Monday, February 20, 2017

Blooms on February 20th!!

I am going to let these photos speak for themselves.... Is it really only February 20th?  I hope we are not in for a wicked March, because February has been delightful!!





Friday, February 10, 2017

Hello Hellebores






This plant is for any gardener who watches impatiently for the first signs of spring. I hate the gray winter skies and as any one who follows me knows, I hate the winter. So I think this plant was sent by the “plant ruler” to keep me from being such a winter “bitch”. 

Hellebore, what about this plant is not to love? Basically, the big broad leaves are green in my garden all winter long and the blooms start emerging in January or maybe a little later depending on winter weather conditions. 

I started with several plants and now have two large clumps. They spread so happily, and can be easily divided in the spring, after the blooms are done. These plants seem to do best on the edges of my shade garden, where they receive filtered sunlight. But they do great with no more than a few hours of dappled light  but seem to do ok in deep shade as well. This makes them great candidates for growing under deciduous trees or scattered in a woodland scene. 
Once established little care is needed. I remove the dead or damaged leaves  on a warm December Day, and that is about it. This plant is deer resistant and actually is poisonous so keep children and pets at bay. 
There are so many varieties, especially since their popularity has increased. Colors of the blooms are varied from white and black. They are long lasting and very fragrant. ‘Hellebores orientalis ‘ is among the earliest of winter bloomers and the wides selection of colors. 

So plant this plant in your shade garden for a lovely late winter surprise, I bet it will help your mood as it does mine. 



Friday, January 27, 2017

What is it Wednesday? Ask your Cat!!

Yes…It is Catnip and Yes my cats go absolutely crazy.   “Nepeta Cataria”  is also known as catmint, cat’s wort, cat’s heal all, cat’s-play or even cat-grass. What ever you want to call it, this harmless “drug” sends all my furry 4-legged fiends into ecstasy, without any long term effects. Beware,not only cats but also big felines such as lions, tigers, leopards and lynx react to the scent of this herb as well. 
However, over 33% of all cats are not effected by the herb. Reaction to the herb is based on genetics. They either inherit the love of catnip or not. I have read that in olden times, Farmers would plant catnip all-around the wheat fields in an effort to attract cats which would in turn chase and devour the rodents, that where eating the wheat. Pretty clever, if I may say so. 






Catnip is easy to grow, however I have found it seems to do better in partial shade. Each plant seems to last for a couple years and then since I don’t harvest the blooms, it reseeds and pops up in a different location. I don't personally collect the seeds but they do stay viable for over 5 years. 
The blooming period is about 1-2  months, during the summer or early fall. The blooms are quite attractive with spiked hues of white to a pale pink or purple. Although they are not fragrant they do attract bees and butterflies. The foliage has a very pungent aroma, that is a cross between  thyme and oregano. The leaves are an arrow shape, with serrated edges and are a gray-green color, which lends itself beautifully to a silver garden. 
       I have had good success transplanting this plant in the spring and the fall. It is also very easy to dry, both the blossoms as well as the leaves. And yes,my cats enjoy the dried as well as the fresh. It is fun to stuff into small little cat pillows as well as fabric mice or a fabric ball. 
Please do not confuse this variety with the more decorative Cat Mints such as  ‘6 Hills Giant’ (Nepeta x faasserill). This plant has very showy blue blooms and is often used as a beautiful border. There are other new varieties but although I love this plant, I have not seen my feline friends hanging around it. 
Catnip has many beneficial qualities for humans as well, but not are near as entertaining as a cats response to the herb.  I will save the human reactions and benefits of catnip for another article. 

There you go, cat lovers, farmers and big game hunters…..go plant some Catnip You are liable to get a big lick of thanks.  



Monday, January 2, 2017

Thinking out of the Pot

I am working on an article on using unique vessels for planters....   If you have any ideas, please send them to me. I would love to see what you have repurposed to display your plantings!!
 Feel free to send ideas to my email....beckykirts@gmail.com. I hope to hear from you all......

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Beautiful Camellia's


I just recently discovered this beautiful southern charmer. What is more captivating than a bush that blooms during the winter months. This bush is next to my daughter's house in Athens Georgia. I was  down there the first of December and was taken in by this roselike bloomer.  Although I have spent a lot of time in the deep south, these are not as prevalent down near the Ft Meyers area.

The south is defiantly this beauties soul. In fact it is the state flower for Alabama. Camellias (Camellia japonica) are originate from from eastern and southern Asia. With over 3,000 named varieties there is no end to the color, forms and sizes available.

I have never attempted to grow this amazing plant in my Kentucky garden.  There is some hope, however as the species C. oleifera,  might possibly make it in a shelter area. It can withstand  temps as low as -15 degrees.

I have read that they make great container plants, I might try it as I have been able to keep a gardenia
alive in a container and overwintering it in the Herb House. I will let you know.

We will be in Charleston over the Holidays, so I am going to explore the botanical gardens that were established by Andre Michaux.  This enthusiastic French plant explorer and botanist first introduced these to this region in 1786.  He shared many of his prized camellias with his friend Henry Middleton, who had a plantation right next to Michaux.

Today the grounds are both open and boost of beautiful landscapes, plus much more. I will check out both...So more pictures of these southern belles to come.



Monday, November 28, 2016

Love From Above



This is my Mom's Christmas Cactus...but Mom love Thanksgiving and it always blooms for me on Thanksgiving....I get it Mom.

Much love ....

Friday, November 25, 2016

Some Sage Advice




Yes…it is Sage, but specifically Salvia officials ‘Berggarten’.  I love this sage, the leaves are such a beautiful shape, much more attractive than the sharp pointed narrow leaves of garden sage. Yet, it has just as good as flavor if not better. 
The bright green new growth in the spring gradually fades to a soft downy gray. If this plant is grown in the full sun, the plant can develop a purple hue. What I love about this variety is that it stays much more compact and beautiful. It rarely blooms, so that energy is put back in to the plant and so it stays very handsome longer. My regular garden sage tends to get straggly and I have to cut away back every spring. This variety is just flat out prettier. 
My ‘Berggarten’  is planted in full sun and continues to comfortably spread throughout the garden. 
I trim it often usually about 3 to 4 inches at a time. I use the trimmings for not only culinary but also decorations and drying as well.  Would stop this process early fall, as I feel it can weekend the plant. 
Right now it is still a mass of soft grayish pillows in a winter garden. Try it you will love it. I used it in my homemade turkey stock yesterday as well as my stuffing. Both were packed with flavor. Nothing makes me happier than being able to walk outside and pick fresh herbs, even at this late date, I still have plenty that can be used. 

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