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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!




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

I also like Dotty Lovelady Rogers.


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

New Blooms Five on Friday. Friday 2022 Feb 11

New Blooms and A Successful Carpentry Project


This hellebore has been magnificent for several weeks now.  I don’t know its name but I do appreciate its persistence.  It was a donation of a few years ago from the yard of a Master Gardener in the area.  His widow allowed us to take a dozen transplants from their yard.  It is a fitting memorial to him.


This is Kerria japonica sometimes known as Japanese rose.  I have had it now for 3 or 4 years.  It is deciduous but solitary blooms can be seen throughout the winter.  It is a slow spreading shrub with long arching stems similar to forsythia.


This is Croton alabamensis or Alabama croton.  It is a low shrub endemic to Alabama. It can be called semi-evergreen.  I like to bronze leaves that linger in the winter.  In summer the foliage has a silvery backing which flashes when blown by the wind.

The daffodils are really beginning to emerge this week.  These are two varieties in the Mens Garden that stand out.


Here is a beautiful red camellia.  This double red bloom is so elegant.  I think it may be Professor Sargent.

This is a carpentry project that I participated in at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens.  The area you see is a brick patio, surrounded on 3 sides by a 4×4 fence, and which overlooks the Bruno vegetable garden.  We took down one side which was leaning badly and salvaged the lumber to add a second railing to the fence portion that you see.  We replaced the fence by placing 4×4 posts and stringing steel cable through them and attaching the ends to the other 2 sections that you see.

I am mentioning a blog that I follow Globetrotting Grandpa.  He is featuring all 50 states as part of his travels and he posted one on Alabama today.

Follow the Propagator

Hope you enjoy.

A Winter Harvest


This is Titan parsley that I started from seed last summer.  It is in a carport window box.  It gets set back on cold nights but always snaps back in a few days.  I have to remember that parsley is a biannual so it needs a new start every 2 years.  It is so convenient to collect fresh parsley whenever you need it for cooking.

The winter still provides enough fresh items for cooking.  Here are some other things that I keep growing around the yard in winter.


Here is some lemon thyme.  As you can see, it does so well in the carport in winter.  It is a great addition to home made soups.  We save leftover chicken or roast to make soups in winter.  We like the taste of the fresh thyme in those dishes.


This is Tuscan blue rosemary.  It thrives in the garden.  If I bump into it, it emits such a wonderful smell.  I cut it back one third in the spring to keep it from getting too woody.  We like to add it to soups, chicken dishes and pork dishes.


This is ginger.  This is one called Big Kahuna Blue Ring.  I grow it in a container so it can be brought indoors when the weather cools.  Just cut a piece and you have fresh ginger for stir fry.  It is a pretty plant in summer but I have not had it bloom.  That is a pinecone you see.  I cover the top of the soil in my containers with pinecones.  That helps to keep the squirrels from digging in them.


This green is red sorrell.   It does well in the carport windowbox all year.   That microclimate is warm enough in winter and just enough shade for the summer.  It adds nice color to a salad and has a pleasant taste.


This is some of my indoor nursery.  The leopard lilies are not up yet but I have some dill started and a nice crop of snapdragon.  I wanted to start the snapdragons last fall and put them out late fall but best laid plans did that idea in.  These snaps are Madame Butterfly.

Remember I was inspired by #Six for Saturday

You will also enjoy this latest blog from Felder Rushing.  Summer Mississippi flowers seen in England.

Five for Friday. A cold January day.


This star magnolia was beginning to bloom this week.  That day it was in the 60’s.  It has certainly changed in a few days since then.  Its typical for it to bloom early, even before the leaves appear.  It is more like a tall shrub so it fits well in a home landscape.


This vine flowers early and it seems to do very well on this arbor at the entrance to the Men’s Garden.  This is yellow jasmine sometimes called Carolina Jessamine.  This is a fast growing plant and we cut it back every few years.  It certainly adds a pop of color to the entrance.  Good way to cover unsightly chain link fence.


The Katy Road Rose still has a bud.  It will bloom as soon as we leave these 30 degree temps.


This black pine is showing new growth.  We still have several from last year’s plant sale.  They make a tall beatiful border plant.

Here is two more from years past.  In case you are missing a snow, here’s a red Gerber daisy that doesn’t miss it and neither does our cat.  I will assure you of that.

I have been inspired by another blog to begin this one.    Check it out.

Stay warm, my friends.

Five Friday January 14

The weather has been much colder this week but each day the temps have risen well above freezing.  There was rain last Sunday and rain is forecast for this weekend.  Despite the cold, if you look closely, signs that the plants are getting ready for spring are evident.  Snow is forecast for late Sunday or early Monday so I hope this doesn’t cause much damage to these signs of spring.


This is from a few days ago.  Georgia beat Alabama in the National Championship game.  Congratulations to the Dawgs.  The 2021 edition of the Tide was a young team.  With returning starters like Bryce Young on offence and Will Anderson on defense the future looks great for 2022.  The flag has come down until the fall.



The snapdragons are taking some punishment from the cold.  But as you can see, the stalks are multiplying so there will be plenty of blooms in the spring.  Last year, these bloomed until August.  I think these are the Sonnet series.



These yellow flag iris are showing the little sword like growths that will bear the new flower stalks come spring.  Last years growth is now all brown.  Soon, we will pull that old, brown debris and let the new growth have more room.


These little fiddleheads are from the Southern shield ferns.  The freezing temps have left the fronds all brown now.  A few green fronds persist if they are in sheltered areas.  These fiddleheads can be harvested and eaten I am told but I prefer to enjoy ferns by sight and not by taste.



This Kurume azalea is just beginning to show a red flower but.  In a few weeks, this will be in its glory.  Makes me think of the Masters.


This mint seems unfazed by cold weather.  It is so easy to grow in containers and use it year round for cooking and flavoring tea.  Makes me think of the Kentucky Derby and mint juleps.

So, if you are a tired of winter and want a little indication of the coming wonder of spring, there you have it.

Five for Friday. It’s New Years Jan 8

We have had a cold snap and even some snow.  The tender plants are mashed.  But there is still some color and some cool snow photos.


This cool photo appeared recently and it is certainly terrific.  The colored lights, the snow covered branches and the street lighting all combine for a beautiful effect.



One more snow photo showing a covered azalea and the melted path.  The snow lasted just enough for me but it was a treat.  The last cold has been enough to knock off the tender plants so there will be some work now cutting off the frozen parts.


Very nice color from this flowering kale.


This hellebore or Lenten rose never fails to impress.  Early year color and cold hardy;  it is a real winner.


There were several banks with blooming daffodils that I found at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens this week.


Found this brightly colored mushroom on the lawn this week.  Haven’t taken the time to identify it yet but I posted it here as a bonus for you.