Monday, May 26, 2008

Gaura is another plant I like a lot; bought just a year ago, at the Master Gardener plant sale at the UGA Trial Gardens, it survived last Summer's drought beautifully and has grown substantially.
This Mystic Spires Blue Salvia is surrounded by English Ivy, Rosemany, Daylilies and Lavender.
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Favorite Plants

It occurred to me, when I started my current garden nearly four years ago, that I should focus on one specific plant or variety and "get really good at it". When I mentioned this to a local grower, he suggested Daylilies - beautiful, easy to grow, "you can't kill them", and abundant producers of blooms. When I bought my first three plants from him, his gift to me was a tiny Lavender. I now have about a dozen Daylilies in my garden (Chinese Princess, Russian Rhapsody, Chicago Knockout and others, including a few surprises from a plant rescue mission last winter), but it was that little Lavender that really attracted me. It is now about four feet in diameter and about to bloom for the fourth year in a row. I've added other Lavenders over the years, but it's only been the "Provence" that has done well. Nevertheless, when the oldest of them began to sprawl too much last year, with opening centers, I decided to make something else my favorite plant and began looking into Salvia. I already had Blue Salvia and Common Sage in my landscape, but added Russian Sage and Pineapple Sage last year - both doing well - and finished the collection up earlier this year with East Friesland Sage, Argentina Blue Sage, Mystic Spires Blue Salvia and Salvia May Night.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Ready-Made vs. the Easy-does-It Gardener

I have a friend who early every Spring (sometimes too early – a sin we all commit from time to time) visits one of the Big Box stores in the area, hauls way an SUV full of large, blooming plants, puts them in containers around her deck, or gets someone to plant them in her landscape, and she is done for the year. She is a Ready-Made Gardener.

By contrast, I am an Easy-does-It Gardener, by which I mean that I start with the smallest plants I can find, not yet in bloom (this can result in some surprises a few weeks later!), or take tiny cuttings – inadvertent ones sometimes, when I break something off a plant and don’t want to throw the tiny thing away – and watch to see them grow, week after week. Or die. Yes, that happens also. More often than not, though, the little things manage to survive, begin to thrive and provide months or years of joy. A case in point is Sedum Autumn Joy. I found three pathetic, half-dead orphans on a hidden shelf at a nursery a few years ago and now have seven large, gorgeous plants in my garden – and have given away at least half a dozen more.

It does not matter if you are a Ready-Made or an Easy-does-It Gardener; what matters is that you enjoy working in your garden and the results of your work. Here’s a picture of the chocolate Hollyhock that has just started on bloom on the South side of my house. A biennial, this plant is one of six announcing their presence this year, four years after I put the first seeds in the soil. Go figure!

Friday, May 9, 2008


The rain gods parked themselves over my house and garden last night and bestowed their generosity on us. I found a freshly filled rain barrel this morning, a vibrant garden and even if the soil was not exactly drenched, my plants certainly shared the appreciation I felt. More rain to come on Sunday . . . .? We hope so!

Monday, May 5, 2008

Planet in Peril?

That’s not a “typo”. I did mean to write “planet”, not “plant”, but it does all come down to the same thing. How many plant species can we afford to lose, how much “greenhouse gas” can we absorb, how much converted fossil fuel can we afford to spew into the air, before our planet becomes irreversibly damaged?

On Saturday I attended a lecture by noted botanical photographer and master naturalist Debra H. Davis, followed by a walk in the woods, where we looked for and found a number of the wildflowers she had talked about and of which she had shown us some of her beautiful images.

The Strawberry Bush (Euonymus americanus) was beginning to show buds, as is also the case with the one I have in my garden. Violets were everywhere, as were the aptly-named Flame Azaleas (Rhododendron calendulaceum), as well as Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) not yet in bloom, and we saw one Beetleweed (Galax urceolata) with a flower spike and bunches that will no doubt develop blooms in the weeks to come. In a microenvironment, there were more than half a dozen Pink Lady’s Slippers (Cypripedium acaule) in their palest finery. We were told their color deepens over time, and learned that the Laurel Ridge spot in which we saw them (perhaps 20x30 feet) has been followed by Debra and her husband, Larry, for nearly 11 years, mainly to watch how well they are reproducing at the Conservation Center in a designated area.

Part of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Smithgall Woods is a hidden treasure. And that may not be a bad thing for its diverse and in some cases rare flora.