Friday, September 26, 2008

Manettia (Firecracker vine)

{{{ Thanks to Marnie of Lilacs and Roses, the mystery is solved - it is Manettia (Firecracker Vine) - thanks Marnie!}}}

I am hoping a knowledgeable visitor can identify this vine. This is a very special plant to me. It was given to me by my great-aunt who passed away last Saturday and ironically, it first bloomed this past week. I saw it in her garden years ago and it was smothered with orange-red tubular blooms. She gave me a piece of it this spring and it is growing very fast.

She had a remarkable garden with a huge border of perennials and a large collection of daylilies. Her daughter is still caring for the garden and she tells me that a garden group is coming next spring to see it. I will have to do a post about her garden in the future.

Back to the vine - the blooms look similar to honeysuckle but unlike that vine, the shoots are not woody. The blooms are tubular and long, sure to be a delight with the hummingbirds, and are dark orange-red color. My aunt grew it on a rustic tripod which was about 4 feet high. I'm growing mine on a mini-trellis that is about six feet tall.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Florence downtown containers

I serve on the Florence Beautification Board and this year I was asked to put together the planting schemes for the pots in the downtown area. I was a little apprehensive about this assignment because containers are not really my forte. At home, we have around ten large containers and I have big plans for them in the spring and can picture them abundant and spilling over with blooms like the ones I've seen in gardening magazines. This is rarely the result though and by summer's end, I'm ready to rip them out and start over again.

One strike against me was that we were late getting this task accomplished. It was mid June before we got started! The hot temperatures had already set in and the plants at the nursery were already past their prime. I wanted to use a variety of plants and tried to adhere to the "thriller, filler, spiller" concept. The pots were already planted with an arborvitae in the center and these were to stay in place. Knowing that planting in June was going to be a challenge, I chose plants that I knew would be tough and proven performers.

Some of the plants I used were coleus, sweet potato vine, purple heart (Tradescantia pallida), Mexican heather, million bells (Calibracoa), lantana, plectranthus, angelonia and petunias.

The first month was shaky but the plants finally started growing and filling in about a month later. The business owners are supposed to keep the containers watered - some do, some don't - and for that reason, some look better than others. I think I'm pleased with the way they have turned out. Now it is time to start thinking about the fall plantings.

Monday, September 15, 2008

September Bloom Day

The temperatures are falling so there should be more blooms by October. The air is now delicious with the scent of the Sweet Olive.

Some roses -


'Mrs. R.M. Finch'

'Weeping China Doll'

Rose Hips

Mexican Sage



Ponciris (Hardy Orange)

Crepe Myrtle 'Victor'


Salvia 'Black & Blue'



That's it for September! Visit May Dreams for a list of blogs that are participating in Bloom Day.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Visiting Randy & Jamie

[Click on photos for larger images]

Michael and I had a great weekend. We drove down to Prattville, Alabama to visit Randy and Jamie (of Creating our Eden). We've been chatting and e-mailing for almost a year now and we finally met them about a month ago. This was our first opportunity to visit them and see their beautiful garden.

The remarkable thing about this garden is that it was created just this year. In February, a tornado destroyed their garden (but thankfully did little damage to the house) and the garden they had been working on had to be started again from scratch. Two things immediately come to mind: 1) these guys work really hard! and 2) plants grow fast in south Alabama!

My first impression was how lush and colorful it all was. Randy was saying that the blooms were about gone and the garden was on the way out but he could have fooled me.

They have a large collection of cannas and I have to confess, I'm now seeing these plants in a new light. They were all beautiful and I would be hard-pressed to pick a favorite.

This border features an abundance of tropical plants like banana trees, elephant's ear, cannas, and ginger. Notice the little 'Red Cascade' rose blooming on the topiary form.

A pink brugmansia (Angel's Trumpet)was loaded with blooms.

I love the way Jamie used pieces of slate underneath this sedum. Very creative! Hmmm, ever thought about a career in garden design Jamie?

This Buddha statue sits at the end of a pathway. The bees were really buzzing around the Mexican heather.

A lion statue sits in a corner.

Randy and Jamie like lions! These lion statues stand at the entrance to a garden wall that will soon be covered in confederate jasmine. They took us to the nursery where they bought them and we came home with a pair for our garden.

After going through my photos, I realized that there are aspects of the garden that I didn't photograph. I was really impressed with the grass pathways that meander through the garden. As the plants and trees mature, it is going to be a magical wonderland of mazes with a visual delight around every corner. No weeds in sight and the edgings are razor sharp! These are meticulous gardeners! I really felt like a slacker when I came back to our garden. Thank you Randy and Jamie for a wonderful visit!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Blankets of snow

What? Snow in September? Not quite, but Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis ternifolia) reminds me of it as drapes over hedges and mailboxes across town. It always pops up in our garden unannounced and usually in unwelcome places. For example, the hedge in the above photo runs along the street and encloses a tiny vegetable garden. I always see the clematis scampering about it during the summer and I usually just yank it out since this hedge has to be trimmed about every four or five weeks. I don't know how it escaped me this year but when it started to bloom, it was too pretty to pull it out.

The vines are covered with these tiny star-shaped flowers and will reach distances of 20-30 feet if given the opportunity. It thrives here, in sun or shade, and is very drought tolerant. I'm always digging up seedlings and sharing them. It grows fast and can easily cover an arbor or gazebo in a season. It can be cut back all the way to the ground in the fall or the following spring.

In addition to a beautiful show, the vine has an intoxicating sweet smell!