Gallery of Zinnias Blooming Today

All the zinnias in the photos were raised from seed.

Their stems may be more angular than that of dahlias. Their leaves may be less lush, but they are not as needy or fussy. Their stems are not hollow, and when cut for the vase do not look maimed. The color range is similar and they are easily raised from seed by anyone who puts them in the dirt. To make them branch one need only to pinch down the central leader.

Also blooming – Cosmos “Seashells”.

Ornamental Garden Chives

I just bought several pots of white flowered garlic chives from a seller on Etsy. One of the gardens I worked in in Nashville had them as a border edger, and they were so handsome that I decided to find some and put them into the garden at the museum.

Here are several photos of that southern flower bed with the chives.

Companion plants in the first photo are melampodium, marigold “Queen Sophia”, Four O’Clocks, purple gomphrena, lantana “Miss Huff” , artemesia “Powis Castle”, and dwarf Mexican sunflowers.

What To Do With Half a Wishing Well

Garden ornaments such as wishing wells and gnomes are loved by some and sniffed at by others. All I will say about this one is that I am relieved the top half was never attached.

Since it is stuck in the ground, and we at the Historical Society are stuck with it, some function had to be found. It had to be good for something.

So we filled it with dirt and garden debris and turned it into a big planter. Two African Mallows went in to the center, some Lab Lab beans were positioned to start to creep down the edges, though they have not yet made up their minds about cooperating.

In a few weeks, no one will notice anyway, since the planter will be forgotten when the Giant Brazilian Tobacco plant, Nicotiana mutablis will be dangling its six foot stalks of pink and white and rose flowers up over the back of the well. The basal rosettes of the nicotiana are hidden behind the planter.

Also of interest now, the old fashioned Balsam, a variety of Impatiens. A stalwart of the old grandmother gardens.

In the porch garden in front of the museum, cosmos “Rose Bonbon” is blooming. I think she looks like a ballerina’s tutu.

Shirley Hill Farm, Goffstown

Here, on the southernmost of the Uncanoonuc hills that rise south of Goffstown, is the Shirley Hill Farm and the Benedikt Dairy.

I saw this farm yesterday for the first time. I thought the Uncanooncucs were just hills no different than any other hills. Wooded, unremarkable. Just hills. Somewhere to be crossed to get to Bedford. Not interesting enough to visit.

I was wrong. To turn off Wallace Road onto Shirley Hill Road – to find oneself in vast pastures and gardens lined with sunflowers , and telephone lines where dozens of barn swallows sit waiting for the instinct that tells them “leave now- go up and away into the August night”.

From a distance the South Uncanoonuc looks like the head of an unkempt old man with only a dozen upward bristles left on his scalp. These are an encampment of cell and tele towers that now run our lives. How incongruous they are, on the hilltop above the peace of this farmland with its smell of Jersey cows and the barnyard, with the fields of Queen Ann’s Lace. I stepped out of my car and was back over sixty years, in the old pastures and barnyards of the Alfred Smith Farm and the Haynes Farm on the Unity Road in North Charlestown.

But that was in the Valley of the Connecticut, and this high pasture with its haze and blue hills, cicadas and grasshoppers innumerable seemed far closer to heaven.

Strange, then, that one of the strongest feelings, I have about this enchanted place- is fear.

I am old now, and I have seen too much. I have seen what happens to pastures and fields that should be sacred. In the almost forty years I lived in a city in the South I saw a field of butterfly weed out on TN Rte 100 become a fried chicken shack.

I saw one of the most beautiful valleys in Middle Tennessee destroyed by a developer and complicit heirs . No more giant oaks on the edge of pastures. No more meadowlarks in the fields and Indigo Buntings flashing blue onto the fence wires. No more solitary kingbird watching over a stream lined with watercress.

A “planned community”, dreaded and loathed and resisted by its horrified neighbors. Million dollar homes and faux downtown streets.

I remember the last innocent evening the beagle and I walked along the dirt road through this valley. Another woman was walking her dog. We spoke about the loveliness of the old farm.

“Enjoy it now”, she said, “It won’t be here much longer”.

An abomination within sight of the National Park Service’s Natchez Trace Parkway.

Blooming Today- Some Fine Annuals

Warm weather is bringing out the first zinnias and cosmos. Every one in the Society garden was raised from seed, and if they are seeded in in mid-June, they are ready to bring new color and bloom starting in August, when so many perennials are finished.

Here is Zinnia “Profusion Bi-color, which I saw for the first time last fall in The Heritage Gardens on Cape Cod. It is a small plant that makes a good edger. Unfortunately a metallic gray beetle that is not Japanese has been chewing on it. Of course pesticides are out of the question, and any beetle seen is picked off and stepped on.

I do not care for petunias , but I cannot resist new versions of the old time ruffled double ones. They are as elegant as a 1950s evening gown.

Scaevola has been around for years, but I never planted it till this year, and I am impressed. Handsome, tough, and a good bedding plant.

This April I planted the seeds of “Asian Garden” celosia under lights. I kept them warm , and when the weather was mild enough took them outside to the sun. For two months they sulked at two inches, and only in July when the right weather came, did they decide it was time to grow. I think most celosias are deformed and hideous, but in the south I grew Celosia “Pink Flamingo”, which grew as tall as I am. Here is a photo of it in a garden in Green Hills, a suburb of Nashville in October 2017.

And here is its smaller cousin, “Asian Garden”, which should grow to three feet.

In the South the spike celosias come back from seed. If they reseed here, with our cool Junes, I do not think they would germinate in time to bloom before frost.

In the next few days I expect that “Peach Butterflies”, a Karchesky canna hybridized in Pennsylvania , will be in bloom. I will post pictures immediately.

Good Form and Structure are Priceless

This lovely shrub is Hypericum “Blues Festival”. Its blooms are not long lasting, but if this plant never bloomed it would still be striking because of its blue, shapely leaves and its superb form. I put this in the Goffstown Historical Society garden last fall. It was very small, but has tripled in size.

I did not put plants that disintegrate into a heap or are so unsightly after bloom that they mar the garden. I am lazier than those great gardeners, the British. who cover bare spots left by poppies by pinning down Baby’s Breath over them. I will not plant Shasta daises or Monardas because of rapid spread and post bloom dishevelment.

I love the look of bold Color Guard yuccas and santolina and the ornamental grasses such as the bluestems “Red October” and “Standing Ovation”. Fescue grass is another favorite.

How I wish Pink Muhlenbergia capillaris would survive here. Here are photos of it in a Nashville garden I planted.

Lastly, I could not leave out a photo of “Coral Knockout” my favorite rose. It did suffer from rose thrips early in the season, but their time has passed, and there is less damage.

Blooming Today at the Goffstown Historical Society- A Canna Like No Other.

Canna Ehemanii, an heirloom from the 1800’s, put up its first spike a few days ago, and today it bloomed. Usually its flowers dangle from 6 to 8 feet up, but this spike was smaller. It is rare, and available in limited numbers in the US. Our plant came from Old House Gardens in Ann Arbor, Michigan, an online nursery specializing in heirloom bulbs. Karcheskey Cannas in Pennsylvania also sells it online.

Cannas love good soil, hot sun, and lots of moisture. In dry spells the hose should never be far-

The dangling rose red bells of this canna belie the idea that cannas are common and vulgar. Along with the orchid flowered types such as “Blueberry Sparkler, they bring a tropical refinement to flower borders.

I am not certain how this canna would fare in the northernmost parts of New England, but here in tropical Southern New Hampshire, it is doing well-

A Year Ago- and Now

Above is the front porch garden of the Historical Society in Goffstown last year. Overgrown with weeds, blackberry bushes, and the invasive grass Rumex. The saponaria, or “Bouncing Bet” and the daylilies were preserved. and they are blooming now. /

Here is a photo of the renovated beds.

Yet to bloom in this border are the zinnias I raised from seed , including the scabious flowered “Candy” zinnias and the “Profusion” small flowered bedding types. The beds also feature the “Skyscraper” salvias, late blooming aromatic asters, and the old timey annual Impatiens balsamina, a reliable re -seeder. The far bed also includes “Crackerjack” African marigolds and cosmos, all raised from seed. While garden centers sell cosmos and marigolds, their selection is usually limited to common mixed types.

Goffstown Historical Society Garden- Blooming Now.

In the Sunset Garden above, Agastache, French Marigolds, lantanas, crocosmia “Lucifer, and the Blue Porterweed are blooming. The porterweed is planted in butterfly gardens all over the country. It is a tender perennial, along with the tropical butterfly weed also shown here and a mainstay of bird, bee, and butterfly gardens.

Rounding the corner, the Sunset Garden continues in front of the main porch with Wendy’s Wish salvia, more butterfly weed, Agastache “Apache Sunrise”, and the coneflower “Rainbow Marcella”.

The first of the seed raised zinnias are blooming.

The above is zinnia “Senora”. Below is “Zinderella Peach”.

More sunset colors, but still too much mulch showing. The gaps will fill with zinnias and lantanas. The ground cover portulaca oleracea is in the above photo. It blooms from mid morning on. I tried growing this in Nashville after seeing pictures of it growing out into the gravel at the Montrose gardens of Nancy Goodwin in North Carolina. Unfortunately it was decimated by rabbits, which are not a problem here.

A year ago tomorrow, I took a walk along the pedestrian path on NH Rte 114. I parked at the Historical Society, then walked down to see the fields of centaurea and Bouncing Bet in bloom. I then wandered up to the museum and saw gardens in need of weeding. The only plants besides weeds were more Saponaria, some handsome clumps of daylilies, and large beds of non blooming never divided iris. I called the Society. offered to weed and restore the gardens, and here is where we are today.

The museum is in the old Parker General Store, designated a National Historic Site. Also on the grounds is an old time two room school house which was moved to the property and the Wait Station, from the old railroad line at the base of the Uncanoonuc Mountains in Goffstown. Nurses and workers sat inside this tiny building in bad weather, waiting for their ride to Manchester. Now its only visitor inside is me, for this is where the garden tools live along with a 20 inch garter snake.