New activity today in our new Oak Tree Stump garden — another reason to celebrate this enjoyable little gardening project!


Gold Flame Honeysuckle


There are more blooms in our new Oak Stump Garden! This morning, I found numerous blossoms on one of the Gold Flame Honeysuckles we planted there last week. Our very rainy weekend seemed to please these new plantings and they are blooming in happiness.

If I seem incredulous that these honeysuckles could possibly bloom, here’s my confession about them… I actually bought them a year-and-a-half ago. I left them sitting in their little garden pots for a couple of months in a shaded spot near the porch until we could return once again from Seattle to spend a gardening weekend. I felt very guilty about them, so I finally threw them each in a big pot, watered them, and wished them good luck. My daughter watered them for us, and I checked on them each time we arrived for a weekend. But when we moved here permanently last summer, I still didn’t plant them because we hadn’t decided WHERE to put them yet.  They looked pretty haggard by that time, so I figured I had doomed them by buying them at the wrong time.

But this spring, they rallied. No, they did more than rally–they took off! They must have decided that the pots I put them in were all they could ask for as permanent homes. Rain water felt really good. Morning sunshine and shaded afternoons were all they could depend on.  And they just started growing like crazy. They look incredibly healthy and hardy, and now that I’ve actually put them in the ground, they are obviously very HAPPY!

Those two honeysuckles survived being purchased at the wrong time, and survived my part-time gardening and general neglect. They are proven survivors, and I promise I will take good care of them from now on.

Honoring the Old Oak


The old Oak trees along the east border of our yard are over 100 years old. They’re tall and majestic, providing wonderful summer shade. But they are also a bit scary. Oak trees “self-prune,” which means they drop bits and pieces of themselves all over the yard. Sometimes those pieces are large branches. These old Oak trees look pretty scraggly when bare of leaves, and some of those scraggly branches are a bit too close and hang over our house. Makes us nervous, especially after our neighbor came over as soon as we moved in and told us that the tree closest to our house was a very dangerous one…it had already dropped a very large heavy branch that landed right where children had been playing in the yard only ten minutes earlier. Yikes!

We had two tree experts come out and evaluate the tree. Both agreed it was dangerous and needed to be removed. The old tree had a large hollow space in it about half-way up, so we couldn’t trust that it would hold up the heavy branches above the hollow. That hollow trunk which made it a very dangerous tree, was also the reason we didn’t want to completely remove it because inside was a very active beehive. Those bees pollinate all the flowers and gardens in this neighborhood!

So we compromised by having the tree cutters take down the top part of the tree but leave the beehive intact. We now have a very tall “stump” in our yard, strange-looking indeed, but providing a wonderful home for the bees, and for birds since we installed three birdhouses.



But I have visions of it being a beautiful tree, once again. Not with branches, but with flowering climbers up that fat old trunk. So our first gardening project in our new home is to honor that old Oak by planting Honeysuckle vines and creating a nice flower bed around the base of the tree. Husband has been working on a trellis to support the vines, and I’ve been putting bricks around the bottom of the tree to provide a nice flower bed. This week, we chose the plants and planted them. Mother Nature cooperated nicely by providing sunshine for our planting work and then lovely rain on the weekend to give them a great headstart.


Growing Wild


This is our first winter spent full-time in our new home. It’s almost impossible to be long-distance gardeners but that’s what we have been for the last two years. Some things have been maintained pretty well, considering that we could only work in our yard once a month. A very hard-working neighbor boy took care of the lawns and leaves for us, but some of the necessary gardening was missed.

This climbing rose is a good example of what was missed. This is mid-December, and it looks awful.  Not having any experience with climbing roses, I need to learn how to properly prune climbing roses so they don’t grow over the rooftop or take over the neighboring bushes.  Another step in my gardening education!

Garden Reading: The Morville Year

The Morville Year

I love the feeling of accomplishment when a project is completed. This morning I finished reading The Morville Year, by Dr. Katharine Swift. It was a lovely read and a real gardening education for me as I look forward to my return to gardening at our new home in Oregon before too long.

littleflowerThe project?  As I read the book, I kept track of all the flowers, books, places, and people she talked about in this story of a year in her wonderful garden at Dower House, Morville Hall, Shropshire, England.  And then I created a Pinterest board where I collected photographs of each thing on my list. The result is a visual book review, which I really enjoyed creating! If you are already a member of Pinterest, please visit my board and enjoy the photographs that I chose to honor this book. [Please forgive any mistakes I made in my photo selecting.] I don’t know if you can visit the board without being a member, but here is the link, just in case. It was a labor of love for me … homage paid to a lovely book.


[This review was originally published on my book blog, A Fondness for Reading.]