Thursday, March 31, 2011

Early flowering shrubs and vines

After unseasonably warm weather a few weeks ago (or was that a month ago!), it has turned downright nasty with cold temps and lots of rain. I'm not going to gripe about rain. I could do without the frigid climate though. This was Spring Break week but I had volunteered to work part of the week and now I'm glad I did. It has been cold and wet all week and I could not have accomplished much in the garden.

A few weeks ago, when it was tolerable, I took some photos of early spring flowering plants.

Alabama Snow Wreath  (Neviusia alabamensis) 

Click on image for larger photo

Fringe Flower- (Loropetalum chinense)

 Deutzia gracilis

Kerria japonica (Easter Rose)

 Carolina Jessamine

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Monday, March 28, 2011

Edgeworthia - Chinese Paper Bush

Click on photos for larger image
After my last post, I received several questions and comments about this shrub. First of all, it isn't growing in our garden. It belongs to a friend. I've always wanted one and almost purchased it a few years ago but finally faced the sad reality that there isn't room for it in our garden.

Edgeworthia chrysantha (E. papyrifera), common name Chinese Paper Bush, is native to China where the bark is used to make high grade paper. It is related to daphne and in similar fashion, has exquisite fragrant blooms in late winter before leaves appear. The stems of the shrub are pliable and can be formed into knots.

Growing up to 6 feet tall and wide, white buds emerge in fall on the tips of the branches and fully open to pale to bright yellow in late winter. The flowers hang downward. It is easy to grow in semi-shade in moist soil that is well drained. This is an ideal shrub for a woodland garden. Many references say that this is a zone 8 plant but it obviously grows well here in zone 7.  I would recommend a sheltered location.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

March flowers

Edgeworthia (Chinese Paper Bush)
Carolina Jessamine


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Sunday, March 20, 2011

First day of spring

It actually feels like the first day of summer with temperatures in the low 80s. I'm exhausted after working all weekend weeding and applying mulch. I'm ready for a long soak in the tub!

I did manage to get some photos first thing Saturday morning.




Viburnum "Mohawk"

Viburnum "Mohawk"

Yoshino Cherry


Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Planting cool season vegetables

My experience with growing vegetables has been haphazard at best but I'm ahead of the game this year. For the first time, I've planted some cool season vegetables that hopefully will be ready for harvest before it is time to plant the tomatoes and peppers. Am I getting too optimistic?

Two weekends ago, I planted the following and today, after the monsoon we got last night, everything appears to be coming along nicely. The only thing I don't see yet are the carrots. Here is what I have:






Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Monday, March 7, 2011

Book review and giveaway - Sustainable Landscaping

{{{ The Random Number Generator chose "10" which means the winner is Catherine at A Gardener In Progress. Thanks to everyone who entered!}}}

"Sustainable" is a popular term in gardening circles these days. What exactly does it mean? More or less, it refers to the creation and maintenance of a landscape that is in balance with the local climate and doesn't use resources like fertilizers and pesticides and most importantly, conserves water.

As much as I hate the title, the "For Dummies" series of books (on every topic imaginable) provides excellent information in a user-friendly format. Owen Dell is an award-winning, internationally admired landscape architect, author and educator. He is the principal of Owen Dell & Associates in Santa Barbara, which specializes in sustainable landscape architectural services. In this book, he provides a wealth of information on the topic including:

* How to plan a sustainable landscape and what factors to consider
* Water conservation - the various types of systems available to the home gardener and the nuts and bolts of water harvesting, irrigation and drainage
* Hardscaping - planning, utilizing and maintenance
* Plant choices - beneficial trees, shrubs and smaller plants to consider for your landscape
* Lawns - minimizing the impact of the lawn and reducing its size
* Garden care - pruning, fertilizing and controlling pests the sustainable way
* 10 Projects that pay you and the environment back
* 10 non sustainable landscaping mistakes and how to avoid them

The book is full of helpful tips, illustrations, garden plans and maps to help you master the art of a sustainable landscape!

Win A Copy

To enter, reply to this post (include your e-mail address). I will use a random number generator to select one winner Friday, March 11 at 8pm CST.

{{{This book was sent to me for review by the author. I did not pay for the book or receive compensation for my review}}}

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Friday, March 4, 2011

Saucer Magnolia

Since my previous posting a few days ago, the Saucer Magnolia (Magnolia x soulangiana "Rustic Rubra") has opened and it is just gorgeous. Today, during my lunch hour, I wanted to get some photos before our weekend of rain arrived (and it has already started as I write this). There are lots of beautiful saucer magnolias all over town but they all seem to be the solid pink variety. I've yet to see another bi-color like this one. This is planted alongside our driveway and it is leaning toward the sun as a bank of hackberry trees fills the backside of it.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Early blooming magnolias

Star Magnolia (Magnolia stellata)

Saucer Magnolia "Rustic Rubra" (Magnolia × soulangeana)

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy