April 2009
How's Your Garden?

How's Your Garden?

See White House Garden Exhibit in Anniston

Learn some history of the White House gardens at the Anniston Museum of Natural History. The exhibit about the 18-acre gardens runs from now until Sunday, May 24. Organized by the White House Historical Association and Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibits, this exhibition traces the history of the grounds from the 1790s to the present via photographs, drawings, maps and correspondence to convey the historical significance of the gardens. The gardens have been shaped by America’s Presidents and First Ladies, some of the nation’s best-known landscape designers and architects, and generations of dedicated gardeners and horticulturists. The exhibit is included in Museum admission; so if you’re in the neighborhood, stop by. You can contact the museum at (256) 237-6766 or get hours and other information at www.annistonmuseum.org. They are closed on Mondays.

White spireas can make a beautiful addition to your spring garden.

 

Great White Shrubs

When spring inspires you to add something pretty to your garden, consider the early-blooming white spireas, among them bridal wreath, baby’s breath and Vanhoutte. The tiny petals of their pure white blooms are like snowflakes. These spireas are arching shrubs taking up a lot of space, so it only takes a few to make a big show. You can plant three to five of them at least five feet apart to make an impressive sweep. Although their blossoms are small, spireas bear so many blooms that the arching branches are literally a fountain of white when in full bloom. When they stop blooming, the fine-textured foliage blends into the backdrop until fall, when the leaves turn. Use them for a nice show out by the road, at a distance from a favorite window or close up to enjoy the delicate blossoms, which make good cut branches. Once established, spireas are drought-tolerant and won’t need any care. Just give them room to spread because pruning ruins their arching shape.

 

Try your cucumbers and cantaloupes on a trellis this year.

   

Fence Panel Trellis is Very Stable

Try your cucumbers and cantaloupes on a trellis this year to save garden space and help keep the foliage dry to prevent mildew. A sturdy trellis like one made from a fence panel folded into an upside down "V" shape makes a stable support. You can easily reach under the trellis to harvest, too. As cantaloupes start to get big, make a sling for them if it looks like they are going to break the vine. Old stockings work, as does any soft fabric you can tie to the support.

Which Squash Will You Plant?

A gardening acquaintance once commented the only reason he locks his car door in town in the summer is to be sure it isn’t full of zucchini when he gets back. If you’ve ever grown zucchini, you know why. Anyway, now is the time to think about what kind of squash you will plant this summer. Consider some winter storage types like Waltham Butternut if you have space for eight-foot or longer vines to run along the ground. I’ve been reading about gourds and squash in book called The Compleat Squash, by Amy Goldman. She inspires me to try Sugar Loaf, a delicate-type winter squash bred by the University of Oregon prized for its sweetness, and perhaps an acorn-type named Thelma Sanders, which also supposed to be good and sweet.

Chives and rosemary are hardy plants that can fit many places in a landscape.

 

Chives and Rosemary Fit into the Landscape

Chives and rosemary are hardy plants that can fit in many places in a landscape. Rosemary forms a woody shrub with a shape that varies according to which one you buy. Arp rosemary is a popular strong, upright variety known for its cold-hardiness. Other forms of rosemary include weeping types you can plant at the edge of a wall and, of course, the common upright spreading form. As for chives, this perennial member of the onion family makes a sweet little clump that works in well with other spring flowers. Or, if you really like chives on baked potato with sour cream, you’ll want more, perhaps a whole row you can work in as the edging to a bed. Both tolerate drought well, too.

Art on the Pond

These glass figures by German artist Hans Fodo Fräbel adorn the ponds and landscape vistas of McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida, enhancing the awareness of light in the landscape.  The exhibit remains on view through April.

On a recent visit to McKee Gardens in Vero Beach, Florida, I happened upon the art of German glass artist Hans Fodo Fräbel, whose pieces were catching light across ponds and landscape vistas throughout the gardens. Readers with an artistic-bend may find inspiration in how this artist enhances awareness of light in the landscape, perhaps with your own work. The exhibit at McKee Gardens will remain in place through April.

Lois Trigg Chaplin is author of The Southern Garderner’s Book of Lists and former Garden Editor of Southern Living Magazine.