The Beauty of Fall…

You know how I LOVE spring. And though I fight it a bit, I really can see the beauty of fall.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.  A time to plant and a time to harvest… Ecclesiastes 3

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Wordless Wednesday: Drought… The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.

Zinnias love the heat!

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Bloom Thyme Friday: Beating the Heat

This is a week of record high temps (99 – 103), so I find myself extremely grateful for the plants that are “beating the heat.”

Just when I was about to panic about the lack of water and intense heat, David Strickland of Witherspoon Rose Culture, our guest on Blog Talk Radio today told the story of his roses going without water for 6 weeks last year and once the rains came–the roses came back too.

So presently we are beating the heat with iced tea, fighting the Japanese Beetles and waiting for rain … and watering as much as we can! As CWO (Chief Watering Officer) the garden hose is in my hand most days!)

These are the troopers beating the heat and taking the sunny center stage in our garden… Click on the first picture and the gallery feature will open so the pictures won’t look so tiny.

Bloom Thyme Friday: Buds and Blooms Today


Here’s what’s blooming in my neck of the woods today…

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Buds and Blooms

Today the garden is exploding with buds and blooms! This is what we wait all winter for!

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Thanks for stopping by!

Bloom Thyme Friday: Dogwood Memories


I have many dogwood memories. I grew up in the mountains of Tennessee where the spring is beautiful with azaleas, rhododendron, redbuds and dogwoods. There is nothing quite like seeing the mountains dappled with red, pink, purple and white!

When I was a teenager my dad came home with 8 dogwood trees he had dug in the woods where he had lived as a child. He was so excited about these little samplings. I wasn’t sure. They didn’t look too impressive. I was not sure they would live up to the impressive ones I had seen in the mountains. But, over time I became very impressed! To this day those dogwood trees line my dad’s driveway and are spectacular in the spring. These dogwood trees have brought my family years of pleasure and have brought food and shelter to the many birds there!

When Greg and I moved to our home 26 years ago, we couldn’t wait to plant dogwood trees and through the years we keep adding more. Currently we have 3 very large white dogwood trees, 1 medium sized white and 3 small pink dogwood trees! Funny story… when we bought the last 3, I told the nursery I only wanted white dogwoods. They were not blooming at the time but the tag said, “white.” All of them bloomed pink! And, the nursery went out of business the next year–so pink it is! They are beautiful too but white are still my favorites.


Have you ever read the Legend of the Dogwood? Although the Bible does not tell us what type of wood the cross Jesus was crucified on was made of, this legend says that the cross was made of dogwood…

In Jesus’ time, the dogwood grew
To a stately size and a lovely hue.
‘Twas strong and firm, its branches interwoven.
For the cross of Christ its timbers were chosen.
Seeing the distress at this use of their wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
“Never again shall the dogwood grow
Large enough to be used so.
Slender and twisted, it shall be
With blossoms like the cross for all to see.
As blood stains the petals marked in brown,
The blossom’s center wears a thorny crown.
All who see it will remember Me
Crucified on a cross from the dogwood tree.
Cherished and protected, this tree shall be
A reminder to all of My agony.

Not a part of the legend BUT, in the fall dogwoods produce clusters of red berries and if you look closely you’ll notice that for most of the dogwood varieties the berries are not round but rather shaped like a drop of blood! Hummmmmm

Legends are legends, but I am so grateful for anything that reminds me of His love and sacrifice on our behalf….

“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

I hope you have a glorious GOOD FRIDAY.

The white dogwood trees are in full bloom today… Along with the birds in the background you will hear “shots.” Don’t be alarmed, we live near a shooting range! :)

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Bloom Thyme Friday: My Favorite Garden Center


I was recently asked by Garden Chat to write a guest post about my favorite Independent Garden Center. I am pleased to tell you about COUNTRY HARMONY in Brownsburg, IN.

The atmosphere is quaint but also upscale and urban! The location is peacefully tucked away in a corner of natural foliage in the heart of our little town. Very “oasis” like!

They are open year-round, so no matter the season, you can choose from a comprehensive line of home decor, gourmet gifts, garden accessories and plants.

During the growing season you simply must come! Their abilities as garden designers and their vast selection of highest quality plants put them way ahead of any other garden center I’ve visited (and that list is long!).

Another area that sets them apart, is the expert care they give to their plants. Whether it is early in the season or at the end of a very long, hot summer, everything looks amazing. Every plant is hand watered on a plant-by-plant basis. Owner Ryan, Designer Brad and the entire staff are very good at what they do! They are knowledgeable and friendly and are willing to literally walk along side you down the rows and rows of beautiful plants to find the perfect ones for your garden or home.

A few years ago my garden went through a major renovation and one of the first things I did was to contact Country Harmony to bounce around ideas and seek their expertise.

I can say all of this because I am somewhat of a Country Harmony expert … IF frequent visits count as expertise! I am there every week during the growing season … sometimes multiple times a week. If only just to be among the beautiful plants. :) My husband likens my trips to Country Harmony as putting another child through college… Oh it’s not that much, but he’s probably thinking of my garden projects over the last 25+ years. :)

Reminds me of a quote by Mrs. Emily Whaley in her book Mrs. Whaley and Her Charleston Garden

Gardening is not inexpensive. … One successful way to finance your gardening, is to choose carefully whom you marry. A good and generous man is needed. … If you are so lucky to find such a man, you must fully realize and fully appreciate the fact that you have found a “pearl of great price.”

I do and I sure appreciate him. There is no doubt the folks at Country Harmony do too!

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Wordless Wednesday: Early Garden Beauty

I love pansies!

My garden is coming back about 4 weeks earlier than ever before. Click on the first picture to start the gallery.

Bloom Thyme Friday: 2011 Garden Year in Review


From the delivery of 8,000 + lbs of flagstone to being named Costa Farms “Garden of the Month” in July, 2011 was an amazing gardening year…


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So excited to see what 2012 brings. First up is filling the new rose bed. So far I have 10 new roses ordered … Lady Ashe Climber, Flamenco, Julia Child, The Grande Dame, and Eden and another Roseraie de l’Hay.

How about you, what are your plans for 2012?

Bloom Thyme Friday: A Fresh Start


I love the fresh start that comes with a new year. Time to get organized, time to plan for the future and more time to think about the big picture of our life…

A Time for Everything
(Ecclesiastes 3)

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest.  A time to kill and a time to heal. A time to tear down and a time to build up.  A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.  A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones. A time to embrace and a time to turn away.  A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away.  A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak. A time to love and a time to hate. A time for war and a time for peace.

Now is the time for winter when the days are shorter and the nights are longer. When gardeners make plans for spring, observe the wildlife around us and look for the beauty of this season…

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So far my garden plans for 2012 include more roses, learning to can and a new fence. How about you?

Wordless Wednesday: October Glory / After the Rain


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Bloom Thyme Friday: A Friend’s Garden


Recently I had the pleasure of visiting a special friend’s garden. The same friend who brought the unforgettable rose bokay to me when I was a teenager that launched my love affair with roses. Life changing. (Click for story.)

Even though I garden in Zone 5 and she gardens in Zone 7, there are many similarities. Especially when it comes to the love of roses. When I walked out into her garden the fragrance of roses was everywhere! Her garden is beautiful! A beautiful garden. A beautiful friend.

Note the wonderful arbor–handcrafted by her amazing husband. They are a great gardening team!

I know you will enjoy the pictures, I just wish you could enjoy the wonderful fragrance…

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Can you think of a time when you’ve been inspired by another person’s gift? I would love to hear about it.

Bloom Thyme: Crossing the Mason Dixon

Is there anything more peaceful than a mountain stream?

Recently I made a trip “home” to the south and I noticed something. Even though I have lived in the midwest for 34 years, things change when I cross the Mason Dixon Line … not just things,  I change…

  • My speech slows … to a crawl.
  • “You guys” becomes y’all … without even missing a beat
  • My purse becomes a pocket book.
  • I crave iced tea … sweet or unsweet, they just do something special to their tea!
  • I get giddy when I see a Krystal sign … southerners you know what I mean.
  • I fall in love with the mountains … again and again.
  • I eat gravy. Enough said.
  • I get to be a daughter.

See how beautiful it is…

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Bloom Thyme Friday: Minty Fresh


I have heard it said that once you start growing mint, it’s difficult to stop. There are a couple of reasons for this … you will become addicted to the fragrance and yummy flavoring it provides and the other reason is that it is a true overachiever in the garden–sending out runners in every direction. I find it is best to keep mint in a pot. You won’t love it if it takes over your garden!

Since I garden in Zone 5 and put my mints in pots, I over winter them in my potting shed. They don’t get enough light to flourish but enough to survive.

One mint in particular gets my utmost attention in the winter … the Apple Mint. This mint was the last garden gift from my mother before she passed away more than 20 years ago. The Apple Mint has survived almost 25 winters. I have several pots going … just to be sure. I would be devastated if I lost it. Few things make me feel closer to my mom.

I am not the only one that puts a high price on mint–Luke 11:42 says … for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs.

Mint has long been regarded as a symbol of hospitality, the Romans would strew it around at feasts and banquets as a welcoming sign to guests.

I use lots of mint when guests come too … especially in my “famous” lemonade (click for recipe). In fact, we hardly ever have a drink in the summer that doesn’t have mint in it!

Currently I am growing these mints:

  • Peppermint: Predictably strong and wonderful for tea!
  • Orange Mint: Lighter citrus flavor and great in drinks too!
  • Lemon Mint: Strong citrus flavor … a little goes a long way.
  • Chocolate Mint: Strong, pretty but not the best in drinks.
  • Apple Mint: Fuzzy, beautiful, but better as a plant than a flavoring.

All look great and smell great in cut flower arrangements!

What is your favorite mint? How do you use in it?

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Wordless Wednesday: Butterflies are Free … and Beautiful

Butterflies 014

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Bloom Thyme: Rose Hips

Hips Header

Although nothing compares to the excitement I experience when my old roses first bloom, seeing the fruit of the rose … the roses hips that come after the blooming season make me happy too.

……Makes me feel closer to the generations that came before us and grew these amazing roses. Rose hips are not only beautiful but contain more vitamin C than citrus fruit. So, you can imagine the value pioneers placed on this fruit.

……Makes me relive stories I’ve heard my dad tell of how thankful he was as a little boy during the depression to have a mother with a green thumb who knew how to use everything she grew or found in the meadows for food or medicine.

……Makes me remember stories I read of pioneer women who counted as prize possessions the old roses that grew long, hooky thorns–used as living fences to protect their gardens against the animals who liked nothing better than fresh veggies from a well-tended garden! These roses also provided wonderfully fragrant flowers for vases and potpourri and after the flowers came the fruit they used in jams, jellies, teas and herbal remedies. Win. Win. Win.

I make teas from the herbs I grow (mints, lemon verbena, etc.), but have never used my rose hips in a recipe. Do you ever make herbal teas from the herbs and flowers you grow? Favorites?

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Bloom Thyme: From Ordinary to Extraordinary


I love growing in containers. I grow everything from tomatoes and herbs to exotic flowers and shrubs. Each year it is fun to decide what containers to use and what plants to try.

Through the years I have turned just about everything into a container for plants. Sometimes I find something unusual and the container is more important than the plant. But, most of the time my containers are ordinary and it’s the plants that make them special.

However, there is one container that I use every year that is very special to me, this little metal water pitcher that is filled with lemon mint…

Mammy’s water pitcher…

This pitcher belonged to my grandmother … the same grandmother who went to see her doctor when she was in her 80s and asked the doctor to give her a pill that would make her feel strong enough to hoe in the garden. Don’t you love that. I’m sure I will be the same way!

This little pitcher was a part of her everyday, ordinary life. To me it is completely extraordinary in the memories that it holds!

I am told she had the greenest of thumbs and could grow anything. And, you can be sure that I love it when other family members say, “You remind me of your grandmother, Mammy!”

Here are some containers in my garden and even a picture of me taken a few years ago dressed in one of Mammy’s dresses, holding her water pitcher…

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My favorite plants to use in containers…

  • Tomatoes (because I am obsessed)
  • Chile Peppers
  • Mint (…Because I love it and use a lot of it BUT it will take over if you plant in ground!)
  • Most used cooking herbs
  • Nasturtiums (Planted around my tomatoes)
  • Dorotheanthus Mezoo (Big name but excellent training plant)
  • Lantana (Hummingbirds & butterflies love)
  • Wave Petunias (’cause they can take the heat)
  • Geraniums
  • Coleus
  • Ferns
  • Gardenias
  • Succulents

For more on container gardening, click here.

Do you have a container that holds special memories?

You might also enjoy these stories…

Memories of My Mom…

My Dad the Sailor…

Bloom Thyme Friday: Going Up …. and Over

Whether on an arbor, a fence or other structure, growing vertically is a great way to utilize space and add interest to your garden.

My top 5 favorite plants to grow vertically…

1.  Roses! (Favorite: New Dawn)

2.  Clematis (Favorites: Etoile Violette, Henryi & Jackmani)

3.  Honeysuckle (Favorite: Major Wheeler/Resistant to Powdery Mildew)

4.  Morning Glories (Favorite: Heavenly Blue)

5.  Pole Beans (Favorite: McCaslins/YUM)

 Top 3 reasons why I grow vertically…

3.  Provides privacy.

2.  To disguise an ugly view.

1.  It is so charming!

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What is your favorite plant to grow vertically?