Friday, February 25, 2011

Meeting a North Carolina Blogger-In Tennessee

Carson, Catie, John, Carla, Tina, Roger, and Jimmy at Opryland, February 19, 2011
From In the Garden
Blogging is such a super great social outlet and I enjoy it so much. Never so much as when I get to meet one of my blogging friends. Such was the case recently when Carla, from The Country Diary of a Southern Lady  came to Nashville for a visit. I read on her blog where she and her family were taking a short weekend trip to Nashville and commented that I'd love to meet her and her family. She emailed me right away and we set up our meeting at the newly renovated and reopened Opryland Hotel. This hotel in and of itself is spectacular and was the perfect meeting place for us all-in fact, Carla and her family were staying there. If you've never been to this hotel you simply must! I didn't get any pictures of the hotel but for some great pictures visit Carla's blog.

Saturday morning saw the Ramsey family working very hard on some drainage issues (which worked now the other side must be done) by our home but by the time the afternoon rolled around we were all very excited to take a break and head to Nashville for our meeting with Carla. I can't tell you how well everyone hit it off! Jimmy was talking to Carla's two teenaged girls (Catie and Carson), I was talking with Carla, and Mr. Fix-it (aka Roger) was talking with Carla's husband John. We all had so much in common it was almost unreal. Before we knew it two hours had already passed us by! We had a super good visit and look forward to visiting with Carla and her family again in the future.

Carla is the sixteenth garden blogger I have met in person and I must say I've always enjoyed the visits with my 'virtual' friends; and while I won't go so far as to encourage others to meet just any blogger, I will most definitely say this. If you speak to a person fairly frequently on your blog or theirs and have established a relationship and report, then go for it if the opportunity arises! Take a chance and email the person or comment on their blog that you'd love to meet sometime if they ever make it to your neck of the woods or if you are going to theirs-take a leap. You won't regret it, I promise....

in the garden....

P.S. On the day we met at Opryland the National Turkey Wildlife Federation was having their conference there. If you know Tennessee, then you know how funny this is! Seeing men carrying their stuffed birds through the lobby of the Opryland-even funnier!

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

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mexican Agave

After our Disney World visit, we returned to our Georgia Gardens for one day. Yep, I had one day to unpack, do laundry and repack for our Winter Vacation! At times, I do think I am a gluten for punishment.

We checked into our Mobile, Alabama hotel where we were greeted by this unusual Christmas tree. Unusual not due to the Ocean theme, after all, we were at the ocean. Unusual due to being upside down. I found this a most whimsical tree and it made me smile.

I awoke the next morning in time to see this beautiful sunrise from our window! The Saint had the coffee going as I called the remainder of our party (10 people total) to have them share in this glorious sight. You can see the USS Alabama battleship's silhouette.
We sat on the lounger enjoying the sunrise with coffee in hand and also watched as our ride cruised into port!

My gardens suffered with no new pine straw mulching and no major plant purchases last year in order for us to partake in this Winter Vacation with friends. But sometimes, you gotta save a bit here to enjoy life a bit there. Our journey took us to Mexico where the sunrises and sunsets were awesome each day!
The yellow of this Cozumel church popped using the blue sky as a background. I love the colors blue and yellow together. I have toured many churches while living in Europe and I must say this church in Mexico is more of a simple church then the fancy European versions. The Catholics in our group, knelt and said a prayer for our safe journey home.
Our tour then took us to the Tequila Museum. Next to our destination we spotted this building. The sign had us all thinking and giggling. One thing we learned: It is mandatory for everyone calling Cozumel, Mexico home to learn the English language.

Now to the Museum where we also found a Free Pee Pee station.Out front, I had a close up look at the Bougainvillea. I spotted these all over the island and in full bloom. Seeing something in full bloom in the month of December was a treat! I kept watching a Hummingbird buzzing around it but could not get him to pose for me.
To the left of the Bougainvillea was this mass of fruit. I cannot remember the name of it but someone in our party recognised this from his days of living in California. It is edible but tart they said. I love the orange color of the fruit.
The tour of the Tequila Museum was most interesting. Here is an example of an Agave field. I talked about Agave in the past when posting on the Century Plant . These Agave pictured here are not native to this area of Mexico. They are brought there to show the real Tequila making Agave plant to tourist. Just as the French claim fame to Real Champagne, A certain region of Mexico claims fame to real Agave producing Tequila. This Agave does not do well with salt air thus the native region is found away from the ocean in the middle of Mexico. Don't ask me the name of the region as my aging (okay, Tequila drinking) brain does not remember.
An Agave plant must be 10 years old before it can be processed into Tequila. Each year, they trim the leaves of the plant until they have a root ball as large as the one here on display. The ball is cooked and goes through a process to become Tequila.
Once inside, we were free to sample the different tequilas. I had never before seen flavored tequila! I am not a fan of Tequila unless in a margarita but I must admit the almond and coffee flavored along with the blue stuff (Name escapes me) were yummy!

This is my favorite way of indulging in Tequila. Good friends, the beach and some tooty fruity! Oh so refreshing.... This was our second cruise and we are hooked! Only drawback to them is the time goes by way too quickly, sigh but there is always next year! This was our fond farewell from the skies before we headed back home to Georgia. This year I hope to slow down a bit and maybe enjoy some MEXICAN AGAVE, In the Garden...

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

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Building a French Drain for a Gutter Downspout

Long shot of downspout and house drain on the left behind the chainlink fence.
From In the Garden
Houston! We have a problem. Whenever I have a problem I think of those five words because problems are never a good thing. This past weekend I have been moving and dividing hydrangeas. The area under my wisteria arbor was not really a good area for the hydrangeas because each summer the area got so dry I just knew the hydrangeas would die. Since one of my two rhododendrons did die from last summer's drought I thought I might rework this small garden near my northwest downspout. Enter one hydrangea that I made into three by splitting the root ball and I'm all ready to plant-right? Well, that's what I thought but then I remember what the evil dog Lady had done to this garden.
Another angle of the two drain areas prior to digging the downspout trench.
From In the Garden
It really wasn't entirely Lady's fault but her digging up two drains in this garden did not help the situation. You see, one drain led from under the house (visible on the outside of the fence just around the turn of the house from the gutter) and the other drain was from the downspout. Both drains had been installed a long time before we bought the home nearly ten years ago. Both drains were clogged up from silt and dirt and one drain even drained INTO the crawl space under the house! It was a mess and a big problem that had to be fixed before any new planting could take place. I knew about this problem last fall but had been putting it off. Well, the day came.
Long shot of house drain in foreground, Coral Bark J. maple, then the new drainpipe for the gutter in the background.
From In the Garden
Here we see both drains laid out and ready for work. I started with the house drain simply because that was the major issue and the harder one to deal with. When Lady dug up the drain I could clearly see it was sloped toward the house. Not a good way to have a drain sloped at all. In the crawl space of our house where the drain emptied there was a huge pile of dirt. It was all from drainage washing back into the house. I knew the drain was there and that it had an issue but simply had not worked it prior to now so I can only blame myself for the big pile of dirt. After scooping all of the dirt out of the crawlspace I tried to clear the drain. It seems the drain was inserted into the foundation to drain away excess water in case water built up under the house. We've never had an issue with this and I honestly can't find any information on house drains. Very weird, but since the builder had installed the drain we felt it should be installed properly and functional. I cleared the square hole (the drain is round) and found a lot of mud in the foundation. I cleared all of that mud down to the footings and removed the old drain. This drain was not only broken due to Lady's digging but it was a corrugated pipe with drain holes. That explained all of the silt in the pipe. Since this drain is to drain water away from and under the house and would hopefully be used infrequently we decided to put in a solid corrugated pipe. It is the pipe closest to you in the picture above.
Outside shot of house drain.
From In the Garden
Here is where the drain exited from under the house. Did I tell you the two gardens affected by these drainage issues house my very tall and beautiful camellia, a large old PG hydrangea, and my coral bark Japanese maple? Scary times for me but the benefit of being a homeowner and a do it yourselfer is you can take care to consider all plants and other extenuating factors. I don't think any plants were harmed but a very large PG hydrangea had a few roots cuts. PGs are very hardy and tough hydrangeas though so it should be okay.
House drain secured in place with concrete vinyl patcher.
From In the Garden
I cleaned the muck and the mess out of the drain hole and from under the house so that any water under the house would drain from the hole. Mr. Fix-it and I then installed the solid corrugated pipe by cementing it into place using concrete vinyl patcher. Concrete vinyl patcher has no stones in it and is smooth. I also used a concrete bonding agent and waterproofed the foundation in the spot as an extra precaution. I think the concrete will work much better for this drain than mud. On the inside we took a different route. The foundation is about one foot wide so the drain goes all the way through and into the crawlspace. On the inside we used 'Great Stuff' crack sealer. This stuff is water resistant and not  waterproof but in my experience it holds up well. If it deteriorates we will be able to fix the situation as necessary. 

The drain was dug to have a pitch of about 1" per ten feet. The water drained well through the trench because I tested it with my hose on full blast when I was cleaning the mud from the foundation. All that was left for this drain was to fill it in with soil once the concrete cured. Oh, if things were so simple.
Trench from downspout with 1/2 gravel fill and landscape wrap.
From In the Garden
Our chain link fence was the next issue we had to deal with. When we moved here nearly ten years ago we had a chainlink fence installed. I use the term loosely because the installers did a crappy job of installing the fence. The posts next to the house were set too close to the house and hit the footings. Therefore the installers did not sink and cement the corner posts properly. This particular fence post has always been an issue because not only was it not set properly but due to the seepage of the gutter water the cement deteriorated to nothing. We could easily pull the fence post out and the dogs were able to get out if they were so inclined. Mr. Fix-it moved the fence post over a few inches, sunk the post and re-poured the concrete to set the pole properly. Now we could turn our attention to the gutter downspout.
Pipe from downspout with gravel, landscape wrap cocooning the trench and gravel.
From In the Garden
Mr. Fix-it dug a positively drained trench away from the down spout to about 20 feet away while I took the truck and trailer to the quarry. If you have a large amount of drainage rock to buy it is always more economical to buy it in bulk from a quarry. The price at my local quarry is $22 a ton. That is a lot of rock. You'd pay about $3 for one fifty pound bag in your local hardware store. By the time I came home with the gravel it was raining so yet another day was wasted. Finally! Yesterday was the day. I woke early and laid out the landscape fabric in the trench. The landscape fabric is to keep soil and silt from mixing in with the drainage rock and the pipe. For the gutter downspout we used a solid pipe close to the house then transitioned to a perforated corrugated pipe further down. The perforated pipe will allow the water to sink into the ground as well as spilling it out into my garden; which is lower than the house at the bottom of the drain.
Competed project. Don't mind the corrugated pipe-it is extra. Hydrangeas, hostas, brunnera, and ginger are all replanted and the garden bed was lightly mulched with pine straw.
From In the Garden
My job was to fill the trench with the drainage gravel, install the pipe (with a sock already on it to ensure double protection against silt and sand clogging the pipe), backfill on top of the pipe with more drainage gravel then cover the whole trench like wrapping a baby in landscape fabric. Once all was sealed up I was able to fill in the trench with the removed soil and sod. 

Mr. Fix-it came home for lunch and used his come-a-long  to pull the chainlink over to the now stabilized pole. We are ever so happy to have that problem worked out since the evil dog Lady likes to escape the backyard so often. Mr. Fix-it would be heartbroken if that dog ran away so he fixed the fence while I backfilled both trenches and dressed up the garden. 

I added the castle rock with cap in order to raise up that side of the garden and to make a water stop. The drainage ditch with the pipe for the gutter is immediately to the right of the castle rock wall. This is basically how the garden was set up prior to the rework but with no castle rock. This area to the crawlspace door must be kept open or I'd have a garden all the way to the deck; which is on the far right of the picture.

Once everything was backfilled and smoothed out I planted my three hydrangeas around the coral bark Japanese maple and replanted a few other perennials I had in this garden; including brunnera and ginger. I also had a ligularia, pulmonaria and a HUGE hosta in the garden. I'm sad to say not all would fit back into the garden. I managed to squeeze in the hosta and ligularia but not the pulomonaria. It kind of makes me laugh because it reminds me of my husband putting together a machine and having leftover parts. Well-I was the one with leftovers this time. 

We are due a huge thunderstorm with some severe weather on Thursday. I can't wait to see how my new drains work....

in the garden....

Have you ever buried a downspout? And if so please share your experiences!

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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


During Thanksgiving last Fall, the Saint had a business trip to Florida. He took some vacation time as well so I tagged a long leaving my Georgia Gardens for a bit. We went to Disney World! We finally made it after talking about Disney for years!
It truly is a magical place! We opened and closed each park during our stay and we had a blast taking in all we could. My favorite at the Magic Kingdom is the castle at night. Blue...
To Purple,
To Orange! I could hardly take my eyes off the thing!
The night time lighted parade is a must but the same music over and over again was a bit for the nerves. Kind of like the "Its a small world" song"....
So many lights and so much fun! We got lucky and had a birds eye view from the tram station.
Seeing beautiful blooms in late November were awesome!
Hard to believe but this mountain is man made. Not real snow at all but so realistic to us.
The Tree of Life is man made as well. Can you see what I see?
Now can you see what I see? Lots of animals in the Animal Kingdom.
Of course we took in all the rides we could giving thumbs up for the camera. Notice how we are the only ones on this ride. Yep, the day after Thanksgiving and the next four days were the best with little to no crowds.
Look at the beautiful beast. This one is real or so the safari rider said he was. Hard to tell what is real and not in this place though.
Now this sight captivated us. I could have stayed here all day watching that baby playing with mommy. It was adorable and you should have heard the Awwwwww's. Little thing was so into mommy that it would not turn around and smile for the camera.
Over in Hollywood, we had a blast on the Tower of Terror. I am the one pointing to the guy next to me holding my hand. On this dropping ride, you are in the dark but with a flash of light at times and to snap unsuspecting photos. This ride drops more then once and never the same. With the first drop, I grabbed the guy next to me on his knee. I quickly said I was sorry. The next thing I know, the guy grabbed my hand and started to scream like a hungry baby! I got so tickled and was trying to tell the Saint that this guy would not let go of my hand. I was telling the Saint to look at him as he screamed and about that time, the camera went off and captured this moment. After the ride was over, the guy apologized for holding my hand and screaming in my ear. I laughed and told him it was just fine. When he saw this picture, he cringed and turned beat red in the face. We loved this ride so much that we rode it 3 times that day!
The Rocking Roller-coaster was thumbs up and we rode it twice!
At night time the place became magic with fountains glowing in the dark.
Epcot was as beautiful at night,
As it was during the day.
The Flowers in the planters were awesome. As we sleep, the gardeners must be replacing them as they were all perfect.
At one point, I thought I was back in Germany again!
On the way home, we drove up 1A1 to enjoy the ocean. Ah, what a wonderful ending to an awesome weekend seeing MICKEY MOUSE, in the Garden...

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

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Secret Patio After One Year

Secret Patio newly constructed February 2009 looking south toward the garage.
From In the Garden
I thought I might update everyone on my Secret Patio project from nearly two years ago. That original post talked of my building a circular brick patio made entirely from salvaged bricks I received from a fellow Freecycler.The patio was completed about this time in 2009 with the addition of a very large serviceberry tree. The first summer the patio gardens grew and did well. That was in 2009; which of course you all know we had a pretty good summer as far as rainfall. That was a big relief because it enabled all of the new plantings to settle in nicely which brings us to this past summer, the summer of 2010.

Secret Patio gardens looking west.
From In the Garden
These pictures were taken mid June 2010 and I tell you I just love how it all turned out. This is one garden I won't have to be moving any shrubs or trees-that's a first for me. The serviceberry (directly straight ahead on the other side of the chaise) has come along nicely and is doing well. I did not get a bloom from it last year though. I'm not sure why but hope this is a better year for both blooms and berries. The two 'Tamukeyama' Japanese maples I brought down from Maine in the back of a pick up truck provide a nice frame for the 'Royal Star' magnolia planted in the foregarden. Columbines, bleeding hearts, Solomon's Seal, a leucothoe 'Rainbow', a yellow twig dogwood, and miscellaneous other perennials round out the repertoire in these Secret Patio gardens. 

I call this area the 'Secret Patio' not only because it is tucked into the gardens and you can't even tell it is there until you get close to it, but also because it is in a convenient place for Mr. Fix-it to relax away from his GARAGE. He'll be doing a lot more relaxing because he is retiring from the Army very soon after a more than twenty year career.
Secret Patio looking south toward the garage.
From In the Garden
Now if I could only find the time to relax and enjoy the new sitting area....away from the GARDEN....

in the would be so sweet!

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

Thursday, February 17, 2011



We left our Georgia Garden during the week of Thanksgiving. The Saint had a business trip to attend in Florida. He took a few days of vacation so I tagged along for a bit of fun in the sun. We must travel back highways for some time until we meet up with the Interstate headed this direction. I enjoy traveling the back roads as you never know what one might see along the way. Just look at what our eyes spotted within an hour of our journey. Fields of Cotton!
Of course I had the Saint pull the car to the side of the road for a photo op. He hates when I have him do this but on back roads there is not much traffic so I do not hesitate asking him for such small joys in life.

*Thanks sweet Saint for pulling over when I know you did not want to...

Not only did we spot fields of cotton but also bales of the white fluff.
Not pure white as there is some debris within. Where is Eli Whitney and his Cotton Gin ?
This field was stripped of the clothes making materials. The South Plains of the United States is the largest contiguous cotton growing region in the world.
A few late blooming balls remained. I did not bother the cotton as I feared a shotgun in my face. I just snapped pictures then off we went on down the road.
In this field the tarps on the cotton were blue in color. The first field had green tarps. I wonder if that has a meaning, like belonging to a different farmer or different quality of cotton. Hum, one can only wonder when they do not know too much about cotton crops....
Soon after we had gotten back onto the road, we came upon a truck filled with one of the huge bales.
I can only wonder what will be made from this COTTON, In the Garden...
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden