Japanese Stewartia in Bloom

The oldest of the 3 Japanese Stewartia trees that we have in our garden is now blooming.  The scientific name for it is Stewartia pseudocamillia.  In bloom, it is very obvious where the pseudocamillia part comes from because the flowers do look very camillia-esque.  We’ve had this tree for maybe 5 years now, and it’s having it’s best year yet as far as blooming goes.  Not only is it very pretty, but I also appreciate that it blooms a bit later than most of our flowering trees.

Just lovely!

Henna Hands

Enjoyed the opportunity to get mehndi designs on my hands yesterday.  The artist, from India, applied the designs with  henna paste and a little tube that was somewhere between a pastry tube and a syringe.  She worked very quickly, it only took a few moments for her to apply this simple vine pattern to both hands.  The hardest part was allowing the paste to dry without messing up the design by scratching my hands or rubbing my face or something!  I love how it looks, it feels very feminine.

Sisters’ Garden at Inniswood

Inniswood originally belonged to two sisters, Mary and Grace Innis.  They donated their home and gardens to become a park upon their deaths.  Called the Sisters’ Garden in their honor, there is a series of gardens/components within the Inniswood Metro Gardens park that is geared towards the young (or the young at heart).  It consists of an entry garden, a country garden (with a cool miniature meadow of native wildflowers!), a wetland garden, a woodland garden, a story maze, the turtle mound, a circle maze, a trellis cave, and a secret garden.  Admit it, you’re intrigued! 🙂

This is another part that has been installed since I’ve been visiting Inniswood, and this year it really seems to have come into its own.  Things have filled in nicely and everything looks well-tended.  Here are some highlights:

The entrance into the Sisters’ Garden, with its so-fake-they’re-charming sunflower sculptures, leads to another fun garden structure: Grandma’s Cottage. This charming garden folly is actually only one smallish room — the perfect spot to host a really dreamy little girl’s tea party.

A view of the Wetland Garden.

Ribbit! I loved watching the minnows, tadpoles, frogs, and turtles that all inhabit the Wetland Garden.

There are several good viewing spots in the Wetlands Garden so you can comfortably hang out and watch all of the critters that live in the water.

View from one of the decks near the tree house in the Woodland Garden, overlooking the Story Maze.

Couldn’t resist another pic of the tree house!

Swinging bridge by the tree house. There is a fun Peter Pan and the Lost Boys feel to the Woodland Garden.

My husband peering through the Trellis Tunnel.

I’m grinning like a fool here because the brick structure behind me is the Secret Garden. Constructed to look like the abandoned remains of a building wherein a garden has since sprung up, the Secret Garden is pretty wonderful.

“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.” This quote by Thoreau is one of several garden/nature themed quotes inset in the ruined foundations of the folly that contains the Secret Garden.

An out-of-the-way place to sit, tucked into a private corner of the Secret Garden right next to a streaming fountain. I was sitting there, enjoying listening to the water and the birds, when two older gentleman found their way back to this hidden spot. They were both smiling big happy grins and one of them exclaimed to me giddily, “This place just keeps going and going, doesn’t it?!?” I couldn’t have agreed more, with the thought or the glee it inspired!

Garden Project In The Works

I must be honest:  we don’t have a plan.  We never hired a landscape architect, nor did we ever sit down and sketch out a structure for our garden.  Pretty much everything the gardening books tell you that your supposed to do, planning-wise, we ignored.

When we moved in, our yard was mostly an empty slate:  one large maple tree and a few fruit trees that were cankerous and overgrown in back, 2 rose bushes, 2 lilacs in the side yard, and 3 baby pines planted in a row along the very back of the lot.  That was it.  We knew we wanted a lush, full, cottage/potager style garden.  And trees.  We knew we wanted more and we also knew that we had to take out the sickly fruit trees.  Purchasing the amount of plant material we were wanting can be a pricey endeavor.  We’ve relied on end-of-season sales and the plant sales/auctions at Chadwick Arboretum and Dawes Arboretum to help us achieve our vision on a budget.  And we’ve gotten some insane bargains this way: $5 -$15 dollar trees, $2 shrubs, $.50 perennials.  This approach takes patience, an open mind, and a flexible garden plan because who knows what might be available?

So our garden is ever-evolving:  we’ll look at what we’ve been able to scoop up for cheap, walk the yard, and figure out where to put things.  Beds randomly appear, grow, and shift over time.  We’re in the process of altering two beds right now to merge them into one.

Very early in our garden’s history: planting a pair of pioneer peonies. Often a bed begins with a plant colonist or two plonked into the grass and then a bed is slowly added around it/them….

Two or three years later, there’s the original peony, and the bed that has been added around it!

A slightly different view of those beds, we’re merging the one on the right with the one on the left so that there will still be a pocket of grass at the very back, but not so much in the foreground, if that makes sense?

We’ve decided to merge those beds further and to move the brick path a bit…

Digging out around one of the beds to prep it for sand.

The brick path gets laid atop the sand.

This is still a work in progress, but I’m very excited to see how this change will look once the new path is fully laid!

Funny, I Don’t Feel Dead

Pardon me while I rant a little:

So I read this article the other day: http://news.yahoo.com/the-facebook-crash–is-social-media-going-the-way-of-blogging—remember-blogging–.html;_ylt=A2KLOzGObc1PbBAA_OnQtDMD  For some reason, it stuck in my head, much like an annoying pebble caught inside of a shoe.  Don’t get me wrong, this article doesn’t strike me as a particularly well-written piece.  Frankly, it doesn’t even seem as if all that much thought went into it.  But it stuck with me and made me think.

This article seems to highlight the huge yawning gap between how people are actually using technology and how more traditional formats are wrestling with processing those changes.   It’s like there are people who are really struggling to try to make rules for how things should operate in the digital world. They can’t admit that they have no idea what’s going to happen.  What’s going to happen with Facebook now that it has gone public?  Who knows?  There’s not anything great to compare it to.  A free service with millions of users around the globe that has left everyone grappling to figure out where, how, and even if it should fit into their lives?  One with remarkable market saturation that still leaves its users wondering what the new etiquette for it should be, one that challenges traditional concepts of privacy,  one that blurs public and private spheres, and challenges traditional notions of friendship?

And then there are the even bigger questions of how the ability to exchange ideas and information with ease and without the moderation of  traditional technologies, powers, and formats is changing the world.  What kind of impact will that ability have on the future?   You don’t have to write a letter to the editor and hope that it gets published to share your views.  You don’t have to hope that the content of your letter to the editor won’t get edited into a parody of your original message should it actually get published.  You can publish it yourself, to a potentially global audience.  Now, will a post on an individual blog garner the same attention as something published in traditional media?  Maybe not, but these are still potentially seismic shifts.  I don’t think it’s hyperbolic to say that these are game-changing times.  And the new rule book hasn’t been written yet.  We don’t know the outcomes yet.

This certainly isn’t the only article I’ve seen where the writer declares blogging dead or irrelevant.  Sounds a bit like sour grapes.  And so often those kinds of statements leave me feeling like instead of illuminating something about these changes, I just see the writers frustrated by their struggles to make sense of a lively, fluid landscape, one with a constantly changing topography.  Instead of wonder and humility, there is bluster and ego.  The digital world isn’t behaving like they think it should, so they ignore inconvenient things like facts and try to just declare that they have answers when they don’t.  How else to explain the absurd, snotty question “remember blogging?” from this article?  As if blogging is suddenly now as quaint and arcane as an 8-track player. I was poking around, trying to find numbers on how many blogs there are out there.  How many?  It’s hard to find a solid number because there are just so many of them.(Although I did find interesting information about how businesses are really striving to figure out how to use bloggers to sell stuff.)  Sure, some bloggers active 2 years ago aren’t blogging any longer.  But we’re still talking about millions of blogs, millions of bloggers.

I haven’t personally been blogging all that long, but I’ve been following blogs for years.  I read rather a lot of them.  I find something really beautiful and profound about being able to share, in some tiny way, the lives of people very different from myself.  The adventures of a young Swedish student spending a year abroad in Paris, or a Japanese retiree pondering worsening Alzheimer’s, or any number of other interesting worlds that I’ve been privileged enough to get a glimpse into through people’s blogs.  It expands my world, and often makes me challenge my perceptions and assumptions.  And it thrills me that people in 42 countries other than my own have peeked into my miniscule pocket of the globe through my blog.  And I wonder, long-term, what sort of potential for peace might the ability to share our humanity with each other in these small ways bring?

Call me a cock-eyed optimist, but blogging isn’t dead.  I don’t even think we’ve come close to seeing its full potential yet.

Herb Garden at Inniswood

The herb garden in Inniswood Metro Gardens is pretty spectacular.  This is a view into the garden from a cool gazebo right by one of the entrances into the garden.  There are so many interesting plants and shrubs, and the fragrances all combine into such a lovely scent!

In the foreground here you can see the little Bee Garden within the Herb Garden (love the ceramic skep) and the gazebo behind it.  The gazebo is interesting because it’s very open –the walls are made of wooden trellis material and the roof is too, but covered with clematis so it’s a living roof.  Very neat!

In the background of this picture, you can just see a little hint of a very special element of the Herb Garden:  there’s an amazing boxwood knot garden.  A closer look:

I can remember when this was first planted.  It’s wonderful to see it now in its mature state, all formal,filled in, and gorgeous.

Too bad there’s not an Odorama card for this post, because the lavender collection, part of which is shown above, smelled so nice!  Plus it was cool to see several different varieties all in one place.

On the back side of the lavender beds there was this alpine garden.  In addition to the evergreens, there was some creeping thyme in the planter, too.

Here’s a view towards the herb drying shed located in the Herb Garden.  Although “shed” sounds too utilitarian for such a pretty little place, doesn’t it?  I may have to do a whole post just on the different structures and garden follies at Inniswood Metro Gardens because they have quite a few.  Very inspirational, and I’d love to transport most of them to my own yard!  Actually, I’d take the entire Herb Garden in a heartbeat. 🙂