Meet TS and Come See the Rest of the Garden...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Brilliant Bloggers: A New Blog Feature

Yellow Yarrow in the rain garden

Someone asked me once what the point of blogging was. It was a simple, honest inquiry by a devout non-gardener. I don't remember exactly what I said in response but do know it went a little bit like this: "Blogging helps me connect with and learn from other gardeners around the world. Plus, it's an excellent diversion from cleaning the house or grading papers." 

I've added a new feature to my blog sidebar called Blogger Spotlight, where I will be featuring some of the incredible posts written by fellow bloggers. It's my way of reaching out to other bloggers and saying, "Have you checked out this post? It's brilliant!" The first blogger to hit the spotlight is Sho'Nuff Sistah's Guide to Organic Gardening and her fabulous post about The Knotty Headed Johnson Women. Enjoy!

Friday, June 21, 2013

The Bad/Not So Bad Post

I woke up this morning to discover bunnies had devoured most of my dalea. By the afternoon those furry little demons had finished the entire patch.

Pre-bunny (Summer 2012)

Dalea purpurea is a prairie native that has taken me several years to learn how to grow.


Apparently the leaves are much tastier than the stems.

But then I remembered a wad of unused bird netting stuck in a corner of the garage so I used it and a few plant support stakes to create a bunny fence.

The top of the netting is open so birds aren't trapped.

I noticed those same savages had demolished part of my stand of heliopsis 'Tuscan Sun' and didn't even have the decency to finish off  what they had destroyed.

'Tuscan Sun' heliopsis with 'Roguchi' clematis

But then I remembered another clump of netting I'd seen in the garage so I made another fence.

The bunnies also munched my asters. Asters pinched back? Check!

I noticed my Principe Borghese tomato looked pathetic despite being grown in premium Dr Earth potting soil and enriched with ground alfalfa meal and liquid kelp.

This really irritates and puzzles me. Why is it so small?

I have sweet potatoes growing happily in the same soil. My Principe Borghese looks like such a runt compared to the giant Brandywine's. 

But then I remembered seeing an organic tomato fertilizer at Home Depot called Mater Magic so I bought some and gave it a try. The Yellow Brandywine tomatoes in the back are already enormous!

Mater Magic comes with a free pint of moonshine and a can of possum stew. 

My peppers, which are growing in pots, seem to have been eaten by something with large sharp teeth.

But then I remembered hearing about sightings of radioactive space weasels, my summer nemesis.

Space weasels are easily identified by the ragged remains of vegetable gardens and
 their poor taste in beverages.

The zinnias I grew from seed that were supposed to be soft pastels and look like this - 

are all blooming bright candy apple red and clash with everything.

This part of my container garden was designed in soft pastels to help it blend easily 
with the plants in the back garden.

These are really bright red!

(I pulled off the leaves of my Abraham D'Arby rose to help stop the spread of blackspot so it's looking a bit naked right now.)

But then I remembered my favorite rule about entertaining: 'When drag queens crash your party, just get up and dance.' So I did.

I need a fan and some hideous make up! Hurry!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Stained Glass Solution

If you had the means to create the garden of your dreams, what would it look like? I asked myself that a few years ago, except it wasn't phrased so politely. Staring down yet another garden disaster, I vaguely remember throwing my shovel into the grass in disgust and shouting to myself, "What the heck do I want?" But, honestly, I don't think I had phrased it that politely, either. What I do remember vividly is sheer frustration, words that rhyme with ship and truck, and a river of sweat that had glued my underwear to my butt.

What I wanted and what I had were complete opposites. I wanted a garden that had somehow blended an English cottage garden with an American prairie swirled with a cool art house vibe. What I had was a hot mess. I spent that fall redesigning my garden, only to redesign a few sections of it again the next spring. I added beds, bought plants, and slowly chipped away at creating a garden that matched the one I dreamt about.

But I wasn't sure how to add art into the garden without the pieces looking out of place. I started slowly by adding a mosaic pot and a metal sign and this winter, when it was too cold to garden, I went shopping online for whatever caught my fancy. I attempted to stick to a budget and down the rabbit hole I went.

One of my favorite pieces is a large stained glass window custom made for me by The Stained Glass Works Design Studio in California. Because this was out of my budget, I sent them a check once a month and slowly paid it off. I used it to fill a rather rotten spot in a boring corner of my garden. I discovered them on Etsy.

This spot has been the death knell of many plants. I have no idea why since there are happy, healthy plants nearby. Glass marbles, geodes, and small metallic leaves give this piece a three dimensional effect. Small empty spots around the geodes allow for air circulation and help keep the piece upright in windy weather.

I placed the glass in a decorative metal easel and mounted it in a ceramic pot from a discount home store.

Spigelia marylandica, a native southeastern wildflower, grows nearby.

Spieglia is sometimes called Lipstick Plant because of it's red tube like flowers and attracts hummingbirds.

'Moonshine' pulmonaria are thriving in front of the pot.

This photo is too bright but shows the entire bed. Despite the filtered shade, blackberries grow well under the canopy of crepe myrtles and a 'River Mist' sea oats has been planted near the spigelia. I bring the glass inside during bad weather and will keep it inside all winter. The glass brightens up a section of the garden that is tremendously green once the spigelia stop blooming.

Monday, June 10, 2013

It's Raining Farts and Frogs

I'm sitting in my home office as I type this and I can hear a frog behind me, as in - right behind me. I even turned around and moved a stack of books, because I always have stacks of books that need moving, to see if a frog had somehow come in the back door, hopped through the kitchen, across the living room and into the office totally undetected by my four dogs.

I pondered several scenarios:

  • Tropical Storm Andrea, which has been drenching my area, blew a frog into my yard.
  • The frog is currently living behind my bookcase. (Impossible but fun to think about.)
  • Since my frog pond went belly up, how can I keep my frog from ditching me like my last frog?
  • Why does my dog have such bad gas? 
I've already gone out looking for the frog and only succeeded in poking myself with the shrubbery. While on my frog scouting mission, I did not hear a single frog. As soon as I rejoined the farting dog, the frog started singing. I am being taunted my a mystery frog.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Everything That's Right

The Baltyk clematis is blooming
and the dwarf hydrangea has buds.

My mosaic pot hasn't fallen apart.

I've gotten used to the lavatory sound of my little blue fountain and
 no longer think there's someone peeing on my front porch.

I finally have a chicken even if it's just metal.

The pollinators love the knautia.

The 'Etoile Violet' clematis are in full bloom.

After several days of rain

the sun is finally shining. 

The windows are open

and I can hear my neighbors salsa music.

There is more rain coming to keep my garden happy.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Confessions of a Love Sick Gardener

The day dawned bright, blindingly bright, but disaster was lurking at the Casa... It was all my fault. I had fallen in love with the wrong sort of guy and while the fling was steamy and brief, it ended badly as they always do.

I should have said no when I saw him winking at me from his pot, strong green branches caressing my arms as I passed. I should have ignored his advances and left him for some other girl. But I didn't.

I turned and smiled, wrote down his info and went home to do a bit of sleuthing. He seemed like a nice guy, well mannered and polite. Happy Chappy wasn't a thug and would get along easily with Graham Thomas. I slept fitfully that night, my heart aching for my new love.

Don't let that handsome face fool you. Happy Chappy doesn't do well in humid environments.

 I should have looked deeper, my head triumphing over my heart, but I had fallen hard and was all his.

Happy Chappy grew along side Graham Thomas all summer and my heart swelled when I passed them.

Graham Thomas grows along the fence near the rain garden.

But like all shady romances, Chappy was not as innocent as he appeared. He could no longer hide his guilt.

Black spots had covered every leaf, dying yellow leaves littering the mulch he shared with Graham. 

I couldn't believe it! Not Chappy! How could he turn on me like this? I didn't want to accept the truth but questioned his innocence.

I could hide no longer and felt my heart ripped apart. Happy Chappy, my sweet summer love, had black spot and had spread his evil ways to Graham and Westerland.

I worked worm compost, rich with anti-fungal properties and beneficial microbes, into the soil and watered it in with my tears. 

It was pure torture. I knew had no choice but to rip him out, clear away the mulch, and drench poor Graham with a fungicide. My heart pounded as he met his death. 

 Good bye, Chappy!

We'll always have our memories.... 
Convinced the black spot was temporary, I reassured Graham that all would be well. 
"Stay strong, Graham! We can beat this together!"

I was wrong, so very, very wrong.

I removed many of the spotted leaves, but should I remove them all? Will that harm my rose or reduce its ability to photosynthesize? What should I do?

Graham looks like a plucked chicken. Not even a watering can full of mint is enough to cheer him up.

No more summer love for me. It's just me and my best gal, Peggy Martin.