Friday, May 30, 2008

Although it was accidentally upended earlier in the season the experimental salad mobile seems to be a success. A second planting of pak choi, lettuce, chives and nasturtium befitted from warmer weather and adequate rainfall.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Mock orange, real fragrance.

Left, balloon flower.


Meidiland rose and bomb peony.

Volunteer snapdragons.

Volunteer bachelor buttons.

Ballerina rose.

Ballerina rose.

Below, Shasta daisies, old roses and gold leaf caryopteris.

Mcdub rose has a fiery charm.

Russelliana and Madame Hardy roses.

A luminous peony seems to float into the summer dusk.

Fibonacci was right.

Hensol Harebell aquilegia blossom and seedpods.

Blue geranium.

Modern coral roses bloom in concert with OGR Alchymist.

Alchymist bud.

Buff Beauty rose glows in the late afternoon sun.

In late May, Buff Beauty is a symphony of color.

Monday, May 26, 2008


There are those in my village who worry about their gardens being U or non-U. This, in spite of the war with Iraq, rumors of war with Iran, the high cost of fuel and and food. I share none of my fellow villagers concerns about a Nancy Mitford's notion of how the British upper class ought to behave. We are no longer a British colony. Ours is a different society ; we are very reluctant to tug at our forelocks at the sight of some bloke whose ancestors were better plunderers than ours.

There are those who say that it takes six hundred years to make an English lawn and an English gentleman. Well and good. I do not admire gentlemen such as the little prince who dressed up in Nazi garb for a lark, nor do I think that conquering the Falklands is all that and a side of fries. So, fie on class ridden societies, fie on the British gentlemen who say that Americans not being able to have real gardens since real gardens have "bones."

My garden has no bones--no ancient box hedges to be tended by the underclass. It has a modest evergreen hedge to serve as a windbreak and as a place for birds to rest on windy winter days, not to comply with the British notion of U bones. I live in a non-U house in a non-U neighborhood. I plant flowers, vegetables and fruit regardless of whether Nancy Mitford would approve of them or not. I suspect that rhubarb and strawberries are non-U. Of the latter, I have grown both the grossly overrated fraises des bois--think little blobs of cotton soaked in red tinted sugar water--and the good old standbys of American kitchen gardens--Ogalala, Ozark and Tribute. The latter grow rampant and produce fragrant berries whose perfectly balance of sweetness and tartness is a delight to the palate. The rhubarb makes delicious pies with a populist appeal. I like it all the better because I know in my non-U bones that Nancy Mitford would not like it.

Pass-along peony.Festiva maxima?

Coral Charm's swan song.

Da Bomb peony

Krinkled White peony

Japanese peony

"Nightingale, have you heard the news! The Rose has come back and the green and the blue, And everything is as new as the dew—New nightingale, new rose." Hafiz

There are no nightingales at The Brambles, but, my, are there roses. Noisette Claire Jacquier (1888), Hybrid Musk Buff Beauty (1939), Hybrid Multiflora Russelliana (prior to 1837), Shrub/Kordes Alchymist (1956) Damask Madame Hardy (1832), and modern kordesii hybrid William Baffin begin their annual show in concert with clematis, peonies and irises. As for bird song, this is when the wood thrush comes to our woods to grace us with silvery arpeggios to rival any nightingale's. Among the winged, cardinals, bluebirds, red headed woodpecker have joined azure moths and monarch butterflies in airborn passegiatta around the flower beds. It is not Shiraz, but methinks Old Hafiz would have approved.

Saturday, May 24, 2008


Enzo, named after the Enzo Ferrari racing car, rest in the spice barrel after a dip in the fish pool.
Please note snail damage to basil seedlings in foreground. French persons fond of sizzling the critters responsible in garlic butter may apply for the post of Escargot Hunters. As for me, well, I can try the old trick of baiting them--the escargot, not the French persons--with beer, but it seems a misuse of Stella Artois. I can also surround the basil with a nice layer of sand, which the beasties find unpleasant to navigate. Somehow the garlic butter treatment seems more appropriate.

The inner Enzo, photographed by the Ferrari makers.

Hybridiser Sam McGredy relied on the apple scented, pink Bantry Bay shrub and red, single flowered climber Altissimo to produce this gorgeous Dublin Bay shrub in 1976. Often paired with white Iceberg, for contrast, it is a slow growing pillar rose suitable for small spaces.

Sombreuil rose and peony.

Sweetly scented, remontant Hermosa, introduced in 1832, is one of the few Chinas capable of surviving zone 6 winters. In his informative Antique Rose Emporium catalog Michael Shoup mentions that it was a popular container rose for European window gardens. At the Brambles, it firs beatly under the Persian lilacs in the doorway garden.

Heritage, the only English rose to survive in my garden, blooms at the same time as Siberian iris Flight of Butterflies, Shasta daisies, Fortuniana and Sir Thomas Lipton roses.

Another shot of Sombreuil and peony.

Three shots of coral peony taken at half hour intervals.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Who dreams of daffodils in June? Passionate gardeners, among whom I include myself do. Soon after rose season begins, I go to the revelry inducing White Flower Farm and John Scheepers catalogues to look at Grant Mitsch creations and the new offerings of the season. Mitsch daffodils have been a weakness of mine since my days as a novice gardener. At the time, I belonged to a garden club of the sort where women painstakingly arranged flowers whose stems they measured as if the fate of the world depended on it.
My only arrangement, appropriately named Beirut and looking as if it had been designed by Hezbollah, did not meet with much enthusiasm. I did not last looking as a club member, but among the things I learnt from the garden club ladies was that there was such a thing as daffodils worthy of poems by Woodsworth. They were grown in Oregon, by American hybridiser Grant Mitsch. That was some thirty years ago and I continue to long for drifts of Seafoam, so delicately luminous it seems to have been carved out of the finest white jade.
Alas, my lust for narcissi goes beyond Rapture, Quail, Petrel, Pacific Rim and all the outstanding Mitsch creations. This fall, G'd willing and the creek don't rise, I hope to get a few more pure white, green eyed Misty Glenn, the minimum order of the shaggy headed Rip van Winkle, bicoloured Avalon, pink Apricot Whirl, double Flyer and Art Nouveau.
Note: Daffodil photos by White Flower Farm.
Methinks I've got an Ampelopsis brevipedunculata. The good news is that it is not fatal; the bad news is that it is a new invasive pest I must eradicate from my garden. Right now it lies in pieces under one of my oldest and best beloved roses, the rugosa Sir Thomas Lipton, but who is to say that somewhere near Hokaido, vestigial roots are not rushing toward my roses?
Botanical thuggery is nothing new to me. I have been fighting a loosing battle with invasive weeds ever since I started gardening in a previously uncultivated piece of land. It did not help that the land's most recent owner had detonated Meadow in a Can all over the property. The first year after this ill-considered action, pretty oxeye and shasta daisies popped up as did several greeny things that did not look in the least threatening. By the second year of my tenancy, the pretty flowers were gone. There remained vetch, Canadian thistle, and horrors too numerous to list.
Today, they are part of of axis of evil that threatens my perennials. True, it is unlikely that Ailanthus altissima, the very worst of the lot came from Previous Owner's Meadow in a Can. My personal opinion is that it came from a much hotter location. I mean, really, really hot. Ailanthus is a cunning tree. It seems to grow particularly well next to non-invasive shrubs trees. Since its tissues secrete a killer substance called ailanthone, it easily destroys defenseless competitors for nutrients and space. This year, I lost a lovely Nanho Blue buddleia whose lush branches hid an ailanthus from view. I fear this will not be the last victim to the Asian monster.
Along with ailanthus, multiflora rose, creeping charlie, virginia creeper, poison ivy, bindweed, bitter, inedible wild blackberry and several unidentified vines flourish in my neighborhood. I read with alarm that ailanthus seeds remain viable for twenty years, that of multiflora rose will sprout after fifty years of slumber, that wild blackberries have roots fifteen feet long. I will say nothing of poison ivy, but I will mention that the Japanese and Chinese wisteria I bought from a fancy nursery in New England, are showing terrifyingly imperialistic tendencies.
What do? I understand that nothing short of nuclear holocaust will complete rid my neighborhood of these botanical thugs. I don't want to go kaboom and neither do I want to rely on harsh chemicals to keep these undesirable aliens from proliferating. Please excuse me, I must call the guys at Homeland Security. I hope they do plants.
P.S. Note to our Commander-in-Chief
I hear you have been thinking of duking it out with the Iranian chap. I have a better idea. Let's just send him some of my weeds of mass destruction.

Sunday, May 18, 2008


Rhododendron is our state flower. This one, grown from a cutting, took four years to bloom.

Rolling salad is a moveable feast.

Snow peas, beets, peppers with potato bin and asparagus and berry bed in the background.

A Klehm peony is a work of art.
While purchased from Klehm's Song Sparrow Farm, Coral Charm is a Samuel Wissing-Roy Klehm creation.

Much maligned multiflora rose has a delicate charm.