Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Signs of Spring

It's blustery and nippy and wet, but we have Daffodils!
Amazingly, those papery brown bulbs planted last fall
  did manage to push their way out of that sticky clay. 

And there were other signs of plant satisfaction this weekend.
The Magnolia trees, undaunted by that late frost, have sent up large purple buds.

The Lady Banks rose is putting on an impressive show its first year on the back terrace.

The Jasmine vine around the corner was frost burnt.
But the leaves that browned out are being replaced by a flush of new growth.

The Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) plants survived under a blanket of fall leaves, and are sending out runners.

The Guara lindheimeri are bushy with new growth.

I love the rich red of  the new leaves.

The biggest disappointment in our plantings is the boxwood.
We have two types (Japanese and Winter Gem) in various locations. 
All of them failed miserably to deal with the cold and wind.
The bush below was 24" high before I cut it back to ground level to find green wood.

Nematodes might be contributing to the problem, 
but they can't be seen with the naked eye.
Either way, I suspect the ultimate answer is to rip the boxwood out and use a different type of evergreen.

The additional pallets of stone arrived, so our in-house Master of Paths and Patios
 was able to complete this beautiful stone circle.  
This is where our fire-pit will be located.
The courtyard drainage runs underneath the dry creek bed and the new patio,
 before continuing all the way to the lot line.

We centered this stone circle with the dogtrot 
(a screened porch which runs between the main house and the guest house).
A path connecting the patio to the porch entrance is the next step in the project.

While stone was being laid out front, I was planting tomatoes and herbs out back.

I remembered the marigolds this year.
Marigold roots release a chemical that kills the type of nematodes known to attack tomatoes.
(Maybe I should plant some around the boxwood!)
They are also thought to deter some nasty garden pests like tomato hornworm.

It rained and it rained, all Saturday night and all day Sunday, but the lake is still down eight feet.
I guess it needs to rain for a month!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Early Wildflowers

Texas wildflowers are starting their show.

Drifts of delicate, white Crow-poison are springing up in the common ground across from our house.

The March winds (gales) have been making everything difficult to photograph!

This yellow, ruffle edged wildflower is new to me.
I found only one plant, and I'm tempted to go back and rescue it before the mowers attack.

It's a native deciduous perennial called Puccoon (Lithospermum incisum),
and apparently will grow into a small bush.

These pretty little pinky-white flowers with the lavender stripes are called Springbeauty (Claytonia virginica).
They are quite prolific in the shadier places.
Sometimes called Fairy-spud, it has small edible tubers.

This gorgeous Milk Thistle doesn't have a flower yet, 
but the leaves were so beautiful I had to take a picture.

It's very prickly (very, very), but people do pick the leaves, trim off the prickles off and saute!

Black Swallowtails have bee darting about,

and rafts of inky black American Coots are starting to nest in the canals.

In our garden, we've been raking and bagging leaves.

The Hellebore are in full bloom. 
 I really like their tough, leathery leaves and their indifference to late freezes.

This camellia bush was amazing - a pink cloud - until that last cold snap turned both blossoms and buds brown.
The wind is too strong to capture pictures of the daffodils or magnolia blossoms,
 but spring does seem to be coming!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Blue Heron

The lake where we've settled is also year-round  home to a large number of Great Blue Heron.

(Ardea herodias )
Standing three or four feet tall, they weigh less than 8 pounds,
 but have a wingspan of five or six feet.
It's an impressive site when they unfold those huge wings!

They seem to prefer to hunt alone, noisily chasing off encroaching members of their own species.
This heron has adopted our stretch of beach, 
and commandeered a perch on the corner of the boathouse deck.

He is quite resentful about any disturbance. 
I wore my slippers and left the dog inside to get this photo.
He (or she?) sits out there in even the coldest weather, all hunched up on one spindly leg.

This is a new lake, damned in the mid 1980's.

The drowned trees (that can be seen sticking up out of the water below),
 offer ideal heron homes - safe from most predators and surrounded by good fishing.

We do have the most amazing sunsets out here.
It's a different show every night, changing minute by minute.

The sky and water were even more saturated with color and light than I could capture with my camera.

I haven't altered the color on the photos.
These sunsets really are just like Fauvist paintings!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Artists Gardens in Shades of Blue

Winter certainly is a time for garden musing.
Seed and plant catalogs look impossibly lush compared to view outside my windows.
The garden magazines are all about spring, 
and even my oldest garden books seem full of fresh inspiration.
But it's still bitter out there!
So, here is one more flight of blue fancy - artists gardens!

Garden of artist Rebecca DiDomenico

Garden of artist Robert Dash

Group Project by Local Artists 
Arlie Gardens, Wilmington, North Carolina

Garden of artist Jacques Majorelle

Garden of artists Glen and Denise Carter

Garden of artist Erica Houghton

Garden of Sculptor Albin Polasek

Garden of artist Keeyla Meadows

Artist Dale Chihuly for the New York Botanical Garden

Images found here:

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

More Thoughts on Garden Blues

Do you remember this from art class?
Hue = the pure color
Shade = the pure color plus black
Tint = the pure color plus white
That's just the first step in finding a favorite shade of blue.
Blue can also be modified by adding green or yellow, which is the path to turquoise.
Or by adding red or pink, which is the path to a more purplish or lavender color.

I'm interested in how accents of blue, in all its enumerable hues, shades and tints, 
can be used to enhance a garden.

In my last post I shared some collected images of garden seating painted blue.
Here are some other ideas for using blue in the garden.

The big blue wall - blue can be a statement and not just a focal point.

It has the potential to be quite dramatic,

or very serene.
I love this garden.
The blue gate is the perfect shade.
It makes all the other colors richer without overwhelming the scene.

Gates and doors are a great way to use blue.

It's hard not to admire the way blue paint can transform a picket fence.

This is such a welcoming and cheerful cottage entrance.

What a great mini garden, a small magical nook! 
 Framed in blue and curlicues, 
the eye is drawn back to the three blue faces on the delightful bench.

More formal elements also are striking in blue.

The tuteur or obelisk is a handsome accent.

They can be placed in a variety of settings to create height.

Bottles trees are another way to bring a splash of blue into the garden.
And there's the fun of the hunt for various sizes of blue bottles.

More blue accents could include bird baths,

bird houses,

and garden mirrors.

The idea list goes on.
And I haven't even touched on blue flowering plants!

Images found here:

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