Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Little Garden


Hey ya'll, as promised I am back to my blogging. I’m not sure if I can be quite as dedicated to it as I was before for the simple reason I just have too many other obligations right now. I’ve joined some local organizations and I'm dabbling in some other things. My classes and meeting take up four nights a week so I’ll just have to blog as time permits. I’m also VERY excited about the possibility of something else new in my life and I’ll share that with you as the time gets closer.

Several weeks ago I wrote a story and I thought I would share it with you guys. Maybe it will resonate more with some of you than it does others. :-) I hope you all enjoy it.

The Little Garden

Once upon a time there was a young man that was very sad and lonely. Every night as he went to bed he would pray to God that he would be given a way to share his love and he would cry himself to sleep in pain and loneliness. But God heard his prayers and unknown to him he was already in the process of making them a reality. For God knew of a tiny plot of land that was barren and unattended and in need of love and friendship. For years God listened as the tiny space of dirt called out to him. Dear Father, I am so alone. People pass by me daily and none even care to give me a second glance. I have so much to offer and I know I am capable of such great things if you will just send me the one that will believe in me and work with me to make it all happen.

One day a very wise woman passed the barren area; it was almost as if she sensed the pain coming from the land. She stopped to gaze at the area and spoke, just as if she knew the soil could hear her and said, “The one you are waiting for will come very soon and together you shall create the most beautiful garden filled with love, happiness and beautiful blooms. The garden cried out in such joy, in hope that the wise woman would hear. “How will I know when my gardener appears?” “You will recognize him by his smile,” she said. “When you see his smile you will know in your heart he is the one.”

A year and a half passed by and each day the uncared for piece of land patiently waited for the gardener to arrive. Then one day it happened, a young man walked onto the piece of earth and smiled the most beautiful smile and at that moment the voice of the Almighty spoke to the property and said, “He has prayed for you every night, he is the one you have waited for, I commit him to you and together you shall create a beautiful garden and your love shall prosper for a lifetime.

And so it was, for several years to come a great bond was formed between the neglected land and the gardener. The gardener planted the soil and cared for it and the little piece of land was so happy! The little garden thrived for its caretaker and produced beautiful blooms to show its love for the one that cared for it so deeply. For the first time since its existence the garden was happy. God had answered the little garden’s prayers and life was beautiful.

Then one day something very much unexpected happened. The garden eagerly waited for its darling gardener to come home. The sun had shown brightly that day and there were many beautiful blooms to show him. He will be so very proud thought the garden. But, the gardener never came. At that moment God spoke to the little garden. “Oh my beautiful little garden… I am so sorry… your gardener has abandoned you and I’m afraid he shall not return.” The garden cried out to God, “Why lord? I don’t understand. Why has my beloved gardener forsaken me? I tried so hard to show him how much I loved and cared for him! Were my blooms not bright enough? Were they too few? Dear, dear God, did I produce too many weeds? Was I too much work to care for? Was it because the butterflies were late coming and I could get their attention no sooner? Why God, why did he leave me when I tried so hard to please him? I don’t understand and I am in such great pain, my heart aches for my gardener to return. Please help me understand what I have done wrong so that I may get my gardener back.”

“My precious, precious child, human beings are very complicated creatures. I cannot say for certain that there is any one reason why your gardener has chosen to leave. Perhaps even he is not aware of the exact reason. Mankind is a very fragile species and sometimes their actions are related to things that may have happened long, long ago. The connection may not even be apparent to them. Sometimes the stress of daily living can cause their bodies and minds to become ill, only time will tell” said God. “But God,” said the garden, “did you not tell me he prayed for me every night and cried himself to sleep?” The Great I Am explained to the garden that he did in fact pray every night and cried himself to sleep. But, for whatever reason he does not remember and does not see that he has walked away from the very thing he begged God to bring into his life. God, now walking among the paths of the garden spoke, “I can tell from what the two you have created you loved each other very much. For the love I see here is a strong and glorious one. It must have been very difficult for him to walk away from something so beautiful. Much hard work and dedication has gone into this creation and it is not something he can soon forget.” “Will he come back to me?” asked the garden. “Perhaps,” said God. “Once he has a chance to realize that the relationship between the two of you was an answer to his prayers and that you were created just for each other and each of you was a gift for the other given by me. But, there is still a chance he may be unable to see that and he may never return.”

“God, I am afraid I shall grieve myself to death over the loss of my gardener and loving caregiver. For the hurt I feel is so strong the only way I know to stop it is to cease to exist. God I pray that you send others to remove me a small part at the time until I no longer remain and there will be no sign I was ever here. If I can not have my gardener then I no longer wish to survive.” This saddened the heart of God until he wept tears of sorrow. He made a promise to the garden that if its beloved caregiver did not return, another would recognize the great beauty it possessed and it would once again be the pride and love of someone else’s heart.

“Without care I shall perish, in no time at all I shall be over grown with weeds and I shall be forgotten.” said the garden. Others shall cross you path said the Lord and they shall help for they will recognize a great beauty is being lost. And, I will also be here.

The garden heard the words of God but they offered little consolation for the pain it was feeling. And just as it believed, it began to die. Leaves began to curl, stems began to turn brown and the garden waited for the last ounce of life to be drained. Just as God said, he was always there. As the garden tried to die of thirst he sent rain. As the flowers withered and died God sent the sun to draw more blooms from the plants and with the blooms came bees and butterflies. The butterflies laid eggs and new butterflies were born by the hundreds and inundated the garden. Until one day the garden realized that despite the great loneliness it was feeling after being abandoned by the gardener, it was never really alone and life continued. God was always there to give it what it needed when it needed it. Suddenly a peace came over the garden and it knew everything would be okay.

The garden realized at that point that even though the love of another may be gone, self love and self respect must always remain. With that also came the knowledge that many, many others loved and appreciated its beauty in addition to the one that had left. It found peace in the knowledge that one day it would once again be loved… be it by the one that created it with the blessing of God or by a new gardener that would love it even more… weeds and all.

--Randy Parker

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hello Everyone

After a period of silence I’ve decide to continue blogging. Over the next few weeks you will notice some subtle changes in the blog. One of which will be the name. I’m not certain how soon I will begin to make the adjustments or when I will make the first post, but I look forward to visiting with you all again soon. Best wishes to you...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Wordless Wednesday

Thunbergia Grandiflora
A.K.A Bengal Clock Vine or Blue Sky Vine

Thunbergia Grandiflora

Hello guys! I hope you are all having a good week. I just wanted to let everyone know that I managed to injure the Ulnar nerve in my left arm about 3 weeks ago, I have no clue how I did it. It’s getting better, but I really have to limit my activities with that arm and it is a slow healing process. I’m still going to be reading; unfortunately my commenting and posting will be almost nonexistent for the next few weeks. Just because you aren’t hearing from me doesn’t mean I’m not around. I’ve got my eye on you guys! :-) I’ll be back posting on a regular basis as soon as I can.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Four Seasons

Well, the girls are finally here. Jamie and I have wanted to add the four season statues to our garden for a long time, but were uncertain as to where we could put them. When we finally completed the new back bed Jamie suggested it would be a good place. After searching forever, we finally found a place we could get them. The unstained statues weren’t that hard to find, but finding the pedestals that came with them was a different story. After debating the existence of them with several companies I was finally able to convince a nursery in Montgomery to search. They found them and were willing to order them for us. They came in last Monday and Jamie and I went to the nursery to pick them up this past Saturday. In the photo below there is a 4th goddess waaaaaaaay down at the end that isn’t visible. There was just no way to capture all four in the same photo because although it may not look like it, this bed is 75 feet long.

R to L

The Horai were the four Greek goddesses of the seasons. In original mythology there were only two seasons, Thallo and Karpo or blooming and fruiting. Later the seasons became three goddesses to exclude winter. It wasn’t until the 4th or 5th century that all four seasons were represented by goddesses and given a name. Very little information is available on what is considered to be the 4th generation Horai that symbolize all seasons. They were mentioned in the epic tale ‘Dionysiaca’ produced by Nonnus in the 5th century and have been represented as 4 since that time.

The goddess of spring, Eiar, is usually found holding a bouquet or garland of flowers.


Theros, the goddess of summer, is usually holding a harvest of wheat. When purchasing the statues you may sometimes find fall and summer misidentified.


The goddess of fall, Autumnus, is found holding grapes or some other fruit.


Chiemon, the goddess of winter is usually found wearing a cloak or long sleeved garment and sometimes holding a flame.


This will most likely be the last statuary purchased for the garden. I think once the privet and other shrubs grow in to screen the distracting view of the houses the statues are going to look great. Not to mention the bed is practically void of any perennial planting. I had hoped to take care of that this year. For now, I’m really starting to feel a little gardened out, if we get the new plants in the bed this fall that’s great, if not there is always next spring. :-) I hope everyone has a great week!

L to R

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wordless Wednesday


Everyone have a great day!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Westinghouse Solar Lights

Jamie and I have finally reached a point where we are ready to install landscape lighting in the garden. There are so many products for sale now it’s hard to know which ones to pick. In the past, solar lights haven’t been a very reliable source of luminance for the garden. Recently, leaps and bounds have been made in the available variety of products and I’ve been anxious to see what’s out there. When Teak Wicker & More contacted me and asked me to do a review on these landscape lights, I was happy to oblige and thank them for the opportunity. I intend to do a future post on landscape lighting and what I’ve learned, but this post is strictly for review of the product sent to me.

Within 24 hours of the shipment date I received the Westinghouse lights via FedEx. The first thing I noticed upon opening the box was that these were very chic lights with a nice modern design to them, but that they could easily fit into the design of any garden. Over 26 inches in height and 2 ½ inches diameter, the antique copper finish on these lights make them very attractive in the garden and I didn’t feel the need to conceal them from view.


The thing I was most interested in was the output of light. With only a single diode as an illumination source, I knew that a tremendous amount of light was not going to be produced by these particular lights and I was correct in assuming so. I must admit though, I was extremely surprised at the amount of light that was produced by them.

If you are looking to light up a path or walkway these lights may be inefficient for those purposes, but you should also realize they were not designed for that task. The light source is simply too high from the ground. The most efficient lights for that job are lights that cast the light downward and not out, the way these were designed to function. Also keep in mind that these are solar lights and if you place them in a shaded area they will perform very poorly. They, as well as all other solar lights need sun to operate.


If you are looking for a soft, ambient light to place in darker areas of your garden this light set is the way to go and should certainly be a consideration. They provide a very pleasant glow in a small circumference around them that I find very aesthetic and reminiscent of moonlight. If you are less interested in the artsy contribution and need lights for a more practical purpose you may want to consider going for a higher level of luminance.

Taking into consideration the design, size and light output of this set I find them fairly reasonably priced for a mail order item. In summary I was very pleased and my only regret is that we have six of them instead of twelve. These statements are of course only my opinion. You can find other reviews and order the product here.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Almost Wordless Wednesday

The butterflies finally found us this weekend and they've been everywhere. I don't ever remember having so many swallowtails in the garden at one time before.






Friday, August 7, 2009

Installing Drip Irrigation

Jamie and I ran the third line for the drip irrigation system yesterday. It's so simple to do and can save you so much time watering I wanted to show you guys some pictures. This post is a little long. Everything you need to do this you can find at the drip irrigation system section in Lowes or Home Depot. Or, for beginners you may want to just buy the little kits with everything you need to run you drip system for about 35 or 40 dollars. The kit was too small for our purposes so we just bought everything individually. We have hundreds of feet of lines running in our yard. The system can be as complicated or as simple as you like. Ours even fills the bird bath and waters the hanging pots. If you go with the kit, you can always add on to it later as you get use to what you are doing. It’s cheaper to just buy what you need. Look at the pictures on the back of the box; it will help let you know what to do and what you need.

This first picture shows the line running from our faucet to the yard. Our faucet has one of those inexpensive attachments on it that changes it from one spigot to four. It came with a timer kit we bought made by Orbit. It’s an extremely efficient system at a very affordable price and I highly recommend it. It can be found online or in your local big box store. I don't understand why, but you can get the same kit I've linked to for much cheaper in the stores than you can from the actual site, the link is to show you what we are using. We actually just bought a second one from Wal- Mart for about 25 dollars less. It can be just a tad bit tricky learning to program it, but after you learn how it’s set up you’ll realize how simple it really is to operate.***For those of you that are wondering I have no affiliation with the company I just really think this is a fantastic product and Jamie and I are very pleased with it’s performance.***


In this second photo you can see the half inch water line running into the bed and under the side walk. I had the foresight to think about running a section of line under the sidewalk when we put in these two beds. Then when we got ready to run the line all we had to do was to connect to it. It’s very simple to do. Just attach your water hose to a broom handle or pipe with some good tape, turn it on full force and keep pushing. Before you know it that water will wash away a small tunnel and you will be under the side walk in no time.


The quarter inch line that you use to run water to your drip emitters and sprinkler heads just snaps into the side of the line in a hole you make with a provided hole punch.


You just lay out your half inch tubing where ever you need water to go.




All the connectors just simply slide into the pipe. This takes a little strength. They come in T’s and elbows and two sided to connect two sections of line.



You can see the quarter inch line running to each plant here. It’s held in place by little plastic stakes that you can buy.


All that’s left to do now is bury the line. It doesn’t have to be deep; all you do is stick your shovel in the ground and lean it forward and back to wiggle open a little slit in the ground. Just push your hose into the little slot in the ground and step on the grass to push it back down when you are done. It’s barely detectable that anything has been disturbed and after a week you can’t even tell you buried a line. You just want it covered so the lawn mower can’t cut it or to hide if from view. You can see in the picture it’s about an inch or two deep in our yard. In the beds, just cover it with mulch and use landscape cloth pins or pieces of old wire hangers to hold it in place. The reason this is so dug up here is because we were tying into another line that was already buried.


For just a couple of hours effort, you can save yourself tons of hours standing in heat, dragging hoses. It’s the best thing we’ve ever done. If you need any help or need pictures of how to do something, just let me know. Jamie and I have become old pros at this.

Oh, one more thing you should know. The half inch line can only carry 244 gallons of water an hour. So if you are using sprinkler heads that put out 4 gallons per hour you can only use 61 heads, 10 gallon per hour – 24, drip emitters that put out 2 gph you can use 122. You can never put out more gallons per hour than the hose carries. Well you could, it just won’t work as well. It would be better to just run another half inch line to make another watering zone.

In other news Jamie and I have been researching the new lighting system we will be installing in the garden. It can be so confusing with so many types to choose from today. As luck would have it, I’ve been contacted by Teak, Wicker & More and I’m very excited to say they have asked me to do a review of a solar landscape lighting product for them, so look for the post to be coming soon. If you aren’t familiar with Teak, Wicker & More they have a very nice line of patio furniture and tons of other home and garden products.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

"Down on Your Knees" Photo Contest.

David Perry picked the subject for this months Gardening Gone Wild photo contest. The challenge is to present a photo taken from knee high or lower that shows different levels of existence that we would not normally see in this hurried world we live in today. So below is my photo submission. Good luck to all the participants. :-)


Monday, August 3, 2009

In the Garden 08/03/09

Jamie and I had a very busy and productive weekend. We’ve needed to put in a third line to our drip irrigation system since last year; it was one of those things we just never got around to doing. Jamie and I laid out another 200 feet of line and we should really see some good growth on some of the things that were maybe not getting as much water as they should. I told Jamie one by one we are slowly completing the really large projects and within the next year or two our garden will just simply be a matter of maintenance. The next large project we tackle will most likely be the lights or the water feature, but that’s down the road and more than likely next season.

Why don’t we walk around a little and see what’s going on in the garden? The Thunbergia Grandiflora is looking good this year. It’s really covering this 20’ section of wall well and should be filled with blooms before very long. I hope it’s going to be breath taking.


I think one of the reasons it’s spreading so well is because Jamie and I got permission from our neighbor to place this fencing on the back of her privacy fence. It gave something for the vine to hold on to and enabled us to fan it out nicely. Next year we will need to divide this plant more than likely.

Sky Vine Trellis

We have a couple of first blooms in our garden right now. ‘Zephirine Drouhin’ is giving us our very first bloom ever. It’s planted on a split rail fence in the front yard between 2 ‘Veilchenblau’ we thought the pink and purple would look good together when they bloom in the spring.

Zephirine Drouhin

One of our Banana trees is giving us our first bloom too. We have tiny little bananas about 1 inch long. Every time a new petal opens more bananas are exposed.

Banana Bloom

The Susans are looking good. We will be dividing these in the fall, they have hole in them that needs to be filled so we’ll just move them over a little.


Jamie had decided he wanted black berry lilies in fall of last year. We’ve purchased two since that time. This one is ‘Hello Yellow’. I’ve fallen in love with these little flowers and I want to fill the new bed with them and Candy Lilies. If you happen to run across cultivars of these lilies feel free to email me the name of them so we know what to look for in catalogs and online.

Hello Yellow

‘Sound of Silence’ is rewarding us with blooms again.

Sound of Silence

All three of the Pee Gee hydrangea standards are filling with blooms. They’re going to need re-shaping after they bloom.

Pee Gee Bloom

By far one of my favorites in the garden is this Black and Blue Salvia. The humming birds just absolutely love this plant. Last night swarms of little birds were fighting and fussing with each other over which one would drink its nectar.

BB Salvia

I think we’ve decided on the new shrubs to replace the mums this fall. I’ll be telling you more about that at a later date. Thanks for all you ideas and the plants we chose did come from your suggestions. Hope everyone has a good week and I’ll be visiting you soon.

Black and Blue Salvia

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Seeking Advice

Parthenon Horse Head

Jamie and I planted a several Chrysanthemums in the garden year before last. During the summer, they have a nice mounding habit that makes them look like two foot wide rounded shrubs. The affect is really nice in the garden and I like the way it looks. Unfortunately, we noticed this spring that the mums are traveling like crazy under ground and in a matter of two years could be out of control. In addition, they really aren’t performing very well this year.

So Jamie and I are calling on the experience and knowledge of all our readers for suggestions. Here’s what we would prefer and the conditions we are working with. We would like an evergreen with a small mounding habit that will not grow over 2 X 2 feet wide. We would like something that has interesting blooms with as long as possible of a blooming season or maybe a repeat bloomer. The plant needs to be able to handle full afternoon sun and the shade that will be in that area in a couple of years when the trees grow. We are in zone 8a.

I suggested some dwarf variety of re-blooming azalea, but Jamie thinks we already have enough of them and we don’t need anymore. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to a deciduous shrub, but since we have virtually zero winter interest in the garden evergreens would be nice. Okay, so that’s the challenge, you guys put your thinking caps on and see what you come up with. Most of you have way more gardening experience than we do so I’m confident you have a much larger knowledge base to work with. And, if you have any gardening friends you happen to be having a conversation with hit them up for suggestions too. LOL We appreciate your help.

** A litte note: For a wonderful post on butterflies check out Peg's Blog.**

Monday, July 27, 2009

Let the Planting Begin

Hello everyone! Jamie and I got so very much done this weekend in the garden. We’ve been gone a lot lately. We practically wore ourselves out, but just about everything is caught up now. The only time we really have to work in the garden together is on the weekend. We made a pact some time ago that neither would really do anything in the garden without the other working beside him. Even if we choose to work side by side with out speaking a word to each other while we toil, the time in the garden is our time to be together. We do everything as a team, with the exception of on Friday when I usually cut the grass and use the trimmer. I know that sounds ideal to those of you that have to garden by yourselves, let me assure you though; it’s not always cookies and cream. Long about noon when the sun gets hot and we get hungry, it can get pretty vicious sometimes. With all those sharp garden tools lying around it’s a wonder we haven't had an “incident” at some point. For the most part, we work together like well a well oiled machine with each reading the others thoughts.

This weekend we set out over 53 plants, most of them in one gallon pots. That was a lot of holes to dig. Thank goodness the ground was soft so we made pretty good progress. All those pots that have been tucked here and there are finally planted. I’m embarrassed to say three of those pots were from last year! Can you believe that? I know, but sometimes you buy things and you really aren’t sure where you are going to put it and it takes a while to figure it out. We also got all the beds completely weeded and several new bags of mulch put down.

The only thing that we didn’t get done this weekend that needs to be accomplished is the drip system. We need to add another line that will water new beds going in around the garden wall and also a new bed in the front yard. The bed in the front will most likely not go in until next year, but we already have trees and roses planted that need to be watered until that time. We don’t have any plans for next weekend so we decided rather than work ourselves into a tired, sweaty mush Sunday, we would just put it off until next Saturday. It was a little much to do all in one weekend, but we are happy it’s all caught up now. Oh! A special note to Marilyn at Wheelchair Gardener. We were able to find the 'Starship Enterprise' Iris. Jamie bought it for me as an anniversary gift and we planted it this weekend. When you showed me the picture I had to have it, I can't wait to see it bloom!


One of the things we wanted to do was fill the new bed with coneflowers for some good summer bloom. I noticed while reading Darla’s blog that she had the most wonderful purple coneflowers growing in nice sized clumps. I asked her what kind they were so we could add them to our garden and she very generously offered to send us some. She told me these were passalong plants from her mother’s garden. That makes these plants very special and we are exceedingly happy to have them in our garden. So, Darla here’s a picture to show you that the coneflowers are doing very well and are going to be rewarding us with a bloom very soon. I hope everyone had a good weekend.--Randy


Monday, July 20, 2009

The Weekend 07/18/09

Good morning everyone! Jamie and I had a wonderful weekend and I thought I would share it with you. Last night the weather was incredible. We had a record low of 59° last night! In Alabama… in July… all I can say is wow. We have very little blooming right now besides the Lantana and Buddleia, but thanks to the rain we had recently everything is a lush beautiful green and I’m happy with that.




Keeping in mind what IS blooming now Jamie and I have been on the search for items for the new bed. We have a lull right now so we are paying special attention to make certain we can fill the gap in blooms when we plant the new bed. One of the things we knew we wanted was more ‘Sunny Border Blue’ Veronica. We weren’t certain where we were going to get it though because the plant we have was ordered from a magazine. Well, low and behold we walk into Lowe’s and what do we see? That’s right, Veronica. To top it off it was mispriced by about 33% and the garden manager told us without hesitation we were free to have it at that price. Yay! We saved $40.00! So here is the first edition to the new bed. We’ll post pictures when we get it planted. The plants are beginning to go out of bloom now, but they will certainly be gorgeous next summer. I've read if you cut the spikes that have bloomed out down to the ground they will produce new ones. We might give that a try.



In other news we were invited to the very recently built home of some new friends this weekend for a birthday party. We met Ronnie and Lee thru our friends Jimmy and Wade. They have a lovely home and were very gracious hosts on our over night visit. The evening was wonderful and provided Jamie and I an opportunity to meet several new, interesting and very pleasant people. We really enjoyed ourselves!



Ronnie and Lee are avid gardeners and their new home came complete with two compost machines to provide black gold for all those new beds they’ll be making soon. Meet Rowdy and Copper.



Ronnie and Lee have a HUGE blank slate to work with when creating their new garden. If I remember right Lee told me they have 128 acres and 12 acres to play with as a garden. Oh! Isn’t that every gardener’s dream? The land has been in Lee’s family for 80 years. I have no doubt it’s going to be a masterpiece when they finish. Here’s the kicker, would you believe all this in the middle of a heavily populated residential area? While you are there you have no idea you are in a neighborhood, it seems as though you are 20 or 30 miles out in the country. The garden is already beginning to take shape. With Ronnie and Lee’s blessing I’ll keep you posted on their progress. Maybe they’ll start a blog! That would be great!


It was such a nice peaceful weekend. Just the little break that Jamie and I needed from all the work we’ve been doing lately. I hope everyone else had a good weekend and I hope you have even a better week.