Thursday, November 5, 2015


The roadside garden is still going strong this November.  The Muhly grass has finally begun its show with the pink plumes and the Robinson red mums added a much needed spot of red color to the  yellows, oranges, purples and white .

These zinnias performed beautifully through the summer drought and flood and are still showing off their beautiful orange blooms.

Lavender 'provence ' also took the drought well and bloomed several times.  THe lovely light purple asters are late bloomers in the Fall garden.  

Painted a dead tree turquoise and installed it by my new birdhouse.

Delighted to see Rodgersia , aka, Rodger's Flower is thriving and sent up a stalk with a bud as if it couldn't wait to bloom.

Added Lorepetalum, a brilliant purple leafed evergreen, an Asian pear '20th century ', oakleaf hydrangeas, Southern wax myrtle,  two blueberries, anemones, ferns, hostas, kerria japonica and bear's britches to the back garden.  Added some sage and bay leaf to the herb garden and kale in the vegetable garden.

It's too warm now but I am thinking of adding more bulbs such as tulips, alliums and daffodils .  Meanwhile I am just going to relax and enjoy this mild November weather that we've been blessed with.

Monday, September 28, 2015


Finally my new deer proof fence is installed and I'm a happy gardener.  I just planted 9 savoy cabbages and will continue to develop my Fall / Winter veggie garden.  

Another new addition to the Sweet Garden is my sweet puppy.  Duke, 8 weeks old, is a Miniature Australian Shepherd.  He is a little fluffy bear cub with a sweet personality.

Of course having a new puppy is not much different than having an infant in the house but before you know it he'll be tagging along with me in the newly fenced in garden where he'll be taught a flower from a weed.

The 'Miss Huff " Lantana was spectacular as usual despite the hot dry summer and many swallowtails and hummers found them delightfully delicious as well.    The roadside wildflower garden flourished with coreopsis, milkweed, blanket flowers, sages, Joe Pye weed, goldenrod and ornamental grasses, to name a few.

 Monarch butterflies found their way to my garden to lay their eggs on my milkweed.  

The boulder garden is filling in nicely as well.  I had to bring in 5 yards of fill dirt to grade some low areas in the backyard where my veggie garden will be.

Fall has arrived and September is departing.  Where did the time go ?   Looking forward to October and cooler weather to garden in .

Tuesday, September 1, 2015



When my eyes are weeds,
And my lips are petals, spinning
Down the wind that has beginning
Where the crumpled beeches start
In a fringe of salty reeds;
When my arms are elder-bushes,
And the rangy lilac pushes
Upward, upward through my heart;

Summer, do your worst!
Light your tinsel moon, and call on
Your performing stars to fall on
Headlong through your paper sky;
Nevermore shall I be cursed
By a flushed and amorous slattern,
With her dusty laces' pattern
Trailing, as she straggles by

-Dorothy Parker

August was dry, dry, dry and the temperatures were high so whatever watering I did was quickly absorbed.  To conserve water I added compost with biochar which is supposed to cut down on moisture loss.  I also covered the beds with a layer of pine needles and leaf mulch.

Meanwhile much to my delight I discovered that the endangered Monarch butterfly had discovered my milkweed that I planted last year.  I counted at least 8 caterpillars.

I started laying out the herb garden even though my backyard fence is not going to be installed until early September.  The deer and rabbits don't seem to like the herbs but they have devastated my tomatoes .

Despite the lack of rain this month the woodland garden which is partly shady has continued to thrive.  I added some colorful birds from a local artisan to provide some much needed color and whimsy.

The last day of August brought relief in a drenching overnight rain that saturated the garden and filled the rain barrels.

Farewell to August and welcome September !

Friday, July 31, 2015


The roadside garden with a mixture of coreopsis, lavender, cosmos, lantana, allysum, yarrow, lambs ear, marigolds, salvia , rose campion, sneezeweed, goldenrod, cardinal flower, delpheniums, gaura, muhly grass , and milkweed, to name a few, continued to thrive  and garner so many compliments from passersby.

Tragedy struck  in mid-July when my little canine companion of 14 years, Mini-Schnauzer Jojo had to be put to sleep due to an inoperable brain tumor that caused her to have constant seizures.    Below is a picture of her in our Chicago home, in her favorite chair, checking out the action on our busy street and barking selectively at people she didn't like.  She is gone from our side but never from our heart. I spent the last day of her life consoling and soothing her, giving her favorite treats .  The vet told me that I took such good care of her that she lived 2 years longer than most of her breed .  Farewell my faithful companion.  We shall meet again.

 I was fortunate to find a piece of whimsical art for my garden produced from recycled materials by a local  artist. Birds are a common theme in my woodland garden with many birdhouses, feeders and birdbaths.  

I am enjoying watching my young garden mature .  Despite the many challenges of gardening here in the Piedmont - deer, rabbit, clay, drought, etc.  I love my woodland cottage garden .  A small house and a big garden is my dream come true.  

Now August approaches and I have many plans for the Sweet Garden.  A new fence will be installed in my backyard so that I can garden without worrying about critters eating everything.  I will start my vegetable garden and add plants that I love but couldn't have due to deer.  I used to dread Fall because I knew that a harsh Chicago winter was ahead, but here you can garden all year. The sight of  Camellias and Flowering Apricots in Winter cheer my very soul.   And , what I planted this year - 4 dogwoods, viburnums and magnolia will be wonderful in Spring.  

And to end this Blue July tonight  there will be a blue moon.  

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


         Once school is out we head up to the Outer Banks on the Atlantic for a short vacation with our daughters and granddaughter.

June was a busy month in the garden and due to lackof rain and hot humid days I fussed over my new plantings with extra water and an added layer of mulch.

My roadside wildflower garden did well despite the lack of rain and most plants were drought-and-deer resistant.  I added a heavy layer of shredded leaves and pine needles to preserve moisture.

The birds were very busy building nests in the boxes and houses I put up.  This little wren laid five eggs.  A beautiful American Goldfinch occupied another house and had a small brood.  I supply them with food and water so it makes their parenthood easier.

Much to my delight the seeds of this Robinson's Red Mum not only sprouted but bloomed this month.  How great to have mums in the summer !  

I made of list of the plants that deer and rabbits have not browsed for the past two years :   Pink Astilibe, Bergenia, ajuga, daffodils, ferns, red buckeye, cannas, hellebores, coreopsis, Japanese iris, Florida anise, lavender,ornamental grasses, rosemary, salvia, yarrow, verbascum, zinnia, and other herbs.

This month I will finally have a fence installed in my backyard so that I can enjoy gardening without fighting the deer and rabbit.  I plan to construct a round flagstone patio near the boulder garden and plant an ornamental kitchen garden .

Farewell June.  You have been a brutal month to deal with in the garden but it appears that July's forecast is to be cooler than you were.  

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Merry Merry Month of May

 THE month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green!
O, and then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer's Queen.

Now the nightingale, the pretty nightingale,
The sweetest singer in all the forest quire,
Entreats thee, sweet Peggy, to hear thy true love's tale:
Lo, yonder she sitteth, her breast against a brier.

But O, I spy the cuckoo, the cuckoo, the cuckoo;
See where she sitteth; come away, my joy:
Come away, I prithee, I do not like the cuckoo
Should sing where my Peggy and I kiss and toy.

O, the month of May, the merry month of May,
So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green;
And then did I unto my true love say,
Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my Summer's Queen 

Thursday, April 30, 2015


April is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

-T.S. Eliot

As a child growing up in rural Alabama one of my fondest memories was sleeping to the sound of rain on our tin roof. It was also one of my greatest fears that the rain would change into a terrible thunderstorm or tornado, as it often did in April and May. I can't even begin to guess how many sleepless  nights we spent in a storm cellar during tornado season.

                         April in the Sweet Garden

This April has lived up to its reputation " April showers bring May flowers. "  It rained heavily everyday for an entire week.  I was astonished at the huge volume of water that poured from the sky during a very heavy downpour.  I wish that I could pipe some of it out to California .

                    Birds have set up a nest in my birdhouse.  There is food and water nearby for the parents when the babies hatch.

Despite the many rainy days we had I managed to add quite a few new shrubs to the woodland garden :  Aronia, Red Buckeye, kerria japonica, 2  'celestial ' dogwoods, a kousa hybrid and 'appalachian snow. '   I spread one large bag of butterfly and hummingbird wildflower seeds in the roadside wildflower garden.  So many plants from last year have returned, much to my surprise and delight, given the harsh winter we had. 

                One of my favorite natives, red buckeye.

It is my goal to have drifts of sweet woodruff, autumn ferns, woodland phlox, lily of the valley, ferns, barrenwort, astilibe, bergenia, mullien, cranesbill geranium, hellebores, pulmonaria, brunnera , jacob's ladder, and columbines in the woodland garden that fronts my house.  Planting them requires a lot of work as its not possible to dig very deep in the hard pan soil that is rock and clay so I must prepare all the areas with good topsoil mixed with compost and manure.

   The boulder garden in back has sprung to life with iris, catmint, daffodils, lamb's ear, dianthus, ajuga and soapwort in bloom.

Since I haven't put up a fence in my backyard yet I've only planted tomatoes and green onions which I keep sprayed with deer and rabbit repellent.  I'm hoping to break ground on a new fence sometime within the next month or so.  So far I have an orchard of 2 Asian pears, persimmon, pawpaw tree, and a nectarine.

     Spring onions and Better boy tomatoes in raised bed.

Because of my intensive purchasing and planting my daughter asked me if I there would ever come a time when I wouldn't have anything left to plant to which I replied a gardener's work is never done.  I do however look forward to the day when I can enjoy the fruits of my labor.

Now April draws to a close and so does my 70th year.  Tomorrow I shall be a year older and hopefully, wiser.

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