I can't recall the exact date, but my intentions were good when I offered to design and plant a small garden on a hard packed piece of land, owned by a quarry, but doubling as a soccer field. .
The location wasn't close to ideal for planting. No irrigation, rocky soil, and a few hundred kids dribbling and drilling soccer balls right through it from Feb. to Oct.
But one of those kids was my daughter Maggie. I'd sit and watch her evening practice, two hours, three times a week, and figured a little landscaping would go a long way to my sanity after those tough days at the office.
Knowing the plants would be tested, I loaded it up with tough selections like Juniper, Echinacea, and of course, a cold hardy Southern Euc.
I chose Eucalyptus elliptica 'Grace' because I like its fast growth, white bark, durability, and dappled shade it would provide.
Maggie stopped playing soccer shortly after I finished the design, and I never really thought back to the quarry fields until just last week. I was in the area and a little voice inside my head prodded me to take a look.
I was disappointed to see the rough conditions of the fields and the little garden I planted. But, avoiding the poison ivy, I pressed on, and to my surprise, nothing (besides the poison ivy) had endured the heat and neglect except one plant.
The Eucalyptus elliptica 'Grace' was the sole survivor. Left for abandonment, with other plants known for toughness, it was "Grace Under Fire" in an onslaught of soccer, summer, drought, and debris!
Most folks ITP (inside the perimeter) know that the East Atlanta neighborhood is the place to do some serious people watching, hear great music, or take in the Strut or East Atlanta Beer Fest. Now you can add show-stopping Eucalyptus trees to their village voice.
Villagers pride themselves on thinking outside the box, and new homeowner Scott Lootens wanted to make a statement fast, so he agreed to take part in the Southern Eucs Trials. Both trees, started from seed less than three years ago, have not disappointed.
The location gave Southern Eucs a zone 7b site and valuable feedback on how the trees would fare in a busy urban environment.
Eucalyptus neglecta 'Big 0' was planted to help screen a busy Glenwood Avenue. In less than 3 years it has grown to 30' and attained a brilliant trunk and canopy.
Eucalyptus are evergreens, offering year round cover, but it's the way they pay compliments to the other deciduous trees, most notably this nearby Crape Myrtle, that grabs the eye.
Eucalyptus paucifloriia 'Bonza' was planted as a specimen tree to help frame Looten's craftsman styled cottage.
It's the striking bark that really sets 'Bonza' apart. White trunks are common in Birches and Aspens in the North and out West, but you would be hard pressed to find a smooth white trunk in a hardy tree that thrives in the South.
Eucalyptus elliptica 'Grace' showing off similar hardiness and trunk traits in the zone 8a McDonough, GA trials garden.
It quickly became obvious that Southern Eucs first European Trials Master was serious about his craft.
Seed was sown and in no time Shino was communicating pertinent information on the trees germination and growth rate, susceptibility to fungus, and aesthetics.
The trees, 6 mos. old from seed, are all flourishing. No surprise four of Southern Eucs most popular and cold hardy species Eucalyptus neglecta 'Big 0', E. camphora 'Lucky Country', E. rubida 'Cab Sav', and E. stellulata 'Sheila' are thriving.
It's encouraging that Shino has had success with the difficult to seed and slower growing Eucalyptus pauc. 'Bonza'.
Even more excited to see next spring's new introductions Eucalyptus parvula 'Funky Monkey' and E. nova anglica 'Maggie' doing so well.
And highly anticipating Shino's feedback and hope to see similiar results with Eucalyptus perriniana 'Corker' which has yet to complete our 3-year trials.
Check back in early spring to see how the trees respond following the Polish winter!
I was in Cork for my good friend Steve McCarthy's wedding and had the chance to visit the infamous Blarney Castle, Ireland's own version of Graceland.
I was told the Castle also had some impressive gardens, so at the urging of my buddy, and famed wedding crasher, Jon Baime, I passed on a mid-day nap and made the short drive from Cork to Blarney.
The grounds were amazing with gardens of all shapes and sizes.
But it was the Poisonous Gardens at the base of the Castle that stopped me in my tracks. One of the coolest and cruelest things I've ever seen.
So many common plants that are mainstays in U.S. gardens are potential killers, or at least dangerous bedfellows.
The iron cages hid the real bad boys like Deadly Nightshade, the king of killer plants.
And our old friend Poison Ivy.
Interesting that they listed tobacco and marijuana (sorry Pep) for the potential harm they can bring to regular users.
Same with Opium, but I had never seen the plant in person before. The blooms are really something!
Some of the poisonous plants in the collection, that many of us enjoy in our home landscapes, were Sweet Shrub, Chaste Tree, Rhubarb (the leaf), Hellebores, Japanese Holly, and Foxglove.
No, Eucalyptus is not a poisonous plant. It's on the other end of the spectrum and has hundreds of medicinal purposes. Saw this tree that had just been coppiced (cut back to promote new growth) just outside the poisonous gardens and thought it was ironic.
Finally, Harry Potter fans should be proud that author JK Rowling did her horticultural homework. Wolfsbane, used by Hogwarts students to render dangerous beasts into sleepy wolves, is actually a nasty plant that tortures the stomach and slows the heart rate to deadly levels.
And Mandrake, another plant that's properties attack the vital organs, was also a favorite Potter plant. Hogwarts students hurled it over the castle's embankments to ward off Death Eaters.
Next blog post; Our first edition of "Eucalyptus Trials Observations - Drought and doubt".
A visit to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland is awe inspiring and leaves even a seasoned gardener in awe and envy.
Picking a favorite garden or plant is impossible, but the Mountain Tropical House kept me there well past the allotted time I had budgeted for each glass house visit.
Not only was the climate considerably cooler, to mimic higher altitudes, but the plant life seemed to grow from anything left on the ground for rot.
Thought I traced this moss and fern covered trunk back to its origin.
But counted three different varieties of Rhododendron growing from various points on the same rotted-out trunk.
There were some exotic cacti from all over the world in the Desert Climate House.
A little closer to home in was the American native Prickly Pear.
It was introduced to the Old World as a food source. Apparently the fruits are tasty and sweet.
Later introduced alongside Australia’s Eucalyptus trees, it was so happy in the dry arid climate that it now occupies over 24 million acres of the landscape.
And finally for the Lawn Lover’s out there.
Acres of pristine green stuff with hundreds of perennials in borders that seemed to go on forever.
Next post: Blarney Castle's unbelievable Poisonous Gardens!!!
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh, Scotland have 10 huge glass houses dedicated to diversity in the world’s climates. The horticulturists here do an unbelievable job with placards on the plant’s history and behaviors.
But a picture is worth a thousand words.
Folks here are not only the world’s best horticulturists but they know a little something about presentation.
The entrance into the first Palm House was smothered by a weeping Kashmir Cypress tree.
The assortment of Palms and Orchids was overwhelming.
I thought the process in which this small tree fern (Cyathea Tomentosissima) unveiled its fronds was pretty spectacular.
And for anyone who ever dreamed of a small pond, some fish, and the sound of running water, the Royals got it right!
Feast your eyes on the gigantic Victoria Longwood hybrid water lily. 6’ in diameter, they looked almost too perfect to be real!
Next post; USA, USA, USA!