May 27, 2015

Doublefile Viburnum

                                  Tulsa garden touristas:  Gary, me, Jeanne and John-Boy

It is sad, but true, that so many of us avid gardeners (well, at least moi) don't make or find the time to visit other gardens in we (moi) are often crazy busy in our own gardens, or the gardens of our friends and clients. If the weather is perfectly beautiful for garden touring, it is also perfectly beautiful to be working/savoring/admiring our own little green domains. We (I) are often loathe to give up our own too few moments of intimate domestic gardening in the fleeting spring...

DOUBLEFILE VIBURNUM (find out more about this stunner here)
Viburnum plicatum Thunb. f. tomentosum  'Shasta'

to take the time to visit other beautiful blooming spaces and places...and expose ourselves to fresh ideas and techniques, compositions and combinations and novel uses of plants, hardscaping and outdoor living.

But enticed by the prospect of garden viewing and laughter with three great garden buds, (and the promise of Mimosas at lunch ; Mimosas apparently being the official beverage of The Garden Tour Season 2015...), I joined my buddies on a recent weekend outing to Tulsa for a garden tour. 

Without question my favorite take-away idea was this stunning Doublefile Viburnum growing through an expanse of wrought iron fence. My pictures in no way do it justice (these were drive-by pics, after all)...hardly capturing the grace and charm and purity of the shrub and its unique posturing.

I am absolutely smitten with all variety of viburnum of late, and this lace-cap flowering beauty of a viburnum is no exception. Increasingly I find that I am hoarding and collecting images and ideas for a future garden. Either a re-invention or rehabilitation of my existing one, or, more probably, an entirely new garden in a new location in a new, as yet unknown, future life.

And when, if ever that happens, you can rest assured that this lovely composition...

will find an interpretation, and a home,  in my garden.

May 26, 2015

Between the Raindrops

This has been the view from my kitchen window of late... soggy soil, soggy air, soggy spirits. As much as we Okies complain of heat and drought and wind, and we do... (and often I might add)

we also are quick to acknowledge our compensatory environmental counterweights:  vivid, expansive, blue and reliably sunny skies; the bright white light of long summers and growing seasons, and more than enough vitamin D and melatonin to go round... most always at the ready to banish even a whisper of seasonal effective disorder in most months.

(Salmon Asiatic lilies have stood up well to torrents of spring rain. A shovelful of coarse gravel in a large planting hole got the bulbs off to a good start several years ago. They have especially appreciated this extra drainage in my slow draining, heavy clay soil during these heavy rains..)

I adore the way Lady's Mantle captures raindrops.

Normally I, like most Oklahoma gardeners, embrace and luxuriate in the rain, channeling its romance and exulting in its healing, restorative garden powers. But a pearl of gardening wisdom I have harvested over the that


Be it nitrogen or birdhouses or wildlife or gnomes or fairy houses or, yes, 


(Though snails and slugs and lawn fungus and pill bugs and mosquitoes would probably beg to differ;  drunken and engorged on all this moisture are they. I can hear their raucous revelry as I write. Not unlike Templeton the rat in CHARLOTTE'S WEB after feasting at the fair....)

(I cordoned off the grass to protect it from too much foot traffic. PYTHIUM, an annual  fungal problem in my fescue lawn has already begun to rear its ugly head.  All of this moisture will hasten its spread and foot traffic worsens the problem. Despite practicing recommended cultural lawn care to prevent it, it nevertheless plagues me each and every late spring.)

But in between the raindrops/rain torrents...we squeezed in a few garden tours...donning our wellies

and slickers and bug spray to ward off the elements.  

Ever-prepared, the fun-loving Daisy Dames came more than prepared to ward off the elements with Mimosas served from a sterling tray and champagne ice bucket... straight from the trunk of a car (thanks, Anna!) No small feat for this large a group. 

Not to be outdone, a group of Tulsa garden enthusiasts rented a bus to come tour OKC area gardens for the day. We were thrilled to have them!


I felt compelled to apologize for the lack of color. Heavy rain had washed away most of it and the lack of bloom-inducing sun doesn't help. 

But oh my, things were and ARE lush and verdant and green.

QUESTION:  Where do you get your metal pot stands?  

ANSWER:  Home Depot or Lowes

QUESTION: Do you cut back your mondo grass in the spring... like the regular monkey grass?

ANSWER: No, it fills out on its own, covering any winter-blemished foliage.

QUESTION:  Why do you leave gaps in the brick?  How is the spacing so even? Do they sink? Why do you use both brick AND stone for the border?

ANSWER: I like to grow things in between.~ When I installed them, I used a 'spacer' to ensure the gaps were even. ~ Yes, sometimes, during heavy rain...I just straighten them later. ~ I like the textural contrast; both hardscaping elements appear in my home's facade; I  just find it interesting and eye pleasing.

QUESTION: What is this plant? Is it hard to grow?

ANSWER: Lady's Mantle ~ it can be; that's why I grow it in pots where it seems to do well. 

QUESTION: What are those round purple things on the straight stems?

ANSWER: Allium 'Globemaster'

QUESTION: May we come back again sometime?  ANSWER:  Of course!

May 13, 2015

Allium Christophii

The dramatic allium 'Christophii' from COLORBLENDS ( find it and other allium here)

A goodly number of years ago, probably in my early twenties, I remember playing a pop psychology 'game' that claimed to give its players insight into their personalities and life priorities. We were told to consider four shapes - a square, a triangle, a 'doodle', and a circle...

Clouds of metallic spheres of stars

and then put them in order according to preference, starting with the form or shape one liked best and then second best, etc. Only after doing so, were the character traits associated with the shapes disclosed. (It's fun; do this now if you like, before reading further.)

                                                                        Evokes images of Epcot, doesn't it?

In looking back, the personality 'clues' that were revealed by examining the preferences for one shape over another, (especially now after years of Dr. Phil and Oprah), seem obvious and elementary; but at the time, I found them intriguing and astonishingly least in my case.

Give them EXCELLENT drainage if you want them to return next year. A shovelful of gravel in a huge hole gets them off to a good start.

Back then, I fell decidedly into the TRIANGLE category as my first choice. Symbolizing ambition, forward-thinking, goal orientation.....well, as I was fresh out of college and about to embark on a selection was probably not surprising.

Give them plenty of sun. They look especially striking paired with vertical plantings...

Had I chosen a DOODLE, creativity and outside-the-box thinking would have been my primary motivator and concern. A CIRCLE: relationships, harmony, love and family.  Finally, a SQUARE, with a focus on security, a strong life foundation and reliability. 

or golden foliage.  They bloom with the roses; so intriguing.

As I have aged and matured, I have thought of this exercise often. As my life orientation and emphasis changed, so did the hierarchy of my shape preferences. I started my garden and family simultaneously. As the years progressed, so did my affection for the circular, spherical form.

It began to appear over and over in my garden; its appearance reinforcing my attachment to its shape and contribution to my life.

Starry Garden Galactica. Lavender Thunderdomes.

But as we all know, neither a garden, nor a life, is static. I still love my round silhouettes, but as I get older, I am increasingly drawn to the square form and the symmetry it communicates. A shape and profile less difficult to maintain, but strong and grounding and reliably attractive. Something to count on and lean on and depend on. Sturdy dependability.  Qualities to nurture and appreciate...

Allow foliage to turn brown and die back before cutting. Leave flower heads to dry or cut them and bring some of the drama indoors. 

Qualities important in an evolving garden...

and evolving life.

May 10, 2015


Sometimes we gardeners get so caught up in our love fest over azaleas, roses, peonies and hydrangeas... that we overlook other remarkable and reliable blooming shrubs. Allow me to make the case for weigela, specifically the perky selection RUBIES N' GOLD WEIGELA .

It blooms just as the viburnum and deutzia are fading, and I am forlorn about their exit from the garden stage. For whatever reason, I have not always appreciated this golden-leaved shrub's value to the border and the vase...probably because I did not select the correct aesthetic for its planting location when I first introduced it to the garden five or so years ago...a mistake I intend to remedy as soon as I find just the right spot.  And just what is that?  Well, its moderate mature size in my garden, about 4' x 4' give or take (it is about five years old) makes it fairly easy to fit anywhere. Against a dark backdrop would be lovely...

to accentuate its glowing foliage and ground its arching canes. It doesn't seem to suffer any pest or mildew problems; still, giving it some space would magnify its beauty and enhance its growing form. Mine gets too much afternoon sun during the summer, and though it is relatively drought tolerant, it still suffers leaf scorch and sulks in the intense summer heat. Afternoon shade would be most appreciated.

I have unjustly treated it as something of a stepchild to the more popular spring blooming shrubs, said roses, peonies and hydrangeas. But with my mophead hydrangeas (that bloom on old wood) being far from reliable of late (due to both early and late very hard freezes), and the roses... short lived in the ever blowing Oklahoma  wind...

I am rethinking my apathy towards it and other beautiful weigela, like the PROVEN WINNER SONIC BLOOM 'Pearl' below,

and 'Pink' here, with white flowers that turn to pink in 'Pearl' and dark pink blooms in 'Pink'... with a supposedly reblooming habit. Weigela are old-fashioned and reliable...unfinicky about soil (though preferring good drainage), and happy in full to part sun (but give them full sun for dense, rapturous, hummingbird and sphynx moth-loving blooms...but remember, with some afternoon shade in OK please). So serious am I that I am considering removing my ever so briefly performing peonies and replacing them with these new weigela.  

A must feature in any plant I add to my garden is their value to my vase. Weigela's arching canes of pendulous blooms look wonderful cascading over the side of a vessel, an attribute I greatly appreciated as I cut a new a massive spring arrangement for my round library book table (here). (The larkspur and Graham Thomas roses were lovely, but are about spent now...)

As so many gardeners (like my friend, gardener extraordinaire Dee Nash at RED DIRT RAMBLINGS) try to find replacement plants for bare spots created by victims of the dreaded Rose Rosette Disease, I am thinking that some of these reliable and lovely weigela might be just the ticket. What do you think?