Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Garden Journal...The Hostas Take Center Stage

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This past winter we experienced some of the most frigid temperatures we have seen in this country in years.  They took a toll on everyone's gardens, including ours.  The gardenias were burnt to a crisp and the hydrangeas were devastated.  The rosemary bush, the lavender and several vines did not come back in the Spring. My little "jasmine that could", or night blooming jasmine, that I was so proud of never saw the light of day. ..but that was too much to expect.

Several things did better than expected, including the  newly planted tulips and peonies.  In the end everything, except the clematis by the mailbox,  a couple of boxwood and the rosemary and lavender bushes, eventually came back.  The gardenias have lots of new growth, but they are not quite ready for prime time.

The Confederate Jasmine looked like toast through April, but look at it now.

With no blooms from the hydrangeas this summer, the hostas have taken center stage.  What a show they are putting on! Nature never ceases to amaze me.

They were planted just last year and look at them now.  I have learned, the hard way, to go with whatever works and hostas definitely love our backyard.  I would love to plant astilbe in back of the hostas next year but there are all those big roots around the tree.  The experimental Japanese fern I tried last year did not come back, which is a shame for it makes for a beautiful contrast.  I am open to suggestions!

Some varieties of hostas grow much faster than others...or our local bunnies are more discerning than those to the north. They love and feast on the yellow variegated ones.

Until our cat, Coco, came to live with us, the flowers on these hostas never saw more than a day or two before the bunnies feasted on them. I planted coleus in the front this year but I will not be sure until it spreads some more.  The coleus look beautiful next to the yellow variegated hostas but the latter have been overpowered by the others.  I think perhaps I should have planted something with white or purple flowers.  But I will think about that tomorrow....

If you look to the left in back you can see one of the Oak Leaf hydrangeas we planted last Fall. They are my new favorite!

There are some blooms on the mophead hydrangeas but the color is faded and blah.  At this time in the summer  they are usually in full bloom.  You can barely see my friend Sandra's hydrangea to the right of the azaleas with just leaves again this year.  She brought it as a baby when she came for lunch almost two years ago and I was so looking forward to its first blooms this year....

There was some color earlier in the summer from the New Dawn rose and the clematis Violette next to the birdhouse, but the flowers are long gone.  I was amazed they both survived this past winter as they just went in the ground in April last year.  According to those who know, the combination of the two is dynamite!

This part of the backyard gets afternoon sun which is deadly here in July and August; so whatever I plant next to the bird bath has to be heat and scorching sun tolerant.

Decisions, decisions, decisions!

The elephant ears are my daughter's.  I saw a picture in one of the magazines recently with New Guinea Impatiens around the bottom. Next year....

More hostas on the side of the house next to the steps leading to the backyard.  Last I counted, there were over 50 hostas in the garden planted by these little hands.  Nothing more to add here...this is the Sous Chef's favorite place for her toilette.  She is quite the acrobat!

Hostas and the newly planted lamium.

Our white crepe myrtle tree sets the tone for the colors in the front yard.  The new roof and lots of $$ spent in keeping that grass green.

Artemisa and lambs ears, a purple clematis still in a copper pot, an English ivy topiary and the newly planted Winchester Cathedral rose from David Austin are thriving in front of the house.
There is another rose bush, just like this, on the other side of the path.  You can see the purple platycodon, or balloon flowers, that survived, together with the dianthus, my inexperienced gardening the first year.  Don't ask....I'm a city girl at heart although I spent a lot of time in the country when I was young.    

Something low needs to replace what was lost in front of the rose bush, but not until next Spring. It's too darn hot out there.

This year I decided to go all white by the front door with fewer pots. It was an ordeal to keep them watered through the summer.  One learns the hard way...

Something else that works...the ferns by the front door.  They love that Georgia humidity in summer!

Well, I hope at least you are impressed with the way I can now rattle off the names of my plants.  If you have been around long enough, you will remember how some of my readers had to help me decipher what was growing in the garden of the new house. Yes, some plants did not survive my ministrations or my discovery of  Roundup.  I was like a kid in a candy store...but that was a long time and many wasted $$$$ ago.  It's the only way to learn.


  1. Your home and gardens are so pretty and I am impressed with your knowledge and experience of what works for your climate. I don't understand why the big box stores stock plants that I know will not live in this climate, unless you want to use them as annuals of course. I look at your lovely hostas with a bit of jealousy as we planted quite a few hostas a couple of years ago and the deer ate them all. Surprisingly a few of them came up last year and are blooming as I write. We always buy a big fern to capture the southern look on our porch and it holds up until the first big cold spell.

  2. Well, the knowledge and experience came with hard knocks! and the deer only stay away because of that wood fence that goes around the perimeter of the house. The former owners were very smart. One of my friends and neighbors does not have one and they come up to her deck. She curses the neighbor between us who keeps a salt box for them. In the late afternoon we sometimes see them in groups of 10 and more. They are so "cute" from a distance but what wreckers they are. That fence is a blessing.

    We are lucky to have a nursery here called Pikes that stores only the plants that live in this climate. Maybe there is one near you. On the other hand I planted the most beautiful rhododendron this year that did not last even a month! I envy you . I remember them and the mountain laurel from my years in the NC mountains. Did not know the ferns were a southern thing. Guess there's a bit of a belle in me after all. Have not been successful with them on the ground though, only in pots. Wonder what I'm doing wrong.....

  3. What lush grounds you have. Everything looks splendid and happy to be thriving under your care. As you say, nature never ceases to amaze and you never quite know, from year to year, what will survive in such extremes of weather, and what will wither.

    I think you are onto a good thing with the hostas and perhaps you'd consider planting a more varied selection to help increase their numbers. Go with whatever works is my motto too.

    1. Yes I was toying with the idea of stopping by the garden center and looking at other varieties I also have a list of companion plants that look good together with hostas. Every year we say no more and every year we add a bunch of new stuff. I have to do some switching around but that will have to wait until the heat dies down.

    2. I don't even know what gardening in the heat feels like with these cool summers we have in the Bay Area. If your heat is anything like the oppressive heat I experienced when visiting D.C. and Virginia a couple of years ago in June, I commiserate with your gardening struggles - ugh!.

    3. me. Usually we have temps in the 90's this time of the year with very high humidity. Let's just say the dogs and I hibernate. Plus there's no water in sight, unless you consider a lake water. I have always lived by the sea and lakes just dont do it for me,,,especially man made lakes. My daughter lived in SF for many years and I visited quite often. You live in weather heaven!

  4. I love the way your landscaping is settling in. It gives the house a welcoming aspect that we know reflects the hospitality within.

    Stay cool and enjoy the summer.

  5. Jim,

    You have been around long enough to see it slowly come together. Trust me, there have been many mistakes, but I agree, with you, a garden does reflect an owner's personality. There's nothing more welcoming than ferns and potted plants around a front door. They were the first things that went in and it has never changed. Summers here are so hot and humid they are hard to enjoy. Let's just say I am coping and counting the days until Fall.

  6. I look forward to this coming Spring as I try some of the inspiration you've share. Thank you for sharing such wonderful photos with the rest of us. I wish that you would visit my blog to view some of my oil paintings.
    Kindest regards, Carolina Elizabeth

    1. I am delighted my amateur photos have inspired you as well as my newly found love for gardening. Most of what I have done comes come ideas I have found here and there. Trust me, unlike cooking, gardening is not my strong suit but I love it

      Your oil paintings are lovely. Can;t wait to see what my garden in process has inspired. Be sure to let me know.


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