Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Margie Anderton's garden

Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)

Margie Anderton is a fascinating person. She is an expert on wildflowers, native plants, hummingbirds and gardening in general. Her energy knows no bounds, whether it is organizing local garden clubs and field trips to taking care of her large garden and farm in Killen. And what a garden this is! I photographed it in the very early spring, just as wildflowers were beginning to open, through the spring and late summer. 

There is always something unique to see when you visit, no matter what the season. Large borders of native plants, shrubs, grasses and perennials are punctuated by old garden and household implements as well as stunning carved pieces created by her late husband. Hummingbirds are another attraction. A fence row outside her back door is populated by feeders which attracts hundreds of the tiny birds. Every summer, she has a hummingbird banding party, and asks everyone to bring a bag of sugar to help keep her feeders stocked. Seeing so many hummingbirds at one time is a thrilling experience!

Here are a few photos that take you through the seasons in her garden.

Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)

Margie is a big fan of Trillium and collects many varieties.


Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)

Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)

Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)

Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)

Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)

Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)

Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)
















Margie Anderton garden (Killen, Alabama)

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Trip to Memphis - Dixon Gallery Gardens

Michael and I went to Memphis today to visit our friend Joann and to see an Impressionist art exhibit at two museums - the Brooks Museum of Art and the Dixon Gallery. Both were awesome but the Dixon Gallery was my favorite because of the beautiful gardens that surrounded it. Most of the gardens were shaded and the woodland garden was beautifully designed and featured dry shade plants. There were also interesting containers throughout with unusual choices of plants.

Unfortunately, when we returned home, Joann called and said that we completely missed the formal garden! Oh well - another excuse to return to Memphis soon!

Two large containers flanked the entrance to the gardens which held rosemary and dicondra.

I've never seen a smoke tree in a container until today.

A sunny section of the garden featured this beautiful pool. There were beautiful water lilies
growing in it but my photos didn't turn out well.

This container included a rubber plant, ivy, and croton.

Dicondra and an assortment of evergreens.

If memory serves me correctly, the plant tag on this said it was a honeydew plants. I was
unfamiliar with it but I'm guessing it is tropical.

A Kousa dogwood - I've never seen so many berries on one.

The Woodland Garden included hosta, cardinal flower, grasses, epimedium, huechera and hellerbores.

This bed surrounding the statue was lined with maidenhair ferns.

A pathway through the Woodland Garden, which features dry shade plants.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Friday, August 26, 2011

Lemon Tea Bread

**Note: I made this a second time with some alterations and it was even better. Omit the almond extract and instead add the juice of one lemon and 1 tsp. of lemon extract. If you like a more tart and lemony flavor, this will do it!**


I wanted to make something fast and easy and was limited on ingredients. I found this recipe in the book "Classic Southern Desserts" and it turned out to be delicious. Michael really loved it. It has a light, delicate flavor, very subtle. Needless to say, it did not last long!



  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon rind, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract 
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon sugar


  • Beat softened butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add 1 cup granulated sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until blended after each addition.
  • Stir together flour, baking powder, and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beating at low speed just until blended, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon rind and almond extract. Spoon batter into greased and floured 8- x 4-inch loaf pan.
  • Bake at 350° for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until a wooden pick inserted in center of bread comes out clean. Let cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove bread from pan, and cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Stir together powdered sugar and lemon juice until smooth; spoon evenly over top of bread, letting excess drip down sides. Stir together remaining 1 tablespoon lemon rind and 1 tablespoon granulated sugar; sprinkle on top of bread.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Win an unabridged CD audiobook of "Wicked Plants"

The winner is Darla of More Family and Flowers blog. Congratulations Darla and thanks to everyone who entered!

Who knew that the plant kingdom could be so dangerous? In "Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Atrocities", author Amy Stewart presents an A-Z encyclopedia of over 200 plants that can make you sick, cripple you or even kill you. Many of these plants could be lurking in your backyard although many come from far reaches of the world. Stewart weaves fascinating botanical facts with folklore, mythology, medicine and pop culture. This 4 CD audiobook (4.5 hours) is read by Coleen Marlo who was chosen Audiobook Reader of the Year for 2010 by Publisher's Weekly.

One lucky winner will receive a copy. To enter, leave a comment to this post and include your e-mail address so I can contact you if you are the winner. The contest is open through midnight Tuesday, August 23.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Monday, August 15, 2011

Snakes and hummingbirds

With the exception of having to go get a poison ivy shot first thing this morning, today was a lovely day. At 3pm today, the temperature was 81! That is not a typo - 81 in August. Heaven!

I didn't want to do anything strenuous and get sweaty since it interferes with the poison ivy so I put the hedge trimming on the back burner and just enjoyed the day at a leisurely pace, watering and fertilizing, mowing and some light pruning here and there.

I am not a snake lover so I got quite a jolt when I walked up the side gate to water the portulaca and saw this -

This green snake is quite harmless and it eats insects in the garden. I know that now so when I come across one, I don't panic. I watched this guy for about 30 minutes. He stayed in this position for quite a while slowly making his way down the opposite side. 

He actually looks like he is smiling, doesn't he? He lingered here before turning back up and heading toward the pots of portulaca. He crawled halfway in them and lingered -

He then left the pot and started crawling up the archway over the gate -

And across the top -

In the meantime, I think the hummingbirds were miffed that I was invading their territory. One finally showed up -

After photographing the hummingbirds, I started looking for the snake again and couldn't find him. If he was in the roses and vines on the archway, his camouflage was excellent. Or he may have got in a hurry and crawled down really fast.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy