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.

Rate goGardenNow at the:

Rate goGardenNow at the Garden Watchdog

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.

Rate goGardenNow at the:

Rate goGardenNow at the Garden Watchdog

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. Check them out at our GoGardenNow eBay store.

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.

Rate goGardenNow at the:

Rate goGardenNow at the Garden Watchdog

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Century Plant - Formidable Native of the Americas

Agave americana

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.

Rate goGardenNow at the:

Rate goGardenNow at the Garden Watchdog