Monday, February 28, 2011

The Flower Show exhibit

Back to the Big House tomorrow morning, to work in a real garden again.  Because it's been so warm and sunny for the past couple of weeks, things are literally exploding in the Stepchild Garden, so I can't wait to see the thousands of daffodils at the Big House. Here are some last photos of the process of building an exhibit for the Southeastern Flower Show.  My friends worked like dogs on assembling this, but I think it served its purpose perfectly.

This one could be called, "No, that chair is a tree!  The plant stands are lights!  Chuck, please just keep drawing and trust me on this!"
Once we were unloaded, things started to slowly come together..... 
The door and windows of the fake house added another whole dimension..... 
 This is Patti's "What was he thinking?" look..........
A sample of the educational messages scattered throughout the "garden," next to the beehive from the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association. 
The very cool "Night Orb" from The Outdoor Lights. 
Another of those little signs...... 
One of the educational "windows," outlining beneficial insects.... 
The fountain (to attract birds) from the fabulously-talented Carlos Montano. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Some Miscellaneous Flower Show Photos

Let me apologize from the beginning of this post by saying that I'm probably somewhat "jaded" when it comes to flower shows, so I don't always get great photos.  I tend to focus on details that I think are cool or inspirational rather than what is showiest, biggest, or most flowery.  I'm working in our exhibit garden (GPPA) again most of the day, so I'll try to get some other shots from around the Show.

This is a pretty cool ceiling treatment for a wedding, I thought.  It was done by one of the event companies in Atlanta, A Legendary Event.  Hundreds of pieces of wide ribbon weighted down with crystals and a few butterflies here and there.
This entry display was not the biggest award winner in its division, but I thought it was just beautiful, and a nice relief from the "two boxwoods in black iron urns with annual color" that marks most Atlanta doors. 
A couple of window box exhibits that I thought were very effective, mostly because of the sheer volume and opulence the designers put into them. 

I really loved this effect, below.  The exhibit was still under construction, but I thought the uplit Coral Bark Maples against that stucco wall was just incredible! 
A tulip I found appealing in one of the retail exhibits.  Don't even know its name...... 
Have I gloated about the awards we won in our exhibit yet?  Have I mentioned this is the first time I had done an exhibit of this size?  Or that most of my team had never done a flower show exhibit before?

Here's one shot of our exhibit, depicting a mid-century Modern, in-town Atlanta house.  We are in the educational division, so the goal was to show a realistic garden that can exist with very low maintenance and no chemicals.  These are the floor panels that Chuck built......more about that later!

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Southeastern Flower Show

We're working at the Big House all day today, then tomorrow morning starts the big push for setup at the Southeastern Flower Show.  In typical fashion, my "helium hand" got me in trouble, and I'm managing the installation of a 20x20 garden for the Georgia Perennial Plant Association.  I use the term "managing" very loosely, since that also means loading, building, hammering, cutting, running around, printing, etc.

"How bad could it be?"  I thought, just before the 38-page book of rules arrived......(these flower show people are really a specialized cult, you know......)This year's overall theme is "In Tune with Blooms,"  so we're using a theme of "Rondo" in our display garden.

“Like the musical form of Rondo, gardening always returns to the central theme of healthy gardening practices that support the populations of insects, birds, bees and soil creatures.”
Pictures to follow in a day or two.......if you're in this part of the world, I hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In the Greenhouse

One of the real "luxuries" of life at the Big House (from the gardener's perspective, anyway) is the greenhouse.  And it's never more evident in day-to-day gardening than at this time of year. 

The orchids go into the house when they're in bloom, and then come back to rest in the greenhouse when they're "not so purdy".  (The tree fern is looking a little naked at the moment, just starting to put out its spring growth).
Cannas and brugmansia getting an early start, so they can go into summer containers with a good amount of foliage and structure to them. 
The clerodendrum thomsoniae spent last summer in a hanging basket in a shady spot, and now is in the greenhouse permanently.  This is one of those vines that literally grows several inches a day when it's warm and getting enough light.  Other than a dormant period from Thanksgiving into January, it will be this showy all the time.
The weather was so bad during December and January, we started lettuces indoors. 
Oh, what would we do without tweezers for the fennel? 
Then there is the infirmary area........these guys will go back to the house when they're feeling a little better.....

Mild February Weather

Every year at least one hard-core gardener says, "You can't move hellebores like will kill them!" And every year we lift them out of the ground and use them in containers near the house.  The added bonus is that, since many of them have seeded themselves in the woodlands, we can move them to other areas when we take them out of the containers.
 A wall-hung planter in a little courtyard between the house and the garage is the perfect spot for this great purple specimen!
Behind the pool, the yellow crocus are always the first to burst in the spring! 
Mini daffodils coming up in the wooded garden. 
Prunus mume, "Peggy Clark", just startign to put on her annual show. 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Clematizing the Garden

Clematis "Duchess of Albany" (texensis)
Clematis "Rooguchi," (viticella) 
Princess Diana (texensis)

I went to a great program on Tuesday presented by the Georgia Perennial Plant Association (GPPA), with Lyndy Broder speaking about clematis.  I can see them becoming a new addiction for me!  The last one was salvias, which have taken over the perennial bed at the Stepchild Garden, and then it was achilleas.....

Lyndy is on the Board of the International Clematis Society, grows hundreds of them, and clearly knows her stuff.  For those who want to give them a try (or try some new cultivars), these are the ten she recommends most highly for Georgia (and I'm assuming other Southeastern) gardens (the bloom time listed in for Atlanta):

Arabella (integrifolia) blue-mauve, blooming April to Sept; trails on the ground
Betty Corning (viticella), pale blue, blooms May-August, a climber;
Duchess of Albany (texensis), bright pink, blooms April to October, climber;
Etoile Violette (viticella), dark purple, blooms April to October, climber
Henryii (early large), white, blooms April to July, climber;
Josephine (early large), double pink, blooms April to September, climber;
Madame Julia Correvon (viticella), wine red, blooms April to September, climber;
Princess Diana (texensis), luminous pink, blooms May to September, climber
Rooguchi (viticella), purple, blooms April to September, 3 feet tall
Venosa Violacea (viticella), white with purple veining, blooms May to October, climber.

I only bought three (from Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery, 
Duchess of Albany, Rooguchi, and Princess Diana (all of the photos are from their website).  Will keep you posted on how they do.....

Monday, February 14, 2011

Ancient History

Our big snows in Atlanta from a few weeks ago seem like ancient history at the moment, so we're lucky to have digital photography.

This is my friend Jane's garden in the snow.  Jane's garden happens to be exquisite at any time of the year, but the snow was really "the icing on the cake" in this case.  (If it looks this good in January, imagine it in June!)

Jane has really mastered the art of repeating the same color in various parts of the garden to make things come together.  My favorite things are the red-painted Annabelle hydrangeas to coordinate with the bench!

Slacking Just a Little, I Guess


Chuck told me the other day that I'm slacking in the post department, so I'm going to try to get myself back into a better routine. I sometimes tend to have "helium hand," so that whenever a volunteer organization asks for help, my hand just automatically goes up into the air.

Everything is going beautifully (though Frank can't park in the garage for the next several days).  At the moment, I'm chairing the display garden for GPPA at the Southeastern Flower Show (Feb 25-27), and then the garden tour for the Master Gardeners in Cobb County in May.....and then there is that whole thing called a job......having to tip toe through the lumber piles to get to the washer and dryer for a few days is a small price to pay.

I promise to take the camera with me tomorrow to get some pretty things to post.  It's going to be in the 60's again this entire week, with sun, sun, sun, so life is good!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


Those numbers are the forecasted high temps for the next ten days in Atlanta.  We're already more than halfway through the first one (44 is today's high), so it only gets better.  To make life even sweeter, the worst of the days is expected to be "mostly sunny".

And THAT, people, is a beautiful thing!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ice Cream Freaks!

"Ice Cream Freaks" could probably be the caption under a photo of my family, particularly on Dad's side of the family tree.  I grew up in a house where ice cream is one of the basic food groups, and even in a blizzard, ice cream is a daily necessity.

Since I'm really trying to consume a healthier diet, I've gradually switched over to Greek-style yogurt, and at this point rarely eat ice cream at all.  It never occurs to me that there are lots of people who do not eat Greek-style yogurt, and I'm always surprised when people say, "This is really good!  And healthy!  What is it again?"

I'm really not a born-again health nut type, but this is my sweet snack/dessert of choice:  About 1/4 cup of Greek-style yogurt (I use Fage 0% fat), a tablespoon or so of Wheat Germ (it adds crunch and apparently folic acid), some blueberries (I don't remember why, but men are supposed to eat blueberries), and a squish of honey.  Stir it, don't stir it, whatever works.  Put it in a pretty glass or bowl if it's for guests, put it in a paper cup if you're driving.

Monday, February 7, 2011

"The Pleasure Garden" Symposium at Atlanta Botanical Garden

Saturday I spent the day at the Atlanta Botanical Garden, attending the annual symposium that is orchestrated by the Georgia Perennial Plant Association.  Since I'm the current Vice President of GPPA, I'm perhaps biased, but this year's program was one of the best in the past few years.  One of the perks of being on the Board of the hosting organization is the opportunity to attend a casual dinner with the speakers the evening before the symposium, and the opportunity to chat with them in a very relaxed setting. 

I'll try to be brief, but there are points that I thought were particularly good from each of the five presentations on Saturday.  As a result, this post is going to be divided into at least a few parts, perhaps five. 

This year's theme was "The Pleasure Garden," so it was perfectly appropriate that the opening speaker was Dan Benarcik from Chanticleer, which is perhaps America's best garden designed solely for pleasure.  Dan likes to remind listeners that the mission of Chanticleer is not to be a botanical garden or a teaching space as much as it is just for sheer pleasure.

One of Dan's key points (at least to my listening) was that the point of gardening is really to please the gardener.  So often we get caught up in making sure that our garden appeals to visitors, neighbors, and passers-by, when the real point of creating a garden is to please one's self.  Dan went on to elaborate about making sure that the garden's style is YOUR style as the gardener.  If your style is not formal, why have a formal garden? If you are a little messy and eccentric by nature, shouldn't your garden express your quirks?

Because Dan Benarcik works in an incredibly beautiful place, he had a ton of great photos from "work," each more impressive than its predecessor.  A few that I found particularly striking (and ideas that I'm definitely stealing): A giant stone face (actually a fairly common sculpture) almost buried in a sea of Mexican Feather Grass, which really looks as though the person is sleeping.  Other things that Dan showed photos of are so simple, but really striking in their simplicity: a bowl of water sitting on the table in the sunroom, which gets filled with a few floating blossoms every morning (anyone can do this for a little bit of luxury at home), and then a beautiful photo showing hanging baskets planted with seasonal flowers hanging from the branches of a tree (an idea straight from Grandma's house, but one which makes an "estate" a "home".

I definitely am not doing justice to the photos from my descriptions, so Google "images" from Chanticleer Gardens and you'll see what I mean.  Frank and I are taking a short roadtrip to the Brandywine Valley in July, and Chanticleer will definitely be the highlight!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Some Tough Characters

It's been a tough year for containers, but they're hanging in there!  Pansies and violas are especially cold TOLERANT, but not necessarily snow lovers.... (this Euonymus only looks good in the winter when the scale is goes in the trash in spring!)
One of the most pedestrian cultivars of Pansy (Delta True Orange) is also one of the best in this sort of weather! 
The Euphorbias showing off winter color 
Each time there is a snow casualty in this hanging basket, another piece of cut greenery goes in.  By March it will look like an FTD arrangement! the greenhouse the clerodendron is blooming! 
Lettuces, mesclun and spinach are all showing up for late winter salads! 
I tend to use pretty huge photos, so if you click on them they look a whole lot better usually...

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Happy 75th, Dad!

.................and people wonder where I get my fashion sense.........(the suspenders, shirt, and high tech watch are quite the ensemble, don'tcha think?)