Summer delights for motivation

Hi there! It is February and thankfully the weather has eased up a tiny bit. I was able to get out into the garden more this week and every minute was such a blessing. And while I do have pictures from this past week, instead of sharing those, I’m going to share my pictures of some of the flowers that I am looking forward to seeing in just a few months. I’m using them as motivation! I’ve started with my feature image at the top of the page, which is what the garden looked like in July last year!

I’m joining Garden Ruminations for the Six on Saturday meme. 🙂

I hope you enjoy my motivational trip down memory lane!

In Peace,

collage of fruit from the garden including strawberries, blueberries, pears and apples

1 – Fruit from the garden. Last year we finally caged up our blueberries. What a harvest we had! Up until then, the birds were the beneficiaries of the delicious blueberries. We had a decent harvest of strawberries, too. The strawberry ice cream we made was quite a treat! It was the best harvest yet for our pears. My husband made a pear and almond torte (twice!) that was absolutely delicious – and well worth the work that went into making it. Finally, our apples: red eating and yellow/green cooking. There is something quite satisfying about eating an apple from your own tree! 🙂

collage of David Austin roses: colors coral, light pink, medium pink and dark pink

2 – David Austin roses. Clockwise from top right: Princess Anne is a beautiful deep pink rose, Boscobel is a pretty salmon color. The next one is either Olivia Rose Austin or Ancient Mariner, I have both, but at this point, I don’t know which is which and they are very similar. The last one is Harlow Carr, and this I know because it is *very* thorny! They all are scented, which is something I look for in flowers. I had a super rose season last year, and I have to give credit to Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic, which I used for the first time. Per the label: it contains pure potassium phosphite. It’s not cheap, but I did see an improvement in the health of my roses.

collage of iris grown from February through July

3 – Iris from February through July. We can start with Iris reticulata (bottom center) that blooms in February. Mine aren’t blooming just yet this year, but are up from the soil. We then have a bit of a break until May when most of the others start to bloom. We have Dutch Iris (top right), bearded Iris Benton Storrington (middle right), and the Siberian Iris ‘Shirley Pope’. The Siberian iris (top left) also blooms in May/June. And lastly, to finish out the iris season, we have another variety of Dutch iris that blooms at the end of June through the beginning of July. It is planted among the Incrediball hydrangea. I usually use it in a fourth of July arrangement.

Astra White Balloon Flower

4 – White balloon flower. This simple little beauty is happiest in sun and provides sweet white flowers, starting in June. They will continue to flower with deadheading.

collage of allium

5 – Allium. Starting in May and going through June, allium are a treat in the garden! I planted some en masse and I really like how they look. I usually cut some to bring inside as they dry beautifully, too. I’ve even spray painted them! My favorite type is Purple Sensation, but the ones en masse (bottom three photos) are a really neat star-like shape which I find to be as pleasing as the coloring of the Purple Sensation!

collage of poppies colored orange, red, pink, lilac.

6 – Poppies. Of course we have poppies! Each year they seem to find a new spot in the garden. We have had a range of colors, including: orange, red, lavender, pink, and coral! The seed heads are also fun to work with in arrangements.

That was so much fun! I hope you are as inspired as I am. Which is your favorite flower? And of course, thanks for stopping by!

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,

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

Life is still beautiful


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,

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


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

Cormac’s Garden: The creating and naming of a flower bed

in the beginning...

in the beginning…

I love gardening.  What a surprise, huh?  I really look forward to the different seasons and watching as everything changes.  Every year it is all new again, even though of course it is not new at all.  It is even more fun when adding new plants to beds and seeing how they grow, change, and add to the atmosphere of the garden!

further along in spring...

further along in spring…

It is fun to make new flower beds.  Hmmm, I think I have to re-phrase that.  It is fun to plant new plants and shrubs in a new flower bed!  The making of a new bed is actually a good bit of work!  I don’t use chemicals, so the first step involves covering the grass with newspapers, then covering with cardboard and then stones on top to hold down the cardboard.

Raspberry Ice Fusion Hyacinth

Raspberry Ice Fusion Hyacinth adding some color to the bed

I don’t have a picture from the very start of this bed, but I’m sure you probably have a “lovely” picture in your head of what that would look like.  A few months later, after the grass is dead, I (read: me and/or anyone I can get to help with this job) have to fork up the grass and turn it over.  After the soil is left to dry, the dead grassy bits are easy enough to shake free of soil and add to the compost heap.  Then the soil is forked over again to make sure there isn’t any stubborn grass!

spring time

spring time

Have you gathered the gist? It is a lot of work.  But I think it is worth the work to avoid using chemicals. This bed has been named “Cormac’s Garden” because my son Cormac spent quite a lot of time forking over the soil.

further on in spring

The lilacs’ flowers and leaves are adding a bit of life to the bed, and a new hellebore (‘SP Frilly Isabelle’) was planted.

The hyacinth were added this past fall.  I really liked the two different shades of pink which were offset with white.

three colors to start off spring

bright colors for the start of spring (Raspberry Ice Fusion hyacinth)

a deeper color pink (my favorite)

a deeper color pink (my favorite)

My son is 17 and jokes that all of the beds should be called ‘Cormac’s garden’ as he is often roped into helping out.  Let’s just stick with this one for now…


columbine blooming in May

The bed has: hosta, bearded iris, hellebore, Dutch Iris, columbine, lilac

The bed has: hosta, bearded iris, hellebore, Siberian Iris, columbine, lilac

I added one more lilac shrub this year, to the 3 already there.  Yeah, I went a bit lilac crazy, but I love their scent!

Syringa vulgaris 'Andenken an Ludwig Spath'

Syringa vulgaris ‘Andenken an Ludwig Spath’ (my favorite!)


Iris & Lilac

Iris & ‘Charles Joly’ Lilac

I planted some Siberian Iris last year.  They apparently are quite happy in this soil because they look spectacular this year (says she quite humbly!).

Dutch iris

Siberian iris

I have those same iris in another part of the garden and they don’t look half as nice as these here.  Amazing how different the soil composition can be even in the same yard.

a single allium

a single allium of three which were planted…

It has been fun watching the bed fill out.  I liked how it started with shades of pink, and is now filled with different shades of purple.  I’ll have to think about what colors to add for the fall.  Oh, and I am at it again!  I decided that the bed isn’t wide enough!

hosta filling out

Hosta at the front, and a look at what it looks like while I kill the grass to widen the bed.

here we go again!

here we go again!

Having something new to look forward to in the following season is the best part of gardening!  Don’t you think?

Here’s to new beginnings!

In peace,

In a Vase on Monday (night): Allium

Allium, rye, hydrangea, globe artichokes

Allium, rye, hydrangea, globe artichokes

It is still Monday!  Talk about leaving things till the eleventh hour.  My blog post yesterday took me ages to put together, which left me no time for my ‘In a Vase on Monday’ meme!  But now I have a moment to breathe and I can share with you an arrangement I put together this summer.  I’m using it today because I really think it is quite a fall looking arrangement.

A rather dry arrangement with the barley fields in the background.

A rather dry arrangement with the barley fields in the background.

I think the barley in the field had just been harvested when I took these pictures. The hydrangea blooms from my father-in-law were freshly cut, but I didn’t put them in water.  I used them in my birthday flower arrangement, too.  (I’m sure you were already thinking that, weren’t you?)

Hydrangea & globe artichokes

Hydrangea & globe artichokes

The pottery vase is a real keeper. I bought that from my gardening club when I lived in  Syracuse, NY.  It has a great height, and the blue and green are lovely colours to work with.  I hadn’t realised until just now that I didn’t get a very good picture of the vase.

that's not allium

that’s not allium

I think I was more interested in my props than my allium when I was taking these pictures.  The globe artichokes are still holding on to their colour.

Holding everything in place

Holding everything in place

Sometimes I pretend that I’m just so clever.  Look how I held everything in place?  Pieces of dried allium stems held together with elastic bands to form a triangle.  Totally high tech.  🙂

Sitting high in my kitchen

Sitting up high in my kitchen

The above picture looks fuzzy!  I hate that.  But I just wanted to show you where my arrangement lives; in my kitchen above my microwave. It is a great space to fill! Some of the allium are still purple while some are definitely yellowed.  There aren’t  so many hydrangeas since I stole them for my birthday arrangement. That lives in my front hall.

I’ll end with one of my favourite pictures of allium that I took (probably around the time of these pictures).

If you’d like to see some other arrangements from the meme In a Vase on Monday, stop by Cathy’s Rambling in the garden’s blog: 

Happy Monday!

Dried Allium

Dried Allium

Christmas floral arrangement from home grown flowers.

Annabelle hydrangea, blue hydrangea, allium, and twisted willow for Christmas.

Annabelle hydrangea, blue hydrangea, allium, and twisted willow for Christmas.

I’m supposed to be cleaning, writing Christmas cards, baking, laundry, the list goes on!  So instead, I’m escaping it all by using my creative side.  Going to that floral arranging demonstration has inspired me!  I love creating through flowers.

True blue.

True blue.

Here’s the deal though:  I have to work in an imperfect world, unlike Mr. Perfect Floral arranger.  The branches sorta went where I wanted them (nope, not at all). The dried flowers kinda matched (learned that you shouldn’t put white and red together, so I’m guessing that it’s still too much of a contrast for white and blue?).  But really, the Annabelle flowers are off white, so it should be ok, right? And the container, well, it’s just not right (width, height, the fact that it’s an ice holder). But all of that aside, I was quite happy with it! 🙂

Christmas is in the air!

Christmas is in the air!

The blue Christmas balls (is there a nicer way to describe them?) are the old fashioned glass ones.  I love the glass ones.  I don’t like the plastic ones, although they are perfect for my kids to decorate with!  But the glass ones are special to me.  I have them in the container, and hanging on the branches along with small sparkly silver ones.  At the bottom of the container, I have glass marbles which help to hold the stems in place.

A touch of silver.

A touch of silver.

The allium has been in my back room since the summer. It didn’t really look that great, honestly.  The kids had been asking me why I didn’t just throw it out.  I was hoping I’d figure out something to do with it!  A little silver spray paint (on one of the blue hydrangea flower heads, too) and they were completely transformed!

I really appreciate that a few dear friends had their hands in my creating this arrangement.  The hydrangeas are Susan’s.  They dried really well after she gave them to me!  Also, I must mention the branches again.  My lovely neighbors, Margaret & James (Mr. Manure man!) have the most wonderful garden. The branches are from their tree, which I believe is a twisted willow tree.  There was a bit of a debate going on whether it is a contorted witch hazel, or twisted willow.  I’ll do a bit more research to figure it out, because I really want to plant one in my yard!

A nice big space in the kitchen just for my creation!

A nice big space in the kitchen just for my creation!

I’ve cleared out of the kitchen anything that wasn’t needed during the holidays. Unfortunately, the blue bowls in the above picture don’t have another home, so here they sit.  Do they kinda sorta match the arrangement???

An inside view.

An inside view.

Oh dear that picture looks out of focus.  There is no sun here today.  Those outside pictures were taken at 1 P.M. even thought it looks like it’s evening! It seems the flash created a shadow, making it seem quite fuzzy.

Christmas cake all wrapped up and ready for the oven!

Christmas cake all wrapped up and ready for the oven!

Now it is time to tackle those other jobs on my list!  At least the Christmas cake is in the oven.  I was quite proud of my “wrap job” this year!  It is much neater than I’ve ever done before.  I think that wrapping it is definitely the hardest part of making a Christmas cake!  There has got to be an easier way…

I hope you get to do something fun and creative in between all of your “must do” things!  It definitely puts a smile on my face!


A summer peak at the garden: Peas, Potatoes, Parsnips, Carrots, Cukes, & Chard!

When the weather is nice in Ireland, the weather is super nice in Ireland!  We were finally free to spend a full day in the garden!  I love working in the garden, everything about it: pulling weeds, gathering rocks, planting, weeding, watering (ok, this doesn’t have to be done so much here), getting rid of slugs, more weeding.  I just love being outside and being a part of a living, growing, and changing garden.    We’ve been “growing our garden” over the past two years.  It is in a continuous state of change and development!  There have been some learning experiences, too.  I have a few plants & trees that aren’t happy where they are and I need to find out what will make them healthy again, possibly just changing their location.

Our raised vegetable beds are starting to look productive.  I think the veggies are slow growing this year.  We could use more heat, for the plants and for me!  My shallots are the happiest! They at least look impressive.  Our potatoes are growing nicely, too.  I’ve taken some pictures of the baby growth of what I have so far.  I like tracking it from a young stage to full bloom.  You should see carrots, garlic, onions, and parsnips.  My other beds have zucchini & pickling cukes in them, but they didn’t get photographed.

Walking away from the raised beds will bring you toward another part of the yard,  what we fondly refer to as the Fruit Orchard.  I was happy to see the start of apples and, for the first time, pears!  Our two year old blueberry bushes are also looking very good, and are full of fruit.   We’ve put a net over the strawberries in the hopes of keeping out the birds. I’m not sure if it is good enough for this job, but time will tell.    We’ve added bits and pieces on to this garden continuously!  I think it is almost at the right size.  Our plans include a  few more changes over the next year, and then it will be “done”!

Although called the Fruit Orchard, we do also have vegetables in this section.   We have Pacific Purple asparagus, but only 4 plants have survived over the past two years.  So we just expanded that section by adding 10 Grolim white asparagus.  I know it’s a long slow process with asparagus, but hopefully it’ll be worth it!  This year my husband planted peas for me.  He used some chicken wire and bamboo sticks for the plants to grow on.  Slugs love pea plants, by the way… I visit the plants every evening to save them from being someone else’s dinner!  We are attempting to grow some watermelon this year.  Ireland doesn’t have the best climate for this fruit, but I guess I have to prove that to myself!

The final set of pictures are just showing my boxwood hedging.  I finally cleaned them up a bit.  They really needed some trimming.  Actually, I just had to take some pictures of the beds that I had spent hours weeding!  My star flower of the moment is my Allium (purple sensation)!  I love it!  I’m afraid that the garden it’s in is not thriving. My hydrangea is only now showing signs of life after some compost shock treatment, and my Japanese Maple has been ruined by being in the line of our (gale force) wind path.  Big sigh, lots more work to do!

I hope you are enjoying steps of progress in your garden, too!


These are pictures of  our back yard, including the raised beds and potato beds. I have to say that the kids have really helped in expanding the stone pathway. It’s a tedious job, but I love how it looks! (and it’s character building, right?)

Here are some pictures of the vegetables growing in the raised beds: shallots, garlic, rainbow chard, onions, carrots, and a very fuzzy picture of parsnips.

Pictures from our fondly called “Fruit Orchard”: starting with apples, pears, blueberries, and strawberries.

Pictures of our Pacific Purple asparagus, and peas.

Picture of trimmed box wood plants (in Rose garden, which will hopefully have roses soon!) Followed by pictures of Allium (purple sensation).