Category Archives: country gardening

My May Garden at Dusk


(Abraham Darby Rose with columbine)

May has been, and often is, ‘right mixy’ (country saying among Old Order Mennonites). Temps soars to outrageous highs then drop to nerve-wracking lows… Should I cover the Oriental lilies–Again? Will I do more harm than good (snapped stalks)? Will we dodge the bullet this time?

Fortunately, most of my fussed over plants survived with little damage. Lillies are tougher than I thought, roses, too, and I’ve enjoyed beauty worthy of ‘The Shire’, in Hobbiton.

If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden. ~Robert Braultrbrault.blogspot.com

(Below, my bunny statue with foxglove and iris)

Last evening, I ventured forth to capture images of my Memorial Garden. The colors shone in the lessening light, perhaps because I favor pastel hues that standout at dusk. White is the queen of night, and I include these flowers in my plantings. White blossoms glow in the gathering darkness. I intended to remain outside until my solar lights came on, but as the sun sank beneath the hills, the resident skunk announced his coming. I haven’t spotted Mr. Stinky yet, and don’t care to. His noxious warning is my cue to swiftly head indoors. I have the uneasy sense he lives beneath our house, or maybe under the barn, a better thought. Despite Mr. Stinky, my twilight garden is a magical realm. The day might seem quite ordinary, but my dusky garden is anything but. God walks the garden at dusk, and again at dawn.

(Old watering can with iris as darkness falls)
(Foxgloves in my Secret Garden)

Grandma always called her vegetable garden the Chapel — it brought her closer to God, was full of miracles, and fed the hungering of others. ~Terri Guillemets

Lasagna Bulb Pot Garden


(Tulip and viola container gardens)

This fall I was on a bulb planting craze (typical for me), and still hadn’t lost my zeal by Christmas. An unseasonably warm start to winter lured me into ordering A Lot more bulbs when Holland Bulb Farms had an amazing sale. Boxes labeled ‘Open Immediately’ arrived as the temperature took a dive. Overnight, the ground was too frozen to dig without a drill and I wasn’t outfitted with specialty power tools.

An idea occurred. I’d seen something on YouTube about making container bulb gardens so flung myself into researching the how to’s of what is called Lasagna growing. The aim is to layer various bulbs, according to size and variety, in a large container with several inches of potting soil in between the layers. The bigger bulbs like tulips or daffodils go on the bottom of the pot and you continue upward until the smallest bulbs make up the final layer. The only snag was that I had never done this before, and any potted plants I’d ever left out over winter always froze solid. I lacked funding for the pricy frost/freeze proof pots I discovered online after learning about them from the brilliant British gardener, Monty Don.

After assembling my largest plastic, metal, and wooden pots (plus others), I fell to and filled each one with potting soil (my favorite brand is Proven Winners/P.W.) mixed with bags of compost and raised bed soil. It took a heaping lot to fill all these containers. I layered in various tulips, daffodils, alliums, hyacinths, miniature iris, and windflowers, finishing up with crocus and a generous dash of viola seed. I also tossed on Shirley poppies, sweet alyssum, tiny snapdragons and marigold seeds. The violas are thriving. All seedlings are battling for space. After every pot was crammed full of bulbs and seeded, I circled the containers in a nook outside my kitchen. Heat from the dryer vent blows that way and I figured that would help warm them. I wrapped the pots in old towels, topped with cardboard from Amazon boxes, and weighted each with rocks. Then I banked the pots with extra bags of soil and compost, like sandbags bracing for the river to rise. Over the assembly, I spread a blanket, tucked them in, and weighed it down.

You may ask, was this attractive? No. Not at all. But I reminded myself of the glories to come. Most of the bulbs survived to spring, except for the crocus that froze to mush. Crocuses were the top, most vulnerable, layer. The seeds are germinating like mad and don’t begin to have room in these stuffed full pots. Pity. I must rethink how to better do seeds next fall, but they’re coming up. Growing seeds outdoors in winter/containers really does work. Also, it’s recommended to start these lasagna bulb gardens in late fall instead of January, but my pots did well. Given enough protection, they don’t freeze solid.

I am gardening in zone 6b, in the windswept, at times bitter cold, Shenandoah Valley. If you decide to tackle this project, watch for super late season bulb sales and good potting mix. And may God bless all who grow with you.

(Tulip, hyacinth, and daffodils layered in pots.)

I’m moving the pots I can lift to other spots in the garden that need a pop of color. Safe to say they ARE hardened off now. True story.

Chronicling Spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia


I am a gardener, animal lover, author… Fortunately, I haven’t had to choose a single focus and incorporate my loves into my writing. Among my greatest passions is the Shenandoah Valley in general, and our farm in particular. The meadows are covered in a wash of green and looking far more hopeful than the brown hue we’ve lived with since November A blanket of snow is pretty but we haven’t had much snowfall this year. Thank heavens the rain has returned after months of drought. Fingers crossed, it stays.

Our drained and dug out farm pond is finally beginning to fill back up again. It was a dry crater all fall and winter like something on the moon. The barnyard geese were suspicious at first, but now go for swims. We are watching for the migrating waterfowl and birds who were once regular visitors here. Sadly, our place was off their radar last spring. Having an alive pond again is exciting. We’re consulting experts about what to do regarding fish, and I’m toying with getting ducks. The original pond had filled with silt over the decades and had to be redone. It’s located in a marshy spot in the meadow fed by wet water springs and is the head waters of Cooks Creek, which ultimately feeds into the Chesapeake Bay. Fencing keeps the cows out. We have planted some trees and shrubs around it and will plant more.

(Geese enjoying the new grass. Ruins of an old barn visible behind our farm)

I’m in my ‘giddy about the earth awakening mode’, or was, until the wind storm hit. My spirits are a little battered, and the crocus are kind of sad after the roaring bluster. But I trust the blossoms will revive and new ones will open when this gale finishes with us and sweeps away. March really roared in this year. Inclement weather is a trial to gardeners everywhere. We hopeful souls go on. We must. I’m chronicling spring as it unfolds in my bit of earth.

(Early crocus and snowdrops)

I saved a lot of seeds last year, ordered many others, and started some early varieties of flowers, herbs, and vegetables in my little greenhouse. One late February day was so balmy, it felt like May. I planted my early salad greens in the garden during the warm spell. Then the lion returned, and the seeds will slumber until the warmth comes back.

“Who loves a garden still his Eden keeps;
Perennial pleasures plants, and wholesome harvest reaps.”
~A. Bronson Alcott, “The Garden,” Tablets, 1868

“It was such a pleasure to sink one’s hands into the warm earth, to feel at one’s fingertips the possibilities of the new season.” ~Kate Morton, The Forgotten Garden

(Miniature iris return faithfully each year)

(Yellow crocus)

***For more on me follow my Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Beth-Trissel/e/B002BLLAJ6/