Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sunglasses for You My Dear?

My friend Phil found this LARGE praying mantis in his garden recently. He was quite surprised it was so large, hence the sunglasses to show the scale of the insect.

Do you suppose it is a female who just had a big meal? Rose over at A Prairie Rose Garden just posted quite a picture of two praying mantises. Skeeter also posted a great picture of some praying mantises. It must be their season. They look to be quite big too. Are they super insects now? Or just eating well?

in the garden....

Monday, September 29, 2008

Berries in the Garden

Many bloggers are posting about their berries. Berries are super great in the garden! Not only do they look great but they attract some fine birds. Such as the one above and in the video below. It was quite upset with me for disturbing its fine breakfast of Red Twig Dogwood berries. Red twig dogwood berries you all are saying? Yeah right!
Now when I purchased this huge fellow at Wal-mart several years ago, the tag said, "Red twig Dogwood". This is not Cornus stolonifera, at least not as far I can tell. I have no idea what kind it it and am hoping you all can help. It does have red twigs in the winter. This is a good sign-yes? But that is where similarities seem to end. This shrub is easily 10 feet wide and nearly that tall. It does bloom the standard red twig blooms in the spring, but these are the berries! Not the usual white berries! They are huge and rather delectable to the wildlife because they do not hang around for long.

Can you all help me to identify this 'Red Twig' dogwood? Does anyone know what type or cultivar it really is?

The little bird was so cute I just had to tape him so you all can hear him. He was quite animated and annoyed with me for intruding. We know those birds can have such personalities!

in the garden....

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Tennessee Rest Stop

We have been on Interstate 24 south headed out of Tennessee many times since we moved here to Georgia. Leaving my hometown and family in TN always depresses me a bit. A smile is always put back upon my face when seeing the rolling hills of Tennessee one last time while taking the journey over Monteagle.

Just at the bottom of the hills we find the most beautiful Rest Stop I have ever seen in the state of Tennessee. Welcome to Nickajack Rest Stop on the Tennessee River!
This is usually our first stop on the way back to Georgia and a great spot to become rejuvenated by fresh air and beauty. As you can tell, it was a bit hazy when we stopped but the greeting out front was an awesome treat.
We were greeted by a beautiful flower garden which I failed to capture on film. I was captivated by the activity within the garden. This Great Spangled Fritillary butterfly as well as....

this Cloudless Sulfur butterfly were busy as the bees we saw. I was snapping pictures away when the Saint said, "Come here and check out this dude." My camera then went to the Saints discovery.

This carnivorous Dude, being a Praying Mantis was busy munching away on a meaty meal. The Praying Mantis eats flies, moths, crickets, grasshoppers and even its own kind. Yep, the female is known to eat her mate during or after mating. Wow, aren't you men glad to be human and not bugs?

The Praying Mantis gets its name of course by the folding prayer position of the front legs. It has big eyes and can see movement up to 60 feet away!

They are brown or green and can blend in with their surroundings. I am not sure what this dude was eating but it was sure enjoying the meal.

The Saint had to practically drag me away from the Rest Stop as I was having a blast watching all the fun. But we did have two furry babies waiting on our arrival back to GA so we had to cruise on down the road.

We have made this journey many times and have yet to stop to take a peek at Rock City or....

Ruby Falls. Maybe one day we will fit them into our schedule and stop for a bit to admire the beauty from above.

I am always a bit sad to leave that TENNESSEE REST STOP, but I always know that soon I will be back, In the Garden....

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Caladiums in the sun?

I do a lot of garden by Trial and Error. I have had potted Caladium in the past and enjoyed the beautiful colors of the heart shaped leaves. I decided to give them a try this year growing them from roots up!
I showed you my and Lola's Canna beds a while back so today I will show you the Caladuim that I planted along with my Canna. They took much longer then I anticipated in popping up but in time, they made their appearance.

By this time I had realized I had made a mistake. This bed is located in full sun and that is fine for the Cannas but oh shoot, if only I had read the tag more clearly. Oops, the Caladuims like shade to part shade. Oh well, we will see what happens now as I am NOT going to move them. Trail and Error in course...

Well, just look at those Caladiums growing in the sun shine! My little friend Peter Cottontail has joined me in the garden since Spring. He lets me get close to him showing little fear of me. I have not seen him in a while. Hummm, I wonder where he has been? Here you see him helping me check in on the progress of the Caladiums.

As you can see, the plants produced these interesting pods. I was not sure what to think of them but kept my eye on them to see what would unfold.

Well, just lookie here, A Caladium bloom! I did not know they bloomed...
She was a bit strange looking but a little beauty indeed!

Caladiums are also known as Angel Wings, Heart of Jesus and Elephant Ears. I like the way the sun shines through the pretty red and green leaves.

They glow with the spot light of the sun showing their vibrant colors.
I found the Dew Drop on the leaves a thing of beauty while on a morning stroll.

I really am pleased with the way the Cannas stand tall behind the Caladiums. In time, this planter will become larger with more additions. The Saint was not too happy back in spring with me starting this new planter. Now he is enjoying the beauty with me although I am still waiting for him to admit I was right in creating this planter.

I usually take plant tags more seriously then I did this one but as you can see, even though the tag read: Plant in Shade to Part Shade, CALADIUMS IN THE SUN, may do well In the Garden...

Friday, September 26, 2008

Test, Update and 'Winter Rose' Seedpods

This is more of a test for Blotanical to see if we show up there again.

But also an opportunity to show off the seedpod of my 'winter roses' from last year. It looks a bit like an apple and are hard to find on the shrub.

And we are updating the blog. Any suggestions would be welcomed. Hope you like the new look for this next year.

Sorry to anyone not expecting the two posts today, but this is really just a test.

in the garden....

Some Statistics and a Wee Contest Winner

This post has been very time consuming to prepare, actually, all of this week's posts have been pretty time consuming and I hope you all have enjoyed them!

I went back to September 21, 2007 and tallied up all comments. Can you say WOW! All of the comments have been wonderful and I've enjoyed each and every one. I would also like to say I have responded to ALL of them but no, that is not true. In the early days there were some posts that had only one comment on them. Can you guess who that commenter was??? Skeeter. Skeeter has been there since day one. She has never failed this blogger in any way and kept me going in the early days. We all need a Skeeter sometimes. Thanks gal! And now she is a blogger too!

Okay some stats on the posts:

Total Comments (as of Wednesday's post) 7202!
(Thank goodness Blogger has a feature where I can count the comments from the dashboard)

Out of 402 posts (as of Wednesday's post) there is an average of 18 comments per post. (This of course includes my responses) Many of the commenters continue to comment here and have been long term commenters, as a benefit we have we have established relationships with these folks and really gotten to know them. (You all know who you are and thanks!)

The post with the most comments was "Who's In the Garden?". We had 56 comments on this post between all of the commenters talking back and forth.

404 published posts including this one today And that means Racquel at Perennial Garden Lover won the contest! She was not only the first commenter who got it right, but hit the number on the head-400 published posts as of Monday, our one year anniversary of blogging. Racquel, let me know what you would like and where to send it to. Thanks! Good job!

And thanks to all who guessed. All of you were very close and had excellent guesses. I had no idea how easy or hard this would be to do. When I first prepared the post I had the archives still up. Duh! It would've been pretty easy then huh? I don't know how you all came so close but all guesses were really on it!

7 posts out more than 400 posts have no comments (Introduction, PPS, Vegetable Gardening, Standardization, Dividing Perennials, Beautyberry, and How to be a Successful Blogger).

There has been at least one post EVERY single day since December 10, 2007. Rarely did we miss a day even before this date, but posting every day is important to me and this blog. There have been some days with two posts, but never one with three.

Out of the published posts Skeeter has posted 37, Dawn has posted 9, and Christine has posted 1. I posted 357 posts in the past year, including today's.

Average post length is about 1000 words. You do the math. This is a lot of writing on anyone's part.

We currently have 64 drafts in the draft section of Blogger, so we will be set for awhile. I try to post subjects as they are happening, but I think that might change with the backlog I have in the draft section. No boring times in the winter here at ....

in the garden....

The sulfurs have returned. One of my most favorite butterflies besides the Gulf Frittilary. The only problem is these clouds of sulfurs are camera shy and not quite the posers the swallowtails and monarchs are in the garden. I did manage to catch one though. It must have thought me pretty comical chasing it around trying to get a picture. I like these butterflies best because when they come in late summer, early fall, they come in large numbers. I have read the sulfurs are a migratory butterfly so I guess that they are migrating now. Thanks for joining us in celebrating our one year anniversary here at "In the Garden".

Thursday, September 25, 2008

From Then to Now (Front Yard)

My blog is about gardening and life. I love to garden and thought it would be appropriate to show you where my garden started and where it is now.

We have lived here for seven years now. I did not start intensively gardening until I returned from Iraq in the summer of 2003. Mr. Fix-it does not garden, though I do consult with him and he gives me suggestions as appropriate. Some like, "Not another d(*&%^ garden!" come to mind. "NO! You can't put it here!" Occasionally he has nice things to say such as, "Our house has character." with a sly grin on his face. Is that a good thing? My husband is my soul mate and truly a great partner, gardener or not. I could not have taken this gardening trip or any trip in life without him, so all kidding aside, I want to thank Mr. Fix-it for his love, support and tolerance for my gardening 'bug'.

So, without further ado, some before and after pictures of the house with character.

Front of House Summer 2002
Front of House September 2008 Driveway Garden Summer 2002
Driveway Garden September 2008
Parking Area Summer 2002
Parking Area September 2008 Perennial Garden Summer 2002 (Do you see Mr. Fix-it's Yard Ornament behind the fence?)
Perennial Garden September 2008 (Now you see his other lawn ornament in FRONT of the fence and in FRONT of my garden)Now for the biggest change and the small part of Tiger Gardens this little town sees from the roadway. (other than on here).

Front Yard Summer 2002
Front Yard September 2008

This is it for the front yard pictures. It does not show the entire front yard, but it shows the parts where I could find before pictures. The Northside Shrub border and a few other gardens are missing.

We'll do the backyard one of these days. Can you say changes? I knew there were many, but sometimes it is surprising to see them in pictures. They all bring back memories for me-mainly of all the work and my wondering if it will ever be done?!

I always envisioned this blog with posts like this one(Before/After pictures). I can't believe it has taken me so long to do it and I waited until the Blogiversary to finally complete it! Don't wait so long folks, as these are fun-at least for me.

in the garden....

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What Do I Recieve? Learn? Enjoy?....From Blogging

What do I receive from the blog? Learn? And Enjoy? Too many things to remember for this one post! But I will try. All categories kind of grouped together in no specific order.

I have found a nice way to be able to communicate with my family, including my mother (Jean), my sister (Dawn), and my daughters, Christine and Liz.

I learned you can really make friends through the cyberworld and want to thank my new friends for being loyal and taking the time to talk with me! The commenters of course: Lola, Nina, Anonymous, and Skeeter, my mother and sister. .

One of the first important things I learned about gardening on this blog was that viburnums need a pollinator (or at least they berry better with a pollinator). I learned this from Frances. I have learned so many things from her that I would need an entire post for it all! I enjoyed my visit to her garden and the plants she gave me are doing well. A piece of Frances in my garden. The Sheffield has buds and I am excited. Frances was nominated in many categories on the Blotanical Award Contest. Among them are Best Writing. Like Skeeter said, "It is a talent" and you do it so well Frances. Good luck! You are a super writer and storyteller!

I learned an awful lot about propagating plants and building a patio from Dave. Let us not forget the linking thing and all the other things he has helped me with these past ten months. Dave's was the first blog I found in Tennessee that was a garden blog. I was thrilled to find other garden blogs since mine was through an FTP at the time, and I was so new to the blogging community that I didn't have a clue. I enjoyed meeting Dave and his beautiful family recently. Dave, I am working on a peak fall color post for you too. Skeeter and Dawn will probably do one as well. We have always enjoyed tracking the seasons here and can take peaks at Maine, Tennessee and Georgia and can't wait to see them all.

I have learned about recycling and conserving and and different geological soils from Gail at Clay and Limestone. Her post about Naming Blogs was a wonderful post AND nominated for the Best Post of the Year on Blotanical. I can see next year her relationship post might be up for the awards too. I might have a new favorite:) I have enjoyed meeting Gail and love her enthusiasm for all in life. She is such a happy person that it can't help but rub off on those around her. I guess that might be a perk of being a therapist. Her garden is most beautiful and I am betting a very mature garden with some great specimens. Can't wait to meet the blackhaw, Susan, and PPPP.

I have learned about poetry and literature from so many: Donna at Mother Nature, (I learned male hummers migrate before the females from Donna too!) Nancy at Soliloquy, Marnie at Lilacs and Roses, Rose at A Prairie Rose Garden, Cindy at A Walk Down the Garden Path, Walk2Write at Roamin and Bloomin Idiot, And if I have forgotten anyone, please forgive me. I do know many more of you post poems, including original ones but these few come to mind right now. I really enjoyed meeting Donna recently.

I have definitely learned about Square Foot Gardening from DP at Square Foot Gardening in Nashville. I always get a smile about lime when I think of DP and let's not forget the video where she (or rather Cam) was adopted by Luka.
I enjoyed meeting DP recently.

Dan at Urban Veggie Garden is another square foot gardener and quite talented with his HUGE Angel Trumpet. I couldn't imagine moving such a big plant but will think of that plant when I am moving mine around this winter. And I am going to be extra vigilant about the squirrels and toad lilies in my garden.

I have found many local bloggers who have a passion for gardening just like me. Here are a few: Jan at Square Foot Gardening: Starting Small, Gisele at Quilts, Crafts and Things, Sarah at The Adventures of the Childers Family, Marmee at Things I Love, and Rhonda at Adventures in My Garden, and Life by Lindsey Rae.

I have learned about compost and Tecnu lotion for the dreaded poison ivy from Aunt Debbi/Kurt's Mom. She seems to be a very hard worker with all the monkeys and her landscaping jobs and the master gardeners and all. I don't know how she keeps up with all.

I have enjoyed learning about the nursery trade and designing gardens from Linda at Garden Girl.

Sophie has the funniest blog on the Internet (that I have found) and I always get a good laugh reading her.

I have learned about Cricket, Oxford and living as an expatriate in England from Sarah Laurence. She is a wonderful writer and I wish her luck with her third novel. Since she lives in my hometown, I hope to one day visit with her.

I have learned I am not the only one who likes whimsy-lots of whimsy-in her garden. Cindee also really likes it too. What a relief I'm not the only one.

I found there is another blogger out there who loves to post as much as us here at "In the Garden". Many of you know her and enjoy her blog. She is an excellent blogger to relate to and I enjoy the talk very much. Can you guess who it is? Yup, Racquel (PGL) at Perennial Garden Lover. She was nominated for Best Commenter on the Blotanical Award Contest.

I have learned that the garden writing world and gardening world as a whole is actually a pretty small world (but I guess that made sense already to me). TC at The Write Gardener is a professional garden writer and a kind mentor. And Layanee at Ledge and Gardens is a garden celebrity. And I have talked to them both! (On the Internet of course:) Does that count?

I have really enjoyed hearing about Cosmo's travels to Denmark and all about her garden. She is a very nice and sweet blogger who just happens to be a part of academia. Which means she is VERY smart. Thank you for identifying my hibiscus and all you share. I look forward to when my husband's job can take us back to Virginia so we can say hi to both Racquel and Cosmo.

Cindy at Walk Down the Garden Path grows more than flowers in her garden and has the sweetest baby bloom in her garden. I always enjoy talking with Cindy and hope to visit her soon. Perhaps even TC too. I and hubby liked her recipe for 'Mock Crab Cakes' very much. Thanks!

Australia is a pretty neat place and Linda enjoys sharing her bit of it at The Tree Changer.

Kanak at Terra Farmer showed me how star fruit grows AND gave a neat pictorial of how to cook a banana bloom. Can't wait to try that out one day.

Cindy at Cinj's Chat Room sure loves to garden and helped me understand the process of building a shed. She also showed some really neat butter sculptures I might never have seen had it not been for her blog. She keeps it very real on her blog.

Eve at Gardening on the Gulf Coast has introduced me to a "Mad Potter" and has shown some great courage in the face of hurricanes and adversity. Come to think of it, so has: Randy and Jaimie at Creating Our Eden, Jan at Always Growing, Meadowview Thymes even has had to face hurricanes, and all with great bravery and optimism. And to think we here in Tennessee get all stressed when Ike, just a rain storm with 40 knot winds comes through here and drops a few limbs and trees. Imagine a 15 foot storm surge!

Annie at The Transplantable Rose is a super singer. I will always think of her when I see lilacs in May. She has met SO many bloggers and I think she loves that part of blogging even more than blogging itself. Annie puts asterisks next to the bloggers she has met on her sidebar. I think I am going to follow suit here soon too as this is a good idea.

I have learned about the vine Dutchman's pipe vine from Phillip at Dirt Therapy. He is a good writer and writes gardening articles for The Alabama Gardener gardening magazine. I really enjoy my Tennessee Gardener so I know this magazine is a high quality publication; which Phillip contributes too. As an added benefit he gets to visit gardens. He also identified my mystery hibiscus, along with Cosmo.

Let's not forget blue cohosh from Monica at Garden Faerie's Musings. She has a lot of cool plants at her place. I am looking for this plant for my garden now.

I enjoyed a VERY good meal thanks to Jillybean at Post-it Place. She also has a funny chicken blog found here. And she makes some delicious barbecue sauce that Skeeter, her husband the Saint, and I just love. She just lost her stepfather in a painful battle but is doing okay.

One of the neatest pictures I have seen in a long time can be found at PARSEC's blog, the Coconut Palm. Parsec is quite the traveler and shares beautiful photographs on the blog.

Stacy at Squirrel Chatter is an excellent blogger and does her town a great service by relaying many local happenings, and by taking the bus when she is able to:)

Benjamin at The Deep Middle planted a buckeye during the very same timeframe as me and I thought that was cool. I had never even heard of Fine Line prior to purchasing it and then to find another person planting it the same time was fortuitous. Many garden bloggers are on the same sheet of music with their gardens AND postings.

Some of the rare moments that tickle me most in blogging have been to visit blogs I have never even heard of and find a link to my blog in the blogger's blogroll. This has happened only twice in the past year. The first blog I visited was Sarah's of The Adventures of the Childers Family, and most recently by Grammy of 13 at Living Life After 65. Thanks guys! These kinds of things remind us that even with no comments, people are still reading. And that makes a difference to me and probably many other bloggers too.

There are so many blogs I have visited and so many bloggers AND readers (who don't blog) who have visited us here at "In the Garden" that I sometimes have a hard time remembering them all. But, I can tell you all I do remember! (with a little refreshing every now and then-okay-sometimes a lot of refreshing-comments sure help with the refreshing:). Thanks to blogging I have traveled all over the world, gone to trade shows and plant shows and county fairs and Denmark and India and Australia and Canada and California. I have enjoyed the excellent cooking of those talented bloggers who cook, their home decorating and garden designs, their trials and tribulations and a little bit of all of their lives and I thank each and every single person who has ever commented on here or who humored me by responding to my comments on their blogs. For me, two way communication is vitally important in the blogging process, but even without it, thanks for sharing all that you have-readers and bloggers alike!

I look forward to another year of blogging and traveling and gardening and learning and relating and sharing. Thanks all!

You all will recognize the Sweet Autumn Clematis pictured above. Such a bunch of pretty little fragrant flowers but the bloom is so short lived in the garden that it can be disappointing to me. I do like the picture though. The person who invents a method of sending fragrances through the computer will be a rich and much loved person. Sweet Autumn is a very fragrant vine.

Stay tuned for some before and after pictures tomorrow as the Blogiversary week continues. Then on Friday I will announce the winner of my wee little contest. I guess I should've offered more money though, as I really thought many more would take a guess at the number of posts published here. What's up bloggers and readers? Or is it just me? Someone offers me something for free-I'm all over it! Just ask Jillybean! A guess was all it took to get me a nice meal at Chili's. Take a guess if you have the gander, if not, that is fine too. Friday at 5 am (CST) is the deadline.

in the garden....

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The Garden

As I stated in my introduction over one year ago, gardening is life and life is gardening. That gardening can be done anywhere! Literally and figuratively. Well today I thought I would share a definition of my garden with you. Some general facts and what is here at Tiger Gardens.

Mr. Fix-it and I purchased the house and property seven years ago. I am not sure how much area the hardscaping takes up, but the whole lot is 1 acre, or 43,000+ square feet. That is a lot of square feet when you think about it! If I were seeding a new lawn I would need 250 pounds of fescue seed-quite a bit!

I haven't counted the number of gardens lately, but they range somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 gardens total. The gardens names and areas include: Shade Garden, Woodland Garden, Perennial Garden, Hydrangea Garden, Northside Shrub Border, Greenhouse Garden, Foundation Beds, Redbud Garden, Center Front Garden, Front Walled Garden, Crabapple Garden, Hydrangea Garden, Driveway Garden, Cutout Garden, Sidewalk Garden, Vegetable Garden, Picket Garden, Weeping Redbud Garden, Wild Garden, Front Shrub Border, Mahonia Garden, Dogwood Garden, Cosmos Garden, Bottle Tree Garden, Witch Hazel Garden, and Mailbox Garden. I know, lots of funny names. The names are a must though in order to keep track of where I plant new plants. If you get into this habit early in your gardening career, it will make things very simple in the long run. These gardens probably take up about 13-15000 square feet of the property. Yes, I maintain them all-by myself. No landscapers here, and not even the teenaged son works in the garden.

I have designed my gardens around or in spite of or because of some kind of feature in the yard while keeping in mind traffic patterns and the way we use our garden. I have had issues with Mr. Fix-it's traffic patterns and have had to re-work my entire vegetable garden, but I am more careful now and have slowed down my expansion of the gardens so this will hopefully not ever be a problem again.

We are blessed with a multitude of trees, both mature and newly planted. I planted about two dozen small trees including: Japanese maples, crabapples, redbuds, dogwoods, and crepe myrtles. I have also transplanted several Eastern Red Cedars. The mature trees include: oaks, one pine, a couple of Easter Red Cedars, a Black Walnut and a few wild cherries.

There are approximately 400 different cultivars of perennials, shrubs, bulbs, vines, and trees that I planted. This does not include the mature trees on the property. There are many things I do not grow, but many more that I do grow. I am a plant collector, no excuses, just a fact. Plants come from everywhere! Friends, cuttings, seeds, birds, garden centers, garden shows, the wild and even gas stations. Most of the time I study books, magazines, AND blogs to learn more about gardening; in addition to actually doing. Many bloggers have helped me out when I have asked for it and even when I haven't asked. Just reading many blogs is a learning experience. I will be posting on this aspect of my blog tomorrow.

I have pretty much got the bones of my garden down. Now I am merely defining, maintaining, and designing (rearranging and moving of course!). My problem when I began gardening was not having enough plants, now my problem is having too many! I hate to get rid of any so I just tend to shift them around. My new wild garden is the recipient of most of the plants I can't fit in anywhere else. I also share a great deal with friends. No one leaves here empty handed. There will be a master gardener plant sale on October 11 for which I will be digging some plants (if we ever get rain). I am sure-POSITIVE- I will not miss any plants, nor will they miss me.

The soil is not rocky, it is a bit clayey but has been so well amended by the multitude of leaves and compost (most all from on site) that for the most part I am happy with the soil. The plants seem happy too. My lawn is mainly fescue. I am one of those gardeners who is as obsessed with the grass as I am with the plants. I tell you this about my grass and soil because if I gardened in pure clay or solid rock with Bermuda grass growing, I would have an awful hard time maintaining so many gardens. I realize I am very lucky!

This garden is forever. I have planted many trees and long after I am gone they will still be thriving. My youngest son appreciates all we do here and perhaps he will one day get the house and garden. It won't really matter to me though, because while I am here and have my family, I am very happy with my little one acre of property and all the gardens and plants. It is the only reason I blog. No garden or love for it, then no blogging. Clearly I have a great big love for it all since I do both so often!

The above flower is turtlehead. A favorite native in full bloom at this time. It has a long period of bloom and is a delight....

Don't forget about the contest if you haven't yet made a guess. You have until Friday. $10 is not much, but it can buy two whole gallons of gas!

in the garden....

Monday, September 22, 2008

An Interview by THE Blog "In the Garden" and a Wee Contest

Oftentimes when I write I write in a strictly straight to the point manner in a way that my mother says shows my 'intellect'. I think that showing any intelligence is a good thing, never a bad thing-but I guess it can be a bit boring on occasion. I like to teach and thus I share my experiences with others; which is teaching. Yes, that is what I do on here I think. One thing I learned awhile ago when learning about blogging is that you must find your voice and brand and stick with it. It is what comes natural and if folks like it, they read it, if not, that is fine too. Well today I am going outside of my intellect and voice and throwing caution to the wind. Today my blog, "In the Garden", is going to 'interview' me in honor of my Blogiversary this week. Yes, it is HARD to believe it has been one year since I began blogging, but it is the truth. All this week I will be talking of the blog, and perhaps a little of the garden; which is WHY the blog is here! I will look at myself and others and try to reflect in general on what this blog is, what it means to me, and what benefit it is to me. There MUST be a benefit of course! Otherwise why blog? Let me use a little creativity in my postings this week and quit trying to be so intellectual-though I warn you-it is my natural state and I really don't know how this week will pan out. Now, on to the interview by THE blog.

THE Blog: Why do you emphasize the word 'the' when referring to me as THE Blog?

Tina: Over the past year you have become such a big part of my life that you have grown very LARGE. Sometimes I feel you own me and not the other way around (in a good way of course). So, in order to let YOU know how I feel about you I chose to emphasize THE as in THE Blog.

THE Blog: Oh, okay I get it. Ha ha! Just how much time do you spend on working on me that I am so large?

Tina: I spend at least one to two hours a day and usually more depending on how many comments I answer and depending on how many OTHER blogs I comment on. On average I guess you might bump the time spent up to about 15-20 hours per week if I am preparing posts or uploading photos. I try to check in the morning, lunchtime, and prior to going to bed, depending on my schedule. I've gotten pretty good at my system, though it is still time consuming as Mr. Fix-it is wont to let me know.

THE Blog:
Wow! What do you mean comments? You mean those people coming here and leaving messages on your articles and posts?

Tina: Yes! You know what I mean. I started this blog to share and in sharing you learn. I learn when others share their experiences. I just could not tell you how valuable blogging has been for me to learn how to be a better gardener. Sharing should be a two way street. Just like relating in real life. We people can only do this by commenting on each other's blogs since oftentimes we are not within close proximity to one another. People visit you, and I visit their blogs and comment to let them know I have visited. If we didn't comment and I only wrote my notoriously long articles and posted pretty pictures without anyone talking by commenting, then sharing would be only a one way street. And who likes a one way street when sharing?? And how would I ever learn anything if we didn't talk? I tend to ask lots of questions and share my experiences not only on you, but on other blogs too. Oftentimes little tidbits stick with someone and the learning process takes hold. I love to learn! Probably why I am a career college student, but we'll just leave that part out of this interview!

THE Blog: Oh, I get it. Does everyone who visits here leave comments? And is that the most important part of me?

Comments are not the most important part of you, I like to talk with others and I also like the journal and photo album aspect of you. It is nice to look back at prior posts and see my grandson and son, to remember my a special post that made me cry with joy, to see the work I have done with the gardens and so on.

No, not everyone comments. Just like in everyday conversations not all folks will get to talk or even want to talk. It is kind of like Show and Tell when you were in elementary school. Half the class can show and tell today, and the other half tomorrow. All kids can talk if they wish to comment on the show, but they don't have too. It is the same way with blogs. Not all will want to talk at all, some only sometimes, and others all the time. Does that make sense?

THE Blog: Kind of, but since I didn't go to school and was only born one year ago, I don't really know about Show and Tell, but I'll take your word for it Tina.

Tina: Thanks!

THE Blog: Okay, now that I understand the commenting thing, what is with this Blogroll on my sidebar? I notice it pops up and shows other bloggers' posts and there seems to be a LOT of other blogs! This thing grows each day.

Tina: Ah yes, the Blogroll. I simply adore your Blogroll function. I add blogs I like to visit and who have a blogger who has established a two way communication with me to your blogroll. The blogroll shows me exactly when others post and what the subject is that particular day or time. It is a timesaver-truly! It is kind of long though and I am trying to be selective in choosing blogs for it. Blogs who are not on my blogroll will usually show up on the blog link on the bottom of your sidebar.

THE Blog: You visit more blogs than just those though Tina, how do you keep track of them and why aren't they on the blogroll?

Tina: I really wish I could add all blogs to my blogroll but it would not be practical. As it is the blogroll is rather large. It is so large that I have had to try to categorize the blogs into a few categories. First and foremost is my sister Dawn's blog, then the Tennessee blogs, then other blogs I like to visit. For blogs not listed here I can still visit them via the sidebar list, subscriptions, and through Blotanical. I do try to fave bloggers and their blogs not on the blogroll via Blotanical, though not as often as I'd like. Sigh, it is a time thing again and I have come to realize I simply cannot comment or read all blogs that are out there-very good ones too! So, I have to be somewhat choosy and I do try to include them all often and in the same way, some are on my blogroll and some are on Blotanical and even more are on others blogrolls that I visit so I can get updated from those blogs. A great feature indeed.

THE Blog: What is this Blotanical and how can you view other blogs and blogroll other blogs there?

Tina: Glad you asked! Blotanical is a directory of I guess about 1000 garden blogs. It has a feature on it that allows registered users to blogroll other registered users. It also has a feature where garden bloggers can interact in a common manner that is somewhat standardized. It has so many features that I can't possibly use them all. It is kind of like a big huge blog owned by this guy named Stuart. It also is not working right right now, but hopefully it will come back on line soon so ALL garden blogs can use its "one stop shop" features.

THE Blog: Okay, I get it about the comments and the blogroll and sharing and all. How do you judge your success?

Tina:Very good question! Very personal too but I will try to share. I LOVE each and every comment in your comment section but it is not totally how I judge whether or not you are successful. There are many readers who have never commented on here and who probably will never comment, and that is fine. If everyone who read commented, I would easily spend triple the time on you that I am already spending. I do have a few bench points I set for success though.

a) The first is in readership. I like to know people ARE really reading you and the comments are but one way to show me yes, folks are reading.

b) The second bench point is whether or not folks return for a second look and even a third look. This is sometimes fairly easy to determine and sometimes not. For commenters it is easy to determine if they return-they consistently leave comments. They either become regulars because they like it, or they go elsewhere. Not all commenters will become regulars, just like in real life. Each person has their tastes and you and I may not appeal to all readers each and every day, and that is perfectly acceptable! Don't feel bad about it as we cannot please everyone and have to do our own thing. Plus, like me, there are so many bloggers out there that they can't all visit and comment on all blogs! That to me is the beauty of blogging, we can be choosy and we can do as we like with blogging.

For readers who do not comment, I have a hard time determining if they return on a regular basis. I do use something called Sitemeter to track your stats and visitors-by location and referral only. Sitemeter does not disclose personal information. I cannot follow all locations and visits so I don't worry too much about readers that don't comment since I can't determine if they return unless they do comment. I do know some locations are regulars and assume someone from that area does return to read without talking. That is a good thing and makes me think that even if readers don't comment, they do like to read. Their visits count in the stats just like regular commenters and those visits add up to success.

THE Blog: What is up with the text "No blog awards or meme's please" on my sidebar?

Tina: Well this can be a sticky question. Amy touched upon the problems with blog awards and memes in a post she did quite a while and I won't rehash what she said but give you my take on blog awards and memes. I appreciate them and realize there are nothing but good thoughts sent the recipient's way from the giver, but blog awards (there are tons made up by many) are a bit distracting and intimidating to me and to my readers. Distracting because you not only have that much more to look at on your blog, but now you have to post about the award and give it away to other unsuspecting bloggers, who may or may not appreciate the gesture. This has been a common problem with many bloggers. So some of these bloggers have decided to just put it out there for whoever wants to participate in the award or meme. Well then what kind of award is it really if anyone can get it? I consider the awards to be memes; which are mainly chain letters. I never participated in these as a kid and don't with my email either, so I decided early on not to do so here.

Memes also are a way to increase one's statistics and comments. I feel if I wanted to comment on a blog then I would do so without a meme. So I think it is a bit hypocritical to do so just for a meme if I have never visited that blog or commented on that blog before. Remember, I said I like two way communication and memes don't usually foster two way communication. What happens is both the blogger who started the meme and the visiting blogger who comments on the meme gets a bit of a higher traffic count for that day or week or whatever, but no two way communication. If you normally visit and comment on that blog, then great! Go for it! Any one I talk to regularly and who starts a meme and may like me to report back on a posting they have done, I am willing to do so, but not to a blogger I don't normally comment on. And I don't expect this to happen on my blog either. I want people to comment here because they want to talk and not just get exposure. I may have made a mistake in popularity by choosing not to participate in memes and awards, but again, blogging is a personal choice and I have to be true to me for it to be fun. I like conversation and getting to know the bloggers and this does not seem to happen on many memes where the conversation does not continue past that one day. I have opted out because of it.

Blog awards are a bit intimidating. As a brand new blogger I was cowed by visiting blogs that had TONS of blog awards. I thought wow! This must be an awesome person and awesome blog and what am I doing blogging or even visiting?
I was intimidated for sure. Then my next thought was how can I get awards? Yes, it is true. Now that I know how awards are awarded, I am not so cowed anymore and made the choice not to post any on my blog. One year of blogging has increased my confidence level tremendously and I realize that for me to continue blogging, I have to be true to myself and realize blogging is NOT about competing with other blogs for awards and readers and comments. No, it is about relating and talking and sharing with others who have the same values, likes dislikes, and ideas as me. If our experiences here at "In the Garden" can help others, then we are successful. Otherwise it doesn't work-and that is okay! There are more than enough people to go around for another 10,000 garden blogs! Never fear, readers will come regardless of the awards and memes. Skeeter helped me tremendously on clarifying my point of view and I am sticking to it. Sometimes you just need a sounding board and I have talked to a few readers about this situation. I hope all understand my point of view.

THE Blog: Why are there no advertisements on here? They are kind of colorful and look neat.

Tina: Yes, advertisements are neat, but kind of distracting too. The same as memes and awards. I blog to talk and share so advertisements were never an option. Loyal readers like it like that. Though, if I thought there was real money to be made in advertisements on my blog, I would consult with Skeeter and loyal readers, and MAYBE consider advertisements, but for now and the foreseeable future-no ads. Sorry!

THE Blog: It is a very nice change for you and for me when Skeeter, Dawn or even Christine post. Is this why you added contributors to me Tina?

Tina: Yes, partly. The other part of it is that I really needed a bit a break and I felt others who did not want the responsibility of a blog would like guesting on here with the added benefit of me taking a break. Now don't get me wrong, I would work every
day and maintain you but having other contributors has been a super great thing for me and for you too! And for the readers!!!! They get to read THREE bloggers while visiting JUST one blog! We get to hear about Maine and Georgia and all sorts of different points of view. Different points of view is a good thing-even if they aren't my point of view. Laugh! And Skeeter and Dawn usually comment on others blogs so it is almost like a three for one on here. One comment on here could possibly result in three comments back to the blogger who comments. Not always and that should not be why folks comment here, but a nice side line if it does because most (if not all) bloggers like comments. Dawn has quite a following on her blog, and Skeeter herself is a one woman super-de-duper blogger who comments on many blogs she likes. These are all blogs where she has established communication with the blogger. I think Skeeter and I are a bit alike in the manner.

THE Blog: Why do we post every single day at a predetermined time? What is up with that? It seems like an awful lot of work and I'd like a break sometime.

Tina: You'd like a break! HA! I think it is important to post daily because "In the Garden" (you blog!) is kind of like a morning garden fix that fits right in with the newspaper. Plus, much of my military training has carried over to you. I am used to being regular, dependable, loyal, and on time-usually o'darkthirty in the morning-hence the 0500 role call for "In the Garden" posts. Skeeter and Dawn oblige all on their own. They like it regular and so I have found a pattern that I plan to stick with.....at least for now. It may change later but I have played with this idea for a while and still time goes on and posts come regularly. Are you sure you don't write your own posts???? And just pull the pretty garden pictures (even the vomit one) from my computer's hard drive Mr. Blog?

THE Blog: Oh no! Never! You bloggers are responsible for all these posts. By the way, are you going to share the stats with our readers? I don't know much about other blogs but we have a lot of folks visiting us here and commenting too.

I am not totally sure as yet. I have tallied up the comments and posts but we'll see about sharing stats later this week-can I sleep on it?

THE Blog: Yeah sure.

THE Blog: Do you have any regrets or anything you would've done differently with me?

Tina: Yes, I would do two things differently if I had a chance to do it all again. The first is the fact I used my name with my url when I switched you over to blogger from the ftp website. The Internet is a big world and using my name puts me out there in it a bit more than I'd like to be. When I blogged you through the ftp website it was a community thing and my real name was required as a pseudo would not have been acceptable. Once I switched I could've made myself more anonymous like many bloggers do, but it is too late now. That is the first thing I would change.

The second thing I would change would be your name. "In the Garden" is a great name! So great that many other blogs have this name. I have contemplated changing it but for today, that is not an option. "In the Garden" is your name forever but I have added TN to your name in Blotanical in order to differentiate you from the other two listed "In the Garden" blogs. I am not sure what I would name you if I could do it over but it would be different I can assure you.

THE Blog: Hmmmm, that leaves many possibilities! Okay, you didn't mention your regrets?

Tina: I have a few regrets. I regret if I have ever offended anyone when commenting on their blog or when responding to a comment on my blog. I regret if I have made someone have to moderate my comments or not post my comments at all. I can bet over the past year I have easily commented more than 1000 times, not including the responses on my blog. This is a lot of commenting and it is possible something could've been misconstrued at some point. Sometimes I can be too honest and too outspoken, but it is me and I have to be me! As much as I blog it would be difficult to be someone else-wouldn't it? Those are my only regrets with blogging. Such is life.

THE Blog: I think we all have regrets in all we do at some point or another, so don't worry about it Tina. Okay, what have you learned from blogging?

Tina: How much time to you have?? Oh goodness, can we save this for another day? I have already used up my allotted time today.

The Blog: Okay, I guess so-since I really don't have any choice! You are after all the blogger and own me-not the other way around and we need to work on downgrading "the" as in THE Blog. Okay?

Tina: Already done.

Thanks for humoring me and reading along on this long interview. I will continue with some more Blogiversary posts this week-once I recuperate from this interview! I promise there are some short ones and some pictures and some 'intellectual' ones too:)

If you are still with me-great! We are not finished yet, see a contest below.

Regular readers of "In the Garden" know we post frequently, very frequently. Can you guess how many posts we have published over the past year as of today? I will give you a hint, it is MORE than 365. The person who comes closest to guessing the number or who gets it right, AND comments first will receive a $10 gift card to Wal-Mart OR a custom made marker stone, your choice. I will post the answer in Friday's post, so be sure to check back. Remember, if more than one person gets it right, only the FIRST commenter on here with the right answer or closest to the answer will get the card or marker stone. Thanks! And good luck! P.S. Even if you have never commented here, feel free to comment since you are at least reading! Should be interesting and I have NO idea what kind of answers folks will come up with-so let the counting begin!

in the garden....

Sunday, September 21, 2008

September Blooms

I have one new bloom in my Georgia garden this month. The Illustris Elephant ear decided to give me this neat yellow bloom.
Look at this September surprise, Honeysuckle! Yep, honeysuckle blooming in this Georgia garden during the month of Sept. A first to my eyes!

Purple Queen still has its tiny pinkish purple blooms. She is such a dainty little bloom.

The Gold Lantana is thriving in my hot dry garden. See how it has taken over the pathway into the garden? I will cut it back a bit when it starts to tickle my legs while walking on the pathway into the garden. I do not want any sneaky snakes to hide under it and strike as I walk past...
The Cosmos that Tina passed along to me in the form of seed continues to show me color. I am hoping for lots of reseeders for next year!

Pink Wave Petunia continues to bloom as well as the accompanying White Alyssum.

Susan continues to pop up here and there from self seeding throughout the garden.

The multi colored Lantana is thriving even though it does not have as much sun shining on her this year due to the growth of a dogwood nearby shading her.
This Silver Checkerspot or is it a Variegated Fritillary? Anyway, this is one of many flying flowers that continue to show their colors in the garden.
Purple Verbena and white Vinca are intermingling and looking beautiful. All the white Vinca are self seeders from last year.

The Crepe Myrtles continue to show their pinks. Gotta love those Southern Belles!

Marigolds are looking strong with little water being splashed upon them.

Catmint is looking good after I took it out of the ground and potted it due to its sad state with lack of water. I will replant it once the rains start to fall in my drought ridden garden.

Begonias in pink and white colors continue to bloom with lack of rainfall.
Hyacinth bean continues to show its tiny purple blooms.
All the self seeding Spider plants still have tiny blooms on them.

Hibiscus is glowing with beautiful blooms for their second go round.
My two Mexican Heather bushes are full of tiny blooms.

Vinca in colors of pink and white are popping up all over the garden from self seeders.
Blue Salvia continues to attract bees and butterflies.

This close-up picture of the Salvia looks a bit like a water color print.Moonbeam Coreopsis is thriving in the heat and dry conditions.

Purple and White Sage continues to bloom next to each other.

Red Canna gave me a late bloom. The canna keep popping up from the ground so I guess they are doing well where I planted them this spring.

Purple Wave Petunia, even though very scraggly is still producing blooms. Look at the horrible looking stems in the background to the right.
And of course my favorite and very first thing planted in the garden is the profusely blooming butterfly bushes. I will have butterfly bushes where ever I live! Just look at those September blooms in colors of white and purple.

Even though I have lost lots of flowers in the garden this year due to drought conditions, I am not discouraged. Look what I went and picked up at the Garden Center this past weekend! The Aster, Coreopsis and Sage/Salvia were just calling to me as I walked past them. I will keep them in pots until we have cooler temps.

Notice a theme in my garden? Drought tolerant, bloom longevity in colors of purple and white seem to be my theme. If you have been taking notes, you will noitce that these are pretty much the same bloomers since late spring. For this hot, humid, drought year it has worked, keeping me happy with many SEPTEMBER BLOOMS, In the Garden...