Central Virginia Organic Gardener

"And 'tis my faith that every flower enjoys the air it breathes." - William Wordsworth, 1798

Sunday, April 20, 2014


Judy here, again channeling my "Inner Bunny," the nickname of a college friend who could not hear a song without shouting "that's my favorite song!"  So, here's my new "favorite plant!"  from the family of sedums...

  Sedum rupestre

 Sedum grisebachii

"Sedum passalong":  passed from my childhood neighbors to my mom to me!

Sedums are very forgiving of hot, dry conditions and are thriving tucked into the rock wall around my pond.  They are also the easiest of plants to transplant and divide, just pluck off part of the plant, stick it into the soil and water.  They provide color, flowers and some, like the one in the top photo, Sedum rupestre turn orange in the fall and winter!  Sedums, however, do not respond well to foot traffic, so put them out of the way.  If you want to figure out what sedums you have, there are sedum identification guides online [for example: http://www.sedumphotos.net/main.php], but it is a big task.  
Happy gardening!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Oops! Be careful out there!

OK, maybe this is a "do as I say, not as I do" kind of post,  but a moment's inattention can have harmful consequences!  I read somewhere that most accidents happen in the home, and I am guessing that more than half of these happen in the yard and garden.  So far, I have been pretty lucky.  Just a few injuries to date:  I fell out of my apple tree while pruning it (luckily, I did not have the pruning saw in my hand at the time); I've banged my head numerous times on low tree limbs, mostly just getting small bruise, once a small cut; I "pruned" off the tip of a finger while deadheading some daffodils...and so forth.  This last one was a doozy:  I tripped and fell...onto a rock wall, breaking my fall with my chin and left hand.  Here are some of the factors in my fall:
Exhibit #1:  Tunnel-Digging BobTheDog

Exhibit #2: Tunnel-Digging Fluff (with the evidence on her paws and chin!)

Exhibit #3: Ill-Fitting Faux Crocs

Exhibit #4: Rock wall with Some SHARP rocks

And lastly, exhibit #5:  a beautiful, warm day after a dreary, cold, long winter, and the pent-up desire to garden!

Luckily, no broken bones, just bruises, a swollen left hand and 7 stitches on my chin. (Thanks to the PA who stitched me up- she did an excellent job!)
Be careful out there!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

For a list of pollinator-friendly plants, from the Penn State Master Gardeners, with some plants that will work in the Mid-Atlantic states, go to:


Thursday, March 27, 2014


Photo Credit: Scott R. Vrana, use by permission only.

As the readers of this blog know, I develop "passionate" (ha!) interests in a particular species or variety of plant on a regular basis.  One year, banana plants, the next year voodoo lilies, then cotton.  For a long time, I had a strong interest in passion flowers and I still enjoy them to this day.  I started planting native passifloras in the garden and non-natives in pots about 5 years ago.  They are strikingly beautiful plants, and I have written about them before.  But native passifloras are quite strong growers, at least in my climate and yard. In the heat of the summer, they grown quickly, and need to be thinned or removed before they smother other plants.  However, they are not too difficult to manage.  Keep them sheared back and pull volunteers that are unwelcome.  If they fruit, remove the fruits before they fall to the ground and set their seeds.  Easy-to-grow, and beautiful to the eye, they do need some maintenance.
Oh, for information about the name "passion" flower, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passiflora   This plant is named for the passion of Christ...not for other...er...connotations.
Happy gardening! 


Well, spring has sprung, but you would not know it (and last year, we never had a winter).  By this time of year (late March) I would have planted my peas, lettuces and other greens and they would have come up.  I am not sure how this spring will turn out. If we have longer-that-usual cool weather, I should be able to get a crop of these early annuals.  I did have some plants growing under row covers (bok choy, chard), but this winter was colder than my simple row covers could handle.  I hope by April 1 to have planted again, and will keep my fingers crossed!
Any successes out there in central VA?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Best Plants for Pollinators

Photos by S.R. Vrana, used by permission only.

The Penn State Extension Service has published a list of the best plants for pollinators.  Because many pollinators are in decline (and they are very necessary for human life!), it would be helpful for all of us to plant more of these species.  For the list, go to:

Also, contact your local Extension Agent for more information!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Field Trip Report: Philly Flower Show

I just got back from a quick trip to Philly for my first visit to the flower show. I had been to
smaller shows before, but this was huge! Held in the convention center, the show had
so many displays it is hard to describe. There were organic and "green" gardening
displays, full gardens and, of course, many vendors. This year's theme was Articukture,
the blending of art and horticulture. There were floral arrangements and displays
depicting works of art. I saw beautiful Ikebana, bonsai, terrariums and plants entered
into competition. There was artwork made from dried flowers and, of course, botanical
illustrations. Many of the displays were very clever and creative, for example, a sushi
bar with all the "ingredients" made of flowers and plant parts and a saguaro cactus
made of succulents! Some scenes from the show are below.

Top left, clockwise: Ikebana, desert plants, hanging floral screen, floral arrangement
interpreting art, "sushi" bar.

Clockwise from top left: creative display, mini-landscape of flowers and plant parts,
100-year old bonsai, Hudson Valley Seed Library original seed pack art, and large,
hanging, floral spheres.

Clockwise from top left: an interpretation of Christo's "The Gates" art installation in
Central Park, Wardian cases, true Philly art: a brick wall covered in a Philly tile and
mirror mural, complete with car tire ornamental planters and graffiti, an amazing and
subtle display of dried grasses and seed heads, a cactus made of succulents.

If you can get to this show, go! This weekend was crowded, so, if you can, try a weekday visit!