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Heart Knot Design- installed!

Friends, how cool is this?! It takes my breath away. Thank you Elizabeth for finding me and allowing me to share your beautiful garden with my friends. I am so honored. And, I am SO taking cuttings this year of my boxwoods!! Thank you for answering all of my nosey questions about your process. My brain is spinning with ideas and I know you will inspire many others to create a knot garden or parterre of their own!

“I think I started taking cuttings in 2008 – and took cuttings for about three years. I ended up with 60 boxwood plants that I bought and about 250 babies that I propagated. I kept on searching for a good pattern that I could do and found your picture. It was perfect as it was made up of squares and half circles…and it was pretty…and it was charming…and I could trim it so it would look like a woven knot…and it had hearts!!! Then I lost your website and couldn’t find it again until I went through some old Facebook posts. Boxwood are slow growing; I trimmed it for the first time this spring. I have wanted to thank you for the longest time! Thank you!!!

Boxwood Design: I have always wanted a shaped English / French garden. I found many examples that were way too difficult to do in the space I had. The outside edge of the knot garden, along the rock edge, is 21 feet. I have room for my “shade” garden and some stone pathways and a bench. I was so happy to find your design. I can do this!!! It is basically straight lines and half-circles. Better yet, they weave together into intertwining hearts. I (and my husband) also like it because it can be a “casual” formal garden.

Propagation: August-September 2008
• There are a lot of resources online – here is one: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/shrubs/boxwood/rooting-boxwood-bushes.htm
• I bought dwarf boxwoods (private nursery, Home Depot, and Lowe’s) and took cuttings. Note: if you leave multiple boxwood in your car on a warm day it will smell like a kitty litter box. …lovely.
• The first time I cut back the whole plant, but that was a bad idea. It left me with many short, unusable pieces, and may have stressed the plant. I found that I could plant 8” (+/-) cuttings that would make the new plants a lot larger. I experimented with later cuttings – one plant I would take cuttings from one side, another plant I would take them from the center, or randomly find branches that looked good. By not pruning the whole plant, I could make cuttings from the same “mommy” plant the following years.
• As I took my cuttings, I put them into a bucket of water so they wouldn’t dry out.

• I trimmed the leaves off of lower couple of inches, or so, and scraped the bark off of one side of the bottom of the cuttings. (see drawing.)
• I stuck them in Root-tone? Some sort of rooting powder.
• Then placed them in a window box, close together, in a mixture of rooting mix and sand. I then soaked them and let them drain. I think I had about 15 window boxes +. I don’t remember.
• I placed them on some benches on our back deck along the side of the house. They received a few hours of morning sun. I kept them damp and misted them 3-4 times a day.

• I had to figure out what to do with them when it got cold – – ??
• I had some plastic shelves so I put the window boxes of cuttings on the shelves, put the shelves next to the French door on the back deck and rotated them occasionally so both ends would get some sun. I bought some heavyweight clear vinyl (plastic?) from JoAnn’s and covered the shelves to make a “greenhouse.” My make-do greenhouse is in the back of my yard for storage now.

• I bought some heat mats, but found that it didn’t really warm up the plants. I bought some spongy floor mats and put it under the heat mats. I also put an instant type meat thermometer in each window box to make sure my babies weren’t getting too hot, or too cold. I don’t remember the ideal temperature. I did put the heat mats on a timer.
• Later, I put some fluorescent glow lights in each shelf and they were on the timer as well. The second year, I hung the grow lights inside the house, in the kitchen next to the French door.
• I kept them from drying out and misted them often.

Rooting Boxwood Bushes: Growing Boxwood From Cuttings
Used as hedges, edging, screening plants and accents, you can never have too many boxwoods. Read this article to find out how to get plenty of new shrubs for free by starting boxwood cuttings. Click here to learn more about boxwood propagation. gardeningknowhow.com

Moving the cuttings:
• My success rate was great – so I have been told – over 50% of my cuttings developed roots.
• I waited until July to plant the cuttings into pots. I could have waited another year if I wanted to.
• I used some sort of soil amendment for shrubs and put the cuttings that had roots into pots. (I didn’t realize that I should have added it to the topsoil, but used it full strength. I haven’t seen it lately and I don’t remember exactly what it was.) I ran out of pots so some of the cuttings were grouped together into one pot or shared larger flower pots.
• I watered them well, then watered them with some Miracle Grow Quick start.
• I put them in a shady, protected area along a fence and made sure that they didn’t dry out.
• In the winter I mulched around the pots with leaves.
• In August I would buy more “Mommy” plants and start the process over again.
• I bought some used pots from a private nursery.

• I did this every year until 2012. I had breast cancer and was a bit busy with surgeries and chemotherapy. Watering all of the babies and the mommy plants during the summer took almost an hour a day. Thankfully my husband often took over the watering for me. (I am fine, now, by the way.)
• I had about 300 babies, and about 40 mommy plants (I think.)

Planting: September 23, 2015. The area does not have full intense sun.
• I needed a flat area, and I needed the soil to drain. Boxwood do not like to have soggy feet. My backyard is quite marshy during the winter. I hired a landscaping company to build a retaining wall and bring in some topsoil for a raised garden. They upgraded the topsoil to garden soil. They also put the rocks around the raised garden for me. Nice!
• I read where I should place the boxwood farther apart and wait (forever) for the plants to fill in. I wondered how the formal gardens in Europe and England were planted. We went to visit my brother who was living near Paris and visited Versailles. I wish I still had the picture I took – – I crawled on my knees to get a picture of the boxwood formal gardens at ground level. The boxwood were planted closely together.
• Some of the boxwood roots were a bit rootbound so I cut off the roots (so I could get them out of the pots) then “teased” the roots out before I planted them.
• I used some plastic lattice to help me lay out the garden and hired a friend to help me plant. It took us about a day to plant the raised garden (the hearts.) I don’t remember if we used the Quick Start fertilizer or not. We did not add any other fertilizer, or fertilizer mulch. I hired some neighbor kids and we mulched with small bark nuggets. I was beginning to feel my age.
• I did not plant the border boxwood as I had standing water problems. The next summer, I dug some trenches that sloped down the hill under where the boxwood would grow. I dug a pit (a sump) at the end of my trenches and put some concrete blocks covered with landscape fabric. I still have a few spots that do not dry out very well, but the boxwood are thriving.
• I used the mommy boxwood for short hedges along the back of the house, along my girly shed, and the border around the knot garden. Since I had large and small boxwood, I made a crenulated design.

How long did installation take?
• Planting the boxwood did not really take that long – about a day. Getting the area ready, and growing the cuttings to a healthy size took years. I could have spent a lot of money and bought the boxwood, but I enjoyed taking the cuttings.

Biggest Challenge: Making the area drain well was the hardest part.

Maintenance? Trimming? Fertilizing?
• Washington State has dry summers. I need to water the knot garden for at least 4 hours once a week. There is one corner, near a large fir tree that needs to be watered more often.
• Two years ago (August 2018) I trimmed the knot garden for the first time. Last August I hired my friend and we gave it a more intense “haircut.” We will refine it more as it grows in. Picking up the trimmed pieces is the hardest part of trimming. Any mistakes we make will always grow out, given time. The knot garden is less work than mowing. Boxwood are slow growing plants.
• I put medium bark nuggets around the boxwood to help prevent weeds, but there is some weeding that needs to be done. I need to clean off falling leaves and branches in the fall / winter. The pictures I just took show leaves and branches that should be cleared off.
• I have used the Kellogg Organic Grow mulch around, but not touching, the base of the plants in the spring for the first three years. The plants seem to appreciate it.

Advice? Find a design you love, then enjoy the process.

Thank you Elizabeth for sharing your garden! I can’t wait to start propogating my boxwoods!: )






Welcome Spring!



Fall Abundance




Snow day at the Philadelphia Flower Show

Once again we are getting bombarded with snow here in Philadelphia. This seems to happen every year lately. Hard to believe that Junebug and I have been minding the booth for 12 years! What a gift. It’s so lovely seeing old friends and making new ones. I have the BEST customers. I thought it would be fun to share some photos from the show for those of you who weren’t able to come or would like to know what it is about!

The main entrance garden was alive with color and sounds from the Rainforest. Orchids and tropical flowers took the main stage with bamboo structures and numerous sources of water- including ponds, waterfalls, fountains and rain barrels.

One of my favorite displays was a wooded garden setting for a wedding. It was just lovely and magical!!


Isn’t it just dreamy?? I think there could be gnomes and fairies hiding about. Stop by again tomorrow for highlights of other sections of the show! : )

 

 

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Catching Up…

Oh little blog… I have missed visiting you. I love the history that you hold. At times I have thought that it was time to end but I’m not ready to close that door. Let’s pretend that it hasn’t been so long and that the ups and downs of life don’t keep us from writing or using our creative voice. Let’s just do a little recap and catch up…

Last year was a bit of a challenge. We had to say goodbye to our sweet Oliver and it absolutely broke my heart. I had his companionship for 14 years- in the studio, in the kitchen, at the barn, in the garden, in my lap on the couch. His passing left such a void in our home and in my heart. The sadness that I felt overtook my creative voice for a while. I suppose that is a natural part of grieving.

After the Philadelphia Flower show last March, my ongoing issue of tendonitis progressed and placed limitations on what I could do physically. Simple, everyday things like brushing my teeth, picking up my coffee cup and washing my hair were very painful- not to mention packing, shipping and doing the most basic tasks for my business. My creative voice got quieter and quieter.

Don’t get me started on politics. Drama and uncertainty has played in the background noise of daily life.

On a happy note, my sweet husband and son fashioned beautiful cedar raised beds for me over the winter and what a difference they have made! Our potager has been going for a number of years but this is the first year that I have gotten to enjoy it more than feeling the burden of the work that is needed to do digging and weeding. The boxes and the stone walkways have been so easy to manage this year. I hope to do a blog post about that process!

Did I mention that we got a puppy? In confusing fashion for the family, I cried all of the way home from seeing the precious, squirmy puppy-breath puppies. I am a “both/and” person. Both happy (about puppies) and sad (about Olie) – at the same time. It is beautiful and abundant but sometimes confusing and overwhelming.

Oh, I do love dogs and one day I want a whole herd of them… or pack, or gaggle. Oliver’s little sister Gracie was adjusting pretty well but we wanted to introduce a puppy while she was young enough to play with him and teach him the boundaries here at the farm. We knew a puppy would be easier to acclimate to the chickens, cats, horses and Lily- the guinea pig.

We couldn’t decide on a name for the puppy so we settled on two derivitives of and including Theodore- Theo and Teddy. He really doesn’t seem significantly confused. He politely ignores or responds to all three names.

Having teenagers makes life busy. Really??? Some of us weren’t prepared. I thought those toddler years were pretty dang extreme. What was I thinking?

Where do I give my list of 10 things to do or not to do??!! Here I am rambling on and on and not giving any advice/tips to hold your attention. If you are reading thus far, bless your heart.

Speaking of “bless your heart” – we went to MS to celebrate my grandmother’s 100th birthday! It was a trip down memory lane to share with my family the many places and family that were a part of my growing up. My grandmother is something else. I wish that you could hear her voice and see her hands that I have known all of my life. I think I could draw her hands by heart. It was lovely to hold them again.

I’ve been going to PT for a while now and I’m happy to report that my arm/elbow has gotten much better!  What a difference. The puppy graduated first in his puppy school class. As shown above- he has out grown his older sister in only 8 short months. There were 4H presentations and horse shows, track, Young Life camp, Horse camp and the Newport Flower show over the summer. So many good things…

Fullness. It’s hard to sum up. My cup runneth over.

I am beginning to find my footing, my rhythm and my voice again. It was a bumpy year.

I think that we are caught up Little Blog. I hope to come back more often. You are such a good listener. ; )

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Junebug’s Garden

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What’s in Bloom Mid-July

I do love this time of year! The perennials are all in bloom.

There are so many things that I want to blog about! Numerous posts have been started that I can’t wait to finish.

So to kick things off today we’ll have a short stroll through the garden.

IMGP7688I do love Lilies! The soft yellow blooms show up nicely against its dark green foliage.

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IMGP7684My absolute favorite color! I wish I knew which Lily this was so that I could order more. As you can see it is rather delicate.

IMGP7675Who doesn’t love a mass planting of daisies?!

IMGP7665IMGP7738Garden Phlox and Liatris make such a statement this time of year.IMGP7748

We can’t forget what is blooming in the potager! A star shaped yellow zucchini/squash blossom. To keep up with the zucchini this year I have a great new recipe! Check it out here.

What is your favorite perennial flowering plant?

Tiny-Daisy

Thanks for joining me! Now, let’s get back to work. : )




Overwintering Rosemary Topiaries

Rosemary Topiary

After selling topiaries at my shows for a number of years I’ve learned something… people are nervous about purchasing Rosemary plants for indoor use. And I’ve also learned… there is no reason to be! With a south facing exposure and a little attention you can have fresh rosemary on your windowsill all year long even in colder growing zones. I kid you not. It’s -12 wind chill here today. Eegads.

Shown above is one of a pair of rosemary standards that I brought home after the Devon Horse Show in May of 2013. The pair spent the summer planted in the potager providing garden structure as well as culinary deliciousness. This photo was taken soon after they were dug and potted up to bring indoors for the winter. I would recommend polyfoam or ceramic containers… terra cotta drys out much too quickly in a heated environment.

I LOVE the shape of these filled-out standards! They are gorgeous on either side of the fireplace. Generally they are kept in a south facing window with lots of natural light.

So, after some trial and error and a little “dried” rosemary over the years- here is my secret to overwintering Rosemary topiary.

  • Wait.
  • Soak with warm water.
  • Soak again.
  • Drain thoroughly.
  • Full sun.

Repeat.

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I know, right!? Wait to water them until their new growth starts to show signs of wilting. They are a Mediterranean herb and the soil will need to dry out but they WILL give you a sign of when to water. When you perceive the new growth start to droop take them and soak them with WARM water. They need to be watered deeply, twice, drained and then given full sun.

I will admit- Rosemary is not terribly forgiving and you DO have to pay attention to them. But it is so worth it. The only time that I have ever killed (gasp!) a plant (I think) was when I put it in a place that I was not constantly buzzing in and out of. They all tell you when they are ready to be watered.

RIP my sweet bonzi ficus- though you looked so Zen by the bath tub I could not support your daily watering needs. If only you could have fit on the window sill in the kitchen- because we all know those dishes are a never-ending daily nirvana.

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Do you have a south facing window in a place that you frequent? A perfect place for a Rosemary topiary! Looking for a yummy recipe to put those trimmings to use? Look no further! Tuscan Herb Seasoning one of my FAVORITE ways to use fresh Rosemary- perfect for meats and soups.

Do you have a favorite recipe that includes fresh Rosemary? Please share!

 




A Garden Tango

IMGP6424 My garden and I have done an awkward dance all summer long. Never on the same beat… our tempo completely off. A spastic horticultural tango if you will.

And then this past weekend… I finally had the time, energy and proper shoes that brought us together like the partners that we are. I spun from bed to bed in my red farm coat as the wind blew mightily. Probably a good thing we don’t have neighbors within eyeshot.

Earlier this summer I decided to exhibit at the Devon Horse Show and Country Fair in Devon, PA. Normally at that time I would be caught up with orders from the Flower Show, excited about spring, winter sowing and getting ready to plant. This year I was in full production mode for my business and then away for a two week duration.  So much happens on a farm, with children, and animals in two weeks. My “away” time limit was reached and I learned that it was too much at this point, at this time in our lives. I never got caught up… all summer long I was one, or two or three steps behind- in so many areas. My garden went in late… some things didn’t go in at all. Then the rains came. Seedings were washed away while the organic weeds that I cultivate so beautifully grew and grew.

My focus never zeroed-in out there. I was away dancing with other loves like children, family, friends and art. I even flirted with running and taking better care of myself. Gasp! Every now and then the sprinkler was turned on when I could remember.

So Saturday I had the opportunity to stand back and appreciate what happens when I’m not paying attention… when I am not in control, when someone else is leading.

# # # # Newsflash # # # #

It still grows and it produces what its supposed to. Even with my full dance card this summer my partner kept up the beet. (snicker). We could easily have scored a 30 on Dancing with Your Vegetables that blustery afternoon, in my opinion.

 

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IMGP6432A little olive oil, salt and pepper then into the oven… carrots, onions, blue and red potatoes. Delicious.

 




Climbing Peace Rose

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ABOUT

Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.

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This blog and all of the creative elements ie., written content, illustrations and photographs are the sole property of Michelle Masters Studio and cannot be reproduced in any form without the artist's permission.

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