The End and The Beginning

Today is the last day of 2008 but unless you've never seen a calander you probably knew that already.  As one year ends and new one begins.  It's time for a short look back at 2008 and a glance into the future.2008 was the first full growing year that we really had in the garden.  Our first year in our home (2007) time and money was spent making it suitable for living.  The money went into the hardwood floors, new carpets, painting, wainscoting and other miscellaneous projects and wasn't there for gardening in our first year.  Needless to say 2008 was a better year for the garden!My first project in 2008 was the rain garden. We had an area of our driveway the pooled a significant amount of water during a rain. It didn't matter whether it was a light rain or a heavy one standing water always remained on…

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Garden Coaches: Pimp My Yard?

OK, I wouldn't have titled the article with Pimp My Yard (I'm really not cool enough to do that) but there's a very good article on Slate about garden coaching as an emerging horticultural profession.  Garden coaches offer guidance for do-it-yourselfers who want to learn how to garden better.  For more information beyond the Slate article go check out Susan Harris's Garden Coaching Blog.

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Sedums in the Garden

The Plant of the Month for December over at Gardening Gone Wild is all about sedums!  Sedums (also called stonecrop) are a type of succulent and are capable of storing water in their leaves which makes them very drought tolerant here in Tennessee.  We have several kinds of sedum in our garden with one of my favorites being the Dragon's Blood Sedum or Sedum sprurium.  Dragon's Blood sedum makes an interesting ground cover due to its burgundy colored foliage. The other day while we had temperatures in the upper 60's (very unusual for December) I took a few cuttings of our sedum to use in an indoor pot.  Sedums are extremely easy to propagate and in most cases just need to be stuck in dirt to grow roots.  I used the dirt sticking technique and put four small cuttings (or maybe I should call these pinchings since I pinched them…

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Return of the Gardener

The gardener returned to the garden today from his voyage across Tennessee.  From his home, to the lands of the cedar glades, and to the western lowlands he crossed the miles in only trio of days.  Friends from long ago were coming to visit from the northern winterlands and he had to return in time to see to their hospitality.  Today the gardener returned to the garden.  The gardener entered cautiously into the boggy soil paying careful attention to the shifting ground still soaked from frequent rains.  He observed the changes brought about by moisture and freezes, the unseasonably warm temperatures and the snowfall.  The hardy verbenas were turned to mush, a casualty of the hidden sun and weeping rain.  The ravenous rabbits gorged themselves upon the evergreen chutes of the liriope while the gardener was away.  Leaves layered for mulch shifted and traveled, not far, but far enough to…

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Dappled Willows and Winter Interest

One of my favorite shrubs is the Japanese dappled willow (Salix integra).  In the springtime its new foliage emerges with variegated green and cream leaves that persist through the fall.  The leaves darken some as they grow older (or for those who prefer different terminology "grow more mature") until they bare themselves when the light levels drop and cooler temperatures arrive in the fall.  One thing you may not have considered with these willows is their value in the winter landscape!   The younger branches emerge with a reddish color that may not match Salix alba 'Britzensis' for winter value but certainly does an adequate job.  To ensure that you get nice reddish tinted stems you may want to coppice the shrub (cutting it back to just above the ground) and allow new stems to grow from the roots each year.  Depending on the desired size of the willow you may…

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A Last Minute Stocking Stuffer Idea

For a quick, easy, and cheap stocking stuffer gift idea try a homemade seed packet! I learned how to put together these seed packets that use a technique of  paper folding from Nancy Ondra's blog Hayefield House. Go take a look at her post titled Origami for Seed Savers to learn how. The only thing that you need to do to make these seed packets suitable for Christmas presents is to use the leftover bits of wrapping paper. Not only is it easy to do but it's environmentally friendly since the leftover bits of paper won't end up in the trashcan.  Just make your packet following Nan's instructions then label the outside and put a little gift tag on it.  Now you have a cheap and easy Christmas stocking stuffer idea.  After all what else are you going to do with the two thousand marigold seeds you collected?

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How Cold Was it This Morning?

How cold was it this morning? The wireless thermometer said 15.5 Degrees Fahrenheit at 8:00 AM. That's pretty cold! The low last night in our little nook on the hillside was somewhere around 3-4 degrees! But really, how cold is that? Cold enough that the bird's won't receive any enjoyment out of the birdbath in the birdbath garden for a while. Cold enough for icicles to form along the edge of our copper avian jacuzzi. Wait, it would have to be heated to be a jacuzzi wouldn't it? Perhaps Woodstock will come along and go ice skating, or maybe I've just seen one too many Christmas specials. Whatever the case the advantage to a metallic birdbath is that you don't have to do anything special when it fills with water and you can leave it up year round.  And when you get freezing temperatures you get to take neat pictures…

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Dogwood Seeds (Cornus florida)

Have you ever wondered what the inside of a dogwood (Cornus florida) seed looks like?  If you read yesterday's Name that Seed post you caught a glimpse of some dogwood seeds that were cleaned off by the birds.  Many birds enjoy eating the berries that form on flowering trees.  In this case the bird ate the fleshy outer covering of the drupe leaving behind a more unfamiliar seed. (These never saw the inside of a bird.  If they had I would never have gathered them so cavalierly!) Dogwood seeds need a period of stratification in order to break dormancy.  A good way to simulate this is to put the seeds in a bag of moist (not soaking) potting medium in a plastic bag and put it in a refrigerator for about three months.  In the spring plant the seeds into a pot and let them grow.  Once fall arrives the…

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