What's the Big Gardening Idea?

Just how many different agastaches can I combine into a colorful, deer resistant garden design?

Agastache varieties are available in an array of shapes and colors - cool and hot. I long to group them into a mass planting beside my driveway.

Such is my dream... because agastache is my signature plant.

This underused perennial is a thing of curiosity to many gardeners, but it is one of the easiest plants to grow in tough conditions of lean soil, little water and lots of curious critters. Don't kill agastache with kindness by overwatering, fertilizing or cutting it back in the fall. The basal foliage will remain through the winter on the western agastaches (tubular flowers and small leaves) and the herbaceous agastaches (bottlebrush flowers and wider leaves) will die back.

I started my collection a few years ago, quite by accident. Last year, I began the hunt in earnest - for the best colors, longest bloom season and strongest survivors. You can take away all of my other garden plants, but please leave my agastache!

The very challenge of a new garden generates enough excitement to make me spend hours on my computer, drawing out more garden designs than I can grow in my lifetime. So, why not dedicate one big canvas and paint a swath of an agastache garden for this year's big gardening idea?

I have allocated over 600 square feet of meadow to use as my canvas. My design includes a few select companions, with similar growing conditions, to punctuate the plan in such a way to add impact to the agastache as well as add some structure and color in other seasons.

But first, I must eradicate the meadow grass and add good garden soil. I will add some small, sharp gravel to the soil to make sure the drainage is suitable for the agastache.

Finding all the agastache will be more of a challenge than doing the work. It will take a few years to take the garden to maturity. I still have testing to do before buying large quantities of any new variety. I've learned to take it slow, rather than rush a garden project to completion.

This spring will provide me with more information on which new agastache successfully overwintered from the stellar performances in the summer of 2009.

Besides the colorful garden design, there are other advantages...
  1. Deer resistant
  2. Rabbit resistant
  3. Drought tolerant
  4. Attracts butterflies
  5. Attracts bees
  6. Attracts hummingbirds
  7. Attracts Goldfinch
  8. Low maintenance
...for basing my 2010 big garden idea on agastache!

Summer 2009 (click photo to enlarge)

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.

The Garden Before the Storm

The snow is on the way. Our local meteorologist is confident that we're in for a big winter storm. All you gardeners up in the snow belt, please don't laugh - seven inches of snow is forecast! That's a lot for a southerner.

We did the usual things that southerners do before a storm. We went to the grocery store and bought bread and milk just like we're supposed to do. My husband has the generator ready to go in case of a power outage. We're excited about snow, but if this front moves slightly, we could get an ice storm. That wouldn't be any fun at all.

I am convinced that we're in for a snowstorm because it was 60°F here today. The worst snowstorm that I can remember followed a 75° day. So, I took advantage of this warm day to do a bit of tidying up in the garden as well as sow a few cornflower seeds.

It's rather interesting to note how many perennials retain green basal foliage during the winter in zone 7 - achillea, western agastache, coreopsis, gaillardia, mums, nepeta, rose campion, shasta daisy, stachys hummelo, solidago and verbena bonariensis.

Scabiosa 'Butterfly Blue' has just started producing buds and blooms. This little perennial is evergreen here in zone 7. Unless the snow sets it back, it will bloom vigorously through the end of spring, and sporadically through fall.

Rated for zones 4-8, scabiosa (pincushion flower) is a good, carefree, short edging plant. The plant in the photo is the oldest perennial in my garden. It is growing along my stream inside the cottage garden fence. I added several more along a path, only to find out that the bunnies will eat what they can reach. I will relocate the new plants to the same area by the stream, away from little bunny noses.

While scabiosa is not deer or rabbit resistant, it is a cheerful little perennial and a fantastic butterfly magnet!

If the snow comes, it will cover all the signs of spring. I will just have to sit inside and browse the big stack of flower and seed catalogs that arrived in the mail recently!

Scabiosa blooms in winter

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.

Substitute Pulmonaria for Hosta in Deer Country

Once upon a time, I grew beautiful hostas. I lived in the shady woods, had fertile soil and could keep their roots moist with little effort. There were no deer problems at that home, so my hosta garden looked fabulous. I miss those hostas.

My growing conditions now include deer. I don't expect a hosta to survive and flourish planted in my open garden. It will be eaten - guaranteed! I don't want to take heroic measures using spray repellents nor fencing in the shady area of my garden. The cost of doing so would exceed the cost of a few hostas.

I have learned to substitute and love the plants that are happy in my growing conditions. So, what perennial can I grow instead of hosta?

Pulmonaria! Yes - there's a big pulmonaria world out there that sounds just as exciting and interesting as growing hostas.

I am putting Pulmonaria 'Silver Bouquet' PP through deer resistant trials, totally unprotected from deer, rabbits and any other critters. This is my first experience with pulmonaria and all I did was follow the growing condition suggestions on the plant tag.

The trial pulmonaria plants from Terra Nova Nurseries arrived as small plugs and were planted out in late September. After watering the pulmonaria for the first month, I have totally ignored the perennials since.

The deer and rabbits have ignored the pulmonaria, too. As a result of all this neglect, the four plants are thriving!

Pulmonaria are herbaceous, so they should die back in the winter. The fragrance garden is a protected area in winter, located on the east side of my house and I've not had the die back yet. Which means, that if the deer and rabbits were hungry enough this winter, they have sniffed out these pulmonaria as possible food and rejected this menu.

Growing conditions for Pulmonaria 'Silver Bouquet' are similar to hostas:

zones: 4-9
light: part sun to shade
size: 20" wide/7" high/10" high w/flowers

In my zone and summer sun conditions, I decided to plant the pulmonaria in a spot that is full shade with a bit of dappled morning sunlight. The soil needs to be moist, but well-drained.

The silver leaves really brighten up the ground beneath the sweet bay magnolia tree in my fragrance garden. With a mature width of 20 inches, I have spaced the plants to make a ground cover in this spot.

We use the fragrance garden in late afternoons for dining in good weather, especially in spring and fall. The pulmonaria should bloom in April - in my favorite colors, changing from pink to blue. The understory in this area is also planted with Spanish bluebells. I look forward to seeing the impact of combining these two deer resistant spring-blooming plants.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.The pulmonaria plants were provided for free by Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc. Deer resistance may vary in your garden.

Deer Resistant Landscapes and Deer Control

There is a growing concern over deer as homeowners are having their landscapes destroyed. In Chapel Hill, North Carolina, the issue of deer damage is appearing on town council agendas. Citizens are asking for the town's help to control the deer.

I don't live in the city limits of Chapel Hill, so I have no opinion on what the town should/should not do regarding the deer pressure for the residents. I don't have a vote there. Nonetheless, I do empathize as it is a sensitive and controversial topic on both sides of the deer fence.

My gardens (and house) began as acres of meadow and woodland. When we bought this property we knew deer would be a problem. They slept in the meadow every night before we built, and still sleep there every night since. I had to become an expert in deer resistant gardening and landscaping.

During our first year (2005), we counted twenty deer crossing our front meadow at the same time. Every year since, 3-5 fawns have been born here.

Last night as my husband and I were pulling into the neighborhood and had to wait for a few deer to cross the road, we remarked at how we recognize those deer! No, we haven't named them. We don't love them. We don't hate them. We had to learn to co-exist.

Now, imagine that you've lived in your neighborhood for many years without any deer damage to your landscape. You never had to worry about deer resistant shrubs and you could grow deer delicacies like hostas and roses.

As deer populations grew and as neighborhoods, businesses and roads took up more and more land, the deer moved into your previously deer-free yard in search of food. Your landscape is being picked clean by deer. The costs are huge and the emotional upset runs deep.

There isn't one solution for protecting existing landscapes. It may take a combination of methods that include fencing, herd culling, repellents and/or replacing shrubs and plants with deer resistant varieties. None of which are inexpensive.

The point that I've learned from this is - things change with the forces of nature. Wind, rain, drought, ice... and animals.

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.

Garden Wish List: Eucomis

All gardeners have a wish list. There are many plants that I have admired, but haven't yet added to my garden.

Eucomis comosa 'Oakhurst' has been on my mind ever since I saw a great display of pineapple lilies growing at Juniper Level Botanic Garden in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Juniper Level Botanic Garden is the creation of Tony Avent, owner of Plant Delights Nursery. During a summer open house, I had a chance to stroll his beautiful display gardens.

In a full sun garden like mine, dark foliage is difficult to find. I'm always looking for plants that will add dark color and won't fade out or scorch.

An attribute listed for Eucomis 'Oakhurst' is "Full hot sun for best color."

Full sun. Got it.
Hot. Got it.

Is Eucomis deer resistant? Is it rabbit resistant? Those are the other challenges that I face. In my online research, I have found multiple references that indicate that this plant isn't likely to appeal to deer, rabbits or squirrels.

Assuming that the growing conditions are suitable for my garden, how do I want to use this in my garden design?

The foliage height is 24 inches and the flowering height is 32 inches. That's the right form to add dark purple foliage as well as wide, pointed foliage where I have a lot of thin, lacy, silver to light green foliage.

The dark purple foliage will provide a nice companion color for the pink, blue and purple flowers in my garden. The bloom color and shape will add further interest among the tubular-shaped flowers of agastache and salvia that I grow.

Silver to blue foliage of plants such as nepeta, stachys and echinops will look especially good next to the dark purple. I can see rearranging my pink muhly grass to use as a companion, too.

I can think of so many ways to use Eucomis, either in the deer resistant outer gardens or inside the cottage garden fence. Enough information has surfaced in my research on critter resistance for me to take a chance. I'm definitely moving Eucomis from my "wish list" to a "shopping cart" somewhere!

What's on your garden plant wish list?

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Photos courtesy of Terra Nova Nurseries, Inc.

A Flower in the Hills

We drove to the top of Beverly (Hills, that is) to look at the amazing views across the canyons. We had driven the maze of curving roads lined with beautiful gardens, high walls and mansions (swimming pools, movie stars) with signs that warned of armed responses to trespassers.

The gardens outside the high walls were nothing short of astounding, so what glorious gardens were tended behind the walls?

We passed a film crew doing a shoot of a pretty woman in front of a pretty house. The road ended in a cul-de-sac where we stopped with views of both the canyons and the film action down the street.

I was distracted by a big construction site surrounded by a tall chain link fence with more warnings to trespassers. Probably the beginnings of another palatial estate that will take years to complete.

I was shooting with my camera when coming up through the ground, something caught my eye in the construction zone. Bubbling crude? Not oil, but a flower. I decided to risk sirens and arrest to poke the camera lens through the fence to photograph the flower.

I had no interest in identifying the star of the film shoot. I lost interest in the views. I wanted to identify the flower.

Do I know you? Are you a famous flower? I've never seen you in my area, but I have seen photos of you in seed catalogs. I guess Californy is the place you ought to be since you like warm zones, sunshine and drought.

Dressed in an orange striped uniform that reminds me of the pants on the Swiss Guard at the Vatican, I decided the bloom must be a Treasure Flower (Gazania). I don't know how the seed found its way to the top of Beverly Hills, but the similarity to the pants of the Swiss Guard must have provided it with Divine transportation methods such as the wind or a bird.

Out of place in a ritzy neighborhood? I think not. The flower was flourishing in an untended construction site rather than a star's garden. I realized that I didn't need to worry about driving our tiny, rented Hundai up streets where we passed such brands as Mazerati, Ferrari and Lamborghini.

The Gazania is worthy of a being photographed and featured in a blog story. There are no movie star gardens posted here. I might have been hauled off to jail had I tried to photograph the rich and famous. So, thank you folks for kindly dropping in - Y'all come back now, y'hear?

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. References to lyrics for "The Ballad of Jed Clampett" by Paul Henning. All brand names listed are trademarks of those respective companies.

Wanted (Alive): Armeria Cinerea

Is armeria cinerea hiding out under an assumed name? Or, is it so rare and exotic that I will need to offer up a huge bounty to bring it to my garden?

This plant was last seen during a visit to JC Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, North Carolina in April 2009. The short, slender green foliage with white pom-poms was hanging around in the gravel-mulched xeric area.

All I have is the mugshot that I took of the plant and the name tag and arboretum tag number. Given the location, I don't believe this is a case of mistaken identity.

I can't find armeria cinerea listed anywhere in my search of the virtual world. There are many types of armeria (aka 'sea thrift') and even pseudoarmeria (aka 'false sea thrift').

If any gardener knows the whereabouts of armeria cinerea, please let me know!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. Location: JC Raulston Arboretum, Raleigh, NC.

Santa Monica Sunshine

All the leaves are brown and the sky is gray.
I've been for a walk on a winter's day.
I'd be safe and warm if I was in LA...

If the song California Dreaming is playing over and over in your head, then visualize sunny Santa Monica as a dream destination.

Like most gardeners in winter, I get a serious case of cabin fever if I can't be outside. This has been one of those cold winters where I was cooped up in the house for too long. Fortunately, my husband had talked me into reserving a winter break in California long before we knew just how cold our North Carolina weather would be this year.

We were in the warmest spot in the US while even Florida was suffering from the record cold temperatures. We were grateful for each day of basking in the glorious sunshine! Our week-long stay rewarded us with 70+ degree temperatures. The only day that it drizzled rain was the morning that we flew home.

This was my first trip to the Los Angeles area. Santa Monica is like a piece of paradise parked on the edge of sprawling LA. With over three miles of wide beaches, pretty neighborhoods and manageable traffic, I would definitely stay in Santa Monica again (maybe next January).

Santa Monica is a place for fitness. I can imagine that if I lived there for one year, I'd whip this old body into shape! All along the flat beach there are paved walking paths and two-lane paved biking paths. You can see where the tax dollars are spent. Why, even the public restrooms were clean!

One afternoon, my husband and I walked six miles and were proud of it - until we were passed by an elderly lady, probably in her 80s, roller blading past us. We could only laugh as an elderly gentleman, seeing our astonished reaction, said "never give up!"

Okay, we got the message as we passed by the famous "Muscle Beach" and watched the acrobats at the Trapeze School up on Santa Monica Pier. We felt like slackers!

If the pressure from those fast-paced fitness buffs in tight yoga pants gets to you, there are the higher, street-level parks above the beach paths where you won't look out of place wearing jeans and walking at a normal pace with the rest of the human race.

Through the parks of green grass, palm trees and tropical flowers are two more paths and the street sidewalk. One of the paths is paved for strolling and another is soft gravel for jogging.

The views from these bluff walks are gorgeous, especially at sunset. There are benches everywhere if you want to hang out for awhile, read a book or people-watch.

This is were you'll see just about every kind of dog in the world being walked by just about every kind of person in the world. Speaking of which, street people sleep on the green grass. The lush grass does look like a soft bed and waking up each morning in the middle of a pristine park with breath-taking ocean views must be heaven.

There's more to Southern California than the weather...to be continued...

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel; Location: Santa Monica, California; January 2009.

How to Automatically Add Your Blog Name to Each Post

May I see your identification please? Theft comes in many forms and recently garden bloggers have discovered that there are bad guys who will steal our content.

Including a blog name and link in a "signature" on your posts allows the reader to click back to the original source. It would take some effort for a thief to remove a signature from every post, so they may move on to easier targets.

Using a blog post template is an easy and automatic way to add that "blog signature" information for all new posts!

With a template, you don't have to retype the same information over-and-over again. However, you are still free to change the wording slightly if you want to make the information unique for a specific blog post.

My instructions are for using Blogger from Google™. If you are using another host, such as Wordpress™, then there is probably a similar option available.

Go to your Dashboard in Blogger. Listed under your blog name, choose Settings

Click on the tab Formatting

Scroll down to Post Template

In the box to the right, you can enter text and code that you want to appear in the Blogger EDITOR whenever you create a NEW POST.

My example links to my blog so that a reader can always click back to the original source. You don't have to include a link, of course. Save the settings when you are finished. You can come back and edit this again at any time and it will be used on all subsequent new posts.

The example in the purple box below shows the code magnified. You can copy and paste this code into your post temple, then just substitute your information where I have included my name, blog url address and blog name.

Since I'm a freelance writer, I include my name as a byline. Many bloggers want to remain anonymous and will not add their real name. Edit the information to fit your needs.

Remember - Only include the information that you want to share with the world!

(Note: I typically put the period outside the blog name url as shown in the magnified code. To make the code easier for you to read in the next examples, it is part of the blog name)

Below is the coding shown line-by-line so that you can see the different parts of the example.

I use a smaller font size than my blog post by applying the "-2" html coding. I also use italics for my signature. These are optional codes that you may not want to use. Please note that each line has a wrapper, meaning that there is code to begin the formatting and code to end the formatting. The matching codes are shown in matching font colors.

When you create a NEW POST within the "Edit Html" mode, then the text will automatically appear in the Blogger EDITOR window as Html code.

If you create a NEW POST with the "Compose" mode, then your text will appear as normal without the Html codes shown. (You may click back-and-forth between the html and the compose modes if you wish.)

You may edit the text and code if you want to add a date, location, other information to change the wording to apply to an individual post. To write your post, just start typing in front of the automatic code.

Html Mode:

Compose Mode:

The result:

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.

We Won the Battle Against the Blog Content Thieves

Dear Readers,

Before I left for a week in sunny Southern California, the content of my blog, other garden blogs, as well as garden magazines was scraped off (stolen) by another website. With the help of fellow bloggers and big corporations, the battle was won! Here's how:

Carolyn at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago was the first to let me know about the content theft. Thank you Carolyn!

I posted a story about the theft and contacted Google via some instructions posted on ProBlogger (link provided by fellow blogger at Secrets of a Seed Scatterer). Thank you, ProBlogger and Nell Jean!

I also contacted, and received a response from, The Home Depot®. The thieving website was also misusing that company's name in order to steal page ranking from them as well as my garden blog. They were happy to know and joined the battle. Thank you, Home Depot!

Meanwhile, rather than writing new content to be stolen, I reposted past stories (scheduled to post during my absence) and turned off comments and gadgets to subscribe to my blog with RSS feeds. Since I was away on vacation to have fun, I didn't want to deal with more drama!

I did have my iPod Touch with me, so I was able to check on the progress of the battle against the content thieves.

Due to the efforts of Google™, the website no longer has our content and with a little indexing wizardry, that url redirects to the legitimate website of The Home Depot.

Google, who owns Feedburner and Blogger, apparently blocked the IP address of the thieves so that they couldn't scrape content off of my blog. I imagine that they probably blocked that IP address for all feeds and blogs under their power. Thank you, Google!

To make sure that your blog posts are always attributed to your blog, I recommend that you "sign" the post with your blog name. I have been adding my name to my posts for well over a year and am now including a hyperlink back to my blog. It is easy to create a hyperlink:
  1. Write your blog name at the end of your post (i.e. Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel)

  2. Highlight the blog name

  3. Click on the "link" icon in your editor (it looks like a chain link in Blogger)

  4. Type the url address of your blog (i.e., http://definingyourhome.blogspot.com)
  5. in the link box

You can also include the information in your blog template so that you don't have to always remember to add the information to each post... and, I'll tell you how to do that in my next blog post!

Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel. All other company or product or patented names mentioned are registered trademarks/copyrights/patents owned by those respective companies or persons.

Deer Resistant Plants From the Lamiaceae Family

The reliably deer resistant plants in my garden are all from the same family tree. Well, not an actual tree, but they are classified in botany as belonging to the Lamiaceae family. A few of the relatives of the mint family may surprise you since they are great flowering plants for the garden. A few other relatives, you will know as being mints (and can run rampant). You'll recognize some well-behaved herbs as well as foliage plants.

Understanding a bit about plant families can help you select the plants that will survive a deer onslaught. The Lamiaceae family of plants has never even been sampled by the deer herd on my property. As with all other authors of this subject, I must say that there is always the possibility that your deer will be desperate enough to learn to like any plant.

TAMU Image Gallery for Plant Family: Lamiaceae

In my deer resistant garden, I am growing the following plants from the family Lamiaceae:

Agastache (hyssop)
Caryopteris (blue mist shrub; also classified as Verbenaceae)
Lavandula (lavender)
Mentha (mint - in pots only!)
Monarda (bee balm)
Ocimum (basil)
Origanum (marjoram, oregano)
Perovskia (Russian sage)
Phlomis (Jerusalem sage)
Physostegia (Obedient plant - 'Miss Manners')
Rosmarinus (rosemary)
Salvia (sage - herbs and flowers)
Scutellaria (flower, skullcap)
Stachys (betony, lamb's ear)
Thymus (thyme)
Vitex (chaste tree)

There are a few other good plant families for deer resistant gardens, such as Verbenaceae that includes verbena and lantana. The deer did, however, pick quite a few lantana flowers last fall, much to my surprise as they left it alone all summer and all years in the past.

The Buddleja (buddleia, butterfly bush) is another reliable, deer resistant family of summer flowering shrubs.

The Asteraceae (aster) family of plants can be hit-or-miss with deer. I am growing the following with some success (noted), but you may have some nibbling of these with your deer herd:

Achillea (yarrow - no problems)
Ageratum (floss flower - some nibbles, nothing significant)
Aster (eaten by rabbits, gave up)
Chrysanthemum (mums - haven't sufficiently tested, but on my list)
Coreopsis (tickseed - no deer problems, but I wonder about rabbits?)
Echinacea (sampled, no serious damage, but protect from rabbits)
Echinops (didn't eat while in bloom, but ate foliage down after bloom; plants returned this year)
Gaillardia (blanket flower - a nip here and there, but got masses of blooms)
Helianthus (severe munching of swamp sunflower)
Osteospermum (annual, no damage)
Rudbeckia ('Goldsturm', no deer problems, but rabbits love these)

Most of my deer resistant testing has been with perennials, ornamental grasses, shrubs and trees. In summer 2009, I successfully grew annuals that were deer resistant: angelonia, larkspur, poppies, Benary's Giant zinnias, marigolds and snapdragons.

I will always report my results here on my blog and you can check past stories by selecting my deer resistance topic on the sidebar.

Story original posted in 2009 with updates added in 2010. Words and photos by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel.

Blog Content Stolen by homedepotgarden.net

Dear Readers,

Hundreds of pages of my content and photos have been stolen by a Turkish website http://homedepotgarden.net. They have also stolen content from other garden bloggers and Garden Design Magazine.

I have reported them to Home Depot since the site is obviously trying to obtain the page ranking from that company and stealing the use of their name.

I have reported them to Google by submitting a spam report for http://homedepotgarden.net. What Google can do is remove them from their page ranking index so that when someone searches for garden information, they will not be pointed to that site.

It appears that site is building up as they hit 126 pages of my blog today alone. I expect them to try to get approval for using ads on their site to try to make money off of ad clicks. That is usually the scheme for such a site.

Fortunately, I have been putting my name at the end of my blog posts for over a year now. So, my content can be identified as mine. However, the content stolen from others has no identification. There are no blog names, no link backs to the original writers.

Right now, I am reposting older stories of mine instead of writing new content for them to steal.

You will notice that for the last few days, I've added a hyperlink to my name where I have a list of published articles as well as a hyperlink back to my blog. By including this in the text of my posts, stolen content will carry the link back here unless the thieves go to the trouble to break the links.

Fellow bloggers - I recommend that each of you start adding your blog name at the bottom of every post and include a hyperlink back.

For now, I am going to turn off comments.

Thank you for your patience.

Protected by Copyscape Web Copyright Protection Checker

Written for Defining Your Home Garden and Travel

Add Captions to Blog Photos

Do you want to include captions with your garden blog photos? There are two ways this can be done. One way is to use purchased software and the other way is to write free html codes.

Most of the time, I use a software program (ImageWell by Xtralean Software) to add a caption before uploading the photo.

By adding the caption to the photo before uploading, the two are attached. So, if someone copies the photo, the caption is part of the image. Using software, it is very easy to change the font size, font color and position of the text.

However, it's difficult to use a hyperlink within the caption. Also, note that in the photo below, the caption is small. When I uploaded this photo, I selected the "small" format and Blogger adjusted the entire image.

Photo by Defining Your Home Garden

In the second photo, I added the caption using html codes. I also included an optional hyperlink to my blog.

To use html codes for captions, first upload your photo.

In the code below, the red text shows you the html "table" tag that I used to anchor the caption with the photo in the blog. I also set the font style, size and position of the caption. I kept this caption short enough to fit under the photo because I don't want to complicate the coding.

By using the "table" tags, I am treating the photo as one row of data and the caption as another row of data.

The "tr" tag represents a table row.
The "td" tag is used for table data.

The green text indicates the caption wording. The blue text indicates the hyperlink coding. I set the link to open in another window by using the "target" option.

The text in black was generated by Blogger when I uploaded the photo. I just wrapped the Blogger code with my table tags.

You can copy these pieces of code to play around with your own photo captions. The downside of using html codes is that it is a bit tedious. However, if you store these wrapper pieces in a text editor and then cut and paste the code around your photo code, it is a bit easier.

With the winter days keeping most of us indoors, this is a great time to share non-gardening tips. Next time, I'll show you how to use html to position two photos side-by-side.

This story was originally posted in February 2009. All photos and instructions by Freda Cameron, Defining Your Home, Garden and Travel

Garden Art and Inspiration: Surprises Among Flowers

Walking along the street, I see a colorful patchwork of cottage garden flowers. I want a closer look at the front yard of a quaint stone cottage.

A white-painted bird feeder rises up from the blooms. A brick path invites me to an open patio circled with brightly painted Adirondack chairs. Can I really go into this garden and take a seat?

Yes. This isn't a home garden after all! The patio, garden, bird feeder and colorful chairs are actually in front of the Bob Timerlake® Gallery in Blowing Rock, North Carolina.

The garden objects can easily be adapted for home gardens, but are there bigger surprises in this flower-filled town?

The town of Blowing Rock is known to be pretty. On the August day that we visited, hanging baskets donned every lamp post. The storefronts and the parks were overflowing with flowers.

Veterans Park flanks one side of the downtown street where The Blowing Rock Garden Club maintains a gorgeous garden. The sloping bank has both sun and shade where shrubs, annuals and perennials are used together to provide interesting vignettes for strolling visitors. In addition to the flowers, the town is filled with galleries displaying works of local artists. But, not all art is displayed indoors...

Among the masses of flowers, I see the head of a gardener! I can relate to her sitting there among her flowers. I can see that she has paused from her gardening to take in the results of her work before moving on to her next delightful task.

She is you. She is me. We are gardeners.

"The Gardener" is a beautiful bronze sculpture by Alex Hallmark. She was commissioned in 2006 to recognize the work of The Blowing Rock Garden Club.

Alex says:
She is composed close to the ground. She has a sense of pride in her work, but she is also humble, knowing that she is only a simple tool working in a medium she did not create. Her neck is slightly elongated to give her a feeling of vulnerability.

She seems so real to me. I want to chat with her about the flowers in her garden. Maybe you'll want to visit with her, too.


Words and flower photos by Freda Cameron. Bronze sculpture and photo by Alex Hallmark. Location: The Town of Blowing Rock in the mountains of North Carolina. No incentives were provided to the writer for mentioning the products or businesses.

Winter Is Not Always Snow and Ice

Sunshine and blue skies brighten many cold, winter days from the Piedmont to the Coast of North Carolina. Sparkling crystals of frosty mornings melt with the first beams of sunlight. Snowfall and ice are rare events. Some years, we have no white precipitation. Most years, we'll have a light dusting of snow that disappears quickly. Once in awhile, we'll get a deep snow.

Evergreens, both native and ornamental, provide evidence of year-round life in the gardens, parks and woodlands. We watch the bare, graceful branches of maples and willows for the first buds that indicate spring is coming. Camellias and hellebores bloom. Holly berries provide rich color.

Ducks and swans still swim on ponds while herons, egrets and ospreys continue fishing without barriers of ice. Songbirds sip and splash in the shallow, rocky edges of streams.

While we can have days of rain, our winter months are interspersed with sunny days that lure us outside to break the doldrums of cabin fever. Get up, bundle up and go for a walk.

Photo taken by Freda Cameron at Sarah P. Duke Gardens, Durham, NC in January 2009

Le Cathédrale by Rodin: Symbol of Hope and Faith

These hands called Le Cathédrale (The Cathedral) were sculpted by Auguste Rodin in 1909. They are a symbol of hope and faith. The Musée Rodin gardens in Paris, France are glimpsed through the window.

Wishing you a wonderful New Year 2010.

Photos (antique effect) taken by Freda Cameron; Location: Paris, France; May 2009
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