Sunday, August 19, 2012

You

It's always interesting to me to discover what fuels a persons passion. One small bed in my garden is a complete wreck and needs to be redesigned again, despite having been redesigned last fall. A dry miserable clematis clings to the fence under a giant laurel oak, while a slightly irritated 'Sun Queen' veronica, overly shaded and thirsty, reminds me daily of my penchant for misguided design. Dwarf lespedeza, if only they could walk, would scramble over the knautia to settle in deeply to the shade the veronica ache to leave. I stare at this bed constantly, mentally replacing the pathetic plants with sea oats, linaria, kalimeris, and amsonia, all champions of dry shade. I could throw in the towel, curse my mistakes, and head into nearby DC to lounge in the beauty of several  professionally designed public gardens but I don't.


Mystery bug on the 'Sun Queen' veronica. 'Sun Queen' is headed to a slightly moister, sunnier spot this fall.


Northern sea oats thrive in dry shade. Variegated Solomon's Seal grows at their base.


I have two types of kalimeris. 'Daisy Mae' has white flowers while 'Blue Star' has pale blue. Both thrive in dry shade and self-seed readily, giving me a steady supply of seedlings to use around the garden or give away to friends.

As beautiful as these properties are, I rarely find them inspiring. If you peel away the landscape architects, designers, professional gardeners, and big budgets, I wonder what you would have? While I have a great amount of respect for the individuals who have the talent to create such amazing spaces, when I sit on my patio and mentally redesign my garden, it's not big public gardens that inspire me, but rather the little pockets of flowers and shrubs that fall into my lap through garden blogs each week.


The dwarf heliposis 'Tuscan Sun' was pruned heavily by the bunnies but has rebounded beautifully.



Your photos flip through my mind like a visual Rolodex and I find myself going back to your blogs to study and analyze how you've created such beauty. It doesn't matter to me that your garden isn't perfect or that you've forgotten the Latin name of the plant in the photo. I don't care if the garden path pavers don't match or if the shrubs need pruning. I find inspiration simply in the fact that you have a garden, created in the small slips of time leftover from the rest of our daily lives. I'm not inspired by the National Arboretum or the Botanic Gardens. I'm inspired by you.


'Deam's' rudbeckia has much smaller flowers and leaves than 'Goldsturm' but is also much tougher. I like the darker gold shading close to the brown seed head.


I grow carrots for carrot cake and for the swallowtail caterpillars.


This dwarf agastache was just a tiny stump when I planted it this spring.


It's become one of my favorite plants.


Sceptre d'Isle rose (David Austin) grows in a bit of shade near the massive Rose of Sharon.


Hummingbirds love this feeder but disappear whenever I attempt to take a picture. I think they're on to me.

49 comments:

  1. I am inspired by my fellow gardeners, bloggers and those in my community. It is always better to plant what you know does well for others...in real life situations. I like that your bunnies did an early season pruning for your sunflowers.

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    1. My bunnies are excellent pruners. :o) Instead of just reading a plant tag at a big garden, I like being able to read a gardeners experience with that plant. So much better!

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  2. Pretty photos. You know I just took out almost 2 full beds. Just said heck with it. You'll get yours redone when you can.

    Cher Sunray Gardens

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    1. Are you going to replant the beds with drought tolerant plants? Don't give up!

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  3. Me? :) I feel similiar about the small spaces. I always like to see what homeowners have going on in their yards. But the problem with Tucson, not a lot of gardening bloggers showing off their spaces, but I do get inspired from other bloggers and they make me think how I could create a similiar space with our plants. I have more posts scheduled from our gardens here coming up. Thank you for sharing your spaces. Plus like the caterpillar. Always welcome at El Presidio:)

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    1. There aren't many VA bloggers, either. Garden blogs make gardening seem more accessible and achievable than big garden spaces tended by an entire crew of people.

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  4. Inspiration is found in so many sources, sometimes not even a garden. Blogs are essential resources here in central Texas because our challenges are so different. We do have a number of public gardens and commercial landscapes designed to inspire home gardeners as well.

    We lived in the DC suburbs for a number of years and I found a few sources of garden inspiration here and there along the way.

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    1. What I take away from big public gardens is the overall feelings they evoke. I try to replicate that with more accessible plantings instead of just focusing on the cost, labor, etc required to maintain something so large. When I'm stunned by a gorgeous public garden, I get too analytical about how the garden was created. But when someone's personal garden creates the same emotion, I feel inspired. But you're right that inspiration comes from so many places.

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  5. Back at ya! I am so inspired by you and other fellow bloggers! Once again, the Sea Oats--gotta get that plant!

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    1. Sea oats are awesome! I also have a variegated one called River Mist that is a stunner! Mine is on my To Be Transplanted list so it can jazz up a boring bed.

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  6. I have a very long list of plants that I want to add to my garden inspired by other blogger's gardens. I just have to find the right place for them all! Your mystery bug looks like an ailanthus webworm moth.

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    1. Thanks for the insect ID. You are so good at identifying bugs. I have them broken down into three categories: 'good bugs', 'bad bugs', and 'I have no idea!'

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  7. I feel so much the same way, great post.

    After having a patio garden for ever...17 years, I've now my very first, very own, all mine to do what I like with gardens.

    It's a little overwhelming when it's your dollar that you are using not someone else's and it's a limited budget. So to see full ground grown plants is amazing, because most of my experience with them has been in containers.

    I love seeing glimpses of inspiration through the blogs.

    Jen @ Muddy Boot Dreams

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    1. What a wonderful experience to finally go from pots to real soil. It must be a bit like Christmas. :o)

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  8. Even if the gardens are from diffent climates or even timezones, I love visiting bloggers' gardens. Occasionally there is inspiration in the form of garden design or care of plants but more often it's when bloggers are sharing emotions or experiences that inspires me to try something new, or try again with something that failed last time. It's having the gardener's eyeview of their garden that I love the most.

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    1. I love the text that goes along with the photos because you get a feel of the perspective behind the planting. A different point of view is excellent at giving me new ideas for the garden.

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  9. Tammy, all your plants are looking really nice. I love the sea oats and the variegated Solomon's seal, wonder if they would grow well here?
    I had never seen a double hummingbird feeder before, it's nice.
    Keep up the good work in your garden, and thanks for more inspiration to get some gardening done today.

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    1. I'm not sure if the sea oats or Solomon's Seal would grow in such a tropical environment. The sea oats might reseed way too much. My last hummingbird feeder was beautiful but leaky. I just bought this one a few months ago. I've found they prefer feeders that allow them to perch while feeding. It helps them save energy. :o)

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  10. I think your carrots will grow well without any bugs, and your carrot cake will be delicious.

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    1. As long as the bugs are caterpillars, I'm ok!

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  11. I'm especially inspired by the British gardens. I love those old stonepaths and atmosphere they have built. I also love gardens, when you see that the owner has done a lot of work and used time on making it cozy.

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    1. I completely agree! I LOVE old British gardens and would love to go on a tour of them some day.

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  12. Nice images, giving glimpses into your garden and you.

    I've always believed any garden grown with passion can inspire, but I like most a garden that reinforces a belief I've always had: See the garden, know the gardener. A space landscaped to within an inch of its life by a hired set of hands makes this impossible.

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    1. That's it!!! So many public gardens are beautiful but soulless. I like a garden with character and conviction. Maybe it's the gardener who is inspirational to me instead of the garden. Or maybe it's just both.

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  13. What a lovely post! You inspire me too. One of your posts earlier in the summer reminded me that I wanted to add some agastache this year. I added the blue one and just LOVE it!
    It is funny because I was at a local nursery this past weekend, when I saw a lovely peach colored agastache. I so wanted to buy it, but I had already pulled out about $50 in plants, so I decided to pass. Now, aren't I sorry after seeing your post. That peach agastache looks amazing! No wonder it is a favourite. I am inspired and a peach one is now on my list.

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    1. 'Blue Fortune' is a garden workhorse. It will get big but does well when cut back in early summer. My pollinators go crazy for it. I'm so glad you bought it!!

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    2. The orange agastache is from High Country Gardens and is called Acapulco Orange. It does well in our humidity and can take amended garden soil instead of needing the super sharp drainage like a lot of the small leafed agastaches. It's hardy to zone 5b.

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  14. Wait, what? There's a DWARF HELIOPSIS?!

    Where did you find it? High Country Gardens or someplace local??

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    1. I bought it at High Country a few years ago but checked a few of my favorite online nurseries and noticed no one was currently selling it, including High Country. It's an awesome little plant! Check locally and you might find it since it's being propagated by Proven Winners.

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  15. I keep seeing Sea Oats and it is a plant I must have at some time. Really love the look and form. I have grown carrots quite a few times and never had the caterpillars. Maybe I will try again next year and put a sign out for them too. Other pests find their way here, so when I want one to show up....

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    1. I avoided grasses for a long time but have really fallen in love with several different varieties. I love how tough sea oats are.

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  16. My inspiration from other bloggers lately has been Agaves. I just can't seem to get away from them this year.

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    1. Considering the difficult weather you've had the past couple of summers, they're a wise choice for your garden.

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  17. I think everyone's inspiraton comes from things seen and half seen (if you know what I mean). We half remember a combination that was great, we try it and even if we remembered incorrectly usually the result is good. Have you looked at Carolyne's Shade Garden for some ideas, it's a really inspiring blog for shady gardens or shady areas. carolynsshadegardens.com/
    Christina

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    1. Carolyn's blog is amazing! She's definitely one of my first stops when I'm looking for more shade plants.

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  18. I, too, enjoyed my Apricot Sprite agastache (well, until it froze to death 2 winters ago). It's such a surprising plant, gets so lush, and it attracts most everything. But they just aren't hardy enough for here. So now I'm enjoying Apache Sunset, with its threadleaf, grey/green leaves and purplish/orange blooms. They are hardy, drought tolerant and -- waaaait for it -- deer resistant!!

    But my new 5-star fave (this year) are the dwarf (6-12") zinnias. Blazing heat, no rain, marauding deer and high winds have NO EFFECT on them. They just keep blooming away and are always covered with bees, butterflies, skippers and finches.

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    1. My dwarf zinnias were big whiney babies. But I think the problem was mine because I had them packed into a too small container with lots of other zinnias. Misery all around! I'm sooo glad you've found deer proof plants. But I'd get more deer spears anyway!

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  19. What a sweet post. I too find so much inspiration in others blogs, often saving photos to my computer for later reference and the real life experience with various plants is invaluable. I think one reason I often make mistakes while gardening is my inexperience with the vast array of plants. I often grow things just because I have no idea what they are and I want to try them out.

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    1. Sometimes not knowing anything about a plant is half the fun. Every day is a new discovery. As much as I know about perennials, I know almost nothing about trees except that they're large and green.

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  20. I love your reason for growing carrots. Hope the caterpillars appreciate it.

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    1. At the end of summer every year I make a carrot cake. I just check for caterpillars first!

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  21. Your agastche looks so healthy. I tried growing an Acapulco that was pink and orange, but it didn't work out for me.

    I've learned so much from garden bloggers, especially from the photos that are posted. Sometimes, I have a hard time visualizing a diagram in a book, but seeing a photo brings it to life for me.

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    1. Diagrams don't do much for me. I need to see real flowers in a real garden combined with honest text. I also grow agastache 'Ava' but in a pot. I killed in the ground because my soil is too heavy.

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  22. I find inspiration from other bloggers too. You get the backstory behind the garden, and see all kinds of plants that must be procurred immediately! lol

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    1. The more blogs I read, the longer my Plant Lust list becomes!

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  23. Right back at you, as they say! I too find endless inspiration and encouragement in garden blogs like yours, that tell it like it is and show the untidy bits, and the things that don't work, as well as the beauty and the triumphs. That agastache is beautiful.

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    1. I have a lot of untidy bits!! I also think I have a mole in my front garden. Argh!

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  24. I agree. Botanical acreage is a treat to view but inspiration comes from more intimate, personal spaces. It's the same with blogs. The commercial ones are okay but it's the personal ones that inspire me. Ones like yours!

    I would kill for your Agastache.

    Great post!

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  25. What a wonderful post. I think you are most sweet to think of others in this way to be inspired. Your gardens inspire me!

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