Sunday, August 30, 2009

An Inspirational Collection of Containers

During yesterday's visit to Atlanta Botanical Garden, I saw this arrangement of terra cotta pots, which I thought was particularly impressive. What's even better is that the pots are placed to block the view of a pretty ugly electrical box that is used for the concerts ABG occasionally has on the great lawn.

The combination of burgundy-blacks with chartreuse green is pretty neat, if you ask me. The best part is the ABG habit of listing the component plants, so I've put that on here, as well.

(People who know me realize that my standard "uniform" is a somewhat rumpled untucked shirt......), part of my middle aged rebellion!

Moore in the Garden

I finally made it to Atlanta Botanical Garden yesterday to see the Henry Moore exhibit, which is pretty awesome! Until seeing them in person, I didn't really have a good grasp for just how enormous some of these pieces are!

My friend, Hillary, is the Sr. Horticulturist at ABG, and for the past few months she's been telling me what a task it was to incorporate a sculpture into the middle of a perennial bed for which she's responsible. I kept thinking, "I'm sure it's big, but how bad could it REALLY be?" you can see, it's definitely a serious challenge to a gardener! Fortunately Hillary is very talented, and did an amazing job! (I love the White Joe Pye Weed dancing around the giant white sculpture!)
To give you a feel for size, the Joe Pye Weed near this sculpture's leg is at least six feet tall!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Refrigerator Pickles

Here's a recipe that came from Betty, one of the "CoHorts" on the forum pages of Horticulture magazine. It could not be easier, and the pickles last forever in the refrigerator. Now that we're all inundated with cucumbers, I thought the timing was right.....this is exactly how Betty presented the recipe.

Refrigerator Pickles--- Fill a large jar with a lid or plastic container with lid, with thinly sliced, washed cucumbers (cut off the ends & dispose). Then add 4 cups sugar, 4 cups white vinegar, 1/2 cup pickling salt, 1 1/2 teaspoon tumeric, 1 1/2 teaspoon celery seed, 1 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed and 3 small onions sliced over the pickles. You may add 1 or 2 heads of Dill or garlic if you wish. Put the lid on tightly, tip the jar several times to mix the ingriedients and put into the refrigerator for 5 days, shaking/tipping the jar each day to mix. Ready to eat in 5 days. Can be sealed by water bath if desired after the 5 days. Will keep in the refrigerator for a long, long time if not sealed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A Couple of Cool Tropicals

I spent most of Saturday cruising around to some of the local garden centers and nurseries, and found a few very cool things. I picked up the "Twilight Prairie Blues" baptisia to round out the collection I've got going of different cultivars, a few new irises for the perennial bed, and a couple of other things.

While I was at Scottsdale Farm, I picked up a couple of cool tropicals. I'm going to keep them in the greenhouse at the Big House for the winter, then put them out into the shade next summer. The variegated tapioca (Manihot) is one I've looked for over the past couple of years, and have never been able to find any larger than a tiny four-inch pot. This was in a 3 gallon, and IN CLEARANCE, to boot!

The other cool tropical is Alocasia "Stingray," which has a very interesting leaf shape. According to the grower's website, it is believed to have been some sort of mutation on another plant, but stays true through multiple generations of propogation! Whether a mutant or not, I'm thinking it's going to be pretty awesome in the shade bed next year!

Monday, August 24, 2009

The White Scents of Summer

We were walking home from dinner around 10 last night, on one of those cool evenings that happen so rarely in Georgia in August. There was a slight breeze, and with each step through our own garden, there seemed to be another wonderful scent coming our way. This is the time when the white flowers seem to take over the evening garden.

As we walked under the arbor, we saw the giant flowers of the moon vine opening for the night, releasing that wonderful light fragrance. Further down the paniculata hydrangeas were filling the air with their citrus-y scent, as they've been doing for a few weeks now. Rounding the corner, the first bloom of the white ginger was visible in the light, and its aroma is nothing short of intoxicating!

As we approached the door, we were overwhelmed with the fragrance from the white "Four O'Clocks" that self seed themselves all over that area. Even Sadie the Dog couldn't resist pushing her nose into the cluster of blossoms. Just a few days ago I was complaining about how poorly behaved the Four O'Clocks are, popping up everywhere, and questioning if I should try one more time to eradicate them from the garden......after last night's stroll, I'm convinced it's worth putting up with a little bit of unruliness.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Figs, Glorious Figs!

August is fig season in metro Atlanta, which makes the heat and humidity somehow easier to tolerate.
For the past couple of weeks, I've been watching the figs slowly get bigger on the tree, knowing that it's time for the annual "poker game" with the squirrels and birds. Sometimes I feel as though we are all watching to see when they'll be just right for picking, and it's always an "Aha!" moment when I get to the fruits before the critters do.

Walking along the path this morning, there were six figs perfectly ripe for the picking (the tree is in part shade, so we're typically a week or so behind everyone else). Of course they were at the top of the tree, so it meant getting out the ladder and a pair of clippers to climb up there, but it's definitely worth the work. Looking up at them in the sunshine, they were literally dripping with that sticky liquid the birds adore so much.
Most of us have emotional attachments to certain gardening activities, and for me, eating figs off a tree definitely falls into that category. Is there anything quite so sensual as biting into a fig, and feeling that sticky sweet juice pouring onto your hand?

I left the five prettiest fruits in a basket on the porch for "Mrs.," but just couldn't resist the temptation standing there on the ladder, clippers in one hand, the warm ripe fig in the other.....
Are we sure it was an apple that got Adam expelled from Eden?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Corn, Edamame, and Cherry Tomato Salad

Since the corn and tomatoes are exploding, here's a recipe I've made a few times, with great success.

1/4 c. plain yogurt
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T. honey
Salt & Pepper to Taste
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 c. olive oil

Whisk together the first five ingredients in a salad bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
Add in:

2 cups frozen shelled edamame, cooked according to package directions and left to cool
5 c. corn kernels, either fresh or frozen, sauteed in 1/4 c. olive oil about ten minutes, until the kernels start to brown, set aside to cool.
2 pt. cherry tomatoes
1/4 c. shredded fresh mint
1/4 c. shredded fresh basil

This salad is great, and will hold well for a few days in the refrigerator. The mint and basil start to turn black after that, though.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Some August Blooms

Even in the crazy heat of summer, there are some really beautiful blossoms to be found.

And it would hardly be a Georgia garden without a peach.....but check out the size of that Moon Vine bud! The vine is climbing up the tree, and I didn't have the heart to pull it out.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Tomatoes and Marigolds

This is a photo of one of the vegetable beds at the big house. Nothing special, just a picture I thought was pretty.

I was flipping through Pamela Harper's book "Color Echoes" this afternoon, and this combination of multiple types of tomatoes, marigolds, and sunflowers seems a great play of oranges and yellows. I like the look of flowers and vegetables planted together, and the fact that they're all edibles makes it that much better.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some Photos of the Stepchild Garden

Here is a photo of the arbor that Chuck built in June, which is finally starting to look at little more "settled in." The New Dawn Rose had to be seriously whacked back when I removed the old arbor, but it doesn't seem to be any worse for the wear! I trim this back at least once every ten days and it always looks like Medusa, waiting for unsuspecting pedestrians. The great part is that all of those tentacles are covered with hundreds of pink blooms in May, in time for the tour! The Moon Vine is racing up to the top of the arbor, and just starting showing off some blooms last week.

The top shot is the sylphium I mentioned last week. It's the perennial that everyone mistakes for a small tree. To give you an idea, the sad looking dark-leaved canna in front of it is about 3 feet tall. It puts on this much height every summer, and still manages to throw off at least twenty "babies" each season.

The seond one is showing some of the perennials that are strutting their stuff this week. The "Hot Lips" salvia is light and whispy, but holds it own with the rudbeckia and "Victoria Blue" annual salvia. That Teddy Bear Magnolia just went in last year, and will ultimately shade out the perennials, but such is the nature of long term gardening....

PS Try as I might, I never manage to pick up the hoses before the photos are taken....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Worker Bees

Here's a shot of a bee who was not amused by the photographer being in his face! This other shot is another "busy bee" trimming all of the brown edges of the mondo. As tedious a job as it can be, the end result is pretty great! (Thanks, Bill......)

August in Georgia is Not for The Faint of Heart

According to the television news anchors, this isn't officially the "Dog Days of Summer," but you couldn't tell that by the weight of the air as I walked around the garden. Some of the more delicate plants have retired until the cooler weather of September, but there are a few hardy plant souls out there that are just loving this heat!
From the top: The liriope earns its keep in August with those great purple spikes; "Honeycomb" Buddleia; Paniculata Hydrangeas; Crocosmia, and the Turtleheads that are just starting to break into bloom.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Angels Trumpets and the Full Moon

I read somewhere recently that Brugmansia (Angels Trumpet) blooms most heavily at the time of the summer full moons, so I've been patiently waiting. I am definitely now a believer, based upon what Brugmansia "Betty Marshall" is doing! Between the August heat and humidity, the fragrance is enough to knock you over! (Patti thinks we need to inject the fragrance into soap.....)
Even the Encore Azaleas are doing their thing for the Lady in the Moon!
Chuck took over 300 photos this morning, so more will be posted tomorrow. If you click on the photos above, they will appear in their full original size. This combination of two containers that includes the brugmansia is a pair that I think turned out really well this season.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Wouldn't you love to be able to do this?

Each of us probably has one particular plant which generates lots of "What is that?" sort of questions. In my own garden, it is the Sylphium, which is blooming it's heart out at the moment. It looks like a bright yellow daisy on steroids, since it is a solid eight feet tall and about five feet across. Most often I'm asked, "What is that bush?" and the person is always surprised to discover it's an herbaceous perennial that disappears every winter.

One of my suppliers was getting a gazillion questions about the shrubs at their entrance. I thought their means of response was quite clever!