Designing the Winter Garden: A Symmetrical Plan

Now before you go looking at my hand drawn art please note that I do not claim to be an artist, just a gardener. The paint I am used to is usually accompanied by foliage, flowers, and fruit. The "artistic rendering" below is intended to illustrate the image inside my head for one of the two concepts for the winter garden. The illustrations in this post and in tomorrow's post hopefully will give you enough of an idea that you may be able to offer suggestions about the placement of the plants. In the end I may decide to take your suggestions, go with the original plan, or even do something completely different!So now that I've given you the disclaimer here's the drawing!This view is all about symmetry. Symmetry in the garden can be great but does have some pitfalls. If one plant dies and the other survives then it…

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Designing the Winter Garden: Starting Small

In all our gardens we start small and add plants as we go. If you look back the the birdbath garden you can see what I mean.  What started with a birdbath and five small plants has slowly turned into a medium size garden area with about 15 different plants. The winter garden will be no different! With economics being what it is no to low cost gardening is a must, but money cannot stand in the way of a great garden! All the plant selections that will form the founding plants in the winter garden are either discount plants or came from propagation (cuttings or divisions). The first plant to tell you about is the foundation, the Yoshino cherry tree. I know what you're thinking, "cherry trees are great in spring, summer, and fall but in winter?" My goal is to make the winter garden a garden with year…

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Designing the Winter Garden: Aspectual Musings

One of the areas that I would like to improve upon in our garden is the lack of winter interest. I can look outside our windows and see lots of stark naked deciduous trees waving in the wind. If they were covered in snow we would have plenty of winter interest but here in Tennessee snowfalls of that magnitude are few and far between. Over the next several days I will talk about planning our winter garden and will end with planting a few things into it! Yes you can still plant trees and shrubs this time of year, in fact winter dormancy is an excellent time to plant them.So what makes a winter garden? To me a winter garden has something unique to look at when the other plants are sleeping. Cool bark on trees, colored berries, interesting branching patterns, evergreen foliage, flowers and seed heads that sway in…

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Garden Designs and Layouts

Here are a few garden layouts, plans, and designs that I have put together for my garden. Some are landscape plans while others are diagrams of my vegetable garden. The herb garden layouts were never actually implemented in my garden as I went with the interplanting approach. Eventually I may incorporate a formal herb garden in our landscape. You are more than welcome to use the layouts and designs as a guide for your personal use. After you have perused the layouts below stop by and see my recommendations for designing your raised bed vegetable garden plan. Vegetable Garden Designs and Layouts My 2012 vegetable garden layout is an adaptation of the 2011 version.  It adds a perimeter bed of about 2' in width to the outside edge of the garden. My 2011 vegetable garden layout is representative of the parterre garden style. It's a French style of potager or…

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Birdwatching: Goldfinches at the Feeder

Lately the birds have been returning to the feeders. These goldfinches (Carduelis tristis) all dressed in their winter coats after molting are partaking of a feast of niger seed, which is excellent for attracting finches.  Like all birds they seem to prefer the seed d'jour. Afterall who doesn't like the fresh stuff?  Thistle, coreopsis, sunflower, service berry, birch, and alder are all good choices among many possible food sources to attract goldfinches.  They mate in monogamous pairs and live in a flock of about 8 at least in our backyard.  According to Cornell the females will sometimes leave their mate to find another and start a new brood leaving the father to take care of the offspring.  Way to go goldfinch dad!  Does taking responsibilty for the flock make him a Stay at Home Dad too?

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Cherry Laurel (Prunus caroliniana)

Meet Prunus caroliniana, better known as a cherry laurel. This evergreen tree makes an excellent privacy screen and is great for attracting birds. It's a native to the eastern United States from Florida on up to North Carolina. It very low maintanence as my parents can attest. Just plant it and water it then let it grow. They planted cherry laurels at at least two of their homes to use as privacy screens.The dark green foliage is very attractive. Cherry laurels can be treated as shrubs and pruned accordingly or could be trained as a tree by cutting away the lower branches and removing suckers as they appear. They can grow between 20-40 feet tall. According to Floridata (a great place for information on individual plants) these trees are very easy to propagate either through seed or through cuttings. Can you guess what I'll be doing soon?On Friday I went…

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Red Twig Dogwoods (Cornus stolonifera) and Why I Like Them

Why do I like Red Twig Dogwoods (Cornus sericea or Cornus stolonifera)? If you look in the picture below the reason should become red-ily apparent. The multibranched shrubs stand out with a bright red coloring that looks fantastic in the wintertime. When the trees are bereft of leaves and the stems are left, the red twigs won't disappoint for winter color. These particular plants are in a nursery and unfortunately not in my garden but one day our little red twig dogwoods will grow into fine landscape specimens!  Red twig dogwoods flower in the spring, exhibit a lush canopy of green in the summer, display berries in the summer and fall, change colors with other deciduous trees and shrubs, and show their characteristic bright red stem display in the winter.  It's truly a plant with four season interest but most people, including myself, love it for the red stems.  The…

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I Was Leaving Today

I couldn't stand it anymore. I've been thinking about this for a while now and I just couldn't take it anymore. It was just too much. The pressure of leaving has been building since the Garden Blogger Fall Color Project and each day it built a little more, another layer added to the top. I took all I could before I gave in and did something.While the girls were napping I began the process of leaving. I gathered what I needed and went out through the garage. Wouldn't you know it, I had a flat. I examined the tire and determined it had enough air in it to go, at least for today. I really need to get that wheelbarrow fixed but a flat wheelbarrow wasn't going to stop my leaf gathering!I brought it to the backyard and armed with my rake and my gloves I proceeded to rake the…

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Herbs for Turkeys!

While I claim no great skill or knowledge about cooking that big ole Thanksgiving turkey I can tell you about a couple herbs that may help you have a successful culinary experience!; I have the good fortune to have a mom who is an extremely good chef and I'll share the recipe (or at least where to find it) that she'll be using for Thanksgiving later in this post. For now let's talk about herbs!Herbs are great in the garden for two reasons: they taste good and they look good. What more do you need in a plant? They can be used to season all kinds of foods whether it is an olive oil based dip for bread to meats. Here's a quick look at what herbs we grew in our garden this year and how we used them.Basil was probably the most used herb. We used it for making…

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