For the past three years, our hydrangea bushes did not get one single bloom. Extremely disappointed, I planned on digging them up but never got around to it. Thank goodness I didn't because this year they are covered with the most lovely shade of flowers.
The cut flowers are long lasting and I've been placing arrangements all over the house. In past years when the bushes were blooming, I would let the water evaporate out of the vase and it dried the flowers perfectly. Then, during the holidays, I would use the dried flowers in wreaths and on our Christmas tree.
Sunday was a beautiful overcast day, perfect for working out in the garden. After purchasing our annual herbs, which included lots of sweet basil plants, I got to work planting them in the herb garden. The perennial herbs are already well established and the chives are in bloom. Next up was taking accurate measurements to plan for the potager.
Three or four additional raised cedar beds will be added to this area. The space is free of grass, and already mulched which will help lighten the work load later.
Here's a view from the other side. Depending on the final design, we made need to remove the two large yews on the right, as well as our enormous boxwood. Without removing some, or all of these evergreens, we would be limited to an approximate space of 12' wide x 18' long - probably not large enough.
The boxwood is 15' wide and 12' high - definitely in need of a major trimming if it isn't removed. However, I do love cutting fresh boxwood during the holidays for wreaths and decorations so I would truly miss having it on the property. Taking the boxwood and yews out would be a major undertaking so I did get a quote for removing them, along with their roots. I was happy to learn it would be just over $200 and that includes removing all of the brush from the property as well.
Here's a view from the other side of the boxwood. Removing it would open up the view to the potager. We have large windows all along the back of the house, with french doors, so it would be nice to be able to look out on the potager during each season.
Now that I have the measurements, the next step is to draw the existing space so I can begin designing the placement of the beds. I love planning all the details! To help with that, I purchased the above supplies. A moleskin large squared notebook for taking notes from all of the gardening books I'm reading and for jotting down or sketching inspirations. I also picked up large graph paper to draw the existing space to scale, including the herb garden and shrubs. Finally, tracing paper. With this I can sketch different designs on the tracing paper and just lay it on top of the design of the existing scaled drawing. This way I don't have to redraw the existing space each time I try a different design or later when determining plant placement.
The above photo is currently the cover of my garden board on Pinterest. You may recognize it as the potager from the movie "It's Complicated". Loved that movie set! If you keep a gardening board on Pinterest too, please leave me a link. I'd love to see all of your pins. In the meantime, I'll be busy with my sketching.
I received lots of emails about my English garden roses and the deer repellent I use so I thought I'd answer all of your questions here.
Where did I purchase the roses? I purchase bare root roses from David Austen Roses. It helps to plan ahead when ordering these as popular varieties sell out quickly. I place my orders in the fall and the roses are delivered at the ideal time to plant in your particular climate zone.
What kind are they? Abraham Darby (apricot/pink), Winchester Cathedral (creamy white) & Elegantyne (pink) Of these varieties, my favorite is the Abraham Darby. It seems to be the most disease resistant of the three and its range of color is so beautiful. I always plant several bushes of each variety in a grouping.
What deer repellent do I use? I use Liquid Fence an all natural spray product that won't harm plants or animals. I'm not going to lie though, it smells absolutely horrible when you are spraying it on. (Worse than horrible!) Must be why it works so well! As an added precaution, I also use deer repellent stakes by Sweeney's. I know these products work for us because everything that I haven't used the repellent on are devoured by the deer, but my roses finally go untouched.
How long do the roses bloom for? In my area, (Northern VA - Planting Zone 7) the first blooms arrive at the beginning of May and I'm still cutting roses into the fall. After a major bloom, it helps to cut the bushes back a bit for the next bloom. With the hot humid summers here I don't get as many blooms as in the spring or fall, but with diligent watering I always have enough for lots of bouquets around the house.
My English garden roses are blooming this week and I couldn't be happier. I chose the roses based on my favorite colors and it's such a treat to place them in bouquets around the house. I wish you could smell them. In the past, I've had a terrible time with deer eating the roses and buds, but I've finally discovered a deer repellent that keeps them at bay. Now I'll get to enjoy these beauties well into the fall.
As I'm in the process of planning our own kitchen garden, it was the perfect time to visit the gardens at Colonial Williamsburg. This is one of my particular favorites.
A central area of raised beds, sourrounded by a white picket fence and floral borders.
I'm not certain what the name of this climbing flower is, but you'll find it adorning the tops of many of the picket fences around town.
Deep red tulips accent this symmetrical garden design.
You'll find many boxwood gardens which are beautiful all on their own.
A favorite feature in all of these gardens are the brick-lined and pea gravel paths.
I came home with lots of inspiration and a Colonial Williamsburg gardening book to help with designing our own little garden.
I have long dreamed of planting a proper potager, or kitchen garden. One of my favorite places to visit when we travel are beautiful gardens. Whether it's the formal gardens of Paris, or country gardens in the English countryside; I am most happy roaming pea gravel paths lined with boxwood and perennial borders. Here in Virginia, there is so much inspiration to be found - with visits to the kitchen gardens of Colonial Williamsburg, Monticello and Mount Vernon, as well as historical gardens in nearby Georgetown and Leesburg. So after years of dreaming, I'm excited to actually start designing our very own potager. The past couple of weeks, I've been borrowing a long list of books from the library filled with loads of information. The above is my weekend reading.
A few years ago, we installed this raised cedar bed for our herb garden. (You can read more about that here.) The kitchen really is the heart of our home and there is nothing like heading outside to gather what you need. My plan is to add three or four more cedar beds, in the same dimensions as this one and plant them with vegetables and a cutting garden. While I initially had every intention of installing them this spring, I had to be honest with myself and realize that I truly want to take more time to design our potager and educate myself on vegetable gardening. I'm looking forward to sketching all the details and purchasing supplies. The planning and anticipation is such a fun part of the process and I don't want to rush ourselves and end up with a design we wish we would have done differently.
So with that in mind, our goal is to have the design completed and the beds installed by the fall. We have some very large shrubs and boxwoods to remove in order to take advantage of an area with full sun, so we have our work cut out for us. I can't wait to begin!
By the way, if any of you are interested in starting your own vegetable garden, Manuela of a Cultivated Nest has started a weekly "Vegetable Gardening 101" series. She is always so kind to offer lots of advice and inspiration, not only about gardening, but about also home decor and celebrating everyday life. It's always a pleasure visiting her blog.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Ours was especially fun-filled. On Friday evening, a friend joined us for dinner and she brought us the most beautiful flowers.
I loved the combination of the orange roses, white calla lillies and these amazing petite blue flowers. Does anyone know what kind they are? I would love to grow some in our garden! If you recognize them, please let me know.
We also just returned from visiting sweet girl this weekend. We celebrated her birthday and took in a college basketball game, which was super exciting. Keeping our fingers crossed the team will receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. In the meantime, both of our girls' college teams could meet next Saturday in the quarterfinals of the CAA tournament. Now that would be exciting!
2/27th update: Some of you have asked for a closer look of the blue flowers. I found this image on flickr of the same flower. They have needle-like leaves, black centers and woody stems.
This is my favorite place to be in the early morning hours. When the sun is streaming through the windows, it's where I want to be with my cup of tea. I've been busy searching for the last touches to complete this room and I hope to have everything in place before Christmas. The custom subway scroll I had designed for my husband arrived and I love it. It's being framed now and will be featured on the wall opposite the fireplace, along with a gallery of family photos. Looking forward to sharing all the details with you soon.
I couldn't ask for a better beginning to fall. With breezy cool temperatures, I've wasted no time getting into the spirit of my favorite season. Last night I brought home a few Cinderella pumpkins for the front porch and tucked in some of our autumn colored hydrangeas and cut boxwood - similar to how I decorated our urns last fall. I also brought home all of the ingredients for my favorite cider recipe that was given to me by my Aunt BJ. Each holiday when we arrived at her house, she always had a large pot of this simmering on the stove. It made the house smell heavenly and it's just as delicious. This recipe is said to have originated in 1619 in Berkley, Virginia. Enjoy!
Found these beautiful ivory flowers in the dried and preserved floral section at Michael's today. With the addition of an autumn floral pick I was able to create the simple wreath design I was looking for and all for under five dollars. Now with the money I saved, I think I'm going to splurge on a few cinderella pumpkins that I spotted at our local market. I can't resist their beautiful greyish blue and bright orange colors and, of course, their adorable shape.
I appreciate all things creative and am inspired by the smallest of details. Here is where I love to share projects, designs and favorite things. ~ (more)
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