Sunday Morning Garden Chat: A Vineyard in Maryland

From fortunate (and ambitious!) commentor PAM Dirac:

At top: Here’s the view from the front porch over the patio and out into the yard. You can see the main vineyard. For anyone wanting vineyard details, you can go to Waving Free Vinyard.

This is the first spring as a retired person and most of the work I’ve done has been to get the vineyard into top shape. The patio area was not in too bad a shape and just needed a bit of weeding and a bit more attention to rose pruning. The roses, weigela, and catmint are in bloom.

2) When we had a big chunk of landscaping done about 10 years ago, we bit the bullet and paid a lot of money to get a bunch of river birches put in. It was well worth the money. This is sitting on the patio looking at the morning sun filtering through the trees. Wonderful place to sip some tea.

3) Here’s another view in the front yard showing (but not too closely) some of the beds we have put in. My wife demanded a moratorium on new beds until I cleaned up what we have. I have done the first pass weeding, so almost all the stuff we are sure we don’t want is gone, but there is still a fair amount of work to figure out what we do what. Next spring!

4) The back yard of course has more grape vines and the vegetable garden. Again, I was ordered to stop adding beds until I got these under control. Not too bad this year. The back beds have tomatoes and some peppers. The front left has some types of squash and the front left has a nice crop of carrots. The middle front bed is a flower bed that my wife’s sister worked on when she came to live with us in the last months of her fight with cancer and we try to keep it in her memory.

5) My wife has turned the space between the end of the deck and the garage into her secret garden. Lilies, peonies, various hydrangeas, lilacs, and of course another grape vine.

6) Lots of very pleasant places to sit, even if there is still a lot of work to do. Pull up a chair. We’ve poured you a glass of wine.


What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?

149 replies
  1. 1
    eclare says:

    Beautiful yard…the website mentions Maryland, not Florida?

  2. 2
    Anne Laurie says:

    @eclare: Oops — thanks for catching my brainfart before it was too late! (Sorry, PAM Dirac… )

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    @Anne Laurie

    Aw, and here I was, eager for a goblet of Chateau Okeechobee.


  4. 4
    Mary G says:

    What a beautiful, peaceful place! The birches were worth it.

  5. 5
    Raven says:

    OMG, I was just thinking this weekend “Is this what retirement is going to be”???My bride truly loves working like a pack mule in the yard and her gardens. I managed to do little bits here and there in between mounting some new pegboard in the zillionth attempt to get my “shop” under control. She really appreciates it whenever I help and I’m ok in short bursts but, damn, as a primary focus. . . .

  6. 6
    Raven says:


  7. 7
  8. 8
    Raven says:

    This is interesting. Yesterday our local Saturday morning sports radio had an interview with Terry and Jennifer Hoage. Terry was a College Hall of Fame Safety for Georgia and spent 14 years in the NFL. He and his wife started and vineyard in Paso Robles about 15 years ago and have been very successful. The interview was fun and I kept thinking “damn this guy doesn’t sound like your run of the mill head basher”. It turns out he was also a genetics major!

  9. 9
    NotMax says:

    Who’s up for some proto-Kermit?


  10. 10
    Raven says:

    @JPL: And check out Jennifer,

    Jennifer Hoage’s passion for food and wine was instilled early in life while she was growing up in New Orleans. Her mother, who worked in several prestigious kitchens there, introduced her to the restaurant scene. Jennifer’s artistic passion – she was one of the first graduates of the New Orleans Center for the Arts High School – led her to Paris at age18 to study corporal mime under master mime, Etienne Decroux. While living in Paris, she was exposed to wines from her host family’s Bordeaux property, which cemented her love of food and wine.

  11. 11

    Wow! So splendid!

    …aspiring to the secret garden at 5).

  12. 12
    satby says:

    I’m in awe at the amount of work you put into all of that, PAM Direc! And with beautiful, serene result. A glass of your wine in that patio would be a pleasure!

  13. 13
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Pull up a chair. We’ve poured you a glass of wine.

    I’ll be right over. Truly a very peaceful place to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon.

  14. 14
    Baud says:

    Well, isn’t that magnificent?

  15. 15
    satby says:

    And following the link to your vineyard site, the pictures of the roses in the vineyard is making me jealous. So I need a vineyard to have robust rose bushes, huh? Who woulda thought 😉?

  16. 16
  17. 17
  18. 18
    WereBear says:

    Looks MARVELOUS. We have vineyards here in the Frozen North with Scandinavian grapes. But in Florida, you have opposite problems.

  19. 19
    JPL says:

    @Raven: The Wikipedia article is interesting. After football he tried several different careers before moving to CA.

  20. 20
    PAM Dirac says:

    @Mary G: Yes they were. They were put in about 5 years before the patio, but now the curve of the patio fits the curve of the birches. I don’t know if the people that put the patio in noticed it and worked to match it, but I didn’t realize it until it was done.

  21. 21
    Lapassionara says:

    What an enticing setting. Thanks for sharing.

  22. 22
    rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone 😄 😄😄

  23. 23
    Baud says:


    Good morning.

  24. 24
    rikyrah says:

    The pictures from today:
    So beautiful 😍😍

  25. 25
    PAM Dirac says:

    @Raven: I’m finding it much more relaxing than I expected. When I was working any yard work, especially the vineyard, had to be fit in. I would need to get a certain amount done in a particular time or start to fall way behind. Now, I can just enjoy the work and if I don’t get as much done as planned, there is always tomorrow.

  26. 26
    Raven says:

    @PAM Dirac: Yea, I’m thinking maybe having a set amount of time to be her assistant may work.

  27. 27
    PAM Dirac says:

    @Raven: Looks like a Rhone Ranger. If I had my druthers that’s what my vineyard would be, but Maryland is not quite as kind to the Rhone grapes as Paso Robles. I do have syrah, mourvedre, and viognier though, so I do some Rhone varieties.

  28. 28
    PAM Dirac says:

    @satby: We are in a bit of a hot and humid spell, so you might want to put it off for just a bit :-)

  29. 29
    WereBear says:

    @satby: I used to plant all my roses with a garlic bulb at their base. Makes their immune system strong and supposed to increase the heavenly perfume when they bloom.

    Instead of mulch, a carpet of alyssium works the same, and has the benefits of attracting beneficial insects.

    Roses are fantastic companion plants.

  30. 30
    PAM Dirac says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Lazy afternoons are my speciality!

  31. 31
    Raven says:

    @JPL: It was apparent from the interview these are pretty gifted folks. He told a story about the first time his mom met Jennifer. Ge said his mom would never say anything negative about anyone but she did say “she’s kind of bossy”!,,,

  32. 32
    PAM Dirac says:

    @rikyrah: Thanks. I hope it sends a bit of good morning your way.

  33. 33
    JPL says:

    @PAM Dirac: Do you have help when it’s time to harvest?

  34. 34
    oldgold says:

    On the 4th of July I executed my plan and visited Hope & Le$’s Garden Centre. My old friend Les Mohr came through for me, more or less. As usual, with good humor, he enjoyed my angel food cake and deviled eggs tribute. Hope shook her head at our antics.

    While I was leaving Hope & Le$’s Garden Centre with two hospice eligible tomato plants and one Dukakis era frozen Belgian Endive seed pack, to my astonishment the Jolly Green Giant was walking in! Surprisingly, he was not wearing his regular work clothes (vines). I could not believe what the Jolly Green Giant was wearing!?!

  35. 35
  36. 36
    Raven says:

    Anyone familiar with At Home decor superstores?

  37. 37
    PAM Dirac says:


    Do you have help when it’s time to harvest?

    I usually don’t, but it isn’t really too much work. I only harvest maximum about 100 lbs in any one time and that only takes me about an hour for the harvest and another hour for the crush.

  38. 38
    PAM Dirac says:

    @Raven: There is a At Home near us. Seems pretty useful. Lots of stuff and decent prices for the most part. Haven’t had things long enough to know if stuff will last, but at least it doesn’t fall apart in the first week.

  39. 39
    JPL says:

    @PAM Dirac: One of my favorite I Love Lucy episodes was her attempting to crush grapes.

  40. 40
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @PAM Dirac: Doctors orders!

  41. 41
    PAM Dirac says:

    @satby: I suspect it is the variety that is robust. The red is called “Winner’s Circle” and has done very well for me. You might be able to tell the white varieties have not been as successful.

  42. 42
    JPL says:

    @Raven: Garden Ridge changed it’s name. to At Home and it’s stocked with a lot of private labels items.

  43. 43
    zhena gogolia says:

    Had to watch Endeavour “Confection” for a second time last night to see Anton Lesser’s brilliant, brilliant performance in two short scenes. What a fantastic actor he is.

    I hope Steeplejack is going to be able to cope with Sidney leaving Grantchester.

  44. 44
    dnfree says:

    We have two winery connections. One is in northwestern Illinois near us. A family worked very hard to create a winery called Famous Fossil out of nothing and it was becoming a beautiful place to visit, with good wines, especially whites. This past winter with the polar vortex killed off most of their vines. Heartbreaking.

    The other is my brother’s winery which he has created from scratch in Sonoma California over the past three decades since moving to California from northern Illinois.

    Best wishes with your place and thanks for sharing.

  45. 45
    debbie says:


  46. 46
    LivinginExile says:

    Have the Japanese beetles reached your area yet? They almost killed my river birch the first year they showed up here, in West central illinois. Cleaned all the leaves off.

  47. 47
    PAM Dirac says:

    @dnfree: Creating a vineyard just for fun is enough work that the ups and downs really do affect your mood. I can’t imagine the pressure when it is your livelihood as well.

  48. 48
    PAM Dirac says:

    @LivinginExile: Those bastards have not been too bad this year. The second or third year after planting was the first year there was enough growth to worry a lot about them. Most of the reading I did suggested that you didn’t need to be too aggressive as they would just eat the top 1 or 2 feet of the vine, which in the east, you probably want to top off anyway (we get too much rain and too much growth). Well they ate the top foot, 2 foot, 3 foot, and kept on going. It has taken a number of years with aggressive sprays and multiple milky spore applications to get the population down again.

  49. 49
    satby says:

    @oldgold: afraid to ask 😉

  50. 50
    oldgold says:


    As it turned out, it was a business visit. So, he was wearing a 3 peas suit.

  51. 51
    satby says:

    @PAM Dirac: the replacement rose bushes I’m trying this year are all heirloom shrub roses growing on their own roots. The hybrids are beautiful but are just not doing well in this sandy soil even when I try to amend it. So going to shrubs in a last ditch effort. I did break down and get two climbing Joseph’s Coat roses for my front bed even though that variety has failed me twice here, but this is a new spot with more sun, so fingers crossed.

  52. 52
  53. 53
    MomSense says:

    My knitting and I would love to spend an afternoon in photo #5. Magical

  54. 54
    JPL says:

    @MomSense: Great spot for a Balloon Juice meet-up

  55. 55
    Steeplejack (phone) says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    I read something about that. It depends on who they bring in as a new character. Because they’re on interminable hiatus, I have sort of forgotten where they ended up, or if I even saw the last episode or two. Need to check on that.

    The Brit-centric PBS station here has started running the first couple of seasons, and the descriptions in the TV listings still slay me with their complete refusal to say anything about what actually happens in the episode. “Sidney is despondent about x.” Well, that narrows it down.

    I am trying to get caught up with Endeavour. I am a whole season behind!

  56. 56
    JPL says:

    Is anyone watching Big Little Lies? IMO Meryl Streep already has an Emmy award to add to her collection of awards.

  57. 57
    PAM Dirac says:

    Many thanks to opiejeanne for shaming me into getting a submission together.

  58. 58
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Steeplejack (phone):

    This season is better than last, imo, especially “Confection.”

    The new vicar is a dark-haired youngster who rides a motorcycle and listens to Elvis. Not promising, but then I was afraid James Norton was going to be an empty suit, and look how that turned out.

  59. 59
    zhena gogolia says:

    @PAM Dirac:

    Gorgeous property!

  60. 60
    zhena gogolia says:

    @Steeplejack (phone):

    “Sidney and Geordie are at odds about a case.”

  61. 61
    satby says:

    Finally a couple of less humid and pleasant days before it gets too humid again. I’m hoping to finish the front bed now that my Root Slayer shovel is here to help me get the tall edgers I bought into the ground. Then replacement soil, mulch (finally!), and done! I have seven out of 12 cannas coming up, the shrubs seem to have taken to their new home, and one of the two climbing roses is already putting out leaves. Looking forward to flowers come August, I hope!

  62. 62
    JPL says:

    @zhena gogolia: James Norton played a villain in Happy Valley so convincingly, it took me a few episodes before I could accept him as a Vicar in Grantchester.

  63. 63
    Steeplejack says:

    @zhena gogolia:

    That was a great episode!

  64. 64
    Spanky says:

    I have to say that Frederick Town (and County) is one of my favorite places to visit. Besides being where the mountains finally begin and the heat of the tidal plain begins to let up, Frederick is quite charming with a surprising number of good restaurants.

    We have a surprising number of vineyards down here in Calvert County, but the hot, humid climate makes their product … um … not appealing.

    (Mrs. Spanky’s music app has currently selected “The First Nowell” for us to hear. Go figure.)

  65. 65
    satby says:

    @Steeplejack (phone): @JPL: @zhena gogolia: I wanted to catch up on Endeavor and Grantchester, and start Big Little Lies; but have been completely sucked into Jessica Jones again. Just finished season 2, about to start the last one. And I need to start a Hulu subscription to watch the latest Veronica Mars! Will probably cancel Sling to do that, though I’ll miss the Film Detectives channel on it.

  66. 66
    Spanky says:

    @Spanky: I probably should have started with a compliment to PAM Dirac for the fabulous pics. Here at Chez Deferred Maintenance we can only aspire to something similar.

  67. 67
    zhena gogolia says:


    I can’t watch Happy Valley! He was great as Prince Andrei in War and Peace.

  68. 68
    Steeplejack says:


    I am about to get BritBox or Acorn, I think. Need to figure out which has more of what I want. There are some series (e.g., Vera) where some seasons are on one and some are on the other. Maddening.

    I also need to get caught up on Shetland. Think I’m a season behind there, too.

    I’ll have to check out Jessica Jones.

  69. 69
    Immanentize says:

    PAM Dirac — how lovely. I will have that glass of wine now, thank you.

  70. 70
    satby says:

    @Steeplejack: you’ll need Britbox for the latest Shetland. I have both but need to drop one, honestly they’re both so cheap I wasn’t in a rush to decide. But I think Britbox is going to get most of the shows going forward as ITV is one of the owners.
    Sling has been a disappointment as far as why I got it, for TCM, I end up watching the Film Detectives channel more. Hulu live costs twice as much, but will cover a lot of what I want to see. But I’m tempted to start with the miser free month and see if I actually watch it that much before I spring for the more expensive plan. I need to cut other subscriptions if I get the live Hulu. Also thinking of ditching ATT for Infinity, just because ATT has been awful since they merged with Direct TV, which I cancelled last year. But Comcast was so terrible 20 years ago when I last had it that I’ve been reluctant to give them another chance.

  71. 71
    Immanentize says:

    @PAM Dirac: Well then I thank Opiejeane too. My yard garden pictures will have to come later, spanning a whole season to make the grade around here!

    Meanwhile, it rained yesterday — just after I mowed the yard. Joy!

  72. 72
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    First, WOW. I now want to visit a vineyard in MD. Are you for hire? Top USD for some bed planting!
    @PAM Dirac: Thanks opiejeannie! I envy your garden blooms as well…

    @satby: I fell in love with Antique Rose Emporium, and I’m likely to get some bushes in the fall. I miss the ones I planted at my first house – when I drive by they are still thriving on a bust city street 20 some years later.

  73. 73
    opiejeanne says:

    @PAM Dirac: Wow! Your place is beautiful. What wonderful places you’ve created on your property, and the pictures at the link are great. Dumb questions: Is your winery open to guests and are your wines available commercially now or are those part of a future plan? I didn’t see Waving Free on the list of Maryland Wineries.

    We got to help a neighbor with his crush several years ago. We live in Western Washington and the grapes are grown on the eastern side of the Cascades, because it’s too wet here. He had a few vines on his property so he could call it a winery, but they didn’t produce much. He was a serious hobbyist and trucked grapes over the mountains for his little wine-making company, and there was a waiting list of neighbors wanting to help. It was a fun day.

  74. 74
    Paul in Saint Augustine says:

    @PAM Dirac: Do you drop any fruit from your vines?

  75. 75
    opiejeanne says:

    @PAM Dirac: Aw shucks. I think my own garden looks a little shameful right now.

    Right now my garden is more of a mess than usual because we were gone for 11 days, and something is killing my Blushing Lucy climbing roses. It’s covered in blooms but there are lots of dead branches, just dried out and scorched-looking. No idea what’s killing them.

  76. 76
    MomSense says:


    My garden is calling me. Did a bunch of weeding yesterday before the rain but there is a lot more to do.

  77. 77
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Gonna hit only 85 today with winds out of the north so the humidity should relent a little at least. Picked 5 lbs of beans and about 8 lbs of cukes yesterday, so I’ll be canning beans and pickles tomorrow. Hope to finish up the framing for the “camper port” today. It will be nice not having to worry about dead limbs falling onto it with every passing storm. Got a few garden chores to attend to too. We’ll see how much I actually get done.

    y’all play nice now, ya heah?

  78. 78
    Steeplejack says:


    Great information! I actually have thought about getting both BritBox and Acorn (I like a lot of Australian shows, which they seem to have) and sorting it out later.

    My other question (for anyone) is whether PBS Passport from your local station (WETA in D.C. for me) is the same as the Amazon Prime Masterpiece channel? Can’t really tell from what I have been able to see at their sites.

    I’m also interested in whatever is the successor to the Criterion service, but I haven’t kept up with that and don’t even have a name.

  79. 79
    Kristine says:

    I love the patio and your wife’s secret garden. It all looks lovely. Is your wine available to order?

  80. 80
    Steeplejack says:

    Okay, I’m off to Sighthound Hall to supervise some car detailing. Bro’ Man knows a guy who will do house calls for two or more cars, so I’m slotting the doughty Kia in for a spa day to up the census. He and the family are out of town until this afternoon. So I’m going to loot their refrigerator and watch the Tour de France and the World Cup final.

  81. 81
    Jackie says:

    Reposted from dead pet thread. We might be interested in homing Milton. How do we get in touch for more info?

  82. 82
    Kristine says:

    @satby: I’ve had Comcast–granted NE Illinois Comcast–for 12 years. Honestly, no complaints about service. They just expensive, and their Basic channels contain way too much worthless. I am a Triple Play customer. Not sure if that helps wrt service.

    I would love to cut the cord, but I am leery of internet-only service. I don’t game, so I don’t need top dollar speed. But I do need consistency.

  83. 83
    JPL says:

    @Jackie: Hopefully others will have ideas, but I’d add a comment on that thread. You could try Cole’s email, but that is unlikely. Email Anne Laurie and see if she has other ideas.

  84. 84
    Baud says:


    dead pet thread

    Um, phrasing.

  85. 85
    ThresherK says:

    CBS Sunday Morning just did a human interest story about a 97 y.o. man who has a part-time job (2, four-hour shifts a week). He likes doing it. He’s a WWII vet.

    I blurted a blue streak about OnlyInAmerica. Jesus Christ, can’t someone in the media stop filiing puff pieces about people not being retired after 70?

  86. 86
    PAM Dirac says:


    Is your winery open to guests and are your wines available commercially now or are those part of a future plan?

    This is strictly a hobby. I have 180 vines. The rough estimate for a viable commercial operation is about 25,000 vines. I can’t imagine the work it would be to expand by more than 2 orders of magnitude, not to mention the stress of dealing with a situation where no harvest means no income. With a decent harvest I’ll get over 100 bottles in one year, so we have plenty to share, but none of it is for sale. On the other hand, if you want to try commercial wines from Maryland I highly recommend Black Ankle, Old Westminster, and Catoctin Breeze.

  87. 87
    Baud says:


    (2, four-hour shifts a week).

    If he’s a Democrat, Fox will call him a slacker.

  88. 88
    Kay says:

    The roses with the grapevines are lovely (I clicked the link).
    I took the cooperative extension service “master gardener” course decades ago. I don’t know if it’s still true but at the time you had to volunteer X hours on the garden hot line to “give back” after the course. The volunteers self-sorted into specialties- so the “lawn guy” or the “tomato lady”. I worked next to a “rosarian”- a person who cultivates roses as a hobby- and he was so mean to the callers. Just..haughty. I only heard his side of the conversation but I was so fascinated by his cutting remarks to these poor callers. Long silence while he listens – “get yourself a pack of zinnia seeds. This is hopeless”.
    A really common question was “my rose changed colors”. The grafted top dies and the (hardier) root stock then blooms- it’s usually a white rose, the root plant, so the rose “changed colors”. He wouldn’t even take those calls if I tried to pass them to him. Too easy.

  89. 89
    PAM Dirac says:

    @Paul in Saint Augustine:

    Do you drop any fruit from your vines?

    I haven’t done anything systematic yet, mainly because up until now, I haven’t been able to spend enough time in the vineyard to get the details down. I’m also learning to be more ruthless in pruning. Grapes, roses, lilacs, etc. are all hard for me to throw away nice healthy branches, but they do benefit from from a more ruthless prune than I have been doing. It is one of my main goals to spend enough time to get a good feel for the proper balance.

  90. 90
    Gelfling 545 says:

    Magnificent garden! I adore river birches.

  91. 91
    JPL says:

    @Jackie: If you have a twitter account, direct message him at his account which is on the side,
    Cake or Death.
    Team Milton!

  92. 92
    J R in WV says:


    On the front page, top right corner, there’s a “Quick Links” — click on that, then select “Contact a Front Pager” on the list of links. I would start with a reach out to John Cole, so pick him on the list of front pagers, and fill out the form. You should probably also contact Annie Laurie with the same message.

    Cole is located in the northern panhandle of WV just west of Pittsburgh, and I assume his sister is near by so that’s where the dog will be. Hurry, he’s really cute!!!

    ETA: The twitter suggestion might be better for John, but Annie Laurie checks her email pretty often.

  93. 93
    Miss Bianca says:

    Ooh, I think I need to take a trip to Maryland…

    Meanwhile, because of the hyper amounts of rain/snow we’ve had here in Colorado, the wild roses all round the Mountain Hacienda have gone nuts. My friend D and I have been harvesting rose petals for our next batch of mead – Heavy Petal is a seasonal, we use wildflower honey and chamomile, lavender, and rose petals to flavor it. Last year because of extreme drought we didn’t get any rose petals at all, now this year I am seeing roses bloom in places I never knew we had them, and the petals are all shades of pink, from deep magenta all the way to white – another something I’ve never seen in the wild roses around here, white petals! Crazy year!

  94. 94
    PAM Dirac says:

    @Kay: I guess every topic has their share of people who feel the need to use their expertise to bash the “inferiors”. Luckily the people in the wine industry in Maryland are very generous with their time and knowledge. The biggest barrier they face is the perception that Maryland isn’t capable of producing wine worth paying $25+ per bottle and every bad bottle will further reinforce that perception, so everyone is really committed to trying their best to make every bottle of Maryland wine a good one. They even put up with amateurs like me.

  95. 95
    opiejeanne says:

    @Kay: LOL! I’m sorry he was mean to callers but, from past experience, that’s hilarious telling them to get a pack of zinnia seeds. My husband is an American Rose Society Rosarian and these days he’s seriously considering that pack of zinnia seeds instead of roses because of the difficulties we are having keeping them healthy. SoCal was a dream, Western Washington is sometimes a nightmare.
    The rootstock we see on the west coast is usually a red rose, like Ragged Robin or, on older plants, The Doctor. The problem with people who have that problem is that they don’t believe you when you explain it to them, they just want to believe it’s a miracle of some sort. I’ve had that conversation many times and after explaining that roses are not grown on their own roots for two reasons, rapid propagation and hardiness, they get a little squinty-eyed and start arguing that, no, this can’t be true. It’s helpful if there’s a healthy rosebush nearby that still has the original grafted plant alive because you can show them the “nut” and compare the canes of the grafted plant and the root stock. Sometimes the rootstock is a climber and you hear, “And it got so tall all of a sudden!”, like a 3 foot plant has roses on six foot canes.

    And the ones that didn’t realize that roses came from seeds (the hybridization process) are just blown away when you explain it to them. People that unaware of the world (seeds! who’d a thunk it?) can be frustrating to work with.

  96. 96
    Kofuu says:

    Ummm, beautiful! And unfortunately the Spotted Lanternfly is spreading that way.

    Sorry to mention it, but vineyards in Pennsylvania are taking the brunt of the invasion, and not taking it well.

  97. 97
    PAM Dirac says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    Heavy Petal is a seasonal, we use wildflower honey and chamomile, lavender, and rose petals to flavor it

    That sounds sensational. A local meadery makes a rose petal mead and it is wonderfully delicate and subtle.

  98. 98
    Citizen_X says:

    I take it, from the label, that the vineyard name is a Tambourine Man reference? (“To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free.”) The line’s been on my mind lately.

    Beautiful spot! A little too much mowing for me, though.

  99. 99
    Another Scott says:

    @J R in WV: Isn’t the e-mail form broken? I seem to recall Alain making some comment about that.

    It’s best to either ping him on Twitter or send a real e-mail.


  100. 100
    ThresherK says:

    @PAM Dirac: I’m in the Northeast and my wife and I, in our coastal travels from Cape Cod to Cape May, have really taken to the white wines over the reds for some reason. (We know what we like, but know nothing about wine.)

    What varieties do you grow?

    PS Is that Kokopelli drinking wine on your label?

  101. 101
    dexwood says:

    I was just about to mention Kokopelli on the label. A Maryland wine with a figure from the Southwest.

  102. 102
    PAM Dirac says:

    @PAM Dirac:

    Ummm, beautiful! And unfortunately the Spotted Lanternfly is spreading that way.

    Sorry to mention it, but vineyards in Pennsylvania are taking the brunt of the invasion, and not taking it well.

    Oh every grower in MD is very well aware of the spotted lanternfly and the damage it is doing in PA. I actually saw one in my vineyard 2 summers ago. We had gone though eastern PA and visited a vineyard or 2 and probably picked up a single hitchhiker. When I saw the alert, it was easy to make the id, they are very distinctive. Someone from the MD extension came out and checked for any evidence of eggs and everything was clear and I haven’t seen any others, but it looks like just a matter of time before things get bad here.

  103. 103
    opiejeanne says:

    @PAM Dirac: I suspect that the same fellow was fine when he was talking to people in a rose garden. Giving advice over the phone is difficult because you can’t show them what you’re talking about, you can’t draw them a picture or demonstrate on an actual plant, and with roses that’s a big problem. We never told them to get a packet of zinnia seeds, though.

    We used to have people stop by our garden when we lived in Southern California and had a lot of roses in our front yard. They’d see us working there, mulching or weeding or watering and they’d pull over. We’d agree to visit their garden, take one look and tell them to water them twice as much as they were giving them. The answer would always be, “Oh, they get enough water now. That can’t be the problem.” This was in a hot climate and half the soil in town was decomposed granite, and that stuff drains like a dream but that’s also part of the problem. We’d look at their sad little plants and say, yes, give them MORE water but we knew they wouldn’t. Any other problem there was minor compared to the need for more water. Blackspot, mildew, spider mites are all frustrating but the need for water is basic to developing a healthy plant. We had clay soil which was a different problem, but still our neighbors wouldn’t water their plants enough.

    Here the problem is too much water, poor drainage combined with rabbits and meadow voles.
    The ARS would pull my husband’s consulting designation if they saw our garden today.

  104. 104
    Danielx says:

    A gorgeous spot, and makes me feel more ambitious. My ambition for today, however, is whacking the Chinese wisteria around the back porch – again. In weather like this it puts out shoots that grow six inches in a day. Left unchecked they would pull porch structure apart in six weeks…

  105. 105
    opiejeanne says:

    Or maybe not. Every area of expertise has a bully or two. People who feel the need to flex their expertise muscles at the expense of others.

  106. 106
    PAM Dirac says:


    I take it, from the label, that the vineyard name is a Tambourine Man reference? (“To dance beneath the diamond sky with one hand waving free.”)

    Yes, exactly.

    Beautiful spot! A little too much mowing for me, though.

    We bought the house in December, so there wasn’t any mowing to be done. As spring approached, I avoided trying to figure out the tractor and mowing and everything. We have a neighbor that has a landscaping service and he wandered by one day (as the grass was starting to get longer) and offered his services. We came from a DC suburb where the local kids would mow our 1/3 acre for $35-40. I was scared to ask what our almost 3 acres would cost. He said $70 and I said sold. He’s done the lawn ever since and has really gotten things into good, healthy shape.

  107. 107
    hilts says:

    Beautiful and stunning photos! Especially the first one. Great images to carry in the mind’s eye for the rest of the weekend.

  108. 108
    Spanky says:


    Cake or Death
    I need someone with amazing Photoshop skills to do something I can not. Please DM me.

  109. 109
    Citizen_X says:

    @PAM Dirac: Wow, great deal!

  110. 110
    PAM Dirac says:


    I’m in the Northeast and my wife and I, in our coastal travels from Cape Cod to Cape May, have really taken to the white wines over the reds for some reason. (We know what we like, but know nothing about wine.)

    The main white grapes I grow are albarino and viognier. I planted both because there are a number of wineries in the area that make excellent wines from these grapes. Albarino is mainly a spanish grape and is a usually bright, clean, acidic dry wine. Viognier is known as a Rhone grape, but has been planted more and more in the US. Horton Vineyards brought it to VA and it is done so well there that probably half of the VA vineyards grow it and it has been named the official white wine grape of VA. I also grow a Cornell experimental variety, NY81.0315.17, that is a cross between Cayuga white and riesling. This grows really well and makes a really nice wine, but it isn’t too widely planted yet. I think any one who is excited about making wine is excited about getting people a wine they like, so taste away and trust your preferences. If someone tries to tell you what you SHOULD like, move on to the next place.

  111. 111
    Spanky says:

    @PAM Dirac: So much here has gone to rot while we spent our days commuting from one end of the DC exurbs to the other. Now that I’m retired I’m finding (and having a difficult time reconciling) that I’m no longer up to the task. I’m coming around to accept that I need professional help. (You’re welcome for that straight line.)

    Trouble is, we’d really prefer an organic approach, not least because we’re within a rock’s throw of the Patuxent, and the landscapers I see are all spray-happy.

  112. 112
    raven says:

    @PAM Dirac: Bush hog or mow?

  113. 113
    PAM Dirac says:


    I was just about to mention Kokopelli on the label. A Maryland wine with a figure from the Southwest.

    Yes, it is Kokopelli. I had an idea for a logo and my daughter has a friend who has a graphic design business and he got my idea into reality. I’m very happy with the way it turned out. I just love the image from the Dylan song and somehow it just seemed right that Kokopelli would be doing the dancing.

  114. 114
    Raven says:

    I’ve got kids coming over for the final so I won’t be able to ask a bunch of dumb questions during the game! USA, USA!!

  115. 115
    opiejeanne says:

    @PAM Dirac: That’s a wonderful price for such a big lot. We have less than an acre and now that we’re getting a bit older (Not old yet) I am considering a lawn service twice a month, just to take some of the pressure off of mr opiejeanne. I know it’s going to be a lot more than $70, though.

  116. 116
    Baud says:

    G⚽ USA!

  117. 117
    Kay says:


    LOL! I’m sorry he was mean to callers but, from past experience, that’s hilarious telling them to get a pack of zinnia seeds.

    I spent a lot of time with him over the course and then the volunteering and ended up liking him. He once brought me a bottle of Gatorade when I was really out of steam one morning “this is best for a hangover”, drops it in front of me, walks on by. I didn’t have a hangover! I had two small children and was just plain tired but it was kind and made me laugh.
    It is hard to help them over the phone. I got the “tree questions” because I know most of the trees and can identify them with a description and then at least look it up. A dying tree is a heartbreaker because people get attached to them. “The leaves haven’t come out yet”. Yeah, they’re not coming.

  118. 118
    Another Scott says:

    OT: WWC is starting now on Fox.


  119. 119
    PAM Dirac says:

    @Raven: USA, USA. Time to turn on the game.

  120. 120
    plato says:

    @Baud: Isn’t go dutch more popular? Chew on that.

  121. 121
    Immanentize says:

    @Raven: Have fun. And ask the kids the dumb questions. They will like you more for being interested.

    Then again kids to you might mean middle aged professors? Then, definitely ask them the questions.

  122. 122
    Keith P. says:

    It must be because I’m replaying The Witness right now, but those pics all look like Eden.

  123. 123
    JPL says:

    @Immanentize: My mother-in-law would ask if that was a touch down, every time the ball was kicked during the super bowl.
    I do hope Raven takes your advice, because it will liven up the party.

  124. 124
    Miss Bianca says:

    @PAM Dirac: Ooh, who’s that local meadery? And I seem to recall your saying that you make mead as well, from time to time? Or perhaps merely enjoyed it from time to time, can’t remember which!//

  125. 125
    Miss Bianca says:

    @PAM Dirac: And now I have to look for alberino…that sounds like my kind of white! (tho’ I am partial to viognier, as well!)

  126. 126
    SRW1 says:


    “How are they supposed to produce a touchdown, if they’re not allowed to carry the ball?”

  127. 127
    SRW1 says:

    WC final thread on BJ gone live!

  128. 128
    PAM Dirac says:

    @Miss Bianca:

    Ooh, who’s that local meadery?

    Orchid Cellar (

    And I seem to recall your saying that you make mead as well

    Yes. These days I usually just make a pyment with Norton grapes and buckwheat honey. Two strong tastes that really blend well.

  129. 129
    b says:

    I just bought my retirement home to be near my daughter. It is in northern Montgomery County in Maryland’s “wine country” so probably not too far. PAM Dirac is in Frederick which is the county to the north. I carefully checked that the farm that abuts my property was in Montgomery County’s Agriculture Reserve (so it doesn’t get converted into thousands of townhouses, which is happening to the farms about 10 miles south/southwest of my property) and discovered it has been bought by a local winery. They’ve put up poles to get ready to grow vines and surrounded the 70 acres with deer netting, but I guess the vines happen next year.

    Your property and gardens are lovely.

    Maybe we can have a northern Maryland BJ meeting some day (in Frederick or Mt Airy for example).

  130. 130
    PAM Dirac says:


    discovered it has been bought by a local winery

    If it is just off 270 near the Hyattstown exit then that is the new Black Ankle property. They make excellent (although a bit expensive) wine.

  131. 131
    oldgold says:

    @PAM Dirac:

    Thank you for showing up early and staying late to discuss your vineyard/ garden. It was very informative and interesting.

  132. 132
    opiejeanne says:

    @Kay: We are having so many dead trees removed next week that I’m just sick about it, and I’m not just talking about the cost. Some of our firs are just dying, some sort of root rot brought on by the 3 years of drought followed by too much rain the past two seasons. The tree expert told us we’re in a drought right now, despite having broken all records for rainfall this year, and it’s going to rain today. He showed us a fungal growth on the back of one tree that’s a sign of serious trouble.
    The birch trees are being attacked by a beetle and we were too late with the treatment to save many of the ones on our back driveway. Some of the birches seem more resistant to them than others. The previous owner planted them in a line across the front of the property and along the back driveway. they’re a mix of varieties, some of them weeping birches, others not. I think the variety that was resistant that the expert pointed out, I think he called those river birches. Meanwhile, neighbors have cut down beautiful ones that had no damage at all, because picking up after them was a chore. Most of the tree “experts” that appear on our doorstep have a single solution for any tree problem: cut it down. We have watched them remove perfectly healthy trees “before they get sick like this totally different variety nearby”. They drive through our neighborhood because the area is thought to be wealthy and there are a lot of trees here.

  133. 133
    b says:

    @PAM Dirac: This farm is a couple miles south of the Mt Airy exit off I70. I believe the main winery with the showrooms, etc is located in Frederick County someplace (that’s the rumor from the previous owners of my new house). I haven’t actually moved in yet, so I haven’t had time to track it all down. The next farm over is now on sale. I am hoping another or same winery takes over that one also. The next farm over from that one already has turned into vineyards and flower gardens. It seems all the farms in this area are turning to grapes. The sellers told me the farms all used to grow corn in this area. As long as it isn’t turning into another Urbana/Clarksburg with literally thousands of townhomes, I’m happy.

  134. 134
    Miss Bianca says:

    @PAM Dirac: Ooh, thanks for the link! We haven’t tried a pyment yet, tho’ we live not too far from some excellent wine country on the Western Slope.

  135. 135
    Kristine says:

    @Kay: I’m surprised someone higher up didn’t fall on him for being rude.

    I completed the MG course at Chicago Botanic garden a couple of months ago. It’s the U of I extension program, but since I completed it through the Garden, I put in my volunteer hours there. I’m in the Plant Info group, which takes calls from the public. I think my manager would throttle anyone who treated a caller that way.

  136. 136
    PAM Dirac says:

    @b: I’m not sure which winery that is, but there is so much new activity I can’t keep up. I agree that vineyards are much. much nicer that masses of townhouses.

  137. 137
    debbie says:


    He’s the AntiGardner!

    I belong to a group on FB named Plant Identification and Discussion. It’s got more than a quarter million followers and is world wide. I have no garden, but I love the photos and I learn something (useless though it may be) every day.

    There are some of the rudest people in the world in this group. It’s like they live to abuse. Why do we have to identify poison ivy for the millionth time? Why don’t you get an app to identify it yourself? Who in the world doesn’t know what that is? It is not the group I’d ask for help if I needed it.

  138. 138
    Sure Lurkalot says:

    Amazing property! My urban garden was decimated Friday in an epic hailstorm. This after getting caught on the road in violent downpours two days in a row earlier in the week.

    Went out to dinner after the damage was done to eat and drink away the woe. No damage seen just 3 miles away. Clean up took hours yesterday, but we give up this summer, 2nd round after a slightly less damaging storm in early June. Sad, but this post cheers my heart.

  139. 139
    Jackie says:

    @JPL: unfortunately I am old and do not tweet. If someone who does wants to direct him to my comment on the original post Cosmo, who misses his late big brother ,would appreciate it. At least on my phone there is no contact list and I recall a warning they were disconnected until the new site.

    We are in western NC, but we are retired and can travel. Cosmo is good in the car.

  140. 140
  141. 141
    Kay says:


    Most of the tree “experts” that appear on our doorstep have a single solution for any tree problem: cut it down. We have watched them remove perfectly healthy trees “before they get sick like this totally different variety nearby”. They drive through our neighborhood because the area is thought to be wealthy and there are a lot of trees here.

    We have oaks that are in good shape but they’re huge and they’re such greedy trees. They just dominate and take everything out even beyond the drip line. They’re beautiful though and they provide so much shade I often don’t have to use air conditioning.

    The county planted a nice screen of spruce along a creek that runs alongside my law office. I was thrilled- they looked great for ten years and then one by one they browned out and died. It really was heartbreaking. I would hear the chainsaw and think “there goes another one”. Makes me wonder what’s in that creek. It all ends up in Lake Erie.

  142. 142
    Kathleen says:

    @JPL: I think it’s her best performance. She is truly chilling. I wonder what secrets about her emerge?

  143. 143
    StringOnAStick says:

    @debbie: Two summers ago our yard was included in the local native plant society tour. I told them that at best only 40% of our yard is native plants but it’s 100% xeric (low water use). Most of the people touring were quite nice but there were a few who basically wanted to argue that I had poor taste in not being 100% native. I finally just said that my hobby is landscaping, not enforcing vegetative purity.

    Xeric is getting easier to do now with more plants becoming available, but sticking strictly with natives in the Denver area is super restrictive. I’m into beauty, and xeric plants from other dry areas of the world give so much beauty.

  144. 144
    debbie says:


    Funny. There was a dust-up last week after someone got banned for screaming at someone else not to use Roundup. I know it’s a controversial issue, but bullying sure isn’t the way to convert others to your side.

  145. 145
    Kristine says:

    @debbie: I’m a member, too. Have yet to post a question. I would try to find the info myself first. I’ve had it up to Here with rude experts on the internet.

  146. 146
    jnfr says:

    My garden got a bit destroyed in a hailstorm this week.

    Colorado weather!

  147. 147
    debbie says:


    Then don’t go near the America’s Test Kitchens, Cook’s Country Fans page!

  148. 148
    opiejeanne says:

    @debbie: I wasn’t aware there was one. Thanks for the warning.

  149. 149
    Paul in Saint Augustine says:

    @PAM Dirac: I spent my career in the wine industry, sales. I had enough hands on experience with small family owned wineries to learn about grape growing. Basically the fewer bunches on a vine, the higher quality in the grape, since there is less competition for nutrients. Maybe you could drop fruit on a couple of vines per varietal, and see what the differences are. At any rate, good luck and happy farming.

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