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Monday, November 29, 2010

What Would Thanksgiving Be Without The Nuts?

You know the story. Everyone travels to grandma's house for Thanksgiving. All the family gets together and stuffs their bellies full with turkey, ham, potatoes, numerous sides, and of course the stuffing (oh wait we call that dressing down here in the south ;)). And of course, you know it's true, every family has one or two, and sometimes many more...


Massive quantities of acorns!

Hickory nuts!

At Thanksgiving there are always some brilliant decorations like the coral berries which bear a striking resemblance to beautyberry.

Then there is pyracantha completely full of orange berries.

Hollies with bright red berries.

And the uniqueness of the Osage orange. Some brain fruit anyone?

How was your Thanksgiving?

Sunday's Garden Chore List Accomplished

Sunday was a bit of a catch-up day. Over the past few weeks I've had several chores that needed done in the garden but just haven't had the time to get them accomplished. I finally made a dent in that to-do list. Here's what was accomplished:

Birdbath garden and pathway
  1. Transplanted: Birch, 2 dappled willows, redbud (these do not transplant well due to an extra long taproot. I had to move the plant since it was in a bad location)
  2. Planted Bulbs: Mountain Lily, hyacinth (from another location), crocuses, English bluebells, and allium
  3. Planted Plants: Anise hyssop
  4. Divided and planted: gaillardia ( it pulled apart from the roots much like 'Husker's Red' Penstemon)
  5. Root Cuttings: Birch (as I transplanted the birch above I found a couple suitable roots to try root cuttings from. I'll explain later if it works out well.)
  6. Cuttings: dwarf boxwood, roses, spirea, and variegated red twig dogwood
  7. Adjusted some rock borders near the birdbath garden.
  8. Watered the plants in the greenhouse shed with water from my rain barrel. I was amazed that many of the plants inside were still actively growing despite no active heat source. 
It was a productive afternoon but there is so much more that I want to get done and just not enough time to do it all. Wouldn't it be nice to be able to stop time?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cedar Waxwings Near a Cedar Glade

Over Thanksgiving we spent some time in Mt. Juliet at my in-laws home. I always enjoy traipsing around the woods near their house just to explore. I did that often as a kid at my grandfather's house and I've always been fond of spending time in the great outdoors. Often I come home with rocks for my garden borders but I almost always can find a neat picture of some kind to share. The wooded area near their home is similar to the cedar glades that are prevalent in the region. Cedar glades usually consist of plants that can thrive in heavy limestone rock like cedar trees! Not far the east of their home is the Cedars of Lebanon State Park which is well known for its cedar glades.

While exploring I managed to spot a small winged creature that I've only seen twice before. It was a cedar waxwing. I saw one once in a crape myrtle tree at my parent's house but years before that I saw several in the Smoky Mountains. The one I saw this weekend was high up in a tree surveying the land. It didn't move much and allowed me to get the following pictures. I wish my lenses had a higher magnification to get a higher quality picture.

I'm sure there were more flying about somewhere since they like to travel in small groups.

It is very likely that they were in the area feasting on the bright blue cones of the Eastern Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) which are producing them in massive quantities this time of year.

Did you see any interesting wildlife over Thanksgiving?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pre-Thanksgiving Fall Color! (Fall Color Project 2010)

Even though it's been a short week we have lots of fall color to share for the Thanksgiving edition of the Fall Color Project! I won't be posting for the Fall Color Project on Friday due to the Thanksgiving holiday so I thought I would highlight these posts a little early! What could be more perfect than fancy foliage, a feast, and most importantly family for the holidays?

Ginny starts us off with our fall foliage tour today. Bright red and yellows fill the branches of maples, oaks, and dogwood trees. The words of Abraham Lincoln open her post and set the tone for Thanksgiving week!

Atlanta is beginning to show some signs of fall color which you can see if you visit Pook and Bug! You will envy the beautiful Japanese maples glowing with fall color. Also take a look at the nicely window framed photo of the Japanese maple!

Matt at Passalong Plants put up a post on Friday with some awesome fall photos. The clarity and perspective of each shot are amazing. Although I think the subject in his last photo had better run - it's not a good week for members of his species!

Twolipps posted some wonderful shots of maples, a bald cypress, a tea house and the ponds from Brookside Gardens in Maryland. The first photo of the cypress is probably my favorite but all of the pictures epitomize fall!

Amsonia, little bluestem grass, and of course maples are putting on a show up in Ohio! Kylee posted some of her fall favorites which also include heucherella, oak leaf hydrangea, and a blazing sumac (great plants for fall color!) Go check out what fall color is blazing through Our Little Acre.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Review of My Rain Barrel

This summer I finally went out and bought my own rain barrel to install on our house. I've been looking for a long time for food grade barrels to make my own but they seem to be increasingly hard to find as the idea of converting them into rain barrels is becoming increasingly popular. I found this Fiskars Rain Barrel (Fiskars 5996 Holden 48-Gallon Rain Harvesting System) at one of my local box stores and decided to bring it home.

Rain Barrel Installed near the shade garden.

The installation was fairly easy and only needed a hacksaw to cut into our gutter downspout and a drill with a paddle bit for making the hole into the rain barrel. The kit fit into a 1 inch cut out on the downspout and then hose was easily attached. The water spigot was simple to put together also. I made sure to add a few concrete blocks (that part cost less than $5 for 4 concrete blocks and 1" caps) underneath the rain barrel to raise it where I wanted the barrel before installation since that would make it easier to get water out either with a hose or a watering can.

I've been very happy with its performance this year and I can't stress enough how much a rain barrel helps in the garden. I don't use the water I collect in it for the vegetable garden but I've used it just about everywhere else! The only thing that bugs me is that it's actually $10 cheaper now than when I bought it! (currently $54.95 with free shipping at Amazon.)  Isn't that always how it works?

No products were given to me for this review however affiliate links to Amazon are present.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Seeing Red

The foliage is still there on some if the trees and shrubs in our garden and is fading fast. Most of what remains now has a reddish hue in the leaves but in some cases what remains isn't just the leaves.

The 'Shasta' viburnum is showing red in the last few of it's remaining leaves. In my garden it's the first viburnum to drop leaves, the Burkwood and arrowwood viburnums still haven't begun their color changes yet while the snowball viburnum is completely naked.

Another shot of the 'Shasta'.

Here the 'Constellation' dogwood's mottled foliage shows some red hues also. The brown tips are evidence of the dryness we had this summer. I'm still waiting to see that "perfect" gardening season!

This dogwood leaf is on a tree along the back fence line from a Cornus florida dogwood. It blooms white when it blooms. Before too long I need to gather some berries to stratify over the winter and try to grow some dogwood saplings.

The oak leaf hydrangea is turning a dark shade of red - nearly purple.

And the Bradford pear tree (which you should never plant) is nearly on fire with red orange foliage. It also has a fair number of fruit that will be freely sown by the mockingbirds to spread invasive hybrid pears everywhere!

But like I said before the red isn't only in the leaves! The Nandina domestica berries are a bright red.

And the red is also in the bark of these red twig dogwood shrubs. It's one of my favorite plants for winter color. It's easy to propagate more just by sticking 6-8 inch stems in moist soil. As long as the soil is kept moist over the winter they will root. This little one was propagated last winter/spring and placed near the shed. I have a few others that have three foot stems on them.

Are you seeing any red in your garden?

Janet did and wrote about it the other day!

Taking Advantage of Good Weather

So far this weekend's weather has been nothing short of fantastic. We had temperatures in the lower 70's and part sun most of the day so of course I had to get outside for a little while.

The plan on Saturday was to go to the home improvement store and get some interior wood stain to complete our patio doors. We wanted a nice Pecan color stain to cover the wood sections on the inside. As it turns out the stain we wanted has to be special ordered and the worker at the home improvement store took 30 minutes to figure out that the person who had the "codes" to order it wouldn't be in until Monday. It was frustrating, you would think that on a Saturday of all days (being one of the busiest days of the week for home improvement stores) they would have had someone who could have helped us.

We ended up going home nearly empty handed with only a few supplies for the project. I'll have to go back to the store and find the right person to talk to later in the week. After a quick lunch I headed out to the yard with the kids. While they played on the swingset and the sandbox here's what I did:
  • Checked under the house for leaks, bugs, and anything else that was out of place. It's a good idea to do that from time to time.
  • Disconnected any hoses and lined them up on our front yard slope to drain out overnight.
  • Rolled up and placed a couple hoses under the house to store over the winter. 
  • Took a few pictures around the yard - I'll be using them in posts later in the week.
  • Got the push mower with the bag attachment out and mowed the lawn until the gas ran out.
  • I put the gathered clippings into a garden bed as the bottom layer of mulch.
  • I spread out red clover seed in various spots for overseeding. I'm late on this and should have done it a month ago. Hopefully we'll get enough germination for the cover crop to be effective. 
  • Lastly at dusk I flooded the ground hole of a nest of yellow jackets. I don't know the best way to remove them but since they weren't flying around after dusk I knew that was the best time to do something to the nest. I'll check sometime tomorrow to see if there is any activity and find another way to get rid of them if I need to!

Additional Weekend Garden thoughts:
  • While out shopping on Sunday we spotting some cherry trees outside of one of the malls. It was loaded with cherries (I'll admit it, I swiped two for seed planting) but the unusual thing was it also had two or three blooms! 
  • Also I found $0.99 Hyssop at one of the box store sales. Hummingbird magnet and deer resistant means perfect for my garden!
  • Also since this week is Thanksgiving I'll be posting the Fall color project post on Wednesday so that I can spend the holiday with family and not online - at least not much anyway!

So what did you do over the weekend?

Friday, November 19, 2010

More Fall Foliage Fun! (Fall Color Project 2010)

While my garden is pretty much bare naked others are still draped in colorful fall foliage! From Tennessee to Alabama and Georgia fall color has peaked in the the 7 days since our last Fall Color Project Post. Let's take a look!

Frances has a great fall color post filled with autumn associated colors. One of my favorite plants (that I don't have but want) is featured in the first picture - Winterberry Holly! It has great fall and winter interest with all those masses of bright red berries. There's lots to see at France's blog but one of the things she is most known for is the Muhly grass! Just take a look at the last picture to see why!

Phillip's post at Dirt Therapy is a tour of his home garden but may as well have been at a botanical garden. The colors are filling up every corner of his garden. Japanese maples, hydrangeas, dogwoods and all kinds of color can be found down in Alabama!

Skeeter popped back in at In The Garden to show us some of the colors around her Georgia home. One of the most wonderful things about fall is the opportunity to see that 3 dimensional painting that our gardens become and Skeeter's surroundings definitely fit the bill! Stop over to see Skeeter's Georgia colors!

The brilliance of autumn can definitely be seen over at Chris's blog Garden Sense. Red, gold, and orange colors are highlighted among maple, ginkgo, weeping cherry, and ash trees. A stop to Chris's post should be on your fall color tour!

Newsflash - Texas has fall color! Stop on down and visit Tufa girl and see the brightly color trees emerging for autumn in the Lone Star state. Red and gold trees are beginning the fall transformation. There's plenty of green still around so maybe there is more color to come!

Racquel has put together a cool collection of fall color through a collage. One of my favorite trees (yes I have quite a few) is featured there - the sweet gum! It's often maligned because of its seed balls but I think its color in the fall makes up for that. Go take a look at Racquel's Fall Color Collage!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Past Peak But Peeking Back at Fall Color

It's been rather hectic over the last couple weeks around here and I'm just now getting to my own Fall Color Project post! I figured a retrospective look back at the last few weeks would find the peak of the fall color season in my area.

Way back on October 12, 2010 we had the first of the trees beginning to change - sassafras!

On October 20, 2010 the sassafras were well on their way to the peak of color!

Moving ahead to October 27, 2010 we have a crape myrtle beginning to turn red on a few leaves.

This red maple was also changing color on the same day.

One of my favorite shots with the garden shed in it is this one. I love the gold maple in the back!

A couple days later (October 30, 2010) the colors in the back tree line were shining in gold.

An oak leaf hydrangea on November 2, 2010 is just beginning to turn. It's in a sheltered spot in the corner shade garden and probably receives additional heat from the house.

Another shot of the shed on November 5, 2010 shows the gold color more solid in the individual leaves but the tree has lost leaves. Fall is progressing!

This Shasta viburnum is beginning to turn on November 5th also.

November 9th brings more fall color to the Shasta viburnum. It's been a rough year for many plants and this Shasta has lost more than a few leaves due to drought conditions.

November 11, 2010 and the red maple is in full color.

This fall has been spotty at best. Peak time here was probably the middle to the end of October but there are still some trees with leaves hanging on. It won't be long though until the fall colors are done for this year!