Category Archives: Gardening

A Camellia Show


Here is a picture of the Fashionata Camellia that we won.

Last weekend my mother and I had the opportunity and privilege of attending a glorious display of prize-winning camellias in our community.  The show was sponsored by the Charlotte Camellia Society and  was located at the historic White House in Rock Hill, South Carolina. Every color combination of traditional camellia flowers were on display as well as a few rare varieties.  Colors ranged from pale white,  blush pink to fuchsia pink, and deep tones of red.  There were variegated species with peppermint candy striped flowers in combinations of  red and white or pink and white. Some of the prize blossoms measured over 5 inches in diameter. Smaller blossoms measuring only 2 inches in width also won prizes.  Some hybrids were created by  crossing  ruffled varieties with more commonly shaped camellia blossoms. The results were flowers with interesting ruffled centers. Some were grown in  protected greenhouse environments while others were grown outdoors.


These were some of the unusual hybridized flowers.


We entered a raffle contest as we began the tour.  To our delight and surprise, one of Mom’s tickets was drawn.  The type of camellia that she won is called Fashionata. Isn’t it stunning?Mom later said that she thinks God blessed her with a beautiful camellia to replace those she had given up at her former home that she had nurtured for years.  She gave it to me to plant in my yard since she doesn’t have a lot of room to grow plants at her condo. My husband planted it yesterday in a sheltered spot near our house a close distance from our bedroom window so that I can admire it.




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A Garden Wish List


Here is a two-year old arborvitae and a potted Alberta spruce that I will probably plant this spring.


The dwarf Cryptomeria are beside the mailbox. They have only grown to be this size in two years.


Here are some pencil post holly that I planted to give all the concrete of the patio a little life.


These Loropetalum shrubs will eventually hide ugly deck support posts and garden supplies underneath.

When the temperatures dive and I feel like hibernating inside, I start to dream about spring. I get excited when a warmer day is forecast and I want to inspect my plants to see if they have survived the winter.  I keep a log of plants that I have planted in my garden and also keep a list of plants that I would like to purchase to try to grow.

There are plants that should be included in every southern garden. This list includes roses, azaleas, camellias, hydrangea and crepe myrtles.  Southerners like them for their beautiful flowers as well as for the scent they give off.

There are other different looking plants that should be added to a southern garden for added interest.  I like adding colorful plants which do not necessarily have notable flowers but have interesting leaves. Loropetalum shrubs have beautiful bronze colored leaves which they keep through the winter months. They  have unusual flowers that look like fringe, thus the more common name “fringeflower.”  I also like plants which have yellow or greenish-yellow leaves. I have found different varieties of Abelia to provide this yellow contrast in the landscape and most of these are also ever”yellow”, keeping their leaves through the cold season.

Using evergreen plants in the landscape provides some much-needed life when plants look so pitiful in the winter months. Of these, I have found arborvitae or junipers to be hardy and easy to grow. Not only do they give green color to a dead looking landscape, but they can provide a bit of interest with their conical or spherical shapes. Pencil post holly is another evergreen shrub that provides the green and upright growth that every dismal winter garden landscape needs.

I enjoy looking at hedges that provide privacy and serve as sound barriers. Commonly Leyland cypress and Cryptomeria are grown for this purpose but they grow so large that they are not suitable for every garden.  I have found a dwarf variety of Cryptomeria that I planted as a backdrop to my mailbox. It’s size is just a little over 2 feet in height at two years of age.

I would like to grow a magnolia tree so I could cut some sprigs for the house during the Christmas season.   I have been discouraged from trying to grow one because they typically grow so enormous.  However, I recently discovered there is a dwarf variety called Little Gem that is currently on my list to find.

The fore mentioned plants are the base or bones to every southern garden. There are many beautiful shrubs and vines that should be included as well to give a garden more personality.  The lovely Carolina Jessamine gives a pop of yellow during the early spring and looks great trailing over a fence or arbor.  The invasiveness of the plant should not discourage one from trying this Carolina native plant. Forsythia shrubs are another common plant that provide a pop of yellow in the very earliest days of spring.  Along with jonquils and crocuses, its blossoms are a signal that warm weather is just around the corner.

There are bulbs, perennials and herbs that keep coming back so are worth growing for their color throughout the spring and summer months.  I like lilies and irises because they come back for many years as long as you keep dividing them.  I have a rosemary plant that has been growing in my garden for about three years now.  I tried Spanish lavender by my mailbox last year and is has proven to be very hardy so far through this winter and has tripled in size.

The secret is to keep trying different plants.  Keep a record of successes and failures.  Some do well in one spot but poorly somewhere else.  New and improved, dwarf or hardier varieties are being produced all the time. Growing a garden is always interesting and rewarding because of all the beautiful and amazing plants there are to grow.


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The Season of Dormancy

100_3798There are seasons in life where we may feel weak and vulnerable, like there is nothing in us of any life-giving or creative value.  It is during those times when we need to draw from our heavenly Father to recharge and renew us.  Like a tree that has lost all of its leaves, we appear to have no life. We feel vulnerable to whatever the elements may throw at us. We bend and sway with the heavy winds.  We are weighed down by snow or ice with no foliage to offer us protection or defense.  But at those times when we may appear at our weakest, we have the unique opportunity to develop inner strength if we lean on God to uphold us through the storms of life.


I am reflecting on the season of dormancy as it relates to nature.  I am also going through a season where I feel very little desire to produce and create.  I am sapped of all energy and just want to curl up and withdraw.  I feel exposed and unattractive to the outside world.  I am reminded that there is a reason for this state in nature.  It is when a plant is at its weakest state that in fact it is strongest.  It is building up inner strength.  It is renewing and recharging and getting stronger every day until slowly, unexpectantly, one day it bursts forth with a sign of new life.  One peaking small bud proves there is life inside a mere dead being.  An inner beauty suddenly emerges as a butterfly from a cocoon.  Soon it will be in full display and reveal a breathtakingly beautiful creation that took months and much endurance to produce.


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A Beautiful Winter Garden

My family and I went to the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina this month while it was still decorated for Christmas.  We have been several times but have never seen it at Christmastime.  The most stunning decorations to me were in the grand dining room.  There was a 25 foot tree on one end of the room that was simply amazing.  Getting the tree inside alone was an awe-inspiring thought. The tree was heavily adorned  with exquisite Victorian decorations.  Beautifully wrapped packages encircled the tree. In a corner near the tree, elegantly dressed porcelain dolls were having a tea party to delight the young  and old alike. I enjoyed seeing the house but the garden was just as wonderful.

We went for a walk on the grounds to visit the conservatory. The gardener in me was fully delighted.  It was an unseasonably warm day here for January. Some of the plants were budding as if it was early March. I saw blooms on the forsythia and daffodil bulbs emerging from the ground. This never happens here in the south until at least February. The trail wound around for about half of a mile. We walked through the rose and bulb garden. In the winter you can more easily see the formal, symmetrical rose garden design and envision the rose bushes trailing and growing on trellises and wire supports. There were trees along brick walls that had been pruned back to grow into espalier forms. There was an arbor that we walked under that we imagined must be covered in blooms during the spring. The smell of all those roses and bulbs in full bloom must be breath-taking.

The glass conservatory is a wonderful structure to behold from the outside but once you step inside, your senses are overwhelmed.  There is a high level of humidity and oxygen from all the plants.We quickly shed our outer garments as there is a marked increase in temperature inside.  We followed a path to discover beautiful plants in every shape and size.  There were Poinsettias in different shades including red, pink, white and even  salmon or variations of all four.  There were ferns, orchids and a variety of bromeliads that were suspended from the ceiling in oversized planters. There was a room of cacti  that left me amazed.  There were Philodendrons, bottle brush trees and tropical plants that I had never seen before.

We were tired from all the walking at the estate, to the shuttle stop and then to find our car. On the drive out, we saw a gardener’s shop. I regret now that we didn’t stop because I am told now by my gardening friends that it alone is worth the visit.  It is a long but beautiful drive to exit the estate.  We stopped briefly to see the winery and new hotel. The Biltmore is  a 100_3761100_3748100_3762100_3774place that one should not visit only once.



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I Passed My Master Gardening Exam!


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My Training Is Almost Finished

Master Gardening1

Here I am potting some plants to help prepare for the Master Gardeners’ Spring Plant Sale.

Master Gardening2

Sunbonnet Sue working in a garden.

For anyone that has been following my blog, you are probably wondering what I have been up to since I haven’t been posting much lately.  I have been taking a class to become a Master Gardener. Right now I am referred to as an intern seedling.  We have had 10 classes so far and have 3 to go then the final.  We have had tests at the beginning of each class to cover the material from the previous week.  We have learned to identify about 30 plants by their leaves so far and have about 20 to go.  We have covered ALOT of information on pest management, fruit trees, landscaping design, turfgrass  installation, vegetable gardening, annuals, perennials, herbs, composting, mulching and tree pruning. We have had field trips to Black’s Peach Orchard, Glencairn Gardens, the vegetable garden at Anne Springs Close Farm as well as the garden at the Clemson Extension Office. It has been a challenging but fun journey.  Hopefully, I will graduate and receive my certificate next month.  I will keep you posted. Wish me success!

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Finding My Inner Nerd

100_3605100_3606100_3607100_3608100_3609100_3611100_3612There is a running joke in our house that we are a family of nerds. If collecting things makes one a nerd then we definitely fit the description. It makes life interesting because each of us collects different or unusual items.  My husband enjoys reading and has a big library of books. He also collects Viewmaster reels for their spectacular images in 3-D. My daughter is a musician and music lover.  She plays the piano, flute and guitar. She owns an organ that she bought from a former teacher and a cherongo drum that she brought home from South America. I think that she would make room for even more instruments because she enjoys playing them and having them around her. My son is a sports fan.  He began collecting baseball cards when he was a little boy.

I have always enjoyed being outside and like to learn about plants.  I am in my element now since I am taking a master gardener class. Part of my studies have focused on identifying plants by their leaves. Plant identification becomes easier once you are familiar with different leaf shapes, margins, arrangement on stems, and coloration. Some plants are so similar that it takes a well-trained eye to distinguish the leaves of one plant from those of another in the same variety.

A lot of my home decor  is adorned with nature or botanical images. I have a renewed appreciation for this collection now as I understand more about the uniqueness of each plant specimen and its contribution to God’s beautiful creation.

Like the plants, we each are “…..fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:14.

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