A Garden’s Tale

Open Day came and went. The weather cooperated to the extent that it did not actually rain. A drizzle hung around for hours and it was chilly. A steady trickle of visitors braved the damp, cold conditions and for me, that made the day A-alright. Old and new faces brightened my outlook. Although colors are more vivid when it is overcast, garden visitors tend to come out in much higher numbers when the sun shines. I get it. I too do so much better when the golden rays are present.

I’d worked hard to prepare for this big day. All through April temperatures flip-flopped. Winter felt like spring and spring now is behaving more like winter. There was hardly any precipitation till April. How then was any self-respecting plant supposed to know what to do? But still, I endeavored. Caution has been the name of the game. Tentatively putting out leaves and buds, I’ve been risk averse. There was no way I could rush into full growth mode only to be felled by a severe cold snap. Besides what would’ve been the point, the bees and other pollinators were also playing it safe. Nothing was stirring in a hurry.

Despite the difficult conditions, the gardener worked industriously to get me ready. She cleared winter debris and tidied up everywhere so I could breathe freely. Fed on rich compost and judicious drinks of water, I was nurtured and cared for. I got new companions and said farewell to those whose time had come. Happy to be rid of thuggish weeds and all things harmful, I am aware that I’m amongst the fortunate suburban spaces where my health is of utmost importance. It’s a good life.

But I could sense her frustration. Where were the flowers? No doubt, at an intellectual level, she knew why. But, knowing that visitors adored pretty blooms, she was naturally concerned. While I’d have loved to oblige, it would’ve been fool hardy to ignore the weather conditions. I had to keep the long term in mind.

That caution has paid off. Little has been lost. However, it did mean that the flowers were delayed. With hardly any sunshine to coax the buds open, understandably, there is a hesitation to bare all. A little warmth and light goes a long way in the garden. To make up for the paucity of other blooms, the tulips have lingered longer than usual. They have held the horticultural fort so to speak. Thank goodness for that. I was afraid I’d lose face on open day by having nothing to show.

Meanwhile, the vertical garden had come alive with its many mosses and lichens and young ferns and heuchera. It was deeply satisfying to eavesdrop on all the positive comments on its beautiful, abstract appeal. I am not immune to compliments. Clearly, flowers do not own the show.

Gardeners are notorious for bemoaning to visitors “you should have come last week, the garden was spectacular!” For them, it is never the ideal visiting moment in the garden. Their eagerness to have everything looking perfect keeps them from ever being satisfied. It is the nature of the beast.

Coming back to this most recent open day, I too have to admit that while still charming and full of clever details and design, I looked less than stunning. Sodden after days of rain, it was hard to be very perky.To be fair, the slowness of the plants actually permitted those design elements to show with clarity. Without the distraction of the flowers, visitors noticed the grapevine cuttings that are used to conceal the mechanics of propping up the peonies. The stone ‘books’ got lots of attention. Likewise the different ways brick has been used. The espalier maintained its position as being pretty darn cool. And the checkerboard garden made a good impression despite the fact that all of the phlox had not quite bloomed. I admit that while the whole garden was burgeoning with buds that were just a few days from blooming, I still cleaned up pretty nicely. So on this day, my gardener said “ it’ll look terrific in a week to ten days!” Rightfully, she was not apologetic. Merely wistful. After all, she would have liked everybody to see me at my very best. Still, I was pleased to see her look proud of how I came through.

I will try to do even better next year. I promise. Do be sure to come and see.

Open Day photos –









photo credit - Dave Fleck

photo credit – Dave Fleck

The 'shop' in the greenhouse

The ‘shop’ in the greenhouse

(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar



The Darling Buds Of May

Dang! It is cold! Winter is still maintaining a tenuous hold and April showers have spilled into May. Isn’t it time for spring to step up and show who is boss for these months?

If it weren’t for the resilient bulbs, my garden would be hard pressed for flower power right now The hellebores managed to get into the game just in time but the apples and pears were pretty much shut out. They were granted a couple of days before the temperatures plummeted and put paid to the blossoms. I have yet to see any bees so it looks as though my trees may not produce fruit this year.
And the lilacs didn’t stand a chance. The buds succumbed to the sudden cold.

The creeping phlox is scrambling to cheer me up and it’s working. Their exuberance is as effective as toddlers running after waves. Always a happy sight. The broom, full of butter-yellow flowers sends its fragrance wafting into the house as a reminder to come outside and look. Dandelions, ajuga and forget-me-nots are picking up the slack in the meadow and rendering it the horticultural interpretation of the Swedish flag. All blue and yellow. Sky and sun. Lovely. Yes, I can just visualize the lovers of pristine, monocultural lawns cringe! Sigh. They know not what they miss.

Elsewhere, what would typically be in full bloom are only just getting ready to do so. Buds everywhere. Columbines, camassias, alliums, amsonia, baptisia, foxgloves, tree peony, clematis … all in bud. But the buds are growing and growing! Any day now. I’m giddy with anticipation.

I so love the month of May. It has so much to offer along with the promise of still more to come. Peonies, roses, astilbe, irises, heuchera, wisteria, sanguisorba, filipendula, hydrangea …. and on and on till October!

By my Open Day this Saturday, I’m hoping the weather coaxes more buds to bloom. It should be pretty. I’m looking forward to seeing many of you. Come on over!

Creeping phlox

Creeping phlox

Tulip mania

Tulip mania

Blue and yellow

Blue and yellow

Vertical garden

Vertical garden

Allium bud

Allium bud



(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar


Showing Up

From the perspective of a human, the weather these past couple of weeks has been glorious. Sunny, dry and deliciously pleasant. The right degree of warmth during the day to permit one to work long in the garden without getting hot and sweaty and, delightfully cool at night to snuggle under the comforter for oh so cozy sleep. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right.

This made it so much easier to attend to the seasonal demands in the garden even though it didn’t look like it usually does at this time of year. At times it felt as though I was operating blind. Catering to the needs of plants that were not quite visible or hadn’t yet shown signs of new growth, felt like my commitment to the garden was being tested. Nevertheless, I went about my work. It actually never occurred to me to not do the chores. Besides Open Day looms near!

From the view point of plants however, things have probably been challenging. With virtually no snow packs this past winter plus what has turned out to be a very dry April, the plants are parched and thirsty. Getting on with the business of growing must be a real struggle. Imagine trying to run a marathon following weeks of dehydration.

In response to the warming up as well as my ministry, the garden has returned the favor by greening up and putting forth all manner of growth. The tulips are staging a very rewarding display. They appear to be a bit shorter in height but still quite fetching. The wisteria have suddenly woken up and the roses are off to a good start. Everywhere, the garden is looking lively.

Showing up. That’s what it’s all about.
Spring Cleaning

Sweep away detritus
Winter’s wild remnants
Prune roses
June’s dress code
Straighten borders
Summer edges to spill

Outside order
Inside peace
Clearing, cutting
Room to breathe deep
Opening, widening
Mind broaden fast

Plants get bigger
Spirits grow higher
Colors multiply
Senses infused
Days lengthen
Smiles brighten

Outdoor classroom
Paradise within

– by Shobha

Note: Don’t forget Open Day is May 7. I’m working hard to get the garden and pop-up shop ready for you!

Pear blossoms

Pear blossoms

Moss and lichen on vertical garden

Moss and lichen on vertical garden




Frittalaria persica

Frittalaria persica

American wisteria emerging from hibernation

American wisteria emerging from hibernation

Tree peony

Tree peony

An area in the meadow

An area in the meadow

The checker-board garden

The checker-board garden

(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar

Blind Faith

Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe. – Saint Augustine

The calendar says late April but the garden registers early April. The plants are late. In normal years, the apple espalier would be radiant with shiny young leaves and burgeoning flowers. Right now, I have to look so close to notice the tiny bumps of nascence. The native wisteria, for whom the new pergola was built, still appears dormant. Were they traumatized so badly when the old pergola was removed that accepting their new support is too much to ask? I anxiously scan the limbs. What appear to be minute spots of furry gray must certainly be early signs of active growth right? I reassure myself. There is no reason to worry. I must believe even if I cannot see.

With the days finally warming up, as I go about my garden chores, I’m constantly searching for signs of new growth. To determine which plants have survived the winter and which ones didn’t is imperative because the garden needs to be in ship-shape form for Open Day. I do not have the luxury of waiting and seeing. Even while my brow furrows in worry, a voice in my heart reminds me to trust that it’ll all be okay.

We become conscious of faith mostly in times of crises. But in reality, we take leaps of faith all the time. Simply getting up each morning and starting the day is all about the conviction that today will be okay. Perhaps even better than hoped. Getting married, having babies, buying a house, making meals, taking our medicines, forging friendships, sending children off to college, planning vacation, listening to roofers saying the roof needs repairs or replacement ( who actually goes up there to verify?), are all possible because we trust in something bigger than ourselves. God, the Universe, Spirit, Energy whatever we choose to believe, we place our faith in that higher entity because we know we cannot go it alone.

I have learned that having faith is not easy. Fears have to be conquered and that nay saying voice in the head must be vanquished. Doubt, pessimism and cynicism are not compatible with trust. But that isn’t all. A surrendering of control is called for.

One does what one must and then leaves the rest to that force that will take it all the way. Leaps of faith are exercises in patience and trust. Reminders that we are not the boss of everything. Having humility cannot be overstated. It is remarkable how the mind is put at ease when we allow faith to become our partner.

True story. When I was a very young student and nervous about an upcoming test, my father said “Do your best and God will do the rest”. In my desperation to believe, I heard – do your best and God will do the test. And I totally blew off studying for the test. The dismal grade was evidence. You see? I had failed to do my part.

As I go to bed each night, I’m certain the sun will rise again. The garden will grow as it must. And it will reveal what I, the gardener, must do. Tomorrow, I will see what I believe. I just know it.

Reminder! My garden Open Day is May 7. Please come.

Next week :

 Rocky Hills Environmental Lecture by Edwina von Gal

Turning PRFCT: The Evolution and Adventures
of a Rational Naturalist

Wednesday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.
Chappaqua Library
195 South Greeley Avenue
Chappaqua, NY

Admission free. No registration is required.

Window box

Window box

The wisteria right now

The wisteria right now

Look closely. Do you see the furry grey buds? Growth!

Look closely. Do you see the furry grey buds? Growth!

Apple blossom.

Apple blossom. Went from tiny red bumps to this in a single warm day!


Snake's Head fritillaria

Snake’s Head fritillaria

Climbing hydrangea

Climbing hydrangea


(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar

Warming Up To April

Apart from that best forgotten April Fool’s Day of 70 degree weather, thus far this month, the days have been very much like winter. Snow, sleet, bone chilling winds and temperatures below freezing. I was not pleased but did my best to maintain a good attitude. I am chomping at the bit to get going in the garden.

Since it was too cold to bring plants out of the greenhouse or to get the young vegetable plugs into the potager, my focus has been on the three ‘R’s. Repairing, replacing and repositioning. Considering that the winter was relatively mild, there is surprisingly plenty to do to re-establish order. Admittedly, things age and then finally one notices that a structure needs urgent attention. The roping on the ‘fence’ that borders the front of the property had to be replaced and the posts straightened up. Easy enough.
(On the subject of fences, my neighbor’s fence that marks one side of the meadow has totally fallen apart. I’m hoping desperately that it is taken care of very soon. With equanimity and understanding.)

However, the stairs leading to the garden from the side porch were in bad shape. The whole structure had to be replaced. Much more work but this time, we were able to match the wood to the red cedar of the espalier and front fence posts as well as the new pergola in the back. Neither of those existed when the stairs were put in soon after we bought the house. At that time, we knew very little about thinking ahead. The effort to make it all cohesive has been successful – there is nothing to jar the eye and as a result, the plantings can take center stage.
This past weekend, the task got completed. The resident mechanical engineer came through with flying colors. I really am grateful.

There are still other areas to attend. Such as remedy the erosion in the area leading to the meadow. The water runs off here after heavy rainstorms and carries away soil. Similarly, paving stones leading to the greenhouse need to be reset. Water is such a powerful creator and destroyer.

The hold-up in garden work has also permitted me to plan more for the pop-up shop I intend to have on May 7, As this was an idea that came to me only recently, I have plenty of details to work out. But, I’m excited. It’ll be so much fun to share some of my garden inspired creations. Make sure you visit!

Taking advantage of Sunday’s rise in temperature, I got the potager and large pots planted up. It was such an unadulterated pleasure to finally feel the soil in my hands. This week promises to be more seasonal so, I expect to do more clean up, get the peony supports in place, start moving plants out of the greenhouse and generally spruce up the garden.

I have yet to assess how all the perennials have fared through the winter. The delay in warming up has slowed the greening of the garden. But, already it is obvious that four of the espalier trees need to be replaced. Fortunately, three of those were some of last year’s introductions so they are young enough to be easily removed. And, as if to comfort me and keep my spirits up, the ‘minor’ bulbs continue to bravely make their entrance. Taking over from the crocuses, the Muscari and Anemone blanda (grape hyacinths and Grecian windflowers) are now in bloom. The true hyacinths have also started flowering and perfuming the air. Pure heaven. And on Sunday, I spied the first of the early-blooming tulips. Makes me so happy.

With less than a month to Open Day, the pace of getting the chores done is frenzied. I’m keeping fingers tightly crossed that the return to normal April conditions continues and the plants look magnificent. Much rain is predicted this week so those showers had better deliver on the May flowers. Or else ….

Note: This should be fascinating!

Please come to the upcoming Rocky Hills Environmental Lecture by Edwina von Gal

Turning PRFCT: The Evolution and Adventures
of a Rational Naturalist

Wednesday, April 27, at 7:30 p.m.
Chappaqua Library
195 South Greeley Avenue
Chappaqua, NY

Admission free. No registration is required.







(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar

April Foul!

Like a protracted bad joke, April has unleashed really bizarre weather on us. The thermometer rose to mid-70’s on the 1st and then, by the night of the 2nd, we witnessed thunder, lightening, rain and then a good dose of snow. Presently, it feels a whole lot like winter. My patience is being tested. Enough already!

The forsythia and sweet early bulbs were out brightening the spring landscape. The daffodils had begun trumpeting. All over town the magnolias were in fine, blousy form. The scene was set for the season to unfold. Lo and behold! The villain arrived – unscripted and not in cast. As I look outside, the small jewel-like flowers no longer twinkle. The daffodils appear a tad beat up and frozen in time. But the magnolias are totally done for – the blooms lay strewn like used coffee filters. Only the forsythia, bless their hardy hearts, are valiantly holding the fort.

For a gardener with just about a month to get her garden ready for Open Day, I’m feeling the pressure. This sudden spell of winter has set me back by at least a week. Toss in other non-garden related obligations and you can understand my frustration. For one who generally sees the glass as half-full, I’m trying really hard to stay relaxed. I have to believe that the weather will begin to cooperate, I’ll get my tasks done, the plants will be on their best behavior and all will be right on May 7.

On the up side, at least I didn’t start bringing out plants from the greenhouse. When the weather was warm last week, it was tempting to do so and it would’ve been about the right time. Listening to the weatherman’s warning, all thoughts to get the plugs of cool weather vegetables in their freshly prepared plot were postponed and the young plants were hustled back under cover.

Being more protected, the window-boxes still look cheery. The same combination of pansies and daffodils in urns and pots situated more in the open are putting up a good fight. I think they’ll be just fine. On closer examination, I see that the scillas on the ground have not been defeated. Perhaps the somewhat bedraggled crocuses will also stage a comeback. I would very much like to see the minor bulbs get to play their full part in this spring performance. By Open Day, none of them will be in sight. Late bulbs and other perennials will be in bloom but, I personally derive much inspiration from the diminutive starters. Their courage to show up at a time when the weather is still erratic and risk everything for a brief shot at being center-stage is a lesson in carpe diem.

And there it is! My take home from the ridiculous antics of the weather – stay in the moment. It is all I’ve really got.

Note: If you haven’t already, mark your calender! Open Day is May 7. 10am – 4pm.

When you click on that link, you’ll note that Teatown Lake Reservation’s Wildflower Island opens for the season on that date. There will be a plant sale, music and other vendors to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their Plant Fest. Should be very fun.

I am very proud to be Teatown’s 2016 Wildflower Artist and Poet. Teatown will be printing note cards of my artwork and poem of the 2016 wildflower Helenium autumnale.

At my Open Day, a limited number of those note cards will be available for purchase.

I’m also busy planning a pop-up shop of my botanical themed products. Think Mother’s Day, baby showers, bridal showers, all sorts of celebrations, home decor projects, hostess and teacher gifts!

Enjoy these images of flowers before the cold hit them:








(c) 2016 Shobha Vanchiswar

And The Music Played On …

There is a God after all! One who listens to me! How else can I explain Open Day in my garden last Saturday?

First we had that now legendary winter – looooong and harsh. Then, spring showed up kinda confused. It was either too cold or too warm. The plants were flummoxed as they couldn’t tell if it was safe to start growing. Some decided to risk it and others remained cautious. Which left me wondering what on earth would there be for visitors to see. The three days leading up to Open Day felt too much and too soon like summer but they were exactly the push the garden needed to get going. Who knew!

Saturday was perfect. It started out on the cool side. The sky was mildly overcast. The sort of condition that makes the colors pop. Precisely what the flowers required – like models at a photo shoot, they ‘talked’ to the camera. Sports Illustrated, eat your heart out. These beauties dazzled.
Later, it got shyly sunny and comfortably warmer. As the youngest of the three bears would’ve said Just right.

Never mind that the amsonia and camassia designed to bloom in complement to the tulips were yet to open their buds. Or, that the replacements to the espalier trees lost to the rodents two winters ago arrived only the day before and could not be planted in time. The columbines, alliums, frittilaria, comfrey and, countless other flowers were also late. Nobody noticed because the tulips, hellebores, foxgloves, apple and pear blossoms, creeping phlox, daffodils, leucojums, ajuga, mysotis and yes, dandelions blazed bright. The vertical garden had progressed enough in its growth to look like a beautiful work of abstract art. I had absolutely nothing to complain or lament.

The visitors, both friends and those about to become my friends, arrived in a steady stream. A pace that is just right for me to have time to talk with anybody who has questions, comments or simply engage in conversation. It is the most enjoyable activity for me. To see my garden through another’s eyes is so fun.

If you can believe it, the day got even better. Musician friends dropped by to see the garden and they arrived carrying their instruments. Oh joy! Up they climbed to the tree house and gave a sweet concert. Just like that, the garden event turned sublime.
Only after they had entertained the all too appreciative crowd, did the minstrels tour the garden. Now that’s real service.

The garden closed to the public at the appointed hour but friends lingered on and soon the outdoor brick oven was fired up, wine poured, gourmet pizzas and tandoori chicken made and consumed, desserts brought by our chef extraordinaire friend completely demolished and still we all stayed on and basked in the magic of the moment.

This day had been offered to us with unconditional generosity and I think we accepted it with the grace it deserved. I could neither plan it nor recreate it just so again.

My gratitude to every person, plant, garden creature and weather gods who gave me this day is boundless. Thank you.

Pretty maidsin a row

Pretty maids all in a row





Can you see the violist in the tree house?

Can you see the violist in the tree house?

IMG_5461(c)2015 Shobha Vanchiswar




Waiting For Spring

In ten days and some hours, my garden opens to the public. That’s May 9 from 10 am to 4 pm. But where is Spring in all her regalia? There is a vague warm up act going on but I’m beginning to wonder if the star acts have fallen asleep backstage. They are well overdue.

There have been years when it has seemed that spring was in a hurry and I’ve been concerned about flowers blooming too early. Not this year. As a friend mentioned recently, I might have to consider putting heaters outdoors to get the plants going. Mind you, given the pressure of getting visitor ready, I didn’t think that suggestion was as funny as intended. My sense of humor is being seriously tested.

I have absolutely no idea what will be in flower on Open Day. I can only hope that between today and that Saturday deadline, the weather will coax many of the bulbs and other perennials to display themselves in full glory. And then, bless us all with perfect garden-visiting weather for after all, what good will it do to have a somewhat wet or chilly climate on that day? The event will be held rain or shine but we all know that visitors like shine. I’d like shine too for if I must await the friendly crowd, I’d like to do so when everything sparkles. When the flowers are the main attraction, my other transgressions in the garden will be happily overlooked.

Like an events planner, I’m working at a madcap pace. Winters overextended stay delayed all garden work by weeks. That is a major handicap. Big tasks, minor to-dos, difference making details, have me constantly reviewing my endless list of chores. I don’t want to drop the ball on anything. A couple of items cannot be accomplished in this time crunch and must wait till after open day – I hope no one will notice. And I’m not telling because then you will notice!

Instead, I’m going to put my intentions and wishes out into the Universe and have faith that I will be heard. It shouldn’t be hard to do because gardening in itself is an act of pure faith.
However, as extra insurance, I ask that you help me out by asking the weather gods to be kind and most importantly, I’d like to see you in my garden on Open Day. Please come.

For details, click here.

While you’re marking your calender (for my Open Day of course), do make note of this other event. I’d love to see you there:

Postcard_1IMG_5149IMG_5143IMG_5158(c)2015 Shobha Vanchiswar

On Plantsmanship

These past seven days of glorious weather was the sort of gift every gardener covets. Much got accomplished in my garden. Getting my hands in the earth is enormously life affirming. This is where all life begins!

With my garden Open Day less than three weeks away, it has been necessary to amp up the pace of action. The winter that dragged on and on has set us back on many time sensitive tasks. From pruning to seed sowing to getting the compost turned, has been a matter of maintaining grace under fire. It is no fun to focus on chores and miss out on what’s blooming and who is doing what in the garden.

The pruning got done and it has been noted that much of the David Austin ‘Heritage’ rose suffered from the harsh winter. The New Dawn on the two arches, Paul’s Himalayan musk, Bonica and Leda roses have come through all right. With the fruit tree prunings done just a week ago, the espalier is looking neater and the buds are forming nicely. The grapevine prunings are now camouflaging the peony supports. It is best to set up stakes before plants grow too full to manage.

A layer of newspaper, a good two inches thick, has been placed down in the beds and then topped with compost and cedar mulch. The paper works wonders suppressing the weeds and seeds of unwanted self-sowers. It also holds the moisture well and eventually decomposes to further enrich the soil. An excellent and ecologically sound re-purposing of paper. Mulching is crucial to the health of the plants so, it too is best started early in the season.

The composter is now open for the season. It was very satisfying giving it its first turn over of the season. Compost is both mulch and health food. If you doesn’t already make compost, then I strongly encourage you to start doing so this year. It is totally doable and contrary to common belief, do not attract skunks, deer, coyotes or raccoons. A regular application of compost will guarantee the health of the plants and lawn. No other fertilizers needed. Composting is easy, organic and economical. By making your own compost, you will be certain of what it contains and hence you’ll be feeding your plants only the best. As in our own nutrition, home-made is better.

On the subject of food, a comfrey tea is a fabulous elixir for plants. I make this later on in the season when the comfrey plants are done blooming the first time around. I cut back the plant and put the cuttings in a large bin, cover it with water and close it tightly. Placed in a remote location like the woods, I forget about it for a few weeks. The steeping plant renders the water super-rich with all sorts of healthy contents. It also smells very foul – hence the remote location. Filter the water and feed the plants in the garden. They will thank you profusely.

I re-planted the entire checker-board garden. It was looking ragged as the old plants had been there a while. As much as perennials come back every year, many do not remain robust and need to be replaced every four to five years. So, a whole new batch of creeping phlox was planted. Its youthful beauty is disarming. This area will be radiating a pale mauve when the buds open in a few days.

Likewise, the espalier has been under-planted with lavender. Not only will they look pretty but I’m hoping to attract lots more pollinators. The dwarf blueberry I purchased recently has been given a home right next to some roses and across from the pear section in the espalier. I’m already dreaming of blueberry muffins and lavender infused lemonade.

The hellebores, crocus, scillas, iris reticulatas, forsythias and hyacinths are in bloom. The daffodils are popping open daily. The meadow is coming to life.

Still more needs to be accomplished but I’m determined to be fully present in the garden. Yesterday, as I repotted plants, I noticed it was Open House at the bluebird house. No bluebirds came looking but chickadees and sparrows were the prospectives I saw. I shooed away the sparrows.

I also observed that some butterflies had determined that the weather was right for them. There were a few adventurous cabbage whites and admirals flitting around taking advantage of the early blooms.

While we are enthusiastically going about gardening, I thought I’d include the latest list of prohibited and regulated plants in New York state. Check here:


As in medicine, every gardeners first tenet should be to Do No Harm. Plant wisely.

Do check out the Shop’ page for my note cards and fabric pattern. Prints of my art work are also available – I’m currently working on the Gallery page. Stay tuned!

Please also check the Happenings page to get information about my art show all of May with reception and poetry reading on May 2 and, my garden Open Day on May 9. Mark your calender and come! I look forward to seeing you at all the events.

Setting up the planting pattern in the checkerboard garden

Setting up the planting pattern in the checkerboard garden

Phlox all planted! Don't miss the diagonal pattern.

Phlox all planted! Don’t miss the diagonal pattern.

Up close to a daffodil

Up close to a daffodil



Grapevine prunings on peony supports

Grapevine prunings on peony supports

My red glove temporarily in the opening of the bluebird house - to ward off sparrows

My red glove temporarily in the opening of the bluebird house – to ward off sparrows

(c)2015 Shobha Vanchiswar



So Open Day has come and gone. Stepping down from the frenzied work pace feels a bit strange. Can it be that I am really able to afford to just sit in the garden?! Unbelievable but, I catch on fast. Spent a delightful Sunday simply sitting and taking in the garden’s glory. It had been a pretty good open day. A steady pace of very nice visitors – many friends stopped by and lots of others left as new friends. To all, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude for not just coming but for the appreciation, support and kindness you expressed. Thank you. It was additionally satisfying to note that many of you had purchased my botanical notecards and bought up all the plants I had for sale. Merci encore mes amies.

It never ceases to amaze me that people come to see my humble garden. That I’m worthy of such an honor is always a wonder and for which I’m deeply gratified. In truth, to my own biased eyes, the garden looked its best. Judging from the number of visitors taking pictures galore, I do believe others approved as well. The long, severe winter has kept many perennials behind in bloom time but instead, the tulips were at their peak. Really spectacular. With the rest of the bulbs such as alliums and camassias and the baptisia, amsonia and columbines to follow, there is still much to look forward to in the unfolding of spring.

It feels rather luxurious to bask in the successful completion of the chores and the event itself. And I’m making sure I stay properly present in the moment. All too often, I am guilty of either dismissing a job well done and rushing on to the next pressing project. Not this time. I’m determined to enjoy the garden for what it is and give myself some kudos.

But you know what? This is mighty hard. It is all too easy to think of what comes next. The native wisteria, climbing hydrangea, lilacs, peonies, irises and roses are yet to make a splash. I’ve begun planning a soirée just so I can have friends over to enjoy the splendor of their blooms.

The more pressing and rather serious projects are already trying to sabotage my sense of satisfaction. Chiefly the espaliered trees. They are in need of urgent attention. About four trees have failed all together. The mice must have decimated the roots. They will need to be replaced. Still other trees might succumb to the summer heat – I have to discover if these too must be replaced or whether bridge-grafting will be the best and most viable option. To do all of this, I need to have discussions with tree experts and nurserymen very soon. Followed by recommended action. I am however looking forward to the learning. It is not just plants that need to grow.

There are some other plants that are also revealing that they have not survived the winter. I must decide if they will be replaced by the same type of plant or by something even more hardy. Who knows what future winters will be like.

There is evidence of real estate seeking birds eying the chandelier above the table in the terrace. Twigs are scattered all over its surface with a few sticking out of the chandelier ‘basket’. I’m conflicted – do I thwart the birds and prevent any nest building or do I let the birds take up residence and sacrifice all al fresco meals until the babies have flown away? That could be several weeks and also affect above mentioned soirée.. I hate such conundrums.

However, not right now. Not this minute. Everything can wait just a wee bit longer. For now, I’m going to linger in the afterglow. With a deep sense of gratitude.

In the meadow

In the meadow

Snakes Head frittilaria
Tulip Crystal Palace
Parrot tulip
See that chandelier? Prime avian real estate.

See that chandelier? Prime avian real estate.

(c) 2014 Shobha Vanchiswar