Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Keukenhof Gardens

We had some amazing luck with the weather during our visit to The Netherlands.
The sun smiled on us during our morning at the Keukenhof Gardens.

Leaden skies suddenly parted, the sun came out, and there were ribbons of color everywhere!

It's hard not to gush.
The Keukenhof Gardens are a springtime dream of color.

Last year during this same week, there were no flowers.
A long and cold winter delayed the spring.

This year a mild winter gave way to an early spring, and so, lucky us (!), 
we saw these glorious gardens in full bloom.

Seven million bulbs are planted each fall for the gardens short, eight week open season.

The Kuekenhof was originally cultivated in the 1400's
 as a kitchen garden for Jacqueline, Countess of Hainaut.

(Wikimedia Commons)

In the mid 1800's landscape designer Jan David Zucher developed a comprehensive plan for the 79 acres of gardens around Castle Keukenhof.

Today the gardens are a showplace for growers and their hybrid bulbs.

The variety of color and form seems infinite!
I found it impossible to pick a favorite.

Around every curve in the path was a new delight.

I usually choose daffodils bulbs to spite the squirrels.

But after visiting the Keukenhof it's going to be even harder to resist those Dutch Bulb catalogs.

The growers planted classical combinations of color in some garden areas,

and more unusual combinations in other areas.

These dusky, grape colored tulips against the bright blue of the hyacinths caught my eye.

I might not have noted these lavender tulips in a catalog, but in combination with these other shades, thet suddenly have quite an impact.

If I lived in the Netherlands, I think I'd need a daily ticket for the Keukenhof Garden season!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Signs of Spring

It's blustery and nippy and wet, but we have Daffodils!
Amazingly, those papery brown bulbs planted last fall
  did manage to push their way out of that sticky clay. 

And there were other signs of plant satisfaction this weekend.
The Magnolia trees, undaunted by that late frost, have sent up large purple buds.

The Lady Banks rose is putting on an impressive show its first year on the back terrace.

The Jasmine vine around the corner was frost burnt.
But the leaves that browned out are being replaced by a flush of new growth.

The Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) plants survived under a blanket of fall leaves, and are sending out runners.

The Guara lindheimeri are bushy with new growth.

I love the rich red of  the new leaves.

The biggest disappointment in our plantings is the boxwood.
We have two types (Japanese and Winter Gem) in various locations. 
All of them failed miserably to deal with the cold and wind.
The bush below was 24" high before I cut it back to ground level to find green wood.

Nematodes might be contributing to the problem, 
but they can't be seen with the naked eye.
Either way, I suspect the ultimate answer is to rip the boxwood out and use a different type of evergreen.

The additional pallets of stone arrived, so our in-house Master of Paths and Patios
 was able to complete this beautiful stone circle.  
This is where our fire-pit will be located.
The courtyard drainage runs underneath the dry creek bed and the new patio,
 before continuing all the way to the lot line.

We centered this stone circle with the dogtrot 
(a screened porch which runs between the main house and the guest house).
A path connecting the patio to the porch entrance is the next step in the project.

While stone was being laid out front, I was planting tomatoes and herbs out back.

I remembered the marigolds this year.
Marigold roots release a chemical that kills the type of nematodes known to attack tomatoes.
(Maybe I should plant some around the boxwood!)
They are also thought to deter some nasty garden pests like tomato hornworm.

It rained and it rained, all Saturday night and all day Sunday, but the lake is still down eight feet.
I guess it needs to rain for a month!