
Red poppy opening from bud.
Red poppies forming a  tower
A cluster of red poppies.
Lavender colored Poppy
Lavender colored Poppy.
lavender poppy single
Lavender colored poppy.

Thanks for visiting!

Peony splendor

Hello! This week I found myself sorting through pictures that I’ve taken over the past couple of months. I take a lot of pictures, and I don’t usually sit down and go through them right away. So it is really nice when I am able to see the different aspects of the garden, and the different phases of the flowers through the memory of my lens.

When we first moved into our home ten years ago the yard was full of gardening possibilities – a blank slate, really. We had some lavender plants at the back of the house and that was it. Slowly, ever so slowly, I created bed after bed, all organically (I have this thing about chemicals). Were they all thought out and planned meticulously? The short answer is ‘no’! I confess that there were plants that I wanted to have and I threw them in beds as soon as I could, and Peonies were top of the list! Over time, I’ll get everything in the right place. In the meantime, I’ll keep on enjoying things where they are. 🙂

I have several Peony plants. The blooming starts around the second week of May for my early bloomers and will go well into June for the last of my plants. Not a bad season when you can stretch it that long! The first to bloom is an old fashioned redish colored plant which my Father-in-law gave me years ago (name unknown).

Peony red
The first Peony to bloom at the beginning of May
red peony and bluebells closeup
Red Peony with Bluebells

The red Peonies went into the only bed I had at the time, at our front gate. I’ve since divided them and they are now on both sides of our front gate.

Paeonia 'Hillary'
Paeonia ‘Hillary’

The next Peony to bloom was the Paeonia ‘Hillary’ which is an ‘Itoh’. Itohs are hybrids between garden and tree peonies. I bought this last year and it was full of blooms early on this season, but between gale force winds and other mishaps, only two buds were left when it was time to bloom. The weather was not cooperating at this stage, either, so I don’t think we’ve seen its best year yet. You can see how dry the soil is in some of the pictures.

Peony Hillary
Paeonia ‘Hillary’

I’m happy with this location for my ‘Hillary’ and I think it should do well here – apart from when we have gale force winds. The soil conditions are really good, and it is in full sun. The plant is an unusual color, a very soft redish-pink, and I think it suits this bed.

Peony Hillary + allium
Paeonia ‘Hillary’ blooming with the Allium
Peony Hillary
Paeonia ‘Hillary’
Peony Hillary side view
Paeonia ‘Hillary’

As the ‘Hillary’ faded, the next two plants started to bloom. These two are planted at the back of our house and get morning sun and some afternoon sun. The soil where they are growing is not good! But it has good drainage and I’ve started to give it more attention with compost. Again with these plants, it was the case of wanting to put them somewhere! They aren’t doing too poorly, thankfully.

peony-white-first-single
The first bloom is a full week ahead of the rest of the plant. White and pink Peony.
Peony white and pink + fennel
The white and pink Peony is planted next to a Fennel plant.
Peony white and chicken house
The Peony plant is on one side of our driveway while our chickens are on the other side.
Hosta and Peony view
Here’s a view from our back door. On the other side of the wall (and the Hostas) is the white and pink Peony.
Peony White and Pink pink flower
White and pink Peony.

I have this white and pink Peony supported. I like this support because I can put it in place any time (a lot of supports should be put in place before the plant is fully grown). Most Peony flowers are large and heavy and tend to droop if not supported.

Peony white and pink outside bouquet
This display is like having a bouquet of Peony in the yard!

Just two Fennel plants down from the white and pink Peony, and flowering at the same time, is Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’. The color reminds me of bubble gum. 🙂 On the other side of the Paeonia is lavender, while on the deck there are geraniums and my rain catcher / water butt.

Paeonia Bowl of Beauty lavender view
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’ next to lavender
Paeonia Bowl of Beauty closed
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’
Paeonia Bowl of Beauty upclose
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’
Paeonia 'Bowl of Beauty'
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’
Paeonia 'Bowl of Beauty'
Paeonia ‘Bowl of Beauty’

There is a bit of an overlap with the next two Peony plants. The white and pink Peony and the ‘Bowl of Beauty’ are not yet finished, as the next two are starting to bloom. I’ll start with Paeonia ‘Kansas’ as it has two flowers in bloom. The location is at my ditch wall garden, which I’ve decided should be more wild flowers – so I don’t think it is ideal for this pretty Peony. The color is amazing – a beautiful deep magenta.

Paeonia 'Kansas'
Paeonia ‘Kansas’ among Foxgloves
Paeonia 'Kansas'
Paeonia ‘Kansas’
Paeonia 'Kansas'
Paeonia ‘Kansas’
Paeonia 'Kansas' with Small Tortoiseshell butterfly
Paeonia ‘Kansas’ with Small Tortoiseshell butterfly
Paeonia 'Kansas'
Paeonia ‘Kansas’

The last of my Peony plants to bloom are my ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ plants. I have two, and one is still only buds, while the other has one fully open flower with a few others starting to open. The one in flower is in my Rainbow garden and is happy – and I am happy where it is. The ‘Sarah Bernhardt’ Peony is pink – as in cotton candy pink! I love the stand out color.

Peony Sarah Bernhardt
Peony ‘Sarah Bernhardt’
Sarah Bernhardt Peony
Paeonia ‘Sarah Bernhardt’

We had very little rain this spring. Thankfully, the rains have returned, somewhat, this past week, which has been a welcome relief to my garden.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! I’ve planted a few more Peony plants this year, so we’ll all have those to look forward to next year!

In Peace,
Dana

An escape to the Garden

Iris Benton Storrington petals out

Iris Benton Storrington looking ready for a flower show with the petals out

Hi there! I don’t know about you, but the weeks now seem to be flying by, compared to when ‘Work From Home’ first began three months ago! Today’s post is a bit of a walk around the garden and seeing what is blooming. There was even some weeding done, so the boxwood (box) plant lining three of my beds is looking much more neat and tidy. We’ve had very little rain of substance for the past three months, so the garden is very dry. We’ll see how things hold up. The roses are looking amazing, but I think my next post will be dedicated just to them, so only a couple pictures of them today.

I hope you have been able to get out and enjoy some fresh air. That’s my main goal when I’m out. Of course I like getting things done in the garden, but I’m starting to spend more time just enjoying being in the garden – and not necessarily ‘working’ – which is a big change for this “type A” personality!

Enjoy the tour! Let me know which are your favorite flowers 🙂

In Peace,
Dana

Iris Benton Storrington

The colors of this Iris Benton Storrington are a very pretty pinkish purple

O.K., so one of the super stars in the garden at the moment is Iris Benton Storrington. This is one flower that has done well in every corner of my yard, which is quite a feat! It likes full sun, or partial shade. As a bearded Iris, the rhizomes should be planted just above the soil, so they can have exposure to the sun. The tough thing it has to contend with in my yard is wind. It really takes a battering – which accounts for some of the weird shapes!

Iris Benton Storrington in the rainbow garden

Iris Benton Storrington in my rainbow garden

This Iris is doing really well in my yard. Too well, infact! I’ve had to divide it a few times, which is why it is now all over the place. It works well in some of the places I’ve planted it, but I have to confess that in one particular bed it kind of clashes with its neighbor!

Iris and Lupin

Iris and lupin

If only those lupin were some shade of purple, they could work together. But I really don’t like the pink and purple here. I’m planning on making a dedicated bed just for the Iris. I just have to figure out where to put it!

Iris Benton Storrington side garden

Iris Benton Storrington in our side garden

Another star in the garden, the Allium have looked very pretty this season. It is nice to have different shapes in the beds and these globe shaped blooms are perfectly different!

allium and David Austin roses

Purple Sensation allium among my David Austin roses

allium and Siberian Iris

allium and Siberian Iris

The above allium (with the Siberian Iris) are another variety {sorry, I don’t have the name of this one} with more tiny blooms packed in tight to make up the globe shape. They are the last of my allium to bloom. The Siberian iris behind them had a very short life this year, due to lack of rainfall.

Allium + Siberian Iris + perennial geranium

Allium, Siberian Iris and perennial pink geranium in the background

 

allium closeup

Allium made up of tightly packed teeny tiny flowers!

 

Siberian Iris group

The Siberian Iris bloomed quickly and unfortunately also withered quickly

 

Siberian Iris stack with bee

The bees also love Siberian Iris (can you spot it in the middle?)

Last year I chopped/trimmed this Viburnum Opulus Roseum. I was trying to give it some shape – I’m just not sure which shape I was going for! Thankfully, this is a forgiving shrub and should fill in again.  It is low maintenance, which is perfect for me  🙂

Viburnum opulus Roseum full view

Viburnum Opulus Roseum

The flowers on this shrub are so pretty up close! They remind me of hydrangea blooms. It really is a lovely shrub.

Viburnum opulus Roseum closeup

Viburnum Opulus Roseum

Viburnum opulus Roseum half view

Viburnum Opulus Roseum with lots of white flowers

I’m just showing off all of my hard work in the next two pictures because I spent a lot of time weeding the boxwood hedging on these two beds. Shameless…

Boxwood check

Flower bed lined with Boxwood

 

Rose bed box hedge

Rose bed lined with boxwood hedge

The Rose bed is filled with scented David Austin roses. My favorite color is pink, and I’ve filled the bed with shades from pale pink through to deep pink. On the far end I also have a peachy-pinky color, which doesn’t match perfectly. But they are incredibly pretty with a delectable scent with just enough pink for me to keep them right where they are.

Rose bed full view

A full view of the Rose bed with deep pink Princess Anne roses in the front

Boscobel - David Austin Rose

Boscobel – David Austin Rose (a salmon colored, sweet scented rose)

 

Pink David Austin roses in black vase

This is my favorite vase for my heavy headed David Austin roses

Strawberry Hill climber David Austin rose

We have this sweet scented Strawberry Hill climber David Austin rose at our front gate

I could go on forever, because I really take too many pictures in the garden! But I will leave you with this last picture of two bees enjoying this foxglove. Do take care!

Foxglove + 2 bees

Foxglove and 2 bees

Be the Change and Say His Name #GeorgeFloyd

Heart shaped roseHello, You are very welcome to my blog.

A lot has been weighing on my mind over the past number of days, specifically the topic of racism, and the horrific death in the U.S. of George Floyd, his death caused by the police. I can’t make sense of it, or the countless times this has already happened to people of color. What I find eye opening are the personal stories of what ‘every day life’ is like for people who simply aren’t white. Have you read their stories? Eye opening is one way to phrase it, scary is another, unacceptable is another. People who cannot live their lives without extreme caution of how they are perceived by others, namely the police. Where the simple fact of being a man of color makes you threatening. A life where injustice is the accepted norm by those carrying out the injustices – with no repercussions.

How has this gone on for so long? We are all equal, and yet clearly we are not all treated as equal. But this time, this time seems to have triggered a response from not just those in the U.S., but the world. This time it has gone too far. Although we’ve been told before, now it seems to be sinking in, what it *really* means to be a person of color in America.

The conversations need to start at home. How we treat one another, how we speak of others, how we act towards those who aren’t part of our ‘inner circle’ – these are all ways in which the next generation learns how to behave. They will see and learn from us. If we sit on the sidelines and do and say nothing, they will learn from that, too.

It is my hope that this collective outrage will finally bring about the changes that are long overdue. This isn’t about politics, it is about right and wrong. The Obama Foundation website has numerous ways for Americans to get involved. Have a look here.

I have not lost hope that there is good in the world. We’ve seen it all week long – the peaceful protests, the community clean-ups, some police joining in the protests. Change is possible. It has taken too long, but it can and must happen now.

Because #BlackLivesMatter .

In Peace,
Dana

Memorial Day – A Time to Remember

Arlington National Cemetery

Hello there! Although I’ve lived in Ireland for nearly 12 years, if you heard me speak just a few words you would know that I am American. 🙂  But my being American goes much deeper than my accent, of course. I will always be American, and proud of where I come from. So as an American, Memorial Day is a special day to remember those who have fought for freedom. On this day, I am reminded of a trip our family took last year to visit Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia. It was quite a somber experience. It was spring time, and I have to say it was the most beautiful cemetery I’ve been to, with spring flowering deciduous trees throughout the vast grounds which are punctuated with gravestones – many, many gravestones (of approximately 400,000 veterans and their eligible dependents). There was a strong feeling of gratitude for those who have fought for our freedom. The sense of awe and admiration was truly palpable. We didn’t say much as we walked through the grounds. It was a contemplative time, a peaceful time, a time to remember.

Arlington National CemeteryWe toured a number of national memorial monuments around Washington D.C. while on that trip, and I share with you today just a few of those pictures.

American flag at half mast at Arlington National Cemetery

American flag at half mast at Arlington National Cemetery

May we always remember those who have fought for freedom.

I hope you continue to be safe and well.

In Peace,
Dana

Arlington National Cemetery view of headstones

Arlington National Cemetery

From the Arlington National Cemetery website: Arlington officially became a national cemetery on June 15, 1864. The original cemetery was 200 acres, and has since grown to 639 acres (as of early 2020). Initially, being buried at a national cemetery was not considered an honor, but it ensured that service members whose families could not afford to bring them home for a funeral were given a proper burial. The first official “Decoration Day,” later renamed Memorial Day, was held at Arlington National Cemetery on May 30, 1868.

Arlington National Cemetery Tomb of unknown soldier

Arlington National Cemetery – Tomb of the Unknown soldier

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was dedicated on November 11, 1921, with interment of the Unknown from World War I.

Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Amphitheater

Arlington National Cemetery – Memorial Amphitheater

Memorial Day became so popular that in 1873, the amphitheater was constructed to hold the official ceremonies. Renamed the James Tanner Amphitheater, it has recently been reopened after reconstruction.

Arlington National Cemetery spring trees

Arlington National Cemetery – spring flowering deciduous trees

Arlington National Cemetery pink dogwood

Arlington National Cemetery – Pink Dogwood tree

 

Freedom is not free memorial

Freedom is not Free – part of the Korean War Veterans Memorial

A reminder that freedom comes at a cost.

The Price of Freedom - description of memorial

The Price of Freedom – World War II Memorial

The Price of Freedom - World War II Memorial

The Price of Freedom – World War II Memorial. Each star represents 100 people who died or remain missing in the war.

Easy Organic treatment for Aphids

Lilies May 2020

Lilies May 2020 after treating with soapy water

Hi there! Apparently, it is that time of year again: the season of aphids. Aphids are small, come in many colors – although mine are all green, and are soft bodied. Oh, and they love to suck the life out of your plants! The other day I discovered one of my hellebore plants was completely covered in them. I’m not sure how I missed seeing them before it reached this stage, but the plant was infested! As I continued my walk around the garden, I discovered that my lilies were also covered with aphids, not as badly, but nonetheless, covered. The roses didn’t have any, which surprised me because that is the only place I’d usually find them. This post is to help anyone who is trying to get rid of aphids, organically.

Lilac Sensation + helleborus foetidus or the stinking hellebore

Lilac ‘Sensation’ + helleborus foetidus or the stinking hellebore (or in this case, the infested hellebore)

I have to admit that I don’t usually have a huge issue with aphids. Perhaps the ladybirds (ladybugs), a natural predator of them, normally keep them in check. I’ve only ever seen them on my roses, and I can usually get rid of them with my fingers (think: squish – sorry, that’s probably a bit gross). But this time, there were too many aphids on the hellebore plant, and they were well into the lilies, where I couldn’t get to them. So I searched online for organic solutions. The top solution that came up was using a power hose. I guess that is fine if you have a sturdy plant, but anyway, that isn’t an option for me. The next solution was to spray the plant with soapy water. I had my doubts that this would work.

Syringa vulgaris Sensation with Syringa v Ludwig Spaeth in background

Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’ with Syringa v ‘Ludwig Spaeth’ in the background. This is a much nicer picture than of aphids!

Both plants were sprayed down thoroughly. I also removed as many aphids as possible with my fingers (yes, I squished them). I’ve done this over a few days, and both plants look so much better! The lilies seem completely clear, and while the hellebore isn’t completely clear yet, it has only a few left. I’ll be honest with you: I’m going to now cut the hellebore down to the ground since its season is finished anyway. It is advised to continue spraying for a couple of weeks, which I’ll do to the lilies. I used simple dish soap and cold water in a small spray bottle. It really is a simple and safe solution, which I’m happy to share.

Lilies August 2019

The lilies looked beautiful in August last year!

There are no photos of the infestation! I was more concerned with getting rid of them than photographing them. I will hopefully have beautiful photos of the lilies when they bloom in July, though! Please do stay tuned. 🙂

I hope you’ve found this helpful, although I more hope that you won’t need to use it!

Do take care!

In Peace,
Dana

Chicken with egg in house

One of our newest members of the flock, very proud of her egg!

I’ve always gardened organically for my family. It seems important now, too, to continue that way for our chickens, especially since we enjoy eating their eggs.

baby egg yolk + adult egg yolk

The ‘baby’ chickens are about 6 months old, and our other ones are 1.5 years old. There is a bit of a difference in the size of the eggs!

4 chickens in green turtle

It has taken a month, but they finally all ‘hang out’ together!

 

Life is still beautiful

Columbine

This flower is known as Columbine, Aquilegia or Granny’s bonnet

Hi there! This Covid-19 has me up and down, and spinning all around. Honestly I find myself relishing being home all the time and at the same time feeling guilty because, well, I like being home all the time. I go out once a week to do our grocery shopping, and that’s it. I think I feel the most stress when I am out shopping, because it is during this time that I think about the fact that this is a pandemic. We are living through a pandemic. And while so many people will recover after getting Covid-19, many people will not. I try not to have that thought hang around in my head for too long, but I do acknowledge it.

Hawthorn flowers

Some of the Hawthorn trees are in bloom with these lovely white flowers that are lightly scented

Since the stay at home order was initiated, we have started a new family routine of everyone meeting in the tv room, every night, for the evening news. This was something that we just never did before. I’m glad we do it now. We listen, we discuss, we think about what is happening, and best of all, we are together. We also enjoy family dinners together – every night! With our crazy schedules, that was quite a feat before the stay at home orders. The kids are old enough to help out, too. And by ‘help out’ I mean they make dinner start to finish and then clean up (we are so appreciative!). I’m proud to say that their meals are top notch, too. So for me, there have been many benefits, which I am quick to balance with the knowledge that for so many, there are terrible hardships.

Rosemary flowers

My Rosemary plant is in full bloom with tiny blueish flowers

There is one thing that is constant, though, and that is that there is beauty all around us – pandemic or not. Look and you shall find … Beauty: in nature, in the trees, in the flowers, in the weather, in family and friends, in smiles (that perhaps we can’t see behind the face masks, but are there nonetheless). There are people doing “good deeds” all around the world, and I challenge you to share those good news stories. Better still, be the one doing those good deeds. Now, more than ever, we need to be supporting one another and lifting each other up.

Strawberry Hill Climber David Austin Rose

My roses have just begun to bloom. This one is called Strawberry Hill, and is a David Austin climber

I hope you are keeping well, in every sense of the word. As always, I find my garden to be my sanctuary. I hope you’ll enjoy a bit of a tour around the garden to see what is blooming now and what is coming shortly. It seems to change every day. Take care!

In Peace,
Dana

Syringa vulgaris Sensation

Syringa vulgaris ‘Sensation’

This lilac with variegated flowers is full of blooms this year. I’ve been waiting patiently for this to happen, as it usually only produces a few blooms. Whether it is full of flowers, or has just a few, it is still a lovely shrub to have!

Lilac shrubs

On the left: Syringa v Sensation and next to it: Syringa v Ludwig Spaeth

Syringa Ludwig Spaeth

Syringa v Ludwig Spaeth has deep redish-purple flowers

Ludwig Spaeth lilac

A little evening sunlight on our Ludwig Spaeth lilac

The allium are also blooming now. I have some that I planted many years ago, which are a light purple color. They have spread, and this year there are quite a few of them, although their blooms are somewhat small. We also have some newer ‘Purple Sensation’ allium, that are not in full bloom yet. Their color is ‘WOW’ purple! 🙂

allium group

Allium (not ‘Purple Sensation’)

Allium Purple Sensation

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’

Allium closeup

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ not quite in full bloom

Allium from above

Allium ‘Purple Sensation’ from above

Allium + bamboo

Allium with our bamboo in the foreground

OK, the bamboo needs to be addressed. I was given a small pot of bamboo quite a few years ago. It is a black variety, I believe. But I haven’t found the right spot for it in the yard (yet), so I’ve kept it in a pot, and then divided it, and then divided it, and then divided it, and here we are! I think it has been too dry for it this spring, but otherwise it is usually happy.

Queen of the Night + Allium

Queen of the Night tulips with ‘Purple Sensation’ Allium

The beautiful Queen of the Night tulips are still looking lovely. We’ve had a mild spring, both related to rain and wind, so it is nice to enjoy them this length of time.

single Queen of the Night tulip

A single Queen of the Night tulip

Rose bed pre bloom

The rose bed with Queen of the Night tulips, ‘Purple Sensation’ allium and roses

This next plant doesn’t usually get any ‘blog time’ at this stage of the season. But I believe the dry spring has helped with us not having the dreaded black spot. I usually cut the leaves off of this hellebore for most of the season, due to black spot. The flowers may be finished, but I’m really enjoying the beautiful blue tinge leaves of my Winter Sunshine hellebore!

Helleborus Winter Sunshine

Helleborus Winter Sunshine

I also have a white lilac. It is actually light pink, until it opens white. I think the closed pink flowers are as pretty as the open ones!

Lilac Syringa v Beauty of Moscow

Syringa v Beauty of Moscow

Syringa v Beauty of Moscow closeup

Lilac Beauty of Moscow

Orange poppies + erysimum

California Poppies and Erysimum ‘Super Bowl’ Mauve

What a combination of colors with the California Poppies and the Erysimum ‘Super Bowl’ mauve! I love the boldness of the orange and purple! What do you think?

California Poppy with purple background

California Poppy with Erysimum ‘Super Bowl’ Mauve

Globe artichoke from above

Globe artichoke from above

We don’t eat the Globe artichokes. I love their beauty in the garden!

Globe artichoke

Globe artichoke

artichoke plant

The full globe artichoke plant – can you see the very tiny artichoke (center right)?

What’s up next?  These two beauties!

Iris pre bloom

Iris ‘Benton Storrington’

Peony pre bloom

Peony

Take care, and stay tuned to see what blooms next in the garden! 🙂

A heartfelt blanket :-)

bleeding heart

Bleeding heart (Dicentra spectabilis)

Hi there! How are you? I hope you are safe and well, and able to do things that bring you joy. Today’s post isn’t about gardening, but about my second hobby: crocheting! I really enjoy having projects to focus on. As it turns out, at the start of our ‘stay at home’ orders due to Covid-19 here in Ireland, I was asked to make a blanket for a sweet little girl who liked pink and purple. This was a perfect distraction for me, and a project which I really enjoyed!

c2c first corner

The c2c blanket is made ‘corner to corner’

I like crocheting and creating with my hands. I have to say that I like a bit of a challenge, too, and to learn new stitches or patterns. So I went searching for something new to catch my eye for this blanket. I was very lucky to come across a lovely heart blanket from Motorave_slc on Instagram (she’s also on Etsy: Motorave_slc). I sent Jessica a message on Instagram and she kindly sent me the diagram of the blanket, which is the basis for the pattern. This was a lovely act of kindness on Jessica’s part, which I’m so thankful for!

back c2c half way through

the back of the c2c half way through

This blanket pattern is called ‘corner to corner’ (written c2c). Unlike traditional blankets which are made row by row from bottom to top, this blanket is made from bottom right corner to top left corner. The main stitch used throughout is a double crochet (American terminology) done in groups of 3, along with chain stitches – all very easy. Once you get the hang of the pattern, it is fun to make! The interesting part was having all of the colors attached to the blanket as you create it, which at some points in the blanket was tricky to work around!

c2c single upsidedown blackberry heart

The pattern had two upside down hearts

I started off watching a video tutorial by The Crochet Crowd. Over the course of nearly an hour, they covered every aspect of making a c2c blanket as well as creating and reading a c2c pattern. After all of that I was finally ready to begin!

c2c close up side

A view of the side hearts and the border

As usual, I used my favorite yarn which is Caron Simply Soft, in soft pink, orchid, lavender, blackberry and fuchsia. I just love the colors and I thought they all went so well with the soft pink background. The size ended up being 44 inches x 35 inches – not too big and not too small. It just goes to show that it is always worth having lots of stock of different colors in the house, because you never know when you’ll be in lock-down and unable to buy more yarn! 😉

c2c close up side

A view of the side hearts and the border

c2c border start

The border changes with every additional color added

Once I finished the main blanket, I then had to pick a border. I decided on a stitch that is very similar to the border I used on my last blanket (my poppy blanket). I just like that style: a simple single crochet stitch with a spike stitch. 

c2c side hearts

I thought the hearts were just perfect!

I will admit to being one of the slowest crocheters ever! I just don’t go fast. And if I’m crocheting, I’m crocheting, and I’m not multi-tasking. That’s just how I do it. So this blanket took me a month to complete. I really enjoyed watching how it came together with each heart. The center part with the name was tricky. That’s all I’ll say about that!

c2c corner border

a closeup of the corner border

c2c full flat view

A full view of the blanket

I was very happy with the finished blanket! I will definitely use the corner to corner pattern again. I’m not sure what my next project is…but I have a few ideas!

Take care and stay safe!

In Peace,
Dana

c2c full blanket

My daughter holding up the blanket for me to photograph