Saturday, December 8, 2012

Four And Counting!

Yesterday marked my four year anniversary in the blogging world.!!  I can't believe how quickly the time has gone by.  It has been a wonderful experience and I have been lucky enough to meet many of you over the past few years.  To all my electronic pen pals I want to thank you for reading over the years.  It was funny to go back and read through some of the first posts, what a difference four years makes.

Yesterday was South Carolina's Arbor Day.  Last year I went up to USC Upstate's campus in Spartanburg for their celebration, the speaker was Dr. Michael Dirr.   I enjoyed it and decided to come back each  year!!   I went up this year with a couple Master Gardeners from my area.  This year's speaker was Tracy DiSabato-Aust.  I know her books from reading many of your posts about her recommendations for tending to the perennial garden.   Her program topic was "The Well-Designed Mixed Garden".

Tracy started off with some very clear expectations... first and foremost, no zone denial!  What? Not me, I live in zone 8a, ok, 7b.  I may have been known to stretch the zones, but sometimes I stretch it the other direction...try to baby some plants that are marginally zone 7 and my 7b/8a could stress it.  Micro climates!!!  
After getting us on board to work within our zonal limits, Tracy took us through the steps in the design process.
Site evaluation seems pretty straight forward, check how many hours of sunlight you have, soil test, and of course, know your hardiness zone.  You must then determine your objectives for this garden spot.  Points to consider include

  • maintenance- how much work do you do in the garden?
  •  budget- how much are you going to spend?
  • location of the garden-private or public spaces?
  • function- how are you going to enjoy your garden? 
  • peak season of  interest-- I am working on getting more seasons of interest
  • what is your style?  What inspires you?

She spoke of scale and proportion.  Scale is the size of an element or area and proportion is the relationship of the elements' size to each other -- a ratio of one dimension to another.  (I didn't know we were going to have math!)  She spoke of the Golden Mean, which is 1:1.618, also called the proportion of divine beauty.  I understand using odd numbers of plants and when picturing a space that you don't want to divide it in half, use 1/3 2/3. This takes it a little further.  When graphed, a series of numbers that have the Golden Mean ratio, form a perfect spiral.   It is found in nature, a spiral shell, the arrangement of sunflower seeds, the way rose petals shape a bud.  Read more about this here. Wow, more math than I have done in a long time.  Tracy says to use the ratio in size, plant choice, color selection, textures and placement of plants.  It will be more pleasing to the eye.
Color is another focus of design.  She covered hue, value and intensity of color.  Hue is pure color.  Value is degree of luminosity (how much light is reflected back) and intensity is colorfulness or grayness or a color.   Choosing colors takes control, I love so many colors.  My last post shows how I needed to have a better plan for the colors in the front garden.  Colors next to each other on the color wheel, analogous colors and colors opposite each other, complementary colors work can create harmony or cause the eye to stop.  You can choose color schemes that are analogous, complementary  monochromatic (one basic color in various shades and tones) or polychromatic- many colored.  
Other elements of design include form-- you know, all those shapes (more math- Geometry) and texture-- fine, average and bold.  One technique for seeing form in your garden is digital photography...using the black and white feature or the pencil line drawing feature.  It eliminates the color your eye is drawn to, seeing form.    The Golden Mean is used with texture, keeping that balance.  I remember in my Virginia garden I ended up with too many spikey plants, too many spires.  It was out of balance.  
The design principles Tracy follows are Order, Unity, and Rhythm.  Order in balance and mass plantings.  Unity with dominance, repetition and interconnection- plants that mingle.  Rhythm in color, textures, plantings... repetition, alternating, and gradation (color or size).
Color, form or texture can be achieved using art  in the garden.  Tracy likes to add some art to bring in a color or create a focal point or repeat a shape.  You can personalize your garden with art.
I hope to keep and use some of these principles in my garden.  It was such an informative program.  I have barely covered all that Tracy shared.
Immediately after the program I met up with my buddy Julie from Growing Days.   Julie lives close by but this is the first we have seen each other since the Spring Fling.  It was great to visit over lunch.  Julie suggested that my Master Gardener buddies and I stop by Hatcher Gardens on our way home.  What a great recommendation.  It is a 10 acre garden and Woodland Preserve.  The Hatchers worked this garden, adding acreage over the years, making a slice of heaven out of a weedy trashy portion of land.   I hope to get back to this garden many times over the seasons.  It was truly a labor of love.
I will leave you with photos of our short time in the garden.  Thanks for sticking around for these four years.
Pitcher plants in clay chimney inserts

See the little hairs on the throat of the flower?  

Hillside of Oakleaf Hydrangeas

Hand made bird feeders adorned the trees

Various conifers created a beautiful setting

Honey bees on Fatsia blooms

Water features throughout the garden, filtering storm water

Pretty pink Camellia

Honey bees were all over the Mahonia blooms

More pathways to explore next time.  What a tranquil setting.

Thanks for giving us directions to this wonderful garden Julie.   I look forward to seeing it in all seasons.
I bought Tracy's book "The Well Tended Perennial Garden".  Will share what I learn once I read through it.  Stay tuned!

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford.

  words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Geraniums, Love 'em or Hate 'em

 I occasionally buy zonal geraniums for my garden.  They offer a good deal of color all summer long with minimal care.  I really don't care for geraniums.  They bring back memories of Mrs. Blackett's eighth grade English class.  She loved Pelargonium zonale, Zonal Geraniums.   Our classroom was an old school building, the outside wall was full of windows.  She lined those windowsills with various geraniums --- ugh.  The smell of them made me sneeze, my nose itch, and my eyes water.  So in that condition, I diagrammed sentences.  Do you remember diagramming sentences? Double whammy.... diagramming and geraniums.

This summer I bought red geraniums for our front garden.  I didn't buy enough to really fill the area, so I bought more red ones.  Not a good idea, one was a nice true red, the other, kind of tomato soupy red.  Even the foliage was a different shade of green.  I wasn't happy with how the front looked for most of the summer.  When I was looking for photos to share here, there were few to be found.    The photo above was from the end of June.  The one below was taken the beginning of November.    Yes, I know, the geraniums and the mums are not good together.  Don't get me started on mums.

Over Thanksgiving weekend we had a couple frosts so it was time to cut back, pull out and do some clean up around the garden.  I needed to decide what to do with the geraniums.   I don't like geraniums much, but I hate buying new plants if I can save the ones I have.  Time for a Google search.  I was NOT keeping these geraniums in the house.....visions of eighth grade English revisited.

The frost kissed geraniums did have some nice fall colors. 
Garden Gate magazine had a short video one way to overwinter geraniums without too much muss or fuss.   In short, get a box and put the plants (minus the soil around the roots) in the box.  The first box I got out of the garage wasn't large enough.  The box keeps the light off the plants while they are resting in a dormant state.  In the video she was putting the box in an unheated basement.  Our lower level is built into the earth, so it isn't that cold.  I decided to keep mine in the garage, up against against the house wall.   After finding a larger box, the geranium experiment has begun.

The box is closed, facing the wall and should be fine.

Accessing more of the yard, I found some bunny was hungry-- these are my gladiolus.  All eaten back to a nub.  Foliage left to 'mulch' the garden.  Rotten critter!!

Do you overwinter any plants?  What about nasty Pelargoniums?  
Tree posts will continue, having to go back through many of my photos to get a full season's photo profile.  

©Copyright 2012 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.