Gotta Garden

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Garden Trips: Riverbanks Zoo and Garden

Located in Columbia, South Carolina, Riverbanks Zoo & Garden is a fun place to spend an afternoon. The site of the previous SCMMGA symposium I had attended, I glanced around while there but didn't really explore it like I wanted. This time, we concentrated just on the garden.

Entering through a shady area, Bloodroot was blooming:

An unidentified iris was bright:

Wish your garden looked like this?

What would a garden be without fountains?

Great pot, although what's in it isn't alive:

You can see where they're going:

This pot is definitely wild:

A very favorite and very fragrant Clematis at Riverbanks was where I first smelled this clematis:

Closer....can you...almost...smell it??

Something I had never seen before...a variegated gardenia:

Mahonia, looking very fine:

Hellebores surrounding a crepe/crape myrtle:

A most colorful prickly pear:

On our way out, the ultimate hanging basket (huge, if you can't tell):

That's all for now. Tomorrow, assuming my jury duty is over, we'll take a very fun stroll through a very nice nursery.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Wordless Wednesday

Garden Education: Ask A Master Gardener Symposium

Last Thursday was the seventeenth annual SCMMGA (South Carolina Midlands Master Gardener Association...I think) Spring Gardening Symposium. This is the second one that I have attended...and they both were just terrific.

The folks that put these on work incredibly hard. From the excellent food (included in the price) to more door prizes than you can imagine, I'm just in awe of their efforts. This year, there was also a silent auction with wonderful items all around the edges of the room.

The plant sale this year was also awesome. I'll tell you more about that as I go on. There was also a vendor area where you could purchase garden items and even a bookseller with books not just by the speakers but of related topics and regional guides. For a relatively small selection, it was excellent. Naturally, I found a book to purchase!

Upon arrival, we checked in, got our name tags and were given a cd from the Clemson Extension Office that I think has some episodes of a local gardening show called "Down Home with Tony & Amanda" (I haven't watched mine yet), The day began with everyone finding a seat at a table with very comfortable chairs. We arrived a little early, but not much, so our seating was in the rear of the room. At each place was a packet of materials. The packet had catalogues, a Carolina Gardener magazine, samples (including Osmocote), seeds, an exercise booklet with exercises for gardeners, coupons (including a 25% off one item one for Woodley's....more about that later, too), just tons of good information. Mine also had a card that entitled me to a free bag of potting mix. My sister got one for a thornless blackberry. While munching on delicious muffins (I had blueberry and one that was a combo with half chocolate and half banana nut) and orange juice, we listened to the opening remarks.

The first speaker was Flo Chaffin of Specialty Ornamentals speaking on hydrangeas. Her talk was entitled "What's Old Will Be New Again". By this, she meant remontant or reblooming hydrangeas. It turns out that those new ones on the market that we're all seeing (the ones that bloom on new and old wood vs. just old wood as we're used to) are not really new at all. They're actually old varieties that have been rediscovered. They've been around for maybe as long as 100 years. She suspects some are the same, just under different names. I had no idea...I simply thought they were some kind of new breeding breakthrough...but not at all. Seven on the market now were mentioned but all are most likely renamed...the original names were probably lost.

Ms. Chaffin went through all the categories of hydrangeas giving us her recommendations in each. She must have been quite persuasive as I came home with two, Fuji Waterfall and Purple Tiers. Before her presentation, I would have sworn I didn't need any more hydrangeas!

We then were given a little break. I spent mine out at the plant sales. I found some African Blue Basil and a couple other fun things (a variegated Catchfly and a Heucherella).

Coming back in, we picked two out of three mini classes to attend taught by master gardeners. I went to one on making English Planting Troughs (Hypertufa). It sounded easy enough that I may just try it! I've kinda had a hankering to maybe try some alpines...who knows.

The other one I attended was on "What Can I Do With Dried Flowers and Herbs?" Turns out, you can make potpourri! The speaker was entertaining and made it sound fun and easy. She called it "yard trash", the bits and pieces that you use. We even got to scoop some potpourri to take home.

The class I didn't attend was on Succulent Wreaths. I was given some good advice by a friend of my sister's who convinced me that the wreaths might be more trouble than I thought! At any rate, I enjoyed the two I did go to.

We then all came back to hear the next speaker who was Rita Randolph of Randolph's Greenhouses. Her topic was Contain Yourself: Flowers, Fantastic Foliage and Ornamental Edibles. We saw some incredible groupings, very creative and heard about some of the new plants that can go in them. I liked her terminology for the Rule of Three (my understanding is something for height, something to trail over the edges and then something for pops of color) which were the thriller, the friller and the spiller. She, too, must have done her job as you'll see when I show you some things I found at Woodley's.

Lunch came next and it was yummy! We had a number of choices but (for me) the hands down winner was the grilled veggies wrap. It was delicious!

The last speaker was Dabney Peeples of J. Dabney Peeples Design Associates. His work has been featured in Southern Living, Better Homes and Gardens as well as in books and South Carolina publications. His topic was Making Your Garden Uniquely Yours. I hate to admit this, but I had a hard time hearing him (we were sitting in the very back). His slides seemed to have lots of interesting hardscaping in them and he has certainly created some unique gardens and garden settings.

One really nice thing that happened was that the gal seated next to me won one of the door prizes. It was a pair of bright pink gardening shoes. Unfortunately, they were too big for her...and she offered them to me! I had to chuckle when I saw them as I immediately thought of Yolanda Elizabet!

It was such a nice day, it was a shame it had to end. However, after another prowl through the plant sales, it really was time to head home. This group does a most excellent symposium!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Garden Trips: South Carolina

My sister is fortunate to live in a neighborhood with mature trees and a picturesque lake. I look forward to walking around the lake.

Here's one view of the lake (I'll post another on Wordless Wednesday):

Carolina Jessamine, Gelsemium sempervirens, growing wild in the trees:

It was fragrant! I know it is supposed to be, but I had never before been able to discern a fragrance.

My sister is able to overwinter Spanish Lavender:

A festive mix of spring shrubs (maybe quince, forsythia and bridal wreath spirea?)

A traditional and very lovely camellia in full bloom:

We'll end our walk today with, sadly, Crepe/Crape Murder...still alive and well:

Tomorrow I'll tell you about the symposium I attended. We also went to Riverbanks Botanical Garden and a most fabulous nursery....stay tuned!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

I'm Back...

It's always good to get home, isn't it? Even when you've had just the best time, there's nothing like sleeping in your own bed. As in Married to My Garden, one of my favorite books, I missed my garden (and DH, of course).

I'll be writing this week about things I saw/heard in South Carolina. They're a bit ahead of us here in Northern Virginia. The dogwoods were beginning to bloom as were the azaleas. But, more about that later.

Returning home, the first thing I saw was that my magnolia stellata (Star Magnolia) had burst into bloom. It sits right beside the driveway, so it's hard to miss.

Winter Hazel, Corylopsis spicata, is also blooming its heart out (especially nice after I "trimmed" it last year):

This year will bring the first ever blooms on my tiny buckeye...will it really be red? Inquiring minds want to know...

More daffodils are joining the show and the peculiar three blossom on Barrett Browning has opened. I don't know what to make of it, but it's definitely interesting.

The newest daffodils to begin blooming are Quail, Sailboat, Changing Colors, Orangery, Goldflake, Mount Hood, Trepolo and Mondragon.



Trepolo...this clump is several years old....they never look the same, but are still pretty neat:

Still blooming are various clumps of Ice Follies, Sweet Harmony, Cassata, February Gold, Easter Bonnet, Tete-a-Tete, Jetfire, Fragrant Breeze, Sweetness, Trevithian, Topolino and various unknown yellows.

Easter Bonnet:


Unknown yellow with marvelous form (I think):

Another unknown yellow:

A few hyacinths are blooming. The prized and rare Blue Roman Hyacinth is now blooming.

Glory of the Snow, Chionodoxa Forbesii 'Pink Giant', is blooming. The blue variety is a tad behind, maybe because they are shaded by some daffodil foliage.

The very first of the species tulips, tulipa humilis 'Persian Pearl' is just beginning to bloom.

And Scilla siberica:

Looking past the columbine and monarda, those speckled leaves belong to trout lilies. I am so pleased to see more than last year. Maybe one of these years, I will actually see some flowers! I understand it can take a few years to see flowers.

The Madonna Lilies are usually the earliest of my lilies to emerge. Not to disappoint, here they are...although only two this year, as I was afraid, as the third got broken by something last year and apparently didn't recover (although, I have found a seedling under the Korean Spice Viburnum!).

It was nice to see Sedum 'Frosty Morn' up and about. I do have to watch these closely as they are prone to sending out solid green...which is not want I want and left alone, would dominate.

The first of my Virginia Bluebells has emerged. I expect to see them in two other places. I couldn't resist purchasing another one (already in bloom) from The Great Big Greenhouse on my way back from S.C.

I also purchased some trilliums on sale there and a hosta ('June')...okay, a few little pots...I mean, there was still some space in the car I could squeeze a bit more in!

So far, I've gotten two bags of clippings from the garden...and I've barely begun cleaning up...but, it was such a nice day today that I just couldn't stand to be inside. One thing the cleaning and clearing does is get you close to the ground to see what is popping up.

That's enough for really is hard to leave your garden, isn't it? So much happens so quickly when you're gone...I'm glad to be be back!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Green Thumb Sunday

Wisteria climbing up a pine tree in South Carolina:

Close up:

Pictures are clickable.

Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As the Garden Grows for more information.
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