More Scenes from The Fells

Heather border with main house in the background.

View of Lake Sunapee.

The “Old Garden”. Quiet and restful.

What a mystery! I have no idea what this is. I have emailed The Fells website asking for identification, but have not heard from them as yet.

The main flower border with New England asters blooming.

Fall Alliums.

Another view of the house taken from across a wildflower meadow of goldenrods.

Fall foliage of Rodgersia in a wet spot. This is the first time I have seen this plant outside of a book.

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Goodbye WordPress

WordPress will no longer upload my photos into posts, so I am going to a platform that works. This blog  becomes  The Nashville Gardener.

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A Fine Phlox for Nashville Gardens

Too many gardeners throw in the trowel in July, after the daylilies finish blooming. What more can there be they ask?. And why should we care when it is this hot?

There are so many fine late blooming plants-

Hardy begonias, the Japanese anemones, salvias, asters-

And this, the native Harpeth River phlox, found in the bottomlands near the river, and a pass-a-long plant if you know the right people.

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Garden phlox, back in the day of Elizabeth Lawrence, and Helen Van Pelt Wilson, and Louise Beebe Wilder, was a border mainstay. But during my years as a younger gardener, the tall garden phloxes lost favor. Gardeners saw them as disease ridden water guzzlers too often not worth the space.

Their panicles of pastel lavenders and pinks, and cherry reds were easily imitated by substituting some of the smallest crape myrtles- a practice I still think wise.

But I make an exception for the Harpeth River phlox, which has no ugly ankles to hide, and which has made its peace with the Tennessee summers.





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Blooming Today in A Green Hills Garden

Here is an heirloom crinum, cultivar unknown, that came out of a family garden in Milledgeville, Georgia. It is a very compact form-

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And here is the spectacular Erythina bidwillii, which I found last year at Hewitt’s Garden Center out on Hillsboro Road. They were selling it as a patio plant, but having had its parent, Erythina crista-galli, in my old Bellevue garden for over a decade, I knew its potential.

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This is a die-back shrub in Nashville. It comes back from the roots, even after the horrific 2014 winter- Southern Living magazine says it is not hardy away from the Coastal South, but they are wrong. Tony Avent’s Plant Delights nursery sells it, and they rate it a Zone 7.

One of these would be enough in any garden-

Some other bloomers and scenes from today-

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The biggest job in the front border this month is not weeding or watering, but is cutting back spent and untidy iris foliage, as is well illustrated in the next to last photo-


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The Ugly Truth

I am re-building my gardening library,and I recently bought Richard Bisgrove’s “The Gardens of Gertrude Jekyll”.

Jekyll was a genius in her use of color and her plant placement, and she was fond of using Lamb’s Ear’s  along stone walks and draped over rock walls. This plant was one of her favorites.

Lamb’s Ear’s do well in English gardens.  How tempting it is to try to copy her ideas  and use them and what plants she used in our gardens here in the US!

The Green Hills garden, with its long flagstone entrance walk, once had Lamb’s Ear’s en masse behind its iris border. Every June they sent up their ghostly gray spikes by the dozens, and every year they self seeded and spread.

But the great mats they formed had sickly, blighted centers, not unlike the rot we see in urban areas, after all the prosperous life has fled to the suburbs.

Would-be Southern gardeners take heed, for here is what happens  when Summer comes on-


Here is another view of a blooming clump-



This morning I pulled out the plants in the first photo, dug out the roots, and as I was shoveling, encountered a nest of angry red, biting ants scrambling away with what eggs they could salvage-

With great care, I dug in a Color Guard yucca as a replacement. Had I had an artemesia “Powis Castle”, I might have replaced gray with gray, but I think the yucca is the better choice for this garden’s lean soil.

And as to the slovenly foliage of the gone by irises in the background, that is another story, for in two decades, they have never been divided. Perhaps this year the owner will let me  do it-

Soon I will be clipping them to fans and cleaning up the brown shards. At least one hundred feet of bearded iris to be clipped, and in July morning heat.

Which is another Ugly Truth.


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A Post about Rabbits On My Other Blog

I am battling rabbits at one of the gardens I take care of, and I posted about it today at  The tee-tiny kitchen Blog. The title of the post is “High Clover”.

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A Salvia Seedling

The shrubby Gregg’s salvias I planted last year in the Green Hills garden did not do well. Only three lived through our awful winter.

One, a cherry red cultivar I bought for 1/2 price at Moore and Moore, is blooming now. The other two still look stunned-

Beneath the bloomer, I found a seedling- a great find since the presumed mother plant is hardy.But will it be red? Not all the Gregg’s salvias were. And there were other salvias in the garden as well. Salvia leucantha. Salvia guaranitica “Van Remson”. Phyllis Fancy”. “Indigo Spires”.  And “Wendy’s Wish”.

No one intentionally bred the last two. Alert gardeners found them,potted them up and waited. It seems that salvias are promiscuous, and their pollen gets around.

This little plant , even if it is not some new wonder, is special to me.

It volunteered. I found it. And with three months of summer ahead,and two warm months in fall. I expect it will bloom.

I will keep looking for other seedlings, and if there is any advice I would give to other gardeners, it is to be curious, for there is nothing better than the treasure hunt for self-sown seedlings-

 Remember that not everything that sprouts is the evil buckwheat vine.



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Flowers For The Ages

“The Master of Mary of Burgundy” is “A Book of Hours for Engelbert of Nassau”, and it dates from the Netherlands of the fifteenth century. It is an illuminated manuscript of Biblical scenes and stories framed by illustrations of garden flowers and peacock feathers. No one knows who painted it , and it is now , not the property of a nobleman, used for his private devotions, but of the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Here are the beloved flowers of country and monastery gardens- iris,pinks, poppies, Bouncing Bet, violas, columbines, and Bachelor’s Buttons . And here and there, resting on the gold leaf we see a butterfly-






The iris pictured above is very like the flower of the  Blue Flags found in old gardens, at least in its shape. It also resembles the blooms of the Dalmatian iris.

I took these photos of my copy of this book, which was published by Georges Braziller in 1970. I bought the book in 1976, when I was twenty six. And though the plant breeders have altered pinks and daffodils, the blue cornflower is the same today as it was in 1976 and in the fifteenth century-



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Blooming Today in Green Hills

This is the annual self-seeding larkspur that has been seeding itself in this garden for thirty years or more. One never sees these for sale as plants at garden centers, for they do not care for potted up life. They grow where they are sown, and bloom with the roses.


Here is Digiplexis “Illumination” in its first month in this garden, and stubbier than I had anticipated. It is a hybrid between the Common Foxglove and Isoplexis, a plant from the Canary Islands. How it will grow here is yet to be seen.



Now, an unusual combination- the sometimes pestiferous Showy Evening Primrose and the blooms of some ancient Heuchera cultivar. The primrose is common on roadsides and soft shoulders , and in the garden, with no asphalt to slow it down, runs everywhere.


And here we see an excellent idea- Helleborus orientalis, the Lenten Rose, used as a ground cover Note the chipmunk home between the hellebore clump and the spirea. In this flower bed the chipmunks dig, the rabbits chew, and the cat next store is no deterrent, though I have seen a red-tailed hawk from time to time.

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The next two photos are of the herb garden, which is being re-planted. It faces southwest, and is warmed by a stone foundation. Unfortunately the decade old Rosemary that was in here did not survive this past winter. We have added two to replace it, and also put in two Wallflowers from Lowes that the owner is enthusiastic about. I remain agnostic about these, and suspect their prospects may be dim.



In the Front Walk Border the irises and peonies are over, and the garden now has a quiet period before the summer through autumn bloomers begin.


But some sections are flower-free, and arranged for foliage alone. Here are Gold Sword yuccas, euphorbias, and rue.Image

Another view of the Bachelor’s buttons in the upper border near the drive. They self seed, and to my surprise attract goldfinches to their seed heads .







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Scenes from a West Meade Garden- May 22, 2014

The Tropical Milkweed (Asclepias curassavica) in this photo came from Creekside nursery in Belle Meade. I bought it as a “mother” plant to use for seed, but have learned that its cuttings root in water. It blooms all summer, unlike our native Asclepias tuberosa, which I am raising from seed this year.

I think the combination of orange and chartreuse is a striking one. The sedum in this photo is the old pass- a- long yellow and green, seen all over this city. A woman named Helene, who lived over off Charlotte Pike gave it to me, and when I left my house and garden my plants went to Green Hills, and later to this garden.



The white hardy Salvia nemerosa(I think) in the background came to this garden riding in a massive pot this garden’s owner bought at an estate sale at a mansion off Post Road in West Meade. The American Columbines were seedlings from the Green Hills garden.

I love all the sunset colors, and I think they, no matter how gaudy some may think them, are needed in our strong sunlight. White and pastels wash out at noon, and are best seen at dawn and dusk.

Another view of this narrow border, with a Knock Out rose blooming in the foreground-


No Rose Rosette disease on this plant, but its leaves have been chewed on by Rose Slugs, which are little green inch worms. The owner sprayed some dish washing soap on them, but I do not know how well well it is working. I ignore bugs most of the time, and if a plant is miffy and cannot thrive without spraying I toss it out, though in this garden I do not have carte blanche to toss out roses.

Here is the self-seeded Linaria purpurea, the Purple Toadflax. Its ancestors came from my old Bellevue garden. It is biennial, and after blooming dries up and dies. But there are volunteers galore, enough for ten gardens. The original seed for this came from Thompson and Morgan. It was the pink version, known as “Canon Went”. It mostly reverts to purple, though it sometimes seeds a pink one. It can survive in wall crevices and driveway cracks, and I have found it in the shade garden as well. It is as adaptable as the old timey Pink Balsam, now coming up in the wall alongside it, though not in this photo.


And here is proof that tropical gingers will survive the Nashville winter. This is “Daniel Weeks”, a yellow Hedychium from Plant Delights.








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