THE GARDEN IS OPEN

Savannah Botanical Blog

 
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Want to lower your monthly grocery bill and eat healthier? There’s no better investment than a vegetable garden. And if that garden allows for you to reduce, recycle, and reuse items that would otherwise go to waste, you’re doing your part to create a healthier environment, too. Creating a sustainable garden for your family is inexpensive and easy - even if you’re not the “green thumb” type. Here are some tips to keep your garden and the planet green.
 

Pick Plants Wisely

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Native plants will naturally thrive under the climate conditions in your backyard. Others will struggle because they're not acclimated to the temperature or conditions. For Garden's Sake carries tomatoes, cucumbers, beans, and other common veggie plants selected to do well in Ge.

Going native means is environmentally-friendly because it also encourages the use of companion plants. Native plants use less water and fertilizer than invasive varieties. Companion plants attract pollinators while repelling pests. Including both in your garden means better crops with less waste and fewer chemicals.

Note: Native species aren’t just great for gardens! If you’re looking to add beauty to your property, native trees offer many of the same benefits as native garden plants.

 

Location, Location, Location

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A garden costs more and uses more resources if it’s in the wrong spot. Before you dig in, check out this checklist.

  • Full sun – You can create shade for those plants that prefer it. But you can’t add more sun to a garden dug in a shaded area.
  • Convenient location – your garden should be easy to access. The closer it is to you, the better attention you’re likely to give it. And the more likely you’ll be to spot issues early.
  • Nearby water source - The last thing you want to do is drag a hose across the lawn to water your plants. Make sure you have a sprinkler nearby, or the hose extends to the garden.
  • Clutter-free – lots of critters that are bad for your plants make their homes in piles of wood, leaves, and the like. By putting your garden in an area free from this kind of clutter, you’ll lower the risk of damage caused by rodents, animals, and insects.

Rise Above or Get Down and Dirty?

 
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The next thing to consider is whether you’ll be planting in a raised bed or into the ground. Raised beds offer protection from some pests. You can fill them with soil and nutrients, so you’ll have greater control over your soil’s composition. To make things more eco-friendly, you can make raised beds from old storage containers or discarded pallets.

Planting directly in the ground cuts your expenses and offers you as much garden space as you have yard. It is also sustainable since all you need is a shovel. Tilling soil is labor-intensive, though. And your soil’s composition might not have the same level of nutrients you’d find in the soil you purchase. If you’ve never done either, consider doing a small raised bed and a small plot in the ground to see which works best for you

Soil Additives and Fertilizers

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There are plenty of fertilizers and additives used to help gardens grow. But not all are appropriate for every plant. For tomatoes, cow manure and eggshells are common additives. Strawberries like phosphorus and potassium. Some gardeners begin preparing their soil the fall before they plant. Others mix compost or all-purpose fertilizer into the soil during planting and never add anything else. If you plan early, you can add different materials to areas of the plot where different crops will grow.

Have Fun, without Spending a Ton

The most important ingredient in any garden is your enjoyment. Simple, sustainable gardening is a great activity for any age. If you plan carefully, you can save a fortune on your grocery bills. So grab the family, pick out your favorite seeds and seedlings, and get ready to garden. Just don’t forget your gloves—blisters don’t care how eco-friendly your methods are!

Jay Betts is a graduate from the University of Texas at Austin, regional representative for LawnStarter, a creative entrepreneur and an avid gardener. He enjoys hiking in nature and following a minimalistic lifestyle
 
Looking for Pearls: Camellias a beautiful discovery at Savannah Botanical Gardens

 

Early on a cool, damp morning last week, I met Ron and Belinda Jacob at the Savannah Botanical Gardens on Eisenhower Avenue. The fog had crept in on little camellia feet.

We were alone there, whispering in the quiet mist, with only the clear call of a tufted titmouse echoing from the bare trees. The Jacobs were leading me to see the Ann Reinhard, a camellia that grows only in the Savannah Botanical Gardens. Against its dark green leaves, its red blossoms seemed to cascade like a haunting flurry of poppies on Armistice Day.

The camellia was discovered growing in the Savannah Botanical Gardens some 20 years ago, but until it flowered, no one knew what variety it might be. Last February it bloomed, and local camellia expert Gene Phillips determined it was a hitherto unknown variety.

It is what is called a “chance seedling,” a plant that has come from a natural pollination, a seed formed by serendipity. On some past warm winter day, the right encounter of a bee carrying pollen from the anther of one flower to the pistil of another started the Ann Reinhard life cycle.

The Jacobs and the staff of the Savannah Botanical Gardens began the process of submitting the previously unnamed camellia for inclusion in the national Camellia Registry. They cast about for an appropriate name, when everyone seemed to have the same thought at once to name it in honor of Ann Reinhard.

The beautiful circa-1840 German-vernacular building that sits on the edge of the 10-acre Savannah Botanical Gardens is named the Reinhard House. It first stood on the Reinhard Farm near Wheaton Street downtown. Indeed, eight acres of the farm were purchased in 1853 to become the Catholic Cemetery.

The house was slated for demolition to make way for the Truman Parkway. It was saved and moved in 1992 by the Savannah Area Council of Garden Clubs. It now serves as the SACGC headquarters and as the information center for the Gardens.

A year ago, I saw the Ann Reinhard at the Jacobs’ invitation. She had only a few blooms then, but she is covered with flowers now. Ron said the bitter winter of 2018 seems to have caused Savannah’s camellias to rebound mightily this year.

He was captivated from the beginning with the simplicity and elegance of the Ann Reinhard’s single (one row of petals) blossoms. Camellias originated in Japan, where simplicity is valued aesthetically. Indeed a small, red, single camellia can be seen at Magnolia Gardens in Charleston, where it was imported from Japan in the 1700s.

The Savannah Botanical Gardens have 67 varieties of camellias, all but one identified. The Jacobs took me on a magical tour of singles, doubles, anemone forms, peony forms, rose forms, formal doubles — an enchanted walk, close to nature, next to Hospice House.

We visited the Tama-no-ura variety, a red-and-white single, similar to the Ann Reinhard. It was found in the wild on an island of the Nagasaki Prefecture in 1947 by a charcoal burner. With its white edging and golden stamen tops, one bloom seemed to float above the palm of Belinda’s hand.

The fluffy rose-pink blooms of the R.L. Wheeler variety hovered over a lush stand of azaleas. The Jacobs knew it originated in Macon in 1949. They showed me the reticulata hybrid Crimson Candles, its dew-covered rose-pink petals resembling a music-box ballerina.

I was struck by the Charlean, with large, pink-orchid petals and airy pinkish filaments. Ron pointed out that there is a story behind every camellia, and Belinda said they had met the flower’s namesake. The woman Charlean is the granddaughter of the originator, William Stewart of Savannah.

Ron showed me the Betty Sheffield with its loose peony form. It is whitish with blotches of red and pink and is noted for “sporting,” where different colors appear on the same plant. Like the Ann Reinhard, it was a chance seedling from Quitman found in 1949.

Our camellia journey took us to the majestic white Sea Foam, which originated in Fernandina Beach, the fluffy High Society from Albany, the luxurious Royal Velvet from California.

The Jacobs knew the names of every camellia we passed. They knew the legacy carried in those names. They knew the ethereal beauty. They themselves helped name the Ann Reinhard, who passed away in the 1800s. I saw on Phillips’ website a just-introduced pink lavender camellia, the Jennifer Ross, who has been in heaven since 2005.

Ben Goggins, a retired marine biologist, lives on Tybee Island. He can be reached at 912-786-6181 or bengoggins9@gmail.com.

Spring is near and that means it’s time to start planning that vegetable or botanical garden you’ve always dreamed of. But you have one problem and it’s got four paws. Don’t let your curious canine thwart your proposed plot -- you can keep Spot safe and show off your green thumb. Here’s how:

Plant this…

One thing you can count on is that your dog will want to explore the garden. It’s in his nature and he is fully equipped to inspect (and dissect) every bloom or bud. Unless you plan to install a barrier around the entire garden, you’ll need to focus on dog-safe flowers and edibles.

Herbs

  • Cilantro
  • Sage
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Ginger
  • Rosemary
  • Lemon balm
  • Parsley
  • Chamomile

Vegetables

  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet potato
  • Carrot
  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Celery
  • Garlic

Flowers

  • Snapdragon
  • Aster
  • Marigold
  • Hibiscus
  • Sunflower
  • Tiger Lily
  • Zinnia
  • Impatiens
  • Spider Ivy

Not that…

Even if you fence the perimeter, it’s best to avoid the most toxic plants. Here are the worst offends and why they should be nixed:

  • Carnation – Causes gastrointestinal disturbance
  • Iris – Southern Living notes that Irises can cause vomiting and lethargy
  • Lily of the Valley – May cause serious health issues including seizures, heart arrhythmias, and death
  • Peony – Causes excessive drooling and diarrhea
  • Begonia – Ingestion may trigger issues swallowing
  • Geranium – As beautiful as it is, geranium is toxic and can cause low blood pressure, skin rashes, and loss of appetite
  • Aloe vera – While good for the skin, aloe vera can cause tremors and upset stomach if eaten
  • Azaleas – One of the most beautiful flowering shrubs, azaleas are a big “no” for homes with dogs since eating them can cause digestive issues and weakness
  • Boxwood – Causes vomiting, often to the point of dehydration
  • Amaryllis – This bulb produces glorious blooms but is extremely dangerous to dogs and can cause abdominal pain and hypersalivation
  • Caladium – Large and interesting leaves are an open invitation for dogs that can trigger respiratory distress and trouble walking
  • Daffodil – We know them as “buttercups” but these sweetly scented spring bloomers can cause convulsions and cardiac arrest
  • Hyacinth – Dogs and cattle should steer clear of hyacinth, which can cause damage to the esophagus

 Avoid dangerous chemicals and mulch

Pesticides don’t discriminate. Certain chemicals, such as 2, 4 dichlorophenoxyacetic acid (also known as Agent Orange, according to Dr. Karen Becker), are in widespread use in popular lawn care products. Unfortunately, this and many other pesticide and herbicide chemicals have been linked to a number of health issues in dogs including canine malignant lymphoma and bladder cancer. Scientific American offers more information on how pesticides affect animals and also provides advice on which pesticides are safe for humans and pets.

Give Rover other interests

One of the best things you can do for your pet during the spring, summer, and fall, is to allow him access to areas where he can roam free without worry of accidentally ingesting toxic plants or chemicals. There are numerous dog parks throughout most major municipalities. These planned recreational areas will allow your dog to run free, explore, socialize, and burn off pent-up energy so he or she isn’t quite as likely to nose around in your garden. To find the nearest dog park to you, refer to a site like Rover.com, which lists dog parks on a city-by-city basis, such as: Madison, Knoxville, Indianapolis, Albuquerque, San Jose, Portland, Miami, Calgary, Saint Paul and Raleigh.

Other tips and ideas

Start training your dog is early as possible to stay away from off-limits areas. If possible, secure your dog on the deck or in another fence-in area while you are planting, weeding, or harvesting in the garden. Make sure to take a time out every half hour or so to play with your pet and keep plenty of toys handy so that he will always have something to do while you’re digging in the dirt.

Don’t let the fear of hurting your beloved furry family member stop you from enjoying the bounty of a southern summer. Take preventative measures to keep him – and your garden – safe and always call your vet immediately if you believe your dog has ingested anything he shouldn’t have.

dog

Maria Cannon

Gardening comes with a steep learning curve. Everyone makes mistakes, especially in the beginning. If you want your garden to thrive, jump ahead of the learning curve by learning from the common mistakes of many novice gardeners.

1. Putting Beds in Wrong Place

Whether you place your bed in an overly-shady area or in one that does not have good drainage, putting your bed in the wrong place can hurt your plants. Try to choose an area that has good drainage and gets at least six hours of sunlight. This will give your garden the best possible chance of survival.

2. Not Preparing Soil

Plants grow best when soil has the right pH. Simple soil testing kits can be bought at any home center. A pH of around 6 to 6.5 should work for most vegetable gardens. Also, amend the soil with organic materials like compost to ensure that it has the nutrients it requires. Adding your favorite mulching option is vital to protect the precious soil underneath.

3. Not Considering Weather and Climate

If you plant at the wrong time or in the wrong area, your plants may not thrive. Different plants have different needs and will tolerate different things. You should not plant a plant with a long growing season too early or too late. Similarly, if your plants need a long growing season they will likely not be happy in a place like Minnesota. Be sure to check guides online for what will grow best in your area.

4. Over- or Under-watering

It may seem simple enough that your plants need water. Not giving them enough water will cause them to wilt and die. Too much water can result in mold or rot. Water at regular intervals and look for signs of a problem. If leaves yellow or dry out, the plant is not getting enough water. If leaves become brown and stems are “mushy,” your plant may be getting too much water.

5. Neglecting Pruning

Certain flowering and fruiting trees or shrubs need to be pruned each year to ensure they are at their best. Left to grow wild, too many branches will grow and sap the plant of the energy it could be putting into nourishing the select flowering or fruiting branches. Judicious pruning with proper technique will keep your yield strong

6. Not Labeling Plants

If you start seedlings and do not label them adequately, it can be easy to get them confused. You may be able to tell a tomato plant from a kale plant, but can you tell one type of tomato from the other? Make sure you keep your plants clearly labeled and then keep rows marked once planted in the garden.

7. Planting Invasive Plants

Mint is a wonderful herb. It smells nice and it's easy to grow. Unfortunately, left unchecked, it will take over. Do a little research before planting. If a plant is known to be invasive, do not plant it. Another option is to plant it in a pot to keep it under control.

8. Not Following Instructions

Seed packages come with instructions for a reason. Trust the experts – the company that produced the seeds – to know when to sow them and how to care for them. Chances are good if you read the directions and follow them, you will not be steered wrong.

9. Using Too Much Pesticide

Pesticides can keep unwanted insects out of your garden. Unfortunately, they can also scare away the useful insects that help your garden. Some insects, like bees, help to pollinate your garden. Instead of pesticides, investigate non-chemical ways to scare away pests, like planting marigolds or inviting other friendly insects. Ladybugs eat aphids who damage plants. Ducks and guinea birds also eat pests without destroying your garden.

10. Growing Too Much Food

This might seem like a problem everyone would love to have. If you harvest more vegetables than you can consume or can and give away, they will go to waste. Try starting off small and with vegetables that you know you like. You can always expand next year.

If you are new to gardening, you will find you have a lot to learn. Starting with these tips will help you avoid some of the most common frustrations of gardening.

Olivia Warfield is a contributing writer and media relations specialist for Distinctive Outdoor Spaces. She writes for a variety of home and garden blogs and strives to learn more each day to cultivate the green spaces in and around her home.

 

SACGC Information

Savannah Botanical Garden
1388 Eisenhower Drive
Savannah, Ga. 31406
(912) 355-3883
sacgc1388@botanical.comcastbiz.net


Weddings...

Contact: Betty Ward
b.ward839@comcast.net

(912) 355-3883

ADMISSION

Access to all public areas of the garden is FREE, however, a small fee may be required for groups of 10 or more.

HOURS

Open daylight hours 7 days a week - year round.

Savannah Botanical Gardens

The SACGC, Inc. Botanical Garden is owned and operated by Savannah Area Council of Garden Clubs, Inc. The site was conceived and designed in the late 1980's as an all volunteer effort and is located just minutes from Savannah's Historic District.

The garden includes both formal and naturalistic plantings as well as a two acre pond, amphitheater, nature trails, archaeological exhibit and the historic Reinhard House.

Savannah Botanical Gardens Info

1388 Eisenhower Drive
Savannah, Georgia 31406
(912) 355-3883
sacgc1388@botanical.comcastbiz.net
 
 

Hours

Mon - Sat: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Sun: 8:00 am - 8:45 pm
 
 
 
 

Admission

Access to all public areas of the garden is FREE, however, a small fee may be required for groups of 10 or more.
 
 
 

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