announcing our new blog

we are still working out how to be co-authors on our new blog, and still messing around with how it looks, but we are ready to share it. Here is the link:

It feels strange not to be photographing my garden to post pictures on my garden blog, but I think that 6 years of doing that is enough. I want to devote some time to co-writing a walking blog with my sister. It’s just plain fun but also a good motivator for me to meet my simple goal of walking every day, no matter for how long, every single day; to develop a daily walking habit. So, here is cassidy hill walking!


Happy Trails

Our walks began over 50 years ago on a dusty country road, aptly named Pleasant Valley Road. Two sisters, walking hand in hand, singing old songs our grandmother must have taught us. “Rain, rain, go away, Come on back another day” while holding umbrella-shaped leaves of the Mayapple over our heads. We went everywhere together, often on that dirt road. One vivid memory is of us splashing through warm puddles of summer rain, preferably in the late evening in June when fireflies came out. The town must have oiled the road to keep the dust down, but that didn’t stop us. Barefoot with a glass jar in hand, we captured those poor bugs to marvel at their light. Our feet must have been filthy!

Later, I dutifully followed Anne down that road to visit the neighbor’s pony.  Not just once. Every. Single. Day. I never thought to say no, except on the day I balked at passing the field with the bull in it. I wore a pink shirt and was certain the bull would charge me! I think I turned back and went home, leaving Anne to face the bull alone. (Sorry!)

And here we are fifty years and hundreds of miles later, still walking together whenever the opportunity presents itself for two sisters living five hours apart. We’ve managed to hike in the Adirondack Mountains, (“As long as it’s not a mountain” she says “I don’t like climbing mountains!”) the Bruce Peninsula (incredible views), on the Finger Lakes Trail (safe, meandering trails through farmer’s pastures and hedgerows) and even in Newfoundland, CA (sweeping, wind-swept headlands).

Why walking? There’s something about walking that’s good for the soul, my soul, anyway,  especially if it’s on a trail. I know of no other image that beckons to me like a picture of a trail (“A flat trail, Jeanne” she says. “Not too steep.”).

Here’s to many more adventures on the trail with my buddy ‘ol pal.



signing off! my last post for cassidy hill garden

I’m mostly talking to myself in this garden blog, except for a small number of dear friends who comment faithfully (you know who you are!). Mostly the blog has been my on-line photo album and garden journal. I started it in 2012 in March. Now I’m considering a different blog, tentatively called “side by side: sisters walking”, together with my sister Jeanne. The title is from a song of that name our Grandmother taught us, which we still love to belt out in harmony. The new blog, as I’m thinking about it now, will  for my side be about my effort to walk most days, a simple enough goal! Jeanne is a big hiker so expect some woodsy trail stories and pictures from her. We are still discussing the idea.

The other day in steamy hot weather I decided to go out to the roadside and pick a big rowdy bouquet of wildflowers. Since, unfortunately, my two new kittens (Rusty and Sweet pea) and one of the older cats, Mr. Fluff, decided to tag along, I had to abandon the roadside idea. Instead, I ducked under the now not electrified wire of my horse pasture fence. I walked slowly, with my adorable feline entourage, through the pasture. The horses have been gone, both had to be put down from old age (Casey) and old age/blindness (Fly), since July 10 this summer, so the grass was getting long, but still not too long for small kittens to manage. We slowly made our way through the pasture, and I found plenty of beautiful flowers to pick. I took a picture of the bouquet (with a few pink zinnias from the garden added in). I’ll let these beautiful flowers say good-bye for me!



In praise of phlox

Tall garden phlox. I have to pull volunteer phlox out all the time, because they self-seed everywhere. But I leave plenty, as many as I can. They cross pollinate and you never know what color combinations will appear. Here are a few of the dozens of different variations:

white with just a hint of pink in the center.

very gentle lavender shade. This is a shorter variety, maybe 2.5 feet. Some phlox zoom up over my head!

a bright pinkish red one with a tiny crab spider

pale pink with a darker eye

darker purple, with white feathers

phlox with echinacea and white cleome, another exuberant self-seeder

this shows why the hummingbirds, hummingbird moths, and bees/bugs of all kinds and butterflies hang out in the back yard. Some of the phlox in this picture are six feet tall!

Daylilies are past peak but still blooming beautifully. I start every morning in daylily season walking slowly around the garden carrying a deadheading/weeding bucket to snap off yesterday’s spent blossoms and grab any weed I might see. It’s time to smell the lilies and get pollen on my nose, listen to birdsong, breath in the morning air, enjoy summer. I watch for critters–yesterday we saw a garter snake. There are toads and snails, and the other day I saw a red eft! Didn’t get a picture, though. Here are a few of the daylilies:

this is primal scream, a show stopper

a white one, from my friend Karen

I love this one! It’s very short, with 4 inch blossoms, but has sturdy scapes and the flowers are so sweet–a rich creamy white with crimped edges to the petals and that showy center. I don’t know the name of it.

I think this is called “Startle”. It used to be the fanciest one I have, until the other day when I picked up one called “rumpus” from a friend. picture coming later.

And ending with the usual cat picture, here is Mr Fluff sitting with me as I try to be still once in awhile to just be in the garden–I usually see something I want to do and jump up after a few minutes. The cats are better at just hanging out.

mid-July garden report

It’s been very dry for a month or so but last night and this morning we finally got some real rain. This morning I went around the yard taking pictures. Daylilies are the main attraction at the moment, but hummingbird and butterfly flowers are also well along: beebalm, echinachea, and phlox are the three most common of those that I have. Swallowtail butterflies are out in force, and at least six hummingbirds have been zooming around the place. First, the daylilies:

Apricot Sparkles, a small but sturdy flower.

Primal Scream, on the other side of the size spectrum.

big bright blossoms of this daylily, whose name I don’t know, are like satin.

the more delicate graceful blossoms of the daylily hyperion, very fragrant!

given to me by a fellow daylily enthusiast, but I forget the name. I love the color.

every year I post photos of this lily, my favorite–or one of my favorites! Came to me from White Flower Farms, a selection they offered one year of 18 unnamed lilies. Not only is this lily beautiful, but it also is very fragrant, and vigorous, expanding so fast I can (and have) divided it many times.

OK, enough of the daylilies, here is the back yard butterfly garden, pretty much in full swing now.

beebalm and phlox and false sunflower predominate.

delphinium are almost done. the echinacea are in full bloom.

I caught a nice picture of a bumblebee enjoying a culver’s root flower:

love the antennas and the shiny eyes!

I should also mention hosta flowers as good hummingbird fare:

the hostas are just starting to send up their flower stalks.

While the back yard is a riot of color, the shady, dry front yard is mostly green.

in the front yard I rely on several very tough plants to survive the dark, dry conditions there: hostas, cimicifuga, dicentra, goosneck loosestrife, ferns, turtlehead (chelone) and solomon seal.

As a last note, the very first dahlia blossom has started to open!

the first dahlia!

and, thanks to the birds and chipmunks being careless at the bird feeders, we have a lot of volunteer sunflowers and they are starting to open.

sunflower with a bumble bee at the center.

animal antics and in praise of hostas

The garden is awash with chipmunks, and our two elderly cats don’t bother chasing them. I caught this little chippy snacking on the centaura flowers this morning:

checking the menu

excellent choice

yum yum!

I put a small charming birdbath in Mimi’s Garden of coleus and begonias, and a bigger classic style one in the meditation garden. We are eagerly waiting for birds to discover and use them. This morning I found out why the birds are not using them:

Tater takes a drink

why did she put my water dish so high up?

We have white-crowned sparrows, humming birds, and cat birds as regular visitors of the back yard, but the house wren really dominates there. The other day I noticed them stuffing our nice new bluebird nesting boxes with twigs. They did a very thorough job. The little rascals want to make sure no other bird can use them!

out of service; not for rent or lease. signed, the back yard landlord and lady

Deer are, amazingly enough, not much of a problem for us. They prune the shrubs a bit over the winter, but that’s about it.  And this year they enjoyed some hosta snacking:

radical pruning for this hosta

They would have to eat a lot of hosta to make a dent in my garden. Here are some of the hostas around the garden:

hostas in the very dry,  heavy clay soil, in 100% shade of the potting shed spot, and doing just fine

under the kitchen window, monster hostas that I have to cut back several times a year. I keep dividing them and they keep spreading just as fast.

these hostas thrive in acidic, sandy, dry soil under a row of pine trees.

I used to dislike hostas, but now I have them all over the garden. Here are a few pictures showing their lovely colors, patterns and shape.



peonies managed

Managing peony sprawl is worth it, since the blooms are so magnificent. Every year at this time I push three metal step-in posts around each of the fifty or so peonies I have and use twine to prevent the sprawl that happens when the blooms get too heavy. Here is an example:

peony bush staked and wrapped

The early peonies–a single red called “America” and a double called “Red Charm” are already blooming. This is the “America”:

America peony budded

The buds of the “Red Charm” are huge:

bud of “Red Charm” peony

And the blooms even huger. I’ve decided to downsize my peony collection. I’m thinking of trying to find a new home for at least ten of them, maybe even twenty. Thirty peonies is enough! This year I’ve staked most of the peonies, but I removed two thirds of the buds from most of them, and removed ALL the buds from a few that I know I am finding other homes for–because I’m leaving in two days for a two-week road/camping trip. Leaving the garden at the very start of the peony season is bad enough, but coming home to a mess of broken stems and spent blooms is no fun, either. So I’m being proactive.

Peony blossoms are amazing and even the buds are pretty.

peony buds in morning sunshine

I know that when I get back the garden will be a complete jungle. Oh, well, that’s fine. The front yard already is looking pretty chaotic–in a good way.

front yard jumble

I planted a small shady bed with annuals, using, for the first time ever, coleus, impatiens, and begonias. I was inspired by my sister-in-law who uses coleus to excellent effect in her garden. Here is the bed now, with each plant having some room to spread out as it grows.

Here is a quick photographic tour of the garden this morning:

white garden (which isn’t all white)

pine tree bed, upper

pine tree bed, lower

middle of front yard

bottom of front yard

what we call the potting shed bed, not a very imaginative name!

southside walkway

under the apple tree

top of the back yard

viburnum in full bloom in the back yard

The orange poppies are in full bloom and are the brightest flower going. Here are a few of them. I’ll be back in two weeks!

peony with morning sun shining through it

poppy center