Friday, January 31, 2014

Florida Vernacular Cracker House

Pam at White Ironstone Cottage asked if we know the 'style' of our house?

Early Florida Cracker houses were plain, rectangular shaped, mounted on stone or brick piers to let air circulate under the house. Steeply pitched shingled roofs were usual. The eaves extended out over house walls. Houses were framed with local pine, which becomes very hard and is so resinous that it deters termites. The lumber in this house came off the place on which it sits, milled in 1939.

Features of Florida Vernacular houses include front gable with slotted vents in the gable end, open porches with shed roofs and plain window facings. A variation of the Florida Vernacular house of the Tidewater tradition which features a central hall, our house was built in the Louisiana Creole style of two rooms wide, two rooms deep, with north-south orientation of the long walls. Mind you, we are not in Florida but we're pretty close.

As time passed after the house was built the family grew and rooms were added on the back. In later years, a carport addition necessitated another room which the county describes as an 'enclosed porch' so that the driveway did not run over the septic tank. A laundry room on the back replaced the laundry room in a separate outbuilding that also housed a smokehouse and fruit storage room for home canned goods and buckets of syrup. This structure is now a tool shed and storage.

Pam called her house 'Romantic Vintage style' -- what do you call yours?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Mix

Yesterday and today were cold miserable days in the South. We were luckier than most Georgians. Precipitation here was what the NOAA calls 'Acretion' which is just frozen bits attracting more liquid and freezing all together before they hit the ground. There was hardly enough to cover the ground.

Temperatures have hovered just below freezing all day.

The Greenhouse has blooms.

Soon we'll have an Amaryllis blooming in the house,
and orchids too.

Everybody we hear from is staying inside and trying to keep warm. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Winter of Our Discontent

I went out in the cold last evening to see what I could find to bring inside before the freeze took out all blossoms.

I gathered a few Camellia blooms.
These were bitten by the last freeze, tight buds like the one
below will open with little brown patches of cold injury.

This Narcissus was leaning against a bare Crape Myrtle tree
as if to try to find a little shelter. I cut it to bring in. It was 
so cold it had no fragrance.

The cold will last all week. We washed window sills and caulked today. Sunshine streaming in belied the cold outside and the keen wind shifted to blow smoke away from us where pine forests are burning nearby.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Goodbye, Bottle Tree

When I had to explain the Bottle Tree to a young man who visited here on Sunday, I decided it was time for that particular yard art to go. He loved the Stick House. I had to explain it too, but in a more positive way.

Bottle Tree 2014

Bottle Tree 2009
The post rotted.

When the post rotted in 2012, I made a temporary bottle tree using a rake with a broken handle. 
I stuck the rake handle into a pipe that fit into the hole where the clothesline pole goes, a very
temporary arrangement.

I left my washing in the launderette
You can put some money on it, you can place a little bet
That when I see my washing
The black will be grey and the white will be grey
But the Blues are still Blue
 ---Belle and Sebastian

A more permanent Bottle Tree improvised by
hanging the bottles on the cedar posts that
form a sort of trellis for an unruly 
Red Cascade Rose.

The sun is going down on the Bottle Tree for now.

I can't put bottles on rebar and dot them around the garden since He-who-mows- banned rebar posts after one fell over and got into the mower blades.... He made me some nice wood posts, treated against termites. Posts mark spots I need to remember like where to plug my sprinklers into buried pipes but they are definitely not decorative nor will bottles fit.

The Stick House stays. My visitor wanted to know if I
ever sat out there. I didn't tell him that my garden isn't for
sitting, I find too many chores to jump up and do to just sit.

Goodbye, Bottle Tree.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Bloom Day Review Six Years in the Making

When Carol mentioned that Bloom Day is in its 7th year, I went back to see my beginnings with Bloom Day.

 January 2008
There were Taiwan Cherries, too. 

January 2009 must have been mild: we had Blooming: vinca; paperwhite narcissus planted outside after 2007 forced bloom; violas and nicotiana; Lantana montevidensis, magnolia 'Leonard Messell' and Eclipse and Knockout roses picked on Tuesday:

There were Violas in 2010 and ice in the birdbath:

There was little to see outside in 2011. 
In the greenhouse in 2011 there were Pentas cuttings blooming.
I wish I had taken Pentas cuttings this year. Sigh.

In 2012 there is no Seedscatterer Bloom Day so I guess there wasn't much in bloom outdoors. 
The greenhouse had lots of pretties, not the least of which were 

Begonias, Persian Shield 2012

Begonias, Pentas and Foxtail fern 2012

2013's Bloom Day in the greenhouse included 
Benfica Hippeastrum

... and Pansies outside.

Last Year's Bloom Day had Blossoms that are toast from a recent freeze this year, like Loropetalum, White Azaleas and Gerbera Daisies. Blooms of 2013 are here.

We are scheduled for another several nights of freezing temperatures. I am glad to have a record showing that cold happens and it isn't every year that we suffer so. My biggest regret this year is not taking Pentas cuttings. I am hopeful that a few decide to return from the roots so I can start over. It isn't too late for Violas, if I find nice ones in a Garden Center.

Bloom Day January Does Bloom

Last week was a tragedy but plants in the Coastal South recover amazingly well.

Camellia Seedling

Camellias get frost-bitten, fall off and more appear.
These may be toast tomorrow night if predicted freeze comes.

Magnolia loebneri 'Leonard Messel' bloom.
We get scattered blooms until the spring show.

This brave Gerbera Daisy didn't give up despite the
blackened foliage on the left.

Tea Olive Osmanthus fragrans
Last week's cold-killed blooms and this week's live ones.

Narcissus is tough.

A brave early Daffodil.

To see what's blooming in my greenhouse go here.

Bloom Day is sponsored by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Winter Weeds, Wildflowers and Scattered Seeds

About the best thing to be said about winter weeds is that they are green. Oh, and they provide nectar for the occasional butterfly that happens by on a warm day. I stopped pulling Henbit Lamium ampliexicaule
because I saw early butterflies enjoying it.

 Very first Larkspur I've noticed from seeds scattered in December.
Chickweed surrounds it.

Yellow Corydalis, a wilding and a bit of Chickweed.

More Corydalis; Verbena bonairensis upper left. 

Poppies and wilted foliage of daylily. Not sure if I scattered 
these poppies or they just appeared from last year.

California Poppies. When the hard freeze came, they may have
wished they'd stayed in California. They like our springs.

California Poppies and Chickweed.

The photos are the things I saw on Sunday. 

Today I went to check on the area where the petunias volunteered last spring. It's too early for Petunias but there were other delights to see and a number of weeds. I pulled all the Bittercress I saw because it has already started to put on little blooms and that artillery-like seed pod will appear quickly. I leave Chickweed because hot sun will take it out when Spring comes. There are several different cudweeds. I never pull all of them because certain butterflies use them as host plants. I counted 5 Rose Campion plants. The Sweet Williams I set out last spring thinking they were Nigella have persisted. They are next the drive so I can mark them for the mower to miss and I hope Petunias will magically appear again.

Around the area of the Cabbage Patch and Blueberry Bushes, there are many dandelions that need evicting. Dandelions need a sharp instrument that can slide down and get the whole long carrot-like root. I pulled one huge Red Sorrel. Sorrel is one of those things I often overlook thinking it might be 'something' -- and it is. You may frequently see photos of whole fields of the red seeds of Sorrel in Spring. A nuisance is what it is. 

Today was a good day for Stick Patrol. Many limbs and twigs fell during recent winds. It was sunny until mid-afternnon. Before dusk we had rain. I hope the bulbs I planted at the end of December are making good roots. I haven't seen any poppies from the seeds I scattered over them, yet. 

Another freeze is coming in a day or two.  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

A Beautiful Day with Daffodils and Blossoms

Daddy Mack always said that when the temperature reached 70 degrees you could go outside without a coat. At 70" here today you could go in short sleeves. I pruned dead shrubbery and then I made pictures.

Crape Myrtles need little pruning. I got rid of Duranta tops.
The first Daffodil appeared.

Actually there are two and more foliage indicating that we can expect more. Jonquila foliage appeared in the Upper Garden. I hope we have a long Bulb season. Somebody's been digging in the Tulip bed.

Deciduous Magnolias can hardly wait for spring. 
A few tentative blooms open at every warm spell.

Magnolia loebneri 'Leonard Messel'

Seedling Camellia 
It took about fifteen years for it to reach this size. 

It looks a lot like a popular cultivar but it is just a seedling.
Do you believe that I planted five new seedlings this year?
They are 6 inches tall. I may not live to see blooms.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Enough of the business of cold and freezes. When I go outside, I look to see what's toast and what isn't.
Last winter there was a Duranta with scant protection from pine trees to the north of it that managed to stay green through the whole mild winter.

It looked like this mid-May of 2013; identical shrubs killed 
back to the roots were about 18 inches tall, no blooms. 

In November of 2013 we still had blooms and golden berries.
All the Durantas were still green until Sunday night. 
You may know this plant as Pigeon Berry or Golden Dewdrop.
I read that deer browse them, berries first. Not here that I noticed.
Durantas are frequently visited by butterflies and sometimes a hummingbird. 

If  you can grow Esperanza Tecoma stans and Plumbago, you can grow Duranta.erecta as a tall summer annual or shrubby perennial depending upon the severity of winter temperatures and as an annual in zones cooler than zone 8b.

In 2011 I took cuttings to keep through the winter. 
Making a note to do that again next fall. 

I made a conscious decision to keep white and red begonias this winter, not pink. Why?
When I review previous years' pics I find many things I wish I'd potted for winter. 
Do you do that?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Freeze Damage

It's hard to tell about freeze damage immediately after said freeze. Some plants look sad but will recover. Their leaves kind of curl against the cold, Azaleas for example. Their tight buds are safe against the cold. White Azaleas got the notion to throw open some buds last week. They always do that and they always look like used tissue after the freeze. They hold back buds for the spring so they will still have show.

Some plants even under shelter of pines and other trees are just decimated. Angel Wing Begonias are nothing but a stub, the leaves just melted. White Shrimp plants look as if they were scalded and the red Shrimps are not much better. My Bird of Paradise is the color of rust, as are gingers. The smart gingers like Curcumas went underground weeks ago. Shell gingers were tall and proud right on until last night.

Agapanthus leaves are a soggy mass. Evergreen Daylilies' foliage looks sad but they'll straighten up. Lantana is burned to a crisp. I didn't look at Loropetalum. There were blooms in places last week. They will return despite the setback.

Plants like Bath's Pink Dianthus and Candytuft look sprightly and green, not minding the cold. Spring bulbs' foliage is green and fine, not minding cold at all.

It's hard to tell about some shrubbery. Later in the spring we may find plants with the bark split and some plant will look fine until mid-summer. I expect the cycads will need lots of pruning of freeze burned leaves come spring. Boxwoods look kind of bronze where newer growth was bright green last week.

I don't make photos of sad plants. I will remember how they look and you don't want to see.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Hard Freeze

We had such a mild winter last year. Every year is different. The 'Artic Hurricane' sends some unusual temperatures our way. Not nearly as cold as Atlanta, certainly not like the states with single digit temperatures, but we keenly feel the cold.

 Just last week there were Gerbera Daisies blooming outside. The cold will kill them back to the roots. I have only one in a pot in the greenhouse. They grow easily from seed.

Last week there were Persian Shield blossoms outdoors, too. They are day-length sensitive. I am afraid the cold may totally kill the plants. I have new plants rooted.

I went out and said goodbye to the Gingers this morning.
Shell Gingers and Cardamon Gingers kept their foliage last winter.

Cabbages are wrapped in some polyester material in which chairs we bought were wrapped. It looked a lot like row cover, so I improvised. Just beginning to head, these were still young for cutting and storing, so I'm taking a chance that we can keep them. 

I am anxious about what happens in the greenhouse. Monitoring the temperatures closely as they drop.