Monthly Archives: May 2014

Taking a Walk on the Wild Side

I had the opportunity to take two field trips with some native plant friends.  Our trip yesterday was to tour the gardens of another native plant member.  He bought the lot next to his house, and had spent several years developing it into a showplace.  He’s getting ready to move back to Oklahoma, and some lucky person is going to buy a treasure.

About 3 years ago, he put in a retention pond with a recirculating pump.  He dug and lined three ‘streams’ through his yard.  He added gravel and large rocks along the streambeds, then started putting in shade loving plants.  It was the most amazing ‘manmade’ stream and pond I’ve ever seen.

DSC_1726 DSC_1762You can barely see the water flowing down the hill with all the huge ferns and other shade loving plants.


Greg lugged in every large stone, most of the moss covered logs, and tons of soil, slate chips, and mulch.  It has been a labor of love for 15 years.  While mostly native, he has put in some nonnatives such as hosta.  The ferns are so lush and big, it’s hard to believe they are real.  However, much of the tremendous growth is a result of weekly watering from the well he had dug just for watering his native gardens.

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Our second field trip was to a sanctuary in West Point to see the Shoal Lilies in bloom.  These are a species of Carolina Spider lilies, one of the most spectacular native wildflowers.  They have been in bloom for a couple of weeks and will continue to bloom for a short while.  Then the seeds will ripen by late June.  The owner invited  us to come back in June and collect some seeds for our restoration project at Buffalo Creek Trail.  The sight of these lilies was just breathtaking, and no pictures could ever do them justice.

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Hopefully, in a few years, our own Buffalo Creek will look like this!


The Race is On!

Whew!  With all this rain, I’m in a race against the weeds and the reseeding flowers that are crowding their neighbors.  But I still find a little space here and there to tuck in something new.  The butterfly garden is coming right along.  The cosmos are blooming, the first of the butterfly weed opened this morning, and the pentas are ready to go in the ground.  I am seeing hummers at the red honeysuckle and the bush salvia.  If only the weeds would disappear, I’d be a happy gardener, indeed


Coral Bells in full bloom.

And the bleeding hearts just keep on blooming.

Bleeding Hearts still blooming after all these days.

Praying Hands hosta

Praying Hands hosta in homemade hypertufa pot

A foxglove that I have  no idea how it came to be in this flower bed.

A foxglove that I have no idea how it came to be in this flower bed.


Nigella, with one of the rarest blue colors, much like a bachelor’s button. Brought this back from a trip to San Francisco.

I know the Rose Campion can be invasive, but I just love that magenta color!

Rose Campion-an heirloom plant that I got from my great Aunt Maude over 30 years ago. It can be invasive, but I like the magenta color enough to overlook that.

The Pentas are butterfly favorites.

Planting pentas just for the butterflies. Of course, it doesn’t hurt my feelings to look at it either.


The snapdragon is a sentimental favorite. I remember my Mama Gentry having it in her yard.

The cylcamen have enjoyed the rains.

The Cyclamen have enjoyed the rains.


My shade garden in the back yard is also a water loving garden. It helps that the fountain splashes water on the plants all day and all night.

The Blue Mammoth hosta.

Blue Mammoth hosta was one of my first hostas. It is over 5 feet across. Has done exceptionally well with all this rain.


The mailbox clematis hasn’t bloomed well for two years. The oak tree above it has spread so much that it keeps the clematis shaded. The blooms are nice, but the plant is very lush.

My potato plants are blooming.  Should be a crop ready to dig before long.

The potato plants are blooming, so I should be digging some spuds before long.

Can we say cucumber pickles anyone?

Can we say cucumber pickles anyone?

Blackberries are in our near future.

The blackberries can’t be far behind with all these flowers.

Got my deck baskets decked out with pretty petunias.

The deck baskets are sporting some pretty new petunias.


Blueberry pie, blueberry muffins, blueberry cobbler, or blueberries for the birds. You want to guess who gets to them first every year?

Love those spikes.White salviaGerber Daisy-a little dirty after the rains Yellow Asiatic lilies Tickseed Spiderwort-a nasty invasive plant, but I just love this white one. The amaryllis is beginning to look a little ragged.- Daylilies-a sign of warmer days. DSC_0316 Coreopsis The Purple Coral Bells are so pretty this year. DSC_0334 Serissa-a very attractive late spring blooming shrub. The backyard shade garden The Japanese Painted fern, one of the few non native ferns in my yard. DSC_0367  Rhodendron Ooh!

I’m Retiring

For the past six years, I’ve been chairman of the Master Gardener Plant Sale.  It totally consumes parts of my life.  From potting plants, to making signs, writing publicity articles, to setup week, I pretty much work on plant sale stuff throughout the year.

Our sale on Saturday was a huge success.  Within an hour and a half of opening the doors, we had sold the vast majority of our thousands of plants.  Unfortunately, the cold, wet winter did some serious damage to many of our plants we had propagated for the sale.  But we still had a building full!

We have some very loyal customers who come every year, waiting in line for a couple of hours so they can be the first in the building, getting the pick of the plants.  With several hundred customers, rows and rows of tables filled with plants, plants in very nook and cranny of the building, it can be overwhelming for first timers.

But at the end of the day, we make a ton of money for our projects and charitable giving.

Now it’s on to a new project.  Not sure yet what it will be, but I want to do something that will benefit people, help them learn to have a love of gardening that sustains me in my darkest hours, and is a community service.

I know that the Native Plant Society is going to become a bigger part of my life.  I absolutely love going out to the woods to rescue native plants from the bulldozer.  I’m slowly filling my yard with natives, displacing much of the nonnatives.  I’m not a purist, but I do love that the natives can pretty much take care of themselves once they are established.  Maybe my new ‘career’ will be educating people about the importance of our native plants.

Whatever I decide to do in my ‘next life’, I want to make sure that nothing consumes me and causes me to ignore my family and friends.