Sunday, November 9, 2014


While I have a few posts in the 'hopper' I wanted to talk about yesterday. Yesterday was the perfect fall day to work in the garden. The sun was shining the air was cool, just lovely. My garden was suffering from total neglect since July, it looked like crap. Why you might ask. It gets stinkin' hot in South Carolina and the bugs are in full force, making being in the garden less than pleasurable. The last few weeks I have been becoming reaquainted with my garden. The shoreline was a mass of weeds, so I decided to work a couple hours each day, dragging out four or five large garbage bags of weeds and crabgrass out the the shoreline garden. I am almost finished. Maybe Monday? Who knows. 

Yesterday was a planting day. I had visited a local garden center and found a sweet little Itea virginica 'Little Henry' and was looking for a spot to plant it. There were multiple stems coming up around the circumference of the container. I know I can get a couple plants in this case. I had the main plant and three 'babies' to place in other spots.  Don't you just love the bright red fall color?

While figuring out where to plant some of the babies, I took a critical look at my native azalea, Admiral Semmes. Planted a few years ago it has failed to thrive. The first year it was gorgeous, it had big yellow blooms in the spring. I had visions of years down the road, this beauty would fill the space where it was planted. Well that didn't happen. Each year since it has declined, it has been maybe two years? Well, yesterday I dug it up, telling myself it needed to be in a better area and I could put a little baby Itea in its spot.  The azalea was about the size of the main plant of the Itea in the above photo....pretty small for a shrub that has been in the ground for a couple of years. 

The root ball was equally small. The mass of roots was less than a softball in size and inside the small roots was a tangle of fairly large roots, circling the stem/trunk area. It had clearly been rooted in a small container, left too long and the roots were growing in a small circle.  It was time for some root pruning. I first dunked the root mass into my watering can as I didn't have other water close by. See the hole at the top of the can? The roots fit in quite easily. 

Repeated dunkings and washing away soil and old potting mix and still the roots would not release. Have you pruned roots before? If you find a plant that has circling roots, you need to either uncurl those roots and pin them apart in the ground OR cut those roots apart. I tried to manually separate the roots over and over again. I was unsuccessful. I felt bad cutting so many roots...but kept telling myself that left alone the shrub was not going to do well. I cut straight down on two sides and repeated the dunking and pulling process. Once done I put the azalea into a new hole and spread out the remaining roots, covered with soil, and watered. 

I have done this before, another azalea that I bought earlier this year had severely girdling roots and needed some tough love. (see below) The one thing you must remember is to water frequently as the roots need soft moist soil to grow into. The azalea from earlier this year looks pretty good. The leaves held on and the stems are strong, no drooping.  I look forward to this having a great presence in the garden.

As for Admiral Semmes- see the photo below....sad. I will let you know how he does this spring -- there might not be blooms but if I get a lot of spring growth I will be happy. Root pruning, taking out girdling roots, is beneficial for the growth of shrubs and trees. Imagine if those closely circling roots never were cut, just growing larger and larger, squeezing tighter and tighter, not allowing water and nutrients to travel to the body of the plant. 

I am trying to make it a practice, when planting new woody shrubs and trees, to check the root structure-- all the way to the center of the root ball. A little prevention early in the life of the plant will allow strong growth. 
Have you pruned roots?

©Copyright 2014 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Starting the Fifth on the Fifth

I know I have been MIA for a while on the blogging front---time flies!  I noticed while checking the blog for info on one of my tree posts that it has been four months since posting. Facebook has allowed me to post just bloom pictures every day and many of my non-blogging friends seem to really enjoy it. It is time to update the blog with this year's garden progress report.

Without further ado- let's see how the gardens have changed over the past few years.  We moved here in 2010 - so we are starting our fifth year living on Lake Greenwood and enjoying retirement. With phone in hand to take photos that match last year's post, I set out in the yard.

The photo below is a side by side of the left hand side of the backyard from 2010 and then one year later 2011.  Besides plants being added, weeds, deer, voles and chipmunks help change the landscape. Many plants are lost to the elements...never to be seen again. Just a good reason to buy more, right?

2010 & 2011
 Here is the jungle of today. The trees have certainly filled in a good bit.  While it looks like a lot of plant material, at ground level there are a lot of open spots that may or may not be able to support something planted. With the mature trees taking up most of the water, the shade area is really dry.  I have two trellises in the garden, one has the Carolina Jasmine and the other has a Coral Honeysuckle growing on it.
The right side of the backyard was originally sunnier than it is now. As the mature trees filled out each year, my window of sunshine has gotten smaller and smaller.
2010 & 2011

The beautiful Japanese maple 'Garnet', almost invisible in the picture from today, has filled in nicely.

Apparently last year I did a panoramic shot of the whole back garden. What I find interesting is the later blooms this year. It was a hard winter, many plants didn't bloom. Some plants died back to the ground and took a long time to show signs of life.  Many of my hydrangeas didn't bloom this year as we had another cold snap after buds were starting to emerge.
2013 Panorama view

From the water the views early on were pretty stark. 

2010 & 2011

A step to the left corner, the view back up to the house across the yard shows the lower gardens.

The amazing change this year is how slow the elephant ears are filling in. The garden bed with the elephant ears is filled with daylilies-- many of which had the buds eaten by Bambi and her momma. I have bamboo stakes posted through the garden and fishing line wound around like a spider deter the deer. Some puppy dog went through the lines and broke many of I have to restring them. The deer found the open spots-- and tasted many daylily buds.


Walking down to the water and checking out the bank....another blank palette a few years ago.

2010 & 2011
Add a few colorful chairs and more elephant ears, some grasses (ignore the weeds!!) and the bank is colorful and filling in nicely.


This year, again, check out the difference with the elephant ears from last year to this year. The shrubs along the steps are really getting big!

The front was raw when we first moved in...lots of construction destruction, compaction and lots of gravel.

2010 & 2011

The Chinese Fringe tree, Chionanthus retusus is getting really tall. In 2013 it didn't bloom, it did this year, but at the upper reaches of the branches....hard to photograph.  Last year the Lantana took a long time to bloom.

This year the Lantana is blooming! Now if the Daylilies, Hemerocallis 'Sammy Russell' the Lantana AND the new Tiger lilies would all bloom at the same time..... I would have a nice show of color..all hot colors.

The grasses along the driveway and the Crepe myrtle are doing surprisingly well, considering this is a seldom watered area.

This year I added some Sun Coleus in a large container...adding some color along the drive. 

The front garden is still a work in progress-- some of the Gardenias are doing very well, and some, not so much.


The Loropetalum 'Daruma' are very happy under the bay window.  One perennial that I  was very happy to find is Japanese Aster, Kalimeris pinnatifida, it is a nice pop of white sprinkled through the garden.
 Check out the difference in size of the Cercis canadensis 'Ruby Falls'  from last year 

To this year....what a beauty!


Another shot of the Japanese Asters, Becky daisies, and Coral Bark maple.


The side yard is mostly shade. It is the 'Green and White Garden' 
2010 & 2011

This garden is Deutzia gracilis 'Nikko' blooming white tiny flowers in the spring, a couple variegated Hydrangeas (which are not going to bloom as all the buds from last year froze) and this year I added the white and green Caladiums. It is an easy garden bed to tend to.

The favored plant in February and March, Edgeworthia chrysantha was quite full last year. 


The winter took its toll on it this winter. As it is a zone 8 plant and we had single digit temperatures, I am lucky there was only a little dieback.

Another area that took a hit with the freeze was this Hydrangea area.....

Only one of the hydrangeas is blooming now- it is one of the Endless Summer series. The Callicarpa dichotoma 'Issai' is huge. I am thinking about taking them out as they are reseeding everywhere.
The lower side is slowly getting swallowed up with honeysuckle vine, blackberry brambles, and other wild things from the woods.

This winter I am getting in there and cutting it back.... not now, too many bugs.


 So now we are back to the front -- my view from the front door.

And this year's view....and no, the shutters aren't painted and put on the shed yet. 

I will be back on a regular basis....I promise. Can't wait for our Portland Fling. Hope to see you there!

©Copyright 2014 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Friday, April 4, 2014

This Year is For The Birds

**Picture heavy post**

Well, not really, but they do help fill the gardening void in the winter! We love watching the birds and feed them all year round. Keeping birds in your gardens help with insect control...a nice benefit.

Some of the regular visitors to our yard, especially in the winter, are Redheaded Woodpeckers and Red-bellied Woodpeckers. While in the lower part of the yard (closer to the lake) I was watching a Redheaded Woodpecker peel off bark - or was it insects under the bark?- and then cache these treasures in another tree.

Here he is putting the newly acquired treat into his secret hiding spot.  Redheaded Woodpeckers are wonderful to see flying- the bold contrast of white and black are quite distinctive.

This guy went back and forth multiple times, he was quite busy!

Other Woodpeckers also cache their food - this female Red-bellied Woodpecker thought the soffit of our screened porch was a perfect spot to hide nuts she got from the feeder.

She used this spot a number of times, I guess she thought we wouldn't clean out the soffit.  Female Red-bellied Woodpeckers have red on their heads but only on the back part, males have red all the way from the back collar area to the beak.

Where did they get the nuts to hide? In the feeder hanging on the deck. I use a fruit and nut mix with sunflower seeds added, it is quite a favorite for many varieties.

See the red on her head? This is the female Red-bellied Woodpecker. 

It is hard to tell male and female Redheaded Woodpeckers I don't worry about it. Guess they are the ones who need to know!

Yes, the Redheaded Woodpecker waiting its turn at the feeder. 

He will share the feeder with the smaller birds. Here he is with a Brown-headed Nuthatch. Love those little guys, their song sounds like a squeaky toy.

This Red-bellied Woodpecker also has a cache in the hickory tree near the deck. He (yes, see the red coming between his eyes?) likes to use this spot while the female uses the soffit.

Sometimes the birds are hard to see while on the ground.  Can you spot the female Eastern Towhee? She has muted colors of rust and tan.

No? Well here is another picture of her closer---

Some birds aren't really wanted around the house.  One of the neighbors had a bunch of Vultures hanging out on his roof.  Those with the red heads are Turkey Vultures. 

Here are his friends-- waiting in the nearby tree. These birds do a good job with roadkill. 

One of my favorite little insect eaters is the Eastern Phoebe. It is such a sweet little bird and isn't very skittish around people. Her song sounds like her name- Phoebe.

These are the sweet little Brown-headed Nuthatches with a Carolina Chickadee. It was not unusual to have four or five nuthatches on the feeder at once.

 One woodpecker who doesn't come to the feeders but checks out all the trees is the Downy Woodpecker.

Like the mess on my deck? I bought one of those dried mealworms blocks and then it rained...a lot! The Pine Warbler and the Cardinals were just as happy to eat off the deck as on the feeder.

And now, it is time for the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in our garden. I plant a lot of trumpet shaped flowers for them as well as keeping a couple feeders on the railing of the deck.  March 31st was my first sighting of a male Ruby-throated Hummingbird. Since I was watching the hummingbird migration map, I was ready for them, had the feeders out and was keeping watch.

Last year we had quite a bit of hummingbird activity. Was really tickled to see so many at the feeder at once.

Having hummingbirds is a regular event at our house, but this past year we had a hummingbird's nest just off the railing of the deck.  With binoculars or the zoom on the camera we could watch mama feeding her babies or sitting on the nest.

We watched and watched, waiting for the eggs to hatch. A couple babies!!!

Mama took care of the babies for a while and then they were gone.  Was hoping we would be able to watch them fledge, but missed it.

We did get a short video clip of the mama feeding her babies- 

About the time the babies left we had another visitor- a Rufous Hummingbird! This hummingbird is typically found west of the Rockies or wintering along the Gulf Coast. Some other sightings of Rufous were in Georgia and along the coast of South Carolina. You can read about Karin's Rufous and its banding here and here.

See how orange he is? His coloring really jumped out at me. 

He claimed the feeder and chased off the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds for a couple days........then he left.

So if you are on the fence about putting up feeders - either suet or mealworms or seed or nectar- just do it! You will have hours of entertainment!

©Copyright 2014 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.