Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Summer Garden..Winners And Losers

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The summer garden these past two years has been one of boom and bust.  Very cold winters, and very hot summers just about sums it up.

I don't pretend to be a master gardener and some of you know that when I moved to this house I had to seek the help of my readers to identify most of the plants.  But I have learned, the hard way.  Lots of reading and trial an error and lots of dollars spent experimenting with different plants have gone into this garden.  I had no experience with perennials and, what little I knew, came from weekend gardening up north in Connecticut.   Most of what grows well there, including my favorite lilacs and peonies, does not do well in the South.

Ten years in Florida were spent mastering the art of container gardening on the balcony of my ocean front apartment in Key Biscayne.  There the killer was the wind.  With a growing season of twelve months, everything you planted grew like a weed.  Orchids lasted forever and then re bloomed six months later.   I had retired and this was the kind of gardening I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

And then I moved to Georgia....and here I learned that, just like investing in the stock market, it pays to diversify.

Between my daughter and me, we have just about tried every traditional perennial that grows in the South including azaleas, Confederate jasmine, gardenias, hydrangeas, crepe myrtles and camellias.  . The only one I haven't been able to stick in the ground, for lack of space, is a magnolia.  We have one growing in the woods next to the fence, but it won't bloom.  It gets no sun and little light and I'm afraid to go near it for fear of stepping on a snake.

Surprisingly, some of these traditional  perennials are the ones that have gotten hit the hardest .   The azaleas and the jasmine bloomed but not as long or vibrantly as usual.  No such luck with the gardenias or the hydrangea macrophylla. They got hit with a frost just as they were starting to bud and that clinched their fate.  No blooms, except for this one.

No blooms either for the Moonlight Hydrangea by the garden gate.  That was a killer for me, I so look forward to those flowers.  The camellias bloomed later than usual, almost right into Spring. Nothing fazes the crepe myrtle.  It does it's thing year in and year out in spite of the weather.  It needs a good pruning this winter before it overtakes the front of the house.

What saved the summer were the hydrangea paniculata which blooms on new growth.

The one above  is the limelight hydrangea .  There are four in front of mother's window out back.

I have a few of the hydrangea paniculata tardiva along the fence but they are not showing any blooms.

My daughter planted caladium bulbs in a pot to add some color interest out back.  They have done well in spite of the heat.  They are a definite comeback next year.

The hostas have also done well.  Their only enemy is the little Sous Chef who likes to play hide and seek with Lily our lab.

The winners this summer are the ferns.  Now I know why they are a symbol of Southern hospitality. Nothing else thrives like them in this humidity!

Boston fern by the garden gate.  Moonlight hydrangea on the bottom right had no blooms this year.

The Man fern almost died after the surprise frost in early Spring.

That's what you call a come back!

Boston ferns hanging from the crepe myrtle add some interest to the front garden

I've never had a fern that looked this good!

Kitties and ferns by the front door.  How is that for Southern charm!

The fox tail fern is a new addition and definitely a keeper

It will over winter in Madame Mere's apartment

I just came in from watering the front garden.  It's like the land that time forgot out there.  Every year I promise myself that I will not buy as many plants.  Every year I violate this promise and curse throughout the months of July and August when I have to go out and water.

The kitchen is closed for awhile.  The last thing on my mind is food...   I can't wait 'til Fall.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Summer Garden

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I know everyone is talking about how high the temperatures have risen in their part of the world so I won't bore you with details about what is going on in my neck of the woods....but it IS HOT and HUMID, more so this year than others, or so it seems.  This, after the cold winter we had, is not good for any garden, least of all one in the South.

I hibernate in the summer, just like we did in January and February when I lived up North.  It's not the heat, as much as the humidity.  At least in Florida we had the beach.  Here the only water in sight is the lake and frankly, I don't like lakes.  I'm just as finicky about what I can't see underwater as I am about what may lurk under clear water.  I don't do pools either, except for a few, and I'm too old to run through the hose in the backyard, although I welcome the respite when I'm caught in the yard by the sprinklers.

I stepped outside for a few minutes yesterday to clean up the vines that strangle the gardenias and now threaten what's left of the rose bushes.  Madame Mere likes to have cut flowers in her apartment, even though she can perfectly see them from the big window in her living room. I spent hours planting stuff for her to enjoy the view but, for her, it's not the same.

MM's living room and bedroom windows front and left.  Mortitia's Garden is on the right 

Clematis, roses, hydrangeas, gardenias, gladioli, peonies and a splash of angelonia all bloom in sequence throughout the spring and summer; but she likes them inside, in a vase,  so I cut a few just to make her happy.  The grass in the backyard is fescue and it hates the heat; so in spite of the small fortune I pay TrueGreen, it wimps out until it cools down.

The gardenias have come back to a point.  I think they know they will be replaced unless they put on a good show in early Spring.  There's no point replacing them now if we get another winter like we had last year.  Gardenias and the mop head hydrangeas (hydrangea macrophylla)  are the most susceptible to freezing weather and frost.  Neither bloomed this year.

The rose bushes on the lower right in front of MM's window hibernate in the heat and come back in September, or so we hope. 

Here are the dahlias coming up in Mortitia's Garden, so named six years ago after a failed experiment with wild flowers.  Some of you may remember....

Coneflowers  were planted and are thriving around the dahlias.

Mortitia's Garden is my daughter's garden and we are forbidden from cutting any flowers without written permission; but I bought the dahlias, so I'm exempt to a point.  Now that she's away and it's too hot to go outside,  MM and I are enjoying them inside.

This small dahlia has been growing in a pot on our deck.  It has bloomed since June!

And this little coneflower is having a bad hair day having to wear The Cone of Shame for the next few days!

I'll show you the rest of the garden next.
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