Friday, December 28, 2012

My Favorite Gardening Photographs from 2012

During this last week of 2012 I have been doing some reminiscing and going through photographs of my most favorable gardening moments throughout this past year.  Inspired by Les from A Tidewater Gardener who started a great photography meme sharing his favorite yearly images,  I decided I would follow in his footsteps and choose my favorites...not an easy task.    I was able to narrow it down to twelve. 
  The top photo is of a butterfly that landed on a coneflower right in front of me while visiting a local memorial garden in the town of Sayville, Long Island where I live.  The garden is special to me and it was a nice way to remember it with this photo.  This peony photograph is from my own garden.  It was a lucky shot with just the right lighting conditions to capture the true essence of the flower. 
I could not resist getting this photo of our local visitor who we call "Donald".  I followed him around our backyard this past spring until I was able to get this picture.  As you can see he is camera shy so this was not an easy task but I finally got it!
This water lily is from the reflecting pond at Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island which we visited this past summer.  It is now on my favorite places and I can spend hours looking at the beautiful gardens.
I was shocked to be able to get this photo.  I was at the house of a client, looked down and saw this praying mantis.  I have not seen one of these rare fascinating creatures in years and there he was...ready for the camera.    I had just enough time to get the photograph before he scattered off...
This was taken from my own backyard one evening during the fall when the sun was just going down.  This beautiful sunset was a rare treat.
  This 'Stargazer' Lillium is from my garden this past summer. 
I saw this Lilly at Planting Fields Arboretum, Long Island this past summer during one of our two trips there.  It has become a favorite place and a fun place for photography.
 This cottage house is from Old Westbury Gardens, Long Island.  It reminds me of a fairy whimsical and almost magical...definitely one of my most favorite moments.
I photographed this Coneflower at the local memorial garden.  I loved its vivid color. 
Here is another magical scene from Old Westbury Gardens on Long Island.  This is the reflecting pond within the rose garden on the estate grounds.
Inspired by many of the garden photographers whose blogs I visit, I have been trying to practice some of my macro photography.   Here is a closer look of a 'Casablanca' Lillium in my backyard garden from this past summer. 
So there we have most enjoyable gardening photographs captured for 2012.  For the last post of the year here are some encouraging words from a favorite writer...

"In my garden there is a large place for sentiment. My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams. The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful." ~ Abram L. Urban

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2012. All rights reserved

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Greetings of the Season-Merry Christmas & Happy 2013!

As the season comes to an end I would like to thank my readers for their visits, comments and inspiration throughout the year.  Little did I know that when starting this blog back in 2010 that I would get so much enjoyment from sharing my passion of gardening with others.  I have enjoyed reading your wonderful and inspiring stories as well and have gotten to know you through following many of your writings throughout the year.  I look forward to more in 2013.

To all of you...I wish you a wonderful holiday season filled with much joy and time well spent with friends and family.  I wish for you peace and happiness throughout the upcoming year and success in all your gardening endeavors!

As Always....Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2012. All rights reserved

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day December 2012

In my Long Island December garden there is a steady chill in the air as temperatures drop into the 40's by day and 30's by night.  Welcome to my northeastern zone 7 garden in December of 2012.  It is time again to step out into the garden for this month's Garden Blogger's Bloom Day and the focus now is mainly on color, texture and form.  As the perennials go into their sleep the evergreens form the backbone of the garden.  I have a bit of a passion for evergreens as you will see here and new members are always welcome. Come walk along with me and take a look...
Knock Out Rose (December Garden)

This is the last of the Knock Out Roses.  I really am amazed that they have lasted as long as they have and I have the view right outside my window.  The sudden cold has put this one into a state of suspended animation so I am getting some last enjoyment from it.
Nandina domestica 'Gulf Stream'

Here is the Nandina domestica 'Gulf Stream' that I have had in the garden for years.  It is semi-evergreen and displays bright red berries from October on throughout the winter months.   It is also an excellent food source for our feathered friends.
Golden Sedge
This Golden Japanese Sedge is evergreen and remains golden throughout the entire winter.  I enjoy its thread-like grassy appearance and of course...its color.

Ajuga (December Garden)

Ajuga 'Burgundy Glow' adds some additional color during the winter months as well.
Cherry Laurel
   It is good to see the Cherry Laurel setting new buds for next year, especially after the harsh winds from the hurricane this past October.

Montogomery Blue Spruce

Montgomery Blue Spruce is a favorite of mine in the garden with its bright blue compact foliage and wonderful texture.  Should we get a snow it also looks pretty covered in white flakes.
Euonymus 'Gold Spot' and Leucothoe 'Auxillis'

Here is a combination of Euonymus 'Gold Spot' and Leucothoe 'Auxillis', both belonging to the broad-leaved evergreens.  The Leucothoe turns a deep burgundy color at this time of year and contrasts against the golds and greens of the Euonymus and the Nellie Stevens Holly in the left backdrop. 
Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar and Mugo Pine Raised Entrance Garden
Around the front of the property is my Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar and Mugo Pine on a raised moss rock boulder wall.  I enjoy the three dimensional look of the rock all year but especially now in the fall and winter.
Weeping Japanese Maple

Here is my one of my older Weeping Japanese Maple trees.  I planted this one about 20 years ago.  By pruning the lower foliage the delicate twisting structure of the trunk can be seen, and the art of the tree can be especially enjoyed in winter.
Backyard Pool Garden (December)

Around to the backyard is the poolscape in December mode.  From back to front are Weeping White Pine, Hinoki Cypress 'Aurea', Montgomery Globe Spruce, Globosa White Pine and Weeping Norway Spruce.  There are also Maiden grasses that are cut part way back for winter and a Royal Star Magnolia.  Recently I also planted the Skip Laurels along the fence which will supply some greenery in the colder months.
Pinus strobus Nana-Dwarf White Pine (Left) and Weeping Norway Spruce (Right)

Here is a close up of the Weeping Norway Spruce and my newest addition to the garden  this fall...a Dwarf White Pine.  The Pine looks a bit like a porcupine but the foliage is very soft to the touch.  I think it may just become a favorite!

Side Yard Garden (December)
Around the side of the backyard is a screening of Arborvitae (Emerald Green and Western 'Virescens'), Weeping Blue Atlas Cedar, Barberry 'Rosy Glow', Gold Mop Cypress , Euonymus 'Gold Spot' and Knock Out Rose. The empty spot is the nepeta which is dormant until next spring but the Heuchera 'Caramel' (left )will continue to show its tan-orange color for some time until the snow arrives.
Montgomery Globe Spruce and Heuchera 'Caramel'

Here is some more Heuchera 'Caramel' next to the blue spruce...

Weeping Pussy Willow, Gold Mop Cypress and Blue Star Juniper

and some more evergreens along with a Weeping Pussy Willow (now dormant).
Euonymus 'Greenspire' (Back Left), Euonymus 'Gold Spot (Front Left) and Dwarf Hinoki Cypress (Right)

This is another combination of greens and yellows with Euonymus 'Greenspire', Euonymus 'Gold Spot' and Dwarf Hinoki Cypress 'Nana' along the pool backdrop... 

Picea orientalis 'Skylands' (Golden Oriental Spruce) with Coral Bark Maple (Left Backdrop)
and one of my favorite evergreens in the garden-Golden Oriental Spruce 'Skylands'.

Well that is it for now for this Long Island garden. Predictions are for a snowy winter here in the northeast so I am hoping that January will not be too harsh. Thank you to our Garden Blogger's Bloom Day hostess Carol and be sure to visit May Dreams Gardens for more December blooms. Thanks for stopping by!

As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2012. All rights reserved

Friday, December 7, 2012

Dwarf Globe Conifers in the Landscape

Dwarf Globe Conifers are a beautiful addition to have in any landscape. Along with their varying colors and textures they are also the perfect size to fit into just about any landscape plan including entrance gardens,  evergreen and perennial gardens, poolscapes, rock gardens, Japanese gardens and more.   The terminology 'Globe' or 'Globosa' refers to any conifer that is "globe-like" or rounded in appearance.  Globose conifers come in a range of colors from blue to green to golden and all tend to stay relatively compact.  The American Conifer Society lists approximately 300 varieties of globe conifer of which 85% are dwarf.  The five species being discussed here today are hardy in a range of zones from 2-9,  are easy to maintain and all serve as wonderful focal points in the landscape. 
Picea pungens 'Montgomery'
  Picea pungens 'Montgomery' (Montgomery Globe Spruce) is a very slow growing dwarf conifer hardy in zones 2-8.    The dense vibrant blue-green foliage of this evergreen shrub provides year round interest and fits in nicely as part of a foundation planting, in a rock garden or poolscape.  Picea pungens 'Montgomery' thrives in full sun and prefers a moderately moist yet well drained slightly acidic soil.   It requires regular weekly watering or more in extreme heat and it is best not to allow this plant to completely dry out.  Picea pungens 'Montgomery' grows to a mature height and width of 3-4' and is known to be deer resistant.  Whether your garden is formal or informal this conifer is sure to make a statement.
Cryptomeria japonica 'Gobosa Nana' (Dwarf  Globe Cryptomeria)

Cryptomeria japonica 'Globosa Nana' is a dwarf evergreen conifer hardy to zones 5-7. It prefers full to partial sun and moderately moist, slightly-acidic soil which should not be allowed to completely dry out.   Crytomeria japonica 'Globosa Nana' has a slow growth rate and maintains a compact mounding growth habit.  At maturity this shrub will form a dense mound measuring approximately 2-3 feet in height by 4-8 feet in width.  Cryptomeria japonica 'Globosa Nana' serves nicely as a single specimen planting.  While most varieties of Cryptomeria grow to be quite large this specimen will give you the same beautiful lime green color with a compact plant.  This plant is also deer resistant.
Pinus strobus 'Nana' (Dwarf Eastern White Pine)

Dwarf Eastern White Pine is an evergreen conifer displaying soft delicate blue-green needles on a compact shrub.  Pinus strobus 'Nana' is hardy to zones 3-9, prefers full sun and a moderately moist slightly acidic soil.  Dwarf Eastern White Pine is slow growing reaching an eventual 3 feet tall by 4- 6 feet wide and is deer resistant.  This conifer goes beautifully just about anywhere whether it be a formal or informal garden.  This one is positioned by a poolscape.  No matter where you choose to display this specimen it is sure to be a hit.
Pinus Mugo 'Pumilio' (Dwarf Mugo Pine)

Pinus Mugo 'Pumilio' (Dwarf Mugo Pine) is a popular dwarf conifer displaying dark green needles on compact branches.  It is cold hardy to USDA zones 2-7 and prefers to be grown in full sun in a slightly-acidic well drained soil.  Dwarf Mugo pine is slow growing reaching an eventual size of 3-5 feet tall by 6-10 feet wide.  This shrub is often displayed in Japanese or rock gardens or as an evergreen border.  Dwarf Mugo Pine is relatively low maintenance requiring only occasional watering once established and it is also deer resistant. 
Dwarf Norway Spruce (Picea pungnes 'Pumila)

Hardy in zones 2-8, Picea pungens 'Pumila (Dwarf Norway Spruce) is an attractive slow growing evergreen shrub.  Dwarf Norway Spruce prefers to be grown in full to partial sun in a moist but well drained soil.  This shrubs grows to a mature height of approximately 3-4' and width of 4-6' and keeps a compact rounded form.  Picea pungens 'Pumila' fits in nicely into foundation plantings, rock gardens and Japanese gardens and is also deer resistant. Its dark green foliage interest to the landscape.

Add one or more of these dwarf conifers to your landscape and enjoy the benefits all year long.  Each of these globe conifers are unique in their own way adding much desired color and texture to your outdoor space. 

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As Always...Happy Gardening!

90th post!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2012. All rights reserved


Saturday, December 1, 2012

The Mansions & Gardens of Newport Rhode Island

Marble House Back Garden-Alba Roosevelt
The mansions and gardens of Newport Rhode Island represent 250 years of American history and are a wonderful place to visit for a long weekend in New England. I was able to experience a selection of these beautiful mansions and look forward to revisiting again someday.
Chinese Tea House (On Marble House Grounds)
The first to visit was the Marble House.  Marble House was given to Alva Vanderbilt from her husband William K Vanderbilt in 1882 as a gift for her 39th birthday.  Inside are walls constructed of marble and embossed with 22 caret gold overlay as requested by Alva.  After spending only three short summers in the 11 million dollar Marble House Alva divorced William and married neighbor Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont one year later.  She moved down the street into a simpler Belcourt Castle and kept the Marble House for storage and use of the laundry, which in her opinion, was much better there.   After the death of her second husband Alva moved back into the Marble House and used it to hold rallies and raise funds for women's suffrage making her one of the largest advocates for women.  No one is quite sure why but in 1913-14 Alva decided to have the above Chinese Tea House constructed on the Marble House grounds.  The Newport Preservation Society now rents it out for various social occasions. 
Marble House Backyard
As a gardener I noticed the simplicity of the gardens around these mansions, mostly neatly manicured hedges of boxwood and rose gardens...very traditional with majestic planters carved of stone. Towards the front entrance of the Marble House is a mature Copper Beach Tree (below) majestic in its own right.

Copper Beach Tree Outside Marble House
                                                Not just any ordinary tree...
Rosecliff Mansion

The next visit is to the Rosecliff Mansion.   This 21 acre summer home was completed in 1902 for 2.5 million dollars and was the home of Nevada heiress Theresa Fair Oelrichs. Due to its perfect layout Rosecliff has been used as the set scene for several popular movies including the Great Gatsby with Robert Redford and True Lies with Arnold Schwarzennager and has been the site of many lavish Newport parties.  Rosecliff is now maintained by the Preservation Society of Newport County.  The last private owners Mr. & Mrs. J. Edgar Monroe of New Orleans generously donated the home, all its furnishings and a maintenance trust fund to the Preservation Society in 1971.    
Rosecliff Mansion Garden

Here are some of the beautiful gardens of Rosecliff...a pergola

Rosecliff Rose Garden

and the formal rose garden.
Rosecliff Back View Lawn Area
The Rosecliff is also a popular site for many a wedding and elaborate affair.
Cliff Walk

If you come to Newport the best way to see many of the mansions is to take a leisurely stroll along Cliff Walk, funded by the National Park Service, Land & Conservation Fund and the State of Rhode Island.  Cliff Walk runs about 3.5 miles so plan accordingly and wear comfortable shoes and clothing.  Plan on approximately two hours or so depending on how far you want to go.  I was enjoying the walk so much that I didn't really pay attention to the time and it was well worth much to see including the view of the ocean below.       
Cliff Walk View of Ocean

Ochre Court Back View from Cliff Walk

Ochre Court (along Cliff Walk) was the summer home of wealthy New York banker and yachtsmen Ogden Goelet.  It was constructed in 1892 and modeled after a French Chateau for 4.5 million.   It is the second largest mansion in Newport after the Breakers (further below).  Ochre Court was gifted to the Religious Sisters of Mercy in 1947 and is now owned and maintained by Salve Regina University.

Newport Cliff Walk

This is a newly constructed gazebo which it a nice addition to the walk.
View Looking Down from Cliff Walk

Doris Duke's Rough Point (View from Cliff Walk)
Rough Point (also along Cliff Walk) constructed of red sandstone and granite was originally built by Frederick W. Vanderbilt and completed in 1892.  In 1894 the Vanderbilts began renting Rough Point to summer guests and in In 1922, James Buchman Duke (benefactor of Duke University) and his second wife Nanaline bought the mansion.  The house and grounds were left to Duke's only daughter Doris.   After Nanaline's passing Doris revisited Newport frequently and reopened Rough Point in 1962.  Doris Duke founded the Newport Restoration Foundation in 1968 which still runs the mansion today. Rough Point is now open to the public as a museum.  
Cliff Walk in September

There are some common signs of fall along the Cliff Walk...
Garden Topiary Animals
but on the way back I just had to get a photo of this not so ordinary garden.
The Breakers (Back Ocean View) Cliff Walk

Last but not least is the largest the of Newport mansions, the 70 room Breakers Mansion established by Cornelius Vanderbilt in 1895.   The original structure of the home suffered a fire in 1892 and Vanderbilt insisted that the home be reconstructed of fire resistant material which was done so as a cost of 12 million dollars.  Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt was a well known established entrepreneur in the steamship industry and later on in the New York Central Railroad and was the model of wealth in the Gilded Age.  This is the back view of the mansion from the Cliff Walk.
Newport Rhode Island Visitor Center
Hope you enjoyed the virtual tour of the Newport mansions and gardens.   Many of the mansions have either guided tours or self tours in which you can rent a headset.  Also be sure to go into town and stop by the visitor center.  They have lots of information on all the mansions and you can choose which you would like to see. 

Thank you for visiting and As Always...Happy Gardening!

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2012. All rights reserved