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I was standing out in our backyard, looking into the woods. The sassafras trees' leaves are turning red and look like childrens' mittens waving in the breeze. A few leaves fluttered from oak trees and blew to the ground. I like the changing of the seasons because it gives me a sense of freshness, newness, renewal. I like the autumn because I love the holidays, and autumn gets me thinking about how I'll decorate this year.
The garden is drying back and the zinnias are about spent. I leave the flowers there until I quit getting any new blooms. I can't bear to yank them out when they are still producing flowers, even though the stalks are getting splindly and the leaves are turning brown. The pentas are still going strong and the hummingbirds are still visiting. Last year we saw the last one in early October.
I am not a tomato gardener. In all, we have gotten 21 tomatoes from the two plants and I didn't think they tasted any better than grocery store tomatoes. For all the effort and the cost of the plants, I am not going to put them in again. Not unless someone I personally know gives me some plants that will yield some really flavorful tomatoes.
I am going to Southern Vistas nursery today and get some new flowers for the fall and hope to put them in this weekend.
I got home late from work. Our company has moved to a new office and I am working late every night doing extra tasks associated with the move. Tonight I didn't get home until almost 8:30, but it was still light outside so I went out and sat on the low brick wall and looked out over my garden.
It is looking good. The zinnias are opening at a record pace and they are so lovely. God definitely loves color. He sure makes those zinnias the most lovely shades of orange, pink and yellow. I love to drink in the colors with my eyes. I am happy that this year I put in a wide variety of flowers with the zinnias, impatiens, salvia, forget me nots, flocks and pentas. Everything seems very happy although I am learning to plant some of the low plants out away from the tall ones that shade them. Leftovers from last year are the Mexican heather, the dead nettle and a couple chrysanthemums. Oh and the hot pink geranium I nursed through the winter on the dining room table. The butterfly bush is doing well too.
The tomatoes are okay, although they seem like they should be getting some new fruit. The same 13 tomatoes have been hanging on since mid-July, and no new ones have set on. The fruit that's there looks good, at least to a novice like me. I keep hoping for the gargantuan tomatoes that the plant labels promised... but right now they look like the size of most grocery store varieties. Hopefully they will keep getting bigger. And someday they'll be red and ripe!
This summer everything is taking a long time to get accomplished. After the slugs were killed off, I put two large zinnias in and waited. They both did well, and are continuing to grow and bloom profusely - one pink and the other orange, both with double petals. After no slug damage, the following weekend I put in 3 packs of zinnia seeds, two are the giant cactus variety and one of the doubles. Wow, are these coming up strongly and so many - like over 100 plants are growing in 3 beds. I just hope they have enough sunshine to bloom for a long time into the fall. The house shadows these beds come fall.
The pentas are doing well and the hummingbirds are enjoying them. This year, I have red, lilac and white ones. The birds go for the reds first.
Yesterday I bought 18 red salvia to plant where the pansies pooped out. I am hoping the hummingbirds will enjoy them. Last year I had a salvia in a planter and I remember the birds checking it out. So later today I will get busy planting them.
My husband wanted to see if we could grow some tomatoes so we went and bought two plants back in mid June and put them in. Just this week I saw that 4 little maters are setting on, right now only the size of marbles. But this is exciting for us. We haven't grown any vegetables in more than 25 years. So I hope they do well and that the sunshine will continue on them long enough for them to get big and ripen.
The forget-me-nots didn't bloom this year and now the leaves are fading. I thought that there was something wrong with them, but I got on a gardenguides forum and asked a question and found out that they bloom early in the year. So they will hopefully be full of blooms next Spring.
We had a nice long Spring this year, but now it is a typical South Carolina summer with very high temps.
On Friday, I found pentas for half price at Seven Oaks Nursery. I have been looking for some good ones for a couple weeks, not willing to settle for just anything. Seven Oaks had some nice red ones in 6" pots and I got two of those and one white to put in my big patio pots. I got 4 lilac-colored ones in 4" pots and put them into a bed beside the patio. I also bought two purple flocks. I have always liked them. My grandmother had hers in beds shaded by trees, but the tag said they like sun so I put them in the beds with alot of sun.
I got them all planted on Saturday morning, June 6. Now I have to be patient and let the hummingbirds find them.
I put slug killer out on Saturday too. Next weekend I intend to plant one zinnia plant and see how it fares. If it stays uneaten for a week, I will put in more zinnia plants and seeds.
The forget-me-nots are doing well but they haven't bloomed yet. Nice foliage and growing at a good rate. The impatiens are beginning to spread out. We have had alot of rain lately which they love. I have them under the roof line along with the dead nettle, which has spread to 6 feet or so from one small potted plant. Mexican heather is coming back again. Both plants doing nicely and this is the third year for them. Both butterfly bushes are coming out but no flowers yet.
I was all excited to see my Giant Zinnia seedlings sprouting 2 weeks ago after only planting the seeds about 5 days before. A couple days later, every single seedling was gone... into the bellies of those nasty snurly slugs.
I took to slug slaughtering, but how can you find them all? So today I am off to buy some slug killer at Lowes. And now I am going to have to buy zinnia plants after I have rid the flower beds of slugs, and start over. I was really looking forward to Giant Zinnias again, and if Lowes still has some seed packs, I will buy them and plant them too.
I did buy some impatiens at WalMart and some petunias. I have had luck with WalMart's clearance plants. I have been paying half price and haven't gotten a bad plant yet. Started buying there last year. Now to find some pentas for the hummingbirds too!
Last fall, I planted 16 bulbs... 12 tulips, 4 hyacinths and 4 Dutch iris. The tulip leaves came up fast and furiously last month, and each produced mulitple flowers - most had 4 flowers each. The bulbs were corally in color, some striped with a light salmon too. The hyacinths were the biggest disappointment. I was expecting long sheaths of flowers and they seem to be real duds. Only a few flowers on each stalk. Maybe I could have done something to get more flowers... I will have to research them. The Dutch iris were beautiful with 2 purple, one a brilliant yellow and one blue.
Now let me tell you about my snapdragons. I put in 4 snapdragon plants in the Fall of 2007. They didn't do a lot the first year. Some flowers but nothing impressive. I kept breaking off the dead parts of the plants and green leaves kept appearing. These little snaps have been the show piece in this Spring's front yard flower bed. There must be over 100 flowers on them and they are quite noticeable from the street. I wonder how many years you can keep snapdragons going.
Once again, the weeds are trying to take over the lawn. I weeded the front yard 2 weeks ago and had the energy to cut it. Then last weekend I only got 1/2 the back yard weeded before cutting. I will have to work on the front yard again this weekend and cut it again. I am determined to get a handle on it this year. We may be selling this house in a couple years and I know a nice lawn will help move it.
The last whisper of Winter is due here on Wednesday April 7, when low temps are supposed to be around 30. I hope it doesn't affect any of the budding trees and plants. That really isn't all that cold, so I doubt it will cause any trouble. I am glad to see Winter go. I like all seasons, and I think God made them all to last just the right amount of time. By the time each season ends, I am loving the signs of the new one ahead. It awakens something in me, and Spring awakens my desire to get outside and put my hands down in the soil, to pull out the unwanted plants and seed in the new ones.
I like living in South Carolina because we have the seasons and yet none are extreme. Last night we went out to our lakehouse and walked around, admiring the two dogwoods we let come up naturally. One is in a bed of azaleas and is just loaded with beautiful white blossoms, the other is up near the house. The second one is getting its first blooms. The tree's been there for quite a few years but had been shaded by some big pines we had removed last year. Now it's getting enough sun and it is looking quite giddy to be doing its thing.
We have at least 50 azalea bushes at this house and they are just beginning to bloom. We have all colors. When we bought this house in 1996, the house was new and the bushes were small. Now there are no spaces between them and they grace our property from the street to the lake, down each side of the lot. They are about 3 feet tall and spread to each other, with a few trees coming up between them (including the dogwood).
The daffodils/narcissus are done at the lakehouse, and I cut the last of them yesterday and brought them over to our Irmo house. They are the double white narcissus and their fragrance is strong and heavenly. It is like that of gardenias. I cut them short, put them in a vase on the raised counter in the kitchen so we can stop and smell them whenever we walk by. You can smell them as soon as you enter the kitchen.
I did my first grass cut at the Irmo house yesterday. I have lots of unwanted plants in the lawn. I need to go to a garden center and get some help. I would like to make the lawn nice here.
Today we are going to the State Farmers Market to the Midlands Plant and Flower Show. I hope to find some good plants and learn some new stuff about gardening.
In central South Carolina, we typically don't see our first hard freeze until January. But an Arctic blast descended upon us this week and on Wednesday morning, November 19, our temperature dropped to 22 degrees. This tied the all time record set in 1891.
I am sad to see so many plants gone dark, brown, drooping, sagging and sorry. I left my zinnias stand so the finches could feed on the seeds and they look pitiful today. As do the pentas and the flower box of begonias and red salvias. But two weekends ago, I planted a flat of pansies around the patio and in a new bed out in the yard. Their pretty brightly colored "faces" are happily smiling at me despite the cold. I also put in some fancy kales and cabbages and snapdragons. The color will help us get through the winter.
I bought a package of giant zinnia seeds at Lowe's (Lowe's brand) this June and sprinkled them in an inch or two of dirt along one side of our patio. They sprouted right away and, according to the package, they were to grow to 2-3' in height.
They are now up to 5' tall with beautiful big blooms. The package reads "Zinnia Giant Cactus Flowered, Mixed Colors" and cost $1.25. I must have 50 plants and they have been the highlight of my first summer garden. The soil around my patio has alot of sand in it. Maybe that helped. I put MiracleGro on them twice.
I didn't know that hummingbirds would be attracted to zinnias, but they were and they loved them. The little yellow "mini-flowers" (?) inside the big flowers must have had good nectar.
I plan on putting more of these in next season.
My husband and I just completed what we're calling Mountain Tour 08, a week-long sightseeing adventure through the mountains of Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee. It was refreshing to get away, and we loved seeing all the beautiful mountain scenery and cooler temperatures. The rhododendron were at peak in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and it was quite a sight to behold. We also spotted two wild turkey families in Cades Cove, and an adult bear sitting on a limb overlooking the roadway through Cades Cove. So we had fun.
I got back to my gardening here in Irmo South Carolina on Friday. I was excited to see that the zinnias from seed were about to start blooming, and that a group of petunias had finally got their second round of blooms and were full and gorgeous. The lobelia have finally opened. These were second-year plants and don't seem to have gotten as tall as last year. But much to my dismay, a large potted zinnias I had bought and put in a few days before we left on the trip was in bad shape. The leaves are totally eaten up by some unknown pest. The flowers are okay but I don't think these plants will do well with no or little leaves.
I only had one day to admire those petunias because yesterday I saw that some doggone bright green caterpillars had dined on the petals for breakfast and lunch and the flowers were all full of holes. I killed the three varmints I could see, then drove down to Lowes and Woodleys and Walmart, in pursuit of a poison that would kill caterpillars but not be a danger to my dear hummingbirds visiting the pentas and lobelia. No such poison found. Anyone have a suggestion?
A nice breeze blows outside today. Temps in 90's.
The first day of Summer. Finally, finally we got a big storm. It seemed to be brewing all afternoon. I got home from work and decided to cut the grass, since they were calling for a chance of rain both Saturday and Sunday. I live on a steep hill and cut with an electric mower and it expends alot of energy cutting the grass. I usually wait for a weekend morning when I am not worn out from my day job. But it was very nice cutting the grass last night. The wind from the impending storm was blowing hard and felt cool on my skin as I puffed and panted and struggled with the mower. Don't buy an electric mower until you think out how you will deal with a big electrical cord out in front of you most of the time. It adds alot of work to the cutting having to stop and move the cord.
Anyway, back to the storm. Just as I was finishing the backyard, I felt a big splot of a rain drop on my shoulder. I put my tools away and went back into the house. Thunder began to rumble loudly. It has done that quite a few times this year - big thunder but no rain. My husband and I sat in our rocking chairs and watched out the windows and listened to the "music" booming outside. I always say that God and the angels are bowling. I said that. Then we heard the hail start up. We went to the patio door and saw the pellets bouncing around on the concrete. Huge raindrops were falling with the hail. The patio lies where two roof lines meet and the water poured through there like a river rushing down on our patio chairs. I had to laugh. My husband went to the front of the house and saw the hail mounding up in the front yard, suggesting that I go collect a bucket full for iced drinks. I suggested he do it. It rained hard for about 30 minutes, stopped. and then started again. It made my heart skip a beat for the happiness I felt at seeing and hearing the rain.
Our area of South Carolina has been suffering from drought conditions for the past few years. Whenever it rains, it is a blessed event. Of course, the weather people on the local news always complain about it... man, nothing makes them happy. That must be one miserable job!
Copyright © 1997-2009 Demand Media. All rights reserved.