Editing, a satisfying journey.

Editing, a satisfying journey.

I am a writer, and a gardener.  A Garden Writer.  Both activities require the skill and joy of editing. In the garden on a low, cooling August day, when one has been away physically and mentally from the rapidly growing plants (and weeds) for several weeks, taking a closer, more intimate look is overdue.

 

I love to nestle close to the flowers, sitting among them – seeing them up close and personal. The earthy aroma, buzz of bees, the awesome beauty of growing things is intoxicating and healing.  The easy task of eliminating the bottom row of worn and tattered daylily leaves, trimming the fallen and broken daisy stems, and cutting back the dried and dormant bleeding heart creates such satisfaction. Now you can see the plant structure and form where visual chaos once reigned. Thriving, strong elements shine in their late summer glory.

Editing is a satisfying journey with delightful results.  Spaces, pauses, ground, visual relief, harmony, cohesion, and flow are the norm, replacing chaos, crowding, a cacophony of colors. It is the same practice with words.

When you edit words, the sense of relief grows as the tempo slows. Fewer words, reduced chaos and easier reading result in the delicious sense of harmony as the words snuggle together, happy in their location and expression. When you stand back and look at the overall scene, the sense of relief and satisfaction is delightful. One has created from a jumble of thoughts a coherent stream, an edited, rewarding journey.

Incredible Iris

Artist Marian Hebard in her Tustin, California iris garden

Artist Marian Hebard in her Tustin, California iris garden

 

Bismarck Iris Garden 2013

Bismarck Iris Garden 2013

The most cheerful, colorful botanical jewels of early summer are the Iris. I follow my mothers lead with iris, she always had an incredible collection of these beauties where ever she lived, and I appreciate her introducing me to these lovely flowers. They are easy to grow, and they multiply rapidly so you can share with friends and neighbors. I highly recommend them to you.

Batik iris

Batik iris

In Living Color Iris
In Living Color Iris

No Egrets iris

No Egrets iris

Discovered Treasure Iris

Discovered Treasure Iris

 

 

Plein Air Painting Days in Bismarck, North Dakota

Marian Hebard artwork marian oil flowers 1 strong colorsPlein Air painters – Alert!  Join the Bismarck Art & Galleries Association and spend two gorgeous garden days during the summer of 2013 at the Digging Dakota Garden of Storybook Cottage, Bismarck, North Dakota home of Susan and Erik Holland.  You can register at BAGA by visiting their website www.bismarck-art.org or calling 701-223-5986. Or, if you are in the area, stop by the BAGA offices at 422 E. Front Avenue, Bismarck, North Dakota.

North Dakota spring garden

North Dakota spring garden

What is plein air, you ask.  Basically, it is painting outside.  Plain air. French for “open air”. Being in the real air, not in a studio, to capture “in the moment” the colorful beauty of nature around you.

A few Resources and References to explore

The Plein Air Painters of America – http://www.p-a-p-a.com/

A wonderful PBS show about the history of Plein Air Painting – The American Landscape. http://www.pbs.org/programs/plein-air/

http://www.askart.com/AskART/interest/Plein_Air_Painting_1.aspx?id=26&pg=style for more information on plein air painting from AskArt

Just search “plein air” and you will be delighted with all the results that arise.

These two days are dedicated to my mother, Marian Seymour Stevenson Hebard.  She was an excellent artist, and hosted Southern California artists many times in her extraordinary gardens in Tustin and Santa Ana, California.  What a wonderful inspiration she was, and continues to be,  to so many of us.

Marian-showing-paintings

Marian-showing-paintings

 

Glorious sunshine after rain

"Spring Symphony" Tiarella, daylily, mini heuchera, mini hosta

“Spring Symphony” Tiarella, daylily, mini heuchera, mini hosta

Oh, my spring garden is so lovely.  All the work we did in the past several years is really paying off.  The dry creek bed is settling in, and the tiny miniature plants I put in the new raised beds last year are showing up and growing apace.  This spring, in contrast to last years dreadful spring, has been perfect.  Cool, wet weather started the plants off slow and steady, and every once in a while we have those glorious days of 70 degree weather with sunshine that you remember with fondness and gratitude.

North Dakota spring garden

North Dakota spring garden

The 2012 rock garden and raised beds are luscious with lime green mini foam flowers  Heuchera “Sweet Tart” that are just beginning their season.

Rock garden bed featuring mini heuchera, mini daylilies and a sedum.

Rock garden bed featuring mini heuchera, mini daylilies and a sedum.

The next part of the raised bed glows with the golden lime of the “Gold Heart” bleeding heart. This makes a great backdrop for smaller plants. The bleeding heart can grow up to 3′ or so, and really prefer shade, but will tolerate some sun.  They are one of the first plants to appear in my garden in the spring. I keep them watered so they last into the heat of the summer, but eventually they will look sad and disappear into dormancy until next spring. The 2 panels of fence in the background are temporary (for shade) as we work with the neighbor to build a permanent shade fence here, and along the whole west side of our shared properties.

The hosta in the center of the front bed is a new one from Bill Meyers and Walters Gardens called “Wheee!”. With ruffled leaves and a white border, it is full of motion and fun. The flowers will be light lavender.  It is surrounded by mini dayliles, and one special ruffly plant called Sedum populifolium.  It is hardy to zone 2! It will grow 10″ tall and spread in the sun to about 18″.

Bleeding Heart "Gold Heart"

Bleeding Heart “Gold Heart”

As we move along the west part of the garden down the dry creek bed, we can see the lily bed. The lovely hosta to the left is Earth Angel, chosen hosta of the year in 2009. The smaller hosta to the right is a favorite called “June’, and there are pink rain lilies in the purple pot.  I put these bulbs n the basement in their dry pot in the fall, and bring them out every spring, and they never fail to delight.

Dry creek bed leading to the lily bed under the cottonwood tree

Dry creek bed leading to the lily bed under the cottonwood tree

Here you can see the martagon  and Asiatic lilies stretching high.

Martagon and asiatic lilies with miniature evergreens, daffodils, rain lilies in the purple pot

Martagon and asiatic lilies with miniature evergreens, daffodils, rain lilies in the purple pot

As we move around to the north-east corner of the garden, one of my favorite plants can be seen peeking out from two bleeding heart plants. This lovely variegated dogwood is called “Golden Shadows” Cornus alternifolia “Wstackman” and is a pagoda shaped shrub/small tree that will grow to 12′ high and a spread of 15′ within 30 years. I am hoping I have it in a shady enough site, nestled by two fences, in the shade of an aging cottonwood tree.Tim Wood, on his wonderful blog called Plant Hunter, explains how this Golden Shadows dogwood was discovered. http://plant-quest.blogspot.com/2006/07/golden-shadows-pagoda-dogwood.html

"Golden Shadows" dogwood

“Golden Shadows” dogwood

Well friends, that is enough for today.  Hope you enjoyed the spring garden tour, and we will see you again soon!  Susan

Miniature Heuchera – ‘Little Cuties’ to brighten your garden

I remain passionate about miniature plants.  I tuck them in many places in my garden, and use miniature heuchera to add color, texture and early spring flowers to my miniature hosta bed.  There is a new line of tiny heuchera (foam flowers) coming out in 2013 from one of my favorite hybridizers, Dan Heim’s of Terra Nova Nurseries, Oregon. Terra Nova is wholesale only, but do ask your neighborhood garden center to obtain these plants for you.

A new series called “Little Cuties”, features miniature heuchera in a rainbow of colors. They prefer mostly shade, but can tolerate some sun.They are everblooming –  in other words – they do not just bloom in the spring as most heuchera do, these little ones keep on sending up blooms most of the season! They are perfect for fairy, container or rock gardens, and most remarkably of all, they can work as house plants!

These new friends for our gardens are called ‘Peppermint’, ‘Coca’, ‘Frost’, ‘Ginger Snap’, ‘Sweet Tart’, and ‘Sugar Berry’.  I think someone was hungry when the created these little gems!  Lets have a look.

Photo(s) courtesy of Terra Nova® Nurseries, Inc.
www.terranovanurseries.com

Terra_Nova_Logo_1m

Heuchera Sweet Tart

Heuchera Sweet Tart

Sweet Tart has very unusual bicolored cerise and hot pink flowers against lime leaves. Stunning!

Heuchera Sugar Berry

Heuchera Sugar Berry

Sugar Berry is 6″ inches tall, and 9″ wide. It features berry-violet leaves with darker veins, and the flowers are soft pink.  Ohhh!

Heuchera Sugar Berry

Heuchera Sugar Berry

Look how the color of the leaves changes throughout the season, and how it is berry delicious against the green/white surrounding leaves.

Heuchera Sugar Berry

Heuchera Sugar Berry

Heuchera Peppermint

Heuchera Peppermint

Peppermint glows green, softened by a shadow of silver white. And this one has pink flowers. Oh joy.

Heuchera Peppermint

Heuchera Peppermint

Heuchera Ginger Snap

Heuchera Ginger Snap

Ginger Snap will provide a rosy gleam to lighten dark corners, and it turns tan later in the season, topped by pink flowers.

Heuchera Ginger Snap

Heuchera Ginger Snap

Heuchera Frost

Heuchera Frost

Frost merges from dark burgundy to violet, and features pink flowers.

Heuchera Frost

Heuchera Frost

I am sure these miniature heuchera will delight you in your garden.  Give them a chance in 2013.  Ask your local garden center to order them from Terra Nova Nursery (wholesale only). See you in the garden, where my Little Cuties will be greeting their first spring.

February Fantasies – It’s Crispy Out There!

February is a great time, here in frozen, crispy North Dakota and elsewhere, to let your imagination run free as you contemplate your garden.  Reviewing photos of last years delights will help you evaluate which plants need to be moved, where you need more orange, sighting a big gap that needs filling, and then investigating possibilities in the numerous catalogs that are arriving daily.

Storybook Cottage snuggled in snow

Storybook Cottage snuggled in snow

It is so frozen out right now, it is hard to remember the lush green of summer.  When I back the car out of the garage, the tires are flat on one side, making mefeel like Mrs. Flintstone driving the car with carved stone wheels as I kerplumb,roll, kerplump, roll, kerplumb, roll down the tundra road with what appears to be terminally altered tires. As my fog breath inside the car subsides, I snuggle deeper into the goose down coat that reaches my calf, glad of the insulated hood where my head snuggles. As a native Californian, I still can not imagine that the plants can make it through this icy grip of dakota winters. But, together, we do survive, and remarkably, we thrive.

Remember the delightful sweet scent of alyssum toasting in the sun

Remember the delightful sweet scent of alyssum toasting in the sun

In 2013 the plants I want more of are Golden Carpet Juniper, lilies, heuchera and ferns.  I can divide some of the ones I already have, but will certainly check out what is new. And, I want more HEUCHERA, also known as foam flowers.

Photo(s) below of Heuchera courtesy of Terra Nova® Nurseries, Inc.
www.terranovanurseries.com

I am so excited about the new, small Heuchera from Terra Nova Nurseries, and share some information about them below.

Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

Heuchera Apple Crisp

Heuchera Apple Crisp

Terra Nova Nursery is wholesale only, so you will not find these little lovelies that way.  Ask your favorite garden center to obtain them for you. This new “Crisp” Series features small scaled heuchera, hardy in zones 4-9.

Apple Crisp has lovely white flowers above a tight, mounded form, and because the Crisp series has a higher percentage of H. micrantha in its breeding, it is very hardy in the north. The edges of the leaves are wavy, creating a curled, tight edge.

Heuchera Apple Crisp in lower right with other Heuchera.

Heuchera Apple Crisp in lower right with other Heuchera.

Blackberry Crisp, below, changes from a deep burgundy spring color to deep purple then black as the season progresses. It features white flowers in the spring.

 

Heuchera_Blackberry_Crisp_1m

 

My next post will be about more Heuchera – this time MINIATURES!

Brrr…in North Dakota

Breaking News – (not to North Dakotan’s!) Bitterly cold. Clear skies. Gusty winds during the evening. Dangerous wind chills as low as -40F. Low -22F. NW winds at 20 to 30 mph, diminishing to 10 to 15 mph.

We are all safely inside, in front of a fireplace, cuddled with kittens and friends.  Happy Winter weekend, all.

20121218-20121218-IMG_3815

Storybook Stucco in snow

Storybook Stucco in snow

Avenue C, Bismarck, North Dakota

Avenue C, Bismarck, North Dakota

 

Ave C, Bismarck, North Dakota

Ave C, Bismarck, North Dakota

Winter whispers on Meadow-rue seed pods

Winter whispers on Meadow-rue seed pods

 

Detail of Meadow Rue encased in frozen frost

Detail of Meadow Rue encased in frozen frost

Stoned Love

Ah ha!  Caught you with that title, didn’t I!  Well, at our house, stoned love means my dearest partner has created yet another wonder – this 4th of July it is a stone creek bed meandering through the back garden, pulling rain water away from the house and taking it to the needy perennial plants, especially those under the huge, thirsty cottonwood tree.

Every fourth of July season, a major project takes place at our house.  Several years ago, in another life and locale, a lovely raised bed for miniature plants made its appearance.  Here is a little bit of what we created.

Setting the largest stones for the new rock bed

Setting the largest stones for the new rock bed

Stepping stones within the bed for access

Stepping stones within the bed for access

Watering down the first days planting

Watering down the first days planting

Happy Gardener

Happy Gardener

One year later and the Dickson's Gold Campanula blooms

One year later and the Dickson’s Gold Campanula blooms

The most current creation – in 2012 – involved 3 trailer loads of glacial erratics, river boulders, and 1.5 yards of small river rock, size 1 1/4-2″.  Here is the before image, followed by the creative conclusion of a lot of heavy lifting. As a trained archaeologist, husband has an uncanny knack for “seeing” the soil surface as it is, and as it can be.  What a skill.  Before he begins he sees the entire project, and as the son of a geologist/paleontologist he knows how much material it will take. He talks about how this rock will work perfectly here, buried just so, and I nod enthusiastically, eager only to see the finished placement.

Stone supply arrives

Stone supply arrives

Progress from above

Progress from above

Work continues

Work continues

Nice curve toward the cottonwood tree

Nice curve toward the cottonwood tree

Another view from above
Another view from above
Garden visitor - Swallowtail butterfly feeding on martagon lily

Garden visitor – Swallowtail butterfly feeding on martagon lily

Creekbed and garden path finished

Creek bed and garden path finished

I am overjoyed when in the midst of sculpting the soil for the traverse of water, the hauling of stone, the clouds of stone dust, and numerous glasses of iced lemon tea, locations are found and little beds are created for my beloved miniature plants.  Filled with a mix of potting soil, peat moss, manure/compost mix and perlite, these beds emerge simultaneously with the winding dry creek bed, providing the excitement of future plant placement.  One can not give a better gift to a plant “geek” than a new, virgin place to put plants.  Oh, what joy to contemplate what will go there, and how it will look in the months yet remaining of the ever so short North Dakota growing season.

As if to say “Thank You”, during the night yesterday we had a ‘million dollar’ rain, and the garden has never been more glorious.  The daylilies are bursting open, the lilies enticing aroma blend with the wafts of white alyssum, and the still, cool clear air has made for one of those incredible days of summer you remember all winter long.

H. American Chief

H. American Chief

Lilium 'Eric'

Lilium ‘Eric’

Cottage garden

Cottage garden

I have spent ten months researching for a book I am sculpting, and now the time has come to set the joyous task of research aside, and get growing.  Letting out my writing persona, I will create solid written form from the vast, inspiring data I have amassed, so I can share it all with you. It is a story so international in scope, endearing in personality, enlightening in relevance, rich in “take your breath away” artistic quality – a riveting story for all of us, especially every woman who endeavours to follow her own dream.

My writing helper 'Lily'

My writing helper ‘Lily’

I am longing to talk about this project with you, but a very wise publishing agent needs to contact me (or I them!) before I can. I think this calls for taking the laptop out to the garden, don’t you?  I imagine that is where you will find me, surrounded by the inspiring glories of stoned love.

 

‘Calico Siamese’ Decorating for your Home and Garden

Dahlia with color details highlighted

Dahlia with color details highlighted

I have been thinking for weeks, in my moments of distraction while researching for my book, that my cat Dahlia has the most luscious colors.  Inspired by Pinterest (see my post here).  http://pinterest.com/hortensia2012/calico-siamese-decorating/    I photographed images of my cat, and altered them in Photoshop to reduce them to their basic color profile, and then began gathering other images that complimented these colors.  It has been great fun, and a relaxing way to spend a little time while my mind continues to ponder deeper historical quandries!

Alteration of the image in photoshop allows one to focus on color details

Alteration of the image in photoshop allows one to focus on color details

Another photoshop method to reduce an image to its basic colors.

Another photoshop method to reduce an image to its basic colors.

More Siamese colors

More Siamese colors

Dahlia

Dahlia

Puddie paw

Puddie paw

Contrasts of deep chocolate with cream and ivory, with a peak of teal blue.

Contrasts of deep chocolate with cream and ivory, with a peak of teal blue.

Another method of color blocking to identify colors for decorating, clothing, or gardening.

Another method of color blocking to identify colors for decorating, clothing, or gardening.

The yummy cozy colors of fall shared via calico cat 'Dahlia'

The yummy cozy colors of fall shared via calico cat ‘Dahlia’

In my next post, I will illustrate the techniques I used to produce these results. See you then!

Theo Art School Garden Tour

Sunday, July 22 was the Theo Art School Garden Tour in Bismarck, ND, and the garden of Erik and Susan Holland was one of the open gardens within the historic Cathedral District.  The guests kept flowing into the garden in a steady stream from 11 am to 3 pm.  They were all so cheerful, appreciative and engaged in viewing all of the colorful daylily and lily blooms in the Holland garden.

It was so fun to welcome everyone, answer questions and visit.  We saw friends from all over North Dakota, and neighbors new to us. A great day was enjoyed by over 700  happy people, strolling through the historic district, and supporting the awesome Theo Art School.  Great event, and we were please to be a part of it.  Here are some images of what visitors saw, followed by some images of earlier blooming flowers visitors did NOT see this year.