Spring Clean-up

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A killing freeze descended on this part of the country and for the Automatic Garden, it was a blessing in disguise.  I had been away from the garden quite a bit last year and many chores went undone.  The Automatic Garden did what it was designed to do and kept on growing, propagating and reseeding, resulting in a interwoven tangle of plants.

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The freeze gave clarity to what needed to be pulled, transplanted and cut back.  I have been spending hours everyday getting the garden in shape.

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Other chores included filling in a hole dug over the winter by some animal, which was probably an armadillo.  It was much more work than it looks and the dirt is heavy clay. The extremely strong gingers were able to push their way through the pile of clay and the dirt had to be carefully removed.

Volunteers had to be rounded up and replanted into their places in the garden. There were many, but free plants are a good thing.

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A scant few flowers have begun to bloom in the garden.  Most years have flowers blooming all year around, but the freeze knocked back almost all of the winter flowering plants. This red canna is a welcome sight.

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Drimiopsis maculata unfurled its spotted leaves and sent out flowers in no time.  The plant is a great substitute for hostas in the South.

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The climbing rose is blooming and dripping from a tree.

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Pink Flamingo Celosia  usually stands three feet tall before blooming, but this one couldn’t wait.

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The Shrimp plant came back from its roots and the few blooms were welcomed by the Buff-bellied Hummingbird that has wintered here.

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The Bottlebrush has perfect timing providing food for the arriving Ruby Throated Hummers and the honey bees that are living near by.

Bit by bit I am seeing my hard labor paying off and I have high hopes for a beautiful garden this summer.


Joyce’s Plants

Is there a person in your life that was influential in your gardening?  Joyce was that person  for me. She shared her plants or found new ones for me to try.  Now it is time for me to take care of her plants.  In taking guardianship, her legacy will continue and be shared.

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This Staghorn fern is at least 23 years old.  It was always lovingly brought into the garage every year to winter-over.

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Chocolate plant was always a staple in her yard.

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Joyce searched high and low to find this Butterfly Vine like the one she grew in her garden.  These vines make seed pods that look exactly like a flying butterfly.

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Shrimp plants flourished in Joyce’s garden and grew in abundance providing many bouquets for the house.

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Joyce introduced me to my first Ginger plant.  She hunted down the “Ginger Lady” who occasionally sold plants.

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Mussaenda luteol delighted Joyce with its unusual tropical flowers.  It is advertised as an annual, but by giving it a warm place in the winter, it will continue to survive.  This one is around 10 years old.

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Joyce shared this Aloe with me and it has multiplied many times over.  Stories are still told on how Joyce soothed many burns with her Aloe.

And she also knew that 15 pounds of fertilizer was the perfect birthday gift!


Just Pretty

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Diana’s Delight Clematis

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Dijon Mustard Rose

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Shrimp Plant

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Nasturtium

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A red Salvia

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Iris

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Petunia

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G. Nabonnand an antique rose

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All of the flowers in this post are currently blooming in the Automatic Garden.   The Clematis was added last year as a replacement and the petunia was a impulse purchase because of its unusual color combination.  The nasturtium was started from seed last year and reseeded itself for this spring.  The iris came to the garden in a load of mulch and happily lived here for more than 10 years. The rest of the plants are old friends of the Automatic Garden returning year after year.


Field of Dreams

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OK, maybe just a bed of dreams.  Dreams of the spring and summer to come. All the plants have been cut back to prepare for new growth.  In the Automatic Garden, most of the plants are re-emerging from their roots and their seeds, that were dropped in Autumn, are beginning to germinate.  It is hard to believe that in a short time, the bed will be so full that the stepping stones will be covered.  And best of all, the weeds won’t be seen!

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Cone Flowers that got a head start from the warm rocks.

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The Mexican Hat will completely fill in and cover the cut stems.

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A mixture of self-sowing and collected seeds.  There is sure to be some “surprises” in the mix.

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Butterfly Weed will be ready for the spring migration of the Monarch butterfly.

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Dutchman Pipe Vine  will soon cover the support.

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Nasturtium from new and collected seeds.

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Mealy Blue Sage comes up from roots and self-sows.

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Shrimp plant easily roots from a stem touching the ground.

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Black Eyed Susan that is a prolific reseeder.


The Shrimps

Salmon Shrimp. It begins to bloom in the early Gulf Coast spring around February. It started in part sun, but has moved itself across the bed into full sun.

Red Shrimp.  This one is very prolific and easily spreads.  It will bloom in late summer and seems to be happy anywhere.

Chartreuse Shrimp  This Shrimp likes a little more shade and blooms as early as January.

Fruit Cocktail  This fun Shrimp is a riot of colors.  It will begin to bloom in late spring and grows in part sun.

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The Shrimp Plant (Justicia brandegeana) comes in many different varieties and loves this hot and humid climate.  They are even happy in the cold winters and always come back.  The best thing about them is that they love to multiply and will automatically fill a garden bed. They root easily when their stems touch the ground.  Hummingbirds are attracted to them and the different varieties bloom just in time for the tiny birds’ migration.