Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Sweetgum Wreath

A couple weeks ago Skeeter mentioned my sweet gum wreath in her post, (click here) well it got me to thinking.....humm, maybe this is more than a craft post. So here it is, this is the first row of sweet gums glued together. Boy! Am I ever grateful for the big box of sweet gum Skeeter sent me. We here in New England do not have too many of these trees. I did a little research on them and found there is a Northern Sweet gum tree that survives my zone, it takes mayyyyybe....20 to 25 years to flower and/or produce sweet gum balls! Okay, so I need something quicker.

I still enjoy these mature sweet gum as if they are my own, thank-you Skeeter.

Here we see a second row of sweet gum and a tossed around idea of what direction to go to next.
Didn't quite work. I had left the stems for in the middle of the wreath and felt I needed to do something with them....but the geese are not it!

Well, this is closer. Oh, I forgot to say, I'd left the stems in a pinwheel pattern on the outskirts of my wreath but decided to trim them. The wreath looked more like a ginormous spider.
I finally settled on something from in the garden, my very own Hydrangea. It is perfect for the delicate flowers that are needed for the center of my wreath.

And my supply of flower blossoms? Something I cut last August, AND had a wonderful time arranging!

Some purchased statice and a few straw flowers, this is a pride and joy.....

and for the time being, on my bedroom door,

pink and white tulle with a small satin ribbon,

isn't Mother Nature wonderful?

umm, not so much in the storms though. In The Garden

Monday, March 30, 2009

Spring is Here

Spring Is Here

I've noticed all around my neighborhood flowers are starting to bloom, even though there aren't a lot of different kinds.

But as you can see from the picture, the azaleas are the stars of the show. I inherited this with the house. They are way over my head!

This is looking from the back towards the front. Strangely the ones that got more sun had more blooms and bloomed first.
This is looking at the front of the row of my azaleas.
If you look closely you can see another space forming.........

In The Garden


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Yellow Roses and a Surprise

The bright, sunny color of yellow roses evokes a feeling of warmth and happiness. The yellow rose is an ideal symbol for joy and friendship.

Today, I would like to present Lola with these beautiful roses as a symbol of our friendship here at,
In the Garden...


And now, a surprise:

The Saint and I recently cut down a dead tree with the assistance of our neighbor and his tractor. Once the dead tree was to the ground, we found a surprise from within the hollow walls. Two baby squirrels were snug as a bug in a rug in some of my stolen fake snow from my Winter Display on the front porch! Here you can see one of the cute little critters so young its eyes are not yet open. Being animal lovers, the Saint and I were quite upset at disturbing an animals home. Yeah, I know, why care about a squirrel when they wreak havoc in my garden so often. Well, because they are living breathing things and even though a pest at times, they to deserve a chance at life. So these animal lovers went into action. The Saint placed the hollow half log on top of the 3 foot tall stump for a bit of security from raccoons, foxes, coyotes and cats. I gathered more fresh fluff to keep the babies warm. The weather forecast was calling for rain so I did what I could to keep the little critters dry. I gathered bark from the dead tree and carefully made a roof for the babies.
I then placed a heavy notch of wood on top to keep all in place. We checked on the nest after 24 hours of giving them peace and quiet. The babies were no longer in the nest. We do not think a raccoon got them as the area was too neat so we believe the mother squirrel moved her two babies to a new nest. Squirrels build more then one nest in their territory so maybe one was nearby just waiting for such an emergency. We saw an adult squirrel with a mouth full of the fluff so we think that may have been mommy continuing to make them a nice cozy home. Gee, those two very babies we rescued will probably be digging up bulbs this summer, In the Garden...

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Camera Play

Here a 4 year old Skeeter gets her first camera in the style of Fisher Price for her birthday! Not a real camera but you tell that to this happy little gal in the picture! It was as real a camera as any on earth to me. That was 42 years ago this week and I still have a camera and also a bunny but not the kind I snuggle with but rather the kind I enjoy in the yard except for when they are eating my plants.
I am not a photographer but do enjoy snapping pictures and have as long as I can remember. Hum, wonder why I never took a photography class? Probably my shy bones would not allow me to sign up for a class.

I was snapping a picture of a fern sitting on top of a stump in my Georgia backyard last fall. I added the little water faucet to the stump. In pretend world, it keeps the ivy below it watered since my buddy Pedro the elf only naps against the stump instead of work as he promised me when I brought him home.
I started to look at the fern.
With each snap of the button, the fern was a bit closer.
And Closer. The Fern got smaller and smaller with each push of the button.
I was down to nothing but one sprig of fern with this shot.
Then the fern turned to a blur.
And I found myself looking beyond the fern and at the fall colors of the crepe myrtle tree in the background. I guess you could say I had a bit of CAMERA PLAY, In the Garden...

Happy 50th Anniversary to my (Skeeter) wonderful mother and father today! You are a great inspiration and we love you dearly. Raising glasses (cheers) to many more years to come...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Touch Me Not Seedlings

You just have to love little wildflowers like Touch me nots. These are native wildflowers growing throughout most of the North American continent according to this USDA website noting its range. I find them easy to grow in my garden. A bit of shade, a bit of moisture and protection-and it is a sure bet these hummingbird magnets will make an appearance about this time each year. They cover a 20' x 6' foot area mixed in with some shrubs in my garden. All these seedlings are a delightful sight! Two years ago when we had the late freeze I lost most of the seedlings growing at that time, but a few near the bowling balls and under the picket fence survived and have been able to carry on the fun in my garden.

When out walking in the woods you come upon some seedlings that look like the ones above it is very likely they are touch me nots. They are quite easy to transplant in this state into your garden for your very own touch me not garden.

Once summer is upon us, these tiny seedlings will quickly reach 3-4 feet in height and will cover themselves with orange flowers. Then the fun part starts. The touch me nots bloom until the first frost and as the flowers go by, they turn in to seedpods. The seedpods explode when ripe with the slightest touch-hence-touch me not or you get a surprise!

You all have a great weekend.

in the garden....

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Happy Birthday to Skeeter!

Happy Birthday to Skeeter from all your friends at "In the Garden".

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Pulmonaria: A Colorful Plant for the Shade Garden

If you live in the south, you appreciate the shade and hope you have shade, but the drawback of having shade is that not many bright colorful fun flowers love the shade. I just posted on a good shrub for the shade, today we'll talk about a perennial. Enter the pulmonarias. Pulmonarias are a super great genus of plants for the home shade garden.

You see I have a problem, I like flowers and color and plants. I want color all year around and I want it loud and bright and I want my gardens to say "Look at me!" It is extremely difficult to do this in shade and so I am finally accepting this fact. I must remember to no longer plant poor little coneflowers and 'Goldsturm' in the shade, hoping for the best. Sigh. I must no longer scatter those peonies and Joe Pye weed and catmint and irises and daylillies in less than ideal light conditions-well you get it. It is time to work with the shade and embrace-cough-cough-it.
I have found in the past five years of growing pulmonaria that these darling little foliage plants really deliver on the color and the flowers and the brightness in my gardens. I grow two varieties. Pulmonaria x 'Trevi Fountain', and Pulmonaria longifolia 'Diane Clare'. 'Diane Clare' is pictured above with a hosta. I profiled 'Trevi Fountain' as Plant of the Month for April 2008. It is early this year and as we speak is in full bloom and will stay that way for a good month or more. Pulmonarias are super good companions for hostas.

A recent purchase from Bluestone Perennials is Pulmonaria saccharata (sometimes officialis)
'Sissinghurst White' is expected any day now. Purchasing another cultivar is a big step for me, as you see I am really trying to embrace those shade loving perennials. It's not like I don't have the hostas and Solomon's seal and heucheras and hellebores and lily of the valleys, well you get it, I have plenty of shade loving perennials but they just don't quite do it the same as the sun loving perennials.

Pulmonarias are the exception to the shade rule if you will. They bloom for a pretty long period of time, look good most of the year and are evergreen. The only period of the year I think the pulmonarias tend to look ratty is late December to late January and mid to late summer when the plants can look very wilty due to the heat.

The gardener needs only to plant the pulmonaria in shade to part shade, a moist but well drained spot and close to a pathway or the front of the garden so that the plant can be enjoyed up close. Pulmonarias are ground huggers, except when they flower, and oh boy do they flower. The colors come in blue, purple, pink and all shades and tones of the above mentioned colors. It is really quite astounding to see the pulmonarias flower.

If the pulmonaria is happy, after it gets established it will grow and spread slowly to about two feet wide. In my experience you cannot divide the pulmonaria successfully. But! After a few years the gardener will be rewarded with some seedlings of the pulmonaria-something that is very desireable in my garden.

One more note about the pulmonarias. Are you familiar with the term pulmo? It means lung. A doctor might say you have had a 'pulmonary' embolism (I hope not!). The pulmonary part of course refers to the lungs. The pulmonaria because pulmonaria was traditionally used as a remedy against lung diseases. Pulmonaria is also known as 'lungwort'. What an awful name for such a fun and great plant in the shade garden.

in the garden....

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Aucuba Japonica

Living in the south makes one really appreciate the shade. Oh boy do I ever appreciate shade! As much as I love the shade, I bemoan the fact there are not as many colorful plants for the shade as there are for the sun. There are a few though, and the one I wish to talk about today is the Aucuba japonica.

When I first moved here in 2001, I kind of went on a buying spree. Any new plant was fair game. Some worked well, some did not. The ones that worked well I made a mental note to get more of them and to learn more about them. Aucuba japonica, aka the Gold Dust plant, certainly fit in the category of 'shrubs that do well in the shade'. Not only do they do well in shade, but they do just fine in dry soil too. Good thing since most of our summers are quite dry, and most of my shade is dry too.

The aucuba pictured is one of about 1/2 dozen aucubas growing in my garden. They are all planted in a raised bed out front that encircles an oak tree and a very mature pine tree. You can just make out another aucuba directly behind the one featured today. I featured this particular one because it is a female aucuba. And female aucubas bear bright red berries! See them in the first picture? What a lovely sight on a winter-make that a spring day.

In order to get berries on the female plant, you must have a nearby male plant. Now how on earth can I or anyone determine what is a male aucuba and what is a female aucuba? I guess by the luck of the draw I managed to purchase a male somewhere along the way, along with the females. This is the first year in many years that the aucubas have borne a great amount of berries. By great amount, I mean more than 5 or 6. Not many really, but the few that do show up are welcomed.

Many gardeners do not realize that aucubas are not self pollinating. I can tell you from experience it is difficult to find an aucuba that is marked 'female' or 'male' in nurseries or big box stores. Sometimes you can occasionally find a male cultivar that is usually variously labeled with a 'Mister' in its name, but not often. The best advice I can give is to make sure you have more than one aucuba and buy from a variety of sources, or even better, find a nursery that understands aucubas need a male and female in order to produce berries.

I planted these aucubas around my one and only pine tree out front. They circle the pine tree and the intent is for the aucubas to grow large enough that they completely encircle the trunk so it looks kind of like the trunk is growing out of the aucubas. I like that effect and aucubas can grow up to 15 feet, though 6-8 feet is more common in gardens. I expect they'll do fine here and continue to grow in order to produce the effect I hope for.

The fact the aucubas are evergreen is a bonus that helps to shield our home from a busy state highway. This time of year aucubas can get some freeze damage and the tips of their leaves will turn black and dry up. Not to worry, once warm weather arrives they will bounce back beautifully.

Aucubas would prefer a moist well drained soil slightly acidic to be in ideal conditions, but is adaptable. The fact mine are planted under a mature pine should tell you the difficult growing conditions these aucubas are growing in. The soil is extremely dry and rather congested with pine roots, however the aucubas are undaunted, and still they grow.

All parts of aucubas are poisonous. This is very good news if you have a deer or rabbit problem, but you want to site these shrubs carefully while keeping this fact in mind if you have children or pets around who may eat the shrubs.

So, here is a wonderful shrub with colorful leaves and red berries that can brighten any shade garden in the south. Their growing zones only include 6-10. That must be the reason I could never find them up north, but here they are fairly abundant under shade trees, keeping me cool and providing color.

in the garden....

Monday, March 23, 2009

A Coach in the Garden: A Garden Coach

I have finally found my niche and have made a decision. I've decided to become a Garden Coach. What exactly is a garden coach? It is not really difficult to define, but it is difficult for folks to understand. I am providing you with a link to a Garden Coaching blog by Susan Harris. Susan also had an article in this month's issue of Organic Gardening that describes more about what garden coaches do. But I am going to relay a short story to you (with permission of course) about garden coaches. I had the opportunity to visit with Skeeter, her husband the Saint, and Skeeter's parents recently. We met at a local German restaurant and shared some chit chat over schnitzel. When I told them all I was going to come out as a 'Garden Coach', Skeeter asked, "Now what is a garden coach?". Her mother, so charmingly looked across the table at Skeeter and said, "Someone who teaches you to garden, duh." I simply loved it! I sure wish she would join me at my presentation tomorrow night. I am scheduled to talk to about 75 local folks at the Master Gardener Mini Course. It is at this presentation I will be announcing my new vocation. Not new really, but now professional. I am sure I will get many questions so Skeeter's mother's response was right on!

I equate my chosen avocation to that of a house inspector-but I'll take it a bit further. You know how you wish to buy a new house and the realtor advises you get a home inspection? In fact, oftentimes now a days, home sales are
contingent on the results of the home inspection. You hire some guy with a truck and a ladder, maybe a safety suit and a tape measure, and you pay him (usually a him) an exorbitant amount of money to come to your house where he spends about two hours inspecting your home, its exterior and interior elements. He flushes toilets, checks the heating and cooling system and so on. Then he heads back to his house and types up a report (if you are lucky he types it!), puts it in an envelope and sends it to you-the prospective home buyer. You read it and then try to decipher it's contents.

"Okay, my stove was manufactured in 1978 by Whirlpool and is a model 567, check. My heating temperature is right on, check. My exterior door casing is rotted, check-oops-gotta get that fixed."

You understand right? I do, I've paid for several home inspections and find the information most helpful; especially since the whole house is new to me. Most of the time it is money well spent. Well I will be running my garden coach business in a similar manner.

There will of course be a fee for my services, most likely a package deal just like home inspectors provide. I will come to your home and 'inspect' everything close up. I will not do this alone though, I will expect clients to walk with me and I will guide, advise, and evaluate as I walk through your garden. This initial session will last approximately 1.5-2 hours. All the while I'll be taking notes, pictures and most likely measurements. See the similarity to a home inspector here? I will then convene back to my home and type up my findings in an easy to read and understand report format. I will also include recommendations based on the client's needs, desires, and realistic capabilities. How will I determine these needs, desires, and capabilities?

It is pretty easy when doing any type of inspection or on site visit to determine quite quickly what type of homeowner the person is like. Is the homeowner diligent with cutting and trimming their lawn? Or is long, weedy and spotty at best? Are there existing plants? And if so, what condition are they in? Well trimmed, or yellowed and dying? I can determine fairly quickly the capabilities with an on site visit, but I also have to match that bit of the puzzle up with the homeowners desires. Just because they might not be the best gardeners, is there a real desire there? Perhaps the homeowner is new to the home and the garden is left over from the previous homeowner? Maybe even the homeowner is handicapped and will need methods of maintaining the garden that he or she can handle? These questions and more will be answered when a client contracts me for services and I send him or her an in depth survey to fill out. The survey will need to be completed prior to any on site visit so as to aid me in understanding the client. What happens next?

Once the survey is completed, the on site visit is completed, the report is typed up and finalized, I will, at the client's request, deliver the report to the client in their garden-resulting in another visit to the garden. Hey, we all know gardens change very rapidly-I can't tell you how much changes in my garden from the morning to the night-tons! So I can get another eyes on look at the client's garden and see if some of the measures we talked about in the initial consultation have made a difference. Once the report is delivered, I will be available for follow up sessions at a later date.

I expect I will be most busy during the spring and fall seasons, but gardening here in Tennessee can go on all year long. Winter or summer sessions for garden coach services are not out of the question.

I have taken the necessary steps to be approved to operate my business from home, I have the website, email, business license and business cards. I am also registered on a worldwide directory of garden coaches and am ready for business. My shingle is hung-finally!

I hope that in some small way, I can help spread my love of gardening around my community so that everyone can enjoy what nature has to offer. Garden coaching is a start for me, albeit a small start.

Contact information for me as a professional garden coach is pretty easy. Obviously you can contact me here. In fact, the blog and my business website will be linked. With over 600 posts with lots of good information and helpful to do lists for local folks, I hope everyone will use this blog for gardening information they can easily implement on their own. It is what it is here for-in addition to helping me to learn more about gardening, and of course enabling gardeners to connect with one another.

I have also set up my profile on Susan Harris' premiere garden coaching website. You can find me here. In case you forget how to get there, just pull up the Garden Coach Directory, search by state, pull up Tennessee, and there I am!

Additionally, I do have a professional email address: tina@coachinthegarden.com. My business website is: www.coachinthegarden.com. Do check it out-now and each time you feel like it! I made it quite easy to remember and of course, you can see my motto there....

in the garden....

One more note, my co-posters and close friends and family were informed of my plan a few months ago. In case you are worried, this blog will not change. We have been posting for a very long time and I think readers have come to expect certain things from it, we will not waver from our commitment to this blog. Thanks to my co-posters encouragement and help on here, we will still post daily. Though I expect I will become more busy than I have been so we'll see how that affects my blogging. I will also be adding a link to the sidebar for the convenience of any readers who wish to access me professionally when they find they need garden coaching services.

I also must say a big hearty thank you to Helen Yoest of Gardening with Confidence. Without her encouragement and a big nudge for me to 'hang out my shingle', I might not have taken this huge step. I am grateful to her and to anyone who has ever read this blog and encouraged me in some small way in my gardening endeavors that means you!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Green Ivy

Some people are a bit Green with Envy of me since I live in Georgia which is a warmer climate during the winter months. I may have a bit of envy of them living in a cooler climate during the hotter months. Hey, lets don't be green with envy but Green with Ivy instead!
I may live in a warmer climate but we still get some freezing temperatures. We don't have the lush tropical feel during the winter. But I am sure to have some green around me. The front porch is so lost in the winter if it were not for my ivy in the planter along the East side of the house.
When all other plants are safely tucked away in the house high from little paws of kitty cats, or other flowers long gone to the compost bin, the ivy is always there to cheer me up.
It does so well in this spot that I have to remove it from the container every few years as it outgrows the box. I hope to replant this batch somewhere in the yard and start the planter over again this spring.

Don't be Envious of my mild winter temps, Get yourself some GREEN IVY to cheer you up while you are not, In the Garden...
Note: This post was pushed back during the winter months as other postings came up, so a bit late...

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Welcome and a Contest Winner!

It is officially Spring down here in my Georgia Garden! Yippee, I am so ready to put winter behind me and welcome the Easter Bunny to my home. I said the Easter Bunny not Peter Cottontail which likes to nibble my pretties in the yard.

I plugged in the glue gun and went to work on some floral arrangements and a wreath. The stage is set with the porch being full of spring colors and bunny rabbits of all shapes and sizes. The mailbox adorns a new creation with the trusty glue gun of mine.
A new Spring Scene sits back into our woods welcoming neighbors as they drive down our street. Once the azaleas to the right and left bloom, this will frame the setting.
This was the first year I ever saw Scarecrow type Bunny's! I was thrilled to incorporate them into a Spring display for all to enjoy. The squirrels have already been chewing on the big plastic eggs. Gee, those critters will nibble on anything!

Here are some real and not artificial pretties in my Georgia Garden...
Purple Tulip
Bridal Wreath
Purple & Orange Tulips with Purple and White African Daisy

Grape Hyacinth
Daffodils with Tulips and Starry night Viola in the background
Close-up view of African Daisy
Carolina Jessamine
Homestead Verbena
Dogwood is opening for us.

Close-up of the orange and yellow Tulip and the Starry Night Viola.

Vinca major

Azaleas are opening up for us now...

I am so ready to WELCOME SPRING, In the Garden...

Contest Winner:

This little contest was a lot of fun for me. Many guessed the correct answer being "packets of seeds". We also had good guesses of Poinsettia, Peony and some type of Bulb. But the best "wrong" answer was from Dawn being a Chia-Pet! That was so funny I about fell off my chair with laughter. Good guesses everyone and look for more give-aways in time.

And the winner of the "Riddle" contest, Drum roll please.........(out of the Saints Magic German hat) is......More Drum roll.....And the winner is;

Hey, my eyes are too old, get closer please...Ah, That's better. Marmee you are the winner!!!
Please send your address information to Tina's email at: ramseytina5@gmail.com and she will forward me the info and I will get your prize of Seed Packets and a bonus Seed Plaque in the mail to you....

Happy Planting and enjoy Spring Everyone...