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.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ready For Planting!

Well Jamie and I got out in the garden this weekend and busted our butts. Our calendar is full for the next two weekends and we knew we had to get this back bed finished. Not only did we get the back bed finished, but we also got the small island bed put in as well. It’s difficult to get an idea of the size of everything by the pictures. To help you with the scale of it all, the small island bed is about 12 to 15 feet long.



The irrigation system has been updated with sprinkler heads to replace the drip emitters that were once under the shrubs. Now, the beds are ready for planting. Jamie and I added almost a half ton of composted manure to the new back bed. We always amend the soil in new beds really well. We usually add an equal amount of topsoil also. In this instance the dirt was in pretty good shape so we didn’t think it necessary. It’s a conservative estimate to say that Jamie and I have added over 6 tons of composted manure and topsoil to the beds that we’ve put in the garden. We’ve also planted almost 400 species of plants in it. One of the biggest problems we’ve faced is what to do with the tons of soil that we’ve taken out 1 wheel barrow and 5 gallon bucket at the time. For every hole that was dug for a plant, there was dirt left over. We also had to remove some dirt from the beds to amend them or else we would have mountains all over the back yard. We have filled stump holes all over the neighborhood! Thank goodness Wade and Jimmy are building terraces in their garden. They’ve taken a lot of it too.


The grass paths that we have left around the beds are 4 feet wide. In their most narrow areas in two or three turns they had to be reduced to just about 3 feet. That’s a little closer than I wanted but we still have ample room to maneuver around the garden. I really love to work in the garden, but I’m not going to lie about it this is one project I am so glad is complete. Whew! Now, on to planting.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Why Do You Garden?

Veronica Sunny Boder Blue

I was just over at Rose’s blog and the very first photo on her ABC Wednesday post instantly sent me reeling backwards 37 years. Seeing the picture of her grandson brought forth memories of my past that have not surfaced in quite some time. It brought such a happy light feeling to my heart I wanted to share these thoughts with you.

My first introduction to gardening came when I was about 4 or 5 years old. We lived in the outskirts of town; the houses weren’t right up under each other like they are these days. Everyone in that area has lived on the same stretch of road since their childhood. My father lives in a house now that was built less than 200 yards from where a little two room shack was where he was born. He’s lived on the same three mile stretch of highway his entire life. So long in fact, he used to drive the mules and wagon to the mill on the same road. Get the picture? Three homes down the road, which was only a few hundred yards, lived an elderly lady named Louise Parker. Mrs. Parker was a widow woman that owned almost two hundred acres of land with horses and a pond that was located behind our house. She loved flowers and I remember her yard was filled with them. She always used the aged manure from the horse barn as compost to amend her beds.

I’m really not sure why she began doing this, but one summer she called up to the house and told momma to send me and my little red wagon down to her house because she needed my help. I grabbed my western flyer and down the road I headed. Mrs. Parker would take me down to the barn and we would use my wagon to haul compost back to her flower beds. We would work all day in her yard. She taught me how to sow seeds and grow them. She also taught me how to plant them in the ground and how to transplant larger plants. To this day when I put a new plant in the ground I always do it just like Mrs. Parker showed me when I was just a little boy. As I sit here typing I still see her in her big floppy sun hat explaining everything to me step by step as she did it. At the end of every garden day she would always send me home with a potted plant or seeds as payment for my help. On Friday afternoons she would always walk up to our house to look at my plants and brag about how much they had grown and how pretty they were.

How did she know? I had brothers and sister and there were other kids in our neck of the woods. She even had her own grandchildren, so why did she pick me? Why do I garden? I garden because it is in my blood. I can’t walk past a pretty flower with out stopping to look at it. I would rather spend money on a new plant than much needed clothes. I don’t eat out, drink or take vacations because I would rather replace those costs with purchase of a new tree or daylily. I risk heatstroke nearly every summer to pull weeds, remove dead foliage and trim perfect grass borders. I garden because it is what feeds my soul and I could not imagine my free time spent any other way. To top it all off I’ve been sent Jamie to spend my life with and he loves gardening just as much.

Mrs. Parker remarried and moved away and I haven’t seen her for many, many years. I don’t even know if she is still alive, she would have to be in her 90’s. I have a wonderful garden now, I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of garden articles published and I have even been asked by botanical gardens to use photos that I’ve taken while on visits in their publicity campaigns. All this happened because of a very special seed that was sown in a little boy’s spirit many years ago. Daily, our actions and statements change and shape peoples lives and we never even know it. I wish Mrs. Parker knew what an impact she had on mine. I hope I haven’t bored you with my nostalgia. :-) Why do you garden? When did you start?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

A Visit With ROY

The much needed rain finally came. For the past three days we’ve managed to get some substantial rain fall and I’m sure the garden appreciated it. Yesterday, I decided to walk around and take some pictures of the thankful flowers. After I had downloaded them to the computer I realized that with the exception of one photo, everything that is blooming right now is Red, Orange or Yellow. I don’t usually like to repeat photos of the same plant, but with some of these I just couldn’t decide which ones I liked best. Today the words don’t seem to be coming as I type, so why don’t we enjoy the flowers and save the conversation for another day.

'Red Cascade'

Red Cascade

'Chicago Apache'

Chicago Apache



'Rocket City'

Rocket City Single

Rocket City



Crocosmia Firefly

'George Davison'

Crocosmia George Davison

In other news, yesterday the skipper butterflies and a humming bird finally showed up in the garden. I hope they stick around for a little while.