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.
Last week I had a fabulous visit with Mary Booth Cabot. Mary is a nationally acclaimed artist known for her botanical paintings and lithographs. When you look out over Mary’s garden, you immediately know this is an artist’s garden–it is dazzling. Mary said her love of gardening started when she began gardening with her grandmother at the age of 4. Mary paints botanicals and birds, cultivates her garden, and propagates plants, especially African Violets. If you’ve visited Mary, you know she generously shares her wealth of knowledge along with her plants.
As Mary says on her site Dancing in the Garden, she has been growing African Violets for 44 years and thoroughly enjoying them. What she doesn’t say on her site is that African Violets have taken over her house. Here are a few pictures from Mary’s house. She isn’t kidding when she says the African Violets are her babies.
I’ve always loved African Violets, but I’ve rarely had success with them. Here are some tips on growing African Violets from Mary.
Mary: Quickie African Violet Facts
- African Violets need 10-12 hours of light to keep blooming continuously
- African violets grow well in sunlight (but not direct) and fluorescent or LED lighting
- Violets do not like “wet feet” so do not let them stand in water more than 30 minutes
- Semi-miniature & miniature African Violets need to be re-potted every 6 months
- Larger African Violets & standard African Violets need to be re-potted every 8-12 months
- African Violets like to be crammed-full into their pots so when you re-pot only go as large as a 4″ pot
Over-watering is the most common reason for failure with violets. They die within a short time with the leaves turning jelly like and drooping over the pot rim row by row until even the central core of the plant rots away. If violets just die on you the problem is probably over-watering. If they live, but just won’t bloom the light is probably too dim for too much of the day. Not watering enough or on an erratic schedule rather than when the plants need it will cause violets to grow slowly and irregularly, but it usually won’t kill them.
Wick watering is a growing method that provides plants with proper water, fertilizer, and humidity. It is by no means fool-proof, but is a great improvement over traditional top or bottom watering. Start slowly and be sure that you are doing it properly. The wrong soil, too large a pot, or too much wick cord can kill a violet…
Suzy: If these pointers pique your interest, Mary has written an extensive tutorial on African Violets including lighting, watering, setting up a wick watering system, fertilizing, re-potting, and more on her site. You can access the tutorial here: Indepth Tips For Success With African Violets.
Mary’s art and violets can be browsed (and purchased) on her site DancingInTheGarden.com. If you dance on over there I don’t think you’ll regret it.
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
This spring you will see countless butterfly garden articles using words like nectar, pollinator, and flowers. What you might not see in these documents are words like native, habitat, and caterpillar. While providing pollen is laudable, you are not being a very good host if you don’t provide food for the butterfly through all 4 stages of its life cycle: egg, larva, chrysalis, and adult.
The butterfly has been poetically called a flying flower. In reality, it is an insect, which, in its adult stage, lives 2-6 weeks. Nectar-rich plants like echinacea, coreopsis, and lantana attract the beautiful fluttering adult. However, the challenge is to provide specific foods for the caterpillar, the larval stage of the butterfly.
The caterpillar eats voraciously for 9 – 14 days in order to grow and molt 5 times before its attaches to a host plant where the pupa skin hardens to form the enclosure where metamorphosis takes place. Host plants to include in pots and beds this summer are parsley, dill, fennel, and passion vine.
The most important host plant to include is Asclepias or milkweed, which is absolutely critical to the survival of the monarch butterfly. It’s the ONLY plant the monarch larvae eat, and the ONLY plant they will lay their eggs on. As Southeasterners, we must plant milkweed to insure the survival of monarchs which travel from as far away as Canada through Georgia to overwinter in Mexico.
Make your garden monarch/butterfly-friendly by planting butterfly weed, A. tuberosa, common milkweed, A. syriaca; or swamp milkweed, A. incarnate, which can be grown from seed or purchased at nurseries. Join us this Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at 11:00 am, at the Roswell Adult Recreation Center, to make Milkweed Mud Pies to get started growing milkweed at your home. To register for this free program, either call the ARC @ 770-641-3950 or register on line by clicking here and choosing June 9 National Garden Week Topic.
Doug Tallamy, author of Bringing Nature Home: How You Can Sustain Wildlife with Native Plants says, “Because life is fueled by the energy captured from the sun by plants, it will be the plants that we use in our gardens that determine what nature will be like 10, 20, and 50 years from now.”
Make your contribution to the future; plant native milkweed to help ensure the survival of the butterfly.
Get a good start by reading circular 975 at extension.uga.edu/publications.
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.