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Adventures in Gardening

Tuesday, May 24, 2022


New Dawn climbing rose

Hello, My Lovelies!  I know that I've been MIA lately, and since I've received several text messages and emails wondering what's up, I thought I'd share.

I have been spending quite a bit of time outside gardening and getting Vitamin D.  Because I can't travel for several months, I've decided to bloom where I'm planted and enjoy the great home...

After last year's tornado, we invested quite a bit of money in landscaping due to major damage.  We have been enjoying all the beautiful blooms we've had so far this spring, and we have also planted many more containers than we normally plant knowing that we'll be home in Birmingham most of the summer.  We still can't go to Lake Martin because new siding is being installed on our cabin.  All of our outdoor furniture and Big Green Egg is inside because it had to be moved for the workers.  We were hoping the work would be finished in time for Memorial Day Weekend, but it isn't looking good for the home team.

We've also had tons of work done inside our home, so it's been good that we've been home to get things done.  Because of all the messes made, we had to hire cleaners to help out.  Y'all, I can't tell you what a blessing it's been to (finally) have a clean house.  My face has been hurting because of been smiling so much!

So far, May has been very dry, and I've been spending more time outside maintaining things.  Gardening has been good for me, I know, but it has taken what little energy I have.  More about that later...but for now, here are a few photos, mostly of the back garden.

We spend most evenings outside because we live on a mountain, and it's cool.  Evenings this time of the year require a fire (we have a fireplace to the right of the outdoor kitchen).  We like to watch Chicago Cubs baseball and movies.

We cut our knockout roses way down, and I was worried they wouldn't bloom, but they look pretty good.  Our holly trees in the background have really taken off: They are huge!  It gives us privacy, and we like them.

Most of our hydrangeas that are blooming are pink, but these are the palest of  blues.

We purchased these Boston ferns at the Piggly Wiggly for $19.00 each.  They are huge, and they are flourishing.  

Now let's look at Finlay and Mustang Sally's play yard.  It is below our deck and to the right of our bluestone patio.

Finlay loves his new Astro Turf.  He is allergic to grass, and I'm so happy we made the change.

I was very happy with how this container turned out, but unfortunately we had to replant it because it wasn't draining properly, and some of the plants died.

This is what it looks like now:

We like growing roses in containers.  They actually thrive in Alabama in large pots.

This drift rose is on our deck beside our backdoor.

We have jumbo post that are 38" in diameter, and we have white heirloom drift roses and plumbago in one, and light pink drift roses with a fern in the other.

I love geraniums, and Mr. Bookish loves petunias.  Here are more of our containers:

These petunias are on our green marble coffee table on the deck.

I wanted pale pink geraniums, and they were very difficult to find.

Million bells in a turquoise nautilus pot from Anthropologie.

We love these hot pink petunias  This is their true color: I did not use a filter of any kind with this photo.  

More geraniums

This variety of geranium is called Patriot Red.  It is bright!  This is the only container we have out front.  It is on the landing of our front stairs.

I wanted to share a few gardening tips with y'all.  

Clean Containers
Start with clean containers.  Scrub them out with dishwashing soap and a stiff brush.  Leave them in the sun to dry, and then plant them.  Another helpful tip is to save your empty plastic bottles and keep the caps on them.  Place these in the bottom of large containers and put the soil on top.  You shouldn't need to fill the larger containers with that much soil, and the bottles make the pots much lighter to move around, and it saves you on potting soil.

Watering Containers
If you have containers, I highly suggest that you run a drip system to them so they will survive when you go out of town for a few days.  The one we have installed has four circuits, so the times can be individually adjusted for the watering needs.  It's a good idea to first research the plants you want to place in your pots and make sure they have similar sun and watering needs.  Also, make sure that the containers on each circuit have similar watering needs.  Once it's installed, you will need to monitor the pots to make sure they are getting the appropriate amount of water and adjust accordingly.  This can be tricky, and sometimes you might need to change the circuit for a pot or two, but it's worth the trouble! 

b-hyve app
This is the app we've been using for our dripper system so we can override the system remotely if we need to do so.  However, it has become the bane of my existence.  When I finally had all the containers on the right circuit with the appropriate times programmed into the system, the b-hyve overrides me!  Let me explain: the stupid app will inform me that it's raining nearby and that they are stopping all watering for 24 hours.  :/  Well....until yesterday we have had less than one inch of rain during the month of May, and yes, a few surrounding areas have had rain, but not us!  I thought reprogramming would help, but no.  We even called the company to stop the rain function on the app, and that didn't work.  I have had to spend time watering our containers when it shouldn't be necessary, especially after having spent so much time running and programming the circuits.  Y'all, I don't have much energy to start with and what little energy I have has been spent fighting the b-hyve app.  I'm hoping we can get it worked out.  I'll keep you posted.  But the good news is it has been raining a lot yesterday and today, which means I have the time (and energy) to blog and share!

Geranium Tips
Geraniums HATE drip systems, at least that's true here in Alabama.  They like to get dry, and you need to test them by poking your finger at least an inch into the soil.  If it's the least bit wet below the soil, skip watering and check the soil the following day.  

We have three containers of roses and knockout roses, a climbing rose, and popcorn drift planted in the ground.  I highly recommend you treat your roses at least every six weeks with BioAdvanced 32 oz. Concentrate All-in-1 Rose and Flower Care.  It feeds the roses, helps prevent disease, and controls insect infestations.  This product used to be Bayer's, by the way.  However, should something begin eating your roses, take a photo of the damage and show it to an expert.  We had something eating up our New Dawn Rose, and we went to our local nursery and talked to the rose expert, and we had to get something stronger for it.

I might do a separate post on tomatoes later in the summer, but I wanted to tell you that we almost always have good luck with Cherokee Purples and Indigo Rose tomatoes.  Also, we use Miracle Grow Bloom Booster to feed them.  We actually feed all things that bloom around here with it, but we sort of learned that this works on tomatoes by accident.  In the past, the tomato plant food(s) we've used did not help, it hurt.  Never again!  A couple of years ago, we tried the Bloom Booster, and it worked like a charm.  We were shocked!  

Deadhead everything.  I watched YouTube videos on the proper way to deadhead geraniums and petunias.  I don't like leggy petunias...and I think it helps the plants bloom better.

Astro Turf
It's an investment, but it is worth it!  Our dogs are happier, and their paws are certainly cleaner, hence our floors are, too.  Everyone has complimented it, even our neighbor who said not to get it.  She was stunned at how pretty it looks!  If you have an area in your garden, especially one that's in the shade, I highly recommend it.  The play yard's Astro Turf is bordered by Shishi Gashira Camelias, ferns, and Confederate Jasmine with pine straw.

Do you have any gardening tips?  Please share them with us in the comments section below!

Until next time...

Ricki Jill


  1. Such a great post! Thanks for all the beauty and great tips. I learned some helpful things. Everything is beautiful. You have been busy.

  2. Oh you have been busy! So many beautiful blooms! I'm not much of a gardener so I appreciate your tips~I did get pink and white geraniums this year and had no idea they don't like to be wet, so thank you! I'm sorry to hear you won't be able to go to the lake for a while, but hopefully that will change soon, I know you'd love a little getaway! In the meantime, enjoy your beautiful garden!

  3. What a brilliant post. It's hard to believe you had so much damage with all this gorgeous blooming! And I loved your tips.The one about the large soda bottle in the bottom of the pot will be a lifesaver. That dirt is so heavy and so often we don't need THAT much, given that the pot is so large. I'm sorry about the lake but what a wonderful haven you have right at home till then.

  4. This post is so helpful in the gardening department, great tips on growing, especially with containers. I love using containers and mine are doing really well so far this year with some TLC early on. The information about the watering app sounds frustrating, I hope you have it worked out now so you don't have to spend a lot of time watering. I think your back area looks fabulous RJ, love the outdoor kitchen area and love the gate! Beautiful flowers and what a smart solution with the turf. You have a lovely place to spend the summer days.......hugs.

  5. Love that you're spending time gardening, RIcki Jill. Your tips are good. I used to have knockout roses and honestly never did anything but lightly prune after each flush, but I will be be watching and babying my drift roses. I have BioAdvanced All in One that my seller left for me. :) I use Bloom Booster on my annuals and grass I'm growing as it blends into the sod. I have a friend who has astro turf in her back yard and she loves it! Your flowers look well-cared for, beautiful. I have only made two containers, still trying to curb my enthusiasm! I love the sound of your drip system, but that b-hyve app sounds annoying.

  6. Hi, LOVE IT.. and this post was right up my alley. ;-) The containers are amazing, I LOVE the look of the white petunias on the green marble table. WOW!! Showstopper indeed. :-)

  7. I'm so happy to hear from you! What a beautiful garden to spend time in. It's a lot of work though so take it easy! Love the dogs and that pretty turf! Enjoy your weekend and rest and relax as much as you can!

  8. Your gardens look lovely! The blooms are amazing, I adore all the pink. It's such a pretty color against your red brick and in your planters. We just had a new patio put down and we're working on getting the garden up to speed, but I don't have a green thumb like you. Thanks for the tips, I need to hold on to them...and by the way, your pups are darling. The totally steal the show!! xo


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Hello, Lovelies!

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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