Lost in Gardening Heaven.

smallweb2014 covThe calendar says that it’s spring.  The weather is trying to act like spring.  And the ads from the big box stores are telling us that spring is here!  If you watch these ads, then you know that we are being told that we must spend our weekends getting our gardens ready to enjoy, and we need to rush right out to their stores before we lose the opportunity to have the best garden possible.

That’s all well and fine.  But have you ever gone to a Garden  Center to explore and not gotten lost for hours?

There are so many exciting new products that need to be thoroughly checked out.  And then there are our old favorites that we routinely use every year.  I think that the garden center is the one spot that can offer something to everyone.  For the more hands on type of person, there are all kinds of power tools.  From the simple weed eater to the newest riding lawnmower, they can be lost to their partner for hours.

For the more detailed, creative person there are more flowers and bushes than you can possible plant in one weekend.  And the Gardening accents are vast and varied;  whimsical statues, containers of all shapes and sizes ornate fountains, lights, flags, wind chimes…the list goes on.

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And now there is even a section full of kid’s gardening tools.  Personally, I think this is great.  Train that next generation to love plants and respect the earth!  Can you think of a more wholesome family activity than gardening.  Cultivate a child’s imagination and let them have their own garden spot where they can do what they want.  The results may just surprise you.

The Garden Center can even help you plan your entertainment activities.  The proper grill, comfortable lawn furniture, lighting, maybe even a fire pit.  To me that just screams for the planning of a weekend barbeque with friends.

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The Garden Center can even be a spot for a couple to spend time together.  There is something that pulls a couple in love together when they are planning for their future.  Picking out the right colors, deciding where the newest pot of flowers is going to be set, envisioning how everything will grow shows a commitment to the future. 

Isn’t that what gardening is… planning and planting for the future? 

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Some Things Just Go Hand-In-Hand

I’ve been providing horticultural services for over 30 years and I can say with confidence that there are certain types of people who have a true love of plants.  From the simple exotic Orchid to the complex landscape design, there are people out there who have made plants an important part of their live. Obviously I am one of them.

New plantings in beds or containers are planned with meticulous attention to detail, parties and special events are planned with plants and flowers being an intricate part of the decorating.  New plants or flowers added to the interior bring a feeling of joy.  There is a special feeling of contentment felt when we can spent a day working in the garden.

But do you know what else I’ve noticed about plant lovers?  Most are also ANIMAL lovers!

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There are days that I go from account to account and I am tripping over dogs.  Puppies looking for attention, adolescent dogs looking to play and mature dogs content to just say hello and then continue their nap.  It’s hard to concentrate on the job instead of spending time with all these loving dogs!  The only downfall to this part of my job is that when I get home, my own dog is jealous of all those doggy smells on me.  So it’s a quick shower before I can give him the love he deserves from me.

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And then there are those wonderful cats.  They act indifferent to your presence, but they are right there to inspect your water bucket and tools.  There are a few who will follow me from plant to plant, just to make sure I’m doing my job right.  And there are a few that will try to steal the tie tape out of my tools.  There is even one that jumps up to play in the water as I fill my bucket or water the plants.  Funny, my cats do that too.

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Of course there are other animals that make pets for us plant lovers.  Birds, Guinea Pigs, Reptiles of many kinds (ugh!), Fish, even Pot-Bellied Pigs.  I’ve seen all of these on my accounts, and each homeowner has their own special pet and place in their heart for their pet.

 But I have to say that dogs and cats will always be my favorite!

Spring Break

Spring Break…those two words put together can have different meanings to different groups of people. To the young families struggling through a long winter stuck indoors, it can mean a week’s vacation to a warmer, family friendly destination. To young adults is often brings to mind endless beach parties and fun, fun times. To the many Grandparents out there it could mean the visit from returning college students. To those living in these destination spots it could mean all the woes and traffic headaches that the tourist can bring.
 bowl at frontBut to the Southern Gardener, well Spring Break means it’s time to show off! Winter annuals are at their peak about now, the days are warm, the nights a little cooler, winds have calmed down from those strong North-easterners and the rain has yet to become the summer’s downpours. And this means the flowers and gardens are looking their best.
There is a certain point when flowers are full and glorious, just before they become overgrown and weary. It can last for a week or several weeks. The experienced Gardner knows the best timing and methods of pruning and fertilizing to prolong this period and bask in the glow of all those complements from the novice standing in awe over your skills.

It doesn’t matter if you want to brag about your skills, or just stand back and let others enjoy the results of your hard work, this is the time when it all comes to celebrate the garden.  If your containers are at your front entry or in a public area,  expect your visitors to exclaim how beautiful your flowers are.  Share your tips for a successful show, for they will be sure to ask not only how you did that, but what you used.

IMG_0545(If you have a gardener, be sure that they have provided you with a list of the plants in your gardens!)

On the other hand if you would prefer to keep your garden a secret all to yourself, then by all means, do so.  Be sure that you have created a garden that you can spend hours in, escaping the struggles (and tourist) of the day, and relax.  I love to not only have color in this type of garden, but also plants that are going to please my sense of smell as well.  A few well placed herbs such as Rosemary or Lavender can do the job.

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And remember, it’s Spring Break.  So pour yourself a tall glass of sweet tea (or mimosa) and get out in your garden to enjoy it, not work it!

Fountains & Waterfalls: A Garden’s Charm

Close your eyes as you walk through a garden.  Suddenly you can hear everything.  Now imagine the sound of water.  Is it the gentle trickle from a small ornate fountain tucked in a corner, or the splashing of a small waterfall that is the focal point of the garden?
Water has been one of the major elements of the garden since the very beginning. I would bet that the Garden of Eden had water features in it: streams, falls, pools, I’m sure Adam and Eve enjoyed these eliminates as much as we do today.thB1PACHK3
But today our gardens are usually small compact areas, that we strive to create an oasis to enjoy and relax in.  As a result, the water features that we use have had to become smaller as well.  Thankfully there is a wide variety of fountains in sizes and styles that will meet almost every need.  Great works of art have inspired makers of fountains into combining statues with water.  Beautiful containers have become fountains with a simple addition of a bubbler added to it, after the drainage hole has been plugged.

Nature has provided great inspiration as well.  It is not uncommon to see a fountain with birds, forest animals or fish as the main focal point.  And then there are all sorts of comic, popular characters that find themselves with water pouring over them.  Fountains can also be used to create a meditative area, often with the style of the fountain reflecting a simplistic viewpoint.bbccc6ef589f57f97030214c7b6c1c5c

Yes, I think I can speak for most of us that we truly enjoy the addition of water to our gardens.  But for every pro there can be a con, and this is no exception.  Smaller fountains tend to have a water evaporation problem and if the water gets too low, then the pump can burn itself out.  Even larger fountains and waterfalls can have problems; too shady of an area and you can find your water feature is more of a spot for algae to grow and leaves to collect in.

But do not give up on your fountain, they are worth the effort that you put into them.  And if you find they are just too much work – well they make terrific planters too!

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This blog was written from a one word challenge that I sent out to my readers.  Send me one word and see if I can create a gardening blog from it.  This Blog’s word was Fountain, from Marie.  Thanks Marie!  Feel free to join in the fun and send me your word, too.    

What’s in a Name?

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I woke up this morning and knew I had to change the name of this blog!

Gossip can bring many images to mind: teenagers at the mall, neighbors talking over a fence, mothers stopping to talk with each other at the market…the list goes on.

But to me when you add the word “southern” a whole new image comes to my mind.  I’m picturing Southern Belles in beautiful gowns having tea on the veranda, picnics and porch swings.

Add in the concept of Gardens and I visualize color, palm trees, sweet scents, vast lawns, Spanish Moss, Orchids, Hibiscus and other exotic flowers.

Now I grew up in the north, so maybe I’ve romanticized the south a bit.  I’ve lived in the south for the last 30 + years and I KNOW that there is much more to think about: hot, hot summers, humidity that can make you wring your clothes out with, bugs bigger than small mammals, reptiles that should only be allowed in a zoo and of course those tropical storms.

Yet with all that, the southern garden can be breathtaking and full of small surprises.

So yes, I will take my romantic southern garden, because I am a southerner by choice!