Adventures of a Transplated Gardener- Ginny Stibolt

Ginny Stibolt digging mulch: typical!

Ginny's Garden Log

The main purpose of this log was to expand on the gardening adventures that Ginny wrote about in her Adventures of a Transplanted Gardener columns, but now she writes at The GreenGardeningMatters blog.

Current postings and other posts to Ginny's Garden Log Meadow page

This is The first postings page (3/19/05 - 6/28/05): topics on this page include:
 Magnolias, Prickly Pears, Turtles, Botanicals, Ferns, Rain Gardens, & Rain Barrels

Magnolia blossom.  Photo by Stibolt

6/28/05: Transplanted Magnolias

This magnificent blossom on one of the Magnolias we moved last fall glows in the morning sunlight.   We worried about the two Magnolias because they were so big when we moved them, but they both look great and have new growth all around.  And of course, they are now shedding last year's leaves making a nice pile of leaf clutter that we don't have to sweep from the lawn because we moved them to the field.   Here's a link to the article on that adventure: Magnificent but messy Magnolias

Prickly Pear Hare Photo & touch-up by Stibolt

6/23/05: My Prickly Pear Hares
We acquired some Prickly Pears (Opuntia humifusa) from an area where they'd grown into a lawn last year and some more this year.  It doesn't take much creativity to imagine their being hares.   J

When we redid the whole front bed, we removed all the lava rocks and filled in with sand before covering with weed barrier. (See my French drain article for more details on this.) We decided to create a cactus garden at the point where the front walk meets the driveway, since it gets so much sun.  

Mound of sand to prepare for cactus garden.  Photo by Stibolt

So we added extra sand to provide a nice mound for more interest and to make sure that the cactus never end up with wet feet.  


Prickly Pear Blooming contrasts nicely with the red topped cactus. Photo by Stibolt

We covered the sand with weed barrier and then added the washed lava rocks.  We arranged four larger lava stones to provide background and focus points in the arrangement.

Finally, we planted the Prickly Pears and one red topped cactus that had been languishing in a little pot.  Despite being out of the ground for a week or so while we worked on redoing the beds, a couple of them bloomed.

Scarlet Snake baskign on rocks.  Photo by Stibolt

It wasn't long before we started seeing a little Scarlet Snake (Cemophora coccinea) sunning itself on the rocks.   This is not a Coral Snake, but it mimics the color scheme to keep predators at bay.  The rhyme to remember is: "Red on yellow can kill a fellow, Red on black, it's okay, Jack."  It's good for the garden to have a few snakes hanging around to eat bugs and rodents.  The balance of nature.

Prickly Pear Point - Photo by Stibolt

All of the cactus plants do very well without any watering, which is a plus if the rains slow down.  Whenever you work with cactus remember to wear your leather gloves, because those barbed prickles don't come out of your skin easily.
Prickly Pear Point!!  We like it.


A Common Cooter laying eggs - Photo by Avery

5/12/05: The Tale of the Toiling Turtle-- 
We were eating lunch, my husband and me,
Looked out the window and what did we see?
Laying eggs in our garden, a turtle so green,
Her shell shimmered with an algae sheen,
A Common Cooter - we looked in a book.
The noon-time heat was so hot you could cook,
We saw tears in her eyes as she stuck with her task,
We wished we could help but she did not ask,

After laying her eggs the Cooter packed them with sand and then reset the mulch.  -- Photo by Avery

Her head raised backward as she laid each one,
Packed sand on her cache when she was done,
And she knew to arrange the mulch on top,
So you couldn't tell she'd made this her stop,
At the end of her toil she crossed the grass,
Stopped 'neath a Gardenia for shade at last,
As she finished her trek back to her home,
Along Ginny's rain garden she did roam,
We uncovered the eggs - a photo to take,
Put everything back, layered like a cake. 
Now we wait for her babies to appear,
Her great adventure - hope to see it next year.

The back of our Cooter's shell looks pretty ragged as she walks next to Ginny's rain garden to get back to the pond. The Cooter eggs - there were at least 7.  Hopefully we put our scent on the site so the racoons or possums  won't find them. Photo by Stibolt
Turtle laying eggs - Common Cooter Photo by Stibolt

Part 2:

Three weeks later a sister or cousin,
Found a place to lay her dozen,
Between three Amaryllis planted last week,
Bulbs from Clarice who lives down the street.
Flowers won't mind small neighbors down there,
Squirming a little as they find some fresh air,
Fifty or more days - depending how hot,
Will babies find the pond on our lot? 
They'll have to dodge crows and hawks I fear,
The balance of nature - we'll post photos here.

Cooter going back to the pond - photo by Stibolt
Turtle in pond after laying her eggs
Calla Lily Botanical print and Margorie Stonam Douglas poster in the corner above the bookcases.

5/4/05: --those wonderful old, hand colored prints that illustrated field guides in the days before sophisticated color printing--I'm always on the look out for them.  Recently, my friend Lucia Robson picked up three(!) for me at the Goodwill Store.  My office now has a full complement of botanicals and other plant stuff hanging on its walls.  It makes me smile and inspires botanical thoughts as I write, whether it's gardening subjects or not. 

Botanical Prints of Caladium and Hybiscus on the left.  A lithograph of a bare tree and a water color of Phlox. Four hand-colored prints of Black Eyed Susan, Solomon's Seal, Jamine, and Evening Primrose

4/25/05: Ferns, ferns & more ferns. 

Netted Chain ferns

I've loved ferns from the time I went to day camp as a young Girl Scout and in the seventies, I embroidered ferns on my jeans and other clothing.   I was delighted to find many ferns growing on our lot here in Florida and I'm always looking for more places to grow them.  You may read the Fern column, but I wanted to post some of other fern projects here. 

Walking Fern and Virginia Chain Ferns in a metal bucket - Photo by Stibolt

One small project was to create a small fern garden in a metal bucket for our screened porch.  I put gravel in the bottom since there is no drain-hole, even though ferns don't mind wet feet, it's better to provide a space out of the dirt for the surplus water.  I pulled these three small ferns from the cracks in the bulkhead by the lake.  The two on the right are probably Virginia Chained Ferns (Woodwardia virginica), but hard to tell until they mature.  The other little fern with the strappy leaves is a Walking Fern (Camptrosorus rhizopyllus).  It's the only one I've seen around here.  It gets its name from its habit of rooting at the tip of a frond that finds itself pressed into the soil.  A new, cloned plant arises from that point, hence it walks, albeit slowly, across the landscape.  I'll plant it outside somewhere when it outgrows the bucket.

Drilling the stump - Photo by Stibolt
Three Ebony Spleenworts in a stump - Photo by Stibolt

We have a number of stumps left after the hurricanes and instead of expensive stump removal, we've decided to let the ferns do the work for free.   First, my husband drilled a series of big holes in the stump and then I chopped out a basin with an axe.  I filled the resulting depression (about 10" in diameter and 6" deep) with soil and pond muck.   I kept it moist for a few weeks to let the fungi set up shop.  (See the Stinkhorn Fungi article for more information on soil fungi.)  Finally, I planted three Ebony Spleenworts (Asplenium platyneuron) in the hole and piled up mulch around the area. 

The stump grinder would have been faster, but this area of the yard doesn't get enough sun for an effective lawn and the stump marks the corner of the back field area where we no longer mow.  Watch for a de-lawning article one of these days. 

Rain garden next to the pond - Photo by Stibolt

4/10/05: Several readers wanted more details on the rain gardens.  Okay; the fake river rocks were sitting in the edge of the woods on a rotting pallet-leftovers from the gas fireplace when they built our house.   You can buy rocks at Home Depot, but better selections are available from garden shops specializing in water gardens.  

The rain garden next to the pond seemed to be the hardest to visualize.  So here are some more pictures: To the left a photo from its top.  The pipe from the French drain is just this side of the Cinnamon Fern (Osmunda cinnamomea).  


I risked getting my camera wet and being struck by lightning (a Sky-Bolt!) to take photos during a heavy rain.  Below, water flows on top of rock lined pathway.  To the right, at the top right is the pipe and to the bottom left is the pooling area in its full state.  The ferns and rushes below this area slow and absorb the overflow.

Rain garden at work - stones prevent erosion and create a pooling area at the bottom before water is released to the pond.  Phot by Stibolt
Rain garden at work - water flowing from the French drain system from the front gutter and front sidewalk area.  Photo by Stibolt

4/6/05I removed many clumps of rushes from the lawn and planted them in my new rain gardens and along the edge of the pond.  Rushes love wet feet.   Read my rain garden article

Rain Lilies and Blue-eyed Grass growing in road-side ditch.  
              Photo by Stibolt.

I was pleased to find an abundance of Rain Lilies (Zerphyranthus atamasco) and Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrichium angustifolilum)-which  is not a grass, but a small blue-flowered gem in the Iris family.  They were growing in standing water in a drainage ditch next our lot.  I noticed that many of the road-side drainage ditches support these beauties.  The county mowers have been through the ditch on a regular basis.

When removing plants from an existing population always take them from the middle and overcrowded sections and replace your divot like a golfer.  Leave the edges of the population alone so it may expand naturally.  If there are no overcrowded areas and if there are only a few individuals, don't remove the plants unless you are saving them from destruction. 

Ginny's potting bench area with three rain barrels

3/19/05: Rain barrels at our potting bench area save time, water, and the environment!

When we moved into our new house in Florida, the perfect place for our potting bench--next to the garage--didn't have a spigot. So my husband and I created a source of water with these three tandem rain barrels.  Read the rain barrel article.  Some alert readers pointed out that the words to that old song are "Holler down my rain barrel," but I remember singing "Climb up my rain barrel," at Girl Scout camp.  

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Ginny Stibolt 2004-2011


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