Upcoming online talks feature garden celebrities and new garden books

I am so excited – feels like I just opened a stack of Christmas presents! While researching garden events this morning, I found a treasure trove of virtual events and ended up registering for six webinars (many with garden celebrities), plus three 2020 coffee table gardening books – all for under $100. Half of the events are free.

 

This afternoon I will be speaking as part of the Georgia Master Gardener Annual meeting. After that, I am all in for learning from others at this conference and these webinars. You can find all of these and more are on my website calendar (tinyurl.com/garden-events), but I am sharing direct links for you below.

 

First, there are three free webinars in the next three days:

 

Saturday, November 14, 11 a.m.              The Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival

Nature’s Cure

Monty Don, Britain’s treasured horticulturist, author, and broadcaster, and Sue Stuart–Smith, prominent psychiatrist and psychotherapist, reflect on the life-affirming capacity of gardening and nature to soothe troubled minds in our disturbing world. Part of The Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival.

 

Sunday, November 15, 2 p.m.

Rebirth

OK, this one is not gardening, but looks interesting: Is it possible that the arts could not only survive, but emerge from the COVID crisis and recent social unrest stronger than before? Cultural leaders from the US and UK re-imagine the future of their art forms.

 

Monday, November 16, 7 p.m.

Jared Barnes: Perennials that are huge both in size and in personality

The world is getting smaller! With more globalization, more efficient technology, and more people, small is now the big thing. Gardening is following the trend as breeders and plant companies select miniature models of plants and pixies for the patio. But, in an ever-shrinking world, we horticulturists shouldn’t forget the friendly giants of the landscape. Jared Barnes will share perennials that are huge both in size and in personality and show how to incorporate them into gardens both big and small. This free event is a partnership with the Georgia Perennial Plant Association and the Atlanta History Center.

 

Second, The Garden Conservancy has a Fall 2020 Literary Series that is amazing; we have watched two episodes already. Not only did I just sign up for all three remaining talks, but I am going for the opportunity to get the corresponding book mailed to me a week ahead at an amazing price.

 

Note from GC: Webinars will be presented via Zoom. Links will be sent to registered attendees on the morning of each webinar. If you cannot join us for the live webinar, we still encourage you to register! A link to a recording of the webinar will be emailed to registrants in the days following the session.

 

November 19, 2 p.m.     $40 for the book and talk, $15 for just the Zoom talk

Larry Lederman, Garden Portraits: Experiences of Natural Beauty

Garden Portraits: Experiences of Natural Beauty, a painterly collection of sixteen magnificent and diverse landscapes, is the sixth botanical photography book from Larry Lederman, the photographer of the New York Botanical Garden.

 

December 3, 2 p.m.        $28 for the book and talk, $15 for just the Zoom talk

Dan Hinkley, Windcliff: A Story of People, Plants, and Gardens

Windcliff: A Story of People, Plants, and Gardens follows the course of Dan Hinkley’s plant-obsessed life as he developed his latest garden on a high bluff overlooking Puget Sound in Indianola, WA. As he reflects on his property, he also reflects upon the principles of good horticulture gathered from over five decades of gardening.

 

December 17, 2 p.m.     $28 for the book and talk, $15 for just the Zoom talk

Renny Reynolds, Chasing Eden: Design Inspiration from the Gardens at Hortulus Farm

Chasing Eden: Design Inspiration from the Gardens at Hortulus Farm (Timber Press, January 2020) is a lavishly illustrated roadmap to creating a personal Eden. Together with his late partner, Jack Staub, Renny Reynolds created Hortulus Farm Garden and nursery, a 100-acre 18th-century farmstead and nursery in the rolling hills of Bucks County, PA. Hortulus Farm is not only a model of classical gardening and design teners, but also a showcase of how traditions can successfully be broken.

 

You can also stream their summer series of speakers for free.  Thank you, Garden Conservancy!

 

Third, GardenComm is selling tickets for an on-demand play that you can stream anytime Dec. 3-6.

 

Betrothal is a 35-minute comedy about two iris growers who meet at a competition under a tent during a rainstorm. Natalie and Joe Carmolli will perform in the play by Lanford Wilson, which will be videoed by Adriana Robinson of Spring Meadow Nursery. Pat Stone, publisher of GreenPrints, will entertain with a musical introduction.

 

I hope this inspires you. My geeky little heart was racing as I found more and more ways to see gardens and learn about gardening. It felt like presents were dropping from the internet cloud.

 

OK, my registrations are in, all is on my calendar. Alexa, add popcorn to my shopping list.

Every door prize at this virtual garden conference is a winner – and many are worth more than the registration fee.

This week I wrote the descriptions for over a dozen door prizes offered as part of the virtual 2020 Georgia Master Gardener Association Conference. This conference includes home garden tours led by Allan Armitage, Mike Dirr and Coach Vince Dooley, plus six live garden talks. Click here for registration and more information about the conference  Anyone can attend. Please share with your gardening friends. This conference would be especially interesting to Southeastern U.S. gardeners.

Back to the door prizes… It seemed rather dry to just add promo copy to the descriptions, so I decided to share why I wanted to win each prize (except the books – they are great, but already in our library!), and link to more information and purchase opportunities (because we can each win only one at best.)

 

Herbaceous Perennial Plants, 4th Edition, by Allan Armitage (signed!)

Value:                 $80

More info/buy: http://www.allanarmitage.net/shop

One thousand plus pages of information about perennials, hot off the press with current and tried-and-true varieties and cultivars, at your fingertips. Beware though – you will find yourself looking up a particular plant then lost in the engaging text for a while. Here is a recent review I wrote about this book.

 

Gardening with Grains, by Brie Arthur (signed!), plus two seed packets

Value:                 $36

More info/buy: https://www.briegrows.com/shop

Perfect timing! Grains are cool-season… hmmm…  crops? ornamentals? BOTH! Learn more with her new book and two packets of wheat seeds – Soft White and Bronze Chief.

 

The Foodscape Revolution, by Brie Arthur (signed!), plus two seed packets

Value:                 $34

More info/buy: https://www.briegrows.com/shop

Brie is such an energetic and inspiring speaker that you want to know more about Foodscaping – and you will with her first book. Two packets of Brie’s Soft White wheat seeds will get you out into the garden to plant.

Donated by Brie Arthur.

 

Seven Steps to an Organic Garden, by Mike Cunningham

Value:                 $15

More info/buy: https://tinyurl.com/yyqj54yg (book),  https://countrygardensfarm.com/

Mike and Judy Cunningham, “The Teaching Farmers”, and their family run a 150-acre farm and CSA with vegetables that are Certified Naturally Grown. Taking a class at their Newnan Farm to learn about cooking, gardening or food preservation is on my bucket list, so I watch their Facebook page to find out when the classes will start again post-COVID.

 

Hydrangeas for American Gardens, by Michael A. Dirr (signed!)

Value:                 $45

More info/buy:  https://tinyurl.com/y3k3797v

Hydrangeas are signature Southern plants. A Hydrangea collection can include sun and shade plants, native and exotic plants, blooms from spring to fall, plus amazing fall color and winter bark. With this book you can learn more about the hydrangeas in your garden and make plans to expand your collection.

Donated by Mike Dirr.

 

Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, by Michael Dirr (signed!)

Value:                 $82

More info/buy: https://tinyurl.com/y3k3797v

Who knows more about woody plants than Mike Dirr? A virtual tour of his garden and his signed iconic reference on your shelf – Score!

Donated by Mike Dirr.

 

Dooley’s Playbook: The 34 Most Memorable Plays in Georgia Football History, by Vince Dooley (signed!)

Value:                 $35

More info/buy: https://tinyurl.com/y23pfpdl

Southerners love football and Georgia fans love Vince Dooley. Vince will be touring us through his home garden as part of this virtual conference. Did you know he is quite the gardener, with a hydrangea named for him? You want this SIGNED book because, although it is his most recent of many books, it is already sold out.

Donated by Vince Dooley.

 

Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia, by Linda Chafin

Value:                 $33

More info/buy: https://tinyurl.com/y4cjkytr

Field Guide to the Wildflowers of Georgia and Surrounding States is the first field guide devoted exclusively to Georgia’s wildflowers, while also including many plants found in neighboring states. This is a great reference to identify plants or learn more about native plants to add to your landscape.

 

Clematis Abilene

Value:                 $29

More info/buy: https://www.brushwoodnursery.com/

Clematis Abilene has rich, pink two-tone blooms. The flowers are up to 6 inches across and very full at maturity, but the plant remains compact and suited to smaller spaces and container culture.

Brushwood Nursery is known nationwide for their Clematis and consistently in the Top 5 in their category at The Garden Watchdog.

Donated by Dan Long, Brushwood Nursery.

 

Antique Glass Garden Art

Value:                 $50

These hand-crafted flowers are created from antique glassware, each one a unique design. The winner will have a glass flower shipped to them with instructions on purchasing a metal support locally to install it at just the right height for their garden.

Donated by Carol Martinese.

 

45-Minute Online Landscape Consultation

Value:                 $80

More info/buy: https://clifrbroc.wixsite.com/mysite

 

Cliff Brock was the curator of the State Botanical Garden of Georgia’s flower garden before spending a year in Oregon and then returning to Newnan, GA. Cliff knows plants so very well and, like many gardeners, has many talents. He is also a composer and pianist, as well as a writer and photographer (check out his blog here.) A 45-minute virtual consultation, offering design ideas and giving plant maintenance advice – well, that would be amazing.

Donated by Cliff Brock.

 

Encore Azaleas Gift Certificate

Value:                 $40

More info:          https://www.encoreazalea.com/gardening/article/encore-azalea-brochure, www.facebook.com/EncoreAzalea

Encore® Azaleas are the bestselling multi-season blooming azalea in the world with over 30 varieties. Won’t it be fun to add a few to your garden?

Donated by Flowerwood Nursery.

 

Southern Living Plant Collection Gift Certificate

Value:                 $40

More info:          https://southernlivingplants.com/about-us/brochure/, www.facebook.com/SouthernLivingPlantCollection

The Southern Living Plant Collection by Flowerwood Nursery includes over 60 varieties of trees, shrubs, bulbs, annuals, perennials, and ornamental grasses. You will have fun with this gift certificate!

Donated by Flowerwood Nursery.

BOOK REVIEW – Herbaceous Perennial Plants

This summer Allan Armitage released the 4th edition of “Herbaceous Perennial Plants: A Treatise on their Identification, Culture, and Garden Attributes”.

As a garden writer and Master Gardener I am excited about this new edition, a 1,000+ page treatise. I do a lot of internet searches.  I also turn to books. Armitage’s writing tells stories and includes friendly growing advice. He gives personality to the plants. This gets personal: instead of providing only facts, it makes me want to bring these endearing or exciting plants into my garden. And when a plant from a garden center or plant sale performs well in my garden, relaxing with this book (yes, one can definitely curl up with this hefty reference book) introduces me to the plant’s relatives and begi ns the quest for a plant collection.

When I write about perennials, “Herbaceous Perennial Plants” is the first book I turn to, to the point that I can twist in my office chair and lay my hands on a copy as a reflex action. This new edition arrives twelve years after the last edition, 31 years after the first edition, and 23 years after the American Horticulture Society named it one of “75 Great American Garden Books in the last 75 Years”.  It not only contains numerous new species and cultivars, but updated information resulting from years of growing the now go-to varieties that fill garden centers. It also discusses changing nomenclature and invasive plants.

Herbaceous Perennial Plants

A Treatise on their Identification, Culture, and Garden Attributes

by Allan Armitage

1090 pages. Stipes Publishing, $79.80 softbound, $89.80 hardbound.

Available at allanarmitage.net and booksellers.

The Earth in Her Hands

July is hot, isn’t it? On hot summer days, it is best to garden in the early mornings, when the air is cooler and there are more shadows. In the afternoon, we often choose to stay indoors.
May I recommend pouring yourself a cup or glass of tea (Did you grow that mint?) and spend some time with inspiring women. Imagine sitting in a conservatory full of orchids and talking about gardening with a few lovely women. Well, here is an invitation to spend about 40 minutes in a conversation between Jennifer Jewell, author of The Earth in Her Hands, and writer Jamaica Kincaid. Their environment is beautiful, their voices soothing, their conversation inspiring.
The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants includes a profile of Jamaica Kincaid. This book is easy to pick up and read for a few minutes at a time.

Jennifer Jewell is also the host of Cultivating Place, an NPR podcast that blends society, history and gardening. Her calming voice can keep you company and keep you informed as you are weeding, crafting, running errands or organizing a closet.

I have started reading books with my morning coffee instead of looking at a computer screen right off. I often start my reading learning about one or two women, then switching to a chapter or two of another book. I love books that profile inspiring women. If you do too, look also at She and In the Company of Women (which includes women from my town of Athens, GA). These books are too heavy for a hammock, but great for a rocker on the screened-in porch.

In case the links do not work for you:
Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFttRtK__wc
Enjoy!

Pretty good movie but – oh my! – that iconic garden!

 Note: This is an edited reprint of a newspaper article I wrote in Nov. 2006, shortly after this movie was released. 

Landscape history can be seen on the big screen

My husband and I went to see “Marie Antoinette” last weekend. The movie had exquisite costumes and an engaging story but also was rich in period landscapes – or at least one landscape: Versailles. I have not been to Versailles, but I have read quite a bit about the iconic gardens. I thought I’d share some of the trivia that makes watching this movie (and these beautiful gardens) more interesting. Most of the garden scenes are in the last part of the movie.

In 1661, France’s financial secretary held a lavish celebration at his chateau and gardens at Vaux-le-Vicomte. Among the guests enjoying feasts, a play, fireworks and music was 23-year-old King Louis XIV. At this time, gardens were seen as pleasure grounds and places to entertain guests. One garden historian also said this was when “garden design in France discovered a style of its own.” This formal French garden design consisted of strong geometry, elaborate parterres of pruned hedges, broad walkways, statues, elaborate fountains and woodlands. The story goes that Louis was furious that an ostentatious finance minister upstaged him with a chateau and gardens better than anything he had. Records state that the minister was arrested within three weeks and stayed imprisoned for the rest of his life.

The king then had the designer of the gardens, Andre LeNotre, start work on transforming the grounds of his modest hunting lodge at Versailles into the elaborate gardens shown in “Marie Antoinette”. This project took six years to design and the remaining five decades of LeNotre’s life to fine-tune.

One of LeNotre’s interests was hydraulics. It may seem the fountains are just turned each morning, but remember the electric pump had not been invented. First, waterwheels and pumps brought water uphill from the River Seine to aqueducts, then into tanks and reservoirs miles away. Water was released, run through pipes by gravity, then constricted into smaller pipes to create pressure. The shape of the spout determined the direction and effects of water displays. Thirty-two of Versailles’ pools include hydraulic effects. When the King was coming down the road, fountain guards would whistle so servants could release the water and get the fountains running. The French, who lived in relatively flat terrain, had to work hard to create great fountains. Nobody could have them run all day, every day. So the fountains were also designed as great sculptural elements that looked good even when the water wasn’t running.

When the fountains did run, Louis XIV wanted drama. The Neptune fountain has 58 spouts. Much of the water ended up in a cross-shaped canal, one mile long and two-thirds of a mile wide. To the visitor it appeared endless, a symbol of the immense power of Louis XIV.

Louis XIV was so involved in the gardens that he wrote a guidebook on how they should be viewed. And viewed they were: From 3,000 to 10,000 people may have been in Versailles on any day. Although photos of Versailles usually show one huge chateau behind dramatic gardens, it actually was a city in itself, with quarters for guests, staff and horses, plus areas to raise food to feed everyone. Hunts would take place in the surrounding woods of the 15,000-acre estate.

After Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette are crowned in the film (after 59 years of Louis XV’s reign), they walk outside, where wooden ships fire cannons in a mock battle. No, the French Royal Navy has not sailed in to help celebrate; these ships are in the canal for the sole purpose of creating amusing mock battles. A 1710 illustration in one of my books shows four sailing ships. Talk about a pricey water feature.

Note: When I watched this again in 2020, I remembered this sketch that I had seen in the Richard Russell Library on the UGA Campus. Marie Antoinette wears this or a similar headpiece in the movie. 

Another scene shows Louis XVI with an elephant. The Menagerie was started in one of the earliest stages of Versailles’ redevelopment, perhaps as early as 1662. It was a working farm that provided butter, etc., designed to also serve as a place to view country life and animals. At first it contained mainly farm animals, with some fish and exotic birds. A central plaza was lined with gates into several animal enclosures. When the Grand Canal was created a few years later, boat rides to the Menagerie became popular with guests. Exotic animals, such as an elephant and rhinoceros, were added in the early 18th century.

In the 1780s Louis XVI did build a “little” getaway for Marie Antoinette, a bucolic lakeside village in a Normandy style that previewed a future landscape style mimicking romantic country scenes.

It’s hard to imagine the magnitude of these gardens and life under the reign of people who ruled nations in their early 20s. We have a better supply of food, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, lots more books and much more comfortable clothing. I think I’d rather stay in this century.

Four reasons knitters grow lavender in their garden

1- To repel pests from the yarn stash.
2- To make charming homemade sachets that add to a hand-knit gift and make it smell so wonderful when it is opened.
3- To add to lemonade served to friends when they come over to knit.
4- Because it is so lovely growing in the garden – even for people like me, who actually see old licence plates as decor.
The trick to growing lavender in the humidity and clay soils of Georgia is to find a variety that does well here, keep it pretty dry and provide sun, excellent drainage and air circulation. A raised bed or container would work well for lavender; just combine it with plants that also can take it dry, like lantana, verbena, sedum and daylilies. In the ground, add gravel and maybe a little lime to provide the conditions it prefers. It will not fare well with our humid summers planted in a crowded, irrigated flower border. Provence and Spanish lavender are two that seem to do well in this area.

Endearing name, deer resistant flower

My favorite iris is in bloom – and does not require deer repellent.

I believe it is totally fine to choose a plant because its name resonates with you. I planted Blue Jacket hyacinths on the grave of my father-in-law, who was on the first ship hit at Pearl Harbor. I sent an assortment of daylilies with names like “Crimson Pirate” to my nephew, a then budding gardener. (My gifts are usually spot-on, but a box of roots did not thrill the young boy. His mother (my sister) did love them for years until something the guy truly did want – dogs – dug them up. Such is life.)

Numerous, huge, yellow blooms cover this deer resistant plant.

So when I decided to add to my iris collection Goodnight Moon was too sweet of a name to pass up. Now this plant has been divided a couple times, with one rhizome going to friend who raves about it every spring. Last year I moved a few rhizomes into a new bed by our deck and this spring it is reminding me why Goodnight Moon is my favorite iris. As I write this, she stands about three feet tall with at least five blooms. Although each bloom does not last long, they are so huge and numerous that this iris has been a show-stopper for quite some time. And, being an iris, no deer repellent has been needed.

That deer resistant foliage is a great addition to the garden even when the blooms have gone. I think that once you cut back the stem, the linear, upright leaves add an architectural accent to the planting bed. And in a few years you can divide the iris and add that accent throughout your garden.

I would call Lenten rose deer proof

It is risky to call any plant deer proof, but there are a few I would give that tag. One is Lenten Rose (Helleborus xhybridus or ), which seems like the perfect plant to me. It is evergreen, tolerates part to deep shade, resistant to deer and other pests, and blooms when few other plants bloom. Not just any flower either – sculptural, perfect blooms that entices me to pull out a sketchbook and concentrate on their beauty.

Lenten Rose is hardy from Zones 4-9 and is one of the longest blooming perennials in cultivation, with blooms that last for six weeks or more. To make it even more desirable, it is one of the earliest blooming perennials, with blooms starting as early as January in Georgia and lasting into April. Who couldn’t love a plant that blooms even before the daffodils?

Glossy, bold, leathery foliage is a year-round asset to the shade garden. Leaves are divided into seven to nine segments, falling away from the central stem like an umbrella. These coarse leaves are a great contrast with ferns and bleeding hearts. Although they are evergreen, the leaves can look a little ragged before the new growth emerges. This is just a little winter burn and aging foliage. Trimming off some of the older foliage in January or February not only makes the plants look better; it shows off the blooms better too.

The perfect spot for a Lenten Rose would be in deciduous shade, protected from the wind, in rich soil with plenty of moisture but good drainage. They would like the bank of a creek, along a woodland path. Lenten roses do better planted among hardwoods than pines, because they appreciate winter sun and pine needles accumulating around them can hinder growth. One thing Hellebores cannot take is soggy soil.

These plants are disease and pest resistant and prefer to be left alone. Once established, Lenten roses reseed to form a colony, creating a dramatic woodland groundcover that blooms in various colors. Seedlings can be dug up and moved, but established plants resent being moved or divided and may not bloom the following year.

My first few plants have reseeded to create a colony in my shade garden, with each plant producing slightly different blooms. The blooms come in many colors, including white, pale yellow, pink, maroon, purple and speckled. These are subtle, beautiful, nodding blooms on evergreen plants that are eighteen to twenty-four inches tall.

I love my colony of reseeded Lenten Roses but, oh my, what are available in nurseries now are stunning. The breeders have been working on Lenten Roses and now offer double blooms in bright colors with their faces rising upward, or pale pink fluffy blooms comparable to an English Rose, or blooms that look like they were hand painted in a porcelain factory. Just do a search on Pinterest to be amazed at the variety and beauty. These new Lenten Roses can be pricey – and worth every penny. Once in your garden, they will become your favorite plant, asking little and giving so much.

I suggest you shop for these plants locally, when they are in bloom. Then you know exactly what the bloom will look like and buy a plant that is already at blooming age.

Winter is a good time to start your garden journal

There are books and books out now about organizing but, seriously, organizing my garden too? Yeah, that sounds like work, but do consider these organizing tips that can help you in your garden.

Right now calendars are on sale. Perfect. You don’t have to hang it on the wall – just put the calendar among the files on your desk. Then document things as they happen on the day they happen: planted a holly, first forsythia blooms, deer spray, divided grasses. As you read gardening magazines, you can write a few tips in the calendar to remember when to do things: order bulbs in early September, photograph garden in late summer before perennials die back, etc. As the years go by, the small calendar stack becomes your record. Clever and quick, huh?

I keep a lined journal for the garden classes and symposia I attend. That way I know where to look for ideas from a class, and I can review past notes as I wait for the next class to start. Looking for classes to attend? Check out the calendar on the home page of my website for classes and events in the Southeast.

You may want a garden journal too. Although a lined journal makes sense, I have switched to a sketchpad with a hard back, where I can draw plant bed layouts and ideas, and tape photos, plant tags and clippings from catalogs. It may look a bit eclectic, but I like the creative layout and who sees it besides me?

Speaking of photos, it is good to document your garden in pictures. You will notice things in photos that you have become blind to (if you paint that shed sage instead of dazzling white it may hide in the background), and you have a record of what is growing where (very handy when some of those plants are sleeping under mulch or it is time to plant more daffodil bulbs). I often photograph the plant tag with the photo; it is wise to include plant names in the file name. Pictures can be pasted into your journal or your online photo file can have subfolders: projects, areas of your garden, ideas, years – whatever works for you.

I have some organizing tips too. I like keeping my long-handled tools together in a cart that lets me roll all my tools out to where I am working, then put them all back in one easy trip. Here is a tool cart similar to mine online. Short-handled tools go under this rolling garden seat. All seeds go into one metal tin. Hats hang at the back door on a rack made from a rake. Potting soil and bird seed goes into metal trash cans with a scoop inside and tight-fitting lids.

Yeah, documenting and organizing your garden sounds like work when you are busy living your life. I am a garden writer, so I need to be organized about my gardening. Hey – I have a file drawer by my desk where plant catalogs are alphabetized. Try just one idea; it will prove its ROI. And I will admit – although I have all of these systems, my level of organizing ebbs and flows. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for.

Georgia Asters are blooming!

GA Aster in GA Gardening mag 2014 001