Monday, June 22, 2009


The gardenia has been blooming for a little over a week now. I have tried repeatedly to get some decent photographs of it but I guess I need to study up on how to best photograph white. The fragrance is wonderful but the blooms themselves look a bit odd. I've tried to "ignore it" as was suggested to me when I was ready to give up on growing them. I've had no success with planting them in the ground so I finally decided to keep one in a pot last year and it at least lived for a second year.

I also bought my first white rose last week although I have not yet planted it. Not sure what I was thinking besides I wanted one and they didn't have much of a selection and this one looked the healthiest. I had just been reading up on the Iceberg and New Dawn in the Best Garden Plants for Virginia book I checked out of the library. They were the only 2 white roses mentioned in the book so I knew I would be starting with them.

Thinking back to my Planning a Garden Full of White Flowers Only from last year, I have been adding mostly white perennials to my "dogwood garden" and originally pictured a white rose in there. I just don't know if I have the room for this climber and its structure.

The problem, I'm not sure where I want to put it as it is a climber. I need to think of that BEFORE I buy a plant, yes? Especially an investment like this one. I don't just have an extra empty pergola lying around or bags of money to go buy one whenever I feel like it.

I tried a little research to get some ideas of what I could do with it best for my yard and was really impressed with some rose pillars I saw. Specifically this Giverny Rose Umbrella Pillar on Garden Artisan's website HERE. I just checked the price. $599 GULP. Maybe I'll just plant it and hope it doesn't need to be trained up something until next year?

Last summer we finally bought a proper pergola for the wisteria. So far, it hasn't bloomed but I know it takes a few years and I never pruned it so it's a mess! We also have another wisteria that I had tossed in a corner thinking it was dead and it has now intertwined itself in my potting bench and is in desperate need of a structure or a major haircut as well.

This year's project was the grape arbor. We finally bought the materials and constructed it to hold the grape vine off the ground. BTW, notice how I keep saying WE. It's not really ME, it's HE.
Next we need to mix up the fruit spray so the bugs don't get to the grapes before we do.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Summer Fairs and Festivals

Here's my personal list of 2009 Summer Fairs and Festivals through Labor Day

The venue for the 4th of July Fireworks here in Goochland has changed this year. There will not be a celebration at Hidden Rock Park this year. However, there will be fireworks at the soccer complex. See their promotional flyer HERE.
Parks and Rec / Recreation also has a map of where the best viewing places are. Click HERE to see it.

Hanover Tomato Festival Saturday, July 11, 2009 from 9-4 and it's FREE
Held at Pole Green Park, Mechanicsville about 45 minutes from the Goochland Library.
We haven't been to this yet but may try it this year. It sounds like fun.
This event will provide great exposure to non-profit organizations, artisans, and crafters. The event will also feature entertainment, food, tomato contests, a children’s area that includes arts & crafts, face-painting, pony rides, mechanical rides, inflatables, and games.

Albemarle County Fair July 28 - August 2, 2008
It is held at the Albemarle County Fairgrounds which is 1 hour from the Goochland Library but much closer to those of you in Western Goochland - Hadensville and Louisa.

Louisa County Ag Agriculture Fair
July 31 - August 1
Held at the Fireman's Fairgrounds 200 Fredericksburg Ave Louisa, VA 23093
35 miles North of Goochland Courthouse. 20 miles from Hadensville. 15 miles from Shannon Hill.

The 26th Annual Watermelon Festival by the Carytown Merchant's Association
Sunday, August 9, 2009 10am - 6pm

2009 Powhatan County Fair 6 nights from Tuesday August 18 - Sunday August 23 Midway Rides & Games - purchase an unlimited rides bracelet for the kids. * Karaoke * Lawnmower Races * Miss Powhatan County Fair Pageant

It is held at the Powhatan County Fairgrounds 4042 Anderson Highway VA 23139 which is 12 miles from the Goochland Library. Rt. 6 towards Maidens. Turn right on Maidens Rd to cross over the James River to Powhatan. Travel 11 miles south on 522 to route 60/Anderson Highway and turn left. It is 1 mile down on the left/westbound side of route 60.

Or just 15 minutes west of route 288 on route 60 west.

Advance wristbands cost $12
Wristbands at fair cost $15
Admission: children under 3 are FREE, Seniors: $3, Adults $6

Tues - Thu 5-11 pm, Fri 5-midnight, Sat: 9-4 / 5-midnight, Sun 9-8pm

The small size of the fair is perfect for the toddlers, preschoolers, grade school and grandparents. Check their website for updates to the fair schedule. They have fireworks, contests and other fun things besides rides.

Chesterfield County Fair August 28 - Sept. 5
It is held at the Chesterfield County Fairgrounds which is about 40 miles from the Goochland Library. It is a good sized fair with petting zoos, shows, 4-H displays, rides for all ages, and plenty of great fair foods. We found it to be worth the trip for a day trip.

Powhatan Annual Labor Day Parade on Old Buckingham in the Village about 12 miles from Goochland Courthouse.
It starts at 11am at the middle school and ends at the courthouse. It runs down route 13 / Old Buckingham Rd

You can sign up to be in the parade with a car, pickup truck, farm tractor & trailer, marcher horses, other. You can also setup an arts & crafts, vendor booth on the Courthouse Green. Contact the parade committee at 804-598-2911
The kids always enjoy this event. I love looking at all the vendors on the green.

The Virginia is for Lovers site also has a more complete list of fairs & festivals throughout the state.

There are a ton of fairs and festivals in the Fall which I'll post as we get closer. Like the State Fair of Virginia at its new location! Sept. 24 - Oct. 4 at the Meadow Event Park in Doswell near Kings Dominion.

Have a GREAT summer.

Friday, June 19, 2009

On the cusp of summer

Summer officially starts this weekend. The summer solstice begins on June 21 at 1:45am which is Saturday night for you night owls or Sunday morning for the rest of us.

Summer brings yellow. This is probably why I do not seek out yellow flowers. They always seem abundant.
One of the many rudbeckia or black eyed susan plants I have around the yard. They were an experiment from last year where I scattered seeds everywhere. Fortunately, I have quite a few plants this year to move around.

My tickseed coreopsis are beginning to bloom. Their butter yellow color and tiny flowers are so sweet.

I also planted another variety late last summer in the front of the house to test the spot. The yellow ones are not thriving like I want them too. I believe these are called "sweet dreams " tickseed coreopsis with their red purple pink colors and dark centers.

This year's torenia container with some asparagus fern pieces I divided from the plants I bought on sale last year at the Pottery in Williamsburg. I love them but they do require shade and I don't think they like the heat here so I keep them in a container as close to the house as possible, and never forget to water them.

My alstroemeria or peruvian lily are blooming. One is back by the pool and the other in its spot in a corner of the front porch. They SO need to be divided again. It might just have to wait for now. I am thinking of collecting some different colors. I may need to start trading.

Some of the freesia bulbs we purchased from the school fundraiser. They seem translucent in the morning sun.

The purple coneflower or echinacea purpurea on the brink of a bloom.

Speaking of almost summer...
Java Jodi's will have the SUMMER SOLSTICE PARTY. A Day of Music from 12 noon to 12 midnight!!! The Blue Door will be open... Come and party during the LONGEST DAY OF THE YEAR! Lots of specials ... Limbo Contests. From 12 Noon - 4pm -- The Old Time and Irish Music Jam; 4pm - 8 pm The Trongones! Southern and Classic Rock -- 8pm - 12 Midnight, Michael and Company, Classic Rock you know!

Sunday is Father's Day and that used to be my cutoff date for planting a flat of wizard mix coleus. Can't exactly tell you why because it may just be a coincidence. So I may head over to the Great Big Greenhouse today and see what they have! My list to buy this year still includes: more trailing verbena, cleome or spider flower, plumbago and another knockout rose. A new oleander would be ideal as well. The one I had for a few years in a container died this year. I think it was infected by a disease or nasty bugs.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Personalized Planters for Teacher Gifts

Here are the personalized flowerpots we created for my daughter's teacher and her assistant. The other class mom, my husband and I made contributions of time and talent to the final product as shown here and most all of the other kindergarten class parents contributed funds for the expenses.

My part was purchasing the supplies, picking the plants and filling the pots. I'm not the artistic one.

The plants included are:

  • Coral bells – stormy seas – heuchera hybrid
  • Variegated vinca major (from my yard)

  • Lantana
  • Geranium – salmon colored
  • Dracaena Spikes
  • Ipomoea Batata – sweet potato vine
They started as terra cotta pots and feet from Lowe's. My husband epoxied the feet on, sprayed 2 coats over 2 days of Thompson's Water Seal Multi-Surface Waterproofer. Then he sprayed 2 coats over 2 days of Rust-oleum Satin All-surface white paint.

We then turned it over to the other class mom who painted some scenery on it and we both helped each of the 16 students use their thumbprints to make flowers, bees and ladybugs and each student's name was written on it.

After that, and a few touch ups with acrylic paint after a severe thunderstorm caused a little running... we sprayed them again with Rust-oleum Painter's Touch Crystal Clear Gloss to help protect the colors and personalization for years to come. After all was dry, they were ready for the plants. We took 2 large plastic Folgers coffee cans and drilled a bunch of drainage holes in them as well as some small slits at the bottom. I put them in the pots first to keep them light, as it was not necessary to fill the pots totally with soil. I've been using aluminum cans lately in my own containers but this seemed classier?

Last but not least, I mixed up some Miracle Grow Potting Mix and water in a tub and started filling the pots. I then arranged the plants and added more wet soil and kept showering and misting until I was sure the plants were set in the soil, draining properly and the plants looked clean of all the dirt. I tried to choose a combination of easy care plants that have worked well for me so it doesn't become a hassle for them. Oh yes, I think I added a small hens & chick at the end as well for good measure.

I hope to hear how they hold up over the summer and beyond!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Early June blooms

Offhand, I think the main perennial bloom sequence in the front of the house so far here is crocus, daffodils, hyacinths, trees, roses and peonies, columbine (aquilegia), iris, red hot pokers (torch lily / kniphofia). In the shade garden, the astilbes are just blooming and the hostas should be blooming soon. Of course, there are any number of other little things happening at any one time adding to the mix, like the balloon flowers in the front bed near the Saint Francis bird feeder in Barbara's memory.
As I look at the front garden bed, nothing is really blooming right now. I know the tiger lilies should be blooming soon, the yucca and then I really look forward to the blue agapanthus (african lilies). I wonder what I could add there to be blooming right now? Patience, the lilies should be blooming by the weekend.

The front is where daffodils were, Iris were and now the torch lilies are done. The roses come and go and right now, they are resting.

This is one of my orange daylilies in the back pool garden. I like most any flower with the orange, coral, melon colors, even this daylily that most garden snobs turn their nose up at.
I did succeed in digging up some yellow Iris on Sunday and need to get them divided and planted. That's only a drop in the bucket. I have tons of dark and light purple Iris to go.

Friday, June 5, 2009

English Boxwoods Bringing me Joy

I finally purchased 2 dwarf English boxwoods.Buxus sempervirens 'Suffruiticosa' to be exact. A neighbor was assisting a friend with a house tear down job as well as property clean up. He came home with these 2 old solid concrete urn planters that he thought he would use but later decided they just didn't work on his property so they were offered to me. I grabbed my hand truck and wheeled them over to my planting station, my overflowing messy potting bench until I decided where and what I would do with them. Then I was shopping for garden supplies for someone else and I saw these and decided to get two for the planters. I finally found a real reason to buy them. Hooray!

I have always adored them. I remember them in the formal English gardens I visited many years ago and see them on many garden television programs that I have seen. Since moving to Virginia, they seem to be very common on older properties and on the garden and country estate tours I've taken. Personally, I love their aroma. This is my primary reason for wanting them. I was surprised to read that many people find it offensive.

Of course, they are perfect for a formal garden setting, creating parterres, a border for a rose garden and all that. However, that's not in my immediate garden design plans or budget so for now I plan to thoroughly enjoy my 2.
And my car brings me joy since I ordered it new in 2003 so I thought it apropos to include it. Happy Happy Joy Joy...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Japanese Iris Variegata

The Japanese Iris Variegata are still blooming nicely. They are a deep purple color with blue and yellow. They don't last long but their green and white variegated foliage lasts all summer and looks nice. They are probably the last Iris I have to bloom in a season. I originally planted them in a low spot where water pooled as they don't mind water. I think I need to dig them up and divide them because they are getting bare in the center. Maybe they'll bloom even more next year. I'll find a shadier spot and see how the divisions do there. My gardens are always a test space to me. Maybe if I knew better, I would waste so much time but the learning process is part of the fun for me.

I see now that I took such a close up that they are full of tiny bugs. Great...
I started these yellow flowers from seed in peat pots a few years ago then planted then right into clay. They have consistently bloomed beautifully ever since. My Best Garden Plants for Virginia book by Richard Nunnally and Laura Peters just gave me the name. They are Heliopsis, not a coreopsis or helianthus / sunflower like I originally was coming out with.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Yes, I love my roses. But...

When that first flush of my favorite Abraham Darby blooms erupt, the first week or two of May, it is the most beautiful sight. The sweet fragrance is in the air as you walk near them. To me, it is the epitome of what a rose should be, traditional and fruity.

No sooner is the second set of buds ready to bloom and the thrips come.. and the black spot... Any Japanese Beetles want to take up residence here en masse this year to make a perfect triad of rose problems? The first year I planted it, it did not suffer from black spot at all. I was thrilled thinking it was resistant. Guess not.

Yes, I am spraying them now with fungicide to get rid of the black spot and a bug spray for the thrips but I don't have that same beautiful shrub I had a month ago. Maybe next year, I'll remember to spray right away. I did prune it quite a bit this year to keep a better shape. I should have sprayed it instead.

Today I am a grumpy gardener and want to pull out all my roses just as I finally did in the early spring to my Double Delights that did horrible here.

I also planted a new variety last year that is absolutely wonderful as well. I don't seem to have a picture from this year and it does not have any blooms right now, only its second set of buds. The picture below is from 2008. It is a Weeks Roses Livin Easy (Fellowship, cv. HARwelcome). It is an apricot orange blend floribunda with a beautiful fragrance as well. Dare I say, so far, it is free of black spot and thrips.
Then there are the Jackson Perkins Simplicity roses that I still haven't pulled out. I've posted in the past about what a disappointment and expense they were to us. However, the shade of pink is pretty when they bloom. But they are unsightly for the most part.

We also have 1 Knockout Rose bush that very quickly surpassed our idea of its ultimate size and is therefore in the wrong spot. It blooms nicely and I am hoping to get some other colors and plant them elsewhere.
I suppose that I need to change my ways because the roses and the weather is not going to change. I either need to do some more research into which roses if any can survive the terrible heat we get here or stop planting them in full sun and try to plant one in a more shady spot where it may be protected from the intense heat. As much as I am tempted to give up on them altogether, there's always that incredible fragrance when they do bloom and when I bring them in the house, they sweeten up the place.

The roses we had in the Northeast (NJ) did very well. The weather is cooler overall than it is here. Although roses like sun, I don't think they like the heat. Who does right?

I welcome any suggestions you more experienced gardeners may have. I chose not to try tea roses until I had success with floribundas and shrub roses. Maybe I should bite the bullet and try some teas and my luck may turn!

Adding to the grumpiness is the new Kwanzan cherry tree that we bought and planted this Spring is DEAD. And the weeping cherry that we moved to another spot to see if it would do any better is DEAD. Maybe I should buy a tub of cherries at the produce stand and bury it in the yard . Maybe I'll get a cherry tree then!