ahh, November


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My central Virginia gardens endured one of the hottest, driest summers in recent history.P1050040

Since most of the fifteen-year-old landscape is well established, only the few new installations required weekly monitoring. The basement dehumidifier supplied a consistent 2-gallon supply of free water daily, greatly reducing the labor intensive task of hose dragging.


Let me introduce you to Black Diamond crape myrtle, added to my front garden this summer. Notice the wonderful deep leaf hue and pleasant color of the flowers…this plant blooms multiple times per year and reaches 12′ high. I look forward to many years with this new variety…

I gave up raising home vegetables in 2014. Too many persistent insects prayed on tender leaves, leaving undesirable remnants. I fully support organic growing methods, yet for the effort involved, I would rather spend my time tending the heirloom daffodils, peonies, and lilies that reside here. These spring beauties bring endless joy to me and my market customers come April/May, and by the time June heat and humidity build, I am spending only minimal time outdoors.

2015 Peony city market May

abundant peony harvest 2015


Early spring brings abundance


dazzling organic peppers grown by young farmers. There is no need for me to fight veggie insects in my gardens…when I can support local efforts.

Gardening during cool temps from November-March soothes my soul. The tempo is slow. The air is crisp and clean. I add to my perennial collections, as fall is planting season. And above all, the dastardly biting insects are absent and I once again enjoy the outdoors.


terrace wall refurbished with Muhly grass showing off on the other side…September is mighty showy here.

This month the arborist arrives with his bucket truck and helper. He annually sheers the 135 Leyland Cypress that border my property. This year I am tasking him with drastically reducing the elevation of the rows…tough love. Over the years, they slowly crept up to twenty feet, a height I no longer desire. Soon entire row at the back will be totally eliminated by the power company, as maintaining it is now unsustainable and my splendid privacy fence doing a fine job.


photo of stained privacy fence. After a contractor’s estimate of 12 hours and $400 labor, I knew it was up to me to complete this job. Six hours over two days delivered one handsome fence to Swallowtail Cottage.


I am in love with this chipper…perfect for the job at hand…

As of today the house and shed are washed/painted/caulked where needed. The roof chimney and vents are caulked and painted. The patio furniture has a fresh coat of paint (yes that DTM paint project two years ago was a miserable failure.) The windows are washed inside and out. 23′ of deer fencing is installed in the lower corner of the garden to close a gap. Three arborvitae and a Kousa dogwood will replace an ancient dogwood (Cornus florida) and an unimpressive japanese maple. Eventually this new installation will screen the deer wire.

THEN, on the fifteenth of November, I shall have knee surgery…just a repair for a torn meniscus.


Baby 5 was my perfect companion during this gravel project. She held steadfast, despite my concerns that I would break her.

Yes, gardening does take a toll. Perhaps last November’s foundation planting did in my knee. That two tons of river rock did not seem that difficult, yet perhaps it was the eleven hours it took to prep/plant the seventeen shrubs. Ahh, November.

A time to complete chores, reflect, relax, and bask in the glow of a dreamy winter ahead.


this is the view from my back door, over the herb garden during winter 2015


Copyright ©2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

August garden


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There is one word that describes the month of August in central Virginia… steamy. Not unlike steam room cloying temperatures and humidity with dew points in the 70’s.


August skies over Swallowtail Cottage

This year does not disappoint. Any Virginia gardener knows this month requires resolve and fortitude and multiple trips to the shower. If Mother Nature holds back quenching storms, this gardener must rise before dawn to drag hoses around for blooming plants, inviting nectaring insects and butterflies to have sweet tastes. Newly added plant material must be monitored for even moisture, if they are to survive and put down healthy root systems.

Despite these character-building conditions, I want to share with you the beauties that dot my landscape this month…


The Chinese Lycoris squamigera, more commonly known as Naked Ladies, are plentiful around here (zone 7a) as summer beauties yet are extremely persnickety. They send up tall, flat leaves in the spring that die off, then tall spikes appear this month. With multiple flowers on plain or naked stalks reaching 36″ tall, they are quite the show stopper. They never need staking, yet when I transplant them to other garden areas, many never bloom. Go figure…

Formosa lily from Tufton

Formosa lilies are native to Formosa and grow easily in my gardens where they readily self sow… the original seed came from Tufton, a property once owned by Thomas Jefferson.


The Formosa seed pods during winter, with actual seeds removed. Stunning, yes?


This Honeybells fragrant hosta and nine sisters were gifted to me last year. Now blooming and 48″ high, the steamy August garden is blessed with visual cool and fragrance. PS: generous applications of spent coffee grounds around the base of early leaves completely stopped the onslaught of slugs…a Whole Foods Barista was happy to give me their dregs any time that I asked.


A close up of this dreamy hosta Honeybells. Too bad the biting ants like the flowers too or I would cut stems for the house and market.


The only phlox I grow here at Swallowtail Cottage, Davidii stands tall and does not succumb to any mildew. Incredible.


Another gift from Kate. The Celadon poppy blooms early spring and again this month. I am told this poppy is invasive, yet tucked back in the rear garden, I invite a bit of delicate color and naughty.


THIS is a thug. Rudbeckia triloba…I do not remember ever planting it, yet this year a huge area of the butterfly garden is filled with these 6′ tall bloomers! I took many bunches to market and will stuff the rest in the burn barrel, as they have needles along the stems and are as rough as a cob. OUT!!!

Monarchs Mailbox 018

Autumn Joy sedum attracts flutterbyes by the dozen and is an easy-care perennial. A classic in any garden. This was on the property when I bought it in 2001, and I have shared many clumps with neighbors.


Ahhh, my summer delight. The Natchez crape myrtle. One double trunk grows in the front lawn, and a five-trunked specimen thrives on the west side of the house. These beauties provide dreamy shade during summer months, have refreshing blooms where honey bees bury themselves, and in fall, leaves change to a brilliant hue. Did I mention the peeling bark during August? This shed reminds me all is well with much visual interest.


The shedding bark layer curls and twists, revealing the baby smooth leather-like under bark. I often find myself stroking the trunks as the sensation is like no other.


I laugh every year when this silly PJM rhododendron blooms in August…All of its companions bloom in the spring, when they should, but here, no. I really do not like pink of any kind in the garden, yet planted PJM’s years ago for their winter bronze leaf color.


Let me introduce you to a new variety… Black Diamond crape myrtle, added to my front garden this summer. Notice the wonderful deep leaf hue and pleasant color of the flowers…this plant blooms multiple times per year and the plant tag promises a mature height at 12′. I look forward to many years with this new variety…


And Babe, the topic of my last post, survives despite its weird appendage in front of its right leg. After emailing photos to the Wildlife Center, they too are stumped and suggest that as long as Babe is eating well, to leave it in the wild. Although Babe continues to molt and look rather pathetic with its shabby coat, I eagerly wait to see what sex it is…can anyone guess?


This plaque, found in a shop at Tryon Palace, reminds me that the garden teaches forever.

Twice per week this time of year I run errands and make deliveries very early, then confess to enjoying short afternoon naps in the air conditioning. Heat is hypnotic. Reclined on the loveseat, dozing between paragraphs of a Baldacci novel, I later rise and do indoor chores. Then around 7PM I dress for insects and head out weekly to mow and perspire. Soon. Soon. Very soon, there will be lower dew points and garden clean up, as the blooming show will be mostly over until next spring. And this gardener will sigh a large exhale.

Thanks for reading along. Your comments are always enjoyed.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

tough love

Yesterday afternoon I observed a young, lone cardinal standing on the terrace wall calling out in vain to its parents. The calls were pathetic. When any bird arrived at the hanging feeder, this young cardinal vibrated its wings and stood open-mouthed begging to be fed. To no avail. This went on for some time. Much too long for this observer.


This young cardinal is at the peak of rejection and frustration. Its parents decided this day was time it learned to feed itself. Notice the big feet and long nails…better to cling and grab. Oh my heart went out to this lone babe!

For the past five years, following the death of my beloved Miss Kitty, wild birds became the object of my affection. As a devotee, I feed custom organic seeds and dried fruit to most birds who visit. To date seventeen types of feathered beauties arrive year round for my handouts. Those of you who have followed along have seen numerous posts filled with photographs, as I attempt to capture the antics and habits of wild birds here in my central Virginia gardens.


If a bird could weep, this would be the face before tears flow.

Yesterday was no exception. It was time for the young cardinal to feed itself. MA and PA decided to get on with their lives…tough love indeed. I quickly found a small, shallow saucer and placed chopped sunflower seeds and dried currants, both a favorite of cardinals in particular, on the wall where the young bird was frequenting. Then it became a watch and wait from indoors with my camera perched on its tripod. Yes, these photos were all taken through two panes of glass and solar film.


When I had all but given up, the babe jumped onto the saucer…backwards…


then reversed it position and began eating like there was no tomorrow! Cheers went up from inside the house! It’s the small victories, yes?

The late afternoon storm had soaked the young cardinal, rendering it even more pathetic in appearance. For a few minutes I wondered if it was injured, as the top of its beak looked askew…

As the afternoon slipped into twilight, the babe feasted a few more times at the saucer and even managed to capture and devour an insect in the turf, giving me hope for its survival.

When morning arrived,  I refilled the saucer and added another filled with fresh water… then waited for Babe.


Right on que, Babe arrived at the saucer and began its morning feast. Cardinals feed early and very late. Good thing I am an early riser.


With a healthy appetite, Babe dined for many minutes, managing whole currents. I am not sure what is going on above its right leg… hopefully not an injury.


How intelligent and spry! A huge difference from the afternoon before!


How quickly this observer forms attachments!


Babe even puts up with the obnoxious finches…the bane of my feeding efforts!


Strong appetites make healthy birds. I am delighted and hopeful for Babe’s success. This is just one example why I host these beauties in my gardens. Tough love is just that. When happy transitions occur, I exhale in relief.

As days and weeks continue here at Swallowtail Cottage and the summer melts into fall, I will gaze out my kitchen windows and follow along as my wild bird saga continues.

UPDATE: Four days following this post, Babe returns daily to the feeder numerous times per day and is drinking from the water saucer nearby. That weird clump is still hanging in front of Babe’s front right leg, yet whatever it is, it does not appear to impair Babe’s functioning.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

In the mood for shrimp this July 4th?


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With July fourth around the corner and summer heat and humidity present, I decided to pull out the stops and shop for festive seafood. Landlocked here in central Virginia, most of the ingredients for this recipe came from either Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Since I do not live in Maine, lobster is out of the question, although langostino is a fine substitute for lobster OR shrimp. Please enjoy this quick recipe inspired by the famous Lobster Roll…ah LaSauce.

This past winter I ate my weight in TJ’s Argentinian wild caught shrimp. Discovered in the frozen food section, I hoarded pounds at a time and feasted regularly. Meaty and tender and ready in four minutes, what could be better? Following a few month’s break from the binge, these beauties called out to me again today.

Are you ready for a simple, simple recipe?

At Trader Joe’s pick up a package of butter croissants, a pound of Argentinian Wild Caught shrimp, some organic bread & butter pickles, a bag of organic celery hearts, and a bag of organic blue corn chips…see photos below.

At Whole Foods, collect a jar of 365 organic mayo, a lemon, and Old Bay seasoning.

OK here is the simple:


Bring water to a rapid boil and add one pound frozen shrimp. Bring back to the boil ( this takes about four minutes) stirring occasionally then drain once water returns to a boil…do not overcook and do not rinse!


wash and finely slice organic celery…about two cups


Trader Joe’s biggest secret…tender butter croissants…I do warm these babies for a few minutes in a toaster oven…slice first ~ never a microwave please!


The label says it all…tender, plump, and they cook in four minutes


What could be a better snack food? Organic, multi-grain, gluten free.


Mix in a few simple ingredients: shrimp, mayo, lemon, celery, Old Bay to taste, and everyone is happy. The Milk Stout happens to be my fav adult beverage and I find it at WF.


The presentation…in minutes this tasty treat will impress; just remember your favorite beverage. The pickles did not make this shot, as I snacked them.

Happy Independence Day to all Americans, and may peace prevail. Be safe.

PS: I do not receive any compensation for mentioning these products…just wanted to share my findings with my readers. Bon Appetit!

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

gardening is all about change


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and hanging on and letting go…

As I flailed around during May, reeling from Mother Nature’s multiple challenges while wringing my hands as beloved plants took hit after hit, I reminded myself: #1 I have no control over Mother Nature, #2 all things are temporary, #3 a gardener must be resilient.

My love of the earth and passion for most things beautiful and fragrant, began decades ago. Before the age of seven I remember lying under the tall patch of blooming Persian lilacs at our Long Island home, content never to move again.


in 2014 the hummers enjoyed sips from the pineapple sage…

At age eighteen, I left home for college, and was away from lush gardens. I quickly learned that a sunny park across from my dorm could fill my need for green. As a BFA graduate, my first job took me to Portland, Oregon where I was mesmerized by the artful Japanese Gardens and the historic Portland Rose Gardens. I could have stayed there forever.


the narrow gravel path is embraced by tightly shorn boxwood hedges.

Alas, years later, with roaming days behind me, I found myself working on Capitol Hill. Whenever possible during lunch hour, I strolled the magnificent grounds of Congress designed by Frederick Olmstead, and frequently lunched on the edge of the marble fountains outside the Supreme Court. Those were the days.

Miss Kitty sighting?

Heirloom Tiger Lily provides nectar for this Swallowtail

In 2000 I departed the urbane, and put down roots at my first country house. The abode turns out to be a needy box, yet the half-acre provided me with a tabula rasa. No more containers on the postage stamp balcony.


Fruits of my labor…homegrown blueberries…as the pan’s contents bubbled, the color deepened

Once the mistakes of former owners were obliterated, my gardening intuition prevailed, as it does today, sixteen years later. Following numerous consults with garden experts, I quickly surmised that my intuition was the light to follow. Recently, as I glanced at my archived plant tags, I removed 50% of my original purchases. Either the plant tags lied and specimens quickly outgrew their place, or plants failed to thrive without frequent spraying. As a master gardener who is intolerant of needy plants, garden edits are becoming an annual ritual.


March garden edits included a stump grinder. The rug junipers became a garden thug in many areas, yet hand removal was impossible. Thanks to my arborist and his great tools…

Hours in the garden provide solitude amongst the songs of wild birds, handsome toads, and the occasional reptile. When the sun rises above the cypress trees, I step indoors and enjoy views out every window. The passage of time in my gardens is what sustains me. The beauty of thriving plants inspire me. Ten thousand photographs later, I attempt to share moments of bliss.


This handsome creature posed for me in the very hot sun for ten minutes! I adore moments like this when nature provides fleeting glimpses of my garden residents. 

Every garden reflects the gardener, and often inspires on well after the person who tends it; or for that brief moment in time, a place comes alive in this time, and perhaps lives on in memory.


exhilarating moments

Planting and working the soil teaches us that there is hope despite adversity, that during the most difficult times, all things are temporary, and as in life, a gardener must learn to accept change, hang on to every fleeting moment when perfection finds its way, and to let go with grace.


a telling proverb

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved


the May that floats


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Normally, May is one of my favorite months as a gardener. Normally, the gardens burst with color, texture, and fragrance. Normally, May is a time for celebration and a time to bid farewell to the cold of winter. To date friends, 2016 weather continues chafe the best of my patience and optimism. Is it time to throw in the towel?

First, late killing April frosts affected many precious plants. Early tender perennials became steamed lettuce mush. Can you imagine?

Relentless May rains saturate even the best soils, threatening bulb rot and setting the stage for massive fungal issues in coming weeks. Harvesting six-hundred stems of heirloom peonies while dodging rainfall is, at a bare minimum, unpleasant for both me and my flowers. So much for garden delight. Rain days at the farmers market greatly reduce revenue, as only the hardy shoppers appear, and they typically are not in the mood for delicate stems. So much for my May cash crop. Currently, my flower fridge is overflowing and another few hundred stems beg to be harvested. Do you feel my pain?

Typically, June brings relentless heat and humidity to my Virginia gardens, seasoned with biting midges, ticks, and mosquitoes…for months. May is normally the time before June’s wickedness — inviting blissful strolls, the discovery of transcending scents, and the ability to see the fruits of my labor. Ha! At least my automobile is not floating down some side street, as Texans endure the spring from hell.

Ok, enough misery.

Is it time for the “For Sale” sign? Or shall I persevere? My inner voice whispered many times recently, “if it ain’t fun, don’t do it.” Well, I ain’t havin any fun as a gardener so far this year. Yet I am not ready for a condo. Been there, done that.

Do I publish this or press delete?

How about some comments from my followers?

From a drenched blogger/gardener in central VA. 


Is it time to hang it up?


this is why I grow daffs and tulips…


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These images show a glimpse of what is blooming now at Swallowtail Cottage. The real challenge remains with capturing the essence of each flower…


Another face not seen in my inventory. I am thinking Thalia, based on the catalogue photograph, c. 1916


These tulips have survived for fifteen years here. Moved numerous times, they were inexpensive, yet provide dramatic, elegant color in the late March gardens. Greigii Queen Ingrid.


These two beauties are new to my gardens this spring. I must refer to Brent & Becky’s Bulbs catalogue to name names, as they quickly became a blur.


Last fall I converted all five raised beds from veggies to heirloom daffs and tulips. These two are newbies to Swallowtail Cottage. The white is Erlicheer, a sweet smelling heirloom; circa 1934.


Notice the cup of this miniature newbie…the delicate rounded edges…awesome! As I check my inventory, I do not see this one listed…can anyone identify?


This daffodil is so old nobody can identify it…they are prolific here and I am delighted to admit I rescued them…Any ideas? The white daff is Mount Hood, c. 1937.


This wild-child tulip’s name is Honeymoon. I may need to add more to my beds, as they sold immediately at market yesterday.

Although Mother Nature ruined the first day of the farmer’s market yesterday with cold and rain, these flowers brightened my day as I shivered in place. About one third of the stems came home, so sadly, what I don’t give away, will become compost…ah the life of a flower farmer…

Stay tuned for more images of my gardens. Afterall, home, garden, life is what it is all about.

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

the first day of spring 2016


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Despite the 40F temperatures and overcast sky this morning at Swallowtail Cottage, here’s a glimpse of what is blooming in my half-acre gardens…enjoy!


PJM rhododendrons show their stuff this chilly spring morning.


O’Neal blueberry flowers…provide edible, delectable fruit come May, with the help of local pollinators.


Two years ago, I collected 2000 heirloom daffodils, crocus, and lilies from around the property and added them to a 30′ ditch. A powerful early spring statement…with more blooms to follow in weeks to come.


One deep rear shrub border is home to Japanese maples, hellebores, daffs, an adopted clump of old variety spirea, Green Velvet boxwood (raised from cuttings), assorted lilies, chindo viburnum, oakleaf hydrangea, one floribunda rose ‘Tiny’, hostas, phlox Davidii, clematis, red hot pokers, miscari, and three tuteurs.


Buxus Green Mountain boxwoods never fail to impress. Easy care and sprinkled with tiny, delicate blossoms in late March. Have I confessed I adore this variety of boxwood?


This herbaceous Euphorbia or garden spurge has survived fifteen years in the same northerly spot at the front door. Cut to the ground after bloom time, this plant is bullet proof, bouncing back year after year. Highly regarded for their brilliant chartreuse bracts, textural foliage, and elegant growth habit, places them among the elite plants with significant garden significance. Note: all euphorbias ooze a milky white sap, latex, when cut or broken, so wear gloves when pruning and avoid skin contact.


The hellebores are stunning this time of year. Over twelve inches tall, they brighten the landscape. A winter/spring garden favorite…


When the sapsuckers girdle my dogwoods or maple trunks, I dangle shiny CD disks from inner branches. Highly effective.


Hard working raised bed area produced various veggies and herbs for over a decade. Now they are dedicated to heirloom daffodils and tulips.


A new addition to my 2016 gardens…a mason bee or “solitary bee house” as the UK designers describe…was sent to me as a birthday present this month. Thanks again Barry!


The resident Eastern bluebird pair chose my nestbox during late winter, and today the wee female adds finishing touches to her nest…built one pine needle at a time, in three days.

Has this post inspired your first day of spring? And please check out the related spring post links below…

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

garden edits and spring delights


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March is a busy month at Swallowtail Cottage. P1050781Garden chores explode from zero to sixty overnight. This year major garden edits were necessary, as plant/shrub installations made in 2001 needed removal, requiring the assistance of my garden man, his assistant, and their chipper.

Our last snow lightly dusted the gardens earlier this month,P1050773 then quickly vanished into spring delights. The heirloom crocus arrived on time, showing healthy multiplication following last year’s installation.


Cloth of Gold ‘Crocus angustifolius’ once known as the Turkey Crocus was grown in gardens as early as 1587


A delightful feature of this crocus is the brown stripe on the underside of the petals…hence Turkey crocus?


Snowbunting ‘Crocus chrysanthus’ c. 1914, pearly buds open in January


This crocus variety was on the property when I purchased it in 2001. Although many were transplanted into a 12″ deep trench along with two-thousand daffodils, these wee flowers find their way to the surface and multiply every year. Thanks to the help from Old House Gardens, I identified this crocus as “Vanguard, 1934, a former Russian wildflower that opens its platinum outer petals to reveal and exciting contrast…inner petals of luscious amethyst. The earliest-blooming crocus, Crocus vernus “

Unusual warmth brought many of the early heirloom daffodils out of the ground in vast profusion. They definitely hear the call and continually remind me how I adore these easy care perennials.


Adorable Tete a Tete daffs appear in profusion and multiply with abandon

The overgrown, tired, and disgruntled shrubs/groundcovers were tagged and the chipper made quick mulch while this gardener exhaled with relief. Gone were the four s.laurels, numerous mats of rug juniper, one chindo viburnum, and fifteen barberries. Gone.


The plant tag stated these s. laurels would mature at 3X5. How often plant tags deceive…


Gone in seconds are the s.laurels, leaving space for grand hostas and one Henry’s Garnet Virginia Sweetspire Itea virginica, while allowing improved light and air for the Green Velvet boxwood neighbors.

For six hours the chipper chipped, as I busied myself with pruning various shrubs, transplanted a smaller chindo and gifted hostas, and cleared up the deep shrub borders to add bulk to the chipper…have I mentioned how I adore chippers? Men with the right tools are worth their weight in gold..P1050799

P1050791Once the help departed, I gazed at a much opened landscape and raking chores, as the juniper required a stump grinder…for hours. Left were the fractured branches, requiring raking and pulling to bring closure to the wounded slopes. Gone.


Newly transplanted fringe tree overlooking one peony bed…all in need of raking and fresh mulch.

Following the application of 48 bags of pine bark mulch and 10 bags of river rock, the landscape is somewhat calm, and areas of erosion are addressed. The fringe tree ‘Chionanthus virginicus’ was transplanted from the rear lawn to the new front slope, and one dwarf Gingko ‘Majestic Butterfly’ will be installed when located. When baled pine needles arrive, they will be spread as mulch to the lower front slope, behind the pine bark borders.

Two years ago, I began experimenting with pine needles, and find them highly satisfactory. They stay put during heavy rains, are attractive in the deep shrub borders, and are pleasant to walk on. I rake fresh needles in December from the local school, and only purchase the baled needles when necessary.


Rock will slow down water during heavy rains and pine mulch will dress both the blueberries ‘O’neal‘ and the front of this sloped bed

I must share a winter discovery from the Dover Saddlery catalogue…a waterproof boot by Ariat, which I thought would make the perfect mowing/garden boot. Sans horse these days, I still love the smell of leather and often visit the local store, just to inhale. Following this week’s garden marathon, I attest these boots will serve me well. P1050801


Retired are my 15YO cross trekkers ~ many a mile we walked together

So off am I into another gardening season in central Virginia. The raised veggie beds are converted into heirloom daffodil/tulip beds and the 2500 daffodils in residence will soon dazzle me and my market customers. Come May the rescued iris and heirloom peonies will follow suit, and will fill my soul with the meaning of the garden. The other 2016 garden chores of tackling the wild violet turf infestation and mowing schedule will keep me busy until year’s end.

I wish for you a healthy, happy spring. Even if you are hold up in an apartment, get out to your parks and fill a balcony container with your favorite something. Grand or small, plants give us humans hope and joy for today and tomorrow.

Old gardeners never die, they simply spade away…

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved

beware rubus pentalobus


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This winter will be one to forget. One week following Jonas’ departure, I was stricken with an UR infection that knocked me off my feet and took two antibiotics to cure. Bedridden for most of one full week rendered me weak as a kitten for another ten days; I just now feel remnants of my former self.

During my convalescence, I had plenty of time to gaze out the windows into the barren, winter landscape. This time of year, the bones of garden reveal the structure and textures rarely appreciated during the growing season. Allowing my eye to peruse spaces, I made mental notes of necessary edits to come.

During February, one annual garden chore includes removing the past season’s leaves of many hellebore, or Lenten Roses that happily reside here. P1000347P1040197.JPGA hand and knee or squatting proposition, this chore was a good test of my weakened stamina. Last week’s effort found me trembling after merely one hour of task.

The other necessary garden chore I faced this week was bolstered by an additional week bed rest. In August of 2014, I installed five 3″ pots of Rubus pentalobus, or Creeping Bramble. At the garden center, they appeared innocent enough sporting attractive, compact, deep green, evergreen foliage, small flowers, and tiny raspberry fruits. Additionally the tag boasted the benefit of being drought tolerant. Good candidate for the remaining slopes that tend to erode while providing tasty late fall food for the wee birds…I thought.


Rubus pentalobus or Creeping Bramble

These plants settled well and then I noticed an aggressive growth pattern within the first year. Clearly this perfect groundcover was becoming a garden thug.


This is one plant twelve months after installation…from a 3″ pot! The plant tag failed to mention that Rubus suckers…big time!

Following a hearty breakfast, I headed out in sunny 40F temps to begin the task. Armed with a wheelbarrow, digging fork, knee pads, and hatchet, I silently coached myself…I can do thisP1050765

One hour later, breathless, I had the wheelbarrow filled to overflowing. Pliers were necessary to yank out roots that were over a foot long, headed straight down. Where is my garden helper when I need him? P1050754

Rather than exhaust myself completely, I returned my tools to the shed, left the barrow sit, and headed indoors to recuperate. The next day I would return to complete the entire removal.

As it was, the next day was warmer and the winter sun felt delightful on my winter-pale face. 1.5 hours later, I successfully removed the last bits of this plant horridus. Now I must face the remaining three patches of Rubus on the front slope. One day at a time…

In the meantime, my heirloom daffodils are showing up in good stand.P1000299 I added 150 additional heirloom varieties last fall to my old veggie raised beds, and so look forward to my new life as a peony/daffodil/iris farmer! Out with the invasives, garden thugs, and insect infested plants. I will only permit a pleasant garden experience here. Life is too short to invest precious time with energy sucking plant material ~ this revelation has only taken thirty years to formulate…sharing is education.


A newly acquired heirloom crocus…its tendency to multiply is welcomed here. A delight in this winter garden.

If you would like to see a preview of my spring gardens, please use the search bar in the left-hand column using the words spring or flowers or notice and click on the related posts at the bottom of this post.

Cheers to you and if you read this please click the “like” button, as I am taking a survey as to how many of my followers are actually reading my posts…thanks!

Copyright © 2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved