Tuesday, March 22, 2011

More of What is Blooming!

Sorry...forgot the name of this one.

Purple Coneflower


Azalea (This one was here when I moved in, so I don't know which variety it is.  I have a purple on too that is is bloom already.)

Carolina Jasmine

Clematis ( A few weeks ago, I couldn't tell that this was even there, but for the paint stick marking where I had planted it last year.  Thanks mom!)

My climbing rose.  I need to build a trellis for it.  I also have to spray it or the caterpillars will eat every single leaf off of it.

Sedum (This will bloom through most of the late summer through fall.)

Yarrow (Thanks M.B.)

Daisy of some sort.  Another M.B. gift.  Apparently she throws away bags full of these daisies every year.  Sounds like a good problem to have.

I also found just found some Gladiolus coming up that I missed last year when I dug the rest up.  There was also some of what my mom calls "Moses in the bull rush".  It looks like a Wandering Jew but is darker and has pink leaves.  I will ask my resident flower identifier M.B for a final analysis.  (M.B. is my wife's grandmother.)
The hostas continue to grow every day.  I had to put the deer fencing up to keep them from getting eaten, but unfortunately, it is not kid proof.

I am planning on going to the State Botanical Gardens on Saturday with some friends from work to take photos.  Hopefully, I will get some ideas and will post some pics this weekend.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Here's What's Blooming!

Grape Hyacinth



Peach Tree


Bradford Pear




More to come!  Much has begun to bloom even since I took these photos.  I can see small red buds coming out already on my azaleas.  I also see my purple coneflower and coreopsis beginning to peak their leaves out. 
I saw the first Carolina Jasmine bloom open yesterday.  I can't wait for another couple of weeks when the whole vine will be covered with sweet smelling blooms.
The clematis that I thought for sure would not come back this year has already grown bigger than it was last year when I got it as a clipping.  I am going to have to start building some supports for it.
Up until now I have not been much for planting bulbs, but after seeing what I have been missing this spring, I think that this fall I will turn over a new leaf.

On another side note...My neighbor was about to dig up and throw away twelve azalea bushes.  Guess who was just in time to save them and already had a place in the garden for them?  This guy!
So far the boxwoods that I saved are still alive. One is beginning to show a little brown, but overall, I think that they all should make it.
Don't be tempted by the warm weather that we have had lately.  Many big home improvement centers are bursting at the seams with new plants, however, for us here in Atlanta, the last frost date is April 10th.  That means if you run out and buy the first thing and stick it in the ground there is still a good chance that a late frost could come along and kill it.  The first week in March last year we had snow remember!?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Calling All Plants

Thank you to everyone that has been following my blog.  I hope that you have been able to learn a little and at the same time be inspired to go out into your yards.

With spring upon us, I was thinking of putting together a plant swap.  This is a great way to give away plants that you might have a lot of and at the same time find some new ones for FREE!

Please let me know if you are interested.  Or if you have some plants that you would like to put up to swap, please POST a comment.

Monday, February 28, 2011

What We Start With

Part of having a great yard is great preparation.  With the warm weather that we have had lately, there has been ample time to get some prep work done in the yard.
Now is the time to get your upcoming flower beds in order.  Have you tilled them?  Have you added soil amendments?  Have you tested the soil?  If not, it is not the end of the world.  If you have, great!  It will better your chances. 

With everything beginning to pop up, but before everything turns green, it is a great time to look at what you have.  Try to simplify areas that need more work than others.  Don't try to go overboard and overwhelm yourself trying to fix every problem in your yard.

One year concentrate on the yard,the next a particular flower bed.  A beautiful yard takes time and if you do it right the first time, your work will reward you with a beautiful yard.

This year I decided to concentrate on my back yard.  The bed that I am starting with is primarily just dailies.  I plan to change that this year.  I also created new beds and paths that will be built upon this season.

Please let me know if you have any suggestions.  The new beds are partial to full shade. 

The last picture is a bed that I had built last year, but wasn't big enough.  You might recognize the flags in the picture.  They are the ones that I pulled up from when I had the yard marked.  They are great for new plantings that haven't come up yet.  In this case, they are marking hostas that I planted that will begin showing themselves in the next couple of weeks.

With these beds so close to the woods, I have had a big problem with deer eating many of the new plants that I try to plant in this area.  More careful planning would have saved me money last year in finding more plants that are more naturally deer resistant.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Grower's Outlet Open

Grower's Outlet opened TODAY!  They have the best prices I've seen anywhere. 

Just make sure that before you buy that it is the right time to do so for that plant.  Even though plants might be in the nurseries, doesn't mean it should be planted now. Make sure to do your research first and have the area that the plant is going to be planted in ready prior to bringing it home.

See below for Grower's Outlet's website.


Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

I have a spot in my garden that has been crying for an evergreen shrub.  I had been thinking about either azaleas or boxwoods. 

On my way home yesterday, my mind was made up for me. 

In one of the neighborhoods I drive through on my way home from work, there were six huge boxwoods that had just been dug up.  They were destined for the chipper, but by simply stopping and asking if I could have them, they soon found their way to the back of my truck.  I was still in my suit from work but luckily had some work gloves in my truck.

Yes, the looks from the passing motorist says it all.  I mean, how often do you see someone in a suit loading boxwoods into the back of a truck in a suburban neighborhood?

Let me just go ahead and say that my actions, even for myself, were highly unusual.  I ended up planting them that night and watering them in.

If they die...so what.  I didn't pay for them, and worse case scenario, they go into my compost pile in the woods.  If they live, I have just saved myself several hundred dollars.

The moral of the story...I had already in my mind, new what I wanted to plant in that location, I had already prepared the location, and I was actively looking for opportunities to get something for FREE!

You have to take these "bargains" with a grain of salt, but by doing so, you could potentially save a lot of money and have a beautiful garden to show for it!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Call Before You Dig

Let the planting begin…almost.

A couple of weeks ago, Georgia’s Official Weather Prognosticator saw his shadow. With that, General Beau declared that spring is just around the corner.

Before you go into your yard though, shovel in hand, it is important to find out what is already under the ground.  Imagine taking that first shovel full of dirt, ready to plant your new rose bush, only to get a jolt of electricity from an underground cable. Or worse yet, too have to explain to your teenage daughter why she can’t watch Hannah Montana, because you took out the cable.

Not only could this make life difficult, but more than likely the utility company is then going to charge you for the repairs.

Georgia and most other states provide programs that homeowners can call to get their utility lines marked prior to doing any kind of digging, and it’s free!  In Georgia, homeowners can call 811 or go to http://www.gaupc.com/.   This service will ask what type of digging you are planning on doing and then will contact all the applicable utility companies for you to come out and mark your property.  Different colors and flags are used to identify what utility is being marked.

The utility companies have usually two business days to mark your property, and then you are safe to dig.

I take pictures of the markings in order to reference later on other projects.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Works for 5th Grade Science Also Works in The Garden

Think back you your first elementary science experiment.  It probably involved some sort of paper mache volcano, baking soda, and some colored vinegar.  Well, the same can be used for testing the pH in your garden, minus the volcano.

The pH is a basic fact that every good gardener should know prior to sticking any plant in the ground.  It is the measurement of how acidic or alkaline something is, including your soil.  With the right pH, plants thrive, but without it, they can wither away or struggle, never maximizing their growing potential.

There are several different ways to test pH levels.

The following link is for the Georgia Cooperative Extension Office.  Your local extension office provides soil testing at a nominal price.  Usually this involves taking various soil samples from around your yard and mailing in to have a lab analyze them and send you the results.


Most home improvement stores or garden centers will have some sort of product that can be used to measure soil pH.  Although both of the above methods are more accurate, there is still another method that is much more cost effective. The best part is, it will still give you an idea of what you are working with.

When you mix an acid (Vinegar) with a base (Baking Soda), you get a chemical reaction.  In order to see this reaction in your soil the steps are pretty basic.

You will need the following for the measurements:

1)      A glass jar or bowl
2)      Vinegar
3)      Baking soda
4)      Distilled Water

1)In the glass jar or bowl mix in a small amount of soil that is going to be tested.
2)Add Vinegar-If it fuzzes, you have a more alkaline soil.
3)Wash the bowl out and dry.
4)Mix in another sample of soil into glass bowl.
5)Add small amount of distilled water.  You want enough to saturate the soil.  Distilled water is used here because your tap water or even rain water is slightly acidic.
6)Same as step 2, Watch for fuzzes, if so your soil is more acidic.

This process needs to be done several times in order to test a large area.  Even though it's not as accurate, it should at least give you an idea as to whether or not you need to add lime or something like wood ash to alter the soil to the proper pH for the plant.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Time to Prune your Crape Myrtles

It's that time of year again to trim your crape myrtles!  Below are the steps that will prevent you from getting locked up by the landscape police for crape myrtle murder.

Since crape myrtles bloom off of new growth, prunning keeps the tree providing more and healthier blooms.

Here are some tools that you might need (step ladder not pictured).

When selecting which limbs to cut it is important to know how the new growth will come in.  After making a cut,  two new limbs will sprout from underneath where the cut was made.

Make sure to cut any larger limbs that cross through the middle of the tree all the way to the bottom.  Crape myrtles need air flow through the center of the tree.

Don't clip all the way down to the knuckles of the tree.  Measure up between 4-6" from the knuckle for each limb.  This will provide the new growth with support and allow for it to fan out.

Remove any smaller limbs that are shooting off the main trunks.  You want the over-all look when finished to form a "Y"

Hope this helps.  Let me know if you have any questions.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

First Saturday = Fun Times at Home Depot!

In our family, we look forward to the first Saturday of every month. Why? Home Depot has come up with a brilliant concept. You can take your kids between 9am-12pm on this day and they have pre-packaged projects that are easy enough for the little ones to do. Each month, they have a different theme. Today, we worked on creating heart shelves..perfect for Valentine's Day, which is right around the corner! In past months, we have put together spice racks, butterfly houses, and battery holders just to name a few!

It was the first time our 18-month-old, Kelsey, got to participate with her twin brothers. As you can see, she felt quite proud modeling her Home Depot Apron, and I must brag, she was pretty good with the hammer too!

Each time the kids complete a project, they receive a certificate and a button to add to their apron with a picture of what they created. Needless to say, they are proud of their accomplishments, and our stack of Home Depot projects, buttons and certificates is growing here at the house!

When it comes to marketing, Home Depot came up with an ingenious concept when they put "First Saturday" on the calendar. Not only does it create future business, but what dad is not going to spend money in the store after project time is over!? I can always find something I "need!"

A Rose By Any Other Name

Imagine a rose that is less picky than any other in your garden.  One that doesn't like to be messed with, hides in the shadows of large shade trees, yet provides color in the garden when most plants are still withered to the ground from winter.

I'm not talking about a rose in particular, but about a type of hellebore called Lenten Rose.  These wonderful evergreen perennials are a must in any shade garden.  The flowers, which are actually sepals, first appear in early spring. In fact, mine have already started blooming and they will bloom throughout the summer.

They are perfect for woodland environments where deer continually eat my hostas. Lenten Roses enjoy partial to full shade and can reach a height between 18-24'. They are hardy in zones 4-9 and can easily be divided. However, don't expect flowers the following year because these plants don't like to be disturbed. They don't like having their root system wet, so make sure you plant in an area similar to a forest floor that stays moist but provides good drainage.

Although this plant has many perks, it does take a long time to establish-usually between 3-4 years. Because of this, it is beneficial to find a mature plant if you decide to purchase  one. Once they are established, they will propagate from seeds or division.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Upcoming Blog Posts

Sorry that it has been so long since my last posting.  I have been working on several ideas for upcoming posts.

Here is a quick sneek peek:

-A rose by any other name
This is going to be about growing Lenten Roses.

-Roses for Valentine's Day
Why buy, when you can grow?

-Measuring Your irrigation system...even if that is just a sprinkler.

-Pruning Crape Myrtles...
Don't commit crape myrtle murder.

-Transplanting Begonia

-Deer Fencing

-Just what the Ph ordered.
How to do a home soil test with common kitchen items.

Hope you all enjoy...look for these posts soon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Great Site

Check out this great site.  It is specific to Perennials for Georgia.  It also lists their heights and growing conditions.  It will save you a lot of research.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lion, Tigers, and Propagation Oh My!

I have to admit that I am not cheap, however, I can’t afford to buy expensive things or waste money on them. 

With that being said, I am constantly looking for ways to improve my garden/yard with what I already have. 

Why would I go buy a plant that I could easily divide the ones I already have?  The benefit:  I can usually get two or more new plants from the one that was divided.
Another option would be to collect and plant the seeds from these plants.  That would increase the potential for future plants.

Here’s the catch.  Usually after dividing a plant, the new plants might not flower the following year or may die if the re-planting were not done properly.  Anther downside is that the time to achieve a mature plant will be extended.  This usually only takes a year or two, and the alternative to buying costly plants seems to be a no-brainer. 

If division isn’t possible, another option could be to take clippings.  Any time that I have a plant that I have to trim, (Such as a certain rose bush that continuously pulls on my clothes every time I walk past it,) I will take the clippings inside and try to root them. 

Whether or not this is the correct method for that particular plant, I don’t know, but I am at least going to try.  If it works, great!  If not, it was going in the compost pile anyway.  Now, you could increase your chances by doing a little research before hand on the proper method for that particular plant.  You could also buy some root hormone, which is a good idea if you are going to be putting the cutting directly in soil.  You could do what I do, and stick the cutting in some warm water in a clear jar in a sunny window. 

Of all the times that I have done this, most of them usually take.  After letting the roots grow in the jar and changing the water about every week, the plant is then usually ready to be put in a pot or in the yard.

Try these different methods to see what works for you, but the more methods you try, the better your chances for success will be.

Sunday, January 23, 2011


Welcome to my blog!  I thought that as much as I like to talk about what I am doing in my yard, I might  as well make it easy for people to see it too.  I am going to attempt to keep this as up to date as possible to help hopefully answer any questions as quickly as I can once they are posted.

Yesterday was the first taste of what is just around the corner. Even though spring feels so very long away.  It is getting to be prime time for getting things ready in the garden. 

Most of being successful outside is determined by what you are doing NOW!

Don't expect in spring and summer to be able to go to your local home improvement store, buy some plants, stick them in the ground, and expect some photographer from Better Homes and Gardens to stop by and want to take pictures for the most recent issue.

Even though it is cold out there, much preparation can begin now.
It is the best time to be trimming those ornamental grasses that, I am sure by now, are looking less than flattering lining your driveway.
Other grasses, such as Pampas grass, will also benefit from a nice trim.  I cut mine back to about 1-11/2 feet.  The first time I did this, I thought for sure that I was going to kill the plant.  Instead, I was rewarded with a healthier plant by summer.
Remember too, while cutting and cleaning around pampas grass always wear gloves, your fingers and hands will thank you.

To trim my Pampas grass I just use my electric hedge clippers and load up the mess on a tarp for a trip to the woods where it can become bird nest material.
For the other grasses, such as Mondo grass, I just use my lawn mower to go over them, cutting it back to around 2 inches.

Now is also a great time to take a walk in your yard.  On grasses such as Bermuda, finding and eliminating weeds is easy.  The grass should be well dormant, and anything green should be a weed. I simply walk around during this time of year and spray the weeds with Roundup.  That way I am not wasting any money or putting any more chemicals on my lawn than I have too.

Even though I have been told that now might still be a little to early to be planting perrennial seeds, I couldn't resist.  I sowed 72 Shasta Daisy and Black Eyed Susans yesterday in a Jiffy greenhouse. 

I have never used one of these before, but found it very easy.  You just add warm water the the seeding capsules, then plant your seeds and cover with the lid.  I put in a northern facing window.  The cover keeps the seeds evenly moist so I don't have to worry if they are getting too much or too little water.

When buying your seeds, make sure to check on whether they are supposed to be sown indoors first, which sometimes is between 8-10 weeks before last frost, which in Atlanta is April 10.

I will post pictures of both the grasses and the seeds as soon as I can.

I have twin boys too, and we came up with a little game to get the gardening done.  Now, even though my soil is heavy in clay it is also full of rocks.  I have decided, in my digging, that instead of buying expensive landscaping bricks, I would use all of these FREE rocks to line my garden beds.  So, the boys and I went on a treasure hunt. 

I gave each of them an empty hanging basket (from my failed Petunias from last summer) and off we went. Before long, we had several loads full of rocks that continue to be added to create the flower beds for spring.

By now is also a great time to be planning your garden for spring. 

If you don't have a good idea on which plants you want to use and what type of conditions they need to grow in, you might be tempted to buy plants in spring that really aren't right for your zone or your soil type.

I used some graph paper and a circle template to create mine.  Do your research now.  Look at where you want to plant, determine what type of soil and sun/shade it gets.  How easy will it be for me to water this area?  All these questions will eventually play a role in springtime's decisions. 

I have made the mistake in the past of buying plants that might be suitable for my region, only to bring them home and have them die because I didn't have the right light conditions in my yard for them to grow or not enough time spent preparing the beds for them to grow.  This resulted in money I could have spent elsewhere.

There are many books out that are pertinant to your particular region.  Once you determine the plants you want, then you can begin preparing and educating yourself on what their spring/summer requirements will be. 

There will be things that you will do wrong,  plants will die, etc. but keep track of what you do, when you do it, and what you used.  Learn from your mistakes and every year, enjoy a better and better lawn.