Looking Back

Happy New Year.  A special thank you to those who faithfully read my blog.  I wish you joy and fun in your garden space.

This bitter cold, icy weather outside is a good time to snuggle under a blanket in front of a fireplace and peruse seed and plant catalogs.  I’m also reflecting on some of my favorite plants in my yard.

Here are some of the ones that have done well:Dig a small hole, plant a bulb and voila:  you’ll have flowers for years to come.  That’s one reason I love bulbs – one and done.  Plus, they have lovely forms, like this Kindly Light Daylily (Hemerocallis ‘Kindly Light’), which brings bright color to spring.

Even the lowly, plain old fashioned Ditch Daylilies are an anticipated joy each spring.  These were planted 12 years ago and still pop up every year with their familiar orange faces smiling at me.

Reblooming Irises come in so many colors and can be used as an accent color in a bed.

Irises are like eating peanuts or potato chips, it’s hard to stop with just a few.

Their color can also play off of other plants, like this Larkspur.  Larkspurs are another favorite flower.  Just toss a few seeds on the groud and rake light over them, and they’ll spring up in the yard for years.

My first bulbs were old fashioned irises that were pass-along gifts from family and friends.  They need less water, so I planted them in a field across the road from the yard.  The success is dependent on the amount of rainfall they receive each year.  But they’ve been faithful for 12 years.

No yard is complete without some flowering shrubs.  The bright red clusters on this Dynamite Crape Myrtle are gorgeous.  A group of three shrubs were planted together 11 years ago.  It took a while for them to get established in the alkaline clay in our yard.  But they have been great performers for years.

Some Crape Myrtles grow to be 30 feet tall trees.  Dynamite is a medium size that remains a shrub size.

Flame Acanthus (Anisacanthus quadrifidus var. wrightii) is right at home here.  Pollinators love it.

Turk’s Cap (Malvaviscus arboreus) is a native that also attracts lots of pollinators.  It grows in full sun or light shade.

Bees flock to the delicate petals on Duranta flowers.  It’s easy to find shrubs that attract pollinators.  It’s been harder for me to find evergreen shrubs that are flowering and different from the usual shrubs sold at nurseries.

Hardy Bird of Paradise or Yellow Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) blooms all summer and draws pollinators.

And finally, another pass-along plant from a friend:  Rose of Sharon or Althea (Hibiscus syriacus).  It’s been absolutely one the best blooming shrubs I have.  The flowers appear in late spring and continue blooming until late fall.

I’m so thankful that there are plants that will survive in our harsh environment of strong sun and scarce rain; also, plants have to establish a root system in our heavy clay, high alkaline, and caliche soil.

“Yesterday is gone.  Tomorrow has not yet come.  We have only today.  Let us begin.”  Mother Teresa

Garvan Gardens, Part 2

Garvan Gardens outside of Hot Springs, Arkansas, is a serene, calming place.  Because there were few people visiting that day, it seemed like we were alone in forest far from civilization.

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garvangardensmmSome workers were constructing this exhibit out of brush.  This art installation by W. Gary Smith is to last for a year.

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garvangardensnn Miniature fairy gardens created in pots are a current fad, but this Fairy Garden was built using tree stumps.

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garvangardensooEach one stood about 3 or 4 feet tall.

garvangardenspA small patch of Oxblood or Schoolhouse Lilies (Rhodophiala bifida) make an impact statement.

garvangardensppVery tall Pinks or Dianthus in a semi-shady spot.

garvangardensqThe Children’s Garden entrance is below this metal twig looking bridge.

garvangardensqqEverything we saw in this part of the garden is mostly rocks to climb on and secluded small areas to explore.

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garvangardensrrThe boulders were intriguing with the quartz in the stones forming sharp ridges.  Over time, the rock, whatever type it is, has eroded, while the quartz remained intact.

garvangardenssSome of the Children’s Garden might be intimidating to young kids.

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garvangardenttBack on the main trail …

garvangardentttwe continue past this small pond with water Iris.

garvangardenuAlthough this peacock was alone, his loud mating cries broke the silence of the forest.  Guess he just wanted some attention.

garvangardenuuAnother pergola leading to a grassy area surrounded by flowerbeds.

garvangardenuuuAlliums towering above other flowers, like these Pansies.  I really wanted some Alliums and tried them once, but they didn’t come back the next year.  Don’t really know what the problem was.  Too hot, too cold, soil too alkaline?

garvangardenvMore Dianthus

garvangardenvvDelphiniums, maybe?

garvangardenvvvJust outside the Chipmunk Cafe were several miniature trains at different levels circling around a tree.

garvangardenwwwAnthony Chapel is a wedding chapel with construction similar to the Thorncrown Chapel in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.  I think this chapel was built in 2006 while ThornCrown opened in 1980.

garvangardenxThe wood is southern yellow pine.

garvangardenxxAnthony Chapel is a wedding chapel.  Lovely setting.

There is a separate building for wedding party members with a bridal changing chamber.  It can be rented for an additional cost.

garvangardenxxxThe whole intent of the design with 55 feet tall windows is to have full view of the surrounding woods.  The handcrafted scones are made of oak.

garvangardenwwHeading to the parking lot takes us past more trees and bushes.  This looks like Coral Honeysuckle.

garvangardenwBeautiful bloom on an Oakleaf Hydrangea (‘Hydrangea quercifolia’).

Thanks for reading our visit to Garvan Gardens.

“The only limit to your garden is at the boundaries of your imagination.”  Thomas Church

Blooming Irises and Bridal Wreath Spirea

Over the years I’ve received iris bulbs from family and friends.  These have been the heirloom or old-fashioned kind – great pass along plants.

irisbThey were planted in a field across from our driveway because heirloom irises cannot endure regular watering.  That’s the reason they can be found near old abandoned homesteads and in cemeteries.

iris4So they perform poorly some years depending on the amount and timing of rainfall.

irisdThis year they have bloomed abundantly and have provided many bouquets for the house.  There are probably a 100 bulbs although I haven’t counted them.  Many should be divided, but I can’t seem to muster the energy to do that at the proper time of hot August and September.

iriseThere hasn’t been oodles of rain – just enough at the right times.  A few drops on these petals are from just a misting of rain.

iriscThey hold their own among the weeds and wild grass.  In the past I have attempted to pull weeds from around them, but they come back so quickly that I’ve given up.  I do mow paths around the rows just to make it easier to see them and to cut the flowers.

irisfA few years ago I ordered some reblooming irises to plant in the yard.  These actually need regular water.

In the background of this picture, you can see beyond our actual yard.

iris7Last year I divided those and put some in other flower beds around the house, so now some are visible from windows in every direction.  Makes for a lovely spring view.

iris9If the weather cooperates, they all should rebloom in the fall.

irisaAlthough purple ones are my favorite, the muted shades offer a soft touch.

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iris3It’s amazing that the wind doesn’t beat them to death each year.  Even though the individual blooms don’t last but a few days, there are enough new blooms each day that the show lasts for weeks.

irisThird year was the charm for this Bridal Wreath Spirea (Spiraea prunifolia).  For the first two years, the small smattering of flowers made me doubt the wisdom of buying this plant.

iris2This year every branch was crammed full of gorgeous blossoms.

iris1Spring has been a great surprise this year with fields full of wildflowers and a yard full of flowers.

“What we all knew to be true: what makes you cool in middle school makes you a failure in life.”   Unknown

Iris Time

Twelve years ago I planted heirloom irises in the field.  These hardy souls can be found at old abandoned homesteads.  Even if they do not get enough water to bloom, the bulbs lay dormant to return another year when there is rain.

iris2Most of mine came from family or friends.  I hate to admit it, but they’ve been sadly neglected.

iris3They need to be divided.  I’ve avoided trying to dig them out of the hard clay.  Just weeding around them is a chore.   Also, they should be fertilized twice a year – near Valentine’s Day and near Halloween.  It’s easy to remember, but not easy to hook up three hoses and drag them out to the field.

iris4Heirloom iris have deep colors.

iris1Three years ago I ordered some reblooming iris bulbs.  Their colors are lighter than heirlooms.  These should be divided, also.

lavenderirisTheir flower size tends to be larger than most heirlooms.  The reblooming ones are also reliable.  They bloom several times in the spring and once in the fall, if the weather gets cool enough.  They do need regular watering, so they do well in a flowerbed with a drip system.

Because the wind is so strong here, I usually cut the iris blooms and put them in vases inside.  Since they don’t smell so good, it’s better not to bring in too many at once or at least, not all in in one room.

“The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.”  Benjamin Franklin