Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Imaginary Worlds -- "Plants Larger Than Life"

This past week, Crossroads Garden Club Members (including me) took a field trip to the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. For eight years, I had a membership to the gardens (as I worked downtown for ten years) but I had not visited for five years since I retired. The improvements and additions were a wonderful surprise, but the Imaginary World Exhibition was fantastic!

Regardless, if you like plants, art or things bigger than life, you'll probably love my blog tour today of the Imaginary Worlds Exhibition.

Above, as you enter the gardens from the new visitor center, two cobras greet you on each side of the walkway. Due to the large amount of rain, as well as, maintenance, we found employees working on both cobras. They were trimming and replacing plants as needed.

An ogre, protects the Day Hall, feet from the cobras. He has a small tunnel at the back of his head, perfect for children to walk through.

Over one hundred thousand plants are used to make 19 living sculptures in this exhibit. It is the first to be displayed in any garden in the United States.

Two butterflies are a few examples of mosaiculture art that is centuries old and a creative collaboration between the Atlanta Botanical Garden and the International Mosaiciculture of Montreal, a non-profit organization.

Close to the Cascade Garden is a unicorn grazing in a pasture. Growing up we had horses grazing in pastures but none had horns.

Since I'm a dog person, the shaggy dog was one of my favorite exhibits. The hair is made from grass.

Sweet potato vines are used for the earth goddesses' s hair. She is the only mosaiculture sculpture kept as a permanent fixture at the gardens.

Rabbits munch on plants close to the walkway at the great lawn.

In the edible garden berries smile on peppers, tomatoes, squash, apples growing on one side and a large herb wall growing on the other.

Dancing fish rotate in a fountain as you exit the Fuqua Conservatory and walk the vine arbor toward the Japanese and rose gardens.

Another cobra stands to the right as you exit the gardens to the visitor center and parking garage.

These topiaries are larger than life and the Atlanta Botanical Gardens gives you a view into a world you can only imagine!

Pencil thin steel is welded into different animal, human and plant shapes. Afterwards, the forms are filled with growing medium and covered with a type of shade cloth. Grasses, succulents, plugs of annual, perennial blooming and green foliage takes several months to take form. Daily maintenance is needed to keep the artistic lines of the sculptures at their best.

Until Next Time.......

Happy Gardening 2013!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Monday, August 26, 2013

CRGC Meeting: Successes and pitfalls of a new gardener

Tonight is the August meeting of Crossroads Garden Club. Dianne and Mike Carnicom will present the highlights, successes and challenges of growing a new garden. This past season has been their first year growing a backyard garden and they will be presenting a slide show with photos showing how they started their garden and the perceptions of a new vegetable garden, including what their thoughts are now with a season of vegetable gardening under their belts. They will share their successes and failures. I know this will be enjoyable for all gardeners--since we have all been there at one time or another.

This presentation will be of special interest to gardeners who are just exploring gardening in their backyards. Below is a photo of one of their beds as they began their garden.

The meeting is at 7:00pm at 3072 Highway 154, Newnan.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Gingers -- a Snap to Grow

Ginger lilies are members of the Zingiberaceae family, a tropical perennial originating from Southern Asia and introduced to Europe in the early 1800's.

Last week, Crossroads Garden Club members, Mike (Vice President) and Cindy Christie, invited
members to their house to enjoy their gingers blooming in their gardens. Although (embarrassing), I wasn't familiar with ginger plants, I knew they must be spectacular and was very excited to oblige.

Oh boy, what a treat to enjoy their tropical paradise only a few miles from my house! My experience with growing tropical plants has been elephant ears, canna and an occasional banana plant (very occasional, once).

But for Mike and Cindy growing ginger plants or lilies are a snap.

Gingers come in many sizes, shapes and colors (white, yellow, pink and red). They like rich soil full of humus and plenty of moisture. Good drainage is also a must, many varieties can withstand a slight freeze, so our central Georgia, sub-tropical climate will sustain many varieties over winter.

Above you see a ginger that makes a good border plant. Many types will grow to seven, plus feet making a great plant to locate at the back of a garden spot. Gingers, also look good in pots on decks, patios and balconies. Grow in partial shade to full sun.

Mike and Cindy moved here twenty years ago from our neighbor "sunshine" state, Florida and have been working to fill their yard with tropical plants, ever since. Gingers are only one of their favorite plants, they also have cannas, ferns, hostas, azaleas, and more than I can remember including a fifteen foot (or taller) palm tree. I took 87 pictures total of all the different foliage around their house.

Mike admits the hardest job sustaining his tropical paradise is moving his potted plants inside during winter and back out in spring, however, his citrus trees like this lemon tree seen above is not a problem, as they enjoy using the fruit.

Limes, seen above, are used in many recipes, as well as, herbs grown in pots all around the deck located at the back of their home, different types of basil, thyme, rosemary and yes, even an edible ginger spice plant.

The back drop off their deck is filled with healthy tropical plants. Am I somewhere vacationing close the equator?

Mike is very proud of this tangerine, seen above, his favorite citrus growing in the back yard. 

After twenty years, this area is the only grass left in their yard. Amazingly, they live in a subdivision where everyone has lots of grass to cut. Gosh, wish I could get rid of the four acres I cut every week!

Garden ornaments, arbors, bird baths, statues are everywhere mingled within all the gardens. Check out the ginger to the right of this picture.

Recently, this attractive rock walkway was installed leading down to the backyard. Gingers, ferns and other tropical plants are planted on each side.
This gorgeous white ginger seen above is a variety that adds a sweet smell to any are similar to gardenias.
I've never considered growing ginger plants, but Mike and Cindy make it look easy to grow this beautiful summer bloomer just "a Snap to Grow." I think I'll plant some in the spring next to my elephant ears and canna plants (I may even try another banana), hope you try, too.
Until Next Time.......
Happy Gardening 2013!
Posted by Wilma Smith

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Fading Summer Garden

Our summer garden is beginning to fade and I couldn't help but remember a phrase, "To everything there is a season," I was surprised when I looked it up and found it's a bible verse from the book of Ecclesiastes...(Verse 3)..."and a time to every purpose under heaven." For me it's a perfect thought for gardens, yards and all plants, as well as, life itself.  This verse continues..."a time to be born; a time  to die; a time to plant; and a time to pluck that which is planted."

This verse hits the mark because throughout the year (spring, summer, fall) each season means new growth and different crops. Some like cool weather and some like hot weather. Every season the last few years we've had different weather circumstances too, challenging our gardening experience, dry, wet, different pests and different diseases.

This spring and summer we've not been infested with insects but more rot and wilt, due to the amount of rain. Our tomatoes have not had a good year.

Due to the large amount of rain, okra and other hot weather crops were planted later (even re-planted). However, lately the okra is producing great, as you can see above. I froze two large bags (cut up) over the week end.

The ants (never thought I'd say something good about them) are keeping a lot of pests and mildew off the stalks. Or, maybe the produce is just due to the sunshine we've had lately.

The "Rattlesnake Green Beans" are still blooming. The only pests giving us trouble this summer were Kudzu Bugs. I understand farmers and homeowners have had problems with them this year, too. They like legumes, such as soybeans (hurting farms crops) and will stain a house, inside and out if they invade a house (don't kill them using physical means). We didn't use chemical pesticides, as our garden is totally organic. A couple of sprays with Neem Oil did the trick on our beans.

As you can see, it won't be too many weeks before the canes come down and a fall crop replaces the beans, as mainly they're just growing on top and now, picking means using the ladder.

Our sweet potatoes are still blooming, which means there's still growth going on under ground. Just in time for sweet potato pie around Thanksgiving.

The sweet potato vines co mingled with the cucumber vines. The potato vines won out but the cucumbers were done for this season.

Amazingly, some winter squash planted in late May are still blooming and producing, especially these acorn squash.

Just like the okra, this year all our peppers were late due to lots of rain and not enough sun, but both our hot and sweet are making up for lost time.

Our honey bees have been working hard to pollinate our garden (as seen on a watermelon bloom above) and neighbors tell me our bees are working in their yards and gardens, too. Honey bees even like swimming in the neighbors pool.


Even though the summer garden season is fading, just like the bible verse, the fall garden is right around the corner and our fall season will grow and later in winter will be harvested, even plowed under and lie fallow, ready for an early spring garden.

So, never worry about a fading season because "to every thing there is a season." The next one can be better than the last. So...

Until Next Time.......

Happy Gardening 2013!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Summer Blooms

All summer, I've been taking and saving pictures for this blog. I have a lot of flowers that bloom in spring and many that bloom in fall, but if you're like me, my summer bloomers (July, August) are pretty sparse. So, I hope you'll get some ideas (like me) to insure you have more blooms in your yard and garden next year during these hot summer months. As you can see above, sunflowers attrack beneficial insects and birds, are beautiful and even great for snacks when the seeds dry.

Nasturtiums are not only good for borders and as potted plants on patios and decks, but the blooms are edible and nutritious.

Black-eyed Susan's are wildflowers that will bloom all summer, every year. This bloom was the first, however, more sprang up in clumps after cutting the grass a couple of times.

Day lily blooms do exactly what they're named, last for a day. Best to take off the bloom once it dies (usually in a day). Enjoy it while it lasts!

This beautiful rose was grown at Pine Forrest Gardens.


Gardenias are one of my favorite, pure white and gorgeous. I love the perfume in my back yard.

Canna is one of the best blooms lasting through summer. Next year, I hope to add a yellow variety.
It is easy to grow and needs some loving care when planting. Check out www.twosistersgardening.blogspot.com for more info.

This peach day lily bloom is one of my favorite, I love the ruffles.

Also, wild flowers are the primrose that bloomed everywhere at the edge of the garden.

Rose Moss will bloom all summer. It comes in all colors and makes a great border, and addition to patio, deck, or planters. I love it because it's easy to grow and it's a succulent.

Here's another bloom from Pine Forest Gardens greenhouse owned by Richard Jolley, located at 556 Ellison Rd., Tyrone, GA   30290. I like cacti too!

Another day lily in my yard that bloomed this summer. I hope these blooms give you some ideas to increase the summer blooms in your yard and garden next year.

I plan to add other summer plants to my summer blooms, hope you do the same. Let me know your suggestions.


Until Next Time...........

Happy Gardening 2013!

Posted by Wilma Smith