Sunday, December 23, 2012


I’ve been gone from this blog for a long time.  As I learn to live life as a handicrapped     (Freudian slip?) person*, I find I need to adapt to all kinds of challenges. I’ve lost dexterity in my hands. (This note was typed the old fashioned way.)  But, I’m learning to use “Dragon – NaturallySpeaking” speech recognition software. Hopefully, I’ll get back to gardening and blogging soon.

In the meantime, I wish you all a Merry Christmas and Joyful Holidays.  I hope your 2012 garden was spectacular and your 2013 garden is even better.
(*See June 10, 2012 blog “Inclusion Body Myositis [IBM].”)


Sunday, September 23, 2012

Grape Tomatoes

Grape tomatoes either have improved since they were introduced in the late 1990’s OR I’ve learned to appreciate them more.  They seem sweeter and firmer to me.  They are convenient for salads or snacks, or roasted, or grilled or right off the vine – I keep a bowl on the kitchen counter for a quick snack.


Grape tomatoes have ripened in abundance since August and need to be picked every 2 or 3 days.  I often cut them in half and sometimes in slices to avoid an embarrassing mouth-geyser.  I’ve also shared their sweetness with neighbors. 

Two of my favorites are grape tomato ‘Sweet Thing’ (shown here) and grape tomato ‘Juliet’ (grown by a friend). 

Do you grow grape tomatoes?  What are your thoughts on the modern grape tomato? Which variety is your favorite?

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Coleus and Amaryllis

It’s time for me to think about fall cleanup.  I work so slowly these days that if I start now I may finish in time to spread mulch in late winter. 


The coleus filled some spots in the garden this year as usual.  I like to take cuttings to root for next year in late August.  I definitely get cuttings and bring in any plants that spent the summer outside as the nights get cool and before the heat is turned on in the house. 


Last week I brought the amaryllis in from their summer home on the deck.  I’ll stop watering and trim off the dead and dying leaves.  The bulbs will rest until Thanksgiving when I will add a little potting soil and begin to water.  And, hope for a spectacular February bloom.


I’ll work outside today and pull some annuals that are past their prime.  So it goes – as another summer winds down.


Sixth generation herbalist Susanna Reppert-Brill discusses tea blending, tea
parties, and growing your own herbs for tea at on September 20th at the
monthly meeting of the Bethlehem Garden Club.  1:00 p.m. at Advent
Moravian Church, 3730 Jacksonville Road, Bethlehem, 18017.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Workshops for the Gardener

Immerse yourself in a day full of gardening topics.  It will be an exciting day full of gardening information and fun.

September 15, 2012
Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 696 Johnson Road, Nazareth, PA 18064
All day seminar includes sessions topics:  Macro-Photography, Backyard Habitat, Composting, Vermiposting , Food Preservation, Seed Starting, Small Space Gardening, Fruit Trees, Hypertufa, Year Round Gardening, Invasive Plants, Pruning.

Keynote address "Pollinators" by Dr Anita Collins, USDA-ARS, retired. Dr. Collins has done research on honey bees for more than 40 years and is currently collaborating on a survey of native bees east of the Mississippi with the U.S. Geological Survey

Garden Fair: vendors with Birdhouses, gardening books, perennial plants, jewelry and more. 

Hurry. Registration ends August 31. Click here then click on “Workshops for the Gardener Brochure” for registration information and form.

More information or questions call:  Call Northampton County Extension Office (610) 746-1970.  Lehigh County Extension Office (610) 391-9840

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Season of the Lily

There is truth in saying “buyer beware”.

The Season of the Oriental Lily has passed for another year.  July is the month of lilies for me.  One of my favorite plants, they mostly take care of themselves.  They are reliable and bloom every year. 

Lilium ‘American Dream’ purchased from White Flower Farm in 2003 grows to 7 feet tall in my front garden. From one bulb I now have about 10 to 15 flower bearing stalks filled with large fragrant blooms in July.  Beautiful true-to-type.

Casablanca may be my favorite.  Heavily fragrant and somehow angelic, I purchased 3 bulbs from Brecks in 2009.      Beautiful true-to-type

I bought some bargain bulbs labeled Casablanca and Stargazer from a vendor at the Philadelphia Flower Show.  This lily labeled Stargazer does not look like any Stargazer I’ve ever seen.    Nice but not true to type.

This Pretty peachy colored lily came in the same batch from the bargain vendor but it is neither Casablanca nor Stargazer.  Beautiful but not true to anything I imagined.

I would not buy inexpensive bulbs from unknown vendors again.  I have a mixed bunch of lilies. Pretty but not what I had planned.

It’s something to think of as you purchase spring flowering bulbs this fall. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I went away for a week and a day

for a little rest and a little play.

Trimmed some hosta and several astilbe.

A gardener is a gardener and always will be.

Sunday, July 08, 2012


News from the Bethlehem Garden Club -

Bethlehem Garden Club


“Sailing Through Summer”

July 20-21 2012, Friday 3-8 p.m and Saturday10-3.

Grand Ballroom of the Historic Hotel Bethlehem, 437 Main St.

---within walking distance of the Club's

three award winning gardens!!

Come to our exciting show,

tour the historic district,

shop and dine for a fabulous summer experience.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Delicate Combination

Pastel pink and baby blue - I would have never planned this combination thinking it too bland. I think it works here because neither bloom is overpowering. The quantity of forget-me-nots seems to balance the larger mum flower.

The self-sowing Forget-Me-Not seeds followed gravity down the mulch slope over the winter and geminated in the Clara Curtis Mums.  It’s what I love about the self-sowers.  Every year I see surprising combination without any effort at all.

Mum ‘Clara Curtis’, Dendranthema zawadskii, planted in 2004 from Wayside, blooms all summer. I cut it back just a little in late fall.  In spring it has always started to bloom early and continues to bloom until frost. 


Annual Forget-Me-not ‘Blue Bird’ Myosotis dissitiflora,  planted directly in the garden in 2006 with Ferry & Morse seeds. 

Mum ‘Clara Curtis’ info from Suite 101 here.

Forget-Me-Not info from Backyard Gardener here.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM)

I’ve been trying to write this blog for a year. Last year I was diagnosed with Inclusion Body Myositis (IBM).   It is a somewhat rare affliction.   According to some experts, IBM affects about 15 people in 100,000. It is apparently both an inflammatory and a degenerative muscle disease.  The cause is unknown and there is no cure.  Falling down is what we do.

I continue to garden with help.  I continually search for tools to make gardening possible for me. 

There is so much more to explore in the world of gardening.  As I reinvent myself, I plan to post highlights and lowlights of my gardening world.  I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Pictures from Hortulus Farm, Garden and Nursery  a non-profit foundation in Wrightstown, Pa. Bucks County. The reasonably priced plant sales’ profits go towards preserving the beautiful grounds and gardens.  It was definitely worth the trip.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Tea Cup Garden planter bed.

I visited Chanticleer in Wayne, Pa for the first time in May.

I can truthfully say I have never seen a more beautiful garden.  The use of color and texture is breathtaking.  In the large gardens, there is a subtle beauty with repeating colors drawing your eye along.  The smaller beds contain more than a few surprises. The gardens flow from area to area. 

I took a few pictures but there is no way I could capture the creative artistry that is Chanticleer.  I hope to go back soon to take in more of the design artistry.

Tea Cup Courtyard Garden

Weigela drapes across a stone stair wall

Established plantings of deutzia cascade on the edges of the Tennis Garden  

Pool Garden

Great lawn surrounded by mature trees, shrubs and perennials

Chanticleer house terrace

Read all about Chanticleer including history, plant lists and what’s blooming now here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dry Shade

Growing plants in dry shade can be a problem. 

The Spotted Dead Nettle (Lamium maculatum) thrives In the dry shade of our old French Lilac. I moved the dead nettle two or three years ago.  They are starting to fill in and provide bright leaf and flower color.

Thirty cultivars provide a diverse plant list to choose from.  Among Glories of Snow and Grape Hyacinths (above), 'Purple Dragon' on the left shows a lot of silvery leaf.  'Elizabeth De Haas' to the right has a silver stripe.  The flowers are almost identical.

Lamium 'White Nancy' differs only in flower color.

This yellow-leaved cultivar was a pass-a-long from a friend.  I don’t know its name but it could be ‘Aureum’.  It has yellow leaves with a white stripe.  No flowers yet.

Lamium maculatum is rabbit and deer resistant.  I haven’t noticed any damage from slugs or chewing insects.  They are easy to hoe out if they spread too far.

Simple to maintain and brightly marked, dead nettle is a good plant for the dry shade where not much will grow without constant watering.

Plant Evaluation Notes from Chicago Botanic Gardens here.  

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Spring Ahead

Spring ahead means more this year than a change to daylight saving time. Spring in the garden this year is weeks ahead of schedule.
PJM Rhododendron (above), usually blooms in the middle to end of April. It wasn’t bothered by below freezing temperatures the other night. Last spring, I trimmed about 1/3 off and I’ll cut it back by another third when it’s finished blooming this year. It’s just getting too big for the space.

About ¾ of the mulch has been spread. The Helleborus’ (Lenten Rose ‘Royal Heritage’) nodding blooms continue their long bloom time. Mulch makes it all look pretty.

Daffodil season is winding down and some daffs are ready for dead heading.

Pieris Japonica ‘Mountain Fire’ is finishing its pretty winter bloom. When the blooms are gone, new growth will be bright a burgundy. This is what I call a bonus plant – winter bloom and summer color.

The mop head hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Venice”) is leafing out dodging the frosts so far. I cut it for shape last summer. I will only need to cut off the dead branches this spring. We’ll see how well it blooms this year after last summer’s haircut.

The early spring makes me feel like I need to hurry to catch up when, in reality, I need to slow down. The last frost date here in zone 6 is around May 15. Over a month till it’s time to put out tender annuals and vegetables. It’s also important that the soil be warm enough to promote healthy growth.
The coleuses will have to wait for their outside debut.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

More Philly Flower Show Photos

From the tiny scuba tanks to the little hanging baskets, Miniature Setting winner Irene Sobotincic’s “Taking the Plunge” scuba shop captured a still life of homegrown Hawaiian commerce.
Anthurium and red lights mimicked a lava flow in the popular display “Pele” by Schafer Designs.
A few of the thousands of orchids in the displays.
Temple University Ambler School of Environmental Design is always an environmental treasure trove. This year a rain garden accompanied by a handout with a diagram and plant list was another testament to Temple’s attention to detail.
A model of Philadelphia City Hall and surrounding gardens was presented by Philadelphia Water Department’s “Green City, Clean Water” “Islands of Green in an Urban Sea.”
As always, there was lots to see at this flower show!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Philadelphia International Flower Show


If ever my digital camera is going to give me problems, you can bet it will be at the Philly Flower Show. I’ll post a few of the less grainy pictures later.

I must say I was a little disappointed with the show. I couldn’t put my finger on what didn’t quite work. Finally it came to me - Hawaii is bright and colorful - The convention center was dark as usual. I think this is one time overhead lighting would have enhanced the show. Despite thousands of colorful orchids and hundreds of stately palm trees, the displays never seemed to capture the essence of Hawaii.

Of course it may be impossible to capture the magnificence of the real thing.