Summer garden flowers

So as the Summer is ending, my garden is winding down as well.  Many of my favorite flowers are faded or have ceased blooming.  I still enjoy photos of them and just had to post some of my new favorites for this season. Every year is a different experience and a chance to try a new variety or two.  My herb garden with a few vegetables continues into the Fall and will supply enough herbs for my cooking until Thanksgiving again this year.

I planted my garden in 2008 and have added new shrubs and plantings every year since that year.  It is ever evolving.



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drying summer flowers

Not only do I enjoy my summer garden while it is in bloom, but I usually try to save some of the flowers of the season.  I simply use my garage greenhouse and old sheet pans.  I put out flowers from summer floral arrangements and also from my garden throughout the season. I allow them to dry on their own without using any products.


I seem to have better success with certain types of flowers, but even those that don’t seem to look as good as the others, still have significance to me.  I use them in my fall arrangements on wreaths or outdoors in baskets on my porch or deck. Every year I have a new supply and don’t worry about keeping them longer than that.  Such fun for me to have flowers of the summer throughout the Fall and sometimes for Spring arrangements too.






One of my all time favorite shrubs is the rhododendron.  Sometimes I have heard gardeners call them “rhodies”, which may refer to a variety of many different types of shrubs in the species.  There are also various sizes of these plants, but my memory takes me back to some of the most beautiful rhododendron that I saw while living in West Virginia.  The rhododendron is the state flower of West Virginia, and there is no doubt why.  Looking back on our years living there, I think about how beautiful they grew on the hillsides and along riverbanks and throughout yards and gardens in our neighborhood.  I planted several at both homes we owned in Charleston.


Here in Michigan, I love my shrub which is nestled in my front yard at a focal corner of my home.  The blooms have become more spectacular in the almost nine years we have lived here.  I have been feeding and caring for this rhododendron, to cultivate the memory of those we had in past years living in the South.

Our shrub is in dappled shade and has probably the best protection at the base of the plant.  We are not in the area cultivating, but leaving its’ roots well mulched. The space is brightened every late spring when it comes into bloom.

I never prune this shrub, but allow it to show and display the beautiful structured leaves throughout the year.  And when winter arrives, I watch the leaves as they react to the cold and tell me that the season is changing.

I love my rhododendron and everything that it means to me.


Summer garden update

Our Michigan chilly Spring temperatures moved slowly into pleasant Summer weather and suddenly, I looked up, and my perennial garden was back in bloom.  Anyone who gardens with perennial flowers and herbs knows the feeling when the garden looks flat just after the Winter season breaks. I look outside and think, will my garden come back this year?

And, in a matter of weeks, the garden springs forth without much more effort than clearing some leaves or clipping and pulling dead growth. I remain fascinated by the wonder of gardening. Each year, I choose a few annual herbs and vegetables to add into my kitchen garden, and then relax and enjoy what has been planted in years past.

I usually lose one or two plants every year, but seem to move past the sorrow quickly when other flowers seems to have tripled in size and beauty.  Some of my perennials seem to multiply around my garden and either by birds, squirrels or the breezes find another comforting spot to grow and become comfortable.


My garden is very personal.  I share it with you only because I truly enjoy being within the fenced walls to think about each plant, and reflect on how it finds nourishment from my Michigan sandy soil.  Others gardeners may strive for perfection, look for praise, or hope for awards–but I know the true reward from my garden, it is the satisfaction from making a space in my yard tranquil and inviting. My husband and I turned a family playground space into a place where we could experiment with plants and learn from nature.

Enjoy the photos and think about how you might create a quiet space for reflection within your own yard. Or, maybe you also know that satisfaction?




Lenten Rose

Well worth the wait is the Lenten Rose or Helleborus.  It has taken around three years for my plants to really take hold and offer up beautiful flowers.  I love my three plants, and this Spring they have produced a lovely effect in my shade border.

Michigan is a great location for these plantings, as sometimes warm, wet or humid conditions that are present in other States, would lead to disease.

I especially love their speckled flowers and the shape of the leaves.  The colors are muted in each of these cultivars, although I believe that adds to their charm.  Somehow this plant reminds me of days gone by, and old friend, or gardens of the past.

I wish my whole border was filled with Lenten Rose, as I have come to really love their beautiful blossoms when Spring is just emerging in Michigan.


garden visit — chanticleer gardens

recently, we visited the chanticleer gardens just outside of Philadelphia. the chanticleer estate was built in 1913, and became a year-round home in the early 20’s.  it was originally built as a summer home just outside of the city, to be reached by the main line railway.

the 35 acres, open to the public, are beautifully designed in rooms by theme.  the gardens surrounding the home are especially lovely, with a side porch, tennis court, and pool gardens.   the water table of flowers was simply gorgeous.

other gardens to tour include a ruin garden, the Asian woods, a teacup garden, a cut-flower and vegetable garden, and many more.  we spent two full hours admiring the flowers and garden design. there are also woods, an orchard, and a woodland area of wildflowers.

these gardens are smaller than the Longwood formal gardens, but just as beautiful. a total of 47 acres makes up the estate, with some of that area off-limits for visitors.  taking a visit during the months of June, July or August would maximize the flowers in bloom.

don’t miss this one, it is one of the best in the country. for more information, follow this link:


garden tour


SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES i had the opportunity to tour a lovely arboretum this week just outside of Philadelphia.  the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania is a 166 acre historic public garden that began as a private estate in 1887.  it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.


The garden is arranged in landscape plantings, where the plants are integrated into the overall garden design.  the rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias were in full bloom during our visit.  The American Holly Society recognizes this arboretum as the Official Holly Arboretum since 1948.    I saw a Katsura tree that was planted in the 1900’s.  I saw a cedar of Lebanon tree from 1915.


There were also oaks, buckeye, beech, and redwood trees.  Sculpture, garden features, a spring house, a rose garden, a swan pond, and so much more to see. there was a garden of working trains, a pump house, a log cabin, a tree adventure, a marble fountain, a rock wall garden, an English park, and even a wetland.  it was lovely.  i would recommend a visit if you happen to be in the Philadelphia area.  we also admired the feature exhibit of birdhouses, created by many artists.  i happened to photograph those that i especially liked.