Friday, April 29, 2011

Tornado update

Many of you have e-mailed and asked about the situation here with the terrible day we had on Thursday. Fortunately, our county did not receive any major damage. We were without power for a while but only limbs and some debris on the streets and property. Some towns south of us, including Michael's home town of Phil Campbell (26 dead so far), were not as fortunate and were utterly devastated. Hackleburg, just south of Phil Campbell, was even harder hit with a death toll there of 27. We have finally been able to contact most of our family members and friends from that area and they are okay. Thanks for keeping us in your thoughts and I appreciate your concern.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Shoals Beautification Alliance Plant Sale today and tomorrow!

I will be working the sale from 3pm - 6pm today. Stop by for great plants and great deals! - Phillip

Shoals Master Gardeners, Shoals Wildflower Society & Men’s Garden Club of the Shoals


FRIDAY, APRIL 29-- 8:00 AM TO 6:00 PM
SATURDAY, APRIL 30 -- 8:00 AM TO 4:00 PM
Corner of Cox Creek Parkway and Chisholm Road


Master Gardeners will be available to answer your gardening questions!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Monday, April 25, 2011

Time to smell the roses

Click on photos for full size images

Many of the roses just exploded with bloom over the weekend so if you are planning on stopping by to see them, get ready! I usually tell people that early-mid May is the best time but this year the warm temperatures are pushing them ahead of schedule. 

I spend the weekend getting the containers potted and it is a big job. I don't which is the most hectic - actually getting them purchased or planting them.

I took these photos this morning before I left home for work. Another storm system is coming tomorrow and you never know what kind of destruction that will bring.

If the weather cooperates and you are in town this weekend, come by and see the roses. Just promise to excuse the weeds - I'm behind on them. :(

"Rambling Rector" covers most of the pergola. "Buff Beauty" is on the left.

"Gartendirektor Otto Linne" at the bottom and "Rambling Rector" above
"Gartendirektor Otto Linne" (left) and "Buff Beauty" (right)
"La Marne" and "Moonlight" in the background to the left
"Buff Beauty"
Standing above looking down into the garden - Beauty Bush, "Buff Beauty" and "Rambling Rector". The hydrangeas in the foreground are covered with buds.
On the opposite side of the house (north side) is "Climbing American Beauty" on the archway

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Monday, April 18, 2011

Climbing Cecile Brunner - the view from above

Climbing Cecile Brunner is glorious at the moment. Unfortunately, the best way to see it is from the roof of our house. Planted at the back entrance, it quickly overcome the little roof-top over the back door, so we built a big 10-feet tall arbor to grow it on. It is so high up that, unless you look up, you'll miss the blooms. This evening I decided to get up on the roof and photograph it from above.

First, the view from below, the way we normally see it:

 The view from standing on the roof:

Now, there are two windows upstairs that overlook this rose but they are small and we are rarely upstairs. Maybe this view will lure me upstairs more during the next several weeks. Quite a difference!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Sunday, April 17, 2011

April flowers

Weather-wise, the weekend got off to a dreary start with cold, windy and damp conditions after 3.5 inches of rain on Friday. I forced myself to get some weeding done despite the frigid wind. Today was much nicer - sunny and in the 70s. I trimmed hedges, mowed and did more weeding. I think I overdid it and my back was killing me tonight. I spent it prone on the sofa and we finally watched "The King's Speech".

Because of the frequent rain and storms we've had so far, blooms have been brief. The dogwoods were gorgeous for a few days and then decimated by rains before I even had a chance to photograph them. A string of hot days did in the Lady Banks rose and most of the azaleas. The roses are beginning to bloom and I believe they are a week ahead. Anyway, it is futile to worry and fret about it. Here are a few plants in bloom now:

Beauty Bush (Kolkwitzia amabilis) - I love this shrub. It is glorious when in bloom, which about three weeks. It also holds up well to heavy rains. After the deluge on Friday, the blooms perked back up with hardly a whimper. This shrub is about 10 feet tall. The rose in front of it is "Buff Beauty".

The Blaze rose over the gate by the vegetable garden is just beginning. The clematis came out of nowhere. I vaguely remember planting it but cannot for the life of me remember what it is.

Clematis "Elsa Spath"

Smoke Tree "Golden Spirit" (Cotinus coggygria 'Ancot') - I thought it had died but it lives! The regular burgundy colored smoke tree can be seen in the background.

Encore Azalea "Autumn Rouge"

Hybrid Musk Rose "Buff Beauty", one of my all-time favorites.

A newer rose, planted out by the street in front of the house, this is "Marchesa Boccella" (love that name!) It is also known as "Jacques Cartier" but I prefer the Marchesa name. Intense fragrance.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Monday, April 11, 2011

Jasmine Hill Gardens

It would be well worth the 50 mile drive south of Petals from the Past in Jemison to Wetumpka, Alabama to visit Jasmine Hill Gardens.  Wetumpka may be home to the women's prison in Alabama and a shooting location for the Tim Burton film Big Fish, but Jasmine Hill is a little gem that no one seems to have heard of, even people who live there! They really need a better PR person because this is truly a unique experience.

Known as "The Little Corner of Greece", it was once home to Benjamin and Mary Fitzpatrick, who started a chain of stores in the South. They sold their businesses in 1927 right before the big stock market crash and spent the rest of their lives turning their home into a showcase for Greek statuary. They made over 20 trips to Greece to purchase art objects to display in their expansive garden. And what a garden it is! Stone pathways, terraces and water features gracefully accompany the statuary which is intermingled with azaleas, camellias and other perennials, shrubs and trees.

We first fell in love with Jasmine Hill almost twenty years ago when we took a vacation to Callway Gardens and Bellingrath and stopped by Jasmine Hill after a friend told us about it. Words can't really do it justice so I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. These were taken this past Saturday.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Petals from the Past

We planned a brief getaway yesterday to visit a friend of ours in Wetumpka, Alabama who is having a difficult time with the health of her husband. Jemison, Alabama is along the way and as any old rose lover should know, it is the home of Petals from the Past. This quaint, charming nursery specializes in old roses, native shrubs and perennials as well as vegetables, herbs, jams and jellies. It is just off Interstate 65 amidst all the other wonderful diversions like home-made ice cream, fresh peaches and produce that you find in south Alabama. 

We only had a precious few minutes, not nearly enough, and I mainly wanted to see their roses in bloom. I only had a brief time to look at their inventory and managed to get out without buying anything. ("No room for it"! Michael the pessimist said).
I could not find a label on this rose but I think it is Katy Rose Pink (also known as Carefree Beauty). It was the most spectacular rose in the garden.

Old Blush roses planted along the fence that enclosed a small garden.

Spirea (and look at the size of the oakleaf hydrangea!)

Unidentified rose and perennials along the porch

Old Blush

Katy Rose Pink (aka Carefree Beauty)

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy