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Summer blooms and visitors 20 May 2022

The summer heat is here this week with temps in the low 90’s.  It is breezy at times which provides a bit of relief but being outdoors in the afternoons makes me weary from the heat.   Garden work must be done in the mornings.  It has been dry but a welcoming rain is forecast for this weekend.

The summer bloomers are appearing but there has also been some unexpected visitors.

My first picture today is morning sunrise on the beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast.  The dunes are magnificent.  This shot is overlooking the Bon Secour Wildlife Refuge.

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Next are the “Nikko Blue” hydrangeas.  They are on the shady side of the yard where they have been happy but the last two years with drought and then excessive rain there have been no blooms.  This late spring though they are coming out.   Joy.

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Third is the astilbe.  I also have these in the shady portion of the yard where they add needed color and contrast.  They grow slowly but they are now coming into their own after several years.

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The butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is now mature enough that it will be attracting the butterflies.  As a host plant, it is a needed food source for many caterpillars including the magestic Monarch.  It is a beacon in the sunny perennial bed.

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This blanket flower (Gallardia) is another beacon in the sunny perennial bed.  It also attracts butterflies.  This one has a skipper visiting.

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A surprise visitor the other morning was this guy.  He had flushed two female deer and was trying to run them down.  He was outclassed in speed so he took a break on the driveway and had a scratch.

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Enjoy the weather.  For us in the southeast USA, it is time to stay hydrated and seek shade at mid afternoon.

Happy gardening and don’t forget to look at the Propagator.

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Some Gulf Coast Photos 13 May 2022

I have been away at the Beautiful Alabama Gulf Coast.  It has been marvellous weather.  I am including some photos from there as well as some from home in Central Alabama.  No matter where you travel in Alabama, you will be blessed with natural beauty.

 

This first photo is a Solomon’s Seal in bloom.  It doesn’t bloom for long so you have to be watchful, especially so since it is in the shade garden.

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I found this luna moth hanging out on the Encore Azalea.  Its host plant is the tulip poplar which is in bloom just across the street from the Men’s Garden.

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I found this iris on my walk at the Gulf Coast property where I have been staying.  It resembles the Iris virginica at the Mens Garden.

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Found this skink hiding in the iron plant.  It must think I can’t see him.

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Here is some cucumber leaved sunflower and sea oats framed against the beautiful Gulf waters.  Makes you want to put up a sun umbrella.

Don’t you like this walking iris?  It is sad that the bloom only lasts a little more than 24 hours.  I have been able to propagate it easily.  Just put the new growth that appears after the bloom fades into a small pot with some potting soil.

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Found this magnificent Great Blue Heron lurking in the lily pond near our rental property on the Gulf Coast.  He was probably feasting on some fish or crustacean found in the brackish water.

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So, a mix of flora and fauna for you today.

Don’t forget to follow the Propagator.  He is the inspiration for this blog.

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Native Plants in the Garden 6 May 2022

It is steamy here this week but a front came through last night bringing some fresher, cooler air.  The steamy air will soon return so it is wise to keep hydrated and rest more often.  This is the kind of weather that makes me think of the beach and not the garden.

This week, I have been noticing the native plants in the garden amongst the nursery plants.

First, here is the elegant Golden Alexander.  There is only one of these but it catches my eye often.  Looks good with the macro lens feature on my iPhone.

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The next is the native Columbine.  Again, I just noticed this one last year, but I expect to see more soon.  They do tend to reseed.  The macro lens picks up the details and you can see the Japanese painted fern in the background.  This is in a shady area.

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The next is a pagoda plant.  I bought this one at a native plant sale a few years ago.  I think it is in the mint family.  It loves the shade.

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Next is the Alabama croton.  It is a hardy shrub.  It bloomed several weeks ago and has completely leafed out.  These seed pods caught my eye.  The leaves are waxy with silvery undershides that flash when the wind blows.

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The gallardia just started blooming yesterday.  It will soon get unruly but for now I am enjoying the beautiful flowers. This plant seems to tolerate dry conditions so it does well at the back edge of the perennial bed.

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I have been watching my blueberry patch daily.  These berries look like they should ripen soon.  I hope I get them before the birds and the deer find them.

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The cool spring is almost over here in Beautiful Alabama.  The warm and steamy spring is beginning.  Soon, it will be hot and humid.  It will soon be time to garden early in the morning and keep busy with indoor tasks in the afternoon.

Happy Gardening.

Be sure to enjoy the Propagator.  He is the inspiration for this blog.

 

 

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Natives and Butterflies 29April2022

The glorious weather continues here in Beautiful Alabama and the yard tasks are numerous.  There have been a lot of butterflies this week and I did manage a good photo of a Tiger Swallowtail.

My tomato and pepper plants are in the ground and growing.  Soon, I will be replacing the daffodils in containers with caladiums I recently purchased.

Here are my efforts for this week.

Here is another beautiful amaryllis.  I am getting better with the macro lens on my iphone13.

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Here is  roof iris.  It is so delicate.  These plants are now about 3 years old and well established in the Mens Garden.

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Another beautiful one is this Iris virginica.  I love the blue shades in this one.  I got these from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens and they have thrived in the Mens Garden.

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Here is the native that I promised.  This is a Golden Alexander.  It is a native perennial.  It is widespread in the eastern USA.  I bought this one at a native plant sale a few years ago.

It is a host plant for the Black Swallowtail butterfly.

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I have seen many butterflies this week.  Here I captured and Eastern Tiger Swallowtail getting nectar from this red azalea.

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Those are mine for the week.  Happy Gardening.  We have one more month before it begins to get really hot.  I have several projects to complete before then so wish me luck.

Don’t forget the Propagator.  He is the inspiration.

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Irises, Columbines and More 22 April 2022

Greetings from the sunny Southeast USA.  The weather is definitely warming and the days are lengthening. The flowering plants are responding with glorious displays.  The work in the garden is never ending since the weeds enjoy this weather too.  The tree canopy is now filled with leaves that are a darker green.  I hope you have a chance to garden this weekend.

Here are my pictures for today.

First are two magnificent bearde iris.  The blue, white and peach varieties are my favorite.

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The second set are the columbines.  They have been blooming for a couple of weeks now but there is a blue and a pink now blooming.  They reseed and I have many around the yard.

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The hosta “Avocado” is fully displayed now.  It is in the most shaded part of the yard.  It is behing the hydrangeas and the paperbush which is probably the reason the deer have not found it.

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The Gerber daisies have appeared this past week and quickly began blooming.  They seem to have had little frost damage this year so I expect some abundant blooming.  This yellow is very striking.

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The Gaura is kept in a container just beside the car port.  It showed some green all winter but the last two weeks the blooming stems have appeared and now the blooms are emerging.  I love the way they “nod” when the bees land on them

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Lastly, here is a beautiful amaryllis.  There are several blooming this week.  These started out as a Christmas gift but I planted them in the yard.  Now, the reward is amaryllis in April

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Happy gardening y’all or as I heard in Texas last week – “Howdy”.

Don’t forget to look at the Propagator tomorrow.  He is the inspiration for my blog.

 

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The Project and Fort Worth 15 April 2022

As the weather warms and the days lengthen, we are blessed my more green leaves and more blooms.  It is such a grand season.  The spring rains have been ample and thankfully not excessive.  Today is Good Friday which the locals say is the date to begin planting the tender types.  I have already set out some tomatoes.  I couldn’t wait.

The paver project has taken another step forward.  It is on hold this week as we have travelled to Texas to see my daughter and family in Fort Worth where we will spend Easter.

Here are my pics for this week.

The first is another of daffodils.  This is Barrett Browning on the left and a Poet’s Narcissus on the right.  There still are a few other daffodils appearing.

 

The second is a spiderwort.  These are native to Alabama and do reseed in the yard but their beauty prevents me from saying that they are a nuisance.

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Third is the next step in the paver project.  The circle of bricks has been installed.  The rains this week will clean off the sand and a few new plants will complete the inner area.

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The fourth is a flag iris.  They are near the front parking area and certainly add a splash of bright color.

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The next is another native that the iNaturalist app identifies as in the buttercup family.  It is pretty with the silvery leaves.

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Finally, here are a couple from the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens.  They are a grouping of beautiful California poppies and a flowering dogwood.

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From the beautiful SouthEast USA and Beautiful Alabama, wishing you Happy Easter!

Happy Gardening!

Don’t forget the Propagator.  He is the inspiration for this blog.

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A Taste of Spring 8 April 2022

We are having a couple of blustery days but warming temperatures are coming next week.  Good Friday is the day for setting out tender plants so next week the tomatoes will be planted.

The Birmingham Botanical Gardens had the Spring Plant Sale this week.  Beautiful plants  were available.  I volunteered in the trees and shrubs section.  There were beautiful native azaleas, hydrangeas, an ample variety of ferns and many others. This spring there seems to be a sense of expectancy.

Here is my picutres for the week.

First is this beautiful red azalea.   This is  the Indica  type.  I do not know the cultivar.

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Number 2 are these beautiful bluebells.  I like the way they clump.

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Found another project that will need attention.  This shed has some weather damaged wood that will need replacing.

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This Creeping Jenny is alive and well.  It is also called moneywort because of the small coin like leaves. It makes an excellent shade area ground cover.  Soon, it will be spilling over the edge of the container.

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Next is this striking Heucherella.  It is related to the Tiarellas also known as foamflower.  This is a favorite shade plant.

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Finally, we are making progress on our paver project.  The base is ready and we will be laying the bricks tomorrow.

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Happy Gardening!!

 

Don’t forget the Propagator

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What a glorious day!! 1 April 2022

It’s like magic.  There are so many plants returning to life that it is impossible to remark on all of them.  The air is almost still with just a faint breeze.  The temps are warm and comfortable for a walk.  Only disturbing things are the gnats.

We started a new project at the Mens Garden.  It is a memorial brick paver ring which is around the flagpole.  We had some hardwork marking it out, excavating, setting metal edging and adding crushed paver stone.

We did have some nasty weather here in the Southeast USA on Wednesday.  A warm air mass from the Gulf of Mexico was meeting cold air coming from the west.  It brought high winds with 50 mph gusts and rain of about 1 inch but it did not spawn any tornadoes.

Here are my photos for you this beautiful Friday.

First is this gorgeous “Red Emperor Tulip”.  I like to use pine cones to keep the squirrels from using my containers for acorn storage.

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Second is our paver project.  Our next project will be laying the pavers.

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Third is a project of completing our mulching with pine bark nuggets.  I usually like pine straw but the nuggets do give everying  a fresh look.

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The Virginia bluebells are beginning to appear.  Blue may be uncommon in nature but these are uncommonly beautiful.  They are looking so fresh and majestic now.

I cannot let you not see some azaleas.  If you are a golf fan or not, tune in to the Masters to see the azaleas at Augusta.  The top photos shows the effects of the frost from a couple of weeks ago but the bottom picture shows the beauty of the azalea.

Finally, here is a blooming trillium.  This native shall go unnamed but it is of the sessile variety.

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That is it for this week from Alabama the Beautiful.

Don’t forget to look at the the propagator this week.

Happy Gardening y’all.

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Frost and Spring

Five for Friday March 18, 2022.

The cold snap did some damage.  The plants that were gloriously blooming are damaged.  Those that were destined to be later, are beginnng to emerge with the rain and warmer temps as Spring approaches.  As always, Mother Nature has ways of recovering.  I am sure that the azaleas will still be beautiful in Augusta for the Masters.

Today, I have some photos of the damage in my yard and some of the beauties in my yard and from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.

 

First, here is the damage.  The pink azalea and the paperbush took a hit.  They were really beautiful for several days.  Better days are coming and there is always next year.

 

 

Second, here is the Johnny-jump-up violas.  They were protected enough that they continue to dazzle.  Just another reason to keep planting them each fall.

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Third, here are some newly planted Oak Leaf Hydrangeas.  Hydrangea quercifolia.  It is a native here in the Southeast USA.  It is a great woodland shrub.  The left picture shows the new growth of the spring while the picture on the left shows the coloration of the fall.

The blooms are in the form of a large pannicle with numerous white blossoms.  Very striking.

 

Fourth is Alabama croton.  It is a marvelous shrub.  Now, the small but bright yellow blooms are quite striking.  You can also see the small leaves which have a silver color on the reverse side.  When the wind blows, they shimmer.  The leaves become a bronze orange color in the fall.  All this makes this small shrub nothing but a winner.

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Fifth is a Carolina spring beauty.  This is a Spring ephemeral which can be found on small woodland meadows.  You have to look closely for it but it is worth the effort.

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Sixth, as a bonus, I found this little gem near the edge of the yard which borders on a woodland.  This is partridge berry or Mitchella repens.  Linnaeus named it after his physician friend John Mitchell who used it to treat yellow fever.

I am unsure of its value for the fever but once its established it is a hardy perennial which the deer seem to love.

Here’s to the return of Spring and here in the US the Senate has passed a bill to make Daylight Savings Time permanent.  I like that since it seems harder to adjust to time change with each passing year.

Don’t forget about the propagator.

Happy gardening.

 

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A birdhouse and new blooms

Friday March 11

It is beautiful today. Warm, with some overcast cloudy conditions are wonderful but we are expecting a cold front and the temps will be in the low 20’s in less than 48 hours.

I am protecting the new tomatoes, peppers and black eyed susans that I started from seed. They will be in the house. Other container plants that I think may be vulnerable will be in the shed or the vinyl greenhouse where they will have sufficient protection.

While they still look their best, here are my 5/6 for Friday.

This azalea is the most advanced of those in my yard. It is well set back amongst other shrubs so I hope it will tolerate the cold well.

This is a redbud (Cercis canadensis) which emerged this week. It is a reliable harbinger of spring. The arching branches are so graceful.
This is a red cedar bluebird house which I installed last Saturday. It was purchased at Pepper Place which is a local farmer’s market. https://pepperplacemarket.com/. This is dedicated to one of our garden club members who is recently deceased.
Here is the plaque.
This is a little would-be gardener we found today. It is a DeKay’s brownsnake. It looks like it may have eaten a slug or a snail recently.
This is bloodroot or Sanguinaria canadensis. It is a native growing in the woodland nearby. If you dig it up, the root does have a reddish juicy liquid if crushes and thus the name. It has no medicinal value so just enjoy the beautiful blooms.
I found this watercolor recently. I do feel for the land of my ancestors.

Don’t forget the Propagator. He is the inspiration for this blog. https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/

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Blooms and Buds

March 4, 2022

It has been a very warm week here in Central Alabama with daytime highs reaching 80.  The forecast is for several more days like this before some rain and cooler temps arrive in a week.  We may get some freezing temps then.  It is tempting to plant tender plants now but I am avoiding that action.  I have potted up my tomatoes and peppers yesterday.  I have some rudbeckia and daisies that I hope to pot up today.

Here is the Five for Friday.

This is a holly fern with the large fiddle head visible.  This is part of a group of hollies at the entrance to the Mens Garden that was transplanted a year ago.  They are very happy and sheltered enough that they have stayed green all winter.

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This is a star magnolia.  It is Magnolia stellata which is a native of Japan.  The blooms are small in comparison to the massive Southern magnolia.

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This is an early blooming azalea.  I hope it doesn’t get stung by next week’s colder temps.  I do not know the name of this variety.

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This is Veronica prostata or prostrate speedwell.  It is native to Europe and unlike its cousins, it forms a nice groundcover and is everygreen.  This one is in an open area and may have to be transplanted.  It is forming a slowly spreading mat of foliage.

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This is Trillium cuneatum.  It is a native to the eastern US.  It will open up to a reddish tinted bloom.  The trillium natives are spring ephemerals so after blooming, they will disappear until next spring.  We are glad it hides out in the Mens Garden for the year.

 

The last two are a late blooming Camellia with an unknow name and a sedum.  I believe this sedum is Autumn Joy.

Happy gardening and enjoy the weather wherever you are.  Don’t forget to follow the Propagator.  He is the inspiration for my blog.

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Ferns and Colors

A cool Friday

Its been cooler today. The rain came in early this morning. Waiting on an early delivery of pine bark mulch at the Vestavia Hills Mens Garden, I could feel the temperature dropping. It will be in the upper 30’s tonight but gratefully it is not as cold as weather further to our west. This past week the temperatures have been in the 70’s so a lot of new growth is emerging.

I especially like to see the ferns emerging but there is more color to report this week.

Here we go:


My asparagus fern is beginning to show its new growth in lime green color. Its a slow grower but its beginning to fill this styroam box. It may be full enough to display on the deck this year. This variety is cold hardy and does well in the yard for the winter.
This is maidenhair fern. This variety is the northern maidenhair or Adiantum pedatum. It is native to eastern North American forests but is very adaptable to shady gardens in the South. Here, I have it draping over some rocks on a slightly sloping hillside beside a pathway.
This is Southern shield fern. It is very adaptable in the yard. It will grow in shade and will even tolerate sunny locations. It dies back completely in the winter but it is beginning to reach out of the ground this week. It looks great in the summer and here in the spring it is patiently waiting for the daffodils to finish their thing. It will later in the year completely drape over the daffodil shoots.
The paper bush is now showing the fragrant, golden blooms. There is still little evidence of leaf formation but that will come soon. It seems to be doing well on the shady side of the yard.
The hyacinths are really doing well in the containers where I planted them in the fall. This beauty is Jan Bos. It is fragrant even in this early stage of blooming.

 

This is a native that I bought last spring. It is a toothwort called a two-leaved toothwort. Its scientific name is Cardamine diphylla. The native peoples of North America used it as a medicinal. It will have a cluster of white spring flowers on a stalk about a foot high. The plant likes woodland conditions with an acidic soil so it seems to like the pine straw I spread around it.
One more for you today. This is pennywort. It is strictly speaking a weed in shady areas.. It grows low to the ground and spreads. Seems to make a good ground cover amongst my hydrangeas so I don’t plan on trying to eradicate it.

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator who inspired this blog https://thepropagatorblog.wordpress.com/?s=propagator

I also like Dotty Lovelady Rogers. https://dottieloveladyrogers.com/2022/02/15/hunger/

 

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Daffodils and Winter Projects

Five for Friday

Feb 18, 2022

 

We have had some fine weather last week but as is typical winter reared its head again.  Yesterday, it was blustery, thunderstorms and some heavy rain.  This unsettled air will persist into next week but its time to look at the beautiful growth in the garden and finish up some winter projects.

 

 

The daffodils are pushing up and blooming this past week.  It has turned colder these next few days after the rain and blustery weather yesterday.

From left to right, these are Orange Sunset, Barrett Browning and KIng Alfred.

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These majestic pansies have struggled some this winter in the cold spells.  When it turned fair last week, they were truly “majestic”.

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This Autumn Fern remains evergreen.  It shows some signs of winter damage but it will soon be glorious again.  It tolerates enough sun that it is a wonderful garden companion.

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This tea olive also known as Sweet Osmanthus is well established in my garden now.  It is evergreen and delightful with the fragrance that comes from these tiny blooms.  It is reliable to smell the new blooms after every measurable rainfall.

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The compost bin has been very productive this year.  We spread almost a yard of it around the shrubs and perennials this past few weeks.  Added more leaves and fern prunings this week.  Should be some grass cuttings before long.  Don’t bag up and discard your grass clippings and fall leaves!  There is garden gold in those bags.

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Last week, saw the male bluebird bring his intended to this house.  She did enter it and look around.  Hope she liked it.  Last year, it was used at least twice for fledglings.

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This camellia is Sea Foam.  It has such a beautiful and delicate shape.  It is just a few years old, but it has been prolific since December.

Don’t forget to check out the Propagator tomorrow.

You might also like Globetrotting Grandpa.

In the meantime, enjoy the post and Happy Gardening.

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Another cold day in January

27 January 2022

These are Johnny Jump Up violas in my carport window boxed. They have easily persevered during the cold nights we have had in January. I am hoping they will do the same for the next couple of cold nights. I am using my new iPhone 13 for these photos. The portrait mode gives these wonderful close ups with bokeh effect.
My “Jon Bos” hyacinth are beginning to emerge from the containers in my carport. I also have several containers planted with daffodils. Sill waiting for them to emerge.

 

These are dried luffas. If you don’t know these, listen up. The mother plant is a rapidly growing vine like squash. Young luffas can be eaten like yellow squash. If you leave them on the vine, they eventually will dry out. Then, you can peel off the outer skin and you have these. They will replace a sponge and are great in the shower for scraping off areas of dried elbows, knees and heels.

 

Lone daffodil bloom seen at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens this past week. It is a south facing slope planted amongst some clumping grasses. Very beautiful trumpet as seen on a bright sunny day.

 

These are some benches we have been working on at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. They are dedicated benches that have become weathered and covered with mold and lichen. First, we will wash them with a solution of dishwashing soap, vinegar and water. This is about a one hour job. This is followed by sanding with a power hand sander and also some manual sanding. This also takes an hour. I will show you a finished product soon.
A bonus for you today. This is a spotted salamander. Found this photo today on an email that came from Ruffner Mountain. I have been to where these creatures live in the Homewood Forest Preserve. I haven’t seen one but this was fascinating. I have included some text from the email.

The annual Spotted Salamander migration is an incredible sight, as well as the first sign of spring in Alabama – and you don’t have to travel far to see it. A large population of Spotted Salamanders undergoes this migration each year in Homewood, AL, and there is even a festival hosted by the Friends of Shades Creek celebrating their emergence each year! This year’s festival will be hybrid, with a virtual component starting on January 29, 2022, and running through February, and in-person hikes on January 29 and 30. If you love salamanders, I highly recommend attending and asking Friends of Shades Creek how you can get involved in preserving this amazing Alabama amphibian!

 

Spring Bloomers 25 March 2022

The weather is now definitely warmer and the forecast shows no sign of frost.  This past weekend, my wife and I enjoyed a trip to the Alabama Gulf Coast where we visited Bellingrath Garden in Theodore and Mobile Botanical Gardens.

At home, more ferns and bulbs are emerging.  Of course, along with them, there are also signs of the weeds and invasives.

Each day, there are more tasks to be done.   In the Mens Garden, we have begun laying out a circular brick paver area around the flag pole.  We will be placing engraved brick markers there if all works out.

On to this week’s pics.

First, I have some beautiful red tulips from Bellingrath.  They keep them in the nursery until they are blooming and then place them out in the Garden.

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Second, this is an invasive Cherokee Rose.  This was found at Bellingrath near the estuary.  It is native to Asia but has naturalized rapidly here in the SouthEast.  It is a climbing rose with stems that grow up to 20 feet.  It may be beautiful but it is truly invasive.

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Thirs and at home, the Florida anise has begun to show its red star shaped bloom.  It is always a good sign of Spring.  Being an anise, there is a licorice smell if you rub the leaves.

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Fourth, here are some Jetfire daffodils that I have out in terra cotta containers in the back yard.  The photo does not do justice to the bright orange trumpet portion of the bloom.

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Fifth, the red stemmed lady fern, Athyrium filix-femina, the “Lady in Red” is emerging.  It completely disappears after frost but reliably returns in the Spring.

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Sixth and last here is a wild violet that has some blue and white in the bloom.  It only appears in the spring but it is worth watching for.  Also, the white false indigo, Baptisis alba is emerging in its asparagus like form for now until the blooms appear.

 

Happy gardening.

 

Don’t forget to look at the Propagator for his blog Six on Saturday.

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