Saturday, December 17, 2011

Results of Community Poll Ending 17 December

Our Community Poll ending 17 December asked the question: "Will you be planting a fall vegetable garden this year?"

Frankly, only 4 people responded to this poll. 50% "yes" and 50% "no".

Our cool season vegetable garden is quite productive. We are having good success, so far. Sugar snap peas, broccoli, bok choy, arugula, swiss chard, cilantro, savoy and collards are looking good. Believe it or not, eggplant, poblanos and bell peppers are still producing.

I hope you'll participate in our current Community Poll. You'll find it in the right-hand side bar of this Community Poll link.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

FAQ: How can I keep paperwhites from falling over?


I get very frustrated with my forced paperwhite narcissus plants. They get too tall and fall over. Do you have any suggestions?

I have two suggestions. The first is very simple. Loosely tie a decorative ribbon around the bowl when you set the bulbs in it. As the foliage and flower stems lengthen, slip the ribbon upward.

The other suggestion is to set the new bulbs in the bottom of a clear glass vase about 12 inches tall. You will be able to enjoy watching the foliage and flowers extend upward, while the vase prevents them from flopping over.

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Monday, December 12, 2011

The Fragrant Garden, Forsyth Park, Savannah, GA


Not sure of visiting hours, I arrived at The Fragrant Garden in Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia in the nick of time. Peggy, the docent, was locking the gate. But since we're friends, she left the entrance ajar with assurance I'd secure it on my way out.

When in the Fragrant Garden, Peggy invites passers-by to come in for awhile. Then she tells of its history and points out interesting things in her sweet Savannah voice.

The Fragrant Garden is located within what was originally a "dummy fort", one of a pair which were completed in 1915 for training the Savannah Volunteer Guard. Known as East and West Dummy Forts, The Fragrant Garden is in the West Fort. The East Fort was recently developed as Forsyth Fort Visitor Center Complex, including a café and outdoor stage venue.

The idea for a fragrant garden for the blind was conceived by Jessie Dixon Saylor (1896-1987), collector of customs for the Port of Savannah from 1954 to 1961. (Mrs. Saylor was the wife of Maj. Gen. Henry B. Saylor (1893-1970). Both were close friends of President and Mrs. Eisenhower.*) The Fragrant Garden was inspired, I believe, by the Tennant Lake Fragrance Garden near Ferndale, WA, which she had visited. Mrs. Saylor circulated the idea in Savannah, and it was embraced in 1959 by the Garden Club Council of Chatham County. The garden was designed by Landscape Architect Georges Bignault, and dedicated in the spring of 1963. I remember well those days of childhood when I played in the park. Our house on Whitaker Street was within sight.

The fragrant garden consists of a small parterre and fountain, roses, raised beds planted with fragrant species, and identifying plaques in braille. An ornate stone bench affords a shady place to rest and reflect. The old walls contain the scented air; small birds and splashing water enliven it.

The entrance gates, set in an ornamental iron fence, once belonged to the Old Union Station. Sadly, the Station was demolished in 1963 to make way for Interstate 16 entering Savannah. The gates were given in memory of Frances S. Littlefield by The Gordonston Garden Club and Friends. Littlefield, a longtime member of The Gordonston Garden Club, was the first nationally accredited Flower Show judge in Chatham County, Georgia.

The Fragrant Garden was neglected and run-down for a number of years, overtaken by weeds, ne'er-do-wells and worse. Recent renovation by the Trustees' Garden Club according to a plan by landscape designer John McEllen, and policing have restored it to its former beauty.

The following is a partial list of fragrant genera and species on display:

Citrus x 'Meyeri', Crinum asiaticum, Daphne odora, Daphnephyllum, Fothergilla major 'Mt. Airy', Gardenia jasminoides 'Radicans', Hedychium, Illicium floridanum, Iris cristata, Lilium, Magnolia, Matthiola, Narcissus, Osmanthus fragrans, Rhododendron canescens, Rhododendron indica, Rosa, Rosmarinus officinalis, Viola.

Speaking of the braille plaques in an interview with the Savannah Morning News, Walt Simmons, executive director of the Savannah Association for the Blind, said, "An even more useful tool would be a voice recording to explain what the species are, since the vast majority of visually impaired people are not fluent in Braille." But no recording can replace Peggy's dulcet voice.

* Albert Merriman Smith, Backstairs At The White House, UPI, April 21, 1959.

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Monday, December 5, 2011

FAQ: What garden tasks should I do in December?

Among the most frequently asked questions, "When is the best time to...", is near the top of the list. Here are a few gardening tasks for December organized by region.

Northeast States: Pot up narcissus and amaryllis (Hippeastrum) for forcing. Pot up spring bulbs for forcing. Maintain house plants and check to make sure foliage doesn't come into contact with cold window glass and drafts. Refill bird feeders often.

Mid-Atlantic States: Pot up paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis (Hippeastrum) for forcing. Pot up spring bulbs for forcing. Maintain house plants and check to make sure foliage doesn't come into contact with cold window glass and drafts. Refill bird feeders often.

Mid-South States: Finish planting and transplanting trees and shrubs. Pot up paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis (Hippeastrum) for forcing. Pot up spring bulbs for forcing. Feed house plants, and inspect them for insects and disease and check to make sure foliage doesn't come into contact with cold window glass and drafts. Refill bird feeders often.

Lower South and Gulf States: Continue planting and transplanting broadleaf and evergreen trees and shrubs, perennials and ground covers. Finish plant winter-blooming annuals. Continue planting cool-season vegetables. Pot up paperwhite narcissus and amaryllis (Hippeastrum) for forcing. Plant spring-flowering bulbs. Continue to irrigate shrubs and trees as long as weather is above freezing. Fertilize trees and shrubs when dormant. Maintain house plants and check to make sure foliage doesn't come into contact with cold window glass and drafts. Refill bird feeders often.

Plains and Rocky Mountain States: Follow the same regimen as for Northeast States.

Pacific Southwest and Desert States: Follow regimen for Lower South and Gulf States.

Pacific Northwest States: Finish planting and transplanting broadleaf and evergreen trees and shrubs, perennials and ground covers. Divide perennials and transplant. Plant spring-flowering bulbs. Pot up spring-flowering bulbs for forcing. Plant cool-season vegetables. Fertilize trees and shrubs when dormant. Maintain house plants. Refill bird bath. Refill bird feeders often.

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