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Archive for the ‘Gardening’ Category

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There is a volunteer on my deck.

Is it the Spider or or is it the Sunflower?

 

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Pyracantha ViewI like to think my garden is charmed.  Some things actually grow and flourish in spite of harsh sun, drought, flooding rains and winds, all encompassing weeds, and benign neglect.

Our  Pyracantha, alias Firethorn,  is a prime example.

There are actually two of these standing near to each other but one has never bloomed.

I am assuming the boring one is the female (who is no doubt working too hard to be bothered with beauty).

After all, only the male of any species is stunningly adorned, right?

Anyway, the Magnificent Male bush next to its unattractive female companion is sometimes striking for its rusty red berries.  Perhaps that is its only job – to look good.  But in all these years we have never seen such magnificent white blossoms in Spring.

I am convinced this is the male version of plant attraction.

What do you think?

Pretty Pyracantha 1

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Sadly neglected irises are the flowers we count on to return to our trial-and-error Virginia garden year after year.  I bought the bulbs nearly 20 years ago, planted them in a line and left the bed virtually untended forever after.  Ignored and all but forgotten over each winter, the brilliantly purple blooms unfailingly return and return again in the Spring – more beautiful than ever.

Iris Line

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What is this plant

I should probably know such things but in admiring beauty and color I tend to forget who plants really are.

Eliza?

 

 

 

 

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Pond Fountain 2

You bird lovers out there probably already knew the answer to the question in yesterday’s post about  Ridgely Historic Gardens. 

That ghostly hanging thing was a clump of sheep’s wool!Wool for Birds'NestsBest

Songbirds love this well-insulating, all-weather fiber that’s ideal for their nests and there for the pickin’!

Ridgely Gardens is a historic two-acre mountainside property overlooking the town of Clifton Forge in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia.  This week my friend, Norma, and I had a private tour with Donald Roberts, the current owner and gardener!

View from gardenThe Roberts believe gardens are to be shared and welcome visitors, including groups, garden clubs, and folks like Norma and me, who are just curious.

These beautiful gardens were first started in 1902, professionally landscaped in 1932, and now the original detailed plans and blueprints are on display.Aerial of upper pond--2012

Donald Roberts Owner

Donald Roberts – Ridgely Historic Gardens

Mr. Roberts cleared, managed, maintained and stuck closely to the original plans and plantings which included a boxwood maze, a large variety of heirloom plants and extensive Depression era stonework.  Fishponds, fountains, a stone pagoda, a greenhouse, a sunken stone hothouse, and a gardener’s cabin are other features of this remarkable place.

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Wool for Birds'NestsBest

This week my friend Norma and I were privileged to be taken on a private tour of Ridgely Historic Gardens, an amazing walk backward in time through a mountainside property in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia.

There was a slightly ominous, ghostly apparation hanging in the garden that prompted my first question.  “What is THAT?” I asked and was surprised and delighted at the answer.

Can YOU guess what that is?

Answer to come in my next post about Ridgely Gardens and the fascinating little town of Clifton Forge.

 

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I am saving the crayon colors of summer

for the show is bound to end soon

in favor of Fall’s great performers

en route with a harvest moon.

Zinnias + (640x480)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ornamental Herbs

Ornamental Herb

Just look at my parsley and basil!  They were only little guys when I bought them at Herman’s Produce this Spring.

Yes!  Herman’s has a wonderful little nursery too!

Bounteous Basil

Bounteous Basil

Perfectly Perfect Parsley

Perfectly Perfect Parsley

Big Purple Basil in a Pot

Purple Basil in a Pot

The herbs are so lush and healthy, I think of them as ornamental landscape additions that can be harvested for food and health.

Talk about multi-tasking!

 

 

And would you believe I have harvested them for drying at least three times?

 

And of course, Herman’s Produce is known for (guess what?) it’s produce too!

 

 

They feature fresh-from-the-farm tomatoes –

and everything else that looks and tastes like Summer!

 

And the rumor is a local green house grower

is growing veggies exclusively for Herman’s!

 

We are already eagerly awaiting December

for tomatoes that will taste as good as Summer!

 

Imagine a tomato and mayo sandwich for Xmas?

Yummmm.

Herman's Produce Lexington, Virginia

Herman’s Produce
Lexington, Virginia

Herman's Produce Lexington, Virginia

Herman’s Produce
Lexington, Virginia

 

 

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Misty Morning Mountain View

Bill and I have been city transfers to Virginia country life for 26 years now.

The house feels brand new and happily, our visitors keep saying, “You have a nice place here.”

Oh, it needs a few tweaks like interior paint, but it is intimidating to think about moving big furniture around , so we invested in Mr. Clean’s Magic Erasers.

The ugly old wood stove still works to save our lives in winter when the power goes out.  You  can’t disguise an ugly stove so she has a place of honor in the living room.   After 26 years she looks a bit tired with rust stains and slightly dull brass edging, but  I consider them wrinkles and frown lines and signs of character (like mine) and we will grow old together.

Our Wood Stove

In the garden, where we dug and weeded, and planted, and weeded ad infinitum (reaching for the ultimate landscape and nature’s edible harvests), we are now content to watch bears, squirrels, and birds massacre the fruitful peach trees.  And the once raised-bed vegetable garden became a giant salad bowl for deer.   Ah well, there are two farmer’s markets in our little town.

hypertufa-pool-1

I used to make Hypertufa pots with my friends (they look like natural rock).  I still use them to enhance the garden, but if you ask me to make more I’ll undoubtedly be yawning and yearning for a nap! There are wonderful  memories of “Hypertufa parties” and how we worked so hard mixing cement with feathers. What fun we had –  like children playing in the mud.

Living out here in “no man’s land” is still exciting though. I can always look out the window to see a sweet doe and her spotted fawn happily munching flowers I thought they wouldn’t like.  And I always hold my breath in awe no matter how often I see them.

Or I can see so many wild turkeys strutting along that I call them a “herd” instead of a flock. Technically a group of wild turkeys is  a flock, whereas a group of domesticated turkeys is known as a rafter or gang.

Or how about that Mama Bear and her twin cubs who recently marched right past our living room window and dared anyone to get in the way?

Life does move on (albeit a bit slower) even in Rural Virginia.  And like anywhere else, the people are always who matter most.  Happily we are still surrounded by living characters who color our lives. But, we lost close friends over time and are frequently reminded of how important they were then and now as they inhabit memories and dreams.

  • Meche taught me all about laughter and fun, and even though I never caught on, the value of bargain shopping.
  • From Viola I learned about land and water cress  and never to allow a dog to kill  chickens or sheep “else he will be shot by the farmer or you will have to shoot him yourself.”   She was a gruff, impatient, kindly friend and I will never forget her shouting, “ARE WE GOING TO PLAY OR NOT?” when we talked too much before or during a ladies’ poker game.
  • Les was a man’s man and a lady’s idea of John Wayne – a big man, always ready to help in a big way.
  • Courageous, fun loving Mary Beth insisted on always trying new things.  We met as docents at the Stonewall Jackson House.  “MB” would never stop at a chain restaurant when we traveled together and everywhere we went was an exciting adventure.
  • Frank and Alice contributed Forsythia bushes when we were new, and told us about Puff Ball mushrooms that were safe to eat.
  • Brownie kept us supplied with homemade pickles that we didn’t like, but we did love Brownie.

 But as we go about the business of life, making new friends and forging new memories,  enjoying the old house in slightly different ways, Bill and I are still genuinely thrilled when visitors say,“You have a nice place here.”

And they don’t seem to mind the sign in the guest room that reads:

“Check out time: Noon! Gratuities Accepted!”

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As long as our storms are sans lightning and thunder, I love the rain.  A little thunder and I head for the closet.

I love the sound of rain though – the harder the better, and the sweet clean scents afterward, and the way plants perk up so happily refreshed.

Our Hosta in the front garden has grown to enormous proportions the way certain things do around here in rural Virginia.

Due to black thumbs, if we plant something, our expectations are minimal.   We expect an early demise.   But if it surprises us and actually lives, we know it will grow by mega leaps and  never stop.

Jack of the Bean Stalk would feel right at home here, and I’m sure he was observing when we had to climb a step ladder to trim a little burning bush that  had grown so tall we couldn’t see the top anymore.

And now the Hosta (which lives right next to that gargantuan Rhododendron)  is the size of a Volkswagon!  Well yes, the Hosta does need dividing – someday.

Her leaves are REALLY big and catch the  raindrops for a sparkly show even when the rain has stopped.

I am experimenting again with a free online  photo editing program.  It wasn’t really raining but I tried that effect and the caption was added that way too.

The raindrops are real though.

More storms expected tonight or tomorrow to keep my world emerald green.

I love the rain.

Don’t you?

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