summer 2013

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


If you are like me, you love looking at other gardens to get ideas for your own garden.  Whether magazines, blogs or gardening books, you always see something and think "I want that in my yard!"

I grew up in a city (Rockville, MD) with parents who grew up in bigger cities (South Bronx and Washington DC.)  There was not a lot of gardening or landscape design in our neighborhood.  We had a small yard that we mowed when needed.  It wasn't until I met my future mother-in-law that I learned you could have a beautiful yard.  She had shade trees and flowering shrubs and annuals.  She also had a lawn service that came regularly and sprayed something that prevented dogs and children from walking in the grass for several days.  Hmmm.

I did learn a lot from her, but I honed my skills after becoming a master gardener,  I learned about Integrated Pest Management. Bottom line, you really don't have to kill all the bugs.  Mother Nature does a lot of the work if you don't poison the good bugs.  I learned about lawn care.  See my post about lawns, there are lots of details.  You don't have to poison everything to have a nice (enough) lawn.  I don't aspire to a weed free,  bug free existence.   When my mother in law passed away, we  inherited her arsenal of chemicals from her garden.  OMG.  They sat in my shed for several years until I saw an article in the paper for a hazardous material drop off in our city.

Living in the Washington DC/ Baltimore/ Virginia area, we are near some of the most beautiful gardens in the world.  Within a few hours we have Mt Vernon, Monticello, Longwood, Winterthur, Oatlands, and the National Arboretum.

I have made trips to these gardens for inspiration, along with just being in a beautiful, peaceful setting.

Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson:

Mt Vernon, home of George Washington:

Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania:

Winterthur, Delaware:

Homes of fellow Master Gardeners in Maryland:

Mary's garden

Harriet's garden

Joan's garden

Master Gardener Demonstration Gardens:


Native path

Vegetable garden

Private Gardens:

Public FREE  Gardens:








Oatlands, Leesburg, Virginia:

Today is the last day of winter 2014.  It's been a tough one.  Good riddance.

frozen frog
ahhhh, our wood stove

Friday, March 7, 2014


Welcome to  Senegal, Tanzania, Denmark, Macedonia (FYROM), Puerto Rico, Argentina, Finland, Cameroon, Algeria, Belize, Guyana, Afghanistan, Monaco, Iraq, Uganda, Botswana,  and Barbados.

106 countries now viewing my blog.  Bewildering to me.  On a more confusing note,  I found my Paw Paw blossom picture on a Chinese website with a Chinese watermark on the image.  Found it flattering that my picture was good enough to steal :)

I know it has been a long time since my last post.  I am a very busy woman, and I had to catch up with Downton Abbey.

I usually have a yearly rant about planting native plants.  I encourage people to plant natives for the insects and birds, but it is just as important to ask people NOT to plant invasive plants. And, to remove invasive plants from their yard. Over time I have removed most of the plants considered invasive in our area.  There  are two in my yard that will be taken out in the next season or two.  Invasive plants will crowd out native plants, leaving less food and habitat for our birds and pollinators.

In our area of the country, you drive down highways lined with green, lush, cooling trees and plants.  Very pretty.  But if you look very closely, you can see clumps of trees and plants that really don't belong there.  Tree of Heaven (Ailanthus),  Olive trees, Bradford Pear, Japanese Honeysuckle, Wild grape, and multiflora rosa (wild rose bushes) to name a few.

Ailanthus and Honeysuckle

More Ailanthus (Tree of Heaven)

Recently, the common orange day lily (which I have always loved)  was listed as an invasive plant for our area.  I have already started removing some of what I  had planted.  It is hard work.  I use a pitchfork and shovel to dig it out of the ground.  Then I cut the top leaves off to compost and then cut the tubers off and throw them into the trash.  I know if I compost the tubers, they will just come back to life.


Since it was a favorite, I have quite a bit. I will remove most of it this year.

The good thing in this situation is that I HAVE to plant something new!  In my front walkway I have planted Black and Blue Salvia. Not a native, but not invasive. I had this in my backyard last year.  It is very impressive and it will attract hummingbirds:)

Black and Blue Salvia

Daily Visitor

New on the watch list in our area is the butterfly bush, Buddleia.  I have one in my yard that I will have my husband chainsaw to the ground.  I know this one will take a few years.  I may have to resort to roundup for this job.

I bought the butterfly bush many years ago.  I wanted to attract butterflies to my yard.  Little did I know (Pre Master Gardener Training) that the pesticides and herbicides that the lawn service was applying  pretty much killed all bug activity in our yard.  The note they left with the bill stated that there was evidence of grubs in our lawn.  Lawn looked great.  Soon there wasn't a bug, fly, beetle, butterfly, caterpillar or bird visiting my yard.  If I looked deeper, I may have found no earthworms either.

The next note stated that they sprayed for weeds and I should expect to see them die in the next week or so.  Sure enough,  the next week every zucchini plant, tomato and pepper plant was wilted and obviously dying.  Oh well.  Discontinued the service and let mother nature take over.  It took a few years for our yard to come to life again.

In our yard now there is life.  Caterpillars, bees, bugs, butterflies, worms, and birds have returned.

At the farm:

We have a big job ahead of us.  It seems that the banks of our creek are mostly held together with Honeysuckle bushes.  Invasive.   We bought  a lot of native trees and shrubs to slowly replace them.  We cannot tear them out because we think the erosion would be detrimental to the creek and surrounding land.  So, our plan is to cut the bush to the ground and immediately paint the stump with brush killer.  Then, plant a native tree or shrub a few feet away.   Our thought is that the new roots will establish as the old roots decay, holding the creek banks in place.  A huge undertaking and not always safe.  Slippery banks with a chainsaw.  Hmmm

Lined up, ready to plant

Native plants supply food to our birds and insects.  Below is one of my very favorites: Winterberry

My "Mini Meadow"

Can't wait for summer