Posted in gardening, The Southern Garden

Time to Enjoy the Garden

The mad rush to get the gardens planted has come to an end. And now it’s time to sit back put my feet up and enjoy our hard work.

Oh there will be tweaks here and there as a few flowers struggle. Sometimes it’s a little bit too much water to start out, or a windy day might dry the foliage. It might even be a pesty rabbit. There’s always something to do in the garden, and it might seem like the work is done, but there’s always an odd plant or two to replace.

As I look back my my planting season, it’s obvious the selection wasn’t what it used to be. I was still able to create beautiful gardens, but they were created with basics. There were few unusual flowers to be found in the garden centers this year. So we’ll call this year one of old-fashioned plantings.

There were plenty of Begonias, Geraniums, Petunias, and Pentas. Scattered in for Heights and texture; Salvias, Diamond Frost, and Canna Lilies. Alyssum, Lobelia, Dahlberg Daisy and Blue Daze cascaded over the sides of the pots.

Due to the supply chain, decorative pots were also in short supply, or arrived too late. I found the challenge brought out some creative designs. I used more containers that were similar instead of matching and had to mix and match from several sources. Yet the garden still turned out beautifully.

The weather is beautiful for Christmas this year,, so I’ll be able to take my book and settle myself in the garden where I can watch the birds and squirrels enjoying their peanuts. Yes, the gardens are simple this year, but still beautiful, thanks ti the beautiful flowers that God has created.

I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas. And no matter where you are enjoy the beautiful nature around you, whether it’s flowers or snow.

Victoria LK Williams

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These are a few of my favorite Autumn Plants

Sunflowers always remind me of fall. I love the way their flower head follows the course of the sun during the day, always turning towards the light, from east to west.

Chrysanthemum are wonderful for bright color, in a wide range of shades to create pockets of bright oranges,yellows, and reds to mimic the fall leaves–to whites, pinks and purples for a softer tone. But not only will this flower provide a wide range of colors, it will also provide texture and contrast to your garden with the many shapes the flower heads come in.

Coleus also come in many shades of fall colors, including shades of mixed greens. These are perfect for contrast to flowers planted nearby.

Ornamental Kale is perfect for the cooler weather and for you northerns, it will last into the first freeze. The shape and texture of the leaves are what make this plant an interesting addition.

Pansies and Johnny-Jump-Ups are hearty for the cool weather. In fact, they prefer it. It takes a hard freeze to slow these down, and often you can find them blooming in pots as the first snow falls.

Of course for us southerns, well, we are planting all types of flowers at this time of year. Geraniums, Impatiens, Begonias, Salvia, Sweet Alyssum… you know, the flowers that our northern friends plant in the spring.

Whatever you plant, I hope you enjoy your fall gardens!

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The Secret Language of Flowers #17

Floriography: Exploring the Victorian Meaning of Flowers

In my last post we sent a message of doom and dispair, so I thought a more light hearted or inspiring message was do. What will these flowers say to us?

Photo by David Dibert on
Photo by Elena Yunina on
Photo by Brett Sayles on
Dandy Lion

Possible message;

My thoughts are pure and lofty (Sunflower), for my one friend (Coleus) who is strong and elegant (Allium), wishing him happiness in our faithful friendship (Dandy Lion).

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Secrect #16

Floriography: Exploring the Victorian Meaning of Flowers

Through out our lives, and our history, we are warned about danger. Our parents warned us about touching a hot stove. Our friends warned us about a cheating partner. Paul Revere warned the settlers that the “British are coming”.

Nature warns us as well. The rattle snake shakes it tail before it strikes, thunder warns of storms, the ground hog of the possibility of a longer winter.

Using the languge of flowers, the Victorians could also send warnings.

The Petunia warns of resentment and anger

Purple Petunia

Monkshood warns of hatred and to be cautious


Rhododendron means beware, danger is near


Leaving these three flowers in a pre-destinated location can give the warning something like this;

Beware, danger is near from those who hate you, use caution they are very angry.

A warning like that could make your blood run cold, and it might save your life.

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Secret #15

Floriography: Exploring the Victorian Meaning of Flowers

Have you seen the movie Alona Holmes? The main character is left a secret message by her mother-using the language of flowers. This was a common practice in the Victorian era. I thought it would be fun to learn a few meanings and try out a message or two. Just another secret from my garden!

Single flowers have specific meaning, and certain colors of the flower goes deeper into the meaning of the flower. Combinations of flowers will have other meanings. Some flowers will even have conflicting meanings, which could cause serious misunderstanding.

Lets try a set of flowers and see if we can come up with a simple message. Although the messages were after used for love messages, they could also be used for more sinister messages.

Snap Dragon; deception

Zinnia; thoughts of an absent friend

Yarrow; healing

These three flowers could be the message of “healing from a deception from and absent friend.”

These messages could be a proglamation of love, healing, friendship or a threat!

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Secret #14

Night Blooming Jasmine

I have to admit, this one surprised me!

Down here in Florida, Night Blooming Jasmine is a coveted plant. To have it in your garden is like having a wonderful treasure.

It’s not because it’s a beautiful plant, It is large and can overwhelm if not trimmed regularly. You might even overlook it during your daytime walk. It seems to blend in with the other plants in the landscape.

But if you have one, you will know the scent away where. It blooms release its heavenly scent, starting at dusk, getting stronger as the night progresses.

But the Night Blooming Jasmine is toxic to humans and mammals, especially dogs and horses. All parts of the plant are toxic. Vomiting, lethargy, increased heart rate. Death can occur if they do not pump the stomach in time.

The plant can bloom 4 times in one year, producing tiny white berries. Oddly enough, the flowers or berries do not affect the birds and butterflies. In fact, it is a great plant for attracting these animals.

Having a Night Blooming Jasmine in your yard can add much pleasure, but please be careful to keep pets and children away from the plant.

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Secret #12


Hibiscus flowers where I live are as common as the northern dandelion! The large flowers attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds. Used in the landscape, they can be a tree or a shrub. But they also have health benefits. Something my squirrels seem to know instinctively, because they are constantly eating the flowers!

The hibiscus flowers are used in tea, powders and tablets. This plant contains powerful antioxidants offering many health benefits. It is not recommended for anyone who is pregnant, breastfeeding, has diabetes, low blood pressure or about to have surgery. As will any subelement talk to your doctor before taking.

Some of the benefits the Hibiscus can provide are;

  1. boosting your immune system
  2. improving your skin tone
  3. reducing tiredness and fatigue
  4. a source of calcium
  5. a source of plant protein
  6. boost energy levels
  7. cognitive health
  8. heathy bones and teeth
  9. quicken wound healing
  10. protect against skin cancer
  11. improve hair growth
  12. lowers cholesterol
  13. lowers blood pressure
  14. lowers blood sugar

That is a lot of benefits from such a beautiful flower!

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Secret #13


Manchurian monkshood
Manchurian Monkshood

Called the plant arsenic by roman naturalist, Plinius, they used it as an aid in taking down the kill when hunting. The plants contain the poison aconitine.

They cultivate some species as ornamental plants, and a trained professional uses a few in traditional medicine. All species are extremely poisonous.

But the first time I heard about it was when I was a teenager reading 4.50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie. To me, Dame Christie is the Queen of Poison. Did you know it was one of her most common methods of murder? Over 30 victims in her books (not to mention the survivors of attempted poisonings!) “fell foul” to poison. To say she knew about poison is an understatement, much of it learned from her war work as a nurse and pharmacy dispenser. Now that’s putting your knowledge to work. Here are a few of the poisons she used;

Strychnine (Mysterious Affair at Styles)

Cyanide (The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side, And Then There Were None, A Pocketful of Rye, and Sparkling Cyanide)

Arsenic (4.50 From Paddington)

Thallium (the Pale Horse)

Coniie – from Hemlock (Five Little Pigs)

Bacillus anthracis (Cards on the Table)

Belladonna – The Deadly Nightshade (The Caribbean Mystery, The Big Four)

Physostigmine (Crooked House)

Morphine (Sade Cypress, Death Comes As The End)

And then all those sleeping tablets (Lord Edgware Dies)

I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but you get what I mean- the Dame loved her poison!

Such a beautiful plant, but one to be careful around. And now, I’m in the mood for a classic Agatha Christie murder. 4.50 From Paddington sounds perfect!

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Secret #11

The Angel Trumpet

See the source image

Angel Trumpets are not as heavenly as they sound.

This beautiful plant is common in the south and makes a stunning show piece. It gives off a wonderful scent in the evening and attracts bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. It is commonly used in the landscape as an ornamental tree or large shrub.

My mother has several, in yellow and dark purple, and I’m always amazed at the number of butterflies that circle the plants. The flowers are huge! 5-6″ long with a deep throat which holds pollen in a protected area for the hummingbirds to access.

All parts of the Angel Trumpet are poisonous. Ingesting the plants and the alkaloids they contain can cause hallucinations, paralysis, tachycardia and memory loss. It can even be fatal. Gloves are a must when working with this plant and be sure to shower after you finish. Hose off those tools, too.

This is one of those plants that are best left along to admire without touching. Leave it to the birds, bees and butterflies.

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Secret #10

It’s almost Valentines day, and our thoughts turn to love and romance. And one of the most common flowers used to express these deep sediments; ROSES.

Each rose color has a special meaning, but the red rose is the ultimate symbol of love.

Yet, roses have other uses than expressing our feelings for a loved one. Did you know that the fruit of the rose, the Rose Hip, has a high content of Vitamin C? They can be used in soup, tea, jam, jelly and marmalade.

Compounds extracted from the rose are being used to fight against depression, Alzheimer’s, heart problems and HIV.

Rose Oil is used in antioxidants, skin care, and with other compounds can treat nausea, ulcers. dehydration and some infections and sore throats.

Rose Water can help with constipation and was used to treat measles.

Rose Tea is made from the petals, leaves and hips helps relieve congestion.

Rose Jam (a mixture of rose petals, honey and seeds) calms the nerves and helps with stress.

So, when you give your loved one a bouquet of Roses for Valentines you are giving so much more!

To me there is nothing sweeter than the smell of walking through the gate of a rose garden. However you celebrate Valentines day, I wish you a happy one.

Cindy and Bob Ellis’ pink painted cottage in Redlands, California • photo: Cindy Ellis, from Pinterest