Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, August

Stachytarpheta 'Nectarwand Red', red false vervain, Pipevine Swallowtail. Thanks to Leslie Kuss and the Moth and Butterfly I.D. group on Facebook for their help. Bloom Day.

Hello friends! I’m actually making it to Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day this month on the actual day! I think it’s the first time this year. Go me!

Tiered borders with Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm,' 'Becky' shasta daisies and 'Bright Eyes' phlox is blooming with abandon from all the rain.
Tiered borders with Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’ black-eyed Susans, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’ shasta daisies and ‘Bright Eyes’ Phlox paniculata are blooming like crazy from all the rain. Thank goodness for black-eyed Susans! They knit my entire summer garden together.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day is sponsored on the 15th of each month by Carol Michel of May Dreams Gardens. Hop over there to see what’s blooming in other people’s gardens all over the world.

Rain again fell on Little Cedar today. We had several pop-up showers that didn’t last long, but when I went out to take photos, it was so humid my camera lens kept fogging up. Then, I came inside and realized all my pictures were black.

Arrrgh! No, I did not forget to remove my lens cap. I have no idea what happened, but it’s all fixed now. I ran back outside and took more photos as thunder boomed all around me. I was quicker than a frog sliding into a lily pond except I hopped back inside.

You know I have to include a photo of my favorite rose, 'Carefree Beauty,' a/k/a 'Katy Road Pink.' If this one ever gets Rose Rosette, you'll find me in the closet having a good cry.
You know I have to include a photo of my favorite rose, ‘Carefree Beauty,’ a/k/a ‘Katy Road Pink.’ If this one ever gets Rose Rosette, you’ll find me in the closet having a good cry.

We didn’t get any rain in June and July, but August has been a different story. I think over three inches fell on my little garden, and that makes my heart glad.

Trying to achieve the ever-elusive symmetry.
Trying to achieve the ever-elusive garden symmetry. Nothing in life is perfect. It’s not supposed to be.

I returned from GWA’s annual meeting in Buffalo, NY, last week, and I’ve been playing catch-up in and out of the garden ever since. I filed two columns with two different editors today and last week. I also harvested a ton of vegetables in my potager and cutting garden. I did a little live video on Facebook of the harvest.

As for blooms, because of the rain, we’ve got some. I wandered my overgrown ornamental garden this morning, and I feel rather bad about my neglect of it. After the garden tour, I lost all interest in these beds and borders.

Perennial garden doing its thing. Tightwad Red crapemyrtle in front. Purple crapemyrtles behind.
Perennial garden doing its thing. Tightwad Red crapemyrtle in front. Purple crapemyrtles behind.

I can hear you clucking. I’m sorry. I just worked so hard in it that I lost myself a little. I tried so hard to make it perfect that I forgot why I even garden.

Do you ever do that?

After the tour, I ran off to Garden Bloggers’ Fling and wandered other people’s gardens on tour, grateful that they weren’t mine. When I returned home, I was still tired. I overworked myself, and there’s a lesson, or as my friend, Mary Ann, of Gardens of the Wild, Wild West, would say, a pony in there somewhere. Maybe stop working so hard and trying to be so perfect? Maybe?

(Click on the photos to make them larger.)

I’m happy to say my vegetable and cutting gardens saved the day and me in July. They just seemed to ask for nothing, which isn’t true of course. I worked steadily in them too before the tour. However, they were ready for harvest, and harvest I did. I still have tons of tomatoes on the vine. I’m going to write another post on the cutting and vegetable gardens as soon as I catch my breath. Anyway, they made me remember why I garden.

Why you ask?

Because I simply must. I’m a writer and a gardener, and I must garden and write if I am to breathe. And, in these trying times, we must all remember to breathe.

Luckily, the ornamental beds and borders, while as wild as western mustangs, are somewhat contained by their formal edges and straight lines. I’m lucky ornamental gardens are forgiving. I just wish the Monarchs I’ve been seeing would get with it and lay some eggs. I’ll bring their caterpillars inside and raise them for a new generation if they do. I have tropical milkweed and perennial Asclepias tuberosa, butterfly weed, planted in many places–wherever it’s sunny. Oh, and if you live in Oklahoma don’t feel guilty for using tropical milkweed. It’s not going to kill your caterpillars. It dies all the way to the ground each fall so no worries. I’m saving seed this year to grow my own. I like A. curassavica ‘Silky Gold’ better than the orange one. Not being from Oklahoma State University, the University of Tennessee or the University of Texas, my favorite color is not orange.

I do, however, like a soft orange bloom, and some flowers are exquisitely beautiful in various shades of orange. Take agastache for example. Agastache Kudos™ Ambrosia is growing in a container on the deck. I never could grow agastache in my garden. The plants always rotted about Midsummer no matter how I prepared the soil. In a weird moment of buying plants online in a snowstorm last winter, I ordered two agastache plants. When they came, I was horrified and told my friend, Faire from Fairegarden. She calmly suggested I grow them in pots since it worked for her in Tennessee. Faire is a gardening guru in my book so I tried it. When it worked so well, I bought two more. I plan to bring these inside my greenhouse this winter and keep them for next year. I just used good potting soil, but if you’re worried, you could work in some sand too. The hummingbirds and I are very happy.

Agastache Kudos Ambrosia.
One bloom spike of Agastache Kudos™Ambrosia.

Another plant that’s really pleasing the butterflies and me this year is Stachytarpheta ‘Nectarwand Red’, red false vervain, a Bustani Plant Farm Introduction. Isn’t it beautiful? How about this Pipevine Swallowtail? Be still my heart!

Special thanks to Leslie Kuss of Growing a Garden in Davis, and the Moth and Butterfly Identification Forum on Facebook for their help in identifying this butterfly.

This is why I garden. Happy Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

Tulsa Botanic Garden, an Oklahoma jewel

Another view of the ponds at the Tulsa Botanic Garden. These will be surrounded with gardens, and they are also making a lotus lagoon.

Good morning! This will have to be a quickie because I’m behind on my writing projects due to arm surgery. I’m fine. My fingers are still numb, but I’m told it may take up to a year for the nerve to heal. Still, I’m finally back typing and touring. On Saturday, I joined my Region V GWA buds and toured two gorgeous Tulsa gardens that are open to the public. Today I’m featuring the Tulsa Botanic Garden, Oklahoma’s newest public garden.

There is a twenty-five year master plan to finish this Oklahoma jewel–but, are gardens ever really finished? The staff at TBG are already off to a great start having completed the A.R. & MaryLouise Tandy Floral Terraces in 2015 and the Children’s Discovery Garden this past May. I walked the Tulsa Botanic Garden last July with President and CEO, Todd Lasseigne, and Communications and Programs Director, Lori Hutson, after my talks for the Tulsa Herb Society. It was amazing to return in October and see plants already settled in.


We again toured the Tulsa Botanic Garden with Todd, and I always enjoy his personal thoughts about the garden, hearing first-hand what they are trying to accomplish in the short and long term. I also try my best to soak up his superior plant knowledge. He knows so much more than I ever will, and he’s very generous with his time and talent.

The Children’s Discovery Garden

Below is a gallery of photos from the children’s garden. I don’t think my photos capture the magic of this garden which is fully enclosed to keep children safe. It’s a wonderland of four of the five senses, touch, scent, hearing and sight. They left out taste to prevent children from eating plants they shouldn’t. Many plants are poisonous, and it’s good to teach people when they’re young.

I couldn’t believe how much the children’s garden grew in only a few months. Lord-a-mercy! If I could encourage you to grow two plants in an Oklahoma garden, it would be coleus and black elephant ears. Black elephant ears will even grow in full sun with irrigation, and nothing, other than ornamental bananas, has such presence. I love how the trees selected for the garden highlight native selections along with some fascinating cultivars. I should’ve made more notes about the trees, but I spent most of my time taking photos. These were all taken with my iPhone because I left my bigger camera at home. I didn’t want to lug it around all day.

Sometimes, I just want to be a tourist, you know?

The A.R. & MaryLouise Tandy Floral Terraces

Designed in the Art Deco style reflecting Tulsa’s historic past, the terraces are formal garden rooms. For those who don’t know, oil exploration was the driving engine behind Tulsa’s economy and still is for much of Oklahoma, although we have diversified. This was especially true during the 1920s, and much of Tulsa’s architecture, including their historic downtown, was completed during the Art Deco period. How appropriate for the terraces to reflect this heritage.

From TBG’s website.

Visitors can explore the garden’s four terraces – Lawn, Rose, Perennial and Mediterranean- on a serpentine, ADA accessible walk winding to the Garden’s peak or through a central stairway along the Garden Cascade.

Here are some photos. Click on an individual photo to enlarge it.


One of the most interesting things they did in the terraces was using coleus as hedges. In its native climate, the humble coleus is a shrub-like perennial so it makes sense to use them in Oklahoma as a summer hedge. Our climate is hot, and coleus are easier to grow than boxwood. Plus, you can change them out with the seasons.

One final thing, and then I’ll let you go. I love the experimental nature of the plantings. For example, Todd decided to plant a river or meadow of Cosmos bipinnatus ‘Sensation Mix’ between the floral terraces and the children’s garden. So much prettier than more mown grass, and their river-like effect reminded me of the Lurie Garden in Chicago. Cosmos is native to Mexico, and this meadow was a pollinator buffet while we were there. Enlarge the photos and feast your eyes on this beautiful scene. They are planning to add a native wildflower meadow at the other end of the terraces next spring. That means they’re planting seed now.

If you get a chance to visit Tulsa, don’t miss this beautiful garden. I’m so proud it’s in my home state, and I can’t wait to see what’s next. They are planting bulbs next week so expect a beautiful bulb extravaganza next spring.