Savannah Garden Diary

March 16, 2008


It is lovely to have some splashy color in the garden after a gray winter. Whenever I get really depressed about climate change or the end of cheap oil (or rather about our government’s completely inadequate response to same), I go into the garden and it cheers me up. We had a tornado last night (the first in Georgia in 80 years, I believe) which knocked out our power (and that of another 150,000 people) for 12 hours.

I don’t really like this Bignonia ‘Tangerine.’ Although I think that is mainly my fault for putting it on a trellis that is too small for it. I have seen it look quite fine on arbors and on a chain slung diagonally across a space.


This California poppy seeded itself in the gravel beside the path to the pond, and luckily I recognized it before weeding it out. It doesn’t matter how many and what sort of poppy seeds I plant, these are the only ones that come back year after year. The color wouldn’t do in the back in summer when we are all white and pink and purple, but in spring any splash of color is welcome.


The wildlife is in full throttle. Brown-headed nuthatches have stolen the bluebird box in back, wrens are nesting under Richard’s dinghy. Goldfish are laying eggs in the pond, frogs reappearing, and here’s a gecko sunning on the trunk of a crape myrtle.


Here’s Lonicera sempervirens (or maybe it’s not sempervirens?) with Lady Banks on the pergola.


Scylla peruviana flowers for the first time. So-called not because they are Peruvian but because they were shipwrecked on the coast of Cuba in a ship named SS Peru. I’ve had them for 2 years. They must have been getting their strength back after traveling from Oregon or some such. They are of course a much more intense blue than you can tell from this.


I am very fond of these Thunbergia alata on the little trellis. I threw in a handful of seeds some years ago, and they just keep on coming.


This is a color combination that really appeals to me–purple viola and silver lamium.


And here is an amazing jumble of color which could only please me in early spring. Zephirine Drouhin, assorted yellow and blue violas, a species crocus (clusiana?), and alyssum which has seeded itself all over the patio, in the gravel and in ever bed for miles around. I see this color scheme is going to the even more bizarre when the California poppy in the foreground blooms!

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….

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