I had some old container trays that I recycled & brought home from Cofer’s when I worked there last year. They have drainage holes and are perfect for starting seeds, but any container with drainage holes can be used.
I transplanted from the seed trays into recycled 4 pack trays on Sept 4th. I mix 1/2 organic mushroom compost, 1/2 organic topsoil, & add Espoma Plant Tone. Mix these together well, and transplant seedlings. They stay in that soil mix until they are ready for transplanting into the raised beds.
I started the first round of seeds in mid August, but had a slugtastrope & had to plant more seeds. I now move the baby seedling trays onto the deck at night to avoid slugs. This fall, I planted Broccoli, Kale, Cabbage, Brussels Sprouts, Collards & Cauliflower in seed trays.
Some types of veggie seeds achieve best results by direct sowing them into the place they will grow until harvest. This past week, I direct sowed carrots & radishes.
New posts coming soon about the expanded garden bed construction, summer harvests & more fall planting details. These babies are almost ready to go into the ground! I will likely plant them around end of September.
The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension offers a fantastic online publication with resources for schools, and home gardeners, to help create a pollinator garden. A pollinator garden uses specific plants to draw pollinators like bees, wasps, butterflies, and hummingbirds to a specific area.
Favorites for full sun beauty, and pollinator draw in my garden
Asclepius tuberosa “Butterfly Weed”
This plant is spectacular. I noticed a few growing wild down by the roadside at the edge of my heavily wooded property. I got the shovel and dug one up! I left the other three to continue growing there. I found out they don’t transplant well, but this one survived and has now been in my pollinator garden for two years. The butterflies absolutely love it, and they fight each other over the flowers.
Pollinator planting is especially useful for me because I also grow vegetables in my raised beds. The nearby pollinator garden helps draw more pollinators to my veggie blooms too-therefore increasing my yields! I also try to pick plants that have beautiful blooms, or are Georgia native plants, or both.
One of my favorite new herbs, and therefore found all over my garden is the deer proof wonder Anise Hyssop. Delightful, long blooming, anise scented leaves, and pollinators all year make this a superstar favorite.
Lobelia cardinalis “Cardinal flower”
Another beautiful native plant. These bright red beauties are very charming and are hummingbird magnets. They begin to bloom in August, and the flowers march up the stem. I love watching the hummingbirds zooming in to feed from them. To my eye, the flowers also look like tiny hummingbirds.
‘Sonset’ Lantana oozes summer heat & the colors can’t be beat. I bought three of these gorgeous, super drought tolerant, pollinator magnets while working at Cofer’s. Delivered from a nursery in Louisiana, the grower said it was the earliest, most cold hardy, and compact lantana ever. They are one of my favorite plants now, and the butterflies play in, and fight over the stunning color changing flower heads.
They are a smaller lantana-unlike that ‘Miss Huff’ showoff. These are 3-4 feet max, and stay smaller if keep minimally pruned.
This plant absolutely hums and buzzes with every manner of wasp, bee, and flying insect. I have rarely seen so many on one plant. This plant has uses in herbal folk medicine (it is also known as Rattlesnake Master), and doesn’t seem very attractive at first glance. It has long, thin yucca like leaves with spiky balls topping each stem. Once you give it a second glance though, it is truly a fascinating, beautiful plant. It is super unique, and provides loads of pollinators to your garden.
Woodland Sunflower Helianthus divaricatus
These woodland sunflowers fill the area under my grand white oak tree just off the back deck. They are super pretty and dark green, and I love watching them grow. I saw many of these in the mountains at Black Rock Mountain State Park when I visited. They shine in the shade under the tree canopy, and pleasantly brighten up the roadsides and trailsides.
The State Botanical Garden of Georgia has an incredible program called Connect to Protect that provides educational programming using native plants to support pollinators like birds and insects, and promoting native ecosystems.
Get out there and start your pollinator garden today!
The growing season here in Georgia is super long & hot for summer veggies. April through October yields lots of produce.
Few memories of mine are more pleasant than those of my childhood in the garden with Dad – salt shaker in hand. We would spend hours out there. Fresh, homegrown, heirloom tomato plucked off the vine, and then devoured with a sprinkle of salt is as good as it gets.
In small spaces, I have grown some fantastic produce. I’d like to share 5 of my favorites discovered over the past seven years, chosen for best growth in small spaces, tastiness of produce, and quantity of yields.
These indeterminate plants are super sturdy and aptly named as “husky.” They are tall, strong vines that need minimal support, and just keep producing the most delicious little 1 inch delights. I am instantly transported back to being a kid in the garden, with all the possibilities of the world ahead of me when I eat a fresh , homegrown tomato plucked from the vine.
While I don’t have the huge, in ground gardens Dad & Mom always made, I do have nine , 4′ x 8 raised wooden beds, a collection of containers, and a small patch of sunshine that the mighty oaks & hickories don’t shade out completely. I get 5-8 hours of sun per day in most of my beds, so they might produce better if I had more sun!
All American Selection Chili Pie Pepper is a fabulous slightly hot, mini bell shaped pepper that reddens as it ages. These plants produce loads of peppers. They need a bit of support as they spread a little wide. There are somewhat shorter plants however and are well suited to raised beds.
I could go on for hours about my love of Jalapenos. But, I already have many times on this blog before. So, I will just say they are tall and beautiful plants that produce an incredible amount of peppers in one season. A Bonnie Plants 6 pack grown in my raised beds in about 10 square feet of bed produced over 200 peppers last year!
My two favorite herbs
Perennial Oregano is a fantastic drying herb, and gives lots of leaves for many years from one plant.
I dry oregano every year and we use it so many things we cook. I bought one plant 7 years ago when I first began blogging and raised bed gardening. I harvest it and prune it back in the early spring before new growth. It is beautiful and very good for you. Oregano has been used for many thousands of years to enhance flavor and is touted for its herbal medicinal qualities as well.
It took a good bit of searching online to finally identify this particular sunflower growing under one of my huge white oaks as, Woodland Sunflower or ‘Helianthus Divaricatus’. I knew it was some type of sunflower or aster, but wasn’t sure exactly which. I was able to identify it thanks to the multi branching blooms, the size of the plant, the appearance of the blooms and leaves, and photos of different varieties online at the USDA’s plant ID website.
This plant has a spreading habitat, and fills the shady area under the great oak. It does get some afternoon sun here, and the plant seems happy to take over the whole area. The long lasting summer blooms make the lackluster foliage as it dies back bearable. This sunshine yellow perennial returns early every year, and since it grows about 2-3 feet tall it makes a great plant for height at the back of a shady bed or border.
I saw many of these native Woodland Sunflowers while visiting the mountains at Black Rock Mountain State Park, in Mountain City, GA. I will write more about that amazing adventure in an upcoming post. I visited 10 state parks in Georgia in 2018, and am working on articles about hikes at those parks, and the plants I found along the way.
Take stock of your seeds or supplies, and see what you want/need for the upcoming year. Our last average frost is April 15th, so I usually wait until then to plant my raised beds. Now is a great time to plan for & plant seeds indoors for your spring and summer veggie garden.
2. Seed starting vs buying plants
3. Container gardening.
ALWAYS HAVE DRAINAGE HOLES IN CONTAINERS
4. Raised beds.
My beds are 3’ x 8’. I have 3 wood beds. Leave bottom open to native soil-no landscape fabric wanted. Untreated wood for edibles
Dirt is ⅓ native soil, ⅓ soil conditioner, ⅓ compost-I like mushroom compost. Add in an organic fertilizer like Espoma garden tone when you build the soil. Can also use a pre mixed soil, or straight compost. Plant dwarf or smaller varieties.
Fertilize throughout the seaon. I like organic fertilizer for many reasons but here are three:
Better for plants- slower release, no burning, slower more even growth and better plants
Better for people-natural fertilizer creates tastier vegetables hands down, no chemical concerns
Better for the environment-only use what you need, and not more. Then the excess does not run off into the streams, rivers and lakes, and create problems.
5. Responsible Pest Control
Encourage good stewardship and organic gardening and pest control where possible. Pick them off, or spray with water as 1st pest control method. Always read the instructions thoroughly before treating anything
Hummingbirds love salvias, and so do the bees & butterflies. Salvias are members of the Mint family Laminaceae- as classified by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Plants Database. There are many other spectacular members of this extensive family. I have developed quite a fondness for many of them. The mint family is my absolute favorite plant family to grow in my herb, and flower gardens. They are all truly delightful, and very useful. Also, most importantly for me-Extremely Deer Resistant!
Eupatorium fistulosum, which is also known by the much less fancy name of
Joe Pye Weed is the dark leafed, non-variegated, native variety of the variegated leaf ‘Pink Frost’ Eupatorium above.
The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area of Georgia’s website has a nice photo & entry on the native Joe Pye Weed. These native plants can be used to rehabilitate moist environments that have been taken over by invasive species in the past. They are also noteworthy for their long standing herbal usage.
I took the photo above of the ‘Pink Frost’ Eupatorium at Cofer’s Home & Garden-where I was employed. Then, I bought the plant, because I found it so charming. If its good enough for monarchs, its good enough for me. The plant has been happy here in my backyard since transplanting from the container-except either deer or rabbit have eaten it to nubs several times. Surprising, as these plants are supposed to be critter resistant & poisonous. It has recovered both times, but not blooming this fall, yet.
#3 Pansies and Violas
*For Simple Beauty, and Awe-inspiring Hardiness*
Pansy vs. Viola-it’s complicated. They are really the same plant, but the viola is a more ancient form, and the pansy has been cultivated from the viola.
They are so tiny & charming & bright and survive freezing temps and bloom all winter. Need I say more? Ok, more. October to April will be filled with blooms to brighten your day. There will need to be some deadheading to accomplish this, but it is worth it. Pansies and Violas are Deer candy; I keep them on the porch.
#4 Osmanthus Fragrans
*For Versatility, Fragrance & Evergreen-ness*
One of the most delicious smelling plants in the world! This picture of an interesting Tea Olive-the more common name for Osmanthus, is from a courtyard garden in Charleston. The plant was grown in a container, and then trained onto a wall using an espalier technique. This technique is described under Specialty Pruning in UGA’s extension publication titled Pruning Ornamental Plants in the Landscape.
For Mythical Beauty, Cool season blooms, & Evergreen
Don’t even get me started on how much I adore camellias. Well maybe just a bit about the beautiful fall blooming smaller camellia, Camellia Sasanqua. Their blooms are not quite as large and showy, and the leaves and plants in general are smaller than Camellia Japonica, or other Camellia varieties.
Sasanqua camellias are just as charming as Japonicas, and can bloom and thrive in situations where other camellias will not do as well. They do accept more hot southern summer sun, and are faster growing. In addition they are more compact and bushier than other camellia varieties.
It is interesting that I acquired this camellia in Charleston. The city is known as the predominant entry point for camellias, as well as the epicenter of early camellia hybridization, in the United States. The bloom on ‘White by the Gate’ is packed tight with petals-it is spectacular.
Let’s start off the New Year with a remembrance of the brilliant red fireworks of summer’s celebratory blooms. This stunning (and aptly named) Lobelia Cardinalis was a super special find from the Nightsong Native Plant Nursery sale last spring. Most of the pics are from blooming time which was mid August to nearly October.
Blooms just kept opening, marching up the ever growing stalk. I waited a while to transplant into the ground. I brought it home at the end of April, and planted in ground in mid July. Seemed to be growing nicely in the pot , so I waited. I dug a hole a bit deeper and wider than the current container, added some organic compost from my Earth Machine composter, and soil from my organic raised beds to fill the hole. Plentiful watering required during the super drought we had this summer and fall.
The mantis reminded me that there is an entire forest ecosystem at work right here in my own backyard garden. The link above takes you to an amazing paper prepared by Rachel G. Schneider about Georgia’s Forest Ecosystems. The mantis, butterfly, bee, and hummingbird love this plant; so do I, and even the cats (due to increased bird and butterfly activity).
It grew to over 3 feet tall, and I was awed and impressed by this amazing plant. This native to Georgia wildflower grows so well here, and I am thrilled to have in my backyard just under the overhanging shade of the oaks and hickories. It gets mostly full sun, with a touch of late afternoon shade in the worst heat of the summer sun. On some of the blazing hot days, it looked a little wilted in the direct sun, but quickly recovered.
This plant became the center of a flourishing ecosystem, in one season. I’m writing an article about the Tallassee Forest (my extended backyard). This area was sacred & special to the Native Americans, and has an interesting history. Many native plant and animal species thrive here – some only here. I’m so fortunate and excited to be able to experience this great state of Georgia, and to write about the native plants and ecosystems in my area!
The ‘Imaginary Worlds’ installation at The Atlanta Botanical Garden had just opened when my husband, mother-in-law, and I visited on May 5th, 2018. Plants are used to comprise the outer ‘skins’ on the figures. The exhibit is very creative, structurally interesting, and particularly beautiful to me, due to my love of plants.
We first enjoyed an open sun garden bursting with Poppies & Daffodils, Irises, & so many kinds of beautiful blooms. There were chairs set up for a wedding, and a bride taking photos above the garden area. What a lovely & gorgeous place for a wedding! I have not yet identified all of the flowers I took photos of, but will in the future.
The company that created the ‘Mosaiculture’ exhibit for the Atlanta Botanical Garden is International Mosaiculture of Montreal. There are some cool photos & video of their work on their website.
I was fascinated by this interesting new art form. I had not experienced plants this way before. This style of using various plants on the outside of a structure is very different than topiary, and added another layer to my enjoyment of plants as functional art.
In addition to the Mosaiculture installation, we also really were amazed by the Fuqua Orchid Center & the Conservatory. I could do any entire separate post on orchids, so I will just include some photos I took for now. The orchids were breathtaking.
I didn’t get a single photo of the edibles garden, unfortunately. I was so glad they included an edible garden, and I remember in particular the espaliered apple trees, the paw-paw tree, and the yellow blooming cabbages as standing out.
The Oakleaf Hydrangeas were absolutely outstanding, and there was a strong smell of Jasmine throughout much of garden. The Canopy Walk offered a unique perspective high up in the tree canopy, and the stroll was like a dream come true for a tree and forest lover like me. The entire afternoon was truly a delightful experience, and I can’t wait to return.
The shrub of many names known as Sweet bubby, Sweet shrub, Carolina allspice, Spice shrub, & Spice bush lives in the eastern US, and is a native plant to Georgia. I remember from my youth the scent of sweet shrub (as it was known to us in the mountains of Southwestern NC).
Your nose leads you to the unassuming sweet shrub. You see the dark burgundy tasseled flower pods. The perfume permeates the air, a unique, deep aroma. Reach out, rub the burgundy pods to release more amazing fragrance – unlike anything else on earth I have smelled so far. Tangy and pungent, but sweet and spicy.
Researching this post, I discovered a wealth of info about these fascinating plants. More info than I can address in this one post, but I will follow up with this plant. I bought the one pictured last year at a native plant sale, in late April. I planted it in a mostly shady spot, under a huge hickory facing southwest – with the hickory’s shady protection from the scorching afternoon sun.
I wondered if the plant was used medicinally, as many native plants were, and still are. I discovered that this plant does have Toxic alkaloids. Use caution. The Cherokee are known to use it for some medicinal properties. It may also have been used as a wolf poison.
Ellison also talks about ladies putting blossoms in their bosoms (bubby morphed from boobies) for perfume. I don’t remember them being in bosoms, but it probably helped cover the odor of snuff on the wind. Granny Hazel would dry them out, then put them in sachets for drawers, or bowls of potpourri.