About Sheila @ Redhead Garden

I'm a master gardener and homeschooling mom. I'm interested in plants, children, and kitty cats!

Blueberries and the Animals That Love Them

I’m beginning to think that this year I will not get to eat any of my blueberries from my fabulous bushes. On the other hand, the birds, the chipmunks, and the squirrels are having a grand ole time munching all of them.

Last year, I built a large blueberry cage with my husband. It was constructed with PVC pipe and bird netting that has small holes. This worked very well at keeping out the birds, but the tiny chipmunks just burrowed under the cage. I had to spread hot pepper flakes around the outside base of the cage to deter them.

I also noticed that spiders liked to build their webs inside the cage. It was very convenient for them to stretch their web in between the piping and bush branches. It was a lot of work just to get blueberries to spread on my morning cereal. Trying to raise the netting, get inside the cage, avoiding the spider webs, and not getting poked in the eye by a blueberry branch became quite an Olympic event. I began to see why some people eventually decide to stop growing edible plants. It’s quite a chore to fight all the animals away from your crops.

This year, due to illness in my family and recuperation. I decided to forgo erecting the blueberry cage. It really takes two or more to get it up and firmly in place. So I decided to try some old-fashioned animal scare tactics. That is why my blueberry bushes currently look like a kindergarten art project. Empty aluminum pie pans and other tinsel hang from the branches to scare the birds and other animals. I believe it has worked for the birds but the chipmunks simply look at it, shrug, and say to themselves, “It’s just some pie pans.” Therefore, I’ve eaten 3 blueberries this year. Oh well.

But of course, I have plans for the future. Maybe I could grow blueberries in pots. I could let the animals have the blueberries planted in the yard and I get to eat the blueberries planted in containers on the deck. I’m sure the animals will outwit me somehow, though. They look so cute but are so crafty. The little devils. Happy gardening!

Arggg! The Cable Company and My Bare Feet

Like everyone else in America, I have a love/hate relationship with the cable company. It has taken us 3 weeks to get our newly acquired cable television (or a.k.a. cable-all inclusive-mega package with yearly escalating bills). What does this have to do with gardening? A lot, when your cable box is on one corner of your property and the input into your house is on the entire opposite side of everything. I found myself running outside, in bare feet, to throw myself in front of a large gasoline powered trencher. My friendly, smiling, undocumented, cable layer had decided to run our cable through the exact center of our garden. After a lot of hand waving, pointing, and throwing “O’s” at the end of words, we came to an agreement. They ran the cable around the outside perimeter of the property.

Cable vs. Gardening Tip #1 – “THEY” COME WITH GAS POWERED TOOLS. BE PREPARED TO THROW YOURSELF IN FRONT OF LARGE MOVING OBJECTS.

The nice advantage to me, the gardener, in having cable line buried in my yard is that they telephone a company that comes and marks all the buried power lines. For a while your yard looks like its covered in Egyptian hieroglyphics. Not very pretty, but it reminds you where it is dangerous to dig. You can really hurt yourself by hitting a power line with your shovel. It is nice that the person they sent to mark our lines was a woman. I went outside and asked questions about where power/gas/phone lines were buried. I was shocked to see where the builder had placed certain lines.

Cable vs. Gardening Tip #2 – YOUR POWER/GAS LINES CAN BE BURIED ANYWHERE. BUILDERS DO NOT NECESSARILY PUT THEM IN LOGICAL PLACES.

I am formulating a plan of where to put large shrubs, where to put cuttings (with tiny root balls), and where to scatter seeds. Areas where I know cable is buried I can smother the grass, add a little topsoil and compost, and then scatter seeds of perennial flowers.  I’m very focused on the area around the electrical box. On two sides of this box, cable line snakes out underground, and one set of cable line goes in front of a tree and the other cable line goes behind the same tree. You would think when the builder put this all in, both cables could have been laid in the same direction around the tree.

Cable vs. Gardening Tip #3 – AFTER THEY MARK WHERE BURIED LINES ARE, TAKE PICTURES OF YOUR GARDEN AND ALL THE MARKINGS SO YOU KNOW WHERE POWER/GAS/PHONE IS LOCATED UNDERGROUND. THIS CAN BE KEPT IN A FILE FOR FUTURE REFERENCE WHEN DIGGING.

I have decided to plant a Chaste tree with beautiful blue flowers in the area where a large shrub with a large root ball could go. In front of this I will put an Iceberg rose, I have found this rose to work well in my climate. It has a wonderful, pure white flower. I have also rooted cuttings of boxwoods from my large group of them and started planting balloon flower seeds. Plans, plans, plans – I’m always drawing blueprints in my head. When I get everything planted, I will post pictures.

Happy gardening and be aware of buried power lines!

Happy New Year!

Lemon tree

No, this is not our family Christmas tree. This is my Christmas Meyer Lemon. Isn’t it wonderful! Family and friends that come for a holiday visit can’t believe it’s real. I put it outside every spring – it flowers with beautiful, white, heavenly scented blossoms. Then in the summer and fall it produces tiny, green, dime sized fruit. I bring it inside before the first frost and I have 12 – 20 deliciously sweet lemons to enjoy all winter long.

Happy New Year from Redhead Garden!

We Live in the Garden of the Almightly

A green leaf, sign of lifeMy favorite worship sanctuary is the outdoors. You can’t go into nature without seeing the hand of God everywhere. Divine design. Sometimes microscopic. Always beautiful. I often picture myself having crossed over into the great beyond. I sit in a sunlit glade of trees at the foot of God’s throne asking him, “…and why did you put thorns on all the roses and the poison ivy – what was the thinking there?”

There are no better people on the earth than gardeners, and I can’t imagine a gardener that doesn’t believe in God. His incredible handiwork is everywhere. Really, a lot of times when I pray to my Heavenly Father, I request that he assign me work in His gardens when I finally cross over. I know I’ll have some really interesting company.

In the Bible it says:

For since the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities –  His eternal power and divine nature –  have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. (Romans 1:20 NIV)

God created the most unbelieveably beautiful background in which to place His most beloved creation, us.

While teaching my youngest son about the planets of our solar system, I came across many wonderfully animated videos about the sun and moon and stars. Then I found a wonderfully done professional video with all of the planets slowly passing by, as if you are seated on a spaceship looking out the back window. The planets are created from actual photographs and it feels very realistic. You travel from the sun all the way to Pluto and each planet is spaced correctly and sized proportionately as they should be. While I was enjoying the experience with my science loving son, a lovely blue planet came into view. He exclaimed, “Look it’s Earth, our home.” And in that moment I saw how proud God must be of His creation. Tears streamed down my face while I held my son. I was held captive in an unexpected moment of awe and gratitude to the loving God who made such a magnificent home for us.

A reader by the name of Jerry Mansour recently wrote to me with information on God, plants, DNA, and the Bible:

Each plant, and indeed each living organism no matter how small, has the same complex type of DNA programming that we have and so we can count on exact and specific characteristics for each plant; including leaf and flower shape, color, texture, fragrance, growth pattern, size, form (erect, creeping, vining, bush, tree, etc.)  Plus each plant has its own specific nutritional profile that is carefully taken up by the roots yet from the same soil (as determined by the exceptional programming at the plant’s headquarters).  As you can see, I am both a science student and Bible believer and have taken an extensive look at our own DNA…which if it could be extracted from all the cells in just one of us (humans) and laid end to end would reach all the way to the sun and back over 600 times.  A truly exceptional design.

One of my favorite pastors, Louie Giglio, who shepherds a large congregation in Atlanta, gives an awe inspiring sermon on science and the Heavenly Creator. It is amusing and impressive and shows us that the hand of God is everywhere around us.

I love the fact that in Genesis we get to see the gardener and artist in our Heavenly Father. After every precious thing that He made He looked at it and “saw that it was good.” It reminds me of myself, after a day of sweat and labor, leaning on the handle of my shovel looking at what I accomplished and feeling satisfied.

There are so many references in the Bible to plants, trees, fruit, flowers, and herbs it would be impossible to quote them all. One very special verse that Jerry reminded me of is:

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:1-2 NIV)

How awesome.

I will close with a verse that is most special to me and my family. A verse that is our foundation in good times and bad. It paints an incredible picture:

But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)

Amen and Amen!!!

City Beautification

City hall

It makes me so happy to see cities and towns making their streets and sidewalks a thing of beauty. I’ve been proud of our little town of Alpharetta. When we first moved here, fifteen years ago, it was a pretty town with a beautiful town square, but nothing horticulturally exciting. In the past few years, fountains have sprung up, park benches line side streets, and huge decorative urns are everywhere.

I decided to go on a “field trip” with my camera and my hubby. I was lucky to pick a beautiful, mild, sunny day and a good-natured companion. I ended up having a lovely time and took some interesting photos.

After looking at the photos I took, I was struck by how important city streetscapes are to our lives. To walk through town and enjoy the plant life, trees and sculpture is a meditative thing. I’m so proud of the hard work of our city horticulturalists. They put together amazing plant combinations that bloom their hearts out.

Fountain

Planter

Planter

Fountain

City Hall

City Hall

Planter

Sculpture of children playing

City Hall

Planter

Fountain

Lipstick Colored Azaleas

AzaleaA post-summer cold, pre-fall sniffles. That’s what I have, sitting here with tissues stuffed up my nose. No fun.

I’ll have to be honest, these few weeks that we are in is not my favorite time of the year. Everything is weedy and seedy and droopy. Most color in the garden comes from a few resilient blooming annuals in pots, and even they look exhausted. I think when my back is turned they tap their feet and check their watch, wanting to know when this gig is over.

One of the few blooming shrubs that help me fill the gap is Encore azaleas. The flower color I picked is different from the normal white or pinky pink, it is a beautiful coral orange. If I was in a department store buying lipstick and found this color in a tube, it would make me sigh with delight!

The other thing I like is the shape of the flowers, kind of like a pin-wheel or star-burst and not the dainty flowers of the other azaleas. It screams here I am, look at me!

It blooms in the spring and in the fall, a double whammy. And it never ceases to remind me that very shortly everything will be lit up with fall color.  It blooms in the same color palette that the maple trees will soon have on their leaves. It revs me up for the fall color show.

Enjoy the gorgeous photos while I blow my nose. Love to all.