Edgeworthia

The February Garden, Dreaming Of Spring

Lenten Rose

Lenten rose

Recently on a weekend off I spent a bit of an afternoon doing some necessary chores in the garden and much of the rest simply piddling.

Daylily

Daylily emerging

 

I enjoy observing my plantings, checking buds on shrubs and trees, and scratching through the leaf litter looking for signs of life from perennials I know are there but just not awake yet.

I call these tours of the garden ‘taking a walk.’ When I say that, my husband knows I’ll be gone a while, and, if it’s in the afternoon, he usually has a glass of wine ready for me, knowing I’m not planning on doing any serious work.

Ipheion

First ipheion bloom

 

Viola

Pansy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Earlier in the day I’d cut back the Carex ‘Blue Zinger’ that is slowly beginning to take over the corners of some raised beds where I’d planted it a few years ago.

Carex 'Everillo' in a Container

Carex ‘Everillo’ in a planter…

The Carex family is a tough group of plants, and this one has a beautiful blue hue that I admire. A couple of other carex in my garden include ‘Evergold’, a cream and green variegated selection, and ‘Everillo’, a chartreuse beauty that lights up any shade area its placed in.

 

 

 

Begonia and Carex 'Evergold'

Carex ‘Evergold’ spilling out of a container…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The larger areas of mondo grass will be tackled soon, as February is the month to get all the ornamental grasses cut back to make way for fresh new growth.

Strawberry Begonia - Saxifrage

Saxifrage, strawberry begonia

Some plants hug the ground tightly, as if hanging on for dear life. The strawberry begonias are like that. I know in another month or so though that their delicate white flowers will be reaching for the sky.

Poppy and Snapdragon - Winter

Poppy and Snapdragon behind

 

 

 

This winter saw a few cold snaps, but even so, with this string of very wet days and warmer temperatures, the pansies will hopefully begin to look happier, not hunkered down and miserable but plump and full of buds and blooms.

 

I deadhead the ones that need  it and notice the poppies I’d planted last fall are taking on their characteristic spring fullness as well.

The snapdragons have green growth beginning to show below the brown tops, and there are larkspur seedlings coming up between them too. Sometimes it’s a waiting game, requiring patience to see what will be.

Georgia Blue Veronica

Veronica ‘Georgia Blue’

The tiny ipheion are beginning to bloom, the earliest of my bulbs, their flowering always coinciding with the first of the veronicas, ‘Georgia Blue’.  I make a note to combine these two for an early symphony of blue next year.

Lenten roses and Trillium

Lenten Rose and Trillium

 

 

 

Of course the Lenten roses are blooming, stalwarts of the shade garden, and I diligently pull  seedlings that come up each year too close to a patch of prized trillium.

This year I’ve added some hybrid Lenten roses in beautiful hues with blooms held proudly – they’ll stay in one spot rather than seeding themselves and cavorting through the garden like the others.

 

 

 

Bloodroot

Bloodroot

I turn away and spot the very first bloodroot bloom and immediately go to check another area I know they’ll be, but there’s no sign of them. Microclimates at work!

Sedum ‘Ogon’

Sedum ‘Ogon’

 

 

 

 

 

 

Golden leaved Sedum makinoi  ‘Ogon’ is filling a small trough planter and looks none the worse for the winter. It’s also in other containers and in the ground as well.

 

 

Sedum and Resurrection Fern - Kris' GardenSedum makinoi grows at the very top of the rock outcrop, happily mingling with resurrection fern. I clamber up the rocks, to check it out.

 

 

 

 

I continue on with my walk and notice the ipheion isn’t blooming quite yet at the base of a bird bath.

IpheionNative azalea buds are full of promise. I love their honeysuckle-like fragrant blooms and can almost smell them, but no, that’s the edgeworthia. It and the daphne are at their best now  and perfume the air. Next month will be the native azalea’s time.

 

 

I make my way back to the house, past the Spiraea ‘Ogon’, in full bloom with it’s tiny white flowers.  I know that froth of white will soon give way to chartreuse, airy foliage, yet another promise of spring on a gray, February day.Spiraea ‘Ogon’

By Kris Blevons

Bromeliad Kokedama

String Gardens – Create Your Own Kokedama

 

Bromeliad KokedamaKokedama:  Kokedama is a Japanese bonsai planting technique, dating back hundreds of years.  These unique hanging gardens are also called string gardens or moss balls and are incredibly easy and fun to create. Almost any plant can be used, so it’s a great project for experimenting  with different plants.

A kokedama garden is created by hanging different plants together in a cluster to create a “garden”. You might choose to group indoor houseplants in a string garden, arrange them outside, or simply have one hanging in a prominent spot.

Plumosa Fern Kokedama

 

If you don’t have a lot of space, these gardens are the perfect solution. They can even be used together seated on a beautiful tray or saucer. Kokedama are a simple, beautiful, and artistic way to display plants inside or out.

Over the years this is the method we’ve come up with for creating these simple creations. It’s a messy process but a lot of fun too.

 

 

Materials needed:

Peat Moss/ Cat Litter Mixture for Kokedama

Peat moss/clay cat litter mix

Peat moss, bonsai soil or clay cat litter (the cheapest, unscented), sphagnum moss,  green sheet moss, garden twine, fishing line, latex gloves, container filled with water – optional: cotton string.

 

Directions for soil mix and sphagnum moss:

In a large container, measure out peat moss and bonsai soil/cat litter.  Use 7 parts peat moss  to 3 parts soil/litter. Add water, mixing well, until the consistency is of soil that can be formed into a ball that will not fall apart.  Set aside. Wearing latex gloves, take a handful of sphagnum moss and moisten it in a container of water; wring out excess.

Plant prep:

Remove as much soil from the rootball of the plant as you can and set aside.

 Assembling your string garden:

  1. Take a handful of the dampened sphagnum moss and wrap it around the roots of the plant. At this point it is optional to wrap the sphagnum with cotton string to secure it. As the plant roots grow through the sphagnum, the cotton string will decompose. I don’t use the cotton string, opting to form the dampened sphagnum around the roots alone.
  2. Now it’s time to form the soil mixture around the sphagnum wrapped plant. Firm the mixture onto it, taking small amounts and pressing firmly. Try to create a round ball. Set aside.Peat Moss/Cat Litter Soil around a Portulacaria Kokedama
  3. Take a piece of green sheet moss large enough to wrap around your string garden. Set aside.
  4. Cut a long piece of garden twine or fishing line  – this will be what you wrap around the ball and secure the moss with.
  5. Wrap the moss around the ball, pulling off excess moss. Center the twine or fishing line under the ball, and begin to wrap it so the moss is secure, then tie off. Cut more if necessary. Wrap it tightly, forming a smooth ball.
  6. Cut 3 pieces of fishing line to hang your string garden and you’re done!

 

Maintaining your string garden:

Water your string garden when the ball begins to feel light, or if the plant begins to wilt. As with any other planting, you will begin to get a feel for the timing of watering. Always try to water before  your plant begins to look stressed. Soak the ball in a bowl of water until it is completely saturated. If it is hanging inside, squeeze excess water out of the moss ball before re-hanging.

 

A few plant choices for your string garden:

Inside:  ivy, pothos, bromeliad,  fittonia, pilea. Outside:  herbs, ajuga, carex, succulents.

Some observations I’ve made on string gardens I’ve planted and maintained:

The plants in a string garden do seem to “bonsai” themselves simply by the virtue of having the roots so constricted. The theory behind the moss ball and the plant becoming “bonsaid” is that as the roots begin to grow out of the moss ball the roots actually “air prune” themselves, thus keeping the plant small.Orchid Kokedama

Obviously, with the peat/bonsai soil mix, the ball will dry out, so keep an eye on it. It may work best to try plants that aren’t too demanding at first  – bromeliads, succulents, and such.

Play around with the types of string/twine wrap you use – I’ve used light weight colored wire as well for a fun “artsy” look. Another idea is to find a natural netting of some sort to wrap around the moss and tie it on with clear fishing line… there are so many creative possibilities. The bottom line? Choose a plant, and have fun!

Want to make one with us? Join us Saturday, March 16th, 2019 at 10:30am for a “make and take” workshop. Give us a call at (205) 870-7542 to reserve your spot.  Fee: $35   You’ll make your own and take it home!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

                                   

                 

 

Calla Lily

The Winter Greenhouse Is Lush With Houseplants and Flowers

Bromeliads, Anthurium and Needle Palm in the GreenhouseIf you’ve never stepped into a lush greenhouse in the middle of winter on a rainy, cold day (or any day for that matter), you’re in for a real treat.

January was a turn the greenhouse upside down month, as pretty much every last thing was moved and rearranged, including one entire area that held an abundance of pots.Benches and Fountain Vignette In the Greenhouse

 

 

 

Anyone who ever said working in a greenhouse was a walk in the park never worked with us! Hard work aside, we’re pleased with the changes and hope you like it as well.

Tacca

Tacca, supervising…

 

 

 

 

 

 

The cats took part too, though Tacca was more than happy to settle into a box and watch the goings on, and they all found new spots to take naps!

 

Liam, true to his personality, likes to be center stage, right at the front door where everyone who sees him gives him a pet, and sometimes Tacca joins him there.Tacca and Liam In the Greenhouse

Of course there are beautiful houseplants of all sizes in the greenhouse, and we pay attention to them so they’re at their best when you take them home. We’re all plant junkies too and are always on the lookout for new and different offerings (One for you, one for me…).Houseplants and Pots in the Greenhouse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Miniature Garden

Haley at work on the miniature garden display…

For everyone who loves tiny, miniature garden magic, Haley has taken over the display, transforming a corner of the greenhouse.

Our fairyland table now has a new backdrop and floating clouds above it. It’s a special spot for the young and the young at heart.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Margaret’s miniature garden…

Margaret was inspired to make her own little garden in a teacup. She had a little gnome; now he lives under a “tree” with a bench nearby if he wants to sit a spell. It is so cute!

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps you have an interesting container you’d like to work a little miniature magic on. They’re so much fun, and we have everything you need to make it happen.Greenhouse

If you’re on social media, we are too! We were discussing the other day that the shop is the perfect spot to take social media pictures, so look for us on FaceBook – Oak Street Garden Shop and Local Market,  Pinterest, and  Instagram too.

 

 

 

 

Houseplant Monstera deliciosaThen, while you’re visiting the shop, take a selfie and tag us (We have the perfect monstera for #monsteramonday !). The enormous pot ours is planted in was rotated, the huge leaves cleaned, and lots of pictures were taken of it. It has been our shop mascot for many years now, and we think it’s worthy of Instagram fame!

Moving the Monstera deliciosa houseplant

Jamie and Allen rotating the monstera…

 

 

 

 

 

Installing the New Heater

Replacing the heater…

 

We all appreciate being warm, and well maintained and reliable heaters are the backbone of any greenhouse. One of ours finally wore out after almost 30 years of use, and while replacing it took the better part of a rainy Saturday, we’re sure the plants (and us)  will feel the difference.Houseplants in the Greenhouse

 

 

One thing is for sure, a lush greenhouse is the perfect place to be on any winter day – among houseplants and orchids, flowers, succulents, and blooming spring bulbs. Take a moment to walk through, you won’t be sorry!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

New To Houseplants? Let Us Help!

If you’re of a certain age, you well remember when houseplants were a mainstay in most houses. The home I grew up in in the 1970’s was filled with plants.

My mother tended them, each week working her way through the house with her watering can and sometimes a sponge to wipe dusty leaves. Even now, at the age of 86, she has a house filled with plants.

I remember floor-size planters and smaller pots grouped together on end tables and beautiful green and variegated leaves of varied shapes and sizes. If you looked up, macrame hangers supported pretty pots filled with hoyas, pothos, creeping fig, and ivy, the trailing vines winding their way here and there.

Today you can Google houseplants or look on Instagram and many similar images appear. Houseplants are making a comeback. Hallelujah, it’s about time!  Whether you’re a novice  with a few small pots on a windowsill in your first apartment or live in a downtown loft and need something bigger, there really is a houseplant for everyone.

Theories abound as to why houseplants are making such a comeback. Some say it’s that younger people need something to nurture. Others say it’s cyclical, and it was just time for them to reappear. Still others say it’s because the world is in such turmoil that  people are turning to their homes for comfort. Whatever the case, plants are a warm and lovely addition to any indoor space.

Plants help purify the air too. There are lists of those that researchers have deemed the most helpful for this. They include many old favorites like spider plants (Chlorophytum comosum), snake plant (sanseveria), pothos (Epipremnum), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), ivy (Hedera), parlor palm (Chamaedorea elegans), aloe, dracaena, Chinese evergreen (Aglaonema), rubber plant (ficus robusta), and nephthytis (Syngonium).

Of course this listing is just the tip of the houseplant iceberg. A few other plants pictured here include the puckered leaved peperomias, hardy Norfolk Island pines, alocasias, succulent jade plants, philodendrons, and, in the background one of our greenhouse “mascots”, a very large Monstera deliciosa, filling out its new pot. We love our plants too!

Monstera deliciosa

 

 

Some basic houseplant info: Light is important. Pay attention to how the sun moves through your home. Is your landscape outside filled with trees that block the light coming in on certain sides? Are there buildings that shade even western or south facing windows? Is your home bright and filled with windows that are unobstructed, or does it feel dark even on sunny days? Plants that don’t have enough light tend to “stretch”, leaning toward the sun and may be pale even with diligent fertilizing.

Assorted pothos

Plants that tolerate low light levels are the workhorses of the houseplant world. They’re also some of the best plants for beginners. Here are a few to try:

Pothos are virtually indestructible in low light and also prefer to be on the dry side. Don’t overwater and they’ll live happily in your home. Sanseveria thrive in bright light but also will add a lovely vertical accent in low light spots too. Philodendrons, spider plants, prayer plants, many ferns, and the indestructible ZZ plant are other good choices.

Fiddleleaf Fig Tree

If you have bright, light flooded rooms with plenty of windows, the choices widen. Peace lilies prefer this  light, though they’ll tolerate lower light levels too. Ficus, including ficus lyrata, the popular fiddle leaf fig, aralia, jade plants and other succulents, croton, ponytail palm, hoyas, grape ivy and aloe vera need the brightest light you can provide.

Anthurium

If you’re not sure you have enough light for those but want to try something other than the low-light plants above, Chinese evergreens, parlor palmsanthurium, bromeliads, ivy, creeping fig, Schefflera arboricola, fittonia, or peperomia are worth trying.

Each plant will have specific water requirements, and I remember my mom checking hers each week, watering if it was needed or simply “grooming”, removing yellow or dead leaves and clipping wayward stems.

Sanseveria

 

 

The amount and frequency of water depend on the brightness of the light, how warm or cool the room is, and the type of plant. Moisture meters can be helpful to determine the moisture in a planter, especially if they’re large. With so much information at our fingertips, researching individual plants is easy; so learn as much as you can about your new purchase to give it the proper care.

Healthy plants need food, and fertilizing should be done at least every two weeks during the growing season, spring through summer, and monthly in the winter when growth slows.

Cissus, Grape Ivy

Even with the best conditions, indoor plants may be susceptible to insect damage.  These pests might include cottony-looking mealy bugs that hide in leaf axils or along stems, spider mites (Common  when humidity levels are low and, in advanced infestations, even showing webbing on plants.), scale (Usually seen as dark bumps on stems and the underside of leaves.), and aphids, soft bodied insects typically found on tender new growth.

If you tend your plants weekly you should spot insect problems early on when they’re more easily managed with a natural pyrethrum or soap spray. There are also systemic granular insecticides that can be sprinkled onto the soil. Always read the labels before using.

 

Houseplants not only look good and purify our indoor air, they add to our interior style, give us something to care for, and bring a little of the outside in. So, with the “comeback” of the houseplant, we say, “Cheers!”

Plants to use with caution around children and pets: Dieffenbachia, Easter lily (very toxic to cats), and ZZ plant (Zamioculcas zamifolia)

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never Garen

A Repurposed Bird Tree For the ‘Better Late Than Never’ Pollinator Garden

Better Late Than Never GardenAs usual, the ‘Better Late than Never’ pollinator garden received very little attention through the holiday season, other than a much needed clean up that included cutting all the dead vines off the two arbors, pulling out spent summer annuals, and giving it a good raking.

It’s been a sleepy little garden since then, though the winter seedlings of larkspur and some bachelor buttons have appeared – along with more than a few weeds.  I’ve only seen a few poppies; I hope they’re just slow to come up this year.

January days at the shop are also filled with mundane tasks – cleaning, completing inventory, and, just like everyone, trying to get rid of the last of the Christmas tree needles that never seem to all quite go away.

In fact, we still had one very large Christmas tree to be disposed of after Christmas. It lay on its side in the nursery, a sad leftover from the holiday season. What a shame it was never decorated or showed off pretty wrapped gifts under its branches, I thought. Contemplating this, I eyed the tree. Then it occurred to me that I could use it in the little garden across the street.

Yes, I’d decorate it for the birds.  It would have a purpose, and I’d feel better about the whole situation. Enlisting Bert’s help to cut the top out of the 9’ tree I ended up with about a 6’ section that he put up on a tree stand for me. It was perfect!Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never Garen

The next day I strung popcorn on raffia, took apart an old scarf I never wore so the yarn could be used for nesting material, and made a list of things to buy for the tree or use from the shop.

There were pinecones that I tied yarn around to hang, smeared with peanut butter, and rolled in bird seed. How many of you did that as a kid and have long forgotten about it? It’s just as messy as I remember…thank goodness for latex gloves!

Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never GarenYarn threaded through cut up pieces of orange slices added more color to the little tree, and pieces of cotton from an old wreath added fluff for their nests. I worked on it  all morning at the nursery, then when it was finished Alyson and I loaded it onto the cart and rolled it to its place of honor in the garden.

I stood there surveying the little tree standing in front of the white fencing, hoping the birds would make their way back to our bare winter garden and discover my gift to them. How nice it would be if the community would add to the little tree too, I thought.

With this in mind I walked across the street to the library and then on to the Chamber of Commerce, asking them to spread the word about the Christmas tree with a new life in the ‘Better Late Than Never’ pollinator garden and that anyone was welcome to participate.Bird Tree in the Better Late Than Never Garen

I’m tickled with our repurposed tree for the birds in the little pollinator garden on the corner and hope you like it too. If you’re walking by, take a minute to admire the Christmas tree that became something even better, the symbol of a good and hopeful way to begin the new year. Just maybe you’ll see some happy feathered friends, too.

By Kris Blevons 

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangements

Making Our Way Through Another Holiday Season

Christmas Trees ArrivingThere hasn’t been much time to write lately, so with this post I hope to catch you up with a bit of what’s been going on at Oak Street Garden Shop.

The day before Thanksgiving the first truckload of Fraser fir Christmas trees arrived, and all hands were on deck to unload and begin setting them up for sale, pick-up, or delivery.Mailbox Decoration

This year the trees (As usual!) were beautiful and full, and they disappeared quickly. Because Thanksgiving was early this year, many wanted to select their tree and begin decorating. We were ready and had the goods!

 

The trees, wreaths, garlands, and other outdoor decorating staples are the first things people want as they begin to ready their homes for the holidays.

It’s a predictable progression of decorating, beginning outside and then moving inside. Our greenhouse flowers and arrangements are in high demand through Holiday Arrangement in A Large Dough Bowl

the middle of the month, and we make sure to have enough of the most beautiful flowers and greenery to work with. Holiday ArrangementsAmaryllis Holiday ArrangementHoliday Orchid ArrangementHoliday Sleigh Arrangement

 

 

 

Holiday ArrangementGifts and centerpieces come last, and we enjoy creating custom pieces for people, either with our containers or theirs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday ArrangementThis post shows some of our work, but if you’re in the area and would like to see what we’re up to, stop in, as our work area is right up front.Amaryllis Holiday Arrangement

 

 

 

Holiday Arrangement - Azalea Topiary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Cypress Topiaries Dressed For the Holidays

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amaryllis Gift Arrangement

 

 

 

 

We’ll be taking some time off after the Christmas holiday and hope you’re able to do the same. If you’re signed up for our weekly emails on this website, they’ll be monthly January – March and will resume each week beginning  April, 2019. Holiday Hours: Dec. 23-27 Closed;  Dec. 28-29 Open;  Dec. 30 Closed;  Dec 31 Open; Jan 1, 2019  Closed

By Kris Blevons

Fall Planting Tips To Creating A Great Spring Garden

Yellow snapdragons and white foxglove…

Fall Planting Tips To Create A Great Spring Garden:

  • Amend your soil. You might think since you followed our advice and added soil conditioner, PlantTone, cow manure or compost  to your beds last spring you’re done. Not so fast! High temperatures break down soil amendments quickly, and plants take up nutrients. Continue adding to your soil every season. Healthy, loose soils create healthy plants.  (Instead of putting fallen leaves to the curb, start a compost pile with them, or run over them with your lawn mower and throw them in your beds. They’ll decompose and add to your soil’s structure and health.)

 

  • After you get your plants home, be sure to keep them watered, especially if you can’t plant them right away. We water small transplants in 4″ pots and cell packs at least once a day, especially if it’s hot and sunny. Of course, less water is required in cloudy, cool conditions. Right before you plant them, be sure they’re moist.

 

  • Early in the season while the soil is still warm, you can still plant with Osmocote. However, later in the winter months, use Calcium Nitrate to feed your plants, especially if the foliage of your pansies turns a reddish color. Remember, you’re planting for spring color, though on warm days through the winter you should also have some blooms.

 

  • Water your bed thoroughly after planting, and keep it watered while your transplants are getting their feet settled in their new home. Take care not to overwater, though, especially as the temperatures cool down going into the winter months.

    Mid-December. Mulched and growing…

 

  • Mulch your beds with shredded mulch or pine straw  to keep soil temperature around the roots as warm as possible.

 

  • Deadhead your pansies and violas! I can’t stress enough how important this is. A pansy that you leave a dead bloom on will form a seed there, instead of putting that energy into more flowers. Make a practice to walk through your garden at least once a week, taking a good look at your plants and deadheading  faded blooms. If you’ve missed some, you’ll see the seed pod beginning to form. Pinch any and all off! This will go a long way toward keeping your pansies happy!

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Fall Inspiration With Pumpkins And Gourds As A New Season Begins

Late Summer Kris' GardenIt sure hasn’t felt like fall, but sooner or later the temperatures will begin to drop, the days will become shorter, and summer’s heat will finally give way to perfect days when we all want to spend as much time outside as we can.

That’s when we look at each other and say, “We are so lucky to work outside!” We’ve been looking forward to this, and with the arrival of pumpkins, gourds, and fall decorating staples, we are willing the temperatures to fall.Hanging Pumpkin/Gourd Garden

 

The hanging “platforms” shown here were used to create a pumpkin/gourd garden in the air.

Hanging Pumpkin Gourd Garden

 

 

 

 

We envision them as an elevated centerpiece for a party, hanging on a screened-in or covered porch area, or simply set in the perfect place to spotlight the abundance of the season.Pumpkins and Gourds

There are so many varied sizes, shapes and textures of gourds and pumpkins  that can be used alone or with plants for centerpieces and gifts.Pie PumpkinsPeanut PumpkinsGourdsMini White PumpkinsPumpkinsLunch Lady Gourds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply gather those you like, being sure to get enough of a selection. With so many to choose from, it’s more than likely you’ll gather more than you need!

Pumpkin/Gourd Arrangements

 

 

We use all manner of organic materials to complement them and have a customer who brings us beautiful fallen acorns to use. We add lichen, mosses, branches, burlap, and ribbon too, depending on the container.

Our succulent topped pumpkins have made a return for the season as well. If you’re in the area and would like one, give us a call!

 

 

 

Stacking pumpkins is a popular way to display them in front of your house.Pumpkin Stack

P:umpkin Stack

 

 

 

 

 

 

Simply find two or three that are different colors (or the same!), stack them as is or add another element like moss between them, and, voila,  you have a beautiful entrance for the season.Pumpkin/Gourd Arrangement

 

 

 

We are just beginning to work with the small gourds that can be grouped together in containers for tablescapes, on bedside tables in guest rooms, or on coffee tables. Make a nest of angelvine or moss and position them however you like them.Gourd/Pumpkin Arrangement

 

 

 

 

 

Our pumpkin supplier comes weekly with the best assortments hand picked for us. We hope you’ll stop in if you’re in the area!

By Kris Blevons

 

Gardening…One Step at a Time…One Plant at a Time…

Kris' Sunny Border - Planters InterspersedAre you frustrated with your gardening efforts…or lack thereof? Recently a friend and I were discussing work issues we encounter in our respective jobs when this subject came up. “Kris, I see what other people are doing in their gardens, and I look at mine and get so frustrated. Then I waste a bunch of time on Facebook and feel even worse.”

I told her quite quickly that, as smart as she was, she shouldn’t be so self-defeating. “Take one step at a time , one plant at a time,”, I said. I should have added that there is no “right” way to create a garden. “Garden design” is such an intimidating notion for many. Who is the arbiter of good garden design anyway?  It’s your garden; do with it what you like and don’t be afraid of the garden police!Kris' Woodland Garden

Of course, you want to do your homework if you’re planning to plant a tree or a lot of shrubs. No one should put a tree that will eventually grow  50′ tall three feet from their house or sun loving shrubs in the shade. Even if you’re a free gardening spirit, certain things must be thought out!

But choosing to create a path through your garden, deciding whether you’d like a bird bath to attract more feathered friends,  contemplating where to put a piece of garden art you bought on a whim..,This is all part of creating your own garden space that reflects your personality.

A Path Through the Garden...It’s so easy to become paralyzed with indecision before you take a first step, but, once that hurdle is jumped, the next one is easier. Think of it as gardening building blocks. Once you have the path, where does it lead and what can you discover at the end? Sometimes the hardest choices, once made, lead to more discovery.Olive Jar in the Garden...

For others, it’s not so much indecision as lack of time or interest. New parents have young children to take care of; others are empty nesters and may be traveling and away from any garden activities for long stretches of time. For them, the ready-made landscape of a garden home or condo is just right for where they are in their lives.

Art in the Garden - BuddhaBut for so many, like my friend, creating a beautiful outdoor home environment is a somewhat anxious endeavor that eventually simply  immobilizes them. If you’re feeling this way, always remember it only takes one step, one plant, then the next step…small steps at a time. Learn what your plants need and provide that as best you can. Once you’ve been successful at one thing, try another. And you’ll find that, just like those building blocks, eventually something amazing will be your  reward.

Beautiful Lightweight Fountains Perfect For Your Garden, Patio, and Landscape – Come Take A Look!

Lightweight Stone FountainsThe first shipment of these beautiful fountains sold quickly even though we’d increased our order from the year before.

Usually I let these things go, not wanting to push my luck, but a couple of people asked if we could get more of them, so I wrote up an even bigger order and sent it in.

Light Weight Stone Fountain

In a customer’s Florida garden…

 

Unfortunately for us, they must be popular all over the country because there was a back-up in production and they weren’t scheduled to be shipped until the end of July, well past the busiest part of our season.

Their popularity is well deserved. The stone color is so realistic most people who saw the first grouping  asked how heavy they were. And, while the water adds weight,they are not difficult to move when empty. The LED light can be used for a very nice effect both day and night, and the sound is pleasant too.

The new shipment arrived this week. Perhaps one might be just right for a special anniversary or birthday gift? At any rate, we’re happy to have them in stock to beautify the greenhouse and nursery too. If you’re in the market for a pretty fountain, stop in and take a look!

 

July 30th Front Door Container Garden

The Gardening Tool That Is Always With You

Front Door Container Garden

May 10th

Do you forget each year exactly what you planted the year before or have trouble keeping track of how many plants you used in a planter or bed?

There’s an easy answer, and it’s probably in your pocket or purse right now. Our phone cameras are a great gardening tool.

I use mine to take pictures of new container plantings and garden beds and continue taking pictures through the season to track the progress of their growth.

Front Door Container Gardens

May 24th

 

 

The pictures here are one example. These planters are on a busy street and are seen from some distance, so they need to grow large. I took pictures the day they were planted and a couple of times after to show the progression of their growth.

July 5th Front Door Container Garden

July 5th

 

 

 

 

Taking pictures as a reference is helpful if you’re asking for help choosing plants for your garden too.  Simply take your pictures into the garden shop the next year and let them  see what you did the year previous. Then you can recreate all or part of it – or none of it if it didn’t do well for you. It’s really a very helpful tool!

Front Door Container Gardens

July 30th

These containers are tall and narrow, and they’re planted intensively, so consistent watering is a must. The first pictures were taken at the beginning of May and the final shots are at the very end of July.

After 3 full months they’re still looking great, and with some clipping to cut back the coleus they should continue well into September.

July 30th Front Door Container Garden

July 30th

 

 

 

This is also an example of choosing the right plants for the person. She’s a busy mom who doesn’t want to fuss over the pots and is lucky enough to have her mom help water when she’s out of town.

I chose the lime green coleus and big leaf begonias because I knew they’d grow large and accented them with the variegated leaves of cuban oregano and caladiums, then tucked in the airy white blooming euphorbia. The potato vine is another toughie that contributed more of the chartreuse green color to show up from a distance.

July 30th Front Door Container Garden

July 30th

If you have a difficult time keeping track of names of plants, using the Notes feature of your I-Phone can help. As a matter of fact, I have an entire list of most of the plants in my garden in my phone. Believe me, I’ve always depended on pen and paper jotting down info here and there,  but more times than not I misplaced them. Now I keep notes on my phone and they don’t get lost!

By Kris Blevons

Nursery - Late June 2018 Japanese Painted Ferns

Snapshots of the Nursery In June…It’s Not Too Late For Flowers!

One cloudy morning right before a deluge of rain, the light was finally right to take a few pictures of the nursery. Usually the light is too bright, or we’re busy unloading trucks, helping customers, filling orders, and generally running around.Nursery Late June 2018

I’m certain the shots here would be better with a great camera (These are IPhone pictures.), but this gives you an idea of the amount of material still available, fresh plants from local growers ready to take on the midsummer heat.

 

 

Nursery Late June 2018 - Vinca

Vinca

Some of the best annuals for summer planting and filling in tough spots are vinca. They come in a range of colors and once established are extremely drought tolerant. Trailing varieties are also available.

Upright pentas are another workhorse of the summer and are butterfly favorites too. This is another that hybridizers have improved upon each year, and one that also has a trailing version, perfect for sunny containers.

Nursery Late June 2018 - Pentas

Pentas and Angelonia

 

 

 

Nursery - Late June 2018 Caladiums

Caladiums

 

 

 

 

We still have a selection of caladiums too, and the majority of them will tolerate sun as well as brighten shady spots in the garden. If you’ve ever looked at your garden beds and seen nothing but little leaves and a few blooms, caladiums might be just the thing to add that interesting and colorful foliage element to your design.

'Canary Wing' Begonia

‘Canary Wing’ begonia

 

 

This year there’s a new begonia called ‘Canary Wing’ that’s been fun to play with in mixed containers, but it would also be stunning as a single specimen in a pot or massed in a shady garden bed. The red blooms on this large begonia contrast beautifully with the bright yellow leaves.

 

 

 

Angelonia and Canary Begonias in Nursery Late June 2018

Angelonia and ‘Canary Wing’ begonias

As you walk through the nursery, you’ll see a myriad of other choices including angelonia, a great bedding plant for sun. It’s best used in masses, and the spiky blooms add visual contrast when used with other blooming plants like lantana and vinca in sunny spots.

Nursery Late June 2018 - Silver dichondra

‘Silver Falls’ dichondra

 

 

 

 

Silver dichondra adds its silvery sheen to plantings, cascading down the side of pots, over walls and between plantings. It’s a tough plant and drought tolerant too.

 

 

 

 

Nursery - Late June 2018 - Lantana

Lantana

So, if you simply need a few fill-in flowers or have a larger area that still needs planting, we have plenty of healthy and beautiful choices for your garden.  And, while you’re here, take a browse through the perennials and herbs and stroll through the greenhouse as well!

 

Garden Alert! Summer To-Do List

Rudbeckia 'Herbstonne'

Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’

It’s July in Birmingham, time for weekends at the lake and trips to the beach or mountains (and aren’t we lucky to be so close to both?)  So I promise not to make you work too hard in the garden… but remember, a little work now will mean less later – and a prettier garden too!

So, here are a few things to be thinking about – and you don’t even  have to do them all at once! Simply walk through your garden at least every week and try to do at least a couple of the following tasks each time:

Pull weeds that may be coming up and dispose of them. Never put weeds on your compost pile unless you want more! Pulling weeds a bit at a time is so much easier than ignoring them and doing a marathon weed pull later. Trust me on this; I’ve been there. Did you see the post on mulberry weed? It’s one you need to keep out of your garden!

 'Becky' daisies

‘Becky’ daisies

Deadhead (cut off dead “heads” of blooms) any flowers that have passed their prime.

 

Along the same vein as deadheading is cutting back. Planters benefit greatly from being cut back when they are geting “out of control” in size  (usually around this time of year if you planted them in the early spring).  It’s a difficult thing to do for folks, but try it. Cut back those weedy looking zinnias. That coleus that’s gotten enormous? Cut it back! Those trailing plants that are looking a little worse for wear? Cut them back by at least half.

There, you did it! Now give those plants a bit of fertilizer, keep them watered, and then  stand back while they flush back out. You can thank me later!

Deadheading a phlox bloom...

Deadheading a phlox bloom…

 

Perennials in your garden will also appreciate a little attention here and there. When your phlox has pretty much bloomed out, trim the spent flower head off.  It will usually rebloom a second time. Once they’re completely done blooming, cut them back by half to neaten things up a bit. Rudbeckias, daisies and coneflowers will also continue to bloom longer if you pay attention and deadhead them just as you do your annuals.

 

Deadhead individual blooms on balloon flower

Deadhead individual blooms on balloon flower

 

Balloon flower is one perennial that you should never cut back while it’s blooming or you’ll lose out on a lot of flowers. Simply pinch off old blooms – this is best done daily. Confused about annuals and perennials? Refresh yourself by reading this post on them.

 

 

Do you see yellowing leaves on perennials or annuals? It only takes a few minute to “groom” a plant  – simply remove the yellow leaves; after all, they’re not going to turn green again! Daylilys definitely look better if you pay attention to this after you’ve cut back the faded bloom stem. You can even cut their  foliage back by half to neaten the plant up after it’s bloom period is completely over.

midsummer...perennials and annual share this bed.

midsummer…perennials and annual share this bed.

Some late blooming perennials should be getting taller…inserting wide border supports keep them in line (They are one of my favorite support systems.).  Take a look HERE  if you missed the post on late blooming perennials and what to do with them early in the season. The Rudbeckia ‘Herbstonne’ shown in the picture at the beginning of this post  is an example of a perennial I cut back in the spring to control it’s height and bloom time. They are in full bloom around town now.

See the mulch?

See the mulch?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you need to refresh mulch in beds, now is a good time to get this necessary task done. Not the most fun job, but it keeps the soil temperatures at the root zone of plants at an even temperature – especially important in our hot climate! Mulch conserves moisture, smothers weeds, and eventually will break down, contributing  to the health of the soil too. Pretty good stuff all the way around.

Okay, that wasn’t so bad was it? Now you can pour yourself a glass of wine, pat yourself on the back and enjoy your beautiful, cared for landscape!

By Kris Blevons

Ideas For Container Gardens In The Sun

 

 

Even in June we have folks come in to get planting advice for their garden beds and pots. It’s never too late to plant something! Here are a few ideas for your summer planters.
Bottega Planter

Keep in mind you don’t have to make fancy plant combinations if you feel unsure of yourself.  You can also choose to use just one kind of plant in a planter.

The bottom line? Do whatever you feel works for you and your landscape.  The staff at Oak Street Garden Shop and I enjoy putting together combinations of plants though, so here are a few examples of that type of planting.

The wire plant stand shown in the first two pictures lives at a local restaurant, receives lot of sun, and is well tended. It was first lined with a thick layer of green sheet moss, then soil and Osmocote were added  (We mix in this slow release fertilizer to all of our plantings.), and finally plants were positioned.

Bottega Plant StandBecause this needs to show up in the evening as well as during the day, the color scheme is white and silver with a touch of blue. It’s sited in front of a window and needs to look good all around as patrons also view it from inside the restaurant.

Blue salvia  and silver germander will give height to this planting and spiky blooms, silver artemesia, sun tolerant caladiums, and an airy white euphorbia will add fullness, while a trailing artemesia, spreading angelonia, helichrysum, and silver dichondra will spill out the front.

The next example is simpler since the container, a bowl made out of hypertuffa, is smaller. Again, the plants chosen will work in the sun if care is taken to keep the contents watered. Our advice, unless it rains, is to water each morning, thoroughly in the heat of summer, and check the planting again each afternoon.Container Garden For Sun - Trailing Pentas, Spreading Angelonia, Ornamental Oregano

Three types of plants fill this bowl: spreading angelonia, ornamental oregano, and trailing pentas. Each of these will either spread out or trail, so the overall look will be of a mounding planting. Each of these has a different shape bloom, so there will be contrast in form as well as color of foliage or flower.

The final example is an intensively planted, heavy glazed container that a customer brought in to be planted for a wedding party. Her color scheme was white, pink, and purple, and some variegated and silver foliage was used as well.

Container Garden For Sun - Iris Pallida, Artemesia, Scaevola, Angelonia, Silver GermanderBecause this needed to be intensively planted to look “grown out” immediately, maintenance will be important, and plants will need to be cut back periodically and groomed often. The planter sits against a wall in hot sun, so the view is 3/4 around.

 

 

Here Iris pallida  was the starting point, then silver artemesia, silver germander,  upright and spreading angelonia, and trailing plants of both purple and white scaevola were added to complete the planting. Again, there’s contrast in foliage color, bloom form, and growth habit.

The mixed planting combinations shown here  could just as easily work in a sunny garden bed too.

Experiment with new plants you might not be familiar with, try different combinations, whether they’re all in the same pot, one plant type in a container. or in the ground. You just might find a new favorite!

 

Plants used in these containers include:

Sun tolerant caladiums: There are many out there. The sun caladiums generally have lance shaped leaves.  Blue salvia: Again, look for salvias  that grow between 12″ and 18″  the size best for most mid-size container gardens. Euphorbia: There are many, and they all offer an airy growth habit with small white blooms. You can’t go wrong with any of them!  Helichrysum ‘Silver Star‘: This is an excellent choice for southern gardeners, usually available only early in the season. Doesn’t “melt out” like most other helichrysums do for us.

Silver dichondra: Don’t let it’s skimpy appearance in the pot fool you. This is one of the best choices to create a silvery waterfall of coin shaped leaves to trail out of containers in the sun, and  it loves the heat too!  Angelonia: Sometimes referred to as summer snapdragon because of it’s bloom shape. Angelonia comes in an upright form perfect for the center of containers or in garden beds and as a spreading plant, more lax and outward growing.

Artemesia: Good for a silver foliage element. ‘Powis Castle’ is big and billowy, ‘Silver Brocade’ spreads out and down. Silver germander: A lovely upright growing plant used for foliage texture and color. An excellent plant to add structure to plantings, though it can be difficult to find.

Pentas: A workhorse for us. They’re available in an upright form, useful for adding height in containers, and now there’s also a trailing variety. They do require deadheading to perform their best. Ornamental oregano:  Another that can be difficult to find, but if you can, the trailing habit and pink bloom bracts make it a winner.

Scaevola: This spiller comes in a range of colors: white, pink, blue, or purple, so it can be used with any color scheme. Clip it back periodically to keep it from getting ragged. Its other name is fan flower because of the charming fan shaped blooms.

Iris pallida: A striking iris, with either yellow (‘Aurea’) or white (‘Variegata’) variegated leaves, it prefers sun and dryish soil. Lovely light purple blooms appear in early spring.

A few more good choices not used here include:

Coleus: With their colorful leaves they brighten shady areas, but there are also many sun tolerant varieties as well. Sunpatiens: Provide plenty of water if you place them in full sun. Begonias: There are many excellent varieties out there including ‘Dragonwing’, ‘Big Leaf’, and others. It’s not your Grandma’s begonia world any more! Calibrachoa: Also known as million bells, these diminutive petunia look-alikes spill from containers with every color imagineable. Purslane: Colorful blooms close in the late afternoon on succulent, drought tolerant plants. Lantana: An old workhorse, new varieties are more compact and extremely floriferous.

 

 

 

Don’t Stress If A Plant Is An Ugly Duckling – Imperfection Can Be Beautiful Too!

Oak treeI have a tiny oak tree out back that used to be on its way to attaining an impressive size – until Hurricane Ivan hit and toppled a huge hickory tree onto it, effectively topping it.

I know I should have taken it down when the tree company came to clear out the downed hickory, but I couldn’t do it. I liked that little oak, and over time it’s become my crazy tiny oak tree up in my rock outcrop – a hurricane survivor.

I was working up around that oak this morning, cutting a few dead branches out of it and wondering at its tenacity. Below it, also improbably growing in the rock outcrop, is a shrub called Thujopsis dolobrata – a prized specimen I planted years ago.Thujopsis dolobrata

Unfortunately the Thujopsis started dying last summer, a victim to the previous fall’s drought. I watched anxiously as branch after branch eventually turned brown and died.

Unbelievably, about a third rallied and is still alive. I cut out the dead and now have half a shrub under my dwarfed oak tree. What a pair of misfits in the garden!

My imperfect garden might not be to everyone’s taste; but I’d rather have a little imperfection than everything being “just so”.  A friend in the horticulture profession said it well:

Imperfect Leaf“Plants are living things like humans. They need water and sun and some need food and each grow in different ways. That yellow leaf at the bottom of the dracaena doesn’t mean that there is something wrong or that the plant is dying – it’s just a natural part of the life cycle. People need to understand that imperfect is beautiful.”

My physically imperfect tree and shrub were caused by events out of my control – a hurricane and a drought. Other imperfections are simply part of a plant’s life cycle, yellowing leaves, and damage caused by insects or animals.

While it’s important to maintain a healthy landscape, it’s also important to know when to relax and appreciate that some imperfection is normal and not always cause for immediate alarm.

With proper watering, fertilizing, pruning and general maintenance, your plants will be better prepared to weather anything nature throws at them – and you will too.

By Kris Blevons

 

 

 

 

Paph, Chiritas, Episcias, Oncidium, and Jewel Orchid

Orchids, Episcias and Chiritas… A Pretty Vignette in the Greenhouse

Jewel orchid and air plant

It can be a challenge to display all the beautiful plants we have, rotating and changing displays on a consistent basis.

Multi-bloom Paphiopedilum

Multi-bloom paphiopedilum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many times during the busiest of seasons long-time customers know to look on tables and even on the floor to be sure to see everything available.Paph, Chiritas, Episcias, Oncidium, and Jewel Orchid

I wanted to share this pretty collection that caught my eye the other day – a grouping of diverse and beautiful orchids and interesting house plants Jamie had arranged at the entrance.

The multi-bloom paphiopedilums, chiritas, (Primulina), jewel orchids, and episcias were especially captivating on this cool April day, as their blooms and leaves glowed in the afternoon light.

If you’re interested in beautiful and well kept plants, please stop in!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alocasia lutea

Alocasias, Tropical Beauties of the Summer

Photo Courtesy Southern Living Magazine

Bold and dramatic, the alocasias are one of the most elegant  tropicals of the summer garden.

One look at the bright yellow stems of the showstopping giant Alocasia ‘Lutea’ rising at an angle upward can practically take your breath away. Mix it with darker green leaves and wispy foliage as a contrast and it’s unforgettable.

Alocasias are natives of Asia, from Sri Lanka and India through Southeast Asia to Indonesia. Keeping this in mind, Birmingham’s hot summer months are perfect for these giants from half a world away.

 

 

Alocasia luteaIf I had to give a favorite cultivar of Alocasia, it would be a tossup between the darker veined cultivars like ‘Mayan Mask’ and the above mentioned ‘Lutea’. But any of them offer a dramatic and large leaf presence in the summer garden.

 

Offer them dappled sunlight (More sun is ok, but be very sure to keep them well watered.) and ample moisture for the best growth. As large a pot as is feasible for your space, or well amended rich soil, if you’re planting them in the ground, will keep them happiest through the hot summer months.

Alocasias we have in stock now (as of April 26, 2018) include 10″ and 14″ Alocasia ‘Lutea’ and 5″ Alocasia ‘Portora, ‘Mayan Mask’ and ‘Calidora’.

 

Fiddleleaf Fig Houseplants…Identifying Leaf Problems and Tips For Growing A Healthy Plant

The fiddleleaf fig is the latest houseplant wonder, used by interior designers and houseplant owners across the country. Its popularity is well deserved as it’s a striking, large leaved plant, often trained into a tree form and seen on the pages of magazines everywhere.

Maybe you’ve succumbed to the “Everyone has a fiddle leaf fig, I need one too.” pressure but now aren’t sure how to care for it?  Well, first things first –  It’s always smart to look at where a plant originated, then try your best to duplicate that in your home.

Ficus lyrata are native to western Africa, from Cameroon west to Sierra Leone, where it grows in lowland tropical rainforest.  Their large leaves enable them to catch as much light as possible, and in this environment they can grow up to 100 feet in height.

Creating this environment in your home can be daunting. Light is the first challenge. Ficus lyrata will prefer an extremely bright room, but bear in mind too much direct sun may burn its leaves.

The ideal placement would be in a spot that is in very bright light most of the day. If there’s direct light through southern or western windows, don’t place your fiddleleaf fig directly in them but back it off so it receives the light but not the hot sun.

Fiddleleaf fig leaves are very big and they can be dust collectors. It’s important to keep these large leaves clean so they can absorb as much light as possible to aid in photosynthesis. To do this, carefully cradle each leaf in your palm and gently wipe them  with either a damp sponge or a microfiber cloth. Do this at least once a month.

Water is the next consideration. In its native habitat, the fiddleleaf fig stays uniformly moist all the time. The trick is to keep it watered just enough, but not to let it stay too wet which can cause root rot and bacterial diseases. Root rot will manifest itself in older leaves developing brown spots, then dropping off, a very common problem with ficus lyrata in the home. Leaves typically remain dark green with one brown spot that gets larger and larger.

If you suspect this is the case, take your plant out of its pot and inspect the roots. If any are soft and mushy, root rot is the problem and is affecting the leaves and health of your plant. Remove the bad roots and repot with fresh potting soil. Groom the plant, removing any affected leaves.

Try to let your ficus go just dry. Push your finger into the soil 2”-3”.  If it comes out dry, it’s time to water. When you water, water thoroughly, then let it go for however long it takes until your finger comes out dry again when you test the soil. Never let your plant sit in water.

If your fiddleleaf fig doesn’t receive enough water, it will be easy to tell as you’ll notice the edges of the leaves begin to turn brown, dry, and begin to curl. The overall look of the plant may appear wilted as well. Remove the brown leaves and try to be more aware of how much and how often you’re watering.

If the soil is coming away from the edge of the pot, that’s a sure sign you’ve not been watering enough. Check to see if your plant is near a heat vent that’s drying out the air and try misting your fiddleleaf fig to raise the humidity around it.

A serious problem, and another that also shows itself by brown spots on the leaves, is bacterial leaf spot. The difference between this and root rot is that bacterial disease affects all growth but especially attacks new leaves.  You’ll notice small leaves and stunted growth, yellowing, and many brown spots on each leaf rather than one large brown area.

With bacterial leaf spot, the leaf  will also turn yellow as the bacteria spreads. Eventually leaves will fall off. If less than 50% of the plant is affected, the best course of action is to remove all the diseased leaves and repot with new soil. Do not overwater as it’s recovering and place it in the maximum amount of light possible.

If your plant continues to decline or if more than half your plant has diseased leaves, it’s better to discard it and start over with a new plant.

Fertilize once a month through the growing season as they are very light feeders and let it rest through the winter. It also responds well to light pruning if necessary.

Finally, ficus lyrata prefer to be a bit potbound, but, if you see roots coming out the bottom of the pot and it needs to be moved up, repot using quality potting soil (We use Fafard.) into a pot no more than 2″ larger. The best time to repot is spring as your fiddleleaf fig is resuming more active growth.

Once you’ve found the right spot and have a handle on the proper care of your Ficus lyrata, you’ll find it to be a very durable and tough plant that should give you many years of enjoyment.

We offer Ficus lyrata at Oak Street Garden Shop when they are available. Please stop in and browse – you might find some other plants too! 

~ We’re sorry, but we don’t offer online sales or ship plants at this time ~

 

 

A New Planting Season Brings New Possibilities…Don’t Be Afraid!

Sunny Bed with Annuals & PerennialsI read a piece that Tony Avent of Plant Delights Nursery wrote a few years ago about some people being “controlling” gardeners while others are “gambling” gardeners. I really thought it was spot on, and I can say I’ve worked with both types.

 

Of course, many of us gamble each year, planting marginally  hardy plants that have done fine with our mild winters of past years. Boy, can some winters give us a whammy though!

Annual caladiums, coleus and pentas are added to this perennial bed

Annual caladiums, coleus and pentas are added to this perennial bed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I really liked this comment from Tony Avent,  “Controlling folks want everything to work out just as the gardening books say, and struggle when plants don’t do exactly that, while the gamblers take a chance, try new things and hope for the best.

For the gamblers if things don’t work out quite as expected, it’s an opportunity for something new, rather than a failure. Personally, I like the gamblers approach to gardening much better, and think it causes a lot less anxiety! So, what’s the point? The point is to relax and enjoy gardening, remembering that nature is always in charge.

Life and death in the garden are no different than life and death outside the garden. Our options are to dwell on the sadness of death or celebrate the life that passed and embrace the next life that lies ahead.”

Fall in the Herb GardenWith the beginning of a new planting season, my personal outlook is going to be that of looking on my  gardening efforts as a joy and an opportunity to not only beautify my landscape and surroundings but to nourish my soul as well; and, if there are failures, that will be part and parcel of the process. Some of my  best plant combinations have been happy accidents!

Herb Garden with Self Sown Vinca, Allysum & GomphrenaThe pictures here are of my garden – plants are allowed to self seed, failures are yanked out, and plants that strike my fancy are tucked in here and there where I think they might look good. It wouldn’t make anyone’s list of a perfectly designed space, but it’s mine and that’s how you should treat yours too.

Above all, whatever the outcome of your garden, take time to appreciate the life you bring into it…a butterfly on a zinnia bloom, a hummingbird hovering over a salvia, and bees doing their important work with them of  pollinating your flowers and vegetables.

Mid Summer Perennials & AnnualsMy ultimate hope is that many of you adopt the gambler attitude. It doesn’t have to be the high roller, high stakes approach, but try to roll with the plant punches, knowing they’ll come, and  treat your gardening efforts as what they should be – a relaxing, and therapeutic addition to your  daily schedule rather than a chore that’s only done on the weekends.

Posted by Kris Blevons

Native Azaleas and Hybrid Aromi Deciduous Azaleas Add Blooms, Scent, and Structure to the Garden

Spring Garden

March garden scene…

March and April are the months in the south that finally drive winter out for good, after the usual roller coaster rides with temperatures rising then falling, and multiple cycles of freezing and thawing.

Though our last average frost isn’t until mid-April, this year the fat buds of cherry trees and crabapples, spiraea, forsythia, and many more have burst into fragrant, beautiful bloom, and neighborhoods are awash in color.

Snowball Viburnum buds

Snowball viburnums blooming in March

 

 

 

Favorite shrubs of mine that add to the spring symphony are our native deciduous azaleas and the hybrids that have come along in recent years.

We have a selection available now, and, as they’re considered by many to be some of our most beautiful flowering shrubs, you might like to add one or more to your garden this year.

 

Hummingbird Moth on Deciduous Azalea

Hummingbird moth…

Large, fragrant, honeysuckle like blooms open gradually, offering nectar to swallowtail butterflies and hummingbird moths. It’s a delight to catch these pollinators “working” the blossoms!

 

 

 

 

 

A mistake many people make when deciding where to put their deciduous azalea is placing it in too much shade.

 

They do need some sun to bloom well, so be sure to think about how much shade mature trees cast in your landscape when considering your placement.Hybrid Deciduous Azalea

Once you’ve decided on your spot, don’t make the next mistake many people do when planting a new shrub, especially deciduous azaleas which are shallow rooted, by planting too deeply. Plant the rootball slightly high, water well, and mulch with pinestraw.

 

 

 

Once your shrub is planted, don’t neglect water. Though they need a well draining soil, they also need even moisture, so be mindful of this especially through the first two summers and possible dry spells.

Though they can grow up to 12’ in height, I do very minimal pruning on my deciduous azaleas, because they’re in a rocky area and haven’t quite gotten that big.

If you wish to prune yours, it’s best to prune early blooming varieties right after they bloom, since the following year’s flower buds form in June. With judicious pruning you can achieve a smaller shrub at around 6’.

Native Azalea R. canescens bloom

 

 

 

 

Do you think you have just the right spot for at least one of these beauties? I hope you do. You’ll be creating  your own magnificent symphony of color and scent for neighbors, pollinators, (and you!) to appreciate and enjoy.

By Kris Blevons