Friday, June 26, 2009

The Bugs Have Arrived

For several days already, the Japanese beetles ("June bugs") have been in evidence in my garden. I've seen two Black Widow spiders so far, grasshoppers are everywhere, as are the little gray snails that are finding too many tasty plants to feast on, and this morning I saw this butterfly napping under a leaf of one of my Hyacinth bean vines.

Well, it's June, almost July, and we are in Georgia; what can I say . . .?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gardenia - so pretty in June

The other is the Gardenia (this one came from a cutting a Decatur friend gave me when I first started gardening), which is not only a beautiful plant, but also brings forth these showy flowers with their intoxicating scent. It makes the weeding, watering and replanting so much more pleasant in the early morning hours, when I have to hurry and be inside again before the heat of the day spoils the picture.

Blue Daze - early in the morning

Two plants in my garden delight the senses in the early mornings of hot late June days. This one, the Blue Daze, which opens its eyes as the sun's first rays peer over the Eastern horizon (or, less poetically, my neighbor's fence), and the Gardenia.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chinese Princess

As seemed probable, a week or two ago, I did misname that other Daylily. This is the Chinese Princess. It's in full bloom now and a joy to see every morning, but I certainly must to a better job of keeping track of which name belongs to which plant. Phew!
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I did not think I would ever be much interested in conifers, but I bought one (Cupressus chengiana var. jiangensis) three years ago, for $2 I think, put it in my garden, and . . . nothing! It was just 2 or 3 inches tall and I did not pay much attention to it, but 6 or 8 months later, when it had still not grown even a millimeter, I dug it up and put it somewhere else. Same thing happened there - nothing! Finally, I found it a third place in my garden, under a rapidly growing pine tree, where it would, I figured, die and be gone. Well, what do you know? Here it is, a year and a half or so after that last move, and it is growing taller and stronger by the day. Over 2 ft. now and there's no stopping it. Of course, I'll have to dig it up again towards the end of this year (as long as it's growing, it's too close to the pine tree) and find it a place of some prominence in my landscape. It's a beautiful little tree. The flowers beneath it, by the way, belong to some Germander - very nice herb. No culinary or medicinal uses I'm aware of, but I love those lavender-pinkish flowers!

Salvia & Salvia

The poor thing on the right deserved better. I bought these Salvias on the same day, a few weeks ago, at the same place and put one in a pot and the other one in one of my garden borders. Well, the slugs loved that one! I finally took pity on it, dug it up this morning and put it in a pot of its own. Whether it will survive or not is hard to tell. All I can do is try!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Begonia Bonita Shea

Plant No. 4 I am evaluating for Athens Select. It arrived, with the other 3, on May 13, and this is what I entered into my record then: "Very attractive, healthy-looking foliage and cute, small white flowers; brown roots. If the root system recovers, this can be a spectacularly beautiful plant." Well, I haven't looked at its roots since then, but the plant is now at least 3 times the size it was when it arrived and it is indeed spectacularly beautiful. And, believe me, that is high praise from someone who is not necessarily a begonia fan. (But that could change . . . .! :-))

Verbena Homestead Carpet Red

The Verbena I am evaluating for Athens Select looks a great deal better than I had expected it would when I opened the box it came in, just over a month ago. It constantly has at least for or five blooms at a time, its foliage is a healthy deep green, and it seems to like it just fine in a pot on a patio with southern exposure.


The Monarda looks better this year than ever before. attributable to . . . . lots of rain in early spring? Hot, hot days in late spring? The right location (afternoon sun) in my garden? Who knows; I'm simply gratified that it's so very showy in June 2009.

Monday, June 15, 2009

June 13 Daylily Show at Lakeshore Mall

There were hundreds of Daylilies at the show, last Saturday, and even more ribbons, but no plants for sale. I had a pleasant conversation with Suzanne Franklin of Jungle Paradise in Dawsonville, and picked up an information slip from Carolyn Rafter, Mountain Meadow Daylilies in Clayton, so I now have two more Daylily growers to visit (as soon as the gas prices go below $2/gallon again - and I'm not kidding!).

Friday, June 12, 2009

Daylily - Chinese Princess

It's easy, when the first Daylily of the season appears, to proclaim that one one's favorite (a Russian Rhapsody in my case, this year), but then the Chinese Princess reveals herself and . . . . is there anything prettier?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Yellow is not my favorite color, but who can resist a dill like this? It looks beautiful, it smells great, and its taste is delicious. There's enough of it in my garden for the caterpillars that have started to show up, and to use in my kitchen.

The Caterpillars Have Arrived!

Soon, there will be Swallowtail butterflies in my garden again. The first caterpillars are already gorging themselves on the dill and parsley I have planted to welcome them.

A Brilliant Salvia

This East Friesland is blooming spectacularly in my garden today, even though, in the photograph, its image is a bit obscured by a Carex in front and loooooooong "arms" of a Standing Verbena across and behind it.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Gardening, Writing, Promoting . . .

The Garden Writers Association's revamped web site is up and running; take a look! GWA has also formed a group on LinkedIn - available for discussions and the posting of news items.

I've been asked to serve on the GWA Web Marketing Task Force and am not quite sure yet what's expected of me in this capacity. The task force has been charged to "recommend a marketing plan to promote GWA website resources to potential employers and others in need of professional gardening communications talent" - this is huge!

I'll do my best to keep you updated, but the LinkedIn group may well have more details faster than I can post here. See

Sunday, June 7, 2009

So, what Grows well in Ninety Degree Weather?

Mind you, I grew up in Northern Europe, where a nice summer afternoon came with temperatures in the high sixtees and 80 degrees meant a heat wave. So, living in the Southern U.S. took some getting used to. And being a Georgia Gardener presents its challenges.

This is spring; summer is still a few weeks away, but let me assess the state of growth in my landscape. On the annuals front, the Angelonias and the Sweet Potatoes, as well as many of the Petunias, are doing well. I’ve added a few Alternanthera Joseph’s Coat today, and a bunch or Portulaca. So far, so good.

The perennials that are doing well are another Alternanthera (‘Gail’s Choice’) and most of the Salvias. But some did not come back from last year; that includes an Argentina, a Mystic Spires and the one expensive Black & Blue I added to my garden (the three ‘cheapies’ are doing just great!). The ‘Cherry Queen’ is blooming its little heart out, as are three new ‘Hot Lips’. Several van Houtii varieties are doing well.

A Lampranthus (ice pant) is magnificent again, now in its third year in my garden, but this is the first year in which not one of my Lantana came back; oh, well! Joe Pye Weed, meanwhile, has never looked healthier (or bigger, at this time of the season).

The Daylilies are just beginning to bloom and they look heroic, but one cannot help but wonder if they wouldn’t be happier in Pennsylvania or Kansas. The Lavender is spectacular, as ever, but the flowers droop in the afternoon heat. The Shasta Daisies, if given the chance, would probably vote for transplanting to New York or Illinois. The Verbena Bonariensis (‘Standing Verbena’) is in full bloom and the Japanese Aster is showing its first flowers. I recently added a Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant) to my garden and am looking forward to seeing it bloom later in the year. I’m also the fortunate recipient of some Virginia Sweetspire cuttings (three out of four are doing well and the fourth one, though seemingly rather ‘critical’, isn’t quite dead yet).

The Foxgloves have been blooming very nicely this year, but the Hollyhocks, though blooming profusely, don’t look all that happy (the ones I had in my garden in Surrey, England, were so much more perky!). I have a gigantic outdoor Plectranthus, which does not look like a Plectranthus, and a much smaller indoor one, which does – the latter in bloom, the former just getting bigger by the day. The Phloxes are looking great – no blooms yet, but such vigorous growth! And so are the Yarrows (white and ‘Paprika’) – I just bought a new one (pink) yesterday and am looking after it in its pot until I decide on just the right place for it in my landscape.

Last year, without question, the Salvia was my favorite perennial; this year, it might well turn out to be the Yarrow.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Athens Select

One of the four trial plants sent to me last month, the Verbena (Homestead Carpet Red), has now clearly decided to live. Not only that, but it is also sending forth an entire bouquet of blooms.

All four of the trail plants are now doing well and I plan to post more pictures of them here, in the coming months.
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Thursday, June 4, 2009

It's June - Daylily Time!

Ever since I started incorporating Daylilies into my landscape (encouraged by the Buttlers of Bloomin' Designs), it's been interesting to see which one will be "first" in spring. This year, it's the Russian Rhapsody (purchased several years ago from a grower at the Daylily Show at Lakeshore Mall in Gainesville); pretty, isn't she?

Open House - The Gardens at UGA

Saturday, July 11, 2009, 8:00 am – 12:00 noon rain or shine
Donation of $5.00 is appreciated.

Directions: Detailed directions are located at

The Trial Gardens at UGA are nationally known for trialing annuals and perennials for the Southeast, and developing new plants for the Horticulture Industry. For example, you can find the Athens Select plants and the new Southern Living line of plants in the Gardens at UGA. “If you really want to know what plants perform well in Georgia visit our Gardens in July and August to see which plants are thriving in our heat and humidity,” states Trial Garden founder Dr. Allan Armitage. Although this garden is open to the public year-round, this special open house on the morning of July 11th also offers:

-Guided tour by Dr. Allan Armitage
-Plant Sale
-Book Sale and Signing of Dr. Armitage’s books
-Rain Barrels for sale
-Area gardeners and UGA Horticulture Club members to offer advice
-NEW: Art in the Garden!

Proceeds from donations and plant sales will be used to fund upkeep of these world-renowned gardens. This is a unique opportunity to learn about and buy plants that thrive in Georgia gardens.

Contact: Camille Evans