Wildflower Ways

Behind our son and daughter-in-law’s new home in Taos, a wildflower meadow imagewas in full imagebloom, bordering a pasture and adjacent to the artist’s studio.  When they departed on a well deserved holiday, we came to stay to watch over their canine family.  No small task, as that encompassed an elderly golden with medical needs, a lovely wandering hound, and a brand new Labrador retriever puppy.  Somehow during “puppy naps”, we wandered around the wildflowers, and discovered paths that the wildflowers paid no heed to while carrying on in their wild ways!  So we have been clearing no tidying – but only as much as a wildflower meadow would want.  New Mexixo is truly an enchanted land!

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Way laid back in Taos NM

We are in Taos NM, where my former image of laid back has taken on new meaning.  The excitement of our son’s wedding to an extraordinary woman made for a very exciting and emotional week-end.  Amidst the natural beauty of the Taos landscape, my Mother, sister, my daughterimage and I immersed ourselves in flowers.  Four shopping carts of blooms from Trader Joes in Santa Fe NM filled the kitchen, hall and foyer of the house. We spent 6 hours making table center pieces, boutonnières, bridal bouquet and hanging seat arrangements.  We never expected to spend so much time playing with the flowers.  Our hopes for some afternoon sight-seeing disappeared.  But with the mountains in full view from the kitchen window, and a house full of love, what more does life offer?  I am blessed.

When we return to Savannah, I hope to share more of the sights from this incredible Land of Enchantment!

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CANNA BELIEVE IT!

I posted in April with a title “Canna Have Another”.  Here it is a short two months later, and I am singing, “Canna Believe IT!”  The Canna ‘Bengal Tiger” was planted in a large pot soon after purchase ,  and yesterday began to bloom.

Canna 'Bengal Tiger'

Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’

It is spectacular!  I have another growing in the ground in the front yard and it will be interesting to see which one is happier in the long run.  I am still fine tuning my gardening habits in this Zone 8 climate.  Will the heat of the Summer be easier on a potted plant or one in the ground?

The temperature will stray toward 90 today, but the humidity hasn’t even gotten started, so it was lovely to go to the Farm this morning to pick basil and cut dahliasIMG_4737 before the sun got too high.

 

In my Savannah garden, the angelonia and snapdragonsDSC_4282 laugh at the heat and humidity and the shrimp plant DSC_4383laughs too while enticing hummingbirds.   I hope they continue to laugh when I leave them on their own with an automatic sprinkler as their babysitter….I am headed back to New Mexico soon!

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OLD PLACES

I am at home in an old garden.  Sissinghurst is one of those gardens.  As Adam Nicholson says in his book, “Sissinghurst, An Unfinished History”:

“It is a place, like everywhere else around it, that is worn and used, as Edward Thomas once described a stretch of country he knew and loved, “like a schoolboy’s desk that has blunted a hundred ingenious knives.” ”

As gardeners, punctuating and blunting the Earth with our tools, we hope to make our portion of the Earth worn and used…well used.  But there is always a beginning to a garden, before it can become well-worn and used.  We visited the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens this past week-end to take in the newness of this place. IMG_4578 The “used” is the Historic Bamboo Farm, but to keep pace with the public’s thirst for a regional Botanical Garden, grounds have been broken and new gardens begun!  Besides the new Visitor’s Center, IMG_4576which was very welcoming, the plans are calling for a Formal Garden.  I love that they are using yaupon holly instead of the usual boxwood. IMG_4582 Natchez crape myrtle trees surround.  Also beginning anew is the replica of the Georgia Trustees garden, including plants that Georgia colonists once grew. IMG_4586

IMG_4591The Water garden is not new but we visited the shallow bog and deep pool.  This older garden exhibits wonderful ideas of what can be grown in the lowlands of Coastal Georgia. IMG_4607 CGBG was a wonderful place to visit, and will one day be worn and used in the most satisfying Savannah way!IMG_4614

In a few months time, the newer garden will start to take on a life of its own.  I can’t wait to return and to show you how it is “wearing, if not worn!”

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SAVANNAH SIGHTS

When we moved to Savannah last year – one year to the day! – I expected to downsize our belongings and upsize the laid-back posture of our lives.  But getting to know this town has taken every bit of energy we can muster.  There is SO MUCH to do!   People to meet, places to explore, even finding the quiet moments has taken planning and  discipline to make it happen.

Of late there have been house and garden tours.  Does everyone  have a free-standing tub?  How much tile am I willing to tear up to make room for this sublime bathing experience?IMG_4331

How about adding a resident swan to the pool?  I love house tours!

IMG_4295 IMG_4285

Dinners, parties, art exhibits (who knew that Winston Churchill’s paintings were so darn impressive!), bike rides, luncheons….. We gave a party earlier this month, called PWP.  A Party with a Purpose.  I love this idea.  We raised money for the American Cancer Society.  The Chairmen of the committee decided to go with the Cinco de Mayo theme.  Fun and festive.  I laughed and said, “but my house is more English tea party!” IMG_4375 No matter, it was great fun.  Just hang some Mexican flags, lanterns, put out the maracas and get your local florist to give your table some JAZZ!  The Blooming Idiot in Savannah, found some great, colorful flowers to make the table say MEXICO! IMG_4383 It took some bright flowers to take your eye away from 18th century painting and panettiere!  I hope it worked.  We were happy to welcome our neighbors to our down sized home for margaritas and Mexican food while raising funds and awareness.

Many activities that we have been involved with are drawing to a close as Summer begins early in Savannah.  I hope to have more unscheduled hours to follow the light with my camera, listen to some birdsong, play in the garden.  How about….read a book!  Are you planning your Summer yet?

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Time In Taos

It was time to visit Taos, but there was not enough time in Taos.  This was a short introductory visit, and though we’ve been to Santa Fe, N.M. we were not prepared for how much more we would love Taos, N.M..OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The skies were majestic and the mountains monumental.  Even the drive toward our son and his finance’s home grabbed the heart.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I was ready to send for my dogs, throw away all cellular devices and unwind for a long, long time.IMG_4237

I recommend El Monte Sagrado if you want an upscale hotel with all the amenities, but there are many other ways to see Taos and feel the place without all the perks and the cost.

El Monte Sagrado

El Monte Sagrado

VRBO seems to be a good place to start.

Before I could catch my breath – literally!, we were back in Savannah,IMG_4265

where life could not be more different.  As high and dry as Taos is, Savannah is low and wet.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEach has it’s charm, but one has my son, his fiancé and their dogs, and that makes all the difference.  We plan to return in Summer and I hope to share more when there is more time to get to know Taos.

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Canna Have Another?

My last post recommends the THINK, SIP, SEARCH method for adding plants to your garden.  I didn’t think I would test myself so soon.  I thought about some plants that I might need before I went to the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens Plant Sale today.  I did!  I even had a SIP at the nearby Dunkin’ Donuts.  This is, by the way, a spot to rival Starbucks.  Let’s face it, if you just want a good cup of coffee, go to DD and don’t forgo your next meal, because the prices at Starbucks are unreasonable and who has time to get a Starbuck’s degree to figure out what you really want to order and drink.  Just want something to sip that tastes good, thank you!

So, tell me, why did I lose all control when I saw this?IMG_3937

Did I need another canna?  Maybe not, but imagine how Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ will look with some of my other tropical plants!  Canna_BengalTiger_1188

And who could pass up a ginger lily named ‘Disney’?  Not me!IMG_3938

 

A walk around the grounds at Coastal Georgia Botanical is a treat for the imagination.  A work in progress, I believe, there is so much more ahead for this wonderful space.  After years  (decades) of visits to New York Botanical Garden, I could be a bit jaded, but I find the adventure that lies ahead for this Coastal garden could be equal to the refinement and sophistication of New York.  IMG_3943

The Rose garden (above) beckons – a few roses are beginning to bloom!  The Iris garden is a work in progress.IMG_0148

This will be worth a return visit very soon, as the few early iris promise good things! IMG_0169 IMG_0139 So, after my visit to Coastal Georgia Botanic Gardens and my purchases today, I will amend by saying

THINK, SIP, SEARCH, and be CHARITABLE at all Plant Sales!  And if you can’t make all your plant purchases at charitable events, then I wish you luck in trying to restrain yourself as all the great plants begin to arrive in the nurseries!IMG_3907

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SAVANNAH OPENED HER DOORS

Last week end Savannah opened her doors for the 80th Annual Savannah Tour of Homes & Gardens.  Besides offering 4 days of walking tours (each day in a different section of Savannah), there were great programs and events that you could attend.  We chose to tour the Northeast Historic Landmark District.  IMG_3797Our tickets allowed us to see several homes during a 3 hour period.  Unfortunately for us, the grey skies opened when a thunderstorm rolled through.  My daughter and I (well actually just “I”) got a little testy; it is not fun to stand in a down pour waiting to get inside a house.  But let me tell you, this group has had 80 years to polish their hospitality, and all of the workers did their best to make us feel at home, and got us in as quickly as possible.  If you didn’t make it this year, try next year (www.savannahtourofhomes.org)

My favorite home on the tour  located on East Oglethorpe was traditional and beautifully appointed with well-loved and cared for family antiques.  This Greek Revival townhouse was the childhood home of Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Conrad Aiken.  The house has been seen in the pages of Veranda magazine, but there is nothing like experiencing the space yourself.

Another interesting home, built in 1867 and located on East Liberty Street had wonderful antiques and a traditional style,  with an enviable view of another important landmark, the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

East Liberty Street

East Liberty Street

It is still  early Spring in Savannah but the outdoor spaces were already green and so lovely.  Both traditional and modern designs were show cased.  IMG_3804

IMG_3815When I start touring gardens, my mind begins to work overtime, trying to envision new things to try in my own garden.

The plantings in the pocket gardens of Savannah tend to be more formal IMG_3810than the planting here on Skidaway Island, OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbut I just can’t give up some of the formal touches I have always loved – like topiaries.  Eugenia is now in both of my urns at the front walk.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI forgot that I had already ordered two azalea topiaries from Garden Club! IMG_3871 I have one place they could go, but I’d have to dig out all the new daffodils first!  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhat am I going to do with the azaleas?   Some things never change….like my impulsive buying of plants!   When Spring rushes upon us, it is easy to lose our heads and buy everything we see without regard to where it will fit into our gardens.  I know some of you, dear readers, struggle with this too!  Do you have any plans to be more studied and systematic about how you purchase plants this year?

My plan is to spend more hours in reflection and thoughtful contemplation, with a good cup of tea in hand, and fewer hours scurrying around to all of the nurseries in search of the next great plant!  tumblr_mvscp5B9gw1r8zf24o1_1280 Think first, while sipping, THEN search for just the right plant!  Think, sip, search…

As my son has sometimes questioned, “How’s that working for you?”  I’ll let you know….

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A Southern Dance With Daffodils

“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”

William Wordsworth

Daffodil 'Souther Gritty Mix'

Daffodil ‘Souther Gritty Mix’

Those words from William Wordsworth are familiar to many and probably oft remembered most when Spring is around the corner, and we wish for the Earth to come back to life!  Though the Adonis, the snow drops, hellebores and earliest Spring ephemerals usually beat the daffodils into bloom, it is the blooming of daffodils that assure  us that Spring has arrived.  Here in Savannah,  the daffodils I planted last Fall began blooming weeks ago!  They are still blooming since I planted a mix called ‘Southern Gritty Blend.”  My next door neighbor smiled when she saw me planting bulbs, and remarked, “I love your optimism.”    She most likely referred to the deer and the extreme heat of Summer which are deterrents to a lot of bulb planting, but the daffodils are immune to deer and this blend promises to withstand the Summer heat.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It is just a year ago that dear husband and I drove from Connecticut to Georgia to find a new home.  So I can safely say that you can garden year round on the Georgia coast.   We have been enjoying lettuce from our plot at Skidaway Farms from May to March, and  I have just planted ‘Flashy Trout Back’ and ‘Pirat’ lettuce, so yes, you can garden year round in Georgia.  I have also just planted ‘Hon Tsai Tai’, similar to broccoli rabe from the flowering brassica family.  You see it here with the lovely red stems, elongated leaves and as it grows it produces delicate yellow flowers that are deliciously edible! OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our little plot is just about planted out, with garlic, green onions, radishes, lettuce, beets and a couple of herbs.  Where to put the tomatoes and the dahlias?  You guessed it!  We had to rent another plot!  I am going to try the dahlias for a second year in Georgia.  They were a dismal failure last year, but I didn’t start early enough.  I am checking the average soil temperature and it is already predicted to be about 58 for late March.  That is warm enough for a dahlia tuber.  They like 60, but come on, dahlias!  Let’s get started!  What are you starting in your garden or under grow lights?

 

P.S.  My posts are a bit further apart these days, as I am writing a gardening column for a local magazine, but I do not plan to abandon Weed Street blog!  The Georgia gardening adventures continue!  And  I am planning trips to Taos, New Mexico and to Longwood Gardens, so stay tuned!

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Cup and Saucer to the moon

Yes, it is cold all over the South today, and coastal Georgia has not been spared.  But the Atlantic Ocean 5 miles from our home will moderate the temperatures and we will not see snow or ice like our Northern neighbors are fearing.  Still, the sunless and cold day keeps me inside, which is just fine because it is time to transplant the basil and nasturtium seedlings to a larger space.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe arugula did not germinate well.  Any secrets, readers, to growing arugula that you would like to pass my way?

My experiment begins today.  Cup and Saucer vine (Cobaea scandens)cup_and_saucer_vine_425

was a favorite of mine while I gardened in the Northeast, but it takes FOREVER to grow, and if you got it to bloom at all, it wasn’t until late September or October, and the frosts quickly brought it all down.  The fleeting joy of observing this vine produce the very big blousy cuplike blooms with lovely light scent was too great to discourage me, and so I grew it for many years.  If the vine reached 5 – 6 feet that was a success.  HOWEVER, in Zone 9, I potentially have a monster on my hands!  The seed pack OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsays this half hearty perennial in this Zone could reach 70 feet.  Grow me to the moon!!!!  Do I believe this will happen?  No, but I have to try!

 

The funny flat seeds need to be scarified or soaked in water overnight. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA A person like me who cringes to trim her dogs’ nails, IMG_5219certainly could not be trusted with a tiny fragile seed, so the soaking method works just fine.  The seeds must be planted upright, not flat.   I planted them just so, in an organic seed starting mix.  Wish me luck!

 

Now, for my tip of the day.  I know, I do not share tips every day but this one is worth MANY days’ worth of tips!  Do you have trouble with ink or pencil staying legible throughout the season?  Do you come upon a lovely plant you started from seed, look around for the label, only to find that by August the sun has faded or the rain has washed away your careful labeling?  Sharpies were better than some, but the BEST,  I have found is this Deco Color pen.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can find it in your local art store.  If you keep the top on tight, they last forever, and can even stay outdoors in a covered area on your garden bench through Winter (oops!)  Trust me, if you want to be able to read your label at the end of the season – this is the pen for you.  Because I love dahlias and showed them – this was imperative in October when the shows demand you correctly label your dahlia.  The labels shown above with the nasturtiums are not Deco Color.  Why?  Because if germination is poor, or is a complete failure, I don’t want to waste a perfectly good label with PERMANENT ink.  So, if the plant goes on into the garden, I write over with the Deco Color paint!

Corkscrew vine

Corkscrew vine

Call me thrifty!

 

Hope you are enjoying some garden time inside; maybe you are also starting seeds in anticipation of a new growing season right around the corner!

 

P.S.  As for the cup and saucer vine, all bets are off if the deer like this.  I battled deer appetites for many years in the North, but so many gardeners I’ve met on Skidaway Island continually harp about the deer and claim they can’t grow plants because of them.  I don’t buy that, because I always found a way to grow lilies, roses, hosta – their favorites – with the use of repellants.  So, let’s see if I can battle their Southern cousins as successfully.

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