Spring Clean Up Find

I don’t know about you but it’s been a challenge doing Spring Clean Up with all of this liquid sunshine.  The good news is I managed to get in about 8 hours of clean up recently and to my surprise found some new friends in the garden. One in particular made me shout out for joy, the unwonted(for my garden that is) Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) hidden behind a nice pile of winter decorative foliage aka, a disassembled winter wreath or swag of some sort under a pretty dense shrub. Once that was all cleared out; there in an eye’s view was this little beauty, quite tall and proud indeed!  I was quite surprise it had not been damaged in my not so careful removal of the winter debris since I did not think anything was there to be cautious about. I’m still trying to figure out how it got there, but we will get to that later 🙂


So Jack-in-the-pulpit is a pretty cool looking plant for sure, it’s botanical name is Arisaema triphyllum as I mentioned earlier, it is phonetically pronounced air-iss-EE-muh  try-FY-lum. We need to practice our Latin pronunciation of the true botanical names when we can, so count this as today’s lesson, LOL.  

Anyway, this herbaceous perennial plant grows from a corm, which could have three parted leaves and a flower contained in a spathe.  Ok let’s break it down a bit; a corm is a rounded underground storage organ that some plants use to survive winter or other extreme conditions such as a summer drought and high heated temperatures sometimes experienced in nature; it has a swollen stem base covered with scale leaves. You will also find corms in crocuses, gladioli and cyclamen. Corms are also called bulbo-tuber or bulbotuber it is short, vertical and a swollen modified stem, other types of modified stems are rhizomes, tuber, stolons, and bulbs.

Illustation of an elephant's ear corm, with the following associated parts identified: remnants of tunic, lateral bud, fleshy roots, node, new developing corm, and flower stem.

Photo of a gladiolus plant, with the old and new corms, and cormel identified.

The bloom consist of a very deep cylindrical pouch called a spathe- the “pulpit” it will have alternating strips of lighter and darker green sometimes purple.  When you lift up the flap at the top of the spathe you will see a round headed slender spike this is our friend “Jack” this spike is called a spadix.


If the plant has three parted leaves it is usually a male and at the base of the spadix will be thread like male flowers that yield yellow pollen, if it is large and has only two parted leaves it is a female and at the base of it’s spadix will be tiny green berry like structures. In the female once the flowers have faded a cluster of bright red berries will appear and last till the end of summer. These seeds will seed themselves or you can remove them and plant elsewhere. The female is called Jill-in-the-pulpit.


My guy is definitely a boy.


Jack-in-the-pulpit is pollinated by tiny fungus flies that are attracted to the flowers by a faint odor that smells like mushrooms. The flies enter at the top of the spathe are trapped and then covered with pollen, once they relax they realize they can exit at the base of the spathe by leaving thru a small slit.

Fungus Gnat

So I’m not sure how my flower ended up in my front garden, I could have planted it there maybe two years ago cause that’s when I remember a friend sharing it but this was the first time I’ve ever seen one survive the transplant.

There are two other reasons it may have emerged this season one could be all of this consistent liquid sunshine, the end of the winter heavy rains apparently has a lot to do with mature plants (which take about two years to grow) sprouting into big healthy blossoms. That particular area of the garden gets soaked due to a never ending clogged gutter and poor landscape grading; at least this flower brought joy amidst the trials of this soggy area.

Secondly, it could have ended up in this area due to a local native creature; a box turtle.  Yup, that’s right our native eastern box turtle is known to transplant these flowers via seed disbursement passing thru their digestive tracts. They love muck gardens, that are wet,with lots of leaf litter, trees and shrubs to hide in, with a little area to sunbathe too, which is totally the description of this front area. They also transplant may apples which might explain my explosion of may apples on the other side of the house. So yeah Mr. Turtle might be the culprit.  How cool is that! I’m leaning towards the latter reason, since I don’t remember putting it there (cause I sort of keep a semi-good log of where I plant stuff) plus it sounds better saying the turtle put it there, LOL what gardener wouldn’t want to tell that story (giggling) thanks Mr. Turtle 🙂

Eastern Box Turtle ( Terrapene carolina carolina ) -  I've been hoping to photograph a Box Turtle pretty much since I bought my camera... so it's kinda funny that it's taken me almost four years to happen upon one.  This was a pretty large specimen and I've read they can live for anywhere from 50 to 100 years.  So in reality, this turtle could be much older than even me...

Either way, it is now there, it’s been documented as such and shared with the world so let’s see what happens next year.

Lastly, not sure why its called Jack-in-the-pulpit, some say maybe it was named after a clergyman named Jack.  The finger like spadix that sticks up standing in the spathe  resembles a man of the cloth standing in a church pulpit, preaching to the garden, LOL. It has other names such as bog onion (since onions are corms), wild turnip, brown dragon and Indian turnip.  I think we all agree Jack-in-the-pulpit sounds more intriguing and just plain fun!

Well, if you don’t get to church regularly and you want to find some peace in your life for just a moment and you are fortunate enough to have this unique flower in your garden, just go sit next to it, observe it, and let it teach you a spiritual lesson from nature’s pulpit of taking the time to slow down, chill and enjoy the amazing and wonderful creations from God above, because no human in all their abilities to create things on earth could ever copy this wonderful specimen!

Till we meet again, get out there, get dirty and enjoy gardening.


Spring Plant Sales are Coming Up!

For more detail information please click the link.
2019 Spring Plant Sale at University of Delaware, Botanic Gardens 
  • Thursday, April 25, 3-6pm  (UDBG members day, 10% off entire plant purchase)
  • Friday, April 26, 3-6pm (General Public)
  • Saturday, April 27, 9:00am – 4pm (General Public)
  • Thursday, May 2, 3-6 pm (General Public)
  • Saturday, May 4, 9am-3 pm (General Public)
15th Annual Shearing Day and Herb Sale at Greenbank Mills and Philips Farm
  • Saturday, April 27, 10am – 4pm
Annual Wildflower Celebration at Mt Cuba Center
  • Sunday, April 28, 10am- 4pm

Thomas McKean High School Plant Sales

  • Sunday, April 28, 8am – 4pm (kick off day) through Sunday, May 5
  • Weekends: 8am – 4pm
  • Weekdays; 9am – 6pm
Native Plant Sales at Coverdale Farm Preserve
  • Thursday, May 2, 1-7pm (Members Only)
  • Friday, May 3, 2-7pm (Open to Public)
  • Saturday, May 4, 9am – 4pm (Open to Public)

8th Annual Community Plant Exchange at Good News Church

  • Saturday, May 4, 10am – 12pm
Boy Scout Troop 29 Spring Plant Sale at Red Clay Creek Presbyterian Church
  • Saturday, May 11, 9am – 6pm
  • Sunday, May 12, 9am – 6pm
Flower Show and Nature Photography Exhibit by Brandywine Garden Club (at St Albans Center at the Episcopal Church of Delaware)
  • Wednesday,  May 15, 1-4pm


Spectacular Spring Driveby


Hello! Hope this Spring season is bringing you joy.  Last week when I left the farm, I exited towards a very windy road and to my surprise I came upon an embankment full of Spring Ephemerals.  Ephemerals are plants that come to the spring party for a short visit, enter with a WOW appearance and then vanish!  They do not die but they do go dormant till the next year, so when they are present they deserve your attention. Let’s just say I gave my attention and risked danger to myself on this windy and steep road, making a quick turn around and then having the nerve to get out, and get up and close to take in the beauty before me.  As they say ” Don’t try this at home” shaking my head.  After I got back in the car I quickly came back to my senses and could not believe I did what I did in the moment of horticulture intoxication and how quick I did it all. The turn around, the pull over and then the exit to photograph and then jump back into the car. Total madness but check out the details below:


See it was worth it.  And who might this be.  Well, let me introduce you (BIG GRIN) this is Sanguinaria canadensis aka Bloodroot. Now just picture this all over a steep woodland hillside it was spectacular, especially in the darkness of this ecosystem the road was under a canopy of very mature trees so it was like driving in a woodland tunnel spotlighted with these little beauties. Bloodroot gets its name for the dark red sap in the  stems and roots of the plant which resembles blood. The colored juice from these areas of the plant can be used to make red, pink and orange dyes.  It is also use medicinally as a salve to treat skin cancers and is quickly becoming hard to find and reaching the point of extinction in certain areas of the United States because of this medicinal purpose. Since it is a fighter of bacteria and inflammation it helps with many ailments such as toothaches, breathing problems, fever, skin problems, headaches, muscle and joint pain. In the Fall the root and rhizome are collected for use in medicines.

Bloodroot adores damp soil but it can be naturalized in the drier areas under trees; allow these woodland plants to be planted in rich soil receiving spring moisture and summer shade.  It grows in the eastern parts of the United States and Canada.

This wildflower ephemeral will definitely be the star of your early spring garden, make you stop in the midst of whatever you are doing to enjoy it up close and heal you both physically and spiritually.  So put it on your invitee list for the Spring dance, it will appear early, dressed to impress and then quickly exit leaving you longing to be in its presence till you meet again.



Thanks Sanguinaria for the dance and the magnificent dip while we embraced, till next time sleep well.


Spring!!! Finally.

Hello Garden Friends,

Hope this message finds you well, ready to get outside more often and to get digging in the dirt!

Countryside GC hopes 2019 has been pleasant and healthy for you thus far.  We ended 2018 with a holiday social focusing on gathering and giving, see captured highlights below:


Now that we have made it thru another winter, let’s get down to business and reflect on what this Spring will bring to you and your garden.  I’m excited about some poppies that I planted last year which seemed happy at the end of last season by dropping a ton of seeds, I’m praying they sprout and proliferate in that designated area this year let’s see if that will be the case!

I also need to create new beds and do some landscape design projects all with good intentions; hmm wonder if that will happen this year (giggling). In the meantime, I am once again in awe of how things begin to emerge and push thru the earth silently screaming “Look at me, Look at me” I must say I believe those first signs of life in the garden are secretly happy they have survived the winter and are back again to bring us joy.

There truly is something divinely supernatural as to how the whole process works, its just glorious and I give thanks for being here another year to see it all take place again.

So without further ado, I’m happy to show you a glimpse of what is popping up in my garden spaces and hopefully you are also enjoying your old and new garden friends arriving for their season’s visit, they will no doubt be some of the best company you will host this time of year.



A tad more…..


Enjoy, dig, play and rejoice in the power of Spring!

PS. Don’t forget Rita’s Water Ice is free on the First day of Spring, so go treat your self and then if it makes it back to your home, take it with you as you walk around your garden (or a public garden or nursery) checking out what’s new or what plans you may have in store for this garden season.


Farewell for now.

Dazzling Dahlias!

Dahlia or Dahlia hortensis is an amazing spiky flower grown in some areas as a perennial bush.  It belongs to the Compositae family.


It has approximately 50,000 cultivations, the flower was named after the  18thcentury Swedish botanist Ander Dahl.

These amazing flowers were on display the first weekend of Fall at Longwood Gardens along with The Greater Philadelphia Dahlia Society. They hosted the American Dahlia Society’s 2018 National Show.  Over 2,000 blooms filled the Conservatory during this competitive show with the major dahlia species featured in the Exhibition Hall. These flowers range in size from 10 inch (dinner plate) across to 2 inches (pompon or some are labeled pompom)!  The trail garden at Longwood featured Dahlias specifically because of the show this year.

In this garden region Dahlia’s need to be removed and stored over the winter. This can be done after the first frost and when the foliage has blackened. Then carefully dig up your dahlia tubers and cut the stalk 2 inches away from the tuber.  Let the tuber dry out in a frost free area for a couple of days. Once the tubers are dry brush off excess soil and store in ventilated box, basket or heavy brown paper bag. Cover the tubers with slightly damp sand, peat moss or vermiculite and place in a cool dry place where temperatures are between 45 and 55 degrees.  Check on them periodically to make sure they are not rotting, have become a winter snack for a critter or have shriveled up.  If they do not look plump in appearance just mist them lightly with water.  The tubers are quite fragile at this stage so be careful handling them.  They can be replanted in the garden when temperatures warm up consistently later in the Spring.

It was fun to learn and experience the joy dahlias bring; the show made you want to plant a special area in your garden and share in the same delight of all the proud owners of these wonderful plants put on display.

See photos of the show below, enjoy and maybe you will be inspired to plant a dahlia next season or better yet visit a friend’s garden who already has them and help them dig up the tubers and prepare them for winter and maybe you will be sent home with a few tubers of your own!

Till next time, delve and delight in nature!


A Flower Show: Triumph and Transparency

For the first time in the history of the Delaware Federation of Garden Clubs; three clubs created, participated in and presented a flower show to one of its local communities in Northern Wilmington.  The Canterbury, Garden Gate, and Moonflower Garden Clubs gathered with grace to put on a small but mighty flower show that opened all of our hearts up to wonder of Beyond The Garden Gate.



I had the pleasure of being the Photography Chair, submitted photos as a participant along with entering horticulture and was arm twisted into a creating my first design.  So since I am a woman of my word I did everything I was asked to do even the design which I knew was purely on the effort of “just try it”, I said to myself, you can’t back out, you can but that’s not you and I could hear Bill Baur in my ear saying just do it, just try.


Bill is such an advocate of all of us entering into any flower show presented to us including the Philadelphia Flower Show which yup gave me my first serious blue ribbon, so no matter what I now always give these sometimes torturous flower shows a try.

So let me share and be transparent with you all and maybe you will learn something from my experience; the photography chair job was great and easy you just have to be super organized and have a lot patience to label the photos and stage them just right when you have extremely enthusiastic entries that are in large volumes, LOL yup Ms. Kathe Worrell got a tad excited about this section of the show, God bless her heart and she did submit some beauties and won some awards as did myself. I even had our youngest son submit for the first time he learned a great deal and had fun. (He’s a classic teenager and is caught texting about the experience, so that confirms it was big deal indeed)


So photography was good: I also submitted horticulture and placed an award with my Limelight Hydrangea submission cut early that morning the day of the show.  I used to be hesitant in doing that but over came that fear when I won in our last show a blue ribbon for a Dogwood Tree on our property.

But now we come to speak on the design I was “arm twisted” into it was to be a creative mass or traditional design and I picked the Community Forestry titled section.  I figured we practically live in the woods this will be easy to do and yup I did something alright only to be boldly told that my creation was NOT a design but a planter.

I had to chuckle I might have even laughed when I saw the comments from the judges because when I was done creating my little masterpiece at home I said to myself hmm that’s a nice planter. Duh Tracy the universe confirmed that, when you were sooo satisfied with it, dusted my hands off and said “I’m done”, “It is what it is” and guess what; it clearly wasn’t what was expected of me.

However, I am so open to learning that I’m ok and plus I have thick skin due to a proper upbringing so those bold words from the judges would never bring me to my knees in defeat. This sassy lady just said ok if there is a next time and a BIG “IF” I’ll do a bit better.

And apparently if you add dirt to a design it’s not a design too funny and I wonder if that’s printed in that fancy flower design handbook if so; someone please show me the page number PLEASE.  Anyhoo, I know some of the master designers and novice ones there were probably appalled at my creation but we all know their opinions and definitely the opinions of those judges are always “Subjective” that was obvious when DCH (Delaware Center of Horticulture) our host came behind the judges and conducted their own judging and gave stellar awards to non-blue ribbon winners already judged.  Go figure THAT!

Well enough about my lessons learned in flower show entering; just see photos of the highlights of a quite lovely show and some happy winners. I tell you I was most proud of Suzanne Smith who placed second, up against some well known and talented exhibitors “Go Suzanne you Rock Girl” I was sooo happy for her it was fun to see her take that win!

Screen Shot 2018-09-20 at 1.14.24 AM

So please enter in the next flower show that you are invited to do so and please have fun, be open to learning and be ok with yourself if you don’t win a ribbon and very importantly if you do create a design don’t use dirt it will be considered a planter!

Just sayin… LOL

Enjoy the captured flower show photos and the smile of Barbara Boyce another exhibitor embracing the joy of winning!







Please just go beyond your garden gate and get out there and just try, it’s always worth the experience!

Are you a Moth-ER??

Its a hot, humid, steamy night, totally pitch black outside but the intense sound of fluttering is the only sound heard in the stillness of the night.  Those flutters are coming  from Hypercompe scribonia, Zeuzera pyrina pyrina, Dyrocampa rubicunda, Eudryas grata and Hemithea aestivaria! Or commonly known as Giant leopard moth, Tiger moth, Rosy maple moth, Beautiful wood nymph and Emerald moth.

National Moth week this year was 7/21-7/29/2018 but the moths I witnessed were at the end of the first week of August only because viewing them had been rescheduled twice due to our excessive heavy rain and thunderstorms in our local area.

Mothing is popular summer nighttime event; all that is required is a white sheet/cloth a black light or if you are a true moth geek and have the budget to own a mercury vapor bulb moths will gather from far and beyond to come towards that particular light.  The mercury vapor bulb has a very high intensity UV (which should not be looked into for long periods with the human eye) that attracts moths with great intensity.  However, most of us can afford a black light or a normal outside bulb which allows you to search near and/or close to the area where the light is being emitted.

The life cycle of a moth is egg, larva(caterpillar), cocoon, adult moth.  What’s the difference between a moth and a butterfly? The most prominent difference is their antennae, a butterfly’s is clubbed and smooth and a moth’s is feathered or fuzzy. Moths are also nocturnal although some are seen during the day such as the hummingbird moth which looks like a hummingbird and pollinates during the day. Most adult moths only live a short life about a week or two because most do not have mouths so therefore they do not eat, because their sole purpose is just to mate and lay eggs once they have reached adulthood.  A male moth can smell a female up to 7 miles away, this capability just ensures these creatures mean business in their short lived lives to get things done and with a mission.  Moths emerge from a cocoon which is silken wrapped, where as a butterfly emerges from a chrysalis a smooth stretched structure which is a pupa.  The moth pupa is found inside the cocoon. See the photo below.

Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 9.11.38 PM.png

Moths out number butterflies 10 to 1 and there are currently over 11,000 species in the US alone!

The Giant leopard moth spotted was unusual and was a special find and will be documented in a special moth database. The Rosy maple moth was found fluttering in the grass with the Tiger Moth which was a “virgin” its appearance let the experts know it had recently emerged into the world :), the Rosy maple moth loves to eat maple trees and you will always find a moth near the particular tree it likes to lay its eggs and then eat as a caterpillar; it’s appearance looked like a scoop of rainbow sherbet or as if it had been tie dyed, the Beautiful wood nymph moth has outstanding mimicry and fools you in thinking it is droppings from a bird!  The Emerald moth was found at the end of our mothing night and was a gem indeed, its beautiful green color was so amazing and was a wonderful find since the other green moth I really wanted to find was the popular lunar moth. It apparently was just was too shy I guess to join the party, so maybe the Grand Dam will show the next time. If you have a walnut or hickory tree in your area she is bound to appear and in all her glory:)

IMG_0386    IMG_0389  IMG_0378


IMG_0368   IMG_0377


So if you have not tried mothing this summer, give it a try in your night time garden before it gets too cool for these amazing species to dance in the light and officially make you a


Tweed’s Tavern and the Museum, a letter from Kathe


Our Countryside Garden Club member, Kathe sent us an interesting letter talking about her family history connected with the history of Tweed’s Tavern.  With Kathe’s permission, we would like to share with you her letter which can be accessed in the link below.

Tweeds Museum

Members of the Countryside Garden Club maintain the garden around the historic Tavern and a new raised bed colonial kitchen garden (herb garden) is planned to be implemented this summer. (Photos of Tweed’s Tavern and the Museum by Hiro)


Visiting ‘Farm for the City’ in Philadelphia

I was at a medical conference in Philadelphia for three days this week and took a stroll in the city during my lunch break. This was my first walking tour of the city and I was happy to find  “Farm for the City” sponsored by Philadelphia Horticultural Society and others.

It was amazing to see all sorts of vegetables such as tomato, corn, cucumber, lettuce, growing in the middle of the great city.  They looked  healthy and delicious.  Here are some of my photos from the farm for the city and the surroundings.

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