White Christmas!

It's been a long while since there's been snow on Christmas Day here in Upstate SC. What a nice Christmas present!

I was reminded about the resilance of the pansies as I saw this flower sticking up through the snow. This symbolizes a good resolution for me in the new year. I hope to stay calm and strong as life throws new experiences my way.


Monarch caterpillars

I was surprised and delighted to see what looked like Monarch caterpillars munching away on the butterfly weed this afternoon. At first I was confused since I thought they only dined on milkweed. Then I looked it up and found out butterfly weed is Asclepias tuberosa. Once again paying attention to that pesky Latin can come in handy, since its Latin name clearly shows it's in the milkweed family. Doh!



Thank you, basil, for not protesting my neglect now that I've been back to work for a few weeks. And thank you for sacrificing a few leaves for the sake of yummy pesto. I couldn't have done it without you.

Sometime soon I'd like to grind up some garlic and basil to freeze over the winter. (Then you just add the pine nuts, cheese, and olive oil when you're ready.) But the whole process always seems to take so long that I didn't do that today. It shouldn't take long, but it always does.

Why did it take me over an hour today to make some simple pesto? I started accounting for my time, and it started to make a lot more sense:

Stopping by to pull random weeds- 20 minutes.
Admiring butterflies- 10 minutes
Surveying vegetable garden and cursing groundhog- 5 minutes
Struggling to remember how to assemble the food processor- 10 minutes
Clearing breakfast dishes out of sink to make room for washing basil- 5 minutes
Cleaning up the pots and pans toddler has strewn across the floor - 10 minutes


And the Winner is...

Thanks to all that entered the giveaway contest last month! The winning entry was from Mya, who has already received and posted a picture of her prize package.

More butterflies!

I've gone camera-crazy again this summer a few times, taking lots of pictures of the butterflies that frequent the lantana (Miss Huff). I liked this picture since it's a little different to see the "underbelly" of a butterfly.

[OK, plant disclaimer, lantana could be invasive in your state and doesn't look that great in winter. But if you plant it responsibly, it's great. In fact you might already be in love with it. A drought tolerant butterfly magnet!]


Sand Garden

In Northeast Harbor, Maine, I ran across this "sand garden". I love how the raked sand and rocks look like an ocean and islands.



I'm enjoying the natural beauty of Maine right now, and of course the pleasant weather for walking around outside.

I love the ferns and the firs and all the moss, too. It's amazing all the diversity of plants we have in the United States. Another reason to celebrate. Happy belated 4th of July!


Giveaway: Organic Home Pest Control Value Bundle

EcoSMART is sponsoring a giveaway of their organic home pest control products here at Growing Southern.

Here's the package you could win:
  • Weed and Grass Killer
  • Garden Fungicide
  • Garden Insect Killer
  • Insect Repellent
If you garden, you have pests. So I know most of you would be able to find a use for some home garden pest control products.

To enter, simply comment on why you need or want the organic pest control products.

I'll announce the winner on July 14th. Good luck!


Garden Withdrawl

I've been out of town this week, and I'm really missing my garden. My fingernails look way too nice. I need some dirt under them again. And it's just doesn't feel right when I'm not smelly, sore, and really in need of a shower at the end of the day. Then there's the wondering about what I'm missing- wouldn't it be cool if I could Skype with my plants?

Like most young people, I once thought I would enjoy living in the excitement of the big city. But now I realize I can't even stand it for a week. Yes, there's some containers of beautiful flowers on the sidewalk and a fountain in the square, but it's just not the same as having my own little patch of dirt.


Garden "Helpers"

It's nice that for the first spring in a quite a while, I'm not pregnant (and unable to lift large containers or bags of mulch) or tending to a newborn (and spending all my "free" time napping). So I am really appreciating spending a lot of time outside this spring!

Of course a preschooler helping to "weed" and a baby shoving everything he can find in his mouth makes things interesting. But they are learning valuable lessons these past few weeks in the garden:

Lesson #1: Don't eat the snapdragons.

Lesson #2: Butterfly weed is not a weed.

Lesson #3: Carrots are yummy, dirt and all.

Lesson #4: If you crawl through the muddy water on the patio, it makes a fun mess.



Here's some photos of my "muse" from the last post- the wildflowers at Hatcher gardens.


Woodland Wildflowers

Now that spring has arrived, I have plenty of weeding and mulching to do. So I'm taking it one section at a time and enjoying every minute I can get outside.

I focused on a small shaded corner of my garden today. I was inspired by a recent stroll through the Hatcher Gardens. Josephine Hatcher loved wildflowers, and there is a beautiful section of woodland garden full of delicate blooms right now.

My own little woodland wildflower corner includes phlox, columbine, and spiderwort all in shades of purple and white.

Other suggestions for plants I should add to my little corner?

Where have you gotten your inspiration this spring?


Feeling like spring!

In Ohio, spring break seldom felt like spring. Colleges usually schedule them smack in the middle of the semester, sometime in early March. Often times there would be snowstorms yet to come after spring break.

But I've enjoyed a spring break that felt like spring this week. I got to take my daughter to the children's park in downtown Greenville early in the week. Then it rained a lot late in the week. I noticed my bulbs are starting to come up, so they must have liked the rain. We used to say "April showers bring May flowers", but maybe the saying should be rolled a month back here!


Mystery Varigation

I don't think these seeds were marked as having varigation! I'm wondering if stress can bring it on.


Bowl o' mulch

I've noticed a variation on the mulch mound recently- the bowl of mulch. Better than mulch against the crown & trunk I guess, but wouldn't it trap too much water against the tree perhaps ?


Honeysuckle rant

photo by Anita363
Beautiful flowers, right? I can't stand looking at them! I spent some more time today pulling honeysuckle out of the wooded area in our front yard, where they are smoothering the shrubs and strangling small saplings.
The good news was that now that the drought is over, the soil is much softer and it's a lot easier to pull them out by the roots. I felt like I really made some progress today!


Plant Diversity helps Bees

I just read an interesting article about the correlation between plant diversity and bees' immune systems. Bees that forage from several plant species, rather than a monoculture, can protect themselves better from disease.


It's an interesting thought that by gardening and growing lots of nectar plants (without pesticides), perhaps we are ensuring our city bees are in better health than their country cousins.


Apps for gardeners?

I've become very addicted to my iPhone lately. Countless hours in the dark spent trying to put a baby to sleep were much more interesting when I could check email and look at facebook. And now I can blog from my phone, too! Hurray!

I'm disapointed that there doesn't seem to be a good plant ID guide. Maybe someday! Right now here's a couple apps for gardeners:

You can search by ingredient, including that veggie you grew too much of.

More detailed hourly reports help you figure out when to water and when to let nature do the watering.

I've spent way too much money on plant books since I started having a mobile wishlist.

What I'm using now!