A Pillow Cover for Fall

A Pillow Cover for Fall via cottagemagpie.com

A Pillow Cover for Fall via cottagemagpie.com

While spending the summer going through someone else’s things isn’t exactly what I’d call the funnest summer ever, there are sometimes perks. For example, my Dad had bought each of us kids a $100 US Treasury Bond back in the 70’s. I had forgotten all about them, but we found them in the bottom of a box, and voila! Some fun money.

I was going to use it responsibly, to pay bills or something, but Mr. Magpie said not to. He said I should take it and buy something special, as a reward for all the hard work I’m doing this summer. It didn’t take long for him to convince me. So I promptly ordered some bedding for my bed and then got myself to the local quilt shop to see what I could find. [Read more...]


Garden in Bloom: June 2014

Garden in Bloom: June 2014 via cottagemagpie.com

Garden in Bloom: June 2014 via cottagemagpie.com

Aside from my birthday month of April, I think June is one of my favorite months. The whole garden bursts into bloom and it’s such a joy to watch it unfolding every day. This garden needs a little attention. Some things have died off and others taken over. Some of the perennials need dividing. So it’s not in as full of glory as it was a couple of years ago. But it’s okay. It’s still a cheerful burst of color to enjoy.

The weather this year has been unusual to me. It’s been warmer and wetter than I remember from previous years. Muggy and overcast isn’t the most common condition where I live. Overcast, sure, but then rainy and [Read more...]


Happy Happy Quilt in the Hoop

Happy Happy Quilt in the Hoop via cottagemagpie.com

Happy Happy Quilt in the Hoop via cottagemagpie.com

Since the Scrappy Pink & Green Irish Chain is still being quilted, I thought you might like to see one of the other quilts that I have been slowly working on. I made the top last year during the Very Hard Summer, and finally got it pinned a few weeks ago. I did some basic straight line machine quilting and now I am putting one sunny yellow tie in the middle of each square.

Surprisingly, tying is pretty time consuming. You would think it would be so much faster than quilting… you know, “Oh, I’ll just throw a few ties on there and it’ll be done,” but in fact it’s a pretty slow and laborious process and something you have to enjoy for it’s meditative qualities. I definitely enjoy tying quilts, although I only do it if (a) I think the quilt would just be less without it, or (b) I am okay with the quilt taking a very long time to get done. [Read more...]


Garden in Bloom: May 2013

Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

I am sometimes amazed at how different the garden looks now from when I first moved here. I mean, I don’t know why, really. I’ve worked on it for hours upon hours and made so many changes. But for some reason, at each given moment in time it seems like things are just going to stay that way forever. That you’re never going to get where you want to go. And yet, in the nearly six years we’ve lived here, things have changed so much.

When we first moved here there was grass, barkdust and a few overgrown rhododendrons. Nothing else. The end. I worked and worked and worked at it and it didn’t seem to get any better. I never thought I’d ever have anything pretty at all. But guess what? A few years later and all that work starts to accumulate and there’s little bits of cottage garden goodness all over the place.

Here’s some of the things that are blooming right now in my garden.

Lady Banks Rose
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Cottage Rose
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Knockout Rose Hedge and Catmint “Walker’s Low”
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Spanish Lavender
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

“Shirley” Poppies & Foxgloves
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Red Valerian & Clematis
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

“Superstition” Bearded Iris
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Foxgloves
Spring Blooms via cottagemagpie.com

Is there anything blooming right now in your garden?

~Angela :-)

P.S. Linking up to May Dreams Gardens and An Oregon Cottage.


Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’)

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata) via cottagemagpie.com

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)  via cottagemagpie.com

Of all the flowering trees, none is as romantic as the ornamental cherry “Kwanzan,” (Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’). Like many cherries, it has a lovely, graceful vase-shape form, attractive bark and good fall color, but is best known for its stunning display of showy, double pink flowers that envelop the tree in late Spring, covering the tree in what look like tiny floral dresses. After flowering is another spectacular show as millions of petals shower down from the trees in a pink, whisper-soft snowfall.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw this breathtaking tree in flower. I had rented my first ever house and knew nothing about the two trees out front except that they were enormous, nearly fifty feet tall. A friend identified them as flowering cherries, so as the rest of the neighborhood trees bloomed, I waited and waited. By the end of April, when other trees were finished and leaves began to appear, I gave up on having flowering trees.

A few warm days later, as I drove up the road to the house, I nearly wrecked my car. The two trees, which I now know were two of the largest “Kwanzan” I had ever seen, had bloomed in entirety, creating a canopy of pink frills. Later, when the bloom was finished and the snowfall of petals covered the yard in pink, I spent the entire weekend watching this unbelievable, straight-from-a-fairytale show, waiting for the elvish lady or medieval princess that was sure to appear at any moment. Those trees won my heart that year and I have loved them ever since.

I don’t currently have a Kwanzan cherry in my garden, but I hope to someday. Meanwhile, I am fortunate enough to have this beautiful specimen next door to appreciate each Spring.

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata) via cottagemagpie.com

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata) via cottagemagpie.com

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata)  via cottagemagpie.com

Details

  • Latin Name: Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’
  • Common Name: Kwanzan flowering cherry
  • USDA Zone: 5-9
  • Mature Height: 30′-40′
  • Mature Spread: 30′-40′
  • Bloom Time: late Spring
  • Fruit: None
  • Habit: Vase-shaped with spreading, rounded crown.
  • Growth rate: Medium
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Soil: Tolerant of many soils, but prefers moist, well-drained soil
  • Water: Somewhat drought tolerant; should not need supplemental water once established

Kwanzan Flowering Cherry (Prunus serrulata) via cottagemagpie.com

Though the “Kwanzan” has a reputation for being easily stressed, relatively short lived and susceptible to disease, its spectacular show makes it worth these possible limitations. Crowns of this tree are very similar, making it an excellent candidate for lining walks or drives. It is also an excellent specimen tree and can be planted in containers or used for Bonsai. “Kwanzan” flowering cherry blooms in late Spring, up to two weeks later than other cherries. New leaves are bronze colored, then turn to dark green for the summer and yellow to copper in fall.

Here’s a bunch of pictures of my neighbor’s Kwanzan Cherry:

Do you have Kwanzan cherry growing in your garden?

~Angela :-)

P.S. Originally posted on April 29, 2008, this post was updated with new pictures and information on April 23, 2013!


Summer Containers for the Front Garden

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

I have this ongoing battle with the front containers. Every year I get this idea that I want to plant them up with evergreens or perennials so that we’ll have foliage and interest year after year without having to buy starts at the local garden center. But then every year I realize after a winter of neglect that the perennials (or evergreens) are miserable and sad, really need to be just planted in the ground.

I’m not good with containers, have I mentioned that? When I say that I am a low-maintenance gardener, what I mean is that I don’t maintain anything. I mean, sure, I weed from time to time, and mow as often as necessary, but otherwise? It’s a cutthroat business, this garden of mine.

So this year, I decided that enough was enough. Annuals do well all season in the containers. They are welcoming and colorful. Sure, they’ll die this fall, but you know what? That’s perfectly okay. I’ll stick some evergreen clippings in the pots for the holiday season and that will be that. Problem solved.

Life is so much easier when you just accept the reality of who you are, don’t you think?

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

I had to include some carnations. I love love love the way they smell. I put them in the post closest to the window, I’m hoping I’ll be able to smell them from inside.

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

I have eight containers in the front garden. Two by the door, two by the porch and two by the bench. I used to have two by the garage door, but this last year I moved them to the path to the gate. I still may add a pair to the garage area, but I’m not sure. I’ve run out of pots and I don’t want to buy any more! :-) I do still have a matching pair of barrels, so maybe I’ll use those. Eventually. For now, I just have the eight.

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

I put Calibrachoa in almost all of the pots. You may have seen them marketed as “Million Bells”? They look kind of like tiny petunias and are great for pots, spilling over the edges, even in partial shade. You can see I only planted these a week ago and they’re already expanding like crazy.

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

Someday I might get ambitious enough to start all my plants from seed. Or to take cuttings and keep them over winter, since several of these plants are actually tender perennials. But for now, having my annual birthday ritual of picking out flowers for the pots is working for me.

Summer Containers for the Front Garden via Cottage Magpie

They’re still very sparse, but I still kinda love them! And I love knowing that cheery billows of little flowers will be spilling over the edges of these containers all summer long.

Do you plant annuals at all?

~Angela :-)

Linking up to: An Oregon Cottage and Sew Much Ado.


Carnation or “Clove Pink” (Dianthus x caryophyllus)

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

I have always always loved the smell of carnations. It’s no surprise to me that they are also called “clove pinks” because their scent is spicy and sweet like the culinary spice. It’s a distinctive smell that you never quite forget, and because of it’s use in bouquets and corsages, one that I associate with many happy memories.

As a new gardener, years ago, I was thrilled to find that many types of pinks (Dianthus) grow well in the garden, including my favorite, the carnation, or “clove pink” (Dianthus x caryophyllus). They are most commonly seen in shades of red, pink and white, but yellow varieties have been bred over the years. The blooms float above the tuft of the plant on long stalks, and as an extra bonus the blue-green foliage is evergreen.

I haven’t had any in my garden for a few years, but I couldn’t resist adding them to my pots for the summer. In fall, I’ll transplant them to a permanent spot tucked in front of one of the perennial borders.

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

Details

  • Latin Name: Dianthus x caryophyllus
  • Common Name: Carnation or “Clove Pink”
  • USDA Zone: 6-9
  • Height: 18″-24″
  • Spread: 15″-18″
  • Bloom Time: Late Spring through mid-Summer
  • Bloom Color: Shades of red, pink, white and pale yellow
  • Foliage: Evergreen, blue-green (glaucous)
  • Exposure: Full sun
  • Water: Average water needs, do not overwater

Carnation petals are edible and have been used in salads, teas, syrups and to make essential oils for perfume. However, carnations are toxic to some animals. (Don’t let the pets eat the carnations!). If you are interested in edible flowers, North Carolina State’s Extension Office has a great webpage on edible flowers. (Thank you, reader Merideth for a great link!).

Carnation or 'Clove Pink' (Dianthus x caryophyllus) via cottagemagpie.com

In my experience, these plants can be somewhat short lived, and definitely do not like to be soggy. But they’re worth it for their long bloom time, evergreen foliage and that wonderful clove scent. I have not tried collecting seeds, but I have wanted to try that. Then you could be assured of an endless supply of pretty clove pinks.

Do you have any carnations growing in your garden?

~Angela :-)


Floral Thrift Store Paintings

Floral Thrift Store Paintings via cottagemagpie.com

Floral Thrift Store Paintings via cottagemagpie.com

Yesterday when I shared my fluffed up family room you may have noticed the great floral paintings. Yes! I’m particularly excited about these because I have been looking for ages for artwork at the thrift store and not had very good luck. This week was finally my week! I scored and found two new paintings of flowers that I just love.

I have been collecting floral paintings for a long time. Because I don’t go to the thrift very often and almost never find paintings I like, I haven’t been able to amass a very big collection, but I love them anyway. The first painting was actually one that I found on eBay. It’s a mixed media painting that includes paper and tennis shoe prints and fun colors. To be honest, I didn’t realize it was mixed media when I bought it, and while I love the colors I wish it were just a painting. But it felt good to support an independent artist and I’m glad to have it.

Floral Thrift Store Paintings via cottagemagpie.com

It’s propped up on the green cabinets that I showed the other day. (Updated: here’s more on the green cabinets).

Floral Thrift Store Paintings via cottagemagpie.com

Along with it is one of the new thrift store paintings, this still life with red geraniums. I really like this painting.

Floral Thrift Store Paintings via cottagemagpie.com

By far my favorite painting, though, is this new one. It’s a teapot full of zinnias and I just love everything about it.

Floral Thrift Store Paintings via cottagemagpie.com

The other green cabinet has the second painting I ever found. It’s a painting of a pretty garden scene that I found at the thrift store several years ago. I had begun to think it would be the only thrifted painting I would ever find.

Floral Thrift Store Paintings via cottagemagpie.com

I just love the color and character the paintings are bringing to the family room right now.

Floral Thrift Store Paintings via cottagemagpie.com

Floral Thrift Store Paintings via cottagemagpie.com

Now the big question is whether or not to paint the frames. I had assumed I would paint them when I bought them, but now that I have them home I’m not sure I want to. The frames seem to be part and parcel with the paintings. It doesn’t seem right to paint them now. Though the one on the zinnia painting does need some TLC, so we’ll have to take care of that.

What about you? Have you had good luck finding art at the thrift? Would you paint the frames or leave them?

~Angela :-)


Just Like That, It’s Summer

June Blooms in the Bird and Butterfly Garden

Blooming Ditch Lily

Remember last week when I showed you the foxgloves and roses, but said the “next wave” was coming? Well, it’s here! The new flowers are starting to come into bloom, bringing brighter and wilder colors.

The first thing that always appears is the orange ditch lilies. It’s funny, because every Spring I’m so in love with the pinks and blues and I swear I’m going to tear out all the orange and yellow that’s coming down the pike, but as soon as summer starts and the orange and fuschia and purple and indigo take over, I fall in love with the brighter colors all over again.

I wish I could take credit for all this, but I didn’t really do it. I mean, yes, I built this bed and planted these plants (there was nothing here when I moved in five years ago). But it was mostly just a matter of answering two questions. First, “What didI bring with me from the old garden that attracts butterflies?”, and second (to be repeated several times each season), “What do I have on hand that I stuff in that bare spot?”

This bed evolves every year. I add things, things die. It’s a great bed for tinkering.

Bird and Butterfly Garden in June Bloom

Verbena bonariensis and Catmint

I love how the orange mixes with the pink and blue as summer starts to heat up.

Blooms of Ditch Lilies - Hemerocallis fulva

This adorable little rose is an Apothecary’s rose, and is a recent gift from a friend. I have them in the herb bed right now, but this fall I will move them to a better home. They’re going to get way too huge and swamp my cooking herbs! The little blooms are so pretty, aren’t they?

Bloom of Apothecary's Rose - Rosa gallica var. officinalis

The gazebo “thing” is right in the corner, between the butterfly garden and the not-yet-defined-bed-that-I-haven’t-figured-out-but-is-full-of-foxgloves garden. I do love the foxgloves. I’m going to have to transplant a bunch of them, though, because I’m going to have to fix that bed one of these days.

Gazebo in Corner of Garden

OH yes, and lest you think I am some kind of superwoman who can keep her garden picked up at all times, I will remind you that I do, indeed, have children.

Children's Toys on the Back Garden Lawn

While there’s still gray skies more often than not here in the Pacific Northwest, summer is definitely here.

What about you? Do your gardens change their colors for summer?

Best,

~Angela :-)

P.S. For the fellow plant enthusiasts, here’s the main things pictured:
Ditch Lilies: Hemerocallis fulva
Rose Campion: Lychnis coronaria
Yarrow: Achillea millefolium ‘Cerise Queen’
Catmint: Nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’
Brazilian Verbena: Verbena bonariensis
Apothecary’s Rose: Rosa gallica var. officinalis
Foxgloves: Digitalis purpurea

P.P.S. Linking up to Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.


Foxgloves and Roses, Oh My

Foxgloves and Roses around Gazebo

Bloom on New Dawn Climbing Rose

Every evening when I walk into my office, I walk past this window that looks out over the gazebo thing in my garden. And of course I take a peek on my way to the computer to see what’s blooming, how many weeds have grown since yesterday, how much of a raggedy mess the lawn is, that sort of thing. Sometimes I’m so compelled by what I see, I have to get my camera and go try to get a few pictures before the sun goes down. Tonight was definitely one of those nights. What an explosion of flowers!

I mean, I knew they were blooming, I walk past that window every day. But I hadn’t really realized just how much they were blooming. It kind of just stopped me in my tracks. When we moved here, that corner was a chemically stripped barren wasteland, and it seemed like it would never be pretty. So it still kind of surprises me when I notice that it is.

(We’ll just pretend we don’t see the shaggy lawn and the billion-and-two weeds, okay?)

Of course, I had to sit in my chairs there and enjoy being surrounded by flowers.

Foxgloves and Wild Roses

June Blooms

On the fence behind the gazebo thing I have a New Dawn climbing rose. It’s just starting to bloom now, and the blooms smell fantastic. I can’t wait until the clematis joins in, there’s just loads of buds on it. I never thought all the shades of pink would make me so happy, with the different roses and foxgloves, but they do.

Blossom on New Dawn Climbing Rose

A Jumble of Roses and Foxgloves

Foxgloves Close Up

Coming down the path from the gate it’s a shaggy, lush mess of flowers. I like it, shag and all.

Path to Gazebo

But if you turn a bit to the left, you can see that the next wave is already coming. See the bit of orange?

Butterfly Garden

Summer Blooms Just Starting

New colors are coming, you can see them starting to show! Right now, the weather is still cool and lovely, and all the pinks and blues are so pretty. But very soon the son will be hot and bright, and the pink would seem washed out. Right about then, the brighter colors take over, and the garden becomes a bright, cheerful riot of color. I like that, too.

What’s blooming in your garden?

Best,

~Angela :-)

Linking up to: Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day, June 2102 and Tuesday Garden Party at An Oregon Cottage.