After the tour

Arbor with Virginia creeper turning red in fall and purple chairs

After last Saturday’s garden tour, I find myself in a reflective mood. You had questions. I’ve got answers. I couldn’t get to all of you on tour day so I’ll address some things here. I also heard some people didn’t get to visit. It was a great tour. I’m sorry you missed it. This post is for you too.

Rosa 'Carefree Beauty' rose against the split rail fence that surrounds the back garden. Photo by Dee Nash
Rosa ‘Carefree Beauty’ rose against the split rail fence that surrounds the back garden. I’m taking as many photos of my favorite rose as I can because I fear Rose Rosette may claim it soon.

However, a quick aside. I’m listening to Jewel’s new cd, Picking Up The Pieces. It’s deeply personal and a companion to her newly-published autobiography, Never Broken: Songs Are Only Half the Story, which I’m also reading. I’m a big fan of her music, but I find the autobiography hard going because her childhood was tough. There is one track on the cd, in particular, I love, His Pleasure is My Pain. I may be wrong, but I think it’s about her father who is alcoholic. My father is also alcoholic, not something I talk much about on a gardening blog–it makes people uncomfortable–but her line about being accused of being too sensitive really hit home. Never let anyone tell you you’re too sensitive. The world needs more sensitivity, empathy and understanding. Just hang in there and work to restore your soul when the world, your friends, or your family batters you. The garden is a good place to restore your soul.

The song, My Father’s Daughter, brings Jewel’s relationship with her father full circle. It’s about forgiveness and gratitude to our family members who came before us, warts and all. I know my parents did the best they could with the tools they were given. I think mercy, compassion and forgiveness are essential to living your best life.

Rosa 'South Africa' with all its October imperfections. I don't spray for insects. Really, I don't.
Rosa ‘South Africa’ with all its October imperfections. I don’t spray for insects. Really, I don’t.

Jewel often writes of escaping into nature. I so get that. My love of nature led me to write this blog, and October is my blogaversary. In eight years, we’ve come a long way baby, and it’s been an interesting ride for a blog I thought only my mom would read. Thank you from the bottom of my red dirt heart.

One question I’m asked is if my blog makes money. Not much, but enough to pay for hosting. I still write because I can’t help myself. The blog gave me lots of exposure, and I am grateful people mostly like what I write.

Traffic for the tour was up and down the street for blocks.
Traffic for the tour was up and down the street for blocks. Neighbors we’ve never seen before rode their bikes up to our house just to see what was going on. Photo by Claire Nash.

Enough of the heavy stuff–this post is for all of you who weren’t able to come to the tour last weekend, and everyone who didn’t get their questions answered. Over 500 people came. There were cars all the way up and down the street. My daughter, Claire, took this picture, above, when she ran back to the store for more water and iced tea. I heard it was the same for all of the gardens on tour. Thanks again to everyone who bought a ticket to help college students get their horticulture degrees. We were so fortunate to get great press for the tour. Special thanks to Lin Sanchez who worked hard to get the word out.

First, the plants that won popularity awards. Click on the circles to see larger photos. Our first fan favorite was Alternanthera dentata ‘Purple Knight.’ People are first attracted to color. ‘Purple Knight’ looked especially fab with the red coleus behind it. Yes, it’s a tropical. It is not perennial. It does not come back. You can take cuttings, but you need artificial light or a greenhouse to overwinter it. However, if it were perennial, it wouldn’t look that good after such a hot summer. Plus, the two plants–yes two–were about $3.95 each. It won’t break the bank, and no, I don’t own a nursery.

The celosia that wowed everyone because of its great height is the offspring of ‘Purple Flamingo’ or ‘Flamingo Purple,’ depending upon the seed source. I bought my seeds years ago from Chiltern’s. You can also get them from Harris Seeds. I get a few self-sown babies each year now, and I could also gather the seeds. Maybe I will this year. I like how they come up at the end of summer, unless you start them indoors, providing fresh color in the tiered borders. This tall drink of water is proof positive that not everyone wants plants that are compact and rounded. Every garden needs an exclamation point or five.

I heard someone say I limbed up my Japanese beautyberry, but that’s just the way it grows. I don’t know the species for sure. I think it’s Callicarpa japonica, but since I got it out of a woman’s garden in Raleigh, NC, I can’t be sure. It could be C. dichotoma or C. bodinieri, but she told me it was Japanese, not Chinese, when she handed the tiny stick to me. It’s been growing here for seven years. It never gets any bigger, and I just let it do its thing. I did tie it up to the crapemyrtle because it was shading ‘Will’s Wonderful’ mums below. I don’t know that tying it up did much good though.

I so wanted you to see my ‘Will’s Wonderful’ mums blooming, but that didn’t happen. They are very late this year. However the ‘Sheffield Pink’ mums showed off with their subtle, flat-faced apricot blooms.

Pink muhly grass and Mexican bush sage welcomed visitors in the front garden. You really can’t take a bad photo of Mexican bush sage, Salvia leucantha, and the bumbles love it.


If you saw the other two beautyberries in the new border, those are small C. Americana, which are our native beautyberries. Their berries and leaves are bigger. Both plants berry in the fall.

Ah, Cleome ‘Inncleosr,’ better known as Senorita Rosalita®, you were part of the hit parade too. I cut you in half over a month ago because you were covering up my Hydrangea paniculata ‘Jane’ Little Lime®. You still managed to grow just as tall and floriferous. Yes, pollinators like this cleome. It does not come from seed and doesn’t overwinter. You can find it at local nurseries and often at Home Depot. Go ahead and pay for it. It’s worth the money.

About the garden art, the red and green blown glass came from Seattle. I travel to Seattle nearly every year in February to speak at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show. If I’ve had a good writing year, I celebrate with some beautiful blown glass. People laughed when I said I thought I bought the large pieces from Bob’s Glass, but I went and looked up my old emails, and I did buy it from Bob Rice Glass. He ships all over the U.S. Barbara at Glass Gardens NW is another artist who ships, and I love her work.

The glass plates came from various places, but the latest one on the left side was made by Adele at A Delicate Touch on Etsy. She does beautiful compositions. When the first flower broke in the shipment, she sent an emergency replacement in time for the tour. I appreciate her kindness. I love the vintage Spode and ruby glass in this piece.

The small lilies in various shades of blue came from Blue Sage Studios at 12th and Western. I find their work at craft fairs, but they have a permanent home too. With these, I’m careful to bring them indoors in winter–unless I forget. They sometimes break, and I lost one. I only bring the large pieces from Seattle indoors if we’re having a hail storm.

This border once held roses, but after Rose Rosette Disease ravaged it, I replaced them with grasses, perennial hibiscus and daylilies. Then, I mulched the whole thing in shredded leaves.
This border once held roses, but after Rose Rosette Disease ravaged it, I replaced them with grasses, perennial hibiscus and daylilies. Then, I mulched the whole thing in shredded leaves.

What else? I was asked if I mulch. Oh yes, I do. This year was special so I mulched three times with three different mediums. The first layer was shredded oak leaves from our trees. We have a shredder, and I used most of my leaf piles this year. The second layer after this decomposed was Back to Nature, and the third layer was fine pine bark. All of these decompose rather quickly so I will probably be using shredded leaves again come fall.

Greens in the coldframe.
Greens in the coldframe.

Do I spray for insects? No, after all these years, the creatures in the garden eat each other, and things stay in pretty good balance. Visitors were surprised that I didn’t have many pollinators on tour day. It was a cool fall day in October so they were hiding until late afternoon.

How much time do I put into my garden? Most of my spare time. It is my comfort and solace in times of sadness. It is my muse when I can no longer write. It is my joy.


Just in case you haven’t heard enough about the Oklahoma Garden Tour….

Here’s the video of four out of six of the gardens that will be on the Oklahoma garden tour this Saturday. I think my garden is the first one profiled. I hope you enjoy it. Many thanks to our local Oklahoma Gardening for spending the day with all of us. Garden tour proceeds go to horticulture students throughout the state.

If you only want to see my garden, they pulled out just that section too. Choices, choices. I just love that crazy expression on my face.

A special shoutout to Kevin Gragg for making my garden look its very best. Thanks!