Friday, May 4, 2012

Peonies, Ponds, Pets, Petticoats, and a Festival

It's peony time in Tiger Gardens! My most favorite flower of all is the peony. The smell, the look, the touch, and the memories all make the peony a keeper. Doesn't the above peony remind you of a cupcake covered with frothy white frosting? It does me so that might be a part of my liking too!
Rhododendrons make good companions for peonies. This one is 'Nova Zembla' a very old variety. It is a red rhododendron and is not far from the pond in the dry shade of a Red Cedar and oaks.

The pond is crystal clear now and giving us a great deal of pleasure. I think the plants and the UV light made all the difference with the clarity of the water. I am rinsing the filters every other day or so but things have finally worked themselves out in the pond-after three months!

Has anyone seen the movie Gone with the Wind? Remember petticoats under the dresses? Without the petticoats the dresses just would not be the same. Those petticoats had lots and lots of layers to give them their fullness; which of course led to the uniqueness of those full flowing gowns worn in the 1800s. It is the same with gardens. Layering in a garden gives the garden not only its fullness but its character and uniqueness.

I use the above photograph to talk about layers in a garden. One thing my garden has is lots and lots of layers. The layers here actually start below ground with the bulbs and go to great heights with the climax species of oaks and hickories. In between these two layers you will find perennials, annuals, vines, shrubs, sub shrubs, small trees and all sorts of garden ornamentation. It is my firmest belief layers make a garden.  

 Layering in a garden can work not only in my natural styled border and island gardens but also in the minimalist modern garden to a parterre garden to a formally trained garden. The trick is to know what to put in each layer to obtain the effect. There is one caveat though as with anything. Gardens are not static and even with a good design gardens will change and layers may need to be adjusted. But it is not a difficult concept at all. 

Can you see the layers here in the above picture? The green grass with a border garden on the left, straight ahead is a Coral Bark Japanese maple underplanted with hostas, hydrangeas, and groundcovers such as brunnera and ginger. Through the gate there is another garden with a focal point of a crabapple underplanted with azaleas and perennials and a few shrubs such as the bright spireas you can see because the sun is hitting it. Looking further into the garden you may see the red foliage of more Japanese maples and shrubs and perennials. Layers make it happen in the garden. The garden style does not matter when layering.

DSCN2204A fellow pond enthusiast had to close her very large pond. The local pond society sent out a bulletin saying the woman had lots of koi for only $1 each. Since the pond had a leak and the pump was broken it was vital to get the koi out fairly quickly. Naomi and I went over and we each came home with three large koi a piece. I also bought some more rocks for the garden. The above poor picture shows two of the new koi with one of the baby koi under them. The baby koi are growing fast but have not changed colors. It's okay, they are fine just the way they are. The other large koi we got from the pond is a gray koi. The two orange ones are the leaders and are quite aggressive when it comes to eating and socializing with us. The water is really not dirty like it appears but the liner has a green film on it which gives the water a tinted appearance. Additionally it is hard to photograph things underwater!
Here is a picture of the whole pond showing how clear the water is. Even this pond has layers in it. The bottom of the pond gives the pond depth that you can see, the water reflects light and movement, the rocks provide a great border and the surrounding lawn and gardens add to the "I've been here forever look" that I seek in my gardens.

The pond is finally clear all the way to the bottom. We are enjoying our new koi so very much! They always want food which is nice for interactions. I shall prepare a post on the koi and pond soon but I have no idea when. Normally I prepare posts a long time in advance but lately I have not been doing this. I have been very busy with a lot going on and there just does not seem to be enough hours in the day for everything including blogging. My son is set to graduate soon, we have company coming, and I also have an out of town trip scheduled to meet with other garden bloggers in North Carolina this month. Wow! I honestly can't wait until May is over. 

Back to the garden and layers. Why am I talking about layers? Well this Saturday starting at 9:00 am I'll be downtown at the Green Thumb Festival giving a presentation on Layers in the Garden. It is a fun presentation I love doing and hope you all will join me! My presentation is scheduled for 9:00 am in the Education Tent located at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Madison Street in Clarksville but the festival actually starts at 8:00 am. In addition to presentations there will be booths set up where various vendors will be selling garden related wares, the Montgomery County Master Gardeners will be selling plants, there will be various give a ways, and tons of activities for children. This annual event that is now in its third year is a great time for all! See you there.
My cat is a sweet little thing in the garden. My morning routine is to walk the front gardens on my way to get my newspapers from the front lawn. Orkin kitty follows me along begging for attention. She is my resident pest control but the chipmunks here have gotten so out of control she cannot keep up. I have been trapping at a rate of one per day for the last week. As one is captured I can hear more squeaking in the background. They drive me nuts. The dogs are going berserk in the back yard chasing them down as well. I have one dog who is successful in catching and killing the rodents. The problem is all dogs go after them and the gardens are literally trampled beyond the point of recovery. I will have to work on that problem if I am to have any gardens left for the garden tour in June.

Here are more peonies for you though you may be getting tired of them by now. I pick a bunch each day or two for inside of the house. If you only pick a single flower for bouquets I think it should be a peony.

 And since we seem to have a lot of critters in this post I thought I'd share our baby bluebirds. They are very close to leaving the nest. I stay away from this birdhouse since I know the babies are so large. Mr. Fix-it was able to run some more of the underground wire around this rather large garden where these birds reside so the dogs also stay away from the babies. I am hoping all of the babies will make a successful transition. It does not always happen that they do but I will keep checking on them....

in the garden....

See you tomorrow at the Habitat ReStore and Green Thumb Festival. 

in the garden....

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


  1. Wish I could attend your workshop, Tina--I try to plant in layers, but sometimes my plans go a little awry. Your peonies are beautiful, and how nice it must be to have enough to pick for a bouquet. I'm eagerly waiting for the first blooms on my one and only new peony.

    Dogs and cats are great critter control in the garden, but there's always a tradeoff. I've lost a few small plants after Sophie has gone on a vole hunt:)

  2. Hi Tina. Good luck with your presentation ~ wish I could attend, layering is a good topic ~ one that you are doing a great job with in your garden. Peonies are also one of my favorite flowers. Can't wait for them to bloom here but we are a bit behind you.
    Congrats on the new Koi too. I haven't seen your pond before so I enjoyed the full on photo. I get an algae bloom every spring & then again in fall. After I add water plants in spring, it equalizes out but then when they die in fall, it causes everything to go off kelter again. I'm used to it now but I do prefer the clear water so I can see what's happening at the bottom. Your pond is a nice size & will give you lots of enjoyment.
    Busy May for you but sounds like lots of fun too!

  3. I loved your post Tina. I very much plant in layers, too. I liked seeing your pond. It is a very nicely done water feature.

  4. I agree that peony is a beautiful bloom and so large that one will do the trick. i cannot enjoy the outside flowers inside as the cats will get to them. I must put them up so darn high that I cannot enjoy them. Sigh....

    Your pond looks great and yes, like it has been there for some time! What a bargain on the fish! Cant wait to see them in person....

    That bird should have fledged by the time I type this. When they start looking out the hole, they are pretty much ready.... We lost our first brood. Dont know what got them but the nest was totally empty with no sign of any disturbance. If a racoon, I would expect a messed up nest but not so. I have no idea unless a snake found them.....

    Your picture of Orkin reminds us so much of OJ. He has been in the garden helping up set up the pool this evening. Every time I turned around, he was laying in a different garden. Just enjoying the cypress mulch. That little toot was just so happy and content hanging out with us. He is a mess for sure. We came inside as it was getting dark and he was stalking a frog or something in the vinca. The pool is still filling with water. Wow, with me watering all day for two days straight and now filling up the pool the water bill will be on the moon this month. Sigh... Oh well, the pool will keep me cool as I pull weeds....

    Have a great weekend....

  5. What a lovely post. I enjoyed the peonies. Sure wish they would grow here. Tried but they died. Great deal on the koi. Good luck with your presentation. Wish I could be there.

  6. Fish, blue birds, a kitty and dogs. Lots of life in your garden. I see the layers. It really is how nature works. They plants find the light they need and it all works nice. Your pond is so pretty. What a deal to get more koi. May is crazy for us too. Enjoy all the moments!

  7. Glad to see the pond doing so well.

    We also wore petticoats back in school in the 50's.

  8. Wonderful post. I like your idea of designing gardens with layers in mind.

  9. Wish I could be there...the pond is looking wonderful....looking forward to my peonies as well...

  10. Fantastic post, tina! I love your pond!! How lovely it is! I can see some irises beside it. I'm glad to see your pretty peonies again this spring!! Your cat looks very smart! By the way, I'll stop blogging for a while. Thank you for your support and kindness so far. I'll read your blog from now on too as always.

  11. A lot going on at Tiger Gardens. Your pond is looking beautiful. Can't wait to meet you in NC.

  12. I am anxious to get home and see my peonies. You see, they were budding before I left on vacation, and I'm afraid I'm missing them! There better be some left when I return.

  13. I love your petticoat analogy! You're so right about gardens not being static. Just when I think I've got a section figured out/worked out--something intervenes -- weather, critters or the plant just poops out for no reason. Of course, we'd be incredibly bored if our gardens never changed! :-) Congratulations on the graduation. We've got a lot going on around here with a wedding and husband's mom's ill health (92), so we can't go far right now.

  14. Sorry I haven't been by to visit and see your pond -- wow, Tina, I love it!! and how cool that you got some koi. They can live a very long time. A garden center near here (that sadly just closed) sold koi and some of the oldest biggest ones went for over $2000 -- so I think you got a good deal. Congratulations to your son on his graduation. I am getting very impatient for peonies. My daughter is being confirmed this week and I was hoping to put some on the table at the party. Of course they are taking their time. Wonder if forcing them would work?