Saturday, August 6, 2011

Garden in Distress

My garden is gasping for some cool air and a few drenching rains. It’s not unusual for us to have 90-95F (32-35C) summer temperatures, but a never-ending string of such days and only a scant shower every now and then – that is unusual!

Watering continues, a few times a week, but it’s not enough. It’s never enough. Serious thought now has to be given to a complete garden overhaul next spring, doing away with plants that cannot sustain themselves in summers like this year’s and bringing in others that manage to survive or even thrive. More Sedums and fewer Baptisias, Daisies and Daylilies. Stick to Angelonia and Zinnia for annual color and maybe Calibrachoa.

Joe-Pye Weed has always been a splendid part of my garden; this year, it is short and turning brown before it even has a chance to bloom.

The Butterfly Weed and Mexican Petunia are in distress. The Basil (in front, left of center) has given up and even the Lamb's Ear is not happy in this heat. The only thriving plant in this picture is a Switchgrass.

This Sage (center) is one of my favorite plants and I wonder if I'll see it again next year. Flanking Sedums are doing fine (although the one on the left had something, perhaps a rabbit, jump right in its center and does not look all that attractive any more) and the Gaura, no longer in bloom, tries to stay alive horizontally.

We need rain. And cooler temperatures.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summer Plants & Flowers in Far Northeast Georgia

Photographer Nada Powers Bunnell and I took a road trip into Rabun and Habersham counties yesterday. Lakemont Village was our specific destination, but we also drove through Tiger (another friend once co-owned an herb farm there), Batesville (stopped at The Mark of the Potter), and Clarkesville (where I bought a few pieces of yard art at the Clarkesville Corner Market). The flora along the way was too lovely to keep for myself, so here you can enjoy it also!

The dog was friendly, the chairs were uncomfortable, and the little blue birds were merrily chirping away!

Not everything bloomed . . . . .

. . . . . but a lot did, including a gorgeous Crape Myrtle:

And a bank of Cleome deserved a picture:

Thursday, July 14, 2011

To my new “Where Bloggers Create” friends . . .

My “creative studio” is a small piece of exurban Atlanta soil – yes, that notorious red stuff! (although, I am “lucky” with more sand than clay; easier to work, but just as much compost needed) – where I started gardening by accident a few years ago.

This beautiful little Moss Rose is an example of things that spontaneously pop up in my garden. It first emerged as what looked like a stonecrop next to a new Baptisia and it would logically have been removed to preserve the Baptisia’s image, but I left it alone and have now been rewarded with this pretty bloom.

Today, I am sharing it with you; enjoy!

Not everything in my garden is growing by accident; quite a lot of it in this eclectic mix of trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals has actually been planned! More than a few plants have originated at the UGA trial gardens in Athens, and most of my herbs started with seeds from Renee’s Garden.

The Cuphea came from the UGA trial gardens (this year). I’ve had the Alternanthera ‘Gail’s Choice’ for four years already (taking cuttings every fall, rooting them indoors during the winter, and starting with a new crop the following spring) and the Coleus ‘Red Head’ (now in its third year in my garden; propagation ditto the Alternanthera).

Basil and tomatoes are ever-present in my summer garden; the mozzarella is kept in the fridge!

As a garden writer, I am sometimes offered the opportunity by growers to “trial” plants myself. This year, I have two grasses, a Coreopsis, a Rudbeckia and a Hen & Chicks from Santa Rosa Gardens. All are doing well, I’m happy to report, with the switch grass probably the star of the bunch. Who knew? Isn’t this the stuff that’s been touted as a renewable energy source? Seems to me it would take millions of acres of switch grass to produce not very much bio fuel. But, let me stick to my areas of expertise and leave the science to others . . . :-)

Switch grass, with Lamb's East and Mexican Petunia; grasses ought to be incorporated in many more landscapes.

It’s a delight to participate in this year’s “Where Bloggers Create” party; I look forward to checking out some of the blogs of the hundreds of others who are at this feast.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Memorial Garden - a sweet place to visit.

Earlier today, after attending a lecture at NGCSU in Dahlonega, wandering around the square and surrounding streets, I happened across a Memorial Garden. It looked new, with lovely plantings, a serpentine gravel path, an energetic fountain and many benches.

I had never heard of Mary Lou Conner, but now know a little about her. I wish I could have known her.

Her son Glenn remains unknown to me, but if he was co-named in a garden that honors his mother, there must have been a reason for that. So, I salute him as well.

Thursday, July 7, 2011


OMG – I’m growing a tree! From seed! Make that ‘trees”.

In all the busyness of the spring planting season, I failed to mark some containers with freshly sown seeds (or marked them with the wrong ink . . .), which has caused a few surprises in the past several months, none more than a container with fairly rapidly growing seedlings that “I knew I know”, but could not name. A neighbor who is also a gardener did not know either. I split them up in three groups – one in a different container and two in the ground. Especially the plants in the first group kept growing rapidly (and I kept wondering “what is this?”) and it finally – duh! – came to me: Vitex, a/k/a/ chaste tree. I’m growing trees!

The original tree has been in my garden since October 2009 and I collected seed from it last year, not really knowing what to do with it. Evidently, these obscure seeds were among many I tried this year for the first time and to call the results the top success of my 2011 garden may not be overstating it. I had zero expectations, when I added these seeds to a container of soil a few months ago, and wow – look at these trees now!!

Five seedlings in a too-small pot; soon to be divided and made ready for friends' gardens.

A cluster of three . . . .

. . . . and one of two trees - all to be dug up and separated. 

"The Momma Tree" - reaching to shoulder height after 21 months in my garden. A new crop of seeds much in evidence!

The color, a clear lavender, is especially nice in combination with these tall dill. A month of color, so fleeting.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

July is for Zinnias

Most of them have started to bloom by the Fourth of July and will continue producing until the first frost -- a summer garden without Zinnias? Unthinkable!