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Thursday, December 31, 2009


HELLO from your Garden Daddy on this last day of 2009! I am dreaming of spring already and looking to have this garden home ready for a healthy and renewed look to the vegetable plot. The garden is in quite a state of slumber just now and I am thinking, planning and working already on the new vegetable area. My mind is full of the not to distant TN Master Gardener intern program just finished this past fall. I miss my fellow interns and the new friendships made there and the outlook to the January 2010 MG monthly meeting in a few days.
Today, being New Years Eve, I can only hope your next year meets your expectations and dreams. I have for many years stopped making any "resolutions" for change, upgrades, etc. I do not see the necessity to try to change the things I have done for years by way of promises I will probably not keep anyway. I DO try to make plans and get my ideas for the year in some order though. So in that, I make plans not resolutions.
I will leave you with this days short comments and tell you to have a safe and happy new year and I look forward to sharing my garden thoughts, activities and the renewed vegetable plot with the first break in this severe cold we are having now. It will be in the "teens" this next week and that will stop a lot of outdoor activity till maybe the first of February. But look for your Garden Daddy every week for some winter gardening advice, pruing schedules, etc. in the coming weeks. I leave you this last day of 2009 some sage words for the gardener in all of us: "There are many tired gardeners but I've seldom met old gardeners. I know many elderly gardeners but the majority are young at heart. Gardening simply does not allow one to be mentally old, because too many hopes and dreams are yet to be realized. The one absolute of gardeners is faith. Regardless of how bad past gardens have been, every gardener believes that next year's will be better. It is easy to age when there is nothing to believe in, nothing to hope for; gardeners, however, simply refuse to grow up."...Allan Armitag

Thursday, December 24, 2009


HELLO & MERRY CHRISTMAS from your Garden Daddy here at the garden home! Well the day is finally here we have waited for. But didn't it happen really fast this year? It seems it was just Labor Day in September and I was heading for Master Gardener classes. Then it was Halloween and the ghost were flying everywhere around the neighborhood. And then it was turkey day and Thanksgiving weekend with "Black Friday". Then I had the LANA Holiday Home Tour weekend and the great time that was, meeting and greeting and welcoming approximately 325 guests into my home.
Now it is Christmas Eve 2009. I had dinner guests last night for a non-traditional dinner of spaghetti with a wonderful Italian sausage sauce that I simmered for over 5-hours as I always do for my pasta sauces, a good cabbage slaw with onion, mayonnaise and lemon juice, black eyed peas cooked with some very-very lean pork tenderloin for seasoning and the "coup d'gras" was the homemade bread with softened butter. Dessert was some glazed apple loaf that came as a gift from a neighbors daughter. I spent the last few days catching up on my usual Holiday baking. 15-loaves of homemade bread, given to every neighbor on my block and behind me not only makes good gifts but the very gift of a loaf of homemade bread to me signals the sharing of our very basic and most human needs and I cherish the smiles when they see me coming every year now and knowing on Christmas morning they are making fresh cinnamon toast or even the odd turkey sandwich with some mayo and mustard, salt & pepper. The gift of basic bread. I have also made some very nice oatmeal cookies loaded with white chocolate chips, walnuts and dried cranberries. I baked my annual holiday peanut butter cookies as well. This is a little "recipe story" My sister-in-law (a.k.a. "life coach") told me last week of a friend of hers who asked for and got a recipe from Neiman-Marcus some time ago and they told her while she eating at their in-store cafe that the price would be $2.50 and she told them to just add it to her luncheon tab on her NM account card. When she got her statement the next month it showed a $250.00 charge on the bill. She called NM and inquired about the "mistake" on her statement. They told her "No, there was NO mistake". They billed her $250.00 for a copy of a recipe for a dessert she had been eating and they made it stick as well. So she decided to share the recipe with everyone on her Christmas card list, enclosing it with her Holiday greetings.
This time of year takes me back in time, not like my brothers speak of so often to the time when we 3-boys lived in North Alabama in our formative years but takes me back to the time I have always thought I SHOULD have lived...I have had thoughts this year of some future Holiday travel for me to go somewhere in England where they relive the Dickens years and experience "A Christmas Carol" recreated. I want to walk the snow lines streets where street vendors are selling their products from carts. Where the town folk are dressed in period style. Where I can see the "prize turkey hanging in the window still"! I will work on that.
I am looking forward now to the new year and to a new gardening season and hopefully by mid March I will be well on my way to the revamping of the vegetable garden and working to get that plot ready for the spring planting and design. I am already thinking and working on mental designs and cannot wait to get the house "undressed" from the Holidays and take time to settle in the rehab'ed sun room and working on that plan this winter.
But I leave you today with many thoughts on my mind but with the following for your pondering as your Christmas Garden Daddy affirmation: "I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach. "...Charles Dickens from "A Christmas Carol"
(BTW: If you click on the tree below it will open in a new window that shows flashing lights on the tree!)

Sunday, December 13, 2009


HELLO from your Garden Daddy and welcome back to the garden home! I apologize for my not being with you for many days. I have been very wrapped up with the now finished and very successful 2009 LANA Holiday Home Tour and the aftermath of that as well as hosting a few friends over on several occasions this past week. The house has never looked better and with much publicity before, during and after this tour I have not only been on the phone almost constantly but have been consulted for ideas, etc. from this garden home. I will share a photo from VIP Magazine that a professional photographer took one day here recently for the tour article on my home. This is looking down from the staircase over the living/dining area toward the front entry and porch, showing the table centerpiece of 3-dozen red roses.
But I am back and hopefully with only 12 days till Christmas Day and about 18 days till New Years I am counting on things rapidly returning to normal here and taking down the holiday madness here inside and out and getting on with my winter gardening and the preparation for the spring planting and revamping of my vegetable garden and some slight rehabs to the shade garden as well. I anxiously await the end of this holiday season more than usual I imagine due to the fact I have been dealing with it almost nonstop since about the 3rd week of August really and it is really time for it to be done and over with. I usually want it to last longer but not this year. I want to get my sun room undress with holiday fashions and get it in use for my much longed for reading & tea room this winter. And then just enjoy the fruits of my long, hard labor this past fall and just spend some time finally enjoying my home and doing it alone without all the rush, crowds and extensions of holiday fair that I have shared this year with so many people.
Okay, enough complaining about NOT having enough alone/down time right? So on with gardening for this time of year. For those of you who are avid gardeners you already know that one must mulch in this season, especially those tender perennials that need their "feet"kept warm. I cannot stress this enough. Pile it high-high-high on those tropicals you are trying to hold over and pray it works here in our unusual Zone 7 (really, Jackson, TN is in an unusual place here in Tennessee...we are almost at times Zone 8 during the summer and often end up a Zone 6 in winter).
Anyway, I will leave you today with this seasonal thought in mind: Remembering the "first gift of Christmas" was neither wrapped up with a bow nor trimmed with bright shiny tinsel nor decorated with candles and was dressed in rough, hand weaved cloth, laying on prickly hay and was crying for HIS Mother. A divine night, before the break of a new and glorious 'morn. Remembering the first gift of Christmas...(tmm)

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


HELLO from your Garden Daddy at the garden home! Today in the neighborhood we had a city-wide "sweep" where city officials come down each street & alley and look at yards, homes, alleyways and side streets looking for homes in disrepair, neglected yards, vehicles on blocks/abandoned, etc. I introduced myself to 3 of the gentlemen who were roaming the area and talked to them about some issues as I see them in this area. They were happy to have some insight from local homeowners, and since I am our newly assigned L.A.N.A. block captain I felt it was important to meet these guys doing this "sweep" and give and get input. Both things took place as I had wanted it to.
I was able to take a few minutes, a VERY FEW minutes, and get outside today and at least look at my garden in the back of my house. I have so many plans for that area but with everything going on for the next few weeks, almost until Christmas day itself, all I had opportunity to do was just take a look and do about 5-minutes of pine straw raking. I have 6-large, very old pine trees in my back yard lined up like little tin soldiers. They are old and tall and sway when the wind blows but I love the straw they leave in the fall for the great natural mulch it makes and the shade they provide for my azaleas and ferns in my deep shade garden. Plus they make a good line in the break in between my neighbor and myself, blocking our roof views somewhat.
I am working on the final preparations for the L.A.N.A. Holiday Home Tour this coming weekend and when it is over I plan to sleep late the days I do not have to work next week and then prepare for the holidays to arrive with gift wrapping and some light baking and making my own holiday one of peace and quiet for awhile.
Till our next time together I want to leave you with the following gardening affirmation:
"For me, gardening is a form of prayer. Most people have an awareness of life and death, but few have an an awareness of life, death, and life again. Gardeners do though. " by Kaya McLaren

Sunday, November 29, 2009


HELLO from your Garden Daddy at the garden home. THIS garden home made today's, Sunday, "Homes Galore" homes section - front page and inside page of our local daily paper, The Jackson Sun! If you will go to the site attached, you can see the photos used in the feature and also the little piece I wrote (I'm in print!) for the tour booklet or at least part of it anyway along with some photo captions the Jackson Sun used on their own from a printed questionnaire I filled in while the shoot was going on. HOW EXCITING! So if you have time and opportunity, please visit the attached site and view this garden home on display. Thanks to all who believed enough I could pull this off and for all the encouragement and support! (Click on todays date, Sunday, November 29, 2009 article)

Thursday, November 26, 2009


HELLO from your Garden Daddy here at the garden home! I could not let this day pass without having a few comments about Thanksgiving and being thankful. Here is a list, partial of course & in NO order, of my "thanksgiving blessings":
Waking up to a wonderful world every day!
My good health.
My family...ALL of US!
My Daughter.
My "Max" (...the sweetest boy ever).
Having my own home.
My daily work(s).
My friends.
The ability to express ourselves without reprisal.
Most of all I am thankful daily for just "being"!
So I leave you this Thanksgiving 2009 with the following thoughts & some history in mind:
Venison for stew and roasting,Oysters in the ashes toasting,Geese done to a turn,Berries (dried) and wild grapes (seeded)Mixed with dough and gently kneaded~What a feast to earn! Indian corn in strange disguises,Ash cakes, hoe cakes (many sizes),Kernels roasted brown...After months of frugal living What a welcome first Thanksgiving There in Plymouth town.
Poem by Aileen Fisher

*The pilgrims didn't use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers. They wiped their hands on large cloth napkins which they also used to pick up hot morsels of food.
Salt would have been on the table at the harvest feast, and people would have sprinkled it on their food. Pepper, however, was something that they used for cooking but wasn't available on the table.
In the seventeenth century, a person's social standing determined what he or she ate. The best food was placed next to the most important people. People didn't tend to sample everything that was on the table (as we do today), they just ate what was closest to them.
Serving in the seventeenth century was very different from serving today. People weren't served their meals individually. Foods were served onto the table and then people took the food from the table and ate it. All the servers had to do was move the food from the place where it was cooked onto the table.
Pilgrims didn't eat in courses as we do today. All of the different types of foods were placed on the table at the same time and people ate in any order they chose. Sometimes there were two courses, but each of them would contain both meat dishes, puddings, and sweets.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


HELLO from your Garden Daddy at the garden home! So many have requested to see a shot or two of the garden home decor for the upcoming LANA Holiday Home Tour. So with much pressure to provide such and some tickets already sold and more I have to sell I will give you a small glimpse into the treat you will see here in the garden home for that event! Here is a shot of my bedroom dresser area with twin trees on the sides and a nice picture of my dining table, set for 8 with the 2-doz roses I made up this morning for the two days of photos for both VIP Magazine & our local paper, The Jackson Sun. I worked up some 4-dozen red and 1-dozen white roses this morning as well as a few bunches of large lilies for this picture taking event.
So I leave you with your ongoing daily gardening affirmation: GARDENING: One yard at the time!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


HELLO from your Garden Daddy at the garden home! Yesterday was so bitter-sweet as we closed the last session of the 2009 TN Master Gardener Intern class with everyone feeling both relieved and disappointed it was over for this group. Our last class period was taught by our director and long-time UT Extension agent, Mr. B. W. I have learned to appreciate this man so much and admire his dedication and life of teaching, learning and directing many-many people in our county and in the great State of Tennessee.
The first half of the class covered the area of garden pest. Caterpillars, aphids, misc. other garden pest and their associates. The last half of class was on wildlife damage control as in raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, deer, Ferrel dogs & cats, etc. Then as we disbanded, most of us were saying our goodbyes and making plans to meet up in the near future and there were a few who merely left and those will probably be the ones to NOT see this to the end. Now we have to complete our volunteer hours and our 8-hours of continuing education time. I have about 5.5hrs of my continuing education hours and about 8.75 hours of volunteering hours out of the 40-hours needed for my graduation. I will have some in just after Christmas with the "Chipping of The Greens" which is when the city picks up the left over, thrown out once growing Christmas trees and take to a central location and then use the city equipment and chip the trees up for mulch, etc. That will be several hours I will work and add to my time. I will have my time in by graduation time in February 2010 but in order to graduate then I would need my hours in by the end of 2009. It cannot happen this year but I am well within the time frame and will be finished by March 2010 and can start my next years hours for continuing membership in the MG program and make the later 25-hours go by fast when spring hits and new beds and plantings start and the spring plant sale at WTREC.
Anyway, work continues here at the garden home for the 2009 LANA Holiday Home Tour and I am well on my way to be in good shape and able to maybe enjoy next week and the week after finally. The VIP Magazine will be here tomorrow afternoon for photos and The Jackson Sun will be here on Friday morning at 10 am for their shots as well. All I need is a live tree to cut up for the greens and then I am almost finished and then put a few lights up outside and I am finished except keeping things neat and tidy....neat and tidy! I hope I do not disappoint anyone and it is a good and pretty as I think it is!
I leave you & all my Master Gardener interns today with these sage words: "Each of us must climb our separate mountain To reach at last our own extended view. We can be no more than what we are, Yet that is quite enough for us to do. The world is far too great for comprehension. And so we only know what we can know. But given the abilities we're given, That's still a long and weary way to go. Yet on the way, how beautiful the moments! How good it feels to have some skill or art! How wonderful to pause in awestruck wonder At what must fill the unsuspecting heart!" By William Byrd

Monday, November 16, 2009


HELLO from Garden Daddy at the garden home! I apologize for not spending time with you this week as time is looming for the LANA Holiday Home Tour and there is much to do. Meetings, cleaning, cleaning and more cleaning are getting this garden home in shape finally. As of yesterday, Sunday, 11/15/09, I am FINALLY in a good place here. I got the dining table set and ready for vignette shots when necessary. Almost all I really have left in a big way is to obtain a fresh-cut Christmas tree, or for you newbies....a "holiday" tree, to cut up for use of the greens around the entryway, mantle, staircase, etc. uses around this garden home. So maybe I can spend a little more time with you in the coming weeks.
Last week was this Garden Daddy's birthday and my daughter and her Mother took me to lunch and then shopping! I have lost so much weight this whole year, in a good way finally...not yo-yo'ing, that I needed some new clothes and I got some outfits to wear not only during the home tour but on past that. Really, just a birthday pitch, right?
But really last week was all about the Master Gardeners. We met on Tuesday & Thursday last week and on Thursday we had two class studies. The first part was on disease management, taught by our director, and the second part was bird identification, taught by Mr. TS, a long time Master Gardener and avid bird watcher. This gentleman brought us slides he set up that coincided with a tape he made of the same bird calls. It was very interesting in both classes as we learned about viruses, molds, galls, etc. and then had the enjoyment of hearing and visually seeing many birds that are local to our area.
With only one more Master Gardener class to go for tomorrow, Tuesday, I cannot believe the entire 45-hour class time is over. Now all I have to do is finish my volunteerism and next Feb. 2011, I will actually graduate. There are two guys in our group that have not only finished their volunteer hours but have also finished their 8-additional hours of continuing education. Most of us are not able to do that due to other obligations, work, etc.
I am finishing this on Tuesday morning as I head out the door to work this morning at 3:20am. I hope everyone is sleeping tightly and warmly. I heard Monday from The VIP Magazine & our local paper, The Jackson Sun, setting up times late this week for their photo spreads on my house for the home tour coverage. I understand that one of those articles will feature only my home and one other out of the 10 that are on the tour. I feel really honored to have this happen at this time. I have never been one to be in the limelight but more behind the scenes sort of person really, saving this writing site. But as my middle brother told me yesterday, "...just pretend you are a leaf in a stream, and just enjoy the ride".
So I leave you gardeners with this thought in mind today, my LAST Master Gardener intern class: "Not because of victories I sing, having none, but for the common sunshine, the breeze, the largess of the spring. Not for victory but for the day's work done as well as I was able; not for a seat upon the dais but at the common table." Charles Reznikoff

Monday, November 9, 2009


Hello from your GARDEN DADDY here at the garden home. The weekend I finally got the vegetable garden cleaned off and removed the large, tired, worn out tomato vines. I also got my dahlia tubers dug and ready to put into some dry peat and stored in the home basement. I use my basement, though crude and mostly room for the water heater and heat/cooling unit only, as a plant storage area. I currently have banana trees, elephant ears of several varieties, my recently acquired amaryllis bulbs and some other plants to hole over this winter. The basement stays about 50-degrees or so during the winter as it is about 7-ft under grade. This takes advantage of the natural thermals that below ground offers and it takes full advantage of any service equipment that is running and giving off any heat as well.

I am still stunned that counting tomorrow, Tuesday, 11/10/09, we have only 3 Master Gardener intern classes remaining. This has been a wonderful experience and I have made at least in my mind some possible life-long friends in this. Everyone says this intern group seems different from others in that we seem to stick together, often meeting spouses and family, and getting closer than in other years. I think our little group has been longing for this fellowship and friendship and we have found each other in this process. I am so thankful for my new friends and the fact I found them on my own and that we share so very much in common. Some are more experienced, others learning daily as am I. Either way, we are a true group that has become fast friends and hopefully for the long term. I wish us all well, happy gardening and many-many blooms to grow!
I will again update you on the 2009 LANA Holiday Home Tour as time is rapidly drawing toward that end. I am at my own wits end as this approaches. I seem to be gaining ground but still not ready to relax and enjoy and evidently will not ever be. Our Saturday kick off meeting was informative and helpful but did not calm my nerves to know about 350-450 people will file through my home to see ME...not just my decorations but all the love and affection I have given this place and all the sweat and tears and frustration that has gone on with it. True tears that is, on the fact I feel so inadequate to do this type of work and often wish I had inherited more of my Dad's abilities. But I did find out that I am not afraid to tackle any project. Just tear it out and all I can do is either fix it myself, which is much cheaper-maybe even better, or hire someone to FIX my mistakes. Either way, it is working out all OK. But I must get more fine-tuning done shortly as there will be photos taken between Nov. 15-20 and I need some inside and out tuned up which there is a good bit already done. Now if I can get the living room ready and the table set and that will be a good effort toward winding it all down and maybe then enjoying it. I have 3-blinds to hang upstairs, some few curtains, dress that bed and finish detailing that room, pictures, etc., and then maybe I can slow it down till time to put out fresh greens during Thanksgiving week. I am tiring just thinking about it.
So, I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation: "GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Friday, November 6, 2009


Hello from your Garden Daddy here at the garden home! On Tuesday, 11/05/2009, the Master Gardener Intern class had a full 3-hours on "attracting backyard/large plot wildlife". Our 2-speaker spots were filled by first our MG intern director/coordinator with a power point presentation and the 2nd half was with a hands-on and sample display by a long time MG and MG Board Member who brought feeders, pole skirts, bird houses, seed varieties and many other samples of home made and "bought" items for our visual enlightenment. I know I enjoyed this class very much and I know my middle brother would have not only had a blast but could have easily "TAUGHT" this class as well. He is someone I look to for vast information in this area and for critter/bird identification as well. He & his wife are well versed in this topic and I treat them like royalty in this area!
With only 3-more MG classes to go (has it really almost come and gone?) some in our group have suggested we remain in close contact on a monthly work day meeting out at WTREC with Mr. Jason Reeves, horticulturist and well known & talented plant/garden enthusiast. I do not know if that will pan out but the thought that we have connected so strongly is something I had hoped would happen as an added benefit on this course. I do not know many people here in Jackson, mostly the folks I work with really, and I had wondered if it were possible to make new friends here in this way. I have met 100+ other Master Gardeners who are already finished with internship and on the road for a lifetime love of gardening and community garden service and teaching. This is where this is all heading for us educate the public, build community through gardening and to make lifelong friends with like minds for a love of the land and the soil, not dirt, but soil remember?
On to the update of the garden home prep for the 2009 LANA Holiday Home Tour, Dec. 4-6, 2009 - another plug of course! I just want to say Thank You to my youngest brother who stopped by Tuesday afternoon to take some excess furniture items off my hands for the "AMAZING GRACE MISSION", located in Westmoreland, TN. He is the executive director and "all hands on deck" man behind this effort in Sumner County, TN. Within the last two weeks, largely due to his efforts, this food bank, clothing hand-out and furniture gathering effort gave out approximately 10,000-lbs of food in one day. I know he is proud and confident that much good is being done in his community. Now I can get the last room, the 1/2-story upstairs, prepped and decorated, etc. for the tour. The new refrigerator arrived on schedule on Tuesday and boy is it ever roomy. I have never had a brand new refrigerator before and at 56-y/o (on Tuesday 11/10 actually - sorry, another plug right) this is a real treat. With a 9.9-cu.ft. freezer, it looks so empty till next summer when I will fill it with summer squash, tomato soup/sauce mix and eggplant. The freezer is also a great place to store your garden seeds, excess and new, that need the "cold" to help the seeds germinate the next year or to just hold them long-term till planting becomes more timely. Just put in "zipper" freezer bags and you are good to go.

My plan for next year here at the garden home is to completely revamp the entire veggie patch and move into not seeing how many plants can I possibly sustain in the space but to get the biggest bang out of a few more types of vegetables that can and will freeze easily. This year I had 37 tomato plants which was way to many and again it got so ridiculous I was starting to "espalier" the vines onto the temporary fence panels I erected for supports. For those gardeners who are not familiar with that term it means "the horticultural technique of training trees through pruning and grafting in order to create formal "two-dimensional" or single plane patterns by the branches of the tree". Go to: & see many examples of this technique.
This opens a whole other discussion I will not go into here but you can search for this on any "engine" and learn more. But I hope to have a real (!) teaching garden, open for private tours, within 2-3 years from now. I am making plans to use my yard for some public education by way of the Master Gardeners ideals in that area, with tours for the new and upcoming interns in the future. Of course again, that is 2-3 years away. Knowing myself I will be ready before that self imposed deadline of course. So keep your eyes to your Garden Daddy for updates and more gardening news.
I leave you with this gardening affirmation for this week: "I cannot endure to waste anything as precious as autumn sunshine by staying in the house. So I spend almost all the daylight hours in the open air.- Nathaniel Hawthorne

Saturday, October 31, 2009


Welcome back to Garden Daddy! Thursday, 10/29/2009, our MG intern class had a 3-hour class period on "Vegetable Gardening". I was especially interested in this class and had been looking forward to it for a long time. We had a power-point show via laptop and an experienced Master Gardener who evidently has had quite a vegetable garden background. He was also one of the MG's who attended the UT "winter school" I mentioned in earlier post that agrees to go to the training in exchange agreement to teach classes on the subject for future groups. I am also interested in this a little, very little really. I am not much one for "up in front of groups" but would not mind doing a workshop on something like building compost bins, trellises, etc. The class was full of information regarding certain varieties of the different groups of vegetables for our area, what to plant in spring & fall gardens and some in depth discussion about starting your plants from seeds, transplanting and then "hardening off" to set out then into the garden itself.
I appreciate all the prep time this gentleman took and appreciated his enthusiasm in the whole process of the Master Gardener program. He is a 10-year veteran of the MG program and in that of course with his friendships and learning from others as well in the program has the background to conduct such a class. My hat is off to "Mr. G."!
On to other news here in the garden home. Time is not standing still where I am for the LANA Holiday Home Tour. I am marching on to the 7th & largest and most time consuming tree that is in the living room. After that tree is done I will "dress" the staircase then go ahead and dress the sideboard, buffet, etc. and do everything but set the table. I will wait till a little closer to time to prevent so much dust from accumulating. Oh yes and as soon as fresh trees are available I will get my frasier fir and cut up for the fresh greens for the mantle and front entryway and around the house, etc. When I get the living room finished, & the tree alone takes many-many days to complete, I will be moving to the last room in the half-story upstairs.
That room is currently holding all the boxes I have pulled from attic storage to rummage through all the Christmas goodies to put out and just now is a horrendous mess. But as soon as I can get the last tree up and done up there I can finish it all and then "dress" that bed and room and finish it off and then basically take it a little easier on the rush. Earlier this week I received my official "kick off invitation" for a lite brunch meeting to turn in my historical information, ask questions and the like. Little does the committee know but I have already completely written my entire home tour booklet information. It may not be what they want, but I looked over some from past years and went with my gut instinct. A little long but then some are so short and I wanted to pass on as much history as possible in the space I had.
The weekend of the tour will be quite busy and I am almost looking forward to the "peace that cometh" after the fact! On Friday night, there is the "Lighting of Campbell St Lake with Santa & music usually then followed by a 2-hour candlelight tour of homes. Then on Saturday morning there is a Holiday luncheon for all tour participants then at 1pm till 5pm another tour of homes. Then on Sunday from 1 to 5 pm the Tour of Homes again, followed at 6pm by a reception at Lambuth Memorial Church and then a Candlelight service at the same. I am very excited at it all but often overwhelmed just the same. I am not one for much "spotlight" really but I will not be the one this case this wonderful, old house I call HOME!
So I leave you this Halloween day with the following thoughts: ~ HALLOWEEN ~By Harry Behn "Tonight is the night When dead leaves fly Like witches on switches Across the sky,When elf and sprite Flit through the night On a moony sheen.Tonight is the night When leaves make a sound Like a gnome in his home Under the ground,When spooks and trolls Creep out of holes Mossy and green.Tonight is the night When pumpkins stare Through sheaves and leaves Everywhere,When ghouls and ghost And goblin host Dance round their queen.It's Halloween."

Thursday, October 29, 2009


GREETINGS! I am doing a post to give you a quick look at the new paint with door completion and new house numbers (first time in 3-years to have house #'s) to match the antique copper look of the mailbox and new doorbell. Do not be "real time" this RED is really a beautiful Paprika, brick color along with the chocolate brown, moss green door with the Paprika highlight in the door surround. You can see as well the new, traditional "slate gray" porch paint and steps. I also added reflective house numbers to the curb-side steps up from the sidewalk for ease of location in case of emergency, etc. I used a construction adhesive and some inexpensive 3-D reflective house numbers from my local "big box hardware store", found my center line, added the middle number and worked from there.

And you will not believe the next project I have decided I must do. I have been concerned about my refrigerator, often making noises, leaking water from underneath and collecting moisture around the seal. My middle brother suggested I try to replace the seal but after checking with some appliance "experts" again at my local home improvement store where I work part time, found out that one cannot purchase the seal alone WITHOUT the refrigerator to go with it! I remarked to the "expert" I did NOT find that amusing (really it was though). My current fridge is a 15cu.ft unit, so yesterday afternoon, Wednesday, I proceeded to demolish the cabinet above my fridge. I first removed the doors and hardware. Next I made some cuts with my reciprocating saw in what I thought were some key holding spots for supports. Then I proceeded to hammer some of the front trim boards off, then cutting through the corner trim. I only wanted to remove the lower shelving unit, keeping the upper part as an open display to make the cabinet look more customized to fit the situation. So after some additional trimming out, spackling, sanding and painting both last night and up again this morning at 4:30am and working it again, I have made a larger opening to fit a new fridge that I will order today after my Master Gardener intern class. I will have to install an ice maker supply line but I already know how to do that and run it from under the sink connection, through the lower cabinets and behind the stove and over to the new fridge. The unit I have picked out has a 9.9-cu.ft freezer (a side-by-side model) that since I do not have room for a stand alone freezer will give me so much more freezer space for my homegrown vegetables next summer. I gave so much away this summer and when this all comes together like I hope it will, I should have enough space to make much more soup mix, tomato sauce, frozen squash and anything else I can squeeze into my little patch next year after the garden revamp I plan over the winter. I think I can freeze enough both produce and "meat on sale" to keep myself almost all next winter season. Below is after I cut the shelf out and when it was finished, painted and trimmed out again. to grow!
WHEW.....I am almost worn out just thinking about all the projects I have been able to accomplish this year here at the garden home. One of my brothers & I are thinking I should consider moving this house on to another owner and looking for some smaller home with some larger tract of land to spread out my gardening and produce production, adding my long awaited chicken house, HIS GOATS he wants for cheese making, and the chance to move to more open spaces to make "the dream" come true! Only time will tell. Some of my neighbors have suggested bodily harm to me if they see a "FOR SALE" sign go up in my yard.
I must leave you today and head to MG class. So I will give you this as your gardening affirmation for today: "Nature's first green is gold,Her hardest hue to hold,Her early leaf's a flower;But only so an hour.Then leaf subsides to leaf.So Eden sank to grief,So dawn goes down to day.Nothing gold can stay. " by Robert Frost

Monday, October 26, 2009


Greeting from the garden home! I apologize for being so long in talking with you these past few days. I have been extremely busy on the garden home in the preparation for the LANA Holiday Home Tour, another plug of course. I would like to share with you the last class of the Master Gardener intern class. This past Thursday, October 22nd, our class discussion and curriculum was on "tree fruit & home fruit production". When I say "home fruit production" I do not mean the processing after the fact but of the planning, planting and harvesting of your home grown fruits.
I learned more about fruit trees in 3-hours than I ever knew over the past almost 56-years I have been around. It was a very interesting discussion with many questions from our group and much follow up. The slide show was thorough and covered when, where, how and why to prune your fruit trees. I also took about 2-pages of notes on the care and propagation of blueberries. I had special interest in this topic to pass on to my middle brother and sister-in-law (the "life coach") who have several-several plants on their lakeside home property.
On the garden home front, I have completed or almost completed today the painting of the outside of the house or at least all I will have time and opportunity to get done this winter I imagine. Especially before the home tour. But I must say that for me, I have never been so proud of the work I have been able to get done during this process. I often feel like everyday is the last I can go on...I toss and turn at night with fatigue and concern that I will forget something major to get done or repair or replace or just plain wear myself out. But again, and I know the saying, "pride goeth before a fall" is often true, but I am proud of my efforts to date. I have done construction work I never dreamed I could do and repaired things that I did not know I could do. And in that I feel some sense of satisfaction. I would like to say, "THANK YOU" to all of you followers who have believed in me and my efforts to pull this off and for the long time belief that sometimes there are some things that are worth a lot of work and this garden home is showing that belief and the love for this dear, old house and the history that has been lived here. I truly say again, "THANK YOU"!
I will leave you today and until later this week with your ongoing daily gardening affirmation: "GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Sunday, October 18, 2009


HELLO FROM THE GARDEN HOME. On Thursday 10/15/09, the Master Gardener intern class studied "plant propagation" and the many facets that takes on. It was a thoroughly enjoyable class and reinforced some things I already knew and I learned some things I did not know. That has been the purpose of this endeavor for me in that I "THOUGHT" I knew something and even though I did know a little I did not know why what I did was working or not after my own trials, errors, setbacks and successes.
The ladies who taught our group had been in our places only two years ago and they had the opportunity to attend the University of Tennessee "Winter School" year before last. The idea behind that is the UT Ag County Extension offices are so backed up and overused and loaded with farming, timber, local 4-H projects that they needed more help than the employees could be found to fill all the needs of the offices. So UT decided that by using and training "our own" inside the MG program those needs could be met and hopefully educate the public and fill a huge gap in the process. So I will keep my eye out for some "Winter School"classes in the future that I might have interest in like composting, mulching, etc. and see what happens. Winter School is held in Lebanon, TN in the last of Feb. or first part of March every year.
Meanwhile on the home front of the garden home, my middle brother and his lovely wife, who I call my "life coach", were here Friday evening and all day yesterday, Saturday, to help me with some mechanical things in preparation for the LANA Holiday Home Tour, again Dec. 4-6, 2009. Again, sorry for the plug...oh well, sure I must brag, right?!?!?!? As anyone knows who has attempted to both wire and hold and hang a light all with only two hands it is nearly impossible or it is for me anyway. So the both of them were here to give their invaluable assistance in hanging 3-new interior light fixtures and on installing the porch ceiling fan. We also installed a new bathroom faucet and I installed the new kitchen faucet just before they arrived. A new door bell, both buzzer and chimes as they were still getting electricity but not ringing any more, was installed and now I have a working doorbell after 3-years. The buzzer even has a small light in the ringer. I no longer have to depend on the garden home guard dog for notification that someone is here for a visit. I think most of all I am going to enjoy the porch ceiling fan next summer. It is has a "Key West" feel to the style as does my whole exterior really which is what I am really going for. Since leaving Pensacola, FL to move here after 4-hurricanes and 2-tropical storms I still loved it there and wanted to stay but due to the continued storms and the rise in insurance cost it became prohibitive to remain so I did the next best thing and found this Arts & Crafts bungalow that LOOKED like Florida and moved in ASAP. From this point I will try to NOT include any photos of the garden home till after the Holiday Home Tour dates to encourage everyone to attend.
I hope you enjoy hearing about the Madison County Master Gardener intern program and please fee free to visit the UT Ag Research gardens anytime - FREE - here in Jackson, TN. It is located at the West Tennessee Research & Education Center on Airways & the Hwy 45 bypass, with entry on Airways. It is open every day available for tours as well in advance but you are free to "roam at will" and may even sneak a few seeds or pinch off a cutting or two so bring your "plant gathering kit" when you visit. All you turf nuts out there be sure to visit the "turf wagon wheel" posted (with photos) earlier in this site.
I leave you today not only with the temperature here this morning at 33-degrees at 6:30am, but with this thought today: "Thinking of cold weather makes me wonder what I will plant next spring and in dreaming of those first tomato plants sticking up just inches above the soil and dreaming of that first, fresh, crisp tomato sandwich...with salt, pepper and a slice of cheese with mayo....and just put on another layer to keep warm for now!"

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


HELLO FROM YOUR GARDEN DADDY! I would like to share with you the intern session we had yesterday. It started out with "soil water", then we went to composting, which of course I really enjoyed but was rushed through due to time allotment. Then we learned about fertilizer, waster gardening (NOT bogs) and rain barrels.
I am interested in the rain barrel aspect as well as the composting. I have the composting aspect down pretty well if you are a regular follower. I have instructions as well as a photo of the one I built this summer lower on this site. But I have not really a problem but well I have NO gutters on this garden home. I understand that was pretty standard on Arts & Crafts homes. So I had already done some investigating into the use of rain barrels for garden watering. There are many-many websites on the subject and many opinions and advice-givers on the right and wrong way to do this project. But really is there any wrong way anyway as what is right for one is not for another. And being the rogue (sorry, Sara Palin) gardener and mostly doing it "MY WAY" (sorry again, Elvis) anyway, I find that when I really think of a thing long enough I find what is best for ME, MYSELF & I.
I will also share, with permission, my youngest brother's vision for his near-future home which includes the capture of rain run off as his entire water use source. His extraordinary vision of his earth ship, or as I call it "the MOTHER SHIP", is to build with recycled building materials gathered or as his website calls it "GLEANED" from building sites, dumpster diving, roadside throwaways and the like. His website,, and his wonderful sense of recycling and re-use of discarded materials not only saves so much money but look at what we as Master Gardeners who love the earth and soil (not DIRT, but SOIL!) could save from our local landfills by doing our own gleaning of our backyards, gardens and neighborhood trash sites. Like my 3-bay compost bin was made from 7-recycled, reclaimed shipping pallets that were going to be otherwise discarded. I have added another shot of it here due to the class yesterday and someone might want a new idea of what I did. I am very proud of the finished product and will be happy to help anyone build theirs if needed or give what pointers I can. I am very passionate about using compost in my garden home and sharing the idea(s) with others.
I will leave you today with the following idea in mind: What if you put your extra vegetables from YOUR garden home to good use and do "pre-gleaning" next summer and provide some fresh vegetables for our local soup kitchen, The RIFA Soup Kitchen? Look for chances to give your food to others. Or give anything you no longer want or need to others for their gleaning. Like donations of leftover materials to the Habitat Re-Store, etc. Give to get - to get the feeling like your leftovers and needless surplus are put to very good use.

Monday, October 12, 2009


HELLO FROM THE GARDEN HOME! I would like to catch you up to date on the happenings in the MG program. First of all, last Thursday was this Garden Daddy's turn to bring the food for the program and I am attaching a photo of my "spread" I provided. It seemed to be a pretty good hit and I made the table complete with an arrangement in a ceramic pumpkin which included a lovely burgundy millet, some orange New Zealand sedge, some curly willow (corkscrew willow) and some mixed blooms and buds of some reddish-orange and pale butter yellow/white dahlias. The best part about this "living arrangement" was that I grew everything in the container. Everything was not grown in the pumpkin but the plants came from here in the garden home.

The class program for 10/08/09 was on "Gardening With Herbaceous Ornamentals". We ran quickly over approximately (+/-) 159 slides regarding different herbaceous ornamentals. We discussed the difference in annuals, perennials, biennials & "tender perennials". I am learning so much I did not know and thought I did. Our various instructors have been both qualified and informative and I appreciate the time, experience, dedication and knowledge being shared with myself and I know many others feel the same way.
One thing about being associated with so many gardeners is the PLANT SWAPS...everyone seems to have plants to share and it has me thinking several things. I either need another house (haha!!) or sell this one and buy another with more land in the country with one, two or up to 5 acres that I can expand my new gardening ideas and knowledge. One good thing about the upgrades on this garden home is the fact that I would be able to sell better and faster now than before this major work I have been doing in preparation for the LANA Holiday Home Tour, December 4-6, 2009. Sorry for the plug! Yes, I see I need more space and I have plans in mind now for the complete reworking of my vegetable area of my garden. I have come up with a good design for a completely fenced in area with a nice Gothic fence surround and gate down by the compost bin. But I definitely need more room. So if anyone of you followers want to buy a c.1922-23 Arts & Crafts home let me know or to swap small house and acreage for in-town living.
So, I leave you this day with the rehab & redressing of my sun room finished, which if I ever get the home tour behind me I will thoroughly enjoy soon I hope. It looks like one should have a good pot of hot tea and shortbread there and a good gardening book. And I leave you with today's garden thoughts: "As the sun fades deep on the horizon and the birds are heading South and I see pumpkins adorning 'lawnscapes' where bales of hay and mums abound...I think of my youth and days on the farm in N. Alabama and of the red mule and wagons of hay and stalks of dried corn and the potato harvest. And then just smile...& remember!"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


HELLO FROM THE GARDEN HOME! I would like to share some happenings in the Certified Master Gardeners program to date. Last week we had two classes. Tuesday we worked on "woody ornamentals" & Thursday we studied "lawn management". I am learning so much I did not realize I DID NOT KNOW and hopefully can put to good use in the future. Both classes were interesting but being a "turf zealot" I really enjoyed the lawn management time spent. After the classroom/book session, we let out and reconvened out at WTREC at the "Turf Wagon Wheel" for a look at different turf grasses and how well they grow in our area. By far, the "Bermuda's" are the real #1 here in the Mid South. But it just so happens that the Jackson, TN area is in a zone all alone. It appears we are in an area that has some special circumstances as far as weather is concerned and the temps we experience. We are often out of the norm for our area and now I know why. My favorite of all though is the "Zoysia" varieties. But this garden home has a large stand of "Centipede" in the front and it is doing very-very well here in our Zone #7!
Then I had the opportunity to attend a seminar on "orchids: dividing & re-potting" on Saturday at the pavilion at WTREC. Approximately 8 folks attended and I REALLY learned about orchids, growing, KILLING THEM, and the such. I have never grown orchids but sure might now that I am not afraid of them now and know they are tougher than I thought. I asked a lot of questions and had an enjoyable time as well. Three of us men stayed after the seminar and looked at some seed pods around the area we were in and I brought a few seed pods home. Two of us plan to meet soon there and do a "seed gathering day" for some special varieties we are interested in for our home gardens. I have seen some I would truly like to add to this garden home. And I have already shared some special "orchid-type" lilies and some cosmos seeds with some of the ladies in my group as well as some of the "California fuchsia" I have that is a lovely yellow, trumpet bloom shaped semi-shade plant.

I would like to say I appreciate your patience while I am working here at the garden home on the physical structure. Things are a little slow in the actual garden, except that I have much I really need to be doing but I am on a schedule just now to get a certain amount of work done in a certain time and MUST be completed on time and done well!
So I will leave you today and let you think on this fall poem called "Autumn Color": Jack Frost paints a portrait of beauty With colors so vivid and bright; It's framed with a purple misty haze And draped in a frosty night. Big, fat, bright orange pumpkins Nestle snugly among shocks of corn; Leaves flutter silently earthward; Ice sparkles like glass in the dawn. The nuts drop softly upon the ground, Leaves fall and hide them there; Squirrels work away industriously, Their winter store to prepare. A pale harvest moon sails serenely Across a star-studded sky, And smiles on a world full of color Since Jack Frost has just passed by.~unknown~


HELLO FROM THE GARDEN HOME! I want to update my followers on the finished floor today before I do a post on the Master Gardeners. I am showing some shots of the additional floor damage on the exterior wall in my office/guest room. And also the finished product of which I am very proud as it was quite an undertaking. So have a good day and look for a later posting on the doings of the MG's on an update later today.

Monday, October 5, 2009


I would like to apologize for my absence for a few days. After finishing the flooring rehab here at the garden home and trying over the weekend to reconnect my Internet system my cable connection has been out. Evidently I (SORRY!) pulled the cable too hard when reworking the junction box to go behind the new trim & I pulled the connection wires loose in the box internally. SO SORRY!
But now the floor is finished and things are slowly going back into place little by little and cleaning has begun and furniture placement being changed to prepare for the first Christmas trees to go up in the house. But I am really excited at the enjoyment being had by all in the intern class of the Master Gardeners. And also the added training and monthly MG meetings I have been attending. I have photos to add for your pleasure about things and happenings with the group.
I also have some updates for you around the garden here as well. Time is out for this posting and I must get to other business for now. But I will be back with you tomorrow and have some photos for everyone to see and stories about the happenings with my Master Gardener classes.
So as always just remember your daily gardening affirmation: "GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Wednesday, September 30, 2009


HELLO FROM THE GARDEN HOME. I had to undergo major FLOOR SURGERY yesterday and I think I did a pretty fair job for my first real major construction job I ever really did except for building my deck out back. I will be brief but wanted to update any followers watching for the completed floor project(s). Have a great, cool, fall day and remember your gardening affirmation: "GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Monday, September 28, 2009


I hope this helps anyone who is interested in hypertufa and the great fun I had this past weekend. Please feel free to contact me with any other comments. Have a great day from your Garden Daddy!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Hello again from the garden home. I got a not so good surprise today as I uncovered the last carpet area to have the laminate installed. I found a large hole and a lot of old damage/old rot that had come from the old damage that had been in the bathroom BEFORE I bought this house. I was not expecting this but something was to be expected, as things were just going too smoothly on the install for this to NOT show up. But that is what happens on a rehab of an old house and this one will just be all the more special to me as most of everything that has been done and rehabbed here has been by me, myself & I and I am very proud of that. Except for the new door replacement that is. So I am feeling rather proud of the fact I am learning as I go and now I just need to take a class on plumbing to get my comfort level up and start on that job. Any one want to take on an apprentice for a while in exchange for "FREE HELP"? I would learn as I go and be an assistant. Maybe I can locate someone who needs some extra hands in exchange for teaching....maybe I can come up with that exchange in our LANA group here in the neighborhood!
See photo below and remember after this post for sure, I will not be with you for several days this week till this room which houses the garden home office as well as guest room will undergo its floor renovation. Good bye for now from your GARDEN DADDY!


HELLO from the garden home! I want to share some photos and notes regarding the "hypertufa" workshop (pronounced "hyper-toofa") I attended yesterday, Saturday. Hypertufa is the art of making artificial stone using various compounds of peat moss, cement, sand, volcanic rock, etc. Since volcanic material is hard to come by we use coarse perlite, available from your local garden centers in bulk or smaller bags usually from your DIY "Big Box" stores. Our recipe yesterday was: 2-parts Portland Cement, 3-parts peat moss & 3-parts "perlite" (makes it lighter). There are other recipes but this is the one that was used yesterday and it seemed to work well. I will know today when I un-mold my form.
I chose a Styrofoam cooler for my initial form. Many of my MG interns chose bowls, cat litter boxes, cardboard boxes, and many other shapes. The ideas are only limited to ones imagination. Our workshop leader and his wife had a lovely garden home and one of the items featured there were some hypertufa "gnome homes" or garden art. This were just precious and gave me so many ideas. They had even made their own flower bed outline bricks using old plastic newspaper bags for the forms. This was really easier than the leaf molds. More like playing in mud pies mixture. Just premix the dry ingredients, add enough water to make it moist, not soaking or muddy - more on the dry side - then add to your form. For spheres, cut a hole in a soccer or basketball and stuff the mixture inside. When set just cut away the ball material and you have a sphere. You can make pedestals as well as leaf forms and really anything that sparks your imagination. Enjoy these pictures and let your mind run wild with this new project. And remember your daily gardening affirmation: GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Friday, September 25, 2009


Hello from this garden home. I apologize for not visiting with you on both the last day of summer and the first day of fall this week. My work, Master Gardener classes, volunteering hours for certification, the home interior rehab I am doing and other conditions out of my control have taken its hold here at the garden home this week. And a slight health scare with little Max, the guardian of the garden home, has limited my visits with you this past week. And again, after today, I will be "in absentia" for a few days as the interior floor rehab moves to my office area and subsequent locations in the home. But hopefully without too much delay, I should be back with you by the middle of next week. I have to tear down 2 more rooms in the house to get the new floors installed this weekend and finished hopefully on Monday or so. It has been a lot of work for me but the end result is going to be well worth it.
As for the Tennessee Certified Master Gardener intern program, classes move ahead with weekly gatherings. Last Thursday our class was on "landscape design" and this week was on "small engines" - maintenance, service, oils, anti-freeze, winterizing & storage. Tomorrow, Saturday, I am attending a workshop on making "hypertufa" (pronounced "HYPER - TOOFA") which is the art of making forms, shapes, artificial rocks, containers, spheres, etc. out of a mixture of peat moss, sand and concrete to make artificial rock-type planters. These are lightweight containers that are winter hardy and will not crack like concrete. They are often used in the ancient art of "bonsai" due to their light weight and ease of acquiring and making different shapes. I hope this addition to my gardening talents along with the concrete castings I have been making will come in handy here in the garden home for both myself and my family. I enjoy these type of projects and look forward to making some things next spring and working on some ideas I have to create some unusual garden art.
When my Master Gardener intern program is finished (is gardening EVER finished???) I anticipate this Master Gardener will come away with many new interest that will keep me busy for many years and provide an avenue for lots of new friends, which I am acquiring even now. It seems everyone in our group has some specialty of interest and we are all becoming each others mentor already. This should be a life long highlight for me I am sure!
On Wednesday this week, I helped out at WTREC to harvest the pumpkins for the 84-variety research project this year. It was interesting to learn that there are so many varieties and all that is involved in not only growing, etc. of pumpkins but what goes on in agricultural research programs with regard to size, shelf life, production volume, etc. in our food and food related products.
I will leave you today and for several days till my office area rehab is finished with this Fall gardening affirmation in mind:

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Upon investigation into carpet cleaning, etc. for the upcoming LANA Holiday Home Tour it became ever so clear that something drastic had to be done to these carpeted areas in the garden home. After much thought, paperwork, figures and weighing everything involved I made an executive decision to install new "PERGO" (tm) red oak laminate flooring. I finished my master bedroom this morning and have moved on to the hallway. I know this is a huge undertaking this late in the game but the need was there and I know the major investment I am making will pay off in the end. Not only will this change the entire look inside but will make the value of my home go up...up...up! In the end game it is only money (ha-ha, right) and the added value outweighs the initial cost. Master bedroom is finished and it is wonderful!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


At the request of one follower, here is a photo from standing in the yard across the street and looking back at the garden home and the view you see to the new door entry. VERY NICE!


WOW....what a difference a new door makes! I am so very pleased with the outcome of the new door that was installed today at this garden home. The installer was both professional and knowledgeable and did an excellent job. The change is very dramatic and exactly what I wanted. See the change here and look for more changes in the very near future to this garden home.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I would like to share a plant with you from my good friend and neighbor behind my house. I will introduce you to the "Confederate Rose" (hibiscus mutabilis). Neither a "confederate" nor a "rose" by ANY name, this member of the hibiscus (Malvaceae) family has double, more often almost triple blooms it seems and it is really a hardy perennial in Zones 7-9, though in 8 & 9 it becomes a seasonal "tree" of sorts. It originally hails from southern (!) China and it is true to its name "mutabilis" meaning mutable...color changing. The Confederate Rose has 3 basic good reasons for becoming part of YOUR garden landscape: low maintenance, drought resistant and flowers at the time of summer when everything else seems to have finished. Cut old, woody stems to about 1-ft above ground in winter and just let it go "a naturale" next spring, with new shoots reaching around 15-ft tall and 10-ft wide or so. Propagate from cuttings and seeds are often available from garden sources or someone who has one as well. Enjoy this as a background feature and front with day lilies or other spreading low growing, blooming plants such as lantana (Lantana camara/Verbenacea family) to give some foreground depth and attention. So enjoy this presentation and thank you my good neighbor, "Mr. C".


HELLO FROM THE GARDEN HOME! This has been an extremely busy week here at the garden home both inside, outside and "off site". I attended the Master Gardener classes both Tuesday & Thursday this past week as well as spending some 2.75-hours at the WTREC doing some volunteer hours there. On Tuesday, our speaker was out with the flu and in lieu of a regular 3 hour class, we spent an hour talking with our director and some were asking garden questions in relationship to their specific needs/garden problems. About 3 of us in the class were adding our input to the answers and using our experiences to assist as well. Then as we were about to dismiss for the remainder of class time there was a call from the research center, asking for volunteers for the day. As I already had the class time committed anyway and we were leaving early, I went out there immediately. I spent the next few hours splitting and potting many varieties of day lilies. When that project was finished my next assignment was to go rake and pick up pine cones from the white pine grove after the rain storm over the previous weekend so the mowers could mow without cones and straw on the vast open field space. FYI: One should not mow over pine cones as it will not only dull your mower blade but can throw the cones so hard and far as to cause personal injury or break glass.
On Thursday we had a speaker who was a retired botanist/plant scientist who gave us 3 solid hours of botany. Now you must remember I have not been in a real classroom situation for many, many years and by the end of the 2ND hour this Master Gardener intern was dancing in my seat with the want and need to be out of the classroom and just moving - somewhere. Anywhere! But the time was well spent and the learning process has truly begun. This upcoming Thursday, which was to be a "free week" with no class, we will have the make-up from the previous missed Tuesday. We are meeting out at WTREC for the class with a tour of the gardens and the class subject is landscape design. I am really looking forward to this one as I have some good ideas I would like to see at my middle brother & sister-in-laws lakeside home.
Work remains constant here at the garden home as I continue with my overhaul of the physical appearance of both the interior and exterior of my home. I am on time out from work this week now and have many projects not only started but hopefully coming to completion this week I hope and plan. My new front door is scheduled for installation on Tuesday & I will be updating you as time and opportunity allows. Much to do and time is NOT standing still for this busy gardener. There was a neighborhood-wide yard sale on Saturday this weekend with approximately some 50 homes participating. I still have the yard award sign in my front yard and I did as many "garden tours" and spent time answering gardening questions as I did trying to work my yard sale items. I even had folks trying to buy up my own yard items as my "WELCOME" sign and my first concrete leaf casting I shared with you followers I made. So I gave out some contact cards I had made for myself and told some people I could meet with them and make them some casting for their yard. That might be fun to see other yards as I give them some consultations as well. I think I can count these consultations as part of my "teaching" required hours for my certification time for the Master Gardener internship. GREAT!
I leave you today as I head back into the painting in my master bedroom with this one thought from the Bible for your garden: “The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


As fall starts to take her first hold on the garden home I am reminded of how short the time from spring/April to September is really. I continue to harvest from the garden, another 55-tomatoes today alone. I still share almost daily with the neighborhood, etc., and then enough for myself. As we had a very hard but short rainstorm on Sunday evening, 09/06/09, I was hoping to refresh the drying and dying squash plants but from further inspection today I fear the end has really come now. And the cucumbers are finished. I think if the rain had come last Thursday or Friday there may have been hope. I even watered pretty good early last week but that did not help much if any.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the yellow squash this year and made many casseroles and many sliced, grilled squash dishes. But not near all I wanted. But I did manage to put some in the freezer. I just slice them and lay singularly on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer till hard then DOUBLE BAG them in zipper freezer bags (to help prevent freezer burn). So I will have a few to enjoy later this winter I hope. Along with the squash I made several quarts of frozen tomato soup or sauce mix. Some I added spices to already and some I left plain. I would just stem them, core out any green areas, cut out any bad spots then just cut up into small pieces and cook them down till the wonderful juice and flavor was filling the house with wonderful scents that would make even "Mama Celeste" jealous. I think I have never had tomatoes make up so much juice. I believe the different varieties I had this year were some of the juiciest I ever had. You could cut one on a plate and the plate would just be full of juice. You had to use a plate or other container with a raised, curled edge or the juice would just run off everywhere.

I have updated the front porch with my new fall decorations, wreath and pumpkin container over the past weekend so that when Labor Day had come and gone, this garden home could truly say, "We are ready for fall here!" I start my last vacation period for this year after tomorrow and this one is for me and the work I have to get done this week on my schedule here to make it by Dec. 4Th for the home tour. So keep your thoughts with me this week and hope all goes well with the new door install, the interior painting and the beginning of the exterior painting I must get done by tour time. I was hoping to have the kitchen painted as well, as I have already purchased the paint for that re-do but if things keep going as they are and my Master Gardener class keeps me as busy next week as I have been I may be in tough times to get is done.

I have decided on colors for the exterior and you can see some sample paints here. DO NOT BE ALARMED...This is NOT RED...for some reason my camera is making this look red but it is really a very lovely terracotta almost more paprika color that I think will accent the brick bands on the columns out front and the mossy/sage green color sample standing up will be the two front doors with white trim and inlaid with the paprika color to stand out on the yellow siding and white trim work. You will have to see this in person to see the effect it will have and after many-many exhausting hours at bookstores and library and online studies of the c.1910 Arts-N-Crafts homes I find this to be one of the better and more attractive and eye popping combinations that will make this garden home one of distinction not only on my street but in the neighborhood. My only problem as I see it now is TIME and not enough of it!
So as always my fellow gardeners, I leave you with this gardening affirmation: "YOU CAN TAKE THE TURNIP OUT OF THE COUNTRY BUT IT IS ALWAYS JUST A TURNIP!" I think this really describes ME....Once a gardener - always a gardener!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


After having my first Master Gardener class last Thursday and then attending the monthly meeting of the "MG's" and then doing my 1st volunteer session out at WTREC (West TN Research & Education Center) I feel really small now in the world gardening. I realize just where I am and where I will be in another year. I do not know the proper names of plants, etc. but I know what I like and what I want my garden home to look like. So in that, I think I will just take and use the education in a way maybe others may not. I do not plan to nor am I able to remember all the "proper" plant names but I will continue to reap the benefits of this program where it suits ME, MYSELF & I. I will continue with my efforts to make this garden home the best it can be. And working out at the WTREC. I hope to spend a lot of time there and I have gotten on the list of workers. I will be a sponge out there and soak up all the applicable information I can and put the practical aspects to good use.
If you live here in Jackson or just visiting it would be worth the trip over to Airways and the 45 By-Pass to visit or at least drive through the grounds. You will get many ideas just on a drive through even if you do not get out to the car. But if you do get out and walk around you will get some wonderful and new ideas for gardening and garden art.
I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend and do it safely. I will be working on this garden home and gathering tomatoes and just getting things going for the tour. So I send you off with good gardening and good times for a holiday weekend till next time from your GARDEN DADDY!

Friday, September 4, 2009


WHAT WAS I THINKING? I harvested 117-tomatoes today and tossed into the compost bin another 15 that were either bird damaged or otherwise unusable. I cannot believe the turnout this late in the game. Granted, they were not all fit for slicing/sandwiches, etc., but very usable for soup or my idea for today will be chili I think! I delivered door-to-door all I could and saved enough to make myself chili for later today. I just had to share the outcome of today's picking.


I am overjoyed and almost feeling overwhelmed by beginning the Tennessee Master Gardener program. I had my first class yesterday, Thursday morning. We spent most of the class time going over the curriculum, bylaws and other registration requirements. We spent some time with personal introductions of each other. We talked about our volunteerism and that we actually represent the University and how special of a honor it is. We were instructed on the volunteer hours, continuing education requirements and how to get it all done.
This will be a very long process but I hope to have my 40-hours volunteering done by years end. In fact last night was the monthly meeting of the Master Gardeners and I attended that meeting which gave me my 1st hour of continuing education out of the eight (8) needed beside class time. And this morning I was at the WTREC to help re-pot about 300 plants to 1-gal. & 2-gal. pots for sale at the next UT plant sale on Oct. 1st. I am able to report on that event a time of 2.5-hours toward my 40 required volunteerism, leaving me with 37.5 remaining hours. Here are two shots of the work we did today after the potting up was complete.

On to regular news from the garden home. With no rain thus far this week it appears the end of the cucumbers has come. And along with that evidently the squash as well. I was looking forward to a few more squash but fear they are finished as well. I will remove the cucumber vines today but may leave the squash till I see if it will rain as fore casted for overnight tonight. The squash might recover if it does rain for a few more weeks but the cucumbers are really gone now. I did bring home some new plants from the WTREC I need to plant today. I saw last night at the MG meeting and even today that I will be overwhelmed with new and exciting plant varieties, some of which I have never seen or heard of. So this will be an added benefit of my association with the MG program. I will have some plants myself to share as I have already rooted about 5 1-gal Weigelia which are lovely in the spring with their pink flowers and they will really grow fast and look beautiful in a natural, free form style. I have had to prune mine up several times already this year as they will get really large very quickly. But if anyone of you would like these I would love to "plant share" with you are well.
I am heading out to harvest tomatoes today. I gave away about 25-tomatoes I just quickly picked yesterday for 2-visitors who stopped in but I have at least 40 or more it appears to gather today. Plus I must mow and edge this garden home today as well.
I had the new front door installer come by for his measure yesterday and we found out my front door, being old style/old size will either be a special order or the frame will have to be rebuilt to accommodate an "in-stock" door from my "BIG BOX" store. The install will cost more than the door but it is desperately needed to finish the front entrance and give the look I need now that the transom has been opened up at last. I am getting excited to get this project done so the exterior paint job I need to finish on the front porch can be done. And of course finished the interior painting of the master bedroom and kitchen as well as trim, etc. that need some touch up. But other than this list and then start the Christmas decorating I am on schedule for completion by Thanksgiving as I have planned.
So enjoy this weather and our early fall. That is the prediction I heard last night from the University of Tennessee folks at the MG meeting, early and cool and mostly the heat is already gone for the most part. Look to my prediction of early and hard, cold winter. We are definitely overdue that is for sure.
I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation: "GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Greetings from the garden home! As my nephew says, "I can't believing" it is September already. This extremely mild weather seems more like October but it is just barely September and we are in the 50-degrees at night already and high 70's & lower to mid 80's in the daytime. This is just unheard of here in the Mid south. With the 90-year old dogwood trees lining my street starting their reddish coats it makes me wonder and almost have mild concern that our winter might just be not only early but also severe. This is based solely on my own speculation.
I am attaching a link here for fall vegetable planting. I know some of you may have lots of room for some leafy vegetables as well as root vegetables if you start planting now. the link is:
I attempted to plant both mustard and turnips last fall but as we had a long, hot fall my tomatoes kept producing and I waited too late in the season to get a good result. I had a few turnips and greens but the dry, cooler fall just did not cooperate.
I will start my internship for the TN Master Gardener program tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 3rd. and I look forward to a long but enjoyable study. It is a 45-hour program (15 3-hour sessions) but I feel the outcome will be worth it. I hope I have not been out of school so long that I get too impatient with the long class time. Updates for those interested in attending future programs will be noted here. So keep up with your Garden Daddy to see where the class is going weekly.
I continue to gather, almost daily, tomatoes again. Even with the dry weather here in Jackson and West Tennessee I am harvesting. But I am resolved the end of the cucumbers and squash is in sight. I have only gotten 3-squash in about 10 days now so I am almost to the point if we do not get rain by weeks end I will add both cucumber and squash vines to my compost bin.
Speaking of composting, I have noticed since I have started composting my internal and external refuse that my weekly garbage output has been reduced substantially. And along with the composting, I have made a serious effort to start recycling my #1 & #2 plastic bottles (juice, milk, etc.) as well as plastic grocery/shopping bags. There is a wonderful recycling area at the fire station on Westwood just downhill from the school. There are several large recycling containers there as well as one for newspapers and other items. I have attached a link from the City of Jackson regarding recycling and some of the locations for city drop sites:
On updates from the garden home I have replaced the windows that were cracked on my newly reopened transoms over the front doors and waiting for my measure for a new front door. Work continues, even though slowly, on the interior of the garden home for the upcoming Christmas home tour. I know I am somewhat paranoid regarding this event but with so many Jackson residents who attend the tour I just want everything to go well and not be a "show off" but just show my pride and hard work in the 3-years I have been here.
So with everything "fall-ish" in mind and working on a new fall outdoor wreath for the front entrance to be in place on Labor Day ( I am choking on the words - time is going too fast) I leave you with the following gardening affirmation: "CLEAR YOU BODY, CLEAR YOUR MIND & CLEAR YOUR GROUND....& GROW, GROW, GROW!"

Saturday, August 29, 2009


HELLO GARDENING FRIENDS! Back from a short hiatus this week and ready to "dig" in again here at the garden home. I am showing you an update on the banana bloom saga. I finally got the tree tied up and stabilized for the time being. And a good thing as the bloom is over four feet (4') long at this time and not even half way there yet judging by the size of the pod that remains.
As you can see, the fruit is really making a statement now. It has finally dried up here in my area of the Mid-south but really at the wrong time for this to help these trees keep blooming. Each banana tree drinks approximately 5-gallons of water every single day. So this tree is mostly making blooms and NOT fruit due to the dry conditions we are now experiencing. I have some fruiting but mostly blooms only. I am waiting to see what else is in the pod that remains. I have had a bloom pod only one other time in 3-years and at that time I did not secure the tree and the sheer weight and length of the bloom broke the tree off at ground level before the pod finished its production. So I do not know what else is to come but hopefully I have it secure enough at this time to prevent that from happening again.
Also, here is a new photo of some elephant ear plants on the back deck. This specimen is huge and truly the size of an African Elephant's ear. I have never seen such a plant. Of course my very rich compost this is planted in and fed with did not hurt this I am sure and the right location for this helped as well.
I am still getting a very strong harvest of tomatoes now. I have picked twice this week thus far and need to be outside even now for today's gathering. My cucumbers are almost finished as I have mentioned they were damaged by some vehicle traffic that got off the pavement and onto my planting area and the dry weather. The summer crooked neck squash as well are going through a drop off due to the dryer conditions. I did end up watering the lawns and garden yesterday, Friday, afternoon but I feel the cukes and squash will not recover enough to be over producing again. We are many days away from fore casted rain and I am restraining myself from over using my utilities for garden watering at this time. I hope that in the future I can get some plastic 55-gallon barrels to harvest rain water and use this for garden watering. Here is a link for barrel harvesting of rain water that might help those of you interested in your own system. Remember though, barrel harvesting is NOT the same as "rain water harvesting" by any means. Harvesting is more the use of a cistern-type system that might also include filtration, etc., of the water. Here is a link to someone who I think did a pretty good job for a home/self installed system:
When I return to work this next week I will again be working on the garden homestead, the historic A.E. Estes home, in preparation for the upcoming home tour. I am also very excited...... did I say VERY EXCITED.....about starting my internship with the University of Tennessee Master Gardener program beginning this next Thursday, Sept. 03, 2009. And then making my plans over this winter for a revamping of the garden area in the back yard. I will NOT be raking my leaves and pine straw to the street this fall for city pick-up but will be putting it over the garden area to help smother out the existing grasses I want to eliminate from the future gardening area(s). And also adding it into my compost bays in the rear of my property for making new dirt. Again, in doing all this, I hope to have the best garden one can have and basically for free. Not purchasing any soils, compost, etc., other than the needed lime and any other minor chemicals needed for feeding this garden.
I leave you then today my dirt diggers with this, our ongoing gardening affirmation: "GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"