A moment to acknowledge that ‘this’ is tough

Hi there! You are very welcome to my blog. I did not intend to skip a few weeks. I thought I was doing well and handling O.K., the news that Covid-19 was still in full control of our lives. But I guess that wasn’t truly the case, and I needed time to re-adjust. I have found ‘this’, the whole situation around Covid-19, to be tough. I have tried to not beat myself up about being a bit down and not getting everything on my ‘to do’ list done. I am actually getting through everything on the list, just at a much, much slower pace. Even with this post, I thought it better to talk about what is really on my mind than force a gardening topic.

So, have you hit a bit of a wall like me? Are you having a hard time with these long term restrictions? Please don’t get me wrong; I understand why we have the restrictions and I have no intention of breaking those restrictions. But it is much harder, mentally, to adjust to continue on this way well into 2021. Mainly, it is the fact that I can’t travel to visit my family in the States. That’s very frustrating. I am still quite thankful that my family here are all together and everyone is doing well. I think everyone is looking forward to real live people contact again, whenever that will take place.

Thankfully, my book club is meeting again, albeit on Zoom, and the timing could not have been better. Our meeting fell just as we were realizing that this latest set of restrictions were going to last much longer than first anticipated. Our get together was just what we needed in these tumultuous times! We are all so different and it is simply wonderful to chat and get everyone’s perspective and of course to enjoy that feeling of community. Despite living within three miles of each other, we haven’t seen each other for ages! (Where the crawdads sing, by Delia Owens, which I loved, was the book we read this month.) That Zoom call really helped to lift my spirits.

Another ‘lockdown’ activity that I recently started participating in is an ‘Instagram live’ gardening program with two Irish gardening experts. It is called Garden Conversations with Diarmuid Gavin and Paul T Smyth. Their current ‘course’ started last week and runs Monday through Friday at 7 PM for an hour every week and it really is a bit of ‘craic’ – as the Irish say (it is a bit of fun). They started doing it way back in March, but I’ve only learned of it recently. It is a wonderful distraction! They talk about different gardening topics and answer questions from us. They’ve covered soil composition, trees, pruning, aspect, and they’ve talked about garden design. It is great to pick up bits and pieces of interesting information in a fun atmosphere – there is a lot of banter between them. This is definitely not a classroom setting type of course! It is a great service that they are providing to the gardening community. πŸ™‚

One thing I learned on Diarmuid and Paul’s program is that when the ground is as wet as it is now – and boy have we had lots of rain (if it squishes when you walk on it – and the mud sticks to your boots when you walk in it), it is best to not work in the garden as you’ll do more harm than good. There is always plenty of planning to do for the garden, anyway. This is a great time for me to focus on garden design!

I hope you have been taking care of yourself, too. It’s gonna be a long haul. Good thing we’re in it together!

Stay healthy and safe.

In Peace,
Dana

Sunny Frosty DAY view of playhouse

We’ve had plenty of hard frosts so far this winter (more than usual). It turns the grass white – and produces a substantial ‘crunch’ sound when walked on it!

Snowdrops mid January

Life continues on in the garden! The Snowdrops have pushed through the soil and are blooming!

Frilly Isabelle hellebore January

Not all of my hellebore plants are blooming just yet. But this Frilly Isabelle is. I have to say that this plant had more flowers on it at this stage last year. We have had a very wet time of late, though, which I am going to blame!

ornamental grass frosty morning blue sky

I do like ornamental grass, no matter what the color! Better still when the backdrop is a beautiful blue sky.

Primroses

I have used some floral therapy recently. Small purchases of flowers which always brighten my spirits! Aren’t these primroses lovely?

Primroses in snow

And they don’t mind the snow!

birch trees sunny frosty Jan morning

I am so delighted with my new birch trees! This sunlight is mid morning as it comes around the back of the house.

Afternoon sunlight on playhouse January

Like so many people, I’m working from home. So I make sure to go outside a couple of times a day, even if for just a few minutes. I especially like taking pictures when the sky is blue! This is late afternoon.

fluffy chicken bums in snow

This is what my girls show me when I ask to take their picture… They sure have fluffy bums!

chickens-in-snow-1

The girls are fine in the cold. The snow usually melts before the end of the day. I give them more pellets to eat now, too. The rain is more of a hassle than the cold!

open field with blue sky

I try and go for a short walk in the afternoons. It is terrible how sedentary I’ve become since working from home! I am now much more aware and make an effort to get up and move every day! This picture of one of the fields I pass just reminds me of the ‘pick me up’ I got from my blue sky walk!

Lidl roses on desk

Here is another example of my floral therapy! For just eight euros I bought these two dozen roses from Lidl! They are sitting right in front of me on my desk and without a doubt they make me happy! I possibly could have gotten away with just getting 12 for four euro (but I’m so glad I went for 24!).

Winter scene of playhouse blue sky mid January

My favorite scene to photograph right now is our playhouse! This was still early morning sunshine, as there is still frost on the playhouse roof. I’m so thankful for the days that have the sun and blue sky combination!

It really is the little things that bring us joy.

Thank you for visiting. Please feel free to say hello! I’d love to hear from you πŸ™‚

Take care!

A garden to be thankful for

Hello there! Welcome to my blog, where today I’m all about gratitude. Don’t get me wrong, I practice being grateful on a regular basis. But today, I went out to the garden not too hopeful that I’d find much to make an arrangement with. Boy was I mistaken! It just made me appreciate all of the weird and quirky stuff that I have – that might not look all that neat and tidy in the garden – but is lovely to have all the same.

My family and I moved to Ireland 12 years ago, and we usually celebrate Thanksgiving on either the weekend before or after the actual American Thanksgiving. This year, with my daughter having exams the week of Thanksgiving, we celebrated this weekend. I’m lucky as my husband is a very good cook, and enjoys cooking special dinners like this. So that leaves cleaning to me (with help from the kids). It’s not a bad deal. πŸ™‚ It’s even better still, when I start my ‘cleaning’ by making a flower arrangement!

I can critically say that this is not my best arrangement. There was too much going on. But I really wanted to use everything I’d gathered, so I decided to leave it. Here’s my critique: The ornamental grass has neat curls at the ends, which I love, but I’m not sure if it comes across well. The striking, black stemmed bamboo is somewhat lost in the middle, and perhaps too tall. The Rosemary is a bit too ‘out-there’, while the lovely red dogwood branches can’t fully be seen (but they do tie in nicely with the hesperanthus, when you can see them). Lot’s of ‘imperfection’!

Now for the positives: The amount of red hesperanthus (also known as schizostylis, or kaffir lily) is fantastic! I never would have imagined that I had that much in the garden, when I’d taken cuttings a few times already. The purple Mr. Fokker anemone were completely closed up when I cut them in the garden – the perfect time to use them. It was lucky to have so many that are at just the right stage. I have lots and lots of invasive ivy, but it sure is pretty! I find it to be an excellent filler plant. There were 3 daisies in the garden, so I figured why not bring them in, too? The back of the arrangement has two small stems of golden yarrow. Lastly, there are pink David Austin roses, which thankfully had long stems.

Despite my strong critique, I do really like it! It’s very visible in our hallway, where everyone can enjoy it. Mostly, I’m thankful to be able to go out into the yard and gather up something that can be arranged for decoration! I find it really relaxing and enjoyable. After this, I had no problem with getting all of my cleaning done!

We had a lovely, and delicious, Thanksgiving. We have so much to be thankful for! And on that list is most definitely my garden, and those who like to read my blog about it! Thank you!!!

In Peace,
Dana

finished arrangement November 29 inside pic
The finished arrangement.
Flower arrangement
The finished arrangement, outside (in sunlight).
Mr Fokker anemone, Hesperanthus and David Austin Roses
A close up of the Hesperanthus (Schizostylis), Mr. Fokker Anemone, David Austin roses and ivy.
The back of the arrangement
This is the back of the arrangement. I believe this is Achillea filipendulina ‘Cloth of Gold’, with Daisies and Hesperanthus.

Tapping the top of container for flower arranging
It isn’t very pretty, how I tape up the container, but it does work to help to hold stems in place. I also had some marbles in the bottom of the container.
bunches of flowers before beginning arrangement
This is what I started with!
Irish Robin
This little Robin followed me around the garden as I cut flowers!
Anemone Nov 29th arrangement
I love the little details of the ivy and the anemone.
November flower arrangement
This is the best picture for seeing the red branches of the dogwood.
Flower arrangement
The ivy on the left, in front, had a natural curve in it that I think is wonderful!
flower arrangement
This is my favorite part of the arrangement – this burst of color.
flower arrangement outside
Outside view
inside flower arrangement
Home.

What do you think? A bit too wild? It’s fun to play and learn! Take care, and stay safe! πŸ™‚

Creative Floral Fun

Hello there! You are very welcome to my blog. Today I was working with my 16 year old daughter, making face masks together. It was her first real sewing project, and she was deservedly proud of herself. I was glad we did it together, and even more glad that she had initiated it. But confession time: sewing is something I am not comfortable with. I just never fell in love with it. I’m hoping that she will learn how to sew and learn to really enjoy it, too. Now – working with flowers – THAT is something I love to do!

I had a bunch of chores to do around the house yesterday. As a ‘treat’ to myself for doing all of that, I decided to make another flower arrangement. πŸ™‚ All work and no play makes for a very dull day. Just like I did for my last arrangement a few weeks ago, I walked around the garden with my secateurs and snipped whatever I fancied. The tricky part was finding something ‘lofty and light’, which honestly I couldn’t find. But let me walk you through what I did use, and why:

Leycesteria formosa – also known as Himalayan honeysuckle or pheasant berry. This is great for creating structure. I love how the berries hang – giving a curve to the ends of the branch. The deep burgundy color of the berries and flowers is very pretty, too.

Pittosporum Tom Thumb – this deep, dark (purple/burgundy?) colored shrub with curly edged leaves is so easy to work with. I used it as filler to help hold things in place and to hide the white tape (see below for why I used white tape).

Rosemary – I liked the different texture of this plant. These are straight spikes and given I couldn’t really maneuver them in my container (I’ll explain below) I only used a few sprigs.

Erysimum ‘Super Bowl’ Mauve – I added these light purple stems to break up the strong tones of burgundy in the arrangement. Each stem only had a couple of small flowers on the very end of them, so I added two stems for each place that I added them. They more or less stayed together.

Clematis Purpurea Plena Elegans – this flower worked so well last time, I couldn’t pass it up. I was able to bring some of the flowers quite high, which is what I was hoping for. They are also a burgundy color.

Poppy pods – you know me, I have HUNDREDS of poppies in my garden! I collected small pods (the pod is what is left after the flower finishes blooming, and which holds the seeds) with long stems. In the center of the arrangement I have a group of them which I cut to all the same height. The rest of the pods I fanned out high above everything else.

Ornamental grass. I have one stem of this grass fanned out just on one side of the arrangement – to flow with the poppy pods and the sideways leaning Leycesteria formosa.

David Austin Roses – Eustacia Vye (an apricot-pink color), Lichfield Angel (cream), Boscobel (salmon), Scepter’d Isle (light pink) and possibly one more light pink variety but I can’t recall which one! There were too many beautiful roses in the garden to not put them in an arrangement.

The container I used is part of our pottery collection from when we were married 24 years ago (Suzanne May Irish pottery). I still love it! I used two frogs to hold the roses, but that wasn’t nearly enough for the rest of the plant materials. So I used white tape along the rim to create a bit of a grid to support the stems. Honestly, it worked well enough! You can see the white tape around the rim of the container in some of the pictures.

I gathered some flowers, started the arrangement, and then went out and gathered some more. I was delighted to have so many different plants to use!

For me, the moral of the story is, do what you love to do! I’m so glad to have planted materials that I can use for flower arranging – and I can’t wait to add some more!

I hope you are enjoying the last little bit of summer! Stay safe and healthy.

In Peace,
Dana

Plant materials
I started with some roses, Pittosporum Tom Thumb, Leycesteria formosa, and some short stems of ornamental grass which I later traded for one full, very long stem with several strands of grass, and some Rosemary. In this picture is also a single dahlia (a deep fuchsia color) which didn’t make the cut.
arrangement in progress
This is how we roll! The container on the table is filled with apples from a branch that broke from our tree. They are patiently waiting to be made into pie, or crumble or apple sauce! But back to the arrangement: I used 4 strips of tape to create a grid which more or less worked to support the stems.
Leycesteria formosa flower closeup
A close up view of the Leycesteria formosa flower.
Full arrangement close up sun day 2
I made the arrangement yesterday, but the weather was rather dull. So these pictures were taken today when it was lovely and sunny, because everything looks nicer with blue skies! Some of the roses are more open today, day 2.
Full arrangement day 1
See, isn’t there a very dull feeling to this picture, which was taken yesterday?
Close up Eustacia Vye day 1
The center rose, Eustacia Vye, is such a lovely mix of colors (apricot and pink). Here it is slightly open on day 1.
Center of arrangement full sun day 2
The center rose, Eustacia Vye, has really opened up on day 2!
Lichfield angel tall cream rose
The buds of the Lichfield angel rose are a peachy pink, before blooming into a lovely cream color. In this picture there is also a small green poppy pod, some Rosemary, and some Erysimum ‘super bowl’ mauve. I thought the mauve color brought some nice change to the strong burgundy theme.
Lichfield angel above
A view of Lichfield angel from above.
back of arrangement close up full sun day 2
This is a close up of the back of the arrangement, with a focus on the Boscobel rose. I knew there was going to be a front and back and I’m going to blame my inability to anchor items properly for the poor design of the back. The two roses are just lost in space here. Nevertheless, I still love the front, and will take note of changes for the back for next time!
Back of arrangement full sun day 2
Full view of the back – there is room for improvement!
Eustacia Vye center sunlight day2
Eustacia Vye, center rose on day 2, with Clematis and Pittosporum Tom Thumb.
Eustacia Vye center day 1
Eustacia Vye, the center rose on day 1.
Full view arrangement in sun
It was a fun floral project, and I think that perhaps my Poppy pods, although not light and lofty, had a similar effect.

I hope you enjoyed your visit to Mom in the Garden! I am very happy to say that my daughter was quite happy with her sewing project and made several very nice masks. I’m so happy for her! Take care! πŸ™‚

my daughter using the sewing machine
My daughter did a great job learning how to sew and how to use the sewing machine!