Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Header Photo

I bought a flat of yellow violas. Miss Billie said to always buy yellow violas for the winter garden. I could have used 4 flats, but they were kind of shopworn so I just took one.

They had formed seedpods, which I deadheaded. When I finally got them planted despite the 'help' of the cat, I clipped off every blossom to give them a chance to form roots. My new header pic is a scan of the blooms.

I can hardly wait to see violas blooming in the Chicken Rose bed.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Paperwhites Inside and Out

This year's forced paperwhites are now in bloom. If they're allowed to get dry (no water in the stones that support them), they lie down. A good watering brings them upright again.

Many writers advise to toss bulbs after they've been forced. I plant mine. Sometimes they take a year to recover, but they'll come back, no need to waste them.

Inky shows off the first blossom, outside.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Spring Promises

Calla lilies. Calla lilies in the garden have foliage almost this big. I'm hoping these will bloom in the greenhouse; those outside are in danger of being nipped back by cold.

Orange tulips peeking out of the soil. These were chilled for 10 weeks after potting up.

My bowl of purple hyacinths have green tips. I gave the rest away.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Color Trends for 2009 -- Hot Picks

Alexandria, VA /December 2008 -- What colors are in store for us in 2009? According to Color Marketing Group, the top choices have been influenced by both our concern for the economy and our optimism about the future.

"We're finding comfort in colors that are familiar, and yet, at the same time, we're embracing colors that make us happy -- especially as accents," said executive director, Jaime Stephens. "Everyone’s concerned about the economy, yet the spirit of the country coming together after the election is powerfully reflected in these choices. Also, the demand for colors and products that reflect an environmentally 'greener' world goes way beyond a trend. It's now 'a given.' "

According to CMG, look for these color trends in 2009:

Purple, Purple, Purple! - Emerging as a hot fashion color last fall, purple is not just a fad -- it's an entrenched trend, strongly influenced by the election. (After all, red plus blue equals purple.) Look for a greyed-out violet that works equally well as an accent or a neutral, as well as redder, plummier purples and bluer-influenced fuchsias in a huge range of products. Purple is 2009’s “must have” color.

Blue is the New Green - Various greens have symbolized "green living” over the last few years, but in 2009 the "green" environmental message is delivered by the color blue. There are watery blues, sky blues and a whole range of blues that now represent our commitment to living on a greener planet.

Cooled-down, Greyed-out Browns and Greys - Complex neutrals satisfy our urge toward classic colors in an economically challenged time. They also bridge the area between black, which seems harsh, and brown, which doesn't seem strong enough.

Yellow for Energy – The neutrals may have greyed, but look for lots and lots of bright vivid yellow to give us energy as we re-build the economy. It's the stand-out accent color for 2009.

Bright Accents from India, China, and Turkey – The exotic has become the familiar. Oranges, turquoises and teals, reds, and yellows will abound in hues from far-away countries that now seem very near. They are the optimistic touches we crave.

White is now a Business Color – Technology has produced amazing new (and very practical) finishes, which helps explain why white is showing up everywhere, even in corporate board rooms. The contrasts are all in the finishes: matte versus gloss; shine and shimmer on reflective surfaces; textured whites versus smooth -- all washable and cleanable. White also represents purity of thought, motive and result – exactly what we want from businesses now.

The Return of the "M" Word - It's mauve. Remember mauve? An old color that looks new again, in dusty violet shades, mauve works as an accent but also serves now as a neutral, punched up by those bright Asian accents (orange, turquoise, teal, red, and yellow.)


Did they leave out anybody's fav colors? Pantone's color of the year is Mimosa -- a yellow that's the color of school buses and daffodils.
I prefer daffodils with more restrained yellow shades, but have all of them at one time or another:

From Daffodils Dazzle

From Daffodils Dazzle

Hawera is coming up, lots of green showing!
I can hardly wait.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Cactus

I forgot to mention the Christmas cactus before. I had made up my mind to buy one. We went to Home Depot and just inside the door they had a display of forlorn Christmas cacti with no blossoms. Marked down from $8.99 to $2.19. Little buds were in the pots, fallen off because they weren't watered, probably. The plants looked fine and were well hydrated, probably just too late to save the blooms.

I made myself buy just one, since that was my original plan. Next year I'll have one in bloom.

Glimpse into the Greenhouse

Rearranged the shelving to allow better access on the north side. The walkway is a little easier to navigate.

A folding bamboo table adds a surface for greenhouse dining, or to stack books, or other temporary uses.

A old cedar plant stand added to the shelf over the water barrels gives height and extra shelf space.
Little fountain adds an aural sensory element to the greenhouse and a little humidity. The cat likes to drink from the running water.

I'm looking forward to time to start seedlings for the spring.

What Kind of Gardener Are You?

I wrote this on Garden Web some months ago. Somebody resurrected it over Christmas:

Got It All Together:
  • Has a plan on paper
  • Sticks to the plan
  • Buys new, improved hybrids from reputable dealers
  • Beds have neat edges
  • Pulls out plants that fail to perform as expected
  • Knows the botanical name of all plants, plus genus and family
  • Looks elegant sitting under garden pergola sipping iced tea.

    Trying to Keep It Together:
  • Has a plan
  • Easily distracted at garden centers, deviates from plan
  • Plants seeds from someone's beautiful new hybrid which doesn't come true
  • Has neat edges most of the time
  • Some plants just die without warning
  • Buys by color; if it fits the palette the name is not important
  • Hopes visiting children will not trample flower beds during cookout.

    Having Fun in the Garden:
  • Plan in the gardener's head; loses notes
  • Plants where there's a space
  • Grows mostly old, tried and true from seeds and divisions
  • Bed edges expand to accomodate new plants, leaves newcomer weeds to make sure they aren't 'something.'
  • Encourages plants that struggle but yanks out diseased
  • Knows the common name, sometimes can remember the latin name
  • Permanently stained right thumbnail, hopes white gloves for social occasions make a comeback.

    Grandmother in the Garden
  • Have a plan, on paper; can't find it.
  • Plan is flawed -- forgot actual bloom dates are not comparable to PNW and Zone 5 gardens where I lifted ideas.
  • Forget to plant on time; hanging on to 3-year old seeds, just in case. Seeds do get mixed up, hence the pink poppies in the orange bed.
  • Bed edges flex: more than 30 sq. ft. of grass to dig, well, you know.
  • Frequent searches for articles showing latest color combos, hoping my more bizarre palettes will turn up as suddenly fashionable.
  • Can usually identify every plant as familiar, forgot the name. I'll think of it tomorrow.
  • Climb on something tall or lie on my stomach to get a better view with fewer weeds when making photos.
  • Know in my heart that the finest gardens have 'off' seasons and that the humblest gardens sometimes harbor most beautiful blossoms.
  • Tuesday, December 23, 2008

    In Praise of Poppies

    If you haven't planted all the poppies your heart desires, it isn't too late. Sprinkle seed on the snow (or soft, bare ground) where you want them to grow.
    Poppy pod ready for harvest
    Poppy Pods

    Breadseed/Opium/papaver somniferum:
    I've read of someone claiming to have scraped seeds off a poppyseed roll and planted them. I would have thought that heat would destroy the potential to sprout, but that's what they claimed. These have huge, decorative pods and the seeds are edible.

    Poppy Double Orange

    Corn/Shirley/Flanders/papaver rhoeas:
    Pretty red poppies, sometimes other shades, that bloom nearly the same time as p. somiferum, but have different leaves and blossoms. The seed pods are small as compared to p. somiferum.
    Red Corn Poppy Riot

    The California Poppy, eschscholzia californica:
    California State flower, not just for West Coast gardens. Every year I appreciate them more. Some young seedlings lasted the whole hot, humid summer in my garden and are starting to grow now. New seedlings are coming up everywhere, as I have scattered the seeds with abandon. I have hopes of early bloom. Seed pods of California poppy are different than the others; they are long and thin. They explode, scattering seeds everywhere when dry.
    Eschscholzia are a member of the papaver family.
    From April 2008

    Iceland/papaver nudicale:
    You have to grow these to believe their beauty. I really began to appreciate them when I realized that my orange tulips lasted a few days and nearby Iceland poppies bloomed for a month, with a similar shape to the blooms and foliage that doesn't have to 'cure' for the next year. Just plant another packet of seed. Their petals are the most translucent and the colors are generally citrus shades and white. Really tiny seed pods.
    tulips,papaver nudicale
    Purple tulips and violas with orange and white Iceland poppies
    papaver nudicale,tulips,violas

    Saturday, December 20, 2008

    December Blossoms in the Greenhouse

    Chartreuse and Red alternanthera cuttings growing in water:

    Begonias seen through bird of paradise foliage:

    Pineapple sage and Purple Heart and a chia pet elephant used as a cache pot.

    All Is Bright

    Dogwood leaves hanging on, backlit by the sun

    Dogwood berries glow in the afternoon sunlight

    One of a pair of candle lamps in the garden

    Thursday, December 18, 2008

    Tour of the Pond and Woods

    Lane suggested that I ride the four wheeler up to see how much water is in the pond since the last big rain. It was dry for almost two years in the drought. I came back for my camera.

    From Foxes Earth II

    This is his favorite view:
    From Foxes Earth II

    My favorite views include Spanish moss on ancient trees,
    backlit by the sun:
    From Foxes Earth II

    See the whole Album here:
    Foxes Earth II

    Note the live oaks with tiny green leaves, Magnolias with huge green leaves, and Spanish moss.

    I hope you enjoy the show, it was a marvelous ride. I flushed a covey of quail, but they don't hang around for photos. I had pics of open space.

    Wednesday, December 17, 2008

    Last of the Bulbs are In

    Half dozen blue/purple hyacinths in the pink flowered bowl, 3 white in the little container on the left and one blue each in the mugs, with stones to keep them steady. The rest went into clumps in one of the yellow beds. They chilled in the fridge for 9 weeks.

    Lilies that I dug earlier and chilled also for 9 weeks went in spots dotted all over the yard, according to color. Apricot LAs went in the front, pinks in the upper lawn beds.

    A dozen King Alfred type daffodils went in the Fka Red Bed. My new trial: will they bloom more on time the first year if they're planted late without chilling? Usually I chill daffodils and plant and they're blooming in February. They get no chill in subsequent years and bloom in March. Our best chill is usually in February; maybe they'll wait.

    Monday, December 15, 2008

    Real Seed Scattering

    Today I took seeds left from previous years and this past season, mixed some in a bowl and scattered over the area where the old barn stood. It took some time to prepare the site because the soil had settled under the barn. DH brought in soil from where the topsoil removed from the driveway some years back had been piled, and then leveled it all. There was a big rain last week, that settled the new site.

    I scratched up the dirt with a couple of rakes before I started scattering. Once the bowl of seeds was empty, I remembered some other seeds from native plants and some annuals that I had tucked away, so I scattered them in various spots along with some poppy seeds I'd saved back. I even found a milkweed pod with lovely fat seeds attached to little silken parachutes. I pulled the seeds loose so they would stay where they were dropped, saving back half for a better spot in the butterfly garden.

    No illusions as to the wildflower patch I planted. Bermuda and bahai grass will encroach as soon as summer comes. I've assured DH that he can mow if the flower patch goes weedy. Meantime, I hope there'll be some kind of show in early spring.

    In the best world, there will be lots of blossoms and I'll only have to allow a path mown through the middle.

    Bloom Day, December

    Sasanqua Camellias have hundreds of blooms and drop petals like a carpet under the bush, or tree, in this case. Freezes take out the open blossoms, but there are always tight buds to open up quickly:

    Camellia japonica 'Mathotiana' has been here since about 1970. DH pulled it up by the roots several years ago because it was too close to the house. A new plant eventually rose from a piece of root that remained.

    Physotegia, or obedient plant, does not start to bloom until November here.

    A brave Gerbera daisy and a bud. Notice the daffodil foliage at right:

    We had a few freezing nights but we're back to balmy days and 50's at night -- see the NOAA weather widget in my sidebar. Last December this time we had pentas and roses still in bloom. Frost took them out this year in November.

    See what's blooming all over the country at May Dreams Gardens Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

    Saturday, December 13, 2008

    Butterfly Stamps

    Deborah of Corridors awarded me this pretty stamp, which came to her from Ann. I traced it back through a bunch of Blogs and never found the original designer. What made me curious is the wording, "the Coolest Blog I Ever Know." Was that intentional, garbled in translation or what? It's a beautiful stamp and I've found it on too many blogs to count.

    I made my own Butterfly Stamp to award back to Deborah and to bloggers of my choice when I get around to it, in two sizes.

    I'll figure out the details of getting the Awards forwarded to everybody soon. I read one post where somebody was sharply criticized for deciding to just keep the Award and not send it on to others. I'm afraid of being chided for sending it during this busy season, so i might wait until the New Year.

    Thank you, Deborah, for including me.

    Thursday, December 11, 2008

    Merry Christmas from the Greenhouse

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    I could hardly wait until dark to take pictures after I thought to put this little tree in the greenhouse corner.

    I think it is visible from the highway traveling north, and maybe a glimpse from the front of the house. No matter, I can see it, and you.

    Saturday, December 6, 2008

    The Blog's Christmas Tree

    If two years in a row makes a tradition, then here's mine:
    My blog has a Christmas tree in the sidebar, thanks to Kenju, who gets to decorate some awesome trees in fancy places in the Carolinas.

    Here's a closeup of the decorations on the tree.

    Friday, December 5, 2008

    Enjoying Plants Indoors: Epiphyllum oxypetalum

    I found this great contest.

    Take a photo of your favorite, most beautiful indoor plant. Any living plant (not cut flowers) that currently lives inside can be the subject of your photo.

    I took this pic on Saturday, when two butterflies turned up inside my little kit greenhouse. The sulphur paused on the foliage of a night blooming cereus (Epiphyllum oxypetalum). Not very pretty right now, the cereus, as the strong sunlight turns it yellow. They did better when they used to winter in the laundry room, until they grew too big.

    There were blooms in October after I brought them into the greenhouse.
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    They spend the summer on the carport ledge.
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Thanks to Fern of Life on the Balcony for this contest.

    Saturday, November 29, 2008

    When You Can't Garden, Read!


    Margaret Roach mentions her book A Way to Garden on her blog by the same name, not promotionally because it's out of print but among some other old garden books that she recommends. One that she mentioned is Crockett's Victory Garden (1971) --that may have been my first garden book and I still have it.

    Another old garden book that is one of my favs is Alys Clancy's Garden Guide (1977). Alys wrote for the News Journal, Daytona Beach. Some of her plants are marginally tender here, but most are just perfect for my garden. She addresses garden chores from pruning to propagation. Her instructions for gathering and growing amaryllis seed are right on.

    I gave away Ms. Roach's book to a beginning gardener. I give away many well illustrated gardening books once they're well read here. Some that are full of words of instruction I keep forever, like Alys's.


    My copy of Tropicalismo! by Pam Baggett came not long ago, hot off the press. Pam has a wilder imagination than mine, having had her own nursery until recently. Many of the plants she grew as annuals are borderline perennial here. I'm growing Strobilanthes, Pentas, Pineapple sage and others in the greenhouse to have a colorful head start. I'll be looking for plants of Duranta and Tibouchina in the spring. I'll start saved seeds of tender tropicals inside well before the last frost date.

    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Rustic Garden Bench

    We were clearing the rubble from the old barn site. I grabbed this beam and enough stone rubble to make a little bench.

    This rose was blooming nearby, its name is 'Livin' Easy.'

    Monday, November 24, 2008


    Jon of Mississippi Garden recently blogged about 'Party Time' alternanthera, a new cultivar.

    My favs are old cultivars: the red I've had for years, cuttings from Miss Billie; and Chartreuse, purchased last year.
    The red makes a delightful border with salvia coccinea and lantana.
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Cuttings in water in the greenhouse make little nosegays, chartreuse in a mug and red in a galvanized container:
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Note the pot of chartreuse at bottom right.
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Despite the recent bitter cold that blackened the plants in open locations, some alternanthera persists in sheltered beds. That in well-drained spots usually returns, come spring.

    Saturday, November 22, 2008

    The Dog Hut, Transformed

    Inky's new digs:

    Inky was living atop the Dog Hut in a cardboard box, until the weather turned nasty after he returned from his little expedition. He now has a secure bed inside the Dog Hut. When warm weather comes again, we may have to add a penthouse, especially if we find a puppy.

    Inky caught another squirrel late this afternoon. We were working under the open tractor shed, when I looked down to see a squirrel scurrying across the dirt floor. He ran under the truck with Inky in hot pursuit. Sounds of squealing, then Inky emerged with the squirrel in his mouth. He strode down the driveway, with purpose, and disappeared beyond the camellia bush.