Total Pageviews

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Garden in May - Then and Now

After showing you a photograph of the Rose of Sharon soon after it had been planted in my last post, I thought I'd show some more "Then and Now" photos of the garden.

The "Then" photos were all taken in May and June 2009.  The "Now" photos have been taken in the past couple of weeks.

The first photo shows the border we built using stones the builder had left over from accenting the front of the house.  My husband was glad to have them out of the garage, not so glad he was the one that had to move them!

I would have liked to have made the border deeper, but we had to work around underground utilities and sprinkler heads.

Views along the back of the garden today show how the garden has filled in. The Vitex has grown like gangbusters, as have the Southern Wax Myrtle and the Rose of Sharon.  You can also see "Junior", the young pine tree we had put in to replace the mature pine we lost.

The builder put a few holly bushes around the utility boxes, but eventually all but one of them died.  The vast expanse of lawn made the garden nice and green, but not much to offer for the birds and butterflies.

To disguise the utility boxes, I got a couple of lattice panels from Lowes and believe it or not, I managed to cram in a butterfly bush and a small crepe myrtle behind the utility boxes.  (Probably not the wisest choice, but the butterflies enjoy it :-)

Here's a close up view of the utility box corner.  Not sure if you can see in this photo, perhaps in the enlarged version, but I've been using the area as a convenient place for a brush pile, which has made it a favorite spot for the birds too :-) 

We also got rid of some of the vast expanse of lawn by putting in an island bed.  It's a bit of a hodge-podge, with no real planting plan, just things stuck in the ground as and when I think about it.  I had planned to organize it this year, but it didn't happen.  Maybe next spring....

In the meantime, I'm happy that the daylilies are finally blooming (they did nothing last year) and the Profusion zinnia has self-seeded.

The character of the bed will likely change as the peach tree and the river birch grow, but I think they will both provide dappled shade, so plants should still enjoy  sharing the bed with them.

When we moved in, the most striking thing about the property was that it was surrounded by trees.  That's really where the "Green and Serene" in the name of my blog came from.  Of course, we knew it couldn't last, but we enjoyed it while we could.

Now we have houses either side and those trees are gone, but our new neighbors have planted a small tree in their back yard, so perhaps together we can rebuild the habitat :-)

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

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Travelling Shrub

Our garden here at this house is not the first garden I have created from scratch.

Back in 2003, I moved out my apartment in the city and into a house in a small town north of the city.

One of my greatest joys then, as now, was creating a garden, literally from scratch. Whereas our house here at least had sod and a few bushes, the back yard in my previous house was literally a patch of dirt.

Over the five years I lived there, with the help of my parents, who visited from England, and my neighbors, I laid out a lawn and wide borders full of flowering shrubs and other plants, as well as a shady patio for a pleasant place to sit and enjoy it.

The subject of today's post, "The Traveling Shrub" was one of the most successful shrubs in that garden. It was given to my by one of my neighbors and was no more than a stick when I first got it.

They told me it was a Rose of Sharon, something that, being from England, I was unfamiliar with.

At first, I stuck it in a container of potting soil, to let it take root which it happily did. Once I noticed it was putting out new leaves, I deemed it ready to go in the garden and put it in the bed on the back side of the house, close to the patio.

The arrow in the photo below shows it, about 8 inches tall, in its new home.


A month or so later, it was 3 feet tall and filling out.

It wasn't long at all before it was covered in buds and starting to bloom.

It was glorious all summer long, a magnet for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds.

When Eric and I got married and decided a bigger house would be more suitable for the two of us, I was quite upset at having to leave behind this garden. 

But then I remembered how the Rose of Sharon had come to me and wondered if it could make the move to our new house.

I took several cuttings and potted them up, nurturing them until we started laying out borders in our new garden.

I planted three altogether.  The one below, indicated by the arrow, went into the middle of the back border. It would eventually be flanked by a Southern Wax Myrtle and a Flame Acanthus.  I also planted one in the border on the left of the garden and one along the fence on the right side of the garden.  Out of the three of them, the one in the back border is doing best.

It wasn't long before it was as tall as the wall and blooming profusely :-)

More seasoned gardeners than I will probably notice that the Rose of Sharon and the Southern Wax Myrtle in the photo above are too close together.  Now, three years later, they're sort of merged into one large shrub, but they both seem to be doing well.

So if the occasion ever comes that I have to move again (not that we are planning on it), I know I'll be able to take at least some of my garden with me :-)

Or perhaps I could share cuttings with my neighbors, if any of them were gardeners.

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

Saturday, May 11, 2013

May is Garden for Wildlife Month

Since our backyard received official certification as a Wildlife Habitat from the National Wildlife Federation in 2011, one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening for me is to sit and watch birds and other wildlife enjoying the habitat we have created.

I didn't know until recently that May is Garden for Wildlife Month. Whether you're a gardening novice with a small balcony or gardening veteran with a few acres, you can provide for local wildlife by creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat®.

And as a special offer for May only, the NWF will plant a tree in your honor for habitats certified during May.

In honor of Garden for Wildlife Month, I thought I'd share some wildlife photos I took in the garden recently.

When we first moved in here, we were surrounded by trees and we had resident fox squirrels that visited daily.  One by one, all the surrounding trees have gone and until recently, so had the squirrels.

Suddenly, the squirrels are back! I'm not sure where they are living, as we are a block or more from the nearest mature tree now, and there's nothing but empty yards in between. But twice in the past week I've seen one helping itself to the bird seed on the fence and wall.

I look forward to seeing squirrels scamper up and down "Junior"s trunk in a few years.

Blue Jays also became more scarce as the habitat around us was lost and houses were built either side.  They now nest in the hedgerow across the road behind our wall (seen in the background of the photo above) and they are daily visitors to our garden and our feeders.

We get so many Northern Mockingbirds around our neighborhood, and the air is filled with their song at the moment.  So much so that I decided to call my home office/art studio "Mockingbird Studio." I can actually sit indoors at my computer, working on artwork or whatever else I'm doing, and be serenaded by a mockingbird sitting on the roof, or in the tree in the front garden.

 As I was sitting on the patio today, I heard a slightly different sound and when I looked up I saw a mother mockingbird feeding suet to her young.  The sound I was hearing was the young one telling mom to hurry up with the suet!

One thing I especially like about the garden now is that the birds don't just flock to the feeders.  I get a kick out of watching them hopping about in the border, through the flower beds and across the lawn.  They do a decent job of picking up seed that has blown off the fence, or out of the feeders and it's nice to see them acting naturally, as they would out "in the wild". (Can you see Mrs. Cardinal in the photo above?)

Back on the 29th April, I showed a photo of our first hummingbird of the year.  I swear we didn't see hummingbirds until August in previous years but for the past week or so, we've had a pair of them zipping about the garden.

Here's the male...

And here's the female...

They keep coming and going in and out of the Southern Wax Myrtle (on the right in the above photo).  Wouldn't it just be too awesome if they nested in there this year?

I saw a young male hummingbird last year.  It would be wonderful to see some baby hummers this year!

If you would like more information about Gardening for Wildlife, visit the National Wildlife Federation website.

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