Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Merry Christmas - 2012

Merry Christmas everyone.
As you can see in the above picture we have had quite a bit of snow. We were so blessed not to receive this until early this morning. I am hoping that like us most people got their presents opened and returned home to be safe and sound before the snow moved in. 
This huge white lump is the pyracantha that is featured in my header photo. The snow has it all weighted down. I hope the birds can get under the snow to dine on the berries.
It all depends upon which tv station you listen to as to how much snow we had. I am inclined to believe what I see here in the drive. Eleven inches is the official reading by the weather channel, so far. 
My Dearly Beloved and I got out and shoveled the snow out of the driveway so we can eventually get out onto the public streets when we have to. 
I also went out to shake the snow off of some of the shrubs that were overwhelmed. We don't often have such huge amounts of snow. I was wondering if I was doing the right thing by shaking off the snow. It hasn't been too cold today. The temp is hovering around freezing. The wind is picking up and it is supposed to get pretty cold tonight.
A fun thing to do when you can't get out is feed the birds. We have a whole lot more birds at the feeders today. I got a new bird for the garden today. It is a Rusty Blackbird. Do you see the yellow eye on the bird in the center of the picture?  These blackbirds aren't typical garden birds. They hang out in big groups in fields and around swampy areas so it was a treat to see one here. 
Inside it is all warm and toasty. My 'Black Truffles' begonia is starting to bloom. I was so surprised to see these little polka doted buds. 
They are so small and delicate. They pop open to reveal a begonia-like bloom. 
I hope you are all enjoying the holidays. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Wonderful Surprise

This fall I was the lucky recepient of some trial plants from Southern Living. They were one of the gracious supporters of the Spring Fling that I attended this year in Asheville, NC. Their representatives gave an informative talk and offered some plants to trial in our garden if we wanted one.
Well, I ask you, does any gardener say no to free plants?  Especially when they offered to mail them to you at a later date so you didn't have to try to cram them into your already packed vehicle. I mean just imagine 3 women traveling several hundred miles over 10 days, all that luggage needed, then set loose in a few nurseries. That would be three women that like to garden. It is a good thing that Rose can back up her vehicle using the side mirrors is all I can say.
The Spring Fling was in May so by September I thought well, that was another promise not kept. I was oh so wrong. The last day of October I received this huge box with these amazingly large starts of plants. Now that is what I call mail order done right. Only I didn't have to order them. They were free
They are all tucked into the garden now. Amazingly I have had to keep them watered this fall. The drought just doesn't want to give up it's grip. We were 2 inches behind on rain in November and we are still having dry warm weather. I am not complaining though. It seems my new plants are taking the planting late in the season just fine. 
I am a little concerned that all but one is hardy to a zone just south of my zone. Hmmm We will see if global warming will be on my side in regard to these plants. I have planted them in areas I think might have a micro climate a little warmer than other areas in the garden. It will be exciting to see if they survive.

As to the plants the Purple Pixie Weeping Loropetalum is the most yummy color. I just love that purple/red color and it blooms. While most things in the garden have been frosted and frozen enough to lose their leaves  if they are going to this shrub still looks like the perky little sprite that arrived here over a month ago. 

I am not very familiar with Mahonias. The Mahonia they sent me is called 'Soft Caress'. It has bamboo-like foliage. It will get bright yellow flowers in early winter they say. This will be a real treat if it survives. I have always admired those big mahonias in the South that have big blue berries. If this one lives I will be trying one of them here too. 
My favorite plant  that they sent was the Gardenia, Gardenia jasminoides 'Leeone'. It even had a couple of blooms on it when it arrived. Those glossy leaves are marvelous and the big white blooms, mmmmmm I can't wait to have a shrub full of them. I am very hopeful that it will survive despite the zone being illadvised here. What gives me the greatest hope is that Lee, who lives and gardens in Conneticut, has a gardenia that survives and blooms. Where he lives is the same zone as where I live. His area does get more snow cover that might help it along. I don't know. We will see. I am so excited about this though.

Last but not least is the only plant that is recommended for my zone Little Bonnie Dwarf Spirea. Isn't that the sweetest name for a shrub? It has dainty blue-green foliage which I love and it blooms too. The foliage color blends well with my color scheme in the back garden. 

I put links to all the plants so you can read why I am so excited about them. I haven't taken pictures of them in situ because most of everything looks a little sad at this point in my garden due to the frost and freezing. I am looking forward to seeing how these plants do in my garden. I will keep you up to date. 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Final Bow GBBD- November 2012

While one expects to find a few nodding Mum blooms this time of year it is the more delicate blooms that I will miss as the year goes on.
Even the hardy pansies are about to succumb to the heavy frosts. 
It was most surprising to find Ramona thumbing her petals at Jack.
The last anemone is paying homage to the frost too. 
I won't have to busy about the garden much now. She is nodding off to sleep covered with leaf mulch. 
For the November Garden Bloggers Bloom Day posts head over to Carols May Dreams Garden.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day - October 2012

The toad lilies are blooming despite their sulking through the drought this summer. 
 Thankfully we have been having rain this autumn. Everything seems to be responding to the moisture.
 The hardy cyclamen are blooming up a storm.
 I hate to say it but I have forgotten what this plant is below. It was a gift from Cindy. Pllease tell me what it is. It has these beautiful blooms that look like orchids of some sort. I brought it inside just before the first frost and it continues to bloom. It has green leaves that turn purple on the underside. I should know what it is. I had it years ago. My memory has failed me...again.
Other plants blooming at this time are Mums, dahlia, asters, sedums. 
If you have something blooming in your garden this month please join everyone posting on Carol's Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, here.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Stretching the Limits

When I was at the Spring Fling this May I got to tour many gardens. In almost every one of these Southern gardens I toured there was a clump of hardy begonias established. My luck would hold because when my traveling companions and I stopped at a nursery in Tennessee they happened to have some of this begonia potted up waiting for my purchase. Begonia grandis 'Alba'. I felt so lucky to have found the alba since all I saw in the gardens were the pink flowered begonias.
I brought this baby home and promptly divided the huge clump into three pieces and spread them around the garden hoping that one place or the other would be to their liking. Then the drought set in. Oh brother was I worried. I watered and watered. Prayed then gave up.
Much to my happiness I believe that a couple of the pieces I planted are going to take...IF, and that is a big IF the winter doesn't do them in. My garden is situated in the upper part of the new zone 6. So I will be counting the days through winter that go below the norm for these plants.
Of course since I am a gardener I am ever hopeful that they will survive. I am hedging my bets with some pieces I have put into water to winter over inside. The cuttings are already blooming. I might have to put these outside someplace and cut a few more to winter over.
 I am wondering what kind of luck I might have. I haven't seen them growing any further north than Evansivlle, IN which is 60 miles south of my garden. Of course I haven't been in every garden between here and there. Darn the luck. Have any of you in zone 6 or colder had any luck growing these plants?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Damp Surprises

Yes my friends, we got some measurable rain. Yipeeee.... When I first looked at the rain gauge I thought it said 3 inches. The red indicator is up there by the three but it was only 2 3/4". I am not complaining though. I would have been dancing in the streets for a quarter inch at this point.
The plants are responding like they are thrilled for a second chance.  The Climbing Hydrangea was dieing from the top down even though I was keeping it watered.  
Happily it is putting on some new growth. I just hope we continue to get enough rain to sustain that new growth.
I have our first mushrooms of the summer to report. This one popped up near the compost pile right where the grass has all died. Crabgrass doesn't count. The only good thing about crabgrass is that it doesn't take much water to make it green. 
This is some sort of shaggy mushroom. Don't worry I wouldn't begin to eat this thing. I don't eat wild mushrooms because I would forever be worrying about whether they were poisonous or not. It is beautiful in a sculptural way. 
This is another mushroom. Much shorter. Odd that they came in onesies. 
The staghorn fern is making babies.  
I have had this fern for years and it hasn't done much but grow a little larger. I set it outside every summer. This is where our little tree frog likes to reside. One of these days I will get brave enough to cut one of the babies off and mount it to a board as it probably should be grown. I have watched "how tos" on youtube. It looks like a simple project but I am a little intimidated about cutting into it. 
The Staghorn is also making it's spores. I have never seen this before. Maybe it was the stress of the summer? Maybe I watered more regularly due to the heat and drought??  
Another surprise was that the night blooming cactus bloomed again. Missed this one too even though it was higher on the plant than the first one. It seems to be blooming in onsies too. I have looked for other buds on the plant but can't see any. One of these days I will get some pictures of it blooming again. 
This orchid 'P. Long Pride Green Pixie' is blooming again. This is a first for me. I have never had an orchid rebloom. I am just thrilled that it is adding a bloom almost daily and it has a few more buds to go. 
Not only this one above but another one, 'P. I-Hsin Amy', has a couple of buds on it. I am feeling so successful despite the drought. 
Have you had any surprises in the garden this summer?

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Big Begonias

During these hot miserable days that are being racked up in the record books it is difficult to be very enthusiastic about the garden. Water water watering is about all that is going on. Looking into my crystal ball would never in a million years would I have seen that my passion for begonias would have been reignited. I must say though I found some beautiful begonias that have taken my mind off the misery of the season.

Begonias you say. Yes I say. These are not your mother's wax begonias I am talking about. These are some BIG-leaved rhizomatous begonias and I am telling you right now that my photos don't do them justice.

When I first brought them home I made a big mistake of trying to plant two of them in a pot. Even though the pot was plenty big for the roots it wasn't large enough to suitably display the big leaved begonias. I had to separate these two.
Art Hodes has large textured leaves. 
If you look close at them you can see that the leaves are hairy and red underneath. The edges are a little wavy and just look at those hairs.
'Bashful Bandit', the one that was crammed in with it has a totally different look. It has huge cleft leaves that are a deep burgandy. (below)
I think my favorite of the lot is 'Cowardly Lion'. It has these huge leaves that are chartruese with deep 
chocolate veins running through. 
The leaves even seem to spiral in toward the stems.
'Black Truffles' doesn't have such large leaves but it has beautiful dark chocolate colored leaves with contrasting yellow/green veins. The back of the leaves are dark red. Yummmmy. 
 While 'Deco Daddy' isn't as large-leaved as some of the others he is a handsome dude.
Obviously the 'in' thing in begonias are the spiraled leaves. Even though 'Palomar Whirlwind' isn't quite as colorful as the others I couldn't leave it behind. 
The last in this series I bought is 'Madame Queen'. Unfortunately she has been a little finiky. She didn't like being potted up with another. When I took her out she has been in something of a pout. I think she will come around now that she is in a pot of her own. I sure hope so because her large glossy leaves that are ruffled around the edges are beautiful. 
Do I have other begonias? Yes, I just love them. The only bad thing about them is that they all have to come in this winter. I wonder how I will be able to get them all in front of the window with the most light?? Oh well I will worry about that then. Have you a new or renewed flower passion this summer?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Flowers and Foliage July 15 & 16

The day after the official Bloom Day hosted by Carol over at May Dreams Garden if find that The Susans are blooming up a storm. A few of the Tall Garden Phlox are giving it a go too. There just aren't
many other blooms in the garden. 
When I went to make a list of blooms the list looks about normal but the garden itself doesn't look a bit normal. Dry and a little crispy around the edges. We have had a couple of pop-up showers the past few days. I was so hoping a good rain would set it. We will have to wait until later. 
The drought hasn't given the blooms much chance this summer. The foliage of many plants are brown around the edges. Many hostas are going to a pale flop but there are a few hostas that are holding up in the drought. I thought I would give them special attention for today is Foliage Follow Up as hosted by Pam at Digging. 
Sagae has been stellar in it's performance in this heat and drought. It even grows under the Apple tree.
Right beside Sagae is Guacamole. It also has withstood the drought. It has sort of become one color instead of the bicolor it usually has but it is still looking good for these conditions.
If you have some blooms or foliage to share please go to the highlighted web sites and join in on the fun. 
If you don't have something blooming I sure hope you have some fantastic foliage.
Blooms this month:
Crepe Myrtle
Tall garden phlox (White and Pink)
Black-eyed Susans
Yellow Trumpet Vine
Crocosmia 'Lucifer'
Lemon Balm
Vanilla Strawberry Hydrangea
Patio Hydrangea

Monday, July 9, 2012

Break In The Weather

All I can tell you is that it was a joy to get out this morning for our daily walk.
It was about 20 degrees cooler than it has been in some time even though the sun was out and it was promising that it would warm up.
We got a spot of rain last night. With the front that pushed through the temps fell. Out came a few bugs that have been few and far between.
This bumble bee has discovered that one of the flowers on the hummingbird feeder is leaking. He had to run off the yellow jacket that you can see below right. There were two yellow jackets and they gave great respect to the bumble bee. I don't know who found it first but the bumble bee won the flower.
It has been so dry that the yellow jackets have been going to the bird baths for moisture. This is a first in my memory. At our friend's pool there was a big black wasp landing on the water surface like a water strider getting a drink. That was also a first for all of us. I guess this weather takes desperate measures for them to survive.
 One of the beautiful butterflies had to share its nectar source with Japanese Beetles.
 They weren't paying too much attention to the butterfly though. I almost felt sorry for them, almost I said, because they lay their eggs in the ground and right now our ground is so hard I doubt they will be successful.
I did find evidence of another ground dweller. This casing of the cicada showed up on the Casa (screen house). The cicadas emerge from the ground, crawl up someplace and leave their casing behind.
 Yes, at least one survived. I haven't heard them calling much though. This is going to be a rough year for them. Of course this wasn't an eruption year for them but I do seem many more than one or two. They normally make such a cachophany of sound you know they are around for several weeks during the summer.
Yes, this will be one summer to remember. Not so fondly though.
One thing that has been nice this summer is that weeds haven't been encouraged to grow much. My DB was thinking it was our outstanding attack upon the weeds that made them afraid to show their ugly heads around here. I had to remind him that I think it was more like the lack of rain that discouraged them. You can see that even with a shot of rain it didn't take them long to begin sprouting.
As you see in the picture above the zoysia lawn is not looking too happy but the weeds are sprouting.
Some plants have just given up like this lirope. I am amazed at this. They are so hardy. Other plants like the old fashioned hardy hibiscus nearby just keep on. It isn't as thick or tall as usual yet
 it laughs in the face of drought and so will I.
I hope your area has collected some rain and the temps have lowered a bit like here.

New Blogger, Old Blogger

     All I can say it is difficult to deal with change. This new Blogger format is not as user friendly in my opinion. I guess I will get us...