Saturday, June 27, 2009

If You Can't Stand the Heat.....

So we're starting what seems like our 100th day of 90+ degree heat in Atlanta's only 7:20 in the morning, and I'm just finishing up the watering, hoping to help things survive through this weather! Considering how miserable the heat has been, the plants are actually looking pretty good. Since they're just coming out of the drought from Hell, I guess they're all just used to it by now.

The crazy heat is the perfect justification for me to spend a few days at my family's home in NH right after the July 4 weekend. That and the fact that Celia Thaxter's garden is open!

If I haven't babbled about this garden before, here's the short version: Celia Thaxter was a poet and author who lived on Appledore Island (off the coast of NH) in the second half of the 1800's, where she ran a small hotel and had what was reputed to be a pretty fabulous garden. There are lots of details about the garden in her book, "An Island Garden," published in the 1890's. There are also lots of impressionist paintings of her gardens (many by Childe Hassam) in various museums and private collections, largely because that's the group of people she hung around with.

Fast forward......the island and garden are now owned by Cornell University, and over the course of the past many years, a group of dedicated volunteers has restored the garden to its original plan. It is open to visitors only five consecutive Thursdays per year, and I'm going to be there on one of them! I have wanted to do this for many years, and things never worked out. This year they have! I'm pretending not to notice that it involves taking a plane to a car to a boat to get there (a few hundred dollars later), and Frank hasn't directly asked how much we're spending for this little garden jaunt..... I'll definitely bring back photos!

And the added little enticement came when Mum emailed me a notice about the "Garden Party" at Fuller Gardens ( that (coincidentally) happens the evening before my boat ride. How can I not attend the garden party/fundraiser for one of my favorite gardens? I believe it's my duty to do so!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Snickers Burritos

It's been far too hot to cook, so when I was given a dessert assignment for last week's supper club, this was the perfect solution! Super easy to make, particularly since it can be assembled early in the day (or probably days in advance) and left until the time of service. We popped them into the oven at 350 for about 10 minutes; I've been told you can also toss them onto a grill that's been turned off (just put the cover down and the residual heat will cook them).

For each person, use a flour tortilla (I use 10 inch rounds). Into each, put 1/2 Snickers bar (sliced), the same amount of another candy bar of your choice, 1/4 cup mini marshmallows, and 1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut. Roll like a regular burrito, and then wrap fully with foil.

That's it! Pretty awesome way to end a grilled dinner!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Everything's Coming Up Hydrangeas!

Truth be told, I have a bit of a hydrangea fetish. After all, if one is going to garden in Atlanta, why not have as many of this beautiful plant as possible? There are lots of people who think hydrangeas are too "frou frou" and almost artificial looking, but I think they're pretty awesome!

Some Passalong Perennials

The perennial bed is popping out all over the place, thanks to lots of "passalong plants" I've inherited in the past couple of years (mostly from my friend, Alice). These are some of those that straddle the fine line between "exuberant" and "invasive," but all are great old-fashioned beauties in my eye!
(Ignore the blatant aversion to edging in my own garden!)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Shade Containers

I think it's easier to create that lush, cool look in shade containers. Often it seems to me (and it may only be the summer heat) that the colors in sun containers fade out in the midst of the day. In any case, here are a few of the shade containers that have started to fill out.
The top container is one of my favorites. The container is actually cracked, but it's such a beautiful Italian pot I couldn't throw it away; it was moved from near the house to a spot in the wooded area under a stand of large magnolias. The arrangement has no flowers, but offers a beautiful little bit of light as one walks along the path.

Some Edibles

Not sure they're really edible, but there are the most adorable peaches on the "Bonfire" Patio Peach that is in a container near the pool. Can't wait to see what happens as the season progresses.

Since it's really about "the look," I'm pointedly not thinning out the fruits unless their weight becomes an issue for the branches of the tree. Since I assumed it would mostly serve for foliar interest in the container, I planted a moonvine in the same pot, which is growing like a weed! Can't wait to see those giant white blooms against that foliage.

In the veggie garden, the blueberries are getting close!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Some Blooms from this Weekend

Here are some shots from Saturday morning at the big house, with a little editorial, as well.
First, the Echinaceas are literally buzzing these days, as you can see.
Anthony Waterer Spirea is not a favorite shrub of mine, since I think it is "done to death" in most landscapes, but for these few weeks, I have to admit the show is pretty amazing.
Lastly, however "pedestrian" they might be, Annabelles are still one of my all time favorite hydrangeas. Between the big house and my own garden, there are several cultivars of macrophyllas, serattas, and oakleafs; there are none that I would want to part with, but Annabelles still hold a special spot in my heart as the first hydrangea I grew myself. There is something very simple and lovely about Annabelle in my mind.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Jurrasic Park

I first saw "Rice Paper Plant" when I was touring Ryan Gainey's garden a few years ago, thinking how awesome and tropical it looked, just popping up here and there in different parts of the garden. It has just enormous leaves, something like Fatisa japonica, but with a lighter color and texture. At the height of summer, it is about five feet tall here in Atlanta. When I inquired that day, Ryan commented that it was "quite easy to grow."

I next saw this fabulous plant at Lisa Bartlett's garden. In her trademark "meek and mild" way , Lisa enthusiastically offered to give me a couple of shoots. On the day I was going back to get the actually shoots, Lisa said (only half in jest) that she would like my request for Tetrapanax papyiferus IN WRITING! When I asked why, she smugly said, "You'll know in a year or two....."

It's now been more than a year......

Fortunately I still think it's an awesome plant, and gives a really amazing architecture to the garden. It is in the category of Alice's cleome, however, in that it tends to be a little rambunctious. Definitely one of those that you want to keep on top of, but worth the added attention. My two shoots are now thirty......sort of like when little children ask for a pet bunny......

Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Stepchild Gets Mulch...Finally!

  • I wasn't working at the big house or the penthouse today, so it seemed the perfect time to actually work in my own garden. Since I've been meaning to put out pinestraw mulch since March or April, it only makes me about six weeks behind schedule. Fortunately my home garden tends to fall into the categories of "eclectic" and "eccentric," so I'm able to fall back upon that excuse.

    I think my home garden is perhaps an emotional response to working in very manicured gardens on a daily basis; "manicured" is definitely NOT an adjective most would use to describe my garden!

    Some possible reasons my home garden isn't considered "manicured":
  • The 300 or so Cleome flowers that have self-seeded themselves since last year, coming up everywhere, including one growing in a crack in my driveway (I adore Cleome, but will definitely be putting out Preen next year);
  • The New Dawn rose that finished blooming a couple of weeks ago, and is now so large that it threatens to topple its arbor or grab a small child who makes the mistake of walking by (or both);
  • My Herbal lawn. When asked if I have zoysia, Bermuda, St. Augustine, or Fescue, I simply reply, "Yes;" (But it stays green year round......)
  • My unique version of Botanical Latin names. I'm not sure why the AHS doesn't list, "Dad's Yellow Iris," "Alice's Monarda," and "Not Ogon Spirea," in their publications.
  • The fact that my pansies are still in the ground, and actually still blooming their little blue hearts out; The IRS and summer annuals are supposed to be taken care of by April 15 in Atlanta.

    As could have been predicted, the rain starting pouring down after I had finished mulching about 25% of the garden beds.......why do I think I'm going to soon be seven weeks behind schedule?

    I'm trying very hard to care about being "behind schedule", really I am......

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some beautiful whites

Lots of things were blooming in the garden this weekend. I've come up with a few of my favorite whites, which are very cool looking to me when the temperatures are reaching 90 degrees in the sun!

It's a Jungle Out There!

This little guy looks quite ferocious up close....when you realize he's resting on the branch of an espaliered apple, he looks a little less fearsome!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Two More Containers

The Lion's Head Maples are doing beautifully in this warm damp weather, as is the Bonfire Begonia, which is just taking off.

The other container gets some morning sun, then shade the rest of the day. A little trivia about the "Song of India" dracena (all dracenas, for that matter). They hate chlorinated water! If you are seeing spots and blemishes on a dracena, try leaving the water in the watering can overnight for the chlorine to dissipate before putting it on the plants.

Full Sun Container

This one is in blistering sun most of the day. The Eucalyptus and Ptilotus "Joey" seem to be loving the heat!

Summer Containers

The summer containers are starting to fill out, and are coming into their own for the season. Here are a few shots from the cluster in the driveway at the Big House. It's in the shade most of the day, but the driveway has a whitewash over it, so it's very bright shade. The Australian Tree Fern has some beautiful new growth coming out, and we had a surprise Walking Iris bloom (typically we only see the blooms in winter in the greenhouse - I put the iris into this container for the texture of the leaves).