UT Blooms Days June 2008
Sometimes when we are traveling about with camera in tow a few photos get snapped that upon being loaded into the magic of the computer are a bit disappointing. Such was the case for us this summer when the University of Tennessee annual Blooms Days was attended.
Blooms Days Garden Festival and Marketplace is a yearly fundraising event presented by the Friends of the UT Gardens and the Knoxville News Sentinel in cooperation with the UT Institute of Agriculture and the Knoxville Experiment Station. All proceeds benefit the UT Gardens through Friends of the UT Gardens. Visit http://www.friendsoftheutgardens.org to find out more about the Friends.
The sun was brutally bright and the heat started at sunrise, building throughout the day. The fourth weekend in June is set aside for this event each year. 2008 was the 25th anniversary of the festival and my friend Laurie and her husband were visiting us for a couple of days. While the men played golf, the timing of the Blooms Days was a perfect diversion for a couple of garden loving gals.
The University of Tennessee (UT) Gardens have been established to foster appreciation,
education, and stewardship of plants through horticultural gardens, displays, collections,
educational programs, and research. The UT Gardens are a “living laboratory,” a vital
resource for the teaching, research, and public service missions of the University of
Tennessee. The Gardens are an educational facility that supports and integrates
teaching, research, and service relative to the needs of the Department of Plant Sciences,
the University, green industry professionals, and the general public.
The two photos above show the twig tunnels that were set up for the many children attending. Facepainting and the Tennessee trademark storytelling were two activities offered for young and old alike. There is a great tradition of being able to spin a tale in these parts, classes are given and the history is also taught as an academic endeavor. People attend storytelling festivals held in Tennessee from all over the world. The largest one is held in Jonesborough, TN in October, just the right time for ghostly tales, a crowd favorite. Click here to find out more about this year’s event.
Established in 1983 by the Department of Plant Sciences, the UT Gardens are recognized as one out of thirty-four official All American Selections (AAS) test sites in the United States. The UT Garden Director conducts evaluations assessing heat and cold tolerance, flower production, plant uniformity, flower and plant size, pest resistance, and landscape appeal. Such information is important to commercial plant and seed companies, and essential to the success of commercial growers, landscapers, and gardeners allowing the Tennessee green industry to economically grow and for gardening to remain the number one hobby in America.
We were interested in a few plants showcased including this clary sage, Salvia sclarea. Seeds have been ordered from Chiltern Seeds in the UK to have a go at growing S. sclarea var. turkestanica here. Several years ago a purchased plant threw out some seeds and we had one or two of this striking biennial with their felty leaves and vertical stalk of blooms for a short time. More effort on the gardener’s part should ensure that there will be a continuation of this sage’s impact for years to come.Another well grown specimen that caught our eye was this amaranthus. We have thrown seeds out into the ground and started babies in the sunroom/greenhouse, always with dismal results. Eternally optimistic, we are trying again by starting the seeds with the heat mat and then slipping them under the grow lights to have larger babies when the time comes to plant them out into the garden. From Thompson and Morgan we have started Amaranthus caudatus ‘Fat Spike’ and A. ‘Autumn Palette’. This one I am not going to grow for it was twice my height, but the size, form and color of Cardoon was arresting.The flower of this pretty, growing with vigor in offspring Semi’s garden from some wayward birdseed, is so similar to the above Cardoon, only with pickers, must be the same family.
The gardens are planted to demonstrate each plants’ ideal use in the landscape. In this manner, visitors are not only able to see what plants thrive and flourish in the Tennessee climate but get ideas on garden design and how to use plants in their own landscapes and gardens as well.
Saving summertime fun photos for the dead of winter viewing is an idea worth noting for future forays. Better quality photos would have been nice, but seeing lush blooms, green grass and people in sun hats and short pants reminds us that it will get warm again one day.
Purchased at the festival to come live at the Fairegarden and kindly brought to the car by golf cart when we were ready to leave were a deciduous azalea, R. prunifolium, Calycanthus ‘Venus’ and Stachys monnieri ‘Hummelo’.
Block quoted text is from the UT Blooms Days web site.