Gotta Garden

Thursday, May 31, 2007

GBBC: Passalong Plants

Passalong Plants by Steve Bender and Felder Rushing is a compendium of favorites by two well known garden writers. Both are beloved for their wit and humor and these are not lacking in the subjects covered here. It's hard to imagine that anyone who gardens will not find more than few plants they know and recognize.

I usually turn right to the index where I can find a plant by its common and/or botanical name. The plants here are ones that persevere in spite of us and reproduce with generosity, hence the ability to pass them along. I find it a fun exercise to see how many are in my garden. More than a few, I can tell you!

One of my favorite passages is on Crinums and entitled Crinums Never Die. Now, that's a plant to consider! Having seen them blooming north of me, I knew I wanted to try one for myself. That one turned into two. Here's a picture of the larger of mine (if you'll look carefully, you'll see some Hardy Begonias starting to come up in front of the Sweet Woodruff):

Here's the other with Balsam seedlings coming up around it. As Felder says, "If you fail with crinums, you may as well quit." With such encouragement, I'm proud to tell you that mine are alive. Maybe this year they'll actually bloom (finally) can always hope.

Actually, I think Mr. Felder might also say that about Tiger Lilies. Last year, I spent quite a bit of time digging mine out as they had gotten huge and seemed intent on taking far more real estate than I wanted them to have as well as their reputation for harboring a lily virus. Imagine my surprise upon seeing them back in "their" spot, looking as if I had dreamed all that effort last year.

Excusing the hose, here are a few other passalongs I enjoy. The Banana Shrub you've seen me post before, but you might not have realized there's a dwarf canna in front of it. To the right you see Butterfly Ginger with Tuberoses coming up in front. (Yes, those are weeds...we'll pretend they're not there.) All of these (knock on wood) have endured at least two winters here, so I consider this little patch my microclime area.

Many of the shrubs the authors write about are delightful and more than a few have a home here. I was surprised to not see Tea Olive listed as the fragrance is wonderful as well as Confederate Jasmine. Then, I realized that Gardenias were not included (What's a Southern garden without Gardenias, I ask?? Okay, a Southern garden in zone 8 and above, that is.). Maybe they don't "passalong" as well? Maybe they're more readily available? Who knows.

There are a few that one would hope would not be unknowingly passed along such as Artemesia, Empress Tree, Kudzu and Star of Bethlehem. To their credit, the authors mention their rapid spread, even in a funny way, such as with Star of Bethlehem Steve Bender, after advising of their rapid increase, says, "We really do need to keep passing them along, you see. Else, how will they make it to Hawaii or the Falkland Islands?" If you've ever tried to eradicate any of these, you know it is nearly impossible. There are a few others I would politely disagree with the authors on, but that is just a matter of personal preference, I suppose. Even in disagreement, I enjoy reading both of these writers' works.

For me, a favorite passalong came from my mother. She calls it a Blood Lily (Scadoxus). Last year, it finally bloomed for me and as of right now, it's just starting to appear. Inadvertently, another passalong rode in the pot. Balsam seedlings made a surprise appearance as my mother had grown them nearby. There are several passalongs in my garden from the Mary Washington House, among them Naked Ladies and Larkspur.

Now, I'm off to visit May Dreams Gardens to see what other garden bloggers are saying about Passalong Plants.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Garden Reading: Married to my Garden

You'll never guess what the mail brought me today! If you like guessing games and you've been reading along here, your first guess is probably a plant. A good guess, but it would be incorrect. (A gold star for you, however, if you thought daylily.) Maybe you think I ordered some of those clever garden shoes (I did, but that's for another post). Perhaps a signed book contract?? (Hahahaha...I think one actually has to submit something, but I could be wrong.) So, enough already.... It was a signed copy of Married to My Garden, a stupendous, entertaining, soul satisfying, look-in-the-mirror, endlessly readable garden book! (Do you think I like it a little??!)

There are garden books and then there are garden books...if you know what I mean. Now, I like and appreciate the how-to type of books and the books that give the necessary and informative plant information but what I really want, what I crave, is good garden writing. Describe your garden to me, tell me why you garden, explain to me how you lose yourself in your garden and especially entertain me and inspire me. I want to sigh with you when nature gets the upper hand and exclaim with delight when that moment (or moments) in your garden is so magical and special that you would burst if you didn't share it. Your book should so grab my attention that I 1) either can't put it down and/or 2) savor each reading, sometimes reading it again immediately, bending the page down to remind myself to come back or even underlining something you've written that resonates with me. It should end up on my nightstand or at least on the bookshelf close to my bed.

You know where I'm going here. There aren't many books like that and while there are many garden writers out there (very good ones), let's face the Henry Mitchell category there are, well...not many. I herewith nominate another. From the moment I came across the title to this book (Married to my Garden), I knew I would like this book! What I didn't know was that I would love it and that it would jump to the top of the pile. (You've noticed, right, that it is the only garden book in my profile under Favorite Books? I did mean to add a few others, but never got around to's telling, isn't it, that this was the one that my brain pulled up immediately.)

Now, I'm not going to quote the book to you (you gotta read it for yourself!), but if you like genuine writing and have such a passion for gardening that you miss your garden while vacationing (hint!), then this is a book you need on your garden bookshelf. If gardening is not just something you enjoy, but something you couldn't imagine not doing...if your garden is where you go to make sense of things that don't make sense...or if you are someone who wants not just sunflowers, but one of every type of sunflower....well, you get the picture!

Here's the thing. Married to my Garden was out of print until just recently. Now, it's back out there and available. I found this book on the Powells website while browsing garden books (don't you??) some time ago. You can find it there or at Amazon or at your local bookstore (ask them to order it, if they don't, for some strange reason, have it). It's my nomination for the next or a Garden Bloggers Book Club selection...Click here for May Dreams Gardens, headquarters central of the GBBC.

If you'd like to learn more or simply enjoy garden columns, Barbara Blossom Ashmun has a regular column in the Portland Tribune...just put her name in the writer search box. She also has a website.

I hope you enjoy it...happy reading!


Disclosure: Ms. Ashmun's publisher saw that I had listed MTMG in my profile and emailed me. I also heard from Ms. Ashmun herself (!) and she actually thanked me for liking her book! Almost immediately, a signed copy was sent to me (as you read, it came today). They did not ask me to do this post. I am happy this book is back in print and available! They made my day! (Okay, my year!!)

Larkspur aka Bunny-in-a-Basket

I'm way behind (where I'll probably stay until winter!), but wanted to share with you a favorite reseeding annual. Larkspur doesn't transplant well, but once you establish it in your garden, it crops up most delightfully here and there. We can't grow delphiniums well here (too hot in the summer), but we make do with our larkspur. Take a peek with me, look at those you see the bunnies??

You'll never look at it the quite same way, will you!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Garden Education: Pamela Harper

Tuesday night, I was privileged to hear gardening treasure Pamela Harper at Lewis Ginter. You may know her from some of her books, including, Time Tested Plants.

At 77 years young, Ms. Harper was energetic and engaging. We were there to hear about the lessons she has learned in 50 years of gardening. As was quickly pointed out, this didn't mean just the successes but also the failures. Opening with Eleanor Roosevelt's quote "Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself," we were laughing as Ms. Harper admitted to us that she probably had tried to make them all herself.

An adorable picture of her cats began the slide presentation. They keep her garden free of rabbits. She talked of tools and then moved on to design. Paths need to be at least three feet wide, a lesson she learned herself with smaller paths. Put perennials that need daily deadheading close to the paths so you won't trample other things getting to them. Ms. Harper quoted Tony Avent as saying, "I'm not a garden designer. I admit it. That's why God made shovels," to indicate that she, too, is not a garden designer. However, seeing her beautiful slides, one would have to disagree.

Lest I just relate to you the entire lecture, I'll hit on the high points. We were advised about balance and focal points, features and ornaments and not to believe everything you read (Clematis do not need lime, for instance). I was thrilled to hear that she also believes in "stuff and cram" and desires "one of everything."

Quite a bit of time (which was helpful) was spent on bulbs that voles do not eat. Because that is such good information, I'm going to list them for you:

Hippeastrum x johnsonii (not hardy beyond zone 7)
Amarcrinum (sometimes called Crinodonna)
Triteleia laxa
Ipheion uniflorum
Eranthis hyemalis
Anemone nemorosa

Unless they are vigorous self seeders, tulips, lilies and crocuses are favorites of voles. (So, that explains the disappearance of some of my lilies...that and lily virus, unfortunately.)

I especially enjoyed her chat on what she called Native Treasures, Native Nuisances. Here are some of the bad guys, in her garden as she was quick to point out:

Stylophorum diphyllum (celandine poppy) The Asian one self sows less.
Campsis radicans (trumpet vine)
Bignonia capreolata (cross vine)
Wild oats (Chasmanthium latifolim)
Staphyllea trifolia (bladder nut)

We moved on to color in the garden and the importance of foliage. Questions were asked and answered and then the book signing began. I had brought my copy (above) with me and here is Ms. Harper just before she signed it for me:

If you have the opportunity to hear Pamela Harper, you must go! If not, do read her books. Thank you, Ms. Harper, for sharing your thoughts and experiences with us. We are the lucky ones to benefit from your knowledge.

Yes, you know I got there a bit early and did a quick look around at the gardens. Photos are still coming!

Garden Art: Timothy Martin

On my way to hear Pamela Harper (my next post...really!), I was stopped in my tracks by this wonderful exhibition of paintings by Timothy Martin. (Follow that link...there's small slide show of his paintings) Currently on display at Lewis Ginter (another reason to be a member of a's not just about the garden), they are so whimsical, fascinating and just plain adorable. I took pictures of quite a few, but don't know if it's cool to put them all, I'll just tempt you with a few. Now, I don't know this artist and am not in any way affiliated with him, but you just gotta love this, right?

Clickable (just do it!):

Tell me you didn't like those! Okay, I gotta go because I have a dentist appointment and I will probably be just like Kate....I will be back and will work on the Pamela Harper post...and lots of other good stuff....soon...really...maybe...just kidding!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Garden Trips: Blandy Arboretum

Mother's Day found me en route to the Blandy Arboretum. My husband and daughter were treating me to a day "all about me". While a visit to the Arboretum itself would be pleasant, added to this was the annual plant sale. A "two-fer" type day if ever there was one! I hadn't been to the Arboretum before and we could not have picked a more pleasant day, weather wise.

I was eager to see what was there! The shopping was good and I had the added attraction of a personal plant holder to accompany me. The first thing that caught my eye was an heirloom tomato, Missouri Love Apple. Isn't the name enough! I also found a new (to me) heuchera that has red edges, Eco-Magnififolia. I have been searching for one like the one I lost...I have yet to find was an incredibly colorful one that I brought back from Seattle a couple years ago. This one isn't it, but I feel like I am getting warm. I also bought some Mycorrhizae. It's something I've been curious to try and so I bought it at this sale (I wasn't thrilled to find it online for a lot cheaper...but, at least now I know a source should I want more.). My purchases were rounded out with a few more tomatoes and a pepper. (One of these days...when I actually plant them...I'll list the tomatoes I'm growing this year...what would summer be without fresh-from-the-garden tomatoes!)

After enjoying myself at the plant sale, I walked over to take a look at the Arboretum itself. Such a beautiful day had brought out lots of families and there were folks wandering all over enjoying themselves. Some were grilling out or having picnics, some were over at the children's tables making projects and the rest were either cruising around (like me) or at the plant sale!

The Arboretum is famous for its boxwood collection:

Okay, given my previous post, I couldn't help but post this:

You know what it is...a Fringe Tree!

Here's where we make our way inside:

I was interested to see these very happy looking Iris Cristata in full sun:

Japanese Roof Iris:

I love finding cozy seating...this is in a small shade garden called a pollination garden.

Columbines were so pretty:

Shall we have a look?

There was a small collection of iris:

So, I see this group of people and I'm thinking that maybe this is where the elusive gift shop is...or at least something interesting, right? Did you figure this out (before me)??

Yes, this was the line for the restroom....

It struck me that this would be a great place to have a tour (the Arboretum, not the restroom!) and one of these days, I'm going to do just that. However, the Herb Garden was on my way and I just had to take a peek.

The flax was blooming:

Not just any iris, but Orris (where we get orris root):

Done with my touring, I made my way back to the car where my daughter and husband awaited me. We were off for a nice dinner! Interestingly (and I mean very) the car made its way to one of my favorite nurseries, Merrifield Garden Center. Wow! Naturally, there were a few things there to tempt me (a new dianthus and some double ivy geraniums). The back of the car was filling up quite nicely! From there, we did make our way to a nearby Bonefish Grill, a very yum restaurant. It was quite the Mother's Day! (Did I mention the huge bottles of a very nice perfume and lotion??!) Thank you, DH and DD!

Gardening Tips 'N' Ideas

We garden bloggers enjoy connecting with one another and someone who has facilitated that a great deal is Stuart over at Gardening Tips 'N' Ideas. You may have noticed the banner up in the right corner on my blog. You can click on that and find a garden blog near you...or not, if you're adventurous! If you haven't registered your blog with Stuart, think about doing so. There's lots of good information available there...and you don't want to be left out, do you?

For You, Yolanda Elizabet

Fringe Tree:

This picture was taken out by one of the Maymont gates...a smallish to medium sized tree.


And here is my very own variegated Solomon's Seal:

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Feeling rather proud of myself, I dug and divided two clumps of daylilies for the RADS table at the Lewis Ginter Plant Sale. I haven't done too much dividing of daylilies, but it's time for some...really, it's time for some to leave and find new homes all together. Both of the clumps I dug, Joan Senior and Big Time Happy, are nice daylilies but I have to make room for some new ones.

Here's what Joan Senior looked like:

And here's what Big Time Happy produced:

After all that, I'm a bit chagrined to tell you that I kept a few fans of Joan Senior (not pictured...I set them aside for me). It's hard to let go, I suppose. So much for opening up two new spots...

Anyway, I hope they sold well as RADS was selling daylilies for $4 for a double fan (very good price) and I think there was a price break if you purchased 10-12. If you are new to daylilies and want some nice ones at a great price, check your local daylily club sales. The variety will be hard to beat. It looked like the sale was going well while I was there. There were plenty of volunteers and I wasn't really needed, so I went shopping! Lots of great things to temp me including hellebores from Pine Knot Farm and a new orchid from the orchid society...but, I was ticked to find a gas plant (Dictanmus)! I had brought nothing to carry my plant finds in (not smart at a good plant sale!), so my arms were quite weary when I made it back to my car...but a good weary!

Getting back to daylilies, I am excited to find scapes in my garden! This means that daylily blooms won't be far behind...or at least I hope, as I am impatient! Of course, the earliest I have had blooms was May 22nd...and that's really pretty early for this area. I sometimes will get some early blooms on new arrivals which are opening on their old zone time frames, usually from south of me. In fact, I think my first bloom this year will be on such a plant. It could come as early as tomorrow! I keep a spreadsheet of my daylilies and note things like first bloom...but that one, the new one, will get an "s" by the date to remind me that is a southern bloom date.

Here are the ones I've found scapes on so far (tomorrow could bring more!):

Ballerina on Ice
Big City Eye
Christine Dixon
Double Image
Firefly Frenzy
Hidden Riches
Kitty Wells
Moving All Over
Pathway to Paradise
Royal Eventide
So Many Stars
Spectral Elegance
Stella’s Ruffled Fingers
Terry Lyninger
Velvet Ribbons
Waiting in the Wings
Wild Horses

With over 600 daylilies, you can see it is just beginning. Much as I hate to admit it, most everything else will take a backseat when the daylilies start. I can hardly wait to get up in the morning when the bloom season begins! My day begins with me rushing out to see what is open...I will make another round mid-morning as some are not early morning openers (emo)...then another in late afternoon. I hope to produce more of my own seeds this year, so I will be dabbing pollen here and there. With the luxury of not having to be at my former part time job, I am really looking forward to this bloom season!

Last year, I felt I missed a great deal on those days I worked. I usually left very early (sometimes before daylight), returned in the afternoon when it was quite hot and so only saw the evening blooms. By then, it is too late to do any pollination...or the bees have beat you to it! In addition, I was pretty tired and I just didn't have the energy to devote to my garden like I would have liked. You know how I like collecting plants and I lost more than I would have liked last, hopefully, this year I'll be able to put a bit more into things.

I'm really fortunate to have such a supportive DH. He changed jobs and encouraged me to not go back to the part time didn't take! One of our favorite jokes now is when he says he'll work some over time so I can buy more daylilies! Yes! I like that! Well, as you can tell, I have quite a few, so I'm not into the buying mode quite as much. I'm working toward producing my own and having my daylilies pay for themselves. Maybe I'll even have some seed to sell this year, although it might be hard to part with it! I've bought quite a bit myself so I could have some fancy crosses (I hope). Speaking of that, I've found a scape on three of my seedlings! Yippee! When they bloom, they are brand new to the world! Unique and never seen by anyone before! Now, they might not be winners or they may have some maturing to do, but I know I'll be thrilled. At any rate, my long range plan is eventually grow only my very favorites (of other hybridizers) and my own. Wish me luck!

Okay, for anyone (besides me) who might be interested, the seedlings with a scape are:

Ed Brown x J T Davis
Cindy Jones x Crystelle's Love
Golden Tentacles x Moment in the Sun

A good place (that's easily accessible) to look up daylilies is the database on Tinkers.

Tomorrow, time permitting, I'll do a post about one of the (several) places I've been in the last week or so...


051807 scapes found:
Alter Ego
Appsian Rhapsody
Cerulean Star
Susan Pritchard Petit
Twilight Illusions
Velvet Illusions
Walking in Beauty

Blooming: Peggy Turman (no pic as it is rainy)

051907 scapes found:
Artistic Web
Awesome Blossom
Carolyn Hunt
Charming Charlie
Dreams of Heroes
Inky Fingers
Macho Macho Man
Sculptured Treasure

052007 scapes found
Big Mac Attack
Catcher in the Eye
Druid's Chant
Katie My Love
Love's Purest Light
No More Tears
Painting the Roses Red
Spacecoast Sharp Tooth
Wren Song

Snow in Autumn x Wonders Never Cease

052107 scapes found
Alexa Kathryn
Brain Stew
Charming Charlie
Edge of Heaven
Mandalay Bay Music
Mississippi Memories
Song in My Heart
Spacecoast Eye Declare
Yo Rick Yost

052207 scapes found
Blissful Blackberry Pie
Chatham Babe
Connie Can't Have It
Electric Mist
Jay Farquhar
Jerry Pate Williams
Mulberry Connection
Palladian Pink
Something Wonderful

Gaudy Gaudy x Spectral Elegance

052307 scapes found
All About Eve
Better Yet
Bill Norris
Chicago Picotee Lace
Dreams of Heroes
Eyes on the Prize
Hermitage Newton
Lemon Parchment
Light Motif
Lori Goldston
Ming Porcelain
Moonlit Masquerade
Nancy Billingslea
Oh Dickie
One Last Dance
Paper Butterfly
Patterns in Time
Peacock Maiden
Peppermint Pinwheel
Rose Vision
Spacecoast Cotton Candy
Spacecoast Starburst
Strawberry Fields Forever
Tune the Harp
Wineberry Candy

Moment in the Sun x Isle of Wight (2!!)

Royal Eventide

052407 scapes found:
Admiral's Braid
Jumbo Shrimp
Laughing Skies
Magic of Oz
Rainforest Magic
Southern Wind
Vesuvian Blackout
Violet Veil

052507 scapes found:
Aunt Ethel (rebloom from Florida!)
Blue Pink Beauty
Ed Brown
Eternal Life
Gift from Heaven
Glory Bright
Go Seminoles
Home Place Angel Face
Ida's Magic
Jan's Twister
Jump for Joy
Larry Grace
Midnight in Marrakesh
Prester John
Sir Modred
Sunny Delight
Ted Robinson
Tin Soldier
Titan It Up Jack
Winter Concerto

052607 scapes found:
Alicia Rose Kissed
Brocaded Gown
Dena Marie's Sister
Destined to See
How Beautiful Heaven Must Be
Florida's Garden Light
Forsyth Wrinkles & Crinkles
Inca Prince
Itza Mirage
Love Spills Over
Marilyn Apps
Sea Urchin
Spiny Sea Urchin
Stars and Angels
Tiger's Eye


Ed Brown x J T Davis (2nd one!)
Women Seeking Men x Bear Claws

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

GB Bloom Day 051507

May is such a great month, isn't it! I don't plan to go into much detail because I"ll be posting more about some of these later. So, here are a few pictures and my list will follow:

Trees: Fringe Tree

Shrubs: Wiegela (Wine and Roses and Variegated); Mock Orange (Philadelphus 'Aurea' and 'Snow Belle'...with 'Innocence' still to come); Deutzia 'Peek-a-Boo'; Fragrant Azaleas (3...more on them later); Banana Shrub; Carolina Allspice; Roses

Perennials: Lungwort; Forget-Me-Not (perennial ground cover); Japanese Roof Iris; Dianthus (about 1/3 of the ones I have are blooming or starting to bloom); Coreopsis 'Nana'; Hardy Geraniums (Nimbus, Johnson's Blue, Mourning Widow, unknown from seed, Biokovo, and Karmina); Columbines, Iris; Siberian Iris; Heucheras; Heucherella Sunspot; Tiarellas, Peonies, Hellebores, Foxgloves, Variegated Solomon's Seal; Viola 'Freckles'; Chives; and Catmint

Annuals: Pansies, Bacopa, Geraniums, Nemesia

Vines: Clematis (8 or 9 with a few more still to come); and wild honeysuckle

To see more of what's in bloom, see May Dreams Gardens.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Garden Trips: Hahn Horticulture Garden

Last week, on a bright and beautiful day, I stopped by the Hahn Horticulture Garden.

Surrounded on all sides by a busy campus, it provides an escape and retreat for students, faculty, staff and even visitors (like me). Tucked throughout it are cozy seating areas, paths to wander and even spots to gather.

A garden such as this wouldn't be complete without water features. You wouldn't know upon entering that these are here, but they are worth discovering.

Two of my very favorite trees grow in this garden. If I had room, I would surely plant these. The first one has this coppery bark that was shimmering in the light. I hope my picture captures it.

If you didn't guess, it's a Paperbark Maple. Take a look at the leaves:

It is such an awesome tree! The second one is also a beautiful tree with interesting bark, but that is not the only reason to grow it.

This one is a Stewartia and if you don't beautiful in bloom. I waited two years to get a small one and it didn't make it for me...sigh. I guess I'll have to visit this one and one I saw at Lewis Ginter.

This amused me. Look at the Creeping you suppose it will go into the water??!

Public gardens can be great places to see plants "let go", especially ground covers. Check out these sedums. Isn't this wall interesting?

Worth a closer look:

Here a large grouping of hosta made an attractive edger with an eye pleasing curve:

One of the things that I like to do is look both ways, like this:

I'll be back in August and will take another look then as like all good gardens, this one will show me another view. Last time I was here, I saw a chipmunk and this time as well! Unfortunately, he/she moved much too quickly for me to get a picture...although I would have liked to.

I'll leave you with a couple of views that are a part of this visit and this time, sadly.

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