Tuesday, June 30, 2015

How can I attract more birds to my yard?

How can I attract more birds to my yard? Can you recommend the best bird feeder for that purpose?

Since all birds don't eat the same food, I recommend a feeder that presents a diverse menu or several feeders containing different offerings. Bluebirds, for example, primarily eat insects, larvae and small berries. They also may eat suet with peanut butter. Woodpeckers love suet, fruit, insects. Finches love niger. You get my drift. You will find all kinds of bird feeders at goGardenNow.com.

You shouldn't rely on bird feeders alone to attract more feathered friends. You'll do well to improve the habitat around your property.

There are four things good habitat requires:
  • Food
  • Water
  • Shelter
  • Cover
Bird feeders, of course, provide food, but you should also consider landscaping with plants that do so.  Ilex, crabapples, Eastern red cedar, Vaccinium and Viburnum are good fruit sources. Vines such as Campsis provide nectar. Perennials such as Achillea, Asclepius, Coreopsis, Echinacea, Mondarda, Rudbeckia, and Salvia provide seed or nectar.

Bird baths help provide water, but so do rain gardens and shallow ponds. Drippers and misters also attract various species.

Bird houses provide shelter, but so do dense trees and shrubs. Many of the food plants provide shelter. Also consider providing yarn, left-over cotton and linen cloth for nesting material. I've seen birds make off with wads of dog hair left in the yard.

Cover has more to do with providing safe places from predators. Bird houses don't always do it, as anyone who has found a snake in her bluebird house can attest. Again, dense shrubs and trees that are somewhat out of reach provide roosting places. Thorny plants such as roses and blackberry thickets act as deterrents from predation.

So, you can see there are many ways to attract more birds. As a bonus, you will find other wildlife species will also be attracted to the habitat you create.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Hopelands Gardens - A Remnant Of The Gilded Age

Camellia japonica at Hopelands, Aiken, SC

Scattered throughout the South are historic winter retreats of the Gilded Age where wealthy northerners have come to exploit, rest and play. Drawn by some salubrious attractions, the rich and famous have established enclaves for their pleasure and left their mark. One such is in the city of Aiken, South Carolina.

Aiken was incorporated in 1835 at the Savannah River terminus of the South Carolina Canal and Railroad Company's line, and named for the company's first president, William Aiken (1779 - 1831). As a seasonal resort for millionaires, it became home to the Aiken Winter Colony in the late 19th century. Among its well-heeled families were Vanderbilts, Harrimans, Astors, Pinkertons, Graces, Hitchcocks, Whitneys, Bostwicks, Eustis, Goddards and Iselins. The community was so popular that a direct rail line was established from New York to Aiken.

Life was tough for everyone during the Great Depression and World War II, but not so difficult for the Winter Colony residents that they couldn't establish two horse racing centers. The Aiken Mile Track was built about 1935 or '36 for training and racing trotters. Subsequent infield tracks were added for hurdle racing and steeplechasing. The Aiken Training Track was established in 1941 around what is probably the country's oldest polo field. No doubt the tracks contributed to Aiken's continued prosperity. Aiken continues to be a training ground for "the sport of kings."

The Winter Colony attracted the attention of William Goddard (1825 - 1907), a decorated Yankee Civil War hero from Rhode Island. After graduating from Brown University, he traveled internationally gaining experience in manufacturing and mercantile businesses, and carrying secret dispatches to American allies oversea. He and his brother Thomas established Goddard Brothers working as agents for textile mills owned by their uncles. Goddard Brothers grew to be an important management firm. William went on to become the president of Providence National Bank, and Chancellor of Brown University.

Goddard gained a reputation for his yachting prowess. He was a founding member of the Narragansett Yacht Club.

William Goddard bought property in the Aiken Winter Colony and named it Hopelands, like his other large estate in Warwick. Hopelands in the South was in a fine neighborhood. He was all about hope.

Rye Patch, the winter home of Edmund Pendleton Rogers (1882 - 1966) and his wife, Dorothy Virginia Knox Goodyear Rogers (1896? - 1980) was right next door. Even their names strongly hint of American enterprise and shoulder-rubbing with nobility. The Goddards often stayed with the Rogers when wintering in South Carolina. Goddard saw how much his daughter Edith Hope (1868 - 1970) enjoyed their stays, so he gave his property there to her upon her marriage to Charles Oliver Iselin (1854 – 1932). The New York Times effused “Hope Goddard Engaged to C.O. Iselin, Well-Known Yachtsman to Marry Heiress of  Millions.”

Charles Iselin was a banker and a member of a wealthy family. He grew up sailing near Long Island, New York in difficult little boats prone to capsize. With that experience, he excelled to become "one of the greatest American Yachtsmen of his time, participating in and winning six consecutive America’s Cup races." No doubt, his love of sailing and more drew the attention of William Goddard, and his daughter's.

Charles and Hope married and made their home at the Iselin New Rochelle estate - All View - where he docked his yachts "Defender’’, ‘’Reliance’’ and ‘’Columbia’’. Hope became the first woman to serve
Edith Hope Iselin
as a crew-member of an America's Cup yacht.

Hope outlived her husband.

Sailing with Charles was not Hope's only sporting interest. She was also an avid equestrian and loved the "sport of kings." She supported horse racing in Aiken.

The home in South Carolina must have seemed like a cabin in the woods compared to her magnificent mansions up north, but she loved it. Hope took care to landscape properly with the influence of Frederick Law Olmstead, the architect who designed Central Park, Druid Hills in Atlanta, and other great American landscapes. Olmstead was the Iselin's personal landscape architect. She probably enjoyed watching guests from her porch enjoying her gardens. She could stroll easily to the her stables and equestrian venues.

If you visit, you'll see the old house no longer exists. It was razed according to the terms of her bequeathing the property to the City of Aiken. I asked a docent why. He had no idea, but opined that the home needed extensive repairs. Perhaps she wanted to spare the city the expense of fixing it. Her gardens remain.

With history in mind, you should visit Hopelands Gardens. The appreciation of a place makes it stand out in one's experience.

Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum

Right after after walking into Hopelands, you'll see the Aiken Thoroughbred Racing Hall of Fame and Museum, "Home of Aiken's Racing Champions." Keep in mind it's not a memorial to all the great race horses of the world, but if you want to delve deep into the history of horse racing in Aiken, South Carolina this is your place. Housed in a former stable, it is truly amazing. Once you're drawn in, you will be ready to mount a horse, start looking for a bookie, or buy a souvenir.

Live Oak (Quercus virginiana). Hopelands, Aiken, SC

Hopelands is gracious. Wide paths curve beneath century-old live oaks and among impressive specimen shrubs such as camellias, hollys and tea olives. In summer, concerts are performed on a stage near one of the ponds.

Performing Arts Center. Hopelands, Aiken, SC

Strolling through the garden, one can't help but muse about what life must have been like here during the Gilded Age. Hope Goddard would be pleased to know that her gardens are still enjoyed by all who visit.
Pyracantha. Hopelands, Aiken, SC

Pansies in terra cotta. Hopelands, Aiken, SC

Espalier arch. Hopelands, Aiken, SC

Hopelands, Aiken, SC
Greyhound sculpture. Hopelands, Aiken, SC
Pond and amphitheater. Hopelands, Aiken, SC

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Aloe vera is turning brown.

My mother gave me some Aloe vera she had grown on her window sill. I read it will take full sun, so put it on my patio. It's slowly turning brown. HELP!

Aloe vera will grow in full sun, but apparently it was not getting so much on her windowsill. When transitioning such plants from shade to full sun, it's best to do so gradually so they harden off. If yours haven't spent too many days in the sun, I suggest you treat them to afternoon shade for a few weeks before moving them back to the patio.

If you live in USDA climate zones 9 through 11, you can even plant aloes outdoors in a cactus garden. They're excellent for xeriscaping.

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Junipers turning brown.

I have a lot of juniper ground cover and have a problem of them turning brown after having been in ground for 2 plus years. What can I do? 

You need to know the source of the problem before you can remedy it. Here are a few things to consider.

First, your Juniperus species might not be getting enough water. While it's true that junipers are generally drought-tolerant, gardeners often rely too much on drought tolerance, and neglect watering when necessary. There is a point of no return. If junipers show drought stress by exhibiting dull, dry foliage, it's already too late to save them. By the way, the same is true of most conifers.

Second, your junipers might be suffering from a pest infestation. Mite and bagworm populations can easily increase to the point that they kill host plants. Miticides (also known as acaricides) might be effective. Follow label instructions. The best way I've found to control bagworms is to identify the bag-like cocoons early on, remove and destroy them. The cocoons are easy to overlook. They're covered with brown twigs and resemble small pine cones.

Third, your junipers might be afflicted with a type of canker. These diseases are caused by fungi that enter plants through wounds. Affected plants are often already under stress for other reasons. Dying branch tips and weeping wounds are notable symptoms. Fungicides are seldom effective. The best course of treatment is to remove the diseased plant portions. If the disease is advanced, remove the plants and replace them with another species not affected by canker. Fungal spores will continue to be present in the soil.

Return to Juniperus at goGardenNow.com.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Large black worms attacking in large numbers...

1st instar larvae on Vitis rotundifolia

Help again? I was checking the vines this morning and there are small black worms attacking in large numbers the leaves of the scuppernongs and muscadines.  I would assume this is some sort of moth or butterfly larvae, but cannot find suitable information on the internet.  Any ideas would help.  I hate to attempt to get rid of them with the wrong pesticides if I have to use them at all.

They might be Hyalophora cecropia , 1st instar phase. I can't tell if the ones in your photo are as "hairy" as the ones in the links below.


The reason they don't show the coloration and size that you might see in photos of the big, green caterpillars is due to their immature phase.

I don't think you need to bother getting rid of them. More grape leaves will appear. They won't denude your vines. There are probably enough predators to keep them in check. Some type of BT dust might benefit.

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Sunday, April 19, 2015

When I Returned to Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, Maine

Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME

The calendar read "spring", but the weather felt like winter when I returned to Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, Maine in late March. The low was 9 degrees Fahrenheit the day before. Some locals thought the weather was warming; others disagreed. If it was mud-season, it was only around the edges. The Penobscot River looked pretty solid to me.

Penobscot River near Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME

Having visited Mt. Hope Cemetery when the lilacs were blooming, it seemed bidding in a strange way to visit when the weather is harsh and the landscape bleak. Except for the fact that Mainers know how to keep the roads cleared, it was bleak, indeed.

Gate post. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME

The gateposts looked grayer.

2nd Maine Memorial

The 2nd Maine Memorial death angel seemed more ominous.

Superintendent's Lodge. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME

I imagined the occupant(s) in the Superintendent's Lodge preferred to be left alone.

Receiving House. Mt. Hope Cemetery. Bangor, ME

The Receiving House (aka "Death House") suddenly made sense to me, for it is the repository for those who die in winter to be kept chilled until the frozen soil is soft enough for grave-diggers to plunge their shovels into the cold, cold ground.

Actually, I don't know if the Death House is still used. Modern machines have been invented that can bust through concrete, and powerful pumps can keep water out even during mud season.

The grove formerly covered with bluets was nearly inaccessible.

Memorial Fort. Grand Army of the Republic. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME

I drove to the Grand Army of the Republic Memorial Fort to take a closeup picture of it in the snow. I hadn't stepped more than a yard before I sunk to my knees in snow. I wished I'd thought to bring the snowshoes I'd learned to use two days before.

Stone bridge. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME

I took pictures of the "fort" from afar, and also images of ducks, the stone bridge, and the omnipresent crow.

After filling my shoes with snow, I didn't range far. I photographed several views of the Mount.

Station House. Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME
I captured a couple of images of the Station with its intricate ironwork where mourners - mostly women - stepped off trains to grieve or celebrate before ceremonies commenced.

After leaving the cemetery, I parked beside the road for pictures. Frankly, it's difficult to enjoy a great view of the Penobscot River from the road. There are guard rails, passing vehicles and denuded trees.

Upon returning to my car, I gazed again at the Mount Hope Cemetery Station and remembered that death is an occasion for grief and/or celebration. It depends, I suppose, on the perspective and hope within.

Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME

Mt. Hope Cemetery, Bangor, ME
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Mepkin Abbey, Monck's Corner, SC

Deposition of Christ. Mepkin Abbey

In the final analysis there is no other solution to man's progress but the day's honest work, the day's honest decision, the day's generous utterances, and the day's good deed.
--- Clare Boothe Luce.

...my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 
--- Philippians 4:19.

Mepkin Abbey (formerly Mepkin Plantation) is home to twenty-one monks of the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, also known as Trappist. The abbey is situated on a bluff above the western
Cooper River Bluff, Mepkin Plantation
branch of the Cooper River, in Berkeley County, South Carolina. One can not stroll the grounds or gaze across the river without a sense of its fascinating history.

The area was originally settled by Native American tribes, mainly Kiawah. Wanting protection from their immigrant, cannibalistic Westoe neighbors, and the Spanish to the south, the Kiawah tribes welcomed the English.

As the English expanded their territories in North America, the Crown set up a system of Lords Proprietors to oversee them. Few  Lords Proprietors, if any, ever set foot on their territories. The original Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina included:
Though they may have never visited, their names remain as places on maps.

Joel Gascoyne, “A new map of the country of Carolina.” Ca. 1682. American Memory, Library of Congress http://memory.loc.gov/

Proprietary Grants were often given to heirs of Lords Proprietors. The Mepkin Plantation site was part of such grants made to three of Sir John Colleton's sons: Peter, Thomas and James. Mepkin belonged to James Colleton. The plantation passed to James's son, John, then to John's son, John, Esq.

Lords Proprietors responsibilities included protecting the colonists from invasion. They didn't do a good job of it. The colonists had to defend themselves from French and Spanish troops, pirates and hostile tribes. The colonists complained and petitioned the Crown again and again to take over the administration, which it did, finally. The Crown purchased the interests of seven of the Lords Proprietors in 1729 for £22,500 - about what they had in them.

Carolina was declared a Royal Colony and assigned to Governors. Some Governors were grandsons or great-grandsons of Lords Proprietors. Sir John Colleton of Exmouth, Devon was named Governor.

No doubt the Colletons were noted for the day's honest work, the day's honest decision, the day's generous utterances, and the day's good deed. But tremendous accomplishment was also achieved by Sir James Colleton's Attorney and plantation manager, John Stuart. John gained land and wealth, and achieved much more, however he claimed that his boss, James Colleton wrongly took credit for many of his contributions.

In 1762, John Colleton, Esq. sold Mepkin, including the original 3,000 acres of the Proprietary Grant to Henry Laurens. Henry Laurens was an import/export merchant in Charleston. His business included the slave trade. He quit the import/export business in 1776 to become a planter and statesman.

The time was ripe. Laurens rose to positions of importance in the emerging nation. Elected to Minister to Holland by the Continental Congress in 1779, he set sail in 1780, but was captured en route by the British. Laurens was imprisoned in the Tower of London for fifteen months until being released prematurely in anticipation of a prisoner exchange to get Lord Cornwallis back. Cornwallis was returned a little later than expected.

Laurens family cemetery.
Laurens returned to Mepkin in 1784. His house had been burned. Another was built, but no remains are left. Though elected to other important positions, he declined. He was tired. Henry Laurens died in 1792. His remains were cremated and buried at Mepkin.

Henry left the plantation to his son, Henry. The latter sold Mepkin in 1916 to J.W. Johnson, Esq. Johnson left it to his daughter, Mrs. Nicholas G. Rutgers. Rutgers sold it in 1936 to Henry R. Luce and his wife, Clare Boothe Luce. The Luces enlisted noted American landscape architect Loutrel Winslow Briggs to design their gardens at Mepkin.

On January 11, 1944, Clare's nineteen-year-old daughter, Ann Clare Brokaw, a senior at Stanford University, was killed in an automobile accident. Her death devastated her mother. Seeking solace, Clare turned to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen for counseling. Clare Boothe Luce converted to the Roman Catholic Church in 1946.

In 1949, the Luces contributed a large portion of Mepkin Plantation to the Church for use by the Trappists. Twenty-nine monks moved from Gethsemani, Kentucky to found the Abbey.

St. Benedict of Nursia
Life at Mepkin Abbey is guided by the Rule of St. Benedict of Nursia. Some of his precepts include: 
  • Idleness is the enemy of the soul.Therefore the sisters should be occupied at certain times in manual labor, and again at fixed hours in sacred reading.
  • ...then are they truly monastics when they live by the labor of their hands,as did our Fathers and the Apostles.
  • The tenth degree of humility is that he be not ready and quick to laugh, for it is written, "The fool lifts up his voice in laughter" (Eccles. 21:23).
  • Let us do what the Prophet says: "I said, 'I will guard my ways, that I may not sin with my tongue. I have set a guard to my mouth.' I was mute and was humbled, and kept silence even from good things" (Ps. 38[39]:2-3). Here the Prophet shows that if the spirit of silence ought to lead us at times to refrain even from good speech, so much the more ought the punishment for sin make us avoid evil words.
  • Let all things be common to all, as it is written (Acts 4:32), and let no one say or assume that anything is his own.
  • Let all guests who arrive be received like Christ, for He is going to say, "I came as a guest, and you received Me" (Matt. 25:35). And to all let due honor be shown, especially to the domestics of the faith and to pilgrims.

If you don't see men in religious habits when you visit Mepkin Abbey, they might yet be working in plain sight. For example, you won't see someone mowing the lawn in a tunic, scapular and hood. Look, instead, for a man on a tractor in coveralls and cap. If not seen working in public, the monks are not idle.

The Trappists live by the work of their hands. Enterprises might include many things such as egg production, jam and jelly making or brewing. The monks at Mepkin Abbey grow shiitake and oyster mushrooms, operate a gift shop, sell books and art work, and provide a columbarium. Everything is reasonably priced, too, though I haven't inquired about the price of a niche in the Mepkin Columbarium. As St. Benedict ordered, The evil of avarice must have no part in establishing prices, which should, therefore, always be a little lower than people outside the monastery are able to set,” so that in all things God may be glorified.

While in the gift shop, I asked where we could find the Columbarium. I had heard about it before. The shopkeeper told me where to find it. He confided that "people are dying to be buried there." Keep in mind that St. Benedict didn't forbid laughter but discouraged quick laughter. I smiled in acceptance. That left me to wonder whether the shopkeeper was a Trappist monk, or just teasing me.

Except for possible lawn mowing, there is an air of silence at Mepkin. We only spoke to the gift shop attendant, and I wasn't sure he was a monk. Even at work, the monks only speak when necessary. There was no idle chatter. The silence enriched our experience.

There's no way a casual visitor would know for sure, but a friend of mine who retreated to Mepkin Abbey confirmed that, according to their Mission Statement, "all things are common to all" with the exception of a few simple, permitted items such as toothbrushes.

That brings me to the subject of hospitality. Christians worldwide have been known since their earliest history for hospitality, grace and mercy. The Trappists at Mepkin Abbey may receive you for a retreat at Mepkin Abbey if there are enough beds available. Men and women, husbands and wives are welcome, but will have to sleep apart.

If you want to become a retreatant at Mepkin Abbey, feel free to apply. Don't expect your life to be easy, full of leisure, mindless meditation, enjoying the beauty, sniffing the flowers and photographing while someone else works hard. You will, no doubt, experience the day's honest work, the day's honest decision, the day's generous utterances, and the day's good deed. Work hard at it. But, in the final analysis, ...my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus. 
---Philippians 4:19.

If you're scratching your noggin and wondering whether Monck's Corner, South Carolina was named for the monks at Mepkin Abbey, it was not. The place pertains to George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle, mentioned above.

Follow me now to see what grows behind the garden wall. Here are some of my photographs.

St. Clare's Store and Gallery
Creche. Mepkin Abbey
Garden Walk. Mepkin Abbey
Holy Family. Mepkin Abbey
Camellia japonica. Mepkin Abbey
Holy Family. Mepkin Abbey
Garden Walk. Mepkin Abbey
Nandina, Crapemyrtle, Aucuba. Garden Walk. Mepkin Abbey
Creche. Garden Walk. Mepkin Abbey
Flight to Egypt. Mepkin Abbey
Columbarium. Mepkin Abbey
Pond Walk. Mepkin Abbey
Nancy Bryan Luce Garden. Mepkin Abbey
Live Oak Allee. Mepkin Abbey
Detail of Deposition of Christ. Mepkin Abbey

The spiritual life is first of all a life. It is not merely something to be known and studied, it is to be lived.
― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude   

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

The 80th Annual Savannah Tour of Homes

The Gingerbread House aka Asendorf House c. 1899

The 80th Annual Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens is practically upon us. Beginning March 26, the Tour will open more doors to some of Savannah's loveliest residences for four wonderful days. Come and enjoy Savannah's Historic Landmarks.

Though The Gingerbread House (pictured above) is not included in the tour, you'll enjoy a wonderfully rich experience visiting historic homes and gardens around some of Savannah's most notable squares.

The Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens will begin Thursday at 5:30pm with a Welcome Reception in Chippewa Square followed by a Worship Service at The Independent Presbyterian Church at 207 Bull Street. Worship ends at 7:00pm.

Each day presents a new tour and special events. On Thursday, a self-guided walking tour explores the Southeast Historic Landmark District including Calhoun and Whitefield Squares. You'll be surrounded by 200 years of history, intricate wrought-iron, wide sidewalks and well-groomed tree lawns. Ornate mansions, row houses and simple duplexes nestle together, their architectural styles including Romanesque, Victorian and Italianate.

Friday's walking tour meanders through the Northeast Historic Landmark District including Washington, Warren and Columbia Squares. Here you'll find some of Savannah's earliest homes dating from the 18th century. Spared by fires that devastated other parts of Savannah, smaller homes constructed of wood and Savannah Gray brick present a cozy, charming atmosphere.

On Saturday, you'll explore the Southwest Historic Landmark District surrounding Madison, Monterey and Chatham Squares. This area dates from the 19th century Cotton era. Wide, oak-canopied streets, row houses and magnificent Forsyth Park make the day very special. Small shops filled with unique designs provide for a lot of shopping.

Sunday's tour includes the Ardsley Park - Chatham Crescent District. Developed around 1910, the district is one of the first automobile subdivisions in America. Broad, shaded avenues, circular and crescent-shaped parks, a grand mall and eclectic architectural styles characterize the district.

All four days are packed with special events including seminars on gardening, historic preservation, antiques and design. Lunch will be served in some of Savannah's most famous restaurants, or catered by our best chefs.

Take time for Sunday worship in one of Savannah's grand downtown churches. I recommend The Independent Presbyterian Church or Christ Church Anglican, founded in 1733 with the establishment of the Georgia colony, now meeting in its new home at 2020 Bull Street, on the corner of Bull and 37th.

Christ Church Anglican also presents Compline - Saying Good Night to God (Gregorian Chant by Candle Light) from 9:00pm to 9:30pm. Compline in the Anglican Church is in the Christian monastic tradition, the last service of the day, invoking God's peace and protection for the night. Compline at Christ Church Anglican is held on Sunday nights.

For event details and ticket information, visit The Savannah Tour of Homes and Gardens web site.

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Friday, March 6, 2015

Must-Have Plants: Primula vulgaris 'Belarina Valentine' (PPAF)

Primula vulgaris 'Belarina Valentine' (PPAF)

Name(s): Primula vulgaris 'Belarina Valentine' (PPAF), Primula acaulis, Primula malacoides, Hardy Primrose, English Primrose.

Flower Color: Deep red.

Bloom Time: Mid-spring to early summer.

Foliage: Semi-evergreen.

Height/Spread: 8 inches to 12 inches x 8 inches to 12 inches.

Climate Zones: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9a.

Sun Exposure: Partial shade to full shade.

Soil Condition: Moist, loamy, pH 6.1 to 7.5.

Features: Repeat bloom from mid-spring to early summer. Attracts butterflies.

Uses: Shade gardens, butterfly gardens, container gardens.

Comments: You will fall in love with hardy primrose, Primula vulgaris 'Belarina Valentine' (PPAF). Flower color is wonderful deep red. Mature size is 8 inches to 12 inches x 8 inches to 12 inches.

'Belarina Valentine' (PPAF) thrives in partial shade to full shade in USDA climate zones 4 to 9. Soil must be loamy and consistently moist with pH ranging from 6.1 to 7.5. Space from 10 inches to 12 inches apart.

Hardy primrose is great for shade gardens, butterfly gardens and container gardens.

Return to Primula at goGardenNow.com.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Must-Have Plants: Phlox subulata 'Emerald Pink'

Phlox subulata 'Emerald Pink'

Name(s): Phlox subulata 'Emerald Pink', Thrift, Creeping Phlox, Moss Phlox.

Flower Color: Pink.

Bloom Time: Spring.

Foliage: Evergreen, sharply pointed, mossy appearance.

Height/Spread: 4 inches to 6 inches x 10 inches to 12 inches.

Climate Zones: 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Sun Exposure: Full sun.

Soil Condition: Well-drained to dry, average to poor, pH 5.5 to 7.5

Features: Drought tolerant, deer resistant, showy flowers, low maintenance.

Uses: Xeriscaping, massed planting, ground cover, erosion control, borders.

Comments:  Phlox subulata 'Emerald Pink' is also known as Thrift, Moss Phlox and Creeping Phlox. This popular evergreen ground cover forms a dense carpet. Foliage is sharply pointed and mossy in appearance. Pink blooms appear in abundance in spring. Mature height is 4 inches to 6 inches. Creeping Phlox is perfect for small or large areas, beautiful around patios, between pavers, and in perennial borders. Creeping Phlox is drought tolerant, and deer resistant.

It thrives in full sun in USDA climate zones 3 to 9, tolerating a wide variety of soil types with pH ranging from 5.5 to 7.5. Space from 10 inches to 18 inches apart.

Return to Phlox at goGardenNow.com.

Friday, February 27, 2015

"What can you do with a blackberry lily?"

File:Belamcanda chinensis 2007.jpg
Photo courtesy of Tom Murphy VII

"What can you do with a blackberry lily? The answer is, anything you want. All gardens are made better with the addition of this persevering heirloom iris. You thought I said blackberry lily, and now I am referring to it as iris. Yes, Virginia, it has always looked like an iris from the standpoint of foliage and recently its scientific name has been changed from Belamcanda chinensis to Iris domestica."

Norman Winter, director of the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm in Savannah, GA has written a wonderful article on the blackberry lily. I think you'll enjoy it.
ead more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2015/02/26/3508703_on-gardening-try-this-lily-turned.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
ead more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2015/02/26/3508703_on-gardening-try-this-lily-turned.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy


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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

FAQ: How many Liriope spicata plants do I need?

I have about 1,200 sqf area in the backyard to cover with Liriope spicata. It will replace the existing bermuda fescue turf. The goal is to produce a tidy, formal look and dense cover. I'd prefer potted plants of a sufficiently large size. I am looking at at least six vendors and you are one of them I have contacted. Please advise me on:
  •     How many plants do I need?
  •     When would be the best time to plant them, considering my location and zone (Norman, OK zone 6B)?
  •     Considering the large size of the area to be covered, what would be your best, competitive price?

The planting distance depends on your budget and how quickly you want the plants to grow together and cover the area. They will cover more quickly if spaced closer. You must balance one against the other.

You may plant those from 2-1/2 inch pots as closely as 8 inches apart, or as distant as 12 inches apart. You may plant those from 3-1/2 inch pots as closely as 12 inches apart, or as distant as 18 inches apart.

Plant spacing is measured from the center of one pot to the center of the next pot.

If you plant at 8 inch spacing, you will need 2.25 plants per square foot.
If you plant at 10 inch spacing, you will need 1.45 plants per square foot.
If you plant at 12 inch spacing, you will need 1 plant per square foot.
If you plant at 15 inch spacing, you will need .64 plant per square foot.
If you plant at 18 inch spacing, you will need .44 plant per square foot.

This is a link to the Liriope spicata in 2-1/2 inch pots showing quantity discounts: https://www.gogardennow.com/grasses/liriope/liriope-spicata-2-1-2-inch-pots.html

This is a link to the Liriope spicata in 3-1/2 inch pots showing quantity discounts: https://www.gogardennow.com/grasses/liriope/liriope-spicata-3-1-2-inch-pots.html

If you have irrigation available, plant in spring when danger of frost is past. If you do not have irrigation available, I suggest you wait until fall when natural rainfall is usually more abundant.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

Cypress Gardens, Moncks Corner, SC

Bateau. Cypress Gardens, SC
14 February [19]35      
Villa Margherita, Charleston, S. C.

Dearest Papa Woojums,

It is a lovely Charleston but very lonesome, all your friends have been so sweet to us considering that they almost feel we didn't bring you, they don't see that we are the ones who suffer the most. Miss [Josephine] Pinckney was charming and intriguing and a little mysterious, the Dubose Heywards even more charming, so little mysterious that one felt that one had known them always and so loved them at once, and the unknown Mr. Ben Kittredge Jr. sat next [to] me at lunch at Oxford in '25 or '26 and he has a beautiful car but a marvellous garden, the famous cypress garden and we rode on boats on the swamp for hours this afternoon. This I tell you so that you may know what you are missing.
--Gertrude Stein, The Letters of Gertrude Stein and Carl Van Vechten, 1913-1946

The "marvellous garden, the famous cypress garden" of Mr. Ben Kittredge, Jr., was actually owned by his parents - Benjamin R. Kittredge of New York and Elizabeth Maynard Marshall of Charleston, S.C. - when Stein visited. Cypress Gardens was created by the elder Kittredge after he purchased Dean Hall Plantation in 1909.

Dean Hall Plantation was established in the 1720s by Alexander Nesbitt of Dean, Scotland. It passed through the hands of several owners before Kittredge obtained it.The plantation had fallen into disuse. The reservoir which once held fresh water for the rice fields had become a swamp. Kittredge aimed to turn it into a duck hunting preserve. Trails were constructed around the swamp and the landscape was planted with ornamentals. He opened Cypress Gardens to the public in 1932.

Benjamin Rufus Kittredge, Jr. was the author of an unremarkable novel, Crowded Solitude, which he published in 1930. Perhaps his book, the fact that he was already known to Stein, and the famous garden included him in her itinerary.

Benjamin Junior sold the 162-acre Cypress Gardens to the City of Charleston in 1963 for $1.00. The city turned it over to Berkeley County about 30 years later.

Cypress Gardens was heavily damaged by Hurricane Hugo in 1989, but a recent visitor would hardly know it. Time, hard work and money have healed much.

Just as Gertrude Stein, we visited Cypress Gardens in winter. Admittedly, it is not the time one would usually make a garden visit, even in the Lowcountry. Indeed, there were few other visitors, but the solitude enhanced the pleasure.

Indoor exhibits are nestled near the Visitor Center. Among the Cypress Garden attractions are the Butterfly House, Heritage Museum, Swamparium and Nature Center. A live bird exhibit, alligator display, children's and heirloom gardens are also nearby.

The Butterfly House exhibits a good number of plant species that feed butterflies or their larvae, but the Butterfly House was not alive with butterflies when we visited, at least in their winged form. We spotted one monarch and a caterpillar, but there were many chrysalides in protective boxes. The Butterfly House is also home to koi and a few birds such as the Diamond Dove, native to Australia, and the Wood Duck, native to the swamp just outside the door.

The Heritage Museum tells the fascinating story of Dean Hall Plantation. Many of the artifacts were unearthed thanks to DuPont™ , which bought part of Dean Hall for its Kevlar® fibers plant. Though it's easy to mourn the loss of the historic site, most of what we know of it would be mouldering still in the cold, cold ground if not for "progress".

Upon entering the Swamparium, one is greeted by the big, toothy grin of one of the largest alligators you've ever seen. Don't worry. It's stuffed. But it and the bronze image of a large alligator snapping turtle on the wall give some of idea of the dangers inherent in a southern swamp. For more creepiness, other live reptiles, fish and amphibians are also on display in the darkened rooms.

More of nature is on display in the Nature Center. A stuffed Red Fox and Bobcat stalk upon a shelf, and hands-on exhibits provide tactile learning for everyone.

There are about 3.7 miles of walking trails and paths at Cypress Gardens. The paths are less developed. If you wish to explore as Stein did, boats are available for guided and self-guided tours.

Cypress Gardens Walking Trail
With a map of Cypress Gardens in hand, we set out. Swamps seem more dismal on cold, cloudy days. Buzzards spied upon us from ahigh. Cypress Gardens, however, was brightened by seasonable camellias and unseasonable azaleas, and scented with fragrant tea olive. The patterns and colors of crapemyrtle trunks and cypress knees looked more vibrant under the gray sky. We took our time, otherwise we would have overlooked the beauty of camellia-strewn trails, aquatics in black swamp water and the silhouettes of dried flowers against duckweed.

Cypress Gardens evokes nostalgia with its seemly structures: the wedding gazebo and Memory Garden gazebos, romantic pergola, stone span, a wooden Chippendale-esque bridge for sighs.

The garden is furnished to encourage wildlife. The bat hotel and Wood Duck nesting boxes are examples. I kept an eye out for fauna, especially Wood Ducks. If not sighting some, I kept my ears open for their distinctive calls.

I neither heard nor saw any.

Perhaps you are wondering, "What about the water-skiers and picturesque belles I've seen in postcards?" They were at another Cypress Gardens, now aka Legoland Florida Resort. This Cypress Gardens is at 3030 Cypress Gardens Rd., Moncks Corner, SC 29461.

In the words of Gertrude Stein, "This I tell you so that you may know what you are missing."  Visit sometime soon.

If you've enjoyed the images in links above, follow now to view more from Cypress Gardens.

Golden Shrimp Plant (Pachstachys lutea)

Flaming Glory Bower (Clerodendrum speciosissimum)
Camellia japonica
Camellia sasanqua 'Yuletide'
Camellia japonica
Joggling board
Indica azalea
Indica azalea hybrid
Indica azalea hybrid
King's Mantle (Thunbergia erecta)
Heritage Garden

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