Summer Garden Part II

Nearly everything is planted at this point and finally in the growing and filling out stage.  Our apple tree leaves get cedar rust – those little yellow spots on the leaves.  Unfortunately we planted fruit trees (pears and apple) near a cedar grove.  I need to try spraying at the right time next year and see if that helps.  Fortunately the rust is just unattractive but doesn’t hurt the health of the trees. 

The Mandevilla are taking off and the lanterns await new candles after the old ones melted in the heat.

A close up of one of our apple tree pots filled with petunias and moss.  Had I planted these petunias earlier in the season they would have likely been spilling over the sides.  This was a week ago when the Phantom Hydrangeas were just about ready to explode.

And, this picture is from yesterday.  Each morning there are more and more flowers and they just keep getting fuller.  This is my first time with Phantom Hydrangea and while I don’t quite like the blooms like I like the Limelight’s, the Phantom is supposed to have the strongest stems to prevent flopping.

I added an outdoor rug to cover up some cement sins on the landing near the back door.  

Grouping pots is a good lazy gardener strategy.  

Experimenting with some flowers for an upcoming fundraiser.  Um, these look more like church altar arrangements.  I guess I will be starting over!

The window boxes are enjoying the Amazon-like humidity.   


I lucked out and scored 8 Nellie Stevens hollies for our hedge for a song.  Pictures to come.  This is the garage that will be getting some paint and new lighting soon enough.  

Early Summer Garden

I am off to a very slow start this season but pots are finally being filled with annuals and perennials as well as a few additions to the garden.

These Boston ferns are a lifesaver.  They even do well in the full sun and prefer less than more water.  The white mandevilla vines are already flooded with flowers.

A view of the back patio area.  The apple trees in pots are going to be underplanted with some white wave petunias and vinca.  I was thrilled the trees made it through their first winter.  

Another view as the sun is setting.

The pots near the couches are filled with orange hibiscus.  The flowers are huge and beautiful but seem to be fleeting.  They drop off after a couple of days.  

The courtyard is a nice foil to the shiny, new patio area.  These urns are planted with allium that has been a reliable bloomer since 2010.  The two larger terra-cotta pots are lime and lemon trees.  Anxious to see how those do. 

Looking forward to the Phantom Hydrangeas blooming any day now.  The Willow standards got a haircut recently.  They were easily double the size.


The Phantom hedge has gone mad!  These grew at least 2 feet since last season.

My shade window boxes are doing well and are enjoyably low-maintenance.  They like a drink once a day but if I miss, they don’t seem to mind.

And, my favorite wire baskets finally were planted with some vinca and the cutest little violet bell looking flowers.

The front yard beds are starting to fill in.  Like the backyard, the palate is limited to varying shades of greens and pinks with the exception of the deep burgundy leaves of the Nine bark tree.  

Some new Shasta Daisies that should fill in and out. 

And, one of my favorite corners – the Little Limelight Hydrangea hedge.  TheLittle Limes are intermixed with Nandina and kept tidy with Chicagoland boxwoods up front.  These Limelights are a smaller version of their much larger predecessor though these little guys are looking pretty darn big.  Blooms are going to be beautiful this year.

A mulch refresh will be happening this weekend along with some vine planting.  There are some fences and bare spots that could use a climber or two.

Speaking of two.  We picked up our second little pup a week or so ago now.  She is a tiny little thing and weighed in at 10 lbs less than our older guy at the same age.  They were fast friends.

Almost forgot took a trip to our favorite nursery.  We are working on a hedge – Limelight (the big ones) backed by a line of Nellie Stevens behind to provide a nice wall of dark green to contrast with the white blooms.  The Nellie Stevens will eventually reach 15 feet and the Limelights 8 feet or more.  It should be a striking hedge. Nellie Stevens hollies waiting to be planted.

A mature Nellie Stevens hedge
A Limelight Hydrangea hedge

The Nellie Stevens will eventually provide a great backdrop for the Limelights.  Nellie Stevens will get their own pretty white blooms in the spring and a pop of red berries in the winter.  They are a hardy, not too prickly holly that is great for screening.

I have collected them from different nurseries over the past year and finally have enough for a true screen.  I didn’t want to pay more than $10 so time and patience were key.

Happy Fourth!

Strawberries and a Spring Garden

One of our children must spend every penny given to him.  So when he walked with a friend to the Grower’s Market, I was curious to know how he would spend every one of those pennies in his pocket.  He did so successfully on strawberries.  Pounds of strawberries, in fact.

I met Deb of Smitten Kitchen at my high school reunion a couple of years ago (was a bit starstruck!) and as much as I loved her blog, I hadn’t tried many of her recipes.  Really I just enjoyed her beautiful pictures and clever commentary.  Lately though I have been dipping into more and more of her recipes and clearly she knows what she’s doing.  This Strawberry Summer Cake  will be your go-to for picnics, summer barbecues and neighbor gifts – trust me.  And, Wendy, had I made it to the Devon Horse Show this would have come along . . .

This cake provides the perfect segue into my next and latest find – Dishfunctional.  It’s a bit difficult to tell but the pie plate above is sitting on a silver (plate) platter that is one of many purchases from Alfred at Dishfunctional.  He runs an Ebay business out of a 17,000 sq ft warehouse space in my town and occasionally opens up to the public. It is a gold mine.

This is the only picture I took but trust me the place is enormous and filled to the brim with hidden treasures.  I decided to concentrate my efforts on silver plate.  I wanted serving pieces that weren’t too precious.  Here is a bit of my loot before the big soak.

I line my sink with tin foil and dump in a box of baking soda with boiling water to great effect.  This works far better with sterling silver but the silver plate did well, too.

Much better!

I also took home some Waterford crystal wine glasses and double old-fashioned glasses.  These were new in a very dusty box but in mint condition and for a fraction of what I would have paid new.

And, I leave you with some garden pictures. A short-lived but pretty burst of candytuft (Iberis) in my spring garden.  This is a quick spreader and doesn’t need much love but the flowers don’t last for long which is unfortunate as they are so pretty.

Some hibiscus for the pots – freshly planted.

The window boxes are filled with Hostas, Begonias and Caladium.

The Nepeta (Walkers Low) and Geum (Mango Lassi) has started to spill over the edging which is fine with me.

A pot just planted waiting to fill in with petunias, a blue passionflower vine and some helichrysum (licorice plant).

We finally had glass cut for our urn table.  Much better!

I would love to do something like the below but probably not enough air flow.



This is a laundry room.  Laundry room!!  The friend with whom I drove to the middle of the Earth for that very special faucet is nearing the finish line.  The cabinet doors are yet to be hung but the room is coming together and beautifully.  The counters are soapstone as is that pretty farmhouse sink.  Best part is this is the back of a 3rd car garage bay.  The front half still left with plenty of room to store bikes and scooters.  So smart.

Photos of my laundry room would break the Internet so I will spare you all but suffice it to say I am green with envy.  This is the perfect landing spot for everything that collects throughout the house and drives one batty.

I finally bit the bullet and bought the myrtle topiaries I have been eyeing at Terrain for the past couple of months.   I am hoping this is not one of those sad topiary stories.  I moved them outside for some sun and watering yesterday.   It’s been two weeks  . . . longer than I thought to keep them alive so pretty darn proud.

I recently requested a catalog from Forbes and Lomax and these light switches will put all your others to shame.  Designer light switches – does it get any better than that?

The air is warming a bit and it’s time to start thinking about outside, namely patio trees.  I have some ideas for quick shade.  More to come  soon . . .