Friday, November 30, 2007

Routine Tasks with a Shag Rake

Even winter has work. I carry a little plastic rake (from the seventies -- back then it was a 'shag rake') when I go to the mailbox and rake a bit of pine straw when I pass under the trees, neatening up the beds.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Dear Gertrude: Rose Arbors

Then there is no end to the beautiful ways of making Rose arbours and tunnels, or Rose houses for the children. Dead trees or any rough branching wood can easily be put up and spiked together to make the necessary framework, and the Roses will take to it gladly. An old dead Apple tree, if it happens to stand where an arbour is wanted, need not even be moved; another bit of trunk can be put up eight feet away, and the branches of the standing one sawn off, all but those that go the right way. These branches can be worked in to form the top, keeping a stout, slightly curved piece for the front top beam. The Roses seem to delight in such a rough-built arbour, for they rush up and clothe it with most cheerful willingness. -- Gertrude Jekyll, Roses for English Gardens
Click Here for the Stick House story
Dear Gertrude,
Drought set my roses back, but the stick house awaits more roses. Sweet Peas are sprouting.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Fall Color, Winter Fragrance

On my recent trip to north Georgia, I admired scenic views of tall, colorful trees. Our leaves mostly turn brown and fall. We get reds from sumac, sassafras, dogwood and Virginia creeper, oranges from crape myrtle and yellows from vines of muscadine and Carolina jessamine, brief spots of color. Oakleaf hydrangea leaves are burgundy now. The show of color is not as exciting here as is winter fragrance.

Last night I read about a southern garden with 'fragrant camellias.' The only fragrant camellia growing here is a white C. sasanqua, which blooms from now to Christmas.
When the weather is damp, there is a light tea fragrance.

The huge C. japonicas that bloom after Christmas are fragrance free.There's an impulse to sniff anyway, just to make sure.

Tea olive (osmanthus) is in bloom. Fragrance from the tiny blossoms wafts on the wind, delightful aroma of lemon.

I look forward to narcissus after Christmas.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bulbs in a New Island Bed

Back in the summer when the Black Eyed Susans were spent, I put down cardboard in the lawn in a dumbbell shape about four feet from the driveway, covered it with grass clippings and pine straw and those huge BES plants I'd pulled up, leaving the seed pods attached.

Yesterday, I rolled the cardboard and mulch forward, dug shallow holes for 80 daffodil bulbs just up to their necks, replaced the soil and covered the daffodil bed with 2 inches of decomposed oak mulch and an inch of composted gin trash and then pulled the original mulch over the bed and dispatched what was left of the cardboard to a compost heap. (The purpose of the cardboard was to kill the bahia grass.) Along the north edge, I planted some pansy seeds mixed with alyssum seeds. The pansy seeds are two years old; the alyssum seeds are 2007 seeds. I sprinkled some white nicotiana seed over the mulch in hopes they'll grow with the Black Eyed Susans which are almost fool proof.

This bed is perpendicular to the long rock bed, one of my favs. You can see the story of the Long Bed here:
Rock Bed Story

Friday, November 16, 2007

Dear Gertrude: Along a Wall

The foot of the wall will be best if it is not planted closely all along, but if occasionally some handsome warmth-loving plant is there in a tuft or group. Some of the plants most suitable for this place will be Acanthus, Iris stylosa, Crinums and Plumbago Larpenta; and of smaller plants, Anomatheca cruenta, Anemone fulgens y and in the south, Amaryllis Belladonna, Pancratium illyricuntj and Zephyranthes carinata. An occasional bush at the wall-foot would also come well, such as Rosemary, Cistus lusitantcus, Veronica hulkeana, Ozothamnus rosmarinifolius, or Griselinia littoralis. -- Gertrude Jekyll

Dear Gertrude,
This is an idea that may work very well for me. I had the notion to put Crinums, plumbago and Rosemary in the rose garden. They may be equally effective in front of the rock wall.

All the pinks shown here are dead, perished in the heat of summer. I'm thinking nasturtiums for spring, or California poppies. Fortunately the pinks are not a total loss. Young plants rooted early last summer are thriving elsewhere.

Some of your selections are unfamiliar; Anomatheca cruenta translates as freesias in my garden. I have several along a pathway.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Dear Gertrude: Sternbergias

October 25
In the bulb-beds the bright yellow Sternbergia lutea is in flower. At first sight it looks something like a Crocus of unusually firma nd solid substance; but it is an Amaryllis, and its pure and even yellow colouring is quite unlike that of any of the Crocuses. The numerous upright leaves are thick, deep green, and glossy. It flowers rather shyly in our poor soil, even in well-made beds, doing much better in chalky ground. - Gertrude Jekyll

Dear Gertrude,
My sternbergia failed to bloom this year. Foliage has appeared. I shall give them a bit of lime and wood ashes, as they are under pine trees.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Treasures from the Library

I've been to a library book sale. Other Book Sales I've attended were held on a certain date, and books sometimes cost as much as $2.00 each.

This book sale is ongoing. As books are removed from circulation and donated books are deemed unsuitable for the collection of this particular library, they are shelved in a corner of a workroom. If you want to see what is there, you must sign in with your name, the date and where you are headed: BOOK SALE. Then you are allowed to pass through the door with the ominous sign, No Patrons Beyond this Door.

They're pretty much shelved by fiction, nonfiction, Large Print and media items. Some of the fiction looks brand new. A John Grisham book that I bought there in paperback two weeks ago has been replaced by a hardback with dust jacket intact.

Among the treasures I found today was 'The Fragrant Year' by Wilson & Bell, 1967. So it's 40 years old! Flowers smell essentially the same today as then, except that the fragrance has been hybridized out of a few. The oldies that I grow still smell good, except for my Philadelphus inodoratus, which has no fragrance.

Another treasure is 'A Gift of Joy' by Helen Hayes, 1965. Maybe I'm the only patron who remembers Helen Hayes. In the photos in the center of the book are included a photo of Helen 'among the perennials' and 'under my white magnolia tree.'

I also bought two other paper backs, not novels -- trade paperbacks, another hardback, and 14 audio books. They're phasing out audio tapes for CD/DVDs. My total was $1.45.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Roadside Gardening

Here is a list of wildflowers Georgia DOT workers have planted on roadsides over the years:
black-eyed Susan
bur marigold/tickseed
clasping coneflower
corn poppy
Drummond phlox
Golden Wave coreopsis
Indian blanket/firewheel
lanceleaf coreopsis
lemon mint
Mexican hat
narrow-leaved sunflower
perennial gaillardia
Plains coreopsis
prairie coneflower
showy primrose
threadleaf coreopsis

Showy primrose is not something that I'm going to plant, but it's stunning in the median of a four-lane road.

My personal favs from this list are Gaillardia, Coneflower (Echinacea), Black eyed Susans and corn poppies. I have seeds of Mexican hats and cornflowers saved from last spring, too.

I'll be planting silene and Madagascar periwinkles, verbena bonairensis and some others that are seldom on a 'wildflower list.'
I'll add snapdragons, larkspur, nicotiana, globe amaranth, saliva coccinea, breadseed poppies, Iceland poppies and California poppies -- not all on the roadside and not all in the same bed. Some are seeded now, some in the spring. Periwinkles are reliable self-reseeders as are several others.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Calendulas for the Herb Garden

Oh, my goodness! I just looked at last year's photos. By 11/26, calendulas were coming up in the herb garden. I just happened to dig around with the grubbing hoe out there this afternoon because I was there and so was the mattock. Have to find the seeds, post haste.

I replaced 3 rosemary cuttings that did not 'take' while the others are firmly in the ground. My hands still smell of rosemary.

Pull Up One, Up Pops Another

The recent frost caused the periwinkles that had grown even thicker and taller since this mid-September pic, to look as if the tops had been scalded with hot water.

As I began to pull some, other pretties emerged to view. The bulbine on the end has grown, blossoms were already peeking out through the periwinkles, but the growth of the aloe-kin leaves were a surprise. When the periwinkles were gone from the front side, society garlic is visible, mingling with more lavender lantana than had been visible before, a late treat for lingering butterflies.

More Sweet William appeared and some Bath's pinks that had been shaded underneath all that growth. Nicotiana that survived being cut back in spring is starting to bloom again.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Fritillaries and Painted Ladies

American Painted Lady
Variegated Fritillaries and American Painted Ladies joined Buckeyes, Gulf Frits, Dogface Sulphurs and tiny skippers nectaring on Lavender Lantana this afternoon.

I guess I'll never get a photo of a Dogface with wings spread so you can see the dark poodle outline along the wings. They are so fast, and nectar always with folded wings.

Pearl Crescents on gaillardia, earlier in the summer.

Thursday, November 8, 2007


First frost this morning left many leaves limp and drooping. Pepper plants have leaves hanging limply, but the black pearls shine in the sunlight. The Gulf frits that were busy yesterday in yesterday's photographs were slow to emerge this morning. A few little skippers darted about, but most of the others were nowhere to be seen.
Fiery Skipper
Dogface Sulphur
Checkerspot on Periwinkles
Lavender lantana seems to enjoy cooler weather more than the yellow, which has stopped blooming. The lavender, a handful of tiny cuttings last year, crawled over over the rocks this year despite the drought. The yellow attracted spider mites. Snapdragons that survived the summer are putting on new buds. After they bloom they need drastic cutting back to prepare for a winter's rest so they can show off in spring.

Esperanza looks scalded. It's really cold tender. Castor beans are still bravely hanging on. Daturas are wilty but hanging on until a longer, harder freeze. What really looks brave is lycoris, which boasts green foliage all winter. I haven't planted winter rye grass yet, but it isn't too late.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Pentas Cuttings, and Porterweeds

I took cuttings today. Red, rose and pink pentas. I tried a couple of cuttings with a bit of 'heel' taken. I think instead of cuttings of porterweed, I'll try seedlings again. They were slow to emerge in the spring, I'll start earlier. The seedlings that I did manage to grow were late getting size on them and never had a blossom spike, but they're healthy plants. I hope they return.

In her new book, Helen Dillon mentions an old superstition: 'Where the rosemary thrives the woman is strong.' I stuck new cuttings of rosemary directly where they're to grow. It worked very well last year. I started on renovation of the herb garden and looked again at last spring's photos. I'm going to leave the self sown spiderworts, they look good with the calendulas I'm planning to plant en masse. There's new parsley. Oregano is crawling all over, it's in the bath's pinks. I lopped back lantana, which will die back soon anyway. Last spring calendulas were a little hedge/edging; next spring they'll cover the quad corners and mingle with the spiderwort.

I had already gather sufficient seed of lemon basil for spring planting. I gathered the rest because it smelled so good. The thyme looks thin, but it's thriving. Sage is down to two plants. Lots of self sown echinacea and gaillardia; the latter will bloom all winter.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Yellow Lycoris Foliage

Three tufts of large table-knife-blade sized leaves have emerged where the yellow lycoris, sullen, failed to bloom this summer. They are alive, they will persist! Hooray!

A trumpet lily that failed to do anything this year has large shiny leaves emerging. That's why I like lilies and bulbs of all kinds; you never know what's going on underground while things look bare above.