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.
Hi Frances I think the photos were great especially the Cynara cardunculus it is by the way a favorite in my little potager. Frances I have been trying to get seeds of your grass M. capillaris without success, do you know were I can get it from?
Thank you for a lovely walk in the UT gardens./xoxo Tyra
Hi Tyra, thanks. I did a google search for Muhlenbergia capillaris seeds and found this one:
It says they serve gardeners around the world, but I have not personally done business with them.
Hope this helps!
What a great time, other than the heat, nothing disappointing about these photos! I love the twig tunnels. I have an amaranthus I am going to have a go of from seed as well.
Hi Darla, thanks. It’s funny that the photos don’t look so poor to me now like they did when they were taken. 🙂 Good luck with your amaranthus, your seed set up looks like you will have no trouble with anything you try!
Oh,what a blast! I would love to have that Amaranthus plant, the color and texture are simply gorgeous!
Have fun with your new azalea.
Hi Karrita, thanks. It was loads of fun, so much to look at and good company to visit with too! The amarathus was a stand out, it is hard for me to remember now why I took the photos that I did, but that one was just a beautiful well grown specimen.
Hi Frances-This time I´m among the 5 first to send a replay to your blog.Looks like a lovely day-and lots of flowers and plants
Kindly Maria i Sennan
Hi Maria, thanks, it was a lovely day. Congratulations on being in the first five to comment too, HA, but do know that when I see the comments on wordpress, the page treats each one equally, whether it is the first or the last! 🙂
Frances, Good morning! I loved the photos~~ but I think know what you mean. I’ve gone to botanical gardens and come home hoping to have great photos and they weren’t! My photos of the late winter early spring garden of 2008 were taken before I thought about using the camera’s features! The Clary Sage is magnificent, I can’t wait to see it in your garden! I loved reading about Bloom Days at UTK..I’ve friends I can visit in K’ville. Do you recommend Blooms Day? (Is it cloudy and cold in your garden?) gail
Hi Gail, thanks so much. That glaring sun makes most photos washed out at that time of year and there was little shade. They did have water available everywhere or people would have dropped from the heat. It is very much worth your while to attend, and don’t forget your friends a little south of Knoxville too. 🙂 It is supposed to snow today.
Ahhhh these photos do warm the soul. I am glad you saved them for this time of year. I think the photos are just wonderful even if the quality aren’t up to your high standards. I would love to have the cardooon and amaranthus in my garden. They are quite the characters.
Hi Lisa, thanks so much, I am glad to have given you warmth of any kind during these cold times. 🙂 I must remember to save shots from trips and visits for winter, it felt good to me too as I was working with them. I did buy a cardoon last year and had it in a large pot, it was a big disappointment, nothing like the one shown in this post. Maybe I will have better luck with the amaranthus, offspring Semi has grown giant ones by throwing seed. I don’t have her skill.
I have been wanting to visit these gardens. From your pictures I can tell the gardens are TOTALLY different from the test center in Jackson, also a UT garden. Since I like trees I think I’d feel more at home at the Knoxville one. Nothing but flat land and sun at Jackson. That salvia has some really awesome leaves. Can’t wait to see it growing in Fairegarden. And I have to ask, why no cardoon? I wish I could grow it but it is too shady here. It is so architectural. As soon as I saw the agave I thought of Pam at Digging. Wonderful tour and great the guys had other plans:)
Hi Tina, thanks. The site is gorgeous, along the Tennessee river and the hort students work hard getting the gardens looking tip top. There are lots of annuals, something I am less interested in than the perennials, but there are loads of ideas for combinations there. You might have noticed the big musa, I am not sure, but think they dig that and the agave each fall and put them in the greenhouses. As for the Cardoon, it is just too large. I put one in a very large concrete pot last year with high hopes, and it got this terrible black sooty fungus and never grew beyond the size it was when planted. Don’t know why, but mainly it is the size, the one in the photo was twice my height! I have added that to the text in case others are questioning that decision.
Frances .. I remember seeing those “twig tunnels” before and thinking how cute is that for the kids ! .. I grew “love lies bleeding” amaranthus one year just by throwing the seeds down .. of course it never happened again ? haha .. I love the impressive size of the cardoon, must be the kid in me ? haha
The huge agave ? not sure of the name .. those I love as well .. heck ! I haven’t met a plant I didn’t like yet ? haha
Great post for a very gray winter’s day : )
Hi Joy, thanks. Someone did post about those types of tunnels somewhere but I can’t remember who or when. Isn’t that a fine agave? I am sure they have to dig that and store it for the winter in a cool greenhouse, but they have many hands and heavy equipment and many greenhouses. It is a grand garden setting.
Thanks for a peek at those Uni gardens, they are great. Love the twig tunnels (still a kid at heart) and those cardoons are really something, aren’t they?
Clary sage grows in my garden too, it’s one of my favourites and so easy to grow from seed.
Hi YE, thanks for stopping by. I am glad to know the clary sage is easy, I really liked the one I had growing, it seeded a couple of babies the next then it was lost. I will save seed this time if I get some going to keep them in the garden. The cardoon was a monster!
Twig tunnels! I love stuff like that.
Ok,drumroll…S. sclarea var. turkestanica!
I have to try that. I am off to Chiltern seeds! Do you think I should try to grow this is greenhouse conditions first before transplanting? If I could just directly sow that would be great, but I find that does not always work with some seeds for me( I love the ones that do, for sure!)
Thanks for the fun and inspiration!:)
Hi Philip, thanks. Aren’t those tunnels cool? What a great use of prunings! I am guessing that in your climate a greenhouse would not be necessary to start those salvias, maybe try some in both places and see what works. Good luck!
Fabulous tour and I think the photos are great!
We should start a garden bloggers Google map to pinpoint all these wonderful gardens that the public can view! Being a techie, I think I’ll look into it. I know that individuals can mark points with photos, but I’ll see if there’s a way to create a special map for gardens.
Hi Cameron, thanks. I would love to see where public gardens are located, especially when traveling to new places. I am sure many of us would welcome and use such a map. Congrats on being a techie! 🙂
Hi Frances! I think your photos are wonderful and I loved seeing what the gardens at UT look like. I loved those tunnels…do they build those each year for this event or are they a permanent structure there? Keep warm…soon you will be out there digging! 🙂
Hi Sira, thanks so much. I should have done a better job with the photos showing the whole set up and grounds. I wasn’t thinking, being too excited about being there and maybe scoring some cool plants! Always the consumer, eh? 🙂 I am too ready to be out in the garden again!
What a wonderful event to relive during these cold days! I think you are being too modest Frances, the photos were gorgeous! 🙂 I am ordering some seed from the Clary Sage for my garden this season too. It is a striking perennial.
Hi Racquel, thanks so much. I need to save more of the travel photos for winter, it was cheering for me too. I am not sure if the clary sage is perennial or more likely biennial, but even so, like the foxgloves, it will be easy to keep it going if I pay attention to seed collecting.
Good morning Frances! I don’t know why you were disappointed with these pictures? I found them very enjoyable. It’s great to tour events such as this, isn’t it? I always come away with an idea or two just as you did. The amaranthus is beautiful, I’ve never attempted it but I grew the clary sage with much success in my Wyoming garden. In fact, maybe a bit too much success ~ it spread seed EVERYWHERE. I’m sure it will love Fairegarden. thanks for the summer warmth on a January day.
Hi Kathleen, thanks for that tip, the sage must like dry sunny rocky spots, not cushy rich earth? Right? And thanks too for the nice words about the photos, the sun was so bright it was hard to take a good shot, I thought. That was also before I read the owner’s manual for the camera. I should have taken more of the overall gardens too. Blogging is a learning curve. 🙂
You definitely don’t have to amend the soil for Clary Sage Frances. Winters were harsh, winds brutal and moisture limited. Still it thrived… Blogging teaches us about lots more than posting, that’s for sure. Now when did Cottage Living fold?? I just replied to your comment on my blog that I had subscribed in Oct and never received anything but they didn’t cash my check either. Now I know why. Such a bummer. 😦
Hi Kathleen, thanks for the info about the sage. Most all of my yard is unimproved, it makes life easier to just find the plants that like those conditions rather than try to grow the picky stuff.. Sounds like the clary will be perfectly happy here too. I think the publisher sent me a postcard saying the December issue was the last one and they were sending something else as a replacement. Something I didn’t want. 😦 with you.
Love what I perceive to be red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), which I discovered last summer at the Denver Bot. I mail ordered two which are almost completely buried under snow (good insulation! you can see it here–barely!). They’re one zone warmer than ideal for me, but I’m hoping they’ll be OK.
Hi Monica, I found your comments, they were put in the spam file by wordpress. It does that sometimes when there are links imbedded, silly things. I saw the photo, but that is a plant that lives in Colorado so should be used to some snow. You are right I think, snow is a good insulator. Wish we had some here, but my hesperaloe looks fine, so far, after our signal digit temps for the last few days. Good luck with yours! (I deleted the extra comments, that’s okay, right?) 🙂
Your photos are a lovely reminder of summer. I feel more cheerful already!
The Cardoon is impressive. I’d love to have one but the plants I’ve seen are gigantic. No one appears to have bred a dwarf variety 🙂
Hi EG, thanks, so glad you are cheered up. 🙂 After seeing your garden, I do believe the cardoon would be totally out of scale, although maybe in a giant pot of some sort. I tried that this year with my largest concrete pot and the plant was awful, it didn’t grow at all and was covered in a black soot, yuck!
A tour of the University of Tennessee Gardens sounds like a yearly “must do”!
Are the salvia really that big? If so I want them.
Hi Patsi, the salvia area about three feet tall. Now the cardoon was way over my head! We will definitely be going back to the UT gardens yearly, and taking better photos that are more representative of what it is like there.
Frances, I would be happy to have photos of this quality! I agree it’s wonderful to see some bright blooms from summer during these cold, cold days (I haven’t been out of the house in 4 days!).
I remember seeing an amaranthus at the local Idea Garden last summer and wanting to have one myself. I hope you’re successful in growing one or more this summer and then let us in on the secret to keeping them.
Hi Rose, thanks so much. Those photos look a lot better to me right now than they did at the time they were taken, HA. My daughter Semi had terrific amaranthus one year, the first year actually in her garden with seeds she just threw out in the soil. I can get them to germinate inside and they never make it outside. Last year’s drought was bad on all the seedlings for me though, I just could not keep them watered enough, or didn’t do it right. This year the plan is to have the seedlings a larger size before being planted, like what you buy at the nurseries. They are annuals, but saving seed will be done if we can get them to grow well and prosper. I will tell all if that happens. 🙂
I think your pictures were great! Sun shining is natural and makes me feel all warm as if I were there! Dont you just love going to these type gardens? You never know what interesting thing you may see. We went to the Botanical’s in Athens which is involved with University of Georgia. I took pictures but never wrote a post. Maybe it is time to weed through the photos. With this cold stuff in the air, we all need something pretty to view and keep our minds off our cold feet.
Hi Skeeter, thanks. You should get your photos out and do a post. I kept forgetting about mine and was afraid that spring would be here and I wouldn’t want to write about it then with all the good photo ops of spring. Next year I will do a better job of showing the whole gardens and the setting.
It is the first time we visit you, what wonderful blogg. Will look in again.
Hi Kullervilla, thanks so much and welcome. I visitied you and enjoyed your lovely photos. I love the mood they set.
Just the thing our winter-weary eyes needed, Frances, a good shot of spring. We’re still in the deep freeze here but things are moderating slightly, and posts like this remind us that we’ll get through eventually…
Hi Jodi, thanks. Your post about part 2 year in review was a balm for my winter tired eyes also. We are hoping for warmer temps later this week, I haven’t been out in the garden for several days and it is starting to get to me!
Your photos are amazing and it was a reminder that I want amaranthus…I’m always looking for more red, more red…such beautiful texture!
Hi Cheryl, thanks and welcome. Red always makes a splash in the garden at any time of year. I am hoping this will be the year amaranthus decides to grow here. 🙂
Do you know what that evergreen is in the 6th photo from the top? It’s a tall slender thing on the right side of the photo. I know where’d that go if I had one–lovely color and shape and texture.
Hi Benjamin, I believe that is an Arizona cypress. I have a couple of them, young ones. I brought two from Texas to this garden, one died, the other had to be cut down because it grew too tall under a mature maple. There are dwarf varieties I believe. The needles are a frosty blue, beautiful tree.
Hi Frances, I loved your photos, I thought they were great. Interesting to hear about UT. I particularly like the last photo of the blue flowering plant (cardoon?) with what looks like dragon fruit in the background.
The photos are great, Frances! That big sage was something else. But, The first thing I thought when I saw the twig tunnels was I wonder how many snakes could hide in there!
Eeeeek! What a terrifying thought, Randy! There were many people stomping around in there, and there are several resident cats that roam the garden, the guardians against unwanted critters. They are celebraties, and earn their keep too. I didn’t see them during the festival, they might keep them away for their own protection during those two days. Next year I will ask about them, for they are famous at the hort campus. Okay, the snake phobia seems to have subsided now. Whew! And thanks for the kind words. 🙂
What a great trip. Makes me long for days of summer walking barefoot in the grass and feeling the warm sunshine on my face. At least it takes my mind off the snow falling outside my window yet again.
Hi Cinj, thanks so much. It does feel good to think about summer and the sun shining brightly. It is snowing here too.
Hi Frances. Those twig tunnels are fascinating. Certainly beyond my engineering capabilities;) Amaranthus is on my list of annuals for next spring. I wonder why they don’t do well in your area? Too hot, dry. If they are an especially thirsty plant they won’t do well here either.
Hi Marnie, they were kind of just piles but built somehow so there were tunnels. Maybe the engineering school helped out the hort students. My daughter grew a giant amaranthus one year, it may have been a more rainy one. I am going to try supplemental water too since I got a rainbarrel as a Christmas present from The Financier.
I agree that it is a real treat to have photos like this during this kind of weather. We have deep diamond spangled snow right now. The clary sage was of particular interest to me. I had it once, but it was totally out of proportion to everything else, but I think I have the perfect spot for this year. Thanks for the reminder. Also, it is great to see what other public gardens and garden tours can teach.
Hi Pat, thanks so the support. I agree about the size of the clary sage, and plan to put it with some tall grasses as part of the heather bed redesign. I was whining last year about too many little leaves, that sage should help a great deal with that problem!
I get so lost drooling over your photos that I can barely read the words describing them, I am so distracted! I never know when I take a photo whether it’s going to be a keeper. Once you load it onto the computer, the best one may be the one you casually snapped and didn’t think much of originally.
Hi Brenda, HA, thanks. You are not alone, sometimes, not often, but occasionally I can tell from a comment that they did not read the text. That’s okay, sometimes we are in a hurry too. I am doing better with the photos now that I know to listen for the little whirring noise. I had not read the owner’s manual when these photos were taken. Next year’s should be better. I still don’t know with the regular shots, no noises then, only on macro. Maybe some day I will figure it out.
My husband is the photographer in the family. He is always complaining about the light. I just use the point and shoot and cross my fingers. But even if conditions weren’t perfect they were still great photos to brighten up a cold winter day. The sage was my favorite, though growing it would be another matter. I can never seem to keep my biennials going (except my parsley).
Hi Daphne, thanks for stopping by. It is all about the light with the photos, especially in the summer. Spring and fall you can’t go wrong any time of day. Winter has too little, especially when we haven’t seen a sunny day in weeks. Summer light is so intense, I have to stand so as to make a shadow for the macros and the long shots all are washed out. My ranting continues! 🙂 That is the tricky part with the biennials, keeping young ones coming on for next year’s bloom. I have figured out the foxgloves though, you can’t just let them do it themselves, but save and resow seeds in winter each year. That salvia would be worth saving too, but we’ll see. I haven’t received the seeds yet.
I love the Amaranth! I haven’t had much luck with them here, either, but I love the reddish-purple foliage. What a great set of photos, a sight for sore eyes this winter.
Hi Genevieve, thanks. I have high hopes for the amarnthus, they are little tiny guys right now. If I figure out the secret to success with them, I will post about it. It seems many gardeners have trouble getting them to meet expectations.
Dear, dear Frances, you have proven … summertime photos in the dead of winter are indeed fun 🙂
Hi Joey, you are sweet, thanks. I agree, more summertime photos will be saved for these cold months to keep us warm and smiling! 🙂
The cardoon is so arresting. I am dying to try growing one. I don’t care if it is large, I love the leaves and the flower. One of these days …
Hi Jan, the cardoon would do well in your area. I had a large on in Texas that was gorgeous. Post photos when you grow one!
Frances, what a fantastic pictures, they are really treat to my eyes.Have a great day.
Hi Syra, thanks and welcome. I am so glad you enjoyed them and you too have a great day.
So lovely, Frances! All of your photos are so pretty…you enlarge them usually,and they are beautiful…as are the gardens themselves, that you show us;) What a nice tour this was…I’m thinking I need to get out and tour some DC gardens, and there are many of them. Right in my own back yard, so to speak;) (Did you enlarge your photos using the method I posted about, from Robin’s site? If not I’d like to know if there’s another way.) Thanks, and take care!
Hi Jan, thanks so much. I know there are fabulous gardens in your area, what a treat if you would go and then post for us about your visit. 🙂
I use wordpress, which is very different than blogger about setting up the look of your blog. I purchased the right to change the css code on my theme which allowed me to change the size of the area for the photos along with font size and color and other things. I can change every single thing about it if I wanted to and knew the right code. But I am happy with it for now. It took all day on the forums to get it done, I am not a techie at all, with many things having to have new code written. I know of no other way on blogger other than what you are doing.
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