Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Wonders of the outdoors

 Burr, Winter has finally arrived. We have had some below freezing temps and most everything has fallen asleep in my GEORGIA GARDENS. However, I spotted buds on the Daffodils today!
The Saint and I hiked the woods of one of the many wonderful parks in our area. While hiking, I spotted this bush blooming. No idea what type bush but it sure did put a smile on my face!
 I also spotted these sweet little blooms. I believe this to be wild Vinca. I have seen this before at another park near the lake.
There were old fashioned Water Pumps in the campground area of the park. We had one in our Gartenplatz while living in Germany. So seeing this one really brought back some fun memories. I would enjoy having one in my gardens again but maybe just for the look as pumping those things can be a pain in the arm. 
 It was cold and windy today and I really did not want to get out from under my warm blanket and comfy recliner. After the nice hike and seeing the beautiful blooms, I was so glad the Saint talked me into going out to the lake. The hike rejuvenated me.

If you are feeling cold and tired of Winter, hike some woods or take a brisk walk up the street and you will be surprised of the WONDERS OF THE OUTDOORS, In The Garden...
Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden

Monday, January 18, 2016

Some Before and After Pictures: Grass is the Word

All of these before pictures were done approximately one year ago. It is really amazing just how much changes in one year, even if it is only winter time you can still see some major differences. The main differences being that we now have grass. Grass is good, grass is GREAT! It pretty much stops erosion; especially in the winter; is a very nice color (green), and helps to hold the whole landscape together; both literally and figuratively. 

We start with the newly constructed pond. It has been just over one year since I opened this pond up. It is taking me longer than I had expected to get the balance just right for the fish and water clarity, but it is coming along okay. I have added drift roses around the far perimeter, almost finished the brick patio, and some ornamentation. The pond is now looking like it has always been here and not as though it is still newly constructed.

The entire build site suffered severely from the build process. Not only did we have about one to two feet of topsoil bulldozed out of the way for the house, but we had the complete frontyard dug up and trenched to a depth of five feet in order to put the geothermal lines in the ground. The backyard was dug up for the septic system and curtain drain, and the side yard had a well drilled. Needless to say going into 2015 we had a mess on our hands. Think mud, mud, and more mud. Throw in some rocks and you pretty much have the picture.
One year later we can now see some green. This green is deceptive though. I put over 100 pounds of KY-31 fescue seed on the back and frontyards in the fall of 2014. Some of it germinated but most did not or what did perished over the summer last year. With no fescue, weeds like crabgrass and ragweed quickly moved into this area. While those weeds were green during the summer and could be mowed, they quickly disappeared once the weather turned cold in the fall. I then spread another 50 pounds of KY-31 on the frontyard. The lush green you see is a result of that seed germinating. These young seedlings are very tender and not well established so we have to be careful when we walk on the yard. Nonetheless, it is green and not brown anymore. I hope these seedlings grow well come this spring so that I don't have as many weeds as last summer.
Looking west down the frontyard we really see the damage done to the ground due to all the digging and traffic. Little trenches caused by the winter rains are quite obvious. The railroad ties are patiently awaiting the time when Mr. Fix-it and I can place them in the vegetable garden. The newly planted sawtooth oak tree is doing okay.
One year later we now have a bunch of newly grown seedlings of the KY-31 grass. There are still tons of bare spots but I will slowly work on those. Most of the erosion has stopped but I still have a lot of problem areas to work out. The railroad ties are in place in the vegetable garden and the workings of a new patio are in place to the left of the picture. I hope to finish this patio soon. I'll be using leftover bricks from the house build. I did all of the clean up from the house build and through salvaging the culled bricks I managed to recover three pallets of leftover bricks! Even though these bricks have holes in them I will be placing them on their side around a firepit and I think the final outcome should be quite nice. Not to mention I found a productive way to use all the leftover brick-free-might I add.
The five foot deep trenches for the geothermal lines meant the area of the frontyard would settle quite a bit. In some areas I had to backfill more than a foot in order to compensate for settling. All of the leftover topsoil was respread upon the property and I did all of the fine grading. I asked my backhoe guy to just pile up leftover topsoil in this area of the vegetable garden because not only did I want to compensate for settling, but I wanted raised beds in the vegetable garden. I think most of the settling and backfilling is over now and the vegetable garden; while not completely finished; has come a long way.
The same area now with its beds of irises and raised beds of vegetables (though there is not much growing right now). This is the west side of the garden.
The center of the garden contains a raised strawberry bed; which was put in place fairly quickly last year.
I also added a raised herb bed and more vegetable beds. I mulched the paths with crush n run gravel.
The east side of the vegetable garden with its piles of dirt awaiting proper placement.
Now the beds are all made up and everything is in place. Grass is still quite bare or even nonexistent in a good amount of places. I know from experience it takes a few years to get a good lawn going and I have patience (do I have a choice???). Here's hoping....

in the garden....

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

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Like Large Snow Diamonds In the Garden: Edgeworthia Chrysantha

Any plant that give you year round interest in the garden is the plant you want to grow. Edgeworthia chrysantha, aka Paperbush, fits the bill perfectly. Just look at those fuzzy buds on my bare shrub. To me they look like large snow diamonds dangling off of the brown bark. Not only is the interest in the fuzzy buds but in the sweetly scented blooms that bloom in late winter (January through March here in Upper Middle Tennessee). Once spring arrives the shrub will get elongated green leaves that stay looking good all season long. Come fall those leaves slowly turn yellow and will fall off the shrub exposing the beautiful buds. This shrub has never failed to attract attention in my gardens.
An entire shrub really makes a big statement in the winter garden. Neither snow nor cold seems to faze them; tho you do want to plant your paperbush in a sheltered area as they are only marginally hardy to our area. Sources will tell you this shrub is hardy to Zone 7 (which we changed to in 2012) but if you plant paperbush in an exposed area you are dooming the bush. I have found through several years of growing paperbush that a north or eastern exposure is a perfect exposure and you need to plant it near a wall of a house so it can be sheltered from winds and perhaps get some heat from the house. Planting it out in the sun and in windy locations will ensure these large buds will quickly freeze and fall off prior to blooming.
As you can see mine is in a small alcove on the north side of the above brick wall. It is an area I always planned for this valued shrub even before the house was built. The hard part for me was moving my existing paperbush from the old house to this spot. I dug it in February of last year and I really had no hope it would survive but it did! Not only did it survive even though it came out of the ground bareroot, it has thrived in this area. I am hoping to get some offsets from this shrub this year so I can spread it around. Paperbush is very, very, difficult to find in my area but if you go south a state or two it is a bit more common. I lucked out and purchased this one from a vendor at the Nashville Lawn and Garden show several years ago. I never could understand why paperbush was so prominent in the display gardens at the Garden Show but was nowhere to be found for sale at the garden show. By the way, this year's Nashville Lawn and Garden Show will be held from March 3 thru March 6 at the Nashville Fairgrounds
Paperbush will like an organically rich spot with good drainage in mostly shade or part sun. Be sure to site it close to your house where you can not only enjoy the 'snow diamonds' but also enjoy the sweet scent of its bloom. Other than that sit back and enjoy the show....

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

Monday, January 11, 2016

Vegetable Garden Update January 2016


It's hard to believe it is 2016 already. Time sure does fly. Now that it is finally winter here in Tennessee, the weather has turned much colder. We even have snow! Prior to the weather turning colder Mr. Fix-it and I harvested most all of the cool weather vegetables from the garden. I would say it is a fairly successful year and I am quite pleased. I've learned a few lessons and hope to improve next year but this year was not so bad. 

First of all the kohlrabi. I have never grown this vegetable before but one of my blogging friends (can't remember who) said it is easy to grow. I managed to toss out some seeds and the plants grew like crazy. The mistake I made is I did not thin the plants out. I got lots and lots of greens (the rabbit and chickens love them) but only a few of the bulbs. I commit to doing a better job of thinning them next year. I cut the two bulbs (pictured above) up and cooked them in a homemade turkey stew. Kohlrabi is really good and I'll definitely grow these each year. I also tasted the kohlrabi raw. The taste and texture is most similar to a radish-albeit a mild one.
We harvested all of the Brussels sprouts we could whether they were small or large. This is a rather tough job. You have to twist off the little heads from the stem. It does take some force to twist them off. I managed to freeze a batch and we also ate a fresh batch of these and they were much better fresh! The red cabbage I had planted in this bed would never have a chance to grow larger due to the incoming cold, so we picked all of the baby cabbages. It's enough I can make some coleslaw. The radishes we ate in a salad and they were actually quite mild. This was in comparison to harvesting some radishes earlier that were quite hot. I like the mild version better.

Brussels sprouts.
A long view looking west.
This is the cold weather bed I started predominantly from transplants. It is also where most of the crops I recently harvested came from. The cauliflower (in the foreground) was harmed by the recent cold snaps. There were several heads ready for picking but we did not get to them in time so they turned to mush. The foliage of the cauliflower still looks good.

The garlic on the far end is doing well. It will be harvested sometime in late May to early June. Stay tuned for that. I am not sure what I'll do with all that garlic but I bet some of my friends might find some on their porches so if you don't like garlic let me know.
This bed is empty. I will soon be planting onions and potatoes in it in another month or so. This is the time to plan your garden for the year and to order your starts and seeds. I am excited because I think I have a good plan to maximize my space and provide for succession planting of a large variety of crops in amounts that can sufficiently feed us. This particular bed will start with potatoes and onions then transition to corn in June. I hope the potatoes and onions are ready by then, but if not I will plant the corn around them.
The strawberry bed has all turned shades or red with the winter cold.
Come spring it should be loaded with lush juicy fresh strawberries.

The herb bed is a delight and I often cut rosemary and sage for dishes.
This bed has pretty much been cleaned up. The carrots planted this past summer are weathering over just fine in the ground. I sometimes harvest a few. This summer will see this bed full of vining plants such as gourds, watermelons, cantaloupes, and cucumbers.
This last bed will become our tomato bed. Instead of five tomato plants I plan to double that number and will grow all the same cultivar. I think I have decided on 'Bradley' tomatoes that I plan to start from seeds. I rotate crops in each of my four beds each year so that I never grow the same crop in the same bed two years in a row.

The cover crop in the foreground is dying off and has done its job well. If it is easy to till the dead vegetation into the bed come spring I think I'll continue with cover crops.
This end of the same bed has some more cold weather crops I started from seeds. Lettuce, spinach, radishes, beets, carrots, and kohrabi all share space here. There were some sugar snap peas growing on the trellis but the cold weather has killed them back to nothing. This bed has been a productive bed.
The outside of the vegetable garden is beginning to wake up with its multitude of irises. This one spot of the outer bed has allium bulbs planted in it instead of irises. I have overseeded the alliums with poppies. I have never ever had success with poppies but am hoping this time the seeds work. Time will tell. One of my cats (Tiger) got in on the action. The other two were nearby but never stop moving enough to get into a picture.

Generally my vegetable gardens are not as productive this time of the year as this one has been. It can all be attributed to the mild fall. That has changed because by the time I post this Monday morning the temperature will have dropped to the 20s and a good amount of this garden will finally go dormant... 

in the garden....

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

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Rain makes Green Grass

We have had our share of rain in my GEORGIA GARDENS the past few weeks. So much so that Clarks Hill/Strom Thurmond Dam had to be opened to control the flooding. The Saint and I drove out to the dam to check it out as we have never seen all the locks open at one time. It was an impressive sight. I could not get my video to load so sorry you cannot see it for yourself. Must settle for this photo of the Saint instead.
We also drove over to the Augusta Canal Head-gates on the Savannah River. The water was almost to the top of the gates as you can see in this photo.
 The Gate House was open for visitors to see the operation in action. Again, I had a video but could not get it to load.
 This was the second time we had been inside the gatehouse as we were there the day they opened it after a complete renovation. Can you see the Love Locks on the fence? Click HERE to learn about Love Locks.
 I had never heard of Love Locks until the story of the Bridge in Paris. Click HERE to hear about the removal of the Love Locks.
I enjoyed seeing some of the neat locks.
 I have never seen the Savannah River so full of water in the 15 years we have called this place home.
The water in the canal was almost up to the wall of the old dam and locks.
 We spotted this otter having the best time diving for lunch. It was not bothered by us due to being so busy.
All this rain has been good for our Winter Rye Grass. As you can see, it is very happy and bright green.
I have not cared for all of this massive rain fall but RAIN MAKES GREEN GRASS, In the Garden...

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

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A New Year 2016

 It has been a long time since I last posted on this blog. A tragic turn of events for my family and I lost the desire to write about my beautiful GEORGIA GARDENS.

After recently walking my gardens, I have now found the desire to jump back into blogging for the New Year!

Life is full of surprises, some good some not so good. The same goes for life in nature in the form of our gardens. The above photo of my happy Fringe Bush is such a happy welcome being full of blooms for January. I am taking this to be a good sign for a wonderful year to come.
 We have been experiencing some strange weather with an early Fall that seemed more like winter and now a Winter which feels more like Spring or even Summer at times. Such one time, Christmas Day. We experienced a record high of 80 degrees! The Asparagus Fern remains happy with mild temps.  
 This Geranium is currently forming blooms! 
 Ruellia is not blooming but has yet to go dormant for the winter.
 Boston Ferns are still hanging around. The small plant to the left is one of 4 Camellia bushes we took down to the ground. They were taking space from the Japanese Maple trees and since they have priority, the camellias we taken down to the ground. But soon, they started to return. I shall keep them trimmed back and not allow them to grow so large again. Even after cutting them down last summer, they gave me some blooms this fall.
 Along with volunteer green Wandering Jew plant. I removed this plant some time ago but apparently left a few roots and now look at this sight. I have decided to allow it to go rampant in this planter since it seems to be happy.
 Vinca is blooming in January!
 Hyacinth are popping up from below the earth.
 Spring bloomers are opening up which are nice to see but gives me an uneasy feeling about their survival with cold temps on the way.
 Creeping Phlox is confused as myself.
 Elephant Ears which should be long gone are still giving new leaves!
 Iris is blooming.
 There are many buds ready to open.
 Swamp Jessamine vines are full of buds and blooms starting to open. 
 Honeysuckle never stopped blooming since last spring!
 Lily went dormant with the early Fall winter type weather. But it is popping up with Spring winter type weather.
 These are Bloom'N-again Azaleas but they have bloomed twice last year. Now they are giving more blooms. Are these late Fall blooms or early Spring blooms? So confusing.
 Daffodils are popping up all over the gardens. So far, no blooms but if the mild temps continue, I may see them before too long. 
 The one remaining Butterfly Bush (the others were lost to disease) has yet to loose any green foliage.
Canna went dormant but are returning way too soon!
The squirrels have scattered corn from the Deer Corn Bucket. And now we have corn popping up all over the woods! 
I worry about the garden and how all this crazy weather will affect its life. But as I have learned this past year, nothing is ever certain. I will
"Believe" and "Smile" as I "Love Life" and have "Faith" that all will work out. In other words, Life for me will go on. Cheers to A HAPPY NEW YEAR, In the Garden...

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