Prepping for an Oklahoma garden tour

The Oklahoma Horticultural Society holds a garden tour each fall showcasing Oklahoma gardens in various parts of Oklahoma City, or its surrounding suburbs. The ticket price goes to scholarships for horticulture students at universities throughout the state. You can buy tickets for $15.00 the day of the tour at the gardens, and beforehand at the reduced prices of $10.00 for OHS members to $12.00  for nonmembers at various retail outlets listed in the above link. This year the tour is on October 17th, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., and I’m proud to say my garden is one of the six on tour. Mine is the furthest northern garden, and last Friday, I got an early sneak peek at three of the other gardens on tour. Mine is the only one designed by the gardener with her husband’s substantial help.

Front of our log cabin.
Front of our log cabin.

I am not a professional landscape designer, and I’ll be honest, I’m a little intimidated. One reason I didn’t get to my September Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post was because I’ve been toiling in the garden nearly everyday to get it ready. Fortunately Kari Walls from Tender Hands Gardening came over nearly every other week to help except when I was in Pasadena for the Garden Writers Association’s annual symposium. I lost a week of work there.

Back garden in October.
Back garden in October.

In the midst of all this prep, Bill decided we need a pond outside our bedroom so he’s worked very hard for two weeks straight creating and installing one. On Friday, he organized a crew of employees to help place rock. He’s considering adding pond building to the company’s repertoire. I would say the pond is two-thirds of the way finished. It should be completed by the tour, although he did mention the dam isn’t high enough to please his aesthetic sensibilities. I am staying out of his way and concentrating on other things. If it isn’t finished by the tour date, just know that gardens are always a work in progress and cut us some slack, okay?

Here is what the pond looks like half finished or maybe three quarters finished. I think it will be done by the tour.
Here is what the pond looks like two-thirds finished. I think it will be done by the tour.

Because Bill was working so hard on the pond/water feature, for the first time, we hired a friend to mow the grass and weedeat. Thank goodness I convinced Bill this was necessary.

Pumpkins, peppers and pansies make a great trio in a fall southern garden.
Pumpkins, peppers and pansies make a great trio in a fall southern garden.

Unfortunately, our friend didn’t understand how tender and sensitive a fescue lawn is. He used a string trimmer to tidy up my front lawnette. I nearly cried, but instead, I put out more Crossfire fescue seed and fertilized with Milorganite. The whole place smells like a sewer, but I hope the lawnette recovers in two weeks. If not, again, please forgive me.

Front entryway with pots designed by Helen Weis at Unique by Design Landscape and Containers.
Front entryway with pots designed by Helen Weis at Unique by Design Landscape and Containers.

Helen Weis–bless her sweet heart–of Unique By Design Landscaping and Containers, volunteered to rehab my front pots. They are now scrumptious and full of Helen’s signature style. Nobody does containers or designs like Helen.

One of the pots designed by Helen Weis from Unique by Design.
One of the pots designed by Helen Weis from Unique by Design.

Kari and I busted our butts to deadhead and mulch all the beds. We added pansies to empty spots like stickers covering up mistakes in a photo album. Mid-October is rather late for a garden tour, and plants are shrinking daily. The best piece of news is the trees. With the cooler weather, the post oaks and blackjacks are becoming golden yellow and burnished bronze. Oklahoma sumacs are turning red in the pastures, and I’ve let one grow at the end of the back garden where a rose once grew and bloomed. It should be in fine form.

Pink muhly grass always reminds me of my friend, Faire, who turned me onto this pink confection.
Pink muhly grass always reminds me of my friend, Faire, who turned me on to this pink confection. It takes about three years to get established.

I hope so anyway. I can’t control the weather.

Pink muhly grass, Mexican sage and variegated tapioca in the garden that faces the street.
Pink muhly grass, Mexican sage and variegated tapioca in the garden that faces the street.

Ornamental grasses, especially the pink muhly and maiden hair grass, are looking fab. Panicum virgatum, switchgrasses, are starting to show pretty colors of vibrant yellow gold and dark red. When Oklahoma Gardening came out last Friday to profile my garden among others, Brenda Sanders and I talked about grasses, berries and other autumnal highlights. The show will air next Saturday. The Oklahoman is doing a profile of the gardens in their Saturday paper published October 10 in the real estate section. They came today to interview Allan Storjohann, president of the society, and me. I’ll post links when they are live.

Fountain at the center of the potager.
Fountain at the center of the potager.

Don’t expect to see the cutting garden on the tour. The zinnias finally mildewed, and I pulled them and the large veggie garden down on Friday. The potager and cold frame are still growing and producing though.

I am weary, yet exhilarated. I’m doing the tour because I want horticulture students to get the money they need to finish their degrees. If you ever thought about going into horticulture, now is a good time. Across the U.S., jobs are plenty, and students are few. Think about it. We need the next generation to carry on.

The newest garden border I planted this year. I'm thinking about painting that wall this fall. Don't know what color though.
The newest garden border I planted this year. I’m thinking about painting that wall this fall. Don’t know what color though.

Two more hort society friends are coming out to deadhead Friday before the tour. There’s plenty to deadhead here. I’ve left stands of Phlox paniculata as long as I possibly can to give butterflies strength as they wing their way to winter quarters. Now, the phlox is looking sad and out of sorts. Time to cut it back, but I’ll leave the stems for overwintering insects like native bees.

Aster tataricus, tatarian aster with a sleepy bumble.
Aster tataricus, tatarian aster with a sleepy bumble.

I’m sharing all of this because it’s good to know what it takes to put a garden on tour just in case you ever decide to do it. I’ve postponed taking cuttings for the greenhouse, but I may cut some of the coleus in back of the clumps because I’m afraid we’ll have a cool night that ends their reign. My summer garden would be sadly lacking without its wonderful coleus.

Talavara pottery pumpkin witch in my front flower border.
Talavara pottery pumpkin witch in my front flower border.

In honor of the tour, I bought a new piece of Talavera pottery. She’s a little pumpkin witch with stars in her hat. Look for her in the front border. She makes me smile and joins my other gorgeous Talavera fall jack o’ lanterns. Since fall is my favorite garden season, I’m glad the tour is coming soon. I hope you’ll come visit even though I live north of Edmond. It’s not that far, and there’s a map on the tickets–plus, we’ll have signs directing you my way.

34 Replies to “Prepping for an Oklahoma garden tour”

    1. Thanks Pete! Yes, the garden went great. There were over 500 people in our garden on Saturday. It was a whirlwind, but I loved it. So many lovely gardeners.

  1. Well, it’s a well deserved honor for you, and I know they’ll all love it. I think I would have a fit if hubby suddenly decided that I needed a pond, when a garden tour was only two weeks away! Yikes! I mean, we all want a pond, but not right then! LOL

  2. Whew! and I thought Spring was a tough time to put on a garden tour! But it’s so fresh and the weeds aren’t jungle-sized. I’m glad you had a little help. Your garden is very tour worthy Dee in case you have any doubt – you shouldn’t! I had yesterday set aside to work in my garden and it rained of course, and I didn’t feel like walking around wet after my spill in the lake (long story), but I am giving myself a do-over day today. I’ve never done that before but if I don’t get some of my own work done, I’ll snap soon. I love ornamental grasses – especially that Pink Muhly (not quite hardy enough for North Country). I plan to move some of my grasses as they are being crowded out – all but the Switch Grass Dallas Blues which is a stunner right now in full bloom. And that Mexican Sage! I planted some in the Park where I work and I am blown away – it didn’t do much all summer but now it is gorgeous – of course, most of the folks have left for winter oh well. Thank you for your inspiration – I am so looking forward to a day in my own garden. I wish I lived closer and could attend your tour. By the way, that pond will be amazing! I have serious pond envy.

  3. I am planning on getting my ticket and taking the tour. I am so excited to finally meet you Dee and see your gorgeous garden!

  4. I really like your style. What a peaceful setting. Your dedication to your garden is evident. Well done!!!

  5. Your garden is beautiful, Dee, and I know visitors are going to be enthralled with it. I love to go on garden walks, but I always like to see a few chores undone–it makes me think a real gardener has created this garden with love, not a manicured, “perfect” garden maintained by landscaping crews. I wish I could be there!

    1. Rose, thank you so much for your kind words. There will definitely be a little bit undone here for the tour. I wish you could be here too.

  6. I know how we obsess over every detail before a garden tour. You are brave to have one during fall when the garden is shutting down. I know your place will be an inspiration no matter when you show it. Just think about how much work is done and how you will enjoy the results up and through next spring. 😉 Good luck.

    1. You know Lisa, you read my mind. I’ve thought about that a lot, and it’s made me resolve to do more every year in the fall to keep it tidier and ready for spring’s song.

  7. Dee, you have done a lot more fluffing and primping than I’ve yet done, and my garden will be on tour the same day as yours (but in Austin, of course). I have done some big projects throughout this year, and yes, it does take a LOT of time and energy to prep one’s garden for a tour, as I’m discovering. I’m reserving next week — every single day — to fluff out my garden with colorful pumpkins and filler plants where things didn’t perform as expected. Would love to have some rain before tour day, as it hasn’t really rained here for about 3 months — ugh. Anyway, thanks for sharing, and good luck on the tour!

    1. Pam, your garden sure looks great in Jennie’s photographs this week. I know it will be splendid. Aren’t pumpkins great? They add color and fill space, all important when summer takes its toll.~~Dee

  8. Beautiful! Can’t wait to see it. I can’t believe you already have pansies. Still too warm down here.

    1. Hey Ann, I only have pansies because of the tour. We do seem to be selling out of them too though. Thank goodness for their shot of wild color in a fall landscape.

  9. Honestly, if I lived close I would be there! Please don’t be nervous. It looks fantastic and you are to be applauded for sharing your garden’s beauty. I’m surprised you would have some cool nights before 10/17. Believe it or not, here in the Madison area we don’t have frost in the forecast for the next two weeks. That’s pretty unusual for us, though. Must be El Ninio’s effects. Good luck with your tour! I’m sure it will be great!

    1. Hi Beth, it’s been very cool here in the low 50s and high 40s the last few days. I see it’s going to be warmer this week. That’s good because the coleus are shivering. Thank you for all your kind words about my garden.

    1. Oh Charlie, if you saw the other landscapes, you’d see why I’m a bit nervous. Thank you though. I do love the pond now that it’s closer to being finished.

  10. I wish we didn’t live so far away. I would love to come to your tour. As this is the one garden designed and built by the homeowner it makes it a very special one and I’m sure will give encouragement to those do it yourselfers. The front door-scape is gorgeous. The pots magnificent. And do show us photos of the finished pond and prepare for noisy nights!

  11. Your garden is looking fantastic. A real credit to your green thumb! I do design gardens but I like gardens like your that change and evolve and suffer through rain and drought and are always fresh : ) Tempting to drive up!

  12. Beautiful, of course!! Every detail!! : ))
    Oh man I hope I can attend. I love your southern trio, your containers, your pond in progress, your color combos, shiny new pottery, pollinator blooms, everything. Thanks for the lawn fix tip! Love your style to the max, Dee. xoxo And have fun!! You have no apologies to make. Zero.

  13. Wow, your garden looks wonderful. You and all your helpers have done a great job preparing your garden. Visitors are in for a real treat!

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