July 20, 2014

Southern Living Garden Shoot.....the Preamble

One of the questions I get asked most frequently is...

"Do you have help?"

And despite willing and well-intentioned friends who kindly offered to

help me get the gardens in shape for the SOUTHERN LIVING shoot this coming week...

the timing just didn't work out...

so, yes. Most of the time I do at least 90% of the...

  clipping and pruning and mulching and mowing and 

 and staging and styling and weeding and 

and designing and planting and placing and

deadheading and fertilizing and staking and

edging and blowing and digging and planting and 

transplanting and dividing and seeding and watering and

fussing and fretting and sweating...

and huffing and puffing and straining until

  (A) my back gives out or 

(B) the heat, humidity and bugs drive me in, or

(C) I throw up my hands in frustration because of said heat, humidity, bugs, and oh yes, SQUIRRELS (seen here gorging on one of my sunflowers today...)

or, as I told my friend Bubba tonight from SOUTHERN LIVING...

 who, eek! will be here tomorrow morning...

when it is as close to perfection as I, and my 90% (and beneficent rain and cool temps from last week)

 can make it. 

The rest, over the next few days of shooting, is up to Mother Nature.

 I hope you enjoy these images...it won't look this good again for quite a while.  

Oh, and I kind of like to take a few pictures too...

July 13, 2014

Creeping Wire Vine, Muehlenbeckia axillaries

I have a hands-down new favorite trailing plant for pots, baskets, window boxes, etc. etc. etc.

Let me count the ways I love it:

* It grows like gangbusters;

* Has shiny, glossy, boxwood-sized leaves that

* Look beautiful adorning the deep brown/maroonish-purple

* Wiry stems that literally dance and curl and leap

 and reach over the container edge. All whilst forming a thick, dense mat of glossy green on the surface. It also, by virtue of its wiry nature:

* blends beautifully with other ground covers and trailers like money wort and Asian jasmine

* or bushy plants (like golden feverfew and lady's mantle in my pots)

* without being a thug at all, just

* ever so delicately insinuating itself, weaving in and out of its potted companions

as they tumble and spill over the sides. All this and it's

 * drought tolerant

*grows in both full sun and shade

*is pest resistant and 

*responds beautifully and lushly to sheering and trimming if it gets a bit rowdy.

It looks quite fetching as it underplants my topiary boxwood...

equally so as it aspires to become topiary itself on a wire frame. It is hardy to zone 6, though I had patches that survived the Polar Vortex of last winter.

No doubt, with more aggressive mulching on my part, it would have fared even better. It would make an ideal, fast growing ground cover for slopes...or
difficult areas like dry shade. That said, it also looks

great all by its lonesome in a shallow pot positioned just so as...to catch the sunlight on its glittering small leaves.

 Unfortunately, it's difficult to find in local nurseries or big box stores. So find some at Gardenality, (here) or at Schubert Nursery (here). Also look for it
under the names Angel Vine and Mattress Vine.

Or... look UNDER the mattress FOR Angel Vine...but DO look for it. You won't be disappointed, I promise.

July 11, 2014

Mud Boots for the Potager

Okay...it's been a while since it looked like this...

rainy and cool and muddy and wet. But this week we were gifted with a LOT of heavenly rain,

and in celebration I bought myself some new garden boots from Target (and on sale no less.)

The beauty of these boots, whichever style you select, is that

there is more than enough room at the top to easily slip them on and off...

without any pulling at the heel...and the consequent muddy hands when you need to dash inside for a bit.

Your local Target will probably have a selection still on the shelves; if not,

you can find them online here, along with a stylish, hot pink version for kid gardeners. 

I have a wardrobe, if you will, of garden footwear for mucking about in wet conditions...some of them suffering from that powdery white film, aka 'bloom', that often forms on rubber boots.

A quick wipe of a clean cloth dipped in a teaspoon or two of olive oil will remedy that. The least I can do for footwear that protects me from mud and 

ankle-biting mosquitoes. :)

For tips of a more arid nature, join me today on 4 Your Garden on Newschannel 4 at 4:30...we'll be talking succulents.