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!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

I’ve Got to Go and See Dr. Cool!

Not because I am not well, but because I have a plant in my garden I’d like to know more about.

It was given to me by a local farmer friend, identified as “Bracilla rubra” or “Brasilla rubra”, but I cannot find information about it on the web. After the small plant started growing (and growing!), I learned that it had originally come from Dr. Cool and that’s why I need to go and see him.

I was told that this is “the ideal food” – and it may well be. It certainly grows rapidly and it is also an attractive plant, so gardeners may want to have it around even if they don’t eat it. I have tried it – not a particularly wonderful taste, but good enough to add to a salad, and it did not kill me. At least it has not so far. But until I learn more, I think I will stick with known lettuces, arugula and spinach.

It looks good enough to eat, doesn't it? 

Leaf tips turn red-ish; hence, I suppose the "rubra" in its name. 

It pretty much quadrupled in size in a month's time. 

Before I find out more about it, I will keep it in a container on my patio,
accompanied by a variety of other pretty plants.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Daylilies Are Tough Plants

Despite the hot and dry weather of the past two months, some daylilies manage to thrive.

This one, name unknown, grows under a Pyracantha, next to a Crape Myrtle and a Virginia Sweetshrub; it is a favorite haunt of a ruby-throated hummingbird (he never sits still to have his picture taken!).

This bloom is on 1/3 of the original Chicago Knockout in my garden; the other 2/3 section was spit into three pieces earlier this year and they are also blooming now, including this one:

Soft Summer Night was beautiful a few weeks ago, but all its blooms are now gone. A new edition to my garden since April (from Shumake Daylily Garden in Jefferson, Georgia), it performed brilliantly, holding out much promise for next year.

Russian Rhapsody has, I'm afraid, not been given an optimal place in my garden and I will certainly move it in the fall to a location in which it will thrive. Others, of undistinguished or long-forgotten names, are doing a bit better, including one that loves its place next to a dwarf Nandina.

Plan for the fall . . .

Have another border dug, specifically for daylilies. My post-Labor Day shopping list includes Cosmic Caper, Joylene Nichole, Pewter Lake and Touch The Future.

"Touch The Future" -- who would not want to have this one in the garden?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

After The Storm

We had another fierce storm yesterday. It did not last very long (less than 15 minutes), but it dumped a great deal of rain and that has been good for my garden.

The prettiest flower this morning is the Cosmos ‘Rose Bon Bon’, which I am growing from seed from my favorite seed purveyor – you guessed it! – Renee’s Garden.

Pretty pink, don’t you think?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Georgia Gardens in Spring

I don't know if there is anything lovelier in spring Georgia gardens than an old-fashioned gardenia. Mine comes from a cutting I received from my friend Dorila Vinas in Decatur. Its scent starts every morning with wonder and determination. For now it's in this blog's masthead. Summer will bring a different image.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Plant Pairings

I once planted a section of my garden with Shasta daisies and Rudbeckia, believing that the white flowers with the golden centers and the yellow flowers with the dark brown centers would make a lovely combination. Problem is . . . the daisy blooms in May and the black-eyed Susan in September!

Another time, I did better with the Obedient Plant and some Salvias; they were a lovely combination.

When walking through part of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia this morning, a glimpse of clumps of Russian sage next to a generous planting of yellow Yarrow made the think of plant pairings again.

I went looking for more. And discovered Feverfew with Purple Coneflower.

And then Germander with both Santolina virens and Santolina chamaecyparissus.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Taken for Granted - Almost.

As gardeners, we are so busy in April and May – acquiring new annuals, getting them in the ground or in containers, maybe adding a perennial or two, cutting dead branches out of shrubs, cleaning up the last of the winter debris – that we pay scant attention to the plants that are “just there”. The shrubs and perennial flowering plants that we, well, take for granted. They cause us no problems, they require little or no attention, and while we spend our outdoors’ time with new Daisies or Daylilies, transplant Basil, Tomatoes, Cosmos and Impatiens we have started from seed into our gardens, and figure out if it’s time for the Pansies and Violas to go, they keep our landscape beautiful without any participation from us.

This morning, I decided to photograph a few of them. My garden is richer because of their presence.

This Germander has not looked this good in years. Some years it's stalky and woody, with more brown than green in evidence. I've owned this plant for eight years already -- since before I had my current garden.

Acquired as a small shrub in a one-gallon pot, this Viburnum is now huge. It took several years for it to bloom, but for the past two years it has been spectacular, covered in white blossoms early in the year. It is now showing an inclination towards berries in a few months. The birds will be delighted.

Last winter's red berries on this Nandina cheered up my garden on even the dreariest days; the coming crop looks equally promising.