Tuesday, June 11, 2013


Thank you to those of you who left such sweet comments on my previous post about my grandma's birthday celebration. She and her twin sister had a nice birthday. She so enjoyed hearing all of your kind birthday wishes. As I've mentioned in earlier blog posts, my grandma and I share a love of gardening. Early June finds mine at its peak as more than 65 roses unveil their flowering splendor. After that, it isn't much worth seeing. Growing roses can be a challenge in our Midwestern climate but these Knockout roses (pictured below) flourish here. We planted this one several years ago for a magazine photo shoot of our porch.

I have always loved pink, so most of my roses are that color but I also have some apricot, white, and yellow flowering beauties. We added this bed of blooms in front of the porch the spring after we moved into Ashton House.  

Here's another view of the front bed. The roses mingle beautifully with two large green globes of  Canadian boxwood, which anchor one of the porch entrances.

Last year, we suffered a terrible drought and I was worried things might not come back. What a pleasant surprise it was to see that not only had they returned but volunteer plantings had decided to grace our gardens. I found this sweet lamb's ear growing between the cracks in our sidewalk that leads to our porch. When Mother Nature gifts you with such treasures, it's always nice to pass some along to friends and family. This clump will soon be on its way to a neighbor's garden. I have several others that sprouted up just outside the front bed. Many years ago while researching an article on garden designer Gertrude Jekyll's Munstead Wood home garden, I discovered the allure of silvery plants. Jekyll wrote that they added a "magical touch" to the garden and I must agree!

I've long admired the exuberant rose beds that beautify English gardens. My humble garden of roses is an ode to England. I wish they grew as well as roses do in England! I grow several English David Austen roses, including this dazzling 'Abraham Darby'.

Our garden is also home to Rugosa roses, some of the hardiest roses available. They aren't the prettiest but they are sure tough. I found this guy on an end-of-season sales bin for $2 one year and I honestly didn't have the room to plant him at the time, so I'm ashamed to say I threw him in a shady bed even though roses prefer sun. He doesn't seem to mind as he blooms regularly in the shade.

In the fall, he produces the most marvelous red hips, which can be used in jams, jellies, soups, bread, and pies—among other goodies.

In the arbor garden, we added a metal rose pillar to soften a corner and planted the climbing rose that my friend Luke gave to us last year. I love its pink color and can hardly wait to observe its ascent up the pillar. You can see a hint of its hot pink blooms in this photo.

Want a charming companion for roses? Try the drumstick flowering alliums. These statuesque growers stand 4 feet tall and put on a quite a show in the spring garden. I grow four different varieties that bloom in succession. I even have a dwarf white-flowering variety that stands just 8 inches tall.

Most of my garden flowers are pink but I also have a fair amount of purple because I think that color complements the pinks. One of my most cherished plants is this Siberian iris that hails from my grandpa's garden. Its foilage is very slender. The larger foliage you see in the photo below is actually Japanese anemone. I underplant a lot of the bulbs with perennials, which disguise their unsightly foliage after they fade. 

Birds and cats flock to my birdbath fountain—not a good combination, I know! Hopefully they won't flock there at the same time!

Being an owl lover, I can't close this post without a pic of one of these feathered friends—a rusty owl pick nestled amid roses, coral bells, and iris. Isn't he cute?