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Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Fairy Garden

In May of last year, I told you how I repurposed our old grill and made it into a planter on the back patio.

Since then, it's seemed that everything I planted in it has been doomed to die a slow death.  First, I think in the location we had it, it was getting full afternoon sun and, being metal, it was heating up too much and literally cooking the plants inside. 

So then I moved it into the far corner, by the bedroom window, where it didn't get any direct light at all, except for perhaps a short time when the setting sun touched it briefly.

I had a Pothos Ivy in there for a while -- the photo below was taken right after it was planted.  It looked great at first, but within a week or two it just lay there drooping and leaves were dying off  until finally I dug it out and planted it in a pot and put it on the little plant stand next to the grill.

Within a week, the Pothos Ivy had perked up, had new growth and was getting its marbled coloring back.

I had to face it, what had started out as a good idea--to turn an old grill into a planter--wasn't such a great idea after all.  You could even call it an Epic Fail.

So now, here I had this "planter" on the patio, complete with the trellis I made from the saplings we cut from the lot next door before it was cleared, and nothing would grow in it.

What to do?

It just so happened, on the way back from a visit to the doctor, that I stopped in to Plants for All Seasons and became entranced by the collection of Fairy Gardens they had on display.

It came to me that it would be the perfect solution to my problem.

Using the gardens I had seen as inspiration, I used pine cones as bushes in my fairy garden, along with some items purchased at Plants for all Seasons. 

Here's a close up of it at that point.

Perhaps I should have stopped there but I added some shells and gravel, another toadstool and some actual fairies.

Below you can see the finished fairy garden in close up. 

 Maybe I over did it, but I'm happy with it :-)  And even the sweet potato vine is coming back!

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Year of the Hummingbird

This really does seem to have been the year of the hummingbird.  I think they showed up earlier this year than in the past, and there are definitely more of them.

Sitting on the patio has been like sitting on the set of a Star Wars movie while they're filming a fight scene with light sabers.  I swear George Lucas must have been inspired by the sound hummingbirds make when thinking about sound effects for the movie!

I'm not sure how much longer they will be here.  They're really massing and getting ready to migrate now.  There can be nine or ten chasing each other round the garden at any one time.

I haven't been able to get much in the way of photos because by the time I get home, when they're out on the feeders, the light is already starting to fade.

I've been able to get a couple though, such as this one of a male and two females:

 I particularly like this photo of a female coming in to land on the feeder by the column on the patio. Again, not good lighting because of the time of day and the fact it's on the north side of the house, but I think she's cute anyway.  I love the way their feet curl when they're in flight.

Do you still have hummingbirds in your garden?

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Hardest Working Plant in the Garden - Lantana

I find it amusing that a few years ago, I really didn't care for lantana much.  I planted one in my garden at my previous house and this one plant spread over an area about 6 ft x 6 ft, which happened to be where I wanted to grow some other plants.  So I was forever cutting it back and I hated the smell of it when I cut it.  I swore I'd avoid it in future.

When I moved to this house, I discovered the New Gold and White Gold varieties which don't take up as much room and are more mounding in habit. I loved them and planted them throughout the garden. I've shown them on my blog many times.

I think my current favorite now is Dallas Red.  I've got it in the border across the back of the garden, underneath the Southern Wax Myrtle and it's growing like wildfire.  I had to hack it back as it was hanging over the stone border and out into the lawn. I still don't care for the smell when I cut it, but the spectacle of all the butterflies and hummingbirds enjoying it makes it all worthwhile.

This past weekend I took a break from pulling nutsedge out of the front border and spent some time out on the patio with my camera zoomed in across the garden and managed to get some snaps.  I'd love to be able to get closer, but when I did, the hummers went elsewhere which was frustrating. So I had to be content with cropping the photos in Photoshop Elements. As always, you can click on the photos for a larger version.

For example, can you spot the female Ruby Throat in this photo?

How about in this cropped version of the same photo?

Here's another shot of her.

The hummingbirds aren't the only wildlife to enjoy the Dallas Red.  This Giant Swallowtail spent all afternoon flitting around.  I had a hard time getting a good photo because his wings moved so quickly.  Thankfully out of the 10 or so duds, I got this decent shot.

At the end of the day, I loved the way the Pink Muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris in the island bed looked with the sun behind it.

Another of my favorites in the island bed, the Cats Whiskers, Orthosiphon aristatus, has done great this year.  It's bloomed non stop since early summer and is about 4 ft wide and 3 ft tall now.  I had wondered how it would do in the new island bed in full sun, but it seems to like it there. 

 I certainly did enjoy the somewhat cooler weather at the weekend -- it almost felt like fall for a short while.  I'm looking forward to more of the same so we can finish my most recent project (adding another layer of stone to the island bed).

Have a good week!

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not ... Recycling in the Garden

One of my mother's popular sayings from my childhood, "Waste Not, Want Not", came back to me a recently as we were left with a circle of landscape stones around a pile of sawdust where our tree used to be.

I had been unhappy with the way our island bed was looking this summer. It was surrounded by a single course of landscape stone and I was forever having to pull up the St. Augustine that was poking up between the stones that the edger couldn't get to.  In addition, because we had originally laid the stones directly on the grass when creating the bed using a sort of modified "lasagna" method, as the grass underneath had died off, so the stones had sunk.

Evenutally, the stones almost seemed buried in the grass, and didn't present the nice edging that I envisioned for the bed.

So a couple of weeks ago, as I cast a disapproving eye over the mess the back garden had become, somewhere in the gloomy recesses of my mind, a lightbulb went on and I had an idea.
Why not recycle those stones and use them to start adding a second course of stone on to the island bed?

So that's what I did.  I'm thrilled with the result.  Even though it's not finished (need to make a trip or two to Lowe's to pick up more stones) it just makes the bed look complete.  I'm still dealing with bermuda grass coming up all over, but at least the St. Augustine isn't sticking up between all the stones like it was before.  Also, even when the lawn needs mowing, you can still see the stone border, instead of it being buried in the grass.

I keep finding myself walking around it, looking at it from all angles and admiring my work, lol.


Why I didn't think of making it two rows high in the first place, I have no idea. Now I just need to get more landscape stones to finish it off. 

I love it when my "bright ideas" work out right :-)

Words and photographs by Jayne Wilson, Green and Serene, Jayne's Country Garden.