Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy in the New Year

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy blessed wisdom from the garden is a book by Kathryn Hall. She kindly sent me a copy when I entered a drawing on her blog, also called Plant Whatever Brings You Joy.

Plant Whatever Brings You Joy  is also a sound New Year's Resolution.

The Chapters in the book all have titles that make good garden resolutions:
Know which plants you grow well. 
Repot the Rootbound for growth and expansion. 
Never pull up and discard what you cannot identify. 
Trim unwieldy branches. 
Feed and water at optimum times
-- sensible advice that we sometimes need reminding.

Some of her advice is more esoteric:
Take comfort in the mystery. 
Allow ample space for the breadth of your vision. 

Every chapter is illustrated with metaphors, not of details on growing a soil-based garden but how to live a full life.

Thank you again, Kathryn, for this marvelous book that I dip into again and again for inspiration. It is a lovely tribute to your daughter and to your own life and those you met along the way.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Random End of Year Views

I thought we were done with Pink Grass until I saw raindrops caught in the aging inflorescenses in the early morning sun. 

I learned a new word that applies to grasses: cespitose. It means 'growing in a bunch' and applies to grasses that do not spread by stolons. That certainly applies to Gulf Muhly.

I looked closely at remaining seeds and am tempted to gather and plant. Sigh. Usually I just divide these clumps; culms grow quickly to form new clumps..

Cabbages are starting to head. 

Broccoli is heading as well -- those at the back. Tiny bunch onion sets were tucked in among the cole crops and are starting to grow. Cabbages and broccoli  were started from seed. I even gave away some plants.

Almost life size in the pic. I can hardly wait.

Broad-leaf evergreens define the upper garden in winter.
I stuck another and another boxwood cutting and continue to do so.
Camellias from seed have reached blooming size.

It's a good thing I have new, sharp pruners.
Azaleas in the far view are a ways from blooming.

Resurrection fern at left. 
Narcissus leaves are sprouting. I saw a bud.

I almost took down the bottle tree this year and hesitated. 
Red Cascade rose beneath it is a candidate for pruning.

There is no end of winter chores waiting. I started pruning box before rains came. It's a big job that never ends. A nicely pruned boxwood throws out new shoots before the month is out even in winter here. Mr. Varnadoe told me decades ago to cut them back severely in January for renewal. Catbrier and blackberry vines come up through the shrubs and are a booger to remove. 

Sometime between now and February I will look for Viola plants and make sure that are blooming a little bit before I buy, which was the mistake I made year before last -- bought handsome little plants that were stuck in among Violas that turned out to be big blue pansies. 

It's a beautiful day today, clouds came and went, sun is in and out. I am seeing blogs with snowfall more frequently. What is the weather like at your place? If it  is bad, start making plans; time flies.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Goodbye, Red Cedar

Juniperus virginiana, our native Eastern Red Cedar is a beautiful conifer. The 'cones' are tiny, blue and berry-like, eaten by birds and strewn everywhere to sprout.

Yesterday He-Who-Mows and operates a chain saw cut down an ancient Red Cedar in anticipation of a new project. For now we left the tree's twin, just limbing it up.

I failed to bring out a camera until the entire tree top was gone.
The top limbs were cut away with electric chain saws. Here He-Who-Saws  contemplates just how he is going to get in that mass of bushes and briers with a gasoline powered chain saw to cut down the massive trunk.

Cut through and hanging by a splinter, the trunk went over with a push from the root rake -- I caught the photo with tree in mid-air.

Down and waiting for the root rake to haul away.

The growth is not symmetrical; fragrant wood.

  To give you some idea of how he trimmed the limbs, I did catch a late view of the apparatus he uses: a hydraulically operated platform and electric chain saws. This one is a pole saw.

Today I start on pruning overgrown boxwoods with my Fiskars loppers and pruners. Maybe I can use the pole saw too -- on the ground.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Garden Hits and Misses 2014

Camellias are always a winter hit. Hard freezes take out open blossoms; tight buds wait for a warm spell to open again. Early freezes in late fall took out most Camellia sasanqua blooms, not a frequent occurrence and a big disappoinment.

Camellia japonica February, 2014

Daffodils are always a spring hit.

Loropetalum and Dogwood look good at the time of Azaleas, Loropetalum starts earlier and lasts longer than Azaleas. It makes wonderful understory trees.

I built a rough patio of urbanite, stones and ancient brick. It's a good place for summering potted plants.

I considered the Poppy Show a near-miss because there were not as many poppies as previous years, but what did grow were a Hit. California poppies thrive in our climate.

Hydrangeas and Cycads -- Hit.

Three favorite summer whites:
Oakleaf Hydrangea, Gardenias and White Crape Myrtle.

I planted a half dozen rooted Gardenia cuttings along the north side of the greenhouse. They have gained size and hopeful of blooms in 2015.

2014 was a good year for Lilies. Blackout.

I can too grow tulips in the South.

The Herb Wheel was a near Miss. Thyme died. Parsley failed to take off. 'Dwarf' Marigolds were huge. Despite disappointments I started another wheel on the other end of the cabbages. There is always learning in Misses. 


From my perspective ALL tropicals were a Hit in the summer of 2014, from reseeding Tithonia in the butterfly garden to seedling Pride of Barbados that finally produced blossoms. I kept over fewer cuttings this winter but have bigger plans for seedlings and am hopeful of many plants returning from roots.

Things to eat are always a Hit!

Every year there are successes and failures. It is part of the growing process both for the garden and the gardener.

What were Hits in your garden this year?

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I am an Avid Fiskars Fan

We've used Fiskars scissors for years and years. Add to that Fiskars lopping shears, extra long handled hedge shears, hand pruners and various hand tools with that distinctive orange trim on the handles.

A few weeks ago I entered a giveaway on North Coast Gardening blog and was a fortunate winner of a pair of Fiskars newest, Quantum hedge shears.

 They came packed in plenty of brown paper in a sturdy carton. The blades are  protected by a reusable plastic shield.

These shears have the gear mechanism that makes Fiskars shears and loppers so easy to use and really sharp non-stick blades.

The handles have a cork grip, something new and really comfortable.

I didn't shear much hedge yet; the weather is damp and what Mama used to call 'Disagreeable' but I snipped a bit of boxwood just to see. These are going to be one of my favorite garden tools.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Monday, December 15, 2014

Bloom Day December

Early freezes changed our expectations for this Bloom Day. December blooms in the garden are scattered and small spots of color.

Outdoor Blooms

 Volunteer Petunia "Laura Bush" 
in a sheltered corner.

Camellia sasanqua, usually a garden centerpiece this time of year suffered freeze damage to petals and is a sorry sight, too pitiful for display.

Camellia japonica Mathotiana

Shrimp Plant is the only tropical 
with blooms.

Native Pityopsis graminifolia Silkgrass 
blooming with Lantana under pine trees.

Lantana montevidensis with shelter and mulch.

A few Loropetalum fringes persist on the south side of trees.

Blooms in the Greenhouse

Solanum lycopersicum  -- uncommon to have tomato blooms
in December. They set fruit in night temps above 50 degrees.

Pink Schlumbergera 

 Grander Christmas Cactus pics HERE include white.

Scattered blooms on Rusellia almost hide
a ripening tomato at left behind it.

Begonias are dependable in winter. 

Phalenopsis Orchid is a recent buy 
 and the only blooms in the house.

Joining with Garden Bloggers world wide for Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day with Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Could Wait no Longer to Pick Tomatoes

December 13, 2014.

This is a soup bowl, not a dessert dish, LOL.

Next year I plan to have 4 pots instead of one. Bromeliads and Christmas Cactuses will have to double bunk and make room.

Friday, December 12, 2014

White Christmas Cactus and 2 Reds

These need no explanation; they could have been a wordless Wednesday.

Of course they are Schlumbergera cultivars, not the old-fashioned Christmas Cactus of my childhood. They are too late for Thanksgiving. 

Later pink, yellow and peach will open, perhaps after Christmas. The reds are more like a shrimp color and a scarlet.