southgate-rhododendronYou can read about our interest in Southgate rhododendrons over here. The brief story is rhododendrons at lower elevations are not protected from the various problems that bedevil gardeners in the deep South who wish to grow rhododendrons successfully. (See the admittedly presumptuously titled 'Your Rhododendron Has Died. An Explanation' for more information as to the reasons behind the problems.)

In our third year of testing, so far the Southgate rhododendrons have done swell both in the pot and in the ground. The attached photo is one of this year's blooms. Each shrub is absolutely packed with flowers. Southgate rhododendrons thus far are highly recommended.

what i was trying to say is this: there are days, more than you can imagine, where knowing the guitar is there makes the struggle lift away. some struggles i embrace but not the grind and not the heartbreak...having this thing i can depend on that is free of any other obstacle, and boy are there plenty for all of us.

there are no bolded words, no titles, no subheadings, no hierarchy here. each word depends on the other. each word, even the smallest, matters.

so i believe some people need this strong creative focus on self to be happy. i suspect you are like this. it is a long road and we should be grateful for the journey. pick something that is creative or maybe let it pick you. something you can love and commit to.

and then don't ever think again how good or not good you are. just do the thing, as often as you can, and give yourself to it. dogs live in the moment with no thought of past or future and we should do the same when it comes to most things, especially what we give our hearts to. yet another thing to learn from dogs. Continue reading ‘David (Jeremy, Flynne, Ian)’

See also: Complete List of Garden Roses
I chose eight. I always choose eight. I've seen a lot of roses over a lot of years. These are the ones I would plant if my life depended on their success. They are for the most part resoundingly disease resistant. They are not just tough. They are also beautiful.

Belinda's Dream Rose1. Belinda's Dream

Dr. Robert Basye's masterpiece, Belinda's Dream is stunning from bud through bloom. Belinda's Dream has excellent disease resistance. Outstanding heat tolerance. The flowers are large, to 5". It's not perfect: Belinda's Dream has a lot of petals and may ball in cool, damp climates.

A worthy rose to start our list. Learn more.

Carefree Beauty Rose2. Carefree Beauty

Highly disease resistant shrub rose developed by Dr. Griffin Buck (Iowa State University), Carefree Beauty is highly disease resistant and blooms from Spring through to frost. They say it gets to three feet. Don't believe it...I've seen it to six on an extremely old rose at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

Extremely winter hardy. Learn more. Continue reading ‘Top Eight: Disease Resistant Roses’

See also: Herbaceous Perennials, Peony Bowl of Beauty
I find peonies such as Pillow Talk achingly beautiful to look at and very difficult to photograph. Lots of petals and a cruelly short bloom time creates a narrow window of opportunity. Occasionally I stumble onto a worthwhile image and off we go...

peony pillow talk

Click for larger (please...I don't take many good shots of peonies).

Pillow Talk was released in 1974 and won a gold medal from the American Peony Society twenty years later. Such staying power says something. You can view the entire list of gold medal winners here.

Continue reading ‘Peony – Pillow Talk’

When a garden designer or landscape architect plants something in their own garden, you know they are serious. We are happy to appreciate plants in other people's gardens, but to find the plants closest to our hearts, snoop around our places. There is only so much room after all.

Evergreen clematis

The flowers are lovely, but Clematis armandii is a winner in all seasons. Click for larger.

Clematis armandii is a classic and one of my two favorite vines (the other being hops vine). It is the plant I walk under first thing in the morning and the plant I walk under last thing in the evening.

Continue reading ‘Clematis armandii’

See also: Trees and Shrubs
I have found restraint is wise both in judgement of others as well as the pruning of forsythia. How harshly a plant is pruned may reveal something about the values of the person manning the shears. Or it might not. For example, one might believe tightly pruned forsythia to be a sign of a controlling  or uptight personality.

Our gardens are often a reflection of our values, whether we intend it or not. Indeed, gardens throughout the centuries have tended to reflect the societal rules in place at the time. Still, when it comes to individuals, I choose to believe we do our best and maybe just need a little help along the way.

forsythia flower

Forsythia in bloom. Shears or restraint? Click for larger.

When it comes to the aesthetics of pruning, it often comes down to experience and knowledge*. There are some plants that respond to pruning tightly (hedges, topiary, etc.) and other plants that look best when allowed to retain their natural shape. One thing is certain: If you bring electric clippers to the job instead of pruning shears, you have lost.

Forsythia is best, always, when allowed to grow relatively unbound. Continue reading ‘On Pruning Forsythia’

daughter, do you believe the prairies art?
a horizon expanding.

they mourn the death of Venice

but i do not.
all kings fall,
but the people will remain,

a sea, a plain
to the horizon, treeless.
and the grasses and the wind
are the things i love.

there is only one you.
only ever be one you.
never before. never after.


See also: Herbaceous Perennials, Tawny Daylily, Stella de Oro
The lilies are about the flowers, bold and illuminating the landscape the way few other perennials can. They do tend to add a boisterous element, so you should be okay with that. From a design standpoint, lilies have to be used with a painterly eye or they will overwhelm the garden. But man are they hardy. Oklahoma City is an excellent choice for northern gardens, surviving temperatures to -35 degrees Fahrenheit. Gardeners reportedly grow Oklahoma City in Alaska.

lily Oklahoma City

Asiatic lily Oklahoma City. Click for larger.

Oklahoma City, typical of the asiatic lilies, grows 3'-5' and blooms reliably in late Spring. Flowers are beacons and large, to 6" or so across. Plant asiatic lilies here and there throughout the garden. Ideally, they appear as if they've just erupted out of the landscape.

Continue reading ‘Asiatic Lily Oklahoma City’

I chose to write more about false indigo due to liking some photos of the post-flower seed pods. There is something about the beauty of those seed pods in the correct light (golden and late in the day) that works. Perennials that have little interest when out of bloom are of marginal value in most cases anyway (with apologies to the peony crowd).

false indigo seed pods

Baptisia seed pods. Click for larger.

About false indigo's seed pods...they are not attractive to everybody. You can trim them back if you prefer. The seed pods do however give insight into the relation of false indigo to the pea family, as well as a path to new plants. False indigo does not divide nor transplant well, so if you want to make more false indigo without a visit to the nursery, you will need to learn how to harvest and grow new plants from seed.

Continue reading ‘False Indigo – The Aftermath’