Monday, June 12, 2017

Drip Irrigation for the Garden

Rain Bird Expansion Kit
The last two years were hard on my garden. We did not get much rain and I spent lots of time pulling garden hoses around the garden. This past winter was mild in my Zone 7 garden and a great time to install drip irrigation. It was a very easy project to do and like most things, after I installed it we started getting regular rain. It was still a good decision and I know I will still get plenty of use out of the system.

I installed a Rain Bird system. It runs from the house and down the hill winding around in two rose gardens and a perennial bed. The total system ran me about $175.00 to install and I still have extra lines and parts to install into other planting areas in the future. I purchased my system online with 250 feet of 1/2 inch tubing and two expansion kits. The expansion kits included 250 feet of 1/4 tubing, faucet adapters, tees, assorted sizes in emitters, tubing stakes, bug guards and a installation tool.

The containers comes with lots of parts for installation and repair and all organized in a nice bucket.

Rain Bird 1/4 tubing stakes with bug guards.

The main line is attached to my faucet. I could add a timer in the future.

After I ran the 1/2 inch line around in the garden, I then started adding 1/4 lines from the main line. I have not covered my lines with mulch for this year, but I will next year. I just want to be able to monitor the system for any possible leaks.

You can see in the photo the main line and the 1/4 inch line running to each rose bush.

The blue piece is an emitter that regulates the amount of water each plant will receive.

At the end of the 1/4 line is a stake that keeps the bug guard up off the ground. The bug guard is on the very tip where the water will drip out.

I really like the system and it waters a very large part of my garden. The nice part about it is that I do not waste water on parts of the ground where I do not have plants growing. The water goes where it is needed and I can save money that way.

Happy Gardening,


Friday, May 12, 2017

The New Greenhouse

One of my new projects for the garden was the construction of a greenhouse. Due to living on a mountain, my gardens has very limited level areas. I decided that I wanted a much smaller greenhouse than the 11 x 15 foot heated greenhouse that I once had. I needed a greenhouse for potting, starting seeds and propagation. The new greenhouse is only 6 x 8 and not heated but it will work for me.

I built the greenhouse on the ground and graveled the floor. It sits next to my storage shed and doesn't get lots of sun which is what I wanted. I can control my temperatures much better. I still want to add a potting table and additional shelving.

The greenhouse is a Palram greenhouse. It was easy to build and the instructions were easy to follow. I built it by myself over a three day period. It took around a total of 8 hours for one person to build.
It has an aluminum frame with advanced 4 mm twin polycarbonate roof that reduces solar UV by 99.9%. It came with a 5 year warranty, rain gutters and a magnetic locking door. The side walls are clear and allow for 90% light transmission. The roof does come with a vent that can be opened and closed.

When it arrive by UPS it came in two boxes. One box contained all the frame pieces, screws, nuts and bolts and the other box contained all of the polycarbonate wall and roofing materials.

I am very happy with my new greenhouse. The price was good and it serves my current needs in a greenhouse. If you decide to purchase a greenhouse, always do your homework and purchase a bigger greenhouse than what you need. This is my third greenhouse that I have purchased over 25 years. Always consider the price of electrical work, heating and cooling expenses, construction and greenhouse equipment when purchasing.

Happy Gardening!

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Spring in the Garden - 2017

This year is starting out to be a great year. After last years drought, we are finally getting rain and the garden is growing very well. I couldn't be more pleased. I thought I would bring you up to date on how the garden has changed in one year and the progress I have been making. In the upper picture you can see that I have added a walkway down to a new area which is the new rose garden. I had to remove lots of mountain laurel to open this area up. Off to the right and behind the shed is a small secret garden.
You can see the new shed that was added last year and a tree rose that is now in bloom.

The pathways were all graveled  including the new path that leads from the back of the house, up the hill and to the front of the house.

I currently have two rose gardens and both had drip irrigation added during the winter. The roses are starting to show lots of blooms.

This is the new perennial cutting garden and this year it is growing very well.

I have added lots of daylilies to the hill above the new retaining wall. I should have lots of color from daylilies this year with the addition of many new plants.

I added the new split rail fence to the garden that divides the perennial bed from the new rose garden. I have climbing roses planted on the fence.

This photo shows the lower new rose garden all planted with the butterfly bench for seating.

I added a cold frame and a small greenhouse for plant propagation. I still need to gravel the greenhouse floor and add shelving. Hopefully this weeks project.

This is a new area that I opened up and part of it is a woodland shade garden and Japanese garden.

I moved many of my mini hostas to containers due to deer and the dry conditions. They seem to be growing better in the container than the ground.

This is the new train garden. I have the plantings done but I still need to add the track. The round plastic area is the layout for the track during the planting process. The black tunnel will be covered with cement and will look like a small mountain tunnel for the train.

The fish pond is up and running with new plantings of elephant ears. The koi had been busy destroying the planting as fast as I add them. Still working on that problem.

It is hard to tell from this picture, but my garden sits down below the house on a hill and it looks out to a beautiful mountain view of Rumbling Bald Mountain.

Looks like 2017 is going to be a good year in my garden if the rain continues. If not, I have drip irrigation to fall back on. I have had a busy winter in the garden and I am happy the garden is starting to grow and produce. I hope you have a great summer in your garden!

Happy Gardening!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Lychnis flos-cuculi 'Petite Jenny'

Last year I received a new plant for the garden called  'Petite Jenny'. Lychnis flos-cuculi 'Petite Jenny' is an early bloomer with masses of pink flowers. This past year we were in drought and the plant did not bloom and I was hoping it would just survive the lack of rain. Now that we are into spring the rain has been good and 'Petite Jenny' really put on a show of blooms and continues to bloom. 

'Petite Jenny' is a double-flowered dwarf of  'Jenny' which is an introduction from Blooms of Bressingham. The flowers are sterile and are a lavender-pink color on tall stems. It started blooming in my mountain garden in April and has been beautiful. The flowers grow on stems that are from 14 to 18 inches tall. 'Petite Jenny' prefers sun to part shade and in my garden she is in full sun. She  grows in zones 5-7. 'Petite Jenny' should bloom into fall and I look forward to having her bloom that long in my garden.

The last two years have been drought and finally we are getting lots of rain and the garden is really coming into bloom. I spent the winter installing drip irrigation for the garden and now we get rain. Not complaining! The year is not over yet!

Happy Gardening!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Love Those Camellias

Years ago when I lived in Indiana, I purchased two small camellias. They were very pretty and I had great hopes for them. I grew them in pots and then moved them into my greenhouse for winter due to the zone being wrong for them. They did well for several years, but then I lost both of them.


When we purchased our new home in North Carolina, I was happy to have several mature camellias  growing in our landscape. Each year around November, December and January they bloom. It is wonderful to have something blooming during that time of the year.

Camellias are shade loving, small shrubs or trees. They come in a wide variety of bloom colors. I have white and pink, but just added yellow and red and I would like to continue to add more to my Japanese garden. Depending on the variety, they bloom in early spring or late fall and winter. Camellias are long lived and have glossy green foliage that stays on the plant. They grow in zones 7 to 10, but there are a few camellias for zone 6. They need slightly acidic soil that is well drained and they need good watering till they are well established. They prefer morning sun and dabbled afternoon sun. If you live in zones 8 to 10, plant in the fall and if you live in zones 6 to 7 plant in the spring. Prune after your camellia blooms. Beware they can have some illness issues like petal blight, leaf gall, bud drop, dieback or tea scale. I currently have one with tea scale and I will need to spray it with a horticultural oil. Even with these few illness issues, they are worth having.

The next big project in my garden will be adding drip irrigation for the rose beds, adding the train track to the train garden and adding a small greenhouse for seed propagation. You may want to check back for updates on these fun projects.

Happy Gardening!


Sunday, February 26, 2017

Winter Blooms - The Amaryllis

During the winter, there is that time when people who like to garden start missing flowers in their lives. That need to have something green and growing makes the winter seem shorter if you can grow inside. If you want some blooms back in your life, grow an Amaryllis. Around Christmas they are easy to find in the stores for gift giving and you can pick up some very good deals on them right after Christmas. Many people grow them and after they are done blooming, discard them. Keep that bulb for another year of enjoyment. Here is how you do it.
  1. After the bloom is gone you can remove the bloom stalk. Cut it within an inch of the bulb.
  2. Continue to grow the plant during the spring and summer. Fertilize it with a indoor liquid fertilizer on a regular bases. Your plant will make additional leaves during this time and it will be storing energy back into the bulb. I like to put my Amaryllis outside on the porch in indirect light for the summer.
  3. In late August, start cutting back on water. You will notice that the plants leaves will start turning yellow and die. The bulb will be just fine. Stop all watering. Remove the dead leaves.
  4. Store the dormant bulb in a cool dark place for at least 8 weeks. Your bulb is now resting.
  5. Replant the bulb in fresh potting soil about 5 to 6 weeks from the time you would like to see it bloom again. I like my Amaryllis to bloom in January or February when I am getting tired of snow and cold weather and need some blooms in my life.

6. Start watering again. As the bloom stalk starts to grow you may need to stake it because of the weight of the blooms. Keep the plant in indirect light. As it grows, turn the container to keep the stalk growing straight and not towards the light. In 5 to 8 weeks you will be enjoying your blooms for another year.

If you enjoy growing Amaryllis, start a collection. There are many different bloom colors and types from double blooms to very unusual blooms.

Happy Gardening!


I have been out working in the garden and it is exciting to see life coming back to the garden. After last years drought it is nice to know that all that watering was worth it!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Life is Finally Slowing Down

The last time that I blogged was back in August 2016. With the move from Indiana to North Carolina, I have been busy remodeling the house, working on my North Carolina Master Gardener, volunteering, writing for the magazine and enlarging the garden. Everything has kept me very busy. I am now a North Carolina Master Gardener and I have completed the inside remodeling of the house and I hope that I do not see a paint brush for awhile.

The garden is now three times larger than it was and I have spent the winter doing all of the hardscape. Being from the north, the cold weather of 30 to 40 degrees is wonderful for moving gravel and mulch than the heat of the summer in North Carolina. My next big project is installing drip irrigation in the garden. Due to the summer heat and last years drought, my garden really could use drip irrigation and save me the time of dragging garden hoses around.

Other things that happened during the last few months was that I became a Rose Judge at Biltmore for the International Rose Trials. I really enjoyed myself and I felt very honored to have the opportunity to judge at Biltmore Estate. I will keep you updated on the 2017 Rose Trails. It should be exciting.

Another exciting event that happened in November and lasted nearly a month, was the Party Rock Fire here in Lake Lure, North Carolina. We had to leave our home for 11 days when the fires approached our neighborhood. It was very scary and I hope that I never see another fire again. The cost was 7.8 million to put it out and a month of smoke.

Here are a few pictures that I took of the fire.

Now that I have everything complete with the house, I can now enjoy gardening, volunteering and writing again. Check back for more at Garden Thyme with the Creative Gardener.

Happy Gardening!