Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Gardening Year in Review and Happy New Year!

2013 January Garden
It's hard to believe that another year has come and gone by so quickly.  As we welcome the new year I reminisce of the gardening year past and have high hopes for the season upon us.  The year of 2013 was an eventful one both weather wise and plant wise for my zone 7 Long Island garden with lots of new events and additions. The month of January came in like a lamb with mild temperatures in the 40's and 50's which was a relief for the garden after the hurricane and frequent northeasters from last year...but that's just the beginning!
2013 February Garden
By the end of January the temperatures started to plummet and by February 8th and 9th we were blanketed under 19.8 inches of snow from Blizzard Nemo with up to 3 foot drifts in certain areas of the island.  I remember the island was pretty much shut down for those two days and it seemed like we wouldn't even get out of the house for a while.  Now I know for some of you that doesn't seem like a whole lot of snow but for us it was one of the larger storms we had had in some time.  Spring seemed far away.
2013 March Garden
In March 40 and 50 degree temperatures had arrived and the garden did start to show some signs of spring.   Catkins appeared on the Weeping Pussy Willow and opened into glorious white puffs and hyacinth bulbs were showing their crowns.  The garden started to get back on track after the disruption of the hurricane last year, but still seemed several weeks behind, since the blooms were much more frequent last year.
2013 April Garden
By April the temperatures had risen into the upper 50's to mid-60's with one day topping at a balmy 81 degrees!  The sudden rise in temperatures snapped the gardens right back on track with blooms of crocus, hyacinths and Start Magnolia and the fragrance of spring was everywhere.  Last fall I had finally added several clusters more of purple crocus around the yard and really enjoyed seeing them bloom this spring...purple...purple everywhere! 
2013 May Garden
In May temperatures in the 70's with spring rains brought along Ajuga, Spirea and Azalea with vibrant blooms.  Spirea Double Play 'Big Bang', my newest addition this year, has become a favorite in the garden with a different color foliage each month ranging from orange with pink tips to yellow and pink and then to a lime green, also displaying the largest and deepest pink blooms I have ever seen on a spirea.  Spring was definitely "bursting out all over"!
2013 June Garden
June came in like a lion with heavy rains and temperatures in the 70's which were the perfect conditions for the blooms to explode making the garden a summer wonderland.  Blooms of Spirea, Daylily 'Stella D Oro' and Salvia 'May Night' were the focal points during this month. Out of all the gardening months it is difficult to choose which is my favorite but June seems to rise above the rest.
2013 July Garden
After the abundant rain in June, July arrived with high temperatures topping in the 90's, causing the garden to flourish.  Coreopsis, Pardon Me Daylily, Hydrangea 'Endless Summer', Sedum 'Dragon's Blood' (in front of garden statue in photo) and Hosta were at their prime displaying magnificent blooms.
2013August Garden
Dragonflies were abundant in August lurking on the stalks of the Hosta while Knock Out Roses and Platycodon were in full bloom.  Crape Myrtle blooms kept on blooming from the month before and continued throughout fall.  August was a bit cooler than usual and many of the blooms seemed to have a longer lifespan.
2013 September Garden
Fall was wonderful this year with some of the mildest temperatures and bluest skies I can remember.  Crape Myrtles were in full bloom along with Hydrangea and Liriope and Mockingbirds enjoyed the blooms from up above.  I found some new birdbaths while on a ride out east that were added to the garden such as the one in the above photograph.
2013 October Garden
The mild temperatures in the 60's continued into October.  At this time of year Buddleia and Sedum were in full bloom while ornamental grasses formed their wispy plumes and cones were definitely noticeable on the branches of Blue Atlas Cedar.  The Dwarf Buddleia Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip' which is relatively new to the garden just completed its third season.  Since it has been doing so well I couldn't resist adding three more to the front revised berm this past summer.
2013 November Garden
By the time November rolled around the temperatures started to decline into the 50's and the garden starting showing signs of going to rest with the changing colors of fall.  Literally overnight the temperatures plummeted into the 30's with the first dusting of snow announcing that winter was on its way.
2013 December Garden

December brought in winter with temperatures declining into the 30's and 40's with an occasional dusting of snow and a more permanent chill in the air.  We ended the year with two additional snowfalls of 2-3 inches each...just enough to bring in the holidays!

To all of you out there I have enjoyed having you as virtual gardening colleagues and thank you for your interesting, informative and enlightening posts throughout the year. I appreciate your visits and comments and look forward to visiting all of you throughout 2014. May all your days be merry and bright and the new year be a time of good health and prosperity filled with many wonderful gardening experiences.

As Always...Happy Gardening and Happy New Year!

Linking with Mosaic Monday

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Happy Holidays From Our Home to Yours!

Wishing all my readers Happy Holidays and a very Merry Christmas!  I hope the spirit of the season brings you a time of laughter and joy filled with good memories spent with family and loved ones.  May you experience happiness, good health and prosperity throughout the upcoming year and always. 
All the best to you always and may your gardens be grand!

Linking with Mosaic Monday

Also visit me at A Guide to Landscape Design & Maintenance
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. 

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up December 2013: The Garden Goes to Sleep

Mugo Pine and Sedum 'Brilliant' Dried Flower Heads
 The temperatures have been falling into the 30's over the past few days with snow flurries and winter has found my northeastern Long Island garden.  It is December and time for another Garden Blogger's Bloom Day on the 15th and Foliage Follow-Up on the 16th to take a look around the garden, get some photos, and visit some other gardens around the world.  Having not been here for last month's memes, quite a bit has changed in the landscape.  Come stroll with me as I get some photos before the next snow arrives!
Astilbe Dried Flowers 
 The beauty of a garden is its never ending state of change reflected with each passing season. With winter approaching and few blooms in sight there is now more concentration on foliage.  All that remains of the Astilbe are their dried flowers which are still lovely  against the backdrop of Lamb's Ear and back lawn, a view which I have come to appreciate.

Barberry 'Royal Burgundy' December

I have two types of Barberry on my property, 'Royal Burgundy' and 'Rosy Glow'.  They are both displaying the last of their bright burgundy foliage and are starting to form small red berries in preparation for winter.
Here in a small garden under a window is one of the several birdbaths I have on the property.   There are numerous evergreens and dense shrubs where birds seek shelter and I always try to have a supply of fresh water for them.  Also they are fun to watch gathering and splashing around! The only thing is that the water has frozen over the past few days and I have no electric source for one of those birdbath heaters, so I have to add a little water daily to keep it drinkable.
Bird's Nest Garden Art!
 Look a bird's nest!  While strolling in the garden to take these photographs I spotted this beautifully constructed and well hidden bird's nest in my Wisteria tree.   Now that the leaves are all gone the nest is finally visible to see and I believe it was built by the Mockingbirds that were so abundant this summer.
Blue Star Juniper and Dwarf Fountain Grass
 Around to the side yard the dwarf ornamental grasses are finished for the season but form contrast against the evergreen Juniperus 'Blue Star'.  
Blue Globe Montgomery Spruce, Gold Mop Cypress and Barberry
Here are more of the evergreens on the property.  I enjoy combining the blues and golds of Montgomery Globe Blue Spruce and Gold Mop Cypress with the burgundy of the Barberry in the backdrop.  A Weeping Pussy Willow cascades over the rest of the garden.  The differences in texture and color of the contrasting foliage help to keep interest in the landscape over winter. 
Dwarf Butterfly Bush Lo & Behold 'Blue Chip' December
Speaking of foliage, the dried blooms of my Dwarf Butterfly Bush do provide some nice interest for the wintertime...
Endless Summer Hydrangea Faded Blooms
as well as the Endless Summer Hydrangea with their dried mop heads.  I focus on having as much structure in the garden as possible especially at this time of year.
Iris Seed Heads
The Iris are in winter mode displaying their interesting seed heads.  Since I have been photographing I have learned to appreciate them even when they are not blooming.
Lamb's Ear and Astilbe Seed Heads
This Lamb's Ear was an addition to the perennial garden years ago as a border and I am always amazed how it supplies interest to every season of the year with its fuzzy white foliage.
Royal Star Magnolia New Buds in December
Come take a look at the 'Royal Star' Magnolia already forming its flower buds for next year.  It is a pleasant sight to see a hint of spring even though winter isn't even officially here yet with more significant snow on the way.
Dwarf Maiden Grass Yaku Jima in December
Here are the the Yaku Jima grasses and their plumes adding some movement to the garden.
Nandina domestica Berries
Poking over the side fence, the color of the berries on this Nandina are a vibrant red that lasts all throughout the winter months.  They provide a dual purpose of adding both color to the landscape as well as supplying a food source for the birds.
Sedum 'Brilliant' Dried Flower Heads

And last but not is a close up of the Sedum with my new camera lens.
Here It Comes!!!

As the garden goes to sleep for winter there will always be something new to be found with each changing season and a true gardener always has something to look forward to. Thank you for visiting my gardens and you are always welcome!   I am glad I was able to get these photographs before the snow and hope you enjoyed the tour.   Drop a note to let me know you've been here and I will be sure to visit you as well. Also please visit our hostesses Carol at May Dreams Gardens to see what is blooming for December Garden Blogger's Bloom Day and Pam at Digging for Foliage Follow Up.

As Always...Happy Gardening and Happy Winter in one week!  
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Guest Post: The Works of an Amazing Garden Photographer

Swallowtail Butterfly with Nikon D5100
I have the opportunity and pleasure of sharing the garden photography of Richard Dressner, friend and talented photographer. Rich has had a lifetime passion for being behind the lens of a camera and has become a serious photographer for the past two years.  Inspired by the blooms and visitors to his wife's gardens, he is now embarking deeper into the world of macro photography and the use of various lighting techniques.
"Here's looking at you, kid" with Nikon D5100
 Recently, Rich prefers his Nikon D600 for all photography over his Nikon D5100.  When asked what other lenses he uses for his close ups and long distance shots Rich replies, "I don't have a real maco lens but I use a Nikon prime 50mm f/1.8 lens when I need to get close.  It can focus down to twelve inches from the subject and is sharp enough to allow for deep cropping...  
Cleome Nikon D5100
For more distant subjects I use my Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII. It’s a very expensive lens but sharp and bright with outstanding vibration reduction". For general landscape, I use a Nikon 24-85mm. The Nikon D5100 is still a good little camera for travel, etc." 
Lillium 2 Nikon D600
Here are some photographs of the gardens. When asked which type of photography is his favorite Rich replies, "I don't have a favorite, but I do enjoy garden and wildlife shots."
Lillium 2 Nikon D600
With winter approaching, he plans to experiment with mysterious lighting and dabble in studio shots.
Monarch Butterfly Nikon D5100
Enjoy the rest of these amazing photos.  I cannot seem to get enough of them!
Monarch Butterfly Nikon D5100
"Murder in the Garden" Praying mantis and Bumblebee with Nikon D5100

Praying mantis Nikon D600
Praying mantis Nikon D5100
Sedum & Buckeye butterfly with NIkon D5100
Swallowtail Butterfly Nikon D5100
Water lily with Nikon D600
 According to Rich, "Photography is an interest that welcomes everyone. It can be deeply technical, but modern cameras are automated enough to allow people of all skill levels to achieve beautiful results, and flexible enough to grow with the photographer as new skills are acquired and the safety net of automation is no longer needed. If you shoot what you are passionate about, it’s a thrilling and rewarding pursuit."

As Always...Happy Gardening! 
Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2013. All rights reserved. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Muir Woods National Monument: Photo Journey of the California Redwoods

Welcome to Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods National Park is a remnant of the ancient redwood forests that blanketed parts of the northern California coast back before the 1800's. William Kent and his wife Elizabeth Thacher Kent bought this land in 1905 in order to protect one of the last untouched areas of redwoods.  To protect the land the Kents donated the land to the federal government and in 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt used the 1906 Antiquities Act to declare the area a national monument which was later named after conservationist John Muir.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods
Muir Woods National Monument is located 12 miles north of the Golden gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. It consists of a 560 acre park with six miles of trails meandering through some of the last remaining redwood forests in the world. 
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods Cathedral Grove
Much of the Northern Hemisphere was covered with Redwood-like trees 150 million years ago.  Climate change caused the numbers or Redwood to decrease drastically leaving only two species in California.  While many of the world's redwoods were lost due to industrialization and nearing extinction the canyon of redwoods in Muir Woods was never logged and remains preserved here today.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods Cathedral Grove
The breathtaking Cathedral Grove represents trees ranging in age from 500 to 800 years with heights up to 258 feet towering towards the sky.  The main attraction of the Muir Woods is the Coast Redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) seen here, a relative of the Giant Sequoia which is known for its great heights.  The oldest tree existing in the park is over a remarkable 1,200 years old. 
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods Cathedral Grove
It is a beautiful sight as the rays of sunshine stream down through the canopy of trees into the park.  The lingering fog presents a misty appearance.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods
Many of the redwoods in the park are now petrified after hundreds and thousands of years...
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods
with hues of purple and green ingrained into the wood.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods Petrified Wood
This tree was hollowed out by a fire years ago and has become petrified into stone.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods Petrified Wood
Many remains from the fire can be seen throughout this area in the park.  Wildfires frequently occurred every 20 to 50 years in  this area before fire suppression began in the 1800's. Controlled burning has been established to keep the integrity of the ecosystem alive as fire benefits the forest floor through the recycling of nutrients.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods
Below... the naming of the California redwood is explained.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods
The first written reference to redwoods was from a missionary in October of 1769 as seen above.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods
Beneath the canopy of redwood trees are California big leaf maples, tan-bark oaks,  red alders, Douglas fir and various species of ferns.  Redwood Creek flows through the park while several bridges cross over the calmly moving waters for visitors walking the trails.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods
The inside appearance of a fallen tree can reveal a lifetime of events.  Annual rings and fire scars on this tree can be seen showing the climate record and history of this redwood.  Generally large annual rings are a sign of plentiful rainfall and nutrients and much growth while narrow rings are a sign of stress and struggle for survival.
Muir Woods National Park Redwoods

The redwoods in the park flourish in California's fog belt where and yearly daytime temperatures range between 40 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit.  During the drier summer months the forest is layered in fog which keeps the park cool and moist year round.  On average the park receives up to 40 inches of rain during the winter months which supports the moisture requirement of the redwoods.

For more information on Muir Woods visit Muir Woods.

Muir Woods National Monument
1 Muir Woods Road
Mill Valley, CA 94941

Author: Lee@A Guide To Northeastern Gardening, Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.  All photos are the property of A Guide to Northeastern Gardening.