Southern Garden Symposium

The Southern Garden Symposium met in Saint Francisville, Lousiana, in October, 2019.  Although I knew that gardening conditions are very different there than they are here in Central Texas, it was a chance to see some old southern gardens and hear some interesting speakers.Saint Francisville is a small town with few large meeting venues.  So attendees could choose different sessions held in small buildings in different parts of town.  On the first day, a catered lunch was provided at Afton Villa Gardens.

The antebellum home was destroyed by a fire in 1963.  The gardens remain and are used as a park.

Not sure if this concrete basket is as old as it looks, but it fits perfectly in the setting.

My kind of flower bed – massive plantings with different kinds of flowers.  There are red Zinnas, white Cleome Spider plants (Cleome hassleriana), Marigolds and Pentas.White and Pink Cleome Spider flowers look like sparklers.

Bright Marigolds mixed with Mexican Bush Sage.

English Ivy clinging to the old bricks, more Marigolds, and small purple flowers in the clay pot make a stunning display.

The same flowers were repeated in many beds.  I don’t know if that was intentional or because those flowers were suited for autumn.

Pink Cleome mixed with a wood fern and some kind of shrub.

Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha) is what I consider to be a Central Texas plant, but it obviously does well in other types of climates.

It is native to subtropical and tropical conifer forests in central and eastern Mexico.  This area is about the same latitude as Central Texas.

Brazilian Black and Blue Sage, also called Blue Anise Sage (Salvia guaranitica), needs some shade from midday sun.

Gardening book sales are always a hit anytime gardeners congregate.  Purple Plumbago or Cape Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) in pots flanking the statute.

These large old tree with Spanish Moss hanging down just screams “southern garden.”

After lunch, there was plenty of time for wandering.Peaceful setting for wandering and relaxing.

“Southern living:  where the tea is sweet, words are drawn out, days are warm and faith is strong.”  unknown

Garvan Gardens, Part Two

Garvan Gardens in Arkansas has a long history.  It was purchased by Arthur B. Cook in the 1920’s.  He owned Wisconsin-Arkansas Lumber Company and Malvern Brick and Tile Company.  When he died in 1934, his daughter, Verne Cook Garvan took over the companies.  As the female CEO of a major company in the south, she served in a unique position.

Today the gardens are owned by the University of Arkansas.

Verne Garvan was the first to develop the land and make it into a show garden.  The property is one of the fingers of land that juts out into Lake Hamilton, so it is surrounded on three sides by water.

Someone had fun creating ghoulish scenes.

Since this is a woodland gardens, it’s pretty shady in most areas.  But clearings, like this one, allows a space for sun loving plants.  Yellow Chrysanthemums grow in a formal design.

Not sure what this is.  The flowers look like Morning Glories, but I don’t think this is a vine.

We’ve visited Garvan Gardens before.  Their children’s section has always been a disappointment.  It mostly consists of large boulders that children can climb.  But this new attraction is well done.

The Tree House is entered through a raised bridge.

A side view of the Tree House shows three different levels inside.

Workmen are unloading pumpkins for a special Halloween event.  Not sure what the pattern will end up looking like.

On the left side of the walkway is Mexican Bush Sage (Salvia leucantha), an excellent plant for central Texas, also.

I waited for this peacock to pose, but he was more interested in preening his feathers.  Duh.  Beautiful feather colors.My favorite part of all the garden is Anthony Chapel with its glass walls and ceiling.

It is used for weddings and other events.  There’s a separate building with dressing areas for brides and grooms and their attendants.

The whole inside/outside design makes it extra special and peaceful.

The nearby electronic Bell Tower is built from steel columns. Visitors can walk into it and look up to the sky.  The computerized chimes ring the hour with familiar tunes.

Brides and Grooms can select specific songs to be played as they exit the chapel.

Adding to the serenity of this place is a lumbering turtle: an example of the pace to enjoy all the beauty of nature.

“Be decisive.  The road of life is paved with flattened squirrels who couldn’t make a decision.”   unknown

Garvan Woodland Gardens

Garvan Woodland Gardens, outside of Hot Springs, is a 210 acre botanical garden.  The University of Arkansas owns the gardens for the purpose of education and research.

We visited in October, so chrysanthemums were prominent.   Yellow Cannas behind them are blooming, also.

At first, this bench tricks the eyes, but the back of the bench is actually a photograph.

Love how the sunlight makes the tops of this grass sparkle.

I think these are Azaleas, although it seems the wrong time of the year for the blooms.  It was still warm but shady in most parts of the gardens.

The peaceful, quiet spots are one of the attractions of these gardens.

More Azaleas?

On a weekday, we encountered very few people.  Except for all the paved paths, there is an allusion of being alone in remote woods.

American Beauty Berry has a few berries with a lone purple Plumbago flower.

Preparation for a Halloween event included several clusters of pumpkins and gourds.

Most of gardens consist of wooded areas.  There are a few open glades where sunlight  allows displays of shrubs and flowers.  A circle of Boxwood has a pot in the center to highlight purple and lime green potato vines.

Behind this grouping, metal butterflies look like they’re flying.  This was part of a partially set up exhibit.

One section shows off fairy or gnome houses.

Sorry for the bad photography conditions.  Strong sunlight shining into a shady area makes it difficult to get good pictures because the lighting is not the same in all of the picture.

Two workers in the background stopped to watch me take pictures.  Not sure if they were curious to see what I was photographing or just wanted a break.  We actually saw more workmen than visitors that day.

Garvan Gardens is a lovely place to take a slow walk and just enjoy a beautiful day.

“There are times in everyone’s life when something constructive is born out of adversity, when things seem so bad that you’ve got to grab your fate by the shoulders and shake it.”  Lee Iacocca

On the Cusp of Winter

Although there was one early freeze, the temperatures since that night have been up and down, but still fairly mild.

This Red Oak has been losing its leaves slowly and is currently pretty bare.

So these pictures are a few weeks old.  Early morning light casts a golden light on the leaves.

…and gives the acorns a polished mahogany look.

Acorns and dead leaves cover the ground around all the Oaks.

Dried leaves of Crinim Lilies insulate the bulbs that will bring spring beauty.

A skeletal Bur Oak stands tall against the blue sky.  Burs produce huge acorns – the cap of one still hanging on.

The brittle, dried remains of Purple Cone flowers(Echinacea purpurea) provide visible interest in a winter garden.

Piet Oudolf, a Dutch gardener has become internationally known for his New Perennial Movement.  Basically, this means he advocates for how plants, mainly perennials, will look in all four seasons.  So these Cone flowers have a distinctive winter look that is noteworthy.  He designed several prominent public gardens in the US around this concept.Stalks of American Basketflowers  (Centaurea americana) stand tall and proud throughout the winter.  They have become one of my favorite Texas native wildflowers.

Leaves of Chinapin Oaks with their slender long shape don’t look like the leaves of most other Oaks.

Dried Gregg’s Blue Mist flowers look prickly but are actually soft.

Globe Mallow or Desert Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) tends to be evergreen or blue-gray green during the winters.  Some late orange buds remaining on plant.

The tops of tall Rose of Sharons (Hibiscus syriacus) form a sculpture against the sky.

More orange leaves from a Red Oak.

Fragile stems of a wildflower that I can’t identify.  They are volunteers each summer in a flowerbed.

The brilliant red leaves of a Red Oak on our county road stopped us in our tracks.

These small trees never have a chance to grow into full grown trees because the county maintenance crews periodically chop down the trees and other plants on the sides of the roads.

My observation – the native Red Oaks have deeper reds than those purchased from a nursery.

“The problem with winter sports is that–follow me closely here–they generally take place in winter.”   Dave Barry

Relaxing Garden

It was a quiet morning at the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.  We almost had the garden to ourselves.

Clever set of benches built into a pergola type cover that leads into the central part of the garden.

To me, the bronze statues of children was as strong an attraction as the shrubs and flowers.  Early October was still warm enough for Begonias and other flowering plants.

Angel Wing Begonias, named for the shape of their leaves, is a hardy hybrid.  Seeds from the annual Flamingo Celosia (Celosia spicata) must be saved in order to propagate it.  Mine never looked this bright and healthy.

Same group of plants with some Lantana added.   This one looks like Lil Miss Lantana, but it could be another hybrid.

Many garden designers suggest that it’s best to stick to the same plants throughout the garden.  I don’t personally agree, but the bright colors were nice.  I like to see plants that surprise me.

This new display is a little difficult to comprehend.  This is a giant butterfly.  The wings will probably be planted with colorful flowers in the spring.  The standing metal part in the center is the actual body of the butterfly.  Looks like it’s intended to be viewed from above.

Nice calming stream.

If this is man-made, lots of boulders had to brought in.

It’s hard not to feel the joy of a child experiencing this garden.  Sure made me smile.

The only other people we encountered in the gardens were mothers with young children and babies in strollers.  What a perfect way to expose your children to nature.

Loved the form of this Japanese Thundercloud Pine (Pinus thunbergii ‘Thunderhead’).  It’s obvious to see how it got its name.

The only indications that it was Autumn were the cool morning and the Ornamental Cabbages and dried grasses.

Next post will be the last one on the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks.

“May we think of freedom, not as the right to do as we please, but as the opportunity to do what is right.”  Peter Marshall

Gray Days of Winter Around the Corner

Enjoying a few more days of some color in the yard.

A few Jackman Clematis purple flowers hang on the vine.

Although all the foliage is gone, some Whirling Butterfly Gaura (Gaura lindheimeri) still  waves in the wind.  Behind that are some red blossoms on a Flame Acanthus.

Henry Duelburg Mealycup Sage (Salvia farinacea) doesn’t want to say goodbye just yet.

This year the Mexican Flame Vine (Senecio confusus) won’t be carried inside, so it may pass away completely.  Each year we haul it in and each spring it takes forever for it to recover, and it seldom blooms.  So I give up.  It belongs in zones 10 – 11, but I was trying to push the envelop.

On a misty, overcast day, native Flame Prairie Sumac (Rhus Lanceolata) looks like it’s on fire.

This year the Yaupon Holly (Ilex vomitoria) has lots of tiny orange red berries.  I love the fact that it’s an evergreen tree.

Possumhaw Holly (Ilex decidua) berries are a little bigger and redder.  A winter treat for the birds. It’s a Texas native and a very hardy small tree with multiple trunks.

The tree/bush is very full of berries.

A few buds have shown up on the Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) .  It quit blooming months ago when the heat got too intense.  It’s also called Apricot Mallow based on the color of its flowers.

Maggie Rose (Rosa ‘Maggie’) just keeps on blooming.  It’s a fragrant bourbon rose that likes our climate.

Bought this bush a couple of years ago and kept it in a shed until I had a place for it.  It has surprised me because the limbs have grown so long and gangly, and the magneta globe flowers are so tiny.

Have lost the tag and can’t identify it.

It has a tendency to spread out.  So it’s really too close to other plants.  I’ll worry about that next year.

Several of the David Austin roses I have don’t flower very well.  But this Thomas A. Beckett blooms often and the bush looks healthy.

Duranta (Duranta erecta) flowers last a long time.

I moved this Mint to a container because it was taking over a flower bed.  Even in tight confines, it’s doing well here.

“One kind word can warm three months.”  Japanese proverb

What Happened to Autumn?

The middle of October was still in the throes of summer.  Here we are on the last day of October.  Last night was a hard freeze.  So all those jobs that we postponed because it was too hot and had planned to do in autumn, probably won’t get done this year.

Today the sun is shining.  Apparently, the freeze didn’t kill anything.

Autumn Purple Asters are in bloom.  These were divided a few years ago.  It looks like that task needs to be repeated.

Pretty little fellows.

Last spring I planted a couple of Country Girl Mums (Chrysanthemum ‘County Girl’).  They got so tall that they flopped over.  So this coming year, I plan to trim them back a bit in the summer.

But aren’t they gorgeous?  They have full pedals, like daisies.

Not readily available in box stores.  Look for them in a local, privately owned nursery.

Strawberry Fields Gomphrena (Globe Amaranth) is also difficult to find.  But well worth the search.  They reseed beautifully.

The spots on this Cannova Yellow Canna Lily from Monrovia makes it a little different from the usual canna lily.Good old dependable Belinda’s Dream survived the summer well and produced another flurry of blooms when the weather cooled just a tad.

This unknown native showed up a couple of years ago in a flowerbed.  They’re easy to pull up, so it’s not a problem when they pop up.  I pull some and leave some because they fill in some bare spots once the Purple Coneflowers and Daisies give up the ghost in the relentless heat of summer.

I’ve looked in my native flower books to identify them.  So far, no luck.

Three new Smoke Bushes (Cotinus coggygria) made it through the summer.  Maybe next year they will bloom with smokey plumes in the fall.  Thankfully, they are drought tolerant.

I think this is a Gomphrena globosa, commonly known as globe amaranth.  It grows differently than the Strawberry Gomphrena because they are individual plants.  This one is a short rounded shrub.

This is a rose that I propagated, so I don’t know which one it is.  I propagate several different kinds of roses at the same time.  They are labeled at first.  When they get transplanted, my labeling system breaks down.  Need to work on that.

Gregg’s Blue Mist Flower (Conoclinium greggii) is still blooming and attracting some butterflies.

If the cold weather continues, all these beauties will die and reappear next spring.

The next blog will show a few more flowers that are hanging on.

“Don’t let the world convince you that trusting is for fools and forgiving is for the weak.  These gifts are blessings given to you that prove that you have an amazing capacity to love and that you have goodness in your heart.” Brigitte Nicole

Unrelenting Heat

It’s still hot.  It’s still dry.  It’s still hot.  It’s still dry.  The summer merry-go-round keeps circling around and around.

So how could any plant survive this?

First of all, the plants in the yard have received more watering than usual.

Some plants actually live and bloom better in the heat, like this Sweet Autumn Clematis (Clematis paniculata).  The foliage is green most of the year.  But it’s flowering performance with its strong sweet smell comes in the hottest part of summer – mid August into September.

One warning:  prune it back to the ground by the beginning of spring, or it will be so heavy, it will tumble down and bring the trellis with it.  The optimum time is early winter.

The flowers disappeared from Globe Mallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua) when the heat cranked up, but the foliage is pretty and unique all by itself.  The ruffled leaves are soft to the touch.

This lovely plant is new to me this year.  Although I can’t find the tag, I think it is Rose Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena Globosa).  The leaves are wider than other gomphrenas, and it grows in a rounded mound.

Strawberry Field Gomphrena (Gomphrena haageana) are individual plants with a bright red ball at the top of each stem.  They reseed so freely that just a few can guarantee many flowers for years to come.

Another successful bush for this heat is Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii).

Bees and other pollinators flock to it.

Caryopteris or Bluemist shrub (Cayopteris x clandonensis) shines in the heat.  The main concern is more about its cold hardiness.  But it has survived some low temperatures.

Celosia is a large plant family that includes several annuals, such Cockscomb.  This one is Flamingo Feather (Celosia spicata).  All celosias do well in the heat.  The trick is to save their seeds.  I’m hoping to do that with this plant.

A favorite in Texas is Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima).  There’s no question that it’s a stunner.  But the problem is that it isn’t cold hardy here.  So it has to be brought inside for the winter.  That’s possible for a few years before it gets too large.
So I’ll just enjoy it for now.

Blue Potato Bush (Lycianthes rantonnetii) is listed as cold hardy for here in Zone 8.  But I have lost one already, so for right now it is carried to a protected area each winter.

A plant that should not be grown here is Firebush (Hamelia patens).  I resisted getting one as long as I could.   It does very well two zones warmer than here.  For now, it’s in a pot.

Sometimes, I think my love of plants is madness.

Of course, the very best plants for any region are the native ones.  If they grow in a field with no supplemental water, that is a dead give away that they’re perfect for the area.  Snow on the Mountain (Euphorbia marginata) forms large colonies in the dry fields.

Sometimes a few will come up in the yard, so I let them grow.  Obviously, this Swallowtail butterfly appreciates it.

 “To find some who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, this is the ultimate happiness.”  Robert Brault 

Visit Chandor Gardens

Another look at what Chandor Gardens has to offer.

There are surprises along the pathways and stairs that climb to different levels of the garden.

Some of the newer structures don’t exactly fit in with the more formal sections, but are unique.

For the waterfall, the original builder and owner, Douglas Chandor, had to haul in soil and large rocks.  This was done without large equipment and one helper.

Pentas were in bloom and placed in several places in the garden.  They didn’t show any wilting from the heat but were fresh and lovely.

Maybe Bleeding Heart but don’t know for sure.

Stepping stones across a shallow pool.

Tied Bamboo poles give the illusion of sails on a small Chinese sampan boat.

Chinese statuary in different spots all around the garden makes me wonder why Chandor was so taken with that culture.

Chinese Button Bush (Adina Ruella) looks a little like the North American Button Bush (Cephalanthus occidentalis).  But it’s parts are more distinct and pop out against dark foliage.  This was in a mostly shady area on the edge of a small stream.

Chandor’s home is used for special events.

This Magnolia looks healthy, even in the extreme dry heat.

One of the many water features, this Pixie Pond is another place to relax and enjoy the sound and sight of water.

Cast stone pixies in different poses are placed on top of the stone (or brick) edges around the pond.  Chandor chose them and placed them himself, probably in the late 40’s.

The next post will be the final one on Chandor Gardens.

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.”  Thomas Fuller

Crazy Heat Continues

Even though it’s difficult to fathom, there are many plants that not only survive the heat, but are at their peak during the dog days of August.

Texas Rock Rose  (Pavonia lasiopetala) blooms on and on throughout the summer.  Can’t beat it for performance when temperatures are 100 plus.

Desert Bird of Paradise (Caesalpinia gilliesii) is a haven for bees and other pollinators in the summertime.  If it’s planted in a tight place, like this one is, it’s necessary to tie the branches upright so they don’t sprawl out.  This rope is tied to a metal stake.Henry Duelberg Sage (Salvia farinacea ‘Henry Duelberg’) is the blue-purple blooms while the white ones are named after his wife Augusta.  Found in a Texas cemetery growing on their graves, they are also sold as Mealy Cup Sage.

In my opinion, it’s one of the best salvias around and should be a staple in gardens where the summers are hot and dry.

Mint also pays no attention to the heat.  It’s so aggressive that the word “aggressive” doesn’t even describe it.  I first planted it in a flower bed.  It spread so quickly by underground runners that pulling it out was a chore.  In fact, it will take a concerted effort to monitor new shoots coming up and totally removing all of the underground parts from that bed.

Obedient Plant or False Dragonhead (Physostegia virginiana) is in the mint family, so it too can be aggressive.  However, it spreads much slower than mint does.  The lovely foxglove like flowers bloom during the hottest part of the summer.

Another take-over-the-world plant is Mexican Petunia (Ruellia brittoniana).  If there’s a theme here, it’s that plants with underground runners that root and produce a new plant must have space and diligent watchfulness to keep it controlled.

However, if you live where the summers heat up with no moisture and have hard rocky clay soils, these are be beautiful, reliable plants.

Old fashioned Dusty Miller has survived winters and summers in this pot.  When planted, it was to be a temporary solution until I found the right spot for it.  But now, it looks perfect in this pot.Rose Mallow (Hibiscus moscheutos) and Hardy Hibiscus give the garden a wow factor.  Although the blossoms only last one day, their flowers are so large and stunning and the blooming is so prolific that they are both super stars.

“My garden, like my life, seems to me every year to want correction and require alteration.”  Alexander Pope