Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tree killer

By Skeeter

We had to cut down a huge tree in our Georgia woods recently. The thing was rotting in the top and dropping large limbs on the driveway so time for it to come down. With the assistance of our neighbor and his tractor, he and the Saint got her to the ground. We cleaned up the mess the best we could and the Saint and our neighbor cut the trunk into lengths for firewood.

We rented a Log Splitter and spent one weekend splitting wood for the wood shed. Perfect timing as we had used the last stick of wood this past winter. While splitting the wood, we found the culprit to the trees death. Or what we believe anyway. Click on the video to see this scary thing crawling around.
See how large these creatures are compared to the Saints hands? They were like giant caterpillars that could saw a tree down!
Even out of the wood, their jaws were chomping as if trying to tunnel out of a tree! We plucked at least 100 if not more from the rotting wood. I contacted our County Extension Agent and he informs me these creatures are Sawyer Beetles. They are decomposers and eat dead or dying wood so they did not kill the tree. He says the tree looks to be an Oak and probably died due to the drought.
Here the Saint is busy splitting a small piece of wood from the limbs. Look at the size of the piece which formed the trunk of the tree that he is sitting on. The trunk pieces each made between 40-45 pieces of fire wood! The tree was really hard wood where it was not dying or dead. The Saint and I both worked as a team splitting the large pieces. He had to use the muscles to get the huge piece in place while I worked the levers on the machine. Together we got most of it split. About 6 remain in the woods where it will stay until it dries out a bit more. It was too difficult to split the wet wood while in such large pieces.

Yep, that was one huge tree to get to the ground then to get cut up into firewood.

We traded off splitting the small pieces of wood with the Saint splitting while I loaded my little red wagon and drove to the woodshed and stacked. Then I split and he loaded and stacked. Was a tough job and of course this took place with unexpected humidity in the air. Just our luck...We joke and say, "Yet another thing we can put on a Resume that we would never do for a living" Hard work I tell you and I admire the folks which do this to earn a living!

We stacked the good hard wood 2 rows deep in the wood shed and it should be ready for the fireplace this winter. We also split the rotting wood for easy burning in the outside fire pits. Will make some good campfires on cool nights.

It was probably the drought and not the strange creature that was a TREE KILLER, In the Garden...

Always trying to find the bright side of things, we have a shed full of firewood!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Bargain Bin

By Skeeter

I am a bargain hunter with pretty much anything I purchase. I do find myself spending a bit too much on certain things but most everything I have has been purchased at a bargain price. Who does not like a good Bargain right? Well here in my Georgia Garden I keep the bargains coming. Such a bargain was this Nelly Moser Clematis I found at the back of Lowes in the Bargain Bin or rack. If you are not aware of this little secret, the next time you are in Lowes, go to the back of the Garden Center and look for a rack of pitiful plants in sad shape. You can weed through them and find some great potential at bargain prices. Most all plants are half price if not more! I do believe Tina has shared this secret with us before. But as a bargain hunter, I must remind you of the bargains out there.
I have never had a Clematis before so did not know much about them. I have seen them in Tina's gardens and other gardens via your Blogs. I knew I had to have one some day. The day came last Fall. I found this pitiful looking Clematis for $2.00 and decided, hey, why not. So, I will order water instead of a drink the next time we eat out. There, I can justify the price of 2 dollars, right?
I planted the thing and watered it well during the drought times last fall. I did not snap a picture of it then as I really did not think it would survive, it was that sad to the eye. Then winter came and plenty of rain so no more care from me. And look what happened this Spring! Nelly has thanked me with blooms! My first Clematis blooms! Of course I planted this on the mailbox post. My mailbox planter has never looked good but 2 times in the 8 years we have been here so I needed something to perk things up a bit.
And Perk, we have done. Just look at that beautiful bloom!
And this one with the sun shining on it. It just glows like the daffys once did in this planter.
And now we will go into the depths of this beauty!

I hope Nelly thrives and continues to give me beautiful blooms. She sure was a find at the BARGAIN BIN, but now In the Garden...

Note: I will show you more bargains soon!

Friday, May 29, 2009

The Brother Gardeners and Andrea Wulf

Blogging brings an awful lot of wonderful things my way. I consider the education I receive to be one of the most important things I get out of blogging. Education comes from your blogs, your comments, and occasionally from offers.

This was the case a few months back when an agent (Sara) for Andrea Wulf emailed me and asked if I would be interested in a book about the history of gardening. A book about the history of gardening? "Uh yes, what's the catch I asked?"

"No catch, but if you like it, would you kindly mention it on your blog?" asked Sara.

I do not normally do things like this, free or not. I like the freedom of posting what I want to post and of being my own boss, if you will. While blogging is voluntary, we sometimes put restrictions on ourselves and to avoid those, I have never obligated myself to post about things that others ask me to post about. But, the idea of a book about the history of gardening
between Britain and the United States intrigued me. What finally convinced me to say yes to Sara and accept the not yet published advance copy of The Brother Gardeners is the fact the author herself will be speaking in Nashville next Saturday! You all make your plans to go hear Andrea Wulf speak at the Nashville Public Library located at 615 Church Street, Nashville TN 37219. Her speaking engagement begins at 11:30 AM. THIS is why I agreed to review the book, I was excited the author is coming here! I plan to be in the audience when Ms. Wulf speaks. Now, on to the book.

I have always been an avid reader. I am taken with the genres of: horror, murder mysteries, historical romances, and garden books. Of late it is mainly garden books I read. Oh boy do I read garden books. I love them all. But I find most garden books are more informational and written like textbooks. Can you say boring? Okay, maybe just a bit. Well, The Brother Gardeners was
not written like a textbook. The story engaged me from page one and I had a hard time putting the book down. Good thing I am the mother of a teen aged boy who needs lots of chauffeuring (think time spent in the car reading while he does his thing) so I could read this wonderful book.

The book engages the reader right away. It tells of the history of gardening between Great Britain and a fledgling country to be, called 'The Colonies'. The story begins with John Bartram (a colonist) and Peter Collinson (a British citizen). It chronicles their partnership in exchanging botanical information. Bartram would collect American specimens like
Magnolia grandiflora and send the seeds to Collinson. Collinson would in return send Bartram information on the plants and he would catalogue the new plants he received from Bartram. Collinson also sold Bartram's packages to other like minded British collectors. It was in this manner that many American trees and flowers were introduced to Great Britain and vice versa. The really good part of the book was it was not simply a recital of the events, but it took us back in time to the actual happenings. Ms. Wulf even wrote in the language of the day, complete with misspelled words (they were probably spelled correctly 200+ years ago, but are not correct now). I found the book most fun.

The book does not stop only with Bartram and Collinson, but delves into all botanical happenings of the day. Any and everybody who was a 'somebody' in the circles of horticulture is discussed in this book. I particularly enjoyed the part about Carl Linnaeus. Most of you experienced gardeners know he is the creator of our botanical naming system for plants. Prior to Linnaeus's method of naming plants some plant names would take up half a page! Can you imagine going to a nursery asking for a plant named "
Chamaedaphne sempervirens, foliis oblongis angustis, foliorum fasciculis opposites-meaning 'evergreen dwarf laurel, with oblong narrow leaves growing in bunches, which are placed opposite.'"...? (P. 117) Me neither. Good thing Linnaeus came up with the binomial naming system to help us simplify plant names and more importantly, to standardize the plant names. Did you know Linnaeus had a very hard time getting his naming system accepted by the men of higher learning in Great Britain? Linnaeus was a Swedish botanist and somewhat removed from the circles of botany shakers and movers. It did not help his cause that his personality was somewhat off putting to others. Linnaeus never forgot the difficulty of getting his system accepted and Ms. Wulf's book told of how Linnaeus would either reward or 'punish' men by naming certain plants after them. Let's just say, you would not want a stinking little weed that caused irritation to everyone who touched it, to be named after you. Much better to have a flower like the gardenia named after you. And by the way, the gardenia is named after a man named Garden. Pretty neat huh?

The book not only talks of the 'shakers and movers' in botanical circles, but shows garden plans of many famous gardens. There are engraved photos of the gardeners themselves and lovely botanical drawings. I loved the photos in this book and found they added to the reality of the book.

I totally enjoyed this book from start to finish. Not only did I learn about the history of plants, gardens, and botanical masters who have shaped our botanical course to this day, I learned of some of the history, trials and travails early explorers endured in order to introduce new and wonderful plants from all across the globe to my own country. Without these intrepid explorers the world of gardening would be mighty boring.

Do check out Andrea Wulf's book The Brother Gardeners for some excellent reading with a healthy dose of learning thrown in. As a bonus, go to the Nashville Public Library (located at 615 Church Street) next Saturday at 11:30 and hear the author herself speak of her book. Somehow I just know she will be most enthusiastic and bring the history alive in an even more real manner. I'll be there too....

in the garden....

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Wolf Eyes...In the Garden and Growing

How wonderful are dogwoods in the spring? Nothing but maybe azaleas are such big harbingers of spring as the beautiful dogwoods. Both the Florida Dogwood (Cornus floridus) and the above pictured Korean Dogwood (Cornus kousa) are awesome. Unfortunately, the Florida dogwoods don't excel in my garden. They were a bit neglected prior to us purchasing this home nearly eight years ago. Some are finally coming around, but most have succumbed to anthracnose, lawnmower and borer damage. Looking for an alternative I read where the Korean dogwoods are somewhat resistant to these problems. Of the Korean dogwoods, the one most often mentioned is the 'Wolf Eyes' cultivar.

posted on this very tree about this time last year. It has been one of my most often Googled posts, so being the fairly smart blogger that I am, I thought it was due an update:) I haven't seen this tree in any other gardens, but do know some bloggers have it in their gardens. I also have not found this tree in any nurseries, which is weird since there is so much interest in it. A local nursery owner recently asked me what I was seeing as a trend on the blog right now. I told him 'Wolf Eyes'. So many folks want to know about this tree that I think it must be a fairly popular or fairly unknown tree! If I were a nursery owner, I think I'd be carrying this tree in my nursery and be sure to help clients understand its differences as compared to the Florida dogwood.
I did not purchase mine in a nursery however. I lucked out and found this one at the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show in 2007. It was pretty small and looked a bit spindly, but has done well here. I must say this tree is a v...e...r....y slow grower. The slowest of any trees in my garden! I'd be surprised if it has grown even 6 inches per year. It is sited in a focal area and is showcased against darker foliaged shrubs and trees, including smoke trees, 'Annabelle' hydrangeas, and a 'Bloodgood' Japanese maple. I love the white of the leaves as they surely look like frosting.

I believe all dogwoods deserve and even require a bit of shade so this one is also in some shade, mostly shade in fact. That may be why it doesn't grow faster, but that is okay. I never worry about the foliage burning or it drying out due to excess sun.

Because the foliage is so bright and stays looking like this all season, the flowers are not really visible. You have to look real close. For me, the foliage is enough to keep me happy. Not only is the foliage variegated and mostly white, it stays that way and does not revert (at least not in the two years I've been growing it). Additionally, the leaves are wavy. This is an added bonus of 'Wolf Eyes' that most trees do not feature. The waviness adds to the texture of the tree and makes it a very outstanding specimen. That and the fact this dogwood has not been bothered by pests or diseases and is reliable is why I love the 'Wolf Eyes'.

If you have experience with the 'Wolf Eyes' or any other cultivar of Korean dogwoods, and know a good source for them, please let me know.

in the garden....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Peony Seedheads

From In the Garden

Peony seedheads! Who knew they were so great? Not me, that's for sure. I normally always deadhead all of my plants in order to redirect energy from the plant into next year's growth. I read on a blog (sorry can't remember exactly which one) where the blogger talked of wonderful peony seedheads. If this is you-do let me know! This comment got me to thinking maybe I'd check out the seedheads on one or two of my peonies. This particular one is a Japanese type single peony. I think the seedheads fabulous! Almost as good as the blooms.

Do you deadhead all of your plants and what are some of your favorite seedheads on plants you will never deadhead?

in the garden....

***********Public Service Announcement! ************

If you live in the middle Tennessee area, specifically near Clarksville, this Saturday is a perfect opportunity to pick up some plants for your garden. Perhaps you might even be lucky enough to get some peonies!

The Montgomery County Master Gardeners will be selling plants from their gardens this Saturday, from 8 am until sold out. Location is the Veteran's Plaza on Pageant Lane. Get there early for the best deals.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Getting Growing

Posted by Dawn

It's been a busy month in the garden, Northern New England has warmed up nicely, it's not too muddy not too wet. enjoying my new camera! Obviously.
Anyway, last I posted we were breaking new ground in the veggie bed, that being done it is time for the fencing. My garden is surrounded on 3 sides by dense forest and I'm taking no chances with the critters, nothing any more disparaging than finding all your hard work destroyed in one night by a hungry animal.
We did have a lot to debate though, my local farm/tractor supply shop sold three kinds of fencing, rabbit proof with a pricey cost, four foot high fence with 3 inch squares or a combo of both, the rabbit proof (1 1/2 squares) at the bottom of the 3 incher on top. Problem, the combo is only 3 feet in height, essentially not deer proof. So with the help of a few thinned out maple trees, some snow fencing and roof shingles, we went to work creating a barrier while providing a heavy wall that small critters would have to spend a great deal of time digging under. I love the look of it.
After the installing of the raised bed over the large rock,
and a rustic "it's not very pretty" cucumber trellis,
we made some tee-pees for the vining veggies, we used the tops of the maple trees and birch that were bent over from this winter storms. They wouldn't recover or survive.

The tomatoes are in the background, happy to have those planted, although I had to cover them once to protect from the frost.
Here is my daughter putting down newspaper between the bean rows, I'm a big believer of newspaper and use it whenever I can. I'm not a good one for weeding all summer. See the tires behind her? Those are for potato plantings, we have never done this kind of growing. Research tells me you can get 60lbs of potatoes per tire. Has anyone done this?

Less explaining daughter dear, and more action!
And here she is again wetting everything down this weekend, I'm so glad she enjoys gardening.Last Friday rolled in the last of the plantings for a northern veggie bed, some things can be staggered though, we are planting beans every two weeks. That sounds better to me in the long run, picking them at once is a lot of bean eating!

My husband constructed this cute little gate, I teased him about not having the skill to age it for me! Too funny! Anyhow we saw Lola's pot plantings with rebar and decided to see if we could do it with some of the buckets. It turned out pretty good, we had a few 6 foot fence posts and used them instead of the rebar. These buckets have herbs planted within them, catnip being on top. Ha!
Another long shot.
Time for the potatoes to be planted, I read NOT to use soil with manure in it as it causes scabbing on the potatoes. Well, that did away with any garden soil we have available....we could buy it at a huge price, (tire planting takes a lot of dirt!) or we could make it.

We made it, we shredded piles of composted leaves. We opted to do this because the piles had many roots growing within it. That was fun, peat moss flying everywhere.
We screened really went quickly.
My daughter could not keep her hands out of it. It felt like water. I never thought I'd be making 'dirt', it worked well though, "I want more!"On with planting of the onions,
But wait, what's that....peas getting growing! Here,And there,it was a good feeling after 2 months of constant planning and work. Basket of Gold, or Mountain Alyssum.

In The Garden....

Monday, May 25, 2009

Making Do

Most gardeners find ways to make do with what they have on hand.
Below are some pictures of this.

This is tucked in the opening of the azalea {caused by death of azalea}

This is the view from the back. There is a mum in the one to the right and a petunia in the front one

This is a close up of another arrangement. Can you see the height that is provided? This is a petunia and an lpomoea batatas "Margarita". {Sweet Potato Vine}
These pots are hanging from "stands" I've had and used for the past 15 years.

Yes, these "stands" {as I call them} are from arrangements for the sad occasion of a funeral.

I just couldn't throw them in the trash. Thinking cap on here. lol

I thought how nice they would help add height in the garden.

The hook that holds the arrangement on the stand makes a perfect hook for a hanging basket.

So I use these {I have several} when I need height.........

In the Garden


Everyone have a wonderful Memorial Day today!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Serenity Garden for Skeeter Kitty

By Skeeter

We lost our beloved Skeeter kitty shortly after we moved into our Georgia home. Skeeter was our fur baby for 16 years going everywhere we did but outside. He was an indoor only kitty for his own protection. He did enjoy the outdoor of our patio and front porch at times when we could sit and keep an eye on him. He was a perfect cat and did not go where not allowed. When Skeeter left us to cross over the Rainbow Bridge, I picked the perfect spot for him under some shade trees. We planted a Nandina Royal Princess that my parents gave us as a memorial to him. In time we have added more to the area making it a Serenity Garden type area.
The Saints parents gave us 3 Confederate Jasmine plants which are currently blooming and giving off a wonderful scent that can be smelled from all over the yard!
Lola gave us this adorable Santa, I know it looks like a Gnome but remember the Saint does not like Gnomes so this is a year round Santa on the tree. Thanks again for this little treat Lola, and we will not tell the Saint it is a Gnome. tee hee... The Jasmine is creeping towards the face as it winds up the tree trunk. This plant is the only thing saving this Sweet Gum from the chainsaw!
My two fur babies, Sheba and Cheetah insisted that daddy Saint give mommy (that would be me) these two retro chairs for Mothers Day. Ah, what a perfect way to remember the good ole days of sitting in this type chair on the front porch while growing up on Commerce Street in Clarksville. Surrounded by my grandmothers, phlox, moss, roses, iris, marigolds, petunias, peony and all the other traditional southern plants.
I put a fresh coat of gravel in the area this spring covering up the once white gravel for a more natural look of River Pebbles. Don't ask how many bags as I do not want to relive that back pain! I like this look more so then the other gravel look. The two azaleas that the Saint parents gave us are really starting to get large now. I wonder how much longer before I have to extend the island planter? Hum...
A yellow kitty sits on the stone above Skeeter grave to give me something to talk to when I feel the need to chat with my Yellow Fellow.
Tina, gave me this wonderful handmade marker with Skeeter's name on it the first time we met. She had no idea about the name Skeeter when I started to chat with her on the Blog. She kind of wondered if I were a man or a woman as I did not have a picture with my profile at the time. This marker reminds me of the wonderful friendship that Tina and I have formed though this blog as well as my little fur boy...
I see a lot of my little furry girl Cheetah in Skeeter. He was shy, so is she. She hides under the covers, so did he. Skeeter lives on through memories and I am reminded of him with each passing day from my current fur babies to my blogging name to the marker and this serene area in my yard.
I was sitting in this chair a few days ago gazing throughout the yard and gardens. As I viewed the place from a different perspective, I was taking in the scents of the Jasmine and it was such a relaxing spot for me. The Saint joined me for a bit and we chatted as to how this yard has changed since we moved into this house. I don't get to sit back and enjoy all the work as much as I wish I could because like any gardener, I am always looking at a weed which will get me up and moving again.

I guess I am a bit blue today as it was May 10 (Mothers Day this year) that our Skeeter kitty left us. I cannot help but wonder how I will react when the day comes that I will have to remove that "Skeeter" marker and take it with me while leaving my baby behind. I cannot take my Skeeter with me but I can take the marker as a reminder of the SERENITY GARDEN FOR SKEETER,
In the Garden...

Do any you have a special spot in your garden dedicated to a pet? Creating this one was and continues to be great therapy for me in my grieving for him, even after all these years without him, I still grieve his leaving this world....

Tina, Thank you again for that marker! As you can see it is priceless to me...

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Gift from Dan

By Skeeter

It is always fun to read other Garden Blogs although I have not had the time lately to visit many. The spring planting season keeps me busy in my Georgia Garden and not on the computer so much. The Blogging world is full of fun and interesting people with wonderful new ideas. I learn something new every day while blogging! One of those new things I learned was there is such a thing as purple tomatoes! When Dan from the Urban Veggie Garden talked about them, I was intrigued. Dan offered to send me some seeds and just as promised, they arrived in the mail.
I put some of the seeds into small containers and moisten them well with warm water.
Then to the tray they went.
Plastic lid on top and in front of a sunny window in the sun room to sprout.
This is one of two reasons why I don't like to fool with seeds, seedlings and all plants in this house. Sheba (one of the two) was table-side as soon as I placed the tray in that spot. Those cats don't miss much!
I have never really had much luck with starting anything from seeds inside but was keeping my fingers crossed for Good Luck just the same. Oh happy day when two of the seeds sprouted for me!
I tried my luck with more seeds but to no avail. I am saving the last few to place directly into the soil once we get the Veggie Garden tilled.
The Veggie Garden soil remains too soggy to til so for now the tomatoes were transplanted into larger containers.
They did not handle the transaction well and I was worried that I was going to loose them.
But as you can see, one is taking off and doing really great now. The other one is still chugging along and hopefully it will survive the transplant and a second transplant into the ground once it is ready for planting.
I am hoping to sink my teeth into my first purple tomato this summer. And if I do, it is all thanks to blogging and A GIFT FROM DAN, In the Garden...

Again, thanks for this gift Dan. Even if I fail, it has been fun trying my hand at raising a purple tomato from such a tiny seed!