Monday, November 29, 2010

Bloggers' Kindness Unifies and Leaves a Lasting Impression

From In the Garden

After more than three years of blogging I've been most blessed to 'virtually' meet many other bloggers and to look into their gardens and to share a bit of their lives. I've also met a few other bloggers in person and have enjoyed swapping plants and talking of gardening. Gardening is a hobby most people are most passionate about.

Gardening is not only a very popular hobby but it is a hobby that unites people all across the world. A lobelia is a lobelia in Washington State just like it is in Tennessee. A banana tree is a banana tree here in the United States just like it is in the Caribbean. An oak tree is an oak tree in Europe just like it is here in my home state of Tennessee. I find plants a most comforting unifier for this world because when all diplomacy and communications fail; we will still have plants all throughout the world no matter what language we speak, what religion we practice or what our temperature and growing conditions bring us we will still have plants that can unify us. But not only do plants unify us they connect us in personal ways. Who among you have your grandmother's peony growing in your garden? Or perhaps you grow peonies because your grandmother grew them even if you don't have hers. Plants provide a comforting normalcy to our lives and plants and I think that is one reason gardening is such a popular hobby.

If you are a blogger and choose to share some special plant or seeds with a fellow blogger you too are unifying people-bloggers from all across the world and the country. This is a very special way of connecting with others and a method of connecting I never would've anticipated when I began blogging. Then, someone would occasionally email me and offer me a plant or a seed. Huh? I never even knew you could send plants through the mail (only from commercial sources) so I was stunned! Seeds yes, but plants? Wow! 


Some plants are most special and hard to find so when a fellow blogger offers up a coveted plant it is with a great deal of gratitude that I accept the offer. It is a kindness I remember for a very long time and growing that plant that another blogger sent me helps me to think of that person each time I see the plant-it is a unifier since I live so far from most bloggers. I am not going to name all of the gifts I've received through blogging because that is just not something I generally do on this blog, but I wanted to share a few with you today.

Earlier this year Catherine of A Gardener's Progress shared some seeds with me. She sent me several but the ones that come to mind are: great blue lobelia, 'Lilac Fantasy' veronica, and red valerian. I diligently planted and babied those seeds and the resulting seedlings and I have finally found success! The plants I thought were red valerian actually turned out to be great blue lobelia and what an awesome and wonderful surprise the lobelia turned out to be. It is actually still blooming in my frozen garden here in Tennessee! Thanks Catherine!

Marnie from Lilacs and Roses and I did a daylily swap-through the mail. She has the most gorgeous daylilies and sent me not only a lovely daylily but some irises and a book too! How very sweet and I will so enjoy the daylilies and irises in my 'Friendship' area of my gardens. That is an area that is growing as I collect more and more plants.

Lastly, Kathleen of Kasey's Korner offered me some
Veronicastrum virginicum or Culver's Root. It arrived perfectly and is happy in my garden. I've seen the Culver's root on so many garden blogs I really liked it. I'm pretty sure it will do well in my garden conditions too and am ever so excited to see it grow and bloom here-and to think it came all the way from Colorado!

So when you blog and you talk with your fellow bloggers and maybe offer to share a plant or some seeds with your colleagues think about how you unify us all and how those plants will leave a lasting impression....

in the garden....

I've received several plant exchanges and gifts in the mail from bloggers near and far. I've also traded with other gardeners and bloggers in person. I tell you all of these plants and gifts make me think of the giver-not for the gift but for the gesture. Plus I so love plants. I think pass a long plants are sometimes the best.

Do you think of special folks who have given you plants?



Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Friday, November 26, 2010

A Japanese Maple Seedling with Yellow Fall Coloring


From In the Garden

I was sadly mistaken on some of my seedling Japanese maples turning a plain old green. Not so! This particular one is out front along with the orange one and a few red ones. It has turned an eye grabbing yellow and looks great in the Front Center Garden. This particular seedling J. maple took a lot longer to change colors than I would've expected-but the show was worth the wait.  It has taken several years to get to this point and I tell you I'm ever so glad it's finally presenting a show in the garden.
 
This particular garden is the center of my front yard and is a high visibility garden for me. I look at it from inside the house, while on my porch, when walking to the house and really all the time. It needs to have color and interest all year long. In order for this to happen I planted a lot evergreen shrubs, hydrangeas, and some perennials in this garden as well as the two J. maples. A mature oak tree and a huge short needled pine tree round out the plants growing in this bed. Looking just past the Japanese maple's trunk you can just make out the green split rail fence. On the other side of this fence is the busy state highway I live near.






Of course, I can't see the highway anymore because I have this lovely garden and J. maple to draw my eye....


in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, 
 
In the Garden

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snow Roses, aka Camellias, and Happy Thanksgiviing

From In the Garden
"A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose..." (Gertrude Stein)

From In the Garden

But this is no rose....

From In the Garden
Still, I can't help but think of roses when these bright and cheery camellia blooms lighten the garden....so very much during these drab, cold and dreary days of late fall.

From In the Garden

Everyone have a fabulous Thanksgiving and take time to really appreciate the little things in life....in the garden.

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Sunday, November 21, 2010

St. Black Makes an Appearance

From In the Garden

Twas a Saturday morning before first light

When all through the gym the chairs were a sight

From In the Garden
In hopes that St. Black would soon be there

The drums and guitars were stacked with flair

From In the Garden
The amps were prepared to make a patter

When St. Black began to chatter....



My youngest son and his band recently performed at the Austin Peay State University's First Annual Teen Summit. Kudos go out to the organizers of this very wonderful event for teenagers and their parents here in Montgomery County Tennessee. The teens got a great deal out of this event involving local community members and leaders talking about issues that affect teens. Anyone who has a teen or who is themselves a teen now or even who remembers their teenaged years will attest the teen years are not easy years. Today, being a teen is much harder than I could ever have imagined. Any tools that can help my teen deal with issues in today's society are most welcomed and the Teen Summit sure provided some helpful tools to my son. To say I am a very proud parent would be an understatement, but all the performers at the event were wonderful and every single parent who had a teen at the summit should be proud....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden
video

Friday, November 19, 2010

Some Fall Pictures from Tiger Gardens

From In the Garden
I thought I'd share a few fall pictures from Tiger Gardens with you today. I have cut back on posting a bit but that so doesn't mean I'm not still getting out and enjoying (and working) in my garden. Today we'll look at a few random scenes that caught my eye this very week. First but not least is an unknown Japanese maple seedling-just splendid! I have five unknown type Japanese maples out front and this one is the only one that is orange. Seedlings are quite variable I tell you. Three of the others are red, and one is a plain old green for fall. I think I'm liking the orange best.

From In the Garden
Here is a long shot of it. This J. maple seedling grows in my Walled Garden. The last time I posted on my Walled Garden was when I first planted it back in 2007! This vantage point shows both the Crabapple Garden (in the foreground with the Crabapple Tree) and the Roadside Shrub Border (in the background just in front of the green split rail fence-the other side of the split rail is a state highway). The orange just glows!

From In the Garden
Here is another vantage point looking north toward the Northside Shrub Border. You can also see a 'Nova Zembla' rhododendron in the foreground. This rhododendron is part of the walled garden as well as several PG hydrangeas, azaleas, mums, Solomon's seal and other plants including a 'Forest Pansy' redbud. This garden gets pretty much full shade. The seedling was planted in 20o7 when I planted the entire garden. The seedling is finally getting a bit of height on it-if I can just watch out for those voles I'll be golden with this small tree.

From In the Garden
Here is Christine's Japanese maple (really 'Sango Kaku' but I call it her tree). It colors up completely different from the red leaved Japanese maple. This tree turns a pure golden yellow in my garden. It is magnificent backlit! See the red veining? A nice feature. You can just make out one of the fall blooming camellias in the background.

From In the Garden
And here it is! It is an unknown camellia along the northern side of the deck. It is slowly gaining more girth than height-kind of like me I guess; which is not good for me but great for the plant. Eventually it will grow to above the deck rail so that we can enjoy the blooms at eye level when we are on the deck.

From In the Garden
'Jean May' has no problem gaining height as this shrub is more of a tree than shrub. It has one main trunk and has grown phenomenally in the 8 or 9 years it has been growing in Tiger Gardens. I have posted on how I grow camellias here if you are interested in learning how I do it (besides good luck:). Be sure to click on 'camellias' on my sidebar label section for more informative posts on growing camellias from all of here at In the Garden. I'll tell you regular readers and bloggers, if you do not have a label link on your sidebar you are missing a ton of traffic. The labels are used quite often on this blog and I'm glad I have kept them up-many that there are though. I know when I visit blogs it is one feature I sure appreciate-more than any other feature on a blog.

From In the Garden
Here we are looking west along the Northside Shrub Border. The blueberries in the foreground have colored up beautifully and my yellow button mums are blooming in mass quantities. The color combo is nice and I sure appreciate these late blooming mums.

From In the Garden
More of the yellow button mums in the corner of the Northside Shrub Garden. I mainly show you this picture of the Amsonia hubrectii a favorite perennial for my garden. It is very drought and shade tolerant. The blooms come in the spring and are not so much to look at but the foliage is great! It has taken several years for it to reach this size but I think that is good since the root system has plenty of time to develop nicely. This plant is extremely drought tolerant. I have several smaller seedlings scattered around and I am so enamoured of this plant that I've begun spreading it around the rest of Tiger Gardens.

From In the Garden
Another shot of my 'Jean May' camellia. As I was peeking around the shrub looking for a good vantage point a few song sparrows were most worried about my presence so I decided to investigate further. I'm sure this nest is not used for eggs but more for roosting. The evergreen leaves of the camellias and other multiple shrubs in my garden provide a fantastic hiding and warming place for birds to roost during the long winter nights-and even during the day. I can usually find the birds in this tree since it is so close to my house and I can tell you all types of songbirds including cardinals have nested and lived in this tree. It is a wonderful habitat tree for a wildlife garden. If you do not have a lot of evergreens like camellias, arborvitae, viburnums, eleangnus, hollies, boxwoods, yews, and multiple other types-plant some now to provide shelter for birds....

From In the Garden

One last shot (fittingly it is an orange one like the opener) of one of the three crabapples in my garden. This tree was planted as a twig seven years ago and it has really taken off. The 'apples' are a light orange and provide some great color in the garden-not to mention the birds love these little apples. Crabapples-any kind of fruit tree actually-are also excellent habitat trees for wildlife....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Happy Fall Colors in Georgia

By Skeeter;
I am popping in here today to say hello and take a moment to partake in Dave's Fall Color Project 2010. I will pop back in here when time allows :-)

I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving... Hello everyone! I have spent most of my Fall days in Tennessee helping my parents get moved back into their newly renovated house after the May Floods. I spent most of my time inside therefore, not enjoying as many Fall colors as I would have liked to but work came first. I have been one busy gal this Fall but everything is falling (yes, Pun here) into place for me and my family. I am ever so happy these days. I have not been into my Georgia Garden in some time but knew I was not missing much with flowers playing out and plants getting ready for their long Winter nap. This past Sunday, I found a moment to sit in my swing. Look at the beautiful view I was given in my front yard! Fall happens late in the year for us Deep South dweller's. Even though, not much color adorns my gardens, I am ever so grateful to see such beautiful colors in our trees. In this picture you can see the big Green-leafed Willow Oak tree in the middle. It is the last to show color as well as loose its leaves. The last of the oak leaves will drop to the ground in late December and some times, may last until January. What about those wonderful Crepe Myrtle Trees? They give us beautiful flowers in the summer months then again in the fall with vibrant colors on their leaves.
One flower that continues to bloom for me is the Trumpet Angel that Tina gave me from her Tiger Gardens. I just love this plant Tina and cannot thank you enough for passing this beauty along to me!
The Saint's Bald Cypress is turning a bronze glow with a bright red Dogwood in the background.
The Saint's Crab-apple is yellow... and produced some fruit this year. Hopefully, the fruit will become a meal for the deer. That was the Saints plan when planting this tree in the route of the deer.

I am glad to finally be able to slow down a bit and enjoy HAPPY FALL COLORS, In the Garden...

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Vegetable Garden Update-Think Gourds!

From In the Garden
This month the vegetable garden is devoid of any summer vegetables and I tell you, I really like the nice and clean look! Prior to moving my ten bushel gourds into the garage I set them out on the hay bales in the garden. I was so happy to find so many gourds under all those vines and think they look sweet in the garden. I am ashamed to say I was not brave enough to leave them there to cure. I've only known the way of letting my gourds cure in my garage so chickened out and put them there. Leaving them outside would be a much easier thing for me but the freezing and thawing had me concerned the gourds would not cure well. I will keep you posted on how they do in the garage. Some of these gourds are quite large while others are small. I really like the bushel style though!

From In the Garden
The Chinese cabbage is doing well. I think the transitional nature of the vegetable garden makes me a bit lazy with record keeping so I never can remember the cultivar type. I only ever really need to know the cultivar when I blog about the vegetables because honestly, when I eat the vegetables I don't care what type or cultivar they are named. Since I usually only blog about vegetables once a month I may never keep good records but I promise to try. I do know this cabbage is supposed to be a great leafy green vegetable. I plan to try it in the kitchen soon. I'll probably prepare it like turnip greens but we'll see.

The cabbages grow along side the broccoli. I don't have any broccoli florets yet but am hopeful I'll get a good crop within the month. If you wish to see a long shot of the cabbages and broccoli they are the green vegetables behind the gourds in the first picture.

From In the Garden
Here is another green leafy vegetable-growing in the greenhouse. I am determined to have greens this winter so I sowed some lettuce seeds in flats in the greenhouse. I really enjoy fresh lettuce with tomatoes during dinner each night.

From In the Garden
A long shot of the vegetable garden(left side looking east). BJ is busy investigating the vegetables. Normally the dogs are not allowed in this garden but he was taking advantage of the gate being open to come and say hi to me. The bed to the left of the picture with the white PVC frame has been planted with: turnips, kale, and spinach. So far the turnips and kale are up and growing. Spinach takes a bit longer to germinate in my garden but I am anxiously awaiting its appearance too. The PVC frame will be used as a coldframe. I'll drape some frost cloth over it when it gets really cold in order to help give the vegetables in the bed a little extra protection.

From In the Garden
Another long shot of the vegetable garden (right side looking east). Notice the trailer with fence panels in the background? I purchased 21 wooden fence panels from a fellow Craigs Lister. I've been most busy pressure washing the panels and staining them with Behr's solid color wood fence stain (the best stuff for outdoor wood in my opinion!) We like privacy fencing but in the case of this one side not already privacy fenced, we decided for the good of our 'puppy' Lady that we needed to fix the chainlink fence in a manner where she could not climb and/or jump over the fence and run away. She'll be hard pressed to get over this privacy fence. Preparing the fence for installation is keeping me most busy lately.

That is about it for the vegetable garden this month. If you haven't already planted your cool season crops you may be a bit too late, though garlic and onions might be okay. From this point on I think perhaps there is not much gardening to do in the vegetable garden until February 2010; which is right around the corner....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bloom Day-November 2010 and Greenhouse Talk

From In the Garden

One really fabulous thing about blogging is the blogger has both a pictorial and written record of her garden. I find myself going back to look at older posts more and more as the growing season wanes and we enter into a somewhat dreary period for the garden. The Bloom Day posts are such good posts to help to remind me of how the garden was and where it might need to go. Such was the case for me when prior to preparing this post I decided to look back at last November's post. Surprisingly I found that on the day I posted that post (November 15th) we had not yet had a hard freeze. That is not the case this year. Our first hard freeze came to my garden this past Saturday, November 6th. My garden is fairly well protected by a great overhang of tree leaves but even that was not enough to protect the tender plants. Most of my plants are gone and I'm ever so sad to see them go-especially the huge stand of pineapple sage I had growing by the vegetable garden (picture below is just to remind me of how it looked:( But! All is not lost because I have a greenhouse-more on that below. The freeze was well forecast ahead of the time and I was not only expecting it but I was prepared for it. All tender plants were moved into the house or the greenhouse, summer vegetables were cut back, cuttings for next year were safely tucked away, and the winter crop of flowers and vegetables have all been planted. Whew!

From In the Garden
So let's move on to what is blooming and how the garden is doing today shall we? The camellias are the stars of the show in my winter garden. Right now two of the fall blooming Camellia sasanquas are coming into full bloom. The butterflies (yes-there are some still around) and bees love these late blooming camellias, in addition to the asters and mums now blooming. The camellia pictured at the beginning of this post graces the north end of my deck. It is a double pink, and has been slow to grow but is finally filling out and getting large. We'll look at the queen camellia at the end of this post. I've posted about it many times but wanted to show the double today. As I look back at previous posts I found camellias were the Plant of the Month for November 2009. This year they have been slow to start and were set back by a hard freeze-but not stopped. They may yet be the Plant of the Month for November once I've evaluated all plants blooming this month.

From In the Garden
Mums are blooming wonderfully. Despite over two months of drought you just can't stop the mums. They had been a bit set back by the drought but quickly recovered once we received some rain. The yellow button mums along with some reds, purples and Sheffield mums are all in full bloom. This particular clump pictured used to be about 20' long by 4' feet wide but I had to finally thin them out because the stand was a bit boring. This mum is a mainstay here and I have it in all of my gardens. It does okay in shade and shines in sun conditions (where it can be found here such as in this garden).

Now we move to greenhouse flowers. I can tell already I will have tons of blooms all winter as long as I can keep my greenhouse going-that is the challenge since it is my first year. So far so good. I'll explain.

From In the Garden
Oxalis-sweet plant!

From In the Garden
Proven Winners 'Slightly Strawberry' mallow. This particular plant was part of a box of free plants provided by Proven Winners for me to trial and write about. Now that the growing season is over I feel comfortable talking about a few of the plants that came in my wonderful box of goodies this past spring. Being an in ground gardener more than a container gardener nearly all of my trial plants (not yet offered to the public except in limited quantities but these plants will be available in the Spring of 2011) went into the ground. I tell you this season was a pretty hard season for most of the plants due to the drought. I do not usually baby my annuals and the majority of the Proven Winners plants were annuals. Some did well and some did not do so well. 'Slightly Strawberry' did okay and survived the summer with no help from me. I have decided to see if it will winter over and plan to plant it out in the garden again next summer. I tell you I did not expect it to be so darned pretty! It simply adores the greenhouse conditions as you can see. It grows along side another Proven Winners introduction (not new to the market) called 'Diamond Frost'. Diamond Frost simply rocks and I would not garden without one or two in my garden so it too gets greenhouse treatment in the winter.

From In the Garden
Pineapple sage cuttings with duranta in the background. The huge 3-4 foot plants in the garden bit the dust during our hard freeze of November 6th but these babies are doing fabulous in the greenhouse.

I also winter over a few more plants in the greenhouse which are blooming but not pictured. They include impatiens and geraniums. Ferns, a few houseplants and some vegetables round out the greenhouse plants. I'll talk more of them later.

From In the Garden
I think it is only appropriate to talk of the greenhouse since it is such a big part of my garden now that the outdoor growing season has ended. I was extremely concerned about heating the greenhouse. I had read where ceramic heaters are good for greenhouses but the one I purchased for that very purpose did not work. It would cut off within two minutes and I had to be present in order to turn it back on. I was at a loss as to how I was going to heat the greenhouse then I looked around my garage and found a little 1500 watt radiant space heater (you can see it on the floor of the greenhouse in the above picture). It has done the job in flying spades! I have the exact setting where I want it and it cycles off and on all night keeping the greenhouse a toasty 45 degrees-my specified temperature. I chose 40-50 degrees for the temperature range of my greenhouse because that is the general range my unheated garage stays at during the entire winter. I've successfully wintered over plants in there for many years so I figure it should work for the greenhouse as well. This heater does not have a precise thermostat but fiddling with the heat dial was not difficult.

Can you see the rain barrel in the far left corner? This rain barrel is actually a repository for water I get from a garden hose. It makes watering all of the plants so much easier for me because the water source is right there. I simply fill up my watering can and water a way. Another benefit of having a rain barrel in the greenhouse is that it provides passive heating during the night. It is my theory the water and barrel heat up a bit during the warm days and when the sun goes down some of that heat is released back into the greenhouse. So far I can't tell if it works well or not but I think it does work, at least a little bit. Even when I don't run the heat in the greenhouse it generally stays about 7-10 degrees warmer than the outside temperature. Not bad!

One other extra thing I did to the greenhouse in preparation for the winter was to insulate better. I had done a lot of preparation in setting up the greenhouse back in March, but the Solexx panels are just not very thick and don't hold in heat well. Enter bubble wrap. I had read where many greenhouse hobbyists wrap their greenhouses with bubble wrap. I researched online and found a source that sold the large bubble wrap in four foot widths-a perfect width for me. I ordered it and taped it to the entire inside of the greenhouse-less the door. I had to tape the bubble wrap to the outside of the door due to it interfering with the opening and closing of the door if it was inside. Air is a really great insulator and I think the bubble wrap makes a huge difference with holding in the heat from the space heater. I am relieved the heater does not run all the time and so far, with low temperatures of below 30 degrees, the insulation and heating methods I have employed have worked. I am pretty glad too because I was seriously considering just putting the plants in the garage and not worrying about it. Mr. Fix-it and I both agreed this was not an option. I have a greenhouse so I must use it and I tell you it is better for me and the plants to be in the wonderful humid and warm environment of the greenhouse than to be in the dark and drafty garage. Had enough of greenhouse talk yet? I have so let's move on to one last camellia.....

From In the Garden
I believe this one is 'Jean May' (even if it isn't it is for me because my mother's name is Jean). It grows on the northern end of my home and is really really tall and large. It is simply splendid on this November Bloom Day....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

October 2010 Plant of the Month & a Close Encounter of the Preying Kind

From In the Garden

October's Plant of the Month has to be the asters. One note: I post the first Wednesday of each month my series "Plant of the Month" but that plant of the month is for the previous month's best performer in my garden. This performer also needs to make a big impact. The asters had it for October.

Asters are something I've always loved but found that after a few years the cultivars I grew would die out on me. Not so with a few new ones I've tried. Notably the above blue aster is a huge performer. It came from one of my client's gardens and has been a very reliable performer in her garden for many years. When I had to divide it to keep it from taking over I brought some starts home with me. This section that started from one or two starts has now grown to 3' x 5'! That is a lot of growing in just six months! Its hardiness and longevity in my client's garden makes me feel confident it will do well here at Tiger Gardens too. It seems that the best asters for my garden are the pass along asters-maybe the older cultivars are better adapted? I'm not sure but in the past the few new ones I've tried have died out after a few years. Some other pass along asters I grow are: tartarian asters (love em!), 'Honeysong' (a pink aster), and an unknown purple aster given to me by my friend Naomi. With the wide variety of asters on the market and in gardens everywhere there is an aster for everyone.

I like the asters not only for their lovely fall show but for their drought tolerance. These plants are very tough in the garden and have not received supplemental water from me this year. That says a lot because 2010 has been a bad year for gardening in my part of Tennessee. Asters do best in full sun but also manage quite nicely in part sun and even part shade. Their dainty flowers number in the millions and the butterflies, and bees simply adore the blooms. The asters were the best performers in my October garden and make a huge enough impact that they are my choice for October's Plant of the Month.....

in the garden....

From In the Garden
I can't resist posting a picture of my son, Jimmy. He found a Chinese praying mantis on the driveway and got quite excited to see it. He may be a sweet 16 and a guitarist in a metal band (think tough guy) but he still enjoys the garden and the little things like praying mantids! He was most excited when he called his father and I over to look at it with him. I then assured him he'd be safe if he picked it up and to go ahead and examine it closer. I'm not sure he trusted me entirely but Jimmy was brave and did enjoy handling the mantis....

in the garden...

What was your best performer in your October garden? Any mantids in your garden lately?

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team,

In the Garden