Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Vanessa's Ornamental Pear in Full Bloom

A few years ago, Drew gave Vanessa an ornamental pear for Mother's Day which they wished to plant at the Lodge. I have one right by the front entrance, but it is more in the shade so Vanessa's tree is always first to bloom. 

Green Spire Columnar Oak

Over the winter I went on a search for a columnar oak at area nurseries and landed on this beauty at Estabrook's. Seems they had it last season and wintered it over so I was able to get a 20% discount on the price of $300. As I grow older, I think certain plantings are worth either buying a larger specimen or planting enmasse as I want to enjoy the effect I am hoping for for as long as I can! So this tree is near 16 feet tall. It was quite the sight to see in the pick up truck as more than half of it was hanging out over the tailgate wrapped in a tarp like a mummy.  We planted it in a row with the maple and the ornamental pear so that it is in a place or prominence. 

Tulips In Their Glory

It is very sad to see the daffodils begin to go by, except the ones in more shade, but the offset is that the tulips are in full bloom right now and look so beautiful.  I keep them close to the building so that deer, turkeys and squirrels are more apt to leave them alone. It has been a successful strategy thusfar.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Magnolia and Azaleas Spring Into Bloom and Hostas Unfurl

As mentioned previously, it has been a very cold spring here in Maine which is funny given the exceptionally mild winter we were blessed with. Even my first to show asparagus spears suffered the same fate. May 10th was the first day I would actually call warm and the nighttime temps stayed in the forties. This brought the azaleas into bloom and turned my magnolia from a one bloom wonder into full bloom splendor. Happy Henrietta looks particularly happy in her flower bed. Many of the hostas which the day before were barely visible, sprang up and began to unfurl their leaves for another season. So beautiful I could barely tear myself away to come to work.

The Barry Sturgeon Garden - Early May 2016

The daffodils that Eric and I teamwork planted last fall are spectacular in the new beds! I had told Eric to not be stingy with the plantings as I had always tended to do in the past. This meant that instead of waiting a few years for a real impact, we got one the first spring! What FUN! Still lots of cleaning up to be done in the background woods, but I couldn't be happier with the progress we made last year. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Hyacinths Stand Guard in the Garden

The brilliant color of the hyacinths, especially when planted with yellow daffodils or red tulips can't help to bring a smile to my face. I tend to plant them along the edge of the bed so they look like little sentries guarding the bed.  

Spring in a Pot!

One of my favorite seasons, I just love to plant pansies! I love their happy little faces greeting me just outside my door. I love their stalwart nature, no fear of the cold, no worries if covered by a late spring snow and always seeding in and popping up between the bricks of a sidewalk. Some of them even weather the heat of summer though that is not when they are at their best but now when we are all hungry for color and their happy faces. When combined with bare branches and pussy willows the arrangements are perfect trumpeters of the spring season. 

The pulmonaria is blooming alongside the daffodils in the Humpty-Hump Bridge Garden, a.k.a. the Screen House Garden. I've been using the leaves which Eric shreds with his mower, picks up in the bagger and I add to the garden every fall as mulch. It is not the most attractive of mulches, but the goodness it adds to the soil is well worth the "not quite perfect" looks in the spring. 

Hosta Beds Make Great Spots for Daffodils

Each fall we plant between 250 and 500 daffodils bulbs in the gardens. Just like a savings account, the additions we make are rewarded with the multiplying bulbs of the older planting which are now becoming good sized clumps. Planting daffodils in the hosta beds is a perfect combination as the dying foliage of the daffs is mostly hidden by the emerging hostas. 

Spring 2016... A Mild Winter, But A Cold April

Winter 2015-16 was most curious. We only needed plowing five times the entire winter and snow was pretty much gone most of the winter. So it should follow that everything gets an early start in the spring... but thanks to a late snow which collapsed a good portion of my daffodil blooms who were unlucky enough to have sent up their buds already, and stubbornly cold nighttime temperatures, plants were a bit confused in April. My nature to look on the bright side came up with the plan to cut any of the blossoms which had laid over and bring them in the Lodge, something I don't often allow myself the pleasure of since I just love seeing all the daffodils in the garden. I love the light this time of year! The bare branches of the hydrangeas and the spirea just glow in the late afternoon sun. The birch beams against the blue sky and the dark branches of the background trees. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Gardens Are Ever-Changing

The right side of the front garden when planted in 2008.
Note the forsythia several feet to the right of the birdbath. 

The left side front garden, also planted in 2008.
Note the forsythia to the left of the yellow sign.

The forsythias in their prime added welcome spring color to the front of the Lodge. 
This photo was taken in June of 2015. As you can see, the gardens in the front of the Lodge have filled in dramatically since they were planted some eight years ago. While I love the look of the forsythia while they are blooming in the spring, truth be told they have become a pruning nightmare. As I wish to have the blossoms, they should not be pruned much after the big prune I do in June shortly after they finish their spring bloom But, by late summer they look quite unruly and are not pleasing additions to the front beds at all. So, fingers crossed, I fetched my best digging shovel this fall and dug two of the four out and moved them down to form part of the hedge I am growing to divide the play area behind Nutshell from the rest of the field. As winter froze up the ground, they appeared to be doing well... we shall see in the spring. Whether they survive their move or not, I know I have made the right decision. Perhaps fall of 2016 will see the moving of the remaining two forsythias. 

Allen Family Christmas 2015

The Lodge tree was cut from Drew and Vanessa's new home. One of four blue spruce once planted to set off a beautiful magnolia tree, they have grown too large and are now blocking the full view of the 25 foot magnolia. They wish us to take one a year to use as the Lodge Christmas tree. 
Our beautiful family, Christmas 2015.

The blue spruce proved to be the perfect Christmas tree.. though I learned just how prickly they are!

The mantel in the Root Cellar Pub reflects my love of cardinals. 

A wonderful Allen Family Christmas was once again enjoyed at the Lodge. I still pinched myself to have the stairtower as I hauled all the decorations up to the main floor of the Lodge without troubling myself to haul them out and around the entire building. The Pub is also a really fun place to decorate as it takes lots of creativity to think of ways to add holiday cheer to the family memorabilia.We spent "real Christmas" with Jess and Pete who treated us to a fabulous Frackelton holiday. So much fun to see each of the families establish their own traditions and adopt some of the ones from each others childhoods. Allen Family Christmas was celebrated on New Year's weekend. Eric fashioned a hanging rack for the stockings which was placed beneath the large window in the stairtower to greet everyone as they first arrived and remind them to fill the one whose name they had drawn. We had the fireplace for the first time this year and so the stockings are no longer able to hang from the mantel, or we should have to go without a fire. So happy to have the great memories from another wonderful holiday season. 

Hostas RULE in 2015!

 Just love this fabulous picture of what the hostas turned into after a fairly perfect growing season. Even the daffodils were not convinced they wished to die back but chose to remain as sentinels in the hosta beds. 

The Barry Sturgeon Garden- Update

During the course of summer and fall I added many new plants to the Barry Sturgeon Garden, and added some structure in the form of a bird feeder, Japanese maple, two rhododendrons and six red twig dogwood for winter color,  I developed a back path behind the benches and began the multi-year task to forming a border between garden and wood with the addition of several divided hostas or ones which simply had outgrown their space in the older beds. I transplanted many wheelbarrows of sod to establish the paths. Placing my annual order with Van Englen bulbs meant the arrival  of 600 daffodil bulbs along with some tulips and hyacinths. I placed 100 of them in this garden to trumpet the arrival of spring 2016!

Festive Fall Decor

Plants still blooming, pumpkins aplenty, cornstalks blowing in the breeze, the Lodge celebrates fall.

Allen/McCormack Baby Celebration-a.k.a. "The Anti-Shower"

So much fun to let all my chalkboards announce the celebration of a new baby!

Sharon and Jamie were pumpkin decorators extraordinaire!
I made little storybooks as favors for the children.
Erica's love of sweets made a candy buffet a MUST for the shower.

The last family portrait before Eleanor's arrival on Dec. 4, 2015.

What fun to celebrate the arrival of yet another member of the clan. Though no one knew it at the time, we would add another girl named Erica Ann McCormack on December 4, 2015. Erica and Casey requested that we have a "couples with children celebration" for them which was not  to be called a shower. Since the party would be the same weekend as Pumpkinfest we decided to invite our guests to enjoy some of those festivities as well. We had around 90 guests and lots of fun!

Fall Gardens-2015

The summer of 2015 was a splendid growing season. There was a wonderful balance of rain and sunshine and very little extreme heat or cold. By fall the gardens were especially beautiful decked out in their blazing hues of red and gold. The marigold which had been going strong since late July, continued to offer their color to the beds. I never regret the time and care it takes to plant those seedlings in March, and intend to plant even more this coming spring. My trip to Clark Farm once again gave me all the fall decor I needed to make the transition from summer flowers to cornstalks and pumpkins. 

Back Entry Garden Created-Late Summer 2015

The new stairtower at the Lodge was looking a bit bare so we began by loading up the bricks originally from the main chimney that we replaced at Raymond Court and hauling them up to the Lodge to create a temporary walkway and border for a garden. Then of course there was the matter of removing 6 inches of the fill which is totally unsuitable for growing plants, and replacing it with some good garden loam. I had purchased a weeping white pine at the Skillin's Spring Open House auction which made a great accent to the right of the door. Dividing hostas I was able to plant a border along the outer edge of the bed and add a few by the pine to make the beds similar though the one on the right is much smaller. I then purchased some rose colored daylilies from Smokey's and added a variegated euonymous and some Solomon's Seal in the back corner. The addition of the urns on either side of the walkway gives me the perfect place to do some seasonal plantings. Eric built me a window box for the back windows of the stairtower which is such a perfect location as the plantings can be viewed from both inside and outside. The fall arrangement was removed and replace with boughs and berries and a string of battery operated lights made the box festive for the Christmas holidays.