Gosh Darn You, Martha Stewart!

I fell in LOVE with the cover of Martha’s Easter Issue. I was positively obsessed!!

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I mean, what’s not to love, right??

So, with my characteristic over-enthusiasm, I decided to recreate Her basket for my daughter’s in-law’s Easter Table. That won’t be too hard, I told myself.

Around two hundred dollars’ worth of Martha Products later, I have a reasonable facsimile of Her Easter basket, if I do say so myself. Minus the adorable lop-eared bunny, of course!

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Martha may not have a warm and fuzzy personality, but She’s still one of my Pantheon of Women Goddesses. Hey, Athena wasn’t Miss Congeniality either! And who else could have had a bunch of federal prison inmates crafting?? To gild the lily, She’s an avid beekeeper too!!

She’s the tops in my book.

Have a wonderful Easter, Martha.  I was just kidding You in the title of my post.  :)

 

Save The Bees This Christmas

FYI, the wildly popular “Save the Bees” poster is available for purchase from Etsy. (http://www.etsy.com/shop/NiftyGnomes)
 
plant poster

My UK beekeeping friend Emily Heath let me know that another popular bee poster is available for purchase from Friends of the Earth (http://www.foeshop.co.uk/suppliers/stuart-gardiner) as a tea towel and and an apron. Just in time for Christmas giving!!

bee plant poster

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Cottage Gardening – October Garden

The coming of Fall is bittersweet. I hate to see my garden dying, but some flowers are at their most beautiful. Here are a few pictures I took yesterday.

Bee-Friendly Dahlia

Bee-Friendly Dahlia

White Dahlia And Hosta

White Dahlia And Hosta

The Last of the Roma Tomatoes

The Last of the Roma Tomatoes

Goodbye Until Next Year

Goodbye Until Next Year

English Cottage Gardening – Herbs Of The Mint Family

Herbs of the Mint family are a beautiful and useful addition to any cottage garden. They include such favorites as basil, mint, rosemary, sage, savory, marjoram, oregano, hyssop, thyme, lavender, and lemon balm.

Basil flowers

Basil flowers

Sage

Sage

Originally, cottage gardens were grown for household use, not for beauty alone. Herbs were used as medicine, as flavoring for food, and to freshen the air in the damp, musty lodgings.

Rosemary

Rosemary

The concept of a separate herb garden, isolated from other flowering plants, would have been inconceivable to an early cottage gardener. Herbs and vegetables were grown side by side with roses and foxgloves, both of which also had household uses.

Bee on Lavender

Bee on Lavender

As you can see from these pictures, herbs can be as beautiful as purely decorative plantings. They are also very attractive to bees and butterflies.

Thyme

Thyme

I try to incorporate as many as I can into my overall garden design.

English Cottage Gardening – Bees Love Nepeta And So Do I

I love Nepeta aka catmint!  It’s also a favorite of honey bees and other pollinators. It’s deer resistant too!

Below one of my ever-present fluffy Bumbles enjoys a tasty snack…

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It is a beautiful plant to use in a border. Gertrude Jekyll wrote “it is a plant that can hardly be overpraised.”

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I find catmint easier to grow than lavender. If you cut it back after first bloom, it will bloom again just as vigorously.

My favorite cultivar is Walker’s Low which was the 2007 Perennial of the Year. The name, Walker’s Low, does not refer to the size of the plant, but to a garden in England.

Plant some catmint this summer. Your buzzing friends will thank you!

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Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day – May 15, 2013

Foxglove, Hosta, and Clematis are the stars of my garden in May!

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  • Clematis (asurreygarden.wordpress.com)

English Cottage Gardening – Planting Mt. Everest

My back garden is, well, it’s very steep. I twist my ankle every time I take a stroll in it. I call it Mt. Everest.

Mt. Everest aka my back garden

Mt. Everest aka my back garden

I have some nice David Austin rose bushes planted in the border, but this year my gardening goal is to make a beautiful Gertrude Jekyll-style border for my bees who live at the bottom.

Bees at the Bottom of the Garden

Bees at the Bottom of the Garden

So far I’ve planted lots of lavender and some lambs’ ears. Today I’m planting nepeta and lilies. I’m thinking about buying golf shoes to garden in.

To keep myself motivated, I’ll post the progress of my border throughout the rest of the season. Wish me luck!!

Deb

Girl History Month – Gertrude Jekyll ‘Artist Gardener Craftswoman’

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

Gertrude Jekyll (1843-1932) was an influential British horticulturist, garden designer, artist and writer. Her brilliant designs continue to inspire gardeners everywhere.

Hidcote Manor Garden

Hidcote Manor Garden

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 Mr.Hyde.

Young Gertrude

Young Gertrude

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.

Watercolor by Gertrude Jekyll

Watercolor by Gertrude Jekyll

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.

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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.

William Morris Textile Design

William Morris Textile Design

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.

Hestercombe House Garden

Hestercombe House Garden

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.

Glebe House

Glebe House

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.

Munstead Wood, Surrey

Munstead Wood, Surrey

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.

David Austin's "Gertrude Jekyll" Rose

David Austin’s “Gertrude Jekyll” Rose

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’.

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Girl History Month – Julia Morgan, Visionary Architect Of The Hearst Castle

Hearst Castle

Julia Morgan, a pioneering woman architect, designed and built one of the most legendary private homes in the world, Hearst Castle.

Hearst Castle

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”.

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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.

Julia the Student

Julia the Student

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.

The Fairmont

The Fairmont

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.

William Randolph Hearst and Julia

William Randolph Hearst and Julia

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.

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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.

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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.

Visionary Architect

Visionary Architect

Julia Morgan retired in the early 1950′s and led a quiet life until her death in 1957.