Gardening as Therapy

'Queen of the night' Tulip

‘Queen of the night’ Tulip

Sometimes, things happen. Things that we don’t expect to happen, happen, and life changes… forever. We’re living through that at the moment, and it is really hard to navigate through all of the emotions we are feeling. Gardening is such an important part of my life, and it is in the garden where I feel healing. Please join me for a few minutes to enjoy some peace and tranquility in my garden.

‘Queen of the Night’ Tulips

The Queen of the Night tulips are strikingly beautiful, and for me their darkness also represents the sorrow that we feel. A friend and colleague of ours, and a genuinely super nice guy, Shay, achieved his life long ambition to reach the summit of Mt. Everest last week. Tragically, he fell on his descent. There are no other details, other than he is missing. It just doesn’t seem possible. Not Shay. But this is our new reality, including feeling numb with sadness. Gardening seems so trivial at times like these, but the garden is where I can go to find peace, and beauty, and renew my faith that somehow we, the immense community with whom Shay has so positively impacted, will all somehow get through this sad time. Come walk with me, as we use gardening as therapy…

Viburnum surrounded by Mystic van Eijk (the large tulips) and Don Quichotte (the small purple tulips)

Viburnum surrounded by Mystic van Eijk (the large tulips) and Don Quichotte (the small purple tulips)

The first of my tulips bloomed in March. They are circled around the Viburnum which blooms in May. The Beech hedges along the fence are still wearing their winter browns in this picture.

Viburnum opulus 'Roseum'

Viburnum opulus ‘Roseum’ May 21, 2019 with the remnants of the tulips still showing. The Beech hedge is now wearing sporting green leaves.

parrot tulips

Parrot tulips also bloom early in the season

Princess tulips April 27

Princess tulips April 27

The Princess tulips are just a couple of years old. Tulips can tend to “fade” with time (not look as nice after a few years). These are still young enough to look fresh.

Princess tulips + Queen of the Night tulips

Queen of the Night tulips + Princess Tulips

Queen of the Night tulips + Princess Tulips

I thought the contrast of the dark Queen of the Night and the bright Princess tulips would be nice together.  My only complaint is that the Princess tulips wither much quicker than the Queen of the Night tulips. But they are pretty.

Blushing Lady tulips

Blushing Lady tulips

The Blushing Lady tulips are special to me, because they were one of the first flowers that I planted in our home in Manlius, New York. A number of years ago I planted some in our current garden right next to the playhouse, but they were dug up (unintentionally!) and destroyed in the process.  So these were planted autumn 2018, well away from the playhouse. They are tall and the flowers are huge.

Blushing lady tulip

Blushing Lady Tulip

Merlot tulips + cherry tree

Merlot tulips + cherry tree

The Merlot tulips are also a new addition, planted in autumn 2018.  It is quite a strong color, which I like.

Merlot tulips + aubrietia

Merlot tulips + Aubrietia

The Merlot tulips look amazing with the Aubrietia (this is a second grouping of the Merlot tulips in the same bed).

Merlot tulips

Merlot tulips

Here’s a look at the full bed.  There are 3 groups of Merlot tulips, and 2 spare Ballerina tulips (they are orange) that were supposed to be moved out of this bed last year. The Aubrietia did really well this year. It is ever so slowly making its way to crawl over the wall (hopefully). The Boxwood (Box) has a lot of new growth, giving it a yellowish hue. I have a few Rose plants in here, too.

Merlot tulips open May 14

Merlot tulips open May 14

I do like capturing the inside of tulips.

Double Angelique tulips

Double Angelique tulips

Ballerina tulip fully open

Ballerina tulip fully open in May

Ballerina tulips are a fiery orange.  I have (most of them) at the ditch wall in our garden and they can still be seen from across the yard.

Tulip Ballerina

Ballerina tulips

Ballerina tulips open in May

And that brings us to the end of our garden tour, using gardening as therapy. Thank you for walking with me on this journey of grief. I pray for Shay, and his family, and that all of us will find peace.

In peace,
Dana

A bit of self care goes a long way

white Tulips from The Bay Garden

Tulips in The Bay Garden, Wexford (2016)

I had a few choices of what I could do today (lucky me!). As it happens, self care is not something I’m very good at. Doing things ‘just for me’ doesn’t usually happen, which is something I’m working on improving. Today was delegated a self care day! One important part of self care is nurturing friendships. I have really neglected spending time with friends lately. There just seems to always be too much to do and not enough time to do it – and well, sitting down and relaxing doesn’t usually feel like the right thing to do. But sitting down and relaxing, especially with friends, is sometimes the *perfect* thing to do.

Pink Purple Tulips Douglas Bader

Pink-Purple Tulips (Douglas Bader) in The Bay Garden, Wexford (2016)

Today was one of those days where I jumped at the invitation to join some friends for breakfast. How lucky I am to be able to do so. I absolutely appreciate that I have the time to meet friends and enjoy their company. We exchanged parenting stories, life stories, tried to solve some of the world’s problems; essentially we had a lovely time together!

Blushing lady Tulip

Blushing lady tulip, in my garden

After I arrived back home, it was time for more self care: of the “Health and Fitness” variety. This is something that, throughout my entire life, I have stayed on top of. I’m not sure why, but it could be that from a young age we were always involved with sports all year long. Throughout my adult years I’ve tried different fitness programs and different sports. Last year we did a lot of biking. The training was for a challenging 100 km bike ride in September, which was an incredible experience. But when I got on the bike in January, I wasn’t enjoying it, for a number of reasons. So I went back to basics, which for me meant walking.

Ballerina tulips

Ballerina tulips, in my garden

I love walking. I have always loved walking. But even walking is different for me now. Three years ago I was diagnosed with a genetic heart condition called Long QT syndrome (type 2). It has to do with the electrics of the heart. Another time I’ll go into the details of that. But the treatment for LQT2 is beta blockers. I heard a description of what it is like to exercise while on beta blockers, and I have to say it is a pretty fair assessment: It is like trying to run through deep, wet cement. Personally, in the beginning, it felt like someone was placing the palm of their hand on my forehead and preventing me from going forward. It was tough. So basically, when everyone else’s heart rates are increasing to circulate the blood throughout the body, mine is “blocked” to stay at a low rate. But I’m still trying to do the same activity as the person next to me, just not getting the blood circulating through my body like it needs. This = going slow, and sometimes feeling ill while doing so.

Tulip conbination: Don Quichotte and Mystic van Eijk, in my garden

It’s frustrating. I’ve gone through a period of feeling sorry for myself. Yes, I did.  Still creeps in there sometimes. I want to go fast! I want to keep up with everyone else! I want to be the best I can be! But wait, I am still the best I can be. I just shouldn’t compare myself to everyone else. But wait again, I probably shouldn’t have been comparing myself to everyone else anyway… 🙂

Foxtrot Tulips, in my garden

Foxtrot Tulips, in my garden

It has taken me six weeks, but I am finally feeling my fitness levels starting to improve. I had an awesome walk today! I’m not fast, and it still takes me a long time to recover, but at least I’m feeling better during the exercising. Hopefully soon enough I’ll be back on the bike and enjoying it again.

Queen of the Night tulips with a backdrop of Hawthorn trees in flower

Queen of the Night tulips with a backdrop of Hawthorn trees in flower, in my garden

I could probably find a hundred things to do instead of exercise, but just like meeting with friends, it is important to take care of ourselves. I think I’ve written a few times about similar topics, actually, because I need to keep reminding myself of how important it is! The more busy I get, the more important it is to take time out, for me. It helps to keep me balanced. And happy. 🙂

I hope you are making time for your own self care. It’s something we all need.

In peace,
Dana

Parrot tulips, in my garden

Parrot tulips, in my garden

Thank you!

Pink ruffle poppy

a poppy with lots of ruffles

I want to take this moment to thank you for reading my blog. I’m so glad for you to stop by and visit! I thoroughly enjoy writing about my gardening adventures, and I especially love photographing every aspect of it. So I appreciate when others share in my journey.  A special thank you, too, if you are following my blog. If you are not yet following, please feel free to click on the link on the left side of the page. 🙂  I would also like to invite you to leave comments, as I would love to know what you think about the different topics that I write about!

pink tulips

some of my most hardy tulips gifted to me when we moved into our home

The garden is one of my favorite places, where I can go to clear my head, be creative, and marvel at how the circle of life in nature promises that the garden, although dormant in winter, will again bring new life every spring time. For me, the garden is a place of hope (there are no guarantees!). Although I will admit that I work quite hard in my garden, it is never with disdain. I hope that you will continue to enjoy my writings!

wild flower garden in July

My wild flower garden in July

I have a few new (big-ish) plans for my garden this year!  One section just really needs a change and 2019 is the year to make it happen.  I have already started on that project, so I am quite excited that it will come to fruition! Stay tuned …

October garden with mums and pumpkins

our garden in October with mums, pumpkins and sunflowers

Finally, I’d like to wish you only the best in 2019: Health, Happiness, Prosperity, and fresh organic compost from the garden!

frosty winter garden

Our garden on a frosty, foggy morning

In peace,
Dana

Spring Reflections

Queen of the Night Tulip

I love spring! It is so nice to welcome in the warmer weather, the singing birds, and the colorful flowers.  These are such simple pleasures, and all it takes is a conscious effort to stop and make the time to appreciate them. I genuinely LOVE these simple pleasures! This is what I hashtag #beautyallaroundyou.  (Sorry, I can’t help myself!)

cherry blossoms and bluebells

It is also the time when I plan out any changes or additions to the garden.  I add at least a few new things to the garden every year.  I just like to have something new to look forward to!

New additions this year: Tulips Don Quichotte and Mystic van Eijk surrounding viburnum

Apple blossoms from our Arthur Turner (cooking) apple tree and our new tulips surrounding the viburnum

The viburnum in the photo(s) above isn’t new. I had it in a pot for two years.  It was happy for the first year, and then it wanted more attention which I neglected to give it.  So I hoped it would be happier in the ground, and so we planted it at the end of last season, and then added tulip bulbs around it last fall.  The viburnum has lots of little blooms on it, but they are a light green still, whereas when they are in full bloom the flowers will be white.

a nicer view of the colors of tulips Don Quichotte and Mystic van Eijk

I have some (O.K., LOTS of) ideas for additions to the garden.  I have to pace myself though, as it is a lot of work to take care of!  I don’t use any chemicals, so that means there are a lot of weeds to pull!  It also means that there are a lot of weeds I don’t get around to taking out, and that is O.K., too.  I really enjoy working in the garden, but I want to be able to enjoy other activities, too, so I just have to be conscious not to over do it.

Parrot tulips

This garden needs some more tulips!

The above picture shows the bed which has the pink parrot tulips in it. They are near the end of their lives in this picture.  But we have lost some of these tulips over the years, and I really would like to get more for this bed.  The bright pink flowers in front are bergenia and they are doing great!

bergenia in front and parrot tulips in the back

I will be changing around our vegetable/fruit garden a tiny bit.  I have been focusing more on flowers than food, and the garden just needs some adjustments.  It is all part of maintaining a balance.  Here’s a look at some of the fruit that looks great right now in the early stages!

blueberry flowers and a bee

teeny tiny pears

cooking apple (Arthur Turner) blossoms

eating apple blossoms

But my favorite bed at the moment is the one that has our Japanese Maple. It took us nearly three years to realize our Japanese Maple was extremely unhappy (we had different issues with it along the way).  But I think we’ve managed to finally get it right with this tree, as it looks beautiful this year!

side view Japanese Maple garden

I find it peaceful and rejuvenating when I get to spend time in the garden.  Oh, and I also LOVE to take pictures!  Lots and lots and lots of pictures!

Bluebells and Japanese Maple tree

I hope you also get to enjoy some time in the garden! But either way, I hope you enjoyed your visit to my garden. 🙂

In peace,
Dana

Wordless Wednesday: Parrot Tulips

Parrot Tulips

Truly a Wordless Wednesday post.  Just two pictures:

  • One picture of my favorite tulips at the moment and
  • One picture of the bed where those favorite tulips are showing off

Parrot Tulips in the “Pink” bed

The bed is filling out.  It has:

Parrot Tulips
bergenia (dark pink blooms with burgundy colored leaves)

Still to bloom:
lavender
lupins
lilac
peony
poppies
hydrangea
a single iris

Stay tuned!

In peace,
Dana

Life is too short – plant those flowers

Blushing Lady tulip

Blushing Lady tulip

Life is too short so Plant flowers?  Pardon me?  Here is where I’m coming from: I know of way too many cases of terminal illnesses, or extremely serious illnesses, or instances of hardship.  It is heartbreaking, and can really get me down. 

early in the tulip season, right after some rain

early in the tulip season, right after some rain

Are flowers the answer to all of that heartache?  No, they aren’t.  But they can be a peaceful and beautiful diversion.

they are works of art to me

they are works of art to me

fully opened parrot tulip

fully opened parrot tulip

I think it is important to do things that make us happy, bring us joy, or simply make us smile.

burgundy colored tulips (I am getting quite the collection of colors!)

burgundy colored tulips (I am getting quite the collection of colors!)

Why not do something simple that brings such nice returns?   You’d be surprised how just seeing flowers can improve your mood.  Last year I posted on my facebook page some pictures of flowers which my neighbor grows in her “roadside garden”.

Flowers from a roadside garden near my home

Flowers from a roadside garden near my home

They are so lovely to see.  It seems I am always in a hurry and have too much on my mind yet when I see those flowers I just “stop” and enjoy that moment of beauty.

sure if you're gonna stop and take pictures you'd might as well say hello to the animals too! ;-)

sure if you’re gonna stop and take pictures you’d might as well say hello to the animals too! 😉

For all of those people who are suffering in any way, I pray for you to find peace. May we all find ways to help those around us who might need that extra bit of kindness.

a little bit of sunshine opens up the flowers

a little bit of sunshine opens up the flowers

I think I’ll do my part in planting more flowers, too, to hopefully bring more beauty in the world.

Flowers from my neighbor's roadside garden

Flowers from my neighbor’s roadside garden

With warm regards,
Dana

 

 

Easter Blessings! and perfect weather for tulips.

Ballerina Tulips

Ballerina Tulips

“Happy Easter!”  says she who is going to pop back into blog land with no fan-fare or hoopla, but a simple blog post filled with pictures of my tulips. 🙂  I’ve missed posting,  and visiting blogs and all that goes on in the virtual world.  I had a wee break, but I’m back now. I have so much to show you from my garden and travels!

Ballerina Tulips

Ballerina Tulips

I’ve gone a little crazy with pictures of my tulips this year.  We live in an exposed area that is surrounded by fields on three sides. There is always wind, even on a calm day!  So normally my tulips, actually all of my flowers, get quite a beating.  It is rather unusual to see all of my tulips standing and their blooms intact!

Ballerina Tulips

Ballerina Tulips

We were in London this past week for the Irish Dancing World Championships (yay for my kids’ teams placing first and third!!!). Ahem, trying to stay focused here after a very fun filled Irish dancing week…  During our time away, the tulips not only came up but filled out perfectly.  The weather here must have been as nice as it was in London!

Ballerina Tulips & (rather dry) fields

Ballerina Tulips & (rather dry) fields

I love tulips. 🙂  O.K., I love all flowers.

Innuendo Tulips

Innuendo Tulips

These Innuendo tulips are supposed to be a more solid pink color on the inside, and white on the outside.  I only know what they are because I marked it in my book, because they sure don’t look like the picture on the bulb bag!    I think they are lovely all the same.

Innuendo Tulips

Innuendo Tulips

Group shots of all of the tulips are harder to get just right. I prefer the individual close-ups.  But because all of them were still standing and looking so darn good I had to capture them all!

Innuendo Tulips

Innuendo Tulips

Blueberry Ripple Tulips

Blueberry Ripple Tulips

Blueberry Ripple Tulips – isn’t that the best name?  Again with these tulips the color is not a match for the lovely picture on the bulb bag – mine are more burgundy-ish instead of true purple.  I’m O.K. with that.

Tulips group photo (in the rose garden)

Tulips group photo (in the rose garden)

If I were to be critical of this garden, I would have to say that color cohesion is lacking.  My problem is that I love all o the different colors and styles of tulips!  I would like to try and bring in a deep pink color throughout this garden instead of in a group.  I’ll be thinking about that until the fall!

Deep pink tulips

Deep pink tulips

Deep pink/purple like these tulips!  That would also tie the two gardens together.  Oh the possibilities…

Deep pink tulips with Mr. Fokker Anemone

Deep pink tulips with Mr. Fokker Anemone

We moved into our house four years ago.  My husband bought these tulips for me on a trip to Holland shortly after we moved in.  They were one of the  first bulbs we planted.  I love little thoughtful things like that.  He even picked pink for me!    The Erysimum bowles’s mauve in the back on the right goes really well with them too, don’t you think?  Mr. Fokker Anemone are probably going to be the one plant throughout my entire yard because it is just so easy and pretty!

Two front gardens

Two front gardens

Here’s a look at the two front gardens with all of the tulips.  I still can’t believe how well all of the tulips have done this season!

mystery tulip

mystery tulip

This last tulip is blooming where I planted Double Late Mount Tacoma tulips, but it certainly doesn’t look like that variety.  I’ll have to see as it comes into full bloom.

Dorothy Clive Gardens, England

Dorothy Clive Gardens, England

This last picture is from a garden we visited while en-route to London last week.  The Dorothy Clive Gardens were simply lovely, and well worth a visit.  I will definitely share the tons of pictures I took there in another post!

Happy Easter to my friends and family and fellow bloggers!  Here is to new beginnings!
Dana

 

Composting: One great way to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle!

Two composting enclosures.

Two composting enclosures (well, sorta enclosed!).

O.K., I’ll admit that pictures of my composting area aren’t the prettiest.  I do think it is worth having that area though, even if  isn’t as picturesque as I’d like it to be.  It’s been a year since my last post on composting, and I just think it’s time to talk about it again.  If you don’t yet compost, I want to encourage you to give it a shot.  It’s not complicated, takes minimal work, and it is really good for your garden!  And there are ways you can compost that look neat and tidy, too.

Oldest picture of compost from end of February/beginning of March.

Winter picture of compost from end of February/beginning of March.

The above photo is from late winter.  I had added a bunch of straw into my second  compost pile as my main pile seemed too wet.  It’s still trial and error for me, to get that perfect mix.

Before adding straw.

Very manure-like!

I think my general nature would be to recycle and reuse whatever I can.  I tend to keep items with the thought that they can be used again, even if for some unknown future purpose! I just don’t like the idea of waste.  As for composting,  I really like that I can use all of my vegetable and fruit scraps, egg shells, toilet rolls, egg cartons, grass cuttings, and leaves.  Put them all together, turn them when you can, and in time, you will have good stuff for your garden!

After some drying out, in March.

After some drying out of my main pile, in March.

You can still see the straw. Taking a bit of time to break down.

You can see the straw. It is taking a bit of time to break down, but I’m happier with less wetness.

I have to say that when I read in Monty Don’s book The Complete Gardener, that compost should smell “good”, I was seriously skeptical.  (Do you know of him?  He is awesome, isn’t he?)   In his words: “Well-made garden compost is the best possible addition to the soil. It will nourish both the long-term micro-ecology and the growing plants.  And if it is properly made, it should smell positively good.”

Now it was back to my compost pile after reading that.  Up until now, I would have said Pee-U!  But I discovered that the dried bits around the outside didn’t smell. It was the inside, not completely broken down compost that was not smelling so nice.  I can see so many worms when I turn the pile, which is a great thing.  So for me, I’ve learned that I have to turn it more often than I was.  Once a month isn’t good enough! I’d rather speed that process up.  Generally speaking though, a slow compost will take a full season to be useful in the garden.

There are tidy options, like large barrels that you can rotate with the spin of a wheel.  Certainly not challenging enough for me! 🙂

Close-up look today (May) from starting in  February.

Close-up look today (May) from starting in February.

View of the compost pile in May (started in February).

View of the compost pile in May (started in February).

Starting a new pile on the left while the "main" pile ages.

Starting a new pile on the left while the “main” pile ages.

I talked about what items are good to compost in my post from last year. You can have a look here: https://mominthegarden.wordpress.com/2012/02/14/valentines-day-love-your-family-and-your-compost/

I’m still learning. While on vacation I bought a great book; it’s called “The Complete Compost Gardening Guide” by Barbara Pleasant and Deborah L. Martin.  It is chock full of helpful information! They have a website, too: http://compostgardening.com/ 

There are so many different things you can add to compost.  A local family, whose daughter I coach swimming, have a mushroom farm.  It didn’t take too much nerve for me to ask about getting some mushroom compost from them!  I’ve learned that it is very good for asparagus.  We’ve expanded our asparagus bed, and worked the mushroom compost into the soil before planting our new spears.  It was perfect timing to get the compost!

A bag of mushroom compost.

A bag of mushroom compost.

My next goal is to attempt hot composting.  I’d like to get the temperature higher to kill annoying weeds that I pull.  I’ll start a third pile for this experiment! 🙂

Dwarf daffodils finally coming in to bloom.

Dwarf daffodils (sweetness) finally coming in to bloom.

In the meantime, it’s always nice to look at what is blooming in the garden in May!

Dwarf daffodils in May.

Dwarf daffodils (Sweetness & Jetfire) in May.

These dwarf daffodils were given to me very late this winter.  They were promptly thrown into some containers. I didn’t think they’d do well, as they were leftover from last fall, but it looks like I’m wrong!

Dwarf daffodil Jetfire.

Dwarf daffodil Jetfire.

Now I need to think where I’m going to plant them in the fall. They are my first dwarf daffodils, and I really like them.

Dwarf daffodils Jetfire.

Dwarf daffodils Jetfire.

My rose garden is really waking up with tulips.  I’ve discovered that I’m a “group ’em” kinda gal!  I hadn’t realized before how I always group my flowers!  I should really try some different methods and maybe spread them out a bit.

Tulip Foxtrot in May.

Tulip Foxtrot in May.

Tulip Innuendo.

Tulip Innuendo.

The tulips are doing much better this year than last.  I’m attributing this 100% to less slugs.  Last year the slugs took over and destroyed everything!  This year, so far, I’ve seen a fairly normal amount of slug damage.  I have done a few happy dances in the garden, in seeing plants that I wasn’t able to enjoy last year!

Tulip Blueberry Ripple.

Tulip Blueberry Ripple.

Tulip Blueberry Ripple.

Tulip Blueberry Ripple.

Another clustering!

Another clustering!

Oops! What's this color doing here?

Oops! What’s this color doing here? It’s a lily flowered tulip called “ballerina”. 

Hmm, I’m going to have to go back and check my notes. I’m sure this orange tulip was supposed to go up against the stone wall with some daffodils and yellow/orange tulips, and not in my pink themed rose garden!

Narcissi Blazing Starlet.

Narcissi Blazing Starlet at the stone wall.

Narcissi Blazing Starlet.

Narcissi Blazing Starlet.

I’m still not tired of daffodils yet.  There are so many different varieties, and I’m still seeing new ones!

Tulipa Triumph Purple.

Tulip Triumph Purple.

The Tulip Triumph Purple flowers have a little more added color around them this year.  I mistakenly “weeded” the area last year, inadvertently taking out flowers!  This year, I left it alone, and I’m delighted with the results.

I wanted to end with pretty flowers instead of my less than pretty compost area!  I hope you’ve been inspired to try composting.  Your garden will thank you for it!

Good Luck and Happy composting!
Dana