Friday, September 30, 2011

Probably Not What Daisy Had in Mind

This makes us think the same thought we have when we see chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs or sausages shaped like bottles of beer. And that thought is...

Really? Some poor animal, or some part of it sacrificed for this?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Scrub that Idea

It was a great plan for fun homegrown Christmas presents. Everyone on our list would be thrilled to get their very own locally harvested luffa. See that thing that looks like a nice size cucumber? That is our entire luffa crop.

Yet another Wisconsin cheese box will be coming your way this December.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Near Missoni

We try to keep you up to date on the happenings at our favorite retail hangout, but this trend came and went in a flurry of frantic power shopping that we are quite frankly glad to have missed.

This is all we could find on the shelves after the dust settled from the stampede of Missoni fashion hunters a few weeks ago. Within hours almost all merchandise had vanished from stores and the website crashed from the traffic of would-be online orderers. Yikes! Really alot of fuss just for some stuff decorated in a somewhat jazzed-up version of Charlie Brown's signature look which, by the way, nobody outside a Sunday comic strip should really be wearing anyway.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Little Sue

Our summer romance with Nymphaea "Little Sue" was fun while it lasted.

Don't worry, our relationship will go on, but as with many seasonal flings, the magic has changed to a comfortable, lovely, more mature kind of infatuation. As we write Sue is becoming rich compost for next year's garden, and her pretty face will be with us through the winter until next summer since she was chosen to be cover girl for the new edition of the garden club yearbook. Congratulations Little Sue!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Royal Garden Fare Thee Well

This is the last stop on our tour of England and its Gardens. The Royal Horticultural Society gardens at Wisley are the perfect grand finale for our cavalcade of 13 of England's finest garden sites.

First a word about the RHS.

It was a rainy day just like many of our days in England.

The trade off for the inconvenience of juggling jackets and umbrellas, and and walking for miles and miles in squishy shoes is the brilliant color of the plants and flowers that are far more intense on a wet and overcast day than in the harsh light of the bright sun.

The mixed borders were beautiful and seemed to go on forever.

Alstromeria outside the captivity of a florist shop. It actually grows in gardens!

The Alpine Display House.

Bowes-Lyon Rose Garden.

The Bonsai Garden.

The Vegetable Garden.

The Glass House and surrounding landscape designed by Tom Stuart-Smith.

Inside the Glass House.

The Fruit Nursery and one of the works on the Surrey Sculpture Society Trail.

The Trials Field.

The last, long, lovely stroll to the coach for our return to London and farewell dinner before an early morning departure from the land of glorious gardens.

If you haven't had enough images of England and its Gardens here are 13 gardens in 13 days in six and half minutes with music. Enjoy.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Meritorious Criteria

The trial gardens at the RHS Wisley are a great place to see plants that have been given the Award of Garden Merit in action, so to speak. By coincidence that is our next, and last stop, on the cavalcade of gardens tour - coming soon.

Award of Garden Merit

The AGM is intended to be of practical value to the home gardener. It is awarded therefore only to a plant that meets the following criteria:

It must be of outstanding excellence for ordinary garden decoration or use
It must be available
It must be of good constitution
It must not require highly specialist growing conditions or care
It must not be particularly susceptible to any pest or disease
It must not be subject to an unreasonable degree of reversion in its vegetative or floral characteristics

Is it possible that this list might be modified to form criteria for lots of other categories of acquisition in our lives? Thrift sale finds, home decor, fabric, spouses for example.

Look at these great lists of 10 AGM plants for each month of the year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


It seems like something Yogi Berra would say, but isn't it nice to know that when you're in England you're not anywhere else? Yes, when you're back in Blighty you know it. Here's what we mean.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monkey Puzzle

Guess where we first learned about the Monkey Puzzle tree? Give up. You never will guess that it was at Button Club. That's right. Button Club.

Black buttons worn by Queen Victoria while in mourning for her beloved Prince Albert were made from jet. Jet is said to be the petrified fossil remains of the Monkey Puzzle tree. True jet buttons are rare and expensive.

Other buttons are sometimes referred to as jet when in fact they are black glass, the less costly material used for the many buttons that were needed as the entire country joined Queen Victoria in her sadness by wearing black mourning clothes.

Legend has it that the monkey puzzle was given its common name when a Victorian gardener told visitors admiring his specimen that “it would puzzle a monkey to climb it” -- a reference to the very prickly thick leaves. The French call the tree ‘le d├ęsespoir des singes’ or ‘monkey’s despair.’ Some visitors note that the branches look like a monkey’s tail. However, there are no monkeys in its native habitat. - VanDusen Botanical Garden

Well anyway, Monkey Puzzle trees are a fairly ubiquitous in English gardens, but as they are not common, if found at all in the U.S., our group was delighted at each sighting of the rather Seussical tree with a quizzical name and would all have one in our gardens if we could. Instead, while we had the chance, we pointed them out every time they appeared and photographed them like paparazzi chasing a rock star.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Not Just a Thumb! All Ten Fingers!

Greenfingers is a 2000 British comedy film directed and written by Joel Hershman. It is loosely based on a true story about the award-winning prisoners of HMP Leyhill, a minimum-security prison in the Cotswolds, England. It is on our list of movies that get an annual viewing, usually as we're waiting for the snowdrifts to melt away about the end of April. Clive Owen first came across our radar with this film. Helen Mirren's character is perfect and shows a side to her that we had not seen before this role. The floral prints! The hats!

When Colin Briggs (Clive Owen) is placed in an experimental program to finish off his prison sentence, all he wants is peace and quiet. But after his wise, elderly roommate Fergus introduces him to gardening, Colin uncovers a talent and passion for plants. Teaming up with his fellow inmates, Colin gets the attention of celebrated gardener Georgina Woodhouse (Helen Mirren). Soon, the unexpected gardeners are preparing to compete for the Hampton Court Flower Show. And when Colin meets Georgina's beautiful daughter Primrose, he discovers another reason to fight for his freedom: true love. - Wikipedia

Find it. Watch it. We think you'll love it.

And watch for Hampton Court in the last scene. It may be hard to see through the tears in your eyes. Oh wait, that was our problem. You'll be fine.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Fit for a King and Quite a Few Queens

Hampton Court Palace and Gardens first and most notorious residents were King Henry VIII and his revolving cast of wives.

The palace is amazing and the stories of the royals quite enthralling. The gardens are spectacular with something different around every corner. Visiting Hampton Court makes for a grand day out.

(Hampton Court, drawn by Knyff, engraved by Knyff for Britannia illustrata 1708)