Category Archives: Gardening

My Quest To Be A Better Gardener

I haven’t posted a lot on my blog site lately because I am taking a gardening class to become a Master Gardener. I hope to be a better gardener once I am finished. Perhaps I can avoid making mistakes monetarily or physically in the garden. I know that over the years I have experimented by planting things that did not survive because they were not tolerant of the conditions in the southern part of the country where I live. Planting disease resistant plant varieties best suited for South Carolina which are hardy and drought-tolerant will make gardening a more satisfying experience.


Crepe myrtles and Knock Out roses do very well in the south and should be a feature in every southern garden. You can find them in a lot of different colors. Crepes are usually pink, white or red but occasionally you will see a lavender variety. Some people are guilty of crepe “murder” which is very harsh pruning, almost down to the nub. It takes the plants a long time to recover from this type of pruning and they never achieve a natural look again so drastic pruning should be avoided. Knock Out roses come in red, pink or yellow.

So far I have studied basic plant botany and physiology, soil science, entomology(the study of insects), and plant pathology(the study of plant diseases). I am learning to identify a wide variety of plants by looking at their leaves. I am looking forward to learning about landscaping, perennials, pesticides and vegetable gardening. I still have a long way to go but am looking forward to growing myself in the knowledge of plants.

It is amazing to think that God made a vast variety of plants each with uniquely different  features. God’s creation includes interesting plants, insects and microscopic creatures that we are not aware exist in the world around us. We can help beautify our little part of the world by growing plants suited for our region, improving the growing conditions of the soil, and keeping our plants healthy and free from pests or disease.

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A Few Newly Adopted Babies

To a plant lover, tender new plants are just like babies.  We are excited when we see new signs of life. We nurture and care for them, watching them closely as they grow.


A Thanksgiving cactus and one that looks like a tail.


The one on the right is a jade plant.


These are hens and chicks.


These are bluish gray succulents of various types.

My handyman brought me some plant seedlings yesterday. His wife grows succulent plants of every imaginable variety. We have a common love of plants and have begun sharing starters with one another. I shared an aloe plant with her a few weeks ago.  She sent back to me several plants in a bag.  I have identified a Thanksgiving cactus starter, hens and chicks as well as a jade plant baby in the collection.

I love cacti and all types of succulents because they require little care, infrequent watering and do really well in the hot South Carolina climate.

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List of Gardens -“Just for Fun”


The Bok Tower in Lake Wales, Florida.


The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California.


The mission at Carmel-By-The-Sea, California.


The Japanese Tea Garden in San Francisco.


The Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco.

I thought it would be fun to list the gardens I have visited over the years.  I would be interested to know of others that you have visited as well.

Starting in Florida…..In Miami there is Vizcaya Estate and Gardens as well as the Orchid Garden and Parrot Jungle.  In Fort Myers one can find  the home and gardens of Thomas Edison. The Ernest Hemingway house and garden is in Key West.  Cypress Gardens was in Winter Haven but has become Legoland.  Silver Springs is in the town of the same name.  The Bok Tower Gardens are in Lake Wales. The Disney Institute has a gardening center which offers classes at Disneyworld in Orlando. Lakeland has Hollis Garden.  St. Augustine has the Fountain of Youth and surrounding gardens.

In Georgia….Callaway Gardens are in Pine Mountain.  The Augusta National Golf courses grounds and gardens are a must see in Augusta.  Savannah has many public and private gardens to see by taking walking or driving tours. The Little White House was a summer home and hot tub rehabilitation facility for FDR in Warm Springs.

In South Carolina….Charleston is home to many beautiful homes with gardens including Magnolia Gardens, Middleton Place, Dreyton Hall and Boone Hall Plantation. There is a garden at Charles Towne Landing.  Another Cypress Garden is located in Moncks Corner where one can paddle a boat through a swamp filled with alligators. Brookgreen Gardens are at Myrtle Beach.  Columbia has the fabulous Riverbanks zoo and garden. The Park Seed Co. has an outstanding garden in Greenwood. There is an asian tea garden on Furman University’s campus. Sumter has the beautiful Swan Lake Garden. There is a very interesting garden known as Pearl Friar’s Topiary Garden in Bishopville.  Glencairn Garden is a wonderful attraction in my home town of Rock Hill.

In North Carolina……Charlotte has Wing Haven. Winston-Salem has Old Salem and the Reynolda House and Gardens. Asheville has the Biltmore Estate and Gardens. The Carl Sandburg estate and gardens are in Hendersonville.  New Bern has Tryon Palace and Gardens.The Elizabethan Gardens are near the coast at Manteo. Durham has the Duke Botanical Gardens. Chapel Hill has an arboretum and Gastonia has Stowe Botanical Gardens and Conservatory.

In Virginia… can behold small-scale colonial backyard  gardens in Williamsburg. Thomas Jefferson’s home, expansive vegetable and flower gardens are in Charlottesville. The Greenbriar is a fabulous resort and garden in White Sulfur Springs.

In Washington, DC…..  one must see the White House and famous Rose Garden. The U. S. Botanical Garden has an outstanding array of plants both in the outdoor gardens and inside in the conservatory.

In New York…..I have visited the botanical garden at Niagara Falls.  I have also toured the home and gardens at Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Hyde Park.

In Massachusetts…..I have been to Nathanial Hawthorne’s House of Seven Gables and Garden in Salem. Louisa May Alcott’s home and garden known as Orchard House, are in Concord.  The Mount, is Edith Wharton’s elegant home with gardens in Lenox.

In Rhode Island……I have visited The Breakers, the grandiose Vanderbilt mansion and grounds in Newport.

In New Jersey……Ringwood Manor, expansive grounds and formal garden are in Ringwood.

In California…..I have been to San Francisco and have seen The Japanese Tea Garden, The Conservatory of Flowers and the Palace of Fine Arts.  In Carmel-By-The-Sea, there is a wonderful walled in garden next to a stuccoed spanish-style Roman Catholic mission church. It has its own resident western quail that wanders throughout the tropical native plants.

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A Great Salvage Store


I recently viewed the episode on Salvage Dawgs when they delivered this rocket from an old abandoned amusement park to the parking lot of the store. It is visible from a long distance so makes a great advertising sign and landmark for the area.



There are many different statues among the shop’s selection.


A garden bench made from an old truck hatch sits next to a fountain.

100_3488100_3489100_3494Recently my husband and I went to Roanoke, Virginia for a business/anniversary trip all rolled into one.  Yes, that’s right, he got a business deduction while I got to share a hotel room and meals out at a beautiful vacation spot. Roanoke has special attractions for me.

The Blue Ridge Mountains surround this city that sits in a bowl-shaped valley. My grandparents’ former home rests on a hill where  the mountains are visible from every vantage point.  I went by the old house while I was in town.  A neighbor was sitting out on her front porch when I drove by. I stopped to speak to her.  She remembered my grandfather as she bought her house 30 years ago when he was still living.  She called the current owner to see if I could get inside to look around. I was thrilled, of course.

Upon entry, I couldn’t get over how much smaller the house seemed than in my memory. Everything must seem bigger than life in the eyes of a child. The kitchen had been remodelled with dark cabinets and black granite countertops.  The dining and living areas have switched places from where my grandparents had them. The walls have been painted dark modern colors and the hardwood floors have been exposed and refinished. The screened porch has been enclosed and the stoop over the back door has been removed. A quaint courtyard area surrounded by black wrought iron fencing is now located in front of the back door.  The old chain link fence, many old trees, shrubs and roses that my grandparents planted are gone. It is strangely different but I was comforted knowing that the old house has been maintained and cared for.

Roanoke has become a tourist attraction because of a popular salvage store located near the downtown historic district.  The Black Dog Salvage store is hugely popular because of a modern trend to recycle, reuse and reinvent items for home and garden decor. They have a television program called Salvage Dawgs which is in its fourth season on the DIY network. The show airs many of the shop owners’ adventures in finding architectural pieces in old homes or industrial sites that are being demolished.

While we were in town, I had to visit the famous salvage store.  There is an amazing selection of wrought iron pieces, garden art, fountains and statuary for gardeners outside the store.  Inside, there are old  doors, mantels and windows to suit any taste.  Another part of the store is set up with  booths which are consigned to vendors who sell antique or home decorating items. One could easily spend an entire day and not see everything at this amazing store.

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A Gardening Inspired Place to Eat

100_3473There is a restaurant in York, South Carolina called The Garden Cafe.  Those who live in the area know it well.  The food is outstanding.  There are delicious salads and sandwiches for lunch and wonderful entrees at dinnertime.  However, one must never visit The Cafe without sampling one of the mouth-watering desserts on the menu. The most popular choice is the buttermilk pie.  The creme brulee is fabulous too.

Though I enjoy dining at The Cafe, I also love the gardening atmosphere.  There are various junk-tique items scattered about the property that have been fashioned into gardening art.  There are turtles perched upon pedestals in an old tub which was turned into a fountain.  Bottles are used to create borders and to decorate a metal bottle tree. Plants grow in interesting planters which have been fashioned out of items destined for the junk heap. It is all very creative and beautiful.  Inside, old doors, windows and salvaged architectural items decorate a dining area that was once an old warehouse.  An enclosed porch was added on the side where one can dine during good weather.  There is also a gift shop with wares for sale from local artisans and crafters. Beside the restaurant, a covered pavilion can be rented for outdoor weddings.  I have never attended a wedding there, but I am sure that it would be  a memorable and romantic site for such an occasion.100_3469 100_3470 100_3471 100_3476 100_3477

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Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary


Here is my front porch. The ferns are about to take over.


The pink crepe myrtle and yellow Knock Out roses are in their splendor now.


I took a photo of Old Glory during the 4th of July. She proudly waves near our garage.


I began adding little miniature garden elements to my pots this year. Here are some mushrooms that I found. I know, I am entering into my second childhood.


While it was hot outside, I decided that I would work on some indoor gardening projects. Here is a “fairy” garden scene that I made from ideas I found on Pinterest. The house is an upside down flower pot and the mushrooms are wooden door knobs.


Here is my succulent plant collection. The aloe plants are very hardy. I keep giving away starters by twisting off the babies. I don’t know the names of all of them but each variety is very interesting.


Here is my herb collection. I have some thyme and chocolate mint growing in pots with flowers on my deck. It smells heavenly out there.

For those who are wondering about the progress of my garden, I have been meaning to post pictures during the summer while the flowers are at their peak.  Here is how it looks right now.

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Newly Discovered Gardening Haven





100_3438100_3439100_3441100_3442100_3447100_3449I recently discovered a gardening center in Charlotte, NC. It has been there awhile. I am surprised I didn’t know about it until now as I have lived in the area about 25 years. A master gardener at the garden tour in our town mentioned it to me.  It is called Roundtree Plantation and is well worth the trip if you are in town.

You will get a certain delight for your senses as you see  brilliantly colored flowers. The textures of different plants will amaze you. The scents of gardenia blossoms or confederate jasemine will lead you along garden paths where you will hear trickling sounds from fountains and amazing water features. The gardening displays are spectacular. You will find just about any plant on your home garden wish list but the whole sensory experience can not be beat.

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