Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall Colors

This Lagerstroemia indica (Catawba Crape Myrtle) has now been in my garden for about 18 months; still small, but look at those colors! It's a splendid specimen in spring, with purple blooms, and now in fall, with this orange foliage.

As this Sweetshrub is beginning to shed its leaves, the Georgia Aster next to it continues to bloom at its most brilliant. An early frost and many rainy days have diminished my garden's appeal. The Pineapple Sage, for an example, barely had time to bloom before the frost, and that spectacular new pale pink Chrysanthemum now sports a prematurely bedraggled look.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rain Garden Authors

Also speaking last Saturday were Helen Kraus (left) and Anne Spafford (right), the authors of "Rain Gardening in the South: Ecologically Designed Gardens for Drought, Deluge, and Everything in Between". Conference M/C Mike Doyle (DeKalb Master Gardener) is in the photograph with them.

Master Gardener Conference

This past week-end's conference, held at the George Busbee International Center for Workplace Development at Gwinnett Technical College in Lawrenceville (GA), included several prominent speakers, including Mike McGrath, the former Editor-in-Chief of Organic Gardening magazine, pictured here with Conference Registration Chair (and Cobb Master Gardener) Pam Bohlander.

Monday, October 19, 2009

What's with these temps?

It's the middle of October, and it freezes at night?

I came home late Saturday afternoon from the Georgia Master Gardener conference and the first thing I did was turn the heat on. This is not normal! It should be seventy degrees today. Instead, this morning I woke up to white lawns and white roofs. I've been outside the past two days, to take Coleus, Plectranthus and Alternanthera cuttings and I've brought four of my five Walking Irises indoors (the "mother" I put in a gigantic pot a few weeks ago, because it had outgrown the pot it came in last summer, but it's too big for any place in my house [at least, any place that is not a bathroom without windows . . .], so I've got to go and buy another, somewhat smaller, pot for another transplantation and then find a place for it . . . . where? The dining room, most likely. The four "babies", meanwhile, have grown enormously and my friend Pat tells me to keep an eye on them, because they will bloom in January or thereabouts - for one day only.

None of this should be happening now; it should have been possible for us to have another two or three weeks of "normal" autumn weather.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another Gorgeous Arrangement

Now you have seen two of the truly beautiful flower arrangements conferees will encounter at their luncheon tables tomorrow. I suppose each table will have a lucky person who gets to take the arrangement home with her. Then again, who knows . . .?

Fall 2009 Master Gardener Conference

Not yet officially open, the informal kick-off of the conference has begun! The North Fulton group came to the Busbee Center this afternoon, to set up the luncheon tables. I would not have chosen the black table cloths (this is not a funeral), or made the floral arrangements for the tables 2 and 3 feet high, but my opinion was not solicited, so I am not complaining! The arrangements, of which there are about 20, are beautiful. This is only one of them - very attractive.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Mexican Petunia

Not only is the Mexican Petunia still blooming its heart out, even the Salvia 'Cherry Queen' still has blooms in it and the Sweet Basil still has big fat bumblebees descending upon its remaining few blooms. October gardens in Georgia . . . . not bad!

Not a Garden Plant

I share a house with Praline; she got me a few years ago, when I just happened to walk through a pet store, saw an "adoption niche" and took a good look at this cat. At least part of her early life must have been miserable. She and I got along just fine, from the first moments, but it took her months before she would come out of hiding (below the skirted sofa on which this picture was taken) and let anyone else touch her. The school bus, the garbage truck, the FedEx and UPS trucks would cause a frantic dash to her hiding place and the doorbell terrified her.

Little by little, it got better and yesterday we had a breakthrough. We both heard the UPS truck coming down the street; she sat up straight and looked to the front door. The truck stopped and she jumped from her bed on my desk to the floor, running toward the stairs. Soothingly speaking to her, she stopped at the top of the stairs and even when the doorbell rang, she stayed sitting there, returning to jump back on my desk when we heard the truck leaving. Wow - such progress!

Asters in my Garden

Robin Lane Fox, writing in today’s Financial Times, mentioned asters. He stays away from the novi-belgii varieties, he wrote, and instead prefers the novae-angliae forms. That made me think. I have only two Asters in my garden, a Japanese and a Georgia, and it made me curious about their official (Latin) names. Both still had their original tags, stuck in the ground next to them, so I went outside, pulled the tags out and now know that I am growing a Asteromoea mongolica and a Symphyotrichum georgianum. How “mongolica” translates into “Japanese” and how anyone could ever in a snap identify a “Symphyotrichum” as an aster is beyond me, but, needless to say, a serious gardener should know her plants’ Latin names. I’ll have to remember that, if I ever decide to garden for anything more than pure enjoyment.

Oh, and another thing, when I lived in England, I had never heard of asters. But I sure recognized Michaelmas Daisies!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Lemon Verbena

As if my garden needed another plant . . . ., especially a tender perennial in October . . . . Oh, well! I stopped off at the Hall County Garden Expo yesterday afternoon and this is the plant that came home with me. It will probably have to spend the Winter indoors (as if the inside of my house needed more plants . . . .), but as long as it makes it till next year, it will have been a good (modest) investment.

Swamp Sunflower

Among the first perennials I bought after becoming a Master Gardener, I have over the years been more than happy to "share the wealth" and give many of these invasive plants away. Last year, it even occurred to me that I should eradicate them all from my landscape. Now I am glad I saved a few of them; so cheerful on a cool October morning! Its neighbor, a Rosemary, is in bloom also (it's always in bloom!), but cannot compete with the Swamp Sunflower's showiness.

October Red

Although I prefer a "cool" garden, with whites, pinks, lavenders and purples, a Pineapple Sage, because it blooms so late in the season, is always a welcome presence, especially on days like today, when the morning air is a bit chilly and the fog lingers beyond sunrise. With a Maple tree to its left, a Pine tree and a huge Rosemary to its right and an Angelonia just below it, I hope this shrubby herb will come back this year (I'll have to find some new Angelonias again next April).

Autumn Blooms

This Chrysanthemum almost did not make it to make garden. A young woman selling a variety of plants at the Hoschton Farmers' Market earlier in the year touted this plant as an "old-fashioned, late-blooming heirloom" ("heirloom" sells, right?). When she said it had pink flower, I was convinced. It is, in fact, a delightful plant (prettier than shown in this early morning photograph) and the first thing I see every day when I open my dining room blinds. I think the seller's name was Kathy. So, Kathy, if you happen to read this . . . ., great recommendation! And, if you are at the market again next year, I may well buy a few more from you!