Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ya Gotta Love Tatarian Aster!

I snapped this photo yesterday with my telephone as I was playing in the garden with Sadie the Dog.  If you aren't familiar with Tatarian Aster, it's one that you need to check out!

Aster tataricus, hardy zones 3 to 9

I got a tiny little clump of this baby a couple of years ago from a gardening friend, and now have enough to have split that original piece into six spots around the Stepchild Garden.  It is definitely a strong plant, but not one that I would call invasive or a thug of any sort.  It just hangs out in its original location, steadily growing into a larger clump.  It separates beautifully and easily, so sharing is no problem at all.
The real appeal to me with this plant is that it is as close to maintenance free and I have found in the perennial bed.  Seems to be just fine in wet years and dry, and is always neat and tidy.  I have done NOTHING to this plant all season, and the stalks are all now about 4 feet tall and standing perfectly erect.  No staking, no "Chelsea Chop," nothing.  When frost finally gets it, I'll go through and cut back to the stalks to the base, and then it will do its thing for another year.
It is a late bloomer (some time shortly after Labor Day in Atlanta), so tuck it somewhere in the back of the bed.  It just sort of hangs out looking well behaved and a strong green until August, and then it gets its growth spurt.  Once it bursts into bloom, it is covered with butterflies and bees, and has a really beautiful clear lavender-blue color. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fifty Shades of Green

One of the programs I developed recently for presentation to local gardening groups is called "Fifty Shades of Green."  (One of those garden porn things......)  This presentation is a very casual list of fifty of the best ideas I've learned from other gardeners, some of whom I know well, and some I have never known personally, although they are (or were) well known.  My goodness, is that a convoluted introduction to this post!

In any case, if you're bored and want to hear some excerpts from this program, we discussed it on a local radio station recently, and it's now available on podcast.  We recorded two programs that morning, so I think it's listed as "Winter Containers" on the website.  My guess is that the container program will show up there soon.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Late Summer Container for Shade

I honestly tried to upload this photo because I've been having such difficulty getting Blogspot to accept photos I've always been able to upload.   Since this photo seemed to work, I figured I would just let it stay.
This photo isn't the best quality, since it was taken with my phone a couple of days ago, but I think the container has handled the Atlanta summer heat really well.
It is in what I would call "bright shade," since the driveway where this is positioned has a bright white finish on it, and when the sun hits this pavement, it is almost painful for humans.  This collection of three containers doesn't get direct sun, but it gets a ton of indirect light from that reflection.
The large fern is an Australian tree fern, that came to me in a 3 gallon container in April.  I learned from my grower that the trick to these guys is to NEVER let them dry out.  They can take a ton of heat and are even ok with a fair amount of sun, but the water has to be there all the time.  We also fertilizer all of the tropicals really heavily (high nitrogen) all summer.
The other plants that stand out are "Kong Rose" coleus, Alpinia (Shell Ginger, which never blooms, but has great foliage), Kimberly Queen fern, Farfugium, Browallia, and Pseudoanthemum.  If you want specific cultivars, let me know and I'll find that information in my files.
Hopefully this breakthrough with the photo means I'm back up and running on the blog!