An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

March 27, 2012

The Last Saturday

I start my spring schedule this week, losing my Saturday off and working six days and both weekend days.  I always dread this change, and knowing it must come each year does not make it any easier. What does make it easier is the fact that I have much to do, and at least if I am going to be spending so many hours at work, I might as well be busy and have the time fly.

So this past Saturday was my last one off for a while, and I made it a full day. It started with waking the neighbors by giving my small patch of turf its first cut and trim of the year.  I began early because the weather forecast called for rain later on, plus I had other things planned.  My parents were flying home later in the day from a Ft. Lauderdale spring break, and they needed to be picked up at the airport.  The airport here happens to adjoin the Norfolk Botanical Gardens where the American Camellia Society was having its national convention.  So I figured on a few hours in the garden, a stroll through the camellia show, and then I would head next door to the airport.  In the late afternoon a much deserved nap was taken, followed by keg beer and grilled brats at a neighborhood cookout (in the rain under tents) ending the full day.

The gardens were busy.  Many were there for the camellia show and sale, local high school crews were competing on Lake Whitehurst, and the mild weather brought others out.  Here is a little bit of what I saw.

You don't often see agaves and azaleas (Rhododendron canescens 'Varnadoes Phlox Pink') paired.
Rhododendron canescens 'Varnadoes Phlox Pink' (2)

Rhododendron canescens 'Varnadoes Phlox Pink'

Rhododendron austrimum 'Don's Variegated'
Rhododendron austrimum 'Don's Variegated' (2)

Most of the narcissus and other spring bulbs were just finishing up, but there were still a few that were photo-worthy.

Narcissus Pot

Crocus Box

Fritillaria persica
Fritillaria persica

Fothergilla gardenii
Fothergilla gardenii

Viburnum macrocephalum
Viburnum macrocephalum

I think this is either Viburnum x burkwoodii or V. carlesii. Any thoughts?
Viburnum x burkwoodii 'Mohawk'

Many of the planting combinations around the garden included Calendula officinalis (pot marigold).
Calendula officinalis (2)

One combination I do not like is the foliage color and flower color on one of the newer redbuds, Cercis canadensis 'The Rising Sun'. The flowers are the traditional purple-pink of redbud, but the foliage comes out brozny orange maturing to chartreuse.
Cercis canadensis 'The Rising Sun'

Acer palmatum
Acer palmatum

The native dogwoods (Cornus florida) were coming to life.
Cornus florida

The colors on this mahonia's (Mahonia x media 'Charity') fruit were incredible.
Mahonia x media 'Charity'

Packera aurea (ragwort)
Packera aurea (3)

Lake Whitehurst

Loropetalum chinense 'Chang Nian Hong'

You may wonder at the lack of camellia pictures in this post. The few hours I was there the camellia show was closed for judging, and out in the garden I wasn't about take another camellia shot without knowing what I already had pictures of. Next year I will bring a list.

March 22, 2012

Winter Walk-Off Wrap-Up


Now that spring is officially here, this year's Winter Walk-Off is over.  I had about the same number of entries as last year, but this year it was less international and featured fewer seascapes (I am a sucker for a good seascape), but it did have more animals.  You may recall that the challenge was to leave your own home or garden, on your own two feet, and document what you see, though I am flexible with rules.  The main reason I do this is to see and learn a little bit more about other corners of this world, and I sincerely thank everyone who allowed me to do this. Now let's get on with this year's participants.

Carolyn of Pennsylvania
A Wonder of Nature
Carolyn takes us to Ithan Valley Park in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania where Winter Aconite (Eranthis hyemalis) carpets the forest floor in yellow.  The climate here in Tidewater is regretfully too hot to enjoy this plant in any form other than through other people's photographs.

Janet of South Carolina
Walking With The Queen and Friends
For this year's Walk-Off, Janet mixes things up a bit and turns left instead of right, as she and her four-legged companions stroll the neighborhood.  All of her dogs are special, but Monroe is very special. She has been walking with Janet for 18 years, which is quite a feat for any dog, especially a large one.

Donna of New York
Bark in the Park
When I read the title of this entry I thought for sure we were going to see more dogs, and I love dogs (cats, not so much). However, it was about trees and their bark, but I was not disappointed as I have always been a treehugger.  Donna shows some impressive trees growing in her local park.

Annie in New Hampshire
The Challenge
Join Annie, recently moved from Virgina's temperate Tidewater, as she straps on snowshoes for the first time taking us through a beautiful New England snowscape, and yes there are dogs.

Ipheion Under Camellia (2)

Gene from Virginia
Winter Walk in Huntington Park
One of last year's winners, Gene takes us through some of the 60 acres of a park in Newport News, Virginia.  This place has something for everyone including a fishing pier, locomotive, swimming beach, numerous memorials and an organic rose garden.

Loree of Portland
A Walk with a Purpose...Taking Inventory of the Neighborhood Manzanitas
A woman on a mission, Loree takes us around her neighborhood to survey all the forms of Manzanita. Personally, I preferred the ones  more tree-like so that sexy bark could be seen.

Denise in southern California
Winter Walkabout
A Corgi and a baby blue piano, could you want anything more?  Well maybe you might enjoy the exotic-to-me flora of southern California.

Hoover Boo, also of California
Winter Walk Off
Poor landscaping choices seem to know no geographic boundary, but other than showing us the bad and ugly, Hoover Boo shows us some good as well.

Ipheion and Oxalis

David of Albuquerque
Walk on the Mild Side - Front Yards
David shows us around his neighborhood where it appears that the home builder installed the most minimal of landscapes using lots of rock with a few native desert plants thrown in.  In order to be thankful for what you have, make sure you note what David's view is across the street from his house.

Kaveh Maguire, also of California
Winter Walk-Off:  50 Shots Around Los Osos
Desertscapes, mountains in the distance, Morro Bay and the Pacific beyond - all mark what looks like a unique gardening climate and a special part of California.

Scott, also in Portland
Winter Walk-Off in Brooklyn
No, not that Brooklyn, but a neighborhood in Portland, Oregon.  After reading Scott's post and looking at his pictures, I felt that he and I live in the same neighborhood, only separated by a continent.  There is a nice cat photo as well.

Sweetbay of North Carolina
Winter Walk-off 2012
While several of us took dogs along on our walk-off, Sweetbay was the only one to bring horses.  She leads us through tree-lined trails as the North Carolina countryside emerges from a very light winter nap.

Ipheion uniflorum

Georgia also of New York, in London
Winter Walk-Off in London
This year we sadly had only one entry from beyond North America, but I was thankful for it.  Georgia shows us some of what she saw while recently in London.  No cupcakes this year, but I am told there was sponge cake at tea time.

Tina in Tennessee
Let's Take a LONG Walk Around Fort Campbell's Clarksville Bast Trail:  Nature's Paradise
Part II of Our Nature Walk on Fort Campbell's Clarksville Base Trail
Tina (from here forward known as Two-part Tina from Tennessee) takes us on a nice long walk around Fort Campbell.  In the changing roles and world of the American military, it is nice to know that there is some room for wildlife to thrive.

Jennifer in Ontario, Canada
Winter Walk-off, In Under the Wire
More dogs, and Canadian ones at that!  Even though Ontario has also had a mild winter, there are still few signs of spring color.  Yet Jennifer's trained eye brings out the beauty in her local landscape.

Daricia in Charlotte, also in North Carolina
Winter Walk-Off on the McMullen Creek Greenway
Daricia shows us one of Charlotte's greenways, which are an enjoyable way for strollers, hikers, joggers and bikers to get from here to there, plus they are a vital link for wildlife.  I wish we had more of them here, even with occasional thugs along the path.

Oxalis and Ipheion

And now for the rich swag.  The preferred corporate method for determining winners at A Tidewater Gardener, Inc. is to employ a thoroughly disinterested teenager to randomly pick numbers, and that is precisely what the board did.  Our first winner is Donna of New York, and she has won a set of handmade cards, compliments of my wife.  Our second winner is Hoover Boo of California who will receive several seed packages of some of my favorite annual vines.  I will be contacting each winner to get their address. 

2011 Winter Walk-Off
2011 Winter Walk-Off Wrap-Up

Thank you to everyone, participants and followers - we will do this again next winter.

Oxalis (2)

(All of the pictures shown in this post were taken more recently in a walk around my neighborhood.  The skim milk blue flowers are Ipheion, an onion relative native to southern South America.  They have naturalized quite well here.  The pink flowers are a species of Oxalis that is generally considered a lawn and garden weed, but an attractive weed just the same.)

March 15, 2012

Bloom Day - The Colors of March

Am I the only person who associates each month with a certain color or set of colors?  When I hear or see the word March, bright yellow and green flash in my brain, but this year the month has many colors.

Corydalis heterocarpa
Corydalis heterocarpa (2)

Corydalis heterocarpa (3)

Corydalis heterocarpa

Ranunculus 'Brazen Hussy'
Ranunculus x 'Brazen Hussy'

Ranunculus x 'Brazen Hussy'  (2)


Edgeworthia chrysantha
Edgeworthia chrysantha

Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine) about to bloom.
Gelsemium sempervirens

Narcissus and Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'
Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon'


Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Zhuzhou Fuchsia'
Loropetalum chinense var. rubrum 'Zhuzhou Fuchsia'

Camellia japonica 'Crimson Candles'
Camellia japonica 'Crimson Candles'

Camellia japonica 'Cherries Jubilee'
Camellia japonica 'Cherries Jubilee'

Chaenomeles 'Hime' (Japanese quince) has been blooming since November.
Chaenomeles 'Hime'

Chaenomeles 'Hime'  (2)

Vinca minor
Vinca minor

Ipheion uniflorum 'Rolf Fiedler'
Ipheion uniflorum 'Rolf Fiedler'

Veronica umbrosa 'Georgia Blue'
Veronica umbrosa 'Georgia Blue'

Front Corner

If you would like to see what colors are showing up in other blogger's gardens, then you should head over to May Dreams Gardens where Carol is hosting another Garden Bloggers Bloom Day, held on the 15th of each month and open to all.

(This will likely be your last reminder that if you feel so inclined, you are cordially invited to participate in my Winter Walk-Off.  I am taking entries until Monday at midnight.)

March 9, 2012

Madwoman's Milk

Last March I became infatuated with an acid green weed growing in the cornfield adjacent to my parent's place.  I dug a few clumps and planted some in my mom's garden and some in my own. I knew it was some sort of Euphorbia, but was unsure as to the exact species.  Fellow blogger Entangled suggested it may be Eurphorbia helioscopia (Sun Spurge, Madwoman's Milk), and I am now pretty sure that identification is correct. This species is a winter-blooming annual native to Europe, North Africa and Asia, and is apparently now quite at home here as well. Further reading on this plant told that although it is considered poisonous and a carcinogen, its extract is used medicinally and is easily found for sale on the web.  My clump had whithered by late April of last year, and I thought that was likely the last I would see of it.  This week I noticed about a dozen separate plants coming up in the hell-strip, not far from where my clump was planted.  So it looks as if I have introduced this weed to my neighborhood. I am sorry neighbors!

Euphorbia helioscopia

Here is another reminder that my Winter Walk-Off 2012 is going on until Monday the 19th.  All bloggers are welcome to join in.

March 2, 2012

A Sincere Thanks to the Nuccio Family

Here in Tidewater we are the traditional first notch in the camellia belt that stretches down the coast, across the south all the way to east Texas.  In Charleston, where I once spent a three-year vacation, Carolina gardeners are quite proud of their camellias and proud of the fact that the first camellia garden was established at Middleton Place. So I was surprised to learn that actually the first camellias in the country were imported by John Stevens of Hoboken, New Jersey in 1797 or 1798 (after all, it is the Garden State).  I was also surprised to learn that three out of my twelve camellias orginated in, California (another great camellia state) at Nuccio's Nurseries, including one of my favorite's, Camellia japonica 'Nuccio's Gem'. Ultimately, all camellias originated in the Orient and have a history there spanning millennia, so I should just let go of the notion that they are somehow especially southern.

Camellia japonica 'Nuuccio's Gem'

There is something about Nuccio's Gem that captures my attention.  Perhaps it is a combination of the formal-double form, its vigorous, prolific nature and the purity of white, even though white is not my favorite flower color.  In camellias, I normally tend to gravitate to the deep reds and the variegated, but that is forgotten when this plant blooms.

Camellia japonica 'Nuuccio's Gem' (3)

(Just to remind you there is still plenty of time to enter my Winter Walk-Off Challenge.)