Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

A Northern Spring VS A Southern Spring

A Northern Spring VS A Southern Spring
I was listening to the news last night, and I realized that spring in the south differs greatly from the spring in the north. Up north early spring can be anything from flooding in early and late snowfalls, with crocuses peaking through. When I lived in upstate New York, spring was always my favorite season. Spring seemed to start with the celebration of Easter, the daffodils blooming and hyacinths scenting the air. New life is everywhere, from the robins in their nest, to the bunnies coming out of their lairs.

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But, last night on the news I heard signs of spring in a different manner, the signs of spring in the Deep South. The first thing we had heard was at the riptides were bad because of the changing directions of the winds changing from winter to spring. This might be bad for the swimmers, but the surfers sure love it.

The next thing we found out about was the man-of-war are all on the beach. Their purple-blue but bodies can sting, and so do those long tendrils. With care, you can still enjoy a day at the beach, but plan on staying out of the ocean.
Next, we are reminded about that the sharks are migrating; this is definitely a spring time item. Huge shivers (groups) of them can be found offshore. All within swimming and snorkeling distance of the fun loving bathers enjoying a sunny day.

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And finally, we heard news that with the weather warming up that the alligators are getting frisky. This means the alligators are getting warmed up, moving around and getting ready for meeting season. Kayaks and fisherman need to take care on our river-ways.

Yes, spring in the south sounds a bit more dangerous than spring in the North!
Daffodils and tulips up north verses sharks and alligators in the south.
I guess I’m a southern girl at heart. I’ll take my sharks, man-of-war and alligators over cold flooding waters and the possibility of a late snowfall.

But I will admit I miss the glorious color and scents of the spring.

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http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

 

Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

Know Your Space

“Space. The final frontier.”

Or is it?
Well, at least in the garden, space is the important frontier.
Space can be the final say regarding what you plant and how you plant. The smaller the garden, the more important the amount of space you have. And the more important it is to use it properly. One of the first steps in using space properly is to know how much space you there is to work with.

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Nothing is harder to do than to figure your space without taking measurements-inevitably you’re wrong. When you take those measurements, it’s important to be as accurate as possible, because in a small space an inch can mean a lot. A foot can make a difference with what type of plants you plant, and a yard to make the difference in the type of material you use for hard-scaping.
When taking your measurements, it is imperative to find out where the building sits on the property. While it is important to measure the windows and doors, don’t forget to look for the other little things you might not consider. The downspouts, hose bib, gas meter, utility area; all of these must be considered in your drawing. If you don’t incorporate them in the drawing, you will be in for a big surprise when you go to plant a six-foot plant in front of a 3-foot window. It’s a little hard to explain to the customer why their view is blocked because you didn’t measure properly. I’ve learned through my own mistakes and experiences, that it never hurts to take an extra measurement or two,  Without fail, when you get back to the office and sit at the drawing table, there is a missing measurement somewhere. With other measurements, you can triangulate and coordinate where you will be planting and approximate that missing measurement.

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But only knowing the measurements of the length and width of an area isn’t the only thing you need to consider. Look up over your head. Are there power lines in the way of where you will plant that oak tree? Is there an awning you need to consider, or are you going to be blocking sunlight for the new planting? These are other considerations you need to think about when you’re measuring your space. If you’re adding hard-scape to your landscape, you also need to consider the physical movements of both people and items such as wheelchairs, a golf cart, a stroller or a gardening cart. Take into consideration not only the straight path these items will take, but the curves and arches they need to take to turn safely without damaging your landscape or your property.
There are some great tools on the market for measuring other than the good old-fashioned measuring tape. There’s even a battery powered one that automatically retracts for you. Some are measuring tapes that can electronically figure out your space by doing the math for you. And there are even some new tapes that can visually measure and figure out your space without the use of a physical tape.

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Need a simpler tool? Try the walking measuring stick. The handle is attached to a counter and wheel, and it calculates the feet as you walk. When you’re measuring long distances, there’s nothing better, because a measuring tape often will not go much farther than 100 feet. A walking measuring tape can be as sophisticated as you would like to spend the money on. They can figure out your square feet of the area. For a larger project. you might need to hire a surveyor and get the site plotted out in more detail.
Don’t forget those underground utility lines. Many municipalities provide services where they will come out and mark the utilities for you. A good rule of thumb, is to always mark before you dig-there’s nothing worse than sticking that shovel in the ground and cutting off somebody’s cable, telephone or worse yet, breaking a waterline.
So, remember to take all things into consideration when planning out your garden space. Get it right the first time and then you can enjoy the planting experience rather than being frustrated.

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Once you’re all finished, grab that cold glass of iced tea and head out to the garden to sit and relax and enjoy that beautiful space you created.

Enjoy Time In The Garden!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

The Gift of Rain

The Gift of Rain.

The gift of rain can do many things for us; water the crops so that we can eat, fill the lakes and ponds so that we can drink. The rain does much more than that and it truly is a gift.

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Have you ever noticed how some much-needed rain can change your whole attitude? It can wash off the dust, clear the cobwebs to refresh and renew you. Not only can the rain renew you, the rain can change your whole outlook. On a gloomy, dismal day the sun breaks out in amongst the rain and it can create a rainbow. But, remember, that rainbow wouldn’t be possible without the rain. The gentle rainfall can be relaxing and peaceful versus the thunder and lightning and pounding rain of a good storm can be frightening. Yet, without the change of rain types we would never be able to experience all the rain has to offer.

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Rain has many benefits as you well know. It opens the flowers, which produces seeds, which produces food. The results of a good rain will green-up your lawn and open the leaves on the trees giving this world the oxygen it needs. And the oxygen wouldn’t be there without the green plants and the green plants wouldn’t be able to survive without the rain; are you seeing the circle we live within? Sometimes the gift of rain comes in abundance and it’s almost too much for us to handle. Other times we find ourselves praying for rain to save our farms and livestock. Whatever amounts of rain we receive, we should always be grateful, because it means our world, our precious earth, is producing and growing and surviving.

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So, the next time you find yourself caught in a rain storm, will you moan and groan about the inconvenience?

Or, will you be grateful for the gift of rain?

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

Out with the Old

There’s something both heartbreaking and exhilarating about redoing a landscaping. It’s sad to tear out old plants that have reached their maturity and are declining, but it is also necessary for a new landscape to be installed.

When I’m called in to do a re-landscape, the first thing I look at are the bones of the landscaping. It took years for a palm tree to get to the height that balances with the house, or for an oak to provide a beautiful canopy to shade and offer cool sitting areas for the homeowner. As for the bougainvillea growing up and over the arch of your front entry; why would you want to remove something so gorgeous? But other plants just tore out after about 12 to 15 years down here in South. And rather than leave plants that are going downhill, having weak stems and are prone to insect and disease problems—we need to take them out.

It’s my job just determine what goes and what stays. Once a determination is made, I can begin the design. Bed lines are often changed to add new interest and to accommodate the growth of the larger plants remaining in the landscape. This is the opportunity to create a whole new look. Pathways can be added, vignettes of privacy can be snuck in and views that have matured over the years can be enhanced. This is also the perfect opportunity to incorporate some beautiful container plantings. I especially like to do this in areas where the roots are so thick that you can’t dig a new plant into.

Since the original landscape was installed, there have been many improvements on the plants available, hybrids have been created that will tolerate the southern heat better and new varieties have been introduced to the market. This is a perfect opportunity for the homeowner to take it vantage of these.

It’s rather like the old saying for a bride: something old something new and something borrowed. The old: the mature plants that will stay anchored landscape. The new: different varieties of plants now on the market. And the borrowed? Reusing some old standbys that helped create the foundation of a good landscape.

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Don’t be afraid to take out a shrub here there, or even an entire hedgerow. This is the south and things will grow quickly.

Before you know it your new landscape will look like it’s been there all along.

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

Posted in Uncategorized

A tiny little secret…

20151117_115818One of my all-time favorite books is The Secret Garden, by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I read it as a child, and have re-read it many times as an adult. I have always been fascinated by the work and comradely that went into bringing that old garden back to life. The many other facets of the book thrilled me as I read, but it was the garden I remember the most. And then when the book became a movie-well, I fell in love all over again.
As a southern gardener, I may not be able to re-create the old English garden from the book, but I can create a garden that will bring joy, wonder, solace and contentment. I simply need to be a bit more creative.
The flowers of the tropics may not be the same, but I can use color, texture and scents to achieve my goals.

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Finding little corners tucked away from view, planting taller bushes and trees to create a special spot or boldly creating a niche out in the open to take in a special view, will all work towards creating your own secret garden. Don’t forget to include a few unusual plants and/or containers to finish off the plantings.
Adding a beautiful bench, a bistro set, or a couple of comfortable chairs will help claim the niche as your special spot. And the garden can be used year round down here, allowing you to enjoy it even longer. Don’t forget the evenings in the garden. Torches lit to guide your steps to the garden, a small fire-pit to relax around or fairy lights sprinkled into the branches overhead will all work towards a wonderful spot to enjoy the evening sounds.

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As you work in your garden, don’t forget to take the time to notice the results of all your efforts. Seeing a garden come together, plant by plant, can be as rewarding as opening a secret door, with a long-lost key, to find a beautiful garden.

Posted in Uncategorized

Bragging Time!

Spring Break

Spring Break…those two words put together can have different meanings to different groups of people.

To the young families struggling through a long winter stuck indoors, it can mean a week’s vacation to a warmer, family friendly destination. For young adults is often brings to mind endless beach parties and fun, fun times. To the many Grandparents out there, it could mean the visit from returning college students. To those living in these destination spots it could mean all the woes and traffic headaches that the tourist can bring.

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But to the Southern Gardener, well Spring Break means it’s time to show off! Winter annuals are at their peak about now, the days are warm, the nights a little cooler, winds have calmed down from those strong North-easterners and the rain has yet to become the summer’s downpours. And this means the flowers and gardens are looking their best.
There is a certain point when flowers are full and glorious, just before they become overgrown and weary. It can last for a week or several weeks. The experienced Gardner knows the best timing and methods of pruning and fertilizing to prolong this period and bask in the glow of all those compliments from the novice standing in awe over your skills.

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It doesn’t matter if you want to brag about your skills, or just stand back and let others enjoy the results of your hard work, this is the time when it all comes to celebrate the garden. If your containers are at your front entry or in a public area, expect your visitors to exclaim how beautiful your flowers are. Share your tips for a successful show, for they will be sure to ask not only how you did that, but what you used.

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(If you have a gardener, be sure that they have provided you with a list of the plants in your gardens!)

On the other hand if you would prefer to keep your garden a secret all to yourself, then by all means, do so. Be sure that you have created a garden that you can spend hours in, escaping the struggles (and tourist) of the day, and relax. I love to not only have color in this type of garden, but also plants that will please my sense of smell as well. A few well-placed herbs such as Rosemary or Lavender can do the job.

And remember, it’s Spring Break.
So pour yourself a tall glass of sweet tea (or mimosa) and get out in your garden to enjoy it, not work it!

http://www.VictoriaLKWilliams.com

 

Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

A garden to tell us about you?

Driving around, I find sharp contrast to the landscapes in our area…

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I find it amazing how much the landscaping plantings reflect our personalities. From the well-manicured lawn to the Shabby Chic Garden, each one says something about the person who lives in the house that the landscape surrounds.

It was interesting to see that the business man with a well-manicured lawn and shrubs, perfectly trimmed. And yet on the other side of the spectrum, the naturalist we met with later was a throwback from another era. Her garden had no rhyme or reason to it, but everything had its place and looked well together.

Often landscaping not only reflects our personality, but it also reflects our needs for more practical applications. We may need privacy and plant plants will give us that, screening out the properties around us. Shade is an important element in any landscape, so planting tall trees with overlapping canopies become a necessity. Then there magnificent views to show off and enjoyed to the fullest. The landscaping around this area is used frame in the view and show it off to it’s full of potential.

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And don’t forget the nature lovers who invite the birds and squirrels and any other little critters who want to make their home into their garden. They plant specifically to attract these type of animals; butterfly gardens are all the rage right now, and when you plant a butterfly garden you’ll find other birds as well.

So what kind of landscape do you have? Does it reflect your personality? Is your garden manicured and immaculate? Or are you more of a free-flowing nature-loving gardener? Maybe you a little bit of both.

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Take a look outside your window to see what’s out there.

Is  your landscape true to your personality?