Sunday, July 15, 2018

Any chance Boston ivy plants will recover from heat stress?

Q. Hi, I bought some of your [Boston] ivy a couple weeks ago, the weather was hot here at the time and the postal carrier left the box of ivy on our blacktop driveway in the sun when the temps were near 100. Any chance these plants will recover?

A. I'm sorry to hear that the plants were subjected to such stress. If the roots remained viable, there should be good hope for recovery.

Any damaged foliage and stems - blackened, dried and brown - should be removed. They won't recover.

I assume you planted the vines soon after receipt, watered them in properly, etc. At this point, take care not to water too much. Fewer or no leaves means less  or no water take-up, so too much moisture in the soil could contribute to root or stem rot. Let soil dry slightly between watering events. Watch for bud enlargement at the leaf axils. I hope this helps. Keep me posted.


Have any of you readers had an experience such as this? Were you successful in reviving your plants? If so, let us know in the comment section what you did to bring them around.

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Friday, July 13, 2018

A Question of Color-Matching

I have phlox that I want to add to. It was sold as 'Crimson Beauty' but your ['Purple Beauty'] plants look like they might be the same color. Do you think they are?

I don't think 'Purple Beauty' will be close enough. 'Red Wings', which I also sell, would be closest. Nevertheless, 'Red Wings' and 'Crimson Beauty' will not be exactly alike in color. Petals of 'Crimson Beauty' are also a bit narrower. If you're willing to live with a slight difference, 'Red Wings' might work for you. I don't want to give you the impression that they're the same. I don't want you to be disappointed. Keep in mind that photographs on the web don't always represent their subjects accurately. The only way you can be sure of a match is to purchase more 'Crimson Beauty'.

Okay, readers. Have you had experiences with color-matching similar varieties in your garden? Couldn't get the variety you bought before, so you tried to match with another? Let us know how you tried to solve the problem. Did it work?

We'd love to hear from you in the comment section.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Karen Chapman Reports on Floral Watercolors

Chameleon calibrachoa. Photo courtesy of National Garden Bureau
Karen Chapman, author of Gardening With Foliage First, recently visited the California Spring Trials (CAST) as a guest of National Garden Bureau and All-America Selections. She was greatly impressed by emerging trends in flower colors soon to be available to gardeners. What especially caught her eye were "the large number of introductions with a softer yet luscious color palette of vanilla, apricot, coral, and cinnamon, often a harmonious blend of two or more of those shades in a single bloom."
You should read Karens's report on her visit to CAST. See what's in store for you!
Floral Watercolors: discovered at CAST 2018.

What color combinations are you working with in your garden? Anything new? Let us know what you're thinking, what you've tried, what worked and what didn't. We'd love to hear from you in the comment section.
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Monday, July 9, 2018

What is the best season for planting liriope?

Q. Howdy. Have you had customers successfully plant these in summer? What is the best season for planting? - Carl from TX

Liriope is a very tough critter. Though I could tell you amazing stories, I don't want to give you the impression that it's indestructible. So, I'll simply say that you can plant in summer if you are able to irrigate sufficiently until it has taken root in the soil. Irrigate, then allow the soil to dry briefly between waterings. No soggy soil, nor bone dry. If that's not possible due to travel plans, wait until fall when temperatures have moderated and rainfall is more frequent.

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Friday, June 29, 2018

Behind A Garden Wall: The Ave Maria Grotto - Cullman, Alabama

I love amiable spaces indoors and out. The Ave Maria Grotto is a new discovery for me. It is described as follows:

Known throughout the world as "Jerusalem in Miniature," is a beautifully landscaped, four-acre park designed to provide a natural setting for the 125 miniature reproductions of some of the most famous historic buildings and shrines of the world. The masterpieces of stone and concrete are the lifetime work of Brother Joseph Zoettl, a Benedictine monk of St. Bernard Abbey. Begun as a hobby, with various materials he could find, and infinite patience and a remarkable sense of symmetry and proportion, Brother Joseph re-created some of the greatest edifices of all time.

Though new to me, it is well-known. So much has been written about the history of Ave Maria Grotto, as well as having been featured on videos, that it makes no sense for me to reprise what others have said so well. I will simply post photos I captured during my recent visit.

Brother Joseph's creche

Japanese Maple - Acer palmatum

View into the valley

Intricate column built of found objects

Hosta variety

Shrine to Pope Pius XI

St. Peter window and cockle shells

Montserrat Monastery, Spain

Elevated bird house

St. Kateri Tekakwitha, Native American saint

Fanciful pipe organ

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years. Rev. 20:1,2

St. Peter's Basilica

Hillside clusteer

Ave Maria Grotto

Hanging gardens of Babylon

Have you visited the Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama? What did you think? Are you planning to visit? We'd love to hear from you. Let us know in the comment section.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What is "xeriscaping?"

I posted a blog article several years ago answering this question, but the question is asked frequently, so I'll answer again.

"Xeriscaping" is a blend of two words to combine their meanings into one concept.  "Xeri" is derived from the Greek word, xeros, meaning dry.  "Scaping" is derived from the word "landscaping."  So the blended word describes a manner of gardening that reduces or eliminates the need for supplemental watering.  Xeriscaping is appropriate for regions that are naturally dry, for areas under water-use restrictions, and for those gardeners who simply want to reduce the expense or environmental impact of additional water use.

"Xeriscaping" is often associated with the accompanying logo, which, ironically, features a drop of water. The intent, I believe, is to emphasize that only a little water is needed for successful xeriscaping.

I recently journeyed through parts of Nevada, Utah, Colorado and Arizona where arid conditions prevail. Xeriscapes were in the majority. Grassy lawns were few. My eyes were opened to the many landscape designs that minimize the expense of irrigation and landscape maintenance, and to the vast array of plants that are suitable for xeriscaping. Far more are available than are used in other parts of the United States. These are things that desert-dwellers already know. They are relatively new to folks like me who are natives to humid, water-rich environments.

I have and will continue to feature plant species and designs that could save you a lot of time and money normally spent on conventional, high-maintenance landscapes. For past articles, check out this search link on xeriscaping.

What do you think about this concept? Does xeriscaping sound interesting to you? Are there particular types of plants or landscape design applications that you'd like to learn more about? Let me know in the comment section.

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Saturday, June 9, 2018

Quick Tip: Grape Jam Recipe for Orioles

Birds Choice SNOF Recycled Poly Oriole Feeder

Here's a simple, effective recipe from a good customer for feeding orioles. Her birds love it!

I use a whole cup of Welch's grape jam and 1/4 cup of corn syrup. Mix thoroughly and put into a squeeze bottle.

...Remember (to use) jam and not jelly. I think the jam has more grape taste and is thicker.

This year must be a record. I'm going through 4 jars a week.

The mixture is put into any one of our great oriole feeders from Birds Choice, such as:

Birds Choice CDC-ORANGE Copper Double Cup Oriole Feeder
Birds Choice CDCDF-ORANGE Copper Double Cup Double Fruit Oriole Feeder
Birds Choice NP1009 12 Oz. Oriolefest Oriole Feeder
Birds Choice NP1012 12 Oz. Oriolefest Oriole Feeder With Weather Guard
Birds Choice SNJF Recycled Pole-Mounted Jelly Feeder w/ Roof
Birds Choice SNOF Recycled Poly Oriole Feeder
Birds Choice WCOF Natural Cedar Oriole Feeder

Many thanks to Marie B. from Michigan!

Do you have any favorite recipes for attracting orioles? Any other thoughts on the subject? If so, let me know in the comment section.

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Century Plant - Formidable Native of the Americas

American Century Plant is one of those that catches the eyes of passers-by, especially when in bloom. After what seems like a life-time, it shoots up one massive flower spike up to 30' high. As buds unfold, the century plant attracts attention, sometimes even of local news reporters. Eventually the flower dies, as does the mother plant. In the meantime, though, it has produced dozens of basal shoots that can be separated and planted elsewhere.

American Century Plant is believed by many to only bloom once per hundred years, thus the name. But that simply isn't the case. The span may only be ten or twenty years.

Not only does the century plant catch the eye, it also can catch your britches or flesh. Nasty teeth line the leaf margins. This feature is what makes it so useful as a privacy barrier, providing real "homeland security."

People have used it for other purposes such as drink and fiber. I haven't tried any of them. I like it best as a bold specimen plant. For those whose water use is restricted by choice or necessity, the American Century Plant is an excellent addition to the garden.

Name(s): American Century Plant, American Aloe, Maguey, Agave americana, Agave altissima, A. communis, A. complicata, A cordillerensis, A. felina.

Flower Color: Yellow

Bloom Time: Whenever it gets around to it.

Foliage: Blue-gray/green

Height/Spread: 4' to 6'; 25' to 30' in bloom.

Climate Zones: 8, 9, 10, 11

Sun Exposure: Full sun.

Soil Condition: Average to dry, pH 6.1 - 7.8

Features: Bold, spiny, fire-retardant foliage. Tall, impressive flower stalks. Blooms once during its life-span, but produces multiple adventitious sprouts at the base to propagate. Drought-tolerant.

Uses: Landscape specimens. Xeriscaping. Formidable borders. Leaves used for fiber, and juice distilled for alcoholic beverage by native peoples.

Have you seen one of these in bloom? Where? Do you have one of these in your yard? If so, why did you plant it?  Let me know in the comment section. If you have any other thoughts on the subject, share those, too.

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Saturday, May 12, 2018

The Epic Monarch Butterfly Migration: Doing Your Part

Monarch butterfly - Danaus plexippus

One of the world’s longest animal migrations goes through our own backyards. You can be part of it!

Millions of monarch butterfliestake flight annually, traveling over 3,000 miles across North America. The round-trip spans Canada to Mexico.

As common as they seem, monarchs have many secrets that intrigue scientists. It's known that they overwinter as far south as Mexico, but do smaller populations overwinter elsewhere? If so, why? Are populations declining? If so, why? This is where you can help.
Scientists can not monitor everywhere at once, but you can be their eyes and ears on the ground. Your involvement is needed. You might ask yourself, "Self, what can I do?"
You can provide food. Adult monarchs love flower nectar. Almost any nectar will do, so plant a wide variety of species. Native or naturalized species are best.
Caterpillars eat foliage, but only certain species of milkweed leaves. To satisfy them and yourself, you must select species that are native to or otherwise thrive in your area. My state - Georgia - publishes a helpful brochure for download. Your state might, too.
State Departments of Natural Resources occasionally hold training sessions for citizens to learn how to monitor monarchs. Become involved! Click on a helpful link below. States not listed below apparently do not have web sites for their DNRs, or at least I couldn't find them.

Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
Arizona Game and Fish Department
Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality
California Department of Fish and Game
Colorado Department of Natural Resources
Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Georgia Department of Natural Resources
Idaho Department of Environmental Quality
Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Indiana Department of Natural Resources
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Michigan Department of Natural Resources
Minnesota Department of Natural Resources
Missouri Department of Natural Resources
Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection
New Mexico Department of Energy, Minerals, and Natural Resources
North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources
Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources
Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
Washington State Department of Natural Resources
West Virginia Division of Natural Resources
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Butterfly Houses at
Butterfly Feeders at
The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation 

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Behind a Garden Wall: Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA

Jewish Section, Bonaventure Cemetery

 Bonaventure Cemetery, Savannah, GA

 Ah, Spring and Easter season in Savannah! Barring any miraculous astonishments, it’s the perfect time to stroll through a cemetery. Bonaventure is one of my favorites. Since Savannah is my hometown, I can remark to my companion about the interred. Beside near relatives, there are notables, friends and acquaintances – “he owned the restaurant where…, he fit my shoes when I was small…, she used to live on the corner of _ and _,”and so on.

In addition to marveling at the historic tombs, visitors from out-of-town usually seek out the resting places of folks like JohnnyMercer, Conrad Aiken, Jack Leigh, Josiah Tattnall, Sr. and J. Tattnall, Jr., Hugh Mercer, JamesNeill, Edythe Chapman, Marie Scudder-Myrick, Edward Telfair and F. Bland Tucker. There’s little Gracie Watson – departed at 6 years – who  probably wouldn’t be known by many if not for the charming memorial at her tomb. Her grave is now enclosed by a sturdy fence to keep visitors at bay. One of the four original castings of “The Bird Girl”, aka “Little Wendy”,  – formerly at Bonaventure and featured on the cover of John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil – was moved to the JepsonCenter for the Arts for the same reason that Little Gracie is behind bars.

Speaking of which, the cemetery used to be a quiet place suitable for personal reflection on life, death and the chief end of man. That changed a lot with the publication of Berendt’s novel. “The BOOK”, as Savannahians know it, brought instant notoriety and a steady stream of visitors – especially in spring.

Long before Bonaventure became a destination for ghost tours, the naturalist John Muir spent six nights sleeping among the tombs. He declared it safe and inexpensive in comparison to other accommodations of the day. It would still be inexpensive if the cemetery didn’t close at 5:00pm.

For Muir’s observations about Bonaventure Cemetery, check out:

Here are some of my snapshots of Bonaventure Cemetery and of what grows behind that garden wall.

Azalea-lined drive, Bonaventure Cemetery

Jewish Chapel, Bonaventure Cemetery

Intricate portal, Bonaventure Cemetery
American Legion Field

Edward Telfair Memorial

Von Waldner Grave

Nicholson Memorial

Childrens' memorials

View of the Wilmington River

Corinne Elliott Lawton Memorial

Johnny Mercer Memorial

Little Gracie

Have you visited Bonaventure Cemetery? We'd love to read your impressions. Comment and tell us!

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