Sunday, February 26, 2012

Atlanta Botanical Garden

I was speaking yesterday at "The Inspired Gardener" Symposium at the Atlanta Botanical Garden (more photos from that later), so I didn't have an opportunity to venture far from the facility where the program was being held. I did snap a few photos of the areas just outside the doors yesterday that I thought were great for those of us suffering from a little "cabin fever". Enjoy!  (As always, click to make them bigger if you'd like).

This bench is the perfect place to sit with the winter sun on your face while sipping coffee in the morning.  Just look at the bark on that "Natchez" Crape Myrtle!  It's part of an allee that leads to the great lawn.
These next two are of the parterre garden anchored by Dale Chihuly's incredible glass sculpture in the fountain.  This first one was taken from my position on the bench, above.

Loved this metal sculpture that is part of the current exhibit.  It's one of many, each painted a different vibrant color.  This matches the accent color in my home garden, so it's a good thing it was too heavy to carry home.....

The white berried Nandina works beautifully outside the Japanese garden.  I know it's incredibly common, but I still love the plain old red berried Nandina Domestica. (And, yes, I know it can be invasive...that's why God gave us hands to yank it out when it pops up in places we don't want it!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Few More Spring Photos

Pieris japonica "River Valley" looks incredible now, just before it bursts into bloom!
Across the creek, the fiddleheads of Bramble Fern (Hypolepis grandulifera) are poking their heads through the mulch.

At this time of year the southern turfgrasses are still dormant, so the mondo looks just beautiful.  I would love to take credit for that "wave" look, but it just does that on its own. 
The dwarf boxwood ( Buxus microphylla 'Grace Hendrick Phillips')has taken a couple of years, but is now filling in enough to become a proper hedge in the walled garden. 
Hellebore madness!  They are such promiscuous plants, one never knows what to expect.  Here the variety looks pretty fabulous with the bronzed winter foliage of the arborvitae ferns and the moss covered stones. 
Camelia japonica "Nuccio's Pearl" has incredible blooms.  This one always has some funk issues with the foliage, since it is literally growing under the bridge shown in the photo above, and hangs over the creek, so it's always damp and dark.  ("Funk" is an official horticultural term in these parts.) 
As always, click to make them bigger if you'd like!

Signs of Spring in the Glass House

Clerondedrum thomsoniae took a break for a couple of months, dropped most of her leaves, and looked quite sad. Now that the springtime sunshine has arrived, she's right back to growing a couple of feet every day and showing off those incredible blooms!  Sometimes this is like the plant from Little Shop of Horrors, since it grows up and over the ceiling, swallowing anything (and anyone) in its path.
Garden stakes have gotten their new coat of paint, so all looks fresh and spring-like!  This is a very practical means of marking the vegetable garden that I took from Hidcote a couple of years ago.  The stakes are readily available at the home center, and last a couple of years before starting to rot away.  We write directly on them with paint pens. 
Spring lettuces and spinach have been seeded in the hayracks, and move in and out of the glasshouse as weather allows. 
Tulips are showing their tips in pots that will make their way to the front entrance of the house.  The wire cages have worked beautifully against the evil squirrels.  We realistically use tulips as an expensive annual flower in Atlanta, since the winters just don't get cold enough for them to perennialize. 
It's definitely orchid season in the glasshouse!  They hang out looking like the dour sisters all year, and then put on all their party bling in January and February.  Now that they are in bloom, they'll go for a couple of months in this glorious state. 
I'm usually bad about getting photos of things in their "finished" states.  Here's a shot of that same orchid (with another, as well) in its home for the next several weeks.  Despite their reputation for being persnickety, they are really very low maintenance.  And what other flower has a bloom like that?

Sunny and 72 degrees in Atlanta today!  Now THAT is a beautiful thing!

(Please enjoy the photos, and double click on them to enlarge if you'd like. Please don't claim them as your own in a post out there in the internet world, though......Thank  you!)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I'm Not Ready to Board the Train Yet.....

I might be going out on a limb here, but I’m not sure I’m ready to jump on the “don’t use Impatiens anymore in Georgia” train just yet.    I’ve tried to be open-minded and read everything I can about the Downy Mildew issue that has overrun the Impatiens crops in other parts of the US.
Like many gardeners in Georgia, I use a lot of Impatiens (of several different varieties), largely because of the huge amount of shade gardening in this part of the country.  As a result, there is some panic spreading through the metro-Atlanta gardening community at the moment.
For my own gardens, I’ve taken the position that I’m going to plant Impatiens selectively and carefully this year.  This is my rationale:
  1. The issue of downy mildew has not been seen anywhere in Georgia yet.  It is very prevalent in Florida (where Impatiens are as common for winter planting as Violas and Pansies are in Georgia), and in some northern areas with cooler summers than we have in Georgia.  All of the research I’ve read finds that the downy mildew doesn’t stand up to the hot temperatures prevalent in Georgia.
  2. Many of the “big box” stores in metro-Atlanta get their annual flowers from Florida growers, so there is HUGE potential for this disease to enter the Atlanta market.  This ties into my commitment to be selective and careful this year.  I am only purchasing from growers I know well, who are not bringing plant (or seed) material in from Florida.  I am going to ask my clients not to purchase flowering material without checking with me first (and I am very lucky in this area to have a good relationship with those clients).
  3. The disease only impacts Impatiens walleriana, not New Guinea impatiens, so we’ll be using a lot more of those.
  4. I am going to plant in much more limited numbers (and in more separated areas) in the gardens, and we are committed to watching, checking, and being prepared to tear out Impatiens at the slightest sign of illness.
I’m clear that this position might not sit well with some in the gardening community in Georgia, but I’m just not ready to only plant succulents based upon the POSSIBILITY of Georgia having another drought year, either.

I’d love to hear from other gardeners who are experiencing this disease with Impatiens, and learn about how you’re handling this issue

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Early Morning

Formal doesn't have to be stuffy!
Along the creek in the wooded garden 
A parasol of hellebores!