Saturday, June 28, 2008

Chinese Princess

There is no doubt that Russian Rhapsody got the prize for "first bloomer" of the Daylilies in my 2008 garden, but isn't this Chinese Princess breathtakingly beautiful also?

Friday, June 27, 2008

A Rose is a Rose, is a Rose . . .

Roses, frankly, aren't my thing. I have not yet been able to convince my children of that, who continue to bring me roses, but for the most part I am not thrilled. A notable exception is a pink Kock-Out, which is beginning its second bloom of the season, with this bud a perfectly lovely example this morning.
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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Lake Lanier

This morning, as I was digging Bermuda tendrils out of the pine isles in which three of my Crape Myrtles grow, I was struck by the dry earth underneath the mulch. Hard as rock in some places. Our severe drought continues for the second year. Yes, we did have a little rain last Saturday, and a bit more on Sunday, but overall this is not a promising summer for North Georgia gardeners.

My Crape Myrtles are trying to bloom, but the tops of the branches that bear the flower clusters, which in normal years look lush and abundant, are small and almost shriveled and the thought occurred to me that no matter what, there may simply not be enough water in Lake Lanier to save them. Not just in my garden, but all across the region.

In the meantime, the floods “up north” continue to dominate the evening news on TV. We had a President once in this country, more than forty years ago, who had a big vision – “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” – and I wonder if we can have such a leader again. Someone who can inspire the country to “do something” that would make it possible for Iowa floods to be abated and Georgia droughts to be ameliorated.

Meanwhile, I think I’ll go outside and smell the Gardenias; at least they look better than those poor Crape Myrtles.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

One of those "passalong" plants . . . .

Somewhere in one of my gardening books, the author mentions that a Rose-of-Sharon is "one of those passalong plants that some people believe has passed itself along a little too often". It is certainly true that older houses all over North Georgia have one or two - or many! - in their front yards. In newer developments, however, they are far less ubiquitous (perhaps because they are considered to be "old fashioned" - and who wants to be regarded as such?), but look at this flower - isn't it beautiful?

Of the two in my garden, this is by far the most stunning; I picked it up for $2 at a community garden sale and a srawny little thing without much promise it was. The other one, a glorious shrub when I first saw it and which cost me $18 at an area nursery, has turned out to be a poor specimen by comparison. If it produces any noteworthy blooms this summer, I'll post a photograph. Shows you that you can't judge a plant by its appearance when you first see it.
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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Rusellia hybrid

When I first saw it, from a distance, I thought it was a Gaura, but closer-up its different leaves and flowers are distinct. I don't know if it will be on the market next year, but google it from time to time and you may find a source for it.

UGA trial gardens

I went to Athens this morning, to take a look at the plants growers will focus on in the coming winter and retail nurseries will have for sale next spring. Lots and lots of "good stuff". Here, in the mid-foreground, is a bed of red and white Vinca. There were gorgeous Geraniums, spectacular varieties of Coleus (ask for "Gold Brocade" at your favorite nursery - your garden should not be without it!), beautiful double Impatiens, a "Lanai Peach" Verbena, Angelonias in white, blue, lavender and pink, and a Rusellia hybrid that made quite a splash. Check the Athens Select web site for more information.

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Thomas Jefferson in My Garden

There are, for many gardeners, few more rewarding moments than discovering a hitherto unknown plant, being able to buy it for $1 and finding just the right garden spot for it. That's my experience today! I had never even heard of the "Thomas Jefferson Purple Bean Vine", but I now have one in my garden, thanks to a knowledgeable gardener at this morning's Farmers' Market. Here it is! Between the patio and the drainpipe, which it will be encouraged to climb as it grows, and keeping company with a tall Cilantro, this little plant is supposed become a tall climber with beautiful purple flowers in late summer and fall. Excellent!
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Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Russians Are Here!

Eagerly awaited, there simply had to be a Daylily in bloom this morning (rain last night - not much of it, but very, very welcome); the only unknown was . . . . which one? The Chinese Princess is not far behind, but the Russian Rhapsody was the first to show its colors in my 2008 garden - and what colors they are! Combined with the Lavender Provence and the Salvia Mystic Blue Spires, the Russians are presenting a delightful display in one corner of my garden today. In general, the heat and drought have not done the Daylilies any favors; most look stressed, with fading foliage, but there's more rain in the forecast and I am keeping my fingers crossed for more gorgeous blooms soon. Some of the Daylilies in my garden came to me from a "plant rescue" last December, so I don't know yet what sort of flowers they will produce, but the plants look good. The same cannot be said of a Chicago Knockout, which I bought last April at the Botanical Garden in Athens. The most expensive Daylily in my garden, it has to date not even sent up a flower stalk. I am not, however, giving up on it, and give it a few words of encouragement every morning!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Another Gorgeous Salvia

In addition to the Black & Blue, the Argentina Blue is also starting to bloom. After several days of 90+ degrees weather (and no rain), my garden is beginning to show some signs of stress, but the two Salvias I photographed this morning are doing well. The Lavender is doing well also, with most of them in bloom, and the Hydrangeas are looking better this year than last. The Pineapple Sage I had worried might not re-emerge this year is growing bigger by the day. No Daylilies in bloom yet; almost all of them have flower stalks popping up and a few blooms should open in the week ahead. The Shasta Daisies are still looking good, although this is clearly not an optimal environment for them, and the Sedums Autumn Joy are growing like weeds. Balancing the good (nice plants, for the most part doing well) and the bad (hot temperatures and lack of rain), my garden still comes out on the positive side, but I do hope it will rain soon.
The Black and Blue Salvia is now beginning to bloom and I am so glad I found this plant.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Gardening – a hazardous occupation?

One would not expect to find gardening on a list of hazardous occupations, but I can tell you – and prove it! – that it is!

More than 72 hours ago, as I was weeding and clipping and deadheading, I was accosted by an invisible enemy. I still don’t know what it was – prime suspect is a fire ant – but my right ankle became red, swollen and itchy like nothing’s ever been itchy before. What a nuisance! The swelling made the skin so taut that it burst in several places and I rubbed inches of it off before it subsided. Now, 3 days after the incident, the swelling and itching have somewhat abated, but the redness is still very noticeable. This morning, I wore socks inside my crocs in my garden, just in case. Imagine, socks in a Georgia garden on a day when the temperature is going to be in the 90s!

I’m happy to share my space; grasshoppers, spiders and ladybugs live in my garden, the bumblebees are feasting on my Lavender, the dreaded Japanese beetles will begin showing up soon, and I’ve already seen three black widow spiders so far this year, but it’s the miserable fire ants that make me wonder if a hazmat suit for gardeners could be a viable business concept. Just kidding!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Black & Blue Salvia

I did not go looking for another Salvia last Saturday (I needed a few more petunias for one of the borders), but when I saw a gorgeous display of Black & Blue Salvias, I had to have one; this makes the ninth Salvia/Sage variety in my garden. It's in the foreground in this photograph, not yet fully in blooom, and it is a bit overwhelmed by the chocolate Hollyhock right behind it, but it is a very attractive plant, looks strong and healthy, and I'm counting on it to be a focal point in my garden for years to come. Oh, yeah, the petunias -- I got them also; pictures to follow!