Wednesday, March 23, 2011

New Garden Art Statue

We bought this old cast iron statue from the Foothills Thrift Store in downtown Valdese. I like that she has multiple coats of paint and a "ready made" patina of age.

I will plant some Wandering Jew in the little planter in a few weeks.

She has a real "Mona Lisa" smile.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Building a new Garden the easy way

One of the easiest ways to make a new garden bed harnesses the natural forces of the sun, weather, and earthworms to transform bare turf into rich, plantable earth. Once you layer cardboard, newsprint, and compost on top of the turf, and wait several months, the turf decomposes into 6 to 8 inches of topsoil. Build the bed at the beginning of one season and it should be ready for planting by the next season. For example, pile up the layers in early spring; the ground will be plantable by summer. No digging; no sweat. (from Better Homes and Gardens website:

This is essentially what we did with the new Front Garden. (see previous post about the Front Garden). We did it mostly with mulch, sort of by accident. I had ordered a huge truckload of mulch to mulch the side yard by the driveway and had it dumped in the front yard. We moved wheelbarrow loads for six-eight months and then gave it up, as move of it washed away in the rain.

What was left in the front yard eventually became the new Front Garden.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Front Garden

Mums (yellow and white), yellow and purple pansies, Firewitch Dianthus (Pinks) and a yellow Knockout Rose. A nice little "Toad House" and an old family quartz rock keep guard over everything.

This was a pile of mulch two years ago that we gradually wore down by running the truck back and forth over it. This gave me a place to plant something, as the "native" soil there was nothing but hard packed clay and moss.

Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata)

Planted two in planters on the steps facing the west garden. There are yellow and purple pansies planted around the bases.

Japanese Holly (Ilex crenata)

Japanese Holly is among the most valuable of all the Holly species. Japanese Holly has a distinctive, dense branching growth habit and fine-textured evergreen foliage. It actually resembles boxwood more than traditional Holly. Slow growers, Japanese Holly shrubs may live to over 80 years of age. There are hedges in Japan that have been maintained for so long and have become so dense that they can be walked upon and you would not fall through.

Japanese Hollies grow from 3 to 15 feet tall, depending on the variety. A typical shrub will spread 2 to 10 feet and have a dense rounded habit.

Japanese Holly leaves are small and broadly oval, 1/2 to 1 inch long, up to 1/2 inch wide. They have fine-toothed edges rather than the distinctive-spined leaves of most Hollies. They are a glossy dark green above, lighter beneath. Leaves of some varieties are slightly cupped.

Japanese Holly flowers are so tiny that they are virtually insignificant. They are creamy-white and have 4 tiny petals. Male flowers grow in small clusters where leaves join stems. Female flowers are solitary or in smaller clusters on separate shrubs. Flowers of both sexes appear in late spring or early summer. They are favorites of bees that aid pollination. Inconspicuous black berries, about 1/4 inch in diameter, develop in mid-autumn and last into early spring. Some varieties have yellow berries.

Japanese Hollies can withstand very severe pruning which is why it make such wonderful hedges. The key is to not prune new growth until it hardens off, which is when the tender green stems begin to turn woody.

Knockout Yellow Roses

Planted two - one in front garden and one in west garden below the deck.

Knockout dependability and fragrance too!

•Fast growing, so you dont have to wait
•Drought tolerant, means no watering
•Pest & disease resistant
•Long blooming, up to 9 months!
•Adapts to many soils and conditions
•Fragrant flowers, a first for knockouts
Delightful new shrub rose from the Knockout Rose series. Now you can add sweet lemony yellow to your all-summer rose show. Sunny is the first Yellow Knockout Rose and it comes with a neat little twist. Amazing abundance of bloom and a lovely scent too. The flowers open bright golden yellow and age to a soft buttery hue. Excellent vigor even in cold climates.

You’ll enjoy excellent disease and pest resistance from Sunny Knockout Rose.
Knockouts are incredibly easy to grow shrub roses. They adapt to most soils and a wide range of climates across the country. So reliable, they are a favorite among landscape professionals and homeowners too. The blooming just goes on and on when you grow Sunny Knockout roses. This free flowering shrub rose is one blooming machine from late spring until frost.

Firewitch Dianthus Pinks

Planted three - two in the front garden and one in a pot in the west garden.

The Perennial Plant Association selected Dianthus gratianopolitanus Firewitch' (Feuerhexe') as its 2006 Perennial Plant of the Year. Also known as a cheddar pink, the perennial dianthus is an excellent choice for use as an edging plant, as a rock garden specimen, to soften retaining walls, and in container gardens.

Firewitch' has hot pink flowers that bloom profusely in mid to late spring, with some repeat bloom in summer and fall if you deadhead faded blooms. As an added bonus, the flowers have a spicy clove-like fragrance. The bluish-gray evergreen foliage forms solid mats, making it an excellent ground cover, even when not in bloom. Plants reach only 3-4 inches tall, though the blooming stems add a few more inches.

Dianthus performs best in full sun, though light shade is helpful in particularly hot locations. The plant is rather adaptable, but well-drained soil is a must. Plants are hardy in USDA zones 3 to 9. Plants are easy to propagate by division or by stem cuttings taken just before or immediately after flowering.

This particular selection of Dianthus was introduced by a German nursery in 1957 as Fererhexe' but was mostly unknown in the United States until the late 1980s, when a Connecticut nursery (Sunny Border) took up its cultivation. Commonly sold now as Firewitch' in the United States, you can find it in many local garden centers and mail-order catalogs, wherever perennials are sold.