Around The Garden World – Day 28 (Richmond, Virginia)

there is a house behind there somewhere…
When my son and daughter-in-love bought their first home in Richmond, Virginia, they inherited a small jungle. 
front porch looking into the front yard. 
entrance sidewalk to front door

It was a pretty “jungle” but definitely needed to be brought under control for this newbie homeowners and self-proclaimed beginner gardeners.

One delightful, if not a little overwhelming, gift in the garden is this fig tree that envelopes the right side of the front door sidewalk. 


 Looking out into their cute little courtyard…. oh, wait, you can’t see their cute little courtyard because this rosemary willow has totally taken over the back staircase and sitting area.

Rosemary Willow
This sitting area is completely shadowed by the fast growing rosemary willow.

 So the weekend after #2 son and daughter-in-love moved in, hubby and I flew up there to help tame the garden and give a little guidance in landscape maintenance. First step for these former apartment dwellers was to get the right tools. Here’s our stash from Lowes, full of Corona Tools – bypass pruners, hand pruners, folding hand saw, shears. Good tools take an overwhelming task and makes it manageable.

These Womanswork nitrile gloves are a must for anytime I get out to garden.  
I’m not at all squirmish about getting my hands dirty but I do love that I can pull off these very dirty gloves after a morning of work and still have clean hands!
I always preach “wear your gloves” to folks to protect their hands from insects and thorns, but some folks don’t like to give up the fine detail they can get with their bare hands. I found these gloves provide both the grip I need and allow me to work those close up details with my finger tips.  Plus, I’m all about the story behind the gloves. Check out their story: click Womanswork.
And #3 son has LOVES his Fiskar push mower!
With just a small strip of grass in the front of his home and a small empty lot to the side, Robert son can quickly and QUIETLY mow with his Fiskar StaySharp Reel Mower. I had been able to see of one these mowers in action at a Garden Writer’s event and helped direct Robert to the right mower to fit his needs.

My favorite of ALL tools is something called a Hori-hori knife which Caitlin is so sassily showing here.  I had been telling the family that we needed to get them one (I couldn’t bring one in my carry-on luggage on the airplane!). On our excursion to visit Brent and Becky’s Bulbs, Caitlin notice that Brent had his Hori-hori, or what most folks call a gardening knife, attached to his belt ready to use at any time. And, lucky for us, we were able to purchase one for the newbie gardeners there at Brent and Becky’s garden shop. Caitlin is now ready to take on any tough soil or roots! 
Second step is make sure we are well nourished before we begin our days of work. 
Well-made Pastry Alliance provided some delicious and affordable breakfast food before we began our task – they were an easy morning’s walk to get our pre-gardening stretch in. 

 Plus, they had some cute window boxes complete with strawberry vines – fruit with our pastries!

All the plants and the prolific growth they have had over this wet summer was a little overwhelming for these new gardeners so our first procedure in the garden was to prune back and thin out the plants. In the pruning process, we made sure we enjoyed some of the bounty of the garden. 
These figs provided a sumptuous light lunch for us later in the day.

And the zinnias that needed to be thinned out looked perfect in their new kitchen.

 The front garden was overrun with Monarda (Bee balm) so I began by thinning this out. In the process, we found this cute little garden art.

We also found this Alstromeria 
Also found this Baptisia 
We used our Corona garden shears to cut back the Musa (Banana Trees) before we dug them up and moved them to the side of the house. 
A few hours after cutting these banana trees, they are already putting out growth from the middle of the trunk!

  #2 son had been working for me in my garden for years. It was interesting how much more eager and interested in learning he was now that the garden is his!

Lady was so wanting to help!

There were plenty of distractions! 

We found rose bushes, autumn clematis and two dwarfed crepe myrtles under all the monarda and banana trees. 
Hubby pruning the russian sage (Perovskia)

 I think my pruning job sent the young couple into a little shock. I call this tough love – (but they are thanking me now.)

 So then I stared in the courtyard. There were some real treasures that would await them if they could just get TO the courtyard like this beautiful Japanese maple

 And something was lurking behind all this overgrowth

 Follow the unweeded path

 Eureka!! A nice like water feature with a working small fountain. We’ll work on cleaning this up later.

 We discovered a raised bed with asparagus and chives

and hidden in this bramble are several blueberry bushes and a blackberry bush. 

So I did a pruning on the rosemary willow…
Tool of choice for this project? The new Corona hand saw. 

 The courtyard is now accessible.

And I found this sweet little clematis vine. 

 There were also some scary, but beautiful little garden helpers like these garden spiders.

 Then we returned a month later….

 Arrived at night and was encouraged to see the regrowth.

In the morning I found the helenium still trying to find it’s way after being overshadowed by the banana trees, but loving all the sunlight they were now getting.


The roses were flushing with new bloom

The newbie gardeners are starting to feel like they have something manageable!

And the courtyard is ready for quiet evenings or outdoor entertaining.  One small step for this momma, one giant leap for the new gardeners. 

Around The Garden World – Day 27 (Hawaii)

 Hey blogger friends, here are a few more photos from random places in Hawaii. Truth is, I don’t know what most of these plants are. If you know, please chime in!
This week I’ve overseen the installation of about 3000 flats of pansies and worked 14 hour days so I’m just a little wiped on this Friday so enjoy the photos and I’m going to bed.

Around The Garden World – Day 26 (Byodo-In Temple, Oahu)

While out in Hawaii a few years ago visiting my son, daughter-in-law, and grandson, I was able to visit  Byodo-In Temple with my long-time friend Lisa Rogers. The ground were gorgeous and very peaceful. 

My sweet friend Lisa Rogers and I are reliving the memories our early motherhood days together. Lisa was the first friend to meet our #1 son. This is our #1 son’s #1 son, who she got to meet even before I did because she was living in Hawaii where he and his wife were living, and was able to visit our new grandson before I flew out there.  

Me and #1 Grandson!

 What an delightful area to reconnect with an old friend!

Fog coming over the mountain.

Around The Garden World – Day 24 (Windstone – Brentwood, TN)

Here’s a little inspiration for those planning on changing out their tired summer planters with winter planting. These are two different plantings in the entry planters at the beautiful Windstone neighborhood in Brentwood, Tn. 
I call this a Dr. Seuss planting – a topiary pom-pom juniper underplanted with Acorus Ogon, Euphorbia Rainbow Ascot, Illumination Vinca, and Rose pansy.

Variegated English boxwood, Dianthus ‘Firewitch’, rose pansy, Sedum Red Carpet, Blue pansy, Red Bor Kale, Chamaecyparis ‘Golden Mops’

What are you putting in your fall/winter pots?

Around The Garden World – Day 24 (Westhaven)

 Several years ago I helped a friend turn her tiny courtyard into welcoming retreat. She lived in the charming community of Westhaven, one of middle Tennessee’s most delightful neighborhoods to live in. She wanted a sitting area, a potting area, and colorful flowers.

Can you say, “welcome to my cozy courtyard?”

 This old table Pamela found was perfect for a planting table.

 This turned out to be one of the coolest sinks – Pamela’s potting area. Check out the old pigeon roost that was used for shelving and storage.

 The family crest on her gate door.

 My friend Pamela used the old hutch in the background as her potting shed.

This  broken piece of marble countertop was perfect for a little table top placed on top of this clay urn.

Around The Garden World – Day 22 (Austin, Texas Nurseries)

While speaking in Austin Texas this year, I went with herb specialist Trisha Shirley (the Director of Flora and Fauna at Lake Austin Spa) to visit some great garden Centers

Sunshine Garden Center

The Natural Garden  is more than a garden center – it is a destination. It is a historical milestone in organic gardening.

It is a mecca for those on the hunt for the perfect container. 

It is garden art in all it’s quirkiness.

It’s a display garden.

It’s a picnic spot

It is a butterfly garden.

Shrimp plant Justicia brandegeeana

It’s a zen garden

It’s an AUSTIN garden

Around The Garden World – Day 21 (Les Quatres Vents)

Someone asked me recently what my goal was with this series of Around The Garden World In 365 Days. My answer was simple – I have a whole lot of pictures of gardens from lots of different places. I  thought it would be fun to show folks how diverse different gardens are and how differently people garden and how differently we all perceive beauty in the garden. One of the side effects of continually being aware of so many different landscapes and what makes a “garden” is that sometimes I can’t pass up observing the life lessons that one can glean from the landscapes and gardens. 
Sometimes we travel through life and look ahead to see uncertain and unexpected paths we have to take…
To enjoy the total experience of the gardens of Les Quatres Vents, Colin Cabot – our entertaining and charming host who grew up on these grounds – led us to this rope bridge to cross so we could experience some of the more intimate areas of the gardens.  These gardens cover more than 20 acres are considered to be one of the most ambitious private gardens in the world. 
The pathway may be way out of our comfort zone…

 and involve some risks…

Colin explained that we had to cross at our risk, but he crossed before us to show that it was secure. 

My friend Helen Battersby embraces life eagerly – I don’t think it ever crossed her mind NOT to cross this bridge.

And there are those who are willing to take risks, who have gone before me, and can encourage me along the way. 

Only one can travel this bridge at a time

but once you find your balance, press on.

 Some were willing to take the risk, some chose a different path. But a few of us experienced something few others had. Frank Cabot, who created the world class gardens at his summer home of Les Quatres Vents, reportedly hired a bridge builder from the Himalayas to replicate the bridge as he had seen them there.

photo by Helen Battersby

When I looked at these two photos that my friends had taken while I was on my rope bridge adventure, I had to notice that these pictures are pretty symbolic of my life right now. If life is an uncertain rope bridge, with risky steps yet full of adventure and beauty and leading to even greater places, I am halfway along on my journey.  There are those ahead that led by example and I need to hear their advice along the way. And there are those behind me that I can encourage along the way. And I need to press on, look around me, and embrace the adventure.

photo by Barbara Phillips-Conroy

Around The Garden World – Day 20

My friends in Franklin have an incredible garden in their backyard built around an electric train. 

 Planted with miniature evergreens and low-growing sedums

 Larry has hand-built the houses and buildings to scale that he locates around the track.

 Pretty cool!