Sunday, August 31, 2008

Planning a Garden Full of White Flowers Only

The view of the white roses en masse when we visited Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens back in July is still in my mind. It has me trying to design the perfect white formal garden of my own for next year. I will need to collect some white roses of course. Other than that, I will incorporate the different white flower varieties I currently have in my garden and add others. The plan is only in its infancy but I will make some notes here to start.

Unfortunately, I don't even see that I have a picture of the group of roses. Strange. But here are two.

I plan to go to their Fall Plant Sale this year Fri Sept. 19 10-6 or Sat. Sept. 20 9-3. I'll do my best to get there Friday during the day to beat the rush.

Here are some photos of the whites I currently have, albeit not together in one place.

Tuberose (Polianthes tuberosa)

The scent is described as a complex, exotic, sweet, floral.

I have 3 plants. I had one that was not flowering for me. I divided it into 3 pots early spring and they are all three now blooming in late summer.

I think it is better than the gardenia and plumeria although the three are very similar in that there is nothing like it.

This is one of the main flowers used in Hawaiian leis. It is certainly the choice for a fragrant lei along with the plumeria, another favorite of mine. I don't know that you can buy one locally but there are plenty available mail order.

White Oleander (Nerium oleander)

This photo was taken at Captain's Landing on Ocracoke Island, NC in August. I have an oleander standard that I overwinter inside but it is pink.

They are a common landscape plant on the Outer Banks but I cannot imagine that I will get then to live year round outside here. Our zone is different. I have successfully rooted some recently so maybe I will experiment. You never know.

White Gladiolus

Gladiolus Callianthus

Abyssinian gladiolus, Peacock Orchid, Sword Lily

I cannot recall if this beauty bloomed in the spring and is reblooming now or if this is its first bloom. It is so delicate and dainty. It is not a common glad. It is more orchid like in its form.

White Cleome or Spider Flower
Cleome 'White Queen' (cleome hassleriana)

This is an annual and it does self seed to produce new baby plants the following year. I typically buy a few plants each year to get the size I want.


I originally meant to add this to the baskets on my front porch that have the hybrid version, Calitunia. But it looked so nice in this shallow handmade hypertufa pot made by Bill so there it sits.

It is such a hardy heat tolerant plant that blooms beautifully all season. It is certainly a plant I cannot do without. This one has been pretty self sufficient as far as watering goes as opposed to the baskets of calitunia on teh front porch. However, this calibrachoa is in a much shadier spot that does not get the full sun like the baskets do. They need to be watered every day without fail. Twice in the height of summer.

Of course there is my clematis that is about to set its final blooms for the year.

I have some trillium that come up late winter. I should get some more.
I have some lily of the valley, I could move some of them in. They are not thriving as I was used to on Norton Road but they may just need more time.

Our Datura are white at night.

I don't know if I will include any of my Shasta Daisies since I'm not that happy with their short bloom time .

Some ideas for the garden plan.
Spring * Summer * Fall * Winter
white hyancinth bulbs,
bellflowers (campanula persicifolia 'Alba')
Old Fashioned Bleeding Heart (Dicentra spectabilis alba)
columbine (aquilegia dove)
peony (paeonia)
white flowering dogwood tree,
snowball bush (viburnum opulus 'roseum)
I think the silver lace vine is what I took a picture of at LG.
white morning glories
narcissus (a.k.a. daffodil)

white hollyhock and white foxglove and white lupine

I know I cannot have every white flower, shrub and tree that we can think of or it will be too chaotic. I need to choose carefully.

Since my first thought was roses, I need to look for a white knock out rose.

I would love to hear your comments, especially if you have a reference book or website for me to help with my white color scheme garden.

9/3 update:
I did pick up a bag of 5 Galanthus Nivalis bulbs, more commonly known as common snowdrop. They are supposed to naturalize over time which will be nice. I'm just not sure if I have any planted yet.

I also picked up a discounted white
salvia (I already have a red). Now I only need to pick the place...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Fall / Winter FREE or low cost Goochland Activities

If you are new to the area or a new parent, I cannot stress enough that you should make a serious effort to get out to the library with your little one(s). It is beneficial to the moms and dads as well as the children.

Make it a regularly scheduled part of your week to get out.

The same goes for the mom & tot gym jam where you can also meet plenty of other area parents and children. There are many things to do in the area and once you've started at these first two, you will find more and more! Don't just stay at home, get out.

I have seen so many long lasting friendships form by attending these local activities. As you meet new people, have your contact information ready just as you would in the corporate world.

Read this article on bnet about mommy calling cards. Consider going to VistaPrint to get FREE cards. Of course there are any number of business card printing stationary sites you can use and get your contact information together now so you are ready to start making your connections. It can hold your name, name of child or children, address, home phone#, cell#, e-mail address, blog or web site address.

Goochland Branch Library of the Pamunkey Regional

Toddler Storytime - Wednesdays at 11am
Wednesdays September 10, 17, and 24 at 11:00 a.m.
Age: 2 years old w/adult

Preschool Storytime - Thursdays at 10am
Thursdays September 11, 18, and 25 at 10:00 a.m.
Ages 3-5 years old

Mother Goose Storytime
- Thursdays at 11am
Thursdays at 11:00 a.m.
Ages 6-24 months w/adult

Goochland Book Group

meets the second Friday of each month at 10:30 a.m. (Sept.-June)
Please call or visit the library for more program information.

Goochland County Parks and Recreation holds a FREE Mom & Tot Gym Jam program year round on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings from 10-12. They set up equipment in the gymnasium for the kids to play with and get their energy out. It's also a great way to meet other local parents and children.

Your best bet to find out what programs Parks and Rec is offering at any time is to stop at the Old High School Gymnasium and they have all the flyers available to take on the wall in the foyer. The website is not always as up to date. There are so many programs available for all ages.

Hidden Rock Park
Centrally located in Goochland County, Hidden Rock Park is a multi-use facility with a basketball court, sand volleyball area, playground, soccer area, baseball/softball fields, public restrooms, concession area, dog park and walking trail.
1920 Hidden Rock Lane, Maidens, VA 23102
Hours: November thru March 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM April thru October 7:00 AM - dusk

Also keep an eye on offerings by the
Virginia Cooperative Extension 4-H.

Henrico also has a great parks system. I would recommend checking out some of them for their great playgrounds and other amenities for a change of scenery:
Crump Park
Deep Run Park
Three Lakes Park

Powhatan County Courthouse has a great park as well. It is Fighting Creek Park, about 12 miles from Goochland Courthouse.

Short Pump Mall
Short Pump Pals Clubhouse Meeting at the Food Court
Tuesday, September 9 at 11 AM, Food Court
Do you love pizza?
If so, you’ll enjoy combining that love with your creative mind as we join our hosts from California Pizza Kitchen by decorating your very own crazy and colorful pizza box!

Tuesday, October 14 at 11 AM

Get a move on!
Join our hosts from the Tuckahoe Family YMCA as we enjoy movement activities including creative movement, stretching, and games.
Also enjoy a craft activity on the YMCA’s Healthy Family Home program.

Tuesday, November 11 at 11 AM
Little Red & The Gingerbread Man Puppet Show
Enjoy this puppet show by Barefoot Puppets as two tales rolled into one make for twice the fun! "Little Red" stars an inquisitive redhead in search of a run-away cookie. You’ll be delighted in this mixed-up, fun-filled romp through fairy tales with original music, snowy scenery, lots of chase scenes and everyone's favorite Big Bad Wolf!

Regency Sq
uare Mall, Chesterfield Towne Center - Club Mom, Virginia Center Commons, Willow Lawn - Mommy & Me and of course Short Pump Town Center all have children's play areas as well as scheduled events for kids. Make sure you sign up for Short Pump Pals for your kids (it's free and on-line) and they will send you worthwhile coupons event listings.

Activities that cost some money
Art a la Carte in Crozier offers art classes. The schedule is online at their website.

River City Youth and Fitness now in Goochland County Manakin-Sabot offers Gymnastics, Dance, Karate for boys and girls of all ages. (If that link doesn't work, try this one: here.)

Goochland YMCA

offers many classes & activities for branch and community members and sometimes offers activities outside open to anyone.

Goochland United Soccer Association GUSA has a Fall and Spring season. Fall registration closed back in July. Games will run September through beginning of November. Spring season registration deadline is mid February.

Group Trip Ideas - Fun for the kids and the parents
Richmond Metro Zoo
Children's Museum of Richmond c-mor
Virginia Discovery Museum - Charlottesville
Lewis Ginter

If you want to get out of the country and into the "Big City" every once in awhile, maybe you should check out:
About Town Moms - Historic neighborhood walks, private museum tours, and other cultural adventures with your child. Their website doesn't seem to have very frequent events but the ones they do have listed may be worth marking the calendar and signing up for in advance.

I also just added to my list as a place to check for new things to do.

I PROMISE I WILL CONTINUE THIS LIST AS TIME ALLOWS. Add a comment and I will be sure to send you an -e-mail when I update more.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Upcoming Fall / Winter Family Stage Shows

Since we've been here in Central VA with the kids, we've seen a few children's shows. We drove out to the Hampton Coliseum back in 2004 to see the Wiggles and then saw them again another year at the Richmond Coliseum.
We've also seen the Doodlebops & Disney Playhouse Live.

We were impressed with the quality of the Wiggles show especially. Given the choice of the 3 venues mentioned, I did like the John Paul Jones Arena the best although I have nothing particular against the other 2. They are fine too.

I find myself forwarding this information to different friends as the subject comes up so I thought this might be of interest to others in the Goochland, Louisa, Powhatan, Henrico, Hanover, Chesterfield areas and beyond. Following are a few upcoming shows that I am aware of that may be of interest to you. I know we will probably make plans for some.

As you see, I am only listing shows that you can take your preschooler, grade school aged children to. Not adult events. If you want to see Madonna's upcoming schedule, see here. It's not that I wouldn't take my daughter to see the show because of the content, I just could not pay the price of a concert ticket for a child to see her live. I've seen a few of her shows at Madison Square Garden in NYC and they are phenomenal productions. Whether you are a fan of Madonna Louise Ciccone Ritchie or not, the stage production is certainly one of the best for a concert. Madonna fact: In 2007, the Guinness Book of Records names Madonna as the highest earning female singer of all time. Happy 50th Madge! But I digress...

Backyardigans Live
Nickelodeon Nick Jr. Tale of the Mighty Knights
Thursday September 18 at University of Virginia's John Paul Jones Arena

Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy

Rev up for non-stop fun with four of your favorite Disney stories at Disney on Ice presents Worlds of Fantasy. Thrill to high-speed stunts as Lightening McQueen, Mater and the crew of Disney / Pixar CARS race across the ice. Dive into the Little Mermaid's enchanting undersea kingdom and experience the "Circle of Life" with the Lion King. Then enter into a magical world of Pixie Hollow with Tinker Bell and all her fairy friends as they make their world premiere on ice.
Come an hour early to experience the Disney Princess Pre-Show: an enchanting display of Disney Princess gowns and mementos.
Hampton Coliseum Wednesday Oct. 1 - Sunday Oct. 5
Richmond Coliseum Wed. Nov. 12 - Sunday Nov. 16
tickets can be ordered on-line at

Monster Jam - monster truck show
Hampton Coliseum Fri and Sat, November 14 and 15th
on sale now - information

The Greatest Show on Earth - Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus - Boom a Ring show
at the John Paul Jones Arena in Charlottesville
December 11 - 14
Tickets will go on sale October 13 at 10am
You can buy on-line at or select Plan 9 locations or at the JPJA box office or by phone. This venue is not affiliated with ticketmaster so if you want to find out what events are scheduled there, you need to sign up at their website for e-mails.

Richmond Ballet

Sesame Street Live
The Richmond Coliseum December 18, 19, 20, 21

perfect for the elmo fans!

Theatre IV Children's Theater of Richmond
- Shows Suggested for ages 4+
Thunder Nationals - monster truck show
Richmond Coliseum Feb. 27 - Mar. 1, 2009

Monster Jam - monster truck show
John Paul Jones Arena March 13 and March 14

I'll keep this updated if any other local stage shows for the next 6 months or so come my way.

Which of my plants benefit from Deadheading: Summer Flower Photos

I have been trying to learn which plants will continue to bloom throughout the season or at least rebloom at a later point because I deadhead them versus which plants just look better because their spent blooms are removed. So far, this has mostly been an ongoing exercise with trial and error. I guess I should do some research at some point!

This is a May photo showing the white clematis Henryi in full bloom cascading over the retaining wall, The pink evening primrose spreading as a groundcover and the knockout rose bush atop the wall.

I will continue to add more Summer flower photos from May, June, July and August as well as replace some of the ones I've posted with better pix as time allows.

I have seen some books that focus on pruning and deadheading and many of my books and magazines have sections on it. Of course, the Internet resources are innumerable. At this point, I am mostly learning by doing with my perennials and annuals. I actually find the act of deadheading and cleaning up the spent blossoms relaxing. I know there are other gardeners out there who feel the same way. It's actually a rather peaceful activity first thing in the morning or late in the evening.

I'll mention some of the plants I have focused on in no special order.

The Shasta Daisy
When in bloom, they are beautiful. A clump of white daisies in a few areas of the garden are gorgeous. Problem is that they don't last long here. I had them planted in NJ and I seem to recall a constant bloom cycle on them. Perhaps my memory is not so good. Anyway... I made a concerted effort this year to remove the stems of all blooms either to a point where I thought a bid may be forming or to the bottom if it didn't seem likely. The clump of green foliage looks okay but so far, no more blooms. They haven't turned all black and nasty yet as they tend to do making it all the more obvious that I need to move them. To the mulch pile? I'll give them a few more weeks and see if I get any repeat performance. If not, they must be relocated for next season.

Tickseed coreopsis
As I've mentioned before in this blog, as much as I love this plant, they are not performing for me as I'd like them to. I do bring out the tiny scissors and shear them from time to time to get rid of all the little black spent blooms so the yellow flowers shine through. They do continue to bloom. However, they are not as profuse as I'd like. They always look like they are struggling to me. This is another plant I need to do a little more research on to see if I can do something to make them stronger.

Purple pincushion flower - Scabiosa - mourning bride
These do continue to bloom throughout the summer here which is wonderful. I have tried to maintain the deadheading of them hoping that it is helping them continue to bloom. I think they are spreading from the original plant I put in. I'll know better next year when I compare photos.

Rudbeckia nitida 'Herbstsonne' / Autumn Sun (very tall black eyed susan)
This is by far the tallest plant I've ever had. It doesn't need staking either! All the while it was growing, since I had forgotten if I had planted anything there, I debated as to whether it was a weed or not. It was far over my head before it developed any flower buds. When it finally did, I still was not convinced. Mainly because I had some visitors question why I was letting such a large weed grow among my other perennials. WELL.... Let me tell you. Rather, let me show you.
Now that most of its original flowers have dropped their petals, I decided to keep it tidy with my scissors and cut all the stems down to the next set of buds. It seems that this giant is getting ready to set out a whole new set of flowers. Wow. I am almost afraid to try and collect seed pods from this later in the season because it is a monstrosity.

This is certainly one of the perfect examples of my reasoning for coming to terms with the fact sometime in June that I just could no longer keep up with the onslaught of weeds in parts of the gardens and convinced myself that by leaving things alone, I might be pleasantly surprised with the volunteers that popped up that I could then relocate to a better place. I accepted that the gardens around the pool were like a nursery for various seedlings, certainly some type of experiment!

Since then I have dug a number of cedars that are thriving in their new locations or potted up until they get larger. I have quite a few baby hollyhocks gaining strength to be ready for a show next year. I've had a constant source of plant materials for containers that needed spiffing up as their plants petered out.

I do save as many of the pods as I can and spread them all around. Because of this, I am finally getting some baby plants in various places. I thought I would then group them together once they grew into a strong plant. The problem may be that they are such as deep tap root that it may not be an easy endeavor. I dug a few up earlier in the summer to donate to my MIL's garden and I had to dig deep for a baby plant.
I also decided to cut the leaves off the main plant this year, as they became withered, diseased, bug infested or otherwise nasty looking. I'm afraid that I should have been a little less ambitious because I think I caused them to have a shorter bloom time than normal by removing their source of energy. Oh well. I'll try differently next year.
I would like to get some seed pods from some other friends who have different varieties of hollyhock. I only have one variety that was originally started from a seed packet.

It goes without saying that most all roses benefit from deadheading. I certainly keep up with the Abraham Darby rose, my favorite. It does need regular spraying for thrips and I have fallen behind on black spot treatment. The first year they went in, it seemed impervious to black spot but this year it has been getting it. The thrips turn the edges brown and if not treated, the bud never opens, just shrivels up.

The derelict Jackson Perkins Simplicity roses are on their own (shown here on the left in light pink in front of the white fence). I have written about my disgust with this variety in other entries.
While I'm sure the knockout rose (shown here on the right) could look better if I deadheaded it, it doesn't seem to need it to maintain its constant blooms. This is an incredible rose bush. Thanks to Paul James the Gardener Guy who recommended it and my neighbor who planted 2 before me. Their shrubs require no maintenance, are beautiful and huge! Mine is catching up.

Moss Rose - Portulaca
I sometimes wonder if I am the only wacko who deadheads her portulaca. More specifically, I pick off the seed pods and save them in a cup and spread them around. Mostly to keep the plants energy focused on its blooms, not seed production.
They are a workhorse in the hot sunny garden flowering from beginning to end of the season. I've never had much success with seeding them so I do need to purchase new plants every season.

When should a gladiolus be trimmed down? This year I decided to cut them to almost half size once it looked like they had no more stems coming up. Mostly because they were blocking the view of other blooming plants. Poor planning on my part obviously. Then I found that I must have planted some reblooming gladioli because a few that I had not pruned too heavily had repeat blooms. Go figure. My biggest surprise over the years is that they come back year after year. I assumed when I first planted them that it would be too cold here for them to return. That has not proven true so I currently have random spots of them. That is sure a project of its own to put them in proper placement.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Perfect Summers Day

Last night as I listened to the 10 o'clock Fox News Weather, I heard her say that Sunday was a perfect summer day, 10 out of 10. I'm not sure it was meant to describe their comfort index rating but more along the lines of holding this day above all the rest as far as having everything weather-wise that exemplifies summer.

Regardless of the exact connotation, I agreed. I have some pictures to illustrate.

As we move into the first week of August, 3 weeks until school starts, the gardens are still unfolding.

The agapanthuses have been blooming for about 2 weeks now. I try to pick up a new agapanthus every year to add to the fray. I first noticed this spectacular beauty in 2002 when we were in San Francisco. They were as common a landscape plant as they are uncommon here. The color was striking to me and I had to have them. After seeing the price for 1 plant at the local nursery, I decided to start small with catalog purchases and waiting for them to establish. I’m sure they would prefer a spot in the yard that is not as hot and sunny as they are in but they are doing well. They might thrive in a different spot but I’m happy with what they are doing for now.

2 of our plumeria plants are blooming and the others will as the weeks progress. These are from the original stems we purchased in Maui in 2001.

For the first time, I have tuberose stems with flower buds on them! I cannot wait for these. If I could add fragrance to the site, I would share the plumeria, gardenia, Abraham Darby pink rose, and the tuberose. I believe we brought home Tuberose seeds from Hawaii but they never amounted to anything. I believe we got this from a vendor at one of the Home and Garden Shows in Richmond in 2004 or 2005. The plant always looked healthy and grew to a size that needed dividing. This past Spring, I divided the plant into 3 and it is finally ready to flower. Let’s hope it doesn’t pull a silversword on me and die after it flowers.

I’ve also discovered some Virginia Creeper coming up in the front garden. We were lousy with this at Norton in NJ and now this is the first I’ve seen it here in VA. I think I will relocate it before it takes over out there.

It’s time to start taking some coleus cuttings in again to root. I am determined to minimize my Spring annual purchases by keeping descendants of my annuals alive in the house over-winter and propagating them enough to put out again in the Spring. Certain plants make that task simple. Others, not so much.

Of all my plants, if I had to choose a favorite it would have to be the coleus. The versatility of this colorful genus with its 150+ varieties warrants it being set in a class by itself. I was first introduced to coleus with the wizard mix varieties. I still love them. However, I have been branching out a little into some of the less common varieties.

I am searching now for the name of my most productive plant and the closest I am getting is Velvet Lime, chocomint, chocolate mint. It grows to be a tall bushy coleus as opposed to the others, which tend to be shorter, more mounding. It has a dark burgundy purple red almost black color with green. It roots so easily, I can just break a stem off and put it into soil and it takes off. I mostly root the cuttings in water and once they have a really strong root system, I plant them in soil.

While searching for my coleus info, I stumbled across many interesting articles by coleus addicts and then found this interesting NY blogger - 66 square feet who has some gorgeous plant photos. I think I will check it out more thoroughly another time.

I also found myself at Dave's Garden site as usual more often than any other.

That’s all the time for now. Enjoy the day!