Friday, July 29, 2011

Vegetable Garden Update in My Tennessee Garden

It has been forever since I've updated on you my vegetable garden so today is an update. I really miss doing those monthly updates and may go back to them but to tell you the truth I've been so busy since my husband officially retired that I rarely have the time to blog much anymore. I am still maintaining it because it is such a good scrapbook but just not as busy with blogging as I used to be. I do want to tell my dear buddy Skeeter a most heartfelt thank you for keeping the blog going while I was on vacation. I so enjoy sharing this blog with you each week.

The above picture shows the harvest from Monday morning. We then picked five more on Wednesday. Cucumbers rule! The peppers are a close second. I've only had one tomato ripen so far this year. I planted four 'Better Boy' tomatoes this year. Normally I plant a variety of tomatoes but instead chose to go with the same variety this year. I like it better because in my small vegetable it is easier to have the plants all about the same size and with the same growth pattern and habit. There are several more tomatoes on the plants but they are not in a hurry to turn red. I think that with the heat and high nighttime temperatures the tomato season will not be all that stellar, still, they are doing well as you'll soon see.
I always like to include long shots of the garden. For me they are what I enjoy most because I don't often get up close and personal with the plants. I tend to enjoy my garden from inside or on the deck. Here I am standing on the deck or even walking and sitting in the garden. I don't get up close to the flowers unless I pick them or smell them. I enjoy the long views best so I include them on the blog. The vegetable garden is bordered on all sides by several large oak trees. To get any vegetables from the garden is a miracle. It is, believe it or not, the sunniest location in my yard with the exception of my south facing parking pad. I can't grow much there though I do have several containers full of ornamentals. The vegetable garden you see above is bordered on two sides (east and north-the two sides closest to me in the picture) by my Sunny Perennial Border. This border is such a delight for me-and the vegetables as you'll see.
Here is the east side of the vegetable garden. It receives shade as you can see but still gets plenty of sun to grow several ornamentals.
This angle is looking into the vegetable garden proper from the corner between the east side and the north side of the Sunny Perennial. We are looking over a David Austin rose 'Falstaff', a brugmansia, and other perennials into the vegetable garden where the pink gladiolus and orange cosmos grow. The tallest plant we are looking through to the orange cosmos is helenium. This is a wonderful native that will begin blooming in a few weeks and will add some late season color to my gardens here. If you don't grow it you should give it a try.
Looking west from inside of the vegetable garden proper we see more gladiolus, basil interspersed with strawberries, a night blooming jimsonweed, three huge zucchini plants (just past the A-frame leg), also visible in the foreground of this picture is an outstanding surprise plant that will be revealed in a later post. You can just make out the leaf of the mystery plant in the foreground. The leaf looks like an eggplant leaf-hint.
On the northeast corner bed of the garden I planted several vining plants. I believe these are all cantalopes or watermelons. I got confused because when I planted the seeds some came up and some didn't. I hope it is all cantaloupe though. After the cantaloupe came up I planted more seeds including 'Kuri' squash. Therein lies the problem. I'm not sure which is which.These vines have gone wild even with the heat. All I can do is try to keep the vines from the main walkway and growing toward an area where they can roam. That is a difficult thing in my vegetable garden-not too much room to roam. I'm not sure why I didn't grow these on one of my A-frames but I didn't. Sigh.
Here is a long shot looking west. The tomato plants are over five feet tall here. They are nearing the end of the length of their concrete wire cages but will be okay even if they droop a bit. In the foreground you can just make out more zucchini. These seeds were sown in late June. So far successive sowing has been a big success for me and it barely took any time sow the seeds. It did help we received rain toward the end of June so sowing was pretty easy this year unlike in years past.
Now we are looking north at a second A frame covered with cucumber plants. Directly underneath I planted the pepper plants. These pepper plants went in after the lettuce came out in April. So far so good and all plants are happy and growing well. I have been regularly watering the vegetable garden by overhead sprinkler on a weekly basis. I think the schedule has helped all of the vegetables. I do not normally water any gardens on a schedule. The vertical foliage you see everywhere in the vegetable garden is the foliage of gladiolus. They are volunteers and most difficult to get rid of. The ones that grow here in the vegetable garden are used for cutting only. Since they don't take up much room and don't interfere with the vegetables I usually don't pull them out.

Also growing but not pictured are blackberries (still picking when we beat the birds), raspberries, carrots, kale, and blueberries (we never beat the robins-they've enjoyed a good feast this year). I harvested the onions last month-it was my first time having them successfully grow a bulb. I also dug out all of the potatoes. They were a pretty good crop and it was nice getting them from my own garden.
Under the A-frame you can see one of the many butterflies gracing both the vegetable and Sunny Perennial gardens this year. I allow some self seeders to grow in the brick pathways and beds of the vegetable garden and I tell you they make all the difference in a beautiful versus not so beautiful vegetable garden. This butterfly was in love with the orange cosmos that grows throughout the backyard.
I had forgotten where I planted my cuttings of 'Black and Blue' salvia but it reminds me as soon as it blooms. This is on the east end of the vegetable garden. I winter cuttings over in my greenhouse for planting out each year. I do believe that next year I am going to stop doing this in order to save myself some work. My gardens are too full for tender perennials. When I planted the salvia in May there looked like there was tons of room but looks can be deceiving.  In addition to the salvia I also winter over: pineapple sage, lantana, and impatiens. Most of these are huge plants that make a big statement in the late summer garden but they can crowd out the hardier perennials so I have to make a choice for what is best for the garden in the future.
Daylillies will always be a favorite. I wish I knew what type this daylily is but I unfortunately lost my entire garden catalog when my external hard drive decided to go bad. Not a nice feeling and I sincerely feel the loss of that handy document. I now find myself having to start over with cataloging all of my plants and I don't think I'll ever get it done. At any rate this daylily has been blooming for nearly two months and as you can see, is still full of buds to come.

Lastly, another flower in the Sunny Perennial Border outside of the vegetable garden. I believe this plant to be 'Gloriosa daisies' (Rudbeckia hirta). These are the same kind of flowers my grandmother grew in her garden when I was a child. I had tried them in my garden before but never had much luck with them so I gave up the fight. I don't usually have enough sun to effectively grow these. But then here comes a good friend to the rescue. Upon visiting my friend Naomi she had three large groups of these dug from her garden to give to me. What a surprise! I think the plants will have a better chance of surviving the conditions in my garden since they are already fully grown and established rather than as seedlings. In addition Naomi gave me several Japanese eggplants, tons of fresh corn and a few other lovely plants that now live in my garden. 

That's it for the vegetable garden with its surround of a perennial border. What's growing....

in your garden....?

Happy Birthday to my sister Dawn!!!!!!!!!

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Thursday, July 28, 2011


By SKEETERLook what is growing in a planter by the house here in my Georgia Gardens.
I did not plant this stalk of corn. It is growing well in this spot and I cannot wait to see what happens with the lone ear of corn.I do believe this little stinker planted the CORN, In the Garden...

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Fun Times

By SKEETERMy Georgia Gardens were full of laughter for a bit the past week. We had a bed full of critters.
We gave Aunt Skeeter hair make overs.
We spent a beautiful day at the lake.

The Saint got a break from being Captain with his two Skippers taking the helm of the "Liquid Asset"
We explored the beach and splashed in the water.
We had craft time and created some fun things.
Ice cream is so much better when in the back of the wagon as Aunt Skeeter cruises around in the gardens.

Girls day out included a first manicure compliments of Nanny.

We ended our fun time with a party and making new friends. Such FUN TIMES, In the Garden...
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Tennessee Governor's Mansion in Nashville

My new home....just kidding. Even though my car is parked in front of this beautiful mansion and I am told all Tennesseans own a part of this mansion, I must admit, sadly, that it is not really my home. This is the home of Tennessee's sitting governor and is located in Nashville Tennessee. Last week I had the pleasure of visiting this home and its adjoining Conservation Hall courtesy of my garden club (Beachaven Garden Club) and its President (Charene-thanks for setting up the tour!)
People outside of Tennessee may not be familiar with the Conservation Hall that our former First Lady (Andrea Conte) had built in 2010. The construction of this hall caused quite a bit of consternation among Tennessee voters who claimed it was a total waste of money. You see, as lovely as our mansion is it only had room for 22 people around its formal dining room table. Many times state dinners can include dozens of people as you can imagine. The state solved this problem by setting up tents on the large yard but during the summers and winters you can imagine that was not a very comfortable way of conducting parties. The solution was to build an underground 'green' banquet hall. Looking from a window in the front foyer of the mansion you can see the above ground part of the hall. This at first glance looks like a swimming pool but is actually a glass like enclosure around a deep depression that opens into the middle of the Conservation Hall. Within this enclosure at ground level are some lovely sculptures, trees and flowers. This natural area brings in a ton of natural light to the new banquet hall. This hall has its own kitchen and can seat up to 168 people for state dinners. It has state of art bathrooms and it is quite efficient to heat and cool since it is underground. I'm thinking it was a good move that will save not only manpower (no more labor needed to set up the tents) but the Hall will also save on costs in the long run. Plus, it gives Tennessee an absolutely awesome place to entertain out of state dignitaries.


Here is a picture of the interior of the circle you can see from above. This Conservation Hall is all underground with only this opening to the sky. Within the opening you can find a lovely sculpture called "In the Presence of Presents" created by Bell Buckle artist Sherri Warner Hunter. It is a mosaic made from the slate tiles that were removed from the roof of the mansion during the recent renovation of the mansion. All of these tiles were repurposed and have an intimate association with the Governor's Mansion. In my humble opinion it is these associations that make art so much more personal and meaningful. 
The main entrance to the Conservation Hall was below the mansion proper at a lower elevation further down the hill. It was a classy entrance that immediately led people down a beautiful staircase built with sinker wood. Does anyone know what sinker wood is? It is wood from trees that have been recovered from lakes and streams where it had sunk many years ago-decades even. The wood is wonderfully preserved while in the water and made a beautiful and natural staircase for all to tread upon. Along the way we ran into some unique displays. This one of shovels painted by children brought out the gardener in me and I was impressed. I might need to think about doing something like this with all those broken shovels I have hanging around my garden. The three stars you see is a common theme on these shovels. The stars are also part of our Tennessee state flag. I have always been taught each star represents a grand division in Tennessee but while researching this post I found a link that said the stars represent the three landforms found in Tennessee. Either way it comes down to this: the three divisions are: East Tennessee, Middle Tennessee, and West Tennessee. The three landforms are: mountains (East Tennessee), highlands (Middle Tennessee), and lowlands (West Tennessee). Essentially, those in Tennessee or those familiar with our state understand what the three stars represent. Each of these divisions is very varied in cultural traditions, agriculture, economy, and way of life but together all three make for a very interesting and diverse state-one I do love.
This sculpture was not far from the opening near the banquet hall itself. It was commissioned by Andre Conte and is an American flag made from the old copper gutters that were removed from the mansion during the renovation in 2010. We were lucky here that former Governor Phil Bredesen and his wife Andrea Conte actually own their own residence in Nashville. During his term of service Mr. Bredesen and his wife Ms. Andrea lived in their own residence and not in the Tennessee mansion. This enabled the renovation to proceed without all the hassles of having a sitting family in the mansion. Governor Bill Haslam and his family are very fortunate to be the first family to move into the newly renovated mansion. 

This mansion was built in 1929 by William Ridley Wills. Mr. Wills went all over the world to find the various materials used in the construction of this mansion. You will find marble from Italy, stone from Indiana and Georgia and many other diverse materials in this mansion. Most of it is original but during the recent renovation the heating and air conditioning system were replaced, as well as windows and many updates were needed in order to make this mansion handicap friendly. This included a new elevator that goes both underground to the Conservation Hall and to the various floor levels in the home.

I am not a fan of crown molding but couldn't help but be impressed by the beautiful crown molding in this foyer. The floor in this foyer was made of black and white squares of marble. We were told by our lovely docent that previous occupants of the home used to play hopscotch on the marble squares. A delightful thought in that elegant foyer.
I always wondered what mansions would be like to live in. If all mansions look like this one then I'd say they must be quite comfortable. This mansion was cozy, well lighted and looked liveable to me. I adored the large windows with unobstructed views to the gardens surrounding the property. Our garden club was not allowed to tour the gardens due to security but we were able to get good views.
Most everyone in the world knows Elvis resided in Tennessee. This cute painting graced one of the walls in the above room. Can you see Priscilla in the background? How do you like that hair. There were various photos of not only Elvis in the home but many more dignitaries; both living and dead.
How do you like this patio? Can you imagine state parties out here? This view felt very European to me but the mansion did not feel European. Having lived in Europe for many years I've only really visited castles; which could be considered mansions I suppose. The problem is castles have a totally different feel to them as compared to rich American people's homes in the United States. This could have something to do with the fact that these large homes are all so much newer than European castles but I don't know. Nonetheless I really enjoyed this mansion and could see any family living there happily.
This rock is so famous it has its own name. Can you guess it? Our docent told us its name was the 'Spud'. It looks kind of like a potato doesn't it? Its location is directly across from the entrance to the Conservation Hall. I had to include it because in Middle Tennessee it is rather rocky but this rock takes the cake for sure.

Lastly a picture of the lovely ladies of Beachaven Garden Club (and a couple of visitors)....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Monday, July 25, 2011

Stone Cairns in a Coastal Maine Frontyard


Driving along a side road in coastal Maine what do I see but a bunch a yard art-of the coolest kind; natural and unique.

For lack of a better word for these stone sculptures I am calling them cairns. I do think there is another word for them though? Can someone help me out?
They were really unique and brought a smile to my face not only for their out front attitudes but for what they say about the folks who lived in the nearby house.

I personally am thinking the folks in the nearby house are creative, artsy and don't care what their neighbors think about their stone cairns....

in the garden....

What do you think?

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Friday, July 22, 2011

Crepe Myrtles in New England?? And a Fabulous Kousa


Who knew crepe myrtles grew in New England? Okay, not really but the northerners have a great FABULOUS substitute in the form of a Japanese lilac (Syringa reticulata). These trees were in full bloom all over southern Maine and were very eye catching.


I tried very hard to identify this tree while in Maine and no one could help. I even Googled every phrase I could think of in order to identify this tree and simply could not get an answer. I asked my daughter what they were and she replied "Lilac". They were obviously not the common lilac; which are very fragrant and bloom much earlier than July but it was clear to me and to my daughter that these trees were some kind of lilac. But what kind? Note the bark is similar to the bark of trees in the prunus (Cherry) family. The lenticels were very visible adding to the mystery even more.


Leaves were heart shaped like redbuds. It was quite an interesting tree to me. It was not until I was back in the south that I finally found out what it was through much computer work. I was not familiar with Japanese lilacs but had heard of Persian lilacs. That is where I started when I came upon Japanese lilacs. Mystery solved. 

I do not have a great picture of the full tree but to see these trees in full bloom is to see a white crepe myrtle in full bloom. Now who says northerners don't have our beloved crepe myrtles?

Now this is a tree I am very familiar with as it is a Cornus kousa. I am not sure of the cultivar if there was one. This tree was planted across the sidewalk from the above Japanese lilac at a local bank. This kousa shined and positively glowed.
You could barely see any foliage and look how big this tree has grown. It was a wonderful specimen and I wish it grew in my garden.

This last picture is of my grandparents home on the border with Canada. The river behind the house is called the St. Croix River and is a tidal river. The land you see across the river is New Brunswick, Canada. My grandmother's family was Canadian.  The house and garage bump right up to the river and as a child the property was always a wonderful place to explore and visit. My grandparents must have sold the home more than thirty years ago but if I ever head up to the Canadian border I make sure to go by the old house. As it was my dear husband made the trip with my uncle and was kind enough to take several pictures of the house; I did not make the trip. Like all things in life this house and the ground have changed immensely since I was a kid. The gardens are no longer there, the white clapboard siding with green trim has been covered up with vinyl, the half wall surrounding the porch has been removed and the two stately elms that graced the front yard were felled many many years ago by Dutch elm disease. This is a huge house and I am sure a very old house. The maintenance alone must be a big burden but I am grateful to see the homeowner appears to be working on the house. Some of the age and maintenance issues were visible such as the huge barn is nearly roofless and the garage is in a sad state of disrepair, but still, this is the house of my dreams and some of my greatest joys and at its heart the house is still the same one I remember. 

This is also the location where I learned about peonies and Gloriosa daisies and cherry trees and vegetable gardening. I am sad to see the large perennial gardens are gone. During the long period my grandmother gardened here the soil gave up many treasures. I can remember a Mason jar filled with old marbles my grandmother had unearthed while digging outside. That Mason jar sat on a radiator in the kitchen just below a window overlooking the river where we would sit and watch bald eagles (when we were lucky) and all other types of birds of prey fishing in the river and flying about. Memories can be such wonderful things for all of us....

in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Busy Butterfly


My Georgia Gardens are weed free (for the time being) and the house should be completely dust free by the time family arrives this afternoon! I have been moving like this BUSY BUTTERFLY, In the Garden...

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Gardens in July Part Deux

The Non-Pool Garden one year later. The big planning and planting for impact turned out just as I had planned. The hydrangeas are splendid and love the new location.
NonPool Garden right side.
NonPool Garden left side. Conditions between the two sides of the path are quite different due to shade and trees so while both sides are similar they are not exacting images.
Looking from the Secret Patio to the north.
Another view of the hydrangeas.
Looking up toward the house at the right side of the NonPool Garden.
The Natural Garden has evolved into something different from what I had planned. Here we have a Japanese maple 'Bloodgood', Blackhaw viburnum, spicebush, several hostas, bouncing bets, mums, cannas, a hydrangea, toadlilies and Great Blue lobelias.
Another angle of the Natural Garden. The yellow hostas are a great pairing with the red Japanese maple and carry the garden even without blooms.
Looking toward the north and the NonPool Garden.
Looking toward the house past the Secret Patio and main patio to the deck and house.
Finally, a long shot of the Sunny Perennial Garden (right side) and Rear Center Garden (left side). There is not much color here now that the daylilies and spring bloomers have passed by but soon the asters and mums will be blooming and I'll have color. Until then I'm content to have green-because last year there was only dirt due to the severe drought. This year has been better but it is still a trying summer for gardens...

in th garden....

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Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden