Ruby Slippers Oakleaf Hydrangea - A Great Plant!

So you want to plant a native shrub that tolerates half shade (shade in afternoon), has big blooms  in the summer and has great Fall color?

Oh yeah, and it should be compact, fairly minimum maintenance and grow to -20 degrees F.

And it should be reddish/pink.


Its 9" long flower clusters start out white, then gradually change to pink and then red, growing above the beautiful oakleaf foliage, which also turns an amazing mahogany red in the fall.   It grows to just 3 1/2 ft. by about 5 feet wide.  Zones 5-9.

Developed by the U.S. National Arboretum in McMinnville, TN in 2010, the compact Ruby Slippers is a cross between Snow Queen and PeeWee hydrangea and does not grow higher than 4 feet.

It is perfect for small residential gardens (such as mine). 

It also does well in planters and containers - perfect for balconies and decks!  And if you have a larger area, you can use them in a mass planting, as a striking hedge and in mixed borders. 


Serenity in the Garden - THE TALKS I GIVE

Serenity by Design Simplicity, Sanctuary & Delight In this engaging  powerpoint, I offer intriguing design ideas for enhancing any garden.   Learn why East is considered the ‘auspicious’ direction, how to use a ‘Golden Rectangle’ to create harmony outdoors, and which colors uplift our spirits in a garden. A very popular talk enjoyed by all - accompanies the book, ‘Heaven is a Garden” (St Lynn’s Press, 2014)    Plant Handout comes with the talk.

The Spirit of Stone – Ways to Use Natural Stone in the Landscape
 An illuminating and beautiful look at creative ways to incorporate natural stone in a landscape. The ‘spirit of stone’ offers tips for using sustainable stone in garden design, how to design a stepping stone path and ends with secrets of ‘reading’ a Japa

Simple Summer Garden Memories

Do you have simple summer garden memories?  I sure do.  And I hope the kids of today will have them too.
I hope they remember the simple pleasure of growing carrots in milk cartons, tomatoes in large cans or maybe hollyhocks along old fences and lilacs at the corner of a house.

We should reclaim these simple things as part of our ordinary life.


Maybe you have some  memories like this: 

It  might be the 'weed' that smelled like licorice ( anise hyssop),

The buttercups that you put under your chin, 

the honeysuckle that you could suck a teeny drop of 'honey' from,

 the sweet smell of roses as you walked past a certain house, 
the bright yellow Coreopsis that seemed to spring up overnight.

Intelligent Rhythm in the Garden

The idea that we are living within a world swirling with unseen energies is not new.  The Chinese idea of Tao comes closest to what mystics, tribal peoples and modern day physicists explain as the basis of all life.   The Tao, as Alan Watts writes, is not God “in the sense of ruler, monarch, commander, architect and maker of the universe,” but an “intelligent rhythm” (Watts, “Tao: the Watercourse Way” P 40):
“The great Tao flows [also “floats” and “drifts”] everywhere To the left and to the right, All things depend upon it to exist, And it does not abandon them. To its accomplishments it lays no claim. It loves and nourishes all things, but does not lord it over them.   A flourishing garden spotlights this intelligent rhythm and is our everyday “repository of life …….with no claim to its accomplishments”.  Alan Watts uses a watercourse as his principal metaphor for the Tao.       A stream, he says, cannot be held in a bucket and such is the nature of the Tao, or energy that lies within and aro…

Pleasure in the Pathless Woods

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods, 
There is a rapture on the lonely shore, 
There is society, where none intrudes, 
By the deep sea, and music in its roar: 


Childe Harold, Canto iv, Verse 178

by Lord Byron

Bubbling Urns - A Summertime Joy

Bubbling Urns - A Summertime Joy a fun water feature !
Its 92 degrees outside right now. Sweltering. The air hangs like heavy drapes upon the landscape. There is no breeze. The garden quietly endures. So what can you do to lighten the oppressive atmosphere?

ADD A BUBBLING URN -  a recirculating water feature

Why do this? Because the sound of water and its dynamic presence ( ask the great Dr. Emoto) add life and energy to a stultifying summer garden... 
Bubbling urns and fountains bring sparkle to your garden. You can build a recirculating water fountain cheaply by buying parts in a hardware store or more expensively by going to a pond supplies vendor....I am not good at hardware so I buy kits.

Bubbling Urns are set atop an underground reservoir that keeps re-circulating the water. Once the urn fills with water, the water spills over into the underground basin, which pumps the water back up through the urn.
flavio website

There are many how-to do-it videos on You Tube..…

Penstemon Arabesque™ Red - 2014 AAS Flower Winner

Penstemon Arabesque™ Red - 2014 AAS Flower WinnerPenstemon Arabesque™ Red  is an exciting new hybrid perennial that has great vigor and flowers beautifully. No staking required. Loves heat. It’s striking red and white bicolor flowers are large and bell-shaped.  They grow 18 - 24 inches high.  They attract both hummingbirds and butterflies all summer. They come back every year. Arabesque loves full sun and  add height to the middle of the flower bed or in containers. Remove spent flowers to encourage continuous flowering. Zones 6-9. Penstemon are perfect in cottage gardens too. Sturdy and should be better known. When I was just starting out in the profession I had a French gardener boss who loved Penstemon We grew it from seed in the greenhouse....
other colors too!

' Penstemon barbatus 'Elfin Pink' with Nepeta 'Walker's Low'