Favorite Places: Mount Vernon

George Washington's Mount Vernon is a reminder of the self-sufficiency of farms of historical significance.

Did you know that Washington introduced the mule to America? Washington improved the soil at Mount Vernon by practicing crop rotation and mulching. He brought in a gardener from Scotland to manage the kitchen garden and greenhouse.

The farm and reconstructed gardens are worth a visit alone, but touring the house, outbuildings, grounds and museum for at least half a day will give you the best insight into life during Washington's time. There are trails around the grounds to the cemetery and the different areas of the farm. A restaurant and a food court are available if you want to take a break during your visit.

My husband's family has a connection with Mount Vernon through John Jacob Frobel, a musician and teacher. Frobel also had a love of growing flowers and introduced a camellia that he named after Washington's nephew, Bushrod. Visiting Mount Vernon with my husband was enhanced by his knowledge and stories that he shared with me about the Frobel connection.

The setting of Mount Vernon, in the Virginia countryside south of Alexandria is beautiful. Overlooking the Potomac River, it must have been wonderful to take in the glorious view each day.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Mount Vernon, Virginia, August 2009

2009: A Year In The Garden


Southerners exhibited their normal snow behavior. But, there were many days in the garden when the light was warm and fabulous.


I gave into the temptation and ordered more annual seeds. Fortunately, I was rewarded with spring, summer and fall blooming annuals.


The weather warmed up and I was back out in the garden. With help from The Musician, we cleaned up the gardens and refreshed the grit path in the cottage garden.


The happy hummingbirds returned. By April 12, I saw the first one and captured it on camera the next day.


While the Musician and I went to Paris and Monet's Garden in Giverny, the garden here at home burst into bloom with the poppies growing over four feet high!


Fall plantings of echinacea and monarda did not disappoint in a mass planting in the cottage garden.


Mid-summer brought drought, but agastache stayed alive and bloomed so well that I continued adding more varieties in the heat of the summer.


The Monarch butterfly migration brought these beauties to my garden where they laid eggs on the asclepias and sipped nectar from blooms throughout the garden.


Common hardy mums created a big display in the cottage garden. I have also been testing one out in the deer resistant garden and have had great success with no munching of the foliage so far this fall and winter.


Annuals sown from seeds continued to reward me with autumn blooms throughout October. By then, I declared both marigolds and zinnias (Benary Giant) to be deer resistant - at least for 2008! I did a lot of rearranging to combine perennials into better companion color schemes.


My Encore® Azaleas bloomed again and continued blooming into December, brightening up the cottage garden when little else was still in bloom. I sowed annuals seeds and planted allium bulbs for the 2010 growing season; added edging to the outer gardens and cleared out old spaces for new gardens.


Torrential rains washed away seeds as well as compost and gravel that we added in the fall. I continued to collect seeds from gaillardia and echinacea. The year is ending with many days of 20°F low temperatures, hard freezes and more torrential rains and wind. Already, winter is taking a toll on the garden. I was finally able to venture out today for a stroll to check on the conditions as I've been under the weather for several weeks. There will definitely be casualties from the weather, but the majority of perennials look well and I can see tiny green sprouts of poppies, larkspur, cornflowers, nigella, echinacea and gaillardia. All-in-all, it was a good year.

2010 is a few days away and I look forward to seeing all the garden surprises next year.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; 2009

The Myth About Winter Daphne Is True

A year ago, I was so proud of my success in growing winter daphne. She started blooming in December and kept on going through February. She was gorgeous. She was fragrant. Her elegant limbs were overloaded with beautiful, pink blooms. She was only three years old.

There is a gardener's myth that says that if your winter daphne is blooming beautifully, do not tell other gardeners. Whatever you do, don't invite another gardener over to see your daphne. She will succumb to what is known as "Daphne Death."

On a beautiful day this summer, I noticed that my Daphne was her beautiful evergreen self, gently nestled beside her shady companion, sweet bay magnolia. Perfection! She was so happy. I started thinking about planting another daphne to keep her company this winter. Daphne is such an easy keeper. She doesn't want extra water or food. Daphne is evergreen and deer resistant, important attributes for my fragrance garden.

That same summer day, I got an email from an expert on gardening. It was The Grumpy Gardener (Southern Living Magazine) asking if he could come visit my deer resistant flower garden.

A few days later, I was on the phone with Grumpy as I walked around the garden telling him what would be in bloom for his upcoming visit. Then, I saw HER. I told Grumpy what was happening.

I tried to stifle my dismay, disappointment and outright pain. I didn't want to cry on the phone. Daphne was literally shriveling up before my eyes.

By the time Grumpy arrived in mid-July, poor little daphne was brown. She was dead. The myth is true.

If you decide to grow a beautiful, sweet daphne odora, please don't tell another gardener. Skip past her when you have visitors. Don't blog about her and don't post pictures of her. She wants to be ignored!

Words and photo by Freda Cameron

House Paint Colors

What's the most popular question that I receive in email from readers and forum friends? What are the paint colors on your house?

During the time that we were building our house(s), I participated on a home building forum. Selecting paint colors was a common topic.

After all these years, I continue to receive the question from forum participants who run across photos of my house... both of them!

Yes, we used the same paint colors (and stone) on two houses that we built. If a color scheme works, why change? The original color scheme came from interior designer, Peggy Jeffers, who worked with our builder.

When my husband and I married in 2002, we sold my house (that I built) and his house (that he built). We bought a 1/2 acre lot and built a Craftsman-inspired house in 2003. After living there a short time, we realized that while we loved the house, we really wanted more land. So, we bought 4.5 acres in 2004 and built the current house in 2005. Building two houses so quickly was just crazy, but we're glad we made the move. Between my husband and I, we've built a lot of houses!

The only difference is that the Craftsman-inspired house had Duron Domino (black) on the sashes and divided lights while the white was used on the framing trim. In the current house, we used the white on the window sashes and divided lights. Both houses have wood windows, so they can be painted.

The 2003 house was in the shade while the current house is in full sun with no shade, so the colors look brighter (the trim looks whiter, the siding looks more gray than gray-green).


The paint colors are a custom mix, so if you try to use these, please have a small sample made first.

Exterior House Body:

Duron Custom Product #6610511
Ultra Deluxe Exterior
100%Acrylic Latex
Deep Base

Exterior House Trim:

Sherwin Williams Exterior Architectural Latex Gloss-Extra White
2088*R Paris White* EW
Colorant 02 32 64 128
Y3 Deep Gold 5 1
N1 Raw Umber 26

Exterior House and Garden Stone:

Cultured stone, Ledgestone Chardonnay (foundation, chimney, fence columns)
Pennsylvania flagstone, Lilac Heather (porch floor, patio, walkways, paths)


Words and photos by Freda Cameron

It Takes A Lot of Makeup to Look Natural

As another birthday approaches, I've decided to refer to myself as a mid-century modern... like the 1950's furniture and architecture that is now considered hip again. I'm not exactly in denial of this aging thing, I just want to look hydrated instead of dried up!

When I look at photos of celebrities (the ones without the bright red lipstick and smokey vampire eyes), I think the ladies that look natural, look best. Of course, professional makeup artists create those looks and it is more difficult to look natural!

I've discovered that to look natural (without makeup) requires a lot of makeup! Now, that's an oxymoron.

I've done my best to work with what nature has left me - without the benefit of a professional makeup artist and a lot of expense. I won't ever look like a celebrity, but I'm okay with that. (Sorry, no photo of my face!)

Wearing makeup for a natural look is analogous to using plants to create a natural-looking garden.

Achieving a natural look in the garden can also require a lot of "makeup" in the form of plants, and perhaps rocks or water features.

For example, I love the natural meadow look created by landscape designer Piet Oudolf. However, when I researched the Lurie Garden plant list, studied photos and descriptions, I realized that it takes a lot of money to buy a lot of plants.

I won't ever have an Oudolf garden (that's my deer resistant garden photo), but I'm okay with that.

Whether admiring famous faces or famous gardens, I'll keep my sanity and embrace what I have - naturally!

Words and photo by Freda Cameron; December 2009

Betsy's Cranberry Scones

It's the holiday season, the weather is really cold and I am thinking about baking scones. Not just any scones, but those baked by my friend on one of my visits with her in California.

Once upon a time, Betsy lived here in North Carolina. I can't remember the exact year, but I think maybe 30 years have passed since we packed up her Saab and drove to California. We had a great time on the cross-country road trip and even more fun while I spent a week with her in the Bay Area. I still consider Betsy to be my best friend, even though we may go years without seeing each other in person. Thank goodness for email!

Betsy's Cranberry Scones

Makes 16 scones
Preheat oven to 400°F

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) margarine or unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces

3/4 cup dried (or fresh) cranberries
1 teaspoon grated orange zest

1 cup buttermilk

  1. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.

  2. Add margarine/butter and beat with an electric mixer (or use pastry blender) until well blended.

  3. Stir in zest and cranberries.

  4. Pour in buttermilk and mix until blended.

  5. Gather dough into a ball and divide in half.

  6. On lightly floured surface, roll each half into a circle (1/2 to 3/4 inch thick).

  7. Cut each circle into 8 wedges.

  8. Place scones on lightly greased cookie sheet.

  9. Bake in preheated 400° F oven for 12-15 minutes or until golden.

  10. Serve warm or cooled.

I have also adapted this recipe to make lavender scones (in photo).

Photos and words by Freda Cameron. Recipe from Betsy Livak.

Favorite Places: Southern Italy

Blue water, cliff-hanging villages and lemon groves. These are the visual imagines that come to mind when I reminisce about the Amalfi Coast in southern Italy.

There's much more that cannot be captured in photos. The kindness and hospitality of the people in this region reminded me of our own southerners here in the United States.

My husband, one son (the archaeologist) and I spent five nights at Villa Oriana, a bed and breakfast in the hills of Sorrento. Maria and her son, Pasquale, treated us like family! It was a sad departure at the end of our stay. Maria sent us off with a tearful farewell and gifted us with lemon preserves and fresh fruit for our train ride to Rome. Her husband gave us a complimentary ride to the station. That was 2004 and we hope to someday return to our "family in Italy" as Pasquale wrote in an email after we were stateside again.

There are spectacular archaeological sights in the region as well as pleasant outings just wandering the village streets, hiking coastal trails and dining at wonderful restaurants.

We took day trips to Capri, Positano, Paestum and Pompeii - by ferry, by bus and by train. Transportation was fairly easy without a car rental, although driving the high curves of the Amalfi Coast looks like it would be a thrill for those without vertigo!

On Capri, we went to the top of the isle, then hiked downhill to visit the famous Blue Grotto. You enter the Grotto in a small boat and you MUST almost flatten yourself in the boat to avoid hitting your head, depending upon the tide level and roughness of the sea. It's a very quick trip inside, but we're glad we went. The hike provided us with a close-up look at the community and we grabbed a good lunch in Anacapri.

Positano was also reached by ferry. If you've seen the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, this was the seaside location for filming those romantic scenes. My husband and I visited Positano for a leisurely lunch while our son explored Sorrento.

We took a recommendation from Rick Steves and dined at the wonderful (200 steps uphill, after you've already climbed uphill) at Cucina Casareccia. We spent the entire afternoon perched up there, slowly dining on every course imaginable, sipping wine and enjoying the view.

You don't have to go to Greece to see ancient Greek temples. I've been to Athens, so I consider myself qualified to say that Paestum did not disappoint! Paestum, located south of Salerno, was founded in 600 BC. The Poseidon Temple is considered one of the best examples of preserved Doric style. This area may sound familiar, as the Allied invasion of Italy during World War II took place near Salerno in September 1943.

At the suggestion of Pasquale, we took a chartered tour, including transportation, so that we could make the most of our short visit to the ruins.

We rarely take organized tours since we prefer to strike out on our own, but this day-long excursion was worth going with the crowd. Our guide gave us quite an education on the history of Paestum.

The tour included lunch at the onsite restaurant. I mention this because REAL mozzarella di bufala (buffalo mozzarella) comes from the domestic water buffaloes that we saw in the area. The soft, egg-shaped white cheese is best when it's perfectly fresh. When the mozzarella is pierced with a fork and milk runs out, then you know it's fresh!

There are several places in the world that I consider a "must visit" for anyone who likes to travel. If you find yourself close enough in Italy, please take a day to visit the ruins of Pompeii.

From Sorrento, we took the Circumvesuviana train (Trentalia) to the station at the entrance to Pompeii. We spent over six hours visiting the ruins and I'm sure we could have stayed even longer. My son shared much knowledge about the ruins and this was his second visit.

Here, you have the experience of wandering through the streets, homes, gardens and businesses that once were teeming with life. In only two days in 79 AD, Pompeii was destroyed by the eruption of the volcano, Mount Vesuvius. It's intriguing, but haunting.

When not in Rome... there are many wonderful and favorite places in Italy.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Southern Italy; May 2004; No products, services or discounts were received for mentioning the businesses in this story.

Favorite Plant: A Sedge for the Edge

There are few plants in the garden that are virtually maintenance-free. My favorite foliage plant is carex hachijoensis 'Evergold' that can be used in sun or part shade, zones 5-10 and is both deer and rabbit resistant.

I have several varieties of carex in my garden, and 'Evergold' is the best for hot summer sun in my zone. The plants along my waterfall have been growing for four years and are shaded only in the late afternoon.

Other great sedges growing in my garden include Carex dolichostachya 'Kaga nishiki', Carex morrowii 'Silver Sceptre' and Carex testacea 'Orange New Zealand Sedge' - though all require more shade and less sun than 'Evergold'. Shade is rare in my young garden, so all of the sedges are having to tough it out while waiting for shade to grow! Nonetheless, they have been surviving these harsh conditions for several years.

While I have not cut back my sedges at all so far, they can be cut back in very early spring to prevent seed heads from forming. I have had no problem with reseeding, so I don't concern myself with this chore.

The sedges are growing in normal garden soil, moist soil and even wet soil, in my garden.

The graceful, large mounds are wonderful for ground cover as well as edging a garden or as an accent companion plant. The blooms of an orange rose really stand out against the backdrop of carex 'Evergold'.

The thin, colorful foliage works well with plants with wide leaves such as hosta (if you don't have deer) or calla lily (growing in the waterfall).

How much do I like carex 'Evergold'? Enough to recently plant an entire flat of it! More about that project in the future...

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home garden; all photos taken November 2009 unless otherwise indicated.

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone has a happy, safe and wonderful Thanksgiving!

I Can Dig It, He Can Dig It, We Can Dig It (The Garden Edge)

Six inches of rain and the ground was soft. Nature provided the perfect condition for digging a nice, clean edge around the outer gardens. I got out the flat blade shovel and started cutting straight down through the grass to dig out a perfect edge. Only 160 feet. No problem. I was enjoying the cooler temps and misty days for this task. The lyrics to Grazing in the Grass kept playing in my head as I made fast progress. I can dig it!

I was having great fun and was more than halfway around the garden when... along came my dear husband who had just finished up his daily five-mile run. I ran/walked/cycled last week. Enough of that - I was getting "real exercise" by gardening again.

Obviously, my task looked either too difficult and he felt like he should help... or, it looked like too much fun and he was missing out.

I'm not sure which it was, but he can dig it, too... only, he wanted to add a stone edging inside my perfect trench! My husband has been after me for three years to add a stone edging. I didn't want to spend the money. Call me cheap, but I just didn't see the benefit.

He persisted. I agreed, but said that I wanted to use square pavers and place them below the grass level to create a mowing strip. We had to dig the trench deeper as well as wide enough for us to work with pavers. We can dig it!

At the hardware store, he found a different cast concrete edging that he decided would look better and loaded up the cart with forty (yes, 40) "samples" to take home. That's a forty foot long sample! He removed twenty pieces at my request (pitiful begging). He said the edging matched the stone in our chimney, foundation and fence columns. True. He immediately laid the twenty stones in a section of the trench and declared the result to be fantastic.

At this point, I realized that he'd made up his mind and I was just going to have to surrender control of my project. Okay, I'll admit it. He was right and he was helpful... but, I really could have done this all by myself!

I can dig it, he can dig it
She can dig it, we can dig it
They can dig it, you can dig it
Oh, let's dig it
Can you dig it, baby

- lyrics by The Friends of Distinction

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home garden; November 2009; Lyrics referenced - The Friends of Distinction.

Free Yourself and Your Oven; Grill the Turkey

It all started with Thanksgiving 2006. Expecting a crowd for the big meal, I couldn't work out a way to get everything in the oven since the turkey was so large.

We had to figure out how to get everything cooked on time. The microwave wouldn't do it. Ah ha! What about using the grill? Would that work? My husband placed the turkey (in the pan) on the grill to see if the lid would close. It did. Since it was already Thanksgiving morning, I frantically searched the Web for turkey grilling instructions. After finding several versions, my husband and I created our own variation.

All of our guests showed up. We announced that the turkey was on the grill. Amazed, all the men went out onto the grilling deck to witness what they'd never seen before -- a turkey on the grill!

They didn't bother with the games on TV, they wanted to watch the turkey. There was a problem with that. The guys kept opening up the grill lid to see the turkey! Opening and closing the grill lid slows down the roasting with all that cold winter air. It took longer than expected due to the spectator interference and the meal was still late. However, the results were fabulous and we agreed to grill the holiday turkey in the future.

Fast forward to summer 2007. I was shopping for a new gas grill for my husband's birthday. After all, if he was going to grill the turkey from now on, he needed a better grill.

I asked the salesman if grills came with windows. No.

I asked if I could buy a "turkey cam." He laughed hysterically! No, they don't make cameras for the inside of a grill.

I bought the grill in spite of the lack of desired features.

A few days later, I went to my favorite kitchen gadget store. Telling the salesperson about the problems with the spectacle of turkey grilling, she had a brilliant idea...buy a remote digital thermometer!

When I enthusiastically presented that thermometer to my husband, he was skeptical. Very skeptical. I was tempted to return the thermometer with such a reaction, but we kept it. It was several months later before the debut of the remote thermometer at Thanksgiving 2007.

I prepared the fresh turkey by rubbing it with olive oil and Herbes de Provence--a mix of basil, savory, fennel and lavender. I placed the turkey in a standard roasting pan fitted with a roasting rack. I put chicken broth in the bottom of the roasting pan to create moisture during the roasting process. The culinary sage in the garden was still looking great, so I added fresh leaves to the chicken broth. I handed the turkey off to my husband. He programmed the remote thermometer and agreed to keep the grill lid closed.

I was free and my oven was free! I worked on the side dishes without having to worry about the turkey.

The remote radio control sat in the kitchen. Several hours later a voice said "your food will be ready in five minutes." The thermometer had worked! We double-checked the temperature with another thermometer and the two agreed...the turkey was done.

The Herbes de Provence and the fresh sage provided great flavor. The turkey was moist from the method of grilling. Our guests all agreed that it was the best turkey...even if they didn't have the fun of watching it grill!

Story by Freda Cameron, November 2009; Photo added Thanksgiving 2008;

My recipe (Your results may vary. I'm not a chef!)

Baffle the Squirrels and Feed the Birds

The IQ of a squirrel is greatly underestimated. They solve problems with logic and they know how to use tools. There's a "think tank" of great squirrel minds out in our woods right now, putting together a plan for how they can get an easy meal from our birdfeeder.

Gardeners and other bird lovers hang their feeders hoping to attract, and feed, a variety of beautiful feathered friends over the winter. My husband and I take down our hummingbird feeders in the fall and bring out the birdseed. Our birdfeeders are positioned so that we can view the activity from our garden room while we enjoy our morning coffee by the warmth of the fireplace. Our Peterson's Field Guide® is handy so that we can quickly look up any unfamiliar birds.

From our view of the garden, we have personally witnessed many successful schemes of seed-stealing by the squirrels. We started out with a simple, inexpensive birdfeeder mounted on a simple, inexpensive hanger pole. The birdfeeder was filled with expensive, gourmet, premium wild bird seed. It didn't take but a few hours to realize that is equivalent to a neon "Open All Day" sign for squirrels.

We went back to the store in search of a solution. We saw a rather amusing video of a battery-operated feeder throwing squirrels around like a mechanical bull. We took one home. We replaced our cheap feeder with the animated attraction. We took our seats ready for the morning entertainment, confident that the squirrels would be unable to steal the seed.

The first squirrel was a bit stunned by his merry-go-round ride. He sat on the ground staring up at the new feeder. We "high-fived" thinking that the only seed for that squirrel was going to be what was dropped on the ground from bird beaks. He attempted his thievery a few more times, then went up on the roof to survey the situation. He sat up there for awhile pondering how to get around this new contraption. He came down with a new plan and told all his squirrel buddies.

The next thing we knew, a squirrel was on top of the feeder, where there is no flipping mechanism. He struggled and struggled to try to open the top. Unsuccessful in getting the lid off, we thought for sure he would give up. Instead the squirrels regrouped and sent their scout back on the roof to gather more intelligence about this new machine.

The next trick was to hang onto the pole with hind feet, stretch across and hold onto to the feeder trough instead of the flipping mechanism. The squirrels took turns eating from the feeder, ever so persistant and patient. The crew spent an entire day working systematically to reach the food. In the process, they managed to empty the feeder of seeds, replenishing their troups for another day's raid.

It was time for us to go back to the store. This time, we asked for assistance. The experienced salesperson pointed out a cone-shaped pole baffle. This purchase also required the purchase of a larger, taller pole to fit the baffle.

Having spent a considerable amount of money on this defense system, we were cautiously optimistic about our new fortress. With our mechanical feeder, a better pole and a new baffle, we were ready for the next onslaught.

The squirrels huddled together at the bottom of this new pole and baffle. From their vantage point, they could see the feeder, but it disappeared into darkness with every attempt to climb the pole. They tried to hang on the edge of the baffle, but there was no grip. They tried tipping the baffle to no avail. The sentinel on the roof had no battle plan for dislodging the baffle. Without trees close enough to launch an airborne attack, the defeated squirrel troop sulked back into the woods.

Through all of last winter, the baffle continued to baffle the squirrels while the birds got plenty to eat. We did show a little sympathy now and then by spreading a little seed around for the pitiful squirrels. We're ready for the attacks this year. Unless the squirrels bring a ladder, we think the birdfeeder is safe.

This is a repeat of last year's popular story by Freda Cameron

My Best Low-maintenance Plants: Part I (Salvias)

Time is a luxury. Although I throughly enjoy working in the garden, I like to spend more hours - just being in the garden.

When I began my extreme makeover garden project this fall, I realized that not only was I keeping the best bloomers, but the easiest plants to maintain. I ruthlessly culled out poor performers, aggressive or high maintenance plants and threw those on the compost heap.

My garden conditions:

Zone 7b
full sun all day
outside the fence, deer resistance is critical
drought tolerant, once plants are established


Salvias provide a long bloom season and there are varieties available for many growing zones. This is important - choose salvias that are appropriate for your zone. Salvias that grow in New Mexico may not grow in your zone.

To help the perennial salvias overwinter, I do not cut them back in the fall. Some varieties of salvia require slightly more attention than others, but I still consider all of those in my garden to be low-maintenance. There are also annual salvias that can be grown for color all summer and then pulled out if they don't overwinter.

Photographing salvias is difficult, but otherwise, they are great plants!

It is November and almost every salvia in my garden is still in bloom. Only the salvia nemorosa 'Caradonna' and uliginosa (bog sage) are not in bloom. The nemorosa blooms in spring and may be deadheaded for lesser repeat blooms (they reseed, but that's okay). I'm not a big fan of nemorosa because there are so many other salvias that bloom longer, however I like 'Caradonna' for the spring blooms and nice foliage.

The bog sage blooms non-stop all summer and takes a break only when the temperatures drop. It can be aggressive, but the stolons are easy to pull when it wanders too far.

For year-round, the salvia greggii varieties are my absolute favorites and I have them in violet, dark purple, deep red, cherry red, magenta, white and grape. They are semi-evergreen to evergreen in my garden. These salvias will put on a big spring bloom display, bloom off-and-on all summer and then put on the best display in autumn when so many other flowers have stopped blooming. In very late winter, all I do is a little shaping of the shrub-like plants to prevent stem breakage.

If you asked a hummingbird to select their favorite, it would be salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue' so I have at least fifteen of these! This is a tender perennial for my zone, but I've had good luck with overwintering. This salvia can take a bit more summer moisture, richer soil and partial shade than other salvias. Still, it cannot be in a wet winter location in the garden. Black & Blue blooms from summer until fall freezes.

I've added salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue' as well as it's larger parent 'Indigo Spires' to the garden this summer. I have high hopes that these non-stop bloomers will overwinter here as they are truly beautiful and the color works with all other colors.

There are literally hundreds of salvias from which to choose, but I don't consider myself a collector, just a gardener who loves to grow great plants. These low-maintenance, deer resistant, rabbit resistant, drought tolerant plants work hard for me, so I'll keep them!

For more information on salvias, I can think of no better resources than Robin's Salvias (United Kingdom) for an incredible gallery and Rich Dufresne, a salvia expert right here in North Carolina who has introduced so many salvias to gardeners. Both gentlemen participate regularly on the GardenWeb Salvia Forum.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home garden; 2009

Azaleas Bloom Again in Autumn

I think that I enjoy my azalea blooms as much in autumn as I do in the spring. My six Encore® Azaleas reliably provide blooms twice a year. My azaleas bloomed in April and have been repeat blooming since September. All the while, they provide evergreen foliage for the cottage garden.

These azaleas work great for my south-facing garden where the azaleas get plenty of sunbeams and some afternoon shade. Three of the azaleas are planted beneath a Kwansan cherry tree. The other three are standards (tree form) up against the garage wall beside the front porch.

While there is plenty of space outside my cottage garden for azaleas, I can't really grow them successfully due to deer foraging. There's nothing I'd like more than a garden full of native azaleas. However, I have to accept the things that I cannot change!

When it comes to growing azaleas in small spaces such as my cottage garden, having two bloom seasons from the same shrubs is very rewarding.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Home garden; November 4, 2009

The Shifting Faces of Coreopsis

From butter yellow with a red center to a deep burgundy, Coreopsis Big Bang™ 'Redshift' has been changing faces in my garden all summer. This coreopsis influenced my decision to redesign an area of the butterfly garden around the colors of blue, yellow and burgundy.

Out with my camera this morning to photograph (and document) my redesign, I noticed that the coreopsis was showing three colors on one plant. I haven't deadheaded this coreopsis since I planted it, so all of these non-stop blooms have been happening on their own.

The coreopsis has been reliably upright until recently when the abundance of blooms weighed down some of the stems. I think I'll give it a few light trims along the sides next year. I like the height of 24-30 inches so that I don't have to use this coreopsis along the front of the border.

The 'Redshift' is said to bloom July through September, but I'm sure that is for colder zones as mine have been blooming since planted in June and they are still blooming for November! The location is very sunny, with east and south sunbeams most of the day.

The deer haven't touched the coreopsis though their hoof prints indicate that they are responsible for breaking a few stems while they trudge through to reach our manmade stream for water at night.

As mentioned before, this coreopsis influenced the overall color theme and companion plantings for this redesign, but I'm now calling this section "done" until I see the results next spring and summer!

To recap the redesign:

Seeds of annual salvia farcinacea 'blue bedder', nigella 'Miss Jekyll', larkspur 'Galilee Blue' and 'Blue Spire' as well as cornflower 'Blue Boy' have now been sown around the perennials to provide spring blooms.

More seeds for the perennial gaillardia 'Burgundy' were added since I have only three plants there right now. Seeds for perennial gaillardia 'Yellow Queen' were also sown to provide more yellow with the blue and burgundy.

Other perennials include achillea and another coreopsis variety for more yellow, agastache 'Blue Fortune', nepeta 'Walker's Low' and dark red salvia greggii.

Dutch irises in blue/yellow and iris pallida (blue blooms and variegated foliage) were relocated to this area, too. I noticed a lot of the Dutch irises around my gardens are sprouting already! They won't bloom until April, so I suppose they are loving our weather.

For the next week, we'll have fabulous warm sunny weather with little rain which is great for gardeners, but too warm and dry for seeds! Everyday for the next week or so, I will mist all the seeded areas to prevent them from drying out. A time-consuming activity, but well worth the efforts to increase the germination success rate.

As for the coreopsis, I want to see just how much longer they will bloom with a freeze expected for Thursday night!
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