Thursday, March 15, 2018

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day & Foliage Follow-Up March 2018: Bring on Spring!

March Garden
What a difference a day can make! Welcome to this month's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Foliage Follow-Up! Saying that the month of March has been unpredictable would be an understatement. March came in like a lion on the 2nd. with one of the worst storms we have had in a while, bringing in high winds and torrential rains for the northeast. The rains brought renewal to the garden and with temperatures in the 40's and 50's, the landscape started to become alive. On the 7th, our first thunder snow in years brought thunder, lightening and 6 inches of snow, followed by sunshine, blue skies and melting on the 8th. The vernal equinox is just less than a week away and the gardens are showing signs of full spring ahead. Come along for a walk in my March Long Island garden, and be ready for some surprises along the way!
Hellebore 'Shooting Star' (Lenten Rose)
Hellebores are one of the first perennials to bloom in late winter/early spring, so I had to plant some in the north garden some years ago. I am always in awe over their large beautiful blooms.
Hellebore 'Shooting Star' (Lenten Rose)
Lets get close up and take a look. The anatomy of the flower is quite intriguing, with an eye-catching spiral pattern of many stamens surrounding several pistils at the center, forming a structure that resembles a pin wheel.
Weeping Pussy Willow Catkins!
It's March, so it's time for Pussy Willow catkins. The tree's small white fuzzy buds emerged from brown pods and tripled in size after the rains.
Weeping Pussy Willow March
The birds that frequent the property compete for this Weeping Pussy Willow tree every spring to see who will get to nest there. All day long there is activity with various groupings of birds, mostly consisting of sparrows, mockingbirds and chickadees. They find the tree to be very reliable for providing protection and there are baby birds every spring.
Bird Visitors Seek A Nesting Site
Follow along with me towards the front of the property. One of my goals when planning is to create all year interest in the garden. The Golden Oriental Skyland's Spruce and Coral Bark Maple (Acer palmatum Sangu Kaku') do just that. Each specimen tree changes in appearance throughout the seasons.
Coral Bark Maple 'Sangu Kaku' Bright Red Bark in March (on left) and Skyland's Spruce (right)
Coral Bark Maple (photo left) starts off the season with light yellow-green foliage which turns to medium green and eventually to a vibrant golden-orange in fall. The bark glows a coral-red hue in wintertime, especially when the temperatures are at their lowest, and appears most vibrant when it snows.
Skylands Oriental Spruce (Left)and Coral Bark Maple (Right)
Skylands' Oriental Spruce (photo left) shows off its beautiful golden foliage all year long, but gets bright golden tips on new growth in spring. The tree produces large purplish-brown cones, which mature to their full size by the end of winter. If you look up, the underside of each branch is a deeper green with golden highlights on the upper surface, creating a two-toned effect.
Liriope (Front) and Blue Star Juniper (Backdrop)
Around to the east side, Liriope from last season and Juniperus 'Blue Star' still provide interest in the winter garden. The golden-green grass-like blades of the Liriope will be cut back within the next few weeks to allow for new growth. It is best not to cut this perennial all the way back in autumn, as the foliage provides protection during winter.

Front Walkway
Here is a long view of the front walkway area with Weeping White Birch, 'Blue Star' Juniper, Golden Sweet Flag and 'Gold Spot' Euonymus to the left of the tree. Beyond that is Euonymus 'Greenspire' and Weeping White Pine.
March Snow on the 7th!
What???!!! Just as spring was on its way, March played it's unpredictable game on the 7th. Weather forecasts called for snow, but since the temperatures had been so mild, it was unlikely...right? The storm started as rain during the day and quickly turned into a heavy snow by late afternoon, bringing six inches of white to cover the landscape.
March Snow Covers the Garden
Being the enthusiastic gardener that I am, of course I had to quickly run outside with camera in hand to capture the snow covered garden from what was hopefully the last snowfall of the season. I do enjoy the view of the pool area covered in a blanket of white.
March Landscape in Snow 
The view of the Coral Bark Maple in the front is also a beautiful sight as the reddish bark actually seems to glow through the snow covered branches.
Garden Gal & Boy After the Snow
As quickly as the snow came, it started to melt. 
After the Snow Next Morning
The next day, the sky was as blue as could be and the garden was headed back into spring mode.
After the Snow By Afternoon
I think the Weeping Pussy Willow got even more catkins on it and the birds were happy that the snow was over 
as they went back to their usual routine.
This Blue Jay actually allowed me to capture him through the camera lens as he perched on a tree above.
Blue Jay in March

Bring on Spring! (Daylillies)
Now, let's get back to the tour after our step back in time. In the garden, daylilies, hyacinths and alliums are starting to emerge and make their appearance.
If you look closely, you can see little purple and pink hyacinth buds forming. They will progress a bit each day from now on in.

Allium 'Globemaster'
The Allium 'Globemasster' bulbs are sprouting and have multiplied from the original three that were planted two years ago to now what is looking like a possible eight or nine!
Sedum 'Brilliant' is one of those low maintenance perennials that looks attractive even when it is just coming up. A multitude of rosettes are now visible. Now, it is really starting to look like spring here on Long Island. Hopefully, there won't be any more surprises for the month of March, but we all know that March can be unpredictable!
OH NO!!! 
March 13th
March 2018 Garden

I hope you enjoyed this month's tour through my garden. Special thanks go out to our hostesses Carol at May Dreams Gardens, who makes it possible to see blooms on the 15th of every month with her meme Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day and Pam at Digging for hosting Foliage Follow-Up. I am also linking with some other wonderful hosts and hostesses at Floral Friday Fotos, Macro Monday 2, and Nature Notes at Rambling Woods. Also check out Garden Bloggers' Foliage Day at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides, Wednesday Around the WorldDishing It & Digging It and Image-in-ing weekly photo share every Tuesday.
Gardening Season is Almost Here!
Check Out My Books For Planning Your Garden:

~As Always...Happy Gardening and Happy Almost Spring!~

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. 

Thursday, March 1, 2018

This Month in the Garden: Memoirs of a Garden Author-My Life, Garden and Books

It’s funny how life leads us down different paths. This past month I celebrated the first anniversary of the publishing of my second book, Landscape Design Combinations and the third anniversary of A Guide to Northeastern Gardening. Never in my wildest dreams would I ever have imagined writing and publishing a book, nonetheless two. As I look back now, I think of how it all began.

My mother’s favorite flowers were daisies, so as a small child I would pick them for her and it would make her smile. She was never much of a gardener, but had a small patch of iris along the fence that grew there for as long as I could remember, and are still there today. There is also an eastern red cedar that I planted with my dad, which was my first “real tree” ever dug into the soil. Before then, it was really just flowers. The next door neighbor Joan, who is like a second mom to me, cultivated a beautiful flower garden along the perimeter of her property, one that I would admire daily, and continue to visit today. You see, I never left the home that I grew up in, so there are so many memories here. 

While growing up, my mother had the vision of being able to look at a wall and redesign it in her head and she would tell me that could see it in her mind. Her brother, my uncle, was an architect. When I think of it now, that is probably where I inherited my skill to look at a blank piece of lawn and imagine a garden. It’s funny that I never pursued any art classes in high school, but majored in science and did the same when I went off to college. I ended up with a career in teaching, which lasted for 32 years.

As an adult, I took on an interest in painting while watching Bob Ross on TV with his mountains and trees, and tried out some painting with oils. That lasted about three years until I had painted about as many mountains and trees as I could and had exhausted my talent, which wasn’t much. After that, I took on a new hobby of helping friends with their gardens by going to the nursery with them to pick out plants and lay them out at their homes.

Halfway through my teaching career, in 1995, my husband and I did a major backyard renovation with an in-ground pool and gardens, the latter which I designed. I had been absorbing everything I possibly could about gardening for years, so I started to envision how the backyard could look. This lifetime passion inside of me had surfaced. During the pool project, I sat with the landscaper and picked out the types of plants I wanted and worked on the layout, which fell into place. As time went on, I continued helping friends with their gardens, and one day a friend suggested I start up a business designing. 

After some time, I decided to move forward, and set out to get my business license. In the beginning, I drew rough sketches of plant layouts for clients, but wanted to learn more about drafting. Since I was teaching full time, and courses were only offered during the daytime, I contacted a professor at Farmingdale University and explained my dilemma. He told me he could suggest the book he used for his course and maybe I could get something out of it. Well, long story short, I read the entire book cover to cover and taught myself how to draft a scaled landscape plan. I then taught myself computer rendered design so that I could present my designs in a visual sense. My landscape design business grew and was something I did during summers, weekends and whenever I had time after teaching hours.

Where does the writing come in? Good question! Back in 2009, a movie came out called Julie and Julia, where a young New Yorker named Julie Powell started a blog about her cooking idol Julia Child, who was played by Meryl Streep. While watching the movie, I exclaimed, “Hey…I should start a blog about gardening!” I started writing, and in 2010, “A Guide to Northeastern Gardening” blog was born. As I wrote posts, I became more and more educated about plants, and as my interest grew, I had a desire to take some horticultural classes. I started attending gardening workshops and enrolled in classes at Farmingdale University and took mini courses through Cornell Cooperative Extension, which I was able to accomplish during evenings while teaching. My list of gardens to visit grew, while it became a regular practice to observe what was blooming in each season. My number of gardening resources and garden blogging friends continued to grow.

As 2013 came around, and after 32 years of teaching, I retired from what was my main job. Landscape designing was now full time and I was enjoying every moment of being outdoors and designing client’s properties. As a designer, friends, family and clients would often ask me questions about plants and how to maintain them, and I was more than eager to answer them. Plant chat is one of my favorite past times! I’m not even sure how the books came about, but I do remember saying, “There’s so much information in my head. I should write all this down!” I started analyzing my blog posts over the years to see which drew the most interest, made a list of topics and started writing. After many transformations, the book I had set out to accomplish slowly came to be. Self-publishing for a first-time author was not an easy task and I almost gave up several times. With the encouragement of my dear patient husband and friends, my first book, A Guide to Northeastern Gardening became a reality.

In 2015, after the accomplishment of my first book, there was no stopping me as I set forth to start a second book, this time with a focus on landscape design. I wanted to take my experiences from over the 20 years of designing and share them in an easy to understand format that either a novice or experienced gardener could follow. I went through photographs of my work, trying to include a nice sampling of garden styles, labeling them with numbering and plant descriptions. Being an advocate of combining color and texture, there were several of my favorites that I wanted to share. I also wanted to include some ideas on the use of hardscape and talk about garden styles throughout history. As I continued to write and organize my thoughts, my second book, Landscape Design Combinations was born.

Writing for me is all about sharing my lifetime passion of gardening and being able to pass on my experiences to others. The moral of the story...follow your dreams. It has been a wonderful journey and learning experience and I am glad to have remained determined and persistent. As I look back on life's paths, I dedicate this post to my husband Tony who gave me needed support, my neighbor Joan who taught me an appreciation of gardening while young, and in loving memory of my parents who put a trowel in my hand for the very first time. I am thankful for all the support and encouragement from family and friends, and special thanks go out to all my blogging colleagues, who have taught me to follow my passion, and that dreams can become a reality. Visit My Books and Author Page.

~As Always...Happy Gardening!~

Author: Lee@A Guide to Northeastern Gardening, © Copyright 2018. All rights reserved