Wednesday, October 31, 2007
This drought has been extremely hard on everyone. I have lost several shrubs, namely azaleas and hydrangeas, and at least one mature oak tree. This garden in the picture borders my driveway and parking area. In this particular area of the garden lived three big beautiful white azaleas. They perished this summer, most likely from the freeze and drought combined. I pulled the dead azaleas, built the little rock wall (donations from freecycle), and planted three oakleaf hydrangeas in this area. The oakleaf hydrangeas (Hydrangea quercifolia) were volunteers from a mature oakleaf hydrangea in my yard. This oakleaf was VERY generous as it has gifted me with at least a dozen baby oakleafs.
I think hydrangeas are my favorite shrub group, and without a doubt, oakleaf hydrangeas are one of the best to grow in this area. Oakleafs are able to do well in sun or shade, need not be pruned, bloom reliably every year, grow quickly, have four seasons (green leaves and lovely large blossoms which change color grace the shrub in spring and summer, red leaf color in the fall, and peeling bark in the winter) of interest and are not fussy plants. The oakleafs are somewhat drought tolerant. This year I did have problems with Japanese beetles attacking the blossoms but it is probably because the shrub was stressed or the beetles were just too hungry!
So, the loss of the azaleas (picky plants) actually brought me a good opportunity to plant something more carefree and beautiful. Now if they would only grow to four feet tall in one year! Ah, yes, that patience thing again. They will grow, it will just take time.
in the garden....
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
It has been hard for me to plan this garden because of its odd shape. It is shaped like a shield. In order to build the beds I had to lay them out in place. I am usually one who plans gardens on graph paper so I was not at all happy doing the garden this way. I suppose it is better because sometimes things on paper look so much better than in person. So far I have gone through about 700 bricks and estimate I need about 200 more. 400 of these bricks were acquired through a fellow freecycler (some of you also have ways of acquiring free bricks-the best kind), but I have had to buy the rest. My goal was to finish this garden right away but my source for the bricks, Orgain Building and Supply, is closed on weekends! I had purchased the initial load of bricks during the week and somehow overlooked this fact. A nice gentleman named Lee helped me load all 280 bricks and I guess I will be back visiting him and Orgain sometime during this week so I can finish the garden.The opportunity to not have to lay bricks on the weekend gave me a great chance to do some real gardening and dig in the dirt. Now is the ideal time to divide and transplant perennials, shrubs and trees since we have received so much rain and the weather and soil are still fairly warm. Dividing perennials is one of my least favorite garden chores but I managed to get most of it done this weekend. I guess the fact Orgain is closed on the weekend was a blessing in disguise or a cloud with a silver lining, otherwise those perennials would still be waiting for division and making me feel guilty each time I looked at them! One chore down, many more to go before winter fully sets in.in the garden....
Monday, October 29, 2007
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Saturday, October 27, 2007
Friday, October 26, 2007
Here are some pictures of birds in the garden Skeeter shared and I thought you all might like to peek in at the newly hatched wrens all the way through the fledgling stage. It is a common tale that if you handle newborn baby birds then the mother will abandon her nest and babies. This is simply not true. I have researched my birding book and found only certain types of waterfowl will possibly abandon their nests if they are disturbed. The types of birds we will find in our backyards (titmouse, sparrows, cardinals, finches, wrens, bluebirds, blue jays, mockingbirds, chickadees and robins to name a few) will NOT abandon their nests and babies. I have found some parents to be very tolerant of observers and handlers of their baby birds. Other parents-notably robins, mockingbirds and blue jays will let you know in a not so nice way they are not happy with the interruption but they will not abandon their young. Seeing and holding a baby bird is a gift from Mother Nature that children will never forget and is a great way to share in gardening.
What kinds of birds have you all found nesting in your garden and which is your favorite bird? Let me know which is your favorite bird and why and we will conduct an informal straw poll. My vote is for chickadees because they have such big personalities, always on the move and are always scolding you! My next would be hummingbirds because they are also always chattering to themselves when they feed-does anyone know why?
Thursday, October 25, 2007
in the garden....
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
Monday, October 22, 2007
According to some minor research on Iraq courtesy of http://www.mideastweb.org/geogpop.htm, I found only 12 % of Iraq is arable. Arable means land that can be used for crops. I guess the northern part of Iraq, where I saw the sunflowers, roses and grapes was arable. I know the roses and grapes were not used for crops, but I am thinking the sunflowers were. For those of you from the west a field full of sunflowers is probably not all that special, but for this East Coast girl living in Iraq-a field full of sunflowers was heaven. Gardening transcends all boundaries.
in the garden....
Sunday, October 21, 2007
Saturday, October 20, 2007
Friday, October 19, 2007
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Tuesday, October 16, 2007
Hope this helps and does not disappoint you too much. If you do decide to plant ivy expect to be pruning very regularly to keep it in check. I have a few friends who grow ivy in their yard and one who has it on her house. While it is beautiful it is just too invasive and has a habit of getting out of control. The local stores have many types and the variegated variety is attractive but again, I do not recommending planting it ever.
I often hear people say they want to garden but don't have enough time. I will NOT say you don't need time to garden because you certainly do. You notice though, people don't say they don't have time, they just say they don't have ENOUGH time. So here is the key to gardening and time-manage your time wisely and garden within the limits of your time.
Duh! Right? Sounds so easy but I do know it is NOT easy managing time. Even if I didn't passionately garden and spend most of my free time in the garden, I would still have difficulty managing time. We are only given such a limited amount that each and every day has to count but you can garden in some way if you wish to-despite time limits. My gardens actually require less time than one would think. I walk through them in the morning and evening. On my passes I pull weeds, prune and whatever else that needs to be done. I have a lot of gardens so these walks take me about 15-30 minutes. Less than an hour a day. The gardens are much LESS time and maintenance than the lawn. As much as I love grass, my goal is to minimize it because of all the time, money and maintenance-just think mowing! Yuck!
Oftentimes the off putting factor preventing people from committing to gardening is the upkeep of the garden. It does require a long-term commitment and sometimes we don't want to commit. That is OK. If you still want to garden or like to garden indulge your desires with reading gardening magazines, or houseplants. I can assure you, neither will require much weeding!
Even houseplants require a commitment-you do occasionally have to water them. I have a secret, I HATE watering houseplants. I grew up in a home where my mother had tons of houseplants in every window of the house and on every flat surface. She grew the most beautiful houseplants and so I do grow houseplants because of these memories. The good thing about my houseplants is I can move them outside in the summer. I don't have to go and buy those standard ferns everyone seems to want to hang on their porches each spring. Why not try houseplants and be different from your neighbors? You save time because you don't have to go and buy the ferns-but you still do have to water. I can't help you there. That being said I do love ferns. Here is a secret I have learned. If you grow the Boston ferns and their cousins, instead of bringing them into the house where they drop leaves all over the place, put them in your crawlspace if you have one. Come spring (not before big freezes please), remove them and it is usually like they were just put under. Mine are still green and intact. I have wintered my ferns over in this way for six years. See, saved you some time and money!
Anyhow, gardening is a hobby which takes time but with creative use of your time and honest evaluation of your capabilities and desires anyone can find the time to garden.
The picture above is of another type of my favorite plant, the eupatoriums. I already discussed the chocolate eupatoriums. This is Eupatorium purpureum, aka Joe Pye Weed. It grows to about 6 feet in my garden and blooms in the fall. It is a butterfly magnet and I love this picture. I have sometimes seen the 'Gateway' variety of Joe Pye in stores down here but they are more common up north. Don't let that fool you, Joe Pye grows great here in Tennessee and grows wild in the mountains. It is a wonderful plant which I think is much underused. I got mine from mail order catalogs and I also handcarried plants down from Maine. I thought at first it did not take until one day the weeds got a head of me and the "Joe Pye Weed" bloomed! Apparently I had been pulling the Joe Pyes, so beware when weeding.
in the garden....
Sunday, October 14, 2007
in the garden....
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
in the garden....
Saturday, October 6, 2007
Well, today I got to use some of my knowledge while volunteering for a short period at Clarksville's Department of Electricity Expo. Dottie, the Clarksville Tree Board Chairman had a nicely set up display booth talking about the importance of trees, planting the right tree in the right spot, and why topping is very bad for trees. I was heartened to see how many people really care about trees! One woman said she had at one time had a tree topped on her property and she didn't understand at the time that was a bad thing for the tree. She said she wouldn't do it again and asked how to maintain trees. This is a hard question to answer. All trees need maintenance to some extent but people do not realize this fact. Selective pruning in accordance with standards set by the International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) is a good place to start. If a limb or a tree seems like it is going to fall on a 'target' (house, shed, roadway, fence, people), then it should be evaluated for a best remedy by a qualified arborist. Clarksville residents have a great resource in their City Forester, Jeremy. He would be the best place to start with any questions you have about trees and has a super column in the Leaf Chronicle on Thursdays. Many cities have foresters, and those of us in the county can gain help from the extension agents or even Citizen Foresters.
Another important fact about trees is that some studies have shown they can increase a home's value by as much as 10%! This does not even factor into account the energy cost savings trees can provide in the form of shade and evaporative cooling in the atmosphere.
Developers and utility companies as well as the general public are just now beginning to understand the importance of trees and are implementing ISA standards for care. I will talk more on good trees for planting in this area and some of the effects the drought has had on trees (as if you couldn't notice already) in a later entry. For now, I just want to say the next time you are hot and seeking shade under a tree; look up and appreciate that tree for the great thing it is and the many benefits it provides to society. Right tree-Right place!
in the garden....