Monday, March 31, 2008

Another Bottle Tree for your Pleasure

I love my bottle tree and I know Gerianne loves hers too, just check this post In The Garden: Bottle Trees? to see ours. One of my regular commenters, reader and friend, Nina has a new bottle tree as well.

She just got it set up and took some lovely pictures which I would like to share with you all. Bottle trees come in all shape and sizes and are great additions to your garden. Not only does the sun make the bottles sparkle and light up the darkest days of winter, but the trees themselves are garden art which gives structure to the garden.

I like lots of glass in my garden. As such, any ideas for adding more which are practical like bottle trees really work for me. Does anyone else use glass in their gardens? And are some more readers going to make a bottle tree for their gardens? I am thinking my sister Dawn with Peaches might have one in the works for her new house. What do ya say?

in the garden....enjoying a bottle or two.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Plant Me a River

My latest design kick is to design some rivers into my landscape. Rivers of plants because actually installing a river in my garden would be out of the question for me. Actually, designing a river is not my latest kick, just one that has finally come to fruition of late.

Rivers can be planted with any type of plant and the plant need not be blue, as in the first picture of the Muscari armeniacum, aka Grape Hyacinths. I also like my river planted with 'Ice Follies' Narcissus, as pictured in the second picture. The daffodils look a little weak on the right side because they have recently been divided and replanted. I do this while they are in bloom as it works best for me so I can see the effect. It is probably best to wait until they are done blooming but dividing while the bulb is in bloom does not hurt the bulb. Be sure to add some bulb booster to the hole.

I have lived here for six and one half years. I have always envied the established gardens I see in various places. I could never figure out how to get mine that way in a short time on a limited budget. In the readings I have done I've found some information on how long it takes to establish gardens. Some estimate 3-5 years, some even longer. I set my sights on 3 years on the basis that a perennial sleeps the first year, creeps the second year, and leaps the third year.

Since I really started this garden in late 2003 when I came back from Iraq and was able to fully dedicate my time to the garden, I have gardened here intensely for about five years. When 2006 came and my garden was not established, I set my sights on the five year mark. 2008 marks five years and I can honestly say it is getting established. Done, no, but established and always changing still. So I am thinking it will take at LEAST five years plus to fully realize your garden's potential with fully grown perennials and design elements in place simply based on what I have done. Remember though, I do garden intensely so if you do not garden as much, it may take longer. I only say this to hopefully help others to avoid disappointment when the magic number comes and goes with little observed progress.

The last picture is of Chionodoxa luciliae, aka Glory of the Snow. I love this little bulb. I planted it in 2002 on a built up hill on the southern side of Mr. Fix-it's garage. The area is seriously neglected and grows nothing but weeds, mainly moss, wild strawberries and who knows what else. Each spring this bulb rewards me with tons of small wildflower like blooms. The foliage actually emerges in the fall, just like with the established muscari. I divided these bulbs this year and planted a new river along the lower edge of the hill. Whenever I divide bulbs or anything really, my rule is to move the plants only within that area. I don't know why but it works for me to add to the fullness of the gardens. I look forward to a nice 'river' growing here next year.

in the garden....

Saturday, March 29, 2008


On my recent visit to see the purple martins ( on the south side of town, I met a friend at the local Kmart. Seizing the opportunity to check out Kmart's new stock of plants, I took a look around to see if I could find something good.

And just look at what I found! Can anyone see what I see? This Japanese maple was labeled Japanese Red Maple. Now I ask you, looking at the tree this label is attached to, can anyone see a Japanese Red Maple other than in the label picture? I hope you all answered no. These trees actually appear to be the cultivar 'Sangu Kaku', aka Coral Bark Japanese Maple.

I have posted about this tree before because it is my favorite cultivar of this wonderful little tree. These trees at Kmart were 3-4' tall and very healthy, as you can see. Normally Japanese Red Maples will sell for $40-$80 for a tree of this size. When you add in the fact this is a special cultivar and not the ordinary run of the mill red Japanese maple (no problem with this as I grow quite a few unnamed varieties), you can see these trees priced at a mere $24.99 were a steal.

I actually emailed the Green Valley Growers in Texas about the mistake just to let them know. I haven't heard back from them but I hope they pay closer attention in the future for their benefit. These trees should've been priced in the $60-$90 price frame.

in the garden....not relying on labels.

Friday, March 28, 2008

More Yucca Tulips!

As if you haven't heard enough about 'Yucca Tulips', see

In The Garden: Yucca Tulips and Southern Traditions

here are some more!

Nina initially sent me the yucca tulip information. The first picture is of her yucca tulips. She is not sure if anyone has ever stopped by to look and see if the flowers are real like some folks did at my house (, but I bet people who do pass by love the look.

Skeeter, who we all here at In the Garden are hoping is comfortably recovering from her tonsilectomy, sent me the second picture of her yucca tulips. These yuccas are across the road from her home. She said she would've added more 'tulips' had she had more egg cartons. I should've sent her some of mine because I have been collecting them for years. As my mother said, they make great craft items-just look at the yucca tulips!

People really get a kick out of these. Most don't realize these flowers are fake, then when they do, that is when they laugh. I asked my son's friend's mother why she was laughing when she realized my yucca tulips were fake. She said because she thought they were real and felt silly once she realized they were fake, but got a great kick out of it. Nothing better than hearing folks laugh.

I appreciate everyone voting. I have decided to definitely keep the labels. It is a good record tracker and easier to find posts by subject matter. I will try to keep the categories broad, yet specific. Is that an oxymoron or close? Thanks for voting. I like reader participation so you can expect to see more surveys.

in the garden....sleeping.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Jury Duty

I recently served on a jury trial. Wow! What a learning experience! I waited my whole life to be called and was quite excited last year when I was finally sent the qualification form. Then I had to wait another six months to finally be summoned. The odds of ACTUALLY sitting on a jury are only about 10-20%; I was in the odds.

It sounds kind of like it is a bummer, but no, I found the experience to be a rewarding learning experience. Lessons I learned:

1) Our justice system is fair to both parties.

2) Judges are very powerful and revered people.

3) Jurors are teams.

4) Patience.

5) The process is painless.

6) It is my civic duty to serve.

7) Many people do not want to serve or unable to serve due to a wide variety of reasons.

8) Lawyers work hard.

If you are in one of the jury pools, report with pride and be prepared to do your duty. You will truly be rewarded and learn a great deal about our society.

I selected this silhouette of a tall and strong oak to represent our legal system. It has the framework in the form of the many branches, the backbone in the form of the tree trunk, and the basis for our system rooted firmly in the soil.

in the garden....

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

D^&*$# Daffodils

We all know I really like daffodils. Or, as I like to call them, DDs, short for d&*^%$ daffodils. I mean this in a good way-really! I have talked about them before and the fact I feel I must divide them each and every year and what kind of effort it takes, but I haven't REALLY talked about them.

Now is the time because guess what I do EVERY single day in the garden? Yup, divide DDs. I have literally planted thousands of bulbs, including not just daffodils but all types of bulbs. Because I want thousands more in order to cover what may end up being every single square inch of my one acre property, I divide my DDs each year in order to spread them around. I do not include dividing daffodils in the number of bulbs I have planted. No, that would be a bit too easy.

You see, planting bulbs means simply digging a hole to the proper depth, sprinkling a bit of bulb booster or bone meal in it, and dropping in the bulb and covering it with soil. That is one thing.

Dividing, on the other hand involves a bit more work. You now have to dig the clump, all the while hoping you don't cut off some of the bulbs and their foliage, use muscles and fingernails to pull apart the tightly wrapped clumps into individual bulbs, find a spot for the now 20 bulbs versus only one clump, THEN complete the process for planting bulbs. The digging and planting is not really a problem for me, finding new spots for the new bulbs is the real problem.

I have this very bad habit of planting plants on top of plants, or very close to plants, or where I think no plants are (at least not at the time). This can be stressful to both me and the plants. For instance, right now I cannot see the hostas. I KNOW there are hostas there somewhere but not sure where. I cannot always tell where they should be when they are dormant. Digging DDs into their clump is not a welcomed intrusion by the hosta. I then get a bit edgy when I realize what I have done to the hosta. What a pain finding homes for all the plants-not just DDs.

What is a gardener to do? Stop dividing and moving around plants and let the DDs grow at their will? Keep bare spots? Accept the losses and pay for them later? What would you do?

Maybe I should quit planting for awhile and see what is growing. The problem then reveals itself fully. EVERYTHING is growing, just not at the same time and everything does not bloom at the same time. I wish my garden could be covered with daffodils entirely when they bloom, next will come the tulips, then dianthus, then salvias, then coreopsis, then peonies....finally camellias-you get the idea? How could all those plants possibly occupy the same spaces? Back to the DDs and dividing.

in the garden....dividing.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

New Fences

Here is another part of the fence post, "Good fences make good neighbors." I had originally intended to showcase a privacy fence I really like at another house. But the picture thing just did not work out in time for the first post. I now have the picture, and thought I would put in our new 'old' split rail fence, along with our new privacy fence on the north side of our property as well. Sometimes it is better to break up the posts, as going short is not so difficult for me-truly!

The first picture shows our moved split rail fence. It was initially along the north side of our property, out front. Mr. Fix-it removed it, and I reinstalled it along the state highway which fronts our property on the eastern side. Installing fences in a straight and logical manner is not an easy feat, as I found out. This fence will soon be covered by the Eleangnus pungens, aka silverberry. Gardeners have a tendency to move things around quite a bit, though this fence was in its original place for about six years. Six years can be a long time in a the gardening world.
The next picture is of a favorite privacy fence I installed. Hand staining every single piece of this fence prior to building it was the truly hard part! But, staining a fence before installing it adds to the life of the fence. In this case I chose a sea foam green oil based stain because I knew it would weather well. I usually like hunter green in the landscape, but the sea foam seemed a better choice for this particular fence. The neighbors absolutely love it and there is not another fence in the neighborhood as nice.

I will prepare a post on our newly installed fence here in Woodlawn. Though we love our neighbors on this side of the yard, privacy is something we lacked and desired, hence the new privacy fence. Additionally, all 265 feet of this northern border of our property is lined with a very long and wide mixed border, the privacy fence is the perfect foil for the plants. More on it another time.

in the garden....

Monday, March 24, 2008

You've Been Tagged....

Gail, over at Clay and Limestone ( tagged me. Remember I told you all there are literally hundreds of garden blogs? We all talk and read and learn and participate in fun things. This is one of those. So bear with me....and look out as you may be tagged by me if you too have a blog!

Gail was tagged by Shady Gardener over at Does Everything Grow Better... at

The rules are simple. Once you have been tagged, you must list 10 weird things, random facts, or habits about yourself and tag five other bloggers. Not only must you list the bloggers and their blogs but you must tell why you tagged them and they then have to follow the rules. They cannot tag you back. Once you are done with your post you must comment back on the initial poster's blog that you have posted to let them know you took care of the tag.

Weird Things About Me In No Particular Order:

1. I used to be a lobsterman.

2. I talk to animals.

3. I think, eat, and breathe gardening.

4. Thinking and dreaming of gardening helped to sustain me through two deployments to war zones (my mother's care packages did the rest).

5. I am on my third marriage and truly believe in the saying, "The third time's the charm."

6. I secretly want to be a private detective.

7. I don't make my bed in the morning and am truly amazed that people do-even when no company is expected!

8. I hate it when people drive in the left lane on the interstate.

9. I love the song "It's Finally Friday!" and if I hear it when I am driving, I tend to speed.

10. I don't have any rhythm and cannot dance or sing.

The five people I am tagging are: Sandy over at the Pet People Blog ( because she is such a good writer and pet lover, that she surely has some weird things she wants to share with us.

I am also tagging Stacy at the Veteran's Voice Blog ( She posts about veterans and maybe it would be fun for her to try something a little different for her to share some of herself.

I am tagging Melissa at the "Hot or Not" Blog ( because I have commented on her blog before, and I liked her one time response to my comment about a certain famous star.

I am tagging Bill Cary at his "In the Garden" blog ( because the name of his blog is the same as mine.

I also tagged "An Artist..loosed in the garden" at the "Lost in the Landscape" blog (, because it is a new blog and because the name intriqued me.

The picture above is of the beautiful ocean in the great state of Maine. See all those luxury sailboats? Not many from Maine own these, these are mostly owned by out of staters visiting Maine in the summertime.

in the garden....hoping I won't be tagged again...Gail?!

Vegetable Garden Update-March 08

I plan to post a monthly update on my vegetable garden. If readers grow something I am not growing and would like to share, then by all means, let me know.

Rhubarb, planted two weeks ago has sprouted and is showing its sweet little red self above the hay. I used to have rhubarb growing great in my garden until last year. It succumbed to the drought. What the drought didn't get, I did when I moved the vegetable garden. Back to square one.

I had started with a package of three from Wal-Mart. All three sprouted in the garden back in 2003. I then transplanted two to some ornamental gardens. Both perished, or so I thought. While digging in a front garden recently, one of the original rhubarbs had sprouted. I am not impressed. It will never make it as there is not enough sun in that garden. Probably should never have planted it there to begin with.

About 80 onion bulbs were planted the same time as the rhubarb. These are growing under a trellis in preparation for a summer crop of gourds. The onions have also sprouted. You can just make out a few of the green leaves through the hay.

Many people plant their onions in the fall. This works as well. I chose to plant mine in the spring and only garlic in the fall. The garlic is still doing well, though it has not shown any new growth.

I have a few ornamentals growing in the vegetable garden as well. One is this white peony, cultivar 'Immaculee'. I purchased a bunch of the bareroot plants last spring when Wal-Mart marked them down. Never did I imagine the dozen or so I bought would all grow. But grow they did. A few even bloomed last year. I am looking for some good white peonies from these plants this year. I love mixing ornamentals with vegetables because it makes the garden so much more pleasant and attracts pollinators.

in the garden....

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Quite a Pair!

The Beachaven Garden Club had the pleasure of the company of two very passionate and fun people, Pat and Frank Arendt. Pat and Frank love purple martins. I don't think it would bother them a bit if I said they LIVE for purple martins. Purple martins make them happy, and that is what living is all about.

Frank and Pat explained all about the purple martins; how Frank grows the gourds (lots of Miracle Gro), then prepares the gourds to receive his 100 plus purple martins in March, right about now. The purple martins stay until July, then leave on their annual migration to Sao Paulo, Brazil.

These two very gregarious and sharing people invited all of us to come visit them and the purple martins at their beautiful home on Oak Plains Road. Friday was an outstanding day to visit not only with the Arendt's and the purple martins, but also a beautiful garden.

Daffodils. Lots and lots of daffodils. Frank loves them because they are 'a harbinger of spring'. He has literally dug thousands from a nearby homestead (with permission) and replanted them onto parts of many acres. They are just lovely. All are planted in random clumps throughout the very large property and around the house, woods, and near the purple martin gourds.

The gourds themselves were works of art. It was clear a great deal of love and care has gone into creating the perfect home for the purple martins. I did not take pictures of the birds themselves, but they were present. Were they ever! They are beautiful and magnificent birds which reward people with their company. I tell you, as much as I love all birds, I totally fell in love with these purple martins.

I have always liked them and would love them in my yard. But purple martins in my yard will never happen. Even though there is a nearby pond (purple martins like the water nearby), I have WAY too many trees. Martins need a flyway and lots of space clear of trees. If you are trying to attract martins and are not having luck-this could be your problem.

I asked Frank to describe their song. He could not. Immediately after garden club I checked for a clip of the martins song on the Internet. Here is the link:

It is a well worth listening to this unique song. Enjoy. And thanks Pat and Frank for a lovely program and visit! We will all be back in June when it is pande-martinum at the Arendt's home.

in the garden....

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Seedling Update

The seedlings are coming along, slowly but surely. Closest to the camera are white impatiens (I know, I said I would not grow them anymore but here they are), there is also some purple and green basil growing, a few chives, and red salvia is just coming up.

I like to see the seeds sprout, but don't like this stage. The seedlings are not quite ready to be on their own with no heat since not all seeds have germinated, and they haven't gotten their first set of leaves yet either. I like them big and ready for hardening off. Anyone else there impatient for that time to plant to come along?

Notes from the garden:

If you have not already mowed your lawn and you have a cool season lawn, now is the time to start. I have already mowed mine twice. Mow it short to start with. There are a lot of winter weeds trying to set seed.

If you apply pre-emergent herbicides, between now and the next week or two is the time to do so. Try to time the application just prior to a nice long rain to wash it all in.

Notes about the Blog:

The Leaf has its beta site up, they expect to switch in the next week or two. Not sure how it is to work but I am preparing some posts for it.

I would like to know what type of subjects and is there anything specific readers would like to see on here. I post a wide variety of topics, but there is no way I could get in all applicable topics so I have to be selective. If I am missing a favored topic or something that might be timely and of interest to others, let me know either on here or to my email at


in the garden....planting trees.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tulip Chairs, aka Motel Chairs, aka Candybouncers

Tulip chairs, aka candy bouncers, aka motel chairs are a piece of America' s history. I think most can remember seeing these chairs at some point in their lives. I really like my two. They don't look like much here, but oh are they ever comfortable.

I am always on the lookout for nice sturdy chairs for sitting in after a long day working in the garden. I spotted these two in a neighbor's front yard with a for sale sign on them. Mr. Fix-it (the great barter man that he is) acquired them for me for the small sum of $17 for the pair.

I wanted some chairs like this because I am a nostalgic person and they seemed to remind me of times past. But since I have had them, I have really come to rely on them. These two chairs are seated in my front yard, no pun intended. They are easy to move around when I mow the lawn, and they don't harm the grass. They are lightweight, comfortable and sturdy. My little cat and I usually sit here each evening for some quality time. That is her cuddled up on another comfortable chair in my garden. Orkin lives on the front porch with occasional forays into the garden on hunting or potty trips. She is a spoiled cat who gets her way with all the seating areas in the garden. This little redwood chair is also a bit of an antique, and I haven't seen any in stores in a long time. Has anyone else?

Lola sent me some great information about the tulip chairs. I warn you they can be rather pricey. Even before we got ours at a good bargain, I had been pricing them in flea markets and antique stores and found they are very expensive. The man who sold Mr. Fix-it these two initially wanted $20 per chair. Mr. Fix-it said no way. The man did protest telling Mr. Fix-it his friend sells them for twice what he was asking for in his antique store. Mr. Fix-it was not impressed and stuck to his guns. Bargain landed.

These chairs are considered retro. Like all things retro, they come in and out of style frequently. If you are interested in learning more about Tulip chairs, aka motel chairs and candy bouncers, you can find further information at This website has the whole story of the tulip chair and it is quite interesting. The story takes me back to when things were a bit different than they are now, a simpler time.

in the garden....sitting on a candybouncer chair.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Flowers and Owls in Maine!

My mother, faithful reader and commenter-and soon to be gardening again-is excited to see some flowers in Maine. She planted these crocuses many years ago, but then had a deck built over them. They disappeared for awhile but are now back in a big way! They are sure a beautiful way to welcome in spring Mom.

Also, faithful readers and commenters will remember my mother talking about an owl which visited my sister and mother up CLOSE. Here are the pictures that my youngest sister (Terri-Lynn) finally got around to sending. Thanks Terri-Lynn!

I am not sure what type of owl he or she is, but it sure is beautiful. This is one of those cases where I wish had some of Joe's vast knowledge of nature. I guess I could look it up, but was hoping some of my readers might help me out with identifying it?

It sure is a beautiful and welcomed sight in gardens. Owls eat lots of pests. I hear them all the time here in Woodlawn, though I have never seen any. When I was in Iraq I would also hear them. To this day, whenever I hear the owls here hoot, it takes me back to Mosul and 'camping' out close to the tower, not far from the river (can't remember now if it was the Tigris or Euphrates, but I think it was the Tigris).

in the garden....

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Nature About Us....

This post is about a person who has spent two of my lifetimes loving nature. Not only has he loved nature, but he has written and shared his love of nature with countless fans. His name is Joe D. Allen.

On my initial meeting with the editors of the Leaf Chronicle, Mr. Stevens spoke of Joe Allen. He said he used to write nature articles for the paper, but that his health had deteriorated and he was no longer able to write. What a sad loss for us all. It made me think of other writers who wrote articles for the paper and who no longer write. Jim Monday currently writes an interesting weekly article, as does Rusty Evans. I will miss them both when one day they stop writing. But I won't forget the writers. Just like I haven't forgotten Joe Allen.

I do not know Joe Allen, but I religiously read his articles each week. He taught me much about nature. My friend Ursula, personally knows Joe. She has never forgotten his kindness when he came to her home and shared his knowledge of nature with her. Joe now resides in Grace Nursing Home at 111 Ussery Road (formerly known as General Care Convalescent Center) here in Clarksville. Ursula visits Joe frequently. She prepared the posters of the birds Joe loves so much that now decorate his wall at the nursing home. Ursula and I are hopeful Joe will one day soon get a window bed, where he can look at the birds outside his window eating at the birdfeeder firsthand.

Ursula and I visited with Joe Allen yesterday. He was happy to see us and enjoyed our visit very much. Ursula is a kind friend who shows her care in all she does. She brought him some food; which he loved very much. I told Joe I also write about nature, though my focus is more on gardening than the wildlife, and that I would like to honor him on here and in the Leaf Chronicle as a wonderful writer, fellow nature lover, and a super person who shared so much with so many others. He agreed.

Knowing how much Joe loved birds I asked him which was his favorite. Can you readers of his weekly column and book remember which bird he loved most? Hint: It is the first bird he ever wrote about and the subject of the initial essay Stan Gower, then editor of the Leaf Chronicle in 1956, published. It is the Cardinal!

Joe was an integral figure in the establishment of the local chapter of the National Audubon Society, the Warioto Audubon Society. This chapter is still active today as I often read of it in the newspaper.

Do you know of Alan Jackson's song "Small Town Southern Man"? When I hear this song I always think of Joe. He learned about nature from observing wildlife on his family's farm here in Clarksville. He says in his book, Enjoying Nature About Us, that "birds do not consider a man on a tractor to be such an enemy as a man walking, so I could often pass very close by them." The cover picture of this very same book shows Joe sitting on his John Deere tractor. Joe is truly a good patron of nature and life and we need more like him in this world.

While Joe has always been a protector and lover of nature, his passion for writing is what has enabled the rest of us to truly appreciate nature and to gain an understanding of how everything in life is connected. He says, "From the beginning it was my aim to encourage others to understand, appreciate, enjoy, and conserve the wonderful work of nature around us." Joe, you have truly done this and touched my life, as well as countless others.

For all of you readers and friends out there, and I know there are many, a visit to Joe to talk about the nature we all love would truly lift his spirits. I hope everyone can find the time to visit loved ones (friends and family) members in nursing homes as it does so much to lift their spirits-and yours too! After all, we all may one day be in such a position where we can no longer write or do the things we love to do. It is a sad fact of life.

in the garden....Enjoying Nature About Us.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Caged Plants or Gnomes or Critters?

Can you see the caged plants? Specifically white peonies? No, of course not. There are only little red buds down under the mulch in the center of these cages. But soon enough, the cages will disappear in and among all the foliage of these peonies.

So many love peonies. I also love them tremendously. I don't love them much when their beautiful faces are lying on the ground after a heavy rain or a windy day though. That is why all of my peonies are caged.

Mr. Fix-it purchased a huge roll of old concrete reinforcing wire many, many years ago. I believe he purchased it at the metal place on College Street. The price he paid was very low. This wire has saved hundreds of dollars! I use it to cage all sorts of critters-oops-plants. Plants like: tomatoes, peonies, sedums, and mums. I also use it on trellises for growing gourds and cucumbers. It works super and is virtually indestructible.

I designed these peony cages to my specifications exactly, and it has taken me a while to figure out what would work best. Either the cage was too big or not too high. My design has exactly two full six inch squares in height, and about nine squares around. I leave the bottom edge unfinished so I will have stakes to push into the ground for stabilization.

The cages are not the most attractive thing when the peonies are sleeping such as now, but they sure serve a function and I find them to be unobtrusive in the garden. They not only hold up the peonies beautiful blooms, but they remind the gardener (me) not to dig in that spot. This is a big help in my hard working garden.

Skeeter went and got herself a cute little gnome. She hasn't told the Saint as of yet and plans to let him find it on his own. I think he is going to like the little fella. We can see this guy is a gnome of leisure. Maybe he is reading a gardening book and wondering if those peony cages will hinder him in any way.

in the garden....being cagey.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bowling Ball Garden

I originally posted this on September 24th, 2007. It was a very early post and since there are more readers now, along with the fact I have an early morning this morning, I thought I would revisit this garden, especially for Lola and those other readers who have not seen the bowling balls in the garden....

One thing I must cop to, this garden has been reworked since this picture was taken. I am trying to prepare it for the Master Gardener Tour in June. Lots of work to do. Some bowling balls were repositioned though still in the same linear manner, and an arbor was added. Another identical arbor is also scheduled for this garden. Will post on it soon.

I promised in my introduction I would talk about a bowling ball garden. This is mine! I had been collecting bowling balls for many years with little or no luck accumulating a lot at one time. I have finally found a source (albeit broken or cracked) for a great deal of bowling balls as you can see! Bowling balls work well as garden edgers because they are heavy, stay in place, do not rot and define a border in a big way. These bowling balls serve a functional purpose in that they help slow down run off from my driveway. Behind the picket fence backing the bowling balls are: Clematis on the picket fence, Rose of Sharon shrubs, and a few crepe myrtles; these are all backed by Thuja occidentalis 'Pyramidalis' with a few 'Emerald Green' mixed in (also known as Arborvitae). Behind the arborvitae are four red barberrys, a few privet and an Easter Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana). During a good year (when we do not have a drought) this garden is filled with Impatiens balsamia, also known as jewelweed or touch me nots. Jewelweed is a native wildflower that helps to filter water and likes a moist habitat.

I have been told the sap in the joints or nodes of the jewelweed stems helps to alleviate poison ivy rash. This is very good to know if you are out in the woods and especially handy since jewelweed and poison ivy grow in the same habitat. Jewelweed normally forms a microclimate. No weeds will grow beneath it, and it rewards me with millions of orange flowers which the hummingbirds love. I truly hope it comes back wonderfully next year. Jewelweed sets seeds just like the shorter garden variety impatiens in that it forms a pod full of seeds. When the pod is ripe and is touched it explodes and often gives the un-initiated quite a start; as one of my gardening friends found out last year (Judie).

The blue looking evergreen tree next to my husband's garage is a Cupressus arizonica 'Carolina Sapphire'. I love this tree as it requires very little care and grows fast and is fragrant. Oftentimes these cypresses are sold in pots around Christmastime as a Christmas tree. They are very drought tolerant and I can honestly say I DID NOT water this tree at all this year.

I cannot let you go without telling you about my arborvitae. I did water these arborvitae about four times this summer. These evergreens started life in my garden in 2003 at about 3 feet tall and are now 8-10 feet tall. They have been in my garden four years. Sometimes arborvitae have problems with bagworms (never had them in this particular garden) and sometimes people don't like that the stems can come apart later later in life but they are wonderful screens, grow fast and are worth their weight in gold as a wildlife habitat. I have found when it is dark and very cold that these arborvitae will be filled with birds. It is amazing to walk by them at night and feel the flutter of small birds flying around because they were disturbed from their warm roosting position (the disturbance part was not intentional I can assure you). These trees like sun to part shade, and normal moisture. I am challenged in the sun part but have found part sun works just fine for these arborvitae.

Anyhow, one last note about my bowling ball garden. I have two hopes when people visit my garden and they are that people feel comfortable and that they smile. Bowling balls in the garden are whimsical and not typical but I can assure you, most people smile when they see them.

Let me know what you have in your garden that makes people smile. There is always something, even if it is a funny plant or view.

Have a good St. Patrick's Day-Make sure to wear GREEN!

This post has published with the comments. Sorry Skeeter! It may shock you to see it at first-but I think it is fine they are there. I hope you don't mind.

Skeeter was one of my very first commenters, and quite faithful. She kept me going happily for a long time and gave me lots of great advice. THANKS AGAIN!

in the garden....

Sunday, March 16, 2008

To Gnome, Or Not to Gnome

Why gnome? Another bit of whimsy for the garden that really does bring good luck and prosperity to the garden.

Liking all things cutesy and countrified, I like gnomes. It helps that they are said to watch over and protect the garden. I like that idea as well as their novelty.

No matter who you are, or whether you like garden gnomes or not, you will smile when you see them in your garden.

I have two little gnomes watching over my Coral Bell collection. These garden gnomes where prizes on a Volksmarch in Germany. They are made of clay, though certainly not from the famous gnome factory in Germany called Phillip Griebel Factory. For further information on the factory and history of garden gnomes, visit

According to the above website, this little gnome is a cultured gnome. He has a book; which is a symbol of learning. He is not a worker or a gnome of leisure. If he was a worker he would have a pickax or some other working utensil, and if he was a gnome of leisure, he would be smoking a pipe. I never knew this about gnomes and find it interesting.

I like to think my little gnome is most active at night, hence the nighttime picture. Though, as you can see, he seems to be steadfastly on the job, but not too active.

So, I ask you, is it better to gnome? or not to gnome?

in the garden....

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Bloom Day-March 08 Part II

Here is a late addition to Bloom Day. I rarely go into my greenhouse, but since it is getting cold and I thought it prudent to put some plants inside of it, I ventured into the greenhouse. Look what hit me in the face!!!!

I wish I could package the fragrance and send it to you all! This is a tree peony. I kind of think I always wanted one, but they are very expensive. Normally about $60 and up. My friend Denise brought a catalog to school the Tuesday before the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show. Geri and I went to the Lawn and Garden Show and jackpot! She spotted these tree peonies. They were selling for either $15 or $20 because the vendor did not know what color each plant would bloom. I took a chance and just said give me one. I got my favorite garden color! And just look at those pink leaves! Tree peonies are hard to find and what a find I if I can just find a good spot in the garden....

Also blooming in the greenhouse are some strawberry begonias. I purchased these at the Lawn and Garden Show as well. What a joy to find new surprises. And ever so hard to photograph EVERYTHING that is blooming in the garden. Somehow I just keep forgetting. How do all the garden bloggers do it?

in the garden....

Bloom Day-March 08 Part I

I am posting pictures of what is blooming in my garden today.

I will do this each month on the 15th. I warn my readers-it might be too many pictures! Enjoy.



Yucca tulips-see the post published on Wednesday, 12 March 2008....



Sweet Tete e Tete daffodils....

Flowering Quince....


Pansies-planted last fall....



In the garden....

Friday, March 14, 2008

Plant/Craft Fair for the Hobbyists

This post is to let you all know about an upcoming craft fair. The craft fair is called Sango United Methodist Craft Fair and will be held on May 3 of this year. I received a call from Ray Bell, who asked me to let you all know about this fair.

I had heard of this fair last year when I met an extraordinary gardener named Lucy. She sells plants at the crafts fair each year. I was honored to be able to visit to visit her garden; which was arranged by a garden club friend, Nancy. Nancy arranged this garden tour for not only me, but my friend Geri, and Nancy's good friend Ursula. We all had a wonderful time and Lucy sent us home with many plants. I was seriously looking at all the ones she was preparing to sell at the craft fair and wishing I could attend the fair.

I was not able to attend last year's craft fair due to my college classes being scheduled on Saturdays. I don't have that excuse this year and will endeavor to visit the fair for some good deals.

If hobby plant growers (no professionals please) or other crafts people are interested in renting a table they should contact him at (931)358-0595. Sounds like a really good deal to me. I know from experience plant sellers tend to sell out fairly quickly, so if a plant grower has another friend who would like to go in on a table, that might be doable in order to make plants last all day-and to help finance your gardening endeavors! I may look at selling plants there next year, but it is a bit too late for me this year. I think it is a good deal because the seller does not have any advertising to do at all, and this craft fair is very large with many patrons. If interested, be sure to give Mr. Bell a call-tell him Tina sent you.

I couldn't resist putting a picture of my Amaryllis on here. Amaryllis is botanically known as Hippeastrum. This amaryllis was a gift from my father in January 2007. It came as a surprise when I went to my mailbox and found the boxed up pot there already growing.

I watered it and followed the instructions and it bloomed wonderfully last year. Once the weather warmed up, I placed the pot outside for the summer. When the weather began getting cold I brought it in and put it in an unused room of my house. The room was cool and dark. I kept it there for about three months. In January of this year I brought it out and began watering it again. I was not very hopeful it would come back because I had not repotted this bulb in good soil, like the instructions said to do.

Wonders of wonders! It began growing last month and grew rather quickly. You can see the beautiful bloom. There are actually two of them on this plant. I love the color red so it was the perfect choice. If my father had a computer, or ever looked at a computer, he would know how well it is doing and how much I like it, even though it is technically a houseplant! I will have to print this copy and mail it to him so he can see I was able to bring it back this year with no problem. Hope it comes back next year too.

One other note on upcoming events:

Tree planting at Barkers Mill Elementary School tomorrow (I think between 1-4 pm but will verify). Bring shovels and bolt cutters (to cut tree cage) if you are able.

Perennial Plant Society Meeting Tuesday (18 March) evening at 7:00 pm at Cheekwood. The speaker will be a nurseryman from Alabama. He will have plants to sell.

Next Thursday (20 March) is Beachaven Garden Club's Monthly meeting at 7:00 pm. At the Women's Club. Email me at for further information.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joshua Castle (the Northwest High School student recently hit by a car) and his family for a speedy recovery.

in the garden....

Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Reasons to Love Yucca Tulips and Hellebores

As if blooming for four months and happily (but not thugishly) spreading about wasn't enough, here are some more pictures of hellebores. I wish they were mine! But someday. See why I love them so much? Lola sent me these. She is a great researcher and helps me out alot with plants.

Aren't they lovely?

I was outside painting some pickets in order to extend my privacy fence between the adjacent property owner and our home, when a Jeep pulled very assuredly into the driveway. I don't get an awful lot of company so I was not sure what to think. Surely these two guys must be lost?
No, they both jumped out smiling and laughing and asked me, "Are those real flowers?! That is a yucca isn't it?!" Get it yet?

These two gentlemen are loggers working a job down the road (there is ALOT of logging off from my little state highway). One of them had seen the yucca tulips yesterday and couldn't believe his eyes. So today, on their way home when the passenger saw the yucca tulips as well, they knew they HAD to stop and take a closer look. Turn around they did! Obviously these two gentlemen do not read this blog-gotta rectify that since they both love wildflowers and flowers in general. Right guys?! They really liked my little Tete e Tete daffys as well.

I told them the history and how to make them. They couldn't stop smiling and I am SO glad for that. I love making folks smile and if a little whimsy in my front yard can do that-how great.

They said if I put up a privacy fence no one would be able to see the garden and whimsy. Not entirely true. All my friends are welcomed to stop by anytime, others when invited. My few neighbors are welcomed anytime and they know it, as they are not shy coming over or having us over for a barbeque. There have been many others who have stopped by and unless it is a Survivor night, I am always happy to show the garden. I warn you though, it may take awhile. Right Judie and Phil? Deb and Jim? Electra? Vania and Lizabeth? My neighbors on Mike's Court? And all my friends and neighbors who have visited. Love sharing, as do most of the gardeners I know.

Speaking of neighbors and folks, I will soon be talking about a WONDERFUL gardener who lives out here in Woodlawn. She is one of the good neighbors and is always happy to share her garden with other gardeners. Longtime readers of this blog will recognize some of the plants she has given to me and without giving too much away all I can say is she is a gardener I truly look up to....stay tuned. Could it be you?

Thanks guys for stopping by and making my day by seeing you all smile when you noticed my yucca tulips! Just the reaction I was hoping for!

I also want to thank my friends Lola and Harold. I placed a bowling ball in their garden (unbeknownst to them). Harold had lots of smiles when he saw it. He then added some golf balls to the bowling ball (unbeknownst to me) and made ME smile. What a day!

in the garden....waiting for some paint to dry.

Plant of the Month-March 08

For March's Plant of the Month, I have chosen the Narcissus, aka Daffodil, and if you are from around here, aka the 'Buttercup'. This plant is a real wonder, though so much of a wonder I think I sometimes I take it for granted. It comes back each and every year, blooms readily in rain, sleet, or sunshine, and asks very little in return of the gardener. It also multiplies and naturalizes so readily I have to divide mine each year.

And every single year just when I think I have placed all of the daffys exactly where I want them, I still HAVE to do it again the next year! Surely I must be doing something wrong? But no, it is okay. I mean who am I to complain about all of the dividing and free plants? Love the free plants.

The second picture was sent to me by anonymous. She and her young son walk to this front yard each day and they so enjoy these daffodils! Happy Birthday to the sidekick!

There are tons of daffodils here. Can you imagine the gardener taking the time to plant one every foot or so for such a long distance?

I grow about a dozen varieties. Some bloom early (Tete e tete-the third picture and one of my favorites!), some bloom a little later (not sure of the varieties as I do an awful job of keeping up with them), and some bloom late (Salome). I like them all. As a bonus, deer and rodents don't like them so all the better.

I had an awful hard time deciding between the daffys and the hellebores. The daffys won out as Plant of the Month for two reasons. The first being that I had chosen hellebores for last month's Plant of the Month; the second being that there are so many daffys and they truly do show us in a big way that spring is here. The first picture shows some of my daffys with the hellebores. I just love the combination of the yellows and whites, then throw in the pinkish rose of the hellebore and you got a picture!

Daffodils are very easy to grow. I plant mine about 4-6 inches deep along with some bulb booster at planting. They can tolerate very wet soil, as well as dry soil. They do well in our clay soils here. Be sure to leave ALL of the foliage until it has completely yellowed. I do have one area I have hundreds of daffys (Ice Follies mostly) in a lawn area which has naturalized. I don't particularly like this planting method though because I can't mow the grass until late May in that area. I feel it is worth it though. The majority of my daffys are growing in cultivated gardens. This is to allow the foliage to remain unhindered by lawn mowing. You should not braid the foliage, as this could interfere with photosynthesis and the storing of food for next year's flowers.

Sometimes daffys fail to bloom. I find this to be due to one of two reasons. Either the bulb was shocked the year prior and did not have enough time store energy for the flower, or the bulb is not planted deep enough. To solve the first problem-wait another year! To solve the second, dig and replant.

Finally, I have not posted the Jimster in quite a long time and in honor of our last Golden Hugg puppy leaving, here he is with Baby! This picture is the Jimster's final goodbye to Baby. Baby was truly the Jimster's puppy and he will miss her. We know she is going to a good home and wish all the pups and Golden Huggs lots of good fortune. We did enjoy the experience of having puppies-for a short while.

in the garden....working hard!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Pieris-Not Piers of Celebrity Apprentice!

Pieris japonica, aka pieris or 'Lily of the Valley' and sometimes known as 'Andromeda' shrub is a great shrub in my garden. Granted, I have only been growing this one for one year, but I really like it. Note the tulips emerging behind and to the right of the pieris-I am looking forward to these blooming this year.

Pieris is related to azaleas and rhododendrons-not to be confused with the Piers of Celebrity Apprentice; he is quite the character and fun to watch! Like rhododendrons and azaleas, pieris likes moist acid soil, dappled shade and protection from the hot sun and drying winds. I planted this one under a mature Pitch Pine. It has done well over the past year and recently put out its flower tassels, though the flowers have not yet opened. The flower buds are those little white ball shapes attached to the tassel. When they open, they will look like lily of the valley flowers and will be fragrant.

Pieris will bloom for about two months, during which time it will start putting out new growth. New growth is really the reason to plant this shrub. A mature shrub looks more like a kaleidoscope of a mass of different shrubs because new growth is so colorful.

My friend Dianne has the most beautiful pieris in her front yard. I was enamoured when I saw it last spring. Her shrub is about 8 feet tall and wide, and is located in a prominent spot in front of her home near her driveway. It was stunning. The foliage is a shiny evergreen and the new growth displayed colors of reds, maroons, pinks, and all shades of greens all at once.

Dirr's Manual of Woody Landscape Plants says pieris is hardy from Zone 4b (with protection) to Zone 7. Perfect for our climate here in Tennessee. It can tolerate some sun, but make sure it is not the hot afternoon sun. This shrub grows slowly and will grow to 4-6' in 5-8 years. (Dirr 1975)

Pieris are very easy to find in stores at this time of year. If you want a hardier shrub to replace azaleas and rhododendrons, you might want to pick one up the next time you are out shopping.

in the garden....