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Gardening Wisdom

Saturday, July 18, 2015

{….or a lack thereof}

Many of you have been following the transformation of our backyard from a 45 degree moss zone of horrors to a flat space with a small garden, large patio and outdoor kitchen, and deck.  We're loving our outdoor space, and I'm learning so much about gardening.  Mostly through errors….

The most important thing I've learned about containers:
The bigger the better.  Purchase the largest pots six men can carry, one at a time.  Here in the South, it gets so hot and containers dry out so quickly that the larger the container, the more water it holds. Duh.  I wish someone had told me that many years ago, but it wouldn't have helped because we didn't have a flat four feet of space to stick one of these big bad boys.  Take my advice!  Seriously, you'll thank me later.

I like big POTS and I cannot lie....

What I've learned about roses:
Toto, we aren't in Arizona anymore….and you have to be NUTS to grow roses in Alabama.  We are too wet, there is too much mold, too many pests, and roses will drive you freakin' crazy!  Try growing double knock out or knock out roses, you say?  Oh, I've tried….and I killed a double knock out rose tree on my patio and shrubs in the yard.  Yet this stupid little patio tree rose I've had for years that survived the snow apocalypse is thriving.

But I'm a stubborn woman, and I love roses.  I'm determined to fight all conditions in this rose-hating place and win.  To be continued…..

Our carpet roses are looking great.

What I've learned about geraniums:
Ignore them.  Put them in small containers if you want, forget to water them, and they'll thrive.  The ones I planted in larger containers and had a drip system installed died.  Plus they were white and looked *awful*…..Don't ever buy white geraniums if you're an amateur like me.  Leave the white geraniums to the pros!

The ignored geraniums....I've only ever deadheaded them.  

What I've learned about hydrangeas:
Nothing.  They have been mocking me all summer.  I think there's a conspiracy among the hydrangeas to confuse and frustrate me.  After several summers the ones in our front yard look healthy but are not producing many blooms.  Some are pink and some are blue so I can't understand how the same variety can produce such varied colors RIGHT BESIDE EACH OTHER.  The soil must be the same….but it's a mystery.  Our white PeeGee's seem to be doing better than the Endless Summer mop heads.  Mayhap I need to feed them more than I have been.

What I've learned about sasanqua camellias:
Nothing.  They are like scary little dwarves that scream "Don't mess with me!"  Ok, so I'm listening.  I won't mess with you.  I just hope you flower in the fall.  We shall see!  Stay tuned....

What I've learned about zoysia grass:
Nothing.  And I really don't care to learn.  Mr. Art @ Home has done an amazing job with the care and feeding of our lawn(s).  I just smile and admire!

Mr. Art @ Home does a wonderful job with our zoysia lawn.  These are the boxwoods above our brick retaining wall.

What I've learned about Confederate jasmine:
Our Confederate jasmine has grown very little if at all, but it has bloomed.  I thought it was supposed to grow quickly....does anyone know?

Confederate jasmine flanks each brick post at the entry of our back garden.

What I've learned about gardenias:
They are great, love sun, have pretty shiny leaves, and the little white blossoms smell divine.  They love living in Alabama!

The big mystery bush with the purple flowers:
I like him!  I need to find out what he is.  He's lovely and likes Alabama, too.

Can anyone tell me what this is?

Don't commit crape murder.  I think.....
Most of you might disagree with me, but for the first time this year we chose not to commit "crape murder" on our crape myrtles.  They've never looked better.  If you disagree, I'd like to read your reasons why in the comments.  Mr. Art @ Home doesn't think it's a good idea, but I'm still on the fence about it.

I have more plans.  I'd like to add variegated hostas and limelight hydrangeas to our garden next year. I'm determined to have a lovely Southern garden one day.  If you have any wisdom or advice you'd like to share, please leave me a comment below.  I truly need some guidance!

Until next time…

Ricki Jill


  1. It all looks wonderful!! Now bring on the rain!

    Jane x

  2. Love your large pots. I've about given up on any rose, mostly because of our deer problem. I believe that your mystery plant is a Chaste (sp?) Tree, one of my summer favorites.

  3. The shrub/small tree in question is vitex, commonly called chaste tree. Also called Monk's Pepper Tree. It has purple spikey blooms and can grow to about 16 feet. It is a real trooper here in the brutal Oklahoma heat. I have 3 of them and limb them up into a small tree.

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time and leaving a comment. The mystery of the spiky shrub has been solved!

  4. Good luck on your battle to have beautiful roses! I know that hydrangeas can be tricky and even in Brittany, where it is the typical flower, they can have different colours on the same bush.

  5. Your geraniums are lovely. I like them in the pots on the stand. I'm not professional, but I love white geraniums. I buy them every year, but they never do well. Perhaps I should move on. '-)
    Your mystery plant might be some kind of sage. It's difficult to tell from the photo.
    I think you garden looks lovely, RJ. I spent a couple of hours out in the front garden this morning after taking Sadie for a walk. There was a nice breeze, so I thought I should take advantage of it. I pulled up dead leaves from the day lilies and iris mostly, cleaned out and trimmed back some other things that were looking tired. This isn't the best time of year for good looking gardens here in TX. Ha!

  6. I think that mystery plant might be a vitex or maybe a butterfly bush. Either way it's going to get BIG!

    Everything looks pretty at your place. Are your geraniums in the shade?

  7. Your garden looks wonderful. Thank heavens for Sweet Husband because I can kill anything. His roses do quite well. The jasmine will do fine after a couple of years, unless we have an ice storm. Then it will croak! Camellias are slow growers, but pretty hardy. I have seen them that are probably 100 years old. They get buds very late and usually in the winter they bloom. The gardenias do well and smell so good. Geraniums are great. In Texas they bloomed all year!

  8. I know bugga all about gardening but still found this a bloody interesting post

  9. My comment did not show up. I was afraid of that. I tried with my phone. Love your flowers and it is fine to learn by trial an error. Hostas are simple to take care of they thrive in shadow with a little sun. Good luck!

  10. RJ, I can't grow geraniums for love nor money, I need to quit trying! Endless Summer hydrangeas and Limelight are the only varieties that don't disappoint me. We planted some Oakleaf this year since my MIL's were so beautiful. I love roses but leave them to the professionals and only tackle Knock Out since they survive on benign neglect :)


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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