Friday, November 3, 2017

The Glory of October

In the October Garden

In my Autumn garden I was fain
To mourn among my scattered roses;
Alas for that last rosebud which uncloses
To Autumn's languid sun and rain
When all the world is on the wane!
Which has not felt the sweet constraint of June,
Nor heard the nightingale in tune.

Broad-faced asters by my garden walk,
You are but coarse compared with roses:
More choice, more dear that rosebud which uncloses
Faint-scented, pinched, upon its stalk,
That least and last which cold winds balk;
A rose it is though least and last of all,
A rose to me though at the fall. 

 My aim is to use the plants as mulch - planting them so close together that they shade out weeds.  I'd rather buy perennials and plant them than mulch and have to apply it. I do add a good layer of mulch to newly planted trees and shrubs to help in the consevation of their watering.

October was relatively dry and required additional watering for new and transplanted plants. The late blooms of mums, asters , Autumn sage and goldenrod are still hanging on.

Sunday, October 1, 2017


I love this Hyacinth Bean vine I bought when I visited Thomas Jefferson's Monticello garden.

September - so hot and dry.  I joked that the chickens were laying boiled eggs.  Most of the time they had their tongues hanging out and their wings fanning themselves.  I put  lots of ice cubes in their water.  All four hens are now laying-some off and on but we are getting around 2 dozen eggs a week. 

I expect to get a large water bill this month as we've had hardly any rain for the past two months -August and September.   I take sections of the garden at a time beginning with those that need the water the most - new transplants . I don't like to complain about the lack of water when the poor people of Houston , Florida and Puerto Rico got way too much.

I spent days that were too hot to venture out in planning the renovation of a 20 year old garden.  I had the homeowner rip out all the old , overgrown shrubs. She selected, upon my advice, a beautiful Full Moon Japanese Maple for a focal point in her front garden bed.  Around it I planted a bright golden Illicium, some Lorepetalum and Recurved ligustrum.   The color contrast was remarkable. 

The last day of September brought a huge change to the heatwave we were having.  It suddenly cooled off to a wonderful 72 degree day which is perfect for gardening . 

Farewell dry, hot September and welcome cool and wonderful October !

Thursday, August 31, 2017


"Let me enjoy this late-summer day of my heart while the leaves are still green and I won't look so close as to see that first tint of pale yellow slowly creep in. I will cease endless running and then look to the sky ask the sun to embrace me and then hope she won't tell of tomorrows less long than today. Let me spend just this time in the slow-cooling glow of warm afternoon light and I'd think I will still have the strength for just one more last fling of my heart." 
- John Bohrn, Late August

The goldenrod to me means that Fall is slowly creeping in.  The last week of August has been remarkable cool all of a sudden.  Temperatures of 70 as the high and 60 as the low are very enjoyable for getting gardening chores done.

Despite the lack of rain this month the garden has thrived, with the exception of pesky deer nibbling on plants they usually leave alone.   Above is a shot of the edge of my woodland garden that faces the front of my house.  I still have empty spots calling for some plants.  I'm looking for bellflowers that will naturally colonize and fill in the blanks so that the plants will act as mulch.

Henrietta, the red hen on the right, has been laying eggs everyday.  She is the queen of the coop and keeps the other ones in line.   The yellow buff orpington on the left, named Hei Hei should be laying soon as she's only 5 days younger that Henrietta.

     Found this lovely violet Autumn sage at the local garden center and got two of them planted.  I'm very fond of this plant since it has a long bloom time, attracts bees and butterflies and turns into a small woody shrub.

I found this beautiful spotted bee balm and couldn't resist it.  It's self-sowing and attracts a lot of pollinators.

In the vegetable garden I've harvested a lot of okra, tomatoes, basil and onions.  I've planted some kale and stir-fry broccoli and have more seeds to sow once it gets a little cooler.

Monday, July 31, 2017


This prunus mume ' peggy clarke ' , one of two I have in my garden, will always remind me of my gardening buddy who sold it to me.  " What other tree will bring you cheer in the midst of winter, " she asked.   She was the most cheerful, loving and charitable person I know.  One sad  day this month she decided to end it all, leaving behind a multitude of friends and family.  Our grief was overwhelming.
As expected July brought many extremely hot and humid days with no rain in sight.  Temperatures over 100 degrees for a week at a time.

Despite the heat some flowers, such as this 'Little Gem ' magnolia actually bloomed.  The most drought-tolerant flowers in the roadside garden are the goldenrods, asters and ornamental grasses.

Harvested some tasty tomatoes, okra and zuchinni from the veggie garden.  Strawberries are still putting out fruit.  I harvested 20 white peaches from my semi-dwarf tree and they were very sweet.

We added an outdoor enclosure to the chicken pen so the girls could have room to roam .

Today, the oldest girl, Henrietta started clucking like a mad hen and when I went to see what the matter was I found the first egg !  It was small and brown.  This is early as she is only 5 months old.  Then a few hours later I found a second egg.  I had to hurry and assemble her nesting box since there are 3 other girls who might want to peck or even eat the eggs.  The nesting box allows the eggs to roll down to a collection box to avoid this.

Farewell, July.  Looking forward to lower humidity and temperatures and hoping we get them !

Sunday, July 2, 2017


Normal rainfall for June is 3.6 " but actual accumulation this year was 6.36 ".  It rained almost non-stop for days.  Since my property is on a downhill slope I have lots of run-off that I've been dealing with.   I dug a deep trench around the veggie garden and along the fence that runs down the slope and added a corrugated drain pipe with a mesh sock to direct the rainfall to the woodlands in front.  It worked !  No more standing puddles .

 View from the Boulder garden

Peeping through the arbor with the Lady Banks rose on it.   This unique rose is thornless and evergreen.  It has tiny yellow flowers that smothers the vines in early Summer.

We finally finished the chicken coop that is attached to our shed.  It's a good size - 8 x 12 ' and our four chickens are quite happy in their new home.  It's so much easier to clean as I have plenty of headroom.

Took some time off and drove to the Outer Banks to vacation with family.  The sound of the ocean waves are  so tranquil.

                                                            Nags Head, N.C.

Visited the beautiful garden of  Gail Norwood and picked up some of her passalong plant -pestacides, aka, butterbur, a very impressive, large-leaved specimen that loves a moist woodland garden.  It has already adapted to its new enviornment

I am waging a battle with Japanese beetles.  First they appeared on my crape myrtles and now they are on my apple, nectarine and marigolds.  I may have to start a regimen of Milky Spore to get rid of them entirely.

I have been enjoying both red and green tomatoes from the veggie garden, along with strawberries, basil and onions.

With the coming of July summer will be in full force and gardening will have to be limited to the early morning or late afternoon .

Wednesday, May 31, 2017


"A delicate fabric of bird song 
Floats in the air, 
The smell of wet wild earth 
Is everywhere. 
Oh I must pass nothing by 
Without loving it much, 
The raindrop try with my lips, 
The grass with my touch; 
For how can I be sure 
I shall see again 
The world on the first of May 
Shining after the rain?"  
-  Sara Teasdale, May Day  

                                         'Whirling Butterflies ' Gaura

April and May were reversed this year - April was dry and May brought an over abundance of rain.

I've spend most of this month learning how to be the grandmother of my granddaughter's newly acquired chickens that are kept at my house . She named them Henrietta,( a Golden Buff -Red Sex Link ) Cleopatra, ( Cream Legbar ) Moon  ( Ameraucana ) and Hey Hey ( a Buff Orpington ) .  I let the chicks out of the coop every morning and provide fresh water and food.  I also clean up their poop on a daily basis. The rest of the day they are free to roam the chicken enclosure .  I used sand for their litter so they are quite happy taking sand baths.  Since there's a lot of chicken-loving critters in this area I lock them up in their coop at night.  

The roadside garden is very lush due to the excessive rain we've had. I have added more wildflower seeds that attract bees and butterflies.

I added more perennials to my boulder garden -coreopsis, poker plant, verbena, fern-leaf lavender, violets, butterfly weed, spurge, woodland phlox and spider daylilies to name a few.  I also found the hardy banana palm tree that I wanted to plant near my container pond.  

I added two more dogwoods -a  'cherokee brave ' and 'appalachian mist '.  

May is a very busy month both in the garden and at home - two of my children are born in May and then there's my May birthday and Mother's day so a lot of presents change hands.

Sunday, April 30, 2017


Here in the Piedmont April 15 is usually considered the day when it is safe to plant as the danger of a heavy freeze is passed.  This April we had a late freeze and I had to cover some tender budding fruit trees.

An April addition to the Sweet Garden - " Freckles " , a woodland violet.

It was very dry in early to mid-April and I had to frequently water the newly planted flowers and shrubs during some summer-like hot weather.  But, true to its rainy reputation, April didn't fail to produce an abundance of rain that fell so hard and fast it flooded many areas , causing extensive damage and loss of life.

               Edgeworthia, aka paper bush, is another April addition.

My experiment with the Fall/Winter vegetable garden was successful and I harvested kale, spinach and green leaf lettuce. I've added cantoloupe, okra, green and red sweet bell peppers and cucumbers .

The time finally arrived to fulfill my promise to Lea to get some chickens.  She was so excited to be able to select two choices of her own - a Golden Buff and a Cream legbar.  We picked two more-an Ameraucan and Buff Orpington.  I chose a coarse sand for the floor of the coop and run as I read it was cleaner and easier to maintain.  We shall see.  The larger chicken -the Golden Buff, is dominant and the smaller chicks act as if she's their mother.  

Farewell April and welcome May.  April was certainly full of surprises from very cold to very warm and very dry to very wet.  I have come to expect no less from this unpredictable month.

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