Spring Gardens

After a very long winter, it was a pleasant surprise to see the beautiful array of spring flowers blooming in my garden.

After a very long winter, it was a pleasant surprise to see the beautiful array of spring flowers blooming in my garden.  I had quite a display of daffodils and tulips gracing my gardens this year.  In the fall I had planted quite a few varieties, including Tulip Angelique, a beautiful scented tulip that closely resembles a peony with long lasting blooms, Mount Hood, a white trumpet daffodil, and White Lion, a gardenia-like daffodil.  All were a sight to see!

Tulip Angelique
Tulip Angelique
Mount Hood Daffodil
Mount Hood Daffodil
White Lion Daffodil
White Lion Daffodil

Right now the Alliums are putting on a show of their own.  Alliums are plants of exquisite beauty.  A member of the onion family, they are so graceful with their large mop heads, exotic and unique with their shape and form.  They are most interesting, easy to grow, and come in a broad palette of colors, heights, bloom times, and flower forms.

Alliums in my garden.
Alliums in my garden.
I enjoy seeing a variety of Alliums in my garden.
I enjoy seeing a variety of Alliums in my garden.

Globemaster and Gladiator are the tallest and most architectural Alliums, with huge deep purple, globe shaped flower heads on 3 to 4 foot stems.  The white flowering Mount Everest is a bit shorter.  Purple Sensation is one of the most popular varieties.  Drumstick Allium blooms in early July and the two toned burgundy-green heads are fantastic.

Globemaster Allium
Globemaster Allium
Gladiator Alliums
Gladiator Alliums
Mount Everest Allium
Mount Everest Allium
Drumstick Allium
Drumstick Allium

Ornamental alliums are hardy and love the sunlight; there is only one time of the year to plant them, which is in the fall.  I started planting them quite a few years ago and have been adding to them ever since.  They are a favorite in my garden and maybe they will also be a favorite of yours!

Flower Arrangements

If those first daffodils make you smile when you’re out walking or driving around, imagine what a colorful bunch of flowers can do when you place them on your desk or around your home.

For many people, the arrival of spring brings an immediate lift in spirits.  Warmer weather, sunnier days, and greener scenery just naturally brighten life.  The added color of flowers returning to gardens and flower beds is another welcome sight this time of year.  If those first daffodils make you smile when you’re out walking or driving around, imagine what a colorful bunch of flowers can do when you place them on your desk or around your home.  While it’s quick and easy to pick up a bouquet at the market or order an arrangement online, the experience of visiting a flower shop and browsing the many different flowers available is both inspiring and relaxing.

Flower ArrangementsFlower Arrangements 2Flower Arrangements 6

Exploring what your local florist has to offer provides you with so many more options than you get from a pre-made arrangement.  You can select the freshest flowers and most appealing palette, all while consulting the florist on the best way to display your choices.  You may find flowers you’ve never heard of, or be inspired by a particularly beautiful color.  My favorite flowers include all colors of calla lilies, celosias, and peonies.  Parrot tulips are as couture as they come, and hydrangeas remind me of the spirit of summer.  I love freesia for the smell alone and purple is my favorite!

Flower Arrangements 7Flower Arrangements 9

Hand-picking the flowers for an arrangement is a wonderful way to present someone with a thoughtful gift.  A custom arrangement for Mother’s Day is such a nice way to recognize the holiday.  While you’re choosing flowers for the mothers in your life, why not treat yourself to an arrangement as well?  Find a flower that really catches your eye.  It will make you smile for days!

Flower Arrangements 5Flower Arrangements 3

My go-to local florist is McArdle’s in Greenwich.  A family-owned business, they are always ready to pull off anything I ask for, even when I call at the last minute.  My flower selection process, like my approach to interiors, is carefully thought out, with thoughtfully paired elements.  How do you like to shop for flowers?


Fall Gardening

This year it was a pleasant surprise to see my gardens showing color longer than usual.

This year it was a pleasant surprise to see my gardens showing color longer than usual. The warmer weather has kept the gardens alive. I am not a fall or winter person, but I love to see the trees turn and with the red, pink and orange hues, the gardens take on a whole other dimension.  When planting the garden you have to plan so there will be constant color throughout the season. There are quite a few plants that bloom late in the season, adding color to the gardens into the fall.

Hydrangea Trees
Hydrangea Trees

Hydrangea Trees are a wonderful addition to your garden if you have space for them.  I have a few different varieties, but one that I love is Hydrangea paniculata “Pink Diamond,” which starts out white and turns a deep pink and is so beautiful this time of year.  Other late blooming plants are Chelone “Hot Lips,” a dark green leaf with a pink flower; Chelone “Alba,” which has a white flower, and Anemones “September Charm,” which is a wonderful plant with a delicate light pink flower.  I also have Asters, a vibrant light blue plant variety called “Woods Light Blue” that is quite gorgeous.  Eupatorium Rugosum “Chocolate” is a variety that has white flowers with chocolate leaves and looks great mixed in a bouquet of roses.

Chelone “Hotlips," Pennisetum “Karley Rose," and Anemone
Chelone “Hotlips,” Pennisetum “Karley Rose,” and Anemone

Of course knock out roses and shrub roses will keep going for quite awhile.  “Lady Elsie May” is an ever-blooming shrub rose which is great.  Dahlias make great cut flowers this time of year.  Grasses they are the true beauty of a fall garden, especially when the sun glistens through them and they sway in the breeze.  There are so many different varieties to choose from.  A few of my favorites are Miscanthus Sinensis “ Morning Light,”  Penniseteum Orientle “Karly Rose,” and Panicum V. “Red Switch Grass.”   Of course, do not forget the sedums!  “Autumn Joy” is my favorite.


As I write this the gardens are fading and in a few weeks it will be time to get the gardens ready for the winter by cutting back the perennials and cleaning up the beds. If you have any delicate trees or fruit trees, you will want to cover them for the winter.  It is also the time to think about next year.  Fall is a great time to plant any new plants and shrubs, and to transplant any plants that you want to move or divide.   It is also the time to plant bulbs for spring flowers and place a thin layer of mulch down.  When this work is done, you’ll have all winter to look forward to new blooms in spring!

Now is the time to shop for bulbs!
Now is the time to shop for bulbs!

Container Gardening

With the start of the gardening season, I am looking forward to one of my favorite forms of gardening: container planting.

With the start of the gardening season, I am looking forward to one of my favorite forms of gardening: container planting. I love to plant flowers in containers, and when the seasons change I will plant containers to reflect the time of the year.

Summer is by far my favorite time to plant because there are so many different flower varieties to choose from and all are so vibrant with color.  It is an art to be able to create and design with plants, and the type of containers you choose to showcase your plants is almost as important as the flowers themselves.

Examples of container plantings in my garden.

First, you will need to decide if your pots will be placed in a sunny location, a shady spot, or where they’ll receive a mix of sun and shade.  The type of plants you use will depend on the amount of sun in each location.  There have been times that I have had to replace plants that did not last the season, either due to using incorrect plants, overcrowding, or, of course, the weather.

If you do not have any knowledge of plants, you will have to depend on your local garden shop. I have been fortunate to learn from a knowledgeable person for years who has taught me a great deal about plants and the planting of containers. There has to be symmetrical balance of the plants, and the size of the pot will determine the amount of plants used.

Annuals are plants most widely used for containers. I decide on a color palette and then choose the type of plants I will use.  Some of my favorite annuals to use are geraniums, calibrachoas, verbena, angelonia and bacopa.

An urn planted with Verbena, Angelonia, Geraniums,and Bacopa.

Rose Standard Topiary Trees and Bougainvillea Topiary Trees make a great focal point.   I will under plant them with an annual such as verbena or bacopa.  Another favorite option of mine is putting Dwarf Hydrangeas in containers.  They need a shadier area or else they will wilt.  After the season is over, you can transplant them in your garden.

Bougainvillea Topiary

I also like to do containers of mixed sedums, or a container of a creeping sedum.  They are quite interesting.  Boxwood Topiaries make a simple statement and, come winter, the Topiary looks great alone or under planted with greens.

My containers sit amongst my perennials and herbs as well as on ledges and walkways.  They are a menagerie of all shapes and sizes.  A lot of planning and work is involved in planning a container garden, but there is a satisfaction you get in knowing you have created something that is beautiful to behold all season!

Using a trestle in a container allows climbing plants to spread upward.

I hope you enjoy some of the containers I have done.  I am getting ready to start a new season and cannot wait!

Orchid Show at NY Botantical Gardens

With the start of Spring this week, the 11th annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Gardens is a must see.

With the start of Spring this week, the 11th annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Gardens is a must see.  The beauty of the orchids, one more exotic than the next, is a fascinating experience to behold.

A glimpse of what the Orchid Show has to offer.

The show, which runs from March 2 to April 22, 2013, is a spectacular exhibit that displays thousands of orchids in the country’s largest curated show.  The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory has been transformed into a lush rainforest where the orchids are displayed in an amazing array of colors, shapes, sizes and textures.  Tens of thousands of blooms stand out amid stately palms and exotic tropical leaves.

This year they have incorporated into the show Hurricane Sandy storm damaged trees as a design element and an acknowledgement of how orchids grow in the wild. The New York Botanical Gardens has orchids from all over the world, there are more than 7,000 orchids representing 3,075 different varieties in their collection.

The Orchid Show aims to display these gorgeous flowers as they would grow in the wild.

There also are special programs you can attend, including orchid care demonstrations, talks, and tours, to name a few.  Located in the Bronx, New York, it is well worth a trip to experience the Orchid Show.  Enjoy more photos of these mysterious flowers!

Darwin’s Star Orchid

This year’s show includes a rare event — the Darwin’s Star Orchid in bloom.  The Botanical Garden rarely gets to share this flower with visitors while it is in gorgeous full bloom.  Visitors often look for this flower, not only because of its elegant beauty but because of its associate with Charles Darwin.  Legend has it, Charles Darwin was sent one of these orchids.  When he examined it, Darwin theorized there must be an insect with a long proboscis capable of reaching the nectar at the bottom of this long, narrow flower and, in the process, enabling the orchid to be pollinated.  No such insect could be found, however, and many scientists ridiculed Darwin for his unsupported theory.  It wasn’t until decades later that a hawk moth fitting Darwin’s exact description was found to be drinking from and pollinating these orchids late at night when their activity had been completely unobserved.  Darwin’s Star Orchid turned out to be a perfect example of co-evolution.

Black Buddha cross with Spellbound
The Nun’s Habit

To learn more about the show and its special programs or to plan a visit, go to the New York Botanical Garden website or find them on Facebook.

Map of the area around NYBG



Holiday Flowers

Incorporating flowers into your holiday designs gives your decor an unexpected and memorable twist.

When you think of decorating for the holidays or creating a centerpiece for your table, you might think of evergreens, holly, pine cones, and berries before thinking of flowers.  However, incorporating flowers into your holiday designs gives your decor an unexpected and memorable twist.  You certainly aren’t limited to poinsettias, either!

A unique and more modern way to cluster flowers. The hint of red suggests Santa is coming.
French tulips – a very white Christmas indeed.
Paperwhite flowers always remind me of the holidays.

Arrangements that include more than just flowers can also make a great centerpiece for the holidays.  Leaves, feathers, acorns, and fruit are items you can use in different ways.  Experiment with colors and textures, even adding elements you wouldn’t typically think of including in a floral arrangement.  The finished effect can be surprising and eye-catching.

Feathers arranged like flowers make an interesting centerpiece.
Oranges and acorns – great idea!

There’s no hard and fast rule that says your centerpiece has to be on the table.  Look up and around and take advantage of accessories already present in the room.  The materials in your arrangement an reflect the colors of the holiday without being composed of the typical trappings.  The chandelier below is the perfect example of making an unexpected jump and decorating for the season without being literal.  The green and red pieces evoke the holidays in a traditional, yet unexpected way.

Love the decked out chandelier and the red pomegranates that hint at Santa’s suit!

Do you make flowers and greenery part of your holiday decorations?

An Evolving Garden

I’d always enjoyed container planting with annuals and really did not know what to expect with growing perennials.

Guest Post from Debbie Aidinis

There are two things that I love to do: cook and garden, even though I have no formal training in either of them.  But, I have always had a love of plants. About 10 years ago, when we were redoing the pavers around the pool, our contractor suggested planting perennial beds along one side of the pool.  I really did not know what to expect with using perennials.  I’d always enjoyed container planting with annuals, where I found a great satisfaction in creating the arrangements, but this was different. This was the start of something I had never experienced before.

I truly fell in love with those perennial gardens and continued to incorporate them into our landscaping.  I moved on to the front of the house, where I put in more gardens.  My gardens are truly a labor of love with many hours spent working in and enjoying them.

My gardens are forever evolving as I am always looking to see what I can move or replace for the following year. For me, gardening is still a learning experience.  There are plants for sun, partial sun, shade, dry, and wet conditions, just to name a few. I now do my research on the different variety of plants and have come to understand that there are plants that will not do well in certain areas even if you love them and want them in your garden. Sometimes you instinctively know the plant you just put in the ground does not belong there.  I’ve also learned to plant flowers according to their blooming schedule.  Some bloom early in the spring while others bloom into the fall.  Because I like to always have flowers in garden, I now arrange my plants so I have flowers throughout the growing season.  It’s not unusual for me to replace plants or move things around in the middle of summer if I see a part of the garden without flowers!

I’ve also learned through trial and error with specific plants.  For example, I love Lavender.   When I started my gardens I had a grouping of Lavender which came back for a few years and then just stopped.  For a while, I replaced  the Lavender every year.  Then, I finally realized that area was not the right location for Lavender.  My nearby Viburnum had grown a lot through the years and the area became shadier and, of course, wetter.  I eventually put in plants that were better adapted to that environment, such as Solomon Seal, Japanese Painted Ferns, and Hostas.

Around my pool, which gets hot sun, the landscaper originally planted a lot of very large Hostas.  Every year, by mid summer, the leaves would be burnt from too much sun exposure.  They have since been moved to another area where they are very happy and thriving with more shade.

The one plant I can never have enough of are Hydrangeas.  There are many beautiful varieties.  One in particular is called “Annabelle” and does not do well in full sun.  They, too, were moved to another location after a summer of constantly watering them to keep them from wilting away. This year I planted Hydrangea macrophylla “White Out” in container pots and will put them in my garden in the fall,  in a spot which has partial shade.

Another plant that I love is the Coneflower.  Unfortunately, so does the local ground hog!  Once I realized the ground hog was the culprit behind my chewed Coneflowers, I almost gave up on growing them.  Inexplicably, I found I can plant Coneflowers in one of my front gardens and the ground hog will not munch on them.  Why he avoids that particular spot I may never know!

The early morning when the sun comes up is my favorite time to be out in the garden.  There is a beauty to behold,  just looking at the flowers through the haze of sunlight and morning dew.  Of course, the garden at dusk would be a very close second, when the sun is setting and cooler breezes bring relief from a hot summer day.  If only I could find more space to plant another garden!

Looking Forward to Flowers!

There’s nothing like a bunch of colorful flowers or artful greenery to brighten any area, inside or out.

So far this winter, Mother Nature has spared us from a typical New England winter.  Even still, by the end of January it’s hard to avoid wishful thoughts of warmer breezes, green buds on trees, and those first flowers to signal the start of spring.  It’s the flowers in particular that I look forward to, not only for the season they symbolize but for the memories and sentiments they evoke.  There’s nothing like a bunch of colorful flowers or artful greenery to brighten any area, inside or out.

We can’t hurry spring along, but here are some examples of arrangements and flowers I love.

I love this floral composition.


Just greens.
Alliums are the initial start of spring for me.
Hydrangia - all time favorite!
Sunflowers remind me of my first date with my husband.


Hearty yet simple.
Tulips: One of my favorites in any color.

Odds are you live near a florist or flower shop, which means there’s no reason to wait until spring to enjoy a beautiful bunch of flowers.  Why not treat yourself to some cheerful blooms the next time you go out?

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