'Annabelle' Hydrangea

'Annabelle' Hydrangea

Monday, April 12, 2010

What's Your Garden Style?

Take this quiz from Better Homes and Gardens and find out:


Friday, March 26, 2010

Gardening In Black--Black Plants Continued...

Cimicifuga simplex 'Hillside Black Beauty' (a.k.a. Bugbane) features 5-foot tall elegant white flower spikes in late summer. Plant this perennial in sun or partial shade. This plant and all plants listed below can be purchased at White Flower Farm. (All Photo Credits=White Flower Farm)

Colorful Coleus 'Black Magic' is an easy care annual. Plant it in full sun or light shade. Coleus adds an exotic touch to containers. It is very simple to root coleus in water.

Meet Euphorbia 'Blackbird'... This perennial has velvety black foliage that creates drama in full sun.

Black Parrot Tulips make a dark garden soar in springtime.

Iris chrysographes (black flowered) is a carefree Siberian Iris that will enhance your midnight colored garden in summer.

Black-eyed Susans are a sunny, perennial favorite.

Black Bamboo or Phyllostachys nigra has dark culms that turn from green to black over several years. They grow 25-feet tall in sun or partial shade in zones 6-9. Bamboos are members of the grass family. WARNING: Some bamboo is invasive.

Don't forget about blackberries, blackberry lilies, eggplants, dark maroon sunflowers, dark maroon snapdragons, black columbine and black tomatoes! Find all of these plants, plus more, at http://www.whiteflowerfarm.com/

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Welcome Spring!

March 20th--the first day of spring--has finally arrived! The hellebores are blooming after being buried by a foot of snow for weeks.

Daffodils are poking their heads up through coral bells.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Shamrocks were sacred plants for the Druids and Christians because of the significance of the number three to each faith. Shamrocks are actually white flowered, three leafed clovers (Trifolium repens), common weeds in Ireland. Legend has it that St. Patrick taught the Irish about the Trinity using a shamrock.

Pinning on a shamrock on St. Patrick's Day is a way to celebrate Irish pride. Also, remember to wear green today (even if you are not Irish) or you may get pinched! (Photo Source=www.life123.com)

Cheers!!! Green beer is on tap in many American bars on St. Paddy's Day. "Erin Go Bragh!" is often translated as "Ireland Forever!" (Photo Source=www.cnn.com)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Baptisia Blooms

Baptisia Blooms in June.

The Perennial Plant Association crowned Baptisia australis the Perennial Plant of 2010 for many reasons.

Baptisia, or False Indigo, is a low-maintenance North American native wildflower that has few, if any, pest and disease problems. Even deer avoid this plant! It it highly adaptable and grows in zones 3-9.

Baptisia blooms for several weeks, from mid to late spring. Its violet-blue blossoms look like tiny sweet peas. Deadheading the spent flowers encourages more blooms. In fall, large, dark, rattling seed pods appear. The soft blue-gray-green foliage stays attractive all summer long.

Baptisia grows 3-4-feet tall and wide. It looks right at home in the back of the sunny border. It prefers well-drained soil. Long-lived baptisia does not like to be disturbed once established, so transplanting or dividing this perennial is difficult.

False Indigo can be found in shades of purple, cream and yellow.

This plant has rich roots. Early Americans used Baptisia to produce dye. And, it is a legume.

You just can't go wrong with a Baptisia blooming in your garden!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Better Late Than Never! Spring cleaning the potager on one of the first sunny, warm, dry days in March...

Time to compost!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

More Black Magic For Your Garden

Black Bat Flower (Tacca chantrieri) looks out of this world. The unique bat-shaped flowers can grow 12" across with "whiskers" that are 28-inches long. Bat flowers bloom in August-September. This intriguing plant is from the Yunnan Province, China. It gets 36" inches tall. Bat flowers are hardy in zones 10-11. There is also a white form. Bat flowers are at home in sunrooms, greenhouses or on hot, humid shady porches. Plant them in well-drained soil.

These and the other black plants shown below are available from Van Bourgondien and may be purchased at http://www.dutchbulbs.com/.

Giant Dinner Plate Dahlias add a lot of drama to the back of the border in late summer and fall. 'Black Wizard' has deep maroon-black 8"-10" blooms. Dahlias make wonderful cut flowers. 'Black Wizard' dahlias are hardy in zones 8-10. Dig and store them in a frost-free location during the winter if you live in a colder zone.

'Black Magic' Elephant Ears (Colocasia esculenta 'Black Magic') have gigantic tropical foliage that will leave gardeners spellbound. 'Black Magic' gets 40"-45" tall in part shade and moist soil. It is hardy in zones 10-11. Lift and store bulbs indoors during winter in colder parts of the country...

Who doesn't love low-maintenance daylilies (Hemerocallis) in the sunny border? 'Black Stockings' has large, dark purple-black flowers. It is a mid-season rebloomer and is semi-evergreen. 'Black Stockings' grow 25"-30" high.

A Study in Black and White...This enchanting mix of Asiatic Lilies blooms in June/July. Plants may grow between 20"-60" tall in full sun to partial shade. (All Photo Sources/Plant Sources=www.dutchbulbs.com)

Plants From The Dark Side...

'Queen of the Night' tulips are a popular, single, late-blooming variety. They are regarded as the darkest tulips available. Plant them with white pansies. (Photo Source= donegalgardensociety.net)

Upright Black Elephant Ears (Alocasia plumbea 'Nigra') are hardy in zones 8-11. They grow between 30"-48" high. (Photo Source=Van Bourgondien or www.dutchbulbs.com)

Black Hollyhocks (Alcea rosea 'Watchman') grew in Thomas Jefferson's garden at Monticello. (Photo Source=Bluebird Nursery, Inc.)

Black Mondo Grass (Ophiopogon p. Niger) is a 6"-8" tall groundcover that adds mystery to any garden. Plant it in sun or partial shade. (Photo Source=Heronswood Nursery)

'Blackie' Sweet Potato Vines grow quickly during the hot summer months.

In the mid-1990s, the gardening staff at UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens put together a "Dark Collection" of plants that had black or almost black foliage or flowers. Since then, black plants have become en vogue. There are exciting, new, black plants being introduced on the market every year.

Be forewarned that some black plants are not actually a true black, but more of a dark purple or burgundy.

Black plants look great paired with white blooms, as well as hot colors, like Halloween orange. Use them to cast a spell over your garden...

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Garden Games Continued...

"Farmville by Zynga" is virtual gardening at its best.

I don't remember when I bought my farm. It was sometime last year at the end of summer. You would think that one would remember a momentous occasion as buying a farm. I don't, I only know that I have $7 in Farmville cash, 507,467 coins, 113989 experience points, and a new Horse Stable virtually built with the help of my numerous friendly neighbors. Farmville can be very addicting. Dr. Phil had a mother on his show whose life and the lives of her family revolved around the harvesting of her crops. I warn anyone who wants to start; not to!

The point of Farmville is to maintain a farm. There are animals to be taken care of, crops to be bought, planted, fertilized by your friends, and trees to be planted and harvested. As your experience increases the type of seed you can buy and plant increases also. There are many ways to get a head faster. You can block in your avatar so that you can harvest faster, have more neighbors to help farm your crops, and help those neighbors with barn building and fertilizing their crops.

I have a large farm with a couple of houses, a general store with a fresh produce stand to sell my crops, a greenhouse, several fruit trees, lots of animals, three dairy farms, a couple of duck ponds. I think you get the picture. The best thing about Farmville is that I get to grow vegetables, fruits, flowers, and grains all year long no matter the season. Farmville is also addictive because it's instant gratification; just virtually. I remember telling the horticulture crew I managed at a golf course, it's time to TAFPAG! Till, Amend, Fertilize, Plant, And Go. That's was my mantra to them every time before changing a planting. Farmville is just as simple as that, and just as gratifying. When it's snowing outside, I've got tomatoes growing and due to be harvested in about eight hours from planting. Now if only those great folks at Zynga can get me some edible tomatoes to grow that quickly...

Garden Games

Game Screen from "Fiona Finch and the Finest Flowers."

We've come a long way with computer graphics and games since the days of Pong and Pac-Man! This morning, I noticed an advertisement for a PC Time Management game called "Fiona Finch and the Finest Flowers" on my screen. According to the game description, you can help Fiona plant seeds and bulbs, craft bouquets, use fruit dryers, jam boilers and perfume makers, crossbreed flowers and win the town gardening competition.

I have never played this game, but it looks really interesting. Plus, it has received positive reviews on the Internet. I imagine gardeners like me are the target audience...

I'd much rather garden outside, but I may need to settle for virtual gardening today since it is snowing (AGAIN!) in Virginia.

For more details and ordering information about this PC game download, check out game sites like:


This particular website features a short video about "Fiona Finch and the Finest Flowers." A few other PC games that may appeal to green thumbs include: Alice Greenfingers, Plant Tycoon, Magic Seeds, Garden Dreams, Gardenscapes, Ranch Rush, Kelly Green Garden Queen, Enchanted Gardens, and many more. FarmVille is a similar agriculturally-themed game played on Facebook.

Another Game Screen from PC Time Management Game "Fiona Finch and the Finest Flowers."

Thursday, February 25, 2010

More Garden Bling--Landscaping With Recycled Glass Mulch

This faux stream is made of bright blue recycled glass mulch from American Specialty Glass, Inc. (Photo Sources=American Specialty Glass, Inc. website)

The cracks in this patio shimmer with recycled glass mulch. Just add sunlight!

This photo shows a more formal look for recycled glass mulch from American Specialty Glass, Inc.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Garden Bling

(Photo) Sapphire blue recycled glass mulch shines in the Krohn Conservatory in Ohio. (Photo Credit=Tony Yunker)

More and more gardeners are bedazzling their landscapes with 100% recycled glass mulch. Everything from firepits to fountains and pathways to planters can always use a little extra sparkle!

Recycled glass mulch comes in almost every color of the rainbow, and in different shapes and sizes.

Mulch made from recycled glass is environmentally friendly. According to online vendor EnviroGLAS of Plano, Texas, over 40 BILLION bottles are made each year. This business, and others like it, take old wine bottles, beer bottles, pickle jars, industrial glass, etc. headed for landfills and tumble them in machines until there are no sharp edges left. Yes, you can actually walk on broken glass!

EnviroGLAS claims that their glass mulch is not just neat and shiny: It will reduce weeds, moderate soil temperatures and won't soak up any of your plants' water. Plus, it (almost) lasts forever. Another bonus is that it will keep slugs off your hostas! EnviroGLAS recommends you put down landscape fabric first when using the mulch for purely decorative purposes.

Contact your local recycling center for information about the availability of recycled glass mulch in your area. Unless you find a free source, recycled glass mulch tends to be more expensive than traditional types of mulch. Visit these online vendors for additional facts, as well as price lists:




This article featured in The Miami Herald will give you even more ideas about how to make your garden gleam:


Monday, February 22, 2010

The Watermelon Blues

(Photo) Moon and Stars Watermelon is an old favorite.


I probably officially started gardening at age 2. That's when my parents separated and my mother and I moved in with her parents. I was their only grandchild together. Well, you can imagine how that turned out for me--pretty good! My first memory of growing something on my own was maybe about 4 or 5 years old. My granddaddy would put me up to these schemes to play pranks on my grandmother. They usually backfired on us both though:

One season my grandmother decided to grow watermelon. I didn't believe that they would really grow in our garden. They seemed too perfect of a fruit--so sweet and juicy--they had to come from some other place.


In order to get me not to eat seeds my grandfather told me a horrible story.

Once, he caught me eating seeds while I was eating an orange. I was a very inquisitive child so I asked why I could eat the orange and the white stuff but not the seeds. He led me to believe that an orange tree would grow out of my mouth. Well, I knew that wasn't true. I had eaten plently of seeds of all kinds that he didn't know about. However, he convinced me that soon I would have enough fertilizer and water in my stomach and those seeds would start to germinate down there and an orange tree would start grow straight up through my stomach, into my throat, and out of my mouth.

After hearing that, I didn't eat seeds of any kind. To this day I still pick them out of most all of my fruit. That "lesson" gave me my first training in growing plants. They need water and fertilizer. So when my grandmother planted those little watermelon plants I knew exactly what they needed, or so I thought.

After informing my granddad that I knew how to grow those watermelons he suggested that I should grow my very own.

He held a watermelon growing contest between my grandmother and me. She only had a week's start on my plants and I was undaunted. Oh, to have the confident naivety of a 5 year old again!

The weeks went by and the plants were growing beautifully. I had put the proper amount of lime in the soil (according to granddad). I watered in the mornings, and once a week I was allowed to give them some Miracle Gro. I was even given my very own watering pail.

Then one morning the plants had some real live growin sho nuff watermelons on them! I was so happy and I asked granddad if there was something to be done to beat Mama's plants.

Wait for it...

He said, "Well, if you want to have the biggest, sweetest watermelon then you need to give them sugar water."

Oh, what a novel idea! That was it! Of course, they will eat up the sugar just like they eat the fertilizer from your stomach if you eat the seeds.

Sigh...I remember that whipping like it was yesterday. It was the day that my grandmother finally solved The Great Disappearing Sugar Incident. A 5-pound bad of sugar supposedly lasted in my grandmother's kitchen for at least a month, but that summer she had to buy sugar each week.

Now remember these were folks who didn't buy new seed each year. They grew what they harvested from the last season's crops, so buying sugar so often was breaking a pattern--and the budget. I got caught redhanded filling my watering pail with the sugar from the bowl on the kitchen table. You were punished first then asked questions later. It was then she learned why I had been stealing her sugar and who had put me up to it.

I don't remember an apology afterward. I do remember both my granddad and I nursing our bruised egos on the front porch.

It was these experiences that shaped where I am in life today in many ways. The most profound being how to respect nature and be a good steward of what God has given you. The most productive is knowing how to grow things. I learned that as a 5 year old.

(A lot of) Years later, I keep learning more and more about gardening.

What I do know is that it's simple! Gardening only takes patience from us, nature does the rest.

So, while my friend should share her stories about dating after 40, I should share mine about gardening simply...

Meet Jaye

(Photo) Sipping Honeysuckle is a popular pastime for many Southern children. (Photo Credit=Will Cook)


I had lunch on Friday with a friend who informed me that she had been teased that she should start a blog about dating after 40. The stories she told me were comical and intriguing. I wonder if she will actually do it though?

Blogging is an enigma to me. I don't really understand how it's done, but I do believe that one must have a passion about what they are blogging about...and I have a passion.

I can truthfully say that I have been gardening for most of my life. My mother remembers the first time I set out into the grass as a baby. She said that I immediately started to pick flowers, bees, ants, spiders, and other creatures that were unfortunate enough to cross the sweep of my tiny hands.

I do remember a fascination with clover and honeysuckle. They both have nectar in them that you can eat. How wonderful! The purple clover had better nectar, or juice as I told it to my cousins, than the white. Honeysuckle on the other hand didn't matter...Both the yellow and white blossoms were equally good. I later learned from a botany class that wasn't true. One flower was older than the other, so the nectar couldn't be the same.

Nonetheless, I knew from an early age that I enjoyed being outside in my grandparent's vegetable garden. I learned about insects, how to pick up snakes, how to nurture a living creature so it would grow strong and be fruitful...And I learned that there were things that I could do for myself that others couldn't. There were no boundaries or rules from the adults outside which made being in the yard so magical.

Living with my grandparents in a neighborhood without any children my age left me at a disadvantage. I was an only child and my only playmates were my grandfather and my dogs.

I didn't fit in well with other children.

The only place that I did fit in was in the garden.

My grandparents had a fairly large garden each summer and raised the same vegetables each year. I remember my grandfather would dry the largest and best produce each season to get seeds for next year. He NEVER purchased seed. Tomatoes, corn, okra, squash, beans, and salad greens were all left to either dry on the plants, in the sun on special screens, or in the case of the greens, left to bolt for seed. As a child, I didn't understand what was going on. I just knew that grandaddy would put the seed up in jars in the cupboard.

The Garden Glitterati

(Photo) The Moon Gate at UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens. (Photo Source=UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens Website)

We are two friends, both born and raised in North Carolina, who love gardening. We met years ago on a hillside while planting columbine and other native wildflowers for the UNC-Charlotte Botanical Gardens.

One of us started singing "Jingle Bells" at the top of her lungs, even though it was mid-spring. The other stood and stared in silent disbelief...And then a true friendship took root.

Since that day we've swapped all kinds of horticultural advice, traveled to flower shows, frequented our fair share of garden centers and bonded over quite a few glasses of wine.

Now, we've decided to write a blog. We'll cover our favorite things: gardening, entertaining, traveling, cooking, crafts, fashion, libations, gracious living--basically, everything under the sun.

We each bring different experiences and ideas to the table, and together we think we make a pretty good team. We hope you'll enjoy reading our blog just as much as we hope we'll enjoy writing it. Let the adventure begin!

Visit our old stomping grounds at:


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Garden Glitter


Stop and stay awhile...