More Charm for Your Garden

This week I had the pleasure to chat with Michael Marriott, Senior Rosarian at David Austin Roses, on the Rose Chat Podcast. We chatted about the new releases and so much more including rose fragrance. Don’t miss hearing from one of the premier experts on roses, rose fragrance and companion plantings who is also one of the most charming men on the planet. Listen here…

A few months ago Michael and I chatted about companion plants and roses. You can listen in here…




David Austin’s ‘Tottering-by-Gently’ produces masses of single yellow flowers held in large, open sprays. It blooms freely, with repeat bloom from early summer till frost. The flower is simple, with 5 petals surrounding golden stamens. Each flower is about 2.5 inches across. The soft yellow color pales prettily over time. The fragrance is a light-medium musk with fresh notes of orange peel. If not deadheaded it will produce a fine crop of large, long lasting, orange-red hips. The bush grows to approximately 4 feet tall by 4 feet wide, depending on climate and pruning. The lilac-mauve companion plant is Phlox paniculata, which blooms July through September. Order info here.

Emily Brontë

David Austin’s ‘Emily Brontë’ is an exceptionally beautiful, repeat-flowering rose with distinctive flat blooms. The flowers are a soft pink color with a subtle apricot hue. Sized 3.5-inches across, each flower has approximately 100 petals. The smaller central petals are a deeper rich apricot and surround a button eye, which unfurls to reveal deep-set stamens. It is deliciously fragrant, opening with a Tea scent that, over time, becomes more Old Rose with hints of lemon and grapefruit. The bushy shrub grows to about 4 feet tall by 3.5 feet wide. Here, the white/magenta flowered companion plant is astrantia. Order info here.

Mill on the Floss

David Austin’s ‘The Mill on the Floss’ bears large clusters of deeply cupped blooms which open wide to reveal a small boss of stamens. At first, the flowers are a lovely mid pink, verging on lilac pink. As the flowers open further, the color pales, with individual petals beautifully defined by carmine-red edges. The dense flowers are nearly 3 inches across, with approximately 100 petals each. The flowers are held above the foliage, where they nod gracefully on gently arching growth. The medium-strong fragrance is sweet and fruity. It makes a bushy shrub, growing to about 4.5 feet tall by 4 feet wide in cooler climates and significantly taller in warmer ones. Plant in full sun or partial shade, with a minimum of four to five hours of good sun per day. Named for The Mill on the Floss, a novel by English writer George Elliot (Mary Ann Evans), published in 1860. Order info here.


So much more than a catalog. A work of art as well as a very helpful tool filled to the brim with tips on growing roses, companion planting and choosing the right roses for your growing zone.

If you would like a copy, you may order one here

Seeds: Tiny Miracles

And God said, “Let the earth sprout vegetation, plants yielding seed, and fruit trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind, on the earth.” And it was so. The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:11-12


I just placed my first seed orders and already simply can’t wait to get them in the ground. But, wait I will — as rushing any type of gardening is most often futile.

Seeds heading my way:


I am always looking for more bokay makers and found a couple to add from Renee’s.

Mulberry Rose Nigella  (link)

I already have two other colors and love them even though you have to keep your eyes on them. #overcheivers

White Bishop Lace (link)


Flashback Caledula (link)

Loving the colors and will add these to the yellow ones I usually plant.



Steak Sandwich Tomato

I happened on plants of this tomato at Lowe’s last year from the Bonnie Plant collection. Since I had never heard of this variety, I immediately took to my phone to do some research (don’t you love on the spot research!). I found a YouTube video of someone who was testing this tomato and things were looking very good. I took 3 home.

Background: WE LOVE LOVE LOVE TOMATOES. Every year we plant many varieties (mostly in pots). While we get a few good tomatoes per plant, we find that most “slicers” are stingy with their fruit. Our goal is both taste and quantity. This year the goal was met. Tons of delicious tomatoes (medium sized). Not being sure we will find the plants again, buying seeds is our insurance policy.

If you are interested in knowing all things tomatoes, I would recommend Craig LeHoullier’s Epic Tomatoes.

Image courtesy of Bonnie Plants

Senora Zinnia (link)

Look at that color. I can already see this one making beautiful bokays with roses!


Look at this plethora of “special” seed packets that my grandsons helped me pick out while I was in England. I love each one for the memories they evoke. Many will make it to the garden this year. Some of the packets will adorn the Potting Shed.



Seed packet reading will be high on my list especially with so many new seeds from the UK.

Then, I will begin to jump start with indoor planting…

I take a small and simple approach to indoor seed starting based on my limited time, space and light. I use basic seed starting grow pots or starter kits filled with seed starting mix. When: For the seeds I am starting, I need about 5 – 7 weeks before our last frost date (see your seed packet for specific info) to get the seedlings where they need to be at planting time. Planting time is the last frost date and around here (Zone 5) that is Mother’s Day. The potting shed does not receive enough light and few spaces do this time of year, so I will have a grow light over my plants.

For additional details about seed starting, here is a quick but excellent video by Epic Gardening. Take a look

I find the whole seed process fascinating and fun! This is truly a special, miracle filled part of gardening! What a glorious day it will be when I see green! 🌱🌱🌱


While not all seeds are tiny, many of our flower seeds are. Hard to believe something so small has everything needed to grow! Size certainly does not determine their effectiveness. Of course for many of them we do have a role to play in providing light and water. However, as I pull over achievers, whether cultivated or wild, out of my garden … I know all too well that seeds do their job very well — often without my help. They are quite proficient at recruiting wind, birds and such. I don’t know about you, but I am blessed with many over achieving seeds. 😉

2 Corinthians 9:6 says… The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.


PS: I’ve been ordering a few roses too.😱 We’ll talk about that later.

New Year. New Plan. 

While I’m not into resolutions, I do like a good plan. A place to start with an end in mind. In 2020 we are not simply ushering in a new year, but a new decade. We want to get this one started off right!

The current trend to choose a word or phrase for the year has worked well for me the last few years. So whether you work best with resolutions or words, I think we have a better chance to achieve if we start intentionally.

My word this year is actually two words. Every. Day.

  • I want to be open to God’s plan for my life — Every. Day.
  • I want to find the beauty around me — Every. Day.
  • I want to count my blessings and be a blessing to others — Every. Day.

The older you get, the more you realize that life is fragile and temporary… I want to make every day count.

Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4

Things I want MORE of in 2020

  • Holding Mr. G’s hand.
  • Time with family & friends.
  • People around my table.
  • Mentoring new gardeners.
  • Bokays to share.
  • Home cooked food.
  • Home grown tomatoes.
  • Dining in the garden.
  • Walking in the garden.
  • Working in the garden.
  • Birdsong.
  • Flowers.
  • Roses.

Things I want LESS of in 2020

  • Rushing about.
  • Under-performing plants. (They gotta go.)
  • Japanese Beetles.
  • Raccoons.
  • Moles.

Without those last three, the garden would be almost paradise — almost. 😆

2019, you threw us a curve ball or two, but you also had some incredible moments!

— Like spending an afternoon in the Sultan’s rose garden in Istanbul – even though the roses were not yet blooming. (read more)

–Hosting Sr. Editor of Garden Gate Magazine, James Baggett, Photographer, Jack Coyier and garden friend to us all, Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp. (read more)

–Traveling to England to spend time with my daughter and grand boys. Oh the gardens and castles we visited. More on that here.


Last year my words of the year were “taking note”. It was a desire to see more of what’s around me. This year I will adopt “taking note” to encourage me to write down more garden notes. The last few years my garden notes have been taken on the Evernote app and I will continue to use Evernote — as it is not paper that can be lost or destroyed, but also add in a hand-written garden journal too. Do you have a system of garden note taking that works for you?

I think, in part, this desire to write notes comes from some of the incredible garden journals I have been given or bought and finding hand written recipes from my mother and others who are now gone. I love having their hand written words and want to leave some of my own.

2020, I think I’m ready for you!


Gardening Season

My gardening season begins today… December 26 when for the last 26 or so years, I start my annual countdown to spring. With the count down comes getting serious about my garden planning. I love every minute of it!

This year December 26 finds me once again in England where it seems everyone is a gardener and at the Toad Hall Garden Center in Henley on Thames things are booming and blooming. Toad Hall has been around for more than 60 years and they are good at what they do. They have everything this gardener could want — Wellies, row covers, trugs in all sizes, seeds, houseplants, tools and ROSES. Have you ever seen a yellow poinsettia? Well, they had those too. I am a “purist” when it come to plant color, but I liked this one better than I thought I would. I’m not even in the “wanting a blue rose” club. Just doesn’t seem right. Anyway, this garden center is truly Mecca for gardeners.

There is a whole line of these Fleece Jackets.

This Cymbidium Orchid in the middle was knocking my eyes out!

If you have been following me on social media, you know that my family is having a wonderful holiday together in England. We love time together anywhere, but England has been especially nice!

Beautiful decorations and wonderful music filled the air in London.
Mr. G found a special friend.
Westminister Abbey … Amazing.
Christmas highlights #1, #2 and #3. JOY JOY JOY
The English do charm – very well.
Time with my son to tour Grey Court garden and plot and plan what we will do in our own gardens. I saw this garden in full bloom this summer and I loved getting to see the “bones” that winter shows off.
Our beautiful hostess! xoxo

I love the holidays with gusto. Celebrating Jesus’ birth is a highlight of our year. Mr. G and I start listening to Christmas music in late October if the truth be told, but once Christmas is over, it is over. I quickly move to dreams of spring. Seriously, I am very glad for these months of winter at a slower pace giving us time to reflect, rewind and get ready for spring. There is so much “gardening” that needs to start now to prepare for greater success later. Plus, it is just FUN!

  • Read gardening books.
  • Organize tools and supplies.
  • Pour through catalogs.
  • Put plans on paper.
  • Place orders. (We don’t want to find the perfect plant, only to find it is SOLD OUT.)

Up next I will focus on setting some goals for me and the garden.

A New Decade!

2020 is going to be special, I can just feel it. Can’t you?

Let’s get this spring planning party started!