Foxglove, Hosta, and Clematis are the stars of my garden in May!
- Clematis (asurreygarden.wordpress.com)
Foxglove, Hosta, and Clematis are the stars of my garden in May!
There is no spot of ground, however arid, bare or ugly, that cannot be tamed into such a state as may give an impression of beauty and delight.
Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) was an influential British horticulturist, garden designer, artist and writer. Her brilliant designs continue to inspire gardeners everywhere.
Gertrude was born into a prosperous family and was educated in the arts from an early age. Jekyll’s brother, Walter, was a friend of the author, Robert Louis Stevenson, who borrowed the Jekyll family name for the title of his psychological thriller, Dr. Jekyll and.
When she was 18, Jekyll was admitted to the South Kensington School of Art, where she studied painting, as well as botany, optics and the science of color. She would have had a career as a painter had not her sight begun to fail.
As her eyesight dimmed, Jekyll conceived the idea of creating art works from flowers and shrubs, and turning the design of gardens into an art form. She started to design simple cottage gardens and, as her career advanced, produced grand designs for country houses.
Jekyll was greatly influenced by William Morris, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts Movement in art, architecture, and crafts during the late 19th century. Morris advocated a return to an informal planting style based upon an idealized English cottage garden. Jekyll shared Morris’s mystical view of nature and drew on the floral designs in his textiles for her garden designs.
In 1889, Jekyll was introduced to the architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, with whom she began an association, creating landscapes for his avant-garde constructions. This successful partnership, with each influencing the other, resulted in one hundred Lutyens/Jekyll designs and greatly contributed to the English way of life.
Jekyll was a formidable plants-woman, who experimented with plants in her own garden at Munstead Wood in Surrey before recommending them to anyone. She taught the value of ordinary plants familiar to gardeners today, Hostas, Bergenias, Lavender and old fashioned roses.
Gertrude Jekyll concentrated her design work on applying plants in a variety of settings, woodland gardens, water gardens and herbaceous borders always striving to achieve the most natural effect. She had an artist’s eye for color and contrasted plant textures to great effect.
Jekyll was the author of 15 books, her most famous being Wood and Gardening, a guide to the creation of gardens in a variety of climates and conditions. She was a prolific designer, completing around 350 commissions in England and America, many of which still exist today.
In 1986, the rose breeder David Austin created a deep-pink shrub rose and named it in Jekyll’s honor.
Jekyll died on December 9, 1932 at Munstead Wood, Surrey. She is buried in St John’s Churchyard, Busbridge. On her tombstone is inscribed the simple epitaph by Sir Edwin Lutyens, ‘Artist Gardener Craftswoman’.
Julia Morgan, a pioneering woman architect, designed and built one of the most legendary private homes in the world, Hearst Castle.
Hearst Castle is a National and California Historical Landmark mansion located on the Central Coast of California, United States. It was designed by Ms.Morgan between 1919 and 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951.
In 1957, the Hearst Corporation donated the property to the state of California. Since that time it has been maintained as a state historic park where the estate, and its considerable collection of art and antiques, is open for public tours. Despite its location far from any urban center, the site attracts about one million visitors per year.
Hearst formally named the estate “La Cuesta Encantada” (“The Enchanted Hill”), but usually called it “the ranch”.
Julia Morgan was born in San Francisco on January 20, 1872 and grew up in nearby Oakland. She was one of the first women to graduate from University of California at Berkeley with a degree in civil engineering.
During her tenure at Berkeley, Morgan developed a keen interest in architecture which is thought to have been fostered by her mother’s cousin, Pierre Le Brun, who designed the Metropolitan Life Insurance Tower in New York City. At Berkeley one of her instructors, Bernard Maybeck, encouraged her to pursue her architectural studies in Paris at the Ecole Nationale et Speciale des Beaux-Arts.
Arriving in Paris in 1896, she was initially refused admission because the Ecole had never before admitted a woman. After a two-year wait, Julia Morgan gained entrance to the prestigious program and became the first woman to receive a certificate in architecture.
Miss Morgan opened her own architectural firm in 1904, quickly establishing herself as a fine residential architect, and securing a number of commissions in the Piedmont, Claremont and Berkeley neighborhoods. Morgan’s style was characterized by her use of the California vernacular with distinct arts and crafts attributes, including exposed support beams, horizontal lines that blended with the landscape and extensive use of shingles, California Redwood and earth tones. One of her first independent projects was the bell tower on the campus of Mills College in Oakland, which withstood the great 1906 San Francisco earthquake.
Other notable projects included the rebuilding of the Fairmont Hotel after the 1906 quake, the Asilomar Conference Center in Pacific Grove, California and a series of YMCA buildings in California, Hawaii and Utah. Throughout her career she designed nearly 800 projects in California and Hawaii.
In 1919 William Randolph Hearst hired Julia to design a main building and guest houses for his ranch in San Simeon, California, which would later become the Hearst Castle. Mr. Hearst instructed her to build “something that would be more comfortable” than the platform tents which he previously used at the ranch. Morgan’s classical training in Paris, her background in engineering, and her use of reinforced concrete, suited her well for the project.
Over the course of the next 28 years, Morgan supervised nearly every aspect of construction at Hearst Castle including the purchase of everything from Spanish antiquities to Icelandic Moss to reindeer for the Castle’s zoo. She personally designed most of the structures, grounds, pools, animal shelters and workers’ camp down to the minutest detail. She also laid out the estate’s 127 acres of gardens.
Majestic Coastal Live Oaks and California Bays, native to the hilltop, are carefully integrated into the garden design. These and other large trees, such as Italian Cypress and Mexican Fan Palms, help to integrate the scale of the towering main house, Casa Grande, with the smaller scale of the surrounding gardens and guesthouses. William Randolph Hearst wanted a garden that displayed a profusion of blooms throughout the year. Plant species that bloom during each of the different California seasons were selected for the beds, and colors abound in the historic gardens throughout the year.
Colorful flowers such as bougainvillea, tulips, hyacinths, gladiolus, lilies, dahlias, asters, geraniums, lantana, petunias, pansies, sweet peas, hollyhocks, marigolds and carnations were some of the many varieties grown throughout the gardens. Greenhouses were used to grow annuals from seed, to propagate shrubs, and to raise tuberous begonias and gloxinias. Additional flowers were purchased from nurseries to fill the garden landscape. Hundreds of thousands of annuals, bulbs and perennials were planted throughout the year to provide the color displays Hearst enjoyed in his gardens.
In the late 1930′s Mr. Hearst’s financial woes slowed the pace of her Hearst commissioned work to a crawl. However Miss Morgan had always maintained a sizable client list, working on other commissions in conjunction with the Hearst endeavors. In 1947, upon Hearst’s leaving the Castle for the last time, Julia Morgan’s work at San Simeon was finished although the Castle was never completed in its entirety.
Julia Morgan retired in the early 1950′s and led a quiet life until her death in 1957.
My neighbors know my favorite garden tools are old silverware and my fingers. I’m Old School.
But there are 10 traditional cottage garden tools that make life in the garden easier. This season I’m breaking down and purchasing them.
1. A Spade and Fork - Essential for digging and lifting the soil. I’ve been making do with a child-sized shovel from Home Depot. It’s time to get serious. I’m moving up to a child-sized spade and fork from Clarington Forge. These tools are made in England and have heads made from a single piece of steel. The heads are securely riveted to an ash shaft. They are exceptionally strong and are backed by a lifetime guarantee. Much better than my old spoon.
2. Hoes – I’m going with a flat bottomed Dutch hoe that’s good for digging and weeding. In the early days of cottage gardening, hoes were the main tools used, although in much heavier versions. You may recall seeing them depicted in older English paintings.
3. A Hand Trowel and Hand Fork - If you can only afford one set of the finest garden tools, buy these. They may be the only tools you really need!
4. A Rake – A rake is another tool that performs a multitude of garden tasks.
5. Pruning Shears – I have about 5 pairs of pruning shears, from a big lopper to a tiny pruner. I’ll probably buy another one this year! All of mine are bypass secateurs which have two blades, like scissors. I use them on all my plants as they are gentle and do not damage the fragile stems.
6. Gloves – A good pair of gardening gloves is essential when pruning roses or anything with thorns. Also crucial if you want to avoid poison ivy.
7. A Wheelbarrow - I couldn’t live without a wheelbarrow. Mine is a large plastic number, not vintage or beautiful but essential for composting the beds.
8. A Watering Can - I collect rainwater for my container plants. And it looks good in a cottage garden!
9. A Planting Dibber – This tool is useful for anyone looking to plant a large amount of seeds or small transplants.
10. A Trug – Okay, maybe not a necessity, but it sure is gorgeous!
It’s a gorgeous day on Columbia Parkway! The sun is shining and it’s almost 60 degrees F. It’s perfect for doing yard cleanup, putting down some compost and checking on my bees.
I noticed this morning that my rose bushes are starting to bud. Time to do some much needed late winter pruning!
Winter pruning is important for the well-being of roses, as it stimulates the growth of new shoots which will provide flowers.
The best time to prune is just as spring growth starts. It’s not a good idea to wait until the new young shoots are a few inches long as this wastes the plant’s energy and will delay flowering.
The basics of pruning
The first step is easy. Cut out any shoots that are dead and diseased. Spores on these stems can easily reinfect the new shoots in spring so removing them will help with disease control. Also cut out any stems that are particularly weak or rubbing against each other
The next step is to prune the remaining stems. Most roses benefit from moderate pruning, reducing the height by 1/4 to 3/4. I usually trim about 1/3 of the average height of the stems.
If you have the time you can make sure to prune just above the bud and at a slight angle away from the bud. The angle of the cut is more of an issue for Hybrid Teas and Floribundas as they can be more susceptible to die back than shrub roses. I do make sure that my secateurs are clean and sharp.
Once you have finished pruning your roses it’s important to clean up all the cut stems and fallen leaves as they can carry disease onto the next season.
Then apply a good layer of mulch such as garden compost or well rotted manure. No bark mulch please!! This will help to bury any spores left on the soil surface, keep the soil moist and cool, prevent weeds from germinating and feed the microorganisms in the soil.
After I finished pruning, I checked in on my bees. They were flying like crazy!
I was delighted to see they were collecting pollen, not just out for a warm weather potty visit.
I’m adding a third hive this year, so I’m moving the original hive to the bottom of the garden. Moving day is tomorrow! I’ll be sure and let you know how it goes…
Linden trees, also known as bee trees and basswood trees (and as lime trees in Europe), are large trees that grow in four-season climates all over the world. These trees can reach 80 feet in height and have a 40-foot spread.
The trees bloom in June and July and their yellow flowers are highly aromatic. They are extremely popular with honey bees (leading to the colloquial name of “bee-tree”), and you can buy basswood honey made almost exclusively from these trees. Linden trees have the reputation of producing some of the best honey in the world. It has been described as “delicate and mild, and has warm herbal notes and a clean finish.”
Linden trees grow in plant hardiness zones 3 through 8. The coldest temperatures in zone 3 can reach 40 below zero and 12 below zero in zone 8. Besides temperature, soil conditions influence the success of linden trees. They like finer soils that drain well but hold enough water to support the tree.
Linden trees are successful when planted wherever there is excellent to good farming soils. They prefer slightly acidic soil but will tolerate pH levels as high as 7.5. Linden trees do not withstand drought for prolonged periods and are not found in the western states of the US.
The leaves are large measuring anywhere from 3″ to 6″ in both length and width. The linden tree provides much of its own food since the leaves do not lose their mineral content as they decay. Linden tree leaves are high in calcium, magnesium, nitrogen, and potassium.
Did you know that trees provide most of the surplus nectar and pollen for bees? Or that 5 or 6 trees produce as much nectar and pollen as a whole field of wildflowers?
Most people don’t. That’s unfortunate because planting a tree, especially in an urban area, is one of the most effective things you can do to help save the bees.
The benefits of planting Black Locust for honeybees have long been recognized. Bees are drawn to the fragrance of the nectar-rich blossoms. An acre of Black Locust is said to produce 800 to 1200 pounds of honey. Moreover, the Black Locust blooms late enough in spring that the blossoms are rarely damaged by frost; thus, it is a reliable annual source for bees.
In Europe the Black Locust tree is considered to be highly prized as an urban street specimen, because it tolerates air pollution very well. The graceful white flower racemes that hang from the branches are extremely fragrant and perfume the air for shopping pedestrians.
The aromatic Back Locust flowers begin blooming in May and are considered edible and tasty like citrus flowers. Ironically, all other parts of the Black Locust tree are poisonous and should not be planted near livestock grazing sites. The lacy leaves are airy and constantly flutter in the slightest breeze. Leaflets can grow about eighteen in number and are attached to a midrib one foot in length. At night the leaves fold up as daylight fades, and likewise, the Black Locust tree leaves will contract during rain. In the Fall the deep green leaves that are silvery green underneath, turn bright yellow, and because of their tiny size do not need raking when fallen on the ground and then disappear in the grass as a fine mulch.
The Black Locust tree is a very fast growing tree that can produce a 4 foot trunk diameter and on old trees can reach 100 feet in height. This fast growing tree characteristic will rapidly enrich poor soils, because the Black Locust tree is a legume, so that nitrogen fixing bacteria grow into root nodules loaded with nitrogen organics. The Black Locust trees are very cold hardy, native American trees that range from the North Georgia mountains to Pennsylvania and then grow Westward to Oklahoma.
In addition to his new varieties, David Austin offers three beautiful bee-friendly roses.
‘Comte de Champagne’ has flowers of a rich yellow coloring which as they open, gradually turn to a pleasing pale yellow. They open to form a perfect open cup, with a ‘mop’ of stamens of deepest yellow; the whole providing a delightful range of color on the bush at one time. The growth is wide, low and bushy, producing its flowers on slender, arching stems. There is a delicious honey and musk fragrance that complements the flower to perfection. Healthy and free flowering.
This rose is named after Taittinger’s finest champagne. The president of Taittinger, M Claude Taittinger, is a descendant of Thibaut IV, Count of Champagne and Brie and who introduced R. gallica Officinalis (The Apothecary’s Rose) from Damascus on his return from the 7th Crusade in 1250. He was a great lover of roses and wrote about them in his poetry.
A tall and rather spreading shrub bearing dainty, coppery-pink flowers with a yellow center and pretty stamens. Its foliage shows signs of its Alba parent and the flowers have attractive, long conspicuous sepals on the opening bud. Hardy and disease-resistant.
It has a soft Musk Rose fragrance.
This is not truly an English Rose but we include it here for convenience as it has connections with our Musk Hybrids. The flowers, which are small and single, are held in very large heads rather like a hydrangea and produced almost continuously from early summer through to the end of the season. The young buds are soft apricot opening to pure white, with a hint of soft lemon behind the stamens. The flowers are followed by small red hips which should be removed to encourage repeat flowering.
It is extremely healthy and completely thornless – an unusual thing among roses. It has a bushy but rather upright habit of growth, making it ideal for the back of a mixed border. A group of two or three or more bushes will provide a mass of white as though they were covered with snow. This rose is particularly suitable for forming a magnificent impenetrable flowering hedge.
We are naming this rose in celebration of the 250th anniversary of Kew Gardens. We are replanting the rose garden behind the famous Palm House, returning it to the layout of 1848 and filling it with a wonderful mixture of English Roses, Old Roses and other shrub roses.
I just received my 2013 David Austin Handbook of Roses and was delighted to see there are two new cultivars that are especially bee-friendly.
‘Fighting Temeraire’ has the shape, color and fragrance that are attractive to bees and other pollinators. The fully open flowers are very large, 4-5″ across, and have only ten petals. They are a rich apricot color, with an area of yellow behind the stamens. The fragrance is medium to strong, very fruity with a strong element of lemon zest.
‘Fighting Temeraire’ is a painting from 1839 by the famous landscape painter, watercolorist and printmaker, JMW Turner. This rose has been named for the Turner Contemporary Gallery on Margate’s seafront in Kent.
Bees will be attracted to the open shape and creamy white and yellow center of The Lady’s Blush. As with all semi-double roses, the central group of stamens is a very important feature. These are particularly fine; a beautiful soft yellow color with highlights of golden-yellow pollen. Its only drawback is its light fragrance.
It has been named to commemorate the 125th anniversary of The Lady magazine, which is the longest running weekly magazine for women.