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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 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 16 Dec 2022

The weather is forecast to be much colder but there are still some blooms to show you. There is also signs of new growth to come.

We are expecting a cold snap here in Central Alabama.  Temps will drop below freezing for several nights.  Looks like this will continue at least until Christmas.  Who knows!  We might have a white Christmas.

In the meantime, my photos today will feature some persisiting blooms and some signs of things to come.

First, here is a lantana to start.  It still has a few blooms despite the short days and cool temps.  I really like this gold color.  It will not survive the upcoming cold nights.


Second is the Camellia japonica “Sea Foam”.  It is a little early but the double bloom is outstanding.


Third is the second Camellia japonica.  I could not find the cultivar name but it is an unusual dark color.


The next are two ferns.  The first is known as Southern Shield and it is evergreen.  The other is an asparagus fern which dies back with the cold.


Fifth is a bay (Laurus nobilis) which I use for cooking.  This has a hint of lemony flavor in addition to the expect bay leaf flavor.


The next is a project that has succeeded.  These are leopard lilies that I have started from the seeds (bulbils).  I planted them last fall and they sprouted this spring.  They should be ready to plant next spring.


Happy gardening!  Hope the cold weather does not cause the garden too much damage.

Follow the Six on Saturday group on this site Six on Saturday blog.  Jim Stephens has taken over hosting the group.

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.


November Blue Skies 4 Nov 2022

We have had some rain this past week.  Thank goodness for that.  The temperatures have been moderate with just a hint of coolness in the morning.  Long range there is not danger of frost for the next 10 days.  The most striking feature is the bright blue skies.  The summer haze is gone.  Colors just seem to pop in the landscape.

Speaking of pop, here are my photos for this week.

The fennel in the fall vegetable bed bloomed this week.  Very perky color.  Sorry for the bit of unfocused blooms but you get the idea.


The Camellia sasanqua is at its peak.  It is loaded with multiple blooms.  I caught this one with just enough light to cause it to sparkle.


The swamp sunflower (Helianthus augustifolia) is also at its peak.  It is set against the purple of the Japanese maple but the mid day sun has overwhelmed that color.



The purple coneflowers (Echinacea purpura) are continuing to give a wonderful display.  This is one of our magnificent natives.  It shamefully self seeds but I do not protest.


I found an intruder this week.  It is a Japanese climbing fern (Lygodium japonicum).  It is mildly invasive but it is exotic enough to be forgiven as long as it minds its manners and stays out of the shrubbery.


Finally, I have purchased some fall annuals which will be planted soon.  The pansies are in the Mystic series and the poppies called champagne bubbles are a new candidate for the Mens Garden.




Happy gardening.

Six on Saturday continues Garden Ruminations.  Check it out tomorrow.