Thursday, May 31, 2012

Artistically Amusing - Garden Tour

I can not describe this particular garden on our tour without using the word fun.  Because that's what it was.  Fun!

From the street, you don't get much of a sense of what's in the back.  The front was planted very traditionally, with a nice lawn and beautiful plantings.  She used evergreens in the back, and perennials in the front.

I wanted you to see this path between the boxwoods and the front plantings.  It was used as walkway from the driveway to the front door, and also for easy maintenance.  Smart idea!  

Using string lighting to train creeping fig (ficus pumila) near the front door was an idea I would love to use in my own garden.

This side yard was a jewel box.  A small area, she had added some climbing vines to increase her gardening space.  I loved her use of glass as a mulch.  And the round glass ball gave us a hint of what was to come.

This bottle tree was the focal point of the back yard.  (Do you see the rooster, too?)

The traditional blue bottles were used, yes, but in addition, she had different shapes, sizes, and colors of glass.  I liked that.  It was much more interesting to me than most bottle trees I've seen with bottles all the same size and color.  I even saw a little green heart shaped bottle on one branch.  I don't have a bottle tree, but if I ever decided to put one in my garden, I would use this idea of different sizes and colors of glass bottles.

She even used bottles on this old bakers rack used as a plant stand.  I loved her use of sedums in the pots, and the sedum wreath.

She had also included glass to accessorize this wall art.

Bottles even hung from the trees.  I liked these creative ways of using bottles.

I'm not sure what these flowers are made of, but the centers are mesh sponges!  Very creative.

There was something in every nook and cranny, all meant to bring a smile to your face.  See why I say this garden was filled with fun?

I hope you enjoyed a look at this Artistically Amusing garden.  The other gardens I've shown from the Home Garden Tour given by the Smith County Master Gardeners are: Woodland Wonderland, Lakeside Living, and Vision of Versailles.

On our final garden of the tour, we'll see garden that's a Grassless Grandeur!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Vision of Versailles - Garden Tour

I never expected to see a French-inspired garden in a small suburban lot, but that's what greeted me on the Home Garden Tour put on by the Smith County Master Gardeners.  This was a typical small suburban lot, but it was decorated like a miniature Versailles. Which just proves, you can have any style of garden you want in any space!

The plantings were colorful, beautiful, and balanced.  This garden would look nice all year as it was a mix of mostly evergreen shrubs, with annuals used for color.  Using only shrubs and annuals would also make this garden easy to maintain.

Hidden behind the front plantings was a courtyard used for dining, relaxing, and entertaining.  This ornate fountain was the focal point.  And I couldn't keep my eyes off of it!

Water was coming from the top, the middle and the bottom.  Amazing!

The back yard was filled with a pool, complete with lions and plant-filled urns.

Another feature that had a French flair was this faux window.  In reality, it was a fountain.  Water cascaded down the shutters, into the pool below.

This table was a work of beauty.  These are the table legs!

Urns adorned simple plantings.  (Again, mostly evergreens and annuals.)  I can not imagine what these beautiful pieces cost, but it gave me the idea of finding an (much cheaper) urn at a flea market to use as a focal point in my garden.

In fact, this garden was filled with pearls of beauty.  This was definitely not a plopper's garden.  It was a designed landscape.  The statuary were the focal points in this garden, but the scale was perfect in each area, so it didn't seen overdone.  It seemed majestic.

If this is not your style of garden, stay tuned!  The next garden will be Artistically Amusing.

If you missed any of the tour so far, you can find Woodland Wonderland HERE, and Lakeside Living HERE.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Lakeside Living - Garden Tour

If  you have a lake lot, the lake is usually the center of attention.  Not so in this yard!

Although, just sitting here, staring at the lake would be heavenly!  There were a couple of seating areas like this, and a large deck attached to the house.  Definitely a place I would love to go for some rest and relaxation!

But these owners don't just sit around, they also grow their own vegetables.  Just look at this beautiful vegetable garden.  It was perfect.  Not a weed anywhere!  I love the gravel pathways around each raised bed.  They grew a mixture of vegetables, herbs, and flowers for cutting.

And look!  A chicken house!  It was adorable.  Loved the little rooster sign on the side.  And the basket hanging on the hook for gathering eggs.  There was even storage on the outside for her tomato cages.  Very functional!

Punctuations of color were achieved with numerous container plantings.  They were placed near every seating area, along pathways, and on every step.  They were all gorgeous, imaginative, and each one was different.

But that's not all!  They obviously loved water, because they also had a pond!  With waterfalls, lilies, and goldfish.  And if you're wondering, the larger shed next to the chicken house is a painter's studio.  What a great place to get away and spend some time on a favorite hobby.

There was so much to see in this garden, the lake was just an added feature, not the main focal point!  Now, that's Lakeside Living at its best!

This was a part of the Home Garden Tour put on by Smith County Master Gardeners.  The first garden, Woodland Wonderland, can be seen HERE.

What garden will we see next?  A Vision of Versailles!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Woodland Wonderland - Garden Tour

Garden tours are a great way to get garden inspiration.  The Home Garden Tour, put on by the Smith County Master Gardener Association, had several different gardens open to the public this year.  They were each unique, from large to small, formal to whimsical.  They were all inspiring.

This woodland wonderland was the first garden we toured.  It was big, beautiful, and relaxing.  Could you use any of these ideas in your own garden?

A gazebo surrounded by azaleas and trees looked very enticing.  The gazebo didn't have regular seating in it, either - there was a hammock instead!  Rope lighting was added along the underside of the roof.  So romantic!

A vegetable and cutting garden combination took advantage of the limited sun.  Not only are the flowers great for cutting, but also for attracting bees for pollinating.

Lattice screening gives immediate privacy.  Simple, inexpensive, and effective.  The baskets made it beautiful as well.

How about edging all your pathways with large garden beds?  I adore garden beds lined with one planting, like they did here with liriope muscari.

A Peggy Martin rose rambling along a rustic wooden fence was the perfect touch in this sunny spot.

Deodar cedars were also planted inside the fencing (hanging down over the rose).  Although they grow in zones 7 through 9, they are not usually seen in residential settings here, probably because of their size.  (Deodar cedars can grow to a 40 ft. spread, and to at least 50 ft high, sometimes reaching as high as 200 ft.)  

Did you see an idea you might like to incorporate in your own garden?  If not, stay tuned!  The next garden will be about Lakeside Living!  

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Dream Sequence

Every time I saw a picture of a rose covered arbor, I would stop.  I would stare.  I would dream.  

I really, really wanted a rose covered arbor!  Actually, I wanted an entire walkway of rose covered arbors!  But an entire walkway seemed a bit unfeasible, even in my dreams.

Still, I was determined to have at least one rose covered arbor.  Somewhere!  Surely I could figure out where to put just one!  So, I began to plan.

And a couple of years ago, I received an arbor as a present.  (Thanks, honey!)  My plans were big.  Make that, my plans were BIG!  Too big.  Way too big.  Too labor intensive.  And too expensive.

I just hate budgets!  :(

So, the arbor lay in pieces in the grass.  Just a pile of rusting metal.  Not at all the beauty I had envisioned.

I needed a new plan.  After all, I already had the arbor!

As a bonus, I learned how to pour concrete footings!

And this week it happened.  Ta-dah!  The arbor has been set up.  At last!

One day it will be covered in roses.  And when you go through it, you will see the gazebo.  Which will also be covered in roses.

Yes, I'm still dreaming, but at least one part of the sequence has been achieved.

(And if you're wondering, no, the catenary bed is still not finished!  Yes, I'm slow.  I'm a dreamer!)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


I stared at the green caterpillar for a long time.  

I know that the harmony that exists in my garden is fragile and ever-changing.  I don't want the balance to get skewed.  Was this a potential threat?  

Then I heard the back door open, and close.  I looked over the plants toward the house.  "Is this a tomato hornworm?", I called.  

"Where are you?"

"Back here!"  

I was behind the rose garden.  "Is this a tomato hornworm?", I asked again.  I repeated the question so Mr. Holleygarden would come look.  I knew the mere mention of a potentially harmful creature to our garden would make him venture all the way behind the rose garden to take a peek.

Not that I expected him to know if it was a tomato hornworm or not.  We are not the most expert in bugs and creatures.

"See that little horn?"  

"Yes, I see it", he said.  "Maybe you should just go ahead and kill it now."

Whoa!  "But it's on a honeysuckle, not a tomato!"

"Perhaps it's a Luna moth caterpillar.  Let's go look it up."

Whew!  We were back in harmony.  Together we returned to the house, eager to get online and look up images of a green caterpillar with a horn and spots.   

And we found it.

It's the caterpillar of a hummingbird moth. 

I also found out that the hummingbird moths we have been seeing are the Snowberry Clearwing hummingbird moths, or Hemaris diffinis.  The caterpillars eat - you guessed it - honeysuckle, and you can tell the snowberry clearwings by their black legs and the black line across their face. 

This caterpillar, thankfully, was no threat to our garden's natural harmony.  Eventually it will form a black pupa, disguised by leaf litter.  We were both so thrilled!  First, because it wasn't a tomato hornworm.  And secondly, because we have loved seeing these beautiful and interesting creatures flying around the garden.  

Gardeners can talk for hours about fascinating subjects like this!

I'm linking in with Donna at Garden Walk Garden Talk for her Word 4 Wednesday meme on Harmony.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

May 2012 Garden Book Reviews

It's Garden Book Review time!  Every 20th of the month - and YOU are invited to join us!  :)

Joining is simple - there's only two rules:
1) Any book about gardening, gardens, or has a garden influence in it is fine, except:
2) No links/reviews about growing substances that are illegal in the United States.

Simple!  Oh, and please be sure to read the other participant's reviews, too!


This month, I'm excited to review:

The Well-Tended Perennial Garden: Planting and Pruning Techniques
by Tracy DiSabato-Aust

If you grow perennials, this book should be on your bookshelf!

The first of the book has some advice about design, bed preparation, etc.  It's basic information, and if you don't know these things, it's well worth reading.  But I have a lot of books on this material, so that's not what impressed me.

In the second section, the author explains the differences between deadheading and cutting back, pinching and pruning, etc.  Again, this is basic information that most gardeners probably already know.

So, if I think these parts of the book are mediocre, why am I so excited to review it?  For the third section!  The third section is worth its weight in gold.  Because the third section lists perennials by necessary tasks, specific requirements, and situational recommendations.  Here's just a sample of her lists:

1.   Perennials that tolerate wet soil
3.   Clay busters
8.   Deer resistant perennials
15. Perennials that do not rebloom with deadheading
16. Perennials to deadhead to improve the overall appearance of the plant
21. Perennials with self-cleaning flowers
28. Summer and autumn flowering perennials to cut back before flowering for height control

If you're like me, and know only the basics about perennials, but may not be sure exactly which ones to trim back when, you'll love this book!

I add a lot of perennials to my rose garden.
I need a book that quickly and easily tells me how to take care of them.

We live in the computer age, where you can find almost any information about plants that you desire with just a few strokes.  But I think it would take you hours upon hours to put together these lists if you were to try to research them all.  Having them all in one book is, in my opinion, a must-have.


Now it's your turn!  I can't wait to read your review!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thanks, Mom!

My mother does not have a green thumb.  She will agree with that statement.  She's been able to grow aloe for years, throwing some water on it when she thinks about it (not often).  But other than that, she really doesn't have much interest in plants.

She has said several times she doesn't understand why I like to garden.  She is perplexed as to how I've learned the things I have (books, mostly), and why I enjoy all the huffing, puffing, sweating, and scratches that go along with gardening.

'Strawberry Seduction' Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

I don't why know, either.  But I do.

Still, even though she doesn't understand my obsession, I think she's a little proud of me.  (Of course, she is my mom!)

Even so, I was surprised when last fall she bought me a plant.  A plant!  She had been to a new plant nursery!

I have no idea why she stopped at the plant nursery.  I don't ask these things.  I just took the plant, hesitantly thanked her, and stuck it in my garden.  Why was the thanks given hesitantly?  I didn't know if it would live or die.  Remember, last year was the year of our long drought.  And I hadn't bought any new plants, because I didn't think they would make it.

But I wanted you (and her) to know that this plant did make it.  And it's now blooming.  It's beautiful!!!

I love it!  I'm now saying it without hesitation:  Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mom!  :)

Strawberry Seduction grows to around 2-1/2 ft tall and wide in zones 3 through 8.  Heat and drought tolerant, thank goodness!

Thursday, May 17, 2012


It's always so exciting when the gardenias bloom.  First, because they have such a luscious scent.  Oh, my, they are alluring!  Gorgeous white blooms.  Dark green leaves.  And the scent!  Pure deliciousness.  It's better than any perfume.  In fact, I used to have a perfume called Jungle Gardenia.  But it didn't come close to the seducing power of the scent of a real gardenia.

Gardenia jasminoides 'Radicans'

The second reason it's so exciting to see the gardenias bloom is because gardenias have a terrible reputation for being hard to grow.  So, seeing them bloom gives me some smug satisfaction.  Even though, really, I know it's not me at all.  It's the water.

Gardenias love water, and as long as they are in a location with bright shade, and get plenty of water (something that's not always easy to achieve in Texas), they seem to be quite happy.

Gardenias are like an addiction.  Even if you've tried them before, and not succeeded, you will most likely try them again.  Because they can't be resisted.

Once I stopped by a local garden center and immediately when I got out of the car, even before I saw the plants, I could smell something sweet.  Something wonderful.  Something so enticing, I crossed the street without looking!  And when I got to the gardenias, I smiled.  I sniffed.  I just enjoyed.  And of course, I bought.

They're irresistible.  The temptation of having one is just too strong.

This gardenia is 'Radicans', a dwarf gardenia that only gets to be around 1 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide, and grows in zones 8 through 11.  It's probably my favorite gardenia, although I also have 'Frostproof', which grows to around 5 ft tall and can additionally grow in zone 7.  However, I personally don't like Frostproof's leaves as much, as they are less glossy in texture.  My grandmother grew 'August Beauty' for years, which grows in zone 8 through 11 and gets to 5 ft. tall.  It has beautiful glossy leaves.  Unless you're growing them as an annual, pay attention to the leaves, since gardenias are evergreen.

Want to grow gardenias?  Remember water.  And if you fail, it's not your fault.  Just try, try again.  You won't be able to help but try again.  It's the alluring power of that sensual fragrance.
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