12 Months of Flowers in TheGardenLady’s Garden – Hardiness Temperature Zone 6

Johnny Jump Ups by TattyBones

TheGardenLady is a cheapskate. So when I can get a plant bargain, I take advantage of that. I love to get plants from friends. Of course, I like giving away or sharing my extra plants, too.  If I want a pricey plant, I will wait for sales of plants in good nurseries in the Fall. Fall is the best time to plant big plants, anyway. (Since there has not been a heavy frost yet in many areas, one can still be planting shrubs and trees outdoors.)  But what makes me happiest is when I want something and I find it in a store whose employees know little about the plant and practically give it away because the plant looks “dead.”

Gardening friends of mine love this, too. One gardener got a really expensive rose that way.  That is how I bought this year’s pansies. I went to one of those big box stores that sold plants and looked for pansies. They had some sad, almost dead looking plants so they sold them to me for pennies. It was a win- win situation. The store thought it was getting money from a fool who was paying to take away their dead plants and I was getting plants that bloom now and then will bloom again next year in late winter or early spring.

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People Enjoy the Hellebores in TheGardenLady’s Garden

Pretty in pink by fotovision47

As people compliment my garden when they walk by, I take mental notes of which flowers have the WOW factor that encourage these compliments. Even though everyone loves lilacs, for example, they do not elicit compliments. Nor do showy plants like canna lilies, salvias or zinnias. Of course, flowers planted in large groups, like evening primroses or the overall effect of a plant situated in the  lovely landscaping elicits compliments.  However, in the next several weeks I will be listing 9 plants that make people stop in their tracks or in their cars to tell me how impressed they are or to take photos. Almost all the plants chosen do have huge, showy flowers- nothing subtle about them. To me they are the fireworks that are the big grand finale in a fireworks show.

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Flowers are Blooming Earlier than Usual – What Does this Mean?

A splash of colour in the gloom by Steve-h

It is obvious on our planet that the weather has changed. The earth is warming. Many parts of the US are seeing flowers in bloom approximately a month earlier than usual.

In my area, the hellebores have been in bloom for months. Snow drops and crocuses are flowering and now the daffodils are open or opening. Pansies are having their winter show. What this will mean for gardeners and farmers will have to be seen.

Gardeners seem to be advised to start planting some early crops already. Peas which were historically planted on St. Patrick’s Day in my temp zone, can be planted now. The Farmers’ Almanac has this year’s calendar for planting.  Besides earlier planting, what the temperature changes will bring will also have to be seen. We may be getting more pests, we may have less water to use on our plants or we may be able to grow bumper crops in areas certain crops were never grown before.

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TheGardenLady’s Spring Garden

This GardenLady loves Spring- when the world looks so lovely with all the flowers emerging from their sleep. l would like to share photos of some of the flowers that are in bloom in TheGardenLady’s spring garden.

(1) Hellebores with Brunnera and Greater Celandine (see here and here) Greater Celandine is becoming invasive in some areas (see here)

(2) Hellebores

(3) Korean Spice Bush or Mayflower Viburnum Viburnum Carlessi (see here)

(4) Virginia bluebells Mertensia virginica (see here)

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Graveyard Plantings

Carolyn’s Shade Garden in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

TheGardenLady recently wrote  a post answering a question about the the types of plants she would recommend planting near a graveside.  You can read it here.   She then received the following letter from Carolyn Walker of the famous  Carolyn’s Shade Gardens in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, which  was about the same topic.  Here’s Carolyn’s letter.

Hello Garden Lady

It is very coincidental that you should have this question about planting around graves. One of my customers referred an elderly woman to me who was interested in planting around her husband’s gravestone. The cemetery, which was in the woods, allowed live planting. She sought my advice on what would be elegant, simple, easy to maintain, and most importantly, deer proof.

My son and I went to the graveyard and transformed the site. First we removed the sod in a rough oval extending around the sides of the grave to soften its stark outline (see before photo). Then we planted ten shade perennials for maximum year round impact and deer resistance. We chose three Helleborus niger ‘Jacob’, one of the new Christmas roses that is not only evergreen but also blooms from November to April. We surrounded it with five Lamium maculatum ‘Shell Pink’, the only lamium that blooms from April to November. It is also evergreen. We now had flowers and foliage year round. Finally, we added two Brunnera macrophylla ‘Jack Frost’, a perennial forget-me-not with huge, silver leaves and long-blooming blue flowers in spring. To me the heart-shaped leaves of this plant symbolize the husband and wife. The two after pictures show the completed job. The plants will fill in quickly so that no bare earth remains.

I have never done this type of planting before, but it was immensely satisfying.


Hellebore Seminars for the Totally Obsessed

yellow hellebore by perseverando

Where: Carolyn’s Shade Gardens

325 S Roberts Rd

Bryn Mawr, PA 19010



When: (Select One)

Saturday, March 20, from 10 to 11:30 am

Sunday, March 21, from 1 to 2:30 pm

Friday, April 2, from 10 to 11:30 am

Saturday, April 3, from 10 to 11:30 am

Cost: $25 per person

Attendance is limited to 15 people

Content: Using examples from my own gardens, I will cover everything and anything you ever wanted to know about hellebores, including:

+ How to grow and maintain them

+ How to propagate them by division and seedlings

+ How to pick the best plants

+ The difference between “species” and. “hybrid” hellebores

+ What makes a superior hybrid hellebore

+ What is special about the 15 or so species of hellebores

+ Some of the interesting new species crosses available

+ A special selection of hellebores will be available for purchase, including rare plants potted just for the seminars

The seminars are suitable for any level gardener as long as you can listen to discussions of the most esoteric qualities of hellebores without your eyes glazing over. Questions and observations from the group are encouraged. Feel free to bring samples for identification and discussion.

Registration: To register, please click on this address carolynsshadegardens@verizon.net and send me an email listing the seminar date, your name, and phone number. You will receive a reply confirming your registration and containing further details.

A Hellebore.....The Lenten Rose by keithhull

Oct 3 Open House for Carolyn’s Shade Garden

Carolyns Shade Garden in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
Carolyn's Shade Garden in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Carolyn is opening her shade garden to the public on Saturday, October 3, from 10 am to 2 pm, rain or shine (checks and cash only).  The following information about the open house is from Carolyn herself.

Please don’t arrive before 10 am. If you can’t come on Saturday, please feel free to schedule an appointment on Friday, October 2, or during the week after the open house.

Parking and Directions: Directions are attached. If you are coming on Saturday, please take a moment to review the parking instructions included with the attached directions. Complaints from neighbors about the parking situation can be avoided by following these simple guidelines.

Now that summer is over, it’s time to think about transforming your fall garden with late-blooming flowers and beautiful ornamental leaves. Fill in spots left by dormant plants, screen tired hosta, add flowers, include hellebores for winter interest—enjoy your garden year round. Fall is the best time to plant because soil temperatures are elevated into December, but new plantings don’t have to contend with hot weather and drought (that’s why bulbs are shipped to our area in October). The plants that I plant in fall are some of the healthiest specimens in my garden. Make your fall garden as beautiful as your spring display!

This open house will offer blooming, specimen size turtlehead, toad-lily, garden phlox, Japanese anemone, hardy begonia (pink and white), and much more. We will also have unusual ferns (including the much-requested holly fern) and plants grown for leaves as well as flowers such as purple, caramel, and lemon coral bells. There will be a good supply of the plant everyone has been asking for—Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (flowers continuously and copiously from May until frost)—and of the 2008 Hosta of the Year ‘Blue Mouse Ears’.

Hellebores: Hellebores have been in demand the last few falls so I have potted up some beautiful, large ‘Blue, White, and Pink Lady’ hellebores for the sale. My own double white plants, ‘Double Integrity’, are huge and ready to sell, and I will also offer the mixed color ‘Double Queen’. I have potted up some very nice specimens of ‘Honeyhill Joy’, a vigorous Christmas rose-Corsican cross with shiny dark green leaves and white, outward-facing flowers. There will also be a good supply of the early blooming (November) and vigorous Christmas rose cultivar ‘Jacob’.

Reusable Plant Crates, Boxes, and Pots: If you took a plastic crate at a previous open house, don’t forget to reuse it on Saturday. Please continue to bring cardboard boxes–we always need more. I am happy to reuse my pots but only if they are black nursery pots with a 100, 200, or 400 on the bottom. Please check the bottom of the pots before bringing them as unusable pots are creating a trash problem.

Questions: My catalogue is an excellent resource for information about the ornamental characteristics and cultural requirements of the plants I offer. I often find incorrect information on the preprinted plastic plant tags and recommend that you go to my catalogue first. Email me to request a copy. Printed copies will be available at the open house. If your question is not covered in the catalogue, please feel free to consult one of my knowledgeable open house “volunteers” in the yellow hats.

Stop by on Saturday and see my gardens. The manicured look of spring has been replaced with the bold and rangy (weedy) look of fall. You can see my collection of toad-lilies in bloom and my wildly self-sowing hardy begonias, as well as unusual ferns, hardy cyclamen, Japanese anemone, phlox in all its many colors, ornamental grasses, and many other fall beauties. I look forward to seeing you then.

Thanks, Carolyn