Sunday, May 18, 2014

I'D RATHER BE GARDENING: 'Sweet Summer Love' - A Brand New Clematis from Proven Winners!

As promised in an earlier post, this is the second in my new series "I'd Rather Be Gardening" and I'm so excited to tell you about a new clematis now available from the folks at Proven Winners©. 

Photo courtesy of

I happened upon this jewel of a clematis while visiting Sunny Meadows Nursery in Boonsboro, MD last month. Similar to 'Sweet Autumn' (one of my all time faves), 'Sweet Summer Love' promises to provide over 2,000 sweetly fragrant blooms in a single growing season and is easy to grow. What more could you want?!!!

Photo courtesy of

Well, maybe not the FIRST growing season, but I promise to report back on that at some point in the future. What I CAN tell you is that its been in the ground here in Zone 6b/7a for nearly a month and it has doubled in size.

Photo courtesy of

Now, before you move on or run out to find this lovely clematis yourself, be sure to check out my last post on my visit to Winterthur Gardens and Estate recently. They are hosting a wonderful exhibit "Costumes of Downton Abbey" which inspired my current GIVEAWAY CONTEST - something you don't want to miss!

Hope you enjoyed your visit today, but I gots to run because...
I'd Rather Be Gardening!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

A Visit to Winterthur Museum's Costumes of Downton Abbey Exhibit AND a Very Special Giveaway Contest!

Earlier this month I had the great good fortune to take a bus trip with a group of like minded gardening enthusiasts and Downton Abbey series fans to visit Winterthur Museum and Country Estate in Winterthur, Delaware. (The estate has its own post office!) As an added bonus, the museum was hosting an exclusive exhibit, Costumes of Downtown Abbey, which inspired today's very special GIVEAWAY CONTEST for a chance to win one of my porcelain ceramic creations.


A grove of magnolia nearing the end of its bloom - we made it just in time!
When we set off in the wee hours that morning, the weather was expected to be a little “iffy” but by the time we arrived we could not have ordered a more perfect day.

Designed by H. F. du Pont to resemble clouds in the sky, each bed is comprised of a separate variety of Narcissus.
Winterthur (pronounced “Winter-tour”) had its beginnings in the early 19th century soon after Pierre Samuel du Pont de Nemours and his family arrived in America and settled in the Brandywine Valley. 

H. F. du Pont had scores of Virginia Bluebells brought in from his cousin's nearby estate and transplanted at Winterthur.
Now situated on 982 acres, including 60 acres of naturalistic garden, it was originally comprised of 2,500 acres when it functioned as a working farm and estate.

Faerie Cottage at the Enchanted Woods, a unique children's garden installed in 2001.
Henry Francis du Pont inherited the estate in 1927 and dramatically increased the size of the property and its renowned collections of American decorative arts, then opened the estate to the public in 1951.

The privileged lifestyle of the American Du Pont family during the first half of the 20th century is contrasted with that of the fictional character’s in the award-winning British television series Downton Abbey


Season 1 Finale: Lord Crawley announces "....we are at war with Germany."
The collection of historically inspired costumes on display at Winterthur’s Costumes of Downton Abbey is accompanied by photographs, vignettes and floor to ceiling excerpts from scripts, allowing visitors a chance to step into and experience a world of afternoon tea in the drawing room and garden parties on the lawn.

Whether upstairs or down, all were represented in the collection.
This intimate look at the costumes reveals the attention to detail and authenticity attributed to many of the designs. While some of the costumes may be embellished with vintage fragments of lace or other finery,  some of them are actual vintage garments. In one instance a coat with a tear at the bottom necessitated that the character be filmed sitting behind a table.

Absolutely my favorite of all the displays, Mathew's Proposal! The much-adored scene played in a continuous loop in an atmosphere made even more magical by the exhibit's superb lighting effects.
Costumes of Downton Abbey was an original idea conceived by a team of creatives within the Winterthur organization and is the only exhibit of its kind. It runs through January 2015 and I urge everyone to fit this wonderful exhibit into your calender!

As both a gardener and a huge fan of the Downton Abbey series, my trip to Winterthur was certainly a day to be remembered.


I'd like to celebrate my gratitude to all of you for visiting my blog and most especially my gratitude for the ability to express my joy of English garden-inspired porcelain ceramic art. One lucky winner will receive a small custom handbuilt porcelain ceramic platter similar to the one shown above, created by me at my studio here at The Crane's Nest.

This costume worn by ? created quite a stir in the Downton Abbey household!
To enter the contest, you simply need to do 2 things: (1) comment below and name your favorite Downton Abbey character, and (2) email me (claybakin247 at and tell me the FULL name (including title) of the character who wore the costume in the above photo.

COMMENTS: You may need to click on the post title above to reload the page in order for the Comments section to load. Also, you don't need a Disqus account to comment - you can simply comment as a guest.

Winner will be announced on June 30. I hope you enjoyed reading about Winterthur today!

Time to say Goodbye!
One last note before I go - be sure to visit Vicki over at 2 Bags Full because she is having a HUGE giveaway contest. You'll have another chance to win one of my creations as well as numerous other lovely items that Vicki has posted for the possibility to win.


This contest is now closed, and the lucky winner is:

Linda Meyers