Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Gardener of the Month

My choice for February's Gardener of the Month is Hanna Bechard of 'A Woman's Touch with a European Flair'. She is a great gardener (though we vary in our opinions on certain plants) and really knows her stuff, but most of all, she is a thoughtful gardener who cares about her clients and people.

When I first came back from Iraq in 2003 I was zeaolously gardening and improving my home and property. One of the to do (must do) things on my list was to make a sidewalk between the back deck stairs and side gate. The previous owners or some other owner of our home in the past had placed round stepping stones lined by landscape timbers, and surrounded by rocks in place for a sidewalk. It was not a workable sidewalk solution at all. I wanted brick. I called a few landscapers in town for an estimate. I don't remember them all but Hanna is one I definitely remembered.

I asked Hanna to come out and give me an estimate for making my sidewalk. She did and although I chose to build the sidewalk myself (with some help from my two boys), I remember Hanna from another experience I had with her.

While here measuring for the sidewalk, guess what else we talked about? Gardening of course. Hanna is also a gardener, which really I couldn't imagine a landscaper NOT being. She told me about her garden and we began talking plants, specifically cannas. I told her I did not have any cannas and she offered to give me some when she divided hers. I profusely thanked her in advance and let her get on her way never expecting to hear from her about any cannas, especially since we didn't hire her.

Imagine my surprise six months later when out of the blue Hanna called me and said I could come and get the cannas. I was stunned to say the least. Most people would probably let it go and forget all about the promise of giving away some flowers to a person she just met once and who didn't do business with her. But not Hanna.

I have not forgotten this little act of remembering and thank her kindly for the cannas. She gave me not just some, but a whole box full. I even shared some with my mail lady who then reciprocated by sharing some hen and chicks with me.

When I met with her this week I found even more reasons to choose her as a gardener of the month. She is really experienced and puts alot of thought and care into everything she does, whether commercially or privately. Currently she is renovating her home to sell to some lucky buyer in the real estate business. I saw the work and it is really good stuff. She is also the mother to a teenager and preteen and a very busy lady.

We talked about the landscaping around her home and what she planned to do to renovate it as well as the house. She and I disagree on a few things (she doesn't like crabapples because they are hard to mow over, I really like crabapples BUT I don't mow over them, she prefers evergreen shrubs for interest whereas I really like a variety of both evergreen and deciduous shrubs) but we also agree on many more things such as the practice of topping being bad, oakleaf hydrangeas and Nellie R. Stevens hollies are SUPER plants to use in a landscape, and providing color can be easily accomplished with the use of perennials and bulbs. I thoroughly enjoyed talking to her and told her I would post this posting sometime this week but that it would not be in the paper. I have since changed my mind and wanted to share it with not only you online blog readers, but also the hard copy newspaper readers as well. I did so enjoy talking with her and found she really does know her stuff and was fun to talk to. Just like most gardeners I meet. This is why I have chosen Hanna Bechard as my choice for February's Gardener of the Month.

The first picture is of Hanna, and the second picture is of some daffodils growing in her yard. You can clearly see the yellow of the flower buds, spring is right around the corner.

in the garden....


  1. good morning all! we survived the storms all intact with no damage. i hope my readers have all fared well too.

  2. That was nice of her to give you all that cannas.
    At first I thought the second picture was crocus, with all that snow!
    Judging but our winter, early blooming crocus will be swimming by spring.

  3. Great story --what a nice person. We fared much better than the last storm. Glad to hear you are alright Tina --was worried last night. I kept thinking --I hope she isn't down at class on this stormy night. The kids actually got in the closet for a brief amount of time. The sirens were blaring around mid-1 am. Looks nice and calm today:)

  4. Those daffodils in the snow make me cold! Burr...
    We broke a record temp yesterday down here in GA, it was 81-degrees!

    I have a wheel barrel full of dirt to place before it turns to mud! Expecting rain this afternoon. Tail end of the storms you had yesterday...

  5. Ops, forgot to mention nice story on your Gardner of the month! A nice person to remember her promise to you...

  6. Jean, I looked up the cat tunnel you mentioned a while back. Cute idea but my babies do not go out at all. They sit in the open windows of the house where they are safe and happy. We have too many wild animals such as fox and coyotes that could harm them even in this nice tunnel... Thanks for thinking about us though!

    My wheel barrel awaits me...

  7. We got though the storms alright, I'm glad you all did the same!

  8. Glad you all got thru the terrible storms down there folks. The news on tv today is terrible. So many deaths. Sorry folks but I will take my Maine winters anyday over the humid, stormy weather down south. We do have nice springs and falls and great summers and rarely do we have a storm realated death. I don't know Tina about snow days being built into schedule in GA but I do know when I lived there they did cancel school on occasion due to freezing rain and the ice build up and I was in southern GA. Even the stores closed down and no mail went thru on at least one ice storm. One year a 3 year old kid was killed when a tornado ripped a bathtub out and put it on her on the same street I lived on. It was so sad. Just terrible. But I must admit I am glad our winters are not as bad or as long as they used to be.

    Dawn we are getting all rain here. We did get a couple of inches of snow yesterday but then it turned to rain and now it is back to bare ground.

  9. Tina I just read on pet blog that you are going to pick up CJ!! Great! Great! great! You had said maybe Friday CJ would come home so he perked up quicker than expected so here's hoping Bruiser and Baby do the same!

  10. hi everyone. so glad you all survived with no damage. twigs and sticks we can handle, trees, no. there are ALOT of downed trees. be careful when driving.

    dawn with peaches, that was our one and only accumulated snowfall last week. it looks like alot but it isn't. i just thought it great the blooms showed so well. if anyone has bulbs coming up, don't worry about them freezing. they will be ok. the only time i worry is if they are in bloom and we get a real hard freeze. then the stems may be damaged but the bulb is ok.

    dawn, with all that snow you will have a looooong mud season up your way this spring.

    anonymous, thanks for calling. it was so scary on the road and when i stopped for gas. i have never experienced that before. i bet the kids thought it was neat having to get in the closet. it was really a bad TWO super cells.

    skeeter, what are you doing with the dirt? did you start double digging? lots of work but now is a good time. hanna was great to talk to. we really hit it off but she is so considerate too.

    dave, glad you and the family weathered the weather! was it as bad down your way?

    mom, this area is in a funny area. we are right smack dab in the middle of where cold fronts from the north come down to meet warm fronts coming up from the gulf. when they meet they can cause major problems. it is not as bad as it once was. at least not in the summertime, it is probably worse in the winter since our winters stay so warm.

    when i lived here in the 80s EVERY single afternoon we would get a major thunderstorm. you could almost set your watch by it. cold and warm air would meet overhead and collide. it would last about 20minutes then the sun would come out. we don't get those too much anymore, hence the huge drought conditions.

    yes, i went and got my girl cj. she is just like a normal puppy (think yip YIP YIP!). very playful and happy. the doc put her on a bland diet yet she persists in trying to eat all of my dog's food! the remaining two are on iv's again. we are still hoping for a turn around. they are somewhat peppy but still nauseous. i hope they will be well enough by the weekend to come home too. not getting too optimistic though. cj is lonely without her siblings, at least one to lay on.

    bridgette (golden huggs) called me while i was getting my dogs checked at the vet. clean bill of health and no parasites. they recommended even with up to date vaccinations, any dog exposed to parvo to get a booster within six months (think right away). so i took them in for a check up. all is good here.

    again, so glad everyone fared well.

  11. Yay Tina!

    I am so glad one of your babies is at home. Maybe you can tuck her under the covers with you tonight to keep her from being lonesome. Haha...we always start out saying our dogs will never sleep on the bed with us. Needless to say I am a sucker and always give in.

    I love your post. How sweet that she did indeed remember you and share. I love the plant beside her in the top photo too. What is that? I did have a few bulbs coming up but I think something ate them. To tell you how horrible I am at gardening...a few years ago when I planted bulbs I planted them all upside down. I had all these beautiful flowers sitting right on top of the dirt. I was so embarrassed. My hubby and kids got a good laugh tho!

  12. that plant next to hanna is pampas grass. it is a beautiful grass. i can never recommend it though because it has died in my garden two years. that is its limit for me. hanna has had good luck and it is actually supposed to be hardy here. just make sure you put it in FULL sun and really good drainage.

    lots of people plant bulbs upside down! it really is easy to do. at least your family had a good laugh. can't beat that.

  13. That is too funny Omalley the upside down bulbs! The other day I found some bulbs in the shed that I had no idea what they were! Found them in a tray high upon a shelf that I had forgotten about! Funny. After thinking, I believe I dug them out of the planter up by the road and they are daffodils! They are now in the ground but not sure they will amount to anything. We all do silly stuff in the garden, keeps us laughing...

    Not double digging yet Tina. Too wet in the Veggie garden. We may end up doing a raised bed type thing with all the wetness but still a little too early to plant any seeds don’t ya think??? I do a double digging type thing when planting anything. I dig a hole much larger then required and then add fresh Miracle Grow dirt to the ground dirt and put back into the hole while planting what ever. Then I top the plant off with the soil from the ground…

    I have been in the shed and back yard most of the day making new shelves! I wish we had electric in the shed arggggg. I had to carry the heavy skill saw across the yard to the outside outlet by the back door of the house. I bet I walked a mile back and forth from the saw to the shed! I rush my job as the weather had warned of rain. I was able to get several new shelves in place and everything put away just as the rain started to fall! I then worked inside the shed putting the last of the shelves in place and deciding where everything will fit. Everything is becoming so organized that the poor Saint will not be able to find a thing!

    When I say making new shelves, I was really extending the existing shelves. We have a metal shed and the frame inside is of 3 X 4 wood. The shelves are mounted into the wood from the frame so there is a gap behind each shelf. I am forever pushing stuff around thus smaller things fall behind the shelves to the floor! I am more or less filling in the gaps by using scrap wood from our roofing project of the wood shed! In other words, Cheap Charlie’ing it! LOL… Anyway, one piece of wood we had to replace had holes in it from Carpenter Bees. Well, as I was going to fill a hole with wood filler, I heard a buzz. I started to tap the wood to the ground and low and behold a bee came out, then another one and another one… Before it was said and done, I have removed and killed over 30 bees! I hope I did not do wrong by killing bees but I don’t think these were good bees! Did not look like they had stingers on them and two got away from me. We will have to keep an eye on the wood shed this spring for their return… It was the strangest thing I ever saw with a bee...

  14. Tina, I know what you mean about the thunderstorms. When I was in GA we got them almost like clockwork every afternoon....and I mean it poured hard, hard hard. There were a few places you learned to avoid when the stom was going on cause water would be to your running board in car. Then it was so hot after the storm in half an hour you never would believe there had been any rain for a month!

    The storms last night were so terrible. So far on the news there have been 68 conmfirmed touchdowns of twisters over 5 states with 50 deaths and over 100 hurt. Just terribe.

    I bet CJ does miss the others but with all our extra hoping and praying maybe it won't be long and Bruiser and Baby will be home with him.

    Sorry you had to extra vet care for your dogs cause of all this but it can't hurt.

    O'Malley that is funny but if I had not had my mother to tell me what to do I probably would have done the same and it sounds like you are now also laughing so that speaks volumes about what a good person you are.

  15. Hi Guys
    I'm glad cj is home and the others are holding their own. Won't be long now you will know for sure (maybe tom.) if they will be able to come home.
    Washed and set up all my terra cotta pots today, they will be getting new tenants in the form of succulents, love them, cat proof.
    I look out my pictue window and imagine the flower boxes on my small deck holding nursteriums (SP) or maybe i will try morning glories, something.
    We have another round of snow coming in tonight, lasting til am, about 7. Todays snow was real wet and heavy, I like it that way, means we are getting cloooser.
    Tina, I can't believe the frogs don't get your fish. We have some pretty hardy one up here and I'm afraid they will feast on the smaller goldfish. One year we had one that LOVED our pool, kept fishing it out and the next day he would be back! Orange and white, many and many little tree frogs with suction cup feet. Do you remember these? I don't. See them all the time under the outside light catching moths. Cute.

  16. Dawn, don't you remmeber the tree frog that came from FL in Nana and Baba's RV one year? It stayed in the trailer all summer, went back to FL and came back to Maine. Never left the RV. Stayed on one of the windows. Would walk around some at times. I did'nt even know they lived that long!

  17. Hi all,
    Glad you all are ok from the storm. A lot farther south didn't fair so good. So sad. I seem to remember we didn't have weather like that when I was a kid. Never heard of tornadoes. I think tornado alley has moved east from ok. They still have a few but not like before. I don't know which is worse, hurricane or tornado. Of course hurricanes can cause the other. Flooding is another thing.

    Tina I really enjoyed your post. It was so nice that she remembered about the cannas. I just started getting some cannas. Most here don't remember anything. They are not friendly people at all.

    The daffodils look pretty with the white background. Have you seen the pineapple lily? If you would like some I will send you some. They really are strange.

    Sure glad you got to bring cj home. Won't be long you'll have the other 2.

    Skeeter, it's getting dirt digging time for sure. Those bees were hibernating. They will bore into anything. I heard they won't bore into treated lumber--no dice, they will. They started to drill holes in porch posts & all in N.C. so I thought I'd stop that by pushing aluminum foil into holes. Haaa they just pushed it back out. So next thing I squirted clear caulking into holes. That helped for awhile. Battle royal.

    Those crazy tree frogs are something else. I hate it when they jump on you. They mess up my window sills---can't keep them clean. My friend told me to use extra strength pine sol. Just put in spray bottle & have at it. Sure works at keeping the little buggers away for quite awhile.

  18. hi all, quiet night in the weather department tonight. cj is sleeping. she got her first taste of a kitty tonight. the kitty was surprised cj wanted to play back. keep in mind orkin is bigger than the pup and can even take bj if need be. no harm done and it was SO cute! now i know the deal between cats and dogs. all cj wanted to do was sniff her butt and play and the cat wasn't having any of it.

    hey skeeter,
    you HAVE been working hard. wanna come organize and build me some shelves? you need to send me some pictures of the finished project with a story and i will post it for you to share if you like.

    too early for seeds and i am sure the ground is too wet to dig in. i usually plant peas, lettuce, radishes and potatoes at the end of feb here but you can go into march. hopefully the soil will dry out. many people are requesting info on double digging so i will have to prepare a post one day. i don't want to get too far ahead as i am not sure when the leaf will delete the blogger account and my work already completed.

    mom, i bet skeeter might remember some t-storms in georgia. though i am not even sure they get them much anymore either. the south is drying up. maybe the storms will come back this year-one inch of rain per week will do nicely.

    i was really scared last night and that is not usual for me. i was not scared at home. i was scared on the road when my car was blowing around and eerily huge trash cans and who knows what else were blowing across the road. the storms were so bad. glad it is over and we all feel for those affected.

    dawn with peaches, i have prepared a bunch of packets of seeds. i think i have some nasturtiums. they don't do well here for me for a long enough time because of the heat. i will add them in your pouch. i should get you and skeeter's out next week. mom do you want some seeds maybe for heather? lola, send me your address so i can also send you some seeds from my garden. you probably already have most but a few more can't hurt. comsmos, nicotiana, cleome, hyacinth beans and night blooming jimsonweed and i am not sure what else.

    no the frogs don't go after the fish. the goldfish are about six inches long though. they started as feeder fish and grew and grew before i knew it. before i got my little tub pond water good, i did have a frog living in it. i loved it. rarely saw him but heard the plop if i got too close. the water was toooo green to see anything.:(

    i just saw my little friendly stray long haired black cat outside. he might be wondering why his light on the fish isn't working anymore and is probably missing his filet-o-fish the past two nights.

    i just enjoy the fish. do your bullfrogs and others eat fish too? i didn't even know they ate fish. i'd encourage frogs and toads because they eat the insects, then again so do the fish.

    i love tree frogs too. mom, one hitched a ride on nana and baba's trailer? that must have been fun. lola, i can understand you not liking to have to clean the window but you have to admit they are cute.

    lola, people are funny sometimes. some are great and others not so great. it is hit or miss wherever you are i think. people are always too busy to remember little things. too busy, really. but there are so many good people around they make up for others who might not be so good. i did not mention it in the post but hanna is German. i think Germans have different values than Americans and at least in my experience, they are more community oriented. they definitely care about the environment and others more so than Americans who can take everything they have for granted. but my opinions are getting way off topic so i must really stop now.

    i would love some pineapple lily. email me if i don't get you one out soon. i am getting ready to go to bed now.

    skeeter, i agree with lola 100% about those carpenter bees. they drill into anything. nothing seems to work and they are VERY destructive. they are generally solitary bees but do tend to congregate in boards near one another. i think the babies come back to the same board every year or maybe they stay in it and hibernate. i have tried everything to kill the ones in my redwood chairs on the porch. no luck. we usually just steer clear of them and mostly they won't sting, though i think the female can sting. not sure which sex but one of them are able to but generally don't unless seriously threatened (like you catch it). i think they do help with pollination but the damage they cause far off sets any good they do in my opinion so feel free to wage war and protect your wood. they will be back.

  19. i cannot believe i write so much each time. i am really embarrassed.

  20. Don't really dislike the little frogs, just don't pay any attention to them really. Roaches is my pet peeve. But I guess all God's creatures great & small have a purpose here. We just have to learn to live with them.
    Would love some seeds. The more the better. Must check my new bed out by flag pole. Newspaper,grass clippings then good dirt sandwiched over & over.
    Sorry, didn't mean to sound ungrateful--people just different everywhere I've lived. I agree about other people caring about their environment. When I worked in gift shop I got a chance to meet people from all over. Saw pic of their homes & gardens. Beautiful. Americans are spoiled, I think.

  21. Hi Guys,
    Tina, I would love some nasturtiums, I planted them in a wash bucket and had so many, they covered the ground, gave me seeds for the following year. I think something trailing will look nice from the flower boxes.
    I don't know about all frogs but I had some sold to me for the aquamium and when I tried to feed the Oscars, the frogs ate the feeders whole! Tried everything even turning out the light (they caught on that quickly) When they escaped the tank---back to the store they went. I wondered how others faired with them because we have so many toads I'm afraid the pond will be for the frogs, feeder fish hide til they are big so, one will never know. Maybe I'll try bait feeders from the brook first. Later.

  22. The wood that the bees were in WAS treated so that does not faze them at all! I will keep a close eye on them and keep the shed sprayed with bug killer this year! I usually spray the shed and it works to keep all creepy crawlies out so maybe it will work for the bees too. I hate to kill anything but I fear spiders and bees. Got stung by a wasp while clipping the hedge one time, OUCH….

    We have the cutest little green tree frogs down here in GA. We usually have several living on the front porch and one in the little table top water fountain. They nap during the day in the water channel of the fountain. I cannot turn on the fountain for fear of hurting them! They are too cute and drive my cat’s nuts when they get on the windows. And yes they do make a mess on the windows and all around them!

    We had to replace our front door last year and we had to get one with a smaller glass pane in it because my one cat Cheetah would sit and meow so loudly while frog watching, that we could not watch TV! She would drive us nuts especially when she spotted one and started jumping to catch it. Of course she could not figure out why she could not get it. Duh the glass silly cat!

    We also have those cute little Anole lizards that turn green and brown depending on what color they are on. A Gecko type Lizard like the Geiko one on TV… They get on our boat and we take them to the lake at times. We try to remember to do a lizard and frog check before we head out to the lake… too funny…

  23. Skeeter, you knew frogs emit a nasty tasting sweat when they feel threatened, didn't you? Both my dog and calico cat found that out the hard way. My dog gets preoccupied when he spys them jumpping, last year one toad got into the office while we were meeting and my dog paced back and forth to it until everyone figured it out and then we lost it. Hystercial.

  24. I have to bring the frogs or toads inside at times to appease my little fur balls. I dont let the cats hurt the frogs. They just watch it jump around a bit and then sniff where the little wet creatures have been. Keeps the girls occupied and out of our hair for a while! LOL... One time the tree frog jumped up and landed on Sheba’s back side. She was turning in circles trying to get a look at the thing on her butt. It was comical but we expect such antics from our Sheba as we say she is the clown cat that keeps us laughing…

    The Saint lived in Hawaii and he said that druggies lick the frogs to get a high from the slim! YUCK-O... Nope he never tried it even though he was a risk taker back then! LOL Puts a new twist on kissing a frog to turn him into a prince!

  25. Too funny!
    I did not know about the frog licking/kissing, makes one wonder about fairy tales.

  26. lola, seeds a coming soonest. i think they all should excel down there in sunny florida.

    dawn with peaches, seeds a coming including all the nasty's (nasturtiums) i have. toads and frogs are good in a pond but can get too loud. have you had that problem?

    skeeter, tell the saint just one word-ew! yes, a whole new meaning to kissing a toad. keep on those bees.

    mom, you have been very quiet on here.

    nina, i hope you are doing well and your dad.

  27. yes, we get very loud peepers, in fact that is how we found the one in our pool, was doing the mating call! Imagine....right inside a pink noodle.
    Mom has been quiet, wonder whatzz up.

  28. No bells going off in my head about something to ramble about. But tks for missing me! I love you too.

  29. yes, of course we miss you mom! love you too!