Saturday, September 29, 2007

Yummy Surprises!

Here is another of Mother Nature's surprises. This watermelon vine started growing in the garden on its own. This garden is under an old oak and pine tree and is quite shady. Since I recognized the vine for what it was, I let it grow and was rewarded with this huge sweet watermelon. Since I picked this watermelon two more have grown and are nearly as big! Yummy surprises!

in the garden....

Little Surprises

I thought I would talk about good ideas for Christmas gifts this morning, then found this surprise in my garden. The little yellow flower is Thunbergia alata, aka Black-Eyed Susan Vine. I had tried for two or three years when I first moved here to grow this vine and had no luck-then all of sudden-three years later this appears! It is growing on a 4x4 pole along with Dolichos lablab, aka Hyacinth Bean. Hyacinth beans grow quite well here and you can find these vines all around town, I know Pedigos Antiques on Madison street has a fine stand growing on a chain link fence. I have not seen too many black-eyed susan vines but I am sure they grow well here too. I like the combination of the yellow and pinkish purple and love surprises from Mother Nature! How about you?

in the garden....

Friday, September 28, 2007

How to have success with carrots?

These are my itty bitty baby carrots and I was wondering if anyone had secrets to growing great carrots they would like to share. I haven't had luck with growing carrots in this vegetable garden, but when I lived here in the 80s I grew super ones in red clay! Do carrots prefer a leaner soil and am I planting them at the wrong time? They have frustrated me.

The same time I planted these carrots I planted a bunch of garlic (regular cloves I bought in the grocery store and elephant garlic). I love growing garlic as it is the only thing that grows ALL winter for me. Then in late May I have tons of fresh garlic. Garlic is very easy to grow. Plant it about two inches deep in good soil and leave it alone until next year. It will grow some green stems before the weather turns really cold, then the stems will die back a little and turn brown but all will bounce back in April. Give it a try and let me know your tips for growing carrots as I sure would like to pick some this year.

in the garden.....

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Patience is a Virtue

I had to wait until an overcast day to take this picture. Good garden photographers say that is the best time to take pictures. Not sure. Anyhow, this is a Brugmansia versicolor, aka Angel's Trumpet. A fellow gardener here in Woodlawn (Doris) gave me this plant over three years ago and this is the first year it has bloomed! This plant is not normally hardy to this area and I had been carrying it under my house to my crawlspace for the past three winters. But, I have many gardening friends who have had it come back each year and so I finally decided I would plant it out in the ground. Maybe this is why it finally bloomed? The blooms seem to be late this year. If you read the article on the Master Gardener plant sale the gentleman on the front page said "he could not wait until his Angel Trumpets bloomed." Now you can see why. Angel Trumpets are stunning and truly worth the wait. I have waited three years. Another dear gardening friend (Gerianne) gave me hers from last year which I have planted in the ground as well. She gave me a yellow one since it is my favorite color in the garden. Do you suppose I will have to wait three years for it to bloom as well? Oh well, patience is a virtue and gardeners need a lot of patience. I have a sign in my garden that says, "Patience is a gardener's most precious commodity" and this is so true!

in the garden....

Homage to Freecyclers

As a member of I have been able to obtain free things for my garden AND keep these same things out of the landfill, which is very important to me. These concrete blocks that line my newest garden are stuccoed on one side which makes them something special in my view. I obtained all of these blocks and the top blocks from several freecyclers and I thank them all! This garden was designed to take away weedwhacking chores by the oak tree and it also was designed to have a European flavor. I lived in Germany for over ten years and have always loved European gardens and have tried to make my garden have some elements with a 'continental' feel. Neatness, shade and the feeling of age are all elements I have found in European gardens.

This garden is filled with Hydrangea paniculata 'Grandiflora', aka the PeeGee Hydrangea. I love this hydrangea because it requires very little care when compared to the typical mophead hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophyla), which requires alot of watering. The PG will grow to about 5-7 feet tall with the same spread. It covers itself with pure white hydrangea flowers about as big as a mans fist in August and the flowers persist until the next year. These little hydrangeas don't look like much now, but in about two years they will be quite impressive and fill in this bed. I strongly recommend this hydrangea to anyone who likes hydrangeas.

Thanks again to all fellow freecyclers!

Monday, September 24, 2007

What to grow in a front lawn with only 2 hours of sun?

From In the Garden

Hi there clks ant. You asked a question in storychat and the editor forwarded it me. I hope this answer reaches you. You said you get about two hours of sun in your front yard as the house is blocking the yard and what can you grow there for color? An easy and obvious choice for the green color to replace the grass is Lirope spicata also known as Creeping Lilyturf. (A picture of mine is above) You can buy creeping lilyturf at any nursery though I don't think it is commonly available in big box stores. You must be sure to buy liriope spicata and NOT liriope muscari if you want it to spread and replace the grass. Liriope is typically known as monkey grass and does extremely well in shade, dry or wet. The muscari type will not move around and forms a clump whereas the spicata type spreads fairly quickly and is an excellent substitute for grass. It will bloom with small purple flowers and usually forms small black berries and grows only about 6-8 inches tall. If you do not want to replace the grass and do not want the liriope to spread then by all means buy the muscari. Spicata should be mowed only one time per year in the spring BEFORE new growth is tall enough to be mowed off. Spicata and muscari are evergreen and no maintenance once they are established. I have both spicata and muscari growing in my garden. I planted the spicata under a silver maple tree where the maple roots prevented mowing of the weeds since no grass would grow there. I put only one sprout every foot or so apart and it completely filled in within two years. It does spread but not like ivy or vinca. If you dig edging in at least 3 inches where you do not want it to grow then you should be fine. That takes care of the grass substitute.

As far as color it is hard to beat hostas, heucheras and pulmonarias-all of which I grow in my garden. There is a tremendous variety of hostas and therefore, no shortage of color. Some of my favorites are: Sun Power (gold in color), Sum and Substance (Lime green and the bloom is fragrant), and Albo-Marginata (a variagated variety). Hostas look best grouped together.

Heucheras, also known as coral bells are commonly available. Heucheras are evergreen and come in a variety of colors. I grow about a dozen varieties in my garden and have found some do better than others. Peach Melba is a peachy colored coral bell but did not do well in my garden. The purple heucheras do much better. Purple varieties include: Palace Purple, Cathedral Bells and Silver Haze. I purchased all of these at a big box store. Heucheras can be divided in the fall but it is best to always start with at least three of any one variety for the most impact. Heucheras do great in shade and are not too picky about soil moisture requiring only the regular moisture rain would provide. Heucheras bloom in the spring by holding dainty flowers well above the foiliage. They do make a big impact and my favorite blooming heuchera is the plain old red one.

You did not say what type of moisture other than the soil is on brick and clay. If the moisture content is average and not too dry then pulmonaria is a great plant. This plant is evergreen and I grow the variety 'Trevi Fountain' which is silver leaved with spots on the leaves. In February or March it will bloom with a multitude of small pink, purple and blue flowers. It is a show stopper and everyone who sees mine loves it. I purchased it mail order about three years ago where it is not too expensive and readily available.

If your soil is dry then Epimediums are supposed to be great. I do not personally grow them but am looking to find some! Epimediums do bloom and are supposed to be versatile. Another plant to try for dry soil which is a green with white varigation low ground cover is Aegopodium podagraria also known as Bishops Weed. I do grow this in my garden. Sometimes people have a terrible time with it spreading but I have not had this problem. It would prefer a moist soil but I have it in dry soil and it does well-sometimes dies back in a drought but always reappears after a rain. I am hesitant to recommend it because it is not always present but does work out well if you don't mind missing it sometimes. It is not evergreen.

Hope these suggestions help with the shady front yard. Some shrubs that do well in the shade are azaleas and hollies. There is a wide variety of hollies and one will surely suit your needs if you are looking for shrubs. I especially like the Helleri Holly. It is low growing, does well in the shade and never needs to be trimmed-my kind of shrub. Azaleas can be picky and I would not recommend them for you if your soil is brick and clay, stick with the hollies.

Please let me know if these work out and I loved it when you said, "Please do not suggest silk flowers!" Too cute and brought a smile to my face. Silk flowers have their place but in a garden in Tennessee is probably not one of them!

in the garden......

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Round Stones (Millstones?)

Hi everyone. I need some help. I am a member of is an email organization which facilitates exchanges between members. The whole purpose of Freecycle is to keep things that would otherwise go to the landfill out of the landfill. Last night I picked up a pickup truck load of round stones that look like millstones but with edges like a gear (not smooth). Most all of them are broken in half but there are two that are whole. The gentleman I picked them up from (Tim) said the man who had his house before used them standing up on end to edge his garden. This sounds like a great idea but I was wondering what other people think would be a good purpose for them. They are concrete colored, about 5 inches thick and 18 in diameter. Just imagine a millstone cut in half. Let me know as I truly do not know where I will use them in the garden.......

Friday, September 21, 2007

Big Box Stores

I wonder where gardeners get all of their plants? I was once asked that question and to tell you the truth I never really have thought about where all my plants have come from. I do know of course. When I moved into my house in August 2001 there were exactly five types of garden plants (excluding trees, pokeweed, poison ivy and the like). The five were: lily of the valley, purple irises, orange daylillies, pink sedum, and hostas. Those five types are all still with me but I have greatly expanded by purchasing the majority of my plants from big box stores, the next greatest source of plants for me comes from fellow gardeners, then from plant sales and garden shows and finally I do propagate some of my own plants.

My last blog entry spoke about why I garden and there is a great commercial out there that helps sum it up. Have you ever seen that Home Depot commercial where the woman moves into an apartment building with a dilapidated garden and says she began to garden with the help of Home Depot employees? At the end of the commercial she says something to the effect that "When you grow beautiful things then you are surrounded by beauty." Something like that. That commercial just makes me want to run to Home Depot for all of MY gardening needs. It really is a well done commercial. Many experienced gardeners talk about big box stores (Home Depot, Lowes and Wal-Mart) with disdain when it comes to purchasing plants but I think they are great places to buy plants. Most things for sale in these stores are industry approved varieties and are not real rare but that is ok. They will do fine and are priced very reasonably.

I have a story to share about Home Depot. When I first moved here we all went shopping at Home Depot. Being the gardener I am and anxious to get started I went straight to the garden center looking for some bargains. Back in 2001 Home Depot was selling Heucheras (common name Coral Bells) in six packs for about a buck and a half! That was such a great deal! I purchased a six pack or two. I still have those coral bells in my garden. They are the variety "Palace Purple" which I have never ever found for sale in a six pack since. Palace Purple generally sells for $3-4 per plant! I got each of mine for just 25 cents per plant! Coral Bells are great plants to grow in Tennessee. They are evergreen and low maintenance and perennial and are not picky about location though they prefer shade from the hot sun. The only drawback I have found is they sometimes get ratty looking by the end of summer. No matter, just cut back and clean up, water and wait for cooler weather to perk them up.

Yes, I do like big box stores and they serve their purposes for the greater majority of us very well. What are your feelings on big box stores and where do you obtain most of your plants when gardening? Write and let me know.

in the garden........


Hello fellow gardeners and all. I am Tina Ramsey, an avid gardener who just happens to like to write and talk about gardening. Recently, our local paper, The Leaf Chronicle, requested bloggers with a community slant to participate in blogs. I was one of about four readers who responded to the request and the editors in charge have given me an opportunity to talk about my passion, gardening and life! I thank them.

I want to talk about gardening and life because to me, gardening is life. I love to garden because there is just something so doggoned satisfying about taking a little seed or piece of plant and watching it grow into a 10 foot tree or 3 x 3 foot shrub covered with flowers, or specially colored leaves or berries or whatever. Gardening is so diverse and changes almost hourly. Most gardeners will understand what I am saying and also understand why I walk through my garden at least two times a day. Some will say, no way! How can a garden change from the morning to the afternoon? Believe it or not, they do, or maybe part of it is that I miss something on my morning walk through that I catch on my afternoon walk through? Probably a little of both.

Anyhow, my number one goal with this blog is to share my love of gardening and to inspire others to also share their love of gardening and to garden! According to "Harris Interactive", gardening ranked as number six on a list of what people like to do in their spare time in 2004 (the latest year published). I have heard gardening is the number one hobby in America but could not find proof of this. More people like to garden than do housework which is really not suprising to me. It might have to do with the fact housework has to be done and gardening is usually optional; but I like to think people who garden do so because it is just so satisfying and rewarding.

The rewarding part of gardening comes into play not only when you can pick fresh produce and flowers for home use, but also in the pleasure and security of knowing exactly how your fresh produce is grown and most important to me, the wildlife gardens attract. Wildlife and plants are about life and we all have only one life to live so we must enjoy everyday!

This blog will cover topics as diverse as a bowling ball garden (yes-bowling balls) all the way through preparing the soil and what types of plants grow best here in middle Tennessee. I am not an expert on gardening but I do have a lot of experience (about 40 years in one form or another). That being said, I learn every single day just how much I do not know. Learning is another facet of gardening because in learning we change. If there is one indisputable fact about gardens it is that they change!

Just because I do something one way does not mean it is the best way, or that it will work for everyone. That is the beauty of blogs because we can share and learn from one another how we each do something. If what I do does work for you then by all means-let me know! I have never met a gardener who did not want to share his or her garden and bounty with other fellow gardeners. You will find gardeners to be very generous people.

I would love to hear from others about their gardens. Gardens can be a small pot of herbs on a windowsill or acres of ornamental gardens, but the key ingredient in gardening is living and loving and nurturing life. Any suggestions you would like to talk about will be openly accepted. There are limitless subjects concerning gardening and I cannot possibly talk about them all at once but will work in different subjects each posting.

For now, until this blog gets online postings, it will seem to be one-sided, but once we get going it will all become clear. In the meantime, now that you know why I like to garden-why do you garden? Write and let me know!

Bye for now, I have to get in the garden....