gardening goings on by SherryBlanton
Aug 13, 2011 | 11804 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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Fall Fest
by SherryBlanton
Oct 14, 2012 | 4826 views |  0 comments | 28 28 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Friends visiting Fall Fest
Friends visiting Fall Fest
Please join us for Fall Fest on Saturday October 27 from 9am until 2pm at Cane Creek Community Gardens at McCellan. This event reminds me of an old time country fair. No computers buzzing here but live animals to be met, hayrides, treasure hunts, and lots of other activities for the kids. For adults there are all kinds of shows where folks can enter quilts, plants, arts and crafts, and baked goods, to be judged with prizes given away, There will be a bake sale and a cake walk for those with a sweet tooth. Kelly Johnson will provide live music. Admission is $1 unless you are wearing a Halloween costume and then it is free.  It is a day of fun for the whole family.  I will be selling cookies so stop by and say you read about Fall Fest on my gardening blog.

by SherryBlanton
Sep 09, 2012 | 4827 views |  0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

About this time of the year many of our summer flowers are beginning to look a little faded but the fall flowers are coming into their own. One of these is the ginger lily (hedychium) which blooms mid to late summer/early fall giving your garden a vibrant burst of color. Ginger lily blooms are not only beautiful, but also have a heavenly fragrance. This carefree perennial spreads by underground rhizomes and can quickly form a sizable clump; in a few years you will have lots to share or to start a new spot in your landscape. I normally dig and divide in the spring. Make certain to plant them where you will have the opportunity to stop and smell the stalk-like flower on a daily basis. Ginger flowers grow on top of long stems; the plants have very large leaves. They prefer well-drained fertile soil and ample water during the summer. There are very large gingers that can grow 8 feet tall and the dwarf ones which may get just a couple of feet high. Gingers come in all sorts of colors. Although they can handle full sun, if their roots are shaded, gingers much prefer some light shade, especially from the afternoon sun. Gingers are tropicals and north of our zone 7A/8B they may not survive a harsh winter. Some gingers are less hardy in our climate zone. It is best to do a little research on the growing habits of a particular ginger before you add it to your garden. It is possible also to plant them in large pots but they will need additional winter protection if you do. Cut back the long stem at the first frost and mulch the roots well. The following summer the gingers will emerge from the ground soon again delighting your senses of smell and sight. Not only will they draw in the humans in the household, but the hummingbirds and the butterflies will also start visiting them.

A ginger in bloom reminds me of a trip to some far away tropical paradise; if you can’t make the trip in person, a ginger in your garden can still take you there.

Final Lunch and Learn Program for 2012
by SherryBlanton
Sep 08, 2012 | 3972 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

YOU’RE INVITED TO LUNCH & LEARN - A series of free gardening programs sponsored by Calhoun County Master Gardeners & Calhoun County Commission. Held the 4th Wednesday of each month at the Cane Creek Community Garden at McClellan. Noon-1pm ~ bring your own lunch!

Sept 26th

"Native Plants"

Hayes Jackson, ACES

Dates/speakers subject to change. Calhoun Co. Extension Office 256-237-1621.

by SherryBlanton
Aug 20, 2012 | 5415 views |  0 comments | 25 25 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Hummingbird Fueling Station
Hummingbird Fueling Station

There is a battle raging under our kitchen window. A small group of hummingbirds seem to be waging a war to have dibs on the feeder. I have read that hummingbirds are a bit territorial and can be aggressive with each other when it comes to sharing the feeder. For many years for that very reason we had multiple hummingbird feeders. This year we did not; therefore, each day we watch the world’s tiniest birds jockey to be first in line. The yard, of course, is full of other feeding stops for this marvelous little creature; porter weed, ginger lily, penta, and butterfly bush are some favorites. To encourage visits to the garden there are just a few things to remember. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to flowers with tubular blossoms. Although they may be partial to red or orange, they are not particular and will visit just about any flower. Be careful with chemicals in the garden and use them very sparingly if at all. Place a hummingbird feeder in your yard. Keep it filled with a solution of four parts water to one part sugar. Simply mix white sugar (not honey or brown sugar) and water; bring the mixture to a boil (but don’t boil it until it becomes a syrup)and store in the refrigerator. Keep the feeder clean and change it every couple of days in summer’s heat. My husband washes ours each time we change the liquid, every couple of days. Our feeder is outside the front kitchen window so we can watch the birds closely–what a treat while you are washing the dishes. I don’t use any red food dye to color the water, although I see products sold in the stores that turn red when you mix the syrup. A red mixture does not necessarily attract the hummingbird. I have actually read that red food dye is not good for the hummingbirds. If ants invade the feeder try coating the stake which holds the feeder with Vaseline. A feeder with a small moat filled with water (to keep the ants from climbing into the holes where the hummingbirds drink the sugar/water mixture) can be helpful in the efforts to keep the ants out. We put our feeder out around the end of April and leave it out until almost Thanksgiving so that hummingbirds making the trip South can stop for a little nourishment.

Our hummingbirds have become so used to me in the garden that they come right past me to eat. Attracting hummingbirds to your garden is very simple; the rewards are great.

Join us for Lunch and Learn
by SherryBlanton
Aug 06, 2012 | 5564 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
YOU’ RE INVITED TO LUNCH & LEARN - A series of  free gardening programs sponsored  by the Calhoun County Master Gardeners & the Calhoun County Commission.  Held the 4th Wednesday of each month at the  Cane Creek Community Garden at McClellan.  Noon-1pm ~ bring your own lunch!  
                                                     Aug 22nd             

“Getting to Know the Talladega National Forest”

   Karen McKenzie, District Ranger


Sept 26th

“Native Plants”

   Hayes Jackson, ACES

 Dates/speakers  subject to change.   Calhoun Co. Extension


A Treat for the Monarchs
by SherryBlanton
Aug 02, 2012 | 5151 views |  0 comments | 21 21 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Asclepsis tuberosa or butterfly weed is a wonderful addition to the summer garden. Its bright orange flowers are irresistible to butterflies, especially the monarch. Although the flowers lure the monarch butterfly, the monarch caterpillar eats nothing but the foliage of this particular plant. One morning I discovered that the caterpillar had eaten every single leaf. Normally I would be heart sick to see a plant damaged but the presence of a monarch in the garden is a gift.

Despite being called a weed (milkweed more specifically), I do not consider it a weed. As a matter of fact, it is a well-behaved, easy - to - grow, beautiful perennial in the garden. After the blooms fade, green seedpods take their place. The seeds do eventually migrate through the air; this plant, however, seems only to have spread in my garden by forming larger clumps. Butterfly weed prefers full sun, although mine is doing very well in part sun. It is not a drought tolerant plant, but enjoys water during dry times.

Ascelpsis tuberosa provides a double gift for the gardener. It not only attracts flights of butterflies to the garden, but it also brightens any flower bed.

Endless Summer
by SherryBlanton
Jul 19, 2012 | 4313 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Although the name ‘Endless Summer’ (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’) could suggest the title of a cable tv show or a soap opera, it is actually the name of a wonderful mophead hydrangea. What makes this hydrangea with its brilliant blue flowers so special is that it reblooms. It blooms on old and new wood in the same season, often blooming in early summer and then in fall. Another positive about ‘Endless Summer’ is that if a late frost kills the early blooms there will be more to follow. This easy- to-grow hydrangea likes the same things that other mopheads do: ample water (at least an inch per week), morning sun, and afternoon shade. Give it a good home in rich organic soil. If your soil is heavy, consider making a planting bed instead of just a single hole. Planting a hydrangea high as you would an azalea also will improve drainage. Just because a plant likes shade, planting it right next to a large tree is not often a good idea as the plant has to compete with the trees roots for nutrition and moisture. High shade in a yard is a blessing. A nice layer of mulch is always a good idea as it will help to conserve moisture and keep the soil cooler in the summer.

Pruning techniques for ‘Endless Summer’ are not difficult. Prune mopheads immediately after flowering. Because ‘Endless Summer’ reblooms, pruning it should occur in late summer to early fall. However, flower buds for the next season may begin to form from August to October so if yours needs pruning, you may have to sacrifice a few late flowers to get this garden task accomplished at the right time. It is a good idea to prune out all the dead canes and even to cut about one third of the older stems to the ground every year. This will encourage your hydrangeas to grow stronger, have a nicer shape, and have more flowers.

My mature ‘Endless Summer’ is about 5 feet high and almost that wide. It is a joy in the garden as the flowers look like jewels. With so many gorgeous hydrangeas on the market it is often difficult to choose a new one, but those that rebloom are a necessity for the summer garden, guaranteeing you a summer full of endless flowers.

"More" About Tomatoes
by SherryBlanton
Jul 08, 2012 | 5595 views |  0 comments | 23 23 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
The Calhoun County Extension Office is sponsoring a 'Home Grown' Tomatoes Workshop on Tuesday, July 24th from 9 to 3 at Cane Creek Community Gardens. Speakers will talk about tomato varieties, diseases, drip irrigation, among other tomato oriented topics.  There will also be a taste testing of various tomatoes. To sign up please call the Extension Office at 256-237-1621 to register by Tuesday, July 13th. 

Trying Times for Gardeners
by SherryBlanton
Jul 01, 2012 | 5285 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

These are hard days for gardeners. We have talked about the heat to everyone we meet and we are suffering through it as I write these words. I can’t remember days of continual 100 plus temperatures, This kind of heat probably has happened in other years, but, like many other bad memories, I have forgotten those times. I have not, however, forgotten the drought of a few years ago when my town of Jacksonville imposed watering restrictions. For a plant person this can spell disaster. We saved water from every possible indoor source and carried it outside in buckets. Hope we do not face that same situation this year.

 By now, unless you have been watering your grass, it has turned an ugly shade of brown and is pretty crispy. It is not really dead, only dormant. As soon as it rains, it will green back up (unless it is a newly sodded lawn in which case the color may be a cry for help). Should you decide to water, please remember to water deeply and less often. Grass needs about an inch of moisture a week to look like a golf course. You can judge how much water your lawn is getting by setting empty tuna cans around to catch the water. The best time to water your lawn is between 4 and 9 am.

Although your lawn will bounce back from this drought and heat, these same conditions are much harder on many annuals and perennials, trees and shrubs, especially newly planted ones. Many or most annuals are water hogs. The sun coleus I planted are begging for a drink at least twice a day. The pentas are hanging their heads. If you put in new ornamental plants or trees last spring, they must have water to survive until they are settled in. Even those planted last winter need to be watered. Again water deeply and less often, early in the morning if possible. Watering at night may encourage the development of fungus and disease. By watering early you allow the foliage to dry. A good layer of mulch surely helps keep the soil from drying out as quickly (and keeps down the weeds). Overhead watering is never the best choice; drip irrigation wastes less water and gets the water where it is needed most – to the roots. Many of us, however, have the traditional over head irrigation systems in our yards – either through in ground sprinkler systems or rotating sprinklers. Some soaker hoses added to the mix will help.

Now is not the time to fertilize--struggling plants don't need encouragement to grow. They need to use their strength to survive. Good soil helps plants to be strong. Layers of compost mixed in the soil next winter will improve the structure of the soil and make it easier for water  to reach the roots.

The use of drought tolerant plants in the landscape is certainly a solution to reducing our water usage. There are so many to choose from: sedums, agaves, yuccas, and even cactus. These laugh at the drought and the heat. These drought tolerant beauties also make wonderful container plantings. (Note to myself; do not plant three dozen sun coleus in pots and beds next year).

Be kind to yourself on these sweltering days. For us humans working in the garden in the early morning or early evening will be the healthiest for us.  With a little patience we will survive another Alabama summer.



Join the Master Gardeners for Lunch and Learn
by SherryBlanton
Jun 23, 2012 | 2934 views |  0 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
'Color Guard' Yucca in a container garden
'Color Guard' Yucca in a container garden
YOU’ RE INVITED TO LUNCH & LEARN - A series of  free gardening programs sponsored  by Calhoun County Master Gardeners & Calhoun County Commission.  Held the 4 th Wednesday of each month at the  Cane Creek Community Garden at McClellan.  Noon-1pm ~ bring your own lunch!
May 23 rd

June 27 th


  Hayes Jackson, ACES  


Dates/speakers  subject to change.   Calhoun Co. Extension Office 256-237-1621.

Hayes will be highlighting using succulents, drought tolerant plants, for container plantings.  

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