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Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween!


Garden Blogger Fall Color Project: Surrounded by Fall in the Malverns

What a gift to be surrounded by all the wonderful scenery that Patientgardener is! Over in Malverns, England (in Worchestershire) the chestnut and beech trees are showing their autumnal changes. You even get a peak at some sweetgum trees which are another of my favorites for fall color. (I can forgive them for the seed balls in exchange for that fall color!) So stop on over and say hi to Patientgardener!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Garden Blogger Fall Color Project: A Garden Path of Fall Foliage

Take a Walk Down the Garden Path and visit some Pennsylvania fall color.  Cindy's pictures are an excellent example of lighting and color blended to make perfect pictures.  The maples are turning and shedding their leaves creating a carpet of color.  Fantastic images of fall are all around Pennsylvania!

Garden Blogger Fall Color Project: An Autumn Acre and a Saturday Road Trip

Jump on over to Our Little Acre to see the fall colors! Not my acre, Kylee's! She has viburnums, a gingko, sumacs, and many other plants that are showing some great fall foliage. The bald cypress and the beautyberry are two that I will have to add to our garden!

Don't forget to journey up to Kalamazoo, Michigan and the blog Through the Looking Glass where Jelly Fish Bay is traveling on a roadtrip in the search for fall colors.  Playing hookey to search for fall colors is definitely worth it (says the former teacher)!  You'll see the glowing sumacs and the vibrant colors of a northern fall.  The last stop by the river brings to great day trip to a close!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Garden Blogger Fall Color Project: An English Fall and a Japanese Painting

Today I have two more Garden Blogger Fall Color Project posts to share with you!

Take another trip overseas to Veg Plotting in Chippenham, England where VP has taken some great shots of the fall colors and pieced them together in a collage for us to see. Colorful smoke trees and Japanese maples are certainly brightening up what could be a vintage year for autumn colors in England!

Steve Silk and his new blog, Chatter Valley Gardens, are bringing us an array of fall treats. His photos of Japanese maples are nothing short of an elegant painting and his post on seed pods will definitely catch your eye!

A Maple on Fire

The red maple (Acer rubrum) is one of the most beautiful trees for fall color. It leaves shone out in the fall like a bonfire beckoning all to admire. The red maple is such a great tree in the landscape.  I tend to like trees that have at least three seasons of interest and maples fit the bill.  In the spring their new foliage comes out with red tints as do their flowers, yes flowers!  The flowers, once pollinated, then turn into the little seeds called samaras that people like to drop and watch helicopter down. or at least I do.  In the spring and summer you have a wonderful cannopy of lush green foliage that is perfect for picnics in the shade. You probably understand why I like this tree so much as you can probably understand why I am both frustrated and angry with the deer damage.

After the deer attacked my trees with its antlers I did some research on tree repair.  I couldn't stand the thought of losing the trees and losing the three seasons of growth that its had in our landscape. 

Many of the sources I read suggested that you take the shredded bark from the ground and reattach it to the wounds before the bark dries out.  This wasn't much of an option since the bark was shredded way beyond any use other than mulch.  I had to think more creatively...

I went into the backyard and found several silver maples. Silver maples aren't generally recommended for landscapes because of the root systems but there are a few in the very back of our yard that have grown up naturally.  I selected some younger branches from the tree and pruned them out.  After I cleaned up the rough edges of the bark on the tree, I shaved as much bark as I could from the donor branches and attached them to the damaged trees taking care to keep the branches matched up in the right direction.  

Then I covered the whole wound with tape to keep the grafted bark on the tree until it could grow together.  This process may not even work but I thought it would be worth a try.  I suspect that the trees will be fine without it since they were not girdled but sometimes it's hard to do nothing.

Time will tell if the graft is successful or not.  I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Garden Blogger Fall Color Project: In the UK

Do you want to dig a little deeper into the science behind the magical fall colors we see each fall? Or maybe you just want to take a peak at the fall show of a Continus coggygria (Smoke Tree). Either way stop over and visit Joco in the UK at Joco Serious. Joco posted a very detailed and thorough explanation of the process. I definitely agree that Nature Needs no Paintbrush!

Garden Blogger Fall Color Project:

A sea of color is what awaits you at Tina's blog (In the Garden). Tina is writing to us from the undersea world of foliage, with photographs of maples, redbuds, and sumac displaying their fall color. The pictures come to us from Maine, Indiana and Tina's garden so there is a variety of pictures to see! Or should I have said sea?

How about a trip to Indiana to visit Carol's Fall colors (May Dream's Gardens)? The viburnums are glowing and the maples are blazing! You can also get a bit of the yellows in her Amsonia. Carol also brings the science behind the color change to mind for a post that is both fun to look at and great to learn from!

One Year in the Virtual Garden

On October 28, 2007 I wrote my first post. In the beginning it was like a newborn colt staggering up for the first time. Small posts eventually got larger and more in depth as the blog developed. I was never one who enjoyed writing in High School or College but strangely I started a blog anyway and have come to really enjoy the compositional aspects of writing as well as the interaction with other people across the world. It's really amazing when you think about it, people have visited and left comments from all sorts of places. All continents except Antarctica have put in their 2 cents worth or at least visited this little corner of the gardening world.

Why do people enjoy blogging so much? I believe it's the chance to express themselves with like minded individuals. I know that, at least in my case, my family has some interest in my gardening obsession, but their interest doesn't quite match my intensity. Garden blogging is a way to get more of that "gardening fix", and trust me, it's very addictive!  You learn about new plants you may never have seen before or tricks and ideas that might work in your garden.  It's like a constantly evolving gardening encyclopedia.  There is always a new garden to discover, or at least a new aspect of a familiar garden.  From the macro pictures of a single flower to the broadly sweeping landscape photography there is always something new, something fun, and something fantastic.

What will the second year of this blog bring?  Hopefully you'll get to see my garden as it matures.  As I've mentioned before it was a completely blank slate except for the initial builder's landscaping.  The Japanese hollies were destroyed by the Great Freeze and Thaw of 2007 and most of the plants in the landscape were added by us since then.  I'll continue talking about plant propagation as I experiment with new and different plants.  Hopefully I won't blow up any more mowers but I'll share all the significant experiences of our gardening adventures!  The sky is the limit, or maybe the soil is the limit.  Whatever the case things will keep chugging merrily along in our little garden.

I would like to thank everyone who has read this blog and continues to come back for more!  It's very gratifying to see the comments and suggestions that people leave everyday.  That's really what keeps a garden blogger coming back to write more, the visitors with thoughtful and insightful comments.  After all have you ever met a gardener who didn't like to talk about plants?  Not me, I guess that's why I'm here!

Thanks again to everyone for a fun and exciting first year!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Garden Blogger Fall Color Project: From the Midwest!

Here are two more great fall color posts for the Garden Blogger fall Color Project. These two posts come to us from the mid-west specifically Chicago, Illinois and Iowa.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter in Chicago, Illinois is observing some really fantastic fall color. The red oaks are competing with the maples for an extraordinary autumn show. Usually the maples win hands down but as you can see in her photographs the oak is definitely holding its own. Then she brings us into the garden to show us the fall color on her dogwood, geraniums and several other plants. You definitely must visit her sweet home Chicago!

Who can compete with the flaming red color of the burning bush? It's most notable trait is peaking this time of the year over at Shady Gardener's Blog! The blazing burning bushes mixed with the golden yellow of a redbud filled with pods is a perfect picture for the fall season. Check in and see if you can identify the mystery plant with the purplish foliage!

Garden Blogger Fall Color Project: A Virgina View

Breaking News: Fall Color has reached Virginia! Racquel the Perennial Garden Lover has sited some fall color in her neighborhood. Photos of a red oak and the borrowed view of her neighbors' trees herald the southward march of the fall colors. Go visit her photos and share the fall color experience in Virginia!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sending Out an S.O.S.

"Sending out an S.O.S.,
a chipmunk in a bottle"

Although not quite the words of Sting and The Police the alteration was definitely appropriate today. I was walking through the garage after having planted three small boxwoods and I heard a strange scratching sound. My first thought was that a lizard had gotten stuck in the window. Then I began to think, it sounds too big to be a little lizard maybe a bird was trapped. This made sense as I have had mockingbirds get stuck in the garage before. As I got closer to the sound I didn't see anything jumping around in the window as a bird would so I kept following the sound, deeper and deeper into the quagmire of stuff that is our garage. In one window of my garage I have a small portable greenhouse. It's basically a set of shelves with a clear plastic sheath to cover it. It's where I like to overwinter the cuttings of my plant propagation efforts. I spied down toward the bottom of the greenhouse toward the direction of the sound. The scratching sound was coming from an old drink bottle I use for watering.

I looked into the bottle and saw a little furry chipmunk trapped inside. The bottle was too tall for him to get out and the water inside was almost up to his head. The little guy was poking his head above the water with his toes outstretched just barely touching the bottom of the container. No matter how hard he tried he just couldn't gain any traction.

It's a good thing for the chipmunk that I only had the water bottle half full, or if you're pessimistic half empty. Of course for him it probably doesn't matter, he was just thinking "GET ME OUT OF HERE!" I tend to leave the garage door open when I'm out in the yard so it was easy to figure out how he got inside. He's just very lucky that I was out planting our boxwoods or I may never have been in the garage to hear his courageous escape efforts. After showing the little chipmunk to my daughter and hearing my wife say "you brought that in the house?" I let the chipmunk go in the back yard on a old gnarly dogwood. He was wet and shaking from his experience but hopefully will recover completely from his traumatic day.

Propagation Update: Echinacea, Red Twig Dogwood and 'Dragon's Blood' Sedum

As our gardening season draws to a close I thought I'd update you on the progress of some cuttings and how they look now. First up is an echinacea that was a propagation experiment. I took basal stem cuttings (which come from the crown of the root) in the spring. Once it rooted I planted it in our front sidewalk garden. It's done well for its first season of life. I really didn't expect blooms this year but we did get a few!

This 'Dragon's Blood' Sedum is one of my favorite sedums because of its color. Its dark burgundy colored leaves give the sedum its name. This particular sedum began as a single sprig in the early summer and was taken from a sedum I received at a plant swap. It's filled out quite a bit and hopefully will just continue to flourish. It's occupying our sedum garden which is still a work in progress.

Here's another of my favorite shrubs, the Red-twig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera). I took this cutting last fall and overwintered it indoors along with several others. At least 5 plants have survived from that batch of cuttings. At one point I thought they were dead but I am happy to admit I was wrong! I'll be moving this red twig dogwood very soon to a better location somewhere it can grow to it's full potential. The red stems might look good against a background of a green arborvitae.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

GB Fall Color Project: The View in West Virginia

Kara in West Virginia, who blogs on the blog Garden Vines, posted a very nice shot of the West Virginia countryside in autumn. While we all know that fall colors can be hit or miss, Kara was able to capture a gorgeous view of the landscape despite the fall colors not being at their best. Often lack of rain and extra hot summers lead to a lackluster fall color performance but I think you'll find her landscape photo to be a very picturesque image of fall!

2008 Garden Blogger Fall Color Project Participants

Elizabeth in New York (Gardenrant)

Heiner in Otterstedt, Germany

Sarah in Maine (Sarah Laurence Blog)

Craig in New York (Ellis Hollow Blog)

Kim in Maryland (An Instrument of Grace)

Nancy Ondra in SE Pennsylvania (Gardening Gone Wild)

Louise in New York at the (Buddy Garden Blog)

Dan in Algonquin Park, Northern Ontario (Urban Veggie Garden Blog)

George in Vermont (The Vermont Gardener and Vermont Gardens)

Nancy in Nova Scotia, Canada (Soliloquy)

TC in Western Pennsylvania (Write Gardener)

Liisa in Vermont (Liisa in Vermont)

Dawn in Maine (In the Garden)

Anna in the Shenandoah Valley, Va. (FlowerGardenGirl)

Patio Tour Continued: Next to the House

Today I'm back to talking about the patio. I've been adding the finishing touches to the area just in time for cold weather! We'll still be able to use it since cold weather in Tennessee tends to be tolerable weather. (I still use the grill even in the wintertime) Please ignore the overflowing trashcan in the background but do pay attention to the planting bed I built earlier in the summer next to the garage. I never got around to blogging about it but here it is. It is a two bed system made of landscape timbers. The top bed is filled with gravel and used as a spot for the trash can and the other bed is for plants. An arborvitae that we brought back from my brother-in-law's wedding is now serving as a screen. Once it fills out we won't see the trash can at all, or at least that is my goal.

Next to the house is our potting bench. I put it together using scrap lumber and an old wooden pallet. I have a few adjustments to do on the potting bench that I'll blog about later. Between the house and the patio we put a decorative gravel mixed with a couple larger natural stones. This area was a haven for weeds before I cleaned it out. I layered the area with landscape fabric then covered with the stone. The gutter was redirected into a corrugated pipe that goes underneath the deck and out into the yard. My goal was to make the area low maintenance and keep the water away from the foundation. I think that it is actually much better than it was before! Of course I might be a little prejudiced.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Evolution of the Birdbath Garden

Today I put the final touches on the birdbath garden for the 2008 gardening season. It's come a long way since it's inception last fall. In the beginning it was merely a birdbath with a couple plants next to it. A few irises, two coneflowers ('Sunset'), and a butterfly bush made up the whole garden.

Later I added some discount salvias and expanded the area. Here is what it looked like at the beginning of June. The coreopsis was grown from seed in the fall and I added a couple ornamental grasses (Miscanthus sinensis 'Zebrinus') were planted on the left side for their foliage.

In July I added the stone border and a few other small plants like Salvia 'Black and Blue' and a phlox. You really can't see them too well from the photos. The purple leaf plum was doing well despite the deer nibbles.

Recently I added this dogwood to replace the birch that kept getting eaten by the deer. My wife was wanting a dogwood and this one was a very good choice. It's an 'Appalachian Spring' dogwood which is a variety that was developed at the University of Tennessee and is currently it is the only anthracnose resistant dogwood variety. Unfortunately it became a target for a rutting deer. The leaves were never touched, just the bark on its trunk. I'm hopeful that it will survive.

This week I added a couple new plants to the garden. The first was a native coralberry (Symphoricarpos orbiculatus) that was on the edge of our property. We are bordered on one side by a woods where many coralberries are growing. While it can spread through runners it should be containable in the birdbath garden area. The other addition was a 'Birkwood' Viburnum (Viburnum X burkwoodii). What is really cool about this viburnum is that it has evergreen foliage, something that I know is lacking in our garden. I definitely need to add more evergreens. It will also produce brilliant white fragrant flowers in the spring and provide the birds with food in the form of reddish berries that darken into the autumn. I've been adding viburnums to the garden every chance I get. This one was another discount plant find at 50% off!

Here's how the garden looks now. Unfortunately darkness was approaching when I took the picture but maybe you can get an idea of how far the little garden has come. The coreopsis finished blooming over a month ago as did the salvias but the butterfly bush hasn't quit. I moved a volunteer coneflower to the new deck garden and I'm planning on moving the Zebra grass to another location in the spring.

It's fun to look back and see how far things have come. I wonder how it will look next year? Gardens are always evolving!