Sunday, February 26, 2012

Late winter arrangement

We are having a few friends over tonight to watch the Oscars. I picked some camellias, daffodils and hellebores and Michael did an arrangement for the kitchen.

It is winter?? You would not know from the temperatures. Close to 70 today. I felt guilty about not getting out and working but there was too much to do inside. Enjoy the Oscars if you watching!



Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Finding bargains

I felt like I hit the jackpot this morning when I drove by Home Depot and noticed some very nice boxwood topiaries outside the front entrance with a markdown sign in front of them. Upon further inspection, they were only $5.97 (the salesgirl said the original price was $44.00!). I snatched up all four of them. Two are green and the other two were variegated.  One was even in a nice faux-terra-cotta container. One of the green ones was a tad lop-sided but other than that, I didn't see anything wrong with them.

I potted the green ones in the containers outside the front door and put the variegated ones on the patio. Made my day!

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Camellia love

A few weeks ago, temperatures plunged to the 20 degree mark and turned our camellia and magnolia blossoms into shriveled brown tissue. For the camellias, more buds opened and they bounced back nicely.

Taylor's Perfection is one of my all-time favorites. It is a profuse bloomer and is just now getting ready to explode with blooms.
Magnoliaflora - a delicate pink beauty.
An unknown variety. The label said "Mrs. Charles Cobb" but every image search I've ever conducted shows a decidedly red flower. I think this is something different.
C.M. Wilson, the oldest camellia in our garden, started sporting red blooms a few years ago and I've not bothered to cut them out.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Remembering Leon Perry

The Shoals lost a great gardener this week. Mr. Leon Perry passed away on Sunday, February 12th at the age of 89. I first met him many years ago when his garden was on the Shoals garden tour. Later, I contacted him about writing an article for Alabama Gardener magazine. Mr. Perry loved showing off his prized azaleas and rhododendrons. Any time we had company during the azalea season, I would hustle them over to see Mr. Perry's wonderland. No matter what size the party was, he would spent hours with us,  regaling us with stories about he started a rhododendron the size of a Volkswagen from a small cutting.

And not just one Volkswagen sized rhododendron. His entire garden was filled with gigantic azaleas and rhododendrons, walls of blazing color that dizzied the senses. It is common to see such large specimens in the mountains of North Carolina, the very spot where they first impressed Mr. Perry on a business trip he took about 40 years ago. Growing them in Alabama that size is not easily accomplished. Mr. Perry was undeterred however and he went home (Iuka, Mississippi at the time) and bought as many rhododendrons as he could find and set out creating a spectacular garden. 

In 1981, he moved to Muscle Shoals, Alabama with a truckload of cuttings and started all over again on a wooded hillside overlooking the Tennessee River. With the help of his wife, Dean, they created a spectacular oasis that includes not only azaleas and rhododendrons but also native plants, wildflowers, camellias, and man-made streams. A true woodland paradise.

Mr. Perry inspired many Shoals area gardeners and I know he will be truly missed.

For more photos of the garden, see my earlier post.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Friday, February 3, 2012

Gardening if for the, chickens

To help promote their new book, Free-Range Chicken Gardens by Jessi Bloom, Timber Press is giving away a kit to help you start your own chicken garden. I will be posting a review of this book soon.

The kit includes:

All you need to enter is an email address. The contest ends February 17!

Click here to enter

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Winter Honeysuckle

Things are blooming like mad on this first day of February - our Star Magnolia is in full bloom, way ahead of schedule. One thing that is on time, is the Winter Honeysuckle. It is such a pleasure to catch the fragrance of this shrub. It comes unexpected and envelopes you in wonderfulness.  I took this photo this morning right before another downpour occurred. Not the best, but you can see it is loaded with blooms.

Text and photos by Phillip Oliver, Dirt Therapy