I have a Country Inn Day Secret. . . a Secret Garden

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As the main gardener of the 1853 Jeremiah Brown House I have my work cut out for me.  This house and property had been untouched for many years before my husband and I got hold of it.  What to do first?  Because we were living in the house, not the garden, it was the house that first got our attention, but after restoring the old house and even adding a new addition, it’s finally garden time.

Ah, a garden!

But as much as I desire lovely gardens all around the house my goal at present is simply to make the grounds appear park-like.   Very few actual gardens have been created thus far, but they are in the plans. At present only the herb garden has been designed and installed.  A few flowers have been added here and there – roses mostly, but new bushes appear weekly.

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 In fact just today five luscious-looking giant blue hydrangeas were planted at the front of the house.

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My assistant gardener, Doug, deserves all the credit for the planting.  He is my right hand man when it comes to digging holes and pruning.

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But today I want to focus on The Secret Garden at the Jeremiah Brown House and tell you all about it thus far.  At a quick glance you’d never think a Secret Garden is in the works at this property for like any good secret it’s hidden from plain view. A visitor on the grounds will notice the circular herb garden and the wall of very old and tall Spruce trees behind it, but who would guess there was the beginning of a Secret Garden  behind those trees?

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Around the corner one would notice the Day lilies blooming in front of very old honeysuckle bushes,  but would one guess there was something more hiding behind all this?

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Then there’s the  row of some fifteen forsythia edging and hiding yet another side of the Secret Garden.  These forsythia will grow taller and taller and hide my little secret even more in days to come.

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But if you walk through the small opening here between the old trees. . .

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You come upon a clearing.

This clearing is not an easy place to plant foliage because the roots of the Spruce trees are everywhere!  This place will never be a proper Secret Garden with all sorts of beautiful flowers, but still the area does have potential. It’s such an interesting spot, a space left open inside a ring of giant Spruce trees.  The trees create a canopy of shade.  I resigned myself to forget the sun-loving flowers, and even shade-loving flowers, but still this place hidden from the rest of the grounds has potential.  As long as something, anything can grow here I will call this place my Secret Garden.

The first step was setting down the stone flooring.  Deer enjoyed spending their nights here before the stone was added. This space was their private bedroom, but now they found a softer, greener place elsewhere.  I added some pachysandra around the edges of the stone flooring and little by little it’s getting established.

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I tried adding impatience but the soil is simply too compact and root-filled to allow the impatience to stretch out and get comfortable here.  Too bad.  Color would be nice in this secret garden. I suppose I could add pots of impatience here and there. . . maybe one day, but for now I’ve decided to let the garden operate on automatic pilot. It’s not doing a bad job of it either.

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I’ve put Mother Nature in charge of this Secret Garden for the time being and one plant she really seems to love is Wild Ginger.  At least I think this plant is known by that name.  I too like Wild Ginger with its glossy rounded leaves. This plant serves as a very pretty ground cover and to my delight rabbits do not  eat it.  This is important because the grounds of the Jeremiah Brown House are home to many rabbits.

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I marvel the way Mother Nature will successfully cultivate the plants she wants to grow where as  I try and try to cultivate certain other plants with no luck at all.   Look at the way she’s going to town with tiny baby plants.  They’re everywhere!    In time I may drop the name “Secret Garden” and call this place “The Wild Ginger Garden”.

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Of course it’s not only Wild Ginger that Mother Nature is providing for my Secret Garden, look at these mysterious  plants which magically appeared while I was away for the weekend.  Nothing. . . then suddenly all this green . . . I must dig out my wildflower guide book and try to identify this plant.  Whatever it is, I like it!  Why should I bother toiling away buying and planting expensive specimens when Mother Nature will not only supply the plants for free but also install them?

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Of course in the past I have bothered to purchase and plant a few items, two of them are Lamium Maculatum (Red Nancy) as well as the tiny yellow-green ground cover you see here. (I’ve forgotten its name.  Do you recognize it?) These two plants seem to be happy in this place. They’re taking off, getting along well with the pachysandra and the other wild plants. I’ll do no more of my own planting, at least not for a while.  I’m leaving the planting to Mother Nature.  She has been known to create beautiful work as you well know so maybe she’ll do the same here for me.

I have had  fun adding bird houses to some of the trees in The Secret Garden. This is something Mother Nature can’t do.  I think the birdies like these houses as I do.  The houses stay up year round, for after all, birds need a home in the Winter too.

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And sculpture adds a nice touch to all the greenery.  A little cherub here . . .

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My wonderful “dead friend”, Saint Francis, there . . . 

Other bits of statuary are waiting to be moved into The Secret Garden too as soon as Doug or some other muscle-bound fellow happens by.

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Rocks are welcome here, nice big ones. These rocks you see are just a few that came from an old abandoned well on the property.  They spent more than a hundred years under ground, but now they can enjoy the next hundred years  above ground in this place.

My Secret Garden is in the early stages of development.  You are witness to its beginning.  I wish I could fast forward to show both of us a more mature version of it.  Patience is a virtue needed in gardening and that’s something money can’t always buy.  The garden teaches us patience.  But there is delight, at least for me, in the anticipation of what’s to come. There’s pleasure even in the beginning stages of a garden project.  I come to this garden daily, carefully checking for any change I might see.  This is something I remember my father doing in his garden.   I  simply enjoy the moment – what is –  and I appreciate the potential of what this garden can become.

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 Whether I sit here alone to read  . . . meditate to music of the birdies . . . whether I invite friends over to share a cup of tea in this my Secret Place . . . whatever I’m doing here I’m happy. That’s nature for you.

Be it ever so humble there’s no place quite like my Secret Garden.

Country Inn “Travel” Day

 

 

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German Village, Columbus Ohio
Even though I can have wonderful Country Inn Day experiences staying in or close to my Inn of imagination,  my 1853 home, it is sometimes great fun to go beyond my little town of Hudson, Ohio and do a little (or a lot) of exploration.  And so I took a trip to German Village which is two hours south of Hudson.

German Village is a historic neighborhood (and I love historic neighborhoods) just south of downtown Columbus, Ohio’s state capital.  It was settled in the early – to – mid 19th century by a large number of German immigrants who at one time comprised as much as one third of the city’s entire population.

German Village is listed on The National Register of Historic Places and was made a “Preserve America Community” by the White House.  It is one of the premier historic restorations in the world.

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The Book Loft

My travel day in German Village began at a wonderful book shop called The Book Loft. This shop boasts of having 32 rooms of books for sale and each room has a different style of music playing to entertain shoppers as well as to tempt them to buy the musical cds. It would be easy for a book lover like me to spend the entire day in such a place

 

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but after a considerable amount of time browsing I tore myself away, strolling out along the shops beautifully flower-filled alley way, but not empty handed.

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I came away with two books, this one by Martha Stewart because living a good  and long life is important to me as it is to Martha.  Her book has a little bit of everything in it – healthy eating, healthy fitness, healthy brain, healthy home… you get the idea.  I was tempted by books in all these categories, but Martha had a little of everything rolled up into one.

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My other purchase was this lovely and artful book entitled “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life”.  It contains information about the plants and places that inspired Beatrix to write her wonderful storybooks.  Beatrix is one of my “dead friends” so I’m always looking for books like this one.   Beatrix can’t share her life with me in person these days since she moved far off to heaven, but the right books allow her to share with me in a different, but still very delightful way.

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But time flew in the book shop and I was getting hungry so my next stop was a wonderful restaurant called Lindy’s.

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Lindy’s is a convivial American bistro featuring a copper-topped bar and a surf ‘n’ turf menu.

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 I love the elegance of white tablecloths so Lindy’s dining room was the place for me.  I was seated at this table near a window.  Yes!

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Here with Beatrix at my side (via her book) I ordered a delicious lunch, glass of wine and then relaxed with coffee from this nifty french press stainless steel pot.

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Looking out the window at the gas lamps and the historic buildings as I enjoyed my lunch made it easy to imagine I was back in time with Beatrix.  I was very happy with this restaurant but I had no idea what lay just outside. something that could’ve made my lunch experience even better on this glorious weather day.  Can you guess what it is?

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Lindy’s has an outdoor patio nestled in trees and decorated with lots and lots of beautiful flowers.  Who knew?

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Well, now I know and so do you so next time either of us venture to Lindy’s on a beautiful day we’ll know to take a table out of doors amidst  the fresh air and flowers where the birdies can serenade us.

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But it was now time to hit the brick-lined streets and sidewalks, time to take a stroll around the village.  There were houses and their gardens to investigate.  Let me share a little of what I saw along the way.

So many charming houses with postage stamp size gardens that were small but absolutely lovely.  There were  patios and porches, all  carefully designed and well appointed.  It was delightful and inspiring to stroll along and view such beauty, but after a while it was also time to sit down and rest.  Luckily there was a park just ahead.

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What a welcome sight for my tired feet.

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I found a park bench, invited Beatrix to join me once again by pulling out my new book,  and there in solitude, but with society all around me, I enjoyed the beauty of nature on this Country Inn “Travel” Day.

See?

Ah nature!

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous 

Aristotle

I enjoyed everything about this Country Inn Day, but as usual it went by far too quickly. The bookstore, the charming restaurant, strolling past pretty gardens, houses and then this peaceful  park.  What a pleasant day!

My Country Inn Days are always wonderful escapes.  Be they days where I play the part of Innkeeper and Inn Chef hosting afternoon teas and dinner parties or days where I delight as Inn Guest jaunting around in search of culture, adventurous expeditions or spiritual retreats… whatever the itinerary I know a Country Inn Day will be a break from routine and the break will do me a world of good.  Some Country Inn Days are spent entirely at the Inn with no unusual activities at all, just lots and lots of simple pleasures –  leisurely walks , bubble baths, letter writing, piano playing, reading, art play and always time spent in imagination.

After all, we must be the artists of our lives creating days which make our hearts sing. Lord Chesterfield (another of my “dead friends”) an 18th century British statesman and man of letters once said, “Know the true value of time; snatch, seize, and enjoy every moment of it.”  Sometimes that’s hard to do on a daily basis, but it’s easy to do on a Country Inn Day so I’m sure to schedule one each and every week.  Country Inn Days step in and I step out of all regular routines.

I’m so happy you could join me for at least a little of my Country Inn “Travel” Day  Why?  You know.

Sharing Doubles the Joy.

Hope to see you next time wherever Country Inn Days will take us.

The Art of Letter Writing + Nature = A Heavenly morning

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My little bit of heaven
It’s a beautiful late August day here in Hudson and I decided to write my daily letter (today to Joy who lives in South Carolina) on the patio.  It won’t be long before Hudson days get cool and wet and the patio will be off limits, only enjoyed through the ‘looking glass’ so to speak.  (By that I mean the sliding glass door of the music room).

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So the first thing I had to do was create some stationary for Joy’s letter.  This is always a fun task.  I decided to create a “fashionable”-looking letter ( Get it? ) using  pictures of  clothes found in a cute little book I own called “Doodle Dolls” by Jessie Eckel.

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And here it is

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Jessie’s book has lots of fun pictures of clothes.  They inspire all sorts of my stationary designs.

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Letters to Joy seem to write themselves because Joy and I have a lot in common.  One such thing is Motherhood, and both of us are currently dealing with one of our children off and away.  We know they have to go and we’re happy for them, but that doesn’t mean we don’t miss them terribly.  Joy’s daughter is off to her first year of college (Hi Estelle, hope you’re having fun)  and my son is backpacking in Europe (follow his travels at: (afunctionof.me).

Letters are great for us, for everyone really, because sharing not only doubles the joy, it also divides any sorrow, and as Joy and I discuss our feelings about our children moving on we feel better for the sharing.  Of course we have many joys to discuss in our letters too.  House and garden are two of our favorite subjects.  Joy sent me a picture of a bedroom in her last letter which I loved!  I will keep that picture handy and let it inspire a guest room I’m decorating.

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How do you like this room?  As you may know, I live in an 1853 house so period wallpaper really appeals to me, and don’t you just love the bedding?  I want to  hop right in that bed.  The bedding looks like fluffy, white whipping cream, another of my favorite things.

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My work setting

So after a delightful visit with Joy via paper and pen, I am now ready to write to you using my laptop here on the patio.

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and I have some wonderful Brazilian music ( a cd called Brazilian Cafe) to keep me company

IMG_4733[1]along with my fuzzy furry companion, Alexander

AND

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Don’t forget the beauty of nature all around me.

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So after this very long introduction to today’s post, maybe it will be enough to share just a few points from the book of letters I recently  wrote.  My book has no title yet.  Have you any ideas for me?

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Pages from my book of letters

Notes regarding The Art of Letter Writing

1.  The Art of Letter Writing is not dead and gone.  It’s  simply forgotten or undiscovered by many.

2.  If you’re a letter writer spread the word by writing a beautiful letter to a friend or relative unfamiliar    with the pleasures of letter writing.  Give compliments to make your friend happy and ask questions      so they want to write back.

3.  If you know someone who is having a birthday, anniversary, or could use a get well card, send that      card, but include a letter.

4.  Write to the elderly and/or others who may need company even if they can’t write back to you.  It’s    very nice to go visiting,  bringing a bouquet of flowers along, but sending a letter full of cheerful                  thoughts is very nice too, and your thoughtfulness is a sort of ‘spiritual  bouquet’ which will be                  equally, or maybe more,  appreciated.

and one more thought for today’s post

5.  If you love letters and feel someone should do something to spread the word about their beauty       and value in the modern world (besides me)  then say to yourself – “Hey!  I’m a someone  too”.  And       tell everyone you meet about the joys of letter writing… and while you’re at it, tell them about this           blog  for I’ve decided to devote it to this, my favorite subject …

The beautiful Art of Letter Writing

You are entering my Enchanted Garden

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BEWARE!

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In this Enchanted Garden you may lose all sense of modern time and place.  You may forget about the bills you have to pay and the errands you have to run.  The garden may steal away any tension you’re enjoying and force the jostle in your day to become quiet.

If you are prepared for these things to happen then by all means, follow me down the garden path.

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It’s been raining for days and the old rose tree is weighed down with all its new growth.  The roses are just beginning to bloom.  They bloom for such a short time, only a few days, but during those days their scent is marvelous.  I wish I could capture some of that scent in this post, but you will need to use your imagination.  I hope you use your imagination often.  It is a wonderful thing and a terrible thing to waste.  Look closely at the delicate blossoms of the old rose tree.

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Such tiny flowers

Beneath the rose you will notice some peony in bloom. They are another of my favorite garden plants, but they too stay for too short a time.

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Let us proceed down the garden path.

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When life becomes too dominated with demands I love to come here, to come to my enchanted garden.  Modern life brings us many wonderful inventions, but nothing is as wonderful to me as nature.  There are no crowds in my garden.  There is no noise, only the chirping of birdies.  It is a most refreshing place to escape modern life.  In this setting I can imagine I’m back in any time period for people of the past enjoyed exactly these same beatious scents and sights.  Sights like this lovely Lamb’s Ear.

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or this Columbine

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a pink columbine
My garden always welcomes me.  It’s welcoming you too.  It appeals to our spirits.  Here in the garden it is a grand place to reflect and enjoy contemplation.  I hope you spend time in reflection each and every day.  My “dead friend” Lord Byron said “A life without reflection is a sad affair” and I whole-heartedly agree with him.  You too?

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Oh, I see the hostas have some company.  They are being visited by the purple iris.  Once again, the iris is another of those flowers which stays for too brief a visit.  I love to see their flowers come, but hate to see them go.  This is so true of many of my human friends too.

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I invite impatience each year into the garden for unlike the peony and iris they not only stay a while, but they flourish and grow and become quite a plentious sight… that is if Peter Rabbit and his family don’t indulge.  I understand Mr. McGregor’s feeling about rabbits now that I tend a garden.

Oh, you must see the climbing rose that was planted by some former owner of our garden.  Take a look at this.

IMG_3629[1]I’m training it to reach out to the house forming a pretty entrance to the patio.  The flowers of this climber are just lovely.  See?

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Come, get even closer.  Take a whiff!

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Is a flower like this not heaven on earth?

A Romantic garden should invoke flights of fancy.  I spend time in this enchanted place and creative ideas seem to come at me from nowhere, or perhaps the ideas are coming from the angels who live here.  Angels like this one.

IMG_3461[1] She hides under the lilies and iris.  She must be shy.  Sometimes she holds a blanket filled with rain water so the birdies can enjoy a refreshing drink.  But there is another angel.  This one is more mature and here she is…

IMG_3470[1]I should name my angel friends.  I used to name the angels back when I was a little girl in Catholic school.  In fact, my friends and I would often play with our angels, especially our guardian angels.  allowing them  to enjoy the swings at the school playground.  We’d push our angel friends  instead of enjoying the swings ourselves.  I guess it’s from those old days that my imagination got it’s start.

Do you grow fennel?  I love fennel, especially bronze fennel.  I have it in my herb garden and here in the Enchanted garden too.  It grows beside some statuary.  Statuary is another thing I love.  It’s so appropriate for a Romantic garden.

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Fennel and statuary

The other side of this particular statue sees yellow lilies getting ready to make an appearance.  Welcome  lilies to my Enchanted garden.

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And every garden needs a bird bath.  The birdies need to bathe too you know.  I love to watch them at this task.  They enjoy themselves so much, but then who doesn’t enjoy a bath?

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There are all sorts of birdies in the Enchanted garden.  Some are living and some are pretend birdies like this one that sits atop a structure training plants up and around it.

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Sometimes I stroll the garden and other times I sit in chairs beside it just gazing at all my plant friends.

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Other times I’ll sit on the patio and view the garden from this vantage point.  I sit at the table and have afternoon tea alone or with friends.

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Or maybe I’ll take a book out to the chairs at the edge of the wall and read to the singing of the birdies.

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The profusion of plant life in a Romantic garden  encourages rest, relaxation, contemplation and imagination, wonderful elements that soften and enrich  modern day life.  I sometimes wander near and far but though these escapes are always delightful,  I always look forward to returning to my Enchanted garden for this is a very favorite place, a place to rest and relax.  I hope you have an Enchanted garden of your own.  If not, come back often and visit me here in mine.

See you next time.

Afternoon tea on the patio with friends

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Almost all of us

Greetings everyone!

I don’t know what I love more – afternoon tea,  a beautiful day outside near the garden, or getting together with friends.  Well, this day I was enjoying all three of these things at once for I was serving tea to some of my friends on the patio with my garden in full view. I suppose I like the idea of afternoon tea so much because it’s such a gracious old world pleasure and I find old world pleasures  delightful. They help in offsetting the stress and pressures of  modern life.

So I pulled out one of my many tea books for inspiration – this one is called Tea Party by Tracy Stern, and I got to work.

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Since I had some cream and buttermilk scones leftover from my last tea, tucked in the freezer, I decided to make tea sandwiches for this tea.  So to work I went!  First to cut the bread into rounds,

IMG_3588[1]then to insert a chicken salad mixture and decorate each tea sandwich with a sprig of mint from the garden.

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That was quick and easy.

Next to whip up some cucumber sandwiches –

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a little cream cheese, salt, white pepper, thinly sliced cucumbers and a sprig of fresh dill, and another sandwich was complete.

IMG_3591[1]The sandwiches were placed on a tray, covered with a damp tea towel, and were placed in the fridge where they would stay fresh until my guests arrived.  That was easy, wasn’t it, and it didn’t take much time at all.

So I had scones and tea sandwiches and also a cake which was purchased – something  savory and something sweet for my guests to enjoy.

IMG_3610[1]My only contribution to this cake was the flower from my garden which I placed on top of it.  There’s really so little work involved in having guests in for tea I wonder why more people don’t enjoy this celebration more often.

If a person feels like going all out they can prepare elaborate hot food for their tea and call it a high tea.  If they feel like taking it quite easy, they can serve only cinnamon toast or bread and butter as certain  characters in Agatha Christie’s “Miss Marple” stories do.  As in the Art of Letter Writing there are no hard and fast rules.  The Art of Tea allows us to do our own thing – all sorts of our own things.

I set everything out on the counter in my kitchen, so everything would be ready, just to be carried out to the patio at tea time, and then I could relax and anticipate a fun afternoon doing other things till my guests arrived.

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 Besides the necessary glasses, sugar bowl and silverware, there’s

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strawberry jam and Devon cream for the scones,

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mint and lemon for the tea,

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 the cake, and a selection of plates I needed to choose from,

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 the flowers for the table

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and  of course the tea, plenty of tea, ready for ice cubes.

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I also enjoyed a little art play by creating place cards for each guest which would be set into these cute little silver tea pots at each guest’s place.

Everything was now ready except for me.  Time to dress and make myself presentable.  It was also time to walk through the house and do a little fluffing and polishing, but not too much because my guests and I would be outside on this beautiful day.

At the appointed hour I carried all the ingredients out to the patio.

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The potted geranium was removed and set at another location, and the tablecloth  came out.

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I’ve been collecting vintage tablecloths for years.  They make a table look so happy.

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The scones and tea sandwiches were set out on the tea cart along with the cake

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and the scene was set.  Now all I needed were my guests

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And here they are!

We may not be ladies of leisure all the time, but this afternoon that’s exactly what we were!  We sipped, we munched, we chatted, we breathed in fresh air and enjoyed the sweet sound of birdies and the scent of  old roses.  Was this heaven?  It was heaven to me!  I hope it was heaven to my guests too.

Tea has a long history of being associated with the finer things of life and today vestiges of extravagant associations remain. Having tea is such a simple thing, but such a luxury!  To invite friends to tea  is a fine way to pay them a compliment.  It means  you want to spend time with them.  It means you relish their company.   And just as the gift of a letter is an old world nicety,  forgotten by many, but still capable of creating delight for the writer as well as the receiver, so too is the Art of Afternoon Tea – especially afternoon tea shared because…

Sharing Doubles the Joy.

Come, come, come to the garden!

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Hello again,

It’s a beautiful June day, the perfect day for a walk in the garden and having you along makes it even more perfect, for you know what I always say – sharing doubles the joy!  I was busy this morning planting lamb’s ears and dusty miller to keep my spirea and viburnums company.

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 These plants are situated in front of our barn.  They are joined by evergreen trees, very old honeysuckle bushes and a red maple.  I thought the greenery needed something, and adding white plants is a first step in order to create a little interest but  still keep the  peace.  What do you think?

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It’s  hard to capture the whole area in a snapshot while at the same time being close enough  to focus on the small white plants, but perhaps you get the idea.  This area has a way to go, but I’m working on it.

I just love lamb’s ears, don’t you?

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Lamb’s ears are also known as Wooly Betony.  I remember this plant in my father’s garden.

My father was a fantastic gardener.  Maybe that’s because he grew up on a farm.  His family’s  farm was in Pennsylvania.  I would be in heaven if my father could be here with me these days working  side by side with me in my garden.  I know my father would love all my land for here he would never run out of projects just as I don’t. He’d love my barn for it would remind him of his childhood days on his family’s farm.   I would love my father’s expertise and help for some days I don’t know what to tackle first and I have so much to learn.  But my dad can’t be with me because he’s already in heaven. Now he can only join me in spirit, but I’ll take that.  Because he loved nature and gardening as I do I feel he is with me when I’m working outdoors in my yard and that makes my gardening work extra enjoyable.

In my Dad’s last years he was in a nursing home suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. He stopped speaking except to say the phrase “that’s a big one”.  Those words made no sense at the time, but now whenever  I’m working in my garden and I chop into a big root or see a big mushroom I’ll say “That’s a Big One!” and I have the distinct feeling my Dad is with me. This makes me very happy.  It’s good to be a spiritual person.  It really is!

Well, let’s move along.  I’d like to show you my herb garden.  It’s just a few steps away, but here’s a view of it from one of the upstairs windows.

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The herb garden
In this next picture you can see where it is in relation to the plantings I just showed you in front of the barn.

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You may have noticed there’s a design going on in the herb garden – mini and larger boxwood mixed with roses and spruce.  In the center is a dwarf Japanese Willow that is in need of pruning.  We’ll get to that one of these days.

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A close up of the Willow’s very white leaves

The leaves of the Willow will turn green as the Summer wears on, but aren’t its white leaves enchanting?  I fell in love with this type of  tree when I first discovered it in a friend’s garden.

At the base of the tree are large rectangular stones set like the spokes of a wheel.  In between these spokes I planted thyme.

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Thyme

  In each indentation of boxwood a different herb is planted.

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Here you see Lavender amidst  a bit of the boxwood, spruce and roses

It’s early in the season so all the herbs are still rather small, but in this sunny spot they will flourish. Here’s what my herb garden contains:  Basil, Lavender, Rosemary, Tarragon, Marjoram, Mint, Summer Savory, Sage, Fennel, Thyme and Chives.

This is a view of the herb garden as if you were walking up to it.

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The Willow tree doesn’t seem very large in this picture but after only a few years growth it is now about 20 feet tall  yet compared to the old trees of the Secret garden set behind it the Willow seems very small indeed.

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See what I mean?

When we moved to this property a few years ago the circle contained a very old and sick apple tree.  Around it were a jumble and I mean a JUMBLE of perennials and weeds. This circle was a project and a half!  We added bulbs for Springtime and lights for night time.  Now just to keep it weeded.

I grow other herbs in my patio garden.  I’ll show you that area another day but now  take a look at my climbing rose at our entrance door.  It’s a delight!  It greets me and my guests every day.

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The rose is going to town this week with flowers galore.  This rose is about three years old.  It took this long for it to look robust.

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I love this flower.  Roses are my favorite flower.  Did you know the rose has been associated with love and with marriage for centuries?  Having many rose bushes in the garden assures me of a rose on my nightstand every night – at least at this time of year.

“My garden all is overblown with roses,

My spirit all is overblown with rhyme,

As like a drunken honeybee I waver

From house to garden and again to house

And, undetermined which delight to favour

On verse and rose alternately carouse.”

Vita Sackville West

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The roses mingle with the scent of lavender for lavender is growing in the urn beside the trellis.  Old fashioned fragrance for an old fashioned house for an old fashioned girl.  The plaque on the wall states the name of the house’s first owner and the date the house was built.

 Jeremiah Brown

1853

Now let’s walk down the driveway.  We’ll first pass some knockout roses and the flagpole.

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Aren’t knockout  roses wonderful?  They never stop blooming.

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Knock out roses

 And look who’s watching us from the porch window!

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It’s Alexander

He’s doing much better these days, eating again  now that he’s getting people food.  Ha!   Tomorrow he goes to the beauty shop for a grooming.

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Here we are at the base of the driveway.  It’s lined with Lily of the Valley.  These plants were put in by a former owner.  They’re  thick as thieves  now – another charming old fashioned flower.

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How do such tiny flowers produce such  sweet scent?

“What was Paradise? but a garden, full of pleasure, and nothing there but delights.

William Lawson, 1617

At the front of the yard there are very large trees and bushes which line the sidewalk.  They must be 150 years old like the house.

 Maybe Jeremiah Brown, John Brown’s half-brother, planted these trees himself

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and he planted the many evergreens too.

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I am trying to establish roses and various ground covers in little pockets of space between the trees and shrubs,  both along the outer area of the beds at the sidewalk, and at the inner areas along the grass toward the house.

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The roses here are a lighter pink in color.

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Pink knockout roses

And in the picture below you see Myrtle that’s quite established.

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The   Spotted Deadnettle, sometimes called “White Nancy”, on the other hand has a way to go in order to fill in the space provided, but  it’s coming along.

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There’s Common Ivy that getting established

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and I’m hoping these little bluish plants spread in future days  Are they called Stonecrop or “Lidakense?

My plan is to get these various ground covers established so there won’t be as  great a need for mulch from year to year. Some large open areas will get mulch, but  hopefully these smaller areas will have a variety of plants  covering the ground. Oh, I also purchased some Sweet Woodruff or Galium Odoratum”, but I haven’t planted it yet.

Well, let’s head back to the house.

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When we get to the back yard we can sit and relax for a while.  Maybe you will tell me about your garden.  You can do that by clicking “comment” at the end of this post.  I’d love to hear from you.  Really I would!

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And here we are. Can I offer you an ice tea?

Let me tell you about this lawn furniture, how it was almost stolen years ago, way back when we lived in Boston.  This furniture was set out on our patio at our very first garden apartment.  In those days we lived on the main floor of an apartment building.  Our patio looked out toward a brook where ducks swan by on a regular basis.  It was a very pretty apartment complex because the brother of the owner owned and operated a garden nursery so he tended the grounds.  The lawn was perfect and was equipped with  a sprinkler system.  There were  flowers everywhere. It was usually a very safe place too, but some neighborhood boys  decided they wanted to get into the furniture business.  By that I mean they decided to steal garden furniture and resell it making a sweet profit for themselves.

Sadly, we thought we best get a chain to secure our new furniture, so one sunny Saturday we went off to the hardware store.  We bought a chain and lock,  but as we entered our apartment I could see through the sliding glass door a young man carrying off  some of our very own furniture.  WHAT?  How dare he!  It was broad daylight and neighbors were out and about.  The nerve!

Without thinking twice I tore after that  fellow yelling all the way and he dropped the furniture and took off.  SUCCESS! … so I have it today.  Hurray for me!

I bet you have a few good stories too.  Do share.  Sharing doubles the joy!  It’s been fun showing you around part of my garden.  I’m glad you stopped by.  Another time we’ll explore the Secret garden.  (That’s what I’ll be working on later  today). Tomorrow I’ll be having another  tea.  This next tea will be  on the patio.  I know you can’t come in person but perhaps you’ll come in spirit when you read about it some future day.  I’ll show you around the patio garden at that time.

But before you go,  let me leave you with these parting words.

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“The art of gardening.  In this the artist who lays out the work, and devises a garment for a piece of ground, has the delight of seeing his work live and grow hour by hour; and, while it is growing, he is able to polish, to cut and carve, to fill up here and there, to hope, and to love.”

Prince Albert (1819-1861)

“Gardening, reading about gardening, and writing about gardening are all one; no one can garden alone.”

Elizabeth Lawrence

The Little Bulbs (1957)

So thanks for joining me!

Notes from the Country Inn Day Gardener

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This lady greets you at the porch entrance

“It is a natural consequence that those who cannot taste the actual fruition of a garden should take the greater delight in reading about one.  But the enjoyment next below actual possession seems to be derived from writing on the topic.”

QUARTERLY REVIEW ( 1851)

And so, when I’m not weeding, pruning, mulching or planting, I, the inn gardener,  delight in photographing and writing about the goings on around the grounds of our country inn of imagination.

I was thinking about what Sir George Sitwell wrote in his ESSAY ON THE MAKING OF GARDENS  back in 1909.  He wrote “To make a great garden, one must have a great idea or a great opportunity.”  Well, I do have a great opportunity here  for the grounds are blessed with very mature trees and shrubs. Such materials formed over time are precious and create a foundation that is worth its weight in gold for any gardener.  There are tall trees and evergreens shielding the front yard from the street.

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There are lovely old trees edging the driveway

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The entire  perimeter of the grounds are edged by tall trees of one sort or another.

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These trees when leafed out provide a screen which keeps the barn hidden from the rest of the property.

 Other trees edge the circular drive, the drive which surrounds the herb garden found in its middle.  The trees also help keep the secret garden behind them a real secret.

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The early  owners of this 1853 property (the first being Jeremiah Brown, brother of John Brown , the abolitionist)  obviously loved trees and people for they planted all sorts of trees in all sorts of places.

“He that plants trees loves others besides himself.”

Thomas Fuller

GNOMOLOGIA (1732)

 In the picture below you see black walnut trees at the edge of the driveway and you don’t want to sit below these trees nor park your car under them when their nuts begin to fall.  They fall with conviction.  Closer to the house there are two river birch.  They do well there because it’s a low area and  rather wet.

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I like our trees.  No, I love our trees, for they are no work for me at all, well, maybe a bit of work when the leaves begin to fall in Autumn, but as Willa Cather said, “They seem  more resigned to the way they have to live than other things do.”

And when Spring arrives and the leaves of all the trees begin to form,  it’s like magic! –   hundreds of tiny specks materializing before our eyes.  If you were to try to paint a picture with such detail you would realize just how wonderful and artful trees really are.  Then Summer comes and trees are in their full glory.

“Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing “Embraceable You” in spats.”

Woody Allen (1935-  )

When I first set my eyes on this property I thought it looked a lot like an arboretum.  So many different kinds of trees  Some are very big and others are quite small like the fringe tree.

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The fringe tree

And it only seems right that we add more trees of our own to this property, so after seeing a dwarf Japanese willow at a friend’s garden with its very white leaves which only gradually turn to green, it was decided to make this tree the centerpiece of the inn herb garden.

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closeup of the white leaves of the Japanese dwarf willow

Maturity has value in people and in gardens.  It’s worth a lot.  I was pricing small boxwood plants recently and was amazed at their prices.  $40 would only buy a very small plant.  I therefore couldn’t help but wonder how much one of the inn’s 5 to 6 foot boxwood plants would summon  if they could be transplanted.

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Boxwood at the porch entrance
I, as inn gardener, may have my work cut out for me.  So much to weed, prune, plant, and redesign.  There are times I am quite overwhelmed.  But if I focus on the job at hand, enjoying it, and if I count the blessings of what already exists in this garden – namely the mature bushes and trees, I feel quite contented and joyful for I have something here and now that even Thomas Jefferson would have killed for…

“I never before knew the full value of trees.  My house is entirely embosomed in big plane trees, with good grass below, and under them I breakfast, dine, write, read, and receive company.  What would I not give that the trees planted nearest round the house at Monticello were full grown.”

JEFFERSON TO MARTHA JEFFERSON RANDOLPH ( 1793)