All posts filed under: Gardening @ Turtle Creek

Garden Project 2015 – Celer-y… Celer-Ra!

We go through a lot of celery. That’s nearly 2 bunches a week. It goes in salads, soups, stews… the occasional ants on a log…and sometimes, just to munch. I mean, it’s like negative calories. The amount of jaw muscle work and digestive hoo haas going on far over-reach the measly 7 calories per stalk. But that leaves me with a bounty of these little celery stalk butts. Yes, I know it’s still celery… but the color is all wrong and to be completely honest, it doesn’t really taste like much of anything. You remember back in grade school when you stuck toothpicks in potatoes and suspended them over water to watch them grow leggy, useless plants? Or the carrot tops left rotting in jelly jar lids? I found out you can do pretty much the same thing with celery butts…. only instead of a pile of non-producing potato stems – you can get actual – edible – celery! And it only takes about 4 weeks. To do this, you have to understand a couple …

Wildflower Walkabout ~ Venus’ Looking Glass

Say hello to Triodanis perfoliata, Clasping Bellwort, or Venus’ Looking Glass. A wild member of the Campanula family which contains the more cultivated Bellflower. A mere 18″ tall, the Looking Glass is an extremely showy native with single stems tilting in the breeze adorned with clasping, shell-shaped leaves and a violet 5-petaled flower emerging from the center of the leaf. Looking Glasses bloom May through August and are found in more open and sunny locations. Our are growing among the gravel and rocks in the front walkways. Considered invasive in some parts of the country, the Triodanis perfoliata are self fertilizing (not really needing to be pollinated), but are huge attractants for moths, flying beetles, and other pollinators. Each seed pod produces multitudes of miniscule seeds which germinate in the fall and winter over as small leaf clusters close to the ground. Beginning in early Spring, the single ribbed stem emerges and begins flowering within a few short weeks. Bloom Time: May through August Description: Single ribbed stem with opposing single, rounded leaves clasping the stem at intervals Sun: Full sun …

Garden Project 2015 ~ Ebb & Flow

I’m taking a step back from the fervent gardening of the past. As with most living things, gardens need to grow, change, and evolve.   And while I’ve had immeasurable enjoyment experimenting with the hay bales, the potato cages and hanging beds, and all the different varieties of vegetables here at Turtle Creek,  I’ve decided it’s time for a change. Don’t worry, there will still be some unique vegetables, but I’m allowing the garden to slowly morph into what we intended for the space –  a restful spot and  flower garden for Jane. The wild strawberries I uncovered as part of the front forest clearing will be relocated to a permanent home in the garden, and the asparagus I planted last season are maturing nicely and will remain. However the bulk of the vegetable garden will move over to the Lodge property where there is more even / fully accessible ground for a workable Hay Bale garden. (The ground there is in the same condition as the rest of the property and will need several years of conditioning …

Wildflower Walk-about ~ Ranunculus acris

Say hello to Ranunculus Acris, or Meadow Buttercup. Typically,  if an odd leaf sprout shows up on the grounds here at the cottage, I’ll mark it and allow it to mature. Sometimes you get a horrible, horrible thing (reference the Creeping Charlie), but more times than not I get rewarded with something pretty. I did just that with the buttercup. Around the 1st of March, a little hand shaped leaf poked up between the native yarrow and asters I had transplanted to the garden. It was unique enough to give it a little time to see what it would do….. and to give me the chance to identify it before I yanked it up by the roots. Granted – I lot of what I allow and encourage to grow here at the cottage are weeds – the kind that send most people shrieking in horror that I give them a purchase and a chance to seed. But weeds or not, some of the plants have actual attractive blooms.   Meadow buttercup is an invasive pasture weed, …

The Weekly Wildflower ~ American Beauty Berry

Say hello to Callicarpa… otherwise known as American Beauty Berry or French Mulberry. She’s a deciduous woody shrub in the Dead Nettle, or  (Lamiaceae) family.  Blooming in Early summer with rather non-descriptive flowers, the Beauty Berry show begins with – what else – the berries. Beginning in Late September, the berries begin to swell and gradually turn from milky green to violent purple. Although the berries are considered edible, the severe astringent nature of the fruit makes them unappetizing to birds and other animals – so typically you can count on the show continuing well into November. Once the berries turn, the leaves transform to a brilliant yellow just before dropping from the branches – leaving you with stark,smooth dark branches and a riot of purple. Even with the astringent berries, the fruit can be made into wine and jellies (sometimes referred to as “Autumn Berry Jam”), which can be a slightly grainy but flavorful preserve. However tasty the berries may or may not be, the Beauty Berry Shrub is best known as a mosquito …

The Weekly Wildflower ~ MistFlower

Several years ago, I found a single blue tufted flower growing in the fold on the property – just at the point where the dry creek sneaks under the road before continuing on it’s way through the neighborhood. I took it and poked it into the front tiered planting bed to see if it would reseed.   It did… by the hundreds. Say hello to Conoclinium (Eupatorium) coelestinum… or  Wild Ageratum… or Mistflower. Although, my dad always called it “Millions” because of the number of new plants it produces every year. A branching member of the aster family, Mistflower is easily spotted by the profusion of soft blue tufts, crowning a mass of sturdy,  saw-toothed leaves. Here in North Georgia, Mistflower begins blooming in early September and blooms through the first heavy frost; meaning we typically get flowers well into October – up to about the 3rd week. Sun Exposure – Full Shade to Dappled Light Flowers – Bright Blue to Bluish – Purple Blooms – September through October Foliage – Foliage appear in early summer, Deep green – Saw toothed leaves …

The Weekly Wildflower ~ The “Non” Flowers

The obligatory disclaimer: I make no assertions nor assumptions that any of the fungi shown here are edible. I’m not a mycologist. The general rule of thumb when observing any wild flora and fungi is: “When in doubt – consider it poisonous.” While most people wouldn’t consider  Mushrooms and Toadstools flowers, in fact they really are. The parts we see above ground are the “flowers” of a network of fungi filaments coursing through the ground. Found in moister areas of leaf rot or decomposing forest matter, the flowering spore heads are usually triggered by periods of intense –  or slow, soaking rains where the forest floor saturates under the deluge, signaling to the fungi filaments that conditions are right for reproduction. I know a large portion of people would consider any of these blights on their property. But, since I have a relatively large, natural wooded area here at Turtle Creek… … and a considerable amount of decaying woodland as the result of high winds,  harsh Winters, and marauding Woodpeckers, I tend to let nature take …

“Be vewy, vewy, quiet… i’m hunting wabbits.”

There’s been a bit of a vanishing act happening in the garden as of late. Where there was once a beautiful Balloon Flower in this pot… … there’s now this. Where I once had a beaming stand of native Asters along the walkway backdropping the lavender and thyme… The center stand is no longer there… … and they appear to have been “snipped”.. Rabbits have found their way back through the fencing, and are wreaking havoc once again. This time – I’m prepared. This will make the fourth critter I’ve caught with the live trap. And, I have something to tempt them they just can’t resist… So… be vewy, vewy, quiet while I research Wabbit Stew.   UPDATE 10/29/2014 Finally got the bastard. End tally – 1 complete stand of chard, 3 pepper plants, 15 carrots, 1/2 a rose bush, 1 fennel plant, 6 tomatoes, All the basil, 1/2 the parsley, 2 balloon flowers, 4 aster clumps, and most of the perennial saliva. On the plus side – he did clear out a large portion of …

Weekly Wildflower – Euonymous Americana

Say hello to Euonymous americana, or American Strawberry Bush / Burstin Hearts / Wahoo. Although, Jane swears it’s called a Cat’s Paw.  A member of the bittersweet family, the strawberry bush likes to inhabit wetter areas on the edge of wooded groves – or as in my case, the drainage runoff area just off the neighborhood road in the middle of the right-of-way. It’s a wonder I even saw it in the first place. Cultivated and cherished, Euonymous Americana has been an old Southern favorite even though propagating plants from seeds are not always successful. Your best bet is to either purchase a plant from a reputable native plant nursery, or find and transplant one from the wild. It is a deciduous, loose shrub with wildly branching limbs and bright green leaves. Plants that sit closer to the edge of the wood and receive more light, have branches and leaves with a decided purple tint. GROWING CONDITIONS Water Use: High Light Requirement: Part Shade Soil Moisture: Moist Soil Description: Moist to dry soils. Conditions Comments: Although it will tolerate …

Weekly Wildflower ~ Wild Lady’s Earrings

 Taking my usual “post-downpour” drive down Clay Creek Falls Road to see the waterfall in supreme mountain action, I came across these dotting the roadside amongst the beds of woodland ferns  Say hello to Impatiens Capensis –  Wild Lady’s Earrings… or Jewelweed… or Wild Touch Me Nots… she’s not picky. A wild variety of the Impatiens Species, Lady’s Earrings are commonly found inhabiting wet boggy areas, cool woods, and occasionally along roadsides in wet ditches.  Recognizable by the translucent plant stems and horizontal hanging flowers, Lady’s Earrings differ from other wild flowers as they are annuals – reproducing only from cast-off seeds as opposed to rhizomes or hardy root structures like a great many other wildflowers. As the name implies, Touch Me Nots produce explosive seed pods at each flower location like Sultanas and other members of the Impatiens species; the ribbed pod shredding apart and scattering seeds as far as 10′ in distance. The other common variety, Impatiens Pallida, are more readily found in slightly drier conditions on the edge of pastures and in open roadsides …