Friday, November 15, 2013

The Various Faces of a Garden

One of the signs of good garden design (in my opinion-just like everything else on this blog) is the fact that the garden can look good all year long. This is not an easy thing to do. The gardener must be intimately familiar with plants, textures, structure, form, color, line, repetition, and focal points AND must be able to put it all together. This is not an easy feat. Most all gardens will look good at some point during the year. I have many gardens like this in my landscape but during other seasons or months they might not look so good. Enter the Greenhouse Garden.

I was so enamored with my Greenhouse Garden this year I decided to document its progress throughout the growing season and beyond. I thought it looked great all the time! I'll try to outline the changes you see in the garden as the months progress but the one thing that is consistent in this garden is that it works, and it looks good all year. A little background info first. I designed this garden to be viewed from above. Since the area slopes down I placed taller plants at the back and to the rear of the front of the garden tiered upwards. This process works to balance out the sloping ground. I wanted the ground to be full all year long and I wanted interest. Interest does not necessarily equate blooms and flowers but there are some of them in this garden as well.

The Greenhouse Garden is three years old and is a delight to me. Each year it has gotten better with growth. I do sometimes have to adjust but this year I honestly did nothing to it at all. No watering, no weeding, only light pruning of the 'Limelight' hydrangeas and that is it. No maintenance and lots of beauty is the kind of gardens I desire in my landscape-what about you?
June 3, 2013
We start in early June where the garden looks like a bunch of mounds you can easily make a bed in and get some sleep. The grass reminds me of a bed! That ornamental grass is 'Adagio'. It is my go to grass of choice in landscapes. We do have some color in the form of 'Tango 4U' Asiatic lilies. The bottles are a constant presence and were placed there to highlight the pink coneflowers that will bloom a bit later in the season.

July 9, 2013

The coneflowers are now blooming and the Asiatic lilies have faded away. Cannas are beginning their long season of bloom and the 'Limelight' hydrangeas in the back are growing larger. It is at this point I trimmed them a bit.  Joe Pye weed is hiding behind and the right of the hydrangeas way in the back. It does not make its presence known until a bit later in the season.
July 21, 2013

Coneflowers are still blooming and now the sedum is forming its buds. Sedum is a must have plant in all perennial gardens. It looks good all year round and as a bonus is drought tolerant and attracts bees and butterflies. Everything is getting fuller and more lush as the season progresses.

  August 8, 2013

Then comes the WOW effect! The 'Limelights' are now beginning their bloom, the Joe Pye weed in the background has made its presence known, 'Goldsturm' rudbeckia is perking up, and 'Adagio' has begun its bloom. The bold leaves of cannas help to offset the finer foliage of the grasses and peonies here. 

August 26, 2013

The sedum is getting closer to blooming and the 'Adagio' grass has grown even taller. Everything is quite happy here now but the beautiful Joe Pye weed has gone by. That is one complaint I have about Joe Pye weed-it does not have a long season of bloom.

September 8, 2013

Now in September our sedum is in full bloom and the 'Limelight' hydrangeas and 'Adagio' are still going strong. The rudbeckias are on their way out. The cannas are still a presence and honestly I plant cannas more for foliage than for blooms but some cannas do have great blooms. 

This is a long shot of the landscape area where the Greenhouse garden is located. The path through the middle used to house a 24' above ground swimming pool a few years ago. Regular readers might remember my challenges with taking that pool out. We just had too many trees to make having a pool all that worthwhile for us. The garden area on the left is under a large cedar tree and gets more shade than the Greenhouse Garden. I did carry some plants over to that area mainly in the form of my wonderful 'Limelight' hydrangeas.
November 13, 2013

I had to wait a long time to get this final picture because I was out of town. Unfortunately I did not get any good shots of the garden in October. This picture was taken upon my arrival home. The perennials such as the peonies are mostly gone, The cannas are still there but are all brown, the sedum is still in the garden but is fading to yellow. The grasses and the 'Limelight' hydrangeas are still there tho. They will carry this garden through until February when the hellebores, pulmonaria, and bulbs begin their bloom. I leave most of plants standing until then especially if those same plants have good winter interest. Plants that provide good winter interest and which I leave up are: coneflowers, mums, asters, sedum, rudbeckia, and grasses. I cut all peonies, cannas, crinums, etc. 

I'm going to leave you all with this post and wish you all Happy Holidays!

in the garden....

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

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fall Sights while Geo-Caching

The Saint and I left our GEORGIA GARDENS, for some more Geo-caching. This trip took us to Athens, GA.
We strolled along the beautiful North Oconee River Greenway. Click HERE to read about the Greenway.
 We had a beautiful walk on a paved trail full of history. We saw an old Railroad Trestle.
Railroad trestles are so fascinating to me. I can only wonder how all that wood can hold up a heavy train for so many years.
We spotted this in the middle of an open field. A Pavilion for gnomes maybe?
We enjoyed our walk filled with beautiful views and history.
 We drove on down the road to Hard Labor Creek State Park. Click HERE to see more on the park.
 Our Geo-caching adventures had us walking a most beautiful pathway filled with Fall Colors.
 We found a Cache at this spot called "Lake View" and what a view we had!
 Tree roots made stairs for us to walk along the trail. I spotted two chipmunks within the park and I bet that hole belongs to one as well. This was the most challenging trail we have walked in a State Park before with lots of twist, hills and narrow walkways. Giving us a great workout with our walk. 
 We had never been into one of Georgia's State Parks when it was so full of people before. The campgrounds were full, cabins had patrons and the woods were full of people hiking and even Geo-Caching. It is wonderful to see so many people in the great outdoors! The group you see above were new to Geo-Caching and asked us a lot of questions about the game. We took the time to chat with them and we shared lots of tricks to the trade.
 Look at those colorful leaves which formed a carpet for us in the woods.
Look at this awesome tree.
 I love old trees such as this.
 I am captivated by such trees.
 Our Geo-walk took us to this spot.
 A most beautiful setting.
And inside the old gate house, we found our 200th Geo-Cache! We both agreed that we could not have found a more perfect spot for number 200. We savored the moment and picked up a Rock to label #200 for our garden. We had a most wonderful day enjoying the FALL SIGHTS WHILE GEO-CACHING, In the Garden...

*It is our busy time of year now so I will be popping in and out for the next few months. Enjoy life and your surrounding beauty where ever your paths may take you! 

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

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

October Sights while Geo-Caching

 With the temps cooler and humidity lacking, the Saint and I have gotten back into our hobby of Geo-Caching. Today, I wish to show you some of the things we have seen while out playing our Treasure Hunting Game.
 Wild Flowers are the main thing we notice.
 They are every where in nature.
 Wild Flowers make our strolls in the woods a bit more exciting.
 This I believe to be some type of Wild Verbena.
 I have seen more of this pretty purple flower this year then ever before. I can only assume it liked all the rain we had in the spring and early summer months.
 On this day, we spotted empty snake eggs. We can only wonder what type snake came out of these eggs.
 Thank goodness, no snakes were any where to be seen.
 Could this be the beginnings of a Saw Palmetto? Or what?
 A beautiful mushroom caught my eye in the GEORGIA woods. From a distance, I thought it was a golf ball.
 A box turtle was coming to life in the warmth of the day. You can see the hole where it had been napping.
 We said hello to Mr. Turtle and went about our Geocaching.
 While in Tennessee, we did a bit of Geo-Caching as well. These beautiful blooms were a welcome sight at the local Winery in my hometown.
 Beachaven Winery, always has a beautiful entry and this day was spectacular with the sun shining, making for popping colors. I have never seen Celosia this large before.
 And look at the size of this beauty!
A prize find, this rock. Yep, that is a Geo-Cache in the form of a Fake Rock. Once turned over,  you find the compartment to open and a log to sign stating you have found the Cache! We enjoyed the OCTOBER SIGHTS WHILE GEO-CACHING, In the Garden...
*Stay tuned for more sights of Geocaching on Thursday...

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

Monday, November 4, 2013

Imagine a Mouthful of Wasps!


This is a post you should not read if you are squeamish, because it is not a pretty garden post and actually has some pictures of scat in it. You've been warned!

As I've always done on this blog I write about experiences in our garden and how we live and learn. Recently we had an experience with a ground nesting wasp nest. I have no idea what kind of wasps made this nest so I will not specify the type of wasp, but I suspect is was some kind of yellow jacket, perhaps a southern yellow jacket. I will tell you that generally yellow jackets are the type of wasps that nest subterranean (underground). This was indeed a subterranean nest. The above picture shows the location of the nest.

Of course the entrance to the nest was not a ripped out hole in the ground with a bunch of comb scattered about. No, if it was then Farmer Fix-it may have spotted the wasps prior to being stung several times by the residents of this nest. There is a tree near this wasp nest and unfortunately for Farmer Fix-it and our little dog Buttercup, the tree had to come down. Cranking up the chainsaw near the nest precipitated a series of events that spelled doom for the wasps. And the danger was not so much from Farmer Fix-it or the dog, but from some other varmint in the locality-a nocturnal varmint.

The pictures you are looking at are the remnants of a large ground dwelling wasp nest that was literally ripped apart recently. Of course Farmer Fix-it is saying yeah! He was not so happy about having some stings on his head. It is perhaps due to the tree having to come down and the wasps being disturbed that brought the location of the wasp nest to a local resident because the day after being stung by these wasps Farmer Fix-it discovered the remnants of the nest all over the ground. He and I were both scratching our heads and wondering what the heck could have happened to the nest?

A clue was found right next the remnants of the nest in the form an an animal's scat. Now I can tell you right now Farmer Fix-it and I are not experts in identifying scat. We try by Googling images of scat, but it is still a hit or miss process because a lot of animals have scat that look exactly the same. The animals who have scat like we found could be: skunks, raccoons, armadillos (yes they are in Tennessee), and possums. We simply can't pick one of them out as the perpetrator because we think perhaps all of these animals are on the land and all of them may eat wasps. We are leaning toward a raccoon simply because we have seen a raccoon or two on the land-big ones too.
Regardless of the type of animal this scat belongs to can you imagine eating wasps??? I can understand wanting to eat the larva of the wasps but the wasps themselves?? If you look closely at the above picture you can see the wasps are pretty much whole and intact in this scat. Don't you think they stung as they were being gobbled up? Having been stung by wasps several times I can tell you I cringe at the very thought of accidentally, let alone on purpose, getting a wasp in my mouth. OUCH!

Despite the decimation to the nest the wasps were back the same day trying to repair their nest. Apparently the unknown varmint did not eat all of the wasps. I suspect it may come back after its mouth heals....

in the garden....
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Friday, November 1, 2013

Planting a REALLY Large River Birch Tree

Welcome to sunny Alabama! Where roses grow and bloom freely and where October and November are the absolutely best months to visit. I am on just such a visit helping out with my granddaughter while her father recovers from a surgery. He is doing well. Farmer Fix-it remains at home holding down the fort and working the land. We are both so connected to that land I'm almost ready to pitch a tent and hang out there more often. Today's post is kind of about the land in that it has a lot to do with planting trees. I have already moved several trees to the land including some large ones. So far they are all doing really well. I love trees. Trees and shrubs are my thing in the garden and, as I've said before, perennials and flowers are the supporting players. I always start with trees in my garden then move to the shrubs. Trees are ever so important in southern Alabama because they provide much needed shade and cooling effects via their respiration (okay, so it may be subtle but it is there!)
My daughter lives in a newer subdivision that used to be a tree farm. Yes, you heard that right. Prior to the houses being built here the red clay of the southern Alabama wiregrass region housed thousands of trees. The trees are mainly maples but there are also river birches in the mix. Unfortunately, the builder chose to take out all of the trees in parts of the subdivision, including the area where my daughter's house is located. Can you believe that? Beautiful trees and they are all just bull dozed over and disposed of? How could anyone build a house in the south and do away with all of the trees? The builder is now leaving more and more trees in the newer houses that are being built daily. A smart move. And I must say he is doing a good job of landscaping the lots. I even noticed the trees are being mulched and limbed up-properly! A really good thing as trees growing in tree farms can use some maintenance and the trees here all need it. 

On my daily walk with my granddaughter I spotted a man and a skid steer. He was ripping trees out using the skid steer. The trees were all about 20 feet tall and taller. I was shocked by the roots-or lack of. I was thinking that 20+ feet tall trees would have big rootballs. Perhaps they did but when ripped out by a skid steer the rootball pretty much disintegrates. This fact is compounded by the sandy red clay of Alabama (it falls apart easily) and also by the distance the skid steer pushes the trees to get them out of the way. Nonetheless there are plenty of roots on the river birch I rescued.
The major anchoring roots were damaged, as was the trunk, but there were still plenty of fine roots that I believe could sustain this tall tree-with some accommodations. The accommodations primarily consisted of pruning a good part of the tree off, and also pruning some roots and planting the tree in good quality soil with a root stimulator containing phosphorous. More on that later.

I found out there were two river birches available after speaking to the skid steer operator. He pointed me in their direction and said those were the only two river birches he was ripping out today. He also let me know that once he pulled out the trees "They would die." I did not agree or disagree with him. I just smiled and hiked over to where the trees were laying in the brush while he continued ripping out the beautiful maple trees. My granddaughter Adella did not know what to think of it all. She was my partner in crime on this day. 
After surveying the birches we quickly walked home where I got my small hatchback car to haul the tree back to Christine's house. That was fun! The tree was about three times as long as my car. I placed it on top of the car, where I had laid some towels to keep it from scratching the car, tied it to the inside of the car with dog leashes, then headed back to the house. Luckily we had only a short distance to travel and the subdivision is not a high traffic area. Once I got it back to the house I propped it up in a swimming pool and tied it off to make sure it did not blow over. I was not really sure if Christine and her husband would want the tree. I had no worries in that arena. When Christine came home from work she was absolutely delighted with the tree! Her husband even said he likes it.
We decided to plant it the next day. This was a tough job even for me. I am very used to digging holes but geez, we actually could've used a pick axe to dig this hole! I thought sandy clay would be easy to dig in. The soil is probably more clay but it is gritty and sandy as well. Apparently the two mix well to form bricks when it is dry. The hole we needed to dig had to be at least five feet wide by about four feet. This is a big hole. The hole did not need to be deep. In our case just deep enough to sit the trunk into it so that it sat at the same level it was when it was in the tree farm area. Basically, our hole was only two to three feet deep. Ideally you want to dig holes two to three times the size of the root ball. We had no rootball and I felt that digging the hole big enough to match the roots was adequate-plus it was all we could do! Even with Adella's help it was a pretty hard and long job in the Alabama 80 degree heat!
The thing that helped make the hole digging task easier was water. We dug a little then filled the hole with water. That water sat for a pretty long time without draining, but it did at least soften the soil along the edges a bit. We were also helped by the fact that the dogs had dug a really big hole already. The above picture shows the tree in place and partially filled in. We were short on soil but Christy has a compost bin full of compost. A wheelbarrow of that compost plus a large pot full of topsoil, and a phosphorous supplement helped us fill in the hole and stabilize the roots.
Just planting the tree and covering the roots would never have been enough to hold the tree in place. Prior to even filling n the hole we had to stake the tree. This involved a sledgehammer, a bruised knee when the sledgehammer's head did not meet with its target, and some strong arms. Finally, the stakes were in place and the tree was securely tied up with ratchet straps (it works!). I am not sure if this tree will make it or not but having done this very same thing a few years ago I can tell you river birches are TOUGH trees. Time will tell how this one will fare, but so far it is doing well and we are looking forward to shade....

in the garden....

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