Saturday, August 21, 2010

end of season wrap up

Well, its almost the end of the summer, and while living in the wonderful world of zone 7 means I'll still have time to grow more plants, the stork is due in 2 weeks (!!!!!) so I am sure I'll be occupied for a while, and I don't currently have a lot of fall plants in my garden, as its still young.

What worked well, what didn't, and what I might try for next year.

Worked well: All the Hibsicus were fabulous! I am in love with the Fireball hibiscus, which went dormant for maybe a week or 2 during the worst summer weather, but now is completely loaded with blooms. No supplemental water needed for it or the Fantasia Hibsicus pictured here, which somehow managed to survive the death bed (AKA Jen's big noobie mistake of putting almost all compost in the bed, because compost is better then soil, right?) Both Hibsicus were in their 2nd year in my garden:

The Narrow Leaf Zinnias were also great plants. I am not surprised, because this is a Felder Rushing recommendation, from his book "Tough Plants for Southern Gardens" but its still important to note, once I got this established, no problems at all ignoring it in the garden. This is an annual, so I'll have to get it again, or try it from seed. Maybe it will show up in my garden as reseeds! I didn't have to dead head it or water it at all.

Snowflurry Verbena had all the same attributes as the Zinnias, with the added benefit that it is a perennial! This is its first year, so hopefully there will be no issues with it overwintering, as I really don't want to pay the high PDN costs again for this plant. It did great though! I love Verbenas, they are just gorgeous. I picked up some Aztec Cherry Verbena on a whim on the markdown section, and they are also incredible. I gotta get these next year at the beginning of the season, so cheery and bright and undemanding.

Perennial Heilotrope also did great, no need to water, and spread like crazy. I think it looks lovely next to my butterfly bush. I need to come up with a good color to mix with that light lavender, though. I have a pretty boring bed of just white and purple right now, it just needs a little more excitement. Not sure what to do with it. This is also the first year for the Heilotrope in my garden.


Man, I had a lot of plants that didn't do well. This is 100% due to the fact that it was survival of the fittest for them, and probably not due to them being bad plants. I just couldn't bring myself to do a lot in the garden, especially as hot and miserable as this summer was. I did manage to keep up with the weeds (mostly) and that is an impressive feat when you factor in that I was 6 months along in June!

All my Coneflowers did terrible almost all summer. The ones that performed best were the Kim's Knee High. Most of the species had ugly mutant flowers, and weird diseased flowers. What went wrong, Coneflowers? You were my favorite plants last year! I thought the beds had good enough drainage, and come to think of it, the Agastaches in the same beds did GREAT, so it can't be that. I think the varieties I planted must have just been bad. Maybe I'll pull them all up and move the Kim's to a better place, right now they are close to the pine trees, so they are way more thirsty than they should be. Second year for all my Coneflowers, all of which did miserable.

My Nepeta were sulky and puny, and I don't know what could be causing it, unless its that they are too close to the pine trees as well. They hardly bloomed, they didn't grow. Right now my plan is to move around some stuff in that bed and pull some other plants in the fall. Hopefully they will be happy somewhere else.... maybe they should go in a different bed all together. This was their second year in the bed.

Well, that's enough details for me. I had some annuals that didn't perform well, but they are annuals, and probably it was my neglect more than anything. Oh and my Cherokee Purple tomatoes are still going strong, had table ready tomatoes by July 19th. Definitely will keep growing these next year.

Friday, August 6, 2010

captains log

Not a big update, but I wanted to log this before I forget. Just planted 3 clematis, two Barbara Jackman and one Nelly Moser. Also picked up a Salvia Nemorosa at Lowes for a dollar, going to try and overwinter it in a pot until I can figure out where I want to put it. I love those purple Salvias! I haven't gotten around to taking too many pictures, but the garden is just too hot for me right now, and not looking its best anyways. Here's one from earlier in the summer as my Fireball Hibiscus started really blooming. It was spectacular, I can't believe how big it got when I had just bought a 6 inch pot last year.

Friday, July 2, 2010


Nothing makes a garden feel more alive than having critters working the flowers. Up until recently, I have seen very few pollinators visiting my little patches, which made me really sad. I love watching fat bumblebees nosing around blooms, and who doesn't like seeing butterflies flutter in the air? However, once the Obedient Plant started blooming, it seemed like all the other plants finally started being noticed. I have Phlox, Yarrow, Foxgloves, Salvia and Veronica Speedwell, Coneflowers, etc, so no shortage of pollinator friendly plants here! Well, I'm just happy to see them finally visiting me.

Then today, I finally saw my first hummingbird, and actually had my camera on hand! I didn't get too close, because I didn't want to scare her away, but she was hitting the Agastache (also known as Hummingbird Mint) like crazy. I was thrilled, I bought this in Lowes last year (discount again, lol) because every time I was in the store, the hummingbirds were practically elbowing you out of the way to get to these flowers. They were nuts for them! This flower is one of my favorites in the garden, although it doesn't photograph well for me, it has beautiful flowers and is aromatic when brushed even slightly.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

so hot!

Its been roasting outside for the last week, far too hot for me to dare go outside for too long. Works out OK, because I'm in the 3rd trimester anyways, so it would be too hot regardless, but I'm worried about the weeds taking over. I can see them sprouting up in the former vegetable patch, and I just cannot get to them, not to mention the ground is rock hard because we haven't gotten any rain! The husband would help me out, but we have so many indoor tasks to get ready for the baby, and I don't want to pull him off any of those. My job right now is to sit around and be so tired that I can't even read my gardening books or browse the internet. I think I must have slept 15+ hours yesterday.

However, when I have enough energy to browse the web, I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do next in the garden. You know, when I can bend over again! One of my favorite interior design blogs does something called a mood board, where they put together some accessories, paint colors, etc, to help them pull together the room they are working on. I pulled a lot of these images from Plant Delights Nursery, which I am lucky enough to have nearby.

I actually put together a much longer collection of plant images, but I noticed that I've got 4 main colors going, a yellow green, a blue green, and hot pinks and orange flowers. I need to start working out a actual bed plan, but there's plenty of time for that this winter I suppose. I've got my Fireball Hibiscus, an Antique Lace Brugmansia and 2 August Beauty Gardenia already (some still in pots, bad Jen!). I want this garden to be gaudy and tropical, and remind me of the gardens in Houston, particularly my Grandmother Rose's garden, which I love. As a kid, it was one of my favorite places to play in and hunt for frogs and lizards, and I'm hoping to have a space like that for my children. This is an ambitious project, so I'm going to have to take it slow, but I have all winter, and I'm sure that baby won't keep me busy ALL the time, right? Hahahahaha. Well, all this typing has worn me out, time to lie down.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Coneflowers are one of my favorite flowers. Tough, easy to grow, long blooming, bees love them, drought tolerant, there are so many reasons to love them. Most of all, I love their beautiful range of colors. I've got quite a few different kinds growing, and some of them are blooming now. I'm guessing on these names, because I forgot to write them down, but I think my memory serves me correctly.

Miss Kim:

Sundown(?)or Summer Sky (?):

I have several more varieties waiting to bloom, one white, one yellow and one of the classic pinks. I love their warm colors, especially with the Catmint's purple hues, which you can see in the first picture. I added some Liatris which I thought would bloom with the coneflowers, but since we're having such a mixed up year, the coneflowers are blooming early, who knows when the Liatris will actually flower. Also added some May Night Salvia this year, So hopefully I'll have more purple throughout the bed. I have most of my Coneflowers in my drought tolerant bed, which I think of as my sunset bed, because all the colors are what you would find in the sky as the sun drops down.

Other than roses, I think my collection of Coneflowers is the largest in the yard. Speaking of roses, here's my Graham Thomas, I think its looking pretty fabulous! I can't wait to see how it performs next year.

Monday, May 31, 2010

finally, pictures!

Its been a couple weeks since I updated, but I've been really busy around the house getting everything ready for the baby. And napping. A LOT of napping. I hardly have energy to garden, and weeding is getting harder to do, too. Hopefully my garden will hang in there until I'm back to full capacity.

I finally got a new camera, and while I had been debating waiting until closer to the due date, to see if prices go down anymore, I'm glad I got it now, because its actually more complicated to use than I expected. I got the Canon Rebel T1i, for those imaginary people that read my blog who might be interested.

So here's a little garden tour to start things off! This is my favorite area in the mornings, although it doesn't photograph as nicely as I would like, I'm sure in years to come it will be more impressive. I just love the way the sun hits this garden and lights up the Coral Bark Maple and Virginia Creeper. I have a great view of this garden from my kitchen table.

Here's another view with my Maiku Jaku tree in the foreground. This tree is one of my favorites, and I think its very happy in this spot. I just love how pretty the Bee Balm is when lit by that sun, it just glows!

Luscious red Bee Balm! I tried some in another bed last year and it all died, but that bed is the death bed! I had only one plant survive in there, but I realize now that I put too much compost and not enough topsoil in there. I will revamp it, maybe next year. It needs to some major work, the soil is the worst in the yard there, it turns into a clay bowl of dirt soup when it rains, and stays that way for days and days. Plus, I read that Bee Balm likes a moist soil, and that area gets baked by the sun all day. This new garden bed it is in seems pretty ideal, the soil holds moisture well, and it gets morning sun, and late afternoon shade.

Here's where the Graham Thomas roses went, you can see that the Veronica Speedwell "Icicles" are just about to bloom. I'm pretty happy with these plants, as I left them in their nursery pots all winter ( I do that a lot), but they bounced back great once they were in the ground. You can see how weedy the areas between the bed are, but they look a lot better then when we moved in!

Well, I hope the formatting worked out OK, if it looks weird to you imaginary readers out there, let me know! This is the first time I've posted pictures for a blog before.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Camera fail!

Despite the fact that I'm sure that rogue battery charger must be somewhere in the house, I broke down and ordered a new one, so that I could finally start posting pictures of my garden. Sadly, once, I plugged in my charged battery, I find out my CAMERA is now broken. Argh! So once again, rather than show some pretty pictures, I must merely catalog the new bed in words. How archaic ;)

The new bed put in sort of butts against the existing bed of mostly Bee Balm, and I'm going with a cottage garden theme here. I planted a few Foxgloves, Miss Manners Obedient Plant, some miscellaneous Asiatic Lilies, Verbena "Snowflurry", white narrow leaf Zinnias and a perennial Heliotrope. I left the ground unmulched to encourage reseeding... we'll see how that works. More weeding for me, that's for sure. I'm wondering if there's any mulch that would allow the seeds to germinate .. leaf mulch maybe? The Graham Thomas roses look like they are about to bloom any moment now, and I can't wait!

Friday, April 30, 2010


Noticed today that one of my Graham Thomas roses already has buds on it. I'm so glad I'm keeping this blog, because it didn't seem that long ago that I planted it, but looking back, I guess it was 10 days ago... not bad, way to go plant! The MAC roses seem to be recovering some, I'm hoping they start putting out some new growth and looking perkier, I am really looking forward to them on my window outside the office, assuming they get enough sun out there.

In other news, I am SUCH a discount plant addict, it doesn't help that the Lowe's is less then 5 minutes from my work, and right by the sandwich place I frequent for lunch, but it might be out of hand. My deck is covered with Salvias now, can you believe I picked up 10 quart sized pots or so for 50 cents each? Also picked up half a dozen of "Silver Mound" Artemisia, same size and price, two Miss Kim Lilacs in 1 gallon pots, an unnamed hibiscus (not hardy), two foxgloves, and a Boston Fern for 2 dollars a piece. Oh and I can't even count how many bulbs I picked up... sheesh!

I plan on putting the Salvias with the Knock Out Roses, and the Artemisia is going to go in a placeholder bed until I put together the stock tank pond! I'm hoping to soften the edge of it with various silver foliaged plants.... still not sure where it will go yet. Somewhere fabulous! Think I'll use the Miss Kims to soften the edge of the former veggie garden, right now its a very hard rectangle.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

my poor feets!

I suppose I am not taking it easy enough as a 21 week pregnant woman should be, but I spent a good 3 hours or so over at Big Bloomers Flower Farm in Sanford yesterday. My feet are so swollen now! I bought myself some flowers, they have such a great selection there, and their annuals are generally less then 2 dollars for a 4 pack, and lots of unusual types. Picked up some clematis that I fear will be duds... we'll see. Its really rainy right now so I won't be able to plant. Of course, I completely forgot to get the Coral Honeysuckle that I saw pictured at Randy and Meg's Garden Paradise a local garden blogger that I love to read. I wanted to get it at Big Bloomers because they generally have pretty good prices, and I'm a cheap gardener! I hope Randy and Meg don't mind me using their photo!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

going to be sore tomorrow

Today was the most gardening I think I've ever done in 1 day. Pretty much all morning and afternoon until 5pm was spent working in the garden, and I have a lot to show! I finally, finally, FINALLY got the Phlox and Veronica Speedwell 'Icicle' planted, which I have had shamefully sitting in pots for over a year on my deck. Also planted were the red Salvias I have had for several weeks. Terrible, I know, but I am a discount plant addict, and as such, I'm always buying things for cheap and then trying to find a place for them, and there is a Lowe's 5 minutes from my workplace. Its worked out in my favor so far, as I have gotten a really great bed full of perennials for probably 30 dollars. When I find my battery charger I'll post some pictures.

So today, I planted in the bed with the Graham Thomas roses, 10 Montbresia, 50 Gladiolus, 9 Lilies, 3 Veronica Speedwell and some Red Salvias. Sadly, all this work comes to just a handful of above ground plants for me to look at. Boo!

edit: just realized I should write down these plants I got as well: Apricot Twist Wallflower "Erysimum 'Apricot Twist'" and Ballerina Red Armeria "Armeria pseudarmeria 'Ballerina Red'" The Wallflower went into the drought tolerant bed, and is looking pretty good already. Both were Lowe's discount bin impulse buys... not sure what I will do with the Armeria.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

le sigh!

This isn't going to be a very exciting blog unless I can find my battery charger for the camera, y'all! But since this is mostly a record for myself, I want to note that the Irises and Allium are just about to break buds, and that one of the Coneflowers in the far right corner have had fat, green, half-formed blooms for at least 2 weeks now. Oh and the Hydrangea in the shadier bed just formed the teeniest green buds, as do all the Confederate Jasmine. Most exciting, the plant which name I can't recall, that I really thought wouldn't make it through the winter is starting to bud out. I was almost positive it was dead! Wouldn't that be nicer with pictures? Maybe I'll find the charger this weekend.

I just got 4 roses in the mail, 2 Sombreuil Roses and 2 Madame Alfred Carriere Roses. The MAC have a little bit of powdery mildew, hopefully that will disappear. I took all next week off, and my goal is to get my beds all planted, and mulched. I'm going to try keeping the MAC in a pot on my north wall for a little bit and see if it can survive well enough. If it can, I'll be building a big trellis up to the office window and letting it climb up the whole wall. I've heard the plant will grow 15 feet in a season, so I'd like to get in the ground ASAP. The Sombruil are going on the posts that were put in by the previous residents for a very flimsy trellis - just some 4x4 posts with bamboo poles resting on the fence. I've read this makes a nice pillar rose.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The beginning

This is what I started with, upon moving into our fabulous new (and first!) home: we had begun negotiations on the property in February and moved in at the end of March. A lot had changed while the home stood empty, and the large vegetable plot was UNBELIEVABLY overrun with weeds. Its been a steady battle since then, both against the weeds, and my ever-changing vision for the space: "Its going to be a beautiful potager! No wait, a lush tropical setting. No, better yet, a formal garden with a firepit! No, not formal; cottage style. I love cottage style!" Still struggling with an overarching design, I am just going with what strikes me, and the plants I have available to me. We'll see where it takes me...