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Archive for August, 2011

Vines for Every Season

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011


Dumbarton Oaks

August is a tough time for southern gardeners.  The forecast today is like much of our summer has been with temperatures predicted  in the 90’s, but this morning was delightful and even a bit cool.  As I was watering and weeding I had to admire my Clematis ‘Arabella’ still flowering in late August when many plants look tired and worn out.   Although it blooms profusely in May, this clematis also blooms sporadically through the summer and requires very little from me.  In my garden I let it scramble through perennials, like a groundcover.  A hardy vine (Zone 4 to 9), it will grow 4 to 6’ tall, perfect for trailing over a shrub or growing up a small trellis.   This good doer got me thinking about vines and plants that climb.  There are vines for every occasion including those that bloom, those with striking foliage, fruiting selections and, some that offer interesting bark.

Clematis 'Arabella' in August

Milletia reticulata blooms in August and offers mostly evergreen foliage.  Known as evergreen wisteria, (Zone 7 to 10) it offers magenta pea-like flowers with a strong scent.  I have read a description that describes their perfume as similar to camphor but I don’t know exactly what that means.  I get a sweet, slightly spicy scent.  Unlike the genus Wisteria, Milletia is not invasive and the foliage is glossy.    

Milletia reticulata in August

While perusing the vine collection on a recent visit to the Atlanta Botanical Garden ( a few weeks ago) I spotted the native scarlet clematis, Clematis texensis ‘Gravetye Beauty.’ (Zone 4 to 11)  I got to see both  flowers and showy seed heads of the spent blooms on the same plant.  This clematis begins to bloom in mid-summer and often continues into autumn.  Growing  6 to 8’ it is one I plan to add to my garden this fall. I think I will plant it on the same trellis that supports my rose ‘Zephirine Drouhin.’  Also blooming in this collection was a hardy passion flower with fragrant white blooms  called Passiflora caerulea ‘Constance Eliott.’ According to Dan Long of Brushwood Nursery* this passion flower may be hardy to Zone 6 with some protection.  And, the fruits are edible.  

Passiflora caerulea 'Constance Eliott'

For evergreen vines Kadsura japonica ‘Chirimen’ offers a choice with interesting variegated leaves.  If you can’t find this cultivar look for ‘Chirifu’ which is similar in its appearance.  Hardy from Zone 7 to ll, this vine is happiest  in part shade. 

Clematis texensis 'Gravetye Beauty' seed heads

A fall bloomer, Aster carolinianus  flowers as late as November and is ideal for training through an open brick wall or chain link fence.  Native to the coastal southeastern US, it  (Zone 7 to 9)  will also scramble over a shrub putting on a show when it is covered with blue-purple daisies (yellow centers). 

Aster carolinianus in November

As fall approaches and the weather begins to cool (we hope) it’s a good time to add plants to your garden.  When you do, don’t forget to include some  versatile vines. 

Mail Order Sources for Vines

Brushwood Nursery, Athens, Georgia,

Joy Creek Nursery, Scappoose, Oregon,  (great selection of clematis)

Woodlanders, Aiken, South Carolina, (rare native and exotic plants)

Beat the Heat with these Summer Bloomers

Thursday, August 25th, 2011

My recent post

Heliotropum 'Azure Skies'

Gardenia Jubilation-great for containers, hedges or a specimen

Canna 'Australia,' Gardenia Jubilation, Coleus 'Merlot,' and Zinnia 'Profusion-Double Fire'

Trial Gardens at UGA – Best of the Best

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011
 This is a copy of an email I received today.  Check out these great plants!! 

Here are this week’s “best of the best.” Enjoy! Simply, click on the attachment and download it to open. If you have any problems viewing the document or with formatting, please feel free to contact to us and as always, you can find our POD’s online at Click on the Plants of Distinction button near the top right corner and start browsing. (The naming of our plants are as follows: Scientific name ‘Cultivar’, common name, company).

Also, save the date! The date has been set for this year’s “An Evening in the Garden” presented by the UGA Trial Gardens. Thursday, September 29th, 2011 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. the Trial Gardens will be hosting an evening of wine and hors d’oeuvres, featuring live jazz by “Dial Indicators,” guided tours by Dr. Allan Armitage, and a book sale and signing. Tickets are $5 and can be purchased at the entrances. This is a beautiful and relaxing evening that gives all visitors a unique view of the garden as the sun goes down. Don’t miss out!

Happy Gardening,

UGA Trial Gardens Staff

Michael Elliott

Director of Marketing

Meg Green

Trial Gardens Supervisor

Dr. Allan Armitage- Professor of Horticulture

The Trial Gardens at UGA




Chelsea Garden Tour

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

I am very happy to announce that I will be leading a trip to the Chelsea Flower Show in England in 2012.  Join me May 19-27 for a tour of private gardens in London, the Chelsea Show, Sissinghurst, Great Dixter and more.  Here is the  updated link.  For details visit Space is limited.  Ihope you can join us, it promises to be a great trip.

Rosa 'Graham Thomas'

Add A Water Feature to Your Garden

Friday, August 5th, 2011


            What is it about the magical quality of water?    No matter if your garden is big or small, having a fountain can transform an ordinary space into an  extraordinary one.    Whether it’s large with lots of jets, or small with just a trickle, a fountain makes a strong focal point.  Depending on the particular fountain, the sound effects can be soothing or exciting.   In my own small garden the plantings are informal with shrubs and perennials that mix and mingle freely.  A picket fence provides structure and my fountain adds a touch of formality.  I have fashioned a fountain out of a large granite ball.  Water recirculates by way of clear plastic tubing that runs through its center.  I keep it running  throughout the year.  Even when my garden is quiet my fountain adds life to the scene, and birds like it too.  They can stand on the large ball cooling their feet in the water and drinking  at the same time.  This winter when temperatures dipped to single digits some of the water froze, creating a beautiful ice sculpture. 

water garden in large glazed pot

Several years ago I worked on a project designing a courtyard garden in Rosemary Beach, Florida, with  Randy Harelson, garden designer and owner of The Gourd Garden, in Seagrove Beach, Florida.  The focal point for this small garden was a fountain constructed from a turquoise Italian-style urn.  Because the garden was small we intentionally chose an oversized glazed urn for the fountain.    The urn was similar in style to other pots that we had  used throughout the garden.  Thanks to Randy’s know-how we ended up with an elegant fountain that  was beautiful to look at and to listen to. 

For many space can seem a limiting factor, but with some imagination and a little work, a fountain can be created by using one of a variety of pots or decorative urns. 

What follows are the steps we took  to create this inexpensive center piece. 

1 Choose a large pot.  In this case we used an oversized glazed urn.  Cut a hole in the the center of the bottom large enough for a 1/2-inch copper pipe to pass through.  Make sure that the urn or pot you use is made to be outdoors year around without cracking or breaking. 

2.Create a basin or shallow pool in the ground.  We used a brick basin lined with stucco, but a rubber basin may also be used.  Seal the basin with waterproofing material. 

3. Submerge a pump in the basin.  Use masonry bricks to raise the urn up and hold it in place.  Keep the pump submerged in water at all times.  Keep the basin full of water as it can evaporate quickly in hot climates.   We covered the pump and  filled the basin with polished river stones.  For my own fountain I used black river rock. 

4. The type of pump you use will determine whether you have a gentle burble, or a jetlike fountain.  Pumps range in price from about $35 to $100.  We used a pump that transfers about 40 gallons of water per hour, so that water would flow consistently over the rim and sides of the pot. 

5. Cement a copper pipe into the center of the urn where you drilled a hole in step 1.

The length of pipe you use will be determined by the size of the urn or pot.  The pipe should be slightly shorter then the urn itself; coming within 1/4 to 1/2 inch of the water’s surface.  Connect the pump to the pipe with the clear flexible hose that is sold with the pump. 

6. Fill the urn until it overflows with water, and then turn on the pump. 

7.  The pump refills the urn with water from the basin and the water spills over the sides of the pot back into the basin. 

*I wrote this article several years ago.  In my current garden I have a water feature waiting to be finished.  I need to clean it out and add a small pump.  This year I am determined to get it up and running. If you have a small space and want to add the element of water, a water garden in a pot may be just the thing.

bird bath

water garden at Chanticleer

bird bath, Stokesia and daylilies