Thursday, December 31, 2015

Blogs, Flings and Rose Give-Away

Last month I was asked to speak at a Master Gardener program about blogging. What does one say about writing a blog? Do you talk about the ins and outs of which platform to use? I did. Do you include why one writes a blog? Of course I did. I also included learning about writing html code and that I was glad it isn't critical. I also talked about other bloggers helping me get started. I appreciated my sister suggesting that I do a trial blog to make sure my photos and text all line up correctly and  Freda sharing a technique to line up multiple photos in rows and columns. Of course one must also talk about their photos. I talked about photo tagging, embedded info on the photos and different photo editing programs. Writing is critical, information needs to be accurate and well written. Check and double check your facts. I try to use a couple different references, especially when I write about trees.

 I told them the best part of blogging are the friendships from all across the world have been formed. Blogging friends are electronic pen pals. I have been blogging since 2008 and made many friends along the way. A few posts ago was my 400th post.
A couple years ago I went on my first Garden Bloggers Fling. It was like seeing old friends. Each subsequent Fling is a great gathering, seeing old friends, making new ones.

I wrote about the Fling in Toronto a few posts ago. You can read about it here. The Flings are sponsored by a multitude of garden related companies and individuals. The organizers of the Fling get support from far and wide to help lessen the cost for attendees. Over the years we have been privileged to receive tools, seeds, clothes, gloves, books, and plants. One of our sponsors this past year was David Austin Roses. Through some luck and the kindness of our Fling planners, I won the raffle for the roses! I am sharing my winnings with my readers. Two for me and three to share with you! Three chances to win!!

David Austin Rose 'Janet' 
My regular readers know I have one David Austin rose in my family garden. The family garden is a section in my garden where I have plants with names associated with members of my family. Rosa 'Janet', Paeonia 'Charlie's White', Paeonia 'Rachel's Red', Camellia sasanqua 'Rebecca's Paradise', and Hemerocallis 'Alexander's Ragtime Band' to name a few.

Over the years I have shared many photos of my 'Janet' rose. The fragrance is incredible and the colors change as the rose matures. It is a wonderful addition to my garden.  Amazing to think these two photos are of the 'Janet' rose.  The petals just keep opening and opening. A gorgeous rose.

The choices I made for myself are two new introductions for 2016. The first one is 'The Lady of the Lake'. It makes sense doesn't it? I live on a lake, therefore I NEED this rose. The second one I chose is 'Olivia Rose Austin', a heavy fragranced bloom. The photos below are from David Austin's website.
'The Lady of Lake'
'Olivia Rose Austin' 

If you would like to win one of the rose bushes, there are three chances! Just leave me a message below or on The Queen of Seaford Facebook page, or both! You will be able to make your own choice, the roses are amazing, to decide on one will be hard. A bare root rose bush will be sent to you at the correct time for planting in your area. THREE CHANCES TO WIN!!! Drawing will take place on January 7th.

Many thanks to Vincent Plotczyk for taking photos during my program.

©Copyright 2015 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Making Your Own Path

Oh those weather surprises....last February we had an ice storm that took many of us by surprise. The weatherman had forecasted rain for our area and no mention of ice. The cold front moved further south and this is what we woke up to in late February.

A closer look at the poor Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem'. Branches were snapped off and others were laden heavy with ice, ready to join the others on the ground.

The roads were icy and the trees all coated with a layer of ice, creating a winter wonderland.

A view of the house with the now arching tree and those that snapped off.

My lovely assistant and I cut up the fallen tree into six to eight foot lengths. I wanted to save those pieces.

These fallen trees were quite tall pines.

All cut and stacked along the driveway.

Where were these logs going to go? I had a plan to put another pathway in the shade garden. Looking at the garden from the house, it is the left side of the property. I have some small plants, like Cyclamen, nestled into the trees, quite far from existing path. Whenever I took someone through my garden I cringed as they walked along with me....hoping they don't step on any of my babies.

I had enough logs to dress one side of a pathway meandering along the western edge of our property. This pathway had to wait for the growing season to get underway as I couldn't find/ remember where some of the ferns and various bulbs were planted. I certainly didn't want to put a path or log on top of an emerging fern! 
Here is a view of the new path from the house to the lake.

And once you are at the bottom, turn around and walk back up to the house.

The entrance has two logs framing the path. As we have other trees come down I will add logs to the pathway to define both sides. One of the benefits of putting in a path on this side of the garden is that I get new views. Walking halfway to the lake and looking to the right gives you a totally different view of the garden. Before the path, my references were from the center of the garden on the original pathway. 

I am quite glad I added this pathway and use it more often than the one going through the center of the garden. It might need to be made wider, which is means moving a few plants. Time will tell.

©Copyright 2015 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Oh, How I've Longer for You

Baby Sourwood
Many of you know how much I love trees. One tree in particular that I have yearned for, for years, is a Sourwood, Oxydendron arboreum. During autumn these trees really shine. The foliage color ranges from green to various shades of red to peach to salmon. I was able to find some small ones semi-locally via the internet from Mail Order Natives. Theirs are small, about 8 to 12 inches tall, I bought four. Further internet searches lead me to a native plant nursery within an hour and a half drive. After a few messages back and forth with the folks at this nursery we made plans to visit.

Friday we took a drive up to Greer to Southern Heritage Nursery, a perfect day for an afternoon in the mountains. Mary, one of the owners was ready for us when we got there. As my camera was charging at home, I don't have photos of the nursery, but rest assured, we will go back. Photos will come in the future.

Fall through early winter a perfect time to plant in our area. The rainfall in the winter helps establish the root systems while the above ground portions of the plant are dormant. Since we have had some recent rains the soil in the woods/gardens are quite workable. Our soil is clay based, though in the woods there is a layer of leaf litter compost that helps add in nutrients. In addition to the three lovely Sourwood trees I came home with a native Smoke tree, Cotinus obovatus, and a Sassafras albidum. Don't you just love that salmon/peach color of the new trees?

New fall color waiting to be planted

 I already had one Sassafras in the garden, but that little tree is only 6 inches tall. It is a host plant for the Spicebush butterfly caterpillar. My tiny Sassafras has about four or five leaves, hardly enough for more than one cat to enjoy.
Small Sassafras
With rain in the forecast, getting my new plants in the ground was high on my agenda for today. While I had an idea where most of my new trees were going to be planted, minor adjustments were needed when the holes were dug. Rocks and roots make for hard digging. I am happy to say all trees now have new homes in my garden.
One Sassafras and Two Sourwoods (follow the arrows)
The southern exposure is towards the road, so these newly added trees will have full to dappled sunshine all year long.

Doesn't this color glow?
I had researched a Cotinus earlier this year, thinking I wanted one for a newly added garden area in the front yard. I was looking at some of the cultivars that were deeper purple, Cotinus coggygria 'Royal Purple'.  I ended up moving Prunus mume 'Hokkai Bungo', a flowering apricot purchased last February, to that spot. It wasn't happy where it was, so moving it seemed to be the right answer. We shall assess its placement this winter when (and if) it blooms. This variety blooms in January-February time frame and its blooms have a cinnamon fragrance. Back to the Smoke tree, buying the native variety seems to be a better answer. I am such a sucker for red/orange/peach fall colored plants. Stay tuned for updates on the trees as they grow and mature. 

©Copyright 2015 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Monday, July 6, 2015

My, How You've Changed- Annual Review 2015

Five years ago this week we moved from Seaford to our present location in South Carolina. For those who are new here, we built our home on a lake in Upstate SC. We started from a blank slate, each year offered its own challenges--deer, voles, rabbits, dry conditions, wet conditions and my own fickleness, changing things up just because. Some of the changes will be addressed in later posts. Each year I take photos of the various parts of the gardens. You can see previous years' posts here- 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and when we were building in 2010.
So from the very beginning we looked like this--

We had some big changes this winter with the ice storm and an early snowfall-- November 1st! The ice storm will be talked about in my next post.  Last year's photos are posted to compare with this year. Follow the links above to see yearly progress. 

View from the front door...notice the size of the Magnolia grandiflora 'Little Gem' in the middle of the yard.


 And the Magnolia storm damage.

The driveway garden has had more added to it. I do like having a container near the Crape Myrtle to add some color.

 The front gardens are filling in, in most spots. 


 The winter was hard on the Gardenia 'Frostproof'.  I was going to cut it back, but never got around to it. Now that it has bloomed, perhaps I will get out there and cut it back a good bit.  The Japanese Maple is certainly happy. Acer palmatum 'Sango-kaku'
The backyard is ever evolving.  Left side as you look from the deck.


Right side as you look from the deck.

 The Japanese Maple near the white container in the photo above had severe damage from snowfall, a third of its crown broke off.
The backyard, looking back to the house from the lower right corner. 

 Same shot, this year. Included the patio on the right and the slope to the lake. 
 Out on the dock, looking back at the house, far enough away to not see all the weeds.

 One of the major changes this year - we bought the lot next door to us on the left. Too many folks were looking at it with plans to build...soon. Since it was a bargain price, we swooped it up. The only plans right now for us it to have it bush-hogged. There are a lot of blackberry brambles, honeysuckle vines, and scrubby trees that need to be thinned. After bush-hogging I am not sure what we will do with this lot, though my husband says he sees a Sourwood, Oxydendrum arboreum, in its future.

We got solar panels this past year and are really loving it! Also planted some Rudbeckia varieties near our well. It adds a nice punch of color.

There is also a new blank spot in the front yard. Grass was thin, so we added some mulch on top of a lot of cardboard. It is now waiting for me to choose some plant material. 


The shed got a new plant-- for Mother's Day I received a Schizophragma hydrangeoides 'Rosea', a climbing Japanese hydrangea vine. It will climb on the old iron railing on the right of the door. The blue cypress to the left of the shed along the prior property line really took a hit from the February ice storm. My pruning skills came into practice to keep them shaped nicely. 

More of the Fling posts will be coming. I wanted to get this post done as our anniversary as South Carolinians is this week. If you haven't done this, think about taking a photo each year on a given date. It is amazing to see tree growth and foliage filling in. Some changes are subtle and others are significant.

©Copyright 2015 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Fling Experience - Toronto Style

I have been asked many times about the Garden Blogger Flings that I attend. In a nutshell a Fling is where the hosting Garden Bloggers find wonderful gardens, public and private, to show off their city/region. It involves a lot of work, coordinating times, schedules, buses, locations, food, and 80+ Garden Bloggers. 
Those of us who attend these Flings take away so much more than garden design, plants, and landscaping. Imagine an annual pilgrimage to get reacquainted with many of your fellow gardeners. Friendships are formed, nurtured, and bloom. (like the gardening metaphor?)
First we check into a grand intown hotel. This year's hotel was quite grand indeed. We stayed at the Fairmont Royal York. A brief history of the hotel can be found here.

My fellow traveling companions were game to explore the city upon arrival. 

Julie, Marian, Helen, Karin, and Julie
It is nice to get a lay of the land before we start our whirlwind of activities. Toronto a city on Lake Ontario, is the provincial capital of Ontario.

From just about everywhere the CN tower is in view.

Since the Toronto Music Garden wasn't on our list of many gardens we checked it out. Certainly worth a look if you visit Toronto.

Once the Fling was underway it was time to catch up with fellow bloggers from near and far.  The camaraderie is wonderful. Each year I look forward more and more to seeing my friends from Texas, and England and Wisconsin and Minnesota and Ohio and California and and and..... you get the idea. It is a giant talkfest.

We document our gathering with regional blogger photos. Seeing a city through the eyes of someone who lives there is special....but so is getting to know fellow bloggers. Toronto has great vistas...many include the CN tower.

Julie, Lisa, me, Marian, Karin and Julie
 Traveling with so many gardeners lends itself to many garden views, each gardener sees something different. When we get home and share posts and photos of the Fling there will be something in a photo that one of us has missed. Eighty gardeners can see a garden and come out with 80 different views. A few will take photos of this dragon.

Dragon sculpture on Wards Island
 Some views will be shared multiple times...who could resist this kind of photo opportunity?

View from Algonquin Island
 Meal gatherings tend to grow as another blogger joins the group and then another. By the time this meal was done our table looked like a Hungry Hungry Caterpillar table...adding more and more round tables together. Luckily our waiter was nonplused by our ever growing group.

Photo angles can be all important, one learns from the best on how to achieve that best shot.

Janet and Barbara
 There were questions from passersby on the street as to who this group might be. What? Doesn't your neighborhood have dozens and dozens of folks with cameras taking pictures? Many people wanted to know about blogging, asked for information about our blogs so they could read about what we have seen in their city.  This dog didn't ask.

We saw more than gardens. Those who like architecture would have loved seeing Cabbagetown, a section of Toronto that was once home to many Irish immigrants. It is known as the largest continuous area of Victorian homes in North America. 

There was a nice dose of history in our tour of Toronto. The Evergreen Brick works is a reclaimed brick factory and quarry. The wall art depicts the waterways through Toronto that feed into Lake Ontario. The quarry was site to archeological findings of a second Ice Age. 

Brick Press

Remaining ductwork in the furnaces

Seeing so many aspects of this city was really amazing. Big thanks to our planners, Helen Battersby, Sarah Battersby, Lorraine Flanigan and Veronica Sliva. We made new friends, saw incredible gardens, learned a bit about Toronto, rode the ferry, and chatted with all sorts of Torontonians.
Dog parking station at Evergreen Brick Works
 Did I mention the fun bloggers? Each Fling is a unique blend of garden bloggers. Wish we had time to get to know each and every one of these fun gardeners. Once home I realized there were some folks I didn't get a chance to spend time with. Guess I will have to find them next year in Minneapolis.

Maya and Beth
 Flings have been like a big family reunion, a family of friends, a family of gardeners. These are the people you feel comfortable with, you can laugh and be silly with, THESE are the people you take selfies pink sunglasses.

Judy, me, Tammy, Karin, Brandon, and Julie

 Flings are times you get to check off a bucket list item - Niagara Falls

And did I mention all those wonderful fellow bloggers? Miss you all and looking forward to next year!

©Copyright 2015 Janet. All rights reserved. Content created by Janet for The Queen of Seaford. words and photos by Janet,The Queen of Seaford.