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!

‘Little moments’ from the Garden

Hello there! You are very welcome to my blog. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve managed to take some ‘blue sky’ pictures. When you live in Ireland, you learn to really appreciate those blue sky days! I think that it is true, that a blue sky really does lift your spirits. You can see below that I have also thrown in some ‘gray sky’ pictures, so you can see for yourself the difference a blue sky makes.

Most mornings I start my day with a walk – after the chickens are fed and their house is cleaned! I love walking, especially first thing in the morning. It really wakes me up, and gets me going. Walking in the country provides beautiful scenery (and also a lot of mud on my shoes). I then take a walk around the garden (this helps to clean my shoes!) – making mental notes of what needs to be done. But I also get to enjoy seeing and listening to the birds in the garden. I don’t spend a lot of time doing this, because I have to ‘get to work’, but just enough time to appreciate all that nature has to offer us in our little ‘neck of the woods’. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see I usually post a view of my garden and my chickens on my morning stories. 🙂

As for the garden, I did a very late transplanting of some bearded Iris. Iris Benton Storrington have done amazingly well in my yard, and this is the second time that I have divided and transplanted them. The first time was two years ago in September (as it should be done then) and they did great. We’ll see how they do this time as I’ve not only transplanted them late, I have added them under the birch trees in a newly formed bed. It’ll just be a case of wait and see.

The garden is definitely shifting to its winter mode. The leaves are slowly falling off of the trees, and most of the plants are nearly finished blooming. I surprised myself with being able to make an arrangement of flowers from the garden this weekend, though! That is probably my favorite activity to do – creating arrangements with flowers from the garden. This is why I am always adding new and interesting plants.

The last of our apples were picked this week. I’m not sure how we will get through all of those apples, but we’re going to try! My daughter made (a few times this fall, actually) some delicious apple turnovers, which were such a treat. I’m always on the lookout for apple recipes that call for LOTS of apples! Do you have any?

I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to get out into the garden to get our fall jobs done. Even just ‘being’ in the garden is lovely, especially with all of the birds that have come to visit us now. I love seeing our birch trees standing so majestically as the sun shines on them first thing in the morning. And I love seeing my chickens seemingly so happy. Haha! This makes me think of the song ‘My favorite things’ by Julie Andrews!

I hope you are keeping well, and having lots of blue sky days! Please stay safe and healthy.

In Peace,

Heaven Scent Magnolia last leaf
The very last leaf on our Heaven Scent Magnolia tree
Last cooking apple
The very last apple on our ‘cooking apple’ tree
Cherry Tree last of the leaves
Our Cherry tree with a blue sky!
Cherry tree gray sky
Same Cherry tree, but with a gray sky!
birch trees with bearded iris
This was a big job of digging up two sites of bearded iris, dividing them and then transplanting them. My husband was a HUGE help and did most of the work!
Iris Benton Storrington single flower
Iris Benton Storrington

But look at that bearded iris! Isn’t it beautiful? I can’t wait to see them in the summer!

Viburnum opulus Roseum November
Some very pretty coloring on our Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’!
Mushrooms in the yard November
There’s always some interesting mushrooms in the yard. I’m not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing!
Flowers from the Garden in hand November 14
A handful of flowers from the garden! Shasta Daisy, bergenia leaves, pink and red hesperanthus (or schizostylis / kaffir lily), Erysimum ‘Super Bowl’ Mauve, Achillea filipendulina ‘Cloth of Gold’, Fountain Grass Pennisetum Advena Rubrum, Pittosporum Tom Thumb, and one snapdragon.
Flowers from the garden November 14 in hand
Flowers from the Garden November 14
And here’s what I created!
Mr Fokker aubrieta frosty morn November
This was taken on a frost morning. The Mr Fokker anemone are still blooming, and the Aubrieta have started blooming again. Glad to know that they weren’t killed off with the very dry spring which we had.
apple turnover
Emer’s apple turnovers were super delicious, especially hot out of the oven. We are so thankful that our kids enjoy cooking and baking!
David Austin Roses dark pink NOVEMBER
There are still some blooms on our roses, although the wind has been working extra hard to knock them off…
sunny foggy morning birch trees
I took this picture on what had been a foggy morning.
mystic sky November garden
I like this photo for the fall feel and the mystic looking sky
4 chickens November
‘The Girls’ also known as Iris, Sweet Pea, Daisy and Rose.

Thanks for stopping by! Take care!

Blue sky play house with back hills
The latest fall view of our playhouse and the surrounding fields (and one of my favorite pictures).

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

Gardening – it’s worth the effort!

Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’

Hello there! It is a rather funny name for the post today, but as I was working in the garden most of the weekend, it seemed apt. Maintaining and growing a garden *is* a lot of work, and I think even more so when you do it organically. This is worth it to me, though, as I absolutely love being in the garden and seeing how it is transformed and how it brings such beauty into our lives. And when things start to not balance out, it’s time to change things up and find easier plants to maintain!

Playhouse garden

Playhouse garden with yellow lupine, Iris ‘Benton Storrington’, and bleeding hearts

The weather hasn’t been great recently, so I haven’t been keeping up with the weeding. It reached the point this weekend, though, that my husband even pointed out to me that “those flowers would look much nicer if there weren’t so many weeds! How sweet of him to notice  🙂

early stage pears

early stage pears

You’ve heard me say it before, and it remains true, that we like to grow what is easy (to grow and maintain)! Our fruit trees are a prime example. We’ve been very fortunate with an abundance of pears and apples the past few years. We’ll see how it goes the rest of the season, but as of right now we have a bumper crop of pears! All of this with just composting on a regular basis and light annual pruning.

Iris ‘Benton Storrington’

Iris ‘Benton Storrington’

I try to add some new flowers every year. This Iris was added in 2016 and has done really well in my yard. I started with just two rhizomes, and last year we divided what had developed into a huge clump. I was actually trying to find spaces around the yard to fit in the divided plants! We planted several rhizomes around the yard, all of which are now ready to bloom.

Purple Sensation allium

Purple Sensation allium

The Purple Sensation allium is a new addition which we added into two beds last fall.  Actually, I bought “Purple Sensation” allium years ago, but it most definitely was not Purple Sensation as the color is quite light, which you can notice in the picture below.

Purple sensation allium

Purple Sensation allium and NOT Purple Sensation allium

a view of the main rose bed

a view of the main rose bed to the right of Abies Koreana (Remember when I planted those boxwood plants? Spring 2018)

The longest blooming flower in our garden is the rose, so we created a second rose bed a few years ago, and filled it with David Austin roses. The empty space between the roses was filled in no time with poppies (I didn’t plant them here, they “moved” from different beds in the garden, and possibly from my compost!).

Rose bed filled with Poppies

Rose bed filled with Poppies (with a few allium “popping” up!)

Poppies love my yard.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be 100% happy with them in this rose bed. They’ve grown incredibly tall, but thankfully they are also sheltering my rose plants from the harsh wind we’ve had recently. Pity you can’t really see the rose plants here though!

David Austin roses light pink

David Austin roses (the far side of the poppy invasion)

David Austin Standard Tree Rose Princess Anne

David Austin Standard Tree Rose Princess Anne

My first Standard Tree rose went into the garden last fall. It is rather tall and the roses are bright pink and very much visible!


Poppies in the Rainbow garden

The Rainbow garden is filling out even more with the addition of two varieties of Iris last year. Poppies are definitely hogging the stage at the moment, though.

Iris + Poppies

Iris among the poppies

Rainbow garden with one chicken

A full view of the Rainbow garden (with one chicken)

2 chickens in Japanese Maple tree bed

the chickens love to roam the garden!

Hawthorn trees + Japanese maple

Hawthorn trees in bloom (Weigela florida ‘Alexandra’ is the bright flowered shrub) + chicken about to jump!

flower bed of iris, hosta, sedum

this flower bed at our front gate is filled with Hosta, Sedum, Iris, Roses, Asters, Lavender, Bergenia, and the White Lilac is visible from the other side of the fence. We added the Bergenia (at the very front) last year.

Front gate garden

front gate garden today

This little ‘Front gate garden’ has Aster, Sedum, Foxglove, a new Climbing Rose, and two new Primula capitat subsp mooreana, Woodlander (thank goodness for plant tags!). They are right on time for blooming now and should go until July (we’ll see!). My one variety of peony has just finished blooming – the blooms usually fall through from the other side of the fence and give a splash of color here (you can just see the spent redish flowers on the other side of the fence).

Primula capitata subsp mooreana Woodlander

Primula capitata subsp mooreana, Woodlander

I’ve already made many “new flower/plant/tree” purchases for this season! Hopefully, everyone will settle in and adjust to our garden (and not be eaten/dug up by the chickens). There is just so much going on in the garden! The next flowers to bloom should be the rest of my peony plants.

Garlic beds + sweet pea plants

Garlic beds with sweet pea planted in the middle.

Oh! and I almost forgot that we’ll be harvesting our garlic in July!  I’ve planted some sweet pea down the middle of one bed, and sunflowers down the middle of the other.  I’ll find out soon enough if that was a good or a bad idea!

So the main point I make to myself, on a regular basis, is to keep a balance. I can’t spend all of my time in the garden. I’ve learned to be O.K. with weeds – I’ll get to them eventually. The garden is a long term project for me anyway, no point in rushing!  🙂

I hope you get to spend the perfect amount of time in a garden and enjoy every minute of it!

In peace,

September’s beauty is tempered only by the gardening to-do list…

We are still enjoying warm weather, not quite ready for the chilly days of fall just yet …

September can be such a beautiful month. Although the temperatures tend to dip slightly in August, inevitably, when the kids head back to school in September, the weather turns warm again! We have been lucky to enjoy rather mild weather of late. The garden, having been quite patient all summer while I left it to its own devices, is now demanding that I pay her some attention. I love working in the garden, don’t get me wrong. We were just busy with life!  So little by little, we’ve managed to extend some time and effort to get (some) things done in the garden.

If I could draw your attention to the green leaves along the edge of the railroad ties, those are Bergenia, a deep pink flowering variety, which have spread a bit more than I’d like.

Bergenia flowering in May

These Incrediball hydrangea were a lovely white in August, but turned a rusty brown quite quickly, unfortunately. The Bergenia, on the other hand, have done really well! This was the clump (on the left) before we separated them.

One of the items on our “to-do” list was dividing up plants. I think it is pretty safe to say that Bergenia plants, also known as elephant’s ears due to the foliage, are extremely hardy! These guys are so happy in my garden, and they have just flourished (read: multiplied exponentially!). I wanted to remove a few to prevent them from clumping too much. But before I knew it, my husband had dug them all up! So we’ve spread them out, and moved them around the yard.

The Bergenia plants needed to be separated as they had clumped together.

A little more breathing room after we divided the Bergenia plants (my rusty looking Incrediball hydrangea plant in the background)

Staying in this same bed, my Iris ‘Benton Storrington’ are also quite happy here. My original purchase of two plants has yielded more than a few!

I originally bought two plants and now I have, well, LOTS!

I actually had to move them because they were spreading into one of my hydrangea plants. I’ve simply moved them to the other side of the same bed (hey, if they are happy here, I don’t want to rock the boat!). But first I untangled their roots to separate them. That worked with most of them, while a couple of them had to be cut apart. There was quite a clump!

quite a tangle of roots! This is why you have to separate them!

I forgot to remind my husband that the rhizomes, in order to get exposure to the sun, need to be at the surface, and not buried in the soil. So when I noticed his mistake after he’d planted a few, there was a teeny tiny moment where he just stopped and looked at me, shook his head, and then proceeded to re-plant them, correctly this time. Good thing he’d only done a few! 🙂

A row of freshly planted Iris, and in front of them are freshly planted Bergenia plants.

Iris Benton Storrington – which you can see is growing into the hydrangea!

Iris Benton Storrington

There was one more plant which we divided, another Iris actually, although this time not a bearded variety (so no rhizomes to keep at the surface!). I don’t have any pictures of what the area looks like now. But, here is a picture from before we moved any, when they were in bloom. The perspective is “higher” as I was actually leaning out of my bedroom window (being very careful though!). 🙂

non-bearded Iris

Lots of Iris and Lilacs!

They are very pretty, and apparently they, too, are very happy as they have spread like crazy! My idea was to separate them and spread them about the yard. But for now, we’ve taken one clump out of the mess and moved it further down the bed, and we moved another clump to the “Center Garden”.

our “Center Garden” is expanded again with the addition of Iris on the right

I am really happy with how our Center Garden is taking shape. I wasn’t sure if I should add anything else to it, but I think the Iris will be really pretty.

Pears, Apples and Sunflowers from our garden

My gardening takes lots of patience while I figure out how to get it just right, and watching as things mature and fill in spaces and provide structure. I LOVE this process! It is so neat to watch the garden throughout the entire year as it changes from one season to the next. I am constantly thinking of “what’s next” in the garden. I have a list in my head of all of the plants I want to add, and changes and additions to the garden. But right now, I am completely happy with exactly how it is, weeds and all! As for the gardening “to-do” list, let’s just say that I am happy that we are making progress!

In peace,

The Importance of Friends

Now that’s a funny title for a gardening blog, isn’t it? But as I was gathering the pictures of my Iris plant which I was going to write about for this blog post, I was brought back to when I bought the plant and who I was with: my gardening girlfriends.

The Gardening Gals Gang on our “getaway to the UK” in 2017

This got me thinking about the friendship I share with these special women, and how important that is to me. There is a small group of us, all brought together by Susan. We enjoy each other’s company and we especially enjoy anything and everything related to gardening. When we first started getting together, we would tour our own gardens and share our plants. We’ve moved on to exploring other well known gardens both in Ireland and in the UK. Last year we ventured over to England to Chipping Campden, and visited the gardens at Hidcote and Kiftsgate.  But it was on one of our ‘Irish outings’ when I purchased my ‘Benton Storrington’ Iris.  We were in Wexford visiting the beautiful Bay Garden, when we then stopped by the Camolin Potting Shed, which is a great place to find more unusual items for your garden.

Iris ‘Benton Storrington’

We had a wonderful day out at the Bay Garden.  Our chat is never just about gardening, but about all facets of life! I’m sure we solved all of the world’s problems that day! Not only that, we were also rather successful on our quest for some special plants.

the Gardening Gals plant purchases in Wexford 2016

I can feel my spirits lift when I am around good friends, it is so wonderful. Sometimes life gets too busy, and we might only have time for quick notes on the computer, which is O.K. short term. But nothing beats a good ol’ chat – either in person or on the phone! It is just good for the soul.

Iris ‘Benton Storrington’

It is tough to find time to nurture relationships, especially when our lives are a little too jam packed with activities.  I am quite guilty of being involved in too many things sometimes!  But thankfully, I have good friends who are patient and always there for me when I show up 🙂

Iris ‘Benton Storrington’

It is a little funny, too, that a lot of the flowers I’ve planted in my garden have connections to the people in my life. I simply love flowers and plants and trees, so if I associate one with you, that means I really like you!

Iris ‘Benton Storrington’

Just a quick word about the Iris which this post was about: I wanted to add a bearded iris to our garden, but was looking for the right color. Having only a picture to go on, I decided to give this one a shot. I planted my two rhizomes in April 2016 and this year is the first year I have blooms.  It not only bloomed, it more than doubled in size. Unfortunately, it spread in the direction of one of my hydrangea, and was mostly hidden after it flowered.  I will have to move it to a more open space, where the rhizomes can continue to be exposed to the sun.

Iris ‘Beton Storrington’ – a teeny tiny bit inside the hydrangea…

I have a love of flowers, and because of that I like to learn about them as I go along. After our iris bloomed I did some research on the name. The history is rather interesting!  Cedric Morris, an artist and plantsman, bred the Benton iris, raising thousands of this bearded variety from seed. The name comes from the area in which Cedric lived: Benton End, in Suffolk. This all took place between 1934 and 1960.  Years later, Sarah Cook, a head gardener at Sissinghurst Castle garden, made it her mission to bring this collection of iris “back to life”, for which she has had amazing success. She teamed up with Howard Nurseries and achieved a Gold for their display at the Chelsea Flower Show 2015! These iris are known in particular for their subtle and delicate colors and markings. If you’d like to learn more you can visit The Big Delve website or for some amazing pictures of fields of the iris visit Gap Gardens website.

I’m glad for this lovely addition to my garden.  But really, more important than my new flower, the bottom line is to take time to nurture those friendships!

Which flower are you associated with? 🙂

In peace,