Tag Archives: outdoor gardening

End of Month View – September 2017


Some months ago I found this monthly invitational hosted by The Patient Gardener and it is a monthly chance to show off your garden. Since that time Helen has handed off the duties to Steve at Glebe House Gardens. I invite you to support Steve as he carries on this fun chance to see gardens from far and wide, you can check out his EOMV here.

Unfortunately my garden is only worthy of show for about 6-7 months each year. Right now is the last days of good production across the spread, so I hope you enjoy what will likely be the last EOMV with plenty of color.



Just for variety and to keep you from wondering if I simply copied my post from August I will rearrange my photos this time around. This first one is the geraniums at my wife’s hair salon sign. I visited the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC in March and loved the way they use stone work in their beds. We have a loose arrangement of rocks which doesn’t allow for a deep bed, therefore the geraniums don’t grow as large. I plan to remake this before planting again in May.

Another trick we learned was that we can pull up the geraniums, shake off the dirt and hang them up over the winter. When the weather warms a little we will plant them in pots in our greenhouse where they will break dormancy and begin to grow again. You can read more about that here: Can I Keep Geraniums Through the Winter to Replant in the Spring.


This is a Clematis I moved when I remade our deck this spring. I used to have a huge Montana Reubens variety of Clematis here, but this one might be able to withstand better. I love having blooms this time of year even if they aren’t nearly as plentiful as in the spring.


These are the twin Dragon Wing Begonias that flank our den door. They get plenty of heat from the evening sun from the front and the radiating heat from the bricks behind.


This Lantana is planted in the ground less than twelve feet from another, but is nearly three times the size.




This is the center piece of our window box arrangement, with two under our living room picture window. We started out with wave petunias, geraniums and trailing verbena, but the wave petunias grew so large they smothered everything else. My wife jerked them out and planted more geraniums.


Moving to the back side of our homestead we encounter the dahlia garden. This has been a glorious summer for them as two new varieties have become the stars. The first is a variety called         . It has a large bloom that did not fare well during the Hurrican Irma wind that found its way through our mountains, but as with all plants even harsh pruning usually is followed by new growth and plentiful blooms.


Yes, that is a canopy you see in the photo. We pick in the hot sun, so the canopy helps shade some of our bed.


Our raised bed with green beans has been such a wonderful experience. For those not in the know we were guilty of maintaining a groundhog welfare system by planting our vegetables in the ground where they had easy access. But this year we erected a 32 foot raised bed and as of the latest harvest have been able to reap the equivalent of 78 quarts of green beans. I expect to be able to pick another couple of times if we can keep them watered. We are in a prolonged dry spell with no precipitation for at least two more weeks.


The Mandevilla is still spreading blooms along the deck rail.


On the East facing hair salon window the two New Guinea Impatiens and trailing Verbena also continue to thrive although only due to diligent watering.


Although I resist fall because I know it is a herald of colder weather, I do enjoy fall mums. In the center of this osteospermum and begonia planter is one of the mums we were fortunate to bring through from last season. With copious tender loving care from my wife it is looking fabulous as it begins to bloom.


The other two mums we managed to keep flank the one above on the other side of the concrete pad.


They may be hard to see because they are freshly planted, but these are pansies we replaced our wave petunias with since they were not thriving in the dry conditions. By planting the pansies now we can look forward to a great spring display. Also they should be much more showy in the October EOMV.


One of the benefits to having a home business is you develop relationships with others who enjoy your hobbies. Below is pictures of a Moonflower grown from seeds shared by one of my wife’s customers.


This particular customer and his wife were still here when I made this photo and as we examined the blooms finally appearing he told me his had almost 250 at one time this year. Again I am thinking by the October EOMV I will have more to share.


I led off the September EOMV with our newest bed, which was a remake of a sprawling one that at one time had Japanese Iris, creeping phlox, a Clematis, Day lilies and more. Now it has a mix of annuals and perennials, but the annuals are merely for the purpose of saving zinnia seeds for a new project we want to start next season. There is an upcoming post on that called  Planning for 2018 is underway.



The seed pods have opened on the blackberry lilies and I am recruiting new homes for the extra plants I need to thin.

There is a few other plants I could share, but I think I have covered the majority. I look forward to enjoying other EOMV posts and invite you back to see the end of my growing season with the EOMV for October.

















If you want to check out more End of Month View posts click here: EOMV








End of Month View – August 2017


Some months ago I found this monthly invitational hosted by The Patient Gardener and it is a monthly chance to show off your garden. Since that time Helen has handed off the duties to Steve at Glebe House Gardens. I invite you to support Steve as he carries on this fun chance to see gardens from far and wide.

Unfortunately my garden is only worthy of show for about 6-7 months each year. Right now is the peak time or my gardening activities, so I have lots to share!


This is our newest lower bed, which we finished the first of the week. We have all bargain rack lowers rom Lowes and the annuals are intended to provide seeds for larger plantings next year after we saw what is in the following picture.


Some friends of ours win the award for breath taking flower display of the decade with their combination of sunflowers, zinnias and marigolds. All of these can be replanted using seeds from dried and spent flower heads. So the first photo shows the bed we will use to try to gather some seeds for our own attempt.


No, this is not a flower bed . . . yet, but it will have small beds flanking the walk to our new fire pit.


The sedum is turning and the Pee Dee Hydrangea is in full bloom.


The Blackberry Lily seed pods are opening.


The tomato patch as been a star producing a large amount of tomatoes each week.


If you were here for my EOMV-June post you might think I just reposted that photo of our raised bed with green beans, but this is our second crop which will probably begin to be picked about the middle of September.


Our dahlia patch looks kind of rough, but it really is producing very nice bouquets as you will see in the next collection.


Because I missed the July -EOMV I did not share the photos of the Gladiolas that are the last to come from the Daffodil/Tulip bed.


At the end of last season we took our mums and planted them in mulch and covered the roots. Only three survived, but my wife nursed them into what will be giants come late September or early October.


One of my wife’s hair salon customers gave her Moonflower seeds. So far all we have to enjoy is healthy vines, but here is hoping the wait pays off.

That us not everything we have, but enough for this EOMV-August. I plan to hop around to see others.


















If you want to check out more End of Month View posts click here: EOMV







End of Month View – June 2017


Some months ago I found this monthly invitational hosted by The Patient Gardener and it is a monthly chance to show off your garden. Unfortunately my garden is only worthy of show for about 6-7 months each year. I managed to get my act together and make a post to fit this monthly theme in March, but have allowed the hectic nature of life to overcome me such that I skipped the next two.

I realize I am a week past the post date and will credit trying to finish vacation preparation with the delay.




This is the result of our raised bed with green beans. We will be picking these beans within the next week.


We also put cucumbers in the raised bed and they seem to be thriving.


Have you ever had an entire flower bed to get out of control? We ripped out a large one on the south side of our driveway. I know it looks better because we had a neighbor stop to say how good it was looking now.


We are able to enjoy all of our perennial plants ahead of schedule due to the abnormally warm winter we enjoyed this year. I usually don’t see the first bloom on these until mid-July.



Our Calla lilies are also thriving this year.


We cut back on the number of tomato plants we put in our raised bed but they have done so well it is difficult to tell.


The blackberry lily in the top of the photo is one of my favorites. I intended to separate the plants this year, but unfortunately other priorities too over and so instead I get to enjoy this great display.


We have one specific dahlia that had to be tied due to its size. Some others are a little behind, but blooming.

050Opposite the blackberry lilies is summer phlox and a darker day lily variety.




If you want to check out more End of Month View posts click here: EOMV







Can I Grow Green Beans in a Raised Bed?

Fifteen years ago I would have bristled at the mere thought of growing anything anywhere but in the soil I work ever spring in anticipation of harvesting the vegetables we love. But that was when the conditions were much different. My body was much younger and more fit, I was working to get my greenhouse business off the ground and working from day light to dark, so spending time outside was my thing.

Also, we had an outside dog that loved to hunt the critters that feast on garden plants. Seeing your hard work go to pot because the groundhogs and rabbits like your potential food source as much as you just rubs you the wrong way. So what can you do? Some people string up an electric fence. Maybe I did it wrong, but that barely slowed the assault.

So what is a better way? Last year (2016) we gave a raised bed a shot with our tomato crop. Four sixteen foot 2×8 boards allowed us to craft a 4 ft x 12 ft bed for our tomatoes. We wound up with too many plants in the space, but had the best tomato crop in many years, with fruit still present on November 1st. Following that success we began to imagine a longer bed for our beans.

When you create such a large bed you will need a fair amount of soil. In a garden you can just plow up the depth you require, working the ground to your desire with a roto-tiller. We chose to use compost from our local facility, which was a little bit of work and expense, but since it is loose it does not compact when wet like regular garden dirt.


I probably should explain we eat a lot of green beans in one year. At our peak we have canned up to 150+ quarts of Tenderettes, which is a bush bean.  Obviously a 12 foot bed wasn;t going to provide much in the way of a crop. Instead we chose to work in the multiples of the 16 foot lumber from our local big box hardware store. Nine boards made the 4 ft x 32 foot bed we now are loving.


To make the most of our space we planted our rows as close to the side as we could, thinking the rows would fill in the space. Boy have they! It is difficult to see where one row begins and the other ends, but they will be higher than in the garden, so hopefully the picking will be easier.


I am sure many who read this will say ‘What’s the big deal? It is only beans!’ Well that is true, but for the last few years we have planted only to have our vines chewed off by every animal that loves green stuff. Luckily we haven’t had to battle the deer yet, so this solution seems to be our best bet. Seeing actual beans hanging is like a victory for our garden efforts.


My answer to the question ‘Can I grow green beans in a raised bed?’ is a resounding yes! I will soon be harvesting the first picking off ours and hope to get two or three more before the vines are spent. Give it a go, you might be pleasantly surprised.

fbgrnbeanThis is the Facebook post I made about the success of the raised bed. Yes, the groundhogs are officially booted from the roll!

AUGUST 21st of 2017 EDIT

Due to our love of green beans and two other factors: our daughter being away at school and our son potentially being married within the next year we are making special efforts to turn another crop during this growing season. With that purpose in mind I pulled the vines for our first crop the 24th of July and replanted on the 25th. Four days later God blessed us with a good all day soaker of a rainy day and two days later I had the second crop poking up through the soil.

With 60 quarts coming off the first crop we are in good shape, but if we can turn that again with this current crop I will be beyond tickled. So far the second crop has gotten just the right rain at the right time and looks well ahead of the frost deadline of mid to late October.


You will notice our “picking” chairs to the left of the far end of the raised beds. Let me assure you it makes the task much more enjoyable. Rest assured this is not just another view of the first crop, it is indeed our second one which should begin to be picked by mid-September.

Unfulfilled Promises

If you ever have bought a flower or tried to start one from seed you know they are a fragile lot. Flaky, persnickety, obstinate or maybe just they like to mock us supposedly “superior” beings. Above you see the best of the process when I was operating my own greenhouse business called The Potter’s Dream. But unseen is the thousands, yes I typed that correctly, thousands of failed plants.

This post is under construction almost ten full seasons past my greenhouse time. My failed experiments are far fewer, but just as frustrating. As I was out taking my miniature Sheltie for a walk this week I thought about this post and collecting the photographs to support it. When you establish the theme or parameters it is amazing how quickly potential photos come to mind.


This is a geranium in distress. I am not knowledgeable enough to tell you exactly what the issue is. I just will try to fertilize and overcome the yellowing. If all else fails I will lift this sickly plant and replace it with another.


In my time as a greenhouse owner I sold thousands of wave petunias. They are so hardy and easy to grow it is a challenge to kill one, but this little guy defied the odds. Again this is one that will be lifted and replaced.


It is a little difficult to make out this photo, but you should see a full stand of lettuce. All I can figure is our lettuce seed is bad. This is the second year I have not been able to achieve sufficient germination of lettuce. We even tried it in the raised bed this time.


After a few years of unfulfilling experiences with tulips and daffodils bought at the big box stores we ordered some bulbs from an actual bulb seller through Amazon. Our daffodils came up early due to the warm winter and were gorgeous ahead of time. Our tulips came up on schedule and all bloomed beautifully except for the one picture which was broken when I accidentally stepped on it when trying to mulch around the bed.




These are the old tulips and daffodils that produce greenery only. It is disappointing after a long winter with no color to see this greenery emerge, but never achieve any kind of blooming. I have consulted with another experienced grower and have a plant o try to rectify the non-blooming habits.



These two photos should be flats full of tomato seedlings. I will tell you that in the days since I took the top phot I have seen about a dozen seedlings emerge. Being April 17 however, they are seriously delayed. I wanted them to be the size they are now at least a month ago!


This photo shows a failed cucumber seedling attempt. Actually about five days earlier this [pot was full of about two dozen nice looking seedlings. Then the weather changed and we decided to not take chances, but move the most tender of plants inside for three days. The cucumbers did not adapt well and now we have only three or four living seedlings. Thankfully it does not take long to germinate cucumbers, so I will try again soon.

That is my unfulfilled promise candidates for now. I am sure more will find their way to my lens soon!


End of Month View – March 2017


Some months ago I found this monthly invitational hosted by The Patient Gardener and it is a monthly chance to show off your garden. Unfortunately my garden is only worthy of show for about 6-7 months each year. Happily this is the beginning of that stretch, so I have pictures to share. YAY!!!! You do not know how much my mood lifts when I begin to see flowers blooming.

When I last posted we had just finished a new bulb bed flanking our 12 x 16 greenhouse. Due to the warmer than usual weather this “winter” (I am bracketing it in quotes because I cannot in good conscience call what we experienced a full-fledged winter), our Daffodils made an unexpected show of blooms in late February.



In this same planting we included some new tulip bulbs that are holding close to their expected bloom time in April. I am not sure if they will still have color by the end of April to include with the April EOMV, but I may just include a photo so you can see our success.

Things are hopping in the greenhouse now. We have geraniums in our window boxes, having purchased them so we can “push” them toward an early May deployment just in time for our son’s graduation/22nd birthday celebration. The weather may not be amenable to leaving them out full time on May 7th, but we at least hope to have them in place on that day. Trust me, the combination of greenhouse and the feeding regimen we have honed over 15 years will make the final product in May look amazing.


It is veggie seeding time as well. We have tomatoes seeded as well as cukes and zucchini. These are ear-marked for a new raised bed yet to be built, but guaranteed to provide critter proof growing conditions. Unless the maddening creatures have been doing pole vault training in Salt Lake City, Utah that is!

Another new addition to our gardening facilities is a 32 foot raised bed to try to allow us to grow bush beans. At one time we were able to enjoy enough beans to can 150 quarts for use throughout the year. Of course at that time we had a beagle mix named Louie who feasted on groundhogs and rabbits. Lately the only creatures getting fat on our beans have been the rodents. This year we hope to end that trend.


Up front we have creeping phlox blooming, although only one color.


Due to some sagging on our deck we are having to do some repair construction, so the long standing rails that support two Clematis have been removed. While it will not hurt the Clematis, the tendrils will likely seek something on the ground to attach to and may be a pain to re-train after we are done.


Two others already trained on trellises are also beginning to emerge from dormancy. Hopefully in 5-6 weeks they will share their gorgeous blooms.

Lastly I went out to cut off all the spent daffodils in our new bulb garden to find several tulips beginning to show color. I hadn’t noticed them due to the large number of taller daffodils that were shielding them for view. I look forward to the multiple colors of these spring beauties set to peak just around Easter.


If you want to check out more End of Moth View posts click here: EOMV







End of Month View – Oct 2016

Some months ago I found this monthly invitational hosted by The Patient Gardener and it is a monthly chance to show off your garden. Unfortunately my garden is only worthy of show for about 6-7 months each year. The last time I coordinated my blogging activites to coincide and shoot off an entry was at the end of May, so I missed much of the peak flowering I enjoyed this season. But I do have some last gasps going on that I wanted to share with you on this last day of October, when the witches, ghouls and goblins stir about.

Our window boxes are something that get a lot of work in our garden plan. When I posted my EoMV for May they held Geraniums, Wave Petunias and some vining plants. Now they are hosting the peak of our Fall Mum display.

I also shared photos of my Dahlia patch and new raised bed for tomatoes. Living near the Appalachian Mountains we have already had a couple of frosty mornings and the first big one took out both the flowers and the still living and producing tomato vines.



Near my wife’s hair salon we have a retaining wall that in May had some Pansies and Gerber Daisies thriving. As you know, neither of these respond well as the heat rises and this summer we set a local record for consecutive 90 degree days. We stuck some wave petunias in during this time, but now the Gerber Daisies have come back to prominence as they respond to our cooler days and nights.

In the same area we have three fall mums that are planted in pots to add more fall color to the area. By the time I took these pictures all of them were near or just past the peak of their color. Before too long there won’t be so much of a color variety here.

There is a new addition to our landscape plan, a mass planting of spring bulbs. We had discussed this for a while and finally decided to take the plunge. We chose a spot to the right of our 12 x 16 greenhouse that is in full view from the driveway of the hair salon. We ordered 100 tulips and 50 daffodils from Amazon, took the Kubota and tiller and went to work.

I was going to start this paragraph by saying one of my favorite plants has reached the end of its months long bloom cycle, but I am not sure I can limit myself to one or two favorites. Regardless the Blackberry Lily is now showing part of the reason for its name. After the blooms fade there is a seed pod that develops and eventually the pod opens to reveal what you see in the picture, a cluster of blackberry looking seeds. I took a handful of these this spring and dug into the composted mulch below my three plants from 2015 and tried to grow more. As you can see in the picture this was a rousing success. Now I need to separate these and find other places to plant.

In preparation for next year I have collected three dump trailers of wood chips to use as mulch. You cannot beat free and to top that I am giving my neighbor who has a lawn service another alternative location to drop off the chips and save a trip to the landfill and potential fees for disposal. I will let this “cook” through the winter and turn it once or twice with my Kubota to make sure most of the weed seeds are killed.


I love Clematis plants as well and I’ll bet there is not that many of you that have been able to enjoy your second bloom of Clematis on November 1st. This year I can as one of my Clematis still sports a few blooms. This guy is over ten years old and seems to be quite hardy.


This last picture shows where the garden was for this year. I am finally pretty much in agreement that we need to only try raised beds from now on. We just cannot get ahead of the varmints that want to feast on our plants and all the fences and devices in our arsenal just do not get the job done.