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Take a step back in time at Hillwood Gardens…

It felt as if we stepped back in time when we toured the lovely grounds of Hillwood Gardens at the 2017 Garden Bloggers Fling in the Northern Virginia/D.C. area.  The grounds of the estate offered something for everyone.  From the formal areas to the cutting garden, Japanese garden and the pet cemetery, the patchwork of styles was delightful.

Filled with traditional and eclectic statuary, the grounds were dotted with whimsical touches.  This pair of sphinxes, half woman, half lion, drew many stares from visitors.

Across the lush lawn from the mansion, a flagstone patio marks the edge of a balcony overlooking the hilly lawn below.

I did not venture down the hill; my dog took me down on the street in our neighborhool 9 weeks before the Fling and I spent the entire trip hobbling around with a broken foot in a boot!

It was very manageable almost everywhere.  There were only 3 hilly gardens that I either couldn’t or chose not to navigate.  And I brought baggies to make ice packs for my foot every night.  The kindness of my fellow bloggers was astounding.  I believe that every single person asked me at least once or twice about how I was doing and asked if there was anything they could do for me.  It really touched me how kind and generous every one was.  Thank you all for your help and support.

In the midst of many formal garden elements, I found this border dotted with tropical plants and bold color contrasts a delightful surprise.

The Japanese garden lies down the path to the right of the patio.  The hillside garden winds through rocks and holds an extensive collection of Japanese style statuary. The stunning color combinations almost take your breath away and the varying textures and forms create fabulous contrasts.

What Japanese garden would be complete without a water feature, a pagoda and an arched wooden bridge.

The water feature brought an element of calm and cool to the garden, in spite of the heat of the day.

Down the path to the left of the patio a pet cemetery honors the furry family members of Marjorie Merriweather Post.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch and then I found my way to the cutting garden.  Filled with beautiful blooms of every size and color, the flowers were also given a helping hand with stakes and a a full length grid.  About a foot high, the grid allowed the flowers to grow straight up through it from early on, ensuring nice, straight stalks.

One of my favorite plants for its exotic look and structural shape, there was a big patch of Eryngium.

And, a few more whimsical statues to close out this blog tour.

Back to the work at hand, we shoot each other at the same time!

Another wonderful garden experience on our Capital Region Fling.

The spring garden…pots, pots and more pots!

Spring is usually pretty warm here in Central Texas, and this year is no exception.  A few spring bloomers actually had a shorter lifespan because it got hot pretty quickly, but it’s been delightful to see Jerusalem sage, salvias and black foot daisies in bloom.

I’ve spent the last week or so working on clean-up chores and some planting.  We had company for dinner outside last night and so Friday and Saturday were spent planting the pots on the back patio and scrubbing the oak pollen and blowing leaves. (It’s all back this morning – with a vengeance – but it’s a rite of passage and I know it won’t last forever.)

I had a great idea as I was trying to be efficient in crafting combinations for the outside pots — take a picture of each pot so I could see what was missing or what was already in a pot nearby so I could coordinate colors, textures, forms, etc.  Wow.  What a smart idea.  And then I forgot to do it and  I still found myself at the nursery buying annuals trying to remember and guess and buy enough.  I always think of it like Thanksgiving dinner – you have to finish with that perfect combo of food on your last forkful, or you need more potatoes, or gravy…  I need another filler, or another spiller…  If you’re addicted to pots like I am, you get it.

And, yes, every year — EVERY year — I say …less pots, less pots…and then plants just jump into my nursery cart.

They’re all so pretty and bright.

I love all the hot, tropical color combinations.

Of course the dogs have to help!

It looks so inviting.  I wanted to sit down, I really did, but there was pollen to blow!

This is my favorite spot.  I’ll get to sit there soon — maybe tomorrow morning with a quick cup of tea before the week hits in full force.

Itching and inspiration in the garden…

It’s that time of year when I’m just itching to get into the garden.  Our yo-yo weather has vascillated from 90-degree days to drenching and seemingly endless rain.  My spring flowers are performing as predicted and I’m enjoying the bright blooms of Japanese Quince, daffodils, and bletilla.

Japanese Quince

The ornamental cabbages in the giant pots by the pool have never looked better, but I’m already eager to get started on starting the summer container plants in there.  I’m suffering from that in-between indecision about the timing of out-with-the-old and in-with-the-new.

Bletilla Striata – Ground Orchid

And the wisteria is starting to bloom on the back fence.

Wisteria

A few days in the 80s and even 90 and the variegated shell ginger and esperanza, Tecoma stans, are growing by leaps and bounds.  It won’t be long before they will form a beautiful wall along the pool and cabana walkway.

 Variegated shell ginger and esperanza

Daffodils dot the landscape like pinpoints of summer sunbeams.

Daffodil

Daffodil

I’ve also been planting on these gorgeous days.  I’m eager to see the structure that these new Mexican tree ferns will add to this mostly shady spot.

Mexican tree fern

The promise of spring and foreshadowing of summer energize me to dig in the dirt now, while the days are warm and welcoming.  So many projects…so little time!

Spring has sprung in the garden…

It feels like spring here in Central Texas, with sunny, 85-degree days dotting our early February weeks.  That might sound  more like summer to gardeners far north of here, but it’s heavenly spring for us.

The Japanese Quince has been blooming since the cooler, late-fall days, drawing butterflies to the sole flowers in the winter garden.  I’ve had a few white cemetery irises bloom and the peach irises opened up this week.  When I checked early this morning, I did detect the faintest sweet scent in the peach ones.

A few daffodils have opened.  A labeling failure two years ago is to blame for my not knowing each variety, since I do collect new ones each year.  But I recognize the Tete-a-Tetes and they’re starting to open in different parts of the garden.

Then yesterday, the Mountain Laurels burst forth.  I’d been eyeing the buds for several days, and trying to catch a whiff of the grape Kool-Aid aroma they dust on the breeze.

I banned myself from Facebook this morning because it’s been eating my mornings.  So, what do I do then?  I take the scissors outside and look for blooms to bring indoors!  I tried to put a peach iris with this little posie, but it was too big and didn’t work with these delicate little flowers, so I put it in its own vase.

Now, spring has sprung in my kitchen and it smells delicious — just like grape Kool-Aid!

Greening up the garden on Garden Bloggers Bloom Day

After several gifts of much-needed rain this spring, the garden is beaming with delight.  (As are the weeds, but that’s another story.)
IMG_8657

We barely saw winter this year, it made a few stops nearby, but never stayed long enough to qualify for a freeze at my house.

Having happily forgone dormancy, many plants in the garden are big and bursting with blooms well ahead of their traditional schedules.  So here is a peek into my garden as I celebrate Garden Bloggers Bloom day, created by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

This tropical hibiscus was never expected to make it through the winter – I planted two them knowing I’d probably have to replace them this spring, but low and behold, they are happily blooming again.

Euphorbia ‘Ascot rainbow’ against the backdrop of native prairie verbena.

Jerusalem sage, Phlomis, getting cozy with some Salvia Greggii in the front bed.

New additions to my shade garden last year, I added both solid yellow and fruit cocktail shrimp plant to the palette.

Purple and fuchsia dominate the end of the front bed.  The irises in the foreground are done already, but they were a lovely lavender.

Scuttelaria wrightii, purple skullcap, enjoyed our warm spring and is trailing out into the walkway.
I replanted Cleome ‘Senorita Rosalita’ again this year where I had some holes in the front bed.  It makes a nice contrast agains the sculptural foxtail ferns.

A tidy, low, mounding shrub, Catmint ‘Walker’s Low,’ is one of my favorites.

The Salvia ‘Mexican limelight’ on the right and back of this photo is only sporting a few blooms right now, but soon it will create a nice contrast against the yellow Calylophus in the front.

The butterflies homed right in on this native butterfly weed — they knew I’d planted it just for them. (Along with dill, parsley, fennel and many other host/food plants.)

This explosion of four-nerve daisies came flying over from the bed on the other side of the driveway and clearly like where they landed!

More prairie verbena in driveway bed, set against the Lantana ‘horrida,’ — purple and orange is one of my go-to color combos.

Early spring and much-needed rains also mean an early pruning season in the garden.  I’m not quite as excited about that result.

Here, the Jerusalem sage, Salvia greggii, Zexmenia, Mexican feather grass and Mexican honesuckle are getting just a little too neighborly for my taste.  I’m gonna have to go break up the fight out there this week!

I’ve twice tried to plant Cardoon in this bed with no success.  This year, voila!  This plant, put in last summer, overwintered well and is rewarding me with blooms.

I love its color and its beautiful, exotic form.

The cardoon, related to the artichoke, is enjoyed frequently in Mediterranean cuisine.  It is grown primarily for its thick stalks, which can be braised, stewed or deep-fried.

I’ve also grown artichokes many times in the past, but usually let the chokes bloom instead of eating them.  They are just too pretty to eat, in my opinion.

I think I’ll try to cook a few of the stalks of this cardoon – just to see what it tastes like.

Most of my lantana is blooming throughout the garden.  Purple trailing lantana is backed byLoropetalum ‘ever red’ in the front walkway bed.

I think this is Lantana ‘cherry sunrise’ on the side of the house.  Unlike the native ‘horrida’ which can take over your garden – growing up to 6 feet wide and almost as tall – this cultivar is a very compact and orderly size of 2-3 feet wide.

The first of several rock roses began blooming this week.  Pavonia lasiopetala is a tough native plant, but the deer find it tasty, so it has to live inside of the fence.

This daylily, ‘grape magic’ was ordered from Olallie Daylily Gardens when I created the daylily bed in 2008.  It was advertised as an August bloomer.  Just a tad early this year~!

This is Mexican flame vine, hard at work brightening up this section of fence.

These daylilies are not in the daylily bed, but out by the pool.  I don’t know the cultivar, and they look a little washed out in this photo – they are a very deep, velvety maroon color.

Just down the way in the pool bed, this Pride of Barbados has also begun to bloom, well in advance of its traditional August arrival.


Last year’s addition to the pool bed was this Iochroma ‘royal queen.’

I didn’t realize how well it would do in this spot, so I’ll have to keep pruning it.  I might have to get a few more to put in other spots in the bed now that I’ve seen how much they like it.

Clematis pitcheri is crawling with delicate little blooms.

Although I like the bright blue larkspur the best, the white and pale blue are the most prominent in the cutting garden this spring.

Leonotis leonurus, lion’s tail, ‘carefree beauty’ rose and Salvia ‘indigo spires’ are all blooming at once in the cutting garden.

Our recent rains have been good for these salvias.  In times of drought, they really fade back.

Plenty of chow for pollinators in this garden!

I planted a few 4″ pots of Limonium sinuatum, (statice) in the garden last month.  After all, a cutting garden needs some of this bouquet staple, doesn’t it?

The Echinacea reseed in this small spot and come back in droves, year after year.

Behind the pool, the transplanted Salvia ‘Amistad’ adapted very well and is bordered by yellow bulbine.

Behind our fence, the oleander I planted last year as a screen is doing its job.  I will probably add a few more this year so we can start taking out some cedars.

The Loropetalum ‘ever red’ in the front bed makes a dramatic statement.

The Texas Yellow Star, or Lindheimera texana daisy, reseeded into my decomposed granite path and now towers above all of the other low-growers.  It doesn’t really matter, though, because the bluebonnets and wine cups have already taken over the entire path, so the yellow star can be right at home.

We may be in for an early, hot summer, but I’m ok with that since I’ve enjoyed so many beautiful early blooms in the garden.  What’s blooming in your garden today?

By | May 15th, 2016|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Adding interest and dimension to the bones of the winter garden…

By | February 23rd, 2015|Blog, Sharing Nature's Garden, Uncategorized|0 Comments