Fall Gardening: It’s all about that base, er… those bulbs!

One of the more fetching things (or shall I say people) I learned of during the garden show season last March, was a Dutch woman who has mastered a fresh approach to planting bulbs in the garden.  Jacqueline van der Kloet doesn’t do the standard daffodil/tulip thing – which is to plant  intense, monochromatic clumps of a single cultivar to provide a “spot of color,” that is gone in a few weeks with lots of boring foliage left behind. Instead, she frees up bulbs, unleashes them from the cluster and integrates them in a more naturalistic manner that can truly showcase their collective beauty.


Photo courtesy of BBC

Now who out of us gardeners, doesn’t want a spring wonderland brimming with naturalistic rhythm and enchantment?  When the temps begin to climb out of the freezing zone and a bit of rain falls, we crave the signs of new life and our desire for naturalistic gardens is at its highest.  The “proof” of this craving is the multitude of blog posts, instagram photos and tweets sharing the “glory” of the first Snowdrop! (Galanthus nivalis)

Although Ms. van der Kloet is a world-class garden designer, working on projects for the New York Botanical Garden, Chicago’s Millennium Park and famous gardens in Europe, her designs are not just for public spaces where plant material is changed every few months.


Seasonal Walk at NYBG; Photo Courtesy of Jardins Sans Secret

Her design style embodies longevity.  Van der Kloet takes into consideration many types of flowering bulbs as well as perennial kin and her method can be carried out in a big or small space, making them oh so suitable for us home gardeners!

But here’s the thing…to implement some of Ms. van der Kloet’s signature style, we must think beyond tulips and daffodils.  One of van der Kloet’s convictions is that there are many under-used bulbs that can be combined with favorites for a more lengthy, multi-dimensional spring-flowering show. For example, small flowering bulbs such as Chionodoxa and anemone bland can provide a layered effect when blooming with tulips, hyacinths and mid-season daffodils.  They create an interesting understory for the well-known “stars.”


Fritillaria meleagris; Photo courtesy of wikipedia


Erythronium; Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Fritillaria and Erythronium or trout lilies are most likely on her short list of under-used specimens.  Species tulips too.

The main idea is to think about how spring bulbs can be used together to create an interesting tapestry of flowers and textures.  For a small space, it is recommended to use around three varieties in a spring bulb palette and in larger spaces up to seven varieties.  Color, height, bloom time and length, as well as sun exposure should be considered when making selections.

Spring blooming perennials are part of a van der Kloet-inspired design and plants like aubretia, creeping phlox, cerastium, hardy geraniums, euphorbia, forget-me-nots, bleeding hearts, etc… add more color and texture to the wonderland.

The really fun part of her design method comes when it’s time to plant.  (Even kids will enjoy this activity.)  The bulb selections are all mixed together and then tossed by handfuls in the space where they are to be planted. The bulbs are planted at the appropriate depth based on the growing requirements but this style of “sprinkling” proves to yield a natural, appealing result.

bulbsSo last week, before the snow fell and I mean right before it fell, (a couple of hours between my freezing hands and the first snowflake!) I mixed together the bulbs of my Dutch inspired design.  I then tossed them in my front bed and started planting.  Here are my selections:

Clockwise starting from bottom left; Tulip humbles 'Magenta Queen', Crocus 'Ard Shenk', Narcissus 'Tete A Tete', Tulip 'Purple Prince', Fritillaria persica

Clockwise starting from bottom left; Tulip humilis ‘Magenta Queen’, Crocus ‘Ard Schenk’, Narcissus ‘Tete A Tete’, Tulip ‘Purple Prince’, Fritillaria persica

As you can see, I didn’t give up hybrid tulips.  (I could never do that!) But, I did incorporate a species tulip.  Some of these lesser known tulips such as kaufmanniana, greigii or humilis bloom quite early and offer pretty, mottled foliage.

I’m hoping to achieve a layering of color and interest that starts in March and holds interest until the large perennials (iris and large hardy geraniums) begin to bloom in mid-May.  It’s an experiment that going to be fun to see especially since my craving for springtime wonder will be at its highest!

But for now, everything is tucked away under a thick blanket of snow.



How about you?  Do you plant spring-flowering bulbs in your garden?  If so, what is your method?  Have you heard of Ms. van der Kloet and her designs before?






The Fall Garden, Both Fun and Fierce

Much time has passed since my last post on the August garden and during that time subtle changes each day have led to the arrival of –  “The Fall Garden.”

The Fall Garden is both fun and fierce.  There are many joyous events taking place as the end of a long growing season arrives, yet much fierce growth and work is still in process.  For the next few weeks, I’ll be highlighting the fall garden form a fun and fierce perspective.  Join me to see if you can relate to my garden musings during this fabulous season.

One of the more fun things happening now is the ripening and picking of apples. I have two apple trees (Gala and Fuji) and they have been grown in an espalier style for 4-5 years. This year has been a great year of production and loosely counting I will get about 170 apples from the two trees combined.  Yipee! Because there have been years where I only get about 20 apples from the two trees!  Actually, I am learning that it is pretty normal for  apple trees to yield large harvests every other year.  Do you experience this if you grow apples?

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I got my girls out to help do some picking one Sunday morning and they got a bit silly but it was fun!  Notice they could easily reach everything…one of the big benefits to espaliering fruit trees. Easy access to all parts of the tree.

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fallgarden1If you are wondering what the little white things are hanging in the tree they are pheromone traps that can be used to monitor adult coddling moth activity.  Once an adult coddling moth gets stuck in the trap, you know there is activity and can choose a method to prevent the coddling moths from attacking your apples, basically making them filled with worms.  To learn more about apple codling moth and how to protect your apples (or pears) click here.  Overall, I have found it pretty easy to use pheromone traps and then spray spinosad 2-3 times throughout the season (starting when fruits are at least a couple of inches in size)  to effectively control coddling moth.  Of course, using an insecticide is  a serious decision for most home gardeners and I get it if you are opposed to this technique.  To be fair, here is a link to more info about Spinosad as an approved, organic control method in agriculture as well as a link to organic control of codling moths. 

Now for a little fierceness…who is out there growing tomatoes and not in battle with them to save whatever is in their path from being swallowed completely?! This could even be your home if you have a tiny space!  This self-seeded ‘Sungold’ tomato (or parent of a Sungold, since it is a hybrid) found it’s way over to my clematis trellis and has “trellised” itself!

From this –


To this –  In just a few weeks!


Yes, the tomato growth is fierce right now in my zone 6 garden. I go out every couple of days and cut back the most offensive new growth while harvesting a good-size bowl of tasty fruits.

fallgarden2This year during ‘tomato overload time’  I’ve decided all I can do is feel lucky to have so many tasty ways to eat them!  I am not stressing about getting them all picked and making batches and batches of spaghetti sauce.  Instead, I am giving some to family and friends and using them nightly in dinner preparation via salads, pasta sauce and a few other tasty recipes.

fallgard3fallgard4 In a few more weeks as freezing temps get close, I may reach the level of spaghetti-sauce making or maybe I’ll just donate to the food bank instead. Hmmm…maybe both.

One more fun event in my fall garden is the heirloom roses  (‘The Impressionist’ and ‘Louise Clements’, both from Heirloom Roses) are finally putting out glorious, long-lasting blooms.  They have a hard time keeping any blooms on (they wither in a day) in the 90-100+ degree days of summer, but as soon as the heat wanes they bring forth some beautiful color that lasts!



How about you?  What is fun and fierce in your Fall garden?


Hot Color In The August Garden

Ooohh, there is hot color in the garden right now! Both blooms and bounty are shades of red, orange and yellow with a measure of plum and violet thrown into the mix.

My garden has been a delight (for the most part) this year. I’ve enjoyed much of the ornamental garden and have a smaller “change order” list than usual for this fall. Of course, I garnered new inspirations over the summer, especially during the Portland Garden Blogger’s Fling, and will be adding and subtracting plants but overall, I like what I see!

Certain insects such as earwigs, aphids and cabbage loopers have been more of a nuisance than usual but I’m thinking this is because there hasn’t been a freeze since March and there’s been a bit more moisture than usual. My suspicion is what makes for a good growing season makes for a good bug season too!

I’ve been away much of the summer so haven’t captured as much of the garden as I would like, but being away and coming back to see the change has been a pleasure. I’ve learned that some areas can get along beautifully without me, while others are in true need of my daily puttering to keep things in order. And, there’s always that batch of summer sprouting weeds that tries to claim King over the land, but I was home just enough to win that war!

The edible garden is booming right now with lots of tomatoes and raspberries to harvest every few days. Pole beans are coming on and all of the red potatoes, carrots and garlic have been harvested. Lots of food pics and maybe some recipes to come…. But for now, enjoy some color during these dog days of summer.


The Bounty

Aug collage

The Blooms


Kniphofia ‘Ember Glow’


Hudson Valley Zinnias


Color in new front garden…





Hips of Rosa pomifera


Unknown Orienpet lily. Not as hot but I still find a warmth in it!


And, a bit of violet to mix up the palette! This is phlox paniculata ‘Nicky’ paired with some ornamental stakes that I finally placed.

How about you? How has your garden grown this summer? Do you have a favorite plant blooming this August?

At My Kitchen Sink – Orienpet Lily ‘Silk Road’

I love lilies, many types.  And after my recent trip to Portland, Oregon for the Garden Blogger’s Fling, (#gbfling14) I love them even more!  Many of these premier gardens featured the most beautiful lilies I’ve seen.  I can’t wait to add more to my garden…

But in this moment, I’m enjoying Orienpet lily ‘Silk Road’ from B &D Lilies.  I cut this beautiful stem so that I could enjoy it up close and personal throughout the day.  The fragrance fills the rooms of my main living area but is not overpowering after a couple of days.

How about you?  Do you love lilies?

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2014 Boise Garden Tour – The Finale – See It Here!

The June Boise Garden Tour is always a delight!  And I’m not the only one that thinks so because it has been going for 28 years! This is a wonderful way to get out and see what is growing locally under the hand of home gardeners and professional designers.

This is my final post detailing this year’s tour and with this I provide a look at the last two fine gardens.  (They were fifth and sixth on my route.)  If you would like to see the other gardens of the tour click:  Garden 1, Garden 2, Gardens 3 and 4.

Garden #5

Fun and Floriferous! There is loads of flower power at this garden (you see it as soon as the home comes into view) and I love it!  This garden keeper is a kindred spirit when it comes to the notion “there need be no bare spots – no “dirt” showing!”

This cottage-style garden is packed in both the front and back with bright, colorful plantings that “pop” even under a brilliantly shining sun.  The plants look extremely healthy and happy and you can tell this garden has been a vibrant place for years.

Nancy Day is the home owner/garden keeper here and she also owns a garden business called Cottage Gardeners Inc.  As you can see she really walks the walk of cottage-style gardening! It is so very cool to see that she not only creates gardens for others, but holds such a passion for plants, she has created an amazing garden of her own to enjoy!

I really loved looking at the plants in this garden.  In talking with Nancy, she shared one of her secrets –  compost, compost, compost!  O.K. maybe not so much of a secret to us gardeners, but a great reminder that you can never really add too much compost to soil that is low in organic matter. :)

There are SO many great things to see in Nancy’s garden, please take a tour at your leisure and then let me know what stands out to you.

The Front Garden:


The Back Garden:

 Last but certainly not least!  Garden #6 

One of the things that is so much fun about the Boise Garden tour is seeing first-hand the great diversity of garden styles. It is lovely to see how people enjoy a garden in so many different ways although they can be located in close physical proximity.  Gardens #3-6 were all within walking distance to each other.

This last garden on my route was in my opinion by far the most modern and on-point with current trends.  You could see a garden of this style at one of the infamous garden shows this year.  (Northwest Flower & Garden Show, San Francisco Flower & Garden Show)

The infrastructure really stands out, especially the use of stone.  A definite urban vibe is picked up, but overall, I feel a thoughtful, peaceful, restorative ambiance.  Take a tour of this urban oasis and see if you are drawn in the way I was.

The front garden is lush with trees and shade plantings somewhat concealing a stylistic modern residence.

BGTH6colI absolutely love the rain chain design and since I’m adding two new rain chains to my own back garden, I may just have to implement this idea.

Here is a shot showing the mixed use of stone in the front area.  This continues in the back garden. Love that curved stone wall!


Walking into the back garden  you see an inviting patio area, a quiet water feature and a simple fire pit for two.  I found the design easy on the eyes and I love the combination of urban and natural worlds with the use of rock, cement, iron and wood.





In keeping with current trends, this outdoor space is not only a place to relax, it is productive and bountiful.  Look at this awesome raised veggie plot!  These gardeners know how to get an early start on the edible season.  I’m sure this soil begins to warm quickly in the spring.


Not only do they grow veggies, the garden keepers grow a couple of types of berries too. Look at this cool trellis/fence design.


Here is a shot of the homeowner/garden keeper/landscape architect that came up with the vision for this wonderful space.  His business is Ivy Design and I’m thinking if you live locally and are looking for a professional that is well-versed in current garden design this is a connection for you. :)


And now take a look at some of the artful plant highlights of this garden. They definitely soften the space adding to the relaxing feel.


I’ll end with a favorite shot of the curved rock walls that were such a stand out feature of the front and back gardens.  Love them, want them!


Thank you to all my readers who have taken a look at the private gardens of Boise, Idaho.  I hope you have come away with some great ideas to add to your garden spaces and a feel for our great garden community.

Thank you to Idaho Botanical Garden for making the garden tour happen and for hosting many  fun and educational events throughout the year!


2014 Boise Garden Tour – See It Here! (Gardens 3 & 4)

The Boise Garden Tour happened a few days ago.  It was a fun day seeing lots of different styles of gardening in our lovely, livable city.  Click to see Garden #1 and Garden #2.

Today’s post features the third and fourth gardens on my route.

Here is a look at Garden #3.

I would describe this garden as quaint and very merry.  Lots of colorful, classic, cottage-style plants greet passersby from behind a white picket fence in the front garden.


Stepping in, one of the first things to catch my eye was this cute stake system.


Next, I was drawn into the delightful vegetable plaza that ocated between the front and back gardens. Look at that lettuce!


Near the vegetable plaza, I noticed these cute plant/object creations. Looks like lots of fun happens here in the veggie plaza area!


Next, I walk into the back garden and see lots of color, along with places to have a seat and a drink!  And not just for adults!  Check out that cute sand box for kids!


I didn’t get a chance to visit with the garden keepers here but I know they are artists.  In fact, they have a small pottery studio. Here is a shot of the entrance to the studio.


These beautiful glass garden ornaments are also part of their artistry.  The colors are exquisite.


Ahhh, very nice.  I went away with a little extra spring in my step as this garden seems to percolate happiness and good cheer!

Now, for a look at Garden #4

As we arrived at this little bungalow I noticed how lush green textures seem to hug the front of the residence in such a charming manner. The lavender just ready to bloom looked splendid!


Walking around the front to a gate leading into the backyard, I saw this great custom iron trellis with climbing hydrangeas growing on them.  Love the design and scale!


Once inside the entrance there is a long narrow bed and a path leading to the back garden.  I saw this awesome plant along the way and the garden keeper told me the name but I am unsure I remembered it accurately.  I believe it is a type of Hydrangea, maybe ‘Vanilla Strawberry.’ If someone definitely knows this plant, please comment.  I would like to know.


Once in the back garden I found it so intimate and restorative.  The large boulders designed in a semi-circular pattern combined with the mature-looking plantings exude privacy and beckon one to sit for a bit or awhile.  This area has a very natural vibe giving you the feeling of a private peaceful spot in the forest.  I loved the stone (both large and small) chosen for this area and the unassuming fire pit as well.


BGTHouse429Walking a bit further I came to a cushy, patio dining area, a gorgeous fountain and some other lush, simple plantings.  Notice how even the BBQ is camouflaged by lush green plantings.  Love it!



I loved this small garden with it’s natural ambiance and intimate mood. Although it was organic in feel, it was packed with modernities we love to enjoy such as an outdoor eating space, a BBQ, fire pit and even a hot tub. I could have spent a lot more time here but I knew more gardens were waiting.

My friend, Kecia Carlson (owner of Madeline George Design Nursery) , worked with the garden keeper/home owner to create this lovely sanctuary.  My hat is off to the two of them as I feel it turned out wonderfully rich and a perfect complement to the home. Bravo ladies!

How about you?  Do you like seeing the diversity of garden style?  Do you have a specific garden style?

Stay tuned for Garden #5 and #6 coming soon.  Happy Gardening!

2014 Boise Garden Tour – See It Here (Garden #2)

As mentioned in my last post, the Boise Garden Tour was held just a few days ago.  Six lovely gardens were open to the public for a one day tour.   Here is a look at the second garden I visited.  (This is #2 in terms of the route I took to visit the six gardens.)

Garden #2

To be honest, I can’t remember the front of the residence.  I’m sure it was lovely but when I stepped through the opening leading to the back garden I was amazed and intrigued.  So much color, so much depth, so much fun!

This garden definitely deserves its own post because there are so many layers of creativity and passion to observe.  It is a one of a kind and the workmanship placing the infrastructure, plants, signage and objects is impeccable!  All the credit goes to the garden keepers (homeowners) as they created every inch of this appealing retreat.

Here is my first view of the garden. Wow!


There is much to discover, let me take you a bit closer…


This cool little spot is one of the primary attractions.  It is located in the center of the back wall of the main garden area.  As you can see, it is an enjoyable spot, perfect for a little shade and contemplating the detailed fabric of this garden.  Here is what you see as you look back towards the home.


Another lively seating area close to the house and lots of happy yellows to guide the eye.  Here are some close-ups of this seating area.


Maybe have a cold beer after a long, hot day in the garden right?  Pull up a stool, but be careful where you sit.  Cacti rule this spot!


A great sign/design nearby…

Here is another view from the cool little spot. (Drug Store)


Getting closer there are lots of plants, textures and paths to observe, all meticulously cared for.


Now if looking slightly right of the cool little spot (Drug Store), here is some more plant fun and another great resting spot.



Oh man, so many places to sit and ponder.  How do the garden keepers keep this place so spot on!

One more area I must show…walking through an opening I found this most beautiful vegetable garden designed and cared for with the same level of passion as the main garden.  It is an L-shape formation bordered with large river rock for great definition.  Garden envy happened here!



This garden was really a treat to see.  The longer I stayed, the more I saw and the more comfortable I became in the environment.  The creators have taken this space (which I was told was overgrown brush and dying trees just a few years ago) and created a garden that embodies talent, creativity and passion!  Ooh la, la!

A few more of my favorite visuals:

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Stay tuned for Gardens #3 and #4 coming soon…