Monday, November 30, 2009

Spectacular Sango Kaku and J. Maple Fall Color and a Vacation

From In the Garden

I cannot help but showcase the fall color of some of my Japanese maples. Japanese maples are my favorite small trees (crepes come in second place) and I think you can see why from the fall color of a few of mine. Pictured above is Sango Kaku. I call this my Christy tree because she was here visiting when I planted it in 2003.

I don't believe I've ever posted on this little Japanese maple, cultivar unknown. It was also planted in 2003 when I came home from Iraq and finally had the time to garden. The red is wonderful. This tree was damaged quite heavily in the freeze of 2007 but has recovered nicely. I'm looking for good things from it as it grows. I have other Japanese maple cultivars that are putting on a good show but they are very small so I'm not ready to share them. Aside from the fact that I simply love Japanese maples, I have more of this kind of tree than any other kind of tree here; hence I call it my signature plant. Someday all of them will be big and it will simply be a sight to see with them all here. I anxiously await that day!

Well, now that the obligatory pretty pictures (sadly the pictures cannot compare to the real thing) are out of the way we come to the real reason of my post. We here at In the Garden will be taking the month of December off from blogging in order to spend quality time with our families and loved ones. In the meantime we thought we'd leave you with some favored posts from the past. These are in no particular order but they are older posts regular readers may have missed or may want to look back over. I have provided a brief description so you don't waste your time looking through them all in case the subject does not interest you. Browse them if desired or not. We all know time is precious. Some of these do not have photos due to them being old. I lost many of pictures when I switched my blog over from the FTP website to blogger. Sigh, such is life. Enjoy.

1. Patience? Who has any of this in the garden?

2. Fertilizer? Get some energizer bunnies.

3. Silent Spring? A tribute to a wonderful pioneering woman who stood her ground and changed America.

4. Things You'll Never Hear a Gardener Say. 'Nuff said.

5. Land Grant Universities. Interesting information about your local extension offices and the universities they are affiliated with.

6. Who's In the Garden? One of my favorite posts of all time. This post generated a lot of comments-conversations amongst the core group of commenters of this garden blog when it first started. It was like sitting on the front porch and I do miss that.

7. Gigantic Snow People. Putting the quirks of a great north eastern state to work and utilizing that cold snow to make lots of fun.

8. The Masters in Georgia. A wonderful look at spring colors and an American tradition.

9. Cedar. A wonderful versatile tree with many uses that brings back memories.

10. Wildlife In the Garden. Sharing our gardens with a multitude of life.

11. Fiddleheads. Love them all and a special tribute.

12. Mom's Vegetable Garden. Where memories are made.

13. Flying Flowers. A lovely look at butterflies.

14. Shenandoah Color. A colorful drive.

15. Citrus in the Deep South. The yummy flavorfulness of healthy citrus.

Fifteen posts are more than enough I think. You all take care.

Do be safe over the holidays and here's wishing you all Happy Holidays from all of us here....

in the garden....

Friday, November 27, 2009

Follow-up To My Beechnut Post

Posted by: Dawn

This is my little bottle tree with it's fall coloring but it is also a beech tree I keep pruned and short. Beech is a very pretty tree when it starts to turn color. Mine seemed to turn red on the top first, followed by a yellow with the middle of the tree turning red, and finally when the entire tree has yellow on it, it begins to turn brown. If you enlarge the photo and look very close, you'll see the top of my bottle tree is sparse, it was at the stage of just beginning to lose its leaves.

A while back I posted on a larger beech tree that had actual beechnuts growing on it. You can read that post here. Today I'm posting about harvesting and tasting those beechnuts.

I HAVE to say that these husks are very decorative and quite sturdy for a crafter to use in potpourri or flower arrangements. In fact, I picked an unripened nut and tried to open it but decided I'd do better to wait until they ripened. The nuts are very sturdy and are like nuts inside of another nut!

It even took a while to get to the food of this little beechnut. They are very small and the inner pod has a triangular shape to it that made it difficult to hold while peeling it with a knife. You can see the nut to the left of the photo, it is very tiny. Each pod was supposed to have a twin nut back to back with a extra space but mine had only one nut. Still, I had enough to eat and was able to get the true flavor of the nut. Bravery aside I took the plunge hoping for the best.

If I'm EVER lost in the Maine woods I'll know what to look for as protein food, that's IF! These weren't all that pleasant, it had the flavor of an old peanut and dirt combined, and....very oily as my first post stated.

I think I'll leave them for the Blue jays to eat. In the Garden

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

By Skeeter
On this day I would like to Give Thanks from my Georgia Garden.
I am most happy to Give Thanks for my good health and wonderful family and friends...
I would like to give Thanks for the beauty which surrounds me... I would like to give Thanks for the childhood memories of this beautiful Ginkgo Tree in the front yard of our old house...

(I talked about This Ginkgo Tree a while back and my mom was kind enough to send me a picture of it this fall when in full fall glory. Go to the link to see how big this tree once stood in the 70's and imagine how huge it would be today had someone not topped the beauty.)

I would like to give Thanks to my eyes for without them, I would not see such beauty around me... I would like to give Thanks for blogging as it has opened those eyes to many things I would have never noticed without you...
I would like to Give Thanks for the fallen leaves. Most would view them as a pain in the butt. I view them as a gift from the trees reminding me how lucky I am to have a home and leaves to rake...
I have so much to be grateful for that I could go on and on with GIVING THANKS, In the Garden...


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hydrangeas, A Mansion, A Craft Fair, and Hypertufa

From In the Garden
Forever and Ever Hydrangea Fall Color (Just look at the vivid red!)

From In the Garden
Unknown Hydrangea Cultivar (but it is a newer hydrangea) The blue of the flower with the lime leaves (fall color) is outstanding!

Hi all! Fall is looking mighty good here in Tennessee! I hope it looks as good in your neck of the woods too. Fall and winter are the seasons I try to complete some projects. It is not like I need more projects but the process of creativity and creating really gets me going. I take great pleasure in creating things from nothing. Hypertufa is one of those things that is so easy to create and SO rewarding for the gardener. Let me share some creations I have recently made with you.

From In the Garden

I've already showcased my concrete leaf castings but wanted to share a hosta leaf casting as well. This casting is destined for a good friend for Christmas in remembrance of a good gardening friend who died this year.

From In the Garden

Here are some hypertufa pots I've made as well as several leaf castings. I am beginning to feel like a one woman factory for making all of these but it is fun. I have the process down well and will soon be offering workshops for local folks interested in making their very own hypertufa pots. If you are interested, just email me at

I used various recipes for the pots above but hypertufa is very easy no matter how you do it. I am showcasing the pots and leaf castings because the real reason I have been making so many is due to a craft fair coming up this Sunday.

From In the Garden
Skeeter, see the seashells??

The craft fair is scheduled for Sunday, 29 November 2009 from 12:00-4:oo PM at Lylewood Inn Bed and Breakfast. Lylewood Inn is located at 110 Camp Lylewood Road, Indian Mound, TN 37079. This inn is approximately ten miles from my home and actually right off my road. I posted on it last April when my garden club had the pleasure of having lunch with Mandy at the inn. The craft fair is geared toward local folks but all are welcomed and it has been marketed pretty well. In fact, there are more than 30 vendors signed up to sell their handcrafted wares at the inn. As a bonus, you get to see this beautiful and historical mansion right here in this tiny little town!

I thought this small craft fair would be a fine place for me to start selling my wares-on a small scale. Wish me luck....and come out and buy some great Christmas gifts for your loved ones. I'll be there selling these leaf castings, marker stones, and hypertufa pots. The craft fair promises to be a fun event....

And oh yes, have a Happy Thanksgiving! I think Skeeter has something nice cooked up for you all tomorrow...

in the garden....

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Look before you Dig

By Skeeter Such a bare spot in my Georgia Yard! (garden hose is stretched out to water sod in the front yard) This side of the house is a normal route for deer so we don't have much growing in the form of gardens in this area. The Saints parents gave us a Flag Pole (Thanks Mom and Dad B) and we decided this would be a good spot to install it with a small planter added at the base in time.
Normal procedure, is for me to pick the spot and the Saint digs the hole. This time however, he chose to argue my spot and move a bit forward. Okay, whatever, just dig the hole and lets get this chore knocked off the "To Do" list will ya!
Ah, the trusty Post Hole diggers are a perfect tool to dig a hole to install a tall pole.
As you can see, my soil has Georgia Red Clay in this spot of the yard. Another reason why there are not more flowers planted on this side of the house!
The Saint was having a tough time getting through the Clay but managing until he hit this root. Argggg, not a root but rather the Cable TV to the house! Oh no, we forgot to seek out where the cable could be running through the yard. We had to laugh at the fact that we have 2.5 acres of land but hit the cable with a 6 inch hole! The Saint made a quick supply trip to town for a temp repair so we had TV for the evening. The cable repair people came to the rescue in a timely manner with the final repairs. Now the trusty Pick Ax and Flat Shovel came into play to cover the cable. With all the clay in the area, the Saint had a time getting the cable buried into the ground.

The rains started to fall since this incident thus, not allowing for the Flag Pole to be installed as of yet. Stay tuned for more on this saga.

Hum, if only someone had kept to his job of digging holes while letting someone else pick the perfect spot for a hole to go, then maybe, just maybe..... Well, honey, that's okay, you can dig a mean hole and cut through anything with your strength!

Moral to the story: Listen to your wife? Na, LOOK BEFORE YOU DIG, In the Garden...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why Do You Suppose It Is Called 'The Devil's Walking Stick'?

From In the Garden
Aralia spinosa, aka Devil's Walking Stick, is an understory tree of disturbed areas in forested regions and is quite common in my area, including Land Between the Lakes. It is also quite common in my neighbor's yard; which has been severely disturbed when the previous neighbor's made a dirt bike trail. (No more dirt bikes-now sweet and quiet horses-with the new neighbor's-a good thing!)

From In the Garden
I find the berries are most attractive and quite prolific. They look good enough to eat but no thanks since they are reputed to be mildly toxic when picked fresh. Interesting enough though the berries and other parts of this American native have medicinal properties when properly prepared.

What I'd really like to know is why do you suppose it is called the Devil's Walking Stick? Could it be because of all those spines along the straight and smooth trunk? Do spikey things fit the devil and does he suffer discomfort? If so, the Devil using this stick to walk must have mighty tough hands to handle those spikes; which fits! Could there be another reason for the common name of Devil's Walking Stick? Anyone know?

in the garden....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Veggie Garden Update-November 2009

From In the Garden

Tina's Vegetable Garden Update:
It is the 20th of the month so for Skeeter and I here at "In the Garden" we'll be talking about our vegetables. The picture above was taken from my deck and shows a long view of my vegetable garden. Everything is still hanging on and still growing though you can see some changes from previous month's postings. Most notably is the fact that you can't see any vegetables growing in the garden and also the A-frames have been moved in preparation for next year's climbing vegetables. I have cleaned out my pitiful tomatoes, the gourd and pumpkin vines, the beans and all of the summer crops. In their place I have planted some cool weather crops; which we'll see below. The hay bales were purchased in readiness for when the first big hard freeze takes my angel trumpets. Once that happens I'll cut them back then put a hay bale over the root ball. So far they and the bananas (a focal point of the vegetable garden) have been hanging tough. This is most unusual for this late in the year.
The first cool season vegetable up for its moment in the glory is Swiss chard. This is something I have never grown before this year. I believe it was Frances who sent me the seeds and I started these from seeds. I am not sure why all the seeds did not grow and flourish but it is okay because this one plant is probably more than enough for our family to eat fresh. It rocks and I will grow it again next year. The cool thing about this plant (for me at least) is that it does well in this shadiest of all the vegetable beds and still it looks good. That and the fact that chard is chock full of iron and simply good for you makes it a keeper here.

This next picture shows the sunniest bed in the vegetable garden. It is on the diagonal and faces the southwest. This is the bed where I have placed all of my winter 'crops' and my coldframe. I have planted: Broccoli Raab, Chinese cabbage, radishes, turnip greens, kohlrabi, beets, mesclun, spinach, and lettuce. Some seeds have not germinated and I realize it has to do with their shelf life. The lettuce and spinach did not come up. I am guessing they need to be purchased fresh each season and do not keep well for a long period of time because this has happened to me before. Gee, I wish the stores did not sell lettuce in such large bargain packages. I hate having all those leftover lettuce seeds but I have learned my lesson. Use all the seeds each season and toss the rest if you cannot use them. I have purchased new seeds along with some onion sets I hope to get put out this week. Wish me luck this late in the season.

Here is a close up of the turnip greens. I first ate turnip greens in Germany at a friend's house. I must say I like them when cooked well and flavored (okay smothered) in bacon but the greens are also useful in salads. These greens are growing right outside of my coldframe toward the sun. I feel they will do okay without the added protection of the coldframe. Things in the coldframe are: kohlrabi, broccoli raab, and lettuce (once I plant it). I am hopeful that if I can get some lettuce growing then I can enjoy fresh salads all winter. The key will be in getting it going. The other things in the coldframe will take care of themselves over the winter but do have the added benefit of protection if need be. Only time will tell how they all do. This process of growing veggies in the winter here is a learning one for me. I've not been successful in the past because even in Tennessee, we do get a few periods of extended freezes where hardly anything grows (for me this seems to be December/January but the weathermen will tell you the coldest months in Tennessee are January and February).

Not much more going on here in the vegetable garden. The nest egg gourds are still drying and they will be a craft I'll save for later. I am busy planning exactly what I'll grow next year since I've vowed to only grow what I'll eat and enjoy. That is a tough one because I simply want to grow all veggies.

Now let's look and see what Skeeter has going on in her Georgia vegetable garden.


November has us picking the last of the Anaheim Peppers! Yes, Pepper Picking in Nov. in Georgia! That happens when you had a late start putting your veggies into the ground and a mild Fall.This Sweet Pepper is still growing and should be picked soon.I have a couple of surprises this month. First, I found a tomato plant growing in the mailbox planter we have on the street! I can only assume the dirt I added from the compost bin is the answer to this surprise. I also spotted Black-eyed Susan in this planter that I did not plant. Hum, Maybe I should just add compost dirt to planters and see what grows! The two gourd plants were growing like weeds until recently. They had grown over the fence and looked like I had planted more seeds but what you see are two very happy plants.Here are the two I call the Twins! They are a bit different at the tops but have grown side by side at the same rate.This one I named Big Daddy as it is the largest one of the bunch! It measures in at one foot tall and 22 inches around the belly! This one will make a nice birdhouse for next spring.Here is my second surprise! While collecting all the gourds and removing the dying vines, I found this Purple Cherokee Tomato hiding below the tangled mess! The Saint said it was yummy. I am glad to show you this tomato as I had 6 to show you but they were eaten by my dad before I snapped a picture of them. He really did enjoy them while visiting with us last month. I venture to say, this is the first time I have harvested a tomato in November! And here are the gourds drying on the fence. There are 12 hanging on the fence and 2 on the ground which are well on their way to the drying state. I will Scrape the Gourds as I found that much easier then scrubbing them after they dried last year.

It was another trial and error year in the Veggie Garden and we did have a bit of fun even though it started out bad as last year. We enjoyed lots of Tomatoes, Herbs, Peppers and the Gourds will make wonderful Birdhouses for my feathered friends! I guess all in all, it was fun being In The Veggie Garden...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Here and There

By Skeeter

I was out of my Georgia garden for a bit during the month of October and noticed some strange things in my travels. First, I spotted this while sitting on my parents Tennessee porch. Do you see the strange thing I am talking about?
Blue Blooms with a Yellow Leaf Backdrop!
In late October their Chaste (Blue Bush as they call it) continues to bloom as the trees had turned into their fall colors! Strange stuff I tell ya...
Is this Oleander blooming in late October also?
Yep, Oleander blooming but not sure if this is strange or not as it was blooming on Tybee Island outside of Savannah, GA...
I enjoyed seeing it from my hotel balcony.
This was an eerie sight and just on time for us. It was Halloween Day when we visited the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. The mood was perfect as their was a mist and fog hoovering above.
Some people may think me a bit crazy to visit cemeteries during my vacation but I really do enjoy going to an old cemetery. I find cemeteries very interesting and a sort of garden. Plants, trees and statues were placed many years ago and some are such pieces of art work. Look at this grand lady keeping watch over a plot. Here is the same lady after I played with the camera a bit.
This cemetery has been around since the mid 1800's and sits on a hill top over looking the river below.
This place is full of Spanish Moss draping the trees above!
Natures hand giving me beautiful artwork to view.
The sun finally burn off the fog and mist and I felt like I had just stepped out of the movie "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil". This is the cemetery where the famous Bird Girl statue once belonged...Here is an Oak Tree lined Driveway at Wormsloe Historic site. We also took a quick trip to Jekyll Island to show my parents this beautiful spot on earth. We were lucky enough to get there at Low Tide, thus being able to see the Driftwood Beach we missed during our last visit.Driftwood beach is from years of erosion of the large Oak trees from the oceans side. Driftwood Island is a sort of Cemetery for trees I guess...There is Rip Rap in place to slow down the erosion of the island but as we all know, you cannot stop Mother Nature and Father Time. They will both win in the end.I would like to thank my Saint for taking the time to run me all over the place during this past year! You are such a sweetheart to be HERE AND THERE and In the Garden...