Savannah Garden Diary

April 2, 2008


Filed under: Annuals, In bloom now, Roses, Weather — Tags: , , — karen @ 8:07 am

‘Blush Noisette’ is in flower. Here it is at daybreak absolutely dripping with dew. Such high humidity is unusual for early April. You can feel it in the air, even though it’s not particularly warm at this moment.
I cannot get over the health and vitality of the California poppies that have seeded themselves all over the gravel and elsewhere. This is a single plant with the flowers all closed up for the night.

March 1, 2008


–sigh. Containers. Rather a sore point for me because I very much admire containers that are well done, but I don’t have the design savoir-faire to pull them off myself, except occasionally by accident. However, in looking through my photos, I see many examples of much better gardeners than I am who don’t pull them off very well either.
Here is a bit of a jumble of pots at the Nathaniel Russell House Museum in Charleston. Very pretty, no doubt, when full of flowers at the end of March as here, but hardly a triumph of design.
Here, on the other hand, is the window box on my garden shed about a week ago. Small violas, which don’t need nearly as much deadheading as big pansies, complementary colors, self-watering (from Gardeners Supply Company and, much to my surprise, the self-watering feature actually works). The perfect unpretentious window box? Well, no. If you look closely, you will see that I never cleaned off the black mold that covers the white box. And the lamium has rotting dead leaves that should be picked off every time I happen by there. Pretty uncouth, really.
Here’s a vista in a Savannah town garden that I feel has pros and cons. The pro is that a formal design is undoubtedly appropriate for a small walled garden. Also, that semi-circle of dwarf mondo grass (Ophiopogon japonicus) is low-maintenance and attractive year round.

On the other hand the boxwoods that outline the whole design are a real mistake. They’ll get much too big and will need to be pruned viciously approximately every 3 minutes to keep them in bounds. I really hate that pillar, apparently pilfered from an Italian villa. And that trellis is pretty pointless until some vine grows up it.

The containers are just plain dull. That heuchera is all very well now (early April), but it will turn to mush in the heat of summer after putting out some straggly, pathetic flowers.

To be continued….

December 28, 2007

Cleaning up the Patio


Killer afternoon making the patio more respectable. Don’t know that my tendonitis-ridden ankle will ever recover. The toughest bit was dividing the Phyllostachys nigra (black bamboo).

Here is one in a pot looking beautiful soon after the patio was built. But I drowned this one with irrigation when we were in California. Although they like plenty of water, they also need drainage! That left one pot. I was inclined to kill it off and put something really easy like skyrocket junipers in the pots. But when I hacked the survivor to the ground in November, it bravely put up lots of new growth, so I decided it deserved to live. They’re horribly expensive, so I had to divide it to fill the other pot. This took half an hour with the (blunt) axe.

I went to Ace this morning for paint for the blue bench in front, but got distracted by Hester & Zipperer. So instead of just weeding, hacking the vines, and getting leaves and crud off the patio, I also had annuals to plant.

Also a Daphne odora over which to dither. I think it needs dry, dense shade, and I can’t decide where to put it. The one out front is not a doer, perhaps because it gets too much sun. That’s the second one that’s let me down here, and I can’t think why. The one at Walthour Road was spectacular, stuck under a live oak and never watered.

Flats of violas and snapdragons, but I also wanted something that might survive on the patio. The beds near the house have got awfully dry and shady, what with all the vines, and the usual annuals don’t do well there. I’m trying Nemesia fruticans ‘Compact Innocence’ and Diaschia x ‘Flying Colors Orange.’ I was going to add some Lamium maculatum, which I keep meaning to try, but I think it likes loads of water, which it ain’t going to get in a flower bed, so I put that in a couple of planters over by the shed.

Prunus mume ‘Peggy Clarke’ is blooming in back. Or at least it has a few flowers fully open. I guess it gets more sun than the one in front. I find this a slightly vicious pink, so the two I bought from Woodlanders this year are ‘Bonita’ instead. My absolute favorite, I think is ‘Rosemary Clarke,’ which is nearly white, but I have managed to kill both of mine. I really can’t imagine why, since they are said to dislike wet feet, which nobody gets in my garden outside of the bog.

March 25, 2005

Patio: More Plants


It’s now so late in the season that getting plants in the ground is more important than finishing the paving. On the right is the Yoshino cherry in flower with the ‘Nelly Stephens’ holly looking very tiny on its left.


This trellis (left) hides the mess around the back door from the patio. I decided it was unrealistic to think the back door’s surrounds would ever be attractive. It is where everyone washes paint brushes, and drops pipes, hoses, junk when coming in for a meal or escaping from the rain. Better to hide it than hope to tidy it up. The main vine on it is Bignonia ‘Shalimar Red.’


In retrospect, this was a mistake. Crossvine is native, and gets much larger than I realized until I saw one climbing 3 stories up the naked concrete wall of the parking lot at the South Carolina Aquarium. Two years later, I am still hacking it back twice a year to prevent it taking the roof off the house. Why does it grow toward the house instead of our toward the sun as I’d hoped? I need to replace it with something more manageable. I also stuck in some morning glories for a little rapid cover.

To the right is the planting area by the breakfast room steps. (I have already started tiling the steps.) It contains the Lady Banks rose (Rosa bansksiae), which has languished in the front bed for two years because it gets no sun, as well as Gelsemium Rankinii, (swamp jessamine, from Secret Garden).

This is native, but less common and larger-flowered than the Gelsemium sempervirens (Carolina jessamine or jasmine) which scrambles all over our pine trees in February and March. As its name suggests, it is supposed to like lots of water, which it won’t get here.

The little boxwood on the right hides the outlet from the a/c system.

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