Fall Flowers

A Rosemary which survived transplanting and a good cutting back earlier this year

Zinnias escaped powdery mildew this year

John Paul II Rose Surprises With More Blooms
Walker's Low Nepeta has done well just about everywhere it is planted

Sky Pencil Boxwood finally showing its stuff after 6 years!

Nothing's worse than a Wisteria looking for something to latch onto. The new fence has so far eluded its grasp

This akebia was cut back to make room for the new fence, but has already started reaching for the sky. Do you spot the Holy Cross?

Perennial Asters are an aggressive spreader

Autumn Sedum is usually covered with bees.

Meantime Behind All Those Mounds of Earth

DSCN1275They say you always keep a spot in your heart for the music and the garden flowers you grew up with. Some of grandfather's favorites are here: marigolds and petunias. These particular marigolds were moved from in front of the church earlier this year. They had been hardy self-sowers for three successive years. The petunias are "Laura Bush," a self-sowing variety back for the third year as well. Balsam, Black-Eyed Susan and Nepeta are some of the plants in the background. Portulaca, a dependable leftover from the Youth Group Plant Sale prospers in the foreground.


A Homegrown New Jersey Tomato - Nothing Quite Like It !


New Jersey Tomato
A Tomato Parable
Finally! For a few years, I've been trying to grow tomatoes with varying degrees of success. In Howell, I had abundant tomatoes and flourishing basil, but also bunnies, groundhogs and deer, so I wasn't the one who got to enjoy most of the harvest!


My tomato plants in Rumson have not fared well from year to year despite following all kinds of recommendations and tips for preventing diseases which they seem quite susceptible to. Buy the right kind, water more, water less, water've heard all the well meaning advice. Every fall I decide they were too much trouble and too disappointing, only to be lured into trying again by all the tomato seedlings at the garden center and the beautiful pictures in catalogs. Add to that the tasteless condition of most of them available in the supermarket alongside the memories of what real tomatoes taste like and I guess it's no surprise that I'm suckered in every Spring.

This year for the first time it looks like I will have quite a few beefsteak (actually they are Mortgage Liters)  tomatoes worthy of the name! My first one was so delicious, juicy, sweet and red that I had to share a picture. And I was so excited when I cut into it that I didn't go outside to cut any basil, just good, fresh extra-virgin olive oil and a dash of salt.  Mmm.

More on the vine, but they're not yet quite ripe and I've learned the hard way to not count my tomatoes until they are cut up and in a salad!

Jesus Calming the Storm

What do you think about the possibility of an exterior statue/shrine of Jesus Calming the Storm at Sea? It could be located toward the East of the Prayer Garden Plaza and possibly face Ward Avenue and the Ocean!

They are not that common, at least images of them on the Internet aren't. A rather famous statue on Corpus Christi, Texas and another in a cemetery pond in Gainesville, GA are the only sizeable ones I can find. Likely it would need to be designed/commissioned.

With enough donor interest, I think it would contribute a wonderfully consoling message to the community and a needed spiritual note to the many rebuildng efforts already underway. Let us know what you think in the Parish Office or by email to the webmaster at Holy Cross' webpage.

Corpus Christi
Jesus Calming the Sea at Corpus Christi Bay


Vigil Mass of the Solemnity of the Assumption

Celebrates_christians_187009Tonight we had music in the chapel for the first time and it was great! Our trusty Clavinova doesn't take up too much physical space and sounds perfect without extra amplification. 

What better way to inaugurate sacred music in the chapel than on a feast of Mary.

We also blessed some boxwood basil, rosemary and marigolds in honor of the Virgin Mary. There is also a tradition of blessing the sea and collecting some of its water for blessing the home or swimming in the blessed waters.

Tomorrow's mass is at 9 AM in the chapel. The solemnity is a holy day of obligation.



Transplanted Garden Around Holy Cross School

Thanks to Francisco for relocating many of our bulbs, perennials and shrubs from around the church and campus to the front of Holy Cross School on Rumson. It looks quite beautiful. Most of the plants are several years old, so the plantings also look mature.

Additional transplants have been placed just about everywhere: along the West side of the school and surrounding the chapel.

The terrible condition of the roof gutters prevented many plantings there, since the sheets of water cascading onto the ground destroyed plants and washed away mulch. Now that the gutters have been repaired and we don't anticipate any scaffolds along the front of the school anytime soon, we can plant the stretch along Rumson Road properly.

Fr. Manning is taking care of the microdrip irrigation for the garden, as there are no sprinklers on the South side of the campus. 

All in all, minimal cost, maximal beauty! Hopefully everything will take root and bloom for many years.

Lets pray for a summer of temperate weather, not only for our gardens, but for ourselves!


Spring Is Coming!

DSCN0522I was gently reminded yesterday that "we need to move some plants." That's certainly true.

Many of the places we have planted perennials over the last years will need to be disturbed for the church construction. Earlier in the season, all the heritage roses in harm's way were pruned back to the ground in preparation for being transplanted. All plantings behind the church bordering the parish field will need to be moved or disposed of. Some of the many burning bushes were not in particularly good condition, but the hydrangeas, half dozen heritage rose bushes, dozens of hosta, pulmonaria, coreopsis, coneflowers, sedum, hyssop and others were quite happy and proliferating well. It will be relatively easy to move some of them, but others look like a challenge. One of the "Home Run" roses I planted when I first arrived has quite a well developed set of roots. 

All the plantings along the side door of the rectory near the church will also need to be relocated - a witch hazel or two, hundreds of Stella d'Oro daylillies, a Julia Child rosebush along with several others heirloom varieties. All the rose bushes and clematis around the air conditioning units for the church will also be dug. 

Some of the trees around the church are overgrown and many are in sad shape after the storms, but a holly or two may be rescued. The perennial border of evergreens and others alongside the handicapped ramp will also need to be moved. 


The plantings in the two islands between the large and small parking lots need to go too, I think. There are dozens of day lillies, several species of heritage roses, and the two ornamental trees needing new places to grow. Many of the other plants like California poppies, Blanket flowers and others are so easy to resow that they can be sacrificed if necessary.

vizsla carrying dog bed
Someone is ready to move!


Lots of digging! Any ideas?Perhaps some time after the groundbreaking, we could organize a
dig (or two) to help move some of the plants. Some will move easily with a trowel, others will take some good work with a shovel. If we pot some of them up, they might even help us raise some funds for the church project? 

Let me know if you have any good ideas, or if you would be willing to help us dig up some plants when we make plans. Thanks!

Church Project Liturgical Appointments: Statues

At a meeting last evening, we discussed the immediate goal of determining the number, identity and compositional material for statues of the Saints in the renovated Church.

There are several interior and exterior niches, as well as an outdoor pedestal for potential locations for statues of the saints, now and in the future. Except for the statue in the oval garden, I've highlighted them on the architectural drawings: two on the Ward Avenue facade, one on the West facade, one on a pedestal in the oval garden, one in the entryway balcony, four across the devotional shrines across the front of transept.


A Sub Committee was formed to explore the possibility whether to determine a spiritual theme underlying the choice of which saints or an eclectic mix.

There was consensus to proceed with the acquisition of an ambo from a church in Philadelphia which has been closed, depending on costs additional to the modification and transportation of the piece.

Mary Garden
Marian Garden (partial view)


The Monarchs Are Here!

I like purple coneflowers well enough for their long-lasting blooms and hardy nature, but I especially love that Monarch butterflies love them. We've had quite a few Monarch visiting for the last weeks.

Susan was able to snap this picture today, just before a wedding.

Monarch Butterfly on Purple Coneflower

Signs of Spring 2012


The northern perimeter of the parish field is a safe place for some of the early spring bulbs to greet the warmer weather.


rosemary arp in the winter sunshine

Rosemary arp suvives (and thrives) outdoors protected from the worst winds by the corners of buildings and overhanging shrubs.


Witch Hazel blooms in late winter
I think VanGogh would have enjoyed painting the Witch Hazel against the bright blue sky.

















The seals are sunning themselves on the sandbars at Sandy Hook. I don't have pictures (yet).

Lent and Spring

One of our trivia questions about Lent from last year's 10 questions, taught us that the original meaning of "Lent" was "Spring" - a time for new growth, beginning again.

Happily, the bulbs which were buried under feet of snow since Christmas, have heeded the call to Spring and are rising for the occasion.

Spring Crocus 
Spring Iris 

Really Tall Cosmos!


The second crop of cosmos is growing and blooming! These are the seedlings from the self-sown seed scattered by the wind from the early summer bloomers.

Some of the oldest plants are the tallest cosmos I've ever seen. While the traditional white, pink and lavender cosmos tend to get weak and spindly when they get tall, this yellow variety seems really strong.

Here's pictures for scale: the first shows the tallest cosmos behind the standard sized soccer goals, the second with my faithful Vizsla "Hope" alongside.




Rain and Blooms

Guess you can't have one without the other.

Saint Fiacre is hardly visible with the daylilies growing up around him. That's red Penstemon in front of him and a Foxglove from the Youth Group's plant sale alongside. 

  Saint Fiacre, Patron Saint of Gardeners with daylillies, foxglove and penstemon.

The first of the California poppies returning from last season have started to open. There will be hundreds of these dotting the edges of the parish field and the parking islands. Notice its delicate, lace-like leaves. We've also planted many of the Red poppies and it will interesting to see if they bloom as readily as their yellow California cousins.

California poppies in early bloomthe 


More of the white Rosa rugosa. It's about to bloom in hundreds of flowers and its aroma is wonderful. Be sure to walk over to this bush and enjoy its fragrance. "Rugosa" means wrinkled; the leaves are not smooth like many roses, but have a slightly wrinkled appearance. This group of roses tolerate sea salt spray and sandy soils. 

Rosa rugosa shrub rose

Lupine and Home Run roses. The lupine which have become established are growing larger and larger each year. Newly scattered seed also seems to have a particularly high germination rate here. The fan shaped lupine leaves are easy to identify, even in young seedlings.

Home Run Roses and Lupine

The lavender had a hard winter, I think in the very last frost, but it's beginning to send up new growth. There is quite a bit of it tucked here and there, including some new plants along the western wall of the gymatorium in between the Ink Berry shrubs. A nice stand is growing just in front of the church as well.

Early blooming lavender

Most of the clematis seem to be doing very well. Some of the healthiest are sprawling up the fencing around the air conditioners next to the church and the fence along the tennis club. These are paired with a pale pink rose, which will hopefully bloom along with the clematis. There's a photo from a few years ago when both plants were very young. Some of the plants seem to have their eyes on the new fencing around the dumpster and recycling bin!

Clematis among the rose bush

Clematis and Roses bloom together

One Five Spot

Five Spot plant

OK, I have to look this up. I call it the Satellite Plant and it looks like it's happy so far.


  That's all for now. Susan has sent me many great shots of our many roses, but I can't identify which is which until I match the photos with the plants....on a sunny day.

Moms, don't forget to plant your seeds from Mother's Day and send us a photo of what grows!