Many of us have plants and trees that are special to us. As part of National Garden Week, several RGC members shared pictures and thoughts about some of the items special to them. This blog post’s feature image is of a plant special to Linda B – Linda shares that, after more than 30 years and two moves, I still have the old fashioned bleeding heart plant that started out in my mother’s garden in Pennsylvania. That’s pretty special.
Linda Lee – 20 years ago Ron and I walked out of an old K-Mart and saw a rose bush with no flowers or leaves for 75 cents. Ron said it needs a home. Whatever color it turns out to be he said we will call it The Princess Rose after me. It bloomed a month later on Mother’s Day a year after my mother died. Today it still blooms with the most delicious fragrance.
Gretchen – This geranium is a small or miniature. I was given a cutting of this in 2005 by a friend in Connecticut. At the time she said it was Blue Bird. And it does have a blueish cast to the foliage when outdoors in the sun. The blooms are small peach clusters. I have enjoyed this all these years and I find it to be easier to grow than the standard size. This is my ‘mother plant’ and I take cuttings to root each spring. These small plants travel to New Hampshire and I put them in outdoor planters with other types of plants. The large plant usually survives the summer while I am gone as I have someone come in every two weeks to water the many plants that stay here. I always bring back several of the plants to pot here and be enjoyed as house plants in the winter. I look at this plant and always think of my friend Ronnie who gave me a cutting all those years ago. This is not the original as they at times become too woody and it is time for another to take its place.
Suzy – My dad grew this Japanese Maple from the Japanese Maple my brothers, sisters and I gave him for Father’s Day when I was in the 6th grade. The parent tree still stands at my parents’ house. It is magnificent, as is my tree. I moved my tree to my house in November of 2008. At that time, it was as tall as me. As you can tell, it likes my yard. I think of my dad every time I see the tree. The purple iris in the bed came from Grandma’s. We moved next door to Grandma when I was almost 4 years old. These iris were in her yard for as long as I can remember. I can’t tell you how old they are — but I know the iris they came from were planted in the early 1940’s. I love these iris. In addition to their beautiful color, they smell like grape jelly. And they remind me of Grandma.
Dotty – My Iris bed was established with plants that date back to when my children were small – over 40 years ago. Each time I moved over the years I would take a few with me. I have transplanted them so many times that I just wait to see what colors pop up each year, as I never know. This is one that surprised me this year.
Roz – These pictures are from my indoor sun room garden. There will be more blooms in a week or two. The single orchid was rescued by Linda B a little more than two years ago and given a home in my sun room.
Nancy – My white Chinese snowball viburnum was originally purchased some 8-10 years ago in a 3 gallon container at a nursery near Augusta. I had no idea where I wanted to plant it, so it remained in the container for quite some time as I moved it several different places around the yard. At the time of planting it was possibly 3 feet tall. It grew and grew and grew. Apparently it liked its final resting place. One meeting of the garden
club when we had a professional pruner as a speaker, I reluctantly asked when it should be pruned. The response to me was why would I ever want to prune this plant! In the winter is looks so dead and forlorn. However, as it begins to awaken and its leaves take on new life, it becomes a daily treat to watch this transformation. From small buds, to green blooms, and finally to magnificent white blooms, it is quite a spectacle! Thus it has never been pruned and has continued to be a delight to all who have visited and seen its beauty this spring. This is the prettiest that it has ever been. I tell people that Stan, my deceased husband, sent this beautiful blooming to me!
All of us at RGC hope you have special plants, trees, or garden ornaments in your life. If not, maybe National Garden Week is the time to change that.
On May 13th I participated in a Zoom panel discussion about the re-establishment of indigo on the Georgia coastal islands and the historic horticulture and use of indigo by African Americans. This was facilitated by SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design). Indigo was the most lucrative cash crop, ahead of cotton, in Colonial times. Used to dye textiles, the labor intensive procedure needed to extract the dye was accomplished by the labor of enslaved people. Archibald Smith, of Roswell, even experimented with indigo in St. Marys, Georgia, but was unsuccessful, probably due to weather and location. This may have contributed to his decision to move up-country to Roswell to establish his farm which raised cotton for the Roswell Manufacturing Company mill on Vickery Creek.
That early enterprise established by Roswell King and his son Barrington King became the economy the town of Roswell grew up around. The panel discussion touched on the history of indigo’s use as a dye for textiles and the recent efforts to re-establish the growing of indigo on Ossabaw Island on the Georgia coast and its legacy today. Several individuals are involved in the project to make indigo “a thing” again.
My interest in this discussion was sparked because I have the plant false indigo, botanically named Baptisia australis, in my garden. It is not the same plant that was cultivated on the coast, but may have been used by Native Americans for a similar purpose. False indigo is very sweet pea-like but has no fragrance. It is a legume. There are different colors: white, pink, and purple like mine. False indigo is a beautifully full bush in summer. It dies down to ground in winter and re-emerges in spring. I mulch mine to protect it from the cold.
The Heirloom Garden by definition is one comprised of carefully cultivated seeds collected from open-pollinated flowers and vegetables and handed down from one generation to the next. These can be 50 years of a line or more. For most home gardeners, an Heirloom Garden or even just one heirloom plant has sentimental value. It could have come from your parents or grandparents home, it could have been given as a gift from someone special, or even planted in memory of a lost pet or loved one.
When we change homes, if at all possible, we carefully dig up our beloved plants and take them with us much to the chagrin of real estate agents such as myself. This is often an issue for the new buyers of the home and so a negotiation ensues on an acceptable replacement, after all one cannot just leave an empty hole in the garden or yard. And, as we all know, those lovely plants and well-manicured lawn add attraction and value.
In those situations, I accepted what my clients wanted but never fully understood until my mother passed away and left me her home. Our children had grown and left home by then so we decided to move into “Mom’s house” as I still refer to it after living here a few years. I am reminded of her by the daffodils that proliferate the front yard as the first harbinger of spring, then the azaleas and iris. In late May, rows of hydrangeas bloom and by early June the huge gardenia “tree” is weighed down with fragrant blooms.
Every month brings a reminder of Mom and the 20 plus years she spent working in her gardens. I find myself now needing to have a much overgrown yard thinned out while still preserving those treasured plants. The landscape contractors I interview just look at me like I’ve lost my mind, they want to tear everything out and start anew. I know I’ll find the right one for the job eventually. In the meantime I’ll just enjoy Mom’s Heirloom Garden…Dawn McGee
I love gardening but certainly am not an expert. I also have areas in my yard that are very challenging – full sun (more than 8 hours) while others have shade. Soil in some areas is good, while other areas are heavy clay.
I spend a great deal of time amending soil and often find myself moving plants. Although I try my best to do my research before purchasing plants, there is a lot of conflicting information on the internet and easily obtainable information is not always specific to the area in which I am located. So trial and error was a way of life.
Recently, Lisa E. gave me a book that is amazingly helpful. It addresses so many things that I was spending hours researching and I am now more confident as I plan my garden. This book is a jewel: The Southern Gardener’s Book of List – The Best Plants for All Your Needs, Wants, and Whims, by Lois Trigg Chaplin.
In this book you will find over 200 lists that tell you shade, sun, soil preference, drainage, drought, size and so much more. The lists include trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals, ground covers, grasses, vines, ferns, bulbs, roses, azaleas, deciduous or evergreen, and even tells you which are fragrant. Best of all, it addresses what areas of the South they will grow (lower south, middle south, upper south, coastal, etc.).
Advice from experts accompany each list. To make it easy to research a particular plant you might be considering, an index will tell you on what pages you can find that specific information.
I am grateful to Lisa for giving me this treasure of information and will be feeling much more comfortable as I build my gardens.
One of the things I love about being part of a community of gardeners is getting to share plants with each other. Whether you are the giver or the receiver, when you share plants, you are sharing a teeny tiny part of the happiness and peace that gardening brings. To close out Garden Week in Georgia, here’s a peek at RGC members sharing pieces of plants and the peace of their gardens.
Dotty E – Due to a new fence and other challenges in my back yard, I had to completely redo areas of it. Florence Anne graciously shared her Mahonia and Lenten Roses with me. This is the area along the fence line that I have named Florence Anne’s garden.
Dotty E – I’m just now planting Solomon Seal and Hardy Chinese Ground orchids in my garden thanks to Carolyn. You can see it’s a work in progress in this area of filtered sun and shade. Soil has been amended, light pine straw mulch added. and I will probably check on them at least three times a day, every day. This section will be referred to as Carolyn’s garden.
Linda Lee – My sweet friend Marcia gave me some Spiderwort years ago. It comes up every year plus explodes all over the yard. Ever indebted to her.
Linda B – This Chinese ground orchid came from Carolyn when we had a garden club pass along plant day. I love it!
Florence Anne – Trilliums on the path leading down to my oriental strolling garden along the creek from Nancy. They are special to me because, well, they are from Nancy! Every time I see them or another volunteer popping up around them, I think of her.
Gretchen – The one I could have shared a year ago is a miniature Japanese Maple, in a pot, that I bought about 8 years ago from a grower who spoke to our club. Sadly, last year the deer started to include this in their diet. And, it has lost its shape. It now resides on the porch, out of reach of the deer. I am about to move it to our daughter’s home…she also lives in Roswell but not in a deer path.
Gretchen – The beautiful ground orchid, or Bletilla, in the center of the flowers was a donation to one of our plant sales by Carolyn. I have several different types of plants that originated in Carolyn’s garden. This orchid is very hardy and survives with almost no attention.
Some of my Spanish Bluebells, Hyacinthoides Hispanica, are in the background. These are a favorite spring bulb and are planted by the house as well as in my garden area in our woods. They last well and are not eaten by deer!! That is a Camellia in the background. One bluebell clump’s foliage was sampled by deer this year, but just one. Hoping he/she had a wicked stomach ache!
Suzy-The picture at the top of this post is a basin of plants Lisa just gifted me. There’s a wealth of plants in here which I’ll be planting later today. I have plants from Carolyn, King, Nancy, and Donna in my yard and garens. And my grandma, my daddy, my sister Becky, and my sister Jeannie. And the deer, the birds, and Mother Nature.
At this time of year, RGC usually give away azaleas at the Roswell Open Air Market. Due to Covid, that isn’t happening this year. We miss this sharing of plants, and we hope it’ll be back on for 2022.
Whether you are the giver or the receiver, a lot of love and peace is passed on when you share plants. Here’s hoping some plant sharing takes place in your life. Thanks for spending Garden Week in Georgia with us!
This winter, my neighbor cut down a 50-year old maple tree on the east side of my back yard, instantly changing the light in my yard. My rosemary, which had crept toward the house in search of light, could now grow straight up. It needed hard pruning so that it could flourish in the new sunlight.
Of course, I hard to research how to prune rosemary before daring to attempt such a drastic pruning. My research told me to hard-prune rosemary in the winter before the rosemary started growing again. Sources also cautioned against cutting shortly before or during a cold period. With this conflicting information, I decided to prune the rosemary the first week in April. Things were under control. I was ready to roll, then e-gads! It got up to 80 degrees in March. What?? Now what was I going to do? Since this is Georgia, I knew we would have to have at least 1 more hard freeze before April 15, but wasn’t that rosemary trying to throw off the shackles of winter and grow? What to do, what to do? I decided what the heck, if I killed the poor plant, I could replace it. Not that I wanted to replace it, but I could.
With sharp, clean hand-pruners, I pruned that plant. After hard-pruning, my rosemary was petite and shapely–in a hard pruned way, that is. I also had a wealth of freshly cut rosemary on my hands.
I knew just what to do with this since, while I was wandering through the web, reading about pruning rosemary, I hopped off on every link that had suggestions on what to do with the trimmings. I read about propagating rosemary via cuttings and water-rooting; making rosemary salt; cooking rosemary beans; drying rosemary; preserving rosemary in ice cubes; sliding farther and farther down the rabbit hole with each click of my mouse. Hmmm…maybe that’s why I didn’t get the rosemary pruned before the March heat wave.
Anyway, the down-the-rabbit-hole part of me wouldn’t let me simply throw away the trimmings. Nope. Not me. So I revisited the rabbit hole and chose a few of those suggestions:
- I tried propagation. Here’s my healthiest looking cuttings trying to take root in water. I simply stripped leaves from the bottom 2” of 6” cuttings and put them in water. I keep the jars in a bright spot out of direct sunlight. I change the water every 2 days. Unless I forget.
- And I made rosemary beans. Yummy, yummy, yummy. Here’s my sister Becky’s recipe for them. Since I don’t have an instapot, I used canned beans. Also yummy.
Rosemary White Beans, serves 6
- 2 cups (1 pound) Great Northern beans
- 4 cups water or vegetable broth
- 4 cloves garlic, roughly diced
- 5 sprigs rosemary
- ½ medium onion, cut into wedges
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Add all ingredients to an Instant Pot or electronic pressure cooker
- Stir to prevent sticking
- Set Instant Pot/pressure cooker to high for 32 minutes
- When the timer goes off, allow the pressure cooker to naturally release the pressure for 20-25 minutes, then manually release any remaining pressure
- Skim onions off the top
- Remove rosemary twigs (the needles will have fallen off – leave them in the beans)
- Stir the beans
For thicker bean liquid:
- Discard ½ cup of the cooking liquid.
- Add about a cup of the beans and some of the bean liquid to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth and thick.
- Return the puree to the pot and stir through the beans to thicken.
As you can tell, this pruning project turned into quite the adventure. I hope you, too, have some down-the-rabbit-hole gardening adventures during Garden Week in Georgia. Just don’t forget to come out of the rabbit hole.