Friday, February 26, 2010


I had a telephone conversation with a client in the Caribbean this morning. He and his children had just taken their daily shower, he said - in the swimming pool! His family is more fortunate than many -- at least they have a swimming pool and it is still full.

Just as we, in the heat of summer, occasionally experience power "brown-outs", many countries to the south of us now experience "dry-outs", when water is simply turned off for a while, because there is not enough of it to go around.

Here is an article that illustrates the condition:

Scary, isn't it?

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Hello, Helleborus!

When Pat Bowen, to whom I owe my Master Gardener training -- indeed, my entire evolution as a gardener -- told me last year that Helleborus orientalis (Lenten Rose) does not necessarily require a lot of shade, I was skeptical. But, when she told me I could come to her 7+ acre garden and dig up some "babies" for my garden, I was there in no time at all. "Don't expect them to bloom next year (2010)", she told me. "They need time to mature, so give them a year or two." I was thrilled enough that all ten or twelve of them survived and did not expect what I saw today. Isn't this spectacular? A good omen for my 2010 garden?
A week ago today, I was playing in the snow, taking the kinds of photographs I have considered extremely rare for this part of the country. Today, in 60F/14C degrees, I had a great time having lunch outside on the patio, with birds in the trees and shrubs all around. Wow - such a change!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Outdoors and Indoors

The daffodils should be developing blooms by now; instead, they are just popping out of the ground. It's been that kind of winter! Indoors, meanwhile, the Christmas cacti have decided to bloom again. Very cheerful!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

As The Snow Melts . . .

. . . I’m playing with a spring garden lay-out and packets of seeds. After vowing to leave tomatoes well enough alone this year, I’ve got four different varieties to try, including “Black from Tula” (Tula International, which has nothing to do with tomatoes or gardening, is one of my clients). I’m also going to give a pepper named “Medusa” a try this year. All these from a source in Florida. From California, I have several herb seeds (e.g. a basil called ‘Profumo di Genova’), ‘Monet’s Garden Mesclun with a mouth-watering image on the packet, and old-fashioned flowers, including ‘Love in a Mist” – all from Renee’s Garden. From my own 2009 garden I harvested seeds of the Hyacinth bean vine, a spectacular dill that was a gift from Cheryle Maddox, and Monarda, Cleome, Baptisia and more. No matter how I approach this, it seems to me I need more space. Solution: more containers!

Birdfeeder in Snow

Good thing I bought another ten pounds of bird seeds the other day!

The leaning "stick" on the right side of the picture is a Tulip Poplar or Yellow Poplar that spontaneously manifested itself two feet from my house three years ago; I dug it up a few months ago and replanted it in the spot where a screen to my neighbor's backyard was welcome. Nothing wrong with my neighbor -- I'd just rather look at a tree than a house! This is a 'holding-your-breath' situation; if the tree leaves out and begins to grow again, I think its promise as a screen for the future is pretty secure!

The Sun Rises After The Snow

Just as the sun was rising this morning, the cardinals (here are three of them in a Viburnum) and other birds came looking for food. The sun caught the bent grass in one of the containers on my patio and then targeted its rays on a Crape Myrtle. It is still very cold (23F, -5C).

No Tea and Brioche Today

Yesterday afternoon, in the middle of the snow storm, there was no indication of a plant in the Chinese pot on my bistro table (there is one, a Viola, under several inches of snow). This morning, as the sun was rising, the snow was beginning to glisten and invite another picture. Not, however, an invitation for tea and brioche (or my neighbor Catherine's favorite: tea and scones). It will take a few more months.

Snow in North Georgia

The snow yesterday was magical and unexpected. The forecast had been for snow "mainly below I-20" with just a little (one to two inches at most) expected in some areas north of Atlanta. And what did we get? Four inches at least. It was spectacular.
In my garden, I photographed, from top to bottom: Sedum, Viburnum, Hydrangea, Crape Myrtle, Pyracantha, and Fothergilla.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Blue Daze

What a difference! Last June, this Blue Daze looked gorgeous - one of the best plants I kept on my potting bench all summer. And look at it now - poor thing! I'll have to go looking for a new one in a few months.

Birds in Snow

This picture was taken about 90 minutes after it started snowing this afternoon. There were at least a dozen cardinals in my garden when I opened the door to the patio. They all flew away, but these little guys -- I have no idea what they are -- stayed put to have their picture taken. The landscape is beautiful.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Groundhog Day

Hear Ye Hear Ye Hear Ye . . .

On Gobbler's Knob on this glorious Groundhog Day, February 2nd, 2010, Punxsutawney Phil, Seer of Seers, Prognosticator of all Prognosticators awoke to the call of President Bill Deeley and greeted his handlers, John Griffiths and Ben Hughes.

After casting a joyful eye towards thousands of his faithful followers, Phil proclaimed, "If you want to know what's next, you must read my text. As the sky shines bright above me, my shadow I see beside me. So six more weeks of winter it will be."

Our Southern "Phil", General Beauregard Lee, from his home at the Yellow River Game Ranch, concurs: a rainy day, not a ray of sunshine to be seen, and thus six more weeks of winter to come.

All in good fun . . .

Monday, February 1, 2010

Master Gardeners are Everywhere!

Carole Teja (right) and I had our picture taken by Charlie Miller at the Georgia Master Gardeners' Winter Conference in Gainesville Saturday before last.

Carole holds elected positions in both the Gwinnett County and State of Georgia Master Gardener organizations. Me? I just write . . .! :-)

Charlie has been a Georgia Master Gardener since 1992; his photographs regularly appear in The Scoop, the GMGA newsletter. The upcoming issue is no exception; my conference write-up will accompany Charlie's images. If you are a Georgia MG, look for your issue in the mail in early April.