Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bellingrath Gardens

The first garden my friend and tour guide Michael took me to while I was visiting Mobile (click here for the first post of The Mobile Series) was beautiful Bellingrath Gardens, lovingly created by the very interesting and generous Walter and Bessie Bellingrath. 

Entrance to the Conservatory, located at the far end of the Rose Garden.

Here is a closer look at the floral and foliage display glimpsed through the above doorway.  I love the shiny shiny (fern?) with the fuzzy asparagus ferns.

Once in the door we were bowled over by the most wonderful fragrance of this plant, Brunfelsia pauciflora, commonly known as Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow. 

Here is one of the plantings that caught my eye, located at the edge of The Great Lawn.  A series of nasturtium lollipops with a rich tapestry carpet of curly parsley, pansies, annual dianthus, Dianthus barbatus (Sweet William), Delphiniums and pink Linaria.  Great idea and I'm sure it is even more gorgeous with more of the plants coming into bloom now, nearly two weeks later.

A pretty pot of pink petunias, snapdragons, Linaria and a curly kale at the Grotto.

A longer view of the Grotto, taken from the boat dock out on the river.

A landing with chairs to enjoy the view is home to another great container planting of yellow tulips, hyacinths, snaps and a purple flower I'm not familiar with.  I wish I knew it's name!

Three bald cypress...

and a big hello from Myrtle the Turtle, enjoying the sun along the Bayou Boardwalk!

I couldn't resist the grinning lion - hmmm, he looks a little hungry, though, doesn't he?

These yellow and white daffodils with pink and blue hyacinths are pure spring...if you look closely you can see the azalea hedge just starting to pop.  The extremely cold winter pushed back the famous azalea show that normally would have been at its peak during my visit in Mid-March.

I was so taken with the display of tulips here in the Fountain Plaza, looking toward the Mermaid Pool. 

Here is a closer look - doesn't the 'Osaka Purple' Mustard bring out the best in those tulips?  Just gorgeous!

Blue hyacinths in cast iron pots - what a heavenly scented spot to sit a spell!

Red tulips with blue hyacinths

Camellias for sale in the Bellingrath Gift Shop.

I hope you enjoyed your virtual visit...if you'd like to see more photos of the garden later in the season click here for a great post at Big Jaunts and Journeys I just stumbled upon!

Stay tuned for more from Mobile...

Update April 9, 2010:  click here for an article on the arrival of the big spring event in Mobile, the blooming azaleas!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Y'all Will Love Lovely Mobile, Alabama!

I'm back from my trip to visit my dear friends (and former neighbors) Robert and Michael in Mobile, Alabama - I absolutely enjoyed myself!  I had never been to Mobile and now can highly recommend a visit to anyone who, like me, enjoys a city with a personality.  Wonderful buildings, charming neighborhoods, colorful history, delicious food and heaps of that famous Southern Hospitality!

I was kept busy as Michael showed me nearly everything there is to see, so over the next week I will be sharing the many gardens I visited while there.  It'll be just like you were with me, I'll be sharing them in the same order I saw them!  I'll be posting on Bellingrath Gardens, Hank and Steve's Mid-City oasis, Katherine's wonderfully creative urban paradise, The Mobile Botanical Gardens (they are having a plant sale through the 28th - go if you have the chance!), The Mobile Japanese Garden, and I'll even be including a few photos from gardens and city parks we passed on the morning dog walks like the one above in the Oakleigh Historic Neighborhood with the Camellia and picket fence.  Don't you just love that liriope edging?! 

I hope y'all enjoy everything as much as I did!

Here is that same garden as above, this time showing the charm of Mobile's love of their stately old Live Oaks - sidewalk and fence curved to accomodate the tree.  How great is that?!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - March 2010

Here it is already the 15th of March and this time around I DO have a few blooms to share!  For being such a snowbound winter here in the Chicago area, spring is surprisingly springy already.  We've already had some very pleasant weather to enjoy...with more on its way!

Galanthus (snowdrops)

Galanthus  (snowdrops)
Snowdrops in two spots - I tried identifying the types.  If you look you can see the snowdrops in the top photo have green markings, the lower snowdrops do not.  They may both be Galanthus nivalis but I'm not sure I trust my judgement.  If anyone knows, let me know!  At times I get a little obsessed with knowing exactly what I grow!

Crocus tommasinianus or 'Tommies'. 

I have had another early crocus for years, 'Goldilocks', which I always thought was early...but the Tommies beat Goldilocks by a long stretch this year.  And Goldilocks is in a microclimate, too, in an effort to have blooms by March 1st.  Not this year!



Indoors, I've been enjoying the above hyacinths and muscari up on my sleeping porch for the past couple weeks, too.

Much thanks to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for organizing Garden Blogger's Bloom Day - click on over to her blog to see what she has blooming, too! 

P.S.  This will be my last post before my vacation to Mobile, Alabama!  I'll have lots of great photos to share mid-week next week ofboth public and private gardens I'll be visiting (can't wait!!!), so y'all come back and visit with me then!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Hunt for Burgundy Sedums

Sedum 'Purple Emperor' with 'Cottage Red' Marigold

Seems slightly out of season to be posting about sedums now, but I have my reasons. I have been reviewing my garden notes from last season in preparation for moves come April and I started dreaming about finding a burgundy sedum that remains upright instead of flopping come late summer.  Here are my findings so far...

Sedum 'Arthur Branch' - This is the first burgundy sedum I acquired.  I had completely forgotten about him until I came across his name while doing the Upright Burgundy Sedum Research. Now I'm wondering - has he crossed with Sedum 'Purple Emperor' and created the race of floppy burgundy sedums that plague me come September?

Sedum 'Purple Emperor' - I know I have because I distinctly remember my Mom sharing some with me. Does it flop late in the season? Yes - it's not just me. After researching, I see other gardeners noting the same plant behavior (do plants behave? Is that another post?!).

Sedum 'Matrona' - Oh I just love. Though I don't technically think of her as burgundy...actually glaucous to me - a smokey color with tinges of blue and burgundy in the foliage. While researching I keep seeing Matrona lumped in with the burgundies so I am simply following suit. Now I see a new variety which is actually a mutation found on Matrona. Maestro, available at Plant Delights Nursery is said by Tony Avent to be better than Sedum 'Black Jack' at resisting sunscorch.  I am finding out so much about these various available varieties!

Sedum 'Black Jack' - apparently this one gets sunscorch.  See above listing.

Sedum 'Xenox' - Don't have. Do I want to try?  Can anyone with experience tell me more?  I do know Piet Oudolf used this in his design for the Seasonal Walk at the New York Botanical Garden last year (now this could be another post - if you didn't visit and see it in person, please, check out the link!).  It was so rainy in NYC that this sedum didn't thrive and some were replaced with other plants during the season.  No mention of floppiness.

Sedum 'African Sunset' - Found this one while perusing Digging Dog's site -  it must be good if they carry it.  Have yet to find any reference to floppiness.

I'm looking for recommendations so I do appreciate any feedback on any of these or others I have not listed.  Thanks!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Let Them Eat Tomatoes!

Tomato 'Machine Gun Charlie' - great name, right?!

These tomato seedlings are from my neighbor - he saves the seed every year and always starts them early.  This year he started far more than he needed, knowing a few of us in the hood would welcome his generosity!  This year these delicious and productive 'Machine Gun Charlies' are the only tomatoes I'm planning on growing. 

Usually I grow a few different varieties - with two constants:  my favorite all around tomato, 'Black Krim'.  In my opinion, the perfect tomato sandwich tomato; my favorite cherry tomato - 'Sunsweet'.  These rarely make it to the kitchen - I eat them right off the vine.  Actually, when our dog was a puppy she eagerly ate these as treats.  I truly knew we were soulmates!  I may cave and pick this one up if I see it, or if anyone starts any extras I'd bet I could find a home for it (hint, hint, Mom!).

I do have a preference for heirlooms...the very few times I tried a 'Better Boy' type I was impressed by the yield, yet disappointed in the flavor.  I know last year a lot of the country had issues with tomato woes that the hybrids are bred to withstand, so please, trust yourself when choosing varieties.  I was lucky enough not to have experienced a tomato crop failure.

Margaret Roach (who has lots of excellent tomato advice for avoiding last year's issues) recommended 'Reisentraube'.  I decided to forgo a seed order this year (to avoid requiring an addition to the house for starting seeds and storing the packets in the off-season) yet after reading her post I nearly caved.  I had the shakes for about a half hour then I remembered the famous gardener saying - there is always next year.  If you grow it, let me know what you think!

If you are without a garden or have limited space, why not try growing your tomatoes in pots?  White Flower Farm has several recommended varieties in their catalog and this link includes their growing information.   I also had a friend recently recommend growing the tomatoes upside down.  Now I've never tried this but it does seem to me it's such a unique idea that is also fairly well there must be something to it!

One last thing on tomatoes - my favorite tomato companions.  Dahlias, Ageratum 'Blue Horizon' and best of all, Basil.   Mmm, I can almost hear the cicadas!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Snow Is On The Melt!

From grey to Yay!

This post today is purely for my own amusement and encouragement. 

I was going to label last year's photos of new irises and compare notes with photos for all of this year's change ups in the garden.  In looking through my photos I was inspired to do a little project first - to compare a photo taken today with one taken from the same spot last year during the full blown growing season...a taste of what is to come, what I have to look forward to.  Just a little motivation;)

Drive border 3.7.10

Drive Border 5.24.09

View of Fountain Garden across Turret Garden 3.7.10

Turret Garden (Fountain Garden not really visible) 5.18.09

View of 8 Walk with DH from mid-Drive Border 3.7.10

View of 8 Walk with DH from mid-Drive Border 5.9.09
Even he is more colorful!

Fountain Garden looking West 3.7.10

Fountain Garden 6.9.09

North Lawn with Rose Bower and Spiraea Border, from Corner Potager 3.7.10

Same view, 7.9.09
 Love those hollyhocks and clematis together!
Bench at Basement Door 3.7.10

Bench at Basement Door with pots of Geraniums 7.9.09

 View of Patio across Corner Potager 3.7.10

View of Patio across Corner Potager 7.9.09

View of Upper Terrace from Patio 3.7.10

Same view 6.8.09

Phew, I needed that!  Now I'm ready to think in color, texture and long season again and finish up those plans for the upcoming season that is fast approaching!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Yes, Virginia, There IS a Garden Under There!

Since Christmas we have had snow cover...I am thrilled to see the garden beginning to emerge!  I ran out this afternoon and took a few photos

These sempervivums are just outside my basement door.  The garden slopes away from the house here and so I have taken advantage of this and planted all kinds plants that need that sharp drainage a hill provides amongst the stepping stones that lead down to our patio.  It started out as an herb garden... and if I had any amount of self control in my own garden, well, I suppose I'd look out my second floor window right now and see pigs flying by.

This guy, Festuca 'Elijah Blue', is still blue, even after being buried under the snow for months.  He looks pretty good.

More blue, this time Juniper 'Blue Star', surrounded by Dianthus 'Bath's Pink'.  The juniper is new to my garden, I happily planted it this past October.  I haven't seen it in months!  I can't wait until its large enough that I can still see it above the snow during the winter.

Bergenia 'Winterglow' at the edge of the wall by my driveway, there are also baby Hellebores planted there, still hidden by the snow. 

I planted all these plants so I could enjoy them during the winter - that was the idea, anyway.  I plan, God laughs!

Now that I can see the garden again I am excited to finish up my plans for the upcoming season as well as start on some garden chores - this is a great time to do some pruning, start a little clean up (staying out of wet beds, don't compact that soil you've worked so hard to improve!) and I'll be out there soon cutting branches to force as well.