The Farmer's Almanac had it right when they predicted a mild winter for Arkansas. We've only had a handful of nights below freezing and just one dusting of snow. That's quite a difference from last year's numerous winter storms.
This year's more peaceful weather gives me more opportunities to be outdoors enjoying the quiet beauty in the garden.
I'm excited to guest host #GardenChat tonight. It's a weekly Twitter based "party" where gardeners from across the country get together to talk about gardening and whatever else is on our minds. It's a great way to make friends and learn something you might not know about the garden.If you want to join me on #GardenChat it starts at 9 p.m. EST. Click here for the what fors and how tos.
#GardenChat is how I met Bren who coordinates the event and writes the blog BGGarden. She has contributed this week's guest post. Everyone give her a big welcome to my blog!
If you are like many Americans, you will be watching A Charlie Brown Christmas during your Thanksgiving evening turkey sandwich snack. What would the holidays be without a glimpse of the past when having a puny little tree reflected the true meaning behind Christmas? This classic cartoon captures wonderful morals filled with the basic principle of making the most of what you have. When I think simple, I can't help but think of using items that make up my garden each year.
A wonderful tradition enjoyed by my family is to use treasures from the garden on our Christmas tree: Simple projects that include the children, like drying blooms from our favorite hydrangea shrub; Preserving memories while teaching the children that gardening is more then just enjoyment in the summer months but something that can be carried on into the next growing season. Drying hydrangeas for the Christmas tree is super easy if you remember that you will get the best results by cutting 12" stems during the months of August through October. Cutting fresh, recently opened blooms does not dry well in the open air. Letting the blooms hang in a dry area for a few weeks teaches the children patience and that good things come to those who wait. Basic craft projects like this will yield the benefits of expressing your creativity without spending a lot of money.
Think beyond what you've grown and preserved by using clean hand tools and miniature birdhouses in the decorating. Pulling items you use in the garden make a wonderful natural garden theme on a low budget. I can't explain the visual sensation experienced when seeing my favorite vacant birdhouse with the Christmas lights sparkling around it. You can also use burlap that is commonly used to wrap young shrubs in the garden as a tree skirt to complete the garden themed tree.
It seems that the true significance of the holidays has been lost in our society, having been cluttered by the average person's busy schedule. If time is budgeted, you can save money while attaching new memories to this time of year by making use of what you have - from the garden.
I had the pleasure of meeting Helen Yoest at the blogger conference held at the Garden Home Retreat last spring. Helen is a garden writer and speaker through her business Gardening with Confidence ™ and also serves on the board of advisors for the JC Raulston Arboretum.
You can follow Helen on Twitter @HelenYoest and her Facebook friend's page, Helen Yoest or Gardening With Confidence ™ Facebook Like Page and catch up with Helen via her blog at www.gardeningwithconfidence.com
In this guest blog post she shares the beauty of her North Carolina garden in fall and inspires us to take a look at what's going on in our own autumn landscapes.
It seems everyone is a gardener in the spring, many of us continue into the summer, but only a few add flowers for the fall. Yet the fall is the perfect time to be in the garden
With the dog days of summer behind us, October opens with cooler air and less humidity creating a fresh scent and a sense of excitement. The source of this excitement may be for no reason other than it being bearable enough to be outside once again.
Indeed, October, and throughout the fall, is an ideal time to plan and plant new garden beds to ready oneself for the next year. The fall is also an ideal time to enjoy what the months have to offer.
The fall is also more than just flowers. There is color from foliage, there is scent, textures, and fruit and berries. With our area's late frost date, we often find our gardens providing interest and intrigue well into November.
Flowers, Foliage, Fruit
Summer color can be extended into the fall with Asters, Anemones, Eupatoriums, Helianthus, Salvias, and Sedums. There's also beautyberry, fothergilla, and golden rod.
Gingers are releasing scent to waft the thinner air, with flirty flowers causing reason to stare. Roses are regaling, hardy Begonia beguiling, Amsonia amazing. The ripened figs become a destination for one of nature's most delicious delicacies.
Color, Scent, Texture
Reds dominate. Yellows generate. Purples empower. Grasses sway, with flags as flowers. Crepe Myrtle's bark shed creating unique texture and mottling. The Maples mission is fulfilled as the last red leaf falls to the ground and yellow Gingko leaves make mass merriment.
The seed heads of Black-eyed Susans add texture and interest to the garden long after the birds finished them off.
The butterflies and hummingbirds are also busy in the fall garden as they ready themselves for a long journey south. The flowers of perennial Chrysanthemums such as 'Sheffield Pink' make the most perfect landing pad for a butterfly.
Hummingbirds pause mid-air to sip nectar from a Canna. Monarchs are grateful to find nectar still rich. Finches steady themselves as they feed on seeds. The box turtle moseys around the tomatoes eating what the birds or deer knocked to the ground.
Autumn was made for sitting on the patio to watch in wonder. Fall gardening does not need to be all about what needs to be done for the future. It can also be about what is available now. In the wise words of garden writer Elizabeth Lawrence, "Even if something is left undone, everyone must take time to sit still and watch the leaves turn."
Enjoy your garden this fall and all the falls to come. As you plan and plant, include fall peaking selections in your choices.
Can it really be summer already? It seems just yesterday I was gazing out of the window at my ice-encrusted garden, wondering if I would ever see my plants stand tall and wear green again.
During those dimly lit winter days it felt as though time was moving as slow as cold molasses. With the arrival of spring the clock seemed to speed up, and now, on the summer solstice, time is racing by like a runaway horse with me in hot pursuit yelling, "Wait! Not so fast!"
The summer solstice is my cue to make sure my garden is ready for the next season with plants that are autumn showstoppers. Here are 10 of my favorites.
Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans)
'Prince' Fountain Grass (Pennisetum)
Luscious® Citrus Blend™ Lantana
The Knock Out® Family of Roses
Blueberries (Vaccinium sp.)
Japanese Anemone (Anemone x hybrida)
ColorBlaze® Dipt in Wine Coleus
Autumn Crocus (Colchicum autumnale)
American Beautyberry (Callicarpa Americana)
I am a hopeless collector of perennials. I can always find a spot in the garden for new additions. While I love trying new plants I have a few mainstays that I rely on for gorgeous flowers and foliage year after year.
Daylily (Hemerocallis sp.)
I'm excited that I now have developed 2 new varieties this year out of my daylily breeding program. I can't get enough of this old reliable favorite.
Hyssop Color Spires® Steel Blue (Agastache)
I love this plant. It has been a tremendous performer in my garden. No staking needed. After the flowers fade I cut back the old bloom stalks and it keeps on trucking.
Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia)
The wide drift at the farm is spectacular from mid May to late June. After the bloom I cut 25% off the top and it will flower again late August through September.
Mexican Sage 'Santa Barbara' (Salvia leucantha)
This plant is a mainstay in the late summer garden. It always gets comments from our visitors.
Summer Phlox (Phlox paniculata)
We trialed this variety Flame™ Purple last summer. It proved to be an excellent re-bloomer right through the intense heat we experienced in July and August.
Lamb's Ear 'Helen von Stein' (Stachy byzantine)
'Helen von Stein' has grown in the garden at the Garden Home Retreat for the last 5 years. Love the giant leaves and fuzzy texture.
Artemisia 'Powis Castle'
The frilly foliage looks great with Supertunia® Royal Velvet and Superbena® Royal Chambray Verbena.
Coral Bells (Heuchera sp.)
Heucheras are beautiful as singular sensations in containers. Plant 1 variety per pot. Many of the newer heucheras like Dolce® Key Lime Pie can take a half day of sun.
Variegated Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum odoratum 'Variegatum')
The arching stems are a graceful addition to a shade border. Looks great poking up through hosta and ferns. Here I've combined it with Spanish bluebells (Hyacinthoides hispanica).
Hosta are such a versatile plant. I use them in containers on my screened porch.
Hardy Cyclamen (Cyclamen hederifolium)
Subtle yet inspiring. I so enjoy seeing their pink blooms in autumn when the leaves begin to fall from the trees.
Chinese Ginger (Asarum splendens a.k.a. Hexastylis splendens)
This is a great low growing plant for shade. So easy and beautiful - I love foliage plants and this is a good one.
Verdant best describes the farm in May. I think the photos below will testify to the greenness of the month.
A gift from garden designer Xa Tollemache during her recent visit to the farm prompted me to rummage through my library looking for my favorite books on garden design. Lady Tollemache gave me Andrew Wilson's book The Garden of Giubbilei. Xa takes her inspiration from many sources including her own garden at Helmingham Hall, but certainly the work of Luciano Giubbilei has influenced her award-winning designs and exhibitions at the Chelsea Flower Show. Thumbing through the book inspired me to go back to some of my old standbys.
Colour in Your Garden
Frances Lincoln (March 6, 2003)
This is the definitive book on color, or colour. I also love Penny Hobhouse's book Gardening Through the Ages. A must for history buffs.
The Garden in Winter
Frances Lincoln (July 10, 2006)
There is a line in this book that I just love. "If our gardens are to be more than graves commemorating summer's beauty, we must start by using our eyes."
Designing with Plants
Piet Oudolf and Noël Kingsbury
Timber Press; Reprint edition (September 1, 2008)
I had the opportunity to visit with Piet at his garden in Holland. He is a master of texture, form and the use of native plants.
My Kind of Garden
Antique Collectors Club Dist (November 15, 2009)
This garden design book reveals how the late Mr. Hicks' sense of style extended far beyond his famous interiors. Lovely photographs and insightful commentary.