A self-proclaimed “plant geek,” Cheryl received her Horticulture degree at Milwaukee Area Technical College. She spent many years working in the Otter Creek Landscape division and at John Michael Kohler Arts Center gardens. She’s now the office manager for The Wreath Factory and Otter Creek Landscape. Check out her blog for tips, travels and things that pop up in her garden.


No Worries from England
by Cheryl Walsh - posted 06/15/14

I am blogging from England on my garden tour of 28 gardens in 9 days with the Wisconsin Hardy Plant Society.  All I can say is this is amazing!  We are seeing about three gardens a day with some public and some private gardens.  Some private gardens are noted as NGS which is the National Garden Scheme.  Those designated gardens are open for a brief period of time and all the monies go to charities.  There are strict requirements to be registered as an NGS garden where you must have at least 45 minutes of interest.


These lupines and delphiniums were at the Elvaston Castle Country Park near Derby.  The enthusiastic head gardener gave us a tour of the James Wyatt designed gardens from the early 1800′s which included many topiaries and many long lived, large trees.  I found the stone castles & homes with lots of stone walkways and walls to be perfect back drops for hedges, climbing roses and flowering perennials.



This NGS garden court yard was from the home of an artist that served us tea and biscuits.  There was so many vignettes and garden art pieces that captured our eyes here that I probably took over 100 pictures.


This hidden herbaceous garden had surprises in every corner.  There were also poppies, astrantias, lady’s mantles, alliums, barberries, elderberries and many plants that I didn’t know the names of and was disappointed to learn that it is too cold in our area to plant them.


Another NGC garden tour with a very passionate host who also served us tea and pastries.  Behind the perennial border was a field of sheep which peaked my interest.  When riding in our coach bus, we saw miles and miles of dry stacked stone walls dividing the fields where many contained sheep.  It was comforting to know that there are also plant collectors in England as she had many unplanted perennials that she was excited to show us.  Usually she gives cuttings or divided plants to her tour guests but since we couldn’t take those home with us, she gave each of us (all 29 of us) an English gardening magazine.  We quickly each took one and have been trading them on our bus for the past few days.


This view is called a Ha Ha where you have an unobstructed view for miles and miles.  It was breath taking!  At several other gardens, other Ha Ha’s were pointed out to us.  I don’t think I will grow tired of the rolling hills, green fields, stone fences and amazing gardens ever.

This is so much fun and I already have many ideas for redesigning my gardens at home.  Depending on the availability of Wi Fi and free time allowed, I plan to show you more in the next few days.

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Top 9 Things to Make Gardening Easier
by Cheryl Walsh - posted 05/31/14


Gardening season is in full swing and there is so much to do.  I thought I would share with you my favorite nine things that make gardening easier for me.  These are in no particular order but all are needed for a day in the garden for me.  The Ames cart is something I bought at the end of the season last year and at first wished it was bigger but find it turned out to be  just the right size.  I haul soil, bagged goods, plants,  debris, etc.  Next is the Spear Head Spade that I purchased at the Madison Garden Expo last year and it works great for any kind of digging.  The size is just right for me and allows me to easily dig into heavy clay soil.  The pop up bag, of which I have four of them, works great for having a container for nasty weeds and another for compostable materials.   When doing spring clean up of the landscape beds, I usually fill these up quite quickly.  They are also great to toss in your car when you go to volunteer garden at church or at a friend’s.


The soil knife is the greatest invention ever.  I use this to dig holes, remove weeds, cut things and also measure spacing when seed planting.  That dangerous looking blade is a sickle that works for cutting back perennials in spring or fall.  My friend,  who volunteers at Olbrich Botanical Gardens, discovered this from another volunteer.  I showed this item at one of our garden club meetings and our group ended up ordering 20 of them.  Gardening gloves are a must have to protect your hands.  I like the thinner ones that are washable.  The Felco pruners works great for pruning and once you try it, you will never go back to another one.  I do a lot of container planting and keep the potting soil in a very large container.  The scoop works great for moving soil from there to each container.  I found that in the farm supply area of a local store.



Last item of my top nine, is my work station in my landscape shed.  Right now you can’t see the surface but when this busy time is done, there is a very large work area.  This is great for creating containers, starting seedlings, organizing plant tags and storing plants until you are ready to plant them.

Well that was my top nine to make gardening easier for me.  What are your top nine?



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Looking to the near future!
by Cheryl Walsh - posted 04/30/14

I am very anxious for the warm weather to stay for more than a few days!  So anxious that I had to look back to 2011 for a blog that I wrote about what will happen in the  next few weeks for me.  Enjoy remembering with me.

I was excited to get out in my gardens on Sunday for over four hours.  It felt good to clean up the ornamental grasses, rake out the beds and trim & prune.  I started to make a list of "empty spots" so when I buy the next "must have plant" I have a space for it.   Besides the daffodils, crocuses and squill that are blooming, I also have Pasque & Bergenia flowers.  The Pasque flower is a low growing perennial (8-12") that blooms around Easter time.  It comes in white, lavender or reddish-purple and the best thing about it is that the silky hairs cover the leaves, stems and buds.  An unusual wispy seed head succeeds the flowers.  I was able to get a picture right before it bloomed and then while blooming.

Pasque flower before: silken hairs cover the unusual foliage
Pasque flower after: the fuzz around the blooms create a halo effect
Another blooming perennial in my garden is the Bergenia "Pig Squeak."  It has shiny, cabbage-like leaves that feel rubbery and it makes a 'pig squeak' sound when rubbed between your fingers.  The leaves are evergreen and it blooms with bright red/pink flowers that provide long lasting cut blooms.  I planted nine of these in the front of my rose & Japanese Maple garden.  The John Michael Kohler Arts Center in Sheboygan has over one hundred of these under the Kentucky Coffee Trees north of the parking lot if you want to see some.  I've seen some of theirs bloom twice in the same season!
Bright pink blooms on the Bergenia near near my rose garden
I also deadheaded the three large "Limelight" hydrangeas in my backyard.  These shrubs were just planted two years ago and last summer it bloomed like mad where I had almost one hundred flowers total for the three shrubs.  I really liked the winter interest of the dried flowers all winter long.
The dried flowers on my limelights.  I leave the dried heads on all winter because I like the interest they add to the winter landscape.
Cuttings off the dried hydrangea blooms.  I filled my waste container!
And here they are after a trim...all ready for the growing season.
Limelights are show stoppers with sturdy flowers that are 6-12" and make great cut flowers.  The color changes from a soft green to a pink in fall.
Limelights in full bloom
This year there is a new cultivar called "Little Lime" that is 3-5' tall instead of the original which is 6-8' tall.  Because they're more compact, I'll have to buy some "Little Limes" for my front yard.
Question for discussion: Do you have any of the plants I mentioned in your gardens?  If so, are they blooming or have they bloomed yet?

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