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March-25, 2022 Our garden blueprint

The weather in Georgia is not normal this year. We had some really hot days in the Winter which woke up quite a few bulbs especially daffodils before their usual schedule. Then we had a quite harsh frost and even a bit of snow early this month (in March!) when a large portion of our perennial plants already started sprouting, the peach tree, blueberries, and some roses were blooming, self-seeded tomatoes are already grown six inches tall, and flower seeds that I sowed last October finally grew…then there was the frost. Even though we moved some fragile plants back to our non-heated greenhouse, many still got hit hard. Some never came back. We lost a couple of succulents, the bigger tomatoes, and some seedlings. It is not the cold that killed them, but the sudden temperature change. Luckily, most of the plants were just shocked and reacted with curled leaves and withering flowers. Some plants are doing exceptionally well though. After the first success of the Arbequina olive tree, we hauled another 22 small olive trees last year. Most of them are Arbequina, and we added a couple of different varieties. We planted them last month when the soil was no longer frozen while the entire land was still sleeping in the cradle of Winter.

Arbequina olives

On the same day, we dug out all of our lavenders from the rose bed and planted them along with the olive trees all the way to the now-dedicated Mediterranean garden. One of the reasons was that we were inexperienced when we first planted the roses and lavenders and we left little space for these plants to grow large. Another reason was that we slowly learned to keep plants that enjoy similar conditions in the same area. Our Mediterranean garden is located on a previous big hole caused by a fallen tree. We filled it with topsoil, grits, and leaf mold in the beginning years, and tried multiple times to grow veggies and seedlings in vain. It is a "bad spot" for a lot of plants, as this location is super sunny while the soil is really poor. It is on the hill so sometimes we got lazy and did not go there for many days. One day we moved rosemary there as a border plant and it grew exceptionally well. The loose soil there retains enough moisture but drains well. Both sun and wind are lavish there. We don't need to tend them at all. Then we started to plant more herbs there: thymes, chives, oregano, comfreys, and a couple of lavenders. Last winter, we added more self-made compost mixed with some burned plants ash to mulch the area. A little bit alkaline should be good for them. So by now, we have multiple garden areas: a super sunny rose garden on the right side of the deck and a small fruit orchard area with grapes, cherries, one peach tree, and multiple blueberries on the left side. A half shade slope that is shared by a sweet tea olive (osmanthus), hellebores, hydrangea, and viburnums.half-shade On our full sun and wide-open meadow area, there are olive trees and lavenders all the way to our Mediterranean garden with more perennial herbs. Many crocuses will appear in early spring here too. The border of the meadow is lined up with all sorted sun-loving perennial flowers. They are right above the rose garden, which creates a marvelous blooming scene from late spring all the way to fall.

Behind the meadow is our big woodland area. We planted hostas, ferns, azaleas, shade grass, Pieris, creeping phlox, foxgloves, and many other shade plants. The key is to use larger brushes and plants to provide structure and plant the other herbaceous plants around them. We planted some snakehead bulbs in the woods in the winter and I cannot wait to see them bloom.

Our favorite spot, of course, is the waterlily pond that sits at the border of our meadow and woodland area. It gets half full sun and half shade. Goldfish are growing obviously bigger and bigger after two years. Iris and creeping jenny around the pond multiply. Dragonflies would fly around in the summer. Our chair is in the shade while water lilies and lotuses bloom in the sun.

We also created a bog area by the pond and then a mini wildlife pond in the bog area. Cannas, elephant ears, and leopard plants grow wildly in the hot Georgia summer. Toads, frogs, and their tadpoles can be seen almost all year round.

Weather: H 60 L:40 Cloudy with chilling wind

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