Come, come, come to the garden!

IMG_3454[1]

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.

IMG_3570[1]

 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?

IMG_3572[1]

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?

IMG_3551[1]

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.

IMG_3451[1]
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.

IMG_3584[1]

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.

IMG_3373[2]
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.

IMG_3506[1]
Thyme

  In each indentation of boxwood a different herb is planted.

IMG_3374[1]
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.

IMG_3574[1]

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.

IMG_3575[1]
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.

IMG_3479[1]

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.

IMG_3478[1]

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

IMG_3564[1]

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.

IMG_3480[1]

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

IMG_3481[1]
Knock out roses

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

IMG_3403[1]
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.

IMG_3405[1]

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.

IMG_3406[1]
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

IMG_3573[1]

and he planted the many evergreens too.

IMG_3407[1]

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.

IMG_3581[1]

The roses here are a lighter pink in color.

IMG_3582[1]
Pink knockout roses

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

IMG_3409[1]

IMG_3412[1]

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.

IMG_3413[1]

There’s Common Ivy that getting established

IMG_3411[1]

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.

IMG_3408[1]

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!

IMG_3467[1]
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.

IMG_3471[1]

“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!

It’s another Country Inn Day – Come on along

IMG_3287[1]

Today and every Wednesday my 1853 home is magically transformed into a country inn where I step out of my regular routines and enjoy a little (or a lot) of imagination.  I flip from being innkeeper( hosting afternoon teas)  to inn chef (creating mouth-watering  romantic dinners) to  inn  gardener (planting and weeding) to inn maid (tidying and polishing), to inn guest.

Each of these inn characters could tell you lots of stories, and I’m sure one day you’ll hear from all of them, but today Carol Ann , as inn guest,  would like to share with you a delightful outing she enjoyed as part of her inn day.  That outing took her (me)  to a charming town called Chagrin Falls.  Why share?  You know.

 Sharing doubles the joy!

So grab your hat and off we go!

We head north east from my town of Hudson, Ohio and in about 20 minutes we find ourselves in a neighborhood that could easily be mistaken for the town of Edgartown on the island of Martha”s Vineyard, but it’s not Edgarton, it’s Chagrin Falls.

IMG_3225[1]

Most of the charming old houses in Chagrin’s historic district  have a uniform look of white clapboard with black or dark green shutters creating a very crisp and clean look.

IMG_3228[1]

We see architectural  details  on many of the houses and charming plantings that add a finishing touch to the landscape.    Dogwoods, azaleas and so many old majestic trees that only old neighborhoods will have.

IMG_3229[1]

An all green palette is very restful to the eye and maybe that’s why this neighborhood has such a comforting effect on me.

IMG_3230[1]

And the fences… so many picket fences –  a very New England thing, and having lived many happy years in Boston I suppose that’s also part of why I feel so comfortable and at home here.

IMG_3227[1]

But though I could spend  my whole outing walking around this neighborhood and taking pictures of pretty houses and gardens  we need to move on and go into town where the action is.

IMG_3286[1]And here we  are …looking at the gazebo on the triangle.  It’s a Chagrin Falls trademark right in the center of things.

IMG_3262[1]

As we stroll around town on this beautiful day we run into some very friendly ladies  of the Dogwood Valley Garden club who are planting  flowers in town.  They tell me about “Blossom Time”.  This is a festival celebrated on Memorial Day weekend.  There’s a carnival and a parade and if you live anywhere near Chagrin Falls, Ohio you should google it and stop by.  If everyone is as friendly as these nice ladies I’m sure you’d  have lots of fun at these festivities.  I’m having a lot of fun on this very ordinary day.  I hope you’re enjoying yourself too.

There are all sorts of nice places to eat here Al fresco style.  You could go to the Gamekeeper’s Tavern (my favorite)

IMG_3277[1]
The Gamekeeper’s patio

or you could choose the restaurant next door called West End.

IMG_3281[1]
West End

West End has out door seating in its small front yard and also seating in its backyard.

IMG_3278[1]

And there are many other restaurants too.  You’ll not starve if you come here.  And if you’re from out of town fear not.  There’s the Inn of Chagrin Falls that would be happy to have you stay with them.  Yes, a real Country Inn!  If I didn’t already have my inn of imagination so close by you could be sure I would check in myself.  It’s lovely.

IMG_3282[1]and it has its very own patio beyond the gate.

IMG_3283[1]

Chagrin Falls … ah!  Isn’t it a cute place?  And there truly are falls here —  waterfalls …  there are two, and let’s take a look at them.  You get a different view from each side of the street.

IMG_3246[1]

On this side of the street you see the falls and  there is a park with lots of green grass and even a playground set back for the younger set.

IMG_3244[1]
A path along the grassy park

On the other side of the street you walk down flights of wooden steps to see an even larger water fall.

IMG_3253[1]

You might wonder how this river and this town got its name.  Well, in the book “Early History and Early Memories” written by Clarence A. Vincent he writes:  The little neighborhood of my childhood and the village were 16 miles from the city of Cleveland.  The name of the village originated in a peculiar way.  The discoverers of the river, now called the Cuyahoga, at the mouth of which Cleveland is built, returned to the east for supplies.  On their return to the wilderness they came to a river’s mouth which they supposed was the river of the other trip; but when they tried to ascend the stream, they soon found it too small and not suitable for navigation.  In their disappointment they called it the Chagrin River.  Later when the village was settled and named, it was called, on account of the falls at this place in the river, Chagrin Falls.”

Though it’s just beautiful out here with a gentle breeze blowing and the smell of fragrant spirea in the air let’s walk around to the red building you saw across the river.  It’s a Starbuck’s coffee shop and I’m in the mood for some good coffee.  How about you?

IMG_3251[1]We walk down the street past the popcorn shop

IMG_3255[1]

and the book store

IMG_3234[1]

and we settle in at Starbuck’s where I write a letter and we both  rest our feet for a little while.

IMG_3256[1]

We got a good table by the window so we not only can look forward to see the whole shop

IMG_3259[1]

but we can also look out the window at our side to see the street and the falls below.

IMG_3258[1]

As you may know from my previous posts I love coffee shops and I could stay here for hours, but I did want to do a little shopping so off we go to The Herb Shop.

IMG_3266[1]

There are lovely herb gardens out front

IMG_3241[1]
Just one view of the many herb gardens

and many different  herbs in pots of assorted sizes are for sale.

IMG_3240[1]

I feel like a kid in a candy store, but I restrain myself and purchase only 5 pots of sweet woodruf.

IMG_3273[1]

Some day the inn gardener will have to show you where the sweet woodruf gets planted.  But that’s for another day.

I had a lot of fun on my outing seeing many people and  lots of things and I’m very proud of myself for spending only a little money.  I resisted the cute pedestal server I saw inside the Herb Shop.

IMG_3271[1]

 Oh yes, that shop sells all sorts of goodies inside its doors.  Lots of things the innkeeper (me)   could use for her teas.

IMG_3238[1]

And did I tell you part of the shop is rented to a lady who sells beautiful yarns?  I was so tempted to buy the materials needed to make  this eyelet knit scarf.

IMG_3269[1]

But I resisted temptation.  I resisted Herb Shop temptation and Antique shop temptation too.   I gave you the highlights of my outing, but I left out a few things –  like the fun antique/gift shop where I saw  these sconces which would look mighty pretty in the bedroom of my inn of imagination.

IMG_3260[1]

It is possible to have a fun outing without spending a lot of money, but I  may have to go back to  Chagrin Falls and pick up  those sconces for the more I think about them the more I like them.

So that was my little outing on this Country Inn Day.  I’m glad you came along.  After a day out and about I always return to my inn of imagination with renewed contentment.  I hope you enjoyed seeing a bit of Chagrin Falls, Ohio. too and I hope you take time off  from your routines regularly in order to  enjoy lots of outings in your own neck of the woods.  We don’t have to check into  real inns or hotels,  nor do we have to go far away in order to have  fun.   We just need to use our imagination and give ourselves permission to take time off now and then and do whatever makes us happy

And what would that be for you?