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Wednesday, September 30, 2009


HELLO FROM THE GARDEN HOME. I had to undergo major FLOOR SURGERY yesterday and I think I did a pretty fair job for my first real major construction job I ever really did except for building my deck out back. I will be brief but wanted to update any followers watching for the completed floor project(s). Have a great, cool, fall day and remember your gardening affirmation: "GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Monday, September 28, 2009


I hope this helps anyone who is interested in hypertufa and the great fun I had this past weekend. Please feel free to contact me with any other comments. Have a great day from your Garden Daddy!

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Hello again from the garden home. I got a not so good surprise today as I uncovered the last carpet area to have the laminate installed. I found a large hole and a lot of old damage/old rot that had come from the old damage that had been in the bathroom BEFORE I bought this house. I was not expecting this but something was to be expected, as things were just going too smoothly on the install for this to NOT show up. But that is what happens on a rehab of an old house and this one will just be all the more special to me as most of everything that has been done and rehabbed here has been by me, myself & I and I am very proud of that. Except for the new door replacement that is. So I am feeling rather proud of the fact I am learning as I go and now I just need to take a class on plumbing to get my comfort level up and start on that job. Any one want to take on an apprentice for a while in exchange for "FREE HELP"? I would learn as I go and be an assistant. Maybe I can locate someone who needs some extra hands in exchange for teaching....maybe I can come up with that exchange in our LANA group here in the neighborhood!
See photo below and remember after this post for sure, I will not be with you for several days this week till this room which houses the garden home office as well as guest room will undergo its floor renovation. Good bye for now from your GARDEN DADDY!


HELLO from the garden home! I want to share some photos and notes regarding the "hypertufa" workshop (pronounced "hyper-toofa") I attended yesterday, Saturday. Hypertufa is the art of making artificial stone using various compounds of peat moss, cement, sand, volcanic rock, etc. Since volcanic material is hard to come by we use coarse perlite, available from your local garden centers in bulk or smaller bags usually from your DIY "Big Box" stores. Our recipe yesterday was: 2-parts Portland Cement, 3-parts peat moss & 3-parts "perlite" (makes it lighter). There are other recipes but this is the one that was used yesterday and it seemed to work well. I will know today when I un-mold my form.
I chose a Styrofoam cooler for my initial form. Many of my MG interns chose bowls, cat litter boxes, cardboard boxes, and many other shapes. The ideas are only limited to ones imagination. Our workshop leader and his wife had a lovely garden home and one of the items featured there were some hypertufa "gnome homes" or garden art. This were just precious and gave me so many ideas. They had even made their own flower bed outline bricks using old plastic newspaper bags for the forms. This was really easier than the leaf molds. More like playing in mud pies mixture. Just premix the dry ingredients, add enough water to make it moist, not soaking or muddy - more on the dry side - then add to your form. For spheres, cut a hole in a soccer or basketball and stuff the mixture inside. When set just cut away the ball material and you have a sphere. You can make pedestals as well as leaf forms and really anything that sparks your imagination. Enjoy these pictures and let your mind run wild with this new project. And remember your daily gardening affirmation: GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Friday, September 25, 2009


Hello from this garden home. I apologize for not visiting with you on both the last day of summer and the first day of fall this week. My work, Master Gardener classes, volunteering hours for certification, the home interior rehab I am doing and other conditions out of my control have taken its hold here at the garden home this week. And a slight health scare with little Max, the guardian of the garden home, has limited my visits with you this past week. And again, after today, I will be "in absentia" for a few days as the interior floor rehab moves to my office area and subsequent locations in the home. But hopefully without too much delay, I should be back with you by the middle of next week. I have to tear down 2 more rooms in the house to get the new floors installed this weekend and finished hopefully on Monday or so. It has been a lot of work for me but the end result is going to be well worth it.
As for the Tennessee Certified Master Gardener intern program, classes move ahead with weekly gatherings. Last Thursday our class was on "landscape design" and this week was on "small engines" - maintenance, service, oils, anti-freeze, winterizing & storage. Tomorrow, Saturday, I am attending a workshop on making "hypertufa" (pronounced "HYPER - TOOFA") which is the art of making forms, shapes, artificial rocks, containers, spheres, etc. out of a mixture of peat moss, sand and concrete to make artificial rock-type planters. These are lightweight containers that are winter hardy and will not crack like concrete. They are often used in the ancient art of "bonsai" due to their light weight and ease of acquiring and making different shapes. I hope this addition to my gardening talents along with the concrete castings I have been making will come in handy here in the garden home for both myself and my family. I enjoy these type of projects and look forward to making some things next spring and working on some ideas I have to create some unusual garden art.
When my Master Gardener intern program is finished (is gardening EVER finished???) I anticipate this Master Gardener will come away with many new interest that will keep me busy for many years and provide an avenue for lots of new friends, which I am acquiring even now. It seems everyone in our group has some specialty of interest and we are all becoming each others mentor already. This should be a life long highlight for me I am sure!
On Wednesday this week, I helped out at WTREC to harvest the pumpkins for the 84-variety research project this year. It was interesting to learn that there are so many varieties and all that is involved in not only growing, etc. of pumpkins but what goes on in agricultural research programs with regard to size, shelf life, production volume, etc. in our food and food related products.
I will leave you today and for several days till my office area rehab is finished with this Fall gardening affirmation in mind:

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Upon investigation into carpet cleaning, etc. for the upcoming LANA Holiday Home Tour it became ever so clear that something drastic had to be done to these carpeted areas in the garden home. After much thought, paperwork, figures and weighing everything involved I made an executive decision to install new "PERGO" (tm) red oak laminate flooring. I finished my master bedroom this morning and have moved on to the hallway. I know this is a huge undertaking this late in the game but the need was there and I know the major investment I am making will pay off in the end. Not only will this change the entire look inside but will make the value of my home go up...up...up! In the end game it is only money (ha-ha, right) and the added value outweighs the initial cost. Master bedroom is finished and it is wonderful!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


At the request of one follower, here is a photo from standing in the yard across the street and looking back at the garden home and the view you see to the new door entry. VERY NICE!


WOW....what a difference a new door makes! I am so very pleased with the outcome of the new door that was installed today at this garden home. The installer was both professional and knowledgeable and did an excellent job. The change is very dramatic and exactly what I wanted. See the change here and look for more changes in the very near future to this garden home.

Sunday, September 13, 2009


I would like to share a plant with you from my good friend and neighbor behind my house. I will introduce you to the "Confederate Rose" (hibiscus mutabilis). Neither a "confederate" nor a "rose" by ANY name, this member of the hibiscus (Malvaceae) family has double, more often almost triple blooms it seems and it is really a hardy perennial in Zones 7-9, though in 8 & 9 it becomes a seasonal "tree" of sorts. It originally hails from southern (!) China and it is true to its name "mutabilis" meaning mutable...color changing. The Confederate Rose has 3 basic good reasons for becoming part of YOUR garden landscape: low maintenance, drought resistant and flowers at the time of summer when everything else seems to have finished. Cut old, woody stems to about 1-ft above ground in winter and just let it go "a naturale" next spring, with new shoots reaching around 15-ft tall and 10-ft wide or so. Propagate from cuttings and seeds are often available from garden sources or someone who has one as well. Enjoy this as a background feature and front with day lilies or other spreading low growing, blooming plants such as lantana (Lantana camara/Verbenacea family) to give some foreground depth and attention. So enjoy this presentation and thank you my good neighbor, "Mr. C".


HELLO FROM THE GARDEN HOME! This has been an extremely busy week here at the garden home both inside, outside and "off site". I attended the Master Gardener classes both Tuesday & Thursday this past week as well as spending some 2.75-hours at the WTREC doing some volunteer hours there. On Tuesday, our speaker was out with the flu and in lieu of a regular 3 hour class, we spent an hour talking with our director and some were asking garden questions in relationship to their specific needs/garden problems. About 3 of us in the class were adding our input to the answers and using our experiences to assist as well. Then as we were about to dismiss for the remainder of class time there was a call from the research center, asking for volunteers for the day. As I already had the class time committed anyway and we were leaving early, I went out there immediately. I spent the next few hours splitting and potting many varieties of day lilies. When that project was finished my next assignment was to go rake and pick up pine cones from the white pine grove after the rain storm over the previous weekend so the mowers could mow without cones and straw on the vast open field space. FYI: One should not mow over pine cones as it will not only dull your mower blade but can throw the cones so hard and far as to cause personal injury or break glass.
On Thursday we had a speaker who was a retired botanist/plant scientist who gave us 3 solid hours of botany. Now you must remember I have not been in a real classroom situation for many, many years and by the end of the 2ND hour this Master Gardener intern was dancing in my seat with the want and need to be out of the classroom and just moving - somewhere. Anywhere! But the time was well spent and the learning process has truly begun. This upcoming Thursday, which was to be a "free week" with no class, we will have the make-up from the previous missed Tuesday. We are meeting out at WTREC for the class with a tour of the gardens and the class subject is landscape design. I am really looking forward to this one as I have some good ideas I would like to see at my middle brother & sister-in-laws lakeside home.
Work remains constant here at the garden home as I continue with my overhaul of the physical appearance of both the interior and exterior of my home. I am on time out from work this week now and have many projects not only started but hopefully coming to completion this week I hope and plan. My new front door is scheduled for installation on Tuesday & I will be updating you as time and opportunity allows. Much to do and time is NOT standing still for this busy gardener. There was a neighborhood-wide yard sale on Saturday this weekend with approximately some 50 homes participating. I still have the yard award sign in my front yard and I did as many "garden tours" and spent time answering gardening questions as I did trying to work my yard sale items. I even had folks trying to buy up my own yard items as my "WELCOME" sign and my first concrete leaf casting I shared with you followers I made. So I gave out some contact cards I had made for myself and told some people I could meet with them and make them some casting for their yard. That might be fun to see other yards as I give them some consultations as well. I think I can count these consultations as part of my "teaching" required hours for my certification time for the Master Gardener internship. GREAT!
I leave you today as I head back into the painting in my master bedroom with this one thought from the Bible for your garden: “The cedars in the garden of God could not hide him: the fir trees were not like his boughs, and the chestnut trees were not like his branches; nor any tree in the garden of God was like unto him in his beauty.”

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


As fall starts to take her first hold on the garden home I am reminded of how short the time from spring/April to September is really. I continue to harvest from the garden, another 55-tomatoes today alone. I still share almost daily with the neighborhood, etc., and then enough for myself. As we had a very hard but short rainstorm on Sunday evening, 09/06/09, I was hoping to refresh the drying and dying squash plants but from further inspection today I fear the end has really come now. And the cucumbers are finished. I think if the rain had come last Thursday or Friday there may have been hope. I even watered pretty good early last week but that did not help much if any.
I have thoroughly enjoyed the yellow squash this year and made many casseroles and many sliced, grilled squash dishes. But not near all I wanted. But I did manage to put some in the freezer. I just slice them and lay singularly on a cookie sheet and put in the freezer till hard then DOUBLE BAG them in zipper freezer bags (to help prevent freezer burn). So I will have a few to enjoy later this winter I hope. Along with the squash I made several quarts of frozen tomato soup or sauce mix. Some I added spices to already and some I left plain. I would just stem them, core out any green areas, cut out any bad spots then just cut up into small pieces and cook them down till the wonderful juice and flavor was filling the house with wonderful scents that would make even "Mama Celeste" jealous. I think I have never had tomatoes make up so much juice. I believe the different varieties I had this year were some of the juiciest I ever had. You could cut one on a plate and the plate would just be full of juice. You had to use a plate or other container with a raised, curled edge or the juice would just run off everywhere.

I have updated the front porch with my new fall decorations, wreath and pumpkin container over the past weekend so that when Labor Day had come and gone, this garden home could truly say, "We are ready for fall here!" I start my last vacation period for this year after tomorrow and this one is for me and the work I have to get done this week on my schedule here to make it by Dec. 4Th for the home tour. So keep your thoughts with me this week and hope all goes well with the new door install, the interior painting and the beginning of the exterior painting I must get done by tour time. I was hoping to have the kitchen painted as well, as I have already purchased the paint for that re-do but if things keep going as they are and my Master Gardener class keeps me as busy next week as I have been I may be in tough times to get is done.

I have decided on colors for the exterior and you can see some sample paints here. DO NOT BE ALARMED...This is NOT RED...for some reason my camera is making this look red but it is really a very lovely terracotta almost more paprika color that I think will accent the brick bands on the columns out front and the mossy/sage green color sample standing up will be the two front doors with white trim and inlaid with the paprika color to stand out on the yellow siding and white trim work. You will have to see this in person to see the effect it will have and after many-many exhausting hours at bookstores and library and online studies of the c.1910 Arts-N-Crafts homes I find this to be one of the better and more attractive and eye popping combinations that will make this garden home one of distinction not only on my street but in the neighborhood. My only problem as I see it now is TIME and not enough of it!
So as always my fellow gardeners, I leave you with this gardening affirmation: "YOU CAN TAKE THE TURNIP OUT OF THE COUNTRY BUT IT IS ALWAYS JUST A TURNIP!" I think this really describes ME....Once a gardener - always a gardener!

Sunday, September 6, 2009


After having my first Master Gardener class last Thursday and then attending the monthly meeting of the "MG's" and then doing my 1st volunteer session out at WTREC (West TN Research & Education Center) I feel really small now in the world gardening. I realize just where I am and where I will be in another year. I do not know the proper names of plants, etc. but I know what I like and what I want my garden home to look like. So in that, I think I will just take and use the education in a way maybe others may not. I do not plan to nor am I able to remember all the "proper" plant names but I will continue to reap the benefits of this program where it suits ME, MYSELF & I. I will continue with my efforts to make this garden home the best it can be. And working out at the WTREC. I hope to spend a lot of time there and I have gotten on the list of workers. I will be a sponge out there and soak up all the applicable information I can and put the practical aspects to good use.
If you live here in Jackson or just visiting it would be worth the trip over to Airways and the 45 By-Pass to visit or at least drive through the grounds. You will get many ideas just on a drive through even if you do not get out to the car. But if you do get out and walk around you will get some wonderful and new ideas for gardening and garden art.
I hope you have a wonderful Labor Day Weekend and do it safely. I will be working on this garden home and gathering tomatoes and just getting things going for the tour. So I send you off with good gardening and good times for a holiday weekend till next time from your GARDEN DADDY!

Friday, September 4, 2009


WHAT WAS I THINKING? I harvested 117-tomatoes today and tossed into the compost bin another 15 that were either bird damaged or otherwise unusable. I cannot believe the turnout this late in the game. Granted, they were not all fit for slicing/sandwiches, etc., but very usable for soup or my idea for today will be chili I think! I delivered door-to-door all I could and saved enough to make myself chili for later today. I just had to share the outcome of today's picking.


I am overjoyed and almost feeling overwhelmed by beginning the Tennessee Master Gardener program. I had my first class yesterday, Thursday morning. We spent most of the class time going over the curriculum, bylaws and other registration requirements. We spent some time with personal introductions of each other. We talked about our volunteerism and that we actually represent the University and how special of a honor it is. We were instructed on the volunteer hours, continuing education requirements and how to get it all done.
This will be a very long process but I hope to have my 40-hours volunteering done by years end. In fact last night was the monthly meeting of the Master Gardeners and I attended that meeting which gave me my 1st hour of continuing education out of the eight (8) needed beside class time. And this morning I was at the WTREC to help re-pot about 300 plants to 1-gal. & 2-gal. pots for sale at the next UT plant sale on Oct. 1st. I am able to report on that event a time of 2.5-hours toward my 40 required volunteerism, leaving me with 37.5 remaining hours. Here are two shots of the work we did today after the potting up was complete.

On to regular news from the garden home. With no rain thus far this week it appears the end of the cucumbers has come. And along with that evidently the squash as well. I was looking forward to a few more squash but fear they are finished as well. I will remove the cucumber vines today but may leave the squash till I see if it will rain as fore casted for overnight tonight. The squash might recover if it does rain for a few more weeks but the cucumbers are really gone now. I did bring home some new plants from the WTREC I need to plant today. I saw last night at the MG meeting and even today that I will be overwhelmed with new and exciting plant varieties, some of which I have never seen or heard of. So this will be an added benefit of my association with the MG program. I will have some plants myself to share as I have already rooted about 5 1-gal Weigelia which are lovely in the spring with their pink flowers and they will really grow fast and look beautiful in a natural, free form style. I have had to prune mine up several times already this year as they will get really large very quickly. But if anyone of you would like these I would love to "plant share" with you are well.
I am heading out to harvest tomatoes today. I gave away about 25-tomatoes I just quickly picked yesterday for 2-visitors who stopped in but I have at least 40 or more it appears to gather today. Plus I must mow and edge this garden home today as well.
I had the new front door installer come by for his measure yesterday and we found out my front door, being old style/old size will either be a special order or the frame will have to be rebuilt to accommodate an "in-stock" door from my "BIG BOX" store. The install will cost more than the door but it is desperately needed to finish the front entrance and give the look I need now that the transom has been opened up at last. I am getting excited to get this project done so the exterior paint job I need to finish on the front porch can be done. And of course finished the interior painting of the master bedroom and kitchen as well as trim, etc. that need some touch up. But other than this list and then start the Christmas decorating I am on schedule for completion by Thanksgiving as I have planned.
So enjoy this weather and our early fall. That is the prediction I heard last night from the University of Tennessee folks at the MG meeting, early and cool and mostly the heat is already gone for the most part. Look to my prediction of early and hard, cold winter. We are definitely overdue that is for sure.
I leave you today with our ongoing gardening affirmation: "GARDENING: ONE YARD AT A TIME!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Greetings from the garden home! As my nephew says, "I can't believing" it is September already. This extremely mild weather seems more like October but it is just barely September and we are in the 50-degrees at night already and high 70's & lower to mid 80's in the daytime. This is just unheard of here in the Mid south. With the 90-year old dogwood trees lining my street starting their reddish coats it makes me wonder and almost have mild concern that our winter might just be not only early but also severe. This is based solely on my own speculation.
I am attaching a link here for fall vegetable planting. I know some of you may have lots of room for some leafy vegetables as well as root vegetables if you start planting now. the link is:
I attempted to plant both mustard and turnips last fall but as we had a long, hot fall my tomatoes kept producing and I waited too late in the season to get a good result. I had a few turnips and greens but the dry, cooler fall just did not cooperate.
I will start my internship for the TN Master Gardener program tomorrow, Thursday, Sept. 3rd. and I look forward to a long but enjoyable study. It is a 45-hour program (15 3-hour sessions) but I feel the outcome will be worth it. I hope I have not been out of school so long that I get too impatient with the long class time. Updates for those interested in attending future programs will be noted here. So keep up with your Garden Daddy to see where the class is going weekly.
I continue to gather, almost daily, tomatoes again. Even with the dry weather here in Jackson and West Tennessee I am harvesting. But I am resolved the end of the cucumbers and squash is in sight. I have only gotten 3-squash in about 10 days now so I am almost to the point if we do not get rain by weeks end I will add both cucumber and squash vines to my compost bin.
Speaking of composting, I have noticed since I have started composting my internal and external refuse that my weekly garbage output has been reduced substantially. And along with the composting, I have made a serious effort to start recycling my #1 & #2 plastic bottles (juice, milk, etc.) as well as plastic grocery/shopping bags. There is a wonderful recycling area at the fire station on Westwood just downhill from the school. There are several large recycling containers there as well as one for newspapers and other items. I have attached a link from the City of Jackson regarding recycling and some of the locations for city drop sites:
On updates from the garden home I have replaced the windows that were cracked on my newly reopened transoms over the front doors and waiting for my measure for a new front door. Work continues, even though slowly, on the interior of the garden home for the upcoming Christmas home tour. I know I am somewhat paranoid regarding this event but with so many Jackson residents who attend the tour I just want everything to go well and not be a "show off" but just show my pride and hard work in the 3-years I have been here.
So with everything "fall-ish" in mind and working on a new fall outdoor wreath for the front entrance to be in place on Labor Day ( I am choking on the words - time is going too fast) I leave you with the following gardening affirmation: "CLEAR YOU BODY, CLEAR YOUR MIND & CLEAR YOUR GROUND....& GROW, GROW, GROW!"