Monday, April 25, 2011

An Alphabet for April (E-H)

is for Eupatorium rugosum 'Chocolate'  

Although this plant blooms in late summer, early autumn, the foliage is beautiful this month.  And besides, any plant with the name Chocolate is a winner in my book :-)


is for the fabulous foliage of Farfugium

I have five different varieties of this great shade plant.

Farfugium used to be called Ligularia, and the common name is Leopard Plant, which is fitting for this spotted variety, 'Aureomaculatum'

This Green Leopard Plant has no spots

This beautifully variegated variety is
'Kaimon Dake'

Farfugium 'Giganteum' has giant leaves

'Shishi Botan' has curly leaves

is for the green, green grass of home

A few weeks ago we top-dressed the lawn with compost.  
Click here to see the "before" pictures.

is for happiness

My arm is finally 100% healed, so I am back to diggin' in the dirt :-)
I am no longer a gimpy gardener -- just a happy one with dirt under my nails!

a day without dirt under your nails is like a day without sunshine.

To see the Alphabet for April (A-D) post, click here

Who knows what the rest of the alphabet will bring...

Toni :-)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Amazing Love

Greater love has no one than this, 
that He lay down His life for His friends.  
John 15:13

Amazing love, how can it be
that you my King would die for me
Amazing love, I know it's true
It's my joy to honor You
In all I do, I honor You
(song by Chris Tomlin)

*   *   *
May you know the amazing love of Jesus.

Happy Resurrection Sunday.  He has risen!

Toni :-)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Shot in the Light

I originally had no intention of entering the Picture This Contest hosted by Gardening Gone Wild this month.  

Being the ultra-novice photographer that I am, 
taking a photo featuring an artist's eye for lighting  
seemed more like a shot in the dark.  

Inspired by some recent entries by other bloggers, though, I thought I'd look through my picture files to see if I could find something remotely worthy of an entry.

Here are some pictures I took on one of our trips to Oregon.

 A spectacular sunset over the hills surrounding the Willamette Valley

This is my aunt's bed & breakfast in the hills overlooking 
the Willamette Valley.  

The rolling hills of vineyards are aglow in the autumn light.

The Japanese Gardens of Portland are a must-see 
for any visit to the Pacific Northwest. 

I love how the light is filtering through the Japanese Maples 
causing their reflection in the pond below.

Visit the contest gallery page to see which photo I entered.


Toni :-)

"God is light; in Him there is no darkness at all."
1 John 1:5

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

An Alphabet for April (A-D)

is for the acrobatic Anole that hangs out on the head of my "peacock crane."   I love watching his antics as he sits on his perch above the pond.

is for the beautiful blooms of  Larkspur and 'Henry Duelberg' Salvia that have created a sea of blue in my front perennial bed.

is for the cheerful Calylophus that brightens each side of 
my driveway.

is for the mourning Dove that has nested in the hanging basket on my side porch. She has a couple downy-feathered babies kept close under wing.

Happy April ....

Toni :-)

Friday, April 15, 2011

What's Bloomin' - April 2011

Time for a look at what's bloomin' in my garden this April.

Welcome to my spring garden 

The Somnifera Poppies and Larkspur 
are taking center stage this month.

 Happy poppies make for happy bees :-)

Byzantine Glads 
make me...

glad :-)

'May Night' Salvia


California Poppies

'Bath's Pink' Dianthus


'Snow Hill' Salvia

Salvia Greggii



Bearded Iris are a pass-along plant from a friend

'Henry Duelberg' Salvia,

Ox-Eye Daisy,



Somnifera Poppies

'Augusta Duelberg' Salvia (white)

'Henry Duelberg' Salvia (blue)

Ox-Eye Daisies

Water iris blooming in the pond

Waterlilies in the pond
'Texas Gold' Columbine brighten my shady backyard

The Knock-Out Rose 
lives up to its name this month!
Annual dianthus braved the cold winter and 
returned for an encore performance this spring.

Visit Garden Bloggers Bloom Day 
to see what's bloomin' in other areas of the world.

Happy Bloom Day!

Toni :-)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Container Crazy!

Now that spring is finally here, 
I'm so excited I can hardly contain myself!!    Well, if I can't contain myself, what can I contain?   How about some plants! 
I call myself a "pot freak" because I cannot pass up an interesting container to add to my collection.   At last count, I had 80 pots.   Now, I must admit that is a little over the top, but hey, I only have a few pair of shoes in my closet.  So there you go! 
There are so many types of containers on the market today.   The most common is a simple terracotta pot; but ceramic, stone, plastic, glazed, fiberglass, wood, hypertufa, and concrete are also available, just to name a few.  Pretty much, the sky is the limit when it comes to container gardening.   If you can fit enough soil into something for a plant to grow and it has a drain hole, it has now become a container for your garden.   How about an old boot?  A birdcage, maybe?  Step outside of the planter box, and try something unusual for your next container.   

Different types of containers have their pros and cons.  Some are subject to freezing, cracking, or rotting; some will last for years; some are heavy, some are lightweight; some are inexpensive, some a little pricey.   I'll let you do the investigating to see what would be best for your budget and design.

As any good gardener knows, our plants will only do as well as the "soil" they are growing in.  Mixes for containers are available under a variety of trade names and are usually referred to as "soil-less" mixes.  These soil-less mixes may contain peat moss, vermiculite, perlite, bark, or coir fiber (ground coconut hulls).  What I usually do is buy a good quality potting soil, then I add a little compost to add some "life" to the mix, and I also add a little expanded shale to ensure good drainage, and I'm ready to plant.  

Containers should be filled to within about one inch of the top to allow room for water.  Your containers will drain better if the soil mix goes all the way to the bottom of your pot and you do not add any gravel or filler in the bottom of the pot. 

Now for the good part, the plants!!!    

When planting containers, remember that you want...

a "thriller" (tall plants), 
a "filler" (plants to fill in the  middle), 
and a "spiller" (plants that trail over the edge).  

How about a container filled with a variety of Caladiums, Red Dragonwing Begonias, and Creeping Jenny for a shady spot.  Or try Red Cordyline (Ti Plant), Purple Pentas, and Sweet Potato Vine for a partial sun/shade area.  For a full sun spot, try Purple Fountaingrass and Sweet Potato Vine, or Variegated Tapioca with Blue Daze spilling over the side.   

A suggestion from the April 2011 Southern Living magazine is to first find a foliage plant that you love.   Then choose a second foliage plant with complementary hues and contrasting textures.  And finally, add a bloom that pulls it all together.

The combinations are endless!

Once you've got your containers filled with colorful combinations, you will need to fertilize periodically and water as needed.    You can use a water soluble fertilizer or a granular time-released fertilizer.   What I usually do is just save a little of the organic granular fertilizer that I use in my perennial beds and sprinkle some of it in my containers a few times a season.   

 If your containers are in a shady spot, you may only need to water once a week or every few days.  If they are in full sun, you may need to water as often as every day in the middle of the summer.   Stick your finger into the potting soil; if the soil is dry, then water; if it is moist, hold off for another day or so and check it again.   We can kill plants by over watering more often than under watering.

By far the best container book I've ever had is called Easy Container Gardens by Pamela Crawford.    She gives great plant combination ideas, and they all work for our Zone 7/8 climate!   For even more great plant suggestions for your containers, go to   Jimmy Turner with the Dallas Arboretum has lists of tried-and-true annuals for our area.

For a list of great plants for containers and to see pictures of some combinations that I've used in the past, click here

I hope I've inspired you to pot up some colorful containers for your garden this spring.   Maybe you'll even add a few new containers to your collection, too. 
Toni :-)