Monday, June 30, 2008

Whack-o-Matic

Morning coffee with the internet has become a tradition of mine in recent years. The internet holds a much greater variety of information than the newspaper, as well as less depressing things to read at the beginning of the day. No one should have to wake up with murder and mayhem in their face. A more pleasant mindset is found in waking to check the weather, respond to a note from a friend, or reading about an exciting new plant. This morning I went to look for further information on a particularly nifty new plant on one of my vendor’s sites. Not finding that I clicked on another link that caught my attention in their Garden Writers section.

"Meatballs, Soapboxes and Tuna Cans", to be precise.

To a person who has never been employed within the landscape industry, that phrase would bring to mind food. To insiders it would have a far different meaning. Of course where I worked it was baseballs and cubes. So this morning’s coffee was sipped between chuckles.

The author (head of sales) I would venture to say is younger than 50. Those over 50 feel that these balls, cubes, footballs or tuna cans are a staple that is required in the landscape. For the life of me I have never understood why we must have them. What is so necessary about using a shrub far to large for its placement and whacking off it’s limbs to shape it into an unnatural form? Off with its head! It should wear a size 42 long jacket, but we will force it to fit comfortably into a 10 short. It is interesting to note that also helpless poodles have also fallen victim to this manner of unnatural shaping and they are not plants. A month ago I witnessed a house cat shorn in this manner.

Mr. Woods, who wrote the afore mentioned article, has developed the opinion that it is an inherent human instinct. That we humans have so little that we actually have complete control over that our psyche has tuned in to the helpless shrubs in our yard. While I giggled often while reading his words, it struck me that he has a good point. Why else would we so cruelly inhibit the wild beauty of a shrub? In my early years I had no reason to argue with my father, the professional landscaper as to why we must do this. Quite the contrary, originally I assisted him in his whacking while trying to mimic his methods. It wasn’t until I started to design plantings and began to see plants for their own individual beauty that I began to question this barbaric practice. It has come to be a long standing argument between us over the years. He refuses to budge from his Pro Juniper stance, insisting we simply MUST have the prickly old things. Yews and Burning Bushes have their place and are quite lovely if not placed where they can be gently shaped not beaten in submission twice a season.

During my contracting days, I would arrive at a clients home for a meeting about a landscape facelift to find the sad remains of Burning Bushes, Yews and Junipers that had resided along the walk or foundation for decades. All of them left much to be desired in the looks department after the last harsh whacking. Common sense told me that following decades of cruel treatment, the poor things have given up growing hair. Why should they continue to grow it if for the past 25 years every attempt was quickly lopped off? How much squelching of creativity can a being endure before throwing in the towel? In voicing this thought to successful lawyers and surgeons , I must admit I was rewarded with raised eyebrows. Why do we insist on planting a shrub that will grow eight foot tall and 12 foot wide in a 30 inch wide space and insist it does not exceed those confines? I am in agreement with Mr. Woods, it is one area to have complete control over in our lives.

So there I stand with this super successful professional, a man of high learning, who wants to know how we can coax this spent row of 5 foot tall trunks and stems along his walk into growing more hair in the bottoms. He thinks that fertilizer cures all of man’s cruelty. (Remember that you must see things through the eye of the plant?) How am I to explain this to this person! My professional self developed a cunning approach. “A landscape has a life expectancy of about 20 years. Yours seems to be about 5 years overdue for replanting.” If this was not enough to convince the customer, I would go on to ask how long the wallpaper in their kitchen had hung there. Explaining that redecorating outdoors was just as necessary to variety in life than it was to keep up to date with their interior d├ęcor. But they wanted back what they had before it turned into bare branches! The issue of certain control may very well be the answer.

Now I am not against hedges. I am not anti-evergreen. Pruning, thinning and shaping is of definite necessity to full and lovely shrubs and even some trees. In every other aspect of life we look for the right thing to accomplish the task, but when it comes to the plants we place in our yards we seem to fall short in the search for the proper element. Proper planning should be the first consideration and whacking could become almost obsolete. It is good to know that plant breeders are busily developing new Arborvitaes and Yews that will stay in a nice little meatball shape without whacking. News that will lessen the maintenance you must forfeit your weekend to perform, alleviate the need to butcher the bushes and make all the hedge trimmer companies hold their breath over next year’s third quarter earnings.

As for the aspect of proper planning vs. constant replacement, if the space is 30 inches wide, then it would be best to consider installing only those shrubs that will never exceed 4 foot in width. Remember, a little shaping is good and a harsh whacking is lowering the life expectancy of the elements in your landscape. Proper planning is one of the best tools in creating a low maintenance planting.

(This article was originally written in 2005 as content. It has been enjoyed by so many people I thought my readers would get a kick out of it too.)
G.G.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Green Industries - Why Aren't They Greener?

"Gardeners will send 320 million pounds of plastic pots to the landfill this year."
quote from Bonnie Plants, June 27, 2008

Fifteen years ago I happened to mention to a local grower (soon to become a competitor) that I was not going to grow in pots. No! (shock registered) I was going to do a better quality of plant production and grow in the ground(gasp!). Talk about shock factor, the man was aghast at my stupidity.

"You'll never sell a thing," he stated haughtily. "Its all about container growing, thats the way things are done in the modern nursery industry."

Yes, I grew in pots when I was in the nursery business. I tried some ground growing in the old horse paddock. Why do horses NOT digest the seeds of the weeds? Maybe someday I will be able to ask the force behind the invention of the horse as to why their digestive systems were not created correctly ... why is the nitrogen availability not up to par for using as a fertilizer without 50 years of composting? Needless to say, we couldn't weed fast enough or long enough to keep that mess under control.

Point taken, Patrick the hoighty toighty one. I grew in pots. Many nurseries - trees, shrubs and perennial growers, take an unsold plant that has outgrown it's current pot size and repot it 2 sizes up to grow on for a bigger ticket item. This is to be expected in reality. The problem is that they throw away the original, smaller sized pot turning it into trash headed for the landfill if they can. The reasoning behind this is to ward of the spread of disease in the nursery or greenhouse. Landscape companies are just as guilty, if not more so. Many contractors don't want all that dead plastic cluttering up their company yard and the pots are deposited in the nearest hidden dumpster. How do I know this? A bunch of birds told me.

The plastics that nursery containers are made of are not recyclable. I didn't invent this system, I even tried to emphatically buck their neat little easy-to-carry-home-cleanly marketing plot, and lost thanks to horse's digestive systems. While I was aware of the damages from the salt in horse urine to annual bedding plants (a.k.a begonias, marigolds and impatiens, etc.) I was not expecting all them dang weeds in my phlox production area! Had I been wise to the weed corruption, I would have potted the darn things! Loosing 300 out of 500 plants is mighty expensive.

In retrospect, I lost most of the plants to the dad-gummit weed population. No one wants to pay the added cost of hand weeding that is a necessary evil of in-ground growing. Which is why field grown perennials are a dinosaur manufacturing method, not to mention the fact that trying to recoup the cost of labor to harvest in a Walmart world is just not going to happen.

The landscape and nursery trades are known as the "green industries" though that does not necessarily mean that the participating contracting companies and specialty farmers are embracing green living. Market growers are not going to use all that plastic if they are going to embrace a green culture in the green industries. (How's that for sarcasm?) Coming from that arena personally, I can vouch for a number I knew personally downgrading me as a "dam tree-hugger". Hmm, shady thing for a man who makes his living off of trees to say to moi who promotes perennials don't you think? I would look more like a flower-hugger if you were to give me an embracing label. Seriously though, shouldn't a business owner literally embrace the reason there is food on his table? Myself, I didn't even grow trees and I was embracing the dang things!

To promote a more green living kind of gardening, I suggest that you all boycott any grower who is not supporting that which he earns a living off of. If they cannot grow in peat or fiber pots, then why would you want to promote non-green agriculture, let alone gardening? Gardens are the most green kind of landscaping on the planet, so why are we producing all this poisonous landfill accumulation in the pursuit of being green? Perhaps it is time for recyclable nursery containers. It makes much more sense just to use the fiber pots. You don't even have to remove the plant, the container will completely return to dirt in less than a calendar year.

A grower who recycles nursery containers does have his own issues as well. They have a tendency to multiply like butter tubs to the fifth power. My own barn was so packed with the recycled pots they were almost spilling out the doors. Granted, plants that go unsold on the first potting do require larger pants if they are going to be sold in the next go round a few weeks later. Unfortunately, storing multiple pant sizes for thousands of plants is a bit space consuming. But you see this is the problem - in a nutshell.

If the green industry cannot promote green living then should all the players be allowed to state they are in the green industry? Doesn't make a lot of sense does it? Gardeners need to make a statement to the growers in this country. Homeowners really should fall in behind gardeners in demanding that the green industries promote green living. IF you are going to be green, then please for Pete's sake ... BE GREEN! If not get out of the way before the green people run you all over.

'Nuff said for today. Enjoy the sunshine ;O) G.G.


Seeing Red



The perfect flower color would be true blue, if in fact such a thing existed beyond a handful of choices. My one way preference for blue needed an accessory color and red looked best. Not some wimpy almost shade of pink or orange undertones. No it has to be the rich, brilliant and drop-dead gorgeous tone of Fire Engine Red.

If you think it is hard to find flowers that are actually blue beyond the name they were blessed with, finding red can become a labyrinth of cast outs too. I do not understand why yellow is yellow and white is white but red and blue are just not right. What is it with these flower people anyway? Pink and magenta are not red!

Like I can actually control being a sucker for red. No matter what piece of junk someone thought to paint red, I want to buy it and add it to the collection. Thankfully, the house is full of antique and junk store finds already, but I can still look and desire new finds. Maybe I should sell my old red shabby chic possessions and trade up to a new hoard of eye candy?

Many flowers marketed as red are definitely NOT red. Isn't there some sort of Fair Trade Law about truth in advertising? Phlox paniculata does not bloom true red - no matter what that photo tells you, it isn't possible. True red daylilies? Sorry, it just isn't so. No Coneflower is really red, and very rare is the true red Peony.

The quest for true color continues.
G.G.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Tale of the Lilies

Image credit: Used under permission of GNU license


My dear friend Kelly, the marketing executive, built a fabulous house around the corner from me. As life has a way of doing to us all, half way through the construction phase, she lost her 6 figure a year job due to aggressive takeover when the original owner died. Instead of being able to plant the wonderful gardens that were part of her vision, she was reduced to scrounging sale tables and getting very crafty at how she obtained plants for her yard. Being artistic, she loves beautiful plants even though she has no idea what half of them are. For this technical stuff, she has moi as her personal gardening consultant.


Since we live in the middle of nowhere, there are countless sources for obtaining free plants if you get a hankering for something that grows wild along the fields and ditches. One day she was driving toward town and came to a screeching stop when a the quarter mile stretch of flamboyant tiger lilies blooming like mad along on the roadside came into view. She spun her Jag around and made a beeline for a sheet and her shovel. An hour later her trunk was packed to the gills with free plants and she was off to put something into the some bare areas in her vast vacant beds. The lilies thrived beyond their wildest dreams after she fertilized them and poured water on them daily. Kelly was ecstatic about the success of her ditch digging adventure.


A very talented hairstylist, she put herself through design school by doing hair. Kelly has a salon in her basement that women from miles around discovered and frequent no longer venturing to those higher priced shops in town. This is how she survived her job loss. One wintry day she was chatting with Lisa, while perming her hair, about her interest in gardening. Lisa invited her to join the garden club in town and Kelly jumped at the chance to meet more local women who liked pretty plants. Not only did the salon's business double, but Kelly got to see everyone else's gardens and landscaping.

When the wild daylilies were in full bloom again, Lisa came in for a highlighting touch up. When they walked out to the car together Lisa was admiring a hosta flourishing beside the deck steps. Kelly proudly pointed out her passel of orange lilies across the walk.


"Why those are JUST ditch lilies!" Lisa haughtily exclaimed. Though she didn't say anything in reply and changed the subject, Kelly was fuming inside. Trust me, I heard all about it after dinner. The politics of this particular small town garden club became fodder for our entertainment for years to come. Though I had several times been a featured speaker, I did not have time to join and attend meetings. Time went by and the ditch lily incident was forgotten - once the initial telephone line buzzing slacked off. Kelly weathered the several snide comments overheard at monthly gatherings before winter set in.


The following summer, Lisa arrived for a cut and style while the lowly, undesirable "ditch lilies" were in full bloom. When her designer clogs hit the bottom stair at the entrance of the salon area. She found Kelly around the stair wall cleaning the sink from her just departed client's dye residue. At that precise moment history was made...


"You daylilies are just gorgeous! Were they expensive? That color would be the jazziest accent to my Bloodgood Maple! Where did you get them?" Lisa always talks like that, never letting a person get a word in until she is done with solo act. It is amazing what some good fertilizer and consistent watering can do to a plant that is used to fending for itself! .... And thats the rest of the rest of the story.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blue Suede Blooms


Well … it’s one for the shade, two for the show, three to get ready - now blow wind, blow …
But don’t you step on my big blue blooms! Winter can do anything – but lay offa my true blue blooms. (Could Elvis have written it better?) If ever there was a group of plants that can rock your garden, it has to be Hydrangeas. The clouds of huge brilliant blooms are just wonderful.

A few years ago northern gardeners thought they found heaven when The Original Endless Summer™ Hydrangea came onto the market. Finally, a plant that guaranteed enjoyment of those gorgeous blue blooms no matter how what the weather did over the cold seasons. Gone were the days of having to erect a cage to hold insulation just to revel in the glory that only a Mophead Hydrangea can bestow upon a garden.

Endless Summer definitely has a whole lotta blue-min’ goin’ on. No disappointment here, the color just continues popping out until frost. Warmer climate gardeners are just as in love with the plant where the season is even longer. All Hydrangeas have fabulous flowers that change constantly from the time they open until they dry on the shrub. At some points in the color show, there are a few that do not look real due to the fantastic hues and gradient tones that appear on the petals. Reblooming Hydrangeas are not really new; it is a trait that a mere few in this vast family of shrubs have that has not been widely known past the small circles of Hydrangea collectors and breeders for decades.

Ball-shaped (Mopheads) is the most commonly known division of the Hydrangea species. These are the big leaf Hydrangeas or French Hydrangeas; to state it properly they are Hydrangea macrophylla (macro means ‘large’ – phylla means ‘leaves’). The few plants that repeatedly bloom on new growth (or “new wood”) were not produced on a large scale until recently. This new sensation started when one nursery employee’s interest in what he saw as an unusual occurrence with a neighbor’s shrub … it kept putting out new blooms until frost. In Minnesota, this is nothing short of miraculous! The cuttings obtained from this uncommon plant were placed into the test gardens of Bailey Nurseries and remained there under observation for years. It wasn’t until Dr. Dirr (a knowledgeable plantsman of great renown) happened to witness it that the Endless Summer brand was born. Thankfully, this tremendous garden flower power is no longer just lolling about in a test garden. Once he began chatting enthusiastically with fellow plantsmen, he discovered that some people knew about other obscure forms of Hydrangeas that also bloomed on new and old wood.

This historical journey is long past due! So, how many of them are there and what colors do they come in? Well, pinks and blues, white and even a red one. Another line of reblooming hydrangeas includes beautiful newcomers developed by a Japanese breeder (and rock guitarist) named Ryoji Irie of Japan. His double flowering Together and Double Pink selections are extremely yummy. These are marketed under the brand Forever and Ever® along with two bred by Darwin Plants. A new dwarf blue, Mini Penny from the Gardener’s Confidence Collection, marketed under the Royal Majestics™ series. Dr. Michael Dirr is the breeder of Blushing Bride and Mini Penny.

New named varieties of Hydrangeas that rebloom on new growth are listed below. The link will take you to a full information page.

Endless Summer® 'The Original' Hydrangea

Endless Summer® 'Blushing Bride' Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® Together Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® Double Pink Hydrangea

Forever and Ever 'Blue Heaven'™ Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® Original Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® 'Peppermint' Hydrangea

Forever and Ever® 'Red' Hydrangea

Mini Penny™ Hydrangea

Old varieties of reblooming mophead Hydrangea are harder to find but worth looking for. Try searching at specialty Hydrangea nurseries for the below named varieties. The links will lead you to photos and growing information.

David Ramsey Hydrangea, page 2

Penny Mac Hydrangea, page 2

Oak Hill Hydrangea, page 2

Decatur Blue Hydrangea, page 2

All Summer Beauty Hydrangea, page 2

Dooley Hydrangea, page 2

For those of you that are drawn to Lacecap Hydrangeas (Hydrangea serrata) there are two older varieties of this family that also rebloom. These are sometimes referred to as Mountain Hydrangeas. The first set of flowers open in early summer, followed with a new flush In September. Click on the links for photos and growing information.

Blue Deckle Hydrangea

Coerulea Lace Hydrangea, page 2


Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Wild Thing ... I Think I Love You


It is weird, somewhat wacky yet wildly wonderful. Probably one of the strangest plants I have ever watched grow! Like something from another planet, this one is best kept potted so you can enjoy it up close and personal. Seeing it go from normal-looking to bizarre is most entertaining. I am a tuned in plant person to be sure, but this strange being is just too bizarre to plant out where it will have any competition masking the daily activity.

I had never heard of this plant when a friend sent me a few seeds. She said it was cool. I looked for photos online and found nothing, so the experimental factor was high. It wasn't until a few years later that any mention of this plant popped up on the Internet. May I say that she is lacking the art of conveying a good picture? But then again, I have seen her idea of creativity, so why would I expect an apt description?

It was only potted to get the seed started ... I had grand plans for an herbary. Suffice it to say, life has a way of mucking up a plan. Instead, the subject remained basking in the intensified heat of full sun on the stone patio. Definitely, living large in that black plastic condo. All the while I raced around it working like the mad hatter at keeping the circus afloat. The herbary now a distant memory.

The blooms appeared atop the stems, so I knew the plant was doing well though set aside for later. As the bulblets grew fatter, I checked on them periodically not sure when to harvest. Lo and behold as I waited for a sureness of proper timing, a most fascinating thing occurred. Another layer of stems shot out of the original clusters and set bloom as well. How queer. Their unfolding was like the most bizarre form of modern art and I raced to freeze the image.

Presenting - Le Onion as art. Perhaps the entertainment factor dims after watching the performance year in and year out like reruns of Star Trek. Not just any old onion, mind you. Rather this one they named the Egyptian Onion Tree. The flavor of which is more than one expects from an onion. I mean , like wow! Wild thing ... I think I love you!

While small (meaning you need quite a few for a small pile of garnish) and not so easy to peel, they are worth all the effort. The flavor is more like a cross between onion and garlic. If you are into Mexican food this is the ticket for a special zip to flavor. They are wonderful on fresh salad as well. If you haven't ever grown or eaten them it is worth hunting down a few seed bulbs to get yourself started.

I suggest pot or tub growing over placing them in the ground. Onions prefer it drier than many other plants and don't get too freaked out if they go without a spritz of moisture one day. One name for this really old plant I discovered is Walking Onion because in the garden it will travel all over from dropping bulblets. Of course if you really want to get a nice sized pile of diced produce to put in some spaghetti sauce, you're going to need more plants than a tub full. I would never have the time to peel that many!

Make sure you set aside a few for next year's seed in case winter's weather causes the original plants to rot out. This little note comes from personal experience. I am now fresh out of Le Onion thanks to a particularly cold, rainy spring that left the tub saturated and half frozen stopping any drainage. Leaving my artsy salad crop roots reduced to rotted mush. Live and learn its a gardener's motto. I will restore Le Onion to a rightful spot in the potted jungle again one day.
G.G.

Share your own Wild Thing story with me - I'll make us both famous!
In the meantime - help me buy a new flowerpot!




Monday, June 23, 2008

The Plant Money Fund


Yesterday was cleaning day, but after a few hours of that I was struck by a streak of rebellion. Nothing like a little dancing with danger to brighten a Sunday afternoon. So I took myself off to the garden center to investigate the scenery. I vowed not to return there again this season unless I required some more potting soil as dwellers of the porch jungle got too big for their britches.

Lord have mercy! There was a boatload of fresh off the truck fantasies to behold. I drifted about considering this and that. Checked for bigger containers that might be on sale. Then made a beeline back to the six heavily preening little vixens that summoned me from afar. I considered which of them I might not be able to leave unadopted. Tallied the register total mentally and looked in my wallet to find that I had less cash left than originally assumed.

"Smooth move, sister," I scolded my rebellious side. I needed all of that $20 to put gas in my tank. Why the heck didn't I just stay home where no true source of disgust could rear it's ugly head? So much for the pleasure of diversion on a weekend afternoon. Instead I inwardly am cursing the oil companies as I walk quickly to the parking lot ... EMPTY HANDED!

After fuming all the way home, I reverted to surfing the web to take my mind off my mood. With the increasing prices on everything today, it is hard to come up with enough spare cash to buy all the beautiful plants you really want. Cruising along reading this and that I found the perfect way to create more plant money without finding an additional job. If I could cut down on the amount of money I had to pour into my gas tank, I would have more weekend cash.

How would I accomplish this at over $4 a gallon for gas? I found the coolest way to actually save money. Its called HHO and any vehicle can be converted to save money on gas. The equipment only costs about $50 and after you get it all hooked up your engine can actually run better and used far less gas. Imagine being able to convert your gas hog to run on hydrogen power, a renewable fuel. Go green! Save some cash to support you plant habit. Click Here!

To make having more cash at the end of the week sweeter, you also are owed an IRS refund for using green technology in your vehicle. This refund is not available to people with factory assembled hybrid cars. You can't buy a hybrid car for $100 more than a gasoline powered one either. Before you start muttering about it being a scam...

I have done a lot of research on this since finding that first little blip. It kept me up half the night! This is the way to fight back and save money to buy what you want to. For the best hydrogen engine system available read the consumer report. To see the views of the experts watch the videos below.



Isn't it time you regain some of the control of your own money? Saving 15% to 70% on gasoline is something we all need to do immediately. The price is going up and it will never go back down. Why would it? We can't live without it no matter how much they charge per gallon. (Like they don't KNOW this already?) Plus, the IRS has to refund you the full cost of the conversion with a maximum deduction of $2000 for a private car or small truck. (You will need to save all your receipts to take the deduction.)



Aren't you ready to fight back too? Cut down on environment pollution and save cash to buy more plants!......... Click Here!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dances With Dirt

Dances With Dirt requires appropriate shoes


While besotted with plants, it is good emotional therapy to engage in some outside interest(s) or activities. Your outward balance needs some exterior influences for variety. It is also a great camouflage tactic announcing that you do think about other things. To remain undercover, be sure to choose a left field object or activity completely alien to gardening.

Did you think today's photo was about that rich blue delphinium sets off the intense red of the monarda so nicely? No the image is really fixated on my smoke screen of choice. That gorgeous curvaceous creature you see glimmering in the background. Sex kitten strutting her stuff at the corner of Nothing and Nowhere coveted by testosterone on any road she bounced along. Silly farmer ... trucks are for girls!

"Randy, I need a set of 38" Mud Boggers. Call me when they come in, I want them put on before the weekend."

"Don't you think its time you grew up?" he inquired.

"I am grown up, but my truck isn't. She begs to wear high heels." I parried.

"Its your money, honey." The tractor tire king sighed. "I'll have them in by Wednesday at 10:00. Bring it in anytime after lunch and we'll' get you right in the shop."

"Great! See you then." I hung up the phone and went back to potting up plugs. Thrilled with my $900 accent to the freshly installed oogah horn. Life was good.

Wednesday dawned a sunny day without a cloud in the late June sky. I headed toward town an hour ahead of my spot in the tire shop bay. Determined to finish all errands before to have the afternoon to see the world. Missions accomplished, I pulled into Randy's lot and motored up to the back bay door. The automatic eyed kicked on and the panes of glass rumbled magically upward to allow our entrance.

The stood old Randy with a ear splittin' grin shaking his head and directing my stopping point with motions of the hand. As I cut the engine, he walked around to the driver's door and looked up through the window so high above his head.

"Well, you weren't crazy after all," came the voice from below. "She definitely begs to wear high heels."

I looked in the rear view mirror as I drove back out into the sunshine. Every man that was inside the shop stood crowded in the yawning big rig door. I blasted the horn and headed west toward miles of smooth pavement and rolling corn and soybean fields. Enjoying the thrill of being eye to eye with each passing semi-truck I met along the way. The circuitous route back to my out of control gardens peppered with thumbs up hand signals, air horn blasts and people waving from their yards. Aaaah, the power of possession found only in heavy metal, chrome shiny hormonal overload on wheels.
G.G.

Hey - great to see you here today!
While you're enjoying this unique blog read - help me buy a new set of floor mats.




Saturday, June 21, 2008

Memoirs of a Hot Afternoon

professional footwear provided by Dollar Dazzle

The cool thing about running a mail order collector's nursery is that not many people see you. Except the ladies at the bank and the Post Office people, and they never seemed to mind. Farm casual is the dress code when you are half soaked and covered with mud. This allows you to shock everyone in town should they happen to see you clean, dry and dressed like a normal employed person. These events cause great concern and you are likely to be asked what exactly you are up to.

My red polished toes and star spangled flip flops were not the lens's subject. I was trying to get a clear shot of two hotshot new Echinacea releases without the deck railing behind them. Naturally, the breeze I had been praying for all day came up at this precise moment. Just as I was going to delete it from the
computer the image seemed to beg to be black and white.

Some days it really pays to listen to that little voice in your head.

Oh, and in case you were wondering ...


this is chilly day - hole digging - lawn mowing footwear. The laces are just there to keep the tongues from obnoxiously flopping about. Tying them makes it a hassle to constantly dump soil out of them. Easy on - easy off, just right for the woman on the go.

Check back in a couple of days if you like the Memoirs of a Hot Afternoon photo. The note cards featuring this snazzy art photo will be available for purchase right here from the Guilty Gardener.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Watching Flowers Grow

Look what I stumbled across in my travels. None of us have time to actually sit and watch a bud actually open. It happens so slowly we can't just site there and watch for 24 or 48 hours. But here you can watch the miracle of fat colorful buds breaking forth into full bloom in a matter of a minute or two. Its amazing that some of them do it slowly like a dance and others just pop open.


Cooling Water



There is nothing like water mists to cool an area off on a hot summer day. This waterfall is man made yet one would think this was just stumbled upon in a natural area somewhere. Yet it is found in a small backyard outdoor living room. This backyard makeover has changed the entire center of their home. The couple have moved their life to the patio, they even watch television out there.

Constructed of the two most beautiful landscape stones available in the eastern United States. Tumbled Bluestone and Pennsylvania Lilac (sometimes labeled Lilac Bluestone). The color combination of these two stones used as a mixed lot is absolutely wonderful. While not large as their yard is very small, there is a fall of 3feet from the top of the waterway to the pool below.

When planning your landscape's new water feature remember to include on fashioned to mimic something that could have actually occurred on your terrain's contouring. If your yard is very flat, nature would never have built a steep falls. Designers who install a heap of rocks to create this look on a flat as paper lay of land have missed the point entirely!

Beautiful landscape design mimics nature when adding supposedly natural features. Forget that and it will look rather tacky. No one wants a boulder pile that looks like a volcano eruption. Go with the grain, not against it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Best Garden Gnome Yet

A real live gnome living in a city garden? You are about to see him tell his story in person. I just know you are going to love this! Live from Garden Girl TV.........



Visit Garden Girl TV for more of her entertaining and high informative videos about sustainable living in the big city. She is not only engaging but pretty darn smart. Way to go Patti ;O)

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dusky Haze

Colors in the garden are so surreal when the sun rides low on the western horizon. Dusk is the most magical time to wander amidst the flowers. Each blossom seems to glow as if it were lit from within. The hues witnessed in the soft changing light are far more beautiful than the same flowers looked just an hour earlier.

Over the years, I have wasted countless rolls of film attempting to record the moments. Most likely one needs a special lense to accomplish this feat. It seems so bright to the human eye, yet the camera is incapable of the same sight. Makes one sad that the camera has missed it and the mystical evening garden cannot be shared unless you are lucky enough to be physically in the scene.

Occasionally, there was one frame that rendered a murky, yet captivating frozen moment like the one above. It is more like a painting than a photograph with nary a flower to be found. I highly doubt this is what my naked saw when the scene was shot. Photos are wonderful, but they lack the depth of reality in so many ways.

Having been transplanted from the north to the south, I am amazed to find that there are only seconds of dusk 1000 miles lower. Where does it go too? The sun hits the far horizon at the same time of day, yet it is dark within minutes. Pitch black here and in the same moment so far to the north people are still mowing their grass and enjoying the cooler time of day to waltz about the yard. Dark descends differently the farther you travel away from the North Pole.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Gardening Hobby?

Obviously, the person(s) who arrived at this notion were not gardeners! I wonder if they also felt that parenthood was a past time too. Is being an accomplished cellist also considered a hobby? A hobby would be building tiny ship models inside a bottle or creating airplane out of beer cans. A hobby is something that is inanimate, a past time you could put away and pay no attention to for weeks or months on end.

Gardening is done in the soil. It is the daily care and life support of living things that are literally stuck in the mud. Gardening is sweating and getting dirty. It is feeding hundreds, even thousands of thirsty or hungry souls whatever and whenever they require it. Gardening is like being the conductor of the most beautiful orchestra anywhere.

Gardening is a lifestyle. A passion that creates an entirely unique world where ever the bug takes root. You cannot be a part-time gardener; if you try that you will quickly be without a garden. Anyone with any understanding of what is entailed in gardening would never be so silly as to call it a hobby. A hobby does not require one to learn so many things of widely varying subjects in order to succeed. A hobby comes with simple to follow instructions, not vague signals one must interpret without so much as a word in print or spoken.

True gardening is rewarding on a level that I just cannot see being compared to the thrill of say creating a picture from little stitches in fabric. Once done it is framed, hung on the wall or laid across the bed and never changes at all and so becomes static - a predictable never wavering thing that becomes unnoticeable. One could never say anything remotely like this about a garden. It is not the same for more than two days in a row! Gardens constantly change and never seem to lack something new and captivating. I mean when was the last time you felt the magic of a cross-stitch kit overwhelm you completely?

You really shouldn't dine on a hobby, unless it is baking sumptuous cookies. Plastic and glue are said to not be good for your health. Yet a garden can sustain your heart, mind, soul and erase hunger pangs all from one small piece of earth. There is more good packed into a garden than any other place of equal size found anywhere else. Gardens are a place to find healing, peace, love and charity growing so comfortably beside obsession. None of this is found in an airplane fashioned from empty beer cans!

Get down and dirty gardeners are guilty of allowing their passion to spill over into containers. Potted extensions of the soiled world will litter the cleaner outdoor spaces connected to and adjacent from their house. They would not settle for one or two vessels crammed with 20 different plants all fighting over food, foot space and air to breathe. Though this would be the only time they would consider growing a new adoptee in something other that real gritty dirt. Bonafide gardeners start their seeds and cuttings on the deck, front porch and patio ... anywhere they can keep a close eye on and protect from the elements those small and helpless things they are patiently raising to a point they can survive out there in the jungle of planting beds.

How can we define a hobby gardener? After giving this a bit of thought I have the answer to this misconception at labeling. A hobby gardener grows only in containers. Container gardening compared to digging in the dirt and pulling weeds on your day off while fending off Mother Nature's latest twist in your plot ... is NOT gardening. Container gardening is far too controlled and contrived to be truly called gardening.

While I realize that a huge number of people would not be able to enjoy the beauty and miracle of growing live plants without this container method, it really is nothing like gardening and should not be lumped into the same division as naturally dirt grown beauty or food. Two sets of rules govern each of these divisions until you come to pests and diseases, that unfortunately remains the same. One can not enjoy dinner inside a container, yet one can turn a garden into their own little outdoor world.

In conclusion, there is no such thing as a hobby in gardening, unless you have thrown in the trowel over the latest lesson in defeat. Gardening is more like being in charge of a wild little orphanage, though you personally have fallen in love with each being in residence and carted it home to watch it become so much more. Someone really needs to print a lot of retractions before more of the world at large is so grossly misinformed too far into the future. Though instinct tells me they get away with this labeling it a hobby because trying to make a living from growing plants has become almost impossible in today's retail environment. Though if you honestly consider the realities, a garden never was, nor never could be just a hobby.
G.G.

You know, it's great to see you here! So glad you came by.
Sure would be nice if you could help a poor girl buy one more plant.




Sunday, June 15, 2008

Salmonella Tomatoes - The Saga Continues

ProduceVisit_013

Originally, my opinions on this news item all began as a theory with a factual basis in past occurrences of similar classification and knowledge I have gleaned throughout my soil-connected life. I was not just guessing at where exactly any city's water and sewer department actually disposes of everyone's morning constitutional. No, I knew this to be a fact. I was raised by a farmer and have spent many years of my career employed in specialty agriculture. Also, I have lived in rural farming communities for the majority of my not so short life. Not as a commuter enjoying a serene space apart from the masses faced five days a week in the snarled traffic on the freeway. No I was actually a piece of the fabric that formed the farming population. I assure you none of the previous Salmonella Tomato post was simply pulled from thin air.

Consider the events that led to the outbreak of Mad Cow Disease. This entire mess was created by feeding contaminate animal meat industry byproducts to cows. I mean, can you actually state without a doubt that you could knowingly consume human body parts or pieces and remain sane? Don't you think that animals who have scent faculties beyond any level we humans can imagine didn't at some spot in their mammal brain have an inkling of what quality of human-concocted food was being force fed to them? This is just another scenario of where trash was fed back to the source of it's origin as a means of making something unwanted not only disappear but bring in revenues instead of biting into the profit margin. Any industry that can contrive a way to actually sell their production waste is considered highly resourceful, savvy even and profits from their ability to think beyond the box.

And now we return to the tomato issue at large today in our news and perhaps you own home town. Consider this quote from the Thursday, June 12th edition of The Washington Post...
"... Salmonella is a bacterial infection that lives in the intestinal tracts of humans and other animals. The bacteria are usually spread by eating food contaminated with animal feces."
David Acheson
Food & Drug Administration
Associate Commissioner of Foods

Thank you David, I rest my case. Read the rest of the news story off the Associated Press to get the rest of the information supplied and the highly "accredited" whose statements appear within the article.
"Salmonella-Tainted Tomatoes Linked To Markets, Restaurants"

What I am curious about and watching for is exactly when the FDA is going to report or admit to the public that human feces solids are actually be sold and applied as organic fertilizer on the produce crops sold at all grocery stores and restaurants from sea to shining sea. This news item will send everyone in such a panic and rage, it might just register on the Richter scale from the vibrations linked to such mass hysteria.

I suppose the silver lining to this particular black cloud would be that they crack down harder and place twice as much control on the containment and composting of the billions of morning constitutional remains than those now costing the cattle growers so much of the hard earned pittance labeled "profit" to meet regulations for cow manure containment. Indeed, it makes wise and common sense that the substance in question being such a rapidly regenerating mass at all DPW locations certainly must go somewhere before the canyon sized tanks and vats overflow. Anyone with a great plan on what else to do with all the pooh is more than welcome to share their brainstorm with me here. You never know, we just might be able to cash in on the lucrative disposal of doo-doo too. Unfortunately, we must all bear in mind that this increase to the cost of operations to the DPW by government enforcement will probably double the amount you have to pay for your personal deposits to the sewer system in your city.

I wonder just how soon the symptoms of Mad People Disease will begin to be heard off in the distance. Something the Center for Disease Control just might not have a cure for, let alone a method for isolation. That is unless these brilliant minds can figure out what else to do with everything so cleanly flushed away in every bathroom in our great and teeming nation.
G.G.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Perfect Posie


the list is long, the perfect colors all chosen
the fresh plot stretches out vast and open
visions of treasured blooms flitting about
it will be so beautiful - you have no doubt

the destination lies there, just ahead
fresh is the day, your wallet not yet bled
the scene of tinted chaos beckons you forth
to gleefully adopt far more than you're worth

rioting splotches, a quilt of squares marching
just one or two more, the mind's silent declare
list forgotten, abandoned, lost while crazed
gone - left somewhere in there, amid the maze

at least the plan so contrived was rigidly adhered to
proud of your solid stance as the plants choose you
carts (yes plural) through the register are rung
surprise! - it is clear that today the plants have won

hours have slipped away unnoticed, you in a daze
nose a tad blistered shopping beneath sun blaze
wallet and plastic now flatter, you arrive home
family looking at you like your mouth doth foam

big sale - great deals - just couldn't pass this by
uttered while plotting how hot dogs are disguised
of course, i found the perfect posie just as promised
defending today's purchase, hoard of blossoms

G.G.




Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mickey's Garden

I babysat my grand daughter over the weekend. On Saturday morning, I let her watch old Disney cartoons on YouTube. Mickey and the gang, she didn't like Bugs Bunny at all. Look at this little gem of pre-tree-hugger mind sets. The worst thing about this whole cartoon is the message it portrayed to the entire world about toxic chemicals in 1935. If this were a movie, the chemical you see being used here would be DDT. Stay tuned for subliminal industry messages from the paintbrush of good ole' Walt himself....



Now do you really wonder why it is so hard to stop those at the helm of the chemical industry today? They grew up with this kind of information offered as entertainment. Funny, I don't recall watching this one as a kid. If I did, their subliminal messaging system did not work on me. The dream is good, but the bugs only getting smashed on some stuff that is shown to not hurt a fly but can kill a dog or a human if ingested. This is terrifying!
G.G.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Topsoil in a Bag


Living where you cannot have a load of lovely rich dark soil dumped to play with can really put a damper on success when potting up plants. All these Americans must rely on what is hidden inside a bag labeled "Topsoil" at a local garden center or hardware store. Having just in the past couple of seasons had to join the ranks of this group; I am sad to report that all manner of substances that are not rich topsoil can be found in some of these bags.

Three bagged soils that I have found are actually rich dark topsoil. Black label Hyponex brand "Potting Soil" is actually lovely black topsoil. WARNING! Do not use this to pot plants without mixing 50% potting mix from MiracleGro or Schultz. Potting soil needs drainage and fluff added to it. Life in the ground is an entirely different world than that which is endured in a container. Some plants may respond better if you mix this product with two parts potting mix instead of one part.

The second bagged soil I have found in stores in my area also has a black label that reads "Potting Soil" if you look for the manufacturers name, in small print at the bottom left on the front of the package you find it is from Markham in Georgia. This also is not potting soil but gorgeous black topsoil. Again, use the above amendment recipe before potting plants with it. Plants that prefer more moisture may respond better to the two equal portions of potting media and topsoil.

The third bagged product that was wonderful quality was purchased at Lowe's Garden Center, fifty pounds for $2.50 before tax. Unfortunately I don't have the information on who actually bagged this soil. Lowe's being the highest quality of the big box garden centers, I would suggest you not buy soil at any of the others. All I can say about the packaging was it was white and labeled "Topsoil" It did contain a slight amount of sphagnum peat moss which was mostly used to prevent clumping from moisture taken on while in storage. A great buy and an excellent portion to potting blends for best results.

I tried Scott's Topsoil as well and found it to be mostly sphagnum moss which is not what I needed to add more of for a good moisture retaining, stable potting mix since all potting mixes are for the most part sphagnum moss. Since soils are very heavy and the cost of freight is through the roof, different areas of the country, and even a state may have totally different sources for bagged topsoils available at any store for you to purchase.

The absolute worst product labeled "Topsoil" I erroneously bought was from Home Depot. It was cheaper than the lovely soil I got from Lowes'. Organic Valley Topsoil is packaged in 30-pound bags for only $1.29, so I purchased two of them to hopefully finish planting my porch on a recent Sunday. Upon mixing and potting up my hoard of tender beauties, I did not notice that it was any different than the preferred Lowe's topsoil. This assessment of the so called soil that was now blended nicely and in a selection of pots was very short lived. The truth becomes apparent in the watering.

This is not topsoil, but black silt. Just because a soil is black does not mean it is good! Silt comes from the bottom of bogs and does not drain. When wet, silt is black slime. If you add a so called soil such as this one to a potting mix, the water will just sit on top of the pot and take a long time to filter through the pot to the bottom. Silt also has very little nutrients in it that are available to the plant. To state it quite bluntly ... this is not soil, but garbage that someone is making a good chunk of change through at least one retail store that is in almost every town in the USA.

I returned the unopened bag to the store. It isn't that $1.29 is a lot of money, it is the fact that it is beyond an inferior product. Besides, why would I want to fill up my garbage can with it? When I commented to the Returns Cashier that it was NOT topsoil but absolute garbage in the bag, she leaned forward and whispered,

"Every soil we carry except MiracleGro is poor quality."

I guess she gardens in containers too. Now, once this heat wave passes, I must dump out all these pots and attempt to fix the blend they are potted in by adding Schultz Potting Mix and more real topsoil to hopefully thin out this nasty, gooey silt sold under the label of Organic Valley. Every plant that was potted with it is not doing near as well as those that were potted with the first four mentioned bagged topsoil products. Before I forget, Schultz Potting Mix is very chunky as compared to MiracleGro's finer texture. I prefer the Schultz product for improving the drainage for some plants to be grown well in a container. Shultz is made by MiracleGro's direct competitor, Peter's Professional.

Thanks Home Depot - - you've been so helpful. Cheaper is not better!
G.G.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Tomato Salmonella



It is simple to understand how something like salmonella bacteria becomes an issue with meats. Meat coming from animals and all. The mystery seen here with this new tomato based outbreak of salmonella poisoning (June 7, 2008 news story begins) is going to be pretty puzzling to the public at large.

Fresh tomatoes are a huge part of the American diet. Salads and sandwiches just are not the same without some tomato in the toppings. Ketchup may be a form of tomato but a burger lacking fresh slices of tomato in the bun is pretty bland fare indeed. How do you get a contamination like this on fresh vegetables?

What third world country were these tomatoes shipped here from? If the current date was in the month of January or February, that would be my first suspicion too. Here we are in sunny June, the first part of summer and tomatoes grown in Florida and California are ripe and on the market already. Most likely the origin of these salmonella tomatoes is right here in the United States. E. coli and salmonella bacteria contaminations showing up in fresh fruits and vegetables grown in the USA have been occurring with alarming and increasing regularity over the past couple of years.

The FDA actually stated that a September 2006 outbreak of E. coli on baby spinach from Dole's California farm on ..."wild pigs, irrigation wells and surface waterways exposed to feces from cattle and wildlife". Sorry guys, I don't buy this explanation for one second!
1) There couldn't possibly be a large enough population of wild pigs
in one county of now our overly developed country to even consider
such a hair-brained notion. Maybe in the 1870's, definitely not in
2006.
2) Ah, yes blame it on the water. Irrigation wells are sealed off and
usually draw from far below ground. Most contaminations from well
water are mineral based from natural sources far below the ground.
If it were the well, then the contamination would have reared it's
ugly head shortly after it began being used on food crops. Also,
the longer well water runs, the purer the water becomes as any bad
minerals or surface contaminants become thinner and even completely
disappear. It is one thing to fill a drinking glass, and completely
without reason to think a field the size of one growing for Dole
would collect such a huge concentration of bacteria through the
irrigation system.
3) The feces of wildlife (please refer back to the wild pigs in #1).
4) The feces of cattle exposure to surface waterways? Cattle manure
has been successfully used as a natural fertilizer since the dawn
of time. In fact, the very circle of nature uses the feces of
animals to create nutrients for all the plant life the springs from
the soil. While E.Coli and salmonella have been a problem with the
meat packing industry, it is something newer to see this occurring
on vast produce farms that have no herds of cows or swine in
residence. This isn't 1960 where the family farm raised herds and
highly varied patches of crop simultaneously on one 40-acre plot.
We live in the day of the corporate farm, my friends. If you had
a good, working knowledge and education in farming as it is practiced
today in modern America, you wouldn't buy these theories at all.

I would suspect the fertilizer applied to the field, only that could have been present in large enough concentrations to have affected such a huge collection of finished produce. Before, you start thinking that it was most likely a cattle manure based fertilizer you should start doing more study on where the cheapest and easiest source of modern fertilizers for agriculture come from. Raising cows ain't cheap! Livestock farming has gotten really expensive. Most composted slurry fertilizers are applied to crops such as soybeans and field corn or wheat within the same small farming community in which it was created. It is applied to the fields in the winter and early spring and can't affect something as far off in the future as September beyond restoring the nutrients needed for the new season's crops beginning.

The cheapest and most prevelantly available form of fertilizer is municipal sludge. Municipal sludge is composted HUMAN MANURE. All the billions of people residing in huge cities flush that stuff away in the toilet thinking to never see the smelly issue surface again. Where do you think it went to anyway? How do you think a city the size of Los Angeles, Chicago or Pittsburgh deals with 365 days of your morning constitutional times several million people a day? They turn it into a composted material called sludge and sell it off cheap to agriculture.

In fact you personally can buy Milwaukee sludge at almost any garden center. I present to you Milorganite. If you want to keep deer from eating your hostas - just apply a nice coating of Milorganite around the garden perimeter three to four times each season. The scent of humans will keep them far away from your flower garden.

This wouldn't be the first time the use of municipal sludge as a farm fertilizer caused death and illness to the population. Dig around and look into well-water contamination from Washington D.C. sludge applied to the extremely hilly farmland in handy, northern West Virgina. You'll have to go back a few years in the news, but it is there and it created all manner of health problems for the poor farmers in that region.

Human beings should not eat the by-products of their own offal! Yet here we are in America where cheap is better than quality and no one wants to pay their own way through life anymore. I don't know what they are going to do with the by-products of everyone's morning constitutional, but applying it to the tomato fields is not a wise idea! Do you suppose they will soon create genetically modified food that will not absorb the bad parts of your poop so we can safely consume what we already got rid of? I think I need to plant a bigger produce garden now.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Grow Your Own

Why do people grow gardens? For some it is the fresh vegetables. But there is so much more you can grow in a garden. You can grow love, health, a place of escape or simply develop the perfect compost. Take a peek at Little Eden ...



I'll be looking for this one at the video store. It must be on video - it was in British theaters spring 2007. Wonder it it will be as comic and heart warming as Saving Grace was.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Yard Bling

Yard bling is the new term for curb appeal. Why pimp out the house if the framing view is dull and lifeless? For those of you who cannot draw, they have that digital imaging software that you can change the look of your house and then add plants easy as one-two-three. Since I enjoy drawing, I prefer to put my vision on old fashioned paper in full color.

This folk art style rendering of a mid-winter weekend's yearning for spring flowers was only the start. On the bling factor it scored rather high. The gardens were far more lush and extensive than the original vision or the paper it was drawn on. It held all the bling I could find.

The only thing standing between you and a gorgeous garden in your very own yard is imagination. Once you get that vision cooking, start researching ornamental plants online and keeping a file of pages so you can go back easily to review. Make double sure that you only gather perennials and woody plants that will do well in your yard's growing conditions. Then work a bit more on enlarging your plantings each year.

Remember that a garden is a treasure that you will build on for the rest of your life. Never think that a fabulous garden is built in one day, that will never happen. Just keep collecting new bling for your garden. One day it will be so beautiful that you too will become the envy of your neighborhood.
G.G.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Most Beautiful Garden Center in America

In the most unexpected place, lies America's best kept secret. The beauty begins at the highway curb and must create traffic jams. On the side of the long driveway gorgeous beds distract you from moving along. Over the years I have been to countless garden centers, wholesale nurseries and greenhouses. Some of my past haunts have had some impressive displays ....


none of them holds a candle to this place! The riveting waves of color and texture frolicking down the side of the drive makes it impossible to just drive on by. I suspect the white posts are there to stop gawkers from accidentally steering off into the flowers.



They are a bit distracting and they could paint them green, but if it stops vehicles from drifting off into the petunias we shall just have to ignore the intermittent disruption. The play of shrub against perennial and wild wafting of annual color is breath taking. This is all very unexpected to the newbie in town, an oasis one must leave the highway to acknowledge. Tucked away in an old and historical mill town in South Carolina where wealth and affluence is not found dripping onto the sidewalks ....


This is probably only two thirds of the drive way gardens, and as you pull past the fence and berm the entire parking lot is a wonderland as well. All of this before you even get into the garden center. I wanted to photograph all of it, but a storm came in cutting short my glee of capturing the scenery.

It isn't just the plants - the place is as manicured as any mansion's grounds in its hey day and so clean you could eat off the pavements. The plants displayed inside and out are without one small hint of distress or thirst. Stepping into the main annual bedding plant building it is the most beautiful sight on earth! Nonstop color from the floor to the rafters popping from some of the most vigorous plants you have ever seen. I don't know how I actually drug myself away and back onto the highway. Most likely it was adult guilt of needing to accomplish X amount of errands before the work day ended.

Yes, I was working when I stumbled upon this gem. The quest for the right plants for my client's gardens takes me far and wide; this most maddening quest faces me almost every day Monday through Friday. I constantly lament over the shortsightedness of the greenhouses and nurseries that bring it all to market.

As I was checking out with my new found hoard of color, I commented to the gal at the register,
"This has got to be the most beautiful garden center ever, and I have seen a lot of them
over the years."
To which she replied,
"Yes! This has got to be America's best kept secret. When I first came here to apply for
a job I was blown away at just how beautiful this place is hidden away down here in this
little ole town."

Have you been to Home Depot or Lowe's garden center and seen racks of plants with metal tags on the ends that have word STACY'S cut into it? Welcome to the retail side of Stacy's Greenhouse. It is rather sad that so many of you live too far away from York to take in the sight and enjoy the thrill of visiting America's best kept gardening secret.

Poppies, Irise and Ice Plant

Here's another section of that roadside botanical wonder from yesterday's post. This photo was shot the same day as the first, the breeze has let up in this one. Just look at those marvelous purple Poppies (Papaver)! I didn't realize they came in this color until I saw these up close. That poppy color is really set off with the vast clump of cobalt blue Iris in the background.

Japanese Iris (I. ensata) are just awesome in full bloom. A rugged garden rhizome that has been a gardener's favorite for a very long time. Most Iris need full sun to perform well, Iris ensata will flower quite nicely in a pretty shady situation. Notice the other poppies in the background - a lovely bubblegum pink on such nice tall stems. One day I shall have to meet this woman and find out exactly what poppy variety she has planted in here.

In the foreground is the powerful blooming Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi) which is an evergreen mat forming plant in zone 7 and south. North of there it is a drought tolerant
beauty that can establish itself to an impressive four foot wide mass. Blooming in blued pink that leans toward lavender from one end of the season to the other. This under used plant really should be taken notice by home gardeners more often.
G.G.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Jaunty Ditch Garden

Look what I found along side the road not long ago. I just could not help myself! I had to pull into the top of their driveway and get out with my camera. It was a bit breezy the day I caught these shots. It is a gorgeous garden and very large too, so you are only seeing one section in this lovely vignette.

I will be back by this street tomorrow and I cannot wait to see what other perennials she has in this street side garden. I am sure a selection of beautiful blooms will be wantonly showing off their petals somewhere along the span. On this visit I will make sure to attempt identifying the prominent player plants so I can tell you what you are looking at. One can only really enjoy the flowers if one slows down long enough to learn their names. Look for more photos of one woman's handiwork at her garden home.
G.G.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Hot Caladium Coolers

The calming green foliage textures and tones found in a shady garden is refreshing and emits a cooler feeling on a hot summer day. Putting vivid color in a shaded planting is made more outstanding when you add some clumps Fancy Leaf Caladium.

You can choose from huge leaves available in a rainbow of reds, pinks and white patterns with a little green thrown in to set off their tantalizing tropical personalities. They work great in a container too for some impressive mood setting on cool, breezy covered porch. Do make sure to give them a big enough pot to keep their roots cool as late summer temperatures climb. They also will need adequate moisture to stave afternoon wilt. It would be best to try at least an 18" pot with good moisture holding media such as MiracleGro Moisture Control potting mix.

For shorter clumps of sizzling color amidst the hostas and ferns, check out the Dwarf Caladium varieties. These would make better small container and mixed container garden dwellers. The full impact of gorgeous Caladium is best enjoyed when it has room to grow full and lush. They do bloom in white, the shape of which always reminds me of a snake charmer's cobra. The flowers are interesting but the leaves steal the stage.