Sunday, February 15, 2015

It's a Sweet Shrub - Carolina allspice

About seven years ago, I planted two Carolina allspice shrubs in my garden. I had seen this shrub in another garden and really liked the unusual looking flowers that appeared in summer. Carolina allspice or Calycanthus floridus is a deciduous shrub that grows about 6 to 9 feet tall and  wide. It grows in zones 4 to 9 and it produces beautiful purple-red flowers that smell very fragrant and spicy. The blooms appear from April to July. The shrub has dark green leaves that are slightly rough to the touch.
Calycanthus or Carolina allspice is a Southeastern United States native shrub that prefers a sunny location in the garden but can tolerate part shade. It is a low maintenance plant that can survive in clay soil, has no serious insect or disease issues and the deer will leave it alone. It makes a great specimen plant around patio or entrance doors, due to the wonderful fragrant smell of the flowers that smell like a combination of pineapple, strawberry or banana. This shrub also goes by several different common names such as sweet bubby, sweet Betsy, spicebush, strawberry-bush and sweetshrub. What do I think about this shrub? It's a sweet shrub for the garden!

Happy Gardening!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Growing Bearded Iris in the Garden

One of my favorite spring blooming plants is the Bearded Iris. It is easy to grow and produces lots of beautiful flowers to enjoy. The iris has a thick fleshy root called a "rhizome". When you purchase an iris, it will be planted in a container and growing or you can purchase it in a plastic bag where you have just the rhizome. The rhizome will be clipped of roots, leaves and has been cleaned. If you purchase it in a bag, feel the rhizome to make sure that it is not soft or dried out. Once you have your iris rhizome, plant it in well drained soil and in a sunny spot in your garden. If you prepare your garden bed for planting iris, make sure that the soil has been turned to a depth of 10 inches and prepare the bed several weeks ahead of planting. When you plant your rhizome, plant it close to the soil surface and if you are planting multiple rhizomes allow at least a foot in between each one. Bone meal and a fertilizer that is low in nitrogen works great for iris.
When your iris blooms, you will have flowers that are 6 to 8 inches in size and that are wonderful for cutting and enjoying inside the home. The flowers come in many colors from orange, purple, yellow, blue, black, white, red and all kinds of mixed colors. They bloom in late spring to early summer in zones 3-9 with the average height of 12 to 14 inches.
In about 2 to 3 years you may need to divide your rhizomes which should be done about 1 to 2 months after blooming. When you divide your iris, remove dead areas and replant the fresh hard rhizomes. Always look for insect damage to the rhizome and treat if necessary. 
If you grow beardless iris, Siberian or Japanese iris, they will have slightly different cultural needs than the bearded iris. What the difference? Check back on future post and you can find out more on growing iris in the garden.
Happy Gardening!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Fothergilla for the Garden

This Dwarf Fothergilla or Fothergilla gardenia stays small in size for the garden.
Here is a shrub that I added to my garden several years ago. It was small when I planted it, but over the years it has grown and this past year bloomed. Dwarf Fothergilla or Fothergilla gardenia is a small round shrub that is slow growing to about 3 to 4 feet tall with a slightly wider spread than height. It is easy to care for and the only pruning you will need to do will be to remove damaged or dead limbs. It blooms in April with these very fragrant, unusual looking flowers. After it blooms the leaves stay green until they turn to beautiful shades of yellow, orange and red.

Fothergilla can grow in sun or partial shade. It grows in zones 5-9 and is deer resistant. It is a North America native and is related to the Witch Hazel family. It does require weekly watering if in dry conditions. It is a deciduous shrub that was named after John Fothergill, an English physician. There are lots of different varieties of Fothergilla in the nursery trade that range in many different sizes for the garden. It is a plant worth taking a look at for the seasonal interest that it can give your garden.

Happy Gardening!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

25 Christmas Gifts for the Gardener

It's that time of the season when you are trying to complete your Christmas shopping.You have ran around to the stores and scanned the Internet looking for that "just right" gift for that special person. If you are still looking and scratching your head, here are 25 suggestions for Christmas gift giving if that special person is a gardener.
  1. Garden gloves
  2. Garden tools like shovels and rakes
  3. Gardening apron
  4. Bypass pruners
  5. Subscription to a gardening magazine
  6. Bird feeders
  7. Gift certificate to a local nursery or online nursery
  8. Worm composter
  9. Pond kit for the garden with liner and pump
  10. Garden design program for the computer
  11. Bird bath
  12. Bird bath heater for cold climate areas
  13. Gardening Christmas tree ornament
  14. Live succulent wreath
  15. Fairy Garden kit with container, soil, plants and accessories
  16. Files and sharpeners for sharpening garden tools
  17. Basket of assorted plant fertilizers or compost teas
  18. Live planter of assorted plants
  19. Amaryllis or other spring bulbs to grow during the winter
  20. Assorted bird seeds and suet
  21. Gardening books on pruning, design or insect and disease control
  22. Small table top fountain or garden fountain
  23. Garden statuary
  24. Garden trug, basket or wheel barrel
  25. Tool belt or cart to transport garden tools while working in the garden.
I hope this list of 25 suggestions, helps to complete that shopping list before Christmas!
Happy Gardening and Happy Holidays!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Getting Creative with Containers

If you like creative container gardens, today I have put together some very interesting examples. Hope you enjoy the photos!


Happy Gardening!


Saturday, November 1, 2014

It's a Beauty

Several years ago, I was given a small plant called a Epiphyllum oxypetalum or sometimes called a Dutchman's pipe or queen of the night. It was not a very attractive plant and one that I would not have purchased for myself. When it finally bloomed, did I ever change my mind about this plant. The flower opens for one night and it produces a beautiful huge fragrant flower. Mine is normally in full bloom by midnight and by morning the bloom is closed and starting to wilt away. I move my potted plant outside in the summer where it stays in bright indirect sunlight till I move it back to the greenhouse for winter. This summer, I could see that a bud would be opening during the night and it did during a heavy rain. I think the rain caused the plant to self pollinate and I had my first fruit that formed on the plant. You can see it in the pictures below.

The flower is huge and beautiful, but only last for a few hours during the night. When dawn arrives the flower has closed and will now die or if you are lucky it may form a fruit.

Epiphyllum oxypetalum is epiphytic and can grow up to 10 feet tall. It can be propagated from tip or joint cuttings and seed. The flowers are 7 to 10 inches long and are very fragrant. They smell like vanilla. If you get lucky, you may have a flower that turns into a fruit and you can save the seed.

The fruit that formed is a beautiful magenta color. This was the first time that my plant produced a fruit.

The little black dots inside the fruit are seeds. The fruit is edible.

This is a plant that I would recommend and one that is worth staying up for a night to enjoy!

Happy Gardening!


Monday, October 13, 2014

Closing the Garden Down for Winter

It has been some time since I last wrote on my blog. It has been a busy spring, summer and now fall.  I went on a couple of week long vacations and attended a Garden Writers Association Symposium. I have been working on a home remodel and garden renovation that I am getting close to finishing. I have been trying to get as much done as possible for the arrival of our first grandchild that should happen in the next few days. Busy and exciting year and still lots to do before the first snow flies.

I have been starting to cut back the garden for the year. Due to lots of rain, the garden is out of control and overgrown. Last winter, I did not have the opportunity to work in the garden because of snow and cold weather. This year, I plan to remove some plants, cut plants back, prune larger plants and decide which plants need to be removed and relocated to new homes in the spring.

If your garden is starting to sound like mine, here are some ideas of what to do with those surplus plants and to prepare your garden for winter.

  • Take cutting of those plants that you wish to keep for next year. Give up the idea of trying to keep every annual or plant for next year.
  • Walk your garden and decide which shrubs and trees need to be pruned back in the garden.
  • If you have lots of volunteer plants or extra plants that you do not want, don't just throw them away. Ask friends or family members if they would like to have them for their gardens. I have already moved some plants and found new homes for others. I plan to tag the remaining plants in the garden that need to be removed, leave them in place till spring and then donate the plants to Master Gardener groups that may need plants for garden projects that they are working on.
  • If you are looking for homes for plants, check with local garden clubs, parks, or other organizations that can put your plant surplus to good use. Many organizations do not have money in their budgets for plants and will appreciate the donation.
Start cleaning up that garden for winter and I hope everyone has a great year!

Happy Gardening!