January 1, 2002
The new year has arrived and not in a very friendly manner. How do you say panic for a zone 9 gardeners with a subtropical garden full of 1 year old largely un-established plants.. Here is the forecast for tonight and the next few days.
Jan 1 Ice and Snow 28°F
Jan 2 Partly Cloudy 37°F 19°F
Jan 3 Sunny 43°F 27°F
I just sighed, got out the shovel and started digging and potting plants. Most of the treasured items are potted up. The citrus are all too large and already had freeze burns from the 27 degree night last week. I covered the Persian Lime and Key Lime with sheets and plastic. I wrapped the Phoenix Robellini trunks and then covered the whole plant with a blanket and then plastic. Tomorrow more coverings will be applied.
First day down. Snow and sleet fell 40 miles to the north along with a low of 29. Here was very light sleet and a low of 32-33. Thank you Vermillion Bay for that soothing effect. Everything is covered with a sheet on top and then 4 mil polyethylene Tonight's predicted low was reforecast for 25 which is much more survivable. The coverings were not for naught though. Those temps are still potentially deadly for my Citrus trees and Tree Ferns. Definitely deadly for my Avocado and Duranta. All of these are newly established in my 1 year old garden. My covering techniques will get a trial by fire over the next 2 days.
My trip to Walmart last night was really painful as I looked at all of those plants which I knew were sure to perish. I picked up a 2 foot Ti plant and a 18 inch Monstera for $5 each. They are in the greenhouse to be planted out in the spring.
Today I got the first look at the damage of 2 days in the lower 20's. Near tears would be a good way to describe it. The Citrus trees were hit hard. Most things appear to be alive but will experience severe setback. The Persian Lime looks dead. The Key Lime while badly damaged surprisingly look a little better off, but not much better. The Meyer Lemons at best will experience 100% foliage loss. Things that I hoped would come back from the roots like my Perennial Hibiscus and Angel's Trumpets look really doubtful now. Same goes for the three Hibiscus that were covered, but left in the ground. Most bulb foliage is now lime green mush. The Split Leaf Philodendrons that were still recovering from last year a doubtful. Same with the Lace Cap Hydrangea. The Buddleia seems unaffected. The Apple and Nectarines which found things here a little too warm might be a bit happier this year. More details later. Hard to believe I am only 4 week away from average last frost date.
Unbelievably tonight we are entering our 6th night this year in the 20s. This is highly unusual. So many tropicals have valiantly hung in there but tonight might just finish them off. My Key Lime which is half dead. My Persian Lime which appears to be completely dead. My Avocado made it through the first two freeze nights with just a minimal bit of leaf burn. The three nights in a row in the twenties just about killed it, but it is still alive. Tonight may just finish it off. The surprise of the season has been the Schefflera planted into the ground in the shade garden. The three night freeze took out the tender new shoot on the top, otherwise it looks totally happy. My Norfolk Pine which is borderline in these temps seems to have grown a inch or two since the cold moved in. Go figure. Now that I am over my initial shock at the harshness of this winter and enthused again, I actually reshaped and expanded some of the beds. Last frost is 5 weeks away you know!!!
This second week of January was another chilly one with 3 frosts. Today made it into the 70's though with another mild one or two in the forecast. Everything will come out of the greenhouses in the morning for a breather. My newest rose arrived yesterday from Jackson and Perkins, the Purple Tiger. The quality of this bare root rose was supperb. Probably the healthiest mail order plant I have ever received. It got a good 24 hour soak in the standard Schultz Plant Starter solution and goes into a fresh prepared bed in the morning. I brought in truckload 19 of free community compost to finish the new bed designs. Tomorrow is garden day. Yeehaw.
Purple Tiger Floribunda
Abundant blossoms marked by novel striping and an intriguing aroma
Each dazzling bloom is accented with a dramatic union of purple and white in wild, random patterns - no two are alike. And their distinct antique, gallica rose fragrance is absolutely captivating. Plant this vivacious bloomer among pink and blue perennials, and enjoy the season-long unfolding of flowers, on a remarkably carefree plant. Delivered at the appropriate time for planting in each climate zone. J&P exclusive. Var: JACpurr (PPAF) 4' H / Purple-white / Pointed, ovoid buds / 4" blooms / 20-25 petals / Matte green foliage / Strong, antique rose fragrance
Long day in the garden today. I spread what I think was truckload 19 of compost which still didn't fill in the new bed design. A scoop, half a truck load, of bedding soil at Iberia Gardens completed the job with a third of that truck still in the truck. The concrete planter was relocated into what used to be the island bed. These new designs are going to make it difficult to name sections since it is now just basically three beds, the Crucifix Bed, the Bridal Bed, and the bed that surrounds the left side, around the back, and right side. The front bed around the Crape Myrtle was also filled in today. I also started preparing my newest water feature, the fountain. Last year the fountain had daylilies planted around it. All of those were relocated into the fill in areas of the Crucifix Bed and the area around the fountain which is framed with 4x4s dug out to accommodate the pond liner. At only 7 inches deep it will next to dug out at least another 6 inches to be an effective pond, but my back is already hurting so that will have to wait for another day.
All plants in the green house pass the thumbnail test (at least they are alive) as do all of the Citrus trees but the damage on the Citrus trees will be severe. Almost all foliage is gone on the trees, either dried and curled, or totally yellow. I planted the Purple Tiger today next to New Dawn. The Hardy Glads next to Cornelia are about 6 inches high after emerging last week. The Hardy Glads that were dug last year and move to that area have yet to emerge. A surprise in the greenhouse today was one of the Avocado seeds that went from nothing to 5 inches tall in a week. Several Asiatic Lilies lost there blooms to freeze damage, but more have broken ground so the bloom season might still be good. Almost all bulbs are mush, but most should come back. It will be interesting to see what makes it.
19th and rain are here ahead of another coldfront. I applied the "Rose Food" fertilizer I had from Fertilome to all of the rose bushes this morning. I had half a bag of 8-8-8 fertilizer from last year so I spread it over all of the new bed areas to enrich the soil. I also spread it over the Iris bed and Narcissus bed. Now that all of you organic types have finished cringing, as I run out of fertilizer I will move to organic compost and manure tea next year, but I am not going to waste what I have, just use it responsibly. Also found two plants in the mulch bin. One was a some type of Narcissus and the other looked like the Egret Bulbs I bought last year that never came up. They were healthy so I planted them in front of the Asiatic Lilies where I could watch them emerge. My Narcissus are a disappointing this year. We had a good enough winter but most were move from areas where they were naturalized so I guess they are still complaining about being moved. My Naked Ladies under the Crape Mrytle were the same way this year. They were given to me by one of my neighbors and were moved from an area where they had probably grown undisturbed so the last 20 years. Not a single bloom this year. Even the foliage this winter is unimpressive. We'll see if the fertilizer perks things up a bit.
Seed night tonight. I finally got around to gathering up all of the seed packets here and there to get them organized along with some Jiffy Trays that were still around. Tonight I planted Tomato seedlings, 30 each of Beefsteak and Creole. Believe it or not, planting seeds indoors in the 3rd week of January is nearly a month late here. I normally plant 10 or more tomato plants each spring, but this spring I will limit my self to 4 -6 and focus on quality over quantity. The other tray has Shasta Daisies, Ruby Grass, Salvia Victoria (S. farinacea), Celosia Amigo Mahogany Red, Green Shiso Perilla, Red Shiso Perilla, and Gaillardia Yellow Sun. None of these seeds were fresh, so we'll see how they turn out. Most were double or triple seeded as an extra safeguard.
Upon walking in the garden this afternoon, I noticed the new Jackson & Perkins Purple Tiger Rose, planted bare root just 5 days ago had already begun sprouting new branches some of which were already over 1/2 inch long. The Iris were visibly responding to the 8-8-8 fertilizer also. Everything will get a treatment with Spray-N-Grow this weekend along with some fungicide.
Today I bought the new Crape Myrtle to be planted in the front yard near the front kitchen window. It was labeled Twilight Purple which should closely match the existing Crape Myrtle for which it is to provide balance. It is a nice plant, fully dormant at this time about 7 feet tall. It will be planted this weekend. Both new and old will be pruned this weekend as well. I also picked up a couple of Hollyhocks to fill in those empty spaces between the existing ones.
More seeds went into flats tonight. Castor Beans, Purple Hyacinth Bean, native Hibiscus, Pretty in Purple Ornamental Peppers and Green to Red Hybrid Bell Pepper from Johnny's Seeds. I found some of Grandpa Joe's Paprika seeds stored since 1991 that look like they might still be viable and planted six cells of those. Also planted seeds of Spinach, Turnips (1987 seeds from Pa Joe), Broccoli, and Cauliflower. This year I will use vegetables throughout the landscape as bedding plants.
Hello again, today is the 25th of January and the month, along with winter is coming to a close. Typical winters here begin around December 15th and end around February 15th. Even today, December 25th finds many plants awakening from dormancy. Most of the Gladiolus have broken ground and are averaging around 4 inches tall. I found some Gladiolus looking plants showing in the front beds. Best I can figure is that they are Acidanthera from the front walk bed whose dirt I used to build these beds. Today I put the new Crepe Myrtle into place in the front bed. I rethought the decision to move the giant upright Elephant Ear and have left it in place. After so many years, over 10, I could not bear to dig it up. Two of the four Angel's Trumpets are coming back from the roots with active growth. The only other activity in the front yard was to spray the Roses and Azaleas with Spray-N-Grow and Fungicide/Insecticide.
Now on to the backyard. It was a busy day in the back. Of course I sprayed the Roses and other actively growing plants with Spray-N-Grow, Total insecticide, and Triple Action 20 fungicide. You organic types can stop trembling now. Until you live in Louisiana don't judge. Last year I regretted not doing this and resolved not to make the same mistake twice. After seeing the Acidanthera doing so well in the front I went ahead and planted the bulbs that I have lifted from last year. I also put in a flat (24) of Snapdragons in the new bed area that tied in the Island Bed along with 2 Stevia plants that I got at the same time from 4 Seasons Nursery this week. I finally made a trip to get the Rose from the canefield dump. To refresh you memory I spotted this rose while traveling along a gravel rode between the canefields. There was an old homestead that had been used as a dumping ground for many years and in the over growth I spotted a single lavender rose. After letting the first killing freeze takes its course I went back today. It was quite a large plant, but in terrible shape at the point of origin. It should survive although after wrestling it out with a cane knife and shovel, I wasn't sure I would survive. Four unique plants came out and are planted next to Betty Boop now. Can't wait to see what happens this summer. I put the graveyard Easter Lily in the ground today. Some of the naturalized clumps of Narcissus are sending up some very sparse blooms. Maybe it was that 8-8-8 fertilizer I put down last week. I pruned all of the dead wood from the Roses, all of which are showing new growth. The Buddlieia looks awesome. The Citrus still look like poop. Some of the Crinum are showing new growth already. The Iris are going well. Spring is showing its face everywhere.
Everything in the greenhouses looks really good. My biggest worry, the Cape Honeysuckle , has new growth showing. I was sure it was dead. Bad news is I am now pretty sure the Jatropha is dead. Regardless, its gonna be a grand spring indeed.
No gardening today, but we did have a grand time at Mardi Gras in New Orleans Today, less than a week after sowing the Purple Hyacinth Beans have sprouted, along with the Celosia, and Tomato seedlings.
Castor Bean, Ruby Grass, and Daisy Seeds are sprouting.
Cel had earlier said "No dahlias this year", but today after looking at the pictures from last year, she gave the OK. We have been struggling with Dahlia in this warm climate. A decent spring bloom was usually followed by sad looking plants by June. Last year we cut a few off flush with the ground at that point. They slowly and healthily grew back over the hot summer and by fall were good looking plants again and provided a decent fall bloom. This year we will try this technique on all of the Dahlias. Maybe we have found the secret to Dahlias in the deep south.
January 31, 2002
We bring another month to a close and if the weather service is right, the garden may be dealt yet one more blow. Two weeks of very warm balmy weather have tricked most plants into thinking that spring has arrived. New buds and regrowth from roots abound. Problem is the weather service is predicting two night with probably frost this coming week. Rain is beating of the roof as I write this tonight with the coming of the first front. As I walked through the garden today I noticed two of the hardy hisbiscus, most of the crinums, and 3 of the 4 Angel's Trumpets had growth of 2 inches or more coming back from the roots. The Lace Cap Hydrangea is full of new buds and the Azalea are blooming.
Lowes got in the spring bulbs last weeks. Picked up some Dahlias. Got another pack of 30 Acidanthera to add to the 15 or so from last year. They did really well here and the scent was heavenly. Also got a couple more packs of Tuberoses again to add to the few from last year. Last year was my discovery of the scent attraction of gardening. In the evenings the Tuberoses, Acidanthera, and Angel's Trumpets fill the air to a point that I can only describe as "glorious." I got a couple more packs of Asiatic Lilies as well. I had quite a few from last year, but many came up early and were devastated by the extreme cold (for us anyway) so I am hedging my bets. Got a few other misc things, but I can't remember exactly what so you'll have to read about them in the February logs when I plants them. See you next month.
Want to see what was going on last month, see the Previous Garden Logs.
Spring is showing its face everywhere in the garden. The temptation to jump ahead, combined with the fact that the subtropicals and tropicals in the greenhouse all really kicking into to active growth really makes one want to ignore the fact that winter is not over and just jump ahead with the planting. I am resisting, but there is still plenty of work to do in the garden.
Feb 2 & 3
Full Saturday in the garden today. Had to mow and edge to keep the annual Rye under control, but is was worth it for the beautiful green lawn all winter.
Fill in Asiatic Lilies were planted to make up for the winter damage to the early risers. I cut some of those Lilies off flush with the ground and they are coming back strong. The ones that froze to the ground are not showing new growth, but my fingers are crossed. The Freesia that I am experimenting with are looking good. Most of the hardy glads on Rose Peninsula are now showing with an average of 5 inches high. The ones that were not moved are about 12 inches high. The supplement to the Acidanthera were put in the ground. The Snapdragons planted last weekend look good and strong.
Pond peninsula was shaped up for spring. The remains of the of the Bougainvillea and Perennial Hibiscus were removed. The Mexican Heather is already returning from the roots. A new experiment for this year was Tigridia and a small stand was plants to the left of the new trickle pond was installed this weekend draining into the large pond. Delphinium was put into the new area that ties Pond Peninsula to Bridal Wreath Bed. The PeeGee Hydrangea which barely survived the summer buried under some very healthy Hibiscus was already sprouting new growth. It was moved into the Bridal Wreath Bed.
The bottom leg, roughly 1/4th of the Crucifix Bed was weeded and mulched with Pine Bark. The Daylilies look much better this year than last. Maybe the soil is getting right, maybe they appreciated the cooler winter. Who knows? I am trying this new mulch material for 2002 in place of Cypress. I think it might be healthier for the soil quality. I finished the day by both watering and foliar feeding with Algoflash and Fish Emulsion.
The Dahlias tubers were planted into the first leg of Phoenix Peninsula. Most of the butterfly plants are coming back from the roots including the Cat's Whiskers and Ascelpia. The Buddleia never noticed it was winter.
Betty Boop Rose was cut back by about 1/3rd. The Asiatic Lily area was mulched. The two new Dwarf Nandina were added next to the base of the heirloom Nandina to fill in the bottom area.
Plants in the greenhouses, in spite of inadequate light are still taking off so today I gave them a little help with a complete watering and foliar feeding with Algoflash and Fish Emulsion. If the weather is predicted to stay mild they will all come out later in the week.
The giant elephant ear that popped up out of nowhere next to the Avocado was moved next to the Umbrella plants.
Our first daylily bloomed today. Yes it is undoubtedly confused or at least enthusiastic. Blackeyed Stella, a 1994 All American Award Winner seems to be living up to its heritage. We'll see if it can keep it up once the Zone 9 summer heat moves in.
Tomato seedling were moved from the seed starters to 4" pots today. These seeds were purchased and used for last years plants and although a year old and stored very haphazardly germination was around 50%.
Just made a two day trip to Houston. The destination was a performance of Cirque du Soleil, but of course several garden centers were targeted as well. The two I most wanted to visit were Teas and Mass both towards Galveston Bay. I also realized that this was a terrible time of year to visit a garden center. Spring plants have not arrived and most of the in-stock items are dormant. No matter, we had fun a each and found a new place with great prices on Palms. Made me wish I was in the truck, but we'll go back in a month or so. I did pick up a couple of plants on the wanted list. One was a ?? Hibiscus and the other a variegated Abutilon (Flowering Maple). We also got some seeds packs of plants we want to grow this spring.
Long day in the garden today. Another truck load of Pine Bark Mulch (2.5 yards) was purchased and spread. This was number 2 of probably 8 truck loads that will need to be put down. I have most of the peninsula areas mulched and the Crucifix (Daylily Bed) done. I have started on the front yards beds or the large side beds. It was maybe the first day that I wondered whether I have build beds past my ability to maintain them. Winter annuals have taken over the world. One thing for sure is this spring I need a lot of plants to keep the weeds down. Mulch and hand pulling doesn't cut it in Louisiana and the pre-emergent herbicides are unfriendly to many of the plants I grow.
Moved the small greenhouse from the side of the garage to the middle of what used to be the driveway into the backyard.
Didn't get much done today. The 3rd truck load of pine bark mulch didn't seem to do much in the garden but it did do me in. Next year I have to find a cheaper way to mulch down these beds. Maybe I'll try bagasse which can usually be had free in these parts. At any rate, I picked up load 4 today at the nursery. We'll put it down tomorrow which should finish the peninsulas and island beds. Might even get a small start on the more immense side beds. The trip to the nursery for the compost did yield a few more goodies. A new kind of Shrimp Plant was on the shelves so we picked up a couple of them. Also got two new roses for the front bed, a pair of Weeks Shrub Roses named George Burns variety and another Weeks Rose named Scentimental, this one being a Floribunda.
After writing the earlier paragraph I got a surge of energy. Both of the George Burns Roses were planting in the front bed. These came in peat pots which were planted right along with the roses. It will be interesting to compare this with the bare root rose over the summer. The theory is that there is zero root disturbance in the transplant process and that the pot will decompose as the roots begin to stretch out. I have reservations but we will see. I planted the new Scentimental rose bush in the back bed. This completes the rose planting for this spring.
Happy Mardi Gras, but its only happy if you are not a a tender plant. Last night dashed all hopes of not having another frost. We might have even had a light freeze. Weather stations reported 34 to 32 degrees depending on which one you watch. At any rate is was a hard frost. The Petunias, Snapdragons, and Delphiniums have sustained some non-life threatening damage even with sheets over everything including Phoenix Robellini and the new Angel's Trumpet growth. And, there is another similar freeze forecast in a couple of days. Won't this danged winter ever go away?
The small greenhouse was moved to a full sun location. Since the boat was sold plans are to convert the old back garage into a large greenhouse and since the old driveway to it is no longer needed right in the middle of it sits my little 8x6 greenhouse. It will provide a great spot for the seedling trays that need both artificial heat and full sun. No leggy tomato seedlings this year.
Had to go back to work today after 6 days off. Boy was that hard. Maybe I was a farmer in another life. Just something about dirt under your fingernails that feels so good. My Chihuahua Paco flips over on his back and just rolls around in the mulch only when he can't get straight into the compost bin to do the same without me catching him. Sometimes I want to lay on the ground and roll with him. In the mulch that is, not the compost.
Tomato seedlings are looking good. I promised myself last year I would limit myself to 4 tomato plants instead of the 18 last year. Now what am I going to do with the 48 beautiful little seedlings, humph.
Our flower seedling are coming up already in the seed trays. It is a lot of fun to do that, but just to compare this year, I am going to till up some areas and just poor the seeds on the ground to see what does better. Seeds are cheap you know, really cheap compared to nursery plants. If one seed out of 50 germinates you probably break even. At any rates my gardens are too large to mulch them all, affordably that is, so the answer to the weeds this year is gonna be plain old competition. For every weed seed, I am gonna put down 20 flower seeds. We'll just try to overwhelm them.
Yesterday was bit on the funny side. Our Live Oak was shading our front yard a little too much and a little more light was needed for our new Crepe Myrtle. Our property has Joe and Gladys' old store which was built in the 50s with a moderately steep tin roof which provided the perfect vantage point to reach the limbs that needed to be trimmed. Well this city boy had not been on tin roof before. I stepped off the ladder and made about 30 steps on that slippery roof to make it 10 feet to the ridge. After getting up there and doing the deed I realized that coming down was going to be a slide down operation. Sliding down and hoping to hold on to the ladder was not too appealing, or even possible. Now the eve height is about 12 feet. I wasn't likely going to die, but at 45 there was a good chance I was going to at least break something. After much deliberation (5 minutes of panic which I was trying hard to conceal from my wife) I noticed the plumbing vent pipe near the eve. Alright, I could slide down and hold on the vent pipe as I got to the eve edge to prevent less preferable method of departing the roof. I only hoped it was strong enough to stop me. I asked Cel to move the ladder while calmly explaining that I thought the additional safety of the vent pipe was a good idea. Well this story is on the funny side because it worked. That was my first and last work on a moderately steep tin roof.
Well it been a couple of weeks and none of the 10 year old seeds came up. Guess I wasn't surprised but I had to try. The fresh 2002 lot seeds that we bought over the last few weeks are germinating nicely. We'll have lots of flowers this spring.
I have set off into yet another hair brained experiment though. I bought Cel some roses for her birthday a couple weeks back. As I went to throw them away a couple of days ago I noticed how healthy the foliage was on 3 of the stems. I mixed up some rooting hormone, rigged up an old aquarium into a rooting chamber, prepped and slapped 3 of them in there. They look good so we'll see if we have roots in a couple or three weeks. It would be pretty cool if we could get a decent bush from her birthday roses. It would be another plant with an interesting story as so many of our plants have.
It was Saturday and a day spent in the garden. The primary project of the day was to turn the fountain into an actual fountain. Since moving here is has been surround by Daylilies in a 7x7 foot bed frame by 4x4s stacked two high. A couple or so weeks back I dug all of the daylilies and dirt from that bed. Today I added a third 4x4 giving me a depth of close to a foot. I lined this with two layers of 4mil poly sheeting and then a new 30mil pond liner The fountain was then put back into place and a pump installed to circulate water to the top of the two tier fountain allowing it to drain back into the pond. We'll have some pictures tomorrow of the final project. Also started watering today, it has been a bit dry for a couple of weeks.
Earlier I talked about moving the greenhouse. Behind it was a compost pile. I spread the pile over the entire area where the greenhouse was located. This layer is about 6 to 8 inches hight which I will till up and till in creating a new, and hopefully highly fertile bed which will be about 10 x 12 feet in size. I moved the Elephant Ear that was in the mulch pile toward the back where it will be joined by another I have found in another mulch pile. I am telling you, here in the deep south you cannot kill these things. Anyway, I will place the largest Canary Island Date Palm I can find right in the middle of that bed. I'll do some other temporary plantings in the area for the 2 or 3 years it will take that thing to fill out. Poinsettias come to mind.
Other plantings today were a 6-pack of leaf lettuce and an Artichoke Plant that I picked up. I have seen these things in nurseries lately and have not idea how welll they will do or if they will fruit here. Tomorrow I will till up the veggie bed in preparation for spring plantings. More Hibiscus are blooming in the greenhouse. They know spring is coming. As I was cutting the remains of the Double Peach Hibiscus that was sure had died in the freeze and it had once green limb. It is surely alive and should come back from the roots. I have learned my lesson for early pruning from this as well. I should have left it alone.
More infrastructure work this Sunday. Today the fountain became a fountain. I am very pleased with the results. Pictures to follow. Also got all but two of the fence post cemented in along the right side of the property. Can't wait to get that fence up and finish the back fence. The look and feel of the backyard will change dramatically.
Harvested all of the Collard Greens and Cabbage today and tilled the veggie beds. This is the first of several tillings that will happen over the next few weeks as I try to exhaust the weed seed supply. Weeds have been a terrible problem in these beds since I moved here. They had sat idle the year or two prior and allowed to go to seed. Put in some more leaf lettuce today. All sun loving plants were pulled out of the greenhouses and place under the carport to begin acclimating to outside life.
Some flower areas were tilled today as well. I will come back over most of these areas to add some nitrogen. The heavy layer of compost added last summer may cause some nitrogen loss if I don't. I put some nitrogen around the Meyer Lemons to get them started on some new foliage. I noticed bark splitting at the base of both Grapefruit trees so I question their destiny. The Tangerine and both Limes still appear dead. I did notice a small shoot emerging from the root stock of the Key Lime but the top is all but rotting. Do I pull them out and start over or try to nurse them back to health. That is the question I am battling. The one tree that appears totally unscathed is a variegated Louisiana Sweet Orange. Go figure.
Some new arrivals came in today for spring including 5 new Passion Vine varieties, one from Joy Creek nursery and 4 from Logee's. Also from Joy Creek was a new Buddleia "Black Night" and two Rehmannia elata (Climbing Foxglove). A new Daylily "Big Smile" arrived from Park Seeds. The Joy Creek plants arrived in great shape and the Logee's plants were incredible. My faith in ordering plants via mail order has been revived. Last year's experience with other vendors was less than spectacular.
Today was a really down day. I stared at the weather forecast in total disbelief. Estimates range everywhere from 22 to 28 for a low two nights from now following up with another night with lows in the upper 20s. Remember that our average last frost date has already passed. OK, I know what average means, but geez a frost is one thing, a hard killing freeze is quite another. This is one of those freezes that southern gardeners talk about. All of the plants have new tender growth and one of these late ones comes along after a mild week. The high tomorrow will be 75. It's gonna hurt and that's all there is to it.
Winter protection today. The new Hollyhock and Buddleia planted last week were simply dug up and put back into pots. Same thing for the 3 Angel's Trumpets that were coming back from the roots. The local sugar mill was kind enough to load my pickup truck with bagasse which I liberally dumped over things that I wanted to try and save such as the Asiatic Lilies, emerging Dahlias, Schefflera, BottleBrush, the new Flowering Banana, and Delphiniums, and others. Phoenix got covers with a light as did the surviving Grapefruit and Louisiana Sweet Orange. The Lemon and Tangerine that only had surviving trunk mass from the earlier freezes got foam rap on the trunks and banking with bagasse. Garbage cans went over the top of the Australian Tree Fern and surviving Satsuma. One Satsuma, one Lemon, one Grapefruit, and both Limes were declared already dead and not worth any effort. They will be replaced later in the spring. Many misc plants got buckets, flower pots, and what have you set on top with a prayer. More to come in a few days.
This is the second day of the gulf coast gardener's dreaded spring freeze. Lows last night reached 26 degrees at 7:00AM with predicted lows tonight to reach down to 23 degrees. Fortunately not everything was in growth, but many things were. We will survey damage this weekend, but I suspect it will be heavy. The worst of the year will probably be over with this, but a low of 33 is predicted for Sunday. Global warming? Hooey.
It's not all bad news though, the seedling are looking good and the hair-brained rose cutting experiment is doing great. More on this later. The white Iris are blooming in front of LEDA this week as well.
In celebration of my Friday off tomorrow, I made the rounds at a couple of Garden Centers. Found one cleaning out old plants in preparation for spring and got some deals. First was a Dwarf Pomegranate, then two very distorted Angel's Trumpets, one pink and one yellow. These plants had more roots hanging out of the pots than they had in them. By the time I straightened out the pink one, I had four plants. One cutting, and two baby plants that were coming from the roots. Four for the price of one, my kind of deal. Got a new red Hibiscus that makes a whole lot of Hibiscus now waiting to go in the yard next month. I got a purple and a lime green Sweet Potato vine. Don't have a clue where to put them but we will think of something.
It looks like we made the freeze in good shape thanks to the bagasse, but we'll get a better report on that tomorrow. That is for this month.
Almost forgot - Spotted the first butterfly of spring, a Cloudless Sulfur.
Let me think about how to put this, "I don't stinkin' believe this weather." Yesterday brought over 3" of rain. Yep, it's Mar 2 and tonight might well go below to near freezing again. Tomorrow, 26 degrees predicted and possibly of more night below freezing. Needless to say the spring planted that were coming back from the roots are either dead or very unhappy. Thank god for the two little greenhouses. They are both so full you can't walk into them.
The new Passion Vines I ordered for Logee's are in. Last year's Passion Vines did so well that couldn't resist the natural tendency to expand in this area. Here is one of the new varieties I got. My experiences in mail ordering plants have varied wildly. As a result I always try to buy locally but some things just can't be found locally. To that end, I heartily endorse Logee's. The quality and condition upon arrival was superb. I will definitely do business with them again.
Now about the rose rooting experiment. I have had mixed luck in rooting plants mostly in the area of keeping them in a moist environment till rooted. My solution was to converted a 29 gallon aquarium into a rooting chamber. The full cover with light seemed to provide a good solution to hold in the moisture and provide the needed light. I left the gravel in the aquarium with water flush with the surface of the gravel. My first experiment was a 100% success with 3 or 3 cutting rooting with new growth in 14 days. I used Root-n-Grow on the cuttings. The kicker was these cutting were from a dozen roses I gave Cel for her birthday. Upon throwing out the roses after a couple of weeks I noticed 3 of the 12 flowers still had green foliage. Now if any cutting were mistreated these were. Cut with flower in full bloom, put in a vase for 2 weeks until the flowers completely faded, and then re-snipped, dipped, and put in the new propagation chamber. Success on all three. Now I am ready to create an abundance of roses from cuttings.
Well this 3rd night of the killer spring freeze of 2002. I am terrified to look under the covers of the last 3 tender plants worth covering that still remain alive. Here is the tally. Of eight Citrus tree, the two Limes are dead. One Grapefruit is dead. One Meyer Lemon is dead. One Meyer Lemon and One Tangerine were alive before this last freeze. One Grapefruit is alive and was showing new growth prior to the freeze, but with visible bark splitting on the trunk. My variegated Louisiana Sweet Orange looked like nothing happened at all and life is rosy. This was prior to the last 3 days at least one of which was in the low 20s and tonight may reach down into the mid 20s. My Phoenix Robellini, the most expensive plant I ever bought has been quite unhappy, but very much alive and has tried to send out new foliage twice.
To add to the drama, Sunday morning the heater in the greenhouse failed. Fortunately, the heater must have failed late in the morning and temperature in the greenhouse did not fall very low. The drama came in finding a replacement. Ever try to buy an electric heater in south Louisiana in March. First Lowes in New Iberia, the Walmart in New Iberia, Lowes, Home Depot, and Walmart in Lafayette all with the same story, "we are out till fall." I was beginning to come up with some interesting contingency plans one of which involved rolling the gas grill into the greenhouse and lighting it on low for the night. Finally in heading to our last attempt which was to be Target, I noticed Sears and hit Pay Dirt. They 6 left and 3 people looking them over. I snatched up two and headed to the counter with one to be a spare. I have no intention of being caught like that again.
As I said, I am not anxious to pull off those covers to see the new damage. With some luck this is the last cold front of the season.
On a positive note, my plant shopping trip to the local supermarket is beginning to bear fruit, pun intended. Well, not exactly bearing fruit but we do have four new baby Papayas and one baby Pineapple. This years seedlings are doing well, but desperately need more light. Normally they would be in the greenhouse, but it is so full with this weather, that I can barely get in the door to turn the heater on. They have to settle for a kitchen window for the next day or two.
A fitting title for this entry is "We survived the Spring Freeze of 2002." The covers came off today. The bagasse was removed today and other makeshift coverings were cleaned up. I am delighted to say it looks like there may not be a single loss save for one young Hollyhock that doesn't look so good. The bagasse seems to have done an outstanding job and was the big learning experience for this winter. Many new tender plants had growth coming from the roots with just a few leaves near the base. I tossed bagasse in a mound of about 1 foot high around these new growths. After three nights of 28, 23, and 27 with a hard frost on the last night, nothing was lost or even set back. On the citrus front, one Meyer Lemon and one Tangerine, and one Satsuma are still alive above the graft so even though it might take a couple of years they will be back. Predictions for the next 3 days are highs in the 70s. The cold front coming this weekend is only predicted for lows around 40 to 42. Spring is back!
Tails of the cutworm from hell. I keep a few plants on the back porch. Mostly brand new stuff that needs some nurturing, seed flats, cuttings, etc. My new rooting chamber is there as well. My papaya seedlings (5 of the 10 planted) came up well were about 2 inches high so I took the clear top off of the seed tray to begin acclimating them. The next morning, to my surprise all 5 had been neatly chewed off at ground level. Growing tomatoes had me used to cutworms, but I never expected to see one in the house, much less one that could climb into a seed tray. This evening I noticed that all of the new leaves on my Rose cuttings had fallen victim to the same worm. Upon closer examination, the tips on 2 of my new passion vines were done in as well. Unbelievable. Such are the trial and tribulations of a gardener I guess.
I am betting that spring is finally here. Yesterday, I replanted the Hollyhock that I had dug up earlier and the new Buddliea as well. This weekend planting for the year shall officially begin.
Good news - Walmart's spring annual shipments are in and the prices are fantastic. Six packs of Verbena, Coleus, Celosia, and many many other plants are prices at $1.25 per six pack. We loaded up the truck. Can't wait for the weekend.
The Cutworm strikes again. One Passion Vine was completely defoliated. Anyway it was Saturday and a full day in the garden. Today we trimmed freeze damaged foliage from the Walking Iris, Daylilies, Hollyhocks, and Mexican Heater. A new compost pile was started next to the old greenhouse.
Plantings today included:
- Miniature Jolly Cupido rose on small obelisk in the front bed between the George Burns roses
- Dwarf Pomegranate on the right side of the pond
- Tall Obelisk with the Cape Honeysuckle in the center, Jackmanii Clematis on the right side and Gloriosa lilies on each of the four corners
- Duranta Repens between the Dwarf Nectarines
- Coneflowers next to the Dahlias including moving the existing one from beneath Betty Boop
- Foxtail Fern behind the Foxgloves
- Two Pink Breath of Heaven (Coleonema Pulchrum) near Jasmine Wabohh
- Geraniums and Mums at Base of CP3PeeO
- Purple and Green Sweet Potato Vine in CP3PeeO
- Unknown Ginger in front of Acanthus
- Variegated Spider Plant in front of Acanthus
- Last years Shrimp Plant in front of Fireplace
- Variegated Shrimp Plants on each front side of Fireplace
- Yellow Shrimp Plants (4) in front of other Shrimp Plants
- Planted Red Foliage Hibiscus on left of Fireplace
- Planted Red Fuschia on left of Fireplace
- Place climbing stick to aid English Ivy in climbing the Fireplace
- Two Bella Flowering Maples (Abutilon) in bump out in the Iris Bed
- One Variegated Flowering Maple from MAAS Nursery.
- Dahlias Procyon, Duet, and Edinburgh just in from Jung Seeds.
- Black Iris Chrysographes just in from Jung Seeds.
Moved Plants today included:
- Banana Shrub moved to left corner of the Fireplace Bed
- Variegated Gardenia to left side of Fireplace Bed
- Ajuga to front of Fireplace Bed
- Asparagus Fern to front of Sage Palm
Notes - Black spot continues to plaque New Dawn. Lady Banks showed a couple of roses today. Sweet Peas in our yard and in other yards are performing poorly this year. The wood boring bees have been around for a good week or two. Honey bees began swarming around our neighbors house today and appear to be nesting inside of the added on section in the rear.
Sunday was another busy day building/rebuilding the gardens for spring. First to go in were the 4 Citrus trees to replace last year's casualties. I got a Brown Select Satsuma, a Persian Lime, a Blood Orange, and a Lisbon Lemon. The two Senna were placed back into the garden in approx. the same place as they were previously planted. An Angel's Trumpet was paired with a Split Leaf Philodendrun in the bump out where a Bougainvillea lived last year. The rest of the day was spent mowing, weedeating, trimming back freeze damaged foliage, weeding, and beat out a whole in the concrete where the old driveway was to add a fence post.
Looks like spring might finally be here for good. At least I certainly hope so since today we began the spring plantout for the gardens. With the exception of Caladiums we began to put everything in the ground on this beautiful spring Saturday. So many things were going on today it is impossible to log in detail. As the day ended we have about half of the Hibiscus in the ground, about half of the annuals, and many tropicals. One of the two Angel's Trumpets that I was sure were dead is showing new growth at the roots. One of the Gingers is up already as well. No sign of life on the Passion Vines though it is too early to give up hope. An interesting dilemma came about as the greenhouse was unloaded. Three plants that we cannot identify. One is the Carnation of India, one is a Hibiscus, and the other is ??. Which is which has yet to be figured out as they are dormant.
Can I say I am totally worn out? Thank you because I am. What a weekend. This weekend say 18 Hibiscus go into the ground along with a Jatropha, and the Carnation of India. A flat of Impatiens, a flat of Celosia, a flat of Verbenia, two flats of Coleus, a flat of Mexican Heather, two flat of Periwinkle, and a flat of Marigolds were planted. The Veggie area was tilled. Vegetables planted included Creole Tomatos, Habanera pepper, Cayenne, Pepper, Egg Plant, Cherry Tomatoes, and Cayenne peppers.
The plants which we brought back from our Galveston trip last September went into the ground today.
Sesbania, Scarlet Wisteria
Cassia Alata, Candlestick
Hibiscus Rosa-Sinsus Cooperii
Hibiscus Florida Sunset
Tecomaria capensis, Cape Honeysuckle
Also a load of Bagasse was put into place as mulch. The small greenhouse was moved to its new home.
Good news. Got my replacement Red Passion Vine today. Unfortunately no variety was named so we'll have to wait for it to flower to take a guess. It is full of buds so I will only have to wait a week or so. That makes six Passion Vines this year.
Other garden notes include the Clematis on the rose arbor which are growing like gangbusters. The big Amaryllis on the left side of the Pecan Tree shot up a flower bud. The new George Burns roses are blooming. The rose bush that was already on the property when we arrived is so full of blooms one can hardly see anything else. The Astilbe are all up. The far left ginger from the Variegated Collection is showing growth. No sign of life on the Crepe Myrtles yet, but the Trumpet Vine in the front has new growth everywhere.
Here is some other interesting news. I attended a function at the Louisiana Governor's Mansion last week. Even though it was after dark I couldn't help but to sneak off for a walk through the gardens. Quite a large area was devoted to roses, divided in two side. Although I didn't count I might guess about 30 rose bushes on each side. The left side was clearly labeled. Noted were White Pet and Martha's Vineyard along with multiples of Iceberg, and Belinda's Dream. Other plants noted were lots of Dusty Miller , a nice patch of Delphinium and some Snapdragons. Nice gardens but hardly worthy of being in the grounds of a Governor's Mansion. On the left side of mansion opposite of the main building appeared to be some new raised beds under construction, maybe. Although I am hardly a rose expert I had not heard of these varieties, however after a quick bit of research on the web it was revealed that each of these roses has a fine pedigree and a reputation for being relatively trouble free. Maybe I'll try on somewhere in the garden this year.
Man what a crazy spring, or should I say winter is not done with us yet. Weather.com says a low of 32 for tomorrow night. I think we'll be a bit warmer than that but we are going to have a frost. It's going to take all of the sheets, blankets, and everything else I can round up to protect my sensitive plants which are all in the ground at this point. Guess I'll just say a prayer. So much for that spectacular April I was looking forward too. Things might just be recovering well into May this year. I made that entry on the afternoon of the 22nd. Well, as usual the weather guys were way off, or maybe my prayers worked. Either way I am happy to say that the low reached only 38 with no frost.
With the threat of late frost out of the way planting was resumed in full force. With only a dozen or so plants left I am confident that we will be all but finished by the end of the day tomorrow. All remaining gingers were placed in the ground today including one that my neighbor Mr. Picard brought over. We had discussed it a while back and to my delight he remembers. Mr. Picard has donated several plants this year including several small Sago Palms, a purple flowering banana, some Naked Ladies, Liriope, and now, this ginger. Still only one of the variegated gingers from last year is showing. Also in the same area I planted three Poinsettia donated by friends after the holidays, a small variegated something of other that was on sale last winter a Walmart, a Monstera, the Croton that I had given up for dead, a Gold Dust Aucuba, and the Dinosaur Plant..
Other plants are continuing to pop back up from last winter. The Lace Cap Hydrangea near the Oak Tree proved me wrong, it was not dead. The Purple Passion Vine (not the Native Maypop) has some very tender shoots coming from the roots, The Passion Vine (Native Maypop) has shoot rising. The American Beauty Berry is coming back from the roots. The Umbrella Plants has new shoots above 6 inches already. No sign of my Blue Ribbon Sugarcane. Check this out, my large Purple Pepper tree is coming back from the roots, and along with what may add up to over 100 seedlings. I may have already said it, but the Trumpet Vine in the front yard is waking up. The George Burns roses are blooming, although the blooms are undersized. The small Crape Myrtle that I removed from the rear of the pond and placed into a pot is budding out. The Walking Iris has tall bloom scapes along with about half a dozen Iris in the Iris beds. Blackeyed Stella Daylily is about to explode with flower buds. That is just a start, but enough for one logs entry. More to come tomorrow.
Three straight days in the garden. We are pretty much done with a few minor exceptions. So let's start with the new Island Bed. A simple six foot circle bed with three Pink Indian Hawthorns Raphiolepis Eleanor (Taber TM P.#939) with a Chinese Fan Palm in the center.
The new rose bed was completed with a Lavender Floribunda Rose named Simply Marvelous from Jackson & Perkins and a Yellow Floribunda Rose named Sunsprite (Friesia cv. KOResia) from Weeks Roses. All roses were sprayed with fungicide. The Passion Vines were sprayed with insecticide.
In the rear bed, behind the Azaleas we planted four Compact Pink Oleander (Nerium Oleander 'Monta' Pink.
The Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow and the Bleeding Heart were repotted to adorn the sides of Panama Keith's. More about this later.
Cel put some Coleus under the outsides of the Bridal Wreath's where they had done very well last year. The Thai Beauty Caladium was planted near the base of the Sweet Olive. Four Passion Vines were planted yesterday leaving two remaining.
We continue to have a cool spring with lows in the low 40s predicted tonight. Good news was that preceding this front was 1 inch of rain which was sorely needed. I sprayed out 2 gallons of Spray-n-Grow which was about half the yard. I removed the rose cutting from the aquarium propagating chamber. Roots had developed to about 3 inches.
Good Friday tomorrow. Family is coming to visit. Lawn mower is broken and a stomach virus paid a visit this afternoon. Bad karma? Hey, it's spring and all is good in spite of the previous comments. My red passion vine which should have perished this last winter is showing growth at the roots. The Hardy Hibiscus are greening at the roots. Heck, at this rate I wouldn't be surprised if one of the Bougainvilleas pops back up.
Easter Weekend - Friday. - Dad & I recycled our first piece of "stuff" into a garden structure. We bent an old 18 foot drainage grate into a 7 foot tall arbor with a cathedral shape on top. We spent the rest of the day visiting.
Saturday was the LeJeune family crawfish boil. I managed to finish the poor man's cabana deck between activities.
Sunday was a trip with mom to visit my aunt in Covington. I took cuttings from an old rose that had grown unattended for over 30 years. The flower was medium to small red rose with a very mild scent. It's span was easily 8 feet as it grew all through a 10 to 12 foot diameter Azalea. Upon coming home Sunday evening we went to the Sugar Mill House in Jeanerette to take cuttings from an old rose, only to find that it was completely gone. I did take cuttings from a couple of plants, one that resembled a Mock Orange and another that looked like a cross between a Wisteria and a Buddleia with a long light pink flower. We then went to take a cutting from an old rose that grows next to my father-in-law's house, but found the rose bush to be full of powdery mildew. I hope to spray it this week and attempt cuttings again next Sunday. The first roses, Cornelia, Lady Banks, and MaJeune opened. The new George Burns roses are blooming, but they are small. The Walking Iris' are in full bloom. The Winter Hardy Gladiolus' began opening under the pecan tree. They are light pink in color. The Asiatic Lilies are starting to bloom en masse. We got 1/2 inch of rain. I fertilized the lawn last week.
After getting home today (Monday) I planted the two new hardy hibiscus, one of which has come back, the other had not.
Today was a 12 hour day at work, but I did notice as I walked in that the African Iris had opened its first bloom for spring. It is a strange year for blooms which I guess was caused by the late freeze. I have some Narcissus still opening. Some daylilies are opening beating many of the Iris. The Narcissus bloom procession was the Paperwhites firing first which are mostly Tazetta. Then the Snow Flakes start followed by the solid yellow Jonquils, which are mostly in the Daylily bed. Then the white/yellow Centers come and finally we have some solid yellow doubles opening.
Betty-Boop opened her first rose yesterday. The miniature yellow rose in the front bed is in full bloom with 5 open roses. We visited the house and gardens of Pat & AJ Telotta. Pat gave us cuttings of an antique rose that have grown in the front yard for over 40 years.
Scentimental opened its first rose of the season. I sprayed the roses for black-spot and insects today; added the cutting from Cel's birthday roses to the new rose bed; planted the two Pineapples near the Sago Palm; planted the small Shrimp Plant on the ole entrance gate which it will share with the Raspberries. The Raspberries seem to have spread everywhere.
The late freeze and cool nights of March set us back nearly a month, but things are finally kicking in with the exception of the tropicals which are still not doing much of anything. The procession of blooms has kind of turned into everything blooming at once. Rain was scare as well until this week. We got 3-3/4" over the weekend and another 1/2" today. This picture, taken in mid April would normally be how things would look in mid March. The pecan trees are just budding out and most of the summer perennials are still just coming out of dormancy. Click for a larger image.
The found rose from the cane field dump has turned out to be a small to medium pink rose with a medium musky scent. Quite a nice little rose and identical to the rose that once grew on this property. We have also seen this rose at other homes in this area and I suspect they all share a common origin. The other roses are doing well (bloom-wise, but all are suffering from black-spot). MaJeune is full of blooms. Lady Banks is blooming, but is thus far unimpressive. Cornelia and New Dawn are sending out a few blooms, but the main bloom has yet to arrive. Betty-Boop is full of both blooms and buds.
The Amaryllis are in full bloom. The first picture is the widely naturalized St. Joseph's Lily and the other two are store bought, planted last year and coming back for their second year. The Daylily buds are loading up but thus far only Scarlet Orbit (3rd to bloom), Stella d'Oro (2nd to bloom), and Black Eyed Stella (1st to bloom) are blooming. Black Eyed Stella has been blooming for a while now. It had opened its first bloom before the early March freeze and only backed off for a week or so after the freeze.
The Asiatic Lilies are all over the place. Most of the Asiatics that are blooming now were new for this year. Those coming back from last year are running 2 - 4 weeks later than the new bulbs.
The Iris' are having a good year.
Scentimental and Purple Tiger are beginning to bloom en masse. Blooms are smaller than expected. Byzantine Gladiolus' (only those in partial shade under the rose arbor) have started to open blooms. Big Smile Daylily (5) opened today. I missed putting that Catherine Woodbury was the fourth Daylily to open, popping out last week.. Hollyhocks (pale pink with burgundy and yellow centers) began opening blooms today. We noticed a bloom stalk on the Acanthus and many on the Oyster Plants. Black spot continues to be a problem on nearly all roses this spring.
We planted Caladiums today. Cel also dug the Elephant Ears from the Ginger area and planted them in a circle in the back bed. Although most of the Gingers are still dormant, they are very healthy, as Cel discovered while digging around in the area.
Tomorrow we'll try to finish up the plantings. We still have Castor Beans, Moon Vine, a Jasmine, a Mandevilla, and few other misc. plants to put in the ground.
New blooms noticed today included the new Duranta Replens in the back bed and Apple Tree. We were excited to see this first ever bloom on the Dwarf Apple Tree.
We also got the 4x4 framing built on the small Greenhouse and leveled it. I continued filling in the new bed area that will surround it. Along the back we planted some Hollyhocks and a few mystery seedlings from the greenhouse. I put the 3 Candy Lilies that had grown from seedling next to the Tigridia surrounding the pond. Still not appearance from the Hardy Hibiscus or the lone Hibiscus holdout although they are still very much alive. Although I have been saying last bed for a while now we used the landscape paint to sketch out a new bed which will do a better job of integrating the cabana into the landscape. The framing for the back fence was completed and we will start putting up boards tomorrow. Even without fence boards it is easy to imagine how this new improvement will bring add a much needed touch to bring the beds together. The Canefield Rose is blooming profusely with many more buds. New Dawn has so many buds that I doubt we will be able to see the foliage at all once it starts to bloom.
Hey it's Tax Day. Got the sprinkler out again. I am continuing my experiment. I have the Miracle Grow inline mixer on the line. In some areas I am using Miracle Grow in the container and in others I am using Ammonium Nitrate. One container full is used with an hour of sprinkling in each area. The overall dilution is pretty high. I am basically trying to imitate a charged thunderstorm rather than significant fertilization.
The Iris are having an outstanding bloom year and seem to be peaking. The dark blue velvet Iris on the left side of the bed began opening today. The Iris' on the left side, mostly natives, are just coming into bloom now, but since they were added last summer it is to be expected that would run a little later than the others. The three recently planted Abutilon (Flowering Maples) are now beginning to grow. I pruned the top off of one of the Taiwan Cherry to encourage a more full tree. On of the five hold out Hardy Hibiscus has broken ground, finally. The native Hibiscus and many other plants have been viciously attacked by chewing insects. Half of the leaves are nothing but lace framework. Last years red Passionvine has begun active growth. The purple from last year is growing as well at double the rate of the red one. The native Maypop which was planted late last summer as a seedling looks awesome, and worrysome. It looks quite energetic. The American Beauty Berry which died back to the roots is coming back very well. Another of the variegated Ginger has popped up. That makes 3 out of 6 above ground. The Shampoo Ginger near the Citrus Trees are still no shows. The Artichoke plant which was a new try this year is getting "big." I have Raspberry volunteers everywhere some several feet from the mother plants. The Hollyhocks are nearing 7 feet tall.
Watering, watering, watering but not a drop from the sky. Planting is rapidly coming to a close as the heat moves in. Only a few plants remain to be planted. We picked up a few this weekend. For two folks that weren't that much into roses we sure seem to be adding them to the gardens. This weekend we added two more. The first was Countess Celeste which I just had to get for obvious reasons. It filled the last slot in the new rose bed. The second was Scarlet Meidiland for which we had to create a spot. You see all those books and TV shows that say it's wrong to buy plants and then go home to figure out where to put them. They say that you should plan everything out before you get the first plant. I say "God, what a boring world that would be." We picked up a flat of Lavender Trailing Lantana for a ground cover under the Pecan Tree.
New flowers opening this week included solid yellow and solid orange Asiatic Lilies. Daylilies Todd Monroe, and Riley Barron. A Double Red Amaryllis has been showing it stuff for a few days now. Some of the Dahlias have begun opening flowers. Most things are sitting on the edge waiting on a good rain which seems to be eluding us.
Astillbe is full of flower buds but is still yet to bloom. Iris are still blooming regularly. New Daylilies opening are Double Yellow Cutie, Mr. Clifford, Brocaded Gown, Jungle Princess, Gill's Daylily, MaJeune's Daylily, Joy Lynn Nicole, and Fuchsia Dream. Gladiolus from last year near Hollyhocks are returning and opened their first bloom today. The Byzantine Glads are blooming well in several spots. New Dawn is starting her show. The Caladiums are coming on very fast. The left front variegated Ginger has returned, leaving 3 in that area still yet to appear. None of the Shampoo Ginger are up yet.
What a marvelous spring. Cool season annuals are coming to a close pretty fast. Daily highs this last week were in the upper eighties and we are nearing 4 weeks without rain.. The last of the Snapdragons will come up by the weekend. The Delphiniums are defiant and doing their best to bloom before succumbing to the heat as are the Astilbe. Most tropicals have yet to get going due the lack of rain, but they look good. My one stubborn Hibiscus is still alive but has yet to put out a leaf. All hardy Hibiscus have come back with the lone exception of the big velvety red one near the pond but it too looks to still be alive.
We had a unique day today with the birds. First, it appears that a pair of Mississippi Kites are nesting in the top of the Pecan which is just plain awesome. Second, while watching these birds through the binoculars, a bald eagle was spotted soaring about Bayou Teche which is about 200 yards away.
May 5th, 2002
First log entry of the month. A couple of busy weeks at work and now things are totally out of control. My only savior has been this 30 day drought. Yes, that's right with an average of 50+ inches of rain a year, we haven't had a drop in 30 days. My water bill will be astronomical but that is the price of gardens. This odd combo of late winter/early summer has made a truly unique bloom year. Literally everything is blooming at once. Delphiniums, lilies, daylilies, sesbania, iris, hollyhocks, celosia, acanthus, phoenix, etc. etc. etc. It is all blooming at the same time. Helen gave us some new plants today including Shell Ginger, another Taiwan Cherry, and a mystery plant. On the way home we found the nursery in Plaquemine, Louisiana open and added another variegated Hibiscus Cooperii along with an Angelonia and Indigo. These will stay in pots for the immediate future.
The rose cutting rooted from Cel's birthday roses is about to bloom. It has two buds. This is amazing. This rose was a cut rose in a floral arrangement on Feb 2nd, 2002, was rooted, planted, and will bloom by May 15th. I will note it is a small rose bush only 12 inches high but still in all a testament to the hardiness of this unknown species of rose. Several cuttings in the rooting chamber are no longer with us. I still have a rose cutting from Aunt Helen that should make it and one from Pat & AJ that looks OK. The Mock Orange cutting is shaky but still hanging in there. As with the last cuttings I did this anything but right leaving them in water for almost 2 weeks.. It is a testament to their hardiness that they are still around at all.
May 10th, 2002
I don't know where to start. First, still no rain. Let's start with daylilies. I remember 2 years ago with our first daylily bed. We were so amazed when we counted 43 daylilies on a single day. Today, in the cross bed, I counted 187 and that is with 30+ days without rain. More tomorrow.
May 16th, 2002
How time flies when you are busy as heck at work. Prior to this afternoon I had not seen my gardens for the previous 3 days. A short walk today yielded few details but here is what I observed. First, a stop by the veggie beds where I enjoyed some ripe cherry tomatoes and my first raspberries of the summer. Wait, I have to tell you about this weird weather. Yes, it continues. While April was like May or June, I mean hot. May has had a cool front come through with another due tomorrow making it one of the coolest Mays that I remember. We did finally get rain a few days ago, about an inch, which helped a lot. OK, back to the garden. A new Hollyhock opened up which is georgeous. The first Gloriosa Lily opened. A Purple Hyacinth Bean Vine is taking over the world. The Canna are totally full of blooms. The Acanthus bloom is fully open. The Dinosaur Food plants are goners. The Scarlet Wisteria (Sesbania) is still growing like mad. The return rate of the Tangerine which had frozen to where on the center trunk was alive is incredible. The other Citrus are doing well. The Confederate Rose is growing so rapidly that it's height will exceed mine in short order. The Red Four O'Clocks have been open for a week now and the yellow varieties which is running a little behind are just starting to open. There is more, but it will have to wait for the week end. It's bed time.
June 3rd, 2002
It's about May every year that so much begins happening in the garden that I just quit updating. It's get boring to write so I assume the same is true about reading it. This year I am going to try for my own records. Here is a start. The Rangoon Creeper is flowering nicely. I have been eating Raspberries since early May on last years canes, this years have not begun to flower yet. This year's new tropical Hibiscus has been continuously flowering, last years flowered early but seemed to have backed off. The marigolds are doing well.
We picked up a few new plants for the garden last week during vacation. Here is a list:
Hibiscus moseutos 'Pink Disco Belle'
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis "Cooperii"
Malvaviscus drummondii (Turk's Cap)
Tecoma Stans (Texas Yellow Bells)
Citrus are doing well. The Variegated Louisiana Sweet Orange with it's variegated fruit is real kick.
June 15th, 2002
Things are doing well except that this is one hot summer. Today we'll have to put the sprinklers out again. Some things are doing well, a few are struggling. Bugs are a big problem this year, much worse than last year.
June 17th, 2002
This is not the big update I promised. A day lost to plumbing repair and a day of drizzling rain ended that promise, but I'll ramble on as far as my memory will take me. New pictures will come during the week I hope.
More plants were added to the collection this week. Unfortunately the backyard nursery were we got them is not big on names so they will have to come later as we identify them. Know plants are Red Disco Bell to go along with the Pink and a Texas Star Hibiscus as well. I also got a double white Althea and a double light pink Altea. Another very large flower white with red center. I also found an old heirloom solid white heirloom and single pink with red center that will take cutting from. All of the hardy hibiscus from last year have returned and are doing well. These plants will always be a big part of the gardens. Outstanding flowers and perennial hardiness.
A few of the Asiatic Lilies are still blooming but most are done. I am looking into storage methods and have determined that they can be refrigerated for 12 - 18 months. As soon as I have a good technique they will go into the fridge till next year.
My Bleeding Heart seems to like being potted much better than being in the ground. It have been blooming for nearly two months non-stop. Same for the Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow which is now blooming for a second time although not as profusely as the spring bloom. Pa Joe's Bougainvillea is finally blooming. I gave it a hard pruning this year which is really appreciated and have looked so much healthier this year over last year. Same for the large pot with the 5 Variegate Bougainvillea although they show no sign of flowering yet. If I can find some SuperBloom I may mix up that formula to spark them into action. My other two Bougainvillea look healthy but are in their rest period. I let them grow for a bit before attempting to force back into flower.
I have begun to convert parts of the vegetable bed into a staging area for plants we have purchased but whose permanent home is not ready. The heat is so tremendous here in the summer that plants seem to do better if they are just planted and well watered than left in the pots where missing even a single day of watering can sometimes result in death. Already there is they Rangoon Creeper which has outgrown it small support. I planted a Diplandenia next to it that I overwintered last year. It has never done well. The Artichoke still looks awesome. I will definitely plant more next year. According to what I have read the heat should be it soon. My Raspberries continue to try to take over the world and I have to cut them back today. I also began taking out the tomato plants which are being attacked mercilessly by the Stinkbugs. I was successful with no chemicals again this year but with more losses than last year to bugs. The Tomato Ring experiment was a success. Next year I'll do it right. It's time to put in the fall tomatoes but I am not sure that I will do it this year. Still got a couple of weeks to decide. My pepper plants are less than spectacular this year as are my father-in-laws pepper hedge row primarily due to the lack of rain.
We are having a great year with the Angel's Trumpets this year. The dryer than normal weather does not seem to bother them much. Despite the fact that they all died to the ground last year, many are taller than I am already. My step mother commented on the above normal growth rate for my garden and all I could point to was compost and the Alfalfa pellets I liberally applied last year. I have also noticed an improved growth rate in a few areas where I applied wood ashes which leads me to believe that I need to lime the whole garden this fall.
My front yard is again a dismal failure. The less than ideal soil and devastating evening sun have no mercy. I am ready to pull everything out and to just let the grass grow at this point. The Saint Augustine seems to do alright. The Crepe Myrtles complain a bit but do alright and the only things that seems to do extremely well is the Trumpet Vine with is flowering nicely and sending runners all over creation. I even lost one of the Mandevillas on the front columns although the other one is doing very well flowering more than any other Mandevilla I have ever seen..
This year I vow to learn how to care for roses. Many of mine are nearly defoliated due to Black Spot and bugs. Earlier this year I was using the Fertilome Rose Food with Systemic Insecticide and they looked great. I bought more last week and fertilized with it today so we'll see if that helps.
I planted the cutting from Aunt Helen's Rose in the garden on Friday along with the cutting from the Mill House Indigo. Even with a very hot day on Saturday they seemed to holding their own. The cutting that I rooted from Cel's Birthday Rose continues to growth nicely and is nearing 18 inches. Cel also gave me a miniature red rose that nearly died. I planted it outside and it may recover. The little miniature rose that I planted in the front, Jolly Cupido, is doing fine and flowering profusely.
My tropical hibiscus are all starting to look really healthy except for the two nearest the greenhouse. They seem to be bug magnets. A spray program should bring them around. Although the tropical hibiscus are pretty I am considering whether they are worth the trouble when so much has been done with the hardy hibiscus through hybridization. OK, I am thinking of their glossy deep green foliage and intensity of flower color. I'll do both, but I may start to treat the common tropical Hibiscus as annuals.
I am finally beginning to identify some of my new plants which were purchased from Backyard Plants and Things. They are:
Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria aureania)
Evergreen Wisteria (Millettia reticulata)
Wild Azalea (Unknown)
Grape Ivy as called by nursery however it does not appear to be (Cissus rhombifolia)
Malabar Spinach Vine (Basella rubra)
Tipochina Tree (unknown, http://www.miamiss.qld.edu.au/Pages/ttipochina.htm)
Chaste Tree, Vitex (Vitex Agnus Castus)
I am still looking for the larger Vitex (Vitex negundo) which I have not found however one is growing across the street from my mom's house. Next time I visit I will ask for cuttings. It is 20 feet tall and magnificent when in bloom.
High winds this weeks accompanying thunderstorms played havoc in the gardens this week. All sunflowers were destroyed. A couple of Castor Bean Plants need to be staked along with a couple of Cassia. All in all, not nearly as bad as the near tornado we had last year.
Still no new pictures. Almost all of my pictures come from a borrowed digital camera so I am subject to its availability. Maybe this week.
It's a typical Louisiana summer. Rain comes nearly every other afternoon. Humidity runs around 100% and daily highs average 95 degrees. Gardening is limited to early morning and late afternoon and even then you sweat standing still. The weeds own the garden in some areas so some of those good looking pictures prove more that I am a good photographer rather than a good gardener. So what keeps one going. The tropicals love this weather and let you know it with weedlike growth and magazine quality blooms. On any given day over 50 Hibiscus blooms can be appreciated including some dinner plate size like the Moi Grande to the right. Just a note, my wife is 5'11" and does not have a small hand at all. The fragrances and beauty of the Angel's Trumpet blooms take you away.
The Passion vines are growing well but blooms are still sparse with the exception of the native I put in late last year. It was a twig 12 inches tall when winter hit. I didn't expect it to come back, but boy did it comeback, and with a vengeance. It should fruit and with over 8 different Passion vines in the garden we have a chance of some interesting hybrids resulting.
One year to the next is interesting. Last year the roses were spectacular and required nearly no care for black spot. This year no matter how much and how many different things I spray it is hopeless. Some of my roses are darned near defoliated. I grow a Purple Ornamental Pepper Plant that looked like shrubs last year and it along with all of the other peppers are just not doing it this year. On the other hand my red and yellow Gloriosa Lilies putted along last year with maybe a half dozen blooms. This year we probably got close to 100 from them and they are still going. Gladiolas didn't even bloom last year. The Winter Hardy varieties we had fizzled early this year, while the ones that weren't even supposed to come back in Zone 9 were florist quality.
Our winter damage was also interesting. We had four hard freezes last winter which was unusual and certainly lost some plants, however some plants that were supposed to die came back. Two Passion vines that are rated Zone 10 died to the ground but came roaring back.
Every gardener in the area will tell you that bugs are worse this year than any they can remember which not only means lots of insect damage but also more disease as they are the principle carriers. All in all though we have faired OK. We have only lost one plant, a Mandevilla, to Mealy Bugs and may lose another, a Confederate Rose, to Whiteflies. The Confederate Rose is interesting from two aspects, one being that they are darned near immune to pest other than some minor caterpillar and the second being, that it's twin is planted about 30 feet away and is in perfect condition. The plant might be weakened from a less evident culprit.
I plan to add some Alfalfa information and links to the site. Having had several people notice nearly incredible growth on some plants I can only attribute this to free compost last year and 100 pounds of Alfalfa pellets I spread in the gardens last year. Lord knows I am truly negligent when it comes to watering and fertilizing.
Walmart is dramatically discounting plants so we grabbed two new roses, John Kennedy and Queen Elizabeth. They were in rough shape but some pruning, fertilizing, watering, TLC, and one week later the difference is already amazing. Cel picked up a variegated dark purple/white flowered Morning Glory that is a little different. I got a bunch of little plants at the local nursery this week also. They are a white Duranta, a Yellow Ixora, a Licorice, a yellow Tecoma, and a Coral Vine. It's hard to resist a hardy plant will grow into something substantial for $3 in a 4" pot. A good example is our Duranta Repens. The first, bought last year in a 4 inch pot stands 4 feet high and six feet wide. The second bought this year in a 3" pot already stands 4 feel tall and 3 feet wide. That's my kind of plant.
Early this spring my neighbor gave me a couple of babies from a pink flowering Banana which bloomed this week. My Tangerine tree which froze so bad that lost all but the first 12" on trunk over the graft is already back to where it was when I bought it last year. Many of my hardy hibiscus took so long the come back I thought they were dead but they all came back. The last one to show, which did so in in mid May began blooming last week.
Unbelievably for this part of the country, I still have blooms on some of the Asiatic Lilies. Go figure. I need to dig them and store them in fridge since they will move to a new garden next year. Anyone have a procedure for doing this in a normal fridge.
Well, that's a wrap for tonight. More to come this weekend. Oh, one last note the Oyster Plants have gone dormant. That's just a note for me. Seeya.
Another busy day getting home late, but I did have time to run by All Seasons Nursery around the corner from my office to pick up the two 5" pots of Lemon Grass I spotted last week. I had to check if they were hardy before purchasing. Already having more plants that need winter protection than I can handle I have resolved myself to winter hardy plants from here out. Any exceptions would have to be very special and will remain in containers. Although many plants do well in containers, they need more care in our hot summers meaning water 'every' day. Again more than I can keep up with and a real hassle when we travel. Besides when this big announcement comes you'll understand more.
Anyway, there was much conflicting information on the net regarding Lemon Grass. One site says Zone 10, another says perennial in Zone 9, and yet another says perennial all the way to Zone 7. The lady at the nursery said her Lemon Grass went dormant in our colder than normal winter last year but came back fine this spring. It was in a fairly protected area. Again, good information but not the definitive answer I was looking for. Also while I was there I picked up a 6" tall Bay Tree.
On the garden walk this afternoon, the Whitefly epidemic is spreading. Unfortunately, that means I have to break out the heavy artillery. So what's that. Web research points out that Whiteflies are difficult to control and adapt to poisons so only two treatments per control in a season are recommended with a rotation of controls over the season. After much reading, I will hit them with a two pronged approach. A heavy dose of Neem Oil along with a systemic insecticide called Marathon if I can find it.
Other notes. My Maypop (native Passion Vine) has fruit, at least two that are egg size. The American Beauty Berry is still flowering and some of the berries are starting to turn from green to purple. The passion vine shoot that I dug from the Canna bed a few days ago looks really good so I think it will make it. If you follow all this poop I write, you may recall last Feb 2nd I bought my wife a dozen red roses. When I went to them out a couple of weeks with fully faded blooms I noticed that 3 of the twelve still have healthy looking green leaves. I decided to attempt rooting them. Talk about doing everything wrong. Harvested with budding blooms, kept in water for two weeks. Well, I dipped the three in Dip-n-Grow and put them in an old aquarium where I can control the humidity. Two of three had new growth in about 3 weeks, but I removed them too soon and they were lost. I left the last another 4 weeks, three weeks after it first had signs of new growth. Believe it or not the tiny 1 foot tall plant sent out two blooms another months after that just two weeks after being placed in the garden. It then put some energy into new growth and is now again, at 18 inches tall, putting out two more beautiful blooms. They are small, but so is the plant. I must assume this is a Hybrid Tea but after that have not a clue as to exactly what rose I have. With the beauty of its blooms, vigor, and propensity towards blooming I must assume it has one heck of a pedigree. It will be fun to track it's progress.
We had a whopping 4" of rain this morning in a 4 hour period. Over that last two days we have driven the back roads looking for treasures. A clump of plants are popping up along ditches here and there. They plants have leaves that resemble a Mimosa, have herbaceous single trunks and seem to max out around 6 to 8 feet. , and a pretty yellow bloom. Don't have a clue what they are but they are certainly in abundance. We dug one up. It was little large than I wanted, almost 6 feet tall, and seems to be struggling. If it makes it that's it, if not I go grad a couple of smaller ones. There is also a stretch of about 100 feet with non-stop Yucca plants on a ditch bank bordering a cane field. We took a small pup to start our patch. They bloom beautifully here.
We also brought home some cuttings from a visit with Mom. One from a rose on her property and the other from the largest Vitex I have ever seen which grows across the street from her home. We also went by Cel's parent's home today to get cuttings from two Althea (Rose of Sharon). One was the old fashion lavendar with purple center and the other is a double white.
We also planted some new seeds. In a Plaquemine nursery there was and outstanding Parkinsonia. We picked up a few seeds off the ground which were the first. The second batch were fresh off of our Sesbania. The last were from a Mimosa.
Of course we had to get a few goodies at the Plaquemine nursery. Here is the list: Cypress vine, two Coral Vine, Sweet Pea Vine, Zebra Grass, Candy Lily, and some plant that looks like an Easter Lily, blooms at this time of year and has a fine leaf along the shaft.
Time slips away. It's been over a month since my last log entry. It's been a hot, humid, and wet summer. Not conducive to going outside. A very busy summer at work has added to the lack of time in the garden. It rains nearly every day this summer. The tropical plants have grown like crazy as you will see in the pictures to be posted tomorrow. The weeds have grown just as outrageously as the tropical plants. It is totally out of hand on all fronts, but everything is so lush you really don't notice.
This is the first log entry in the new garden project. We started on the 3 day Labor Day Weekend. Day One was given to family activities. Day Two we slept till noon. Highly, no extremely unusual for us. Anyway the project of the day was to cleanup around the base of the trees, remove low hanging limbs and get ready for the first mowing. We were to be in good shape with a chainsaw newly sharpened chainsaw blade, weed eater, hand swing blade, and my brother-in-laws commercial Gravely Mower with a 50 inch deck. Now for a reality check.
The chainsaw blade was either sharpened improperly or put on backwards. I did manage to get the front half low hanging limbs cut along with the brush trees around the base of the trees. On the last tree of the front half the blade gave up and that was it for the chainsaw on this weekend. The real works still awaits on the back half.
The grass gave us another reality check. The property had only been mowed with a bush hog at a height of 6 inches of so. This was probably its first mowing at regular mowing height. Additionally it had not been mowed at all for nearly 4 weeks during which we have had lots of rainfall. Every pass actually took two passes, one with the blade at 6 inches and a second pass at regular height. Even then it still looked rough. By the end of the first day we had an acre mowed and half of the trees cleaned. Yeah, we were a bit down.
Day Two. We got an earlier start today. After about two hours of mowing we had another acre coming along when the second casualty occurred. Despite having walked the grounds, we found the jacket lost last winter with the commercial mower and that did in the drive belt for the blades which was already struggling. Rains were on the horizon as well. It seemed we would close the weekend on the losing in.
In true country fashion, family and neighbors came to the rescue. Father-in-law showed up with a small riding lawn mower to clean up the rough spots and my neighbor rode in on his Kubota tractor. The Kubota, a fairly hefty machine knocked out the remaining mowing in no time and Cel drove the little riding mower cleaning up the details until the rains shut us down around 2:30.
So ends the first weekend. Score is Thibodeaux .5 - Land 2. A solid defeat but we made progress. We'll retrench this week and hit it again when the weather allows.
Rain, rain, rain, well that just about sums up the last 3 days. Tropical disturbances in the Gulf are keeping us wet. Today, it only drizzled but the ground was already wet and with clouds all day it didn't dry a bit. Looks like the same through the weekend so I don't think we will get much done. Maybe a planting or two, but even that is doubtful. We will probably just sit around and dream.
Rain, rain, rain, well that just about sums up the last 6 days now. How best to sum this up? Arrrrrrgh, I am sick and tired of rain, mold, mildew, soggy, yucky, muck. OK, that is pretty much just how I feel. Twelve inch weeds have filled my newly tilled veggie bed because it has been too wet to till for over 3 weeks now. But that is Louisiana where you can have a drought in the same year that you get 50" of rain. I tried to get some pictures today since the tropical plants are loving this stuff, but it started drizzling rain every time I tried so maybe
The rains finally broke on Monday the 9th. As luck would have it, I have to work till 8PM on both Monday and Tuesday night. I finally was able to get on the land today. I continued cleanup tackling the large oak tree on the left side. This tree is over 60 feet in diameter at the branch level and they all came to the ground. The tree had not been mowed under in years. About an hour with the chainsaw did the trick. This weekend we hope to get the rest of the property mowed down to lawn level, the rest of the trees cleaned up, and the bayou side cleaned. Several small trees need to come out along the bayou, but we won't get to that this week. With a little luck we'll get some winterizing fertilizer spread under the oaks. Oh, and maybe plant a few things.
Sept 15th Update: The first real weekend on the property was very productive although I have three blisters and Cel has one. We got all of the trimmed branches hauled to the front for a huge future marshmallow roast. We had the old mobile home that was left on the property moved to one side where it will serve as our headquarters. Check the last two pictures in the August gallery. The old mobile home doesn't look like that today, but that is our long term goal. More branches were trimmed so we are about 2/3rds done with getting that part under control. Metal fence posts were sunk to replace the wooden survey posts.
We planted the first four trees, each unique in its own right. On the front corner we put a Araucaria araucana, otherwise known a Chilean Pine or Monkey Puzzle Tree. Just in front of the Sans Creek we put in a Metasequoia glyptostroboides (Dawn Redwood) and along the driveway we put in an Acacia baileyana. Last we decided where the barn was to be moved and planted an Millettia reticulata or Evergreen Wisteria which will cover the left side of it someday.
Sept 20th Update: Rejoice, the first sign of fall is here. The Naked Ladies have arrived. Back in the old gardens, we have both red and yellow Naked Ladies in bloom. Several different Passion Vines are blooming. Rains and overtime kept a work to a minimum. We did get out on Thursday evening to finish cleaning up the trees. We now have two large burn piles of brush. Today I borrowed my brother-in-law's commercial mower and mowed all three acres. The trees, like the Live Oaks, had not been mowed under in years. Things are really starting to look manicured. Note, I said starting, maybe "kept" would be a better word.
Sept 21st Update: We have had a break from the rain with only a light shower yesterday, but now we have Hurricane Isadore looming on the horizon. Regardless we keep pushing on. The tree trimming is done for this year. We now have only one burn pile with the first one giving way to a fine wiener roast after is finally burned down from the towering inferno. Today we planted a Taxodium distichum (Bald Cypress), a native Azalea (came from a backyard nursery so I have no idea which one), and a Vitex agnus-castus. My neighbor also pulled out a large azalea with a backhoe and tossed it in the trashpile. I rescued it and planted it . I sat out with exposed roots for over a day in 90 degree heat so I am crossing my fingers. I had one last plant to put in today, a Weigela, but ants owned the real estate, a fact that they got across quite painfully so I left that to be finished tomorrow. The latest plant was added to the collection today, a variegated Banana which we order from Natural Selections Exotics which can be found at http://naturalselections.safeshopper.com/. I can happily say that the service and plant were exceptional. They have my highest recommendation based on my personal experience.
Sept 22nd Update: Boy am I tired and sore, but today was a great day. The ants vacated the hole I was digging for the Weigela so I got that plant in. It might be a Weigela florida, but it came from that same wonderful backyard nursery with the great prices, but they are not big on names. We'll know in the spring. I also brought over the 4 of the 4 foot by 8 foot raised bed frames for the vegetable beds. I have to get them ready to go by the first week of October for the winter vegetables. I made great headway clearing along the bayou removing tons of small trees and a couple of good sized ones. I finished mowing the back at a 90 degree angle to the first mowing. We are looking better. There was a small Mimosa seedling under the big oaks on the right which I moved along the old road that will one day balance and then replace the old large one that is already on the property.
Sept 24th - Hurricane Isadore is coming, well maybe. We have begun preparations however it seems that the latest path predictions are moving east. The latest update shows us on the very western edge of the anticipated path. Even so, the outer bands covered us with light rain starting this afternoon. I managed to get the large burnpile started in the light rain, but I didn't want it scattered for miles so I had little choice.
Sept 25th - Tropical Storm Isadore is hours away, scheduled to make landfall in the early morning south of New Orleans. In the picture at left we are still in the blue area. Winds are blowing around 10-15 and it has been lightly raining for nearly 24 hours. The Cane crops have begun to lay over which will make harvesting more difficult. Check in later tonight for an update or two.
7:47PM - Still quiet
9:15PM - Winds are near 20mph and gusting to near 39mph. Not much rain in the last 2 hours.
Next morning - Well now, I've had more excitement watching the grass grow. But no complaints here. I've been through real hurricames so I'll take this non-event anyday.
Sept 28th - No hurricanes and one gorgeous weekend. The good part of the hurrican Isadore which amounted to nothing more than some 30mph winds is that is blew some of the Spanish Moss down from the Live Oaks along the highway. Since my Live Oak had no moss I went along the highway picking up what had blown down. I through it up into the large Live Oak all around in an attempt to "seed" it. Hopefully that will work. It looks pretty already.
Un-burnt wood was removed from the front burn pile and moved to a new burn pile to take out a dead tree on the far left side along the bayou. Erik (neighbor) came over to help with that effort. Ashes from the old burn pile were scooped up and spread in the new veggie bed frames. Soil here run on the acid side, ashes always result in better growth. The remaining hardy potted plants were relocated to the property for planting tomorrow. All of the new plants put in the ground a couple of weeks ago look great with noticeable new growth.
I filled the raised veggie bed frames with compost from the parish compost facility. I'll till every in after a couple of weeks along with some BlackKow. This winter we'll try some Cabbage, Collards, Carrots, Beets, etc.
Sept 29th - Another short weekend is over. It is amazing how much longer it takes to do things on 3 acres as opposed to a suburban residential lot. One half of a day on each weekend is spent just mowing, and that is on a borrowed commercial mower at that. Anyway, I got the lot mowed on Sunday morning. This was the first time I took it down to the lowest mower setting. Even though it is mostly trash grass it is looking so much better than the over grown field we started with. We have some St. Augustine and Bermuda here and there, but the bulk of the lawn is that curse of the southern gardener, CoCo grass, or Nutsedge as others know it.
I am still cleaning up trees and brush along the bayou. Every time I think I am getting close I see something else that needs to come out. I still have five small trees that need to go to allow the others to blossom. I cleaned out 3/4ths of the old barn. We have the unplanted potted plants lined up around the barn and we noticed how nice it would look so we will soon start planting beds there. I also took the old landscape timbers that mom was getting rid of and outlined most of a bed that will hold the two large Confederate Roses, Duranta, and Mexican Heather.
And last, but not least, we have another hurricane on the horizon. Even though Isidore was pretty much a non-event for us I still blew down several of my plants including my Plumeria, Castor Bean, Senna, etc. and it made a mess of the local Sugarcane fields. This time it is Hurricane Lili that may have her sights set on the gulf coast. And I just put the Variegated AeAe banana in the ground. Guess I'll cross my fingers for now.
Oct 1st - Tonight we sit watching and wondering. This hurricane, Lili, will certainly be an event for someone. For many here it is bringing back memories of Hurricane Andrew which did major damage here in South Central Louisiana after previously devastating South Florida 10 years ago. On the way home from work other than a small rain shower it was very much the calm before the storm. Outside as I write this at 10PM it is dead calm with a light fog. I can't help but wonder what it must have been like a hundred years ago. You see, today we know this is coming in 36 hours and are preparing. In those days they would have had no idea what the storm clouds would unleash. Would it be an approaching cold front, a late summer thunderstorm, or,,,. This afternoon the stores were full again with people buying plywood to board up windows, canned food, flashlight batteries, filling up gas tanks, etc. All things familiar to those who live in hurricane country. Iberia Parish, where we are located has called for evacuation South of Hwy 90, just a few miles away. Those areas Abbeville, Erath, etc are low lying where flooding is likely should Lili actually come this way. We are on an area called Teche Ridge with is one of the highest spots in the area. It will still be rough here though, being so close to the Gulf and Vermillion Bay we are guaranteed some pretty high winds. We are leaning towards staying it through but reserve our final decision till tomorrow. Plotting hurricane paths and strengths is anything but an exact science. We still don't know exactly how strong it will be and exactly where it will make landfall. Well that's it for tonight. Keep us in your prayers and if you haven't signed the guest book drop us a line to say hello.
Oct 2 (6:30PM) - This might be the last update for a while. We are a dead center target for Hurricane Lili. Our small town is the last town not requiring mandatory evacuation. Wind predictions here are as high as 135mph. After weighing all of the options at this point we have decided to stay. Some windows are boarded up and our hurricane supplies are ready to go. After several hours of winds over 75 mph I am sure the gardens will be a total loss along with the plantings on the new property but honestly when one gets to this point that seems pretty insignificant.
Oct 7 - Well folks, it could have been worse, but it was bad. News reports at 11:30PM on the second were still showing Hurricane Lili at Category 4 with 145 mph winds and a possible 20 foot storm surge. Comparisons to Hurricane Audrey were being made. I was prepared to ride out the wind but water is a different story. We are about 15 miles from Vermillion Bay and only 200 yards from Bayou Teche. That amount of water would have flooded the house. At 11:57PM we bugged out and headed for my father's house in much safer Brusly, LA (Baton Rouge) to ride it out from there.
The eye of the storm made landfall in the morning west of where it was predicted and thankfully a little farther away from Jeanerette. By 3:00PM we struck out from Baton Rouge headed back home if we could get there to start putting things back together. My brother-in-law still had cell phone service and had already called to inform us we had a 50 year old Pecan Tree on top of the house and garage. It was a silent and stressful ride in. The closer we got, the more damage we saw. Initial radio reports stated over 400,000 without power.
Well, old brother-in-law was not exaggerating one bit. The beautiful Pecan Tree that shaded our garage and sitting area has not crushed about 1/3 of it with the rest sitting on the roof of the sunroom and house. The small greenhouse danced across the lawn about 18 inches until everything inside had been knocked over and jammed against the side. It then began to split open but somehow held together at that point. The old greenhouse attached to the garage was not so lucked with several Pecan limbs puncturing it and cracking framing members. Unfortunately, the area of the garage that was crushed held the hot water heater and water filters. The tree also took out the power lines and electrical meter assembly. Tonight we have with some make do plumbing we have cold water only and electricity by extension cords from the store room which fortunately had its own electrical feed from the pole. This is the first night we are able to sleep at the house since evacuating 5 nights ago.
About the garden. Annihilation is a word that come to mind. Well not really, but we lost 30 percent of the plants and 100 of the beauty. What is left is either in shreds, broken, of leafless. Most will come back fine but will never regain their beautiful natural shapes. I'll post some pictures later in the week, maybe. First priority is getting rid of the tree on the house and regaining power. After that fall is approaching so greenhouses need to be repaired and tropical plants need to be dug up and potted for the winter.
Minor changes on the site include removing the Message Board due to lack of interest (use) and removing the Web Ring section due to lack of time for upkeep for too little return.
Hurricane Lili Same Scene
Before (left) & After (right) Pictures
Didn't have a before for this picture but the after speaks for itself. This is the tree that caused us so much grief and thousands in damages.
Oct 11 - The 50+ foot Pecan Tree still rest on the roof of the garage, the old greenhouse, and the house itself. No rain today for a change. The first rain after Lili brought a new experience to my life, rain dripping between the ceiling tiles in the den. Good news is that the small greenhouse damage was easy to correct. The half of the Plumeria that was not broken off was dug up and potted. It is doing fine. The Ixora actually looks better since being dug up. The Hibiscus really pouted but seems to be recovering fine now. Most salvageable plants have been staked with a few exceptions.
Oct 13 - Life slowly returns to normal and gardening instead of Hurricane Lili repairs. We got a little of both today. The tree removal service arrived today and cleared the way for electrical service which should be on after the electricians correct the damage they can now reach. The water service and filters went back online today but still no hot water.
So back to gardening. Today we went planted Grande Ginger (Kaempferia 'Ginger'), a couple of unlabeled Gingers that produce pink flowers around this time of year, and a very tall Ginger with white flowers that has been flowering all summer with a delightful fragrance. Sorry about the extremely detailed descriptions but high winds tend to blow away plant tags. They were all planted around the barn. By the end of the week the house will be back to normal we we will begin planting and transplanting in full force.
We have roses laid out for the Driveway Arbor. These roses will be placed on 12'x12' arbors that will go over the driveway. Driving though these arbors once in full bloom should be an awesome experience. A third arbor is in the plan but we might not plant yet. We will plant the roses this fall but finances might prevent the final arbors from going in this year. If not, we will grow them on temporary supports. Here is the plan.
Driveway Arbor 1
Class: Large Flowered Climber Color: light pink
Fragrance: Good Fragrance Rebloom:Rapid Rebloom
Date introduced: 1930 Introducer: Somerset Rose Nsy.
Description: One of the best climbing roses to grow today, though it has been around a long long time. Pale pink blooms steadily through the summer, glossy healthy foliage and a lovely fragrance. Easy to train in the most formal of situations, and cheerful when left to ramble about.
Cécile Brunner, Climbing
Class: Polyantha Climber Color: light pink
Fragrance: Best Fragrance Rebloom:Occasional Rebloom
Date introduced: 1894 Introducer: Hosp
Description: Very large and aggressive climbing sport of the old Sweetheart rose which we love for its intense and pervasive fragrance. Little rebloom.
Driveway Arbor 2
Class: Rambler Color: pink blend
Fragrance: Good Fragrance Rebloom:Occasional Rebloom
Date introduced: 1906 Introducer: Schmidt
Description: The rose of a thousand beauties displays an array of colors from bright pink to white in abundance in early summer. Flowers cupped; plant vigorous, healthy and easy to train.
Souvenir de la Malmaison, Climbing
Class: Bourbon Climber Color: light pink
Fragrance: Outstanding Fragrance Rebloom:Good, Reliable Rebloom
Date introduced: 1893 Introducer: Bennett
Description: Ivory, pink and cream in a flat bowl of petals almost perfectly arranged. Richly scented; strong but compact. A climbing sport of the famous Bourbon rose. Great Fall displays!
Driveway Arbor 3
Climbing Clothilde Soupert
Class: Large Flowered Climber Color: white
Fragrance: Good Fragrance Rebloom:Rapid Rebloom
Date introduced: 1902
Description: This climbing sport of Clothilde Soupert has the same full and fragrant white blossoms but grows canes 12 to 15 feet long.
Old Blush, Climbing
Class: China Color: pink
Fragrance: Outstanding Fragrance Rebloom:Good, Reliable Rebloom
Description: 12-20 feet
Class: Hybrid Musk Color: pink blend
Fragrance: Outstanding Fragrance Rebloom:Rapid Rebloom
Date introduced: 1925 Introducer: Pemberton
Description: Dusky strawberry suffused with buff, Cornelia often displays the tug-of-war between lavender and brown seen in such roses as Lavender Pinocchio. Blooms steadily on a robust shrub to 6'x6' or so, arching, graceful, sweet.
Lady Banks Yellow
Class: Hybrid Musk Color: pink blend
Fragrance: Outstanding Fragrance Rebloom:Rapid Rebloom
Date introduced: 1925 Introducer: Pemberton
Description: Dusky strawberry suffused with buff, Cornelia often displays the tug-of-war between lavender and brown seen in such roses as Lavender Pinocchio. Blooms steadily on a robust shrub to 6'x6' or so, arching, graceful, sweet.
Oct 14 - Not much new but I did find a couple of good sites with information about roses for Zone 9 so I added them to the Plant Specific Websites section.
November 15th - We're back and almost fully recuperated from the hurricane although some things will never be the same again. I matched some pictures up from after the hurricane with nearly identical pictures of the same areas just a month before. I also added some great pictures I had taken just before the storm to the Photo Gallery. Lots fall activity starting which I'll detail after these pictures.
OK, enough of the bad stuff let's talk about fall activities in the garden. A friend bestowed me with every seed known to man. I sorted out the fall planters and put them in the ground last Saturday. Today, one week later the list of those already sprouted include Pak Choy, Kohlrabi, Lettuce, Beets, Scallion, Leeks, Swiss Chard. On the flower side there were four different types of Poppies of which two are already showing.
I brought in the second load of free parish compost today. Also transferred some more board blocks and did a minor reshaping of the barn bed. I planted a Tea Olive, Florida Native Azalea, and a Jasmine. We have two Cypress volunteers come up in the yard this year. A couple of weeks ago we dug them up and put them in pots. I permanently planted one near the bayou on the right side of the property. The other one is alive but completely defoliated. When it shows signs of recovery we'll find it a permanent spot.
Sunday we finished up by moving some hardscape. Jasmine Wabohh was moved along with the pedestal planter. We brought over quite a few planting blocks to form our the first bed around the barn. We also planted the Florida Anise on the corner of the barn across from the Tea Olive. I was about to toss the Bougainvillea from the Pedestal Planter in the compost when I noticed just a bit of life so I planted it on a corner of the barn. Not much chance it will make the winter but I figured I'd give it a fighting chance. I'll just bury it in bagasse when it gets cold and we'll see. Back at the old place we have begun to dig up tropicals to overwinter in the greenhouse. With the near destruction of the old greenhouse in the hurricane its gonna be quite crowded.
November 24th - Vacation began on Friday with the sole purpose being to move a good portion of the gardens to the new space. Some nagging work issues took up a half day on Saturday with the other half of the day used to recuperate from an uncharacteristic Friday night. Hey, it's vacation remember. Sunday morning we got a leisurely start but did get a bit done. We picked up all of the Caladiums, Gladiolas, and Acidanthera for the winter. A couple of roses here, a Foxtail fern there, 4 Hibiscus way over there. The first two will be transplanted tomorrow. The Hibiscus are destined for the greenhouse. Those that survive the winter in there will remain in pots for the rest of their lives. After two years I am tired of planting and digging.
On the new property we planted a small bunch of rain lilies purchased in New Orleans. We weeded around the Azaleas and small Mimosa finishing with a fresh compost mulch. We planted 7 bunches of narcissus in the first steps of creating a bed around the big Mimosa. We took two washtubs full of dirt containing hundred of baby Acidanthera and Gladiolas putting it in one corner of a new bed. We planted our new Variegated Japanese Maple behind Jasmine Wabohh. For those new to the site Jasmine Wabohh is a concrete statue of a child holding a gazing ball on her head. Wabohh is an acronym for "with a bubble on her head." Some Boston Fern were also planted at the base of the "sitting oak." Finishing the day I loaded a hundred or so Red Edging Blocks into the back of the truck to place out tomorrow. Our to-do list grew considerably today.
More blocks today. The beds and the vision are beginning to take shape. We moved a few small plants today. Some Hollyhocks, Narcissus, Lycoris, Liriope, a Firespike, a Split Leaf Philodendron, a Xanadu, and a small mini-palm. I am concentrating on getting a truck path through the old gardens to make things more accessible. Most winter I pray for a frost free winter. This winter it would be nice to knock a few things down to the roots and put other into dormancy so that I can get them moved.
November 28th - Things continue to take shape at New Dawn Gardens. Two more roses that will cover the 12 foot arbors over the driveway are now in place leaving 5 of the 6 done. The first arbor has Old Blush on the East and Climbing Cecile Bruner on the West. Arbor two has Tausendschon on the east and Climbing Souvenir de la Malmaison on the West. The third and maybe final arbor has Seven Sisters on the West and is waiting on New Dawn on the East. It is already well over 10 feet tall and wide here. I don't look forward to moving it, but when it goes dormant in December we'll do the deed. Will there be a 4th arbor? There are at least two more old climbing roses I'd love to have so we'll see in the spring.
We got a small Bay Tree in the ground in the Barn Bed and some Phillipine Lilies added under the Mimosa. A Coral Carpet Rose was placed in the Barn Bed near the drive through. A Stromanthe was planted in the front protected area of the Barn Bed. Oh, did I mention another load of garden edging blocks We have quite a few more of those to go.
Finally, we have chosen a design for the rose bed and location for the old Sugar Kettle. Tomorrow the roses in pots will begin to go into place.
November 29th - No planting today but lots of moving. Approximately 250 garden edge blocks today. All major beds are now shaped and ready for preparation. That means many loads of compost and topsoil in the coming days. So how do I build a bed. First, a layer of newspaper 4 sheets thick followed by 6 inches of compost and topsoil mixed together. Compost alone will do if planting is not required for a few months and allowance for settling is made. Raw compost materials such as leaves and grass will do if a year is allowed decomposition and lots of allowance for settling is made. Some soil must be added regardless as compost will become nothing over time. If immediate planting is desired more topsoil than compost is best. Add 2 to 4 inches of mulch over whatever you used. This is a no chemical method. Everything under the paper, weeds, grass, etc. will die rot and turn to humus yeilding wonderful soft, dark, crumbly soil. The compost on top of the existing soil will draw the earthworms. They will do the rest..
BTW- The old Sugar Kettle plan has been scuttled after only one day. Such is the way we garden.
December 1- Finally, beds begin to take shape. The twin pine bed was joined by 8 Loropetalum from the old gardens. In this middle of this bed between the pines is the Texas Yellow Bell which we got on a road trip at a small nursery north of Carencro. On the front edge I place the Yellow Walking Iris and a small German Iris which was thrown in as a give away from Backyard Plants and Things here in Jeanerette. Also today I transplanted an Nandina from the old Causey place along with two dwarf Nandina "Fire Power" that I picked up at Lowes last year. The small Yucca was planted. It was dug from the side of a cane field on the way to Cypremort point. A small Cypress which volunteered in the old beds was transplanted on the property line way across from the Acacia. Straight across the property from there we put in the first of three Loquats which was also a volunteer in the old gardens. Things are coming together. From here it is easy to see where at least a dozen other plants should be. Pictures next week. Should I mention we have agreed on a spot for the Sugar Kettle, for the third time in a week.
December 7 - Good rain this week ahead of the front that brought our first frost. It extremely light over the last two nights with lows were around 31. Not even the Castor Beans, Papaya, or Avocado were bothered by it.
Out in the new gardens I planted the two 10" pots of Lemon Grass (from All Seasons Nursery, Lafayette, La), a Mock Orange (Garden Gate Nursery, Gulf Breeze, FL), a Maidenhair Fern (sale rack at Lowes) , a Thai Beauty Ginger (from Stokes Tropicals), a Canna (given to me by Gregg) and a pale blue Passion Vine (from the same nursery in Panama City, Fl where we bought the Bat Plant which is long hand for I can't remember the name).
December 8 - Maybe that "not bothered by the frost comment" was a bit premature. After an in-depth tour here are the results of two nights of light frost. Only the very top tender new leaves of the Papaya and Castor Beans were affected. The Cannas are heading to dormancy fast. Elephant Ear leaves are a soggy mess with Bananas being somewhere in between and varying by species. The stalks are healthy in all cases.
Over at the the new gardens, today saw the move of a large Azalea (from Cel's grandfather and inherited here), a small Snow White Azalea (purchased in 2000 but from where I don't remember), a Variegated Gardenia (same description as before), a Banana Shrub (same), a 5' tall Celeste Fig (given to me by me neighbors, the Picards) as a seedling last fall, and a Cedar Tree (now 5 feet tall, dug up last year as a 1 ft seedling from an abandoned home site near Franklin). Believe it or not, that was solid's half day's work. The large Azalea root ball was well over a hundred pounds by itself. The plants combined with the dirt that has to transfer with them is quite a bit of work. Things continue to take shape at New Dawn Gardens. It is certainly a multi-year project though and time will reveal our ultimate success. In most place the soil is quite good, but in some places there is a lot gravel and other debris under the surface while in others it is nasty dense clay with literally no top soil. It's going take a lot of compost and a lot of time, but in the end we will have that same wonderful soil I have taken for granted here.
December 15 - This weekend we planted two roses, dug up and potted the three Flowering Maples, started a large compost pile with several bags of leaves we picked up from neighbors, also picked up some old wire fence which will be used for Passion Vines to grow on next year, move one native Hibiscus, planted some Hollyhock seeds next to the four growing plants that were moved the week before, thinned out the seedlings in the vegetable bed, transplanted to Loquat volunteers from the old gardens to the new, move a small to medium sized fig tree, dug up and potted one of two vairegated tropical hibiscus.
December 24th - Merry Christmas All - To all who visit New Dawn Gardens we wish a very Merry Christmas from Keith & Cel. Not much happening in the gardens in this wet winter of 2002. A few plants have been moved to the new gardens. Today, before the fourth frost of the season (although no freezes three frost is very unusual this early) I dug up all of the tropical Hibiscus. The ones I dug up last month still pass the thumbnail test for life although they show no signs on the surface. We'll see as the winter progresses. They will never see bare earth again living in 14" pots from here one.
With Hurricane Lili's destruction of one of the greenhouses we are really stressed for space this yea. still we are so thankful for what we have this year. For 40 some odd years of my life I took nature for granted not seeing the beauty that was under my nose for so long. I used to think that I had to trek off to some distant part of the earth to see the beauty of mother nature when all along all I had to do was stick my nose out of my back door.
December 28th - Finally a very productive day. Although we missed that fourth frost I was talking about the other day we did it (very light) last night. The tropicals like Papaya and Castor Beans are still hanging on. My Apple tree which is deciduous has yet to drop its leaves. The Angel's Trumpet died back but are recovering.
To start the day we unloaded and spread another pickup truck load of free parish compost. Last year each truck load took 45 minutes with a shovel and pitchfork to unload. With my new Load Handler it takes about 30 seconds. Best gardening purchase I have ever made. Our new gardens like the old one will have one bed in the shape of a crucifix. Last time it was a Daylily bed. This time it will be 16 rose bushes. Today, planed 8 of them including two George Burns, Countess Celeste, Sunsprite, Golden Age (Cel got this one from her brother Denny for Christmas), Simply Marvelous, Scentimental, and Betty Boop. These joined John Kennedy, Queen Elizabeth, Don Juan (not really but that is the tag on it, somebody pulled a fast one), and Medallion. We also moved two miniature roses to go on each side of our Coral Carpet Rose. They were Jolly Cupido and ??. One curious thing was that I had accidentally buried on branch of the Coral Rose when I trasnplated it 3 weeks ago. As I pulled it from the dirt today it had 1 inch roots from 4 different nodes. We have never really considered ourselves as rose lovers yet we will have nearly 25 roses on the property. Go figure.
Also for Christmas, Cel's dad gave her an old, rusty, antique horse trailer. We think it will become a Rose Arbor but are mentally exploring other possibilities as well. The first hurdle will be getting to the property. Should be interesting. We still have several climbing roses to move including Cornelia, New Dawn, Lady Banks (yellow), Scarlet Meilland, the red miniature climbing rose whose identity I may never now, and the wonderful pink, fragrant found rose which I almost certainly never know the identity of. We decided today on Scarlet Meilland for the center of the rose bed where it will no doubt become magnificent over time. New Dawn is the last rose due on the front Arbors which leaves Cornelia, the Red Mini, Lady Banks, and the found rose still without a home.
I have been struggling with one of the bed layouts which finally came to me today. Combined with the shade bed which came to me a few days ago, I have some serious work to do. The old vegetable bed area was a 15x15 area with 12 inch high concrete walls around it. Since it will be dismantled before we leave, I have turned this into a soil preparation bin. I tilled it up this afternoon and will add a few bags of Oak leaves and bale of Peat Moss tomorrow and till through for pass number two. This should yield about 4 yards of better soil than you could hope to buy to use around plantings.
New pictures soon I promise. Also, I have lots of new links to add in all areas including a new Heirloom section.