Foliage

Time saving Hedge Trimmer use

I just found a new use for my small, rechargeable hedge trimmer – removing the old foliage from perennials!

I know it is a bit late in the season, but pruning chores just don’t always get done by the timeline suggested!!  When I was ready to prune back the dead foliage on my Southern Shield Ferns, which had spread into 3′ wide clumps, using my hand pruners looked like a big, time consuming job.  So a light bulb went off as I spotted my small Homelite hedge trimmer  with a 6″ long blade(available at Home Depot) sitting on my work bench.  It worked  so well and quickly that I was able to trim back many perennials in a short amount of time, including Coreopsis, Coneflowers, Daisies, Phlox, Asters, Salvia, Herbs, etc.  I do like to leave a couple of inches of the stem showing, mainly so I know where they are in the garden before the new spring growth appears.

So put this fun little hedge trimmer on your spring list of ’need to have’ tools for 2014!  I know you will fun many uses for it to save yourself time with your gardening chores.

Happy Gardening,

Althea

 

I am so glad I took a few minutes to add a handful of tulip bulbs to my large container last fall – I am rewarded with a beautiful spring arrangement!

After removing the spent summer annuals and leaving the Teardrop Ivy in place, I placed  the bulbs down about 6″ and then planted Kaleidescope & Redbor Kales, Violas, (I think they perform better than Pansies) along with pink and white Dianthus.

Next fall, (Gardeners are always planning ahead!) I may try some daffodils and even a hyacinth or two!!

Happy Gardening,

Althea

I love using shrubs & small trees for the center of containers as they give such a presence or bones to the arrangement.  In a few years, they may outgrow the container and then I will transplant it to a coveted spot in my yard!   Recently I planted the orange variety of Sango Kaku (Coral Bark Japanese Maple), ‘Baihu’, as the main component for winter interest because the fun color of the bark.  For the companion plants, I chose the variegated foliage Snapdragon,  a bronzy Sedge, Parsley along with orange and dark red Violas and the existing Ivy.  All of these plants do great in full winter sun, but when the summer sun arrives, I will replace the annuals with a heat tolerant plant such as Vinca.  As an experiment, I am hoping the foliage of the Maple will shade the Sedge from the summer sun.

Happy Gardening,

Althea

Putting together arrangements for a fall outdooors wedding was great fun, especially using the homeowners’ wonderful collection of containers!

In this photo of a great wheelbarrow base with a tub attached, I used a nice variety of textures & colors to complement the setting.  The Bronze Sedge(Carex evergreen grass) set off the blooms of the Indian Summer Triloba Rudbeckia and the Black & Blue Salvia – a favorite of Hummingbirds.  The low growing annual yellow Lantana added the loose, trailing element.  All of these Perennials are sun lovers, but can take quite a bit of shade in temporary containers.

Once the wedding is over as well as the fall season, the perennials are great to add to the garden for future years of enjoyment.

Happy Gardening,

Althea

Belamcanda, Blackberry or Leopard Lily, is an easy to grow tried & true perennial.  The foliage resembles an Iris, with sword shaped leaves growing about 18-36″ tall, depending on the variety.  The blossom appears mid-summer in a variety of colors, ranging from yellow to apricot to lavender with darker spotting.  In early fall, the flowers are followed by seed pods which split open to reveal  a shiny blackberry-like seed pod, thus the name.  Not particular about soil conditions, you will find the new plants sprouting up here and there, being easy to share with a fellow gardener.

Both the flower and the seed pod will look great in any arrangement.

Happy Gardening,

Althea

 

Hydrangeas are not listed in my book as a perennial, but they sure look wonderful in a perennial garden!  I have may different varieties mixed in my flower beds to add some stability as well as season long color, which changes as the flowerheads mature & begin to dry.

Mophead varieties(macrophylla or serrata) are the varieties I used in my vase of Hydrangeas – specifically Merritt’s Supreme & Preziosa, both change color as the season progresses.

It is best to cut Hydrangea flowerheads with at least 12″of stem on a dry day 4-6 weeks after they have bloomed.  At this point the flower heads are beginning to dry out & don’t need as much water.  I have found for  me the best way to dry them is put them in a vase with a couple inches of water & let it dry up naturally, enjoying the fresh bouquet(I use a large twist tie to hold the stems together at the base of the flowerhead for a full look).  Other suggestions for drying are to hang the stems upside down in a dry area, put them in a vase without water in a dark area for a couple weeks, or even put them in a brown paper bag & ride them around in your car trunk for a couple days!  Try the different methods to see what works best for you.  And remember that you may lose a couple of the blossoms to wilt, but hopefully you have plenty more in the garden – I start with the blooms at the bottom or backside of the plant so I can enjoy the sight of them in my garden for as long as possible!

Happy Gardening,

Althea

 

 

A trough full of low growing Sedums is the perfect container on the patio table during the hot summer months.  It requires very little water and care, but looks great all year long (Zones 6 and above).  This container is now in its’ 3rd season and I haven’t done a thing to it since I planted it.  There are many varieties of Sedums available at your local nursery.  Sink a few slender candles in the soil for a beautiful evening centerpiece.

 

Happy Gardening,

Althea Griffin

 

Early June here in Atlanta has been wonderful weather for gardens – low humidity & cool evenings!  Going through the garden with my clippers rewarded me with  plenty of blossoms and foliage to fill my milk glass vase.  Ferns, Solomon’s Seal, June Hostas and Threadleaf Cypress branches set up a perfect base of foliage to support the Perennials.  I then cut Yarrows, Aster (early blooming this year), Route 66 Coreopsis, Daisies, Coneflowers, Mullein Pinks, as well as Hydrangeas and a couple Lantana stems to fill it out.

I’m looking forward to the Phlox and Black-Eyed Susans to bloom in the next couple weeks to add to my vases!

Happy Gardening!

Althea Griffin

This Fairy Rose (Polyantha) is a wonderful shrub rose that gives pretty little pink clusters of blooms all year long.  I love to cut a few sprays for small vases to bring the little beauties inside.  Very low maintenance as I trim it back to about 2′ in the winter & trim off browned spent blossoms throughout the season.

The Coronation Gold variety of  Fernleaf Yarrow (Achillea filipendulina) is in  it’s 3rd year in my garden and has just exploded with growth & blooms this spring!  This is a very tough drought resistant plant that produces blooms that look beautiful in any flower vase.

Happy Gardening!

Althea

 

It is very hard to choose just one area of my garden to showcase – everything is  bursting with beauty!

The attached picture focuses on both perennials and shrubs.  Starting from the left there is Little Shorty Euphorbia, Little Honey Oakleaf Hydrangea, Marion Lee Azalea, Blackberry Lily(Iris looking leaves),  Oxalis(purple foliage), Solidago( no blooms until fall), various Heuchera, Toad Lily(blooms late summer), Mouse Ears coreopsis in bloom, Baths Pink Dianthus in foreground.   the background shrubs are Mahonia – the Cedar Waxwing birds are just loving the berries this time of year.

This is still a perfect time to divide your perennials to move to another area in your yard or share with friends!  Just remember to soak the plant in a bucket before planting to hydrate the roots – adding some root stimulator such as Upstart to the water is really a good idea!

 

Happy Gardening, Althea