A Country Inn Gardener’s Day

As you may know I enjoy one Country Inn Day each and every week. These are days I escape from life’s usual demands and do only the things I love. Because I love Country Inns I like to imagine my 1853 Jeremiah Brown House is a Country Inn on these Country Inn days and I take on many roles. I’m Inn Cook, Innkeeper, Inn Gardener, Inn Maid, but of course, most of the time I’m Inn Guest. And there are many kinds of Country Inn Days too – Culture day, Spa day, Nature Day, Tea Party Day, Adventure Day, so many more, but today is a Gardener’s Day. For a large part of today I will function as the Inn’s Gardener.

After some morning coffee and a delicious brioche bun I write a letter. This I do on every day, Inn day or ordinary day because I am a Lady of Letters. I then put on my garden attire ready to work, but before going out, the Inn Cook (me again) has prepared a nice eggs benedict for my morning pleasure. How nice. But now I really am ready to work, but wait! What’s this? RAIN? Oh my, what’s a gardener to do when on Country Inn Gardener’s Day it starts to rain and the rain keeps coming? Answer. The gardener goes shopping. I had noticed there were a few bare spots in the border garden and the circle garden could use a few more roses too, so on this rainy Gardener’s Day I will purchase all the things, or at least more of the things, my garden desires.

Sometime later in the day

What fun I had shopping. Girls just want to have fun you know, especially on a Country Inn Day, so strolling around hundreds of beautuful plants was the perfect thing to make me feel deleriously happy. I would have gone crazy buying lots more than I bought, but I am limited by what my small BMW can hold. Darn. But actually, it is amazing how much I can squeeze into that vehicle.

The Shrub Arbusto

I got a Shrub Arbusto. It’s name is Summer Wine and it’s a Ninebark. It will have pretty pink flowers.

The Pygmy Barberry

Then I chose a few Pygmy Barberry to add a little more accent color to the garden . They’re a pretty crimson. I have quite a few of these plants around the property and no animals bother them because of their prickly leaves.

Here you see some Barberry at the sunroom entrance

I know hosta are a favorite food for the bunnies and deer that live near me and visit my garden all too often, but there was a sale on the Minuteman variety. This variety has very pretty dark green leaves with pure white edges. I couldn’t resist them. My deer and rabbit repellent seems to be working on the hydrangeas so hopefully it will protect these hostas too.

The Minuteman Hosta

Next I found some shrub roses in the prettiest, soft pink.

They’re called easy elegance and they’re disease resistant. I do have luck with roses and I absolutely love these.

Roses from Grace Rose Farm

By the way, if you ever want to send some gorgeous , fragrant roses to a friend I suggest you google Grace Rose Farm in California. This farm is amazing and you will love the choices they have in color and style of bouquet.

But back to my shopping trip… I also bought a few more deep pink double knock out roses for my circle.

The Circle

I have light pink shrub roses and boxwood at the edges of the circle, but inside the circle are herbs, knock out roses and tree hydrangeas. The circle is one of my garden’s success stories. When I moved to this property the circle contained an old, diseased apple tree and a mess of weeds with a few perennials mixed in. It took quite a while, but the circle became quite a lovely thing if I do say so myself.

Almost done shopping . . . I really wasn’t looking for a climbing rose, I have a red one by my entrance door,

The climbing red rose near the entrance door

but when I saw this Arborose Quicksilver I couldn’t resist it. Its flowers look like cabbage roses, and the cabbage rose is one of my favorite rose varieties.

The absolutely beautiful purple climbing rose

They call it purple, but it’s really a pinkish purple. It will look fine by the entrance to the sun room, sitting across from some pink Japanese Anemone.

The Laguna and Aromance along with geraniums in the flower box

That’s almost it except for a few more pots of blue Laguna and pink Aromance. These little gems join my pink and white geraniums in the outdoor flower boxes.

The Fringe Tree

It was a wet and messy shopping trip but I battled the raindrops, packed all my pretty though drippy new plants into the car and off we went. I hope my new beauties will like their new home in my garden. I am so happy to have them. My flowers and bushes are all my friends. (Spoken as any true gardener) I talk to my plants and they bring me so much joy. Don’t you talk to your plants too? Plants are great. Nature is great. It soothes the savage beast in us. My time as Inn Gardener has been very productive. Of course this is only the beginning. Another day the actual planting will begin and so it goes merrily on and on and on and on.

The table is set

There’s a nice dinner later and then some spa time – a bubble bath with champagne and candlelight. Country Inn Days are full of all the things I love. Work and worry can be put off till tomorrow as Scarlet O’Hara would say. Actually, why worry ever?

We create our life experience. Sure, there are things we have to do, but I think it’s also important to create pure days of delight. Country Inn Days are such days and though I’d love to tell you more about them I’ll do that in the book I’m writing.

Afternoon tea

Now I have a date with Barbara Pym, an author, and her most delightful book, Jane and Prudence. Barbara will wisk me off to a quiet English country village and that’s where I’ll be having my afternoon tea with her delightful characters in their charming gardens. Ah books! Ah, to have an imagination!

So till we meet again. I do hope you live richly with all your favorite things and with much imagaination too. Imagination is a terrible thing to waste. If you haven’t been using yours start now. Let me know what you come up with.

Love to you from me, Carol Ann

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!