“Nothing Happens unless First A Dream”-Carl Sandberg

One of my favorite quotes since high school, I’ve kept it in mind. Those of us who are creative, are always dreaming! Though much may pass, some dreams are seen to fruition. To me, that’s happened in many ways.

My first home in 1970’s was on a half-acre in the NJ PINELANDS. This area is near the first World Biosphere. The soil is largely sandy and acid with plants, wildlife which are unique. I miss it for the solitude. It was challenging to only grow plants that would not alter the environment. I had oaks and pines.

There I had a dream of my second- favorite plants-Rhododendron species. The azaleas and rhodos are mostly understory shrubs here. I began pathways by leaving the wild blueberries only in the beds. The beds were made up of leaves and pine needles, too. Because there were no earthworms in the soil, the leaves didn’t readily decompose.

R.’Nellie Moser’

I started to add suitable azaleas and rhododendrons that could exist in that soil. (Some cannot as they need more moisture.) The gardens had a start. Unfortunately, I was not living there but only 7 years. The dream had a beginning, though.

The next house was in a small city with a very small property. I had planned gardens and people loved it. I had that place 11 years and expanded my ideas more. Still, my dream was always for a larger property in a quiet town. We have been here 22 years now.

What was my “dream” anyway? Having casual design with controlled-woodlands and including pathways and trails. We’ve seen it all to fruition with God’s help! I saw a similar photo, years before, when in an apt. that had azaleas and rhodos in a controlled-woodland setting. Since then, the photo has been in my mind. It paid off.

Over the years we travelled to historic gardens and homes where I gleaned ideas in photos. I don’t travel much now but have many garden books and plans if it all. The photos here are examples of the May blooms of my collection of azaleas and rhodos. Some are unique.


My all-time favorite flower/plant/tree, of course, is still the native Southern Magnolia. Second to this is the Rhododendron species. Here on this property we can have it all.

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AH! May, the Best Month!


Colors and textures.


Notes on “borrowed view”.

IMG_3403 (3)

“Ethereal” river birch with red, white, and blue blooms for Memorial Day. (red, dwarf cv. of buckeye; ‘Delaware Valley’ white evergreen azaleas; blue English bluebells


Rear gardens with “borrowed view” of neighbor’s plants. This adds beauty and color, as well as ‘space’ to my garden. Unless the view is ugly, or for privacy, don’t block the entire view with a large fence. This enhances the enjoyment to both of us and adds to property values.

Glenn says this is the “best month” but he’s biased because it’s his birthday tomorrow!

Happy “39th”!

Now, the garden!

Last year we completely renovated the entire acre. This year we repaired the storm damage from a couple of Nor’easters and will fine-tune the pruning of last year. In addition, we add plants, trees, and power-clean/paint the house.

We had to renovate after 21 years here. Things need more than small pruning and shaping after so many years. Projects had to be built or removed. The wall got done, pathways redefined, and old growth removed. It looked bare by fall 2017.

We are now at the cusp of spring season. Most plants, flowers, shrubs, and trees have come out this Month. I’ve noted two English Gardening principles in these pictures.

  1. The gardens were designed using the English Gardening principle of views and smells from inside the house vs. the American principle of views from the road to house.

2. The “borrowed view” .

(Picture not in order. I can’t move then.)




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It May Be Spring but I’m not Sure

I’ll look at temperature again…53? Night time 40? Is that F? Good grief! Like March all month.

Today the dogwoods are starting to bloom but 2 weeks late. I cannot plant in 40°-50° and enjoy it. Just too cold for me. Now, the oak trees flowers open and there will be over a week of green dust on everything here. There are 8 oak trees on the neighbors’ properties. I’m highly allergic to it…What? You want to paint the house, Glenn? Haha…

Another 2 weeks to wait, pressure wash it, then he can do it. What a crazy-weather spring this year and so cold…

Here are a couple of pictures. The bulbs are starting to bloom. Every week the garden will change now. It will look completely different with different flowers, shrubs, and trees out all the time.

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It Still Winter…

It feels like winter, looks like winter…storms and more snow. Yes, we were hit hardest in recent storms with wind and heavy, wet snow. To our dismay, we had small trees broken. The dogwood in front, tall arborvitae, and tall American holly in back. I think the heavy snow fell from the power lines in front and from the large oak tree in back.

We’ll just trim the breakage so they can grow back. The shrubs that the arborist planted in the rear last Spring have no leaves. They are a viburnum cultivar that are supposed to be ever green. The winds were just too strong. It’s hard the first two seasons when getting plants established, especially here.

This year, I’m planting a cedar cultivar. They should give more protection in that area. There will be 4-5 rows of various plants for our windbreak replacements. This is the north side of the property and across from large open farmland. Without the windbreaks, we can’t sit out there. There are icy winds all year long.

The new cedars come from Indiana and zone 5. They are potted and should get established faster than bare root plants. As I’ve said before, we are “environmentally challenged” here.

Oh! It was about 9 “ and Glenn had to knock snow off branches laying on wires…whew! Lights flickered but after that, no loss of electric here.



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In the Garden 2017…Part 3

This brings us to 2017. Here are photos of the same views as in 2011. Let us know what you think!

The corner views are the most impressive. We are hidden from the cars’ headlights and views.



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In the Garden, Part 2…

Why have all these plants? As I’ve said in past posts, initially it was for the energy control- wind, water, air pollution, views, and enjoyment. Since we are about ½ mile from I-295 and 1 ½ miles from the NJ Tpk., there is a lot of wind at times. We also have farm fields across from us.

The other reasons of enjoyment, are that we can go in different areas of the gardens and have different views and experiences. We have the Lost Lake and Cabin, Secret Garden patio, pathways and walks. Glenn walks the dogs all the time and it’s similar to a park.

You have to want to do the maintenance and upkeep. We don’t need to travel a lot and we both like to be home. The pictures below are a simplified depiction of the outside of the property in 2011. The aerial view is from 2016. These are from the online-mapping websites.

They give you some idea and bearings of my post in Part I. I will them post the 2017 photos of the same points so you can see the mature garden as it is now.

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In the Garden…

We’ve been here 21 years now so the garden is mature. This year we’ve been renovating all the areas extensively. The gardens always change- each month, each year. There come times when the original plantings either must go or be replaced by different species.

Take the corner near the intersection of both roadways. The original, raised bed there was edged in ironstone due to the water off the roadway in the 1990’s. I asked the county to improve that for us and curbs were put in for that area. There is a swale, slight depression vs. a previous ditch, with the curbs.

That solved the problem there. Also, people were walking over our property. In 2007, we had an iron-look fence installed around ¾ of our property, including around the corner. As a result, we no longer need the bed, rocks, and the perennials. This looked nice but was another thing to do.

We are cutting down the maintenance of things like that and removing or renovating them. Over the years some large deciduous shrubs just don’t serve the same usefulness that they did in the beginning. They die out in the center, get too wide, etc. Some were screens or part of the original windbreak. They don’t look good so they were removed as needed.

Then there are trees which lost their lower limbs with age or shade. The dead limbs were removed and we had the arborist plant evergreen viburnums across the back this year. It took me a couple of years to decide what to plant there but the arborist’s suggestion was perfect.

Of course, before those went in, we had to remove the rampant English ivy that came original from the neighbor’s yard. Still some work back there for Sept. All that work the past couple of years and we are half-way done. Equipment fails and this year our new sprayer for weeds is battery operated and 4 gallons.

This is a real pleasure to use and I get done fast. Still catching up with that after having none for 2 years. Our garden center went out of business so I had to order the Canadian cedar mulch 45 min. north of us at a greater delivery cost. We had a whole pallet delivered at once.

Some people just give it all up, let the gardens become over grown, or sell the property when they are older. Glenn and I love the gardens and home, we have irreplaceable neighbors, and are in a relatively safe area. Yes, the NJ taxes are high but we haven’t found a better area yet.

Mom and Dad always said they kept up the property as you never know when you have to sell it. Besides, why let all the work you did just become derelict. That’s depressing. I initially designed the gardens for many years and when I could no longer walk well. It’s paid off many times. Now that’s what we’ve been doing rather than blogging! Pix next time!

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