Saturday, July 11, 2009

Pine Straw to Plants

By Skeeter

This picture was taken in my Georgia Garden last year. I have always been happy with this pine straw area until now. This spring it was time to change things a bit in this area. The patio is to the left in this picture so it's a wonder why I have waited until now to work in this area. I would say the soggy issues we can get in this area as that is why it went to mulch in the first place.
A few years ago, I had Spider Plants hanging on the front porch. They dropped baby plants onto the ground below and I dig them out when they pop up each spring. I put some around the stump where I always place a Boston Fern. You can see them popping up in the first picture. Strange thing, I have not had the spider plants hanging for about 3 years but still have them popping up in the front planters! This year I have them hanging on the porch again so I am sure to get many many more baby plants next year!
With the Spider Plants acting as a Perennial and returning for me each year, I decided it was time to add more to the area. I started with Heuchera's and added more things as I found them at bargain prices.
My first Heuchera was a gift from Tina's garden! So this one gave me the motivation to add more to make a collection. Thank you again Tina for teaching me about Heuchera which I had never heard of before then. I had heard of Coral Bells though. Heck, I cannot even pronounce the word Heuchera so Coral Bells they will be for me. lol. Tina says this one is called "Mocha Mint" Hum, sounds like a nice cool ice cream doesn't it?
Mocha mint has the most dainty blooms on it. I also see a spider web!
The second one I picked up at a bargain price of $1.00 being the "Palace Purple". At that price, I should have picked up a few more. Oh well...
Since noticing the Coral Bells, I am finding that this one seems to be the most popular one in the garden centers.
The blooms were not as pretty as the blooms on the Mocha Mint. I don't even consider them blooms as they do not look like blooms to me. "Tiramisu" is the second one I added this year. Since I found the bargain one for a mere dollar, I felt it was okay to pay $3.95 for this one. I have paid more for a piece of Tiramisu cake in a restaurant!
Again, the blooms are not so pretty but this bee sure does seem to like the way they taste. Hum, wonder if this is an Italian Bee? Tiramisu is still in its pot for now. This area was real soggy from the massive spring rains and I about lost the other two due to the moisture. As a matter of fact, this is the third time I have moved Mocha Mint! Tiramisu arrived at a later date so I kept it in the pot and buried the pot. This way, it was not so soggy by not being in the ground soil. The area is now bone dry and the hole is dug so I need to plant it when I find the time. I am thinking of maybe trading Tiramisu and Palace Purple since it is so much smaller. I know in time it may reach growth but for now, it looks a bit funny don't you think?
I also found some bargain hosta last fall. I found them for $2.00 a pot and I was able to separate them into 3 pots. So for $4.00, I ended up with 6 plants! I have a problem with the Voles eating my hosta. My Mother in Law let me in on her secret to keep them from the Voles mouths. Keep them in the pots and bury the pots in the ground! You can see how I have done this in this picture above. The pine straw and plant hides the pot and you can hardly tell they are not in the ground. They will not spread this way so I will have to separate them each year.
So far the bury method is working for the Voles but not for the deer! Argggggg, I finally took someones advice and invested in a bottle of Liquid Fence and so far, they have not bothered them again. They also ate most of the leaves off the Black Elephant Ears!
In this picture, you see the hosta before the deer found them. The pots hide well don't they?
The deer also found and ate most of the leaves off this Black Elephant ear that I planted in this area. I sprayed it with the Liquid Fence and it became spotted. I can't win for loosing with the wildlife around here. I love my wildlife but also my plants. What's an animal loving Gardener to do? I guess keep Liquid Fence on hand.

Well this is part one of a two part series on this area going from PINE STRAW TO PLANTS, In the Garden...

Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion...


  1. Nice selection of shade plants.
    It's like you're starting a family !

    I would think the pots are also a good idea for any plants that don't have a permanent home yet. Some growers use a double pot method unlike most that just use burlap.

  2. Very nice,

    So great of you to share all this.

  3. it s all so nice ! have a nice weekend !

  4. You have a nice collection of Heucheras and the Hostas are a great companion to them --if the deer and voles will leave them alone!!

  5. Hi Skeeter, The pinestraw garden area is looking good! Who knew spider plant was a perennial! LUcky you! Love the heuchera. The only problem is that they do like sharp drainage, so placing them higher like we do azaleas might help. Autumn Bride is one that was bred for the south and it has giant leaves and flowers later in the summer: the bees love the flowers, but I grow it for the big maple shaped pale green leaves.

    You could try a few cedar glade plants, they like the wet soils in late winter and can take the dry summers. I like grasses like river oats, but they may be too aggressive and then there is St John's Wort/Hypericum frondosum. I can send starts for both this fall.


  6. What a great garden area. Love the pots in the pinestraw!!

  7. Skeeter,
    The bee could be after the alcohol in the tiramisu ;-). I’d love to use pine straw as mulch, but around here it has soooooo much trash in it I can’t stand the way it looks. It’s terrible to pay that much for a bale of pine straw and it be filled with trash. We actually had plastic pop bottles in it we had to pick out.--Randy

  8. Good Morning everyone! Looks like it will be another beautiful day here in Georgia. We have some yard plans after we run a few errands today...

    Patsi, I do seem to have a little family started in this area. I am happy with the way the pots in the ground are working out for me. Although, I do seem to be watering more then if they were in the soil and not pots. But the Voles are not getting them!

    Zindagi, thank you and sharing is a specialty of mine as with most gardeners :-)

    Kathrin, Thank you and you have a nice weekend as well...

    Janet, you know those beautiful creatures of the wild are always an issue for us. We love them but also love the plants. It is a battle we cannot always win and they do keep us on our toes around here. If our yard were not so large, we would fence it in to keep the critters out. But we do enjoy seeing them at the corn bucket where they belong. Maybe I should put up a sign that tells them to stay at the corn bucket only while in the yard. tee hee...

    Gail, I found out about the Spider Plant by accident. I tossed them into an area in the woods where we had a dirt pile. The next spring, they popped out on me! I dug them out and planted them into this area and they return each year! They seem to love this soggy area also. I am afraid the coral bells will have to be moved to another spot. They do not like the soggy winter and spring conditions in this area. I will have to decide a better spot for them. Good idea on the grasses. I think the oats may be a bit too aggressive but maybe St. Johns Wort would be a good selection. Thanks for the advice!

    Darla, I must give my MIL credit for that idea. While at their house last week, I noticed so has beautiful hosta buried in their pots and you cannot see the pots at all. While we were there, the Voles took over several flowers and she was not happy with them. Missy, their cat caught one and they were happy with that...

    Randy, Georgia is known for their tall pine trees and I am sure that is why we get the bales being so clean. Every once in a while, we get a dirty batch from someone but we learn our lesson and never go to that place to purchase it again. A soda bottle? Now that is just plain crazy. I have found pine cones, leaves, twigs, cigarette pack and even chicken feathers with the wing attached! Icky, that was a bit freaky but the cats enjoyed sniffing it. lol I have a slight obsession with the Pine Straw and spread about 100 bales each spring! The straw is the biggest budget eater of my landscaping funds...

  9. I bought the Tiramisu from Lowes too, probably got it from the same clearance :) We have to play seek and hide with the deers LOL! :D
    Our city have imposed a pine straw restriction, because it can cause fire during drought season.

  10. As always your beds looks so nice, Skeeter!
    Hi Lola, Nina, and anonymous.

  11. So I am not the only one who has volunteer spider pants. Mine originate from the long runner thingy but the roots develope and attach themselves to anything they can. Gosh, that sounds so invasive but they are not. Luckily, here in Florida mine are beautiful year aorund and have a beautiful stripe. Vickie

  12. Those pesky critters! I am so glad the liquid fence is working. I do really love coral bells and you picked up some good bargains. They look great in their spot and I also think your front planter could use some too. That way you can enjoy their evergreen foliage whenever you go in the house:) I sure like that pine straw. I could use some here as leaves just don't last long enough for me. Patsi mentioned the double pot method and I only recently saw this on TV. It is a very neat way to grow plants.

    Everyone have a great day! We here in are hoping for some rain.

  13. It looks great Skeeter but I would be remiss if I did not ask if you are sure that the pine straw is only a slight obsession!!

  14. Hi Skeeter! I feel your pain! I am in pain myself after deers ate my roses, phlox and bean, strawberry and grape leaves! I sprayed those plants with Liquid Fence, but they can move to other plants! You wrote about hostas. I think I should run and spray hostas, too!
    As for the pine needles, I heard that they are good around roses. Do you agree?

  15. my dogs completely destroyed my heucheras...i was not happy. i am going to have put more in somewhere they can't get to them. i think putting more plants down is a great idea.

  16. Vuejardin, Ah, you have a tiramisu as well! I liked the name so had to add it to my collection. lol, yep, those deer and rabbits keep me on my toes! I find it odd that they ban the pine straw during drought season as anything really is combustible during dry seasons. They could not ban it here as so many people have the wild trees in their yard therefore, the pine needles on the ground just about everywhere you turn here...

    Dawn, I work hard to keep the pine straw fresh. As the Saint and Jean say, I have an obsession with it. lol...

    Vickie, I had no idea Spider Plants would return until living here in GA. I guess the climate is not harsh enough to kill it but it does go dormant in the winter. I wish it would hang around like it does in FL for you! I have some that are variegated (stripped) but they are located in another spot of the yard. The ones I have hanging on the porch this year are variegated and will drop the baby's so next year, I will be adding them to this area...

    Tina, you know that I am an animal lover but do have issue’s with the deer and rabbits. They keep me running circles but I cannot get angry at them as I love them so much. They just think I am planting all this fun stuff for them to eat! lol. Ah, the front planter may be the perfect spot for the Coral Bells! The planter gets a bit moist at times but drains fairly well so that may be where they end up this fall! Although, the Japanese Maples are pretty much taking over those planters! I will have to see how full the planter looks this fall then decide if they will go in there or another spot...

    Jean, I knew you would say something like this. lol I was just telling Dawn how you and the Saint believe I have a pine straw obsession and now lookie here, you are confirming my suspicious mind! :-) I love that fresh look of pine straw. Spring and Fall are my obsession times with it. Every now and then I see a bale on the roadside that has fallen off a truck. I tell the Saint to pull over so I can retrieve it but so far, he has just given me that look and I don’t get the stray bale home. Sigh…

    Tatyana, Yep, if they are not munching on the hosta, they are finding something else in my yard to nibble! They can be pests but we do enjoy seeing them in the yard. If only they would stay in the woods, I would enjoy them more so. I dont have rose's in my gardens. I should as my grandmother had a beautiful rose garden. I had roses at a rental house while we lived in Texas and I about killed them all! I have no luck with roses but do enjoy seeing them in other gardens. So I am not sure about the pine straw mulch for roses. Pine straw is full of acid so if roses like acid, then they would enjoy pine straw. I think that I loose some plants due to too much acid as I dont research acid loving or hating plants. I garden by trail and error…

    Tina, do roses like acid soil???

    Marmee, Since the neighbors fenced up their Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs, I no longer have doggie issue in our yard. Zip the Rat Terrier comes to visit but he only gives a quick dribble or two from the hiked leg. lol, Is that what killed your Coral Bells or digging them up? OJ kitty likes to dig in the soil also and I know what he is doing as well. Argggg. So far no damage from him, well, except for him laying on the yarrow!

  17. I love your gardens Skeeter. They look so fresh & clean looking. I use cypress mulch as it doesn't draw roaches & such {have to be careful about that here in Fl.}. Cedar is best but who can afford that. I don't think cypress releases anything into the ground. I really need to find out more info on that.
    I agree about the Spider Plants. I have them everywhere. I have a couple of the variegated ones but so far haven't had any babies from them. I don't know if they bloom like the green ones. Either way they are pretty.And I've found they do like moisture.
    I have a hosta in a huge pot by the garage door & something has eaten all the leaves from it. I could see if it were in the ground but it's in a pot. Any suggestions as to what has eaten it? I would hate to loose it as my brother gave it to me.
    Hi Tina, Anonymous, Dawn, Jean & Nina. Hope you weather is to your liking. We had another downpour today. Like we need more. lol Looks like I may have to invest in a pontoon yet. lol

  18. Hi Skeeter, I think roses would be okay with a pH of about 6-7, so slightly acid. They probably wouldn't like it much below that like azaleas and camelias like, but are adaptable. Does this help? You can always add a bit of lime. Roses really mostly need full sun.

  19. I, too, am hooked on heucheras! Once I started buying one, I couldn't stop. Besides, those names just entice me--I have "tiramisu", "Creme brulee,"
    "plum pudding," and "key lime"--for some reason, they make me hungry every time I look at them:) I'd like to know, too, the proper way to pronouce this: I thought it was HUGH-KER-A, but another gardener told me it was pronounced HOOK-ER-A. Anyone out there know for sure??

    I'm so sorry about the damage from the deer, Skeeter; I do hope the Liquid Fence helps. I guess I should count my blessings that the main "wildlife" damage around here comes from my pets.

  20. Oh Skeeter --you do LOVE pine straw don't you, hehehe:) I'm sure it is easier to come by since GA has so many pines. The yard pictures always look great --they do motivate me but then I just relook at your pictures instead of working in my yard.

    Hi Tina --we got some good rain earlier today. We had our track meet, piano lessons and then a nice downpour on the way home. It really worked out well.

    Hi Lola --it was an excellent day here today --just worried about the next few with high humidity:( We had nice rainfall that surely helped my yard since I just mowed yesterday, hahaha.

    Hi Jean --hope your summer is starting to feel more like summer.

    Hi Dawn --I'm sure your garden is growing alot with all the rains you have had up that way.

    Hi Nina --can't remember if it was you or Tina that gave me cosmo seeds --pretty little orange guys came up:0)
    Have a wonderful weekend everyone! Ciao

  21. Skeeter this is the post I missed on heuchera ! I can NOT believe you paid that price for Tira M. !! They cost a fortune here and I have been waiting for the price to drop eventually .. your selections are great girl .. and what sale prices !! LOL

  22. wonderful transformation... and nice you found a place for your neighbor's cat. My neighbor cats are happy with the trays which I used to bring home plants

  23. Lola, you can borrow my boat if you like! I know you are tired of the rain. We either have too much or too little of it. No happy medium as the days of the past in TN. How high up is your Hosta pot? It could be the rabbits as they will get on their back feet to nibble a treat such as hosta. The variegated spider plants bloom as I have them hanging on the porch this year. They were a real bargain at 5 each and were blooming when I purchased them! They are durable plants with liking moist soil and dry soil as well so a great plant for this area. I will be adding more as I find the baby plants in the front planter...

    Tatyana, Tina gave a good answer to your question. Did you catch it?

    Rose, I dont really know the correct pronunciation of the word myself, that is why I am going with Coral Bells! That one is easy hee hee... I do like the names of the Coral Bells and I have seen Key Lime as well but did not get it as it was at a higher price then I was willing to pay at the time. Probably can find it cheaper now though if I look. I have not been looking on the bargain bin as it is way too hot to plant stuff now. The wildlife do cause issue for us but we enjoy them so much that we will not run them out of the yard. We could install a fence but we dont want that as they were here before us. We must learn to deal with them and be friends....

    Anonymous, You made the track timing just right with missing the rain! Although, I bet one little guy would enjoy running in the rain! lol, I would play in the rain also but not with lightening or thunder, that gets me into my safe place, the house! We do have lots of pine straw in Georgia. They sell it on the roadside like Peaches and tomatoes! lol just wish it were a bit cheaper, We have lots of pines in our woods but too many leaves in it to salvage any for mulch. It stays on the woods floor as mulch instead...

    Joy, I think the prices are a bit higher up there then here. I walked through a garden center while in Virginia and noticed their prices run about $1.50 higher on everything we carry down here. I bet even higher in Canada!

    Wayne, Thanks! How funny you too have a neighbor’s cat enjoying your gardens! They seem to be so thrilled with all the activity in a garden dont they? I enjoy OJ visiting as it gives me someone to talk to while I play…

  24. I guess you do the best you can Skeeter, nature isn't always kind to our gardens. I'm sure your pot idea will help with the voles & the liquid fence sounds like it's helping with the deer so far. Good luck with your new planting bed. :)

  25. Tatyana, I think pine needles are great around just about all plants. The one spot I haven't used them here is around veggies, but they'd be okay there too. I misunderstood the question. I am one of those that believes any acidity added to the soil by the breakdown of pine needles is negligible-not enough to make a difference.

  26. Skeeter, The hosta is in a big pot that is sitting up on a platform with wheels. No rabbits here. I figured it had to be some kind of bug.

  27. Raquel, thanks for the best wishes on the new garden. We all know how it can be with putting a new garden in an area where it is not so ideal for a garden. Oh well, I must give it a try. What ever works well, I will add more of that and then less pine straw for me to buy and spread. Hey, that means less work in the end right?

    Tina, thanks for the explanation on the pine straw. You know I am a trial and error type gardener so I had no idea if pine straw was good for roses or not. Remember, this is only a hobby to me. hee hee...

    Lola, Now bugs on the hosta is one I have not had to deal with, thus far. I hope I did not just jinx myself by saying that! lol. I have been seeing more bugs on plants this year though. I wonder if all the wet conditions in spring are to blame for that...?... Hum, I dont like to use bug spray for fear of harming my butterflies or bees but it may have to come out soon if the bugs dont go elsewhere! Arggg…