Wednesday, July 30, 2008


(Picture above: Lyre of Wax Begonias at Blumenplatz)

Musikfest starts Friday and activity is poppin’ at the Downtown Bethlehem sites. The second week of set up is hectic, to say the least. There is activity everywhere as this amazing event comes together.

Finishing touches on the summer-long job of planting and maintaining Blumenplatz (behind Bethlehem Public Library) started last night. The final trimming, deadheading, mulching, watering, got underway. The next step adds lights to the display for an attractive nighttime show next to Americaplatz.

Americaplatz setup is moving along as vendors begin to stock the booths.

The recycling bins are stacked near Plaza Tropical and ready for distribution around the fest.

The Plaza Tropical tent is up and tables and chairs are being set up as are all the other tents.

Blumenplatz Committee workers finish the mum-filled MUSIKFEST sign near Spring Street.

It’s a hive of activity. Everything will be ready on Friday at 5 PM for the 25th year. Volunteers, workers and vendors are laboring their hearts out. I can’t wait for the music to begin.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


Here’s a plant I get excited about every year.

The tall garden Phlox paniculata started blooming about a week ago. They bloom all summer. I cut the spent flowers of from time to time and they happily send out more shoots with flowers.

Phlox ‘David’ – Perennial Plant Association’s 2002 Perennial Plant of the Year. ‘David’ is my very favorite. Planted in the scented garden, ‘David’ releases a pleasant fragrance. Sitting on the garden bench with sweet ‘David’ nearby is heavenly.

'David’ is mildew resistant but not mildew proof. All the phlox in my garden are mildew resistant but the lower leaves usually show a little mildew later in the summer. I should dig and separate the plants to assure better air flow. But, I probably won’t. They are so pretty in a clump. After a week, I don’t notice the mildew – sort of like the dust on the coffee table.

Phlox ‘Katherine’ planted in 2004 in my “Mother’s Garden” section may be a little more mildew resistant than ‘David’. I don’t think the perfume is quite as strong. I had a little trouble getting this one established. I bought 3 from Bluestone Perennials lost 2 and bought 3 more. Now that they are established, they are growing well. I don’t think I paid enough attention at the beginning and didn’t keep them watered.

I don’t know the variety of the deep pink phlox. This sturdy plant was a gift from my friend Myra’s garden. It was a great addition to my garden and probably the most mildew resistant of all my phlox. It does very well in the hot summer sun.

Phlox takes almost no care once established. It reminds me of the energizer rabbit - it keeps blooming and blooming.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Garden Homecoming

I was on vacation last week – a very relaxing time away from home. The garden is looking only a little neglected. Fortunately, my friend Cindie watered the pots for me. Without her, they would have been toast!

The hydrangea (Hydrangea ‘Venice’) is blooming. The color this year goes from pink through lilac to purple. I never know what color it will be. Last year it was a bright pink. (see July 25, 2007 post) It is full of blooms. I mean FULL of blooms. The leaves are barely visible.

The Lace Cap is also blooming profusely. They are both happy in their spot – shaded from the hot afternoon sun.

The potted zinnias (Burpee Giant Flowering Mix and Magic Carpet Mix) look good on the patio. It’s too early for mildew.

The ('BrandyBoy') tomatoes are getting round and plump. I picked beans. The cucumbers are growing from their pot. I made cucumber salad. The 2 "Drip-Pro Waterer"s that I bought from Gardener's Supply seem to keep the potted vegetables from completely drying out.

Not everything looks as good. Japanese beetles are feasting on canna leaves, roses and pole beans. Dead looking, lace-leaved cannas are not a pretty sight. I haven’t found a way to get rid of those armored chewers. I never seem to have time to knock them in a bucket of soapy water. Karen Bernhard, Entomologist, Lehigh Co. Cooperative Extension, published Japanese Beetle information in “Penn State Master Gardeners” blog in the Morning Call July 10.

Weeds that were tiny when I left are now large enough to have seed heads. Crabgrass, ever the opportunist, has sprouted in every unplanted inch of ground. I pulled one clump as big as a head of cabbage. The lilies are finished blooming and seed heads need to be cut off. Same with the hostas. The sweet alyssum needs a trim. Garden paths are overgrown. There’s compost tea to make. Annuals need to be fertilized.

Lots of work to do to catch up but it’s good to be back in the garden.


Friday, July 11, 2008


As a child, I picked snapdragon flowers and gently squeezed the sides to open and close the “mouth”. Several years ago I bought some snapdragon plants for my garden.

This year I have a bumper crop. I left the seed heads on the dried stalk over the winter. I cut back any dead stalks in spring. A few plants survived the winter and seedlings were everywhere in May. I moved a quite a few. I even potted a bunch for friends.


And wow! Talk about prolific. These beauties take up a large space in my cottage garden. I think it was a good investment years ago. Almost as good as a perennial.

Do you have any favorites that re-seed and grow year after year?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Heavenly Angel’s Poppy

We’re on the road again so my posts may be a bit sporadic. I want to share the annual poppy in my garden.

The seeds were given to me by my friend, Vi, last year. She said, “put them in the ground in the winter.” I scratched them lightly into the soil last December. They are spectacular this summer and have been blooming for 2 or 3 weeks. I don’t know the variety but Heavenly Angel’s Poppy is a great name, isn’t it?


Although the pictures look a little pink they are really a deep, soft orange. Burnt Orange Peony Poppy is closest I could find at One Stop Poppy Shoppe

I plan to collect seeds for next year’s garden and to share with friends. According to Vi, “As the seed pod is drying, cut it off and lay it on a plate to finish drying. Then the little holes around the top will open and you can shake out the seeds.” I should be able to do that.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Fourth of July

I try to post every Saturday and Wednesday. But, we’ll be away for a few days so I thought I would post some views of my garden in patriotic finery. (That may be a tiny exaggeration.) See you next Wednesday.


Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Old Roses

I seem to be going on about roses lately. But, I decided to replace the red rose (a hybrid tea) taken over by rootstock rose. (The shoot from below the graft is visible in the photo above.)

My friend, Cindie, offered me a ride to visit Ruth Flounders at “Roses In Thyme” in Sculps Hill, Pa. Click on the website for an idea of the nursery’s philosophy. And check out the 2008 rose list for an idea of the profusion of old roses.

Masses of old roses filled seemingly endless beds. Soft pinks draped over rustic fences and ascended tree-limb fashioned arbors. Lilac, white, peach, red filled the garden in a secluded spot near the Blue Mountain.

I learned a lot about the care and feeding of old roses. Ruth’s attitude belies all the work that goes into her nursery. Some will get black spot. Some will be breakfast, lunch and dinner for Japanese beetles. Relax and enjoy them in June when they’re at their best. Ruth’s narrative also brought the roses to life - roses found in cemeteries, on estates and farms.

I brought home ‘Mrs. Baker’ a hybrid perpetual medium red. According to Ruth’s information sheet –

‘Mrs. Baker’- Not found in the literature, Rev. Seidel (Rev. Douglas T. Seidel, consultant for the rose collection at the Thomas Jefferson Center) believes this to be the “true Rose du Roi’”. Mrs. Keays (Mrs. Frederick Love Keays, author of Old Roses) lists several Hybrid Perpetuals that were found growing at the farm of Mr. & Mrs. John Baker, in Great Neck New York. Named ‘Mrs. Baker’s Deep-Pink,’ it is easy to see how the name evolved.”

I came away from “Roses In Thyme” with a sense of the romance and history in old roses and, of course, my ‘Mrs. Baker’.

(My friend, Cindie, is a professional photographer. Visit her website at for a look at her work.)