Friday, July 21, 2017

Daylily Season......and more

Many of our day lilies started life here as models for one of James' paintings.
Some were here when we purchased the house.
We have divided them and moved them around the garden, finding places that needed a burst of color in late July.

James and I like the combination of the Globe Thistle's texture and blue color 
in contrast to the warm yellow of this Daylily right outside our back door.

Yet, it is not all Daylilies grabbing our attention. This Astible is tall and
glorious and its placement outside our window makes for easy viewing, even when on 
hot and humid days, like we have been experiencing, we prefer to stay inside!

Echinacea blooms along with Russian Sage, Poppies, Globe Thistle, and the long lasting Yarrow.
For leaf contrast we have planted a dark purple foliage Cimicifuga, Tall Phlox, with
 variegated leaves, a yellow grass,
 Sea Holly with it's silver leaves and thorny blooms, as well as the evergreens, 'DeGroots', arborvitae  and boxwood.


Daylily, 'Elizabeth  Salter' is one of our all time favorites and I cannot tell
you how many times she has ended up in a painting. We first found her in Maine where she held 
a spot at the head of our stone walk. When we moved back to New Hampshire 
this  special Daylily moved with us.
Sadly, our last move was in the winter when here in the New England  States the
ground was frozen.

A couple of years ago we went looking for a daylily for James to include
in a painting that he was working on. As we wandered around the Daylily farm we
noticed 'Elizabeth Salter' was on their  plant list.
So, once again, she adorns our garden border!

Daylilies dancing above Coreopis ,'Moonbeam' and  Cranesbill Geranium, 'Rozanne'.

An array of greens in the shady end of the border.
A cool spot for an early morning cup of coffee.

A lovely pair gazing into the porch window, along with my shovel 
that I left outside today.
I best go retrieve it!

Monday, July 10, 2017

THE HEARTFELTS.....find the link here to the story!

The final episode of

( episode 10)

After a delicious meal with the Greater Heartfelt family everyone
is happy and full, but it's getting late........ Time to go.
Kitchen is cleaned, and then...

Before turning in Red Polka Dot Girl wants to check email,
she's waiting for something.....
But, what?

Find out the whole story at:

Friday, July 7, 2017



Our garden in June is dominated by the flowers of peonies, oriental poppies and bearded irises, 
with a supporting cast lead by salvia, nepeta and lady's mantle.
Yet, with all these lovely flowers, we cannot forget how foliage carries  the
garden month after month.

The shaded end of the 'Walled Garden' remains fairly consistent from Spring
into the early Fall. The tall fern flutters in the breezes. The blues and greens of the hostas are
only enhanced when paired with a red heuchera. 

The morning sunlight exposes the texture in the leaves of a hosta,'Frances Williams', a constant
inhabitant in our garden.

 July begins on a quiet note......

'Peach Blossom' astilbe contribute a color contrast to the surrounding cool hued foliage, not to mention the fragrance it adds to the air as we stroll past.  This particular astilbe 
is an all time favorite plant of ours that has been transported to each garden we have planted.

It's crown of soft pale pink spires waft above it's fernlike leaves, here it can show off amongst the large foliage of the blue green hosta.

Can you smell their perfume?

The sheared boxwood has an underplanting of caramel color heuchera. once again 
it is all about contrast of leaf and color!

From shade to partial shade to full sun......

Continuing on into the sun, our July garden begins on a more subdued note, without the bombastic
peonies which I am crazy about, and the bearded irises that are so significant in June.
Both of these flowers have become models for James in his paintings.

Now, we wait for what's to come........ There are signs of changes about to happen.

The yellow yarrow punctuates the garden from June into July.
The Russian sage with it's purple flowers and grey green leaves will become more vibrant in the July garden as will the globe thistle , adding both texture and drama.

Dwarf Monarda

The colors of summer!

As the walk continues  towards the gate, we have full sun on our backs and dappled sun ahead. Here we find plants like, enkianthus, boxwood, foxglove, ornamental grass, astilbe and heucherella.

And.....the first daylillies!
July will be alive with daylillies.

Each year I think to myself that I should move these daylilies to a new location.
They don't really belong here. But, then before I can bring a shovel to them they begin to flower!
I will probably leave well enough alone, and now that they are in bloom I find I like them here at the gate.

We pass through the gate to a shade garden.
This is the first place we have lived that has enough shade to plant an honest to goodness shade garden, something James has always wanted to do.

The variety of greens and foliage dance around the urn. The shade garden
is a serene place. There is a bench here where we often sit, especially after a stretch of garden work.
Or, sometimes with a glass of wine before dinner.
Go ahead, take a seat and enjoy the tranquility it offers.


The vision for this central bed was to create 'mounds' of color and texture lined by a gravel walk.

Yet another path is much more naturalized and woodland like....
Sorry, no gnomes!

She is surrounded by her favorite plants and an occasional toad hopping through.

Making the most of foliage. With last summers drought we we concerned that
we might loose plants, but this spring was rainy and the plants have returned and are thriving.

The walk ends here with the stewardia just as they begin to flower.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017


If anyone tells you that Florence is flat, don't believe it !

In truth, much of Florence is flat, as the city is built along the Arno River, but once you cross over the Arno from the Historic Center to the south side of the city called the Oltrarno things can change. Our destination on a early May afternoon was the Boboli Garden. The entrance to the garden is behind the Pitti Palace, a former residence of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de' Medici (1519-1574) and his wife, Eleanora de Toledo. They purchased the palazzo from Luca Pitta.

This Cosimo is not to be mistaken for Cosimo de' Medici ( 1389-1464)  the Renaissance  powerhouse, founder of the Medici Bank and patron of the arts in Florence. He was grandfather to Lorenzo de' Medici known as Lorenzo the Magnificent.

The very formal Amphitheater is build on flat ground just behind the Pitti Palace, it is quite easy to imagine the members of the Medici family and their guests strolling on a summer evening. In the center is an Egyptian Obelisk that was brought from a Medici Villa in Rome. I guess they must have figured that Rome had plenty of Egyptian Obelisks, why not bring that one to Florence.

From here it is all up.

The center piece of Florence is the Duomo and Brunelleschi's Dome. From this vantage point the view is just about eye level to the famous dome.

The garden has inspired the design of many Italian gardens. There are avenues lined with clipped hedges of boxwood, and alloro.  Wide cedar lined gravel paths take you past statuary sculpted  in marble and bronze which create visual stops along the way.  I was happy to find benches placed along the walks for moments of rest and welcomed shade. Throughout the garden are nymphems and fountains that speak to the formality of the design and wealth of the Medici family.
 One of the treasures that we must find before we leave is the mysterious Buontalenti Grotto.

More stairs yet to conquer!
James and Paul are up there ahead of Betty and I, we still have that final climb to make to the top of Boboli Hill.

On the top of Florence we found flowers.....roses and peonies... and expansive views over Tuscany. The Boboli Garden is grand in scale stretching from the Pitti Palace to Florence's Porta Romana which in the 1600's was the main gate into the city.

Our timing was perfect, the roses were in full bloom and the peonies just opening. I have to admit, and I think the others would agree, it was worth the climb.


A Rose Garden with a  Tuscan view.

I wonder how often the Medici walked up to the top of their garden?
My guess...they went on horseback!

The building at the end of the garden is the Casino del Cavaliere, which the Medici family used as a place of recreation. It currently houses the Porcelain Museum.

But where is the Grotto?

From this vantage point in the garden, we are high above the city of Florence as we look down at the Duomo.

Our descent begins....

..........with a walk past the 'Kaffeehaus' that was built in the 18th Century. The Boboli Garden is a 'work in progress' it's fair to say. There is constant restoration work and upkeep to maintain the
vast expanse of gardens and buildings.

Just before we are ready to leave....

we stumble upon this...
The Grotto by Buontalenti!

Giorgio Vasari laid out the plans for the grotto and Sculptor, Bernardo Buontalenti was responsible for the sculpture and the ornamentation of this crazy, strange and beautiful Grotto.  Stalactites and shell ornamentation  create the cavelike dwelling in a corner of the garden. The design and sculptural elements are Mannerist in style.

Shepherds would take refuge in the grotto to keep from the wild animals roaming the countryside, so the cave grotto served both form and function.

See the grey door to the left, that is the entrance to The Vasari Corridor.
 Giorgio Vasari designed a 'secret' passageway for the Medici that would take them from the Pitti Palace across the top of the Ponte Vecchio and on to the Palazzo Vecchio therefore never having to walk amongst the public.
 But, that my friends, is another complete story.

It is time for the four of us to go over to The Golden View for a Aperol Spritz. after all, we've earned it!