Home Sweet Home

Coming home from the Spring Fling in Austin was a wonderful way to top off a fantastic weekend. We were tired from an early morning flight home, with a change of planes in Memphis which means even more waiting in a not very relaxing environment. The status of the garden at home was completely forgotten during the festivities, but pulling up into the driveway and seeing the blooming flowers sent a thrill through my bones. Things can happen in one’s absence in the garden. Blooms can open and be spoiled by the weather, whether by rain, high winds, or a hard frost. When we left town, the late daffodils were at their peak, the dogwood trees were unfurling the tightly budded petals. Hot temps would cause those to open and brown at the tips without giving the magical show of which they are capable. It was a delight to find that the buds were opening slowly due to a cool gentle rain while we were in Texas.

There are seven pink and red dogwoods planted on the hill behind the main house. Three are on each side of the steps and one is growing at the top behind the boxwood hedge. A pink is shown in the above photo in the fore, a taller red is beginning its show behind. More are scattered throughout the front, back and side gardens. The dogwood is not the state tree of Tennessee. Some of the native ones have been lost to the anthracnose disease. We have been lucky so far with ours, the white ones growing under the tall pines have made multitudes of babies which sprout in every bed. They won’t be called a weed, but you get the idea.

The Yoshino Cherry tree is still in full bloom as are the daffodils lining the walkway and curbing. The pink tulips have opened along with the white candytuft and the blue grape hyacinths are still hanging on. Now if only the red azaleas planted thickly in the front will open soon to complete the vision of the original planting.

The garage side has the daffs still going with the orange tulips making a bright contrast. White creeping phlox is along the edge blooming. The Aurea Elderberry behind the far left chamaecyparis is leafing out. There is a Black Lace Sambucus planted in the center of the blue star junipers. It doesn’t show up well yet, it was newly planted last year, but it is leafing out nicely also.

The view from the deck of what is called the daylily hill is showing the Japanese maple leafing out. There are daffs, tulips, grape hyacinths and violas blooming behind a group of stipa tenuissima at the edge, holding the soil of the sharp drop off to the path below.

The tree peonies are still holding their buds tight, too much warmth too fast would cause the flowers to open and drop their petals in only a couple of days. The bloom of this one, a merlot colored beauty, and the large white at the end of the knot garden at the top of the hill is something that was feared we had missed, but mistakenly as it turns out.

Speaking of the knot garden, the Spring green tulips still are tightly budded as well, the big show up here was not missed either. Hooray!

The foliage of the iris reticulata must be allowed to ripen in order to build bulbs that will flower next year. But the grass like blades are not noticed with the clumps of tulip foliage and buds nearly ready with creeping thyme and blue violas planted as groundcovers to enhance the show. The boxwood hedge needs trimmed, but after last years damage, it will be done in May or June, to insure that cold snaps do not damage the new growth that sprouts after pruning.

Along the wall, the daffodil foliage is also ripening, but grape hyacinths are still showing blue, the frittilaria Uva Ulpis hardly shows but is still open, the yellow creeping jenny is golding up and coral tulips are open. Even the hellebores are holding up well.

Taken from the other side of the pond, the Japanese maples are showing their dark red new leaves. It was just at this moment in the unfurling last year that the weather took a downward turn and remained in the twenties for several days. The maple leaves were burnt to a crisp and many of these precious trees died outright. The loss of so much last year makes one anxious while away from the garden for several days during these crucial days of early spring. But the return home revealed the seasonal charm in all its unharmed glory. We were delighted to see so much in bloom, with much more to come.

(To view the details of the above garden shots, feel free to click on them. Also, I have not provided correct botanical names for all of these plants, this post is not a plant portrait, but rather an overall view of what greeted us upon the ending of our wonderful Spring Fling visit.)
For those of you who crave the close up macro shot, this is the blue beard of an early dark maroon miniature iris that began opening while we were gone. It is very much ahead of the larger bearded iris and is only six inches tall. The blue with the dark red is a wonderful color mix. This is the most showy of the garden seasons here. Stay tuned for more.

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42 Responses to Home Sweet Home

  1. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    It sounds like you got home just in time for the big show in your garden. It looks so lovely with its islands of color. You haven’t missed much if anything.

  2. Nancy J. Bond says:

    Your garden looks SO beautiful!

  3. Gail says:


    It looks fabulous in your garden…

    One comment hit home with me…the too hot sun that can burn up buds on the dogwood. I was thinking about that very problem yesterday. We often have very hot weather before the canopy trees leaf out and flowers dry up before their time. This year, thanks to cooler weather and cloudy days wildflowers and daffodils have had an extended bloom time.

    Frances, I wish you lived in the neighborhood…it would be lovely to wander over for a close up look at your garden and talk shop over a cup of tea or coffee!


  4. Frances, says:

    Lisa, we didn’t miss a thing, thankfully. Last year we were visiting in Asheville with the family when that cold front hit us like a hammer between the eyes. What we found when we returned home still gives me nightmares. This homecoming was a much different tale.

    Nancy J., thanks so much.

    Gail, your sweet words would be just what I would need to hear if you lived nearby. I wouldn’t get as much work done in the garden, but oh the fun we would have.

  5. Pam/Digging says:

    It’s all gorgeous, Frances. My, what a Spring Fling could be held in your own garden. I’m glad you could tear yourself away to come to Austin.

  6. Phillip says:

    I would say that spring has arrived in your garden. It looks incredible. I especially love the street view with the yoshino and the rock work is really nice. You have really worked hard and it shows.

  7. brokenbeat says:

    those two pictures from either side of the pond are freakin’ incredible. quick, someone call up the garden zines to capture this awesome spectacle. i’d do it myself but i’ll be busy trying to emmulate what i’ve seen.

  8. SA says:

    A dream garden, the pictures are stunning especially close up. (thank you for making this possible). I am speechless (writeless!) it is glorious.

    Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Sylvia (England

  9. chuck b. says:

    Really nice! I hope to follow the progress of your Sambucus.

  10. Frances, says:

    Pam, thanks, but your garden was so much more inviting. My garden is nice to look at, but the climb up the hill is an accident waiting to happen, I have slipped and fallen myself several times. Not such a good idea for a crowd.

    Phillip, what kind words, thank you. I have worked hard, and there is lots still to do, never finished as the saying goes.

    Brokenbeat, you have hit upon the beauty of the blogs, magazine quality photos and narrative are posted every day by hundreds of talented gardeners and it’s all yours at the touch of a keyboard for free! love.

    Sylvia, so very glad you stopped by and thanks.

    chuck b., I too will be watching the Black Lace as it grows. The word on the street is that is not as vigorous as its gold brother, which is a fast and strong grower. I am hoping that is wrong, I want it to be big and make an impact on that side of the garden.

  11. tina says:

    You did not once think of the status of the garden? I would be thinking about it too much I think.

    What type of Japanese maple is that? Is it a weeping form? I would love a weeping form but don’t have one. Yours has nice color and really stands out.I thought the Tulip Poplar was TN’s state tree?

    I would be very happy to return home to such a lovely garden as yours.

  12. Frances, says:

    Tina, who said the dogwood was the state tree? HA. Thanks for alerting me, I don’t know why I thought that. The maple on the daylily hill is Crimson Queen, as is the one on the left side of the pond. The one on the right is Garnet. They are A. palmatums, growing to between six and nine feet. Garnet is more vigorous, but I prune mine alot. Last year Mother Nature helped me out with the pruning with that freeze. I really did not think about my own garden while away, that is how much fun we were having.

  13. Annie in Austin says:

    You’ve put together a lovely place to come home to, Frances! I don’t know what to admire more…the design or the wonderful plants.
    And after talking to you at Spring Fling it’s easier to put everything in perspective. You really use your site and elevations so well.

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  14. Gail says:


    Someone put a latin name to your ribbon grass ( I love it) and I have misplaced who posted it! Any idea where or is this a surprise to you?


  15. Frances, says:

    Gail, Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening wrote this in her email to us: “And finally, on a completely different topic, I already grow the ribbon grass that Frances gave to everyone, but I know it as variegated bulbous oat grass, Arrhenatherum elatius var. bulbosum ‘Variegatum’. I figure if you have the botanical name you can find out more about it.”

  16. tina says:

    Ah, Crimson Queen. I once had one that I bought the same time as my Coral Bark, the dogs ate the Crimson Queen. Need to find another as it is lovely.

  17. Frances, says:

    Annie, thanks. I wish we had gotten to talk more. The hill is a challenge, not just in the plantings but also erosion and just climbing up and down to work in it. But it does allow for the plants to be seen better, like the stadium seating in a movie theater.

  18. Sherry at the Zoo says:

    Your gardens are beautiful! Simply beautiful. Spring has definately arrived in your neck of the woods. What a great present to come home to!

  19. Gail says:

    Thank you! It is a lovely grass…is it viewable in any garden photos?


  20. Blackswamp_Girl says:

    WOW! What a welcome your garden had for you, Frances. And I agree with Annie–you do use your sloping site to great advantage.

    How long has your garden been in existence? The hardscaping and drifts of plants say that it’s been a while, but I wasn’t sure…

  21. Frances, says:

    Tina, that is one expensive doggie chew toy.

    Sherry, thanks. I does cheer one to drive up and see all the flowers blooming. This is our big show, this month.

    Gail, the best picture I could find is on this post, http://fairegarden.blogspot.com/2007/12/blue-in-garden-part-two.html . The caption under it reads “Scilla peruviana in bloom”, the grass is shown to the left of the scilla. Thanks for mentioning this, I will post a good current photo so people can see what it will look like.

    Kim, thanks. We cleared the hill when we moved here in 2000. I started planting right away, and things are still being added and subtracted from the hill behind the house. Other areas are still being planted, especially where the new arbor is, where the privet hedge is almost all dug out.

  22. ourfriendben says:

    What?! The flowering dogwood isn’t TN’s state tree?! How humiliating. Must be the marvelous tulip poplar, then. Too bad we can’t have both (big tree, little tree). I love dogwoods in bloom–white and wild, of course–but the floors in my family’s Colonial home, Mile End, are made of tulip poplar, so they have my loyalty as well.

  23. shirl says:

    Welcome home Frances, what a sight to come home to 😀

    What beautiful plantings you have in your garden. I look forward to seeing it through all the seasons now 😀

  24. Cinj says:

    Gorgeous gardens! I can’t wait until my flowers start blooming so I can show them off. What colors are your peonies? So far all that I have are pink. I have one here and 4 at my other garden. I know what you mean about the short bloom time, but they are SO worth it!

  25. Frances, says:

    Ourfriendben, HA, I at first had written that it was the tree of TN, then Tina let me know it was the poplar. I still think it should be our tree though.

    Shirl, thanks. Now that it’s spring, the current blooms can be posted. Have to save some pix for the winter, though. Thanks for stopping by.

    Cinj, thanks. The tree peonies are dark red, shown, and white. My herbaceous peonies are white, pink and red, all passalongs from friends, all older varieties, they will bloom around Mother’s Day here in TN. The tree peonies will be bloomng very soon.

  26. Marie says:

    Several beautiful posts since my last visit!

  27. artistsgarden says:

    Glad you had a good “Spring Fling”, however much we enjoy being away, it is always lovely to come home – especially to a garden looking as beautiful as yours.

  28. Frances, says:

    Marie, thanks, glad you enjoyed them.

    Karen, We did indeed have a wonderful trip, and indeed home never looked so good.

  29. rusty in miami says:

    Frances your garden is breathtaking; I can wait to see more pictures.
    I love that Cherry Tree.

  30. Frances, says:

    Rusty, thanks. The cherry tree has lasted much longer than usual, now if those azaleas would only open it would be the whole enchilada!

  31. The Giraffe Head Tree says:

    Stunning, and well done! Your garden is BEAUTIFUL and worthy of an article!!! Must e-mail you post haste!!! xo – Debi

  32. susan harris says:

    OMG it’s gorgeous! And it was great meeting you in Austin! Susan

  33. Melanie says:

    Frances, I so thoroughly enjoyed walking through spring in your garden. Everything looks so lush and delightful.

    Can’t wait to see more!

  34. jodi says:

    Holey moley, Frances, what a lot has happened. It was daffodils, and then this? It’s kind of fun to go away for a few days at this time of year (well, a little later for me) and come back to instant bloom. Glad you’re back from your travels, too.

  35. kate smudges says:

    Your garden looks to be full f all sorts of flowering loveliness. I love your cheery tree. It is beautiful. Having views of different parts of your garden is great fun.

    I hope you’ve recuperated from Spring Fling. It sounds as if it was great fun!

  36. Frances, says:

    Debi, thanks. We’ll talk about that article.

    Susan, thanks and likewise, I’m sure.

    Melanie, thanks. It was a pleasure to show everyone more of the overall look, not just macro shots.

    Jodi, thanks. It was good to be back, I am not a very good traveler, but this is the garden’s best time, for sure.

    kate, not much time for recuperating, the weeds have gone berserk! Thanks for visiting.

  37. joey says:

    Heaven is home, Frances! Love the way you planted white tulips to echo your enchanting Yoshino. I’m way behind in the garden but anxiously awaiting …

  38. Yolanda Elizabet says:

    It was lovely to walk around your garden Frances. My favourite part at the moment is that gorgeous cherry tree and the beds around it. Very, very pretty! Your knot garden is looking very promising, can’t wait for the tulips there to unfold.

    As a gardener you can actually never go away without the feeling you are missing out on something wonderful in your garden, don’t you think? Perhaps we could get away in the depths of winter without missing very much but at any other time of the year – forget it!

    BTW your Japanese maple is further along than mine at the mo. 😉

  39. Frances, says:

    YE, thanks, the cherry has lasted much longer than normal. Today will be the day for the tulip show in the knot garden. They were half open yesterday. We are getting a big rain event and cold front this weekend which will spoil some of the blooms open now, hopefully not cold enough to damage those maples, though. I am a real homebody, I suppose it may be because the garden is tied to my apron strings.

  40. Frances, says:

    Joey, thanks, but when the front planting was done, we had no idea about color echoes. It is a great concept and is used now, when I can remember it. Your spring will come and we will look forward to seeing it!

  41. karen says:

    Goodness, this stroll through your garden is pretty gorgeous. I love the knot garden.

    And I envy you all the stonework–but of course the price you pay is hiking up and down hills. Stone looks odd on our little plot because we live on a sandbank, so I use it only sparingly.

  42. Frances, says:

    Karen, glad you enjoyed it. You are so right about the appropriateness of the stone here and not at your place, although maybe one or two large boulders would be good. You could lift them with the backhoe!

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