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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Shooting Around the Garden

Yes deer season is in full swing, but that's not what I'm shooting!  The other day I ventured around the garden just to see what was growing (and what wasn't), what was blooming (and what wasn't), and what I needed to get done (or put off/procrastinate). In the latter category there is a mountain of things I could do but weather conditions and time will no doubt force me to put off today what can be done tomorrow. You've never had that happen to you have you? ;)

Still there were some things to look at and some things to file away in anticipation of spring.

First let's start off with something blooming like this 'Winter Snowman' Camellia.  Two of these are book ending the front foundation garden.  It is only in its second year in the garden and is blooming nicely!

We'll hop around the corner to the corner shade garden.  It is on the list of things to do, mostly because of the weed situation.  I didn't mulch it this past year and it shows.  Mulch can keep many of those annual weeds at bay that self sow.  My strategy now is to remove the chickweed and henbit before they go to seed. The oak leaf hydrangea looked really nice this fall.  The hostas have all faded into the soil leaving the heucheras and hellebores to show off their foliage for the winter.

Here's a closer look around some ajuga in the corner shade garden.  Even the ajuga is having issues with holding off the chickweed.  At least chickweed is easy to remove!  (And its edible, or so I've been told)

If we turn around we end up in the self-sowing garden.  There is lots of green here too only it's a mix of self-sowing plants and weeds.  The poppies have germinated already for a big display next May.  There may be a few other germinated seeds hidden in and around the chickweed.  I need a good day of weeding!   

The arrowwood viburnums are all still retaining their leaves.  I don't remember them holding on this long last year but the yellow colors are welcome when everything else is bare!

This viburnum is in the middle of an open space turning it into several pathways.  I need to transplant the ornamental grasses at its base.  That grass is Nassella tenuissima, Stipa tenuissima, pony tail grass, or Mexican feather grass whatever you want to call it.  I've been told it's invasive but the only spreading it has done in my garden is through division by this gardener's hands.  There is also a purple coneflower nearby that needs relocated.

An about face brings us face to face with my favorite shrub for fall color.  OK I can't really pick favorites but red twig dogwoods are one of the best fall color shrubs around.  I highly recommend mixing red twig dogwoods with a backdrop of evergreens and not a backdrop of air conditioners...

We'll end today's post with a view of this little collection of self-sown lunaria seedlings.  Also known as Money Plant, lunaria blooms in the spring with flowers that resemble garden phlox.  As the seeds develop a disc shaped seed pod is formed that is between the size of a quarter and a half dollar.  I gathered seeds from a couple plants near my parent's house and brought them to my garden. 

Thanks for stopping by and visiting my garden in later November.  Don't forget to leave a comment!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

From One Fan of Turkeys

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you and your family have a fantastic Thanksgiving filled with fun, family, and of course food!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Shovel, Rake, and Hoe

The shovel, the rake, and the hoe.  Three tools no gardener should be without.  Ever.  They dig, they grade, and the chop the earth.  They cut roots and aid the gardener in tilling when the tiller is kaput.  While they take a little muscle to use they are capable of great deeds, such as Bermuda grass removal!

Raised Bed Vegetable Garden in 2009
Can you guess what I did on Saturday?  If you guessed sipping on a margarita on a cruise ship to Bermuda you aren't anywhere close. I spent the day, yep pretty much the whole day, in the vegetable garden clearing as many Bermuda grass roots as possible. The insidious beasts had hold of a roughly 12' by 18' foot area and were threatening to invade the rest of the garden like Christmas shoppers in the stores on Black Friday.  It wasn't pretty.

To remove the Bermuda grass I followed a few simple steps:

  1. I removed all obstacles that would make the area hard to dig around.  That included two raised beds and two trellises
  2. I moved all ground covers.  In my case it was cardboard that I used to make the garden pathways weed proof.  Weed proof is too strong a term, let's just say weed resistant instead...
  3. Then I dug and sifted, dug and sifted, and repeated.  Every sifting brought another knobbly, knotty Bermuda rhizome to the surface.  It also brought forth Johnson grass root rhizomes which is another nemesis of my garden.
  4. I gathered up all the roots and disposed of them in a ditch where they will die from frost exposure. 

Simple yes, but also hard back-aching work. Emphasis on the back-aching part. Fortunately the vegetable garden soil is developing into a rich loamy soil with good drainage... all the better for removing those pesky weeds. The hand tool tilling has an added benefit too. When the soil is churned up in the fall insect eggs get exposed to temperatures that don't agree with them.  Hopefully it will mean a reduced population of pests for next year.

Here are a few other things I noticed about the Bermuda grass:
  • The areas that were covered with cardboard had a very low concentration of Bermuda grass when compared to other areas. 
  • The Bermuda grass under the cardboard was close to the surface and easier to remove than in the exposed areas.  
  • A similar situation evolved underneath the tarp I placed earlier in the summer.  

While my back isn't too happy with me at the moment I can rest knowing that a major step in the reclamation of the garden has been accomplished.  The 2012 garden will be better, much better.  There will be Bermuda grass to emerge in the future, I'm sure of it, after all it's like the song that never ends...it goes on and on my friend...

Friday, November 18, 2011

Still Hanging in There!

This time of year it's interesting to see which plants are still performing well.  If we pay attention to how things perform and how long they last we can make better decisions when designing our gardens with plants in the future.  If you want to extend the foliage we need to note which plants have long lasting foliage.  The same goes for blooms too.  So which plants are still retaining foliage in mid November?  Which plants still have blooms?  Which plants in my garden are still hanging in there?  Let's take a look!

'Oranges and Lemons' gaillardia sure is a trooper!  4-5 frosts have fallen upon our garden yet it keeps blooming.  It's fading but still hanging on.

The oak leaf hydrangeas are still hanging on to their fall foliage. I'm a fan of the burgundy colored leaves.  The fact that they are so large really lets the oak leaf hydrangeas stand out when all other deciduous plants have gone bare.

Most of this 'Shasta' doublefile viburnum has lost most of its leaves but in keeping with the theme of today's post there are still some leaves hanging on!  It's one of my all-time favorite spring flowering shrubs but it's pretty cool three out of four seasons.

Other viburnums still have pretty much all their leaves and are just beginning their fall color transformation.  This arrowood is beginning to show signs of the color changes.

This Viburnum x burkwoodii is holding off the leaf drop as well.  It's a very fragrant flowering viburnum in the spring time and ought to be in everyone's garden! 

What's hanging on in your garden?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Japanese Maple on Fire!

Of all the fall colors I've seen this year the Japanese maples seem to have topped all other trees.  This Japanese maple at my mom's house was figuratively on fire with red foliage lighting up the scenery.  I didn't have my camera with me when it was at its peak but even past peak it's beauty can still be seen.

When bare this Japanese maple (possibly a 'Bloodgood') has a cool vase shaped form. 

 I've always enjoyed seeing pictures of falling leaves making a carpet of foliage on the garden grounds.

This maple is the mother plant of the Japanese maple I planted for dad.  Together with another Japanese maple I planted earlier in the summer (which is also from the same tree) it should one day provide a spectacular fall show.

Japanese maples may take some time to grow but the wait is worth it! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

It's Time for a Little More Green

Yesterday in the garden I finally got around to adding more evergreen plants. When the deciduous trees drop their leaves every fall the garden is left bare with very few spots of color. The blank slate of yard we inherited over four years ago has grown and matured every year but there has always been the notable lack of evergreen foliage. Maybe that's because evergreens aren't as interesting when all those other plants are blooming or putting on fancy foliage in the spring and summer. In the winter evergreens take the stage like no other garden residents. Perhaps my main reason for not adding more evergreens is that they can be pricy.  The small ones aren't bad at all but to get a plant of any size you can expect to pay upwards of $40-$50 per plant. That's why when my neighbor offered to let me have some of the evergreens he was removing I said "sure!"

My neighbor is a landscaper who installs quite a few plants and trees for various clients.  Two of the plants he was removing had just grown to big for the location.  Two others were part of a group of five where three had died.  This summer wasn't a kind one to many arborvitae.  The fifth plant he was removing was a 'Black Dragon' cryptomeria which had an unfortunate infestation of bagworms.   Four of the evergreens I planted in the back of the yard near the shed.

This arborvitae and the one on the left edge of the picture are two parts of a puzzle.  This corner is only part shade but becomes more shady each year.  Behind the arborvitae there is a circle where some future hydrangeas may fund a home.  

These junipers have beautiful foliage but I'm not sure they will survive since the root balls were small in proportion to the tree.  The junipers are about 6'-7' tall now with root balls less than 18" in diameter.  Some creative staking was required.  When removing and transplanting shrubs and trees always try to get as much of the root ball as possible.  I'll be out taking cuttings of these two plants very soon, just in case they don't make it.  In between the two evergreens are two evergreen rhododendrons that are about knee high.  I'm attempting to build a privacy screen along our back property line.

I'm excited about this Cryptomeria japonica even though its appearance may not be so great at the moment. I pulled off a dozen bagworms and pruned off a bit of the dead growth. Bagworms can do a lot of damage very quickly but this plant should recover.  I planted the 'Black Dragon' cryptomeria near a Yoshino Cherry and a 'Crimson Queen' weeping Japanese maple (Acer dissectum) I bought over the weekend.  This garden is fast becoming a Japanese garden!  

What evergreens do you recommend planting?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The November Vegetable Garden

It's finally time to get the chore to end all chores done: cleaning up the vegetable garden.  After a year of intermittent neglect, frustration, summer heat, and family tragedy it is definitely time to put this year's garden under wraps.  Mostly under wraps that is.  We actually have a crop of greens on the way to help feed the family and ease the budget.  

Here's the view of the left side of the garden.  The blue tarp is still down to prevent the Bermuda grass from taking over completely.  The next step for this area is to remove the tarp and the raised beds then till it.  Once tilled I'll remove as many Bermuda roots as possible.  I know I'll miss a few rhizomes but drastic measures must be taken to beat back the Bermuda.

On the right side of the garden I have quite a mess of strawberries.  Fortunately I didn't take a before picture when the strands of Johnson grass were still poking through the strawberry foliage. You'll just have to imagine it!  The patch of green way in the back is a combination of asparagus and chickweed.  Definitely not the ideal planting companion to asparagus! Chickweed just seems to invade everywhere this time of year.  Fortunately it's one of the easiest weeds to pull which is quite satisfying! 

Now I can show you the good side of the garden.  Here we have garlic interplanted with a combination of lettuce and spinach.  There's probably some cilantro here and there too since I seem to have it everywhere.  Sure makes me wonder why it's so expensive in the stores when it grows so well all on it's own!

Here are a few more of the seedlings.  I have the supplies for the PVC coldframe that will eventually be covering the greens but I don't have it all pieced together yet. Soon! 

There's no shortage of work to be done even though the cold weather is arriving.  I'm going to miss those warm fall days.  We'll get a few here and there but definitely not enough to suit my tastes!

For More Vegetable Gardening:

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

'Winter Snowman' Camellia in Bloom

Last year I planted two 'Winter Snowman' camellias in the front garden. I was hopefully that they would bloom last year but alas it was not to be! But they have started blooming this year! The first of the white camellia blooms opened today.  It wasn't fully open when I snapped the picture but I just couldn't wait to share it.  There are quite a few other buds on the same plant that soon will turn the front garden into a feature garden!  Well, it would if the weeds were gone, the mulching done, and the stars were aligned correctly but you know how that goes...there just isn't enough time in the day to get everything done.

'Winter Snowman' camellia is a hybrid of Camellia sasanqua and Camellia oleifera. It's hardy in zones 6-10 and gets about 12 feet tall.  Because of where this camellia is planted it will definitely need periodic pruning.  I planted two other camellias a couple weeks ago and I discovered yesterday that one of them had been nibbled on by a deer.  That in itself isn't the end of the world but because it pulled the whole plant out of the soil it could be the end for one of those camellias.  I hope not! 

Monday, November 7, 2011

Autumn's Morning Light Through the Trees

Here are a couple pictures of the morning sky through the newly bare trees. The trees with leaves are either oak or eastern cedar depending on where you look.  The cedar of course is evergreen but the oaks tend to hang on to their leaves until much later.

This old tree is marked for cutting but sometimes you can find beauty in the least expected places.  The sun's rays through the center of the trees two remaining branches create a heart of golden light in the center.

I hope you'll stop on over to visit the Fall Color Project 2011.  There have been quite a few new additions.  Two today from Tennessee and as soon as I can write them up we'll add Alabama and Ohio to our collection of fall color states!

The above pictures were taken with a Nikon D40. Which (I think) is no longer made, its upgraded replacement is the Nikon D3100.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Peak Fall Color in Spring Hill, TN

This week we had our peak fall color.  Not to be confused with a peek at fall color which we will do also!.  Our fall color is loaded with maples, sassafras, and a few other trees along the way. We're gifted to have our property situated on one side of a woods that gives us a great fall color view. I'll start by highlighting the plants near the house.  There will probably be a second post on the fall color since not everything has turned yet.

This birch is planted little too close to the house. Remember right plant right place? Yeah, right... I considered moving it but it's probably too large for that now. I'll let it be then cut it down when it becomes and issue.  We've enjoyed the privacy it's created by our deck and would hate to lose that!

'Shasta' viburnum is one of my favorite shrubs.  It's a doublefile viburnum which produces two rows of flowers along its branches.  Although 'Shasta' is supposed to produce red berries mine has never done so, it probably doesn't have the right pollinator nearby.

From our birdbath garden without a birdbath.One of these days I need to solder the copper birdbath back together.

The red maples have no equal for fall color this year!

We're close to the blue garden shed in this picture. That's it hiding behind the red maple.

Here's another look.  The crape myrtles here have been slower to turn color than in other locations.

Lots of cleanup needs done in these gardens. Just look at the trees please!

Many of the perennials here have already succumbed to the frosts. We've had several already.

This tree is behind our property in the woods. Mother nature does a good job doesn't she?

I found this scene very representative of my garden. A rustic pallet made compost bin with golden colored maples all around and two random nursery pots laying beside an old cow fence. A true scene of gardener's gold?

We'll end this post today with a closeup of those golden colored maple leaves. Fall color really turned out great even though I was afraid it wouldn't.  Don't forget to check out the other fall color posts at the Fall Color Project!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

November 2011 Grow Project Update

November finds my GROW project seeds from Renee's Seeds pretty much finished. We've had 3-4 frosts which have brought the end to my 'Yellow Splash' Marigold and 'Italian Cameo' Basil plants. Both of these two annuals did very well in my garden.  The basil was tasty and able to take a fair amount of neglect (it's been a busy year and much of the garden has been treated, unfortunately, equally!) and the marigolds never ceased to shine.  I'll be planting both of these again next year in greater quantity.  Marigolds are a great companion plant for tomatoes since they repel nematodes.  Marigolds are such a versatile annual, easy to grow and they usually perform prolifically.  When you have a sunny spot you need to fill and can't figure out what to plant, plant a marigold!

The Garden babies lettuce is going to be started very soon in pots indoors. I have other greens still growing in the vegetable garden but having a pot of greens indoors would be a nice convenience!

Previous GROW project Updates:

I'm growing with the SeedGROW project. Thanks to Renee's Garden for the seeds! 

Join the 2011 Fall Color Project and share the brilliance of Autumn!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Dad's Trees in Fall

I mentioned in my last post I would show you the trees that dad planted.  There are quite a few and in this post I really can't show you all of them but maybe you can see just how much dad loved his trees.

This crape myrtle is really a beautiful fall color tree.  Most people usually consider crape myrtles for their summer flower but the fall foliage can be just as awesome. 

Here's a closer look at the fall foliage of this crape myrtle. Take note of the smooth bark to the right.  When you allow a crape myrtle to grow into a tree form rather than prune it into a puff ball the bark has time to mature into a beautiful mottled appearance.  Don't commit crape murder!

Here's a wide view of the area near the crape myrtle. To the right is the crape myrtle and to the left is one of several red maples (Acer rubrum).  Dad loved the maples and add quite a few to the back yard to develop more summertime shade.  In the lower right corner is a row of forsythias that he planted for mom.

If we shift our view to face the back left corner of their property you can see a ginkgo tree.  when I was in college there was a pair of ginkgo trees that had the most spectacular golden color of any trees I have ever seen. the only problem is the color is very short lived.  If a storm comes by the leaves quickly get blown to the ground.  Even without a storm the leaves will fall within 2-3 days and sometimes less.

Here's a view of the tree line behind mom and dad's property. The pavilion we worked on together is in center. 

Dad planted this Kwanzan cherry tree near a Yoshino cherry.  The Kwanzan still has its leaves but in the springtime the Yoshino blooms first.

Here's another maple, probably a silver maple.  They can be problematic since their roots tend to grow close to the surface of the soil. 

Behind the fence is a conglomeration of trees like dogwood, maple, and oak.  Dad didn't plant them but he liked the privacy their foliage provided. 

The red maples are some of the most beautiful trees this time of year. 

Bright and rich with color.


Dad loved them.  The last year or so we cut back on buying trees for dad.  Really he had plenty!  I showed you his trees in the backyard but haven't even mentioned the two oaks and the Yoshino cherry he planted out front.  Dad planted quite a few trees, one at a time, one or two a year. Over the years they will continue to grow, provide shade, provide enjoyment during fall, provide homes for the birds, and continue to remind us of who we lost.

Join the 2011 Fall Color Project and share the brilliance of Autumn!