25 Days of Burpee Advent Calendar – Day 5

Adventures in video-taping – sometimes you just lose your head. Or at least the top part of it. But the message isn’t cut out: Burpee has a great new seed in today’s Advent window. I’ll be planting them in my Crescent Garden Dylan planter in late winter. And today’s seeds are another AAS Winner!


The perfect gift for a anyone who loves plants. Twenty-days of new introduction seeds from Burpee Gardens in a beautiful calendar!
The perfect gift for a anyone who loves plants. Twenty-days of new introduction seeds from Burpee Gardens in a beautiful calendar!

A Year of Gardens – Day 22

Gardening is not just about the plants or design, but the weather that controls the life of those plants. This snowstorm will leave many plants damaged and many others sheltered from the cold. And it leaves me with visions of beauty.

“God and Lawncare” – Author unknown

My friend Linda Mello sent me this. Working in the landscaping business, one of my objectives is to re-educate folks about their landscape care. I don’t know who wrote this but I love how it sums up many of the principles I want to get across!

God said:   
“Frank, you know all about gardens and nature. What in the world is going on down there on the planet? What happened to the dandelions, violets, milkweeds and stuff I started eons ago? I had a perfect no-maintenance garden plan. Those plants grow in any type of soil, withstand drought and multiply with abandon. The nectar from the long-lasting blossoms attracts butterflies, honey bees and flocks of songbirds. I expected to see a vast garden of colors by now. But, all I see are these green rectangles.”

It’s the tribes that settled there, Lord. The Suburbanites. They started calling your flowers ‘weeds’ and went to great lengths to kill them and replace them with grass.

Grass? But, it’s so boring. It’s not colorful. It doesn’t attract butterflies, birds and bees; only grubs and sod worms. It’s sensitive to temperatures. Do these Suburbanites really want all that grass growing there?


Apparently so, Lord. They go to great pains to grow it and keep it green. They begin each spring by fertilizing grass and poisoning any other plant that crops up in the lawn.

The spring rains and warm weather probably make grass grow really fast. That must make the Suburbanites happy.

Apparently not, Lord. As soon as it grows a little, they cut it-sometimes twice a week.

They cut it? Do they then bale it like hay?

Not exactly, Lord. Most of them rake it up and put it in bags.

They bag it? Why? Is it a cash crop? Do they sell it?

No, Sir, just the opposite. They pay to throw it away.

Now, let me get this straight. They fertilize grass so it will grow. And, when it does grow, they cut it off and pay to throw it away?

Yes, Sir.

These Suburbanites must be relieved in the summer when we cut back on the rain and turn up the heat. That surely slows the growth and saves them a lot of work.

You aren’t going to believe this, Lord. When the grass stops growing so fast, they drag out hoses and pay more money to water it, so they can continue to mow it and pay to get rid of it.

What nonsense. At least they kept some of the trees. That was a sheer stroke of genius, if I do say so myself. The trees grow leaves in the spring to provide beauty and shade in the summer. In the autumn, they fall to the ground and form a natural blanket to keep moisture in the soil and protect the trees and bushes. It’s a natural cycle of life.

You better sit down, Lord. The Suburbanites have drawn a new circle. As soon as the leaves fall, they rake them into great piles and pay to have them hauled away.

No!? What do they do to protect the shrub and tree roots in the winter to keep the soil moist and loose?

After throwing away the leaves, they go out and buy something which they call mulch. They haul it home and spread it around in place of the leaves.

And where do they get this mulch?

They cut down trees and grind them up to make the mulch.

Enough! I don’t want to think about this anymore. St. Catherine, you’re in charge of the arts. What movie have you scheduled for us tonight?

‘Dumb and Dumber’, Lord. It’s a story about….

GOD: Never mind, I think I just heard the whole story from St. Francis.

Moss Mountain Farm – An Early Spring Visit to P Allen Smith’s Garden Home

Out working on the farm, P Allen Smith road his bike up to the house to greet all of us who came to visit his farm last week-end. I went with a group of friends gathered for a 30 year reunion.

P Allen Smith and lovable Angel welcome folks to their garden home.
This was my favorite room – the 2nd floor sleeping porch,

sleeping porch comes with a very inviting copper bathtub.
And the view from the porch will make you want to visit every season.
Coming down the front stairs
then I see THE TREE – glimpsed looking out P Allen’s front door.
Lunch was served here, in the updated barn.Called there by
The lunch bell.
A glimpse into P Allen’s art studio.

P Allen’s containers – loved getting ideas from him.
The poultry shedsSo whaddaya lookin’ at?!

Can’t wait to come back in May for Garden2Blog2012!

Beware the Deceiver – An Annual Reminder

A rerun from my Garden Compositions in Nashville House, Home, and Garden March 2008:


Some call him the seducer, the way he woos us with his warmth. He skews our perspective and flirts with what he knows are our ultimate intentions. Last year, I hate to admit, even I found myself succumbing to his overt advancements. I’m not talking George Clooney here. It’s the month of March that can lure even the most faithful gardener to transgress our prudish adherence to not plant annuals until after Tax Day. The seduction of early spring, the lure of brilliantly colored flowers topping tables at all the big box stores, the longing to feel the dirt in our hands – all these combine to bring down the florally starved gardeners who think, “Surely this year we won’t get caught with a late freeze!”


Last year we all learned our lesson. With February and March of 2007 bringing temperature that aligned more with April and May, many folk were convinced that global warming had eliminated our winter. By the end of March I was seeing annual beds being planted, baskets of spring flowers being hung, and Boston ferns placed in urns. Granted, in some years the meticulous gardener can escape the damage of late frost by covering their flowers or bringing containers into their garage. But last year’s three day deep freeze in early April defied preparation and protection. It’s time to encourage the Victorian Age rule of planting for Middle Tennessee: “Don’t plant your annuals and tropicals until after April 15!” I’ll even add another word of caution here. Many of the gardening old-timers that I love to glean information from swear by the fact that they will not plant annuals until after Mother’s Day (a good two weeks after April 15). Late April 2005 brought temperatures in the upper 20s at night – enough to decimate plants like impatiens, coleus, or mandavilla vines.


With warm afternoons beckoning us to action but responsibility controlling our purse-strings, here’s a list of early spring activities that help you prepare the way for a gorgeous and healthy spring display of annual color. Just so we’re all on the same wave-length, I’ll give a quick explanation of what I’m talking about when I discuss annual color:

Encarta Dictionary describes “annuals” as a “plant that dies after one season”. In our area this is a long list that you can best explore by checking out these two web sites:



  1. Visit the websites above to read about which annuals and tropicals best handled our past two scorching summers. You’ll find plants listed by botanical name, but you’ll also find the name that grandma used to call it! Make note of the specific variety – for example, not all geraniums perform the same. Look for these varieties in local nurseries.
  2. Amend your annual beds with products such as Erth Food, soil from the Compost Farm (794-1483), Nature’s Helper Soil Amendments, or other good soil enrichments.
  3. Visit the Bloom N Garden Expo (April 8-10) at the Williamson County Expo. Not only do they have great displays, but this is one of the best places to buy plants and garden accessories, plus learn lots from their line-up of speakers.
  4. Start planting in your perennial beds. Two great new books out to help you decide what to plant where: “Southern Shade: A Plant Selection Guide” or “Southern Sun: A Plant Selection Guide” both by Jo Kellum.

Orchids in My Office

Yesterday I was out to dinner when a sweet lady from one of the neighborhoods that I maintain came by my table to thank me for making her neighborhood so colorful and beautiful all year round. She then asked about my home – wondering if I had such beautiful containers and plantings at my own house.
My husband almost snorted out his iced tea.
Now I discussed this topic a couple of weeks ago in this blog – the shameful agony of my “cobbler’s children” containers. I went to the greenhouse this week and with the pleasant weather gathered all the plants I needed to make my late winter containers look incredible so I wouldn’t feel so negligent to my little planters (and in case this sweet little lady decided to drive by my house). But then I got an email from my publisher with the first deadline on my book, and the boys had activities they needed me to attend, it rained all day on Saturday, and on and on… so, my planters were still empty.
Yea, I know. I just need to hire myself.

But every once in a while someone does something to help me keep a little beauty in my close up
world to calm the anxious beast in me that works way to many hours doing what I love to do, just at other places than my own home. My husband brought me cyclamen for Valentine’s Day. Costa Farms sent me this gorgeous orchid to bring life to my office full of planting schedules, community lot maps, plant catalogs, order forms, stacks for billing, and very outdated pictures of my children.

And last Saturday one of my sons said he would help me get our vegetable garden ready for planting. I think he was just hungry. But a few hours of teenage muscle made a big difference in our readiness to plant. I didn’t even mind that he thought taking pictures of me sweating and dirty was a fun way to take a break.

So what exactly am I communicating in this post?
That life sometimes seems out of focus – that I often concentrate on clean, crisp jobs well done in all that goes on in my working world, and that can leave the rest of life a blur. Sometimes the little things – the small flowering orchid in my office, the gift of time to help in the garden – can help bring the priorities of life back into focus.

One down, 17 more to go.