First Bloom 2014 – Old Blush

20140417-211456.jpgWe wait the great anticipation each year for the first bloom. Last year, Climbing Pinkie took that honor on April 14, and the year before, Mary Rose bloomed on March 16. That was the year we had no winter to speak of. But this year, Old Blush takes this honor. Curious that all are Pink roses.

Old Blush has been around for hundreds of years and is a favorite of gardeners everywhere. So glad we have one and so glad she has graced us with her blooms.


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New Growth, Buds & A Bloom



‘Climbing Pinkie’ is full of hundreds of tiny buds… Can’t wait for the bloom show20140416-070222.jpg


If you remember from a previous post, I cut these shrubs of ‘Benjamin Britten’ to prevent wind rock back in the winter. They have bounced back and buds are forming.

Bloom of 'Graham Thomas' - Just Purchased from local plant sale

‘Graham Thomas’ 

Could not resist posting a bloom pic… The morning after I planted this rose already full of buds, this beautiful bloom appeared. I have long wanted a ‘Graham Thomas’ rose and am so very happy to add it to my collection of David Austin roses that grow in our garden.

Posted in #MooPooCrew, #roses, Alabama, Benjamin Britten, Climbing Pinkie, Graham Thomas | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Wordless Wednesday – Spring Blooms at Birmingham Botanical Gardens








Posted in Best Of Birmingham, Birmingham, Garden, Garden Tour, Wordless Wednesday | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

10 Pictures That’ll Make You Even Happier For Spring!


Great post from Southern Living

Originally posted on The Daily South:

Join us in celebrating warmer weather; it was just the Spring Equinox! Post photos on IG from this weekend’s spring time activities with #southernsnapshotspringishere for a chance to be featured!

Photo by Roger Foley

Photo by Roger Foley

Photo by Jennifer Davick
Photo by Jennifer Davick
Photo by Erica George Dines
Photo by Erica George Dines
Photo by Helen Norman
Photo by Helen Norman

Photo by David Hanson

Photo by David Hanson

Photo by David Hanson

Photo by David Hanson

Photo by Roger Foley

Photo by Roger Foley

Photo by Helen Norman

Photo by Helen Norman

Photo by Helen Norman

Photo by Helen Norman

Photo by Jennifer Davick

Photo by Jennifer Davick

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Welcome Spring!

Spring finally officially arrives today. And I can say that I am mighty glad to see it come. The past winter has been especially cold here in Alabama and the arrival of warmer days gives me hope for the growing season ahead. The signs are everywhere:


Daffodils are revealing themselves all over town


Glads are surfacing yearing to make their presence known


Early blooming daylilies & iris are putting in an appearance


Our shrubs of “Julia Child” floribunda are leafed out and raring to go! (as are the other 150+ roses in our garden)


A new look for our screened porch to sit and enjoy the spring weather


It wouldn’t be spring in Alabama without bright yellow daffodils to herald spring’s arrival

I hope this spring finds you happy and blessed and if not, that you will allow the sights and sounds of spring to renew and refresh your mind, body and spirit.

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Start Zinnia Seeds Indoors For Early Blooms

Zinnias complement our roses with beautiful blooms

Zinnias complement our roses with beautiful blooms

If there is one flower I must have in the garden other than roses, it is zinnias. One of the easiest flowers to grow, Zinnias provide a multitude of blooms all season long.  To get a jump start on the season, I typically sow seeds indoors in early March and by the time April comes round, i’m ready to plant them in the ground or in containers.

I start with Jiffy seed pellets. Very inexpensive (less than $3) at local stores.

I start with Jiffy soil pelletts

I start with Jiffy soil pelletts

Place the seed pellets them in a tray or other container. I have one seed starting tray that I bought several years ago for this purpose, and I reuse it every year, but any container will do. I also use pie pans, butter bowls or the proverbial dixie cup…..

Add warm water to expand the pelletsadd warm water to cover the pellets.  (To encourage early germination, I use a mixture of composted manure tea and warm water.) The warm water will cause them to expand. It usually takes about 5-10 minutes for the expansion to occur.  Like Jiffy Pop Popcorn, kids love to watch this happen.

expanded jiffy pelletDSCN1779I then dig into my trusty Seed Keeper and select seeds. The Seed Keeper is a great way to organize my seed collection.

Once expanded, I use the tools from my Seed Keeper to take seeds and insert into the top of the expanded pellet, then lightly cover the top of the seed.

DSCN1771My two favorite colors of zinnia are red and yellow. DSCN1769

The Ferry-Morse company has provided my garden with zinnia seeds for many years and I always select from varieties that will provide the best possible visual impact in the garden.

expanded seed pellet


Cover the planted seeds and place in direct light for 5-7 days. According to most seed companies, seeds will germinate in 10-14 days. By adding the composted manure tea to the mix, germination will happen in 5-7 days. That may not seem like a big difference to some, but to me it mean additional days this summer I will have blooms and I’ll take all the joy I can get….

Zinnia Seeds to SproutsYou will see sprouts in no time and come April here in the deep south, i’ll be setting these out in the garden….   Come July, I will sow more seeds directly in the garden for blooms in the fall.

Zinnia from seed

Zinnia InspirationI would love to hear your seed starting adventures and hop that everyday you’ll celebrate the joy that flowers bring!





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Get Inspired. Get Started. – Growing Roses In Alabama – Home & Garden Show

Rednecks & Roses at the Home & Garden Show

Rednecks & Roses at the Home & Garden Show

This weekend I take the stage at the 2014 Birmingham Home and Garden Show.  It’s part of my quest to convince folks that roses really aren’t hard to grow. In fact, with a little planning and preparation, they are incredibly easy.  Below is a list of roses that do very well in the central Alabama area and I grow or have grown all but one on the list.

If you attended the show, this post serves as a companion to my talk.

Hybrid Teas  

  • Moonstone – White w/Pink Tips
  • Veteran’s Honor – Red
  • Opening Night – Red
  • Artistry – Orange/Coral
  • Gemini – White w/Pink Tips
Great Hybrid Tea Roses For Alabama Gardens

Great Hybrid Tea Roses For Alabama Gardens


  • Dream Come True – Yellow/Pink blend
  • Cherry Parfait – White w/red tips
  • Queen Elizabeth – Pink
Great Grandiflora Roses for Alabama Gardens

Great Grandiflora Roses for Alabama Gardens


  • Julia Child – Yellow
  • Moondance – White
  • Lavaglut (aka LavaFlow) – Dark Red
  • Iceberg – White
  • Betty Boop – Red w/yellow tips
Great Floribunda Roses for Southern Gardens

Great Floribunda Roses for Southern Gardens


  • New Dawn – Light Pink
  • Don Juan – Red
  • Lady Banks – Yellow
Great Climbers For Alabama Gardens

Great Climbers For Alabama Gardens

If you attended the show and have any questions, i’m glad to help. Drop me a line.

All photos are from my own camera and garden expect for the photo of New Dawn. It is being used here by permission from 

Posted in #roses, Alabama, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

An Unexpected Snowfall

Tuesday started out like any other day in Birmingham. I had a meeting at 10:30 across town and as I left my office, I began to see a few of the predicted “flurries” that had been in the local forecast, but were to pass over with little consequence. The real weather event was to have hit south of us. When I came out of my meeting, the ground was covered and it was snowing hard. The weather front had shifted north and I was in for a wild ride.  It took me 10 hours to travel home down 65 South. This trip normally takes about 30 minutes. I finally made it home about 10:15 pm Tuesday evening after sliding my way past jack knifed 18 wheelers, pedestrians who had abandoned their vehicles and various other obstacles on the roadways…..

Taken From My Car Tuesday

Taken From My Car Tuesday

This is a very rare occurrence for the Deep South. We have absolutely no municipal infrastructure in place to handle these types of weather events and needless to say thousands we were caught off guard, left their jobs in a panic and ended up sliding off roadways and having to abandon their vehicles on the interstate and side roads in an attempt to reach home. Many were able to only reach one of the many makeshift shelters that opened in local churches, fire halls and other public buildings. Many others opened their homes to passersby and provided much needed warmth and shelter. Sadly, some people lost their lives and my prayers and thoughts go out to their families today.

We southern folk are quite resilient and with temps forecasted to be in the 60′s this weekend, we’ll be back to “normal” in no time.

Here are a few shots of the rose garden covered in snow:

Our Rose Garden Covered In Snow

Our Rose Garden Covered In Snow

A Lion In Winter

A Lion In Winter

Our broken winged angel  offers up her heart full of snow

Our broken winged angel offers up her heart full of snow

Side Garden Covered In Snow

Side Garden Covered In Snow

Ever steadfast, our Bird Girl watches over our garden all year long....

Ever steadfast, our Bird Girl watches over our garden all year long….

It will be interesting to see in the days ahead how many of my beloved roses have survived  Snowmageddon 2014!




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Winter Rose Care – Cut Back Tall Canes

This year, winter winds are blowing at a gale force in Alabama and the polar vortex of 2014 is taking its toll on my garden. All this cold has me thinking about winter rose care. It is important to remember to trim back your roses to about waist high to prevent winter wind damage from affecting the canes and rocking the rose back and forth, damaging the root system of the rose, which can ultimately kill the shrub. This process should not be confused with pruning which requires a much more severe cut back of the rose. This will merely prevent wind rock from occurring.

Our shrubs of Benjamin Britten, a beautiful orange red David Austin English rose grows quite tall in summer, often reaching 9ft high! This rose is very thorny, so it’s important to “suit up” with long sleeves and gauntlet gloves to complete the task of trimming them down to a good size for winter.

'Benjamin Britten' David Austin English Shrub in need of a winter trim

‘Benjamin Britten’ David Austin English Shrub in need of a winter trim

As you can see from the photo, I start on the outer edge and work my way into the center of the shrub. This cuts down on the likelihood of getting entangled in the rose… (not that this has ever happened to me. Ha! )

One of the other problems that you will see if you don’t trim your roses back, is damage to the canes caused from the wind whipping them around.

Cane damage due to tall canes whipping around in the windYou can see here the damage caused by wind to the canes is the result of being tossed back and forth. If left unattended, this open wound will likely cause the cane above the wound to die and is a harbinger for disease. I trimmed below this damaged area and we should be good to go come spring.

Trimmed shrubs safe from the affects of winter winds

Trimmed shrubs safe from the affects of winter winds

Now to apply dormant spray, and these beauties will be ready for spring!

Blooms of Benjamin Britten roses from our garden

Blooms of Benjamin Britten roses from our garden

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Winter Rose Care

As a part of the Stretch Gardening Series at Home Depot, I was asked to contribute an article on caring for roses in winter. I have found that a few simple steps in winter will make all the difference in your garden come spring.  Click HERE to read the article..


An abundance of spring blooms are the result of caring for your garden in winter

The Home Depot Garden Club website is filled with great articles from gardening experts such as Martha Stewart & P. Allen Smith and is hosted by the incomparable Lynn Coulter and Michael Nolan.  


Posted in #roses, Rose Care, Winter Rose Care | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments