Pretty Spring Pictures and Plant Sales

Spring is here, and each day is more beautiful than the day before. Everything is fresh, without snail damage and oh-so-pretty. Here’s a few pictures from last week:

Alabama Snow-wreath against Loropetalum

My favorite picture from last week is this close-up of Alabama snow-wreath against a background of Loropetalum.

Loropetalum. butterfly, Alabama snow-wreath

The pink-blooming Loropetalum looks better than ever, and I’m pleased with the Alabama snow-wreath on the left; I planted the snow-wreath last spring.
I snapped the picture just as a butterfly floated past. Can you see it in front of the Loropetalum?

Candytuft, Loropetalum, spring bloomers

The evergreen candytuft in the foreground of that last picture blooms at the same time as the Loropetalum and the snow-wreath.

Hosta, Autumn Frost

Two weeks ago, when I posted about the first day of spring, this hosta ‘Autumn Frost’ wasn’t even out of the ground.

I’d show you more, but I barely have time to post anything because my spring order from Plant Delights arrived yesterday.

Plants from Plant Delights

Spring order from Plant Delights

As soon as I got everyone unpacked and watered, I drove into Huntsville for the Huntsville Botanical Garden’s ‘Night of a Thousand Flowers,’ which is your first opportunity to buy plants at the garden’s spring plant sale. – I told you that I was going, so don’t cry to me if you go to the sale, and they’re sold out of the dark red Alternathera.

What I bought at the Huntsville Botanical Garden's spring plant sale.

What I bought at the Huntsville Botanical Garden’s spring plant sale.

I also got the last blue bear’s claw fern. Every time I walked away from my cart for a minute, I’d look back and see someone eyeing it, and I’d call out, “Don’t even think about it mister! I’ve got my eye on you.” Then we’d laugh and talk about my fabulous new plant.

Bear's claw fern

Blue bear’s claw fern

Crassula, Information about growingAnd I couldn’t resist this pretty house plant. If you’re having trouble reading the tag, you can always click on the picture to enlarge it. I think there were a few more of these, and the sale runs until Sunday, April 13, 2014. Here’s a link to more information about the sale.

CrassulaThe Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ preview party is tonight, and instead of staying home and planting everything I have now – like a sane person – I’m heading to Birmingham to see what kind of trouble I can get into there. Here’s a link to more information about Birmingham Botanical Gardens’ Spring Plant Sale. Both the plant sales are free to attend on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and they’re open to the public, even if you are not a member.

Happy Shopping!

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My favorite thing about this silly, little blog is that I imagine some future child asking their mom, “What was Great Grand Aunt Peggy like?” And their mom will reply, “Well, she had amazing friends, and went on 6 girls’ weekends every year.” Note to future child: Your mom is exaggerating; the most it’s ever been is 5, and it’s usually only 4. And don’t listen to Great Grand Uncle Dale’s tales about girls’ WEEK. It’s never more than 5 days.

Girls' Weekend

Jennifer on Girls’ Weekend 2014#1

Future mom continues, “She liked to have fun.”

Rollercoaster, Kraken, SeaWorld

Jesse’s so fierce, and I’m kinda terrified.

“She loved her family.”

Dad met us in Orlando.

Dad met us in Orlando.

Jesse took this picture of Dale, my dad and I.

Jesse took this picture of Dale, my dad and I.

“And everywhere she went, she looked for the flowers. Here, read her blog, and you’ll see.” One last note to future children everywhere: I hope your whole life is like spring, and each day is more beautiful than the day before.

Garden at SeaWorld

Garden at SeaWorld

My last post was about the first day of spring, and it fell between girls’ weekend in Kentucky and a trip to visit Jesse in Orlando. I posted pictures of Epcot on my blog for Alabama Gardener, and I’m posting a few SeaWorld pictures over here.

Flowering tree at SeaWorld

I don’t know what kind of tree this is, but it sure is pretty.

Red crinum at SeaWorld

I asked Jesse to stand next to this red crinum to give the picture scale, and this is what he did.
Jesse likes to have fun too.

The flowers were HUGE!

The flowers were HUGE!

I wish that I could grow that red crinum, but I’ve only found one website that lies and says it’ll live in zone 7; most sites say it’s zones 9-11.

That’s all the pictures I have from SeaWorld, but before I end this post, let me remind you that both the Huntsville Botanical Gardens and Birmingham Botanical Gardens are having their spring plant sales next weekend, April 10-13. I’m going to Huntsville’s Preview Party on Wednesday, April 9, 2014, and then on Thursday, I’ll go to Birmingham’s Preview Party. I think it’s worth paying the extra money to get into the preview parties so that I can do two of my very favorite things: drink wine and shop for plants.

Happy Spring Planting Everyone!!!!

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Blooms on the First Day of Spring

The first day of spring was March 20th, and I celebrated by taking pictures of absolutely everything that was blooming in my garden. It was fun.


Peach Tree Blooms

I planted 2 peach, 2 apple and 2 pear trees last spring. The peaches are the only ones blooming now. The trees are all dwarfs, but they’ll still produce more than we can eat. Dwarfs are easier to pick and take up less space. I’ve heard that peaches are hard to grow organically….we’ll see.

Here’s a few more pictures from the first day of spring.

Blueberry bloom



The Loropetalum is just starting to bloom. As soon as it finishes flowering, I’m going to give it a good pruning, and cut all that winter damage out.

Hepatica acutiloba

Hepatica acutiloba

Camellia japonica 'Kramer's Supreme'

Camellia japonica ‘Kramer’s Supreme’ is just starting to bloom.

Red maple tree

Red maple tree.

Spiraea thunbergii 'Ogon' in bloom

Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’

I added that Spiraea thunbergii ‘Ogon’ to the garden last fall because I fell in love with the foliage. The blooms are a pleasant surprise. I didn’t know that they would be this showy. The Missouri Botanical Gardens has more information on this plant.

Asarum maximum 'Ling Ling'

Asarum maximum ‘Ling Ling’

There were some other plants that were blooming, but weren’t pretty enough to make the blog. The paperwhites and winter jasmine (Jasminum nudiflorum) were just finishing, and the serviceberry, vinca and candytuft were just getting started. The daffodils, violas, lungwort (Pulmonaria) and Brunnera ‘Silver Heart’ were also blooming.

The Lenten roses (Helleborus) looked especially nice, and I’m planning a Helleborus post for my other blog, but I couldn’t end this post without showing you my favorite picture from the first day of spring.

Helleborus 'Mrs. Betty Ranicar'

Helleborus ‘Mrs. Betty Ranicar’

Happy Spring!


Posted in Delicious!!, I love this plant, What's Blooming? | 2 Comments

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

Introductory paragraph added later: If you have stumbled upon my blog while searching for the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show, let me start by saying that I LOVE the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show. I always come away with great ideas and pretty pictures. I like to share my horticultural stuff on my blog, but one of the main reasons that I maintain this blog is that I like to make myself laugh. Perhaps I have a weird sense of humor, but “wine-jail” is funny, and my pictures are so flattering that I felt free to poke a little fun at the show with my words. I said nothing but wonderful things about the show on my other blog, and I even posted a recap of my favorite pictures from 2011, 2012 and 2013 in advance of the show to help advertise. My intent here was to amuse, not offend. I can only imagine the hard work it must take to pull off such an event. In hindsight, I should have started with a more complimentary paragraph….like this one…..Did I tell you that I absolutely LOVE the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show?

Last weekend, for the fourth consecutive year, my friend Blue and I went to the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show. It was the show’s 25th anniversary, and the theme was wine and roses; which I find a little ironic considering that we couldn’t walk around drinking wine and looking at the gardens like we’ve done in years past. No, this year the only way to drink wine was to pay $12 for a tasting and go to wine-jail where you’re stuck behind a curtain in the corner of the building inside a big circle of wine vendors, and you go round and around drinking tiny glasses of wine until you finally stumble out. Hell, I didn’t travel to Nashville so I could walk around drinking wine; I do that all the time at home. I came to see the garden show AND drink wine.

I really hope this bit of complaining doesn’t get me kicked off the free ticket list.

Note to Deb: I’m sorry. It was still a great show, and we want free tickets again next year. Here, look at all the pretty pictures I took to help you promote the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show, and I split my pictures in half so I could also promote the show on my other blog for Alabama Gardener Magazine. Give me a couple of days to get them posted on ‘Peggy’s Picks – Tales from a Plant Ho.’ 

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

This garden tied for my favorite. My other favorite is on my AL Gardener Magazine blog.

I think fairy gardens are freakin’ adorable. Fairies are like the Power Rangers of the garden. They protect shit, and if you don’t like them, you suck.

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

Can you see the spiral staircase? I told you fairy gardens are freakin’ adorable.

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

The view to the right of the first picture.

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

Another pretty garden.

I kinda like the wine bottle towers in this next garden.

Nashville Lawn and Garden ShowThat garden had the coolest plant. It was labeled “Monkey Puzzle, zone 8″ so it’s too cold here in North Alabama to grow this, but I wish I could.

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

This was part of the entry garden.

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

Only unopened or empty bottles were allowed to leave wine-jail.

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

Cute container.

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show

Blue bought some rusty birds from the nice lady at Rusty Birds. She’s going to make something.

Nashville Lawn and Garden Show, Rusty Birds

Maybe something like this.

In addition to the gardens and the vendors, the Nashville Lawn and Garden Show always has a room of floral design, and that’s where I shot this next picture.

Floral design, Nashville Lawn and Garden ShowSo how’d I do Deb? Did I make up for whining about wine-jail? Even if the wine is still incarcerated next year, it won’t be an issue. We’ll just drink beer like we did this year.

And although we could certainly afford the $10 tickets, it’s more fun when you give them to us for free. See how happy it makes us?

Blue and PeggyThanks for the tickets Deb!

I hope we’ll see you next year.

Posted in In the Neighborhood, Plant Ho | Leave a comment

Smith Lake Section 16 Land

Alabama Gardener magazine is a wonderful supporter of and our efforts to preserve the Ryan Creek, Section 16 land on Smith Lake. You may have seen this in the March issue:

March AL GardenerSince that issue went to print, there has been a major development and the meeting is more important than ever. We must spread the word and show our support for this amazing land.

Smith Lake, Ryan Creek, Section 16Let me start at the beginning. When Alabama became a state they divided the land into square mile sections, and in every 100 sections there was a section 16 that was set aside for the benefit of the schools. The land was sometimes leased to hunters or harvested for timber, but it was relatively untouched. The income, less a 10% management fee, went to the schools.

About 25 years ago I bought property on SmithLake that happens to be directly across from the Section 16 land, and over the years I have developed a deep love and attachment to this beautiful property. I watch how the sun lights up the shoreline in the afternoon, and I see the kids playing on the rocks in the summer, and if I’m really lucky, I see the eagle that nests there. I think it is the prettiest part of SmithLake.

Smith Lake, Ryan Creek, Section 16Smith Lake Section 16So in October of 2012 when I learned that the Cullman County Board of Education (CCBOE) was trying to gain full control over the land, and they were talking about selling it to a developer, I tried to stop it. When that didn’t work, I nominated the land to be included in Forever Wild. I was concerned it might seem like I was just trying to save my view, but my contact at Forever Wild said that usually it is people like me, people with a relationship to the land, who fight to preserve it. So I charged forward. I thought the idea of saving land that was set aside for the benefit of the schools, as part of Forever Wild, would profit the school children in a way that money alone can not. And Forever Wild pays up to full appraised value, so the schools would have all the money they deserve, AND the land would be safe from the bulldozers, AND the community would enjoy a new nature preserve or recreation area. I thought this was the most amazing win-win situation of all time. It seemed so poetic; the land was given a purpose over 200 years ago, and as part of Forever Wild it would fulfill that purpose.

Smith Lake, Ryan Creek, Section 16I built lots of support for the idea. We have a website and a facebook page and letters of support from many organizations. I spoke to the section 16 steering committee that was set up by the CCBOE, and they were interested enough to send Forever Wild a letter stating that if Forever Wild made an offer, the CCBOE would consider it. We went to the Forever Wild board meetings with big, glossy posters of the spectacular shoreline, and pitched our great idea. Then, last summer, the most wonderful thing happened; the Forever Wild board voted unanimously to get a first appraisal on the land. That means that they are really interested in the property, and at anytime they could move for a second appraisal and start negotiations to buy the property. Things were going well with my little crusade to save a small piece of Smith Lake.

Smith Lake, Ryan Creek, Section 16The appraisal was held up until the title was officially transferred to CCBOE in late fall. When that happened, Forever Wild began preparing for the appraisal, and they asked CCBOE if the “willing seller” letter covered all three pieces of the section 16 land. The answer from CCBOE was that they changed their minds. They feel that lake property is undervalued, and they don’t want to even consider an offer.

This was a terrible decision, and it was made by the Section 16 committee, not the elected school board. The committee gave no weight to the value of preserving one of the most beautiful pieces of land on SmithLake, land that has been set aside since Alabama became a state. And because Forever Wild pays up to full appraised value, it is very possible that if the land were sold today, and the money properly invested, in 10 years the investment may be worth more than the land. We must work to reverse this decision, and the first step is Thursday’s meeting. I hope that you can join us. You can also leave comments for Forever Wild here, and you can write letters to the CCBOE board members, here’s their addresses.

For the lake, Peggy

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Pretty Pictures from Warmer Times

Sometimes it’s hard to decide what to post about. Should I tell you that it’s time to cut back your grasses and butterfly bushes? Should I talk about seed orders and getting ready for spring or proper pruning? No, although those are all timely subjects, I have lots of pretty pictures leftover from this post for my blog on Alabama Gardener Magazine’s website, and they’re too good to waste. Besides, you are probably as sick of winter as I am, and in February it’s warming to look at pictures from more colorful times.

The pictures are not in chronological order. I ordered them by the month they were taken, not the year.

Beautiful Garden, Hidden Hills GardenBeautiful Garden, Hidden Hills GardenBeautiful Garden, Hidden Hills Garden

Beautiful Garden, Hidden Hills Garden

This is my very favorite picture. It’s from May of last year when the foxgloves were perfection. They were just starting to fall a little, so I snapped some pictures before I staked them all.

Beautiful Garden, Hidden Hills Garden

Beautiful Garden, Hidden Hills GardenBeautiful Garden, Hidden Hills GardenBeautiful Garden, Hidden Hills GardenBeautiful Garden, Hidden Hills GardenBeautiful Garden, Hidden Hills GardenBeautiful Garden, Hidden Hills GardenBeautiful Garden, Hidden Hills Garden

 It’s just a quick post this week because I’m distracted waiting for the March issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine. As you may or may not know, the best article I’ve ever done is in that issue, and I can’t wait to see it and open the champagne.

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Southern Snowstorms

When a couple inches of snow cripples an entire city, a few of my northern friends snicker and shake their frozen heads. They don’t understand; so I’ll try to explain. Imagine that yesterday those two inches of snow turned all of Birmingham into an ice skating rink, and the cars are like people who have never strapped on a pair of skates in their life, and they are scared to death; because in this game when you fall you can’t get back up. You just lay there on the ice, and the guy approaching you starts flailing his arms, but he doesn’t know how to stop. And the pile grows.

My middle child Leandra went to school in Ohio and in this analogy she’s an experienced skater, but that’s little help when everyone else is sliding around on the ice. I was on the phone with her for hours acting as a GPS and giving her alternate routes when the roads were completely blocked. I couldn’t get her all the way home, but I got her within two blocks of my friend June Mays’s house, and she walked the rest of the way.

June Mays

This is the picture of June we used in the magazine.

I met June at a Garden Writers conference, and I wrote an article about her garden for the September 2012 issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine, so I have lots of pretty pictures of June’s garden to add horticulture to this post while I do what I want to do, and thank all the people who are helping out in this emergency and pray for those who are still stuck.

June Mays gardenSoutherners may not know how to drive in the snow, but they sure know how to help a neighbor or even complete strangers. Leandra wasn’t June’s only house guest; she also took in a nice trucker from another state. And when my eldest daughter Monica learned there was a stranded motorist at the neighborhood coffee shop, she walked over and brought her back to spend the night. Then there were those guys in English Village who pushed cars up the hill to clear the road and directed traffic so everyone went one at a time. They instructed each driver before letting them go. “Get a running start. Go slow but steady, and don’t touch the brakes until you get to the top.” When Leandra got to the front of the line, I made her put me on speaker phone so I could thank them for helping my little girl get home safe. Without them, that hill would have been a parking lot. There are hundreds of stories like these. Neighbors helping strangers is what southern hospitality is all about. What southerners may lack in driving skills, they more than make up for with their big, generous hearts.

Note: All these pictures are from June’s gorgeous garden, and Monica took some of them.

June Mays gardenJune Mays gardenJune Mays gardenJune Mays gardenJune Mays gardenJune Mays gardenJune Mays gardenJune Mays garden

Posted in Family, In the Neighborhood | Tagged , | 2 Comments

How to Fertilize

I should update the ‘Why I Blog’ page of this website and include this next picture of some koozies from my cabinet: I'm not in chargeMy friend Jennifer gave me the blue one a few years ago, and when Melinda went out for more beer last girls’ weekend she brought me the pink one because she didn’t know I already had a blue one, and it’s perfect for me. I try not to be too bossy on my blog, but I’m making an exception to preach about fertilizing. Lots of people over fertilize. Everyone should follow the advice of Tony Avent, owner of Plant Delights Nursery, who recommends concentrating on good soil preparation and occasionally adding organic matter. He says, “Plants in the ground never need fertilizer.” That’s how I ended my article in the February 2014 issue of Alabama Gardener Magazine The title is ‘Three Ways NOT to Fertilize’.

If you’re a subscriber who has already read the article, and you’re thinking that my blog was a waste of your time this week, I’m sorry; here’s a pretty picture of Amaryllis ‘Nagano’ blooming on my counter. I was hoping that the Amaryllis would be orange, like the flower on my curtain, but it’s more salmon colored. Amaryllis NaganoCome back next week. I’ll talk about something else. This week I’m talking about fertilizing. I know it’s boring, but it’s important. How to fertilize Fertilize 2 Fertilize 3 Fertilize 4

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Living Walls

Last week I posted ugly pictures on this blog, and talked about how I should build a wall to hide my shit. Then the very next week I find this in the mail:

1-Book108Coincidence???? The nice lady at Live Wall said yes, it was just a mass mailing.

She obviously knows nothing about how the universe works. It’s clear that I should have this wall. Let’s hope her boss sees it my way and gives me a discount. If I was meant to pay full price, I would not have been given my Plant Ho abilities.

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Gardening Goals

Happy New Year! The first blog post of the New Year should celebrate the occasion by looking back or looking forward or maybe telling stories from the New Year’s Eve campfire party. – Not happening. – I’m looking forward.

Butterfly on Lantana

Except for this one picture. It is my absolute favorite from 2013.

Last week I posted on my other blog, ‘Peggy’s picks – Tales from a Plant Ho’ about two of my goals: growing more of my own food and getting chickens. But realistically there are only so many hours in a day, and I have so many goals. Are those the two that I should start with? My blog has helped me sort through things in the past, so I’m hoping that will happen again.

One of my main goals is to finish the area beyond the front garden. You’ve seen how pretty the front garden looks,

1but just beyond the front garden is a big bed that’s empty except for a propane tank buried in the middle and a small Japanese maple.

1-DSC_0035The plan is to add a 12 feet square pergola and a square table for 8, all centered over the lid of the propane tank, but instead of chairs we’ll have swings. It’s the swing bar.

My friend Blue demonstrates how fun it is to swing. - Another great picture from 2013

My friend Blue demonstrates how fun it is to swing. – Another great picture from 2013

The conundrum is that Dale thinks we should level the ground under the pergola, but I think that’s a lot of extra trouble, and I’d need to lift the maple, and we could just level the pergola and the table….Who’s right?…We don’t know…That’s why it’s a conundrum.

1-DSC_0015Another big project for 2014 is to clean up the vegetable garden. The beds are falling apart, and it’s a mess. I usually crop the pictures I post here, but just this once I’ll show you what a freakin’ disaster it is.

A smaller project is to build a 12 feet long picnic table for this area.

1-DSC_0021We’ll use the cut logs for the head and foot of the table, but I want to buy some side chairs.

If this is your first visit to my blog, you picked the wrong day. Normally I wouldn’t post these next pictures but I already showed you the vegetable garden, and every gardener has areas like these. It’s just that mine are bigger and messier than most.

The shady nursery

The shady nursery

The sunny nursery

The sunny nursery

Another goal is to hide those areas. I’ve thought about building a wall where that rotting log is in the last picture. Maybe something like Phillip Oliver’s wall?

1-110It would be the back wall for the dining area, and it would hide the nurseries. Or I might add a chicken coop / potting shed combo and hide stuff behind that, but I’m not sure if I want chickens that close to the dining area. What if they smell?

I'm trying to give you a feel for how the garden is laid out. I'm at the edge of the front garden. The house is behind me, and the garage is ahead and on the left.

I’m trying to give you a feel for how the garden is laid out. I’m at the edge of the front garden. The house is behind me, and the garage is ahead and on the left.

If you are a first-timer, and you’re still here, know that I usually post pretty pictures like this:

Hidden Hills GardenNot ugly ones like this:

1-007Those last two pictures are from a post I made in August of 2011. I explained that I was going to use solar sterilization to fry the weeds AND their seeds. Well….that didn’t work. But then I learned that you can’t just put rocks around the edges to hold down the plastic; you need to bury them. So the next year we tried that, and it didn’t work either. The weeds enjoyed their little greenhouse, and I could see them growing and flowering under the clear plastic. – That pissed me off. – Last year we tried once again, but this time we used black plastic so at least I didn’t have to look at the damn things. It’s time to take the plastic off and do something with this space.

1-DSC_0014It gets full sun all year so I’ve thought about putting a greenhouse here, but I’ve also thought about planting a rain garden here because much of the run-off from the driveway drains here….Oh I don’t know….I can’t decide.

One thing I’m certain about is that I want to add a big bottle tree like this one I saw at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens last spring.

Bottle tree by Wade Wharton

Bottle tree by Wade Wharton.

This next picture was taken from the doorway that opens to the deck, and I marked where I want the bottle tree. What do you think?

1-DSC_0014 (2)

When I get the chairs for the dining room, I'll buy extra to use at the scenic overlook.

When I get the chairs for the dining room, I’ll buy extra to use at the scenic overlook.
I think staining this is more of a chore than a goal.

So recapping, these are my gardening goals:

  • Grow more food
  • Get chickens
  • Add a swing bar
  • Get a greenhouse
  • Get a table and chairs for the dining area
  • Do something with that area next to the garage
  • Hide the mess in the nurseries
  • Clean up the vegetable garden
  • Replace the raised beds that are rotting
  • Add a bottle tree
  • Finish the steps in the moss garden
  • Finish edging the border garden
  • Build an arbor for the entrance to the woodland garden

I didn’t talk about those last three because this post – just like my list of goals – is too long already, and writing it didn’t help anything. I’m still confused about exactly what I want to do and where I should start. The only thing this blog did for me was change me from feeling busy to feeling overwhelmed.

And I just remembered that I’m still running the gratitude mini-series. What the heck am I thankful for here?

I’m thankful that my problems are so insignificant.


Posted in Holidays, The Big Picture | 4 Comments