Welcome to my zone 9 garden. My roots are deeply planted in the sandy soil of sub-tropical central Florida, where the summers are long and hot, but the rest of the year is paradise!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Summer up North

On a trip to Pennsylvania to visit in-laws, I thoroughly enjoyed looking at all the colorful summer gardens and  flowers...some like ours...some not.

Now here's a hydrangea! There were many of these in bloom all over. Most were in the blue tone...rarely did I see a pink...and some were even a purplish-blue. Red geraniums were planted in the birdbath, while a tiny clematis flower clung to the fence.

This clematis vine is completely covered in flowers. Isn't it gorgeous? I wish we could grow clematis, especially since they come in many colors and flower shapes. It's probably a good thing that we can't. :-)

A waiting area outside a restaurant just seems to beckon someone to come over and sit for a spell. I wouldn't mind waiting for a table on this bench.

Here's a close-up of the container planting. All of the plants look familiar and wonderful together.

Across from a bakery and farmstand was their garden of blueberries and other vegetables available for purchase.

Inside were lots of gourmet goods, fresh veggies, plants, canned items and baked goods.

Now here's a familiar vine...trumpet creeper. By the looks of the size of this vine it's either a fast grower or it's cold-hardy.

Did I mention there were baked goods?
Pennsylvania-Dutch treats.

A visit to Pearl S. Buck's house and gardens was a real treat.

I captured this little fellow (see him to the left) taking a sip of nectar from the verbena. He looks like some sort of moth. At first, I thought it was a hummingbird, but a closer look confirmed it wasn't.

Pennsylvania gardeners plant lots of hostas, annuals, daylilies, daisies, coneflowers and even caladiums are planted in this partly sunny bed.

Here is another large perennial bed full of plants that I mostly do not recognize. Dayliles and coneflowers are the only ones I'm sure of.

I'm thoroughly jealous of the Japanese maple that hangs over this water feature. Oh, how I wish we could grow them in Florida. They would definitely be another obsession for me!

We took a drive into the beautiful Amish countryside which is a  mix of the past and the present. This Amish horse and buggy gave us a chance to slow down and enjoy the journey.

There's a lot to be said about the simple and sustainable lifestyle they live.

Take a long, deep breath and you'll know exactly what the Amish farmer uses to fertilize his crops. You'll know you're definitely in the country and not the city anymore. Rolling hills of lush green fields planted with corn and wheat, white farms and silos dot the countryside. And, the food is delicious, too...lunch included homegrown pork, homemade sauerkraut, chow-chow, mashed potatoes, whipped butter, bread and shoefly pie for dessert. Yum!

And, of course, you know I couldn't come home empty handed. My sister-in-law was gracious enough to share some of her plants with me. While I'm not sure if this plant...one of the stepables...will grow down here in the heat and humidity, it was worth a shot. This is one of those plants that you place between stones on a footpath. It quickly fills in and they're okay if you step on them...hence the  name - stepables.

But the plant I'm most excited about is this Hens & Chicks. They are succulents that grow in her yard...so they're obviously cold-hardy. I've seen them in magazines but never in nurseries. The mother hen puts out lots of little chicks. There's one cute little chick in the lower left, and another is just slightly peeking out in the lower right. I wrapped up several pieces in newspapers...tucked them inside a plastic strawberry container with holes and a cardboard pie box...and stuck them in the center of my check-on baggage. I was delighted when I opened the suitcase and saw that they made it home safely.

It just so happens that the book I took along with me...Talking Dirt by Annie Spiegelman...was very appropriate for this trip. After inhaling the earthy smell of soil fertilized with animal manure and reading the Dirt Diva's book, I was anxious to return home and put some of her tips for enriching my sandy soil to use. Oh, what I wouldn't give to have that nutrient-rich brown soil in my garden. Guess I'll have to settle for cleaning out my compost bin and a load of mushroom compost from a local farm.


Rainforest Gardener said...

I've always thought that hydrangeas looked like fake flowers for some reason... but THATS a hydrangea! Wow! And the clematis are really pretty too.

Patricia said...

Don't you adore those hydrangeas. I am with you; I would just love to be able to grow them here in Florida...same with Clematis. I have seen climbing roses planted with Clematis. What a beautiful sight to behold. The Flame Vine is both cold tolerant and a fast grower! We have many on our fence on the west side of the house and I do believe it would grow over and cover the entire house each summer....It is amazing...loads of orange flowers...would be great growing over a lanai.

FlowerLady said...

I love blue hydrangeas. Wish I could grow them down here. You went to a beautiful, peaceful area for your vacation. When we visited upstate NY a few years back, I cried on our last day there while sitting on the deck steps looking at the mountains. It was hard to leave, and when we got off the plane and came out of the airport, instead of smelling the ancient earthy smell, we smelled an overwhelming swamp odor and it was hot and humid.

Glad you had a great time.


Antique ART Garden said...

What a wonderful trip and memories you shared ! I have never been up to Amish Country at all, would really enjoy that. thanks ! Gina

Floridagirl said...

Beautiful photos of a beautiful place! Oh, the simple life! Those plants look very familiar to me, as I grew most of them in my old Atlanta garden. I will always have a yearning to grow them again...especially hostas, hydrangeas, peonies, phlox, bee balm, and Japanese maples. Gardening seemed so much easier up there. But how thankful I am to have warm weather here most of the year. BTW, that moth is the Clearwing Hummingbird Moth. I see them often here on my pentas and crinums. They are diurnal.

Susan said...

RainforestGardener...Hydrangeas do look somewhat fake. I guess it's the large size.

Patricia...I bet clematis and roses look great together. I didn't realize the flame vine would grow that far north. I know it takes over down here.

FlowerLady...It is nice to be in a place that moves at a slower pace. There are so many beautiful places in this country. I'd much rather visit the countryside than Disney World.

Gina...We really did enjoy it. My daughter had studied about the Amish this past year in school, so she really loved seeing it.

FloridaGirl...Thanks so much for identifying that moth. I didn't realize we have them here in Fla. I've never seen one in my garden. I guess I better plant some verbena.

NanaK said...

It sounds like you had a great time "up north." My husband's family is in Ohio and I marvel at the gardens up there in summer. I don't understand how things grow so big and bloom so much after being covered in snow all winter. Enjoy your hens and chicks!

Susan said...

Hi Kay...I agree with you. It is amazing that plants recover so quickly. I noticed that they do plant a lot of annuals, but their perennials...bearded iris, daylilies and peonies are beautiful. I'm excited about my hens & chicks. So far, they're adapting nicely.

Rhonda said...

Love the clematis photos. I miss growing them in Florida also. Isn't it fun to see other climates and plants on our summer holiday?

Susan said...

Rhonda...It is definitely fun to see plants and people's gardens in other parts of the country. It fills my head with lots of ideas.

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