Kylemore Abbey and Victorian walled garden, Ireland

Closing time seems to be my siren call. Especially when it comes to gardens. We were in Galway, Ireland, one afternoon when we impulsively decided to drive 90 minutes northwest to see Kylemore Abbey. Once a stately home, it’s now a Benedictine abbey, still famous for its postcard-pretty setting and restored Victorian walled garden. There are only […]

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And now, June Blake’s Garden, Blessington

After our wet, wild, wonderful day at Jimi Blake’s garden on our Irish holiday, we tore ourselves off to visit the garden of his sister June Blake, about five minutes away. It was almost closing, and our visit was cut decisively short by a sudden, intense deluge, a theme for the day. The siblings share an exuberant […]

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Jimi Blake’s Hunting Brook Gardens, Ireland

As giddy as a schoolboy. (Picture Alastair Sim skipping around as Scrooge on Christmas morning.) That’s how my husband described me when we finally arrived at Hunting Brook Gardens on Lamb Hill near Bellington in the Wicklow mountain foothills. It had been a long time coming. Four years ago, I’d tried, tried hard, to persuade my travelling buds in Ireland […]

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Near-sighted camera meets colorblind gardener

A weird thing happened on my recent visit to this exuberant Buffalo garden. Almost every picture (almost every one!) was out of focus. But only in this one garden, out of 15 that day! It’s as if my camera knew that the man who’d created this particular garden had a vision impairment, and it was fuzzing out in sympathy. Ha. In fact, the fuzzy […]

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15 container ideas and why I love them

I could give you a play-by-play, but on an almost-Wordless Wednesday I’ll just say this about why I love them: Inventive plant combos, cool containers and display ideas, great scale (from very-very big to very-very small), a mix of enthusiasm (by some) and restraint (in others), and steal-worthy ideas. All seen in the mild climes of Virginia, Maryland […]

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Using black and brown in a garden

Sometimes, I feel bad about filtering the experience of being in a garden through a camera lens. Am I like one of those people who walk around seeing the whole world through the screen of their iPads? But the magic of photography can turn a frantic, 45-minute garden visit into hours of contemplation at home – letting me zoom in, identify hidden treasures, and […]

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You’ve been seen, ultramarine

Since visiting the garden of Linda Hostetler in The Plains, Virginia, I’ve spent a long time trying to feel blue. I mean feel it – to understand the science behind why gardeners love this eye-popping blue called ultramarine (and sometimes Majorelle blue, after the painter and his garden). As my camera and I slowly explored Hostetler’s interesting […]

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Happy Canada Day & Happy Gardens

I think this garden represents the best part of Canada, as it is a blended front-yard garden. Why does it represent Canada? Because so many cultures, starting with our two original ones, French and English, blend together so well. [Ed: We are correctly reminded that the French and English, along with other Europeans, were relative newcomers […]

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I might have to spray-paint my Alliums

I’ve heard this from others about alliums aka ornamental onions – though the Virginia, USA, gardener responsible for these was mystified when I told her. Alliums can self-seed. In my sandy, part-sun and tiny back garden, Allium christophii, though lovely, can be a bit of a pest. So I’m considering spray-painting them. The gardener did it to […]

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A garden is no place for ageism

The garden is about every passage of life. Youth, adolescence, old age. Even death. ~ Princess Peggy Abkhazi Today’s weather has chilled, but the sudden heat of the past two days put a definite frizzle in my long display of tulips. Before the forecast wind and rain (that never came), I went out last night to deadhead […]

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Lessons from the Danger Garden

Since my earliest days with the long-lost, late-lamented Blotanical, I’ve been a reader of Loree Bohl’s The Danger Garden. With a focus on her passion for spiky plants, Loree has been a regular and prolific blogger since 2009. Get to know her through this interview. Now the growing conditions in Portland (USDA Z8) and Toronto (USDA Z5/Canadian Z6) […]

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