Saturday, July 19, 2014

Gardening Friends!

One of Barb Smith's garden areas.
Last week I had the opportunity to visit some of my friends' gardens in the Pulaski/Richland (Oswego County, NY) area.

The day was just perfect and the flowers were amazing. I am very thankful to Barb Smith, Karen Liscum, Jan Tighe, and Sandy Leinbach for allowing me to share with you some of their beautiful garden areas.

Spiny Bear's Breeches (Acanthus Spinosoa)

It was very interesting to see how perennials perform planted in different areas. Some plants were growing in shade that I didn't think would do well at all, but they were doing just fine. And other shade plants were performing well in the sun as well. It was also good to see how the flowers are used in different combinations, and how they can enhance the observers view by their location, color, and texture combinations.

The first garden we visited was Barb's. Barb has very large perennial gardens and all very well tended. Barb is a Master Gardener and is very knowledgeable in the field. The perennials were well spaced out to grow to their maximum conditions.

One of the interesting plants at Barb's was the Bear's Breeches. That was the first time I had seen it other than photos, and I was fortunate in that it was in bloom. I have always pictured this plant much taller so I found it very useful to see how it looked compared in to the other plants. It will grow between 3-5 feet tall. It will not flower very well if it is in too much shade. What was a surprise to me was that this perennial is rated for Cold Hardiness Zone 7-10, but yet it was flourishing in our Zone 5 area.

Two of Barb's Japanese Irises. Japanese Irises bloom later in the season than the Tall Bearded Irises, and they have a flat top.

This yellow flower pictured above is a foxtail lily or desert candles (Eremurus) which is almost at the end of it's bloom. Another flower seeing for the first time for me. For more information on the foxtail lily click here: Care of Foxtail Lilies

Barb Smith's side garden in full view.

The next garden we toured was Karen's. Karen has a lot of shade and a few sunny areas, and has done a wonderful job of maximizing both areas. The shady areas were very cool, restful and relaxing.

Karen uses a lot of beautiful garden decorations and I loved her different bird baths. She had several miniature bird baths as well which were adorable.

One of her miniature birdbaths.

Karen is using several varieties of coral bells (heuchera) and hostas in her shade landscaping as well. They really add a dramatic impact to her shade gardens especially with the all new colors that have recently been introduced.
Coral bells (heuchera)

Karen Liscum's retaining wall garden.

The next place we stopped by was Sandy's. Sandy has extensive shade areas, and her new hosta beds were amazing. For being new garden beds, the hostas were settled in great and were thriving. I wish my hostas looked that good. She also has quite a few daylilies planted around her house, but many of them were not blooming yet.

Photos from Sandy's:

A view from Sandy's front yard overlooking her side yard.

The next place we visited was the home of Jan Tighe. Jan has several different gardening areas as well including vegetables and berries.

Mystery flower- none of us knew what this flower was. If you would like to identify it you can respond to this post, and thank you.

*July 22, 2014: Mystery flower solved! Thanks to lala (see comment section below) for helping us identify this flower. It's in the same family as lamb's ear. I never would have even guessed that. The name is "Hummelo". See link Lamb's Ear Hummelo

These astilbes of Jan's were at their peak and just beautiful. They really added a lot of color to that area of her yard.

One of Jan's borders in her back yard.

Trellis leading into Jan's backyard.

If you are new to gardening, one word of advice I would like to give would be to smart small. Don't jump head-over-heels trying to do a big undertaking because you might get discouraged. Start with a small garden area and if you find after a year or so you are enjoying it then expand your gardens or add another area. Gardens are a lot of work: weeding, mulching, planting, transplanting, watering, etc. I don't want to discourage you, but I'm actually Encouraging you! Start small and take the time enjoy it!

If you have friends that enjoy gardening and haven't visited them in awhile ask to come and visit them to see their gardens. I'm sure they would be more than willing to share them with you and would enjoy your company as well!

Hope you enjoyed your tour 
of my friends' gardens. 
Thanks Barb, Karen, Sandy and Jan!

Feel free to leave a comment. 
Would love to hear from you.


  1. It was nice your friends had you over and allowed you to post their beautiful gardens. I was at a couple of friends gardens today and they are members of our garden club. We went to the daylily farm and when we came back, I saw all the daylilies each friend had growing. Like your friends, they are avid gardeners too. Your friends look like they have large properties.

    1. Yes, Donna, I was very happy to be invited to visit and photograph their gardens. The first garden is located in the country, and the other three gardens are on the edge of a small village and they have good size yards. It was fun to get together and share and ask questions. We all learn from each other and it's good to see plants growing first hand rather than from photos. Thanks for commenting.

  2. wow, what beautiful gardens and friends...enjoyed all the photos and your comments. Yup, start small but don't get discouraged, and enjoy.

    1. Thank you for commenting. It was fun getting together and checking out each others gardens. It's a good way to see what's flourishing in their gardens and also what's invasive. It was a good time to do it, too, because a lot of the perennials were in full bloom.

  3. Lovely gardens - I just love viewing different gardens and seeing all of the various designs and plant choices. As for your mystery flower - I recently purchased it at our local Agway because I had never seen it before. It says on the tag - Lambs Ear - stachys monnieri "Hummelo". It was not mistagged because there is a photo of the plant on the tag. I am in zone 4/5 in CT, and the tag says zone 4, so I am hoping it does come back next year, it is a nice addition to my sun border.

    1. Thank you so much lala. You solved our mystery plant. It's very much appreciated. I never would have thought that to be related to the Lambs Ear. And I Googled it and it showed that flower and identification of "Hummelo" ad pictured above. Our hardiness is between 4/5 as well so hopefully it will do well in my friend's garden. Thanks so much for commenting.
      Here is a link to the flower:

  4. Hello Susan and thank you for the link to your blog ! ..
    I was so ready to identify the hummelo but some one beat me to the punch .. I had it for a while and then it just went to plant heaven(we both didn't "take" to each other ? LOL) ..
    I love those mini birdbaths !!
    You can see each garden has it's own individual style.
    The acanthus always struck me as much taller as well .. and I also thought it would not take to zone 5 either ... I just don't have the room now but the flower always interested me.
    It is wonderful to be able to visit garden friends and see their creations .. you are very lucky !!
    Thanks again : )

  5. Hi Joy! Thanks for checking out my blog. I have had the (regular) lamb's ear die out on me, and then in another garden area it went crazy, and we're still trying to get rid of it. It's taken a few years, but I think we have it under control now.
    The mini birdbaths were adorable. I'll have to look around for some myself.
    I was also surprised that the acanthus leaves were not sharp at all, but the flowers were.
    I appreciate you checking out my post. Looking forward to yours as well!

  6. Sue these were beautiful...maybe one day we can visit each other's gardens!!

    1. Thank you, Donna. That would be great! We'll have to do it!