April 19, 2014

Easter Memories

My friend Bubba told me about these charming tiny chocolates from TERRAIN, an on-line shop that is worth visiting frequently for their delightful nature-inspired seasonal motifs, product lines and set design. Idea-generating visuals and imagery that are as tantalizing as these sweets. 

These romantic Eastery azalea braided topiaries, case in point. The azaleas, chocolates, Peter Rabbit-vibe bring out the nine year old girl in me...growing up in beautiful Knoxville, Tennessee...with classic, fragrant Southern springs, blooming dogwood, spongy marshmallow peeps and the taste of synthetic Easter-blue grass stuck to a just-licked malted milk egg. Despite these seasonal charms...

the photographer could entice no smile out of me. I am the dour faced one on the far right. Come to think of it, I had a dour, unhappy disposition to match the face for a big chunk of my childhood.

Last week, while waiting in the wings before my gardening segment on KFOR... a friend of mine and I were talking about Easter. I asked her... if when she was a little girl (she and I are about the same age)... did she sport those little white cotton gloves (along with the requisite Easter bonnet and small flowery purse) for church on Easter morning? (Oh, and those lace-trimmed anklets, patent leather shoes, wayward pin curls, and skinny eight-year old, blond-hairy legs...remember, girls?) 

Well, of course she did. 

To Easter Memories. And making new ones...sans white cotton gloves... this Easter.

April 18, 2014


Today I was preening my Easter garden as a group of walkers sauntered by. "Your garden is spectacular, one of the men kindly noted."  I thanked him for his appreciative words, to which he responded...

"No, thank YOU.  REALLY... thank you."   So I heeded his words.

Never take for granted beauty that is created and shared. Never fail to be awed by the power of transformation and the immense effort it often requires... 

by your hand, or anyone else's.

April 16, 2014

Opossum in the Garden

I hope you will agree that in my last few posts I have showered you with lovely images of springtime and sunshine.

 Now allow me to get ugly and hiss for a moment...at this creepy opossum sitting on my eight foot fence...just behind the fabulous Snowball Vibernum I wrote about yesterday. I could feel eyes watching me as I was taking those photos, and sure enough...I was right. The beady, sinister eyes of this unwelcome marauding marsupial were watching my every move.

I was so surprised that all I could think to do was turn my camera on IT...hoping perhaps that my lens and the frantic barking of the dog on the other side of the fence would shoo the vile creature away. (Husband tried to convince me opossums were cute, but I would have none of it...). And the further away from my potager (where I had seen tell-tale signs of his trespass) the better. For info on how to rid my garden of these nasty critters, I went here.

Cuz I sure as heck don't want him scaring off MY Easter Bunny.

Chinese Snowball Viburnum

It may have been the best twelve dollars I've ever spent. I wasn't looking for it two and a half years ago when I came across it at a nursery. But large white snowball blooms on a sturdy, very tough, handsome shrub that can be pruned into a small accent tree had me at 'Hello'. 

I was smitten even BEFORE I knew what a blowzy, dramatic cut flower it made...hydrangea-like in form, but more rugged and less fussy in the vase.

OR before I know how easy care, low maintenance, cold hardy and heat tolerant it is. 

I did indeed prune and sculpt it into a small tree (as suggested by my pal Rebecca Reed in this article she wrote for SOUTHERN LIVING). I revealed the beautiful chalice shaped architecture of its branches by removing interior leaves and side shoots...

 skeletonizing its form so that the blooms were larger...

 and limited... to the

branch's tips. Thinning out the foliage allowed me to see through to the contrasting dark lattice on the fence behind it...

and to the Golden Vicary Privet

I espaliered against the short fence on the potager side...

to the east. When the morning sun shines through the lime green foliage of the privet...

to beam then on the equally fluorescent lime-green viburnum globes...

the effect is beyond magical.  An audible gasp is not too extreme a reaction if I do say so.

Of all the beauties in my garden that I was fretting over during the freeze warning Monday night...

(thank goodness I dodged THAT  frozen bullet...for which I am ever so grateful...as a friend of mine said recently, Mother Nature is extremely bi-polar this year)

I was anxious about my SNOWBALL VIBURNUM most of all. It put out a handful of blossoms last spring and fall, but this season is its first to be truly spectacular.

If you have the desire...and can squeeze in one of these magnificent specimens, go here, GARDENER'S DIRECT and order one.

 It will not, I assure you...disappoint.

April 14, 2014

Protecting Plants from a Hard Freeze

Now WHAT have we done to deserve this...a record low hard freeze forecast for tonight...and it is SNOWING as I type this.

Goodbye azaleas and tulips and hydrangea buds and new tender foliage. I've covered what I can with pots and dry cleaner bags and prayers and incantations...

I've brought in what I can... that I can lift and cart and move and relocate. 

 I've taken a gazillion pictures of every angle and light condition of every bloom...

 and leaf and bud and branch to record what may be destroyed by tomorrow morning.

And now I just hold hold my breath and wait...and hope...that the weatherman is wrong, that we will miss it by just a few miles or a few degrees or a few minutes. 

The range of possible scenarios looks something like this:

TemperatureTypeEffect on Plants
Down to 28° F for a couple of hoursLight Frost,
Light Freeze
Usually only harms very tender plants. Ice forms only on the outside of the plant.
25-28° F for several hoursHard Frost,
Killing Frost,
Moderate Freeze
Damages foliage and blossoms. Ice forms inside the plant, causing plant cells to burst. Will kill back root-hardy perennials and damage crops.
Below 25° F for several hoursSevere freezeCauses damage to many plants, mostly through desiccation (drying).

I am obviously rooting for outcome #1 on this chart from Todays Homeowner (here). The rain yesterday will help....as will the light snowfall moisture today.
Mother Nature is at the control switch here. One can only do so much to protect a garden. The images here evidence of what I have at stake...at least for the short term...

the coming days and perhaps weeks...the perennials and trees that will have
to start over...and those that will be lost until next spring rolls around.

It is, after all, nearly impossible...

                                                     to cover...

an entire landscape.

April 12, 2014

Growing Azaleas in Oklahoma

Most of my time in the garden today was spent cursing the wind and its life-shortening impact on my tulips. Tulips that without such wind would have glided right into Easter...at their peak...standing at the ready to greet the famous bunny and his baskets. Ah well. April in Oklahoma.

Thankfully, the azaleas are waiting in the wings to pick up where the tulips left off...nestled deeper in the bed...less exposed to the maddening wind, and under the protection of my massive oak.

Beautiful, frothy azaleas. Truly, one of the best things about living in the South.
Find out the How to's of growing azaleas in Oklahoma by watching yesterday's 4 YOUR GARDEN segment here:

and reading (my ill-tempered friend from SOUTHERN LIVING) the Grumpy Gardener's take on growing azaleas in the South here.

My simple magic formula to growing azaleas? Location, location, location and planting a $4 dollar azalea in a properly prepared $100 hole. It really is that easy. Much easier than fighting this infuriating wind!

April 10, 2014

Cascarones for Easter

The Easter Bunny has just over a week to make hopping fun preparations for the big day. May I suggest you check out the blindingly colorful, sometimes

quirky, ever-so-Springy Easter decor and basket ideas at A DATE WITH IRIS?

The gals will happily demonstrate the playful Cascarones... a Mexican tradition for Easter as well as other holidays...that consists of an egg that is decorated much like an Easter egg and filled with confetti...then broken over the head for good luck. 

 Other Easter goodies of all kinds will charm you...

 make you smile and spark your imagination. The window and store displays

enchant and delight. I never leave there without stealing a clever idea or two (like this homemade worktable...love it!)

It IS a flower shop after all, and the novelty of their buds and blooms is especially entertaining. 

 And entertain me they will, on Thursday, April 17..... as part of  THIRD THURSDAYS ON WESTERN. Visitors can sip, shop and stroll amongst the shops on Western Avenue....(or hop if you are so inclined)...between 5 and 8 PM.

 Maybe I'll run into you there?