Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hello, Hellebores!

Today is the first day of the year that, with 67F, we can be outside without coats, hats and gloves, so it was time to go exploring in my garden. And sure enough . . ., covered in 6 or more inches of show less than two weeks ago, I found three Hellebores reaching for the sun today!

Needless to say, there are better Hellebore picture galleries to look at, but at least I'll have a few blooms of my own to photograph soon.

In some parts of my garden, the Daffodils are also beginning to pop out of the ground. Can Spring be far behind? Well, yes, actually, it can. But there are hopeful signs in my garden this 29th of January, 2011!


Pity the companies whose catalogs land in my mailbox the same day Renee’s Garden’s arrives; they will be lucky to get a quick glance.

What makes Renee’s Garden’s so outstanding? Well, first of all, it is pleasing to the eye. It is also well-organized. And . . ., I guess it does not hurt that a seed packet is bound to accompany it. Great marketing tactic!

From last year, one of the garden flower seeds I liked best was Cerinthe ‘Pride of Gibraltar’. Not having heard of Cerinthe before (remember, I am still a relatively new gardener . . .), I had no idea what to expect. Well, this plant made itself at home in my garden and persevered as others wilted in our hot summer of 2010.

In the vegetable category, the lettuces were my masterpieces and made welcome appearances at my table – both in Spring and in Autumn.

So, what am I ordering this year? More lettuces, of course, also an arugula, and a white lavender I have not tried before. There is an Alyssum mix I’ve got to have: ‘Summer Romance’, and I am confident that the Zinnia ‘Bling Bling’ will be an asset to my garden this year – keeping my fingers crossed that the humidity keeps itself in check! And, I am going to test Renee’s Garden’s ‘Easy to Grow Container Herb Garden’. Many of my neighbors complain of having been born without a green thumb and I hope my trial of this combination of cilantro, basil, chives, dill and parsley will set them straight; I can’t wait to take my containers to them as a welcome to our local garden club.

Gardens and Social Media

Yesterday, I spent a few hours at WinterGreen 2011, the annual conference and trade show of the Georgia Green Industry Association and learned a lot in a short period of time.

I had pleasant conversations with Patricia deVroomen of Marlboro Bulb Company and Rose Duncan of Callaway Gardens, said hello to Mary Kay Woodworth of the Metro Atlanta Landscape and Turf Association, who introduced me to her assistant, Kathy Johnson, caught a glimpse of Connie Cottingham of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, received a collapsible plastic vase (who knew?) and plant virus testing kits from the Agdia rep on the exhibit floor, picked up a paper (“Progress Report”) about ornamental blueberry varieties, and listened to Geri Lauffer as she gave a presentation on Social Media.

She did a good job, talking about Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn, gave tips for getting started and reminded her audience to “stop pushing out advertising; invite people in and engage with them” – the heart of effective Social media practices.

This is, as I have experienced over the past five years, not an industry that gladly embraces change. There are still many growers, plantsmen and landscapers whose businesses do not have adequate web sites (or any at all!), they still use generic e-mail addresses, instead of proprietary ones, and they profess not to have time for Social Media, or are convinced it’s anything more than an amusing way to spend some time they already don’t have to spare. That Social Media can drive sales is unexplored territory for them. Too bad! I have suggested “The New Handshake: Sales Meets Social Media” to one of the conference’s organizers, and some training sessions with Barb Giamanco.

I wouldn’t care (this, after all, is not the only industry that is root bound . . .) if it were not for the fact that I love gardening and everything related to it.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Snow - Day 5: Shoveling

The City of Atlanta is not prepared for a snow storm like the one that began last Sunday night and continued all day on Monday - and neither am !

Clearing the driveway -- or at least attempting to -- started with a rake, hacking through the ice layer on top of the snow. Then a broom and a shovel. Then pails of hot water. Ice chunks loosened on top "floated" down the ice sheet to the bottom of the driveway, into the gutter, where they eventually melted. I got the job done 2/3 of the way. Today's 40F should make clearing the rest easier. I want salmon and potatoes with dill for dinner tonight. The supermarket is two miles away . . . :-)

The Frozen South

On the fourth day after the snow and ice storm, almost everything remains covered in snow with a glistening layer of ice on top. On Wednesday, the temperature got above freezing (for about an hour) for the first time since Sunday. The dry, cold air has shrunk the snow cover somewhat, but what looked exciting on Monday is now little more than a nuisance.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Birds in Snow

This Viburnum has never been more popular.

Mourning Doves in a Pine Tree . . . .

Ornamental grasses make a good perch and feeding opportunity.

I'm glad I stocked up on bird seed, but twenty-five pounds may not have been enough! The fat Cardinals intimidate the smaller birds.

Do they want to come inside?

Snow, again!

Where's my driveway . . .?

All covered up!

Birds in Butterfly Bush.

Tea this afternoon?

Where are the Pansies and the Violas?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Great Start to the New Year for North Georgia Gardeners

Wilf Nicholls, Ph.D., the garden's new director, talked about Newfoundland (his former home) at a "Friends of the Garden" breakfast this morning at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens.

Awaiting the speaker . . ., and breakfast!

Not only is he extraordinarily knowledgeable, but he is also a fabulous story-teller and since we Southerners often are oblivious of the world "out there", a story with interesting points is bound to draw us in.

Who knew that Newfoundland has 48 native species of orchid? I certainly did not! Or that St. John's is located at the same latitude as Seattle (such a different climate, though!), or that the island has no soil. The Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) Botanical Garden, where Dr. Nicholls worked (since 1997) before coming to Georgia, makes its own soil, composting 40 to 50 truck loads of leaves that are brought in every autumn.

He also talked about the history of the province of Newfoundland & Labrador, including the death, in 1829, of the last living member of the Beothuk tribe, the early industry (cod fishing) and the current one: oil.

Future "Tales of the North" have been promised; I, for one, am eagerly looking forward to them.