Posted in The Southern Garden, gardening

The Lull before Seasons

Don’t you just hate waiting?

Waiting for the kids, waiting in line, waiting for your orders, waiting for your spouse. Waiting for the seasons to change!

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Up north, the summer is winding down and fall is working its way down from the artic. There is an anticipation of change; the weather, the leaves, the daylight; it’s clear there is a new season about to begin.

But down here in the south, we are waiting…for cool weather-you know below 90! For hurricane season to be over, for the tourist to start to arrive. And for the fall/winter plants to be ready.

Right now, the summer flowers are at, or past, their peak of perfection and starting to look a bit sad. It’s too hot to plant fall annuals-even if they were available. They won’t be ready for weeks.

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It would be easy to sit back and just wait for the planting season to arrive. Yet if you do, there is a good chance it will sneak up on you and then you’ll be scrambling to get your plants and beautify your garden for your winter guests.

So, why not use this lull between seasons to do some planning and preparations?

Brouse your way through the stack of gardening magazines you’ve accumulated, spend hours drooling over the pictures posted on Pinterest and let your imagination run. Take the time to make a diagram of your plantings. Start a list of the new plants you want to try. Look over pictures of your past plantings. (We just published a Container Garden Recipe book for keeping track of your container plantings-this would work great for planning and recording your results!)

3D cover Container Garden Reciepes, upright

This is a great time to inventory your tools. Throw away the shovel with the crack in the handle, match up pairs of gloves, sharpen your shovels, trowels, and pruners. Order that new tool you wanted last year: you know, the one you went to buy it–only to find it was sold out.

Think about rearranging your outdoor living space. Move the chairs to a different location, create a new traffic flow with a different placement of your containers or add a pathway to a new statue or urn. Let your creative side go wild. Afterall there is still time to tame your design.

A word of warning: don’t be too anxious to plant your fall flowers. Just because the stores may be carrying Chrysanthemums, doesn’t mean it is the right time to plant them in your yard. Some plants will not do well in the high heat of late summer.

Kemper Island 2018

So be patient- it won’t be long and you’ll be able to plant your annual impatiens!

Victoria LK Williams

Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

An Old Favorite

Do you have a favorite tree?
I don’t mean in a general sense, “I like Hibiscus Trees.” No, is there a particular tree you would be lost without?
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Growing up, my grandparents had a beautiful Weeping Willow in the front corner of their yard. The branches wept to the ground, and this provided the perfect place for my cousins and me to gather. It was our own private little clubhouse. We were out of view (we thought) of the adults and could spend hours there. The shade from the branches kept us cool in the heat of the summer, and when the wind blew off the lake, the branches would sway and dance. My grandparents had a large yard with many trees and shrubs, but it is this tree I remember the most.
Today, I must admit my favorite tree isn’t all that attractive. It technically isn’t even a tree, but I would be lost without it. This old Wax Myrtle sits outside my office window. The branches are twisted and uneven from damage over the years by the tropical storms. We trimmed it and thinned it out after 2 consecutive Hurricanes (Jean & Frances) and to be honest, we weren’t sure it would survive. But it did. The trunks have thickened over the years and seem strong enough to take on the next storm. We constantly have to trim the sucker growth that threatens to make our tree back into a very large bush, but it’s worth it.
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My Wax Myrtle may not be as attractive as the Oak tree in the front yard, but it makes up for it with all the benefits it provides. This tree is home to so many animals, or at least it’s a resting spot. I can look out the window at any time and find a squirrel or two looking back at me. The birds love to rest in the branches, and their songs call my cats to sit on the desk and watch.
There have been a few surprises in this tree as well. The first night that I saw the mother possum hanging upside down looking in at me at 1:00am remains a vivid memory. And more than once, I’ve watched the baby raccoons climb up the twisted trunks to look around our yard. The lizards have their own travel path up and down the trunk, racing quickly along on their missions.

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The more practical side of the tree is the blessed shade it provides, blocking the late afternoon sun coming out of the west. And it is a perfect spot for my orchids to hang from. Come November and December, the tree becomes beautiful with the help of the orchids as they open their blooms to show their glory.

So, tell me, what is your favorite tree?
Is it part of your past, or a feature in your own yard?

Victoria LK Williams

The beautiful picture of the willow tree came from 123RF.com
Image ID : 20833543
Media Type : Photography
Copyright : Ralf Neumann
123RF.com

Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

Nature’s 4 Elements

The Four Elements-Are they in your Garden?

Earth, Wind, Water and Fire.

Those four elements you’ll find in the garden as well. Earth, of course, is your garden’s anchor. Whether it be in a container, in the ground or in a hanging basket; the earth element supports your plants. You can create the earth you plant in by mixing natural and artificial ingredients to make a blend which works best for you. Different plants may need different mixes, and you may even need to create mixes for different areas in your garden, such as a shady or wet area.

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Then there is something you really can’t add; you have to rely on nature to provide this. The wind. You do  enjoy the benefits of a cooling breeze, the sounds of your wind chimes as the wind pushes through them, or the results of pollination from the wind moving the pollen from one flower to the next.

The third element is water. This comes from the rain and gives life to your plants. It’s often an added element in the forms of a birdbath, fountain, or even a small pond. Adding this element can often give benefit to more than your plantings. If there is a source of water, you will find the wild life will also be attracted to your garden. From butterflies and birds, to small animals such as squirrels and rabbits; they will feel welcome in your garden.
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The fourth element is fire and it is a little bit harder to add. It’s making a big splash in today’s landscape garden, and there are many forms that you can bring it into your garden. Artificially, you can add fire by adding lighting landscape, hanging lanterns or using Tiki-Torches. One of the biggest trends in todays outdoor living space are firepits.
Fire Pits seems to bring with them a feeling of closeness and community. They become a gathering spot for friends and family to share, and catch up on the day’s activities with each other. They can be a place of laughter and good times or maybe a solitude spot for a bit of romance.

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You can go to the web and find all kinds of sources for fire pits; do-it-yourself or premade- your imagination is all that holds you back from creating a special location in your landscape than everyone will want to enjoy. Not all fire pits are equal. Some use traditional wood that you burn, or some of the new trends that I really like are propane gas pits. You have no mess and all you have to do is turn the switch on and off. Some bit think it’s a bit lazy, not quite the traditional approach, but it works.
And a new item that I’ve recently seen is Fire Glass. This is added to your container and produces no smoke, order or ash. It comes in a range of colors and sizes, which makes it attractive, even when not lit.

Your garden is an extension of your world; a small little microclimate, a place where you can use the four elements of Earth, Wind, Water and Fire to create a beautiful atmosphere just for you.
Do you have all these elements in your garden?

Victoria LK Williams