Friday, June 6, 2014

What's Blooming in June

If you remember the old saying "April showers bring May flowers," I guess this year I'm late because here it is the month of June and plants in my yard and garden are just beginning to bloom. The truth is these plants are summer bloomers and I need to add spring bulbs and perennials to spaces, if I want more color and blooms in March, April and May.
Especially in June day lilies that only bloom once a year burst out for several weeks. The first three photos are planted in the back of my house. I bought this pink beauty several years ago from a local day lily farm. I have four or five other pink varieties near by but the are not ready to bloom this week. 
In the same area are an older orange-red variety (probably 25 years old). Day lilies are native to Asia and before 1930 ranged in colors yellow, orange and red. Around the 30's, the U. S. and England began a hybridization fervor and today you can buy them in rainbow colors, double flowers and day lily plants that bloom once or more in a summer season (spring to fall) depending on the variety. There are many pluses to this beautiful flower. Generally, easy to grow, takes little maintenance (unless you plan to sell them), resistant to disease and pests, adaptable to most soil and drought resistant when necessary. And the best part they are perennial!
Also in the backyard I have a butterfly shrub. As you see above mine is white, but they also come in blue, pink, red, violet and yellow. Of course this shrub attracts butterflies and other beneficial insects through it's flower nectar. It can grow 5 to 10 feet tall and does need trimming in the fall or early spring for best blooms. The butterfly bush will bloom summer to fall. Besides trimming dead branches and old blooms prior to summer, add mulch in fall. It is also a native of Asia and the formal name is a giveaway, "Buddleja."

Moving to our vegetable garden, I have several varieties of wildflowers. The definition of a wildflower is a flowering plant that was not intentionally planted. Most are annual and depend on the seeds from old blooms to come back up the next summer season. Above you see a "Mexican Hat." Mine return every year in the same area because in fall or sometimes before, I cut them down with a mower.
Don't confuse native wildflowers with mixes you buy at your local garden store because many seeds in the mix may not return after several years. Often many seeds in a bought mix include seeds not suited for our area. Walter Reeves on Walter recommends buying wildflower mixes specifically made to plant in the south. He also recommends to re-sow your spot every fall for maximum show the next year. Some good for our area are Cosmos, Cornflower, Shirley Poppy, butterfly weed and Coreopsis.

I have my biggest day lily bed at the front of the garden. For several years I have tried to add new colors or different lily varieties. I love this burgundy/purple bloom.

I added this Easter Lily last year and the photo doesn't really do it's beauty justice. Usually, they bloom April through June.

The Easter Lily originated from the Ryukyu Islands, Japan. It has long been a large money maker in the U. S. Market at Easter for gifts and cemetery flowers. I gave the original to my mom last year and she was going to throw it out after it quit blooming.

The name originated from early Christianity based on the resurrection of Christ, as it is said the flowers sprang up in the garden he visited the night before his crucifiction, as well as, it was noted he recognized the flowers expressed in Luke 12:27.

Another wildflower that continues to return every year close to the garden is Black-eyed Susan. I love the way this plant always comes up in a bunch. It is a great flower for our area to extend the blooming period of other wildflowers. Other perennials like daffodil, day lily ad Queen Anne's Lace do the same thing if planted in close proximity. Once my Susan blooms die, I either pick the old blooms to store for next year, or mow them down.

Seen above is the Trumpet Vine. It is native to both woodland China and Southeastern United States. It is a climber that attracts birds, especially the humming bird. This vine has grown midway of my driveway without any help from me. I have never done anything to encourage it's growth or blooms except enjoy!

Another bloom in my drive is seen above. I suspect it's a member of the sunflower family but haven't researched to find out it's name or any other information. I only know it's a native of our area. If you have a guess or idea, please let me know. I do know it's not a Jerusalem Artichoke and there are lots blooming or about to bloom.

I like the leaves as much as the bloom.

Here's a close-up of one of my Black-Eyed Susan blooms. Can you guess the bug on the petals?
As far as I know, it is not a pest, but a delight to children (and grown-ups). As a kid, I would catch them (as many as possible) in a mason jar and put them on my bedroom window sill at night.
So, you've seen are what's blooming in my yard and garden this June. Hoping your enjoying the blooms at your house!

Until Next Time........
Happy Gardening 2014!
Posted by Wilma Smith

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Mother's Day Salute - Native Mountian Laurel!

For several days, my mother has been happy about the "Mountain Laurel" blooming in her back yard.
No doubt, this bush is beautiful and I understand her delight in a native plant she dug off a North Carolina mountain side (native) and kept it growing for so many years in her yard.

Amazingly, this native bush, kalmia latifolia is kin to a native blueberry bush and a native rhododendron bush you can buy at any local garden center like Lowe's or Home Depot.

Native "Mountain Laurels" bloom May to June and love the acidic soil and part shade planted close to larger hardwoods at the edge of a yard.

I salute her for the love she has for this "Mountain Laurel," but more, for being such a fantastic "Mother" since I was born! "Happy Mother Day Mom!"
Everyone Salute Your Mom to tomorrow, "Mother's Day", Sunday, May 11th
Happy Gardening 2014!
Posted by Wilma Smith

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Growing Tulips in Pots

In December at the Crossroads Garden Club Christmas Party, my mother ended up with two bags of tulips as her gift. The bulbs sat in her garage all winter and when I ask her what do you want to do with the tulips, she told me let's pot them. What a great idea! As, you see above this year potting her bulbs was a great choice.

I found a large cedar pot at my house belonging to her after years of sitting in my pump house. We rinsed it out and bought a bag of potting soil, planted just one bag of tulips, adding fertilizer and soil two inches above the bulbs. The other bag was put in a plastic bag and placed in her freezer.

Several weeks later (even in the cold weather, which may have helped), the tulip plants were up including the flowers! Mother told me yesterday, she really didn't think they would do so well, this late in the season. But no doubt this year the cooler weather prolonged the spring season to plant lots of bulbs, seeds, and early plants anywhere in your yard, garden, raised beds and pots.

The tulip blooms tell a different story and  mother is enjoying the big pot on her back deck!

Crazy, but nights are still cool this week and the gardening season is just beginning. Local garden centers have lots of seeds, plants and bulbs left for ya'll to get started (anyway you like, pots, seeds or plants) in the borders, yard or gardens.

Gotta love the tulips above!!

Until Next Time.......

Happy Gardening 2014!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Friday, April 18, 2014

Let the Gardening Begin!

Finally!! We were able to break ground, till the garden spot and plant ten or twelve rows with plants and seeds. The roller coaster winter weather made us cautious not to plant too early, plus the ground needed to warm to approximately 50 degrees for seed germination.

Many of the seeds planted were early crops, such as, carrots, radish, beets, kale and bok choy. Unfortunately, our seed stash didn't include lettuce or spinach. We'll add them in a few days. And since we felt behind this season we planted pole beans (Rattlesnake because they yielded so good last year), two types of cucumbers and several varieties of squash (yellow, French Ronde and scallop).

The Easter cold snap didn't hurt the plants very much (a few wilted leaves), except for the French Ronde squash. I cut all the wilted leaves off and so all the plants should recover, as the root systems are healthy.

We mixed fertilizer and added to each hole and row. The ingredients included lime, bone meal, green sand (a soil conditioner) and blood meal to give everything a boost (an organic shot in the roots) in their early growing stage.

I like growing types of perennials in the garden and yard (seen above is a type of bunch onion) that will survive winter. These perennials give you a start early in the season without any effort, except for the initial planting. Varieties of the onion family are perfect. Included are bunching green onions, leeks and garlic.

Asparagus is also a good veggie to plant for long term, just remember it takes several years for it to mature and yield the delicious spikes like you buy in the grocery store.

Strawberries are another good choice. As you can see above the cold weather didn't hurt ours and they are already bearing berries. Shortcake in two or three weeks!

And there is nothing like digging fresh garlic in the winter for a big pot of spaghetti or any special comfort dish. Garlic is easy to grow any season.

Above is a "Big Bertha" tomato Deberah bought at the Newnan Master Gardener plant sale several weeks ago.

She also bought sweet green bells, as seen above, sweet banana and three jalapeno.
It was good to stop the roller coaster long enough to get our garden started this season. So, "Let the gardening begin 2014!"
** A Special Note: Mr. Basil our garden cat recently used two of his nine lives due to an obstructed urethra. He was at the vets for a week and couldn't go outside for another week to make sure he got his meds twice a day. Tia kept vigil at his crate the whole time only leaving to eat and use the bathroom.
She was a better mama than me!
Until Next Time...........
Happy Gardening 2014 and I hope everyone has a Blessed Easter!
Posted by Wilma Smith

Monday, March 24, 2014

Narcissus - King Alfred

For several years my mother's and my "King Alfred," jonquils (perennial narcissus bulbs) didn't bloom. This year to our surprise they busted out with amazing blooms! Mother told me she applied fertilizer last year, however, I didn't apply any and haven't for 5 or 6 years. "King Alfred" is a beautiful, cream colored, perennial bulb, with a large corona bloom in the center.

Narcissus, also known as, daffodil and jonquil is a bulbous perennial originating from North Africa and West Asia.  All are members of the Amaryllis family. Blooms come in single, double and triple centers, as well as, colors white, cream, light and dark yellows in the center corona.

Just like most plants we grow in our garden and yard, the myth about these flowers start centuries ago across the ocean in Greece.  Narcissus was obsessed with his own reflection. As he knelt and gazed into a pool seeing his reflection, he fell into the pool and drowned.  After his death, narcissus flowers sprang up in and around the area.

No doubt, as seen above, gotta love ""King Alfred's." If, I remember they are about 25 or 30 years old!  I am trying to figure the why's and how's about the prolific blooms this year.  My only solution to this perplexing is the cold weather, snow and again cold weather!

Since mother felt under the weather last week, took her a bouquet of King Alfred's   Enjoy and love you mother.  Hope you feel better soon!!

Until next time......

Happy Gardening 2014!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Monday, March 10, 2014

Grow Plants for Less Than 12 Cents Each

Here's How!

Several weeks ago my neighbor Dianne Carnicom told me she planned to start her tomato plants indoors using small paper cups for pots. These are sold as oral hygiene cups used for rinsing and growing up I remember dispensers available to mount on a bathroom wall above the sink. She bought a 100 pack for $2.29 plus tax.

I was interested to watch and wondered how cheap her process would be to start her seeds.

She began by using a toothpick to poke holes in the bottom of each cup. This allowed proper drainage and air to flow through and around each seed. As, Dianne and Mike use raised beds for their vegetable garden, she didn't want to plant too many but did plant extra to sell at the garden club plant sale in May.

Seen above she paid $2.49 plus tax for the seeds. Soil was the only other expense used for the 20 pots planted. A bag of organic potting soil was bought at a local garden center for $6.85 plus tax. She probably used less than 1/8 of the bag of soil and less than 1/2 of the seed pack for her 20 pots.

The next two steps were to fill the pots 2/3 full and place one seed in each pot. The organic soil added extra nutrients to start the seed and only using one seed per pot prevented thinning plants later and healthier root growth when transplanting to the garden space or a larger pot when needed.

Last but not least, Dianne watered each pot and placed them inside in a sunny location (morning sun with approximately 5 large windows. Their house temperature also remains constant at 68 to 70 degrees (important for sprouting seeds indoors). I was surprised to see the sprouts so soon (sorry about the photo shown) but obviously, Dianne did all the right things!

You can use the same steps to sprout different vegetables and flowers inside for gardens, pots or yard spaces for 12 cents or less each plant.

Here's how Dianne did it:

Seeds $2.49 + tax - used 1/2 or less         $1.25
Soil $6.85+ tax - used 1/8 or less             $  .85
100 Cups + tax - used 20Xless than .01   $  .20
                                                                 $ 2.30 divided by 20 = 11.5

Total - 20 Plants                                       $  .12 or less

Now don't take my word for it because I'm better at gardening than math but there is no doubt it's cheaper to grow your own plants from seed than buy the plants later in the season, if you have the time.

Until Next Time......

Happy Gardening 2014!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Time to Plant Flower and Vegetable Seeds


I think I'm still on the "Weather Roller Coaster," we've been riding January and February 2014, but it's exciting to start thinking and talking gardening this week.

During the first (below or at zero temps) cold snap some of my pipes burst in the pump house and  I had to visit Lowe's for PVC pipes. Exiting, I found they had moved their seed display to the front of the store and was impressed at the extend of vegetable/flower seeds, bulbs, fruit trees/bushes and small tools available in the display.

I knew then, it was time to plan, organize and buy seeds to start our garden this year!

Depending on your situation in your yard and garden, seeds can be started in little bio-degradable cups like these or straight into prepared soil outside. You can also make your own seed starters in small Dixie cups or even egg cartons.

I usually start my seeds in small leftover plastic pots, outside. If you have florescent or grow lights in the basement or garage you can also jump start your seeds earlier than February. Make sure if sprouts become leggy to alternate with natural sunlight.

Since we garden organically, I bought several packs of early crop seeds like sugar peas, carrots, spinach, radish and lettuce. We'll buy other early crops like onions and potatoes at Arnall's Seed Store. Deberah, also ordered 2014 seeds on line to plant now to grow plants for the garden when the temperature warms. Plant vegetables and flowers seeds now to be ready for spring and summer seasons.
Also, now is the time to plant or transplant fruit trees and bushes.  Make sure you prepare soil by digging a spot large enough for the roots, add good soil/humus (like leaves or fine wood mulch) make sure you have proper drainage (no water standing) and keep the soil moist. When you see new leaves forming, you'll know you've done it right.
Nothing better but to pick your first apple, peach, blueberries, figs or strawberries, either just eat or make a pie or jam!
Lowe's has a great variety of flower bulbs and tubers for now. When the fever hits and spring is in the air (warmer week-ends), inventory will dwindle, so plan and buy now for the best selection.
I like this bulb/planter tool because it's sturdy and saves the back when small holes are needed, especially for packed dirt. 

Buy and plant flower seeds now for your yard and garden. Even if you have container or raised beds used for flowers. All you'll need is a hoe and rake to break up the soil, spread the seeds (depending on seed size) then rake soil over the seeds. Water if there is a dry spell. Initially fertilizer is not required for tender sprouts.

Many summer flower and vegetable seeds need planting early to insure hardy roots and healthy plants for May and June crops and flowers.. Check the back of seed packs or on line for how long it takes to germinate and when you need to plant.

Good luck planting!!!

Until Next Time........

Happy Gardening 2014!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Benefits of Snow on Your Yard and Garden

Since Georgia only gets a good "blanket of snow" two or three times in a decade, I wondered if snow has any benefits in the yard and garden. Surprisingly, after a little research I found there are several reasons why snow helps plants growing everywhere around your house.
Snow is a great insulator on bulbs, shrubs and trees, especially if you weren't able to apply a heavy mulch on plants prior to late fall. So, the saying a "blanket of snow" (just like a good cover while sleeping) actually makes plenty of sense.   

Snow like rain deposits nitrogen into the soil, approximately 2 to 12 pounds per acre. When snow melts, it could be one reason why northern states (including Alaska) green up so well after the snow melts in the spring.
Jeff Lowenfels, a member of the "Garden Writers Hall of Fame" (, calls snow the "Poor Man's Fertilizer." You can also listen to his radio show "Garden Party" Saturdays from 10AM-12PM on station KBYR 700 AM.
Although, snow is no sure cure to rid the yard and garden of harmful insects, most harmful pests don't like the cold temperatures. I like to think our roller coaster of warm and cold weather this winter season has fooled them into thinking spring is here and moving into top layers of soil, laying larvae and then both freezing when the temps change abruptly. 
Just like bugs, this roller coaster can also fool plants into thinking warm weather is here. That's another good reason a "blanket of snow" is good for plants in your yard and garden. It insulates but also lets plants know it's not time to sprout. So.........

Until Next Time.....

Happy Gardening 2014 and Enjoy the Snow!

Posted by Wilma Smith

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Clover Adds Nitrogen to Any Yard or Garden

My dad always planted white clover in the yard to add nitrogen for a green lawn and knew it was a plus for sunny and shady areas. Growing up, I didn't know or think about the benefits, I was just looking for the four leaf clover for good luck.

But now, I realize his reasons. Clover (Trifolum or trefoil) is kin to the pea (legume) family with a genus of over 300 species. Best known are those that bloom with white, purple and red flowers. Each not only add nitrogen to the soil but help beneficial garden insects too.

Butterflies, moths, honeybees and other beneficial garden insects love clover. All of these pollinators bring an extra boost to flowers and vegetables in the yard and garden.

Cattle and equine ranchers have long known the benefits of growing clover and alfalfa (also a legume) to the grass in their pastures. Besides adding a great fertilizer to the land, both make a terrific forage for their animals when added to grazing grasses.

Add approximately 25 percent clover or alfalfa seeds to Fescue or Bermuda seeds when planting in your yard, as more might over take the other grass due to the high amount of nitrogen. White clover is a cool weather perennial (especially in our climate) that once established helps hard to grow bare spots encourage other growth and then will grow all year. Plant a mixture in early spring and cover with a bale of straw.
Clover or alfalfa (members of the legume family) will add nutrients to the space without adding any other fertilizer.

Until Next Time........
Happy Gardening 2014!
Posted by Wilma Smith