I trust that you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We loaded up our car Tuesday night and departed Maine for North Carolina at 4 am on Wednesday morning. It was a long drive but our kids were great. We rolled into my mother’s driveway outside of Raleigh at about 11:30 Wednesday night. I was excited to be there but even more so to see a plant that I planted at least 15 years ago flowering beside of the driveway. I had planted a Dasylirion wheeleri or Wheeler’s blue sotol by my mother’s mailbox where little else seemed to grow. There were several large plants at Plant Delights Nursery when I worked there in the late 1990′s. The large plants of Dasylirion at the nursery were planted right along side of the road in a dry ditch bank so I thought they might do well in a similar location at my mother’s.
Ok, I’m getting to the exciting part, you should see this thing in flower! I am guessing that the flower stalk is at least 15′ in height. The above picture is our son, Alex, admiring the flower stalk. Dasylirion wheeleri is native to the southwestern United States but seems to do well in dry, well-drained soils in the southeastern US. Each plant will get 3-4′ in height. The leaf blades are around 2′ long, 1-2″ wide and are usually brown at the tip. The leaf margins are covered with sharp spines which gives away its relationship to its better known cousin, the agave. They should be grown in full-sun and can tolerate periods of drought.
I must admit that I bought a plant for the gardens at Coastal Maine this past summer. The chances of it surviving our winters are slim but if we can find a cold enough provenance, it might stand a chance. We are going to bulk ours up in the greenhouse for several years before giving it a go in the garden. I am guessing that it may be hardy along Long Island for sure. If anyone in the north has successfully grown this plant, let us know.
Photos: Rodney Eason, Western New Mexico University
When the days darken, I start to obsess about lights. We spent the weekend beginning to decorate and I have decided that if I had only one decoration for the holiday it would be endless strings of lights.
Now that the eat in kitchen is almost done, we have hung our garlands, made our wreaths and everything seems warm with the glow of the holiday lights.
I’m completely pleased with the latest in holiday lights. I bought a couple packs of battery operated lights that are on tiny wires to try out this year. They are so much prettier on my wreath than the old versions with all their plastic coated cords don’t you think? And happily, I’ve found that LED technology is finally starting to evolve beyond the cold lifeless colors of earlier generations.
I am not sure I can have too many lights wrapped in a simple wreath frame to make this glowing light fixture.
Red beads and a pine and cypress garland frame the kitchen window (and it all looks so good against the new black!). I was determined to make the draping perfectly asymmetrical. Lately, I am preferring wonky things – for whatever reason, I just don’t want things too perfect.
Everything is hung with the super handy Command hooks - I’ve been using them to attach lights to walls for a few years now and I have yet to have damaged paint. Tomorrow we will sort out our tree and mantel and continue to hang more lights – I’m looking forward to it.
Tell me, if you had just one holiday decoration what would it be? Or maybe you have a great decorating tip to share? (I am still trying to hang things discretely from the ceiling in a way that is both attractive and damage-free) Lets talk holiday decor…
Every comment will be entered to win a $50 Lowes gift card so that you can get more decorating essentials.
I will close comments on Thursday Dec 5th and announce a winner (picked randomly) via twitter and facebook (so make sure to follow along in one of those places.)
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Lowes. This is a series that I am doing through the end of the year. I am not an employee of Lowes and all opinions are my own. See the other posts in this series.
I received a lovely Before & After from Claire over at The Garden Diaries last week and I’m excited to share it with you guys today. What was once just a plain set of steps up the side of a grassy hill has become a fantastic hillside retreat nestled into a slope that leans right next to the house.
Read the full post
As I prepare to shut down for the next couple of days and spend some much needed quiet time with my little family I wanted to share with you some things that I have been thankful for lately.
- I am grateful for this post. I’m not really in a creative rut, but the final throws of finishing my book sure have started to feel like a monkey on my back. Wondering if instead of feeling sorry for myself, I should instead look to reviving by way of giving to someone else.
- As I continue to source images for my book, I am grateful for companies with responsive and helpful PR staff and designers who have had the forethought to take good images of their work and who own the rights to them. As a writer and media person, it makes it so much easier to celebrate the wonderful things they have to offer.
- I am super grateful that Top of the Hub is serving Thanksgiving Dinner and that I was able to get a reservation for my posse to sit high in the Boston Sky and eat a lovely meal together.
- I am grateful for problogger articles spurring me on when I need it. I took a challenge this morning to create a list post (and this is it). As I am struggling more than I should to make this gratitude list, I am realizing a bigger lesson…I need to practice being thankful a little more often.
- I am constantly thankful for the helpful guy who runs the giant saw at my local Lowes. He forces me to have thought out my DIY plans enough so that I can tell him how to cut the wood I need. It saves me from having to navigate my husband’s super scary (to me) table saw.
- I am thankful my daughter who always makes me a cup of tea when I ask, and for my son who is (strangely) so eager to bring in firewood.
And I am thankful for those of you who come here regularly and even more so for those who comment and reach out. Speaking of which….I was cruising through my photo library and came across this picture that I took a few years ago at a local nursery. My daughter picked this flower off the ground and I have never figured out what it came from…ideas?
That is literally what the Latin name Nipponanthemum nipponicum translates to in English. I would like to imagine that the botanists who named this plant has a wicked sense of humor. Latin name aside, this week’s plant is a new plant for me and one that I “discovered” after moving to coastal Maine. We live in East Bootbay, a block from the East Boothbay General Store. Right after we moved into our home in September of 2012, we took many trips to the General Store for breakfast until we got our home unpacked. I remember the first time we walked up to the store, I saw a plant that looked like a Pittosporum tobira, growing alongside of Route 96. This shrubby plant was about 3′ wide and tall. I immediately wanted to know what it was and whether or not it would be hardy in our USDA zone 6 climate.
I took a picture of the plant with my iPhone and showed it to my new co-workers at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. They immediately said it was a “Montauk daisy.” Soon thereafter, in early October, the plant at the General Store was covered with white, daisy flowers. What a tough and beautiful plant for an autumn display. I asked more folks why this plant was not used more here along the coast and they just shrugged their shoulders. “Maybe it is used too much around Cape Cod,” was one response. So maybe that was it; much like the overused red-tipped Photinia in the south, these daisies had fallen out of favor in coastal New England.
Well, I for one, think from a design standpoint, they are gorgeous plants. The large, rounded leaves along with the beautiful, white flowers make for a fantastic combination. Montauk daisy was one of the parents that horticultural legend Luther Burbank used to produce the famous Shasta daisy. He hybridized several daisies first, not achieving the plant he was hoping to get. After selecting some hybrids, he then crossed these with Nipponanthemum nipponicum. One of these crosses resulted in the Shasta daisy. Shasta daisies are nice but I recall them seeding around quite a bit when I lived in the south. Montauk daisy is more of a shrub form with smaller flowers than Shastas but still gorgeous. They are pretty tough plants, hardy from USDA zones 5-9 and tolerant of full-sun and drought once established.
When you see a Montauk daisy, what are your initial thoughts? As someone who never saw the plants until now, am I crazy for thinking that they are quite spectacular?
Images: Land Perspectives, A Garden For All
I found this week’s makeover just a few minutes ago over at a blog called Sullivan and Murphy, and as soon as I’m finished typing this entry up I’m going to head back over to swoon just a bit more. As you can see from this before shot, the backyard wasn’t much more than your typical big, sunny spread of land. Well, all that has since changed, and the makeover is absolutely stunning. Read the full post
I know that it has become passé to use sports analogies but I must argue that if you have spent most of your life playing sports then do what comes naturally. In the vein of saying that it is now passé to think that sports analogies are passé, I am going to use one.
Maybe you have heard this one before. When Vince Lombardi first took over the struggling football team in Green Bay, he had a hard time getting the team to play together. He tried all sorts of plays and formations but nothing really seemed to click with the crew. Then, one day after a really horrible practice, he pulled the team into the locker room and said, ok, let’s get back to basics. Then he held up the football in his hand and said, “first, this is a football.”
Why in the world am I telling this story? Well, I am feeling nostalgic and wanting to get back to the basics. In a couple of weeks, our family will be on the road to North Carolina for Thanksgiving to share with family and reminisce about the place I lived for the first 30 years of my life. Growing up in North Carolina was where I learned that I loved working outside and I loved plants. My first job was working in tobacco when I was at an age that I am not sure if it was entirely legal. Let’s just say that I was younger than 16. And I drove a truck around on back roads without a license. But it was rural North Carolina.
I was glancing through various seed catalogs today when I came across a vendor offering tobacco seeds. These were not the short, flowering tobaccos used in gardens today as annuals but the real tobaccos used for drying and smoking. These tobaccos can grow over 5′ in height by the end of the summer. For us here in Maine, canna lilies often look like daylilies for most of the season because of our cool June. Elephant ears do not really get growing until late August when the temperatures stay warm into the night. Bananas really hit their stride in mid-September after all of the tourists have gone back home. So we really need bold foliaged plants that will take off earlier in the season. I have hopes that some of these tobaccos will give us the bold foliage we need in the gardens. Then, as they age, their leaves will turn yellowish-brown. I don’t smoke but maybe we could find some other uses for the leaves. With names like “Connecticut Shade Leaf” and “Paris Wrapper,” I am looking forward to seeing which one grows best.
If anything, it will provide me with a trip down memory lane to the plants that first got me interested in horticulture and later, in gardening. Have you ever tried growing old-fashioned tobacco in your garden? How about any other agricultural crops in a garden bed?
Photos: Kentucky Black Gold Cigars, Toby Musgrave