Garden Inspiration: Poppies in Paris

For fields or gardens filled with poppies in the spring, sow seeds in autumn!

Annual poppies are easy to grow from seed. Last year, I sowed seeds in mid-October and had seedlings in December. In May, the poppies bloomed and created a nice display in my cottage garden. I played it safe last year and planted pink poppies.

After seeing the outrageous riot of orange, white and yellow poppies at the Jardin des Plantes in Paris this spring, I decided to go bolder and plant red this year.

The papaver rhoeas 'American Legion' were chosen to bloom along with my red salvia greggii in spring. With 8,000 seeds in the packet, I will plant around the red salvia in the butterfly garden and around the red salvia on each side of the garage path.

Last year, I mixed the tiny seeds with clean play sand (bought in a bag at the big box store) and put them in a spice shaker to try to distribute them evenly. With my best efforts, I still ended up with too many seeds too close together, but I gently transplanted quite a few of the poppy seedlings for better distribution.

Poppies will self-sow if you leave them in the garden when the seeds ripen. So, I will probably have a few emerge in the cottage garden and don't plan to sow more seeds there this year. I have very limited space in that garden, so the new poppies will have to go outside the fence. Poppies are deer and rabbit resistant.

If I only had enough clear ground, I would plant the orange, white and yellow combination in big swaths as seen in the gardens of Paris!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Jardin des Plantes, Paris, France; May 2009

Fragrance Fills the Fall Air

Fall is a fragrant time of year in my garden. Ginger, gardenia and osmanthus are in bloom at the same time, yet the fragrances are complimentary.

The white butterfly ginger has been blooming non-stop since early August. Rated for zones 8a-11, I grow mine in a protected spot against the east side of the house. The ginger spreads by rhizomes and can be divided in the spring into 8 inch sections. It grows 4-6 feet high, so it is great for filling up a moist location in part sun.

Gardenia 'August Beauty' is also blooming right now. This fragrant, evergreen shrub is rated for zones 8b-11 in partial shade and grows 4-6 feet high and wide. Since I am in zone 7b, I am really pushing the zone on this one! The gardenia is located in the fragrance garden with the "mother" ginger and a large osmanthus. Other fragrant plants in this section bloom at different times. Those are Confederate Jasmine and Sweet Bay Magnolia. The Winter Daphne died this summer after blooming gloriously for several years in the middle of winter.

The sweet scent of osmanthus fragrans is everywhere in my garden as these shrubs are located on all sides of the house. Osmanthus blooms in the spring and again in the fall. This evergreen shrub is rated for zones 7b to 10b, so it is marginal for my zone. That said, I've been growing this shrub for years here in this garden and at a previous house with no problems. It has proven to be quite tough with no pest problems and can handle a variety of sun to partial shade conditions. This one grows 8-10 feet high but I've seen them even larger in other gardens.

All three of these fragrant plants are deer resistant in my garden.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; All photos taken September 26, 2009

Are Zinnias Deer Resistant?

Every night is party night in my outer gardens. The local deer regularly invite all of their distant deer friends and relatives to my meadow for a sleepover. It is not unusual for 20+ deer to converge on the meadow at nightfall and remain there until we roust them out in the morning. Whatever grows in the outer gardens, beyond the safety of the cottage garden fence, has to be deer resistant without the use of repellents.

I love zinnias and the cottage garden is overflowing with blooms. I want to have the same kind of mass planting in the outer gardens next year. And so, I experimented. I tempted and tested the deer to see if they like to eat the flowers that I like to grow.

Although zinnias are listed as deer resistant on many "knowledgeable" lists, I started with just a few flowers to see if my deer agree with the experts. I sowed zinnia seeds in various places that are easily accessed by the deer - such as right under their little noses along their favorite paths and the garden/meadow edge. Seeds are inexpensive, so I didn't break the garden budget with this experiment.

All of my zinnias are Benary's Giant (zinnia elegans). These are tall zinnias, some growing well over four feet high in the rich soil of my cottage garden that is on drip irrigation, if needed. The cottage garden zinnias were sown in late May with a few more sown in late June.

In the outer gardens, life is tougher. No babying out there, so the zinnias are sown in leaner soil and had to withstand the summer heat and drought without supplemental watering. The zinnias in the outer gardens were sown in mid-July and that has also contributed to a shorter height at this point.

So what happened to the zinnias in the deer gardens? Not much. One zinnia at the meadow edge was pinched back early on by the deer tasting party. It must have been something like a wine tasting. Taste a small amount and spit it out. The deer didn't like the foliage of these zinnias at all. The sampled zinnia is short, but has branched out to be loaded with buds and one bloom, so far. The other zinnias in the deer gardens are taller and have been blooming off and on like their sisters in the cottage garden.

I am happy with the results and plan to include a big swath of zinnias in the outer gardens next year. So, I have high hopes for a large cutting garden of zinnias in 2010.

Whenever I mention deer resistant flowers in my garden, I must also say that your deer may like plants that my deer won't eat (and vice-versa).

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; September 2009

Fall Show from Hardy Garden Mums

My attitude about common garden mums used to be - that they are "temporary" plants to put in containers for fall color and then dismiss.

A year ago, I bought a few mums from a big box store to use on my front porch. I don't know why I didn't toss them like always, but they overwintered in the planters on the protected porch until spring.

In early spring they were green and looking good, so I asked Tina at In the Garden blog about when to transplant the mums to the garden. In the ground they went. After that, I didn't give them much attention except to keep them in shape. The foliage is quite beautiful and can easily be kept in a mound (meatball) shape with a bit of pinching back to promote fall blooms. I stopped pinching back the mums around July 4.

I love to experiment with conditions and critters to test how plants perform. I planted one in very hot, scorching conditions (these photos), one shaded by taller annuals (zinnias) and one outside the fence where the deer party all night long. No bugs, bunnies or deer have (to date) eaten the foliage, buds or blooms.

My three mums never complained about too much or too little water or attention and they are evergreen here in zone 7. That's a lot of positives and no negatives, unless you just hate the look of mums or their vigorous expansion in the garden.

Time to rethink the use of common garden mums!

Since I've basically ignored hardy garden mums until now, I'm no expert. Here is a link to read about the zone and care for Chrysanthemum morifolium.

As for companions, the mum shown in the photos was planted with a few other experiments. The coneflower is from seeds I collected from 'Prairie Splendor' and the sedum 'Green Expectations' is a tip that I pinched back from a mother plant in early summer. The hardy geranium 'Rozanne' was a rescue from the deer (moved inside the fence) and the rabbits (had to spray repellent). The dark red coleus were left-overs from container plantings this spring. Not a bad display for a bunch of misplaced and displaced plants. That said, they are crowded into this tiny space so I'll rearrange this bed again next spring.

With my positive in-ground experience with garden mums, I may look into some of the more interesting varieties in the spring catalogs next year!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; September 2009

Garden Inspiration: Helen's Haven

When it comes to focal points in the garden, Helen Yoest knows what goes and grows well together! Perfectly placed objects partner with plants to create delightful vignettes as you meander along the charming paths.

I had the pleasure of visiting Helen and her garden, Helen's Haven, during the Garden Conservancy Open Days in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Helen is, as my husband stated, "a ball of energy" as she is a mom to three children, a gardener, a garden writer, a volunteer, champion and organizer of many charitable and worthwhile causes.

I first met Helen back in the winter, and she's great fun. I know that I could easily spend hours upon hours hanging out with Helen! After a warm greeting, all it took was "you have society garlic" and "love the castor bean plants" for Helen to present me with paper bags and seeds to bring home.

A flowing fountain in the front yard garden is framed by architectural plants, ground covers, perennials and annuals.

The curb appeal of Helen's garden is quite dynamic and I'm sure her neighbors must be thrilled to have such a beautiful view when driving past her house each day. This section was on the right side, while the left side included some beautiful roses along with the other plants. Boxwood hedges curve along the paths to carry you into the side gardens.

The tall, bending stems of cleome echo the shape of the bottle tree "branches" in the backyard garden.

Her backyard garden includes several connected "rooms" to enjoy, each one with welcoming paths. Among the different rooms, Helen has an herb garden, a formal section, and a mixed border that slopes down to create a colorful display for enjoying from her fabulous porch (that I'd call a loggia). Interspersed are places to sit as well as spaces for her children to play.

The birds, bees and butterflies find both homes and food in Helen's garden. During my visit, I noticed hummingbirds, a downy woodpecker and goldfinches darting among the flowers and feeders. Helen had a few interesting "garden friends" enjoying time on her back porch in their chrysalis houses. One interesting character was a saddleback caterpillar moth.

The gardens are filled with ornamental trees, shrubs and vines that work together to give the gardens a sense of lushness while serving as "walls" to separate the garden rooms.

I understand why the garden is called "Helen's Haven" as it is indeed a welcoming sanctuary for all who are fortunate enough to spend a little time there. My thanks to Helen for opening her garden to inspire and encourage gardeners. What a delightful visit!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron; Location: Helen Yoest's Garden (Raleigh, NC); September 2009

Caryopteris Companions

Caryopteris 'Longwood Blue' blooms in late summer and into fall. I planted four in the trial area of my deer resistant garden. I'm trying different companions to use with caryopteris.

Agastache, salvia, gaillardia and lantana require the same growing conditions in my zone 7 garden - drought tolerant, full sun, good drainage, deer and rabbit resistant. And certain varieties of these companions hold their blooms long enough to use with the caryopteris!

Caryopteris grows to about three feet high and can be planted two feet apart. It should be cut back to about twelve inches in early spring to promote blooms on the new growth.

The blue bloom color looks good with pink, yellow, dark blue, apricot, orange and white. So many choices!

The fourth caryopteris that I have planted is among other blues - with buddleia 'Adonis Blue', salvia 'Mystic Spires Blue', salvia 'Black & Blue' and caryopteris 'Snow Fairy'.

Therein lies my conundrum. When a plant works so well with so many other colors, I have a difficult time deciding on the companions. Fortunately, I have time to decide since I will wait until spring to move the plants out of the holding area and into a design.

Photos and words by Freda Cameron

It's a Girl... Monarch Butterfly!

It was an exciting thing when one of the Monarch caterpillars moved from the asclepias incarnata (swamp milkweed) over to a large container planted with purple fountain grass, lantana, Persian shield and ageratum. I first noticed the "J" shape (that indicates the cat is ready to form the chrysalis) on August 30.

The next morning the cat was still a "J" but by afternoon of August 31, the chrysalis was formed.

This morning, I went out for my morning walk/run and noticed that the chrysalis was changing. I could see the design of the Monarch. By the time I finished my walk, this little girl had emerged!

It took exactly two weeks from the formation of the chrysalis to today's eclose. Our Monarch took a few hours to dry her wings and flap them to get some strength. She then moved onto the lantana blooms for nectar. This afternoon, she was flitting about the garden to feed on buddleia, marigolds, zinnias, agastache and salvias.

What a thrill to watch the metamorphosis! I'll be on the lookout for the other six caterpillars that fed on the milkweed. I should see more of the Monarch butterflies later this week. I think my garden has definitely earned the Monarch Waystation certification!

For more information on providing a habitat for Monarchs, visit Monarch Watch.

Photos and words by Freda Cameron; Location: home garden; August/September 2009

The Perennial Care Manual: Review

Review by Freda Cameron

The package arrived on my doorstep one summer afternoon. I immediately sat down and started reading the book. All other plans were put aside for the day as I consumed the information. I read all of Part One, Perennial Care Basics and skimmed every page of Part Two, Plant-By-Plant Perennial Guide, before putting the book down for the day.

The Perennial Care Manual by Nancy J. Ondra is indeed a page-turner for every gardener. So engaging, it is easy for any gardener, beginner or experienced, to get caught up in the plot!

Oh, and the photography! Photographer Rob Cardillo not only captures the details in the how-to photos, but provides drool-worthy eye candy in the photos of spectacular perennials and combinations.

This isn't your average plant care manual! Reading the book is like going into the garden with Nan as she explains her methods and tips on creating, caring for, and keeping up appearances in the perennial garden. She guides you through the basics of designing and creating a new garden or reworking your established garden. All the while, there is underlying light-hearted humor that makes the book lively, fun and easy to understand.

The perennial reference section of 125 popular plants is an absolutely wonderful resource to have on your bookshelf. There's no skimpy, incomplete information as each plant receives 1-2 pages of coverage. There is a description, photo, and sections on growing tips and seasonal care for each plant. With some perennials, Nan includes a section on troubleshooting common problems. Nan also does an excellent job of mentioning special considerations for zones, conditions and care in her "Relatively Speaking" sections.

The Perennial Care Manual won't be put away on the shelf to gather dust. But, it may gather some muddy finger prints when I take it into my garden!

Garden Inspiration: Planter with Petals... No Pedals

This fantastic bicycle planter caught my attention on a recent trip to Blowing Rock, North Carolina. Propped against a big shade tree in front of a garden shop, it looks perfectly placed and perfectly suited. On close inspection, you'll see that there are no pedals. Is it intentional? A thief could ride off with the bicycle planter if the pedals were on the bike!

Do you suppose that this may not be a real antique bike, but rather a replica intended to be a planter? I know nothing about antique bicycles. I controlled myself and didn't look at the price and I didn't ask about it at the garden shop. Nonetheless, I think it's a fabulous planter!

What's in your garage? A gardener with the right old bicycle, the right old shade tree, could have a right pretty planter filled with flower petals.

Words and photo by Freda Cameron; Location: Blowing Rock, NC; August 2009

We Pause for Labor Day

Enjoy your Labor Day holiday! Hope you have a wonderful time with your friends and family.

Photos by Freda Cameron; Location NC Zoo™, Asheboro, NC; August 2009

Is September the Busiest Month of the Year?

I don't know what it is about September, but with each day, I feel there aren't enough hours to do everything and see everyone!

The cooler temperatures put us in the mood to get together with our friends, take day trips and go to local events. Exercise is much more pleasant in the mornings as I try to walk three miles a day before I begin gardening. It is, after all, the perfect month to work in the garden!

Yesterday, I rearranged two groupings of spirea in the deer resistant garden to make room for sowing seeds and planting bulbs. I moved Japanese irises and shasta daisies. A big clump of ornamental oregano was moved to edge the front walkway. I deadheaded zinnias to coax them to produce more blooms before frost. With each plant I moved, I probably moved another three to be able to work in the redesign. It's just the beginning!

September is the month that I try to make corrections in the design while I know where everything is located. Sometimes when spring rolls around, I will have forgotten what looked bad, or good, the previous growing season.

I'm going to make-over the flower bed along the right bank of the cottage garden stream. I got tired of watering the plants there and intend to use drought-tolerant sedum (from all those sedum tips I planted in early summer) as well as lavender that I stockpiled when I found it at nurseries this summer. Those have been in holding in different locations.

Recently, I submitted a plan to our Home Owners Association to expand a section of the garden along the dry stream to further control the rain runoff. It will have to be based on deer resistant and rabbit resistant perennials. Speaking of deer, they are getting way too friendly! As for the new garden plan - it was approved, but will I have time this fall to create the new garden? Stay tuned...

Words and photos by Freda Cameron

Meme-Seven Things You Don't Know About Me

I don’t usually participate in a meme because I'm rather shy about receiving the attention. Then, why do I blog? I do like to research, garden, travel and share tips and information. I'm an information addict. Perhaps that's what drives me to blog.

Nonetheless, rules are made to be broken once in awhile, so I humbly accept this meme from Helen Yoest at Gardening with Confidence™ with thanks. I also thank Helen for letting me (she will now know) shamelessly copy the following explanation of this meme:

There were conditions with this Meme award. In order to participate I needed to:

  1. Link back to the person who gave you the award.

  2. Reveal seven things about yourself.

  3. Choose seven other blogs to nominate, and post a link to them. There are so many good ones, this is difficult.

  4. Let each of your choices know that they have been tagged by posting a comment on their blog.

  5. And finally, let the tagger know, when your post is up.

The Seven Things About Me

  1. Please pronounce my first name as Fred-ah instead of Freed-ah. I get really annoyed when people mispronounce my first name, especially after I've told them three times. If you can't keep it straight, just continue to call me Cameron.

  2. I don't like to have my photo taken. Does anyone?

  3. I celebrated my 21st birthday in Moscow, Russia when it was still the USSR. That was a long time ago, but that's as close as I'll get to revealing my true age on the internet.

  4. I used to breed and raise Arabian horses.

  5. The most unexpected phone call that I ever got in my life was from Princess Alia bint Al Hussein, the daughter of the late King Hussein of Jordan.

  6. The strangest thing that ever happened was when my 5 month old puppy dropped a lost necklace at my feet. I had lost it outside the week before. I always smile when I remember that sweet dog, now long gone.

  7. My future wishes - I'd love to live in France for one year. Of course, I'd also like to be fluent in French, really fluent. I'd love to be a real photographer, instead of a person with a camera.

Seven Other Blogs (wish I could select 100):

  1. Hoe and Shovel I am fascinated by the tropical gardens created by Meems in Florida. A garden paradise.

  2. Perennial Garden Lover What Racquel grows, I can probably grow in my zone. She puts together interesting combos that always appeal to me.

  3. Our French Garden in the Beautiful Dordogne Okay, I would live in France if I could. I get my garden and France "fix" by visiting Rob's blog.

  4. Creating Our Eden Collections of beautiful irises and daylilies displayed with exquisite taste in the gardens of Randy and Jamie.

  5. Garden Endeavors Great photographer, gardener and nature lover. Patsi sent me a lot of seeds that are now flowering in my garden.

  6. Secrets of a Seed Scatterer I've learned so much from Nell Jean, who I "met" on a cottage garden forum several years ago. A very wise garden mentor.

  7. Clay and Limestone Through the challenges of gardening under difficult conditions, Gail is so poetic with her stories and divine garden. Jane Austen would approve.


If I could be anywhere right now... it would be back in Paris, looking over the Siene...

Powered by Blogger.

Popular Posts