Sunday, April 27, 2008

A rainy day stroll through the garden

A nice slow rain today so I took some photos. The roses are just beginning to bloom and will be peaking in a few weeks. I'm having an "Open Garden" the week of May 5-11 so I'm hoping I've timed it right.

The white rose on the arch is 'Lamarque' and the pink ones underneath are 'Carefree Wonder'

The old popular climber 'Blaze' - this rose suffered for years because I had it in a location with too much shade. I moved it last year to a sunnier spot and look what happened.

'Knock Out' which is all the rage now. It rightly lives up to its disease-free and easy maintenance reputation. I'm wanting the new 'Double Knockout' which are so pretty. Perhaps I can replace the butchered boxwood hedge with it?

'Nearly Wild' around the fountain

This rose is called 'Scentimental'

'Westerland' can be grown as a climber or a shrub. I grow it as a shrub.

This rose is called 'Erfurt' and is always beautiful when it first blooms. It needs more room than what I can provide.

'Fantin Latour' - named after the flower painting artist.

One of my favorite roses - 'Buff Beauty'

A shot of the full bush. It is loaded with blooms and should be spectacular within the next week or so.

And this is my favorite iris - 'Gay Parasol' (no jokes please). :)
The rose in the background is 'Mutablis' (aka 'The Butterfly Rose'

My favorite color combination in the garden is pink and purple. Here is the rose 'Russell's Cottage Rose' growing with iris and salvia and other perennials.

'Russell's Cottage Rose' with Siberian Iris

The hybrid musk rose 'Wind Chimes' growing next to Efebe the Hunter.

A closer look at 'Wind Chimes'

The azaleas are on their way out -

I couldn't have a garden without this shrub - Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis)

Chinese Ground Orchid (Bletilla striata)

Siberian Iris with Clematis 'Nelly Moser' in background

Clematis 'Josephine'

Mock Orange

Friday, April 25, 2008

Plant Sale

If you are in the area tomorrow (Saturday), stop by the Plant Sale at the Farmer's Market (Cox Creek Parkway and Chisholm Rd.). This is a joint effort sponsored by the Shoals Beautification Alliance (Master Gardener's, Shoals Wildflower Society and the Men's Garden Club). All proceeds go to area beautification projects. We have ferns, hostas, native plants, perennials, shrubs and over 30 kinds of trees. Stop by and say hello - I'll be working the Shrubs section!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Japanese Tree Peony


This is truly a stunning plant that puts on an incredible show for a brief moment and then it is gone until next year. This year the blooms were pretty for about two days. Something always happens to fade their loveliness - they are really sensitive to wind and rain. I forget where I bought mine but I have it planted in a terrible spot for viewing, right in the middle of a border with larger shrubs, but it seems to be happy where it is. I've always heard that they dislike transplanting so I've left it alone. I've had this plant for over 10 years and it is barely 2 feet tall but every year there are more blooms and they seem to be more dramatic with each passing year although this could just be the time of bloom - most plants are just waking up when the tree peony blooms appear (late March) and the bright red flowers are a sight to behold for a color deprived gardener emerging from the winter doldrums. I don't know the name of the cultivar although I wish I did. It blooms much earlier than the regular peonies, which don't start until May.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

April Bloom Day

Carol at May Dreams invites garden bloggers to show what is blooming in their gardens on the 15th of each month. We were under a freeze warning last night which brought back memories of last year's awful freeze. I covered a few plants but fortunately the temperatures stayed above freezing. I took these photos after I got home from work today.

The most spectacular blooms right now are on the Chinese Snowball (Viburnum macrocephalum). This shrub is 12 years old and is about 15 feet tall. The blooms are huge. I still haven't figured how to prune this baby.


Here is a different type of viburnum called 'Shasta.' The blooms are flatter and appear in tiers. It is a beautiful elegant shrub which doesn't have enough room in our garden to do it justice.

The only tulips in the garden at the moment are 'Maureen' which come back year after year.


The Lady Banks rose is stunning this year but it is hard to photograph.




Scilla or Spanish Bluebells. These have been here forever. I need to plant more.


I bought this variegated Jacob's Ladder last year. It is called 'Stairway to Heaven.'


Variegated Solomon's Seal


Euphorbia 'Despina'


The candytuft has been blooming for about a month now. It has never looked this good.


Clematis 'Josephine'


Clematis 'Nelly Moser'


Honeysuckle (Lonicera) 'Alabama Crimson'


A pretty red columbine

Burning Bush (Euonymus)


And last but not least, this azalea that I don't know the name of. My aunt gave this to me when my father died seven years ago. It was a florist's plant and I planted it, not expecting much but it has really surprised me.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

First big project finished

I've finished my first major project of the year - redoing a pathway that runs alongside our patio. I had never been satisfied with it. The stones I had initially used were uneven and too thick to walk on comfortably. The dwarf mondo grass planted between the stones was full of weeds. This is how it looked -


Inspired by Pam at Digging, I decided to do it all over again, this time with large flat stones and making it a solid walk. I removed the old stones, the grass and weeds and dug down about six inches. I spread a layer of sand before laying the rock and used a sand topping to fill in the cracks between the stones. The sand topping (a Quickrete product) hardens after you wet it.


Like almost every project I attempt, I soon realized that it was going to be difficult to level because it goes slightly downhill (I am terrible at stuff like this!). I then decided to make the pathway in three sections with step-ups. I replaced the mondo grass between the patio and the path. I think I'm happy with the end result. It is not professional looking by any means but like I said, this is not my forte.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

I goofed...advice needed!

Well I think I've had made a huge blunder. Last year I did a landscape design for a lady who wanted to rip out her boxwoods and replace them with flowering shrubs. She asked me if I would like to have the boxwoods and since my foundation shrubs were really ratty, I accepted. Mind you, this was in August. I brought the mature boxwoods home, planted them immediately and proceeded to water them like mad (remember there was a drought last year). They survived but there was quite a lot of dead growth near the bottom. I decided I would try to rejuvenate them this year by cutting them back severely. A few days later, I read somewhere that boxwoods should not be pruned so drastically because they are such slow growers. Oops!

Now I'm stuck with this - dreadful, no?

I didn't cut back as much on the other side because of what I had learned - still, this is such a pathetic sight.

Now of course I'm just sick and can't decide if I should just pull them out and plant something else or wait, endure this ugliness and give them a chance.

My question to you is - what would you do?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch

Twenty years ago (gosh, has it been that long??), we lived in a tiny apartment with a postage stamp sized garden and I had just been bitten by the gardening bug. I read everything I could on gardening and I vividly remember discovering Barbara Damrosch’s The Garden Primer at the local library where I worked. It was full of practical advice dispensed in such an engaging manner and I ended up buying myself a copy. Since then, gardening publishing has changed somewhat and books are usually geared toward specific regions of the country. This can be a good thing – I’m sure I rely on The Southern Living Garden Book more than any other book in my library but folks in California and New England won’t get too much out of it.

The Garden Primer, however, is a rare exception of a gardening book that can benefit gardeners no matter where they live. It is especially helpful to novice gardeners who want to start a garden but are not exactly sure where to begin.

The first chapters deal with the basics – what plants need in order to grow properly, how to prepare your soil, starting your own seeds, proper planting methods and how to deal with insects and diseases. A chapter on gardening gear covers tools, what to wear and how to organize it all.

Damrosch then goes into plant specifics with chapters on Annuals, Perennials, Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits, Bulbs, Roses, Lawns, Ground Covers, Vines, Shrubs, Tree, Wildflowers and Houseplants. Each section discusses how to buy plants, how to plan your site (with some planting scheme plans included), how to grow the plants and maintain them. She then includes an encyclopedia of specific plants with descriptions and basic growing advice. The vegetable section is even more extensive with details on growing and harvesting. If plants are more suited to certain areas of the country, it is mentioned.

Another element of this book that I enjoy are the wonderful illustrations. They are black-and-white, simple and yet so effective. And I’m so glad they kept the illustration of the garden shed on the endsheets. I’ve always admired that and maybe this year I will finally get my own tools organized like it!

The second edition, which has just been published (March 2008), has been updated to include new varieties of plants, more efficient methods and techniques and more up-to-date trends. More plants have been included, especially native plants which are so popular today. The book is “100% Organic”!

Damrosch claims in her forward that she set out to write a “simple” book on gardening. Her engaging writing style and clear instructions do just that but this 820 page book is so much more than that. It provides a wealth of information for beginning gardeners and has proven to be a book that I return to again and again. I highly recommend it.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pink snow?

No, but it looks like it! These are fallen blossoms from the Yoshino Cherry trees that were featured in a previous post. We have had a lot of rain for the past two days and unfortunately the beauty of the trees was short-lived. I'm not going to complain about that though because last year at this time we were experiencing the early stages of drought that lasted all year.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Seeing Yellow

Yellow seems to be the dominant color of early spring. Daffodils, carolina jessamine, witch hazel, Lady Banks rose, forsythia - it seems the list is endless. Here are two yellows that I photographed yesterday. My Lady Banks rose has just started and I will be posting a photo of it later.

Kerria Japonica (also known as Easter Rose) blooms before the leaves appear. It is a graceful and dependable shrub.

Carolina Jessamine is a fast-growing vine that can be used in a variety of ways. I have mine growing on a low picket fence next to my tiny vegetable garden.