Return to paradise


A week ago Sunday, we drove in from Tomball and Sugar Land, Texas and returned to paradise. I spoke in both locations which was tons of fun. Loved meeting all the members of the Sugar Land Garden Club and discussing how to attract twenty-thirty somethings to their club. I’m writing an article on the same topic this week. I’ll let you know when it’s published. I did tell them that we need to invite millennials to garden and to our clubs. We forget to do that. Also, we need to make things fun.

Speaking to the Sugar Land Garden Club.
Speaking to the Sugar Land Garden Club. The photo is blurry. Sorry for that.

I always love speaking at the Arbor Gate Nursery too. Such great questions, and Bev, the owner, is so kind.

Speaking at the Arbor Gate, I look as though I'm at a prayer meeting getting ready to lay on hands. I was laying on some garden information for sure.
Speaking at the Arbor Gate, I look as though I’m at a prayer meeting getting ready to lay on hands. I was laying on some garden information for sure. There were more people there I promise, but the floods did keep some away. Who could blame them?

Because Oklahoma had rain–three and a half inches while I was gone–the garden is so beautiful, verdant and green. We got another inch and half last week, and there was more rain three days ago. I missed checking the gauge. New things are blooming throughout, and I was in the middle of simply enjoying the beauty when I saw a giant weed in the middle of my ‘Minnie Pearl’ phlox. I reached down to pluck it out of the ground, and a small crapemyrtle stabbed me in the eye.

Half of the back garden and the small crapemyrtle next to the white 'Minnie Pearl' phlox that stabbed me in the eye. Ouch.
Half of the back garden and the small crapemyrtle hat stabbed me in the eye. Ouch. It’s next to the ‘Minnie Pearl’ phlox which is white. I’ve been spreading that little plant all around the garden.

I ended up with a corneal abrasion that left me in pain and unhappy for a couple of days. I’m ninety-nine percent better. I guess I’ll wear eye protection as I garden now. Maybe.

One of my purple/blue irises. I don't know the variety. I can't keep up with that too.
One of my purple/blue irises. I don’t know the variety. I can’t keep up with that too. It’s an old one because it’s small and delicate. No extra ruffles.

The garden colors are exquisite, and I want to share some of my paradise with you including some new-to-me plants I’m growing.

Clematis 'Huvi' The clemmies are having a very good year.
Clematis ‘Huvi’ The clemmies are having a very good year.

When I left, irises and peonies were thinking about blooming. I returned to plants in full bloom. Roses are also beginning as are the two American wisteria. The fat wood bees get very agitated when I go beneath the arbor, but though the males dance around my head, I know they won’t hurt me. Without stingers, they are all bluff. The lady wood bees are more placid going about their business with little fanfare. So, if a giant bumblebee, who is in the garden nectaring, gets up in your face, don’t be afraid of it. It seems all scary, but it can’t hurt you.

Yellow baptisia and purple chairs in the back garden. I don't remember the variety of baptisia because it disappeared for awhile, and I thought it died.
Yellow baptisia and purple chairs in the back garden. I don’t remember the variety of baptisia because it disappeared for awhile, and I thought it died.

I’ve noticed that in years when we have a lot of rain the garden is so full I can barely keep all the plants under control. In dry years like 2011, the garden shrinks in on itself, and you can better see its bones. That may sound overly simplistic, but it’s something I think about a lot. Early on this spring, I thought we would have a La Nina year. Everything was so dry that even with supplemental irrigation my lettuce was faltering. I was worried, but today, I ate the same lettuce out of the garden. Mother Nature’s ways are mysterious.

Joe pye weed 'Little Joe' all fresh and new.
Joe pye weed ‘Little Joe’ all fresh and new.

If I can get young plants going, a hot summer won’t hurt the garden because I have drip irrigation. About that drip irrigation system, I had two large problem spots. Two of the triangular beds were constantly seeping water. It was hard to see in summer, but I noticed in winter when the sun and dry air didn’t keep things drier. The irrigation company came out and discovered I had two valves seeping. They said it’s due to my hard well water and age. We installed the irrigation system in 2008, and it’s the best thing we ever did.

Back garden in May from another angle.
Back garden in May from another angle. On the right side of the arbor is ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ American honeysuckle. On the left side is Bignonia capreolata ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine. After many years, the crossvine is finally taking off.

We are in the middle of spring, and until yesterday, we had rain and cooler temperatures. For a gardener, there’s nothing better. I’m pleased with all of the vines I’m growing up the trellises. I replaced many of my climbing roses with native and non-native vines. Both varieties of American wisteria, ‘Kentucky Blue’ and ‘Amethyst Falls,’ are blooming with abandon, and our bumblebees and hummingbirds are very happy. ‘Dropmore Scarlet’ native honeysuckle is growing great in the gravel with only a little supplemental irrigation. I’m sure its roots reach deep into the bed next to it. ‘Tangerine Beauty’ crossvine is also very, very happy, but I’m also thrilled with my clematis. They love all this rain.

One surprise was the roses. Many of them are blooming with abandon. Some are thinking about revving up and spreading open their petals. Have you ever noticed that so much of gardening is a metaphor for sex and creation? Roses are definitely seen this way. Sex, birth, life and death are all part of the garden experience. It’s humbling once you get over trying to make the garden in your own image. I didn’t get good photos of the roses. I’ll try to remedy that this week.

Cleome Mi Amor®. Image courtesy of Proven Winners. My two plants are very small yet. I do love this softer pink.
Cleome Mi Amor®. Image courtesy of Proven Winners. My two plants are very small yet. I do love this softer pink.

As for new plants, I found Cleome Senorita Mi Amor® at Arbor Gate in Texas. This is a Proven Winners selection, and I’m excited to see if it grows like Senorita Rosalita®. I bought this plant, but Proven Winners did send me some plants to try this year as they do with many garden writers. I’ll let you know what I like as the season progresses. As for other newbies, I found a gorgeous purple cuphea, and I’m growing a bunch of new coleus I ordered online from Rosy Dawn Gardens. Here’s what I bought: Main St. Wall Street, Trailing ‘Plum Brocade’ (grown before and love it), El Brighto, ‘Campfire,’ ‘Doctor Wu’ (grown before and love), Main St. Sunset Blvd, ‘Spicy’ and ‘Stella Red.’ The plants are all tiny, but below is a photo of Trailing ‘Plum Brocade’ from 2015. This year, I have it spilling out of a container. I should do a post on my containers this week. Would you like that?

'Trailing Plum Brocade' coleus from 2015.
‘Trailing Plum Brocade’ coleus from 2015.

As I worked outside today I also thought about the perennials. I planted several new ones when I began losing roses to Rose Rosette. I added Joe pye weed, ‘Little Joe,’ in one of the triangular beds and Filipendula rubra, queen of the prairie, in one of the lower beds in the back garden. Well, queen of the prairie has taken three years to even get started. I was wondering if it will now take off and take over, or will it not? You can’t ever tell how something will perform in your garden, but you really do need to wait three to five years before you can see what a particular perennial will do. If a perennial looks amazing the first year, you may want to rip it out because it’s probably too aggressive. That’s what I was thinking about as I stared down the bullies in my garden. I have so many, and they are so mean. I’ll write about them soon too. Here’s a hint: stay as far away from Autumn clematis as you possibly can. It is a total thug. I hate weed killer, but it was made for Autumn clematis and Japanese honeysuckle.

autumn clematis
Need I say more?

Did you get to garden today? If so, what were you pondering while outside?


  1. Anonymous says:

    How fun to come home from your travels to a lush garden, emboldened by spring rains! That clematis – OMG. Seriously. That is absolutely stunning. I’ll be eager to hear how your new cleomes do – I often plant Senorita Rosalita in my garden.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Diana, it was great fun. Such a change from normal. We’re getting so much rain this year.

  2. Your garden looks so beautiful…I’m in OKC and this has been a lovely start to a great garden year! My hydrangeas have never been so full of blooms! Would love to hear you speak…are you speaking in the area anytime soon?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Sonia, thank you so much. I’m glad you’re also having a great garden year so far. We really couldn’t ask for better weather, could we? As for speaking, I’m in Tulsa in July for the Tulsa Perennial Club. I’m speaking there twice. You should come!

      1. Would love to come..where will the meeting be held?

        1. Dee Nash says:

          Hi Sonia, I’ll be at the Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 S Peoria Ave, Tulsa, OK, on July 11 and 12th. I speak at 7:00 p.m. on July 11, and at 9:00 a.m. (I think) on the 12th. Hope to see you there.

  3. I certainly did garden today. I gave two hours to the Master Gardeners first, then hustled home to my own house to work. You know what I was thinking about most of all? That skipping our usual annual mulching last year was a BIG mistake. All that bare soil gave all the weeds and seedlings plenty of space to move in. I’ve spent so much time digging them out that I’ll never make that mistake again! I haven’t done this year’s mulch yet because I still have a few good-guy seedlings popping up. It’s still about a week early for summer annuals, but honestly, it would probably be okay to go ahead because I don’t see any cold weather in the forecast. We’ll see.

  4. I’m glad your garden is getting the moisture it needs. And your vines are dee-vine! (Couldn’t resist.) I spent a lot of time in the garden today, but I couldn’t tell you what I was thinking about. I did a lot of looking, seeing what has come up and how far along it is. I pulled a lot of dandelions. I was just happy to be out there.

  5. Oh those lucky people who got to hear you speak Dee…I am jealous. And isn’t it wonderful what rain can do…your garden looks wonderful!

  6. Rose says:

    What a gorgeous welcome home! I have been watching the weather and all the reports of flooding, especially in Texas, since my daughter lives there. I’m glad to see that it hasn’t affected your garden other than to make it absolutely lush. Glad your eye is better. Sounds pretty scary; I usually have scratches and bruises from the garden, but nothing more serious, thankfully. I always loved the look of sweet autumn clematis and tried to start it here a couple of times, with no luck. I guess I was lucky, after all:)

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Rose, it might not be such a beastie where you live. We have such different climates.

  7. Bruce Batman says:

    Your garden is so peaceful. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Bruce.

  8. Linda Belcher says:

    It was a day of edging and cleaning up for me. This blog mimics my own gardening and weather here in South Carolina. It’s been great weather for all the hard work spring can bring.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      It’s been a loverly spring thus far. Hot today and the rest of next week though.

  9. I’ve discovered that I live about 8 miles south of you. We moved here from TX a few years ago, and have a hard time finding good nursery plants with variety! I drove to Bustani’s last weekend, and $80 later, I got some good options, but still have a list of wants and needs for our new shady garden paradise! Do you have some recommendations in the 25 mile radius!???

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Hi Mel, are you asking about nurseries. Well, there aren’t that many close by. In Guthrie, there’s Stout’s Greenhouse and Tara Cotta. TC is a popup shop and only stays open until stuff is sold. Stout’s stays open longer. In OKC, there’s TLC Garden & Greenhouses, Precure on 63rd and Meridian, and in Norman, there’s Marcum’s. They also have a location on the south side. In Edmond, there’s Cultivate. I haven’t been there yet this spring. Scapes, Inc. is open to the public on Saturdays. Hope that helps neighbor!~~Dee

  10. The rains have been wonderful. Your garden is really growing.
    I divided a plant today because I couldn’t find more of it at the nursery this year. Otherwise, I was pondering how to put together all the annuals I picked up.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      I love hearing about your day in the garden GSS. I’ve divided Minnie Pearl a lot this year and given some away.

  11. I would love to see your containers. My containers are planted but it has been so darned cold here everything is just sitting there. They look ok but I can’t wait until they start growing tall and filling in. Your garden does look lush. You have much more in bloom than I do. Isn’t it fun to come home to find that things are growing up a storm. I find that when I am away I see the garden in a different way when I return. We worked on getting the last of the piles of limbs taken away. The tree removers got hung up in our side lot with their big machines and didn’t venture back to get the rest of the mess. I wasn’t about to let it lay there another week. We keep getting rain. UGH. It looks so much better now. Have a great weekend.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lisa, I’ll do a post on them next week. It was quite rainy and chilly here for weeks so they just sat there. I noticed yesterday that they are starting to pop now. Will do. I’m sorry you’re getting so much rain. Last year, you got no rain at all. Mother Nature, ugh. Give Lisa a break.

  12. Love that cleome. Must give it a try!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Linda, let me know if it does well for you. So pretty. So delicate in appearance.

  13. yayamom43 says:

    Beautiful pictures! I sprayed a little weed killer. Does that count?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Leslie, I’m going to make you a gardener yet. Just let me come over, and we’ll play in the dirt.

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