After gardening in semi-arid Colorado for nearly 40 years, Debbie returned to her native state three years ago and has been learning how to garden in a totally different climate -– more rain, more heat, the dreaded heat-index, more bugs, and certainly more weeds.

Perennials are her passion and discovering and trying new plants is her addiction. She's also become a vegetable gardener on her two acre retreat in the country. Besides outdoor gardening, Debbie loves houseplants, especially succulents, begonias, and gesneriads, especially in the winter months when nothing else is blooming. As a new Master Gardener, she's trying to convince her neighbors that growing flowers is just as rewarding as growing corn.

 

Recent Blog Posts

Apr 22
The Ever-Changing Garden  

Mar 26
Where Oh Where Is Spring?  

Oct 03
Weird but Lovable Euphorbias   (2 comments)

Aug 14
Greetings from your new Kentucky Gardener Blogger…  

 

 

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The Ever-Changing Garden
by Debbie Griffith - posted 04/22/14

The harsh winter here in Eastern Kentucky has brought unanticipated changes to the garden. Most of the perennials survived the sub-zero temperatures but several rose bushes and shrubs didn't fare as well. So far I've removed three rose bushes. The Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata) which had flourished the past three seasons and rewarded me with vast quantities of fall fragrant blooms is no more. The Heavenly bamboo (Nandina domestica) which produced numerous red berries just in time for Christmas decorations didn't survive the January cold. I've pruned it back nearly to the ground and was pleased to see the stalks were still showing green so I'm hopeful it will revive. The empty spaces left by the dead bushes will soon be replaced with new varieties of flowers. This is the fourth season for my garden and several of the perennials need to be divided, and I have some aggressive thugs who need to be removed. Here's a bit of advice: never grow loosestrife in the ground. If you choose to add it to your garden, grow it in a container so as to control its spread. Otherwise, it will take over. The 35 mini-terrariums I made from 2-liter Diet Pepsi bottles are loaded with new seedlings which will go outside in a couple of weeks. I'd say that about 90% of the terrariums have seedlings which equates to lots of new plants. As the garden awakens from its winter dormancy, it is as though long-time friends have returned for a visit, and I greet each of them with anticipation and excitement. Gotta go for now. The postal carrier just delivered a plant order.

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Where Oh Where Is Spring?
by Debbie Griffith - posted 03/26/14

Greetings fellow gardeners: It has been a long, long winter here in my neck of the woods, and I’m anxious for this gardening season to begin. I do wonder if winter will ever end. Even yesterday we had another 4-5” of snow followed by a cold night.

On the few days when the weather has cooperated, I’ve been outdoors cleaning out the flower beds which is not my favorite gardening chore. This year’s work is even more so because I didn’t get the leaves cleaned up last fall. So far I’ve filled 27 jumbo bags with yard debris, and I still have three more beds to clean out. I’ve composted much of the leaves, but still have many, many more on the ground.

There have been signs of life in the garden despite the weather: crocuses are blooming as are the Hellebores (Lenten Rose) even though they are late this year. My Hellebores usually bloom in February. Maybe they know Easter is late this year too. While the weather has curtailed outdoor gardening, I’ve been busy indoors. I’m trying something new this year: I’m starting many of my plants, both vegetables and flowers, from seed. I’ve devised my own type of greenhouse for the seeds. I use 2-liter Diet Pepsi (my drink of choice) bottles as individual greenhouses. I cut the bottoms off the liter, then put the peat pot with seeds into the bottom and reconnect. I remove the Pepsi label and write the name of the seed and the date onto the bottle. I can remove the lid to the bottle if there’s too much humidity inside. So far this method has worked very well. To date I have sowed chicory, lupines, strawflowers, blue bonnets, blue bells, merrybells, Chinese houses, monarda, borage, pansy, bloodroot, poppy mallow, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and a variety of heirloom tomatoes, all of which have germinated. I have a large, south-facing window and the greenhouses are on plant stands where they get plenty of warmth (well, when the sun is out) and light. Most of the vegetables have gotten their second set of leaves so I’ll be transplanting them into individual pots very soon.

Gardening has taught me patience, something I’ve sorely needed, and this year may be no exception. As I’ve cleared out the flower beds I’m detecting lots of bare space where plants grew last year. I’m hoping the plants are just slow to come out of dormancy and that I haven’t lost so many due to the severe winter. Time will tell. Let’s hope that Old Man Winter has finally retreated and spring weather will come…soon.

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Weird but Lovable Euphorbias
by Debbie Griffith - posted 10/03/13

Euphorbia 'Diamond Frost'

 

One aspect of gardening that I really enjoy is discovering new varieties of plants.  I’ll try anything once, and very often that trial leads to further discoveries.  Such was the case with the genus of plants commonly known as Euphorbia.  This genus encompasses over 2,000 different plants with growing habits ranging from tropical to succulent to cactus.  There truly is something for everyone.

Euphorbia’s botanical name derives from Euphorbus, a Greek physician who married the daughter of Anthony and Cleopatra.  Euphorbus described a cactus-like plant as being a strong laxative.  In his honor and in a game of one-upmanship with Augustus Caesar, who had dedicated a statue to his own personal physician, King Juba II of Numidia named this plant after Euphorbus.  Many, many centuries later, Carl Linnaeus assigned the name Euphorbia to this entire genus of plants.

Today, you may know this genus by a more familiar title – spurge, so named because of the milky substance emitted by most members of the Euphorbia genus.  You are no doubt familiar with one of the most common plants in the Euphorbia world:  the traditional Christmas plant, Poinsettia pulcherrima.  Poinsettia derives its common name from Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first U.S. Minister to Mexico.  Poinsett first introduced his namesake into the U.S. in 1825.

Some of the Euphorbias which I have grown or grow now include Euphorbia ‘Firesticks’, a wonderful succulent whose stems turn a fiery red when exposed to sufficient sunlight.  ‘Firesticks’ is one of the many plants from South Africa which have been recently introduced to American growers.  Another plant which may be familiar to you is Euphorbia milii -- ‘Crown of Thorns’.  This plant comes in several different colors ranging from deep red to pink to yellow.  Be cautious of the sap produced by the plant, however, as it is toxic.

Probably the most outstanding, (at least in my book) recently introduced Euphorbia is Euphorbia graminea ‘Diamond Frost’.  Introduced by Proven Winners in 2005, this plant literally has it all!  Regardless of how hot, how humid, or how dry your growing conditions, this plant never falters.  Beginning in early spring until a killing frost, this plant looks as fresh as the first day it was planted.  Its leaves and blooms do not wilt, ever.  I have never seen any insect damage which makes it a winner in my book.  Even now in early October, my ‘Diamond Frost’ is still flourishing.  This year, I’m going to bring part of the plant indoors to see how it fares being overwintered.  Several years ago I acquired a sibling of ‘Diamond Frost’ – ‘Diamond Blush’ – same plant but the blooms have a faint pink blush.  It was also an outstanding performer. 

Cultural requirements for Euphorbias are quite simple:  they rarely need to be deadheaded, their water requirements are minimal to moderate, most thrive in full sun, they aren’t invasive, and they have attractive foliage.  All in all, just about the perfect plant.

If you haven’t tried a variety of Euphorbia, now’s your opportunity.  They are readily available in most garden centers and from Internet sources, and I’ve seen some varieties in the box stores as well.  They are a wonderful addition to your outdoor garden or houseplant collection.  Try one, you’ll enjoy it.

Euphorbia 'Firesticks'

Common spurge

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