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Five for Friday 27 January 2023

In Alabama, the  days are lengthening and more signs of spring growth are appearing.  There are still some frosty nights this week but just a few degrees.  I have started some seeds but mostly these are some herbs and some perennials.

Today, my photos are from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens as well as my own yard and the Vestavia Hills Mens Garden

This first photo is of some winter interest.  This is a bank of muhly grass with limelight hydrangeas in the background near the conservatory.  This was very noticeable on a sunny day this week at the Botanical Gardens.  Notice how the hydrangeas keep the petals over the winter.


The second photo is of a hardwood woodland at the Gardens filled with King Alfred daffodils.  This faces east and warms early in the day as the sun rises.


The third photo from the Botanical Gardens is Spirea thunbergii which may be called Thunberg spirea.  It is also on an east facing bank.  These tiny blossoms are brilliant white.  I did not notice a fragrance but there must be to attract early insect pollinators.


Next is a photo from my yard of a large cupped daffodil which I think is Orange Sunset.  It was in some shade when I took this picture so its brilliant colors cannot be appreciated.


This next phots is also from my yard showing the first signs of recovery in my tea olives Osmanthus fragrans.  I am very pleased to see this.


The next photo is from the Mens Garden.  Here is a beautiful violet hellebore.  This was a donation so I do not know the cultivar.  It was shyly drooping a little so I raised it up to take the photo.


Another from the Mens Garden is an emerging fiddlehead of a Southern Shield fern Thelypteris kunthii.  They are deciduous and a little agressive but they are a great groundcover in woodland areas and even in sunny locations.


Finally, here is also some sign of life in an oakleaf hydrangea Hydrangea quercifolia.  These Alabama natives are very hardy and are a welcome sign of the coming spring season.


I hope your garden is also beginning to show increasing signs of life.  If you are able, join us Saturday morning for the Six on Saturday group.  See gardeners from around the world post photos of their gardens.

Jim Stephens is our host and you can find it here.

Until next time.


Five for Friday 20 Jan 2023

It has been a month now since the record cold here in Birmingham.  The weather has been seasonal since,  which means warm days with rain and sunny days with near freezing temps.  A close watch on the garden continues to reveal many hopeful signs that plants are entering their late winter/early spring phase.  There is even a daffodil bloom to feature for this post.

First, is the first sign that the Southern Shield Ferns (Thelypteris kunthii) are beginning to rise out of the ground.  There is the characteristic fiddlehead.  img_3764-1

Second, is a chrysanthemum.  There are increasing numbers of newly emerging growth stalks.  These are hardy mums and they bloomed prolifically last fall.


Third is a photo of Shasta daisy awakening.  It took a significant hit but prospects of a good summer bloom are increasing.  This is the ‘Becky’ cultivar.


Fourth is Stoke’s Aster (Stokesia laevis).  It seems to be well recovered and in better condition than the Shasta.  It is a native which explains the  better response.


Next are two other natives.  The resurrection fern which always freshens up after a rain and the leatherwood (Dirca palustris).  The leatherwood is now 5 years old and this is the first bloom that I have seen on it.

Finally, the prize goes to the first daffodil.  I am unsure of the cultivar but it may be ‘Ice Follies’.


We will have rain this weekend with continued seasonal temps.  The hellebores are making good progress so I hope to have photos of them next week.

In the meantime, tomorrow, wander over to the Six on Saturday forum and see gardens from all over the world as our group shares.  Jim Stephens hosts our group here and it is a pleasant place to gaze as you enjoy a morning beverage.

Until next time, Happy Gardening.


Five for Friday 14 Jan 2023

Here in Birmingham which is in Central Alabama of the American South, it is blustery and cool today. We are at the high for the day early this afternoon and it is 39F or 4C whichever pleases you the most. In addition, it is gray and dismal.

Severe storms came through at mid day yesterday and brought with them strong winds and some tornadoes. There was a lot of damage in Selma about 75 miles to our south and several people were killed in Autauga County also to our south.

Selma, Alabama at the home of a good friend’s relative. It is right across the street from the historic Sturdivant Hall which was spared.

Sturdivant Hall


In our location, we were spared the damaging storms. We will be warming up next week, although the expectation is for rainy weather.

There are an increasing signs of spring for you today.

First, I have to show you the blooming geranium in my greenhouse. It is so red that it blurred the picture.


Second, I have two hellebores. The first is a white which is just emerging.

Lenten Rose

The next is a lavender pink color. When the bloom emerges, it is more erect so that you can easily see its face. I do not know the cultivar. It may be Pippa’s Purple.


The third is the culinary ginger which I keep indoors. It thrives outdoors in the summer. It is great to just take a segment for cooking..


The fourth is the Crocosmia ‘Lucifer’. It is just beginning to peak above ground. As you can imagine from its naming, it is red.


The fifth is daffodils beginning to appear. I think these are Barrett Browning.


Finally, sixth, this is a camellia bud that looks like it will emerge soon. This is Professor Charles Sargeant.


Join us on Six on Saturday hosted by Jim Stephens and see the photos of gardeners from around the world.

Happy gardening!

Five for Friday 6 January 2023

Here in the American South, I have had time to assess the damage from the Christmas freeze.  It is significant but there are definitely signs of hope.

The herbaceous annuals and perennials are showing signs of recovery.  The shrubs have a lot of leaf damage but the horticulture folks tell us to wait until spring growth before pruning.  That makes a lot of sense.  The hope is that we will still have the beautiful spring flowering from the azaleas.  The camellias are expected to bloom soon.  We shall see.  Short range, the weather looks favorable for plant growth.

Today, I am showing some before and after photos.

First,  these are holly ferns.  Fingers crossed here since they are favorites.


Second,  these are lenten roses.  A lot of damage but it looks recoverable.

Third, these are pansies.  They had been off to a good start but this is a significant set back.


Fourth, these are poppies.   I thought they were goners but maybe not so fast.

Fifth, these are the rudbeckia.  Once more, there is a glimmer of hope.

Finally, these are Shasta daisies.


There is hope.  There are buds on the camellias, the daffodils are rising and a cut through an azalea branch still shows the green cambium of growth.

Please join the Six on Saturday group hosted by Jim Stephens  Six on Saturday.

Happy Gardening.

Five for Friday 30 Dec 2022

The New Year is upon us and as always I am looking upon it with great expectations.  In many ways, this has been a trying year and I am not regretting its passing.

The severe weather that we just experienced in Central Alabama has caused visible damage and to our plants untold damage yet unseen.  Here in the American South, there is still some color to show but also a glimmer of the damage done.

It was a flash freeze that we experienced here with the temps dropping 40 degrees F in just a few hours to temperatures we rarely record.

Here are my pics for today.

First, here is some of the color before the freeze.  The Majestic pansy and the kerria were so bright and cheerful.

Second, here were some other window box items that were doing so well.  The red sorrel and the curly parsley are now history.  The succulent may survive.

Third, here is the ageratum which had been surviving through several mild frost days.  It will have to wait until spring weather to see if it survives.  I am optimistic.


Fourth, here is a sasanqua camellia.  It shows some leaf damage from the freeze that I have never seen before but there is enough green and a bud to hold out promise.


Fifth, I show you a Rudbeckia ‘Indian Summer’ which I protected in my little vinyl greenhouse.  It is a survivor.


Finally, there are a pair of other tender plants which I shelterd in the greenhouse and they will survive to bloom another day.

There is a geranium (Pelargonium) here and a shrimp plant.


There has been a lot of damage to water pipes in our area.  Many buildings do not have the insulation for the pipes to survive the severity of cold we had and so much of the distribution systems are aged and frail.  These problems will take time to fix and may result in more stringent building codes.

Happy New Year and Happy Gardening!

Thank you to Jim Stephens for hosting Six on Saturday  Come visit our merry band and enjoy the thoughts and labors of gardeners around our planet.

Six on Saturday 10 December 2022

Here in central Alabama, the temperature continues to be warm and there are still some blooms to show you.  We are expecting some rain later this week with some near freezing temps next weekend.  So, in addition to the blooms I also show the plant world adjusting to the colder weather of winter.  Winter does not officially arrive for 2 weeks.

First up today is a container geranium (Pelargonium sp) which is about to bloom here in mid December.


Second is a tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans) which is blooming.  It is expected after a significant rainfall such as the one we had last week.  The fragrance carries all across the yard so that you may not see them but you can certainly smell them.


Third is a holly fern (Cyrtomium falcatum).  It seems to be enjoying the temps and showing signs of increased color.  This fern is evergreen for our climate.


Fourth is of my fall winter vegetable gardens.  These are some beets (Beta vulgaris var Boldor).  If they succeed, intend to make some borscht or a beet and goat cheese salad.


Fifth is some lambs ear (Stachys byzantina).  It makes a very pretty groundcover in sunny areas as well as part sun.  The have spike like stems in the summer from which the flowers emerge.


Finally, I have a plastic jug in which I have started some milkweed (A. tuberosa).  As you can see they have begun to sprout.  I will harvest some of these and transfer into separate containers when it is reasonable to do that.



Hope you enjoy these photos.  Join us on Six on Saturday which is now hosted by Jim Stephens here.  It is a place to see the work of gardeners around the world.

Happy gardening!

Winter Approaches 2 Dec 2022

The days continue to shorten.  The recent rain has brought most of the leaves to the ground.  Orion is visible in the Southern sky.  Winter is definitely approaching.

We are still having mild enough weather to keep some of the blooms alive but their is color everywhere if you look.

First, the Alabama Croton continues to display.  It is definitely a four season delight.


The dogwood (Cornus florida) has beautiful leaf color.  It will have some pretty red berries for the birds but most of them have already been eaten.


This Japanese maple has dropped its red leaves onto this bed of pansies after the recent heavy rain.


The blue mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum) is continuing to bloom  This native is another multiseason showpiece.


The encore azalea is living up to its name.  It is still blooming even after a few light frosts.

These have become iconic in the American South since they bloom in profusion 3 times a year.  There are numerous cultivars in several colors from white to red to lavender.


Finally, I thought you might enjoy the pointsettia tree at the Birmingham Botanical Garden.  The story goes that it takes 300 individual potted pointsettias to make this eye stopping beauty.


That’s mine for this week.  I am still managing to find a lot of color for the blog.

Don’t forget to enjoy Six on Saturday which is now hosted by Jim Stephens.  You can find it here.


Happy Gardening.

Thanksgiving 25 Nov 2022

We have had a reprieve from the freezing temps of last week.  It has been beautiful with warm days but that always brings the possiblity of stormy weather.  In fact, it may bring some thunderstorms tomorrow night.

There was a refreshing rain overnight and we are still overcast this morning as I write.  This is Thanksgiving weekend and this is a special beginning to the holiday season.  It is appropriate to give thanks for all things.  It is a good thing to pause, step back and reflect.  Yesterday, it was a feast day with turkey as the centerpiece and sides of traditional food at our house including cornbread dressing, squash casserole and cranberry relish.

It is also a time to look forward beyond the holiday season and to the upcoming year.  In the garden, there are signs of the past year but also signs of the year to come.

First, I have a lantana still putting out some blooms.  It seems to remind me of colored popcorn.


Second, I have a Camellia sasanqua and a California poppy both with bright blooms.


Third is a large hosta.  After the frost, the bright greens are replaced by this golden yellow which is so eye catching.


Fourth, there is a Tuscann blue rosemary with its delicate blue blooms.


Fifth, there is the seedhead of some garlic chives.  This is a sign of new life to come and also garden weeding in the spring.


Sixth, there are the buds of blooms to come.  This is Viburnum macrocephalum and Edgeworthis chrysantha which will be glorious come spring.


Those are my offerings for this week.

Follow Six on Saturday hosted by Jim Stephens on garden ruminations.  It is a gathering of gardeners around the world sharing their love for gardening.


Happy Gardening.


Frost 18 Nov 2022

In our part of the American South the first frost date averages November 15.  It is 26 F this morning, so we are on schedule.  The air is crisp and clear with a forecast for a bright sunny day.  On this type of days, the light is so bright that it becomes a little difficult to see.

Garden tasks will be delayed today but they are few.  In fact, the most important task will be to check the LED lights for our outdoor Christmas decoration.

However, I have still been able to find some colorful items to show you.

First, here is a blue ageratum or mistflower (Conoclinium coelestinum).   It is perennial with striking lime green foliage and the misty blooms that have been there for weeks now.


Second is a kerria bush (Kerria japonica).  It had stopped blooming but I found this bloom down low in a protected area.  It mostly blooms in the spring but sporadically there have been blooms all summer long and now well into fall.


Third, I have a photo of the pansies I planted as a fall/winter annual.  They do so well in windowboxes and containers on the patio or deck.  This cultivar is in the Matrix series.  They are able to tolerate cold down into the low 20’s.  The bright faces are much appreciated in the cold mornings we will experience the next few months.


Fourth is a rhododendron that I found 2 days ago with a well developed bud.  It looks well wrapped to bear the cold.  Anticipate this will be glorious in the spring.


Fifth is a Christmas fern (Polystichum acrostichoides).  It is a native.  The name derives from the frond leaves which resemble hanging Christmas stockings.  I will leave that to your imagination.


Sixth is an indoor plant but I keep them outdoors during the warm months.  It is a Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera truncata).  It is a succulent which is very easy to propagate.  It is sometimes called a Thanksgiving cactus which seems more appropriate at this time of year.img_3570

Be sure to follow Jim Stephens at Garden Ruminations

He is hosting the Six on Saturday group.  There is an abundance of great photos and dialog there.

Happy Gardening!



Fall Colors 11 Nov 2022


The garden is continuing to ebb as the temperatures slowly decline.  It is a slow march into winter but this past week, the colors of the changing leaves have been unmatched.  It is made ever more noticeable because of the clear blue skies and the dry weather.

In addition to the leaves, I still have some persistent blooming flowers to show you.


Chestnut Oak (Quercus montana).  This tree stands near the Mens Garden along the side of the elevated roadway.  Last year, I found some acorns underneath it that were sprouting.  I took them home and I now have a chestnut oak in my own yard.




Oakleaf hydrangea (Hydrangea quercifolia).  This native shrub provides four season attraction.  The red fall coloration is beautiful.  This particular shrub is at the edge of a small woodland and really stands out since it is south facing.




Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida).  This dogwood was planted several years ago and has taken some time to be established.  It performed well this year so I am expecting to see it bloom this spring.




Sweetspire (Itea virginica)  This small shrub is another Alabama native which performs so well.  It has thrived in this location also on the south facing side of a small woodland.  It should also bloom well in the spring with its characteristic tassel.



Obedient plant (Physostegia virginiana).  This native established itself near the fountain of the Mens Garden.  It is a fall bloomer and really shows out.




Red mulberry (Morus rubra).  This is a well established tree, along the east facing side of my property line, which bears a lot of fruit in the  spring.  If you want some of the berries, you have to beat the squirrels and the birds to it since they really love them



Sugar maple (Acer saccharum).  I planted two of these trees along my property line 40 years ago.  Each year I think they will show the rainbow of colors characteristic of this tree but each year it produces this brilliant gold.



Zinnias.  These zinnias haven’t given up.  I am still seeing Monarchs, Gulf fritillaries and Clouded sulphurs coming for nectar.



Well, that’s my lot for this week.  I enjoy this exercise of finding six photos (more or less) to keep up to date with the happenings in my garden world.  If it brings you pleasure to view them, then my job is doubly fulfilled.

Check out Jim Stephens Garden Ruminations.  He is hosting Six on Saturday where you can view gardeners from around the world who share in this exercise.