May 30, 2011

Anniversary weekend "getaway".

Last weekend our son got married and after two weeks of out of town guests/family and preparation for the wedding, we decided we needed to get away for a couple of days. So we packed up our things and headed out to our favorite beach getaway "The Driftwood Inn"  in Mexico Beach Florida. We found this place through some good friends of ours several years ago and he has become one of our favorite vacation places.  The Inn is victorian in style and reminiscent of architecture I've seen in the Caribbean Islands. It is surrounded by gardens which makes me feel "at home away from home" with lots of fountains and garden art throughout. It is owned by Peggy and Tom Wood.  Tom is an artist and his artistic influence is felt all around you.  Every October they host an Art and Wine Festival for local artists to display their art and to raise funds to purchase fireworks for the Mexico Beach fireworks display every year held by the Chamber of Commerce. The beaches are pristine and uncrowded. The rooms are quaint but large and have a kitchen, so meals can be prepared in the rooms and there are grills outside for grilling if you prefer.

                                                    Entrance to the Driftwood Inn


                                                           Beach side view

                                                     Garden view from the balcony

                                                                   Three swing gazebo

                                                             View from the gazebo

                                                               "The Mermaid Fountain"

                                                                     Other fountains

  I could post countless photos but I found this video which seems to sum it up nicely.

RECHARGE: Driftwood Inn -- Mexico Beach, FL from Reggie Giles on Vimeo.

When you check in the Driftwood Inn you are welcomed by "Huckleberry" the resident Great Dane who is the latest greeter in a long line of Great Danes that Peggy and Tom have owned over the years.
The Inn is pet friendly so bring your four legged family members with you.

                                                                  Tom Wood and Huckleberry

                                               My favorite piece of garden art

While we were there we took a day trip to Apalachicola and St. George Island. We had a nice lunch at a little restaurant/oyster bar called "The Hole in the Wall". Cynthia with "Sam" the resident cat who is cared for by everyone on the block.

                                             The hole in the wall had other surprises!

Several of the restaurants had herb gardens and vegetables in raised beds outside the restaurant.

As we left Apalachicola and headed for St. George Island we saw a charming little cottage garden that I just had to stop and take a picture.

On St. George Island we went to the Lighthouse that was originally built in 1833, moved and rebuilt in 1848, flattened by a gale in 1851 and rebuilt in 1852, stood until 2005 when it collapsed due to erosion in 2005 and moved and rebuilt by volunteers at it's current location in 2008.

      View from the top of the lighthouse showing bridge connecting Apalachicola to St. George Island.

Heading home today we stopped at a Bonsai place in Cottondale Florida we had seen for years but had never  stopped.  They are a great selection of bonsai with their oldest specimen a maple being 101 years old. I took several pictures of some of the most interesting ones. BTW, I did leave with a very nice juniper bonsai.

Our last stop was to take a picture of the giant metal chicken in Brundidge Al. It is in front of an Art shop on Hwy. 231.

Today, we celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary. Cynthia is the love of my life and also my best friend.

May 14, 2011


This week I started on a new project to develop an area located between the side garden and what has been in the past my vegetable garden. It is a pretty shady area with two tremendous pine trees, an October Glory Maple, and a very old Crepe Myrtle (Natchez I believe) which I planted 23 years ago. A path to the vegetable garden divides the space. Last year I developed the left side under the pine trees with hydrangeas and Clerodendrum bungei also known as rose glory bower or Mexican hydrangea.  I had done a little work on the right side removing some old shrub roses. and a nice stand of spiderwort. Needless to say, I was a little intimidated when I first looked at the area this past week and had second thoughts about whether I really wanted to do it or not. Finally I got motivated enough to get started then went into full throttle mode to get the job done.  I had planned to haul off all the debris this weekend but alas the rain Gods decided otherwise.  This is what the area looked like before.

 and this is after.....

I do not have a plan yet for this space, I just needed to remove the clutter and clear the slate more or less. The canopy of the October Glory covers most of the area so shade plants should do fairly well here but there is some late afternoon sun that penetrates the area.  I plan to study the area and determine how much sunlight it receives and go from there. I will keep you updated as the area progresses.


I had started some tomato seedlings a while back that I purchased at the Home & Garden show. I bought Black Krim and Brandywire heirloom  tomatoes.  Last week I transplanted the seedlings to larger pots.  I plan on thinning them out tomorrow. 

I constructed three more SWC's and added some cucumbers, a black beauty eggplant and a white eggplant. 

Today I was at Sam's and saw a raised bed kit made from wood composite with the dimensions 84"x 42"x8" for $40.00. Having priced wood at Lowe's and Home Depot, I figured this was a pretty good deal and bit the bullet and purchased two of the kits. The kits are extremely easy to put together and if I were blessed with a level piece of earth in my yard I could have finished it in about 5 minutes. But alas, nothing is ever easy for me, so I had to level the area first.  I wanted to enclose the Lasagna plot I developed last year so I outlined the bed, leveled it with old brick and put the frame together. I'm rather pleased with the results. I decided not to add any more soil in the raised bed since the soil is very rich and has a lot of worm and microbial activity already.  At the end of the season I will add more layers to the Lasagna bed and bring it up to the level it needs to be and let it cook until next spring.

Currently I have three squash plants and two okra plants that I purchased today. It is called "Little Lucy" and is a red okra. It only grows 2 feet tall and tends to be bushier than typical okra.   

Last saturday I planted some rattlesnake pole beans and noticed today that some sprouts are emerging thru the soil.

What's blooming this week:

Common Name: St. Joseph's Lily, hardy amaryllis.
Botanical Name: Hippeastrum johnsonii.
Color: Bright red flowers with white stars at the throat, very fragrant.
Plant Size: 20-24".
Exposure: Full sun to light shade.
Hardiness: Zone 7-10, probably to zone 6 with protective mulch.
Bloom Time: Late spring, early summer.

Black & Blue Salvia and Salvia Argentina Blue Skies.
Evening Primrose(Oenethra) and Asiatic Lilies.

Red Hot Poker or Torch Lily (Kniphofia)

The Torch Lilies are almost spent. I was late taking a picture this year. It's a great plant and I like it a lot.

Well it's been a busy week in the garden. A lot of progress has been made but there is still a lot more to do. A gardener's work is never done.

May 2, 2011

What's happening in the Garden

The past couple of weeks have been spent getting the beds ready for annual plants. The tulips and pansies have bid farewell for another year, replaced by plants more suited for the coming summer. The knockout roses are in full bloom and more than live up to their name.

            I pruned the knockout roses in Feb. and they have already doubled in size.

                                                             Clematis Jackmanii


                                                             Virginia Sweetspire

 Container plants
                               Dianella Golden Streak

                                                                     Solomon's Seal

                                                               Profusion Zinnias

                                                  Japanese Maple "Waterfall"

                                                         Eastern Redbud "Forest Pansy"
I have recently started planting hostas in containers which has worked really well and have actually performed better than those planted in the yard. I have quite a few in pots on the deck and also in the yard. Those in the yard are elevated in the pots which draws the eye to them and makes them stand out more in the landscape.

                                                              Hosta "Sum and Substance"




                                                                     Begonia Tower

 I spent part of the weekend constructing SWC's for my heirloom tomatoes thanks to EG of "Our Engineered Garden blog.  I am really excited to see how well this system works.  I also planted some squash in my Lasagna garden plot I started last year. I was amazed at the texture and richness of the soil and the presence of earthworms in the bed when I planted the squash.   I also planted one squash plant in the SWC to see how well it will do in a container planting.  Time will tell.

My garden helper this weekend was Polly our newest addition to the menagerie. She does a great job of keeping the chipmunk population under control.