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Door Wreath

The Professor Sargent camellia is the star of my impetuous door wreath.

Yesterday I was  planning on cleaning the house.

Somehow I ended up making a wreath for the door instead.

I started by twinging a few stems of elaegnus into a circle.

I then added English boxwood, Walter’s viburnum, rose hips, nandina berries and three lovely pristine Professor Sargent camellia flowers.

I have enjoyed being greeted by said wreath when I returned home.

So the dirty house will just have to wait!


 

The Joys of Summer

I promise that I did not manipulate the colors of this summer phlox. It harmonized in the exact hues show here with our native bee balm.

It’s easy to say some positive things about summer right now.  We got some rain today and the temperature dropped at least 15 degrees.

I’m invigorated and ready to talk about flowers again.

I recently visited Allen and Julia Anderson’s garden down south in Poplarville, Mississippi.  Allen’s perennial border was at its peak of bloom.   I admired the cabbage leaf coneflowers (Rudbeckia maxima) and Indigo Spires salvia.

But… being a fan of the color purple, the combination that caught my eye was the pairing of  summer phlox (Phlox paniculata) and bee balm (Monarda fistulosa).

The phlox came from Allen’s Mama’s garden.  It has beefy rounded clusters of flowers.  Each floret in the cluster is a shocking magenta with an unusual red dot at the center.   The day was overcast and the color was almost fluorescent.

The bee balm is a Mississippi prairie remnant refugee.  It is a glowing purple-lavender with a softly frumpy bee balm shape.

These two are simple plants.  They are easy to grow.  They need some sun but tolerate drought and are pest free.  They mingle beautifully and smell great.

Bees and butterflies like them too.

If you don’t have an heirloom phlox passed on from your Mama, give Robert Poore phlox a try.  This phlox was named for my friend Robert who is a Landscape Architect from Flora, Mississippi.  It is a sturdy mildew resistant variety with lovely purple flowers.

It’s a grand plant but it doesn’t trump a Mama memory phlox.

Nothing is as good as a phlox from your Mama except maybe one from your Mamaw.


 

My Front Porch in the Rain

This is my front porch on a rainy day.

It’s raining today – a lovely soft, sweet smelling rain with thunder rumblings in the background.

Earlier the rain abated for a while and I scrambled outdoors to snap a few photos.

At least a couple of times a day I walk out the screen door and navigate my way across the porch.  I step onto the deck and make a bee-line across the lawn to my car.

Then, of course, I reverse my route when I return home.

The whole trek is about 50 feet – times two.  I follow this path so often that my senses become dull and I stop noticing my surroundings.

Today things are different – my senses are in high gear.  The leaves are sparkly with rain and I have a camera in my hand.

The Florida leucothoe is in full bloom today.

The Florida leucothoe (Agarista populifolia) arches over my head dripping with urn shaped flowers.  They hang like a galaxy above me and shed to carpet the deck below my feet.

The tropicals are beginning to recover after an arduous winter in the house.  They beam with contentment that the luck of the draw has dealt them a delightful porch life.

Marc Pastorek’s Foliage Man greets me at the front door.

I smile coyly at him.

The screen door creaks as I open it.

I step inside and I am home.


 

Jeeter’s Rose

My Crepuscule rose was planted in memory of Jeeter.


 

I came home late yesterday after speaking at an Urban Forestry conference near Memphis.

I was anxious to get out and see the garden after a three day absence.  Instead we’re having thunderstorms and tornado warnings so… it’s a great day for blogging.

I have looked out the window enough to see that the rains and wind have knocked the last of the azalea flowers into the middle of next week.  Luckily the roses are waiting in the wings!

During a break in the weather, I scurried out to the grocery store.  As I struggled down the front walk laden with groceries, I was delighted to see that one of my new roses was blooming.

I still miss the late Jeeter. He was quite a garden cat.

About three years ago, my favorite garden cat, Jeeter, was killed in the street.   My heart was broken because I had bottle fed him when he was a baby kitty.   Jeeter and I were inseparable in the garden.  I had never seen him in the street so I was totally blown away when he was killed by a car.

I buried him in my front flower bed in one of his favorite hang-outs.   I planted an orange rose on his grave.

The rose is a thornless climber called ‘Crepuscule’.    It is an antique Noisette that was introduced in 1904.   After three years I have trained ‘Crepuscule’ to clamber up into a nearby red buckeye tree.   The buckeye is still blooming a bit and I am happy to report that the red buckeye flowers harmonize perfectly with the soft apricot ‘Crepuscule’ blossoms.

I am even happier that the flower color is almost the same color as my boy Jeeter.   I like to think that the Crepuscule is channeling Jeeter and that as it rambles to the top of the 12 foot buckeye, Jeeter’s spirit is roaming the garden.

Good Bedfellows

Bird's Foot Violet and Hawera daffodil sing a lovely floral duet.


 

My garden is full of happy accidents.

Years ago, I was seeking low flowering groundcovers to compliment a specimen threadleaf Japanese maple.  I planted some locally procured bird’s foot violets (Viola pedata).  On a whim, I added a few miniature Hawera daffodils to the mix.   These two now bloom beautifully together each year at the close of daffodil season.

The bird’s foot violet is named because its finely divided leaves look somewhat like a bird’s foot.  It is found in sandy sunny locations south to the Gulf and north to New England.   In my part of Mississippi, these violets are called rooster heads or rooster head violets.  They often grow atop low graded banks at the edge of dirt roads.

I have seen large populations with many flower color variations including very pale lavender, bi-colored and deep purple.   The stamens in the center are a cheerful bright orange.   This lovely wildflower was beautiful when it began blooming in February.   It is even more striking now that its daffodil companion has chimed in.

The Hawera daffodil is an heirloom variety introduced from New Zealand in 1938.  It is considered to be in the Triandrus group or Division 5 according to the American Daffodil Society.  Like other members of that Division, Hawera has two or more blooms per stem that hang like bells.

Hawera produces clusters of nodding lemon yellow flowers with back-swept petals.  Plants are about 6″ tall and very adaptable.  They thrive in sunny graveled beds and also bloom quite nicely in my shaded backyard.

I recommend Hawera to clients who “don’t like daffodils because the leaves are yellow and floppy after the blooms fade”.  This diminutive bulb produces small slender leaves that simply disappear a few weeks after blooming without the unsightly transition.  Like the bird’s foot violet, Hawera has a wide range of hardiness from Zone 4 to 9.

Ask me in a couple of weeks and I’ll have a new favorite garden scene.  Right now, however, this melodic combo is stealing the show!

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