Monday, July 28, 2008

Favorite Plants

A few weeks ago, I wrote to a few fellow garden writers in North American, asking what their favorite plants are. A bit of a silly question, I've come to realize, because what is a favorite plant today maybe replaced by a different one tomorrow.

Nevertheless, I heard back from Catherine Bohnert, Horticulture Specialist at the Thomas Jefferson Agricultural Institute in Columbia, Maryland, where she is in charge of planning, planting, and maintaining the Jefferson Farm & Gardens vegetable garden and orchard as well as some ornamental areas. Her favorie Daylily at the moment, from among 115 varieties in the garden, is the Jungle Beauty, which is indeed gorgeous. If I add any more Daylilies to my garden next year (it all depends on the weather!), I'll look for this one.

Another respondent has been Steven Biggs, who gardens in Toronto, Canada, and counts Brugmansias (Angel's Trumpet) among his favorite plants. He likes them well enough that he brings them indoors every Winter. I tried one last year, but it did not do well at all (my suspicion is that it likes cooler climates), so did not bother to take cuttings and overwinter them for this year. Neverthless, these are gorgeous ornamentals and gardens that offer the right environment should not be deprived of them.

And finally, I heard from Maya in Virginia, who likes the Hydrangea “Annabelle” very much. She is just starting a blog and I cannot refer you to it yet, but perhaps that opportunity will come.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

"Kiss Me Over The Garden Gate" is a purchase from the local Farmers' Market. I had never heard of it, but "the gourd lady", Miriam Parks Gruwell, who creates garden art out of gourds and other natural materials, told me about it the other week. Needless to say, I had to have one! This was the third of four plants I have now bought from her. The others are an Echinacea, a Purple Bean Vine and a Standing Verbena; all are doing very well, so the moral of this post is . . . ., if you have a Farmers' Market in your area, and plants are for sale there, buy them!
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Monday, July 7, 2008

My 2008 Favorite Annual

A summer garden in Georgia is not complete without a Petunia, but this year I've got to say that the Angelonia is my favorite annual. I first saw Angelonias at Park Seed in South Carolina last year (spectacular beds of them!) and again at the UGA trial gardens last month. I probably should have bought more than one when I saw them at a local nursery a few weeks ago, but I limited myself to one - and here it is, flanked by a Lavender and a Chives, with several Petunias around it. Good color combination and thanks to a rainbarrel (from Karen Alexander's "Rain Drops" in Suwanee) everything is surviving nicely.

Friday, July 4, 2008


Clearly worth the wait, the Chicago Knock-out I bought at the State Botanical Garden's plant sale last April, is the last Daylily to bloom in my 2008 garden. What a color! For next year, I'll have to rearrange some plants, including many Daylilies, and this one will receive a place of prominence. I can't wait for it to multiply and give me the opportunity to share it with other gardeners, including my daughters, who have become as impressed by Daylilies as I am. And imagine, four years ago I knew nothing about them, apart from the fact that the ugly tall blooms I saw in ditches all along North Georgia's roads and byways were called "Daylily". All it takes is a little education, a little research, a little encouragement (from the Butlers at Bloomin' Designs in Auburn) and lots of curiosity!

"Rescue Reward"

Last December, I was asked to help "rescue" plants from a property that was being sold to developers, so that gardeners this year could enjoy its numerous plants, shrubs, and ferns, rather then have them become bulldozer victims. I was assigned to an area of Daylilies and Liriope. An hour or two of digging, separating and potting resulted in many dozens of plants for a May community plant sale; my reward was a clump of intermingled roots that were impossible to separate. At home, I did the best I could - feeling like a surgeon trying to separate Siamese (oops - "conjoined", to be PC!) Twins - and even though I was not entirely successful, the effort was hugely rewarded by a new type of Daylily now in my garden. Here is one of them. I have no idea of its name, but it's very unlike any others I have in my landscape, where it is a welcome addition.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

200 years ago – almost

Next February, the birth date of a celebrated naturalist, geologist, biologist and author will see its 200-year commemoration.

Without him, chances are that many of us who are gardeners in the 21st century would not have taken up this hobby, career or obsession. He was that inspirational.

On the other side of the coin, many others vilify him to this day, especially in conservative regions such as North Georgia.

His work dominated much of the 19th century in his fields of study and expertise. He was the maternal grandson of another genius, a man whose work has resulted in the creation of housewares and decorative items we see in many homes in North America to this day, and he married a cousin from that same branch of the family. Although he was born in 1809, his longest surviving child did not die until 1943.

Do you know who this man was?