wallace gardens

Last of the spring bling…. I’m loving the burgundy-burnished-copper-mahogany & green combination. This will be a repeat for next fall. Here in Georgia, we had just the right winter weather (finally) with enough cold temperatures to keep the flowers looking fresh, but not so chilly as to dispatch a soggy palette of wilted winter container color. We also had a very chilly March, so that prolonged our winter flower display this year….a joy to behold.

And in a just a few short days, I’ll be ripping all these containers apart to make room for their summer counterparts! 

byjoveimbeinghumble  asked:

Q: Is Greg friends with Charles Wallace from "A Wrinkle in Time"?

Is it premature to declare this the Best Idea of the Month? No?

I think this is going to necessitate a full reread. Yes.

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April is National Gardening Month, and here in Atlanta, it is arguably the prettiest month of the year. Everything is in bloom, and it can be positively head-spinning to pick out favorite landscape plants, so let’s discuss a couple of favorite deer proof plant materials.   

Viburnum macrocephalum (Chinese Snowball) is one of my favorite small landscape trees. It tolerates full sun and part shade, and once established, it’s fairly drought tolerant. Many people mistake this tree for a hydrangea, because the flowers are similar. However, unlike hydrangeas, viburnums are deer resistant. I’ve never seen one of these trees damaged by wildlife, and just look at the size of those flower heads. Use a specimen tree like this as a focal point in your landscape, so that when April arrives, all eyes are upon it. 

While we are on the subject of deer proof plant materials, and favorite April-bloomers, let’s talk about herbaceous peonies. These long-lived perennials are tough as nails, they thrive here in the Atlanta-metro area, and are drought tolerant once established. Choices include fully-double peonies, or single-petal varieties. The doubles are very fragrant, but they may topple over without support, especially in heavy spring rains. My personal favorites are the single-petal varieties, like ‘Red Emperor’ and 'Krinkled White’ because they withstand heavy down pours. The two most important things to remember about growing peonies is (1) make sure they have good drainage, and (2) keep the “eyes” (or the “crown”) of the plant at ground level during the winter (and don’t bury them in mulch). Peonies will bloom better when nipped by cold weather, so they appreciate the extra winter exposure. Garden centers often carry peonies when they are in bloom, so it’s easy to choose your favorite color. For best results, plant in groups of three, and expect peonies to multiply over time, providing years of spectacular blooms. If you want to start peonies from bare roots (“tubers”), wait until fall to plant them. There are many fine mail order sources for bare root peonies, and it’s a much more cost-effective way to expand your perennial collection. 

Jan. 3, 2014.  Yesterday, a few folks were questioning, or were curious about, the necessity of watering container gardens, and the urgency with which I was addressing the task. (I garden in Georgia, Zone 7B.) On January 3, 2014, Able Assistant and I hand-watered 83 out of the 92 weekly container gardens I maintain, by accessing clients’ laundry rooms, kitchen and bar sinks, and even bath tubs (the outside spigots were all frozen solid) in preparation for next week’s temperatures which are predicted to drop to 5 degrees on Monday, and 15 degrees on Tuesday.  

So, let’s talk about Advective Freezes.  An “advective freeze” is also known as a wind borne freeze, and it occurs when a large air mass sweeps into an area (most often from northern regions), accompanied by a drastic drop in temperature. The warmer air is rapidly replaced by frigid air, usually within hours. Advective freezes tend to last longer than other freezes, making it all the more important to protect plant materials, especially container-grown plants or newly-installed landscape materials. Survivability of plant materials will be dictated by how cold it gets, and how long the freeze lasts. Sadly, even by following the steps below, there is no real guarantee against plant death under these conditions. 

What can you do? Here are some suggestions. 

(1) Watering is a method of freeze protection, and should be done several hours before a freeze. The roots absorb the water, and help protect plants from cold winds and prolonged freezes. Container-grown plants are exposed to winter elements over all surface areas, making them more susceptible to damage than landscape materials. Start filling up watering cans and get those planters watered (as well as newly installed landscape materials if there hasn’t been any recent rainfall). Because outside spigots are likely to be frozen, this means carting watering cans in and out of the house. It can be done. 

(2) You can’t “cover” everything in a landscape, but you can protect prized plant materials or plants that are borderline cold-hardy. I use porous coverings, like flannel fitted sheets, which wrap easily around shrubs, window boxes, and container gardens (burlap is another alternative).  If it’s windy, you may need safety pins or clothes pins to keep the sheets in place. Cover the plants before it gets dark to trap some of the remaining daytime air inside the covering. Move planters and containers closer to the house, against a wall, or group them together in a protected area, and then cover with a flannel sheet for the night. 

(3)  Normally, winter is a great time to prune ornamental trees. However, all winter pruning should be delayed until several days after an advective freeze has passed, and a return to normal temperatures has resumed.  

(4)  If you have access to bales of pine straw, the needles can be strewn around the base (root systems) of susceptible plant materials which are prone to such freeze conditions (hydrangeas, for example, are known to freeze to the ground in severe weather). 

Good luck, and stay warm out there! 

Morning Glory: Weed or Ornamental Flowering Vine? 

Ipomoea purpurea twines itself around fence posts, mailbox gardens, and trellises, blooming throughout the months of July and August. The leaves are perfectly heart-shaped and provide a faultless back drop to the psychedelic tones of the flowers. 

Drop the seeds into soil (soak them in water 24 hours beforehand) after all danger of frost has passed, sit back and wait for germination in five to seven days. The vine will take care of itself most of the rest of the summer, tolerating neglect, and poor soils. Early in the morning, the flowers disentangle themselves from the vines, and emerge unflinching from the depths of the foliage. 

Once the flowers fade, look for swelling seed pods to follow. After the pods are dry and brown, they will start to shrivel, and this is the time to harvest the seeds. Keep only the hard, black seeds, discarding any others. When spring comes back around, the cycle begins again.  

A morning glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.

~ Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, Song of Myself 

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Berries now: Callicarpa americana (American Beautyberry). This rounded, bushy shrub is a great selection for the shade garden with a natural setting. Graceful wands, bearing hundreds of purple berry-like pearls, line the stems in September and October. This variety is the more compact and tidier of the Beautyberry plants available in the southeast. A deciduous shrub, it combines well with the evergreen Autumn Fern and golden Acorus grass.