Surprises At The Semi Garden

May 23, 2009 Rob 024 (2)Nearly every weekend The Financier and I make a trip up the interstate to offspring Semi’s home. He plays golf in the early morning after dropping me off to visit with Semi and her family. When the weather permits and there are no other pressing items on our agenda we work in her garden. A great percentage of her plants came from the Fairegarden, for there is much to share here, including almost all of the large red hot pokers, Kniphofia, (pronounced nip-HOFF-ee-uh) that came with the property. This is a large plant and even though we love it, as do the finches, it takes up more space than we feel it deserves.May 23, 2009 Rob 020 (2)There is a steep slope that we have been trying to tame at the far corner of her oversized lot. We know all about slopes. But unlike our house where the backhoe that was used to dig the foundation for the extension of the main house was put into service to clear and terrace our hill, it is two women and a toddler doing the work. Last fall we rolled large stones brought by a sweet and helpful father in law to make steps to climb up and down the middle of the slope amid the rock walls we had built. Click here to read that story. Heavy rains undermined many of these rocks and moved them to odd angles. Last weekend was spent attempting to level the rocks enough to be able to traverse the half moon shaped path. The Kniphofias can be seen in the center of the shot. Red Rosa ‘Fairy Queen’ is having a party with Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ that has self sown hither and yon at Semi’s place.May 23, 2009 Rob 025 (2)As I was up on the hill inspecting the rock steps for wiggles after some recent hard rain, Semi asked me to check out the flowers blooming at the top of the hill around one of the newer Leyland Cypresses. The top of the slope was planted with three one gallon pots of these fast growing everygreens for privacy and vertical interest against the back neighbor’s long horizontal fence. Two more were added a couple of years ago to fill in along with the blue Arizona Cypress seen behind the Kniphofia patch. Perhaps there were seeds of these flowering Verbascums in the pot? May 23, 2009 Rob 026 (2)May 23, 2009 Rob 027 (2)Perhaps these were seeded by the birds? Semi vaguely recalls sowing Verbascum seeds at some time somewhere but definitely not up there. Could they have germinated and flowered and set seed that blew or was carried up there without either of us seeing them? Absolutely, for tall grases and other *wildflowers* have settled into Semi’s garden over the six years it has been in existence. This was the first of the surprises found.May 23, 2009 Rob 011 (2)These photos were all taken in the early morning with The Financier following me around to look at the garden in back. The sun was barely up and we were snapping hurridly before the light became too bright. He immediately asked, “Why aren’t you using the new camera?” Uh oh. I replied that it was too heavy and large to fit into my purse, which is true. Not said was that I don’t know how to use it very well. A save was made when a flock of birds was spotted on the peak of Semi’s roof. “Now that would be a perfect shot with the new camera, I could zoom in to get a clear photo of the group of birds.” Don’t know if he bought it or not. Anyway….we gasped in surprise at the sight of the rose covered fence, belonging to the next door neighbors this time. Do take note of the large stuffed Batman who joins in the sandbox play with little LTB. There are four? roses planted along this fence. The two on the left, pink and red are wild roses dug along the road where Semi’s mother in law lives in rural north central Tennessee. There is also a climber, Queen Elizabeth which has just finished a first flush of blooming. At the far right is a rose purchased at a garden club plant sale. It was from a cutting from the garden of the grandmother of the seller, name unknown. May 23, 2009 Rob 013 (2)Does anyone know this rose? This is one stem, it has so many flowers it is like a bridal bouquet! The blooms have a white center and its habit is sprawling, or climbing if it was tied to a support.May 23, 2009 Rob 018 (2)How about this one? It is even more sprawling and the flowers have many tightly clustered petals. All the roses have more growth and abundant blooms than ever this year, probably due to the nice amounts of rainfall so far.May 23, 2009 Rob 007 (2)One more rose to show you is R. ‘Hot Cocoa’. The color has a slightly brownish hue that the camera did not capture well. It is a real treat. May 23, 2009 Rob 010 (2)Growing along the garage side is Clematis ‘Rooguchi’. We both bought this vine at the same time and hers has done so much better than mine. A southern exposure and planted in mushroom compost might explain the difference. Now on to the next surprise…May 23, 2009 Rob 002 (2)Astute observers can probably see what’s coming. After The Financier wraps up his golf game and nineteenth hole chitchat with chums, he returns hungry. We often grill up some chow, but have been going out to eat lately since little LTB is better able to sit still at a restaurant now that he is older, getting close to four in a few months.May 23, 2009 Rob 003 (2)It seems the grill has been adopted for another use by industrious flying friends. Extensive use of the wild grasses allowed to infiltrate the flower beds is apparent in this construction project.May 23, 2009 Rob 001 (2)By the color and size of the eggs, not to mention the swooping activity noticed of the parents to be, we believe these to be robin eggs. This color is our idea of heaven. We even took a found piece of shell when we first began the main house remodel to the paint store for an exact match. It is the color on the walls of the guest bedroom. A darker tone from the same color card is our master bedroom and the lightest tone is on the walls of the master bath. What pleasant surprises greeted us that morning.
We send to all the best wishes for a happy memorial day holiday. Monday has been set aside in the US to honor our veterans that have given their lives in service to their country, and those still living. We salute you.

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24 Responses to Surprises At The Semi Garden

  1. YZ says:

    The first rose could be a hybrid musk rose called Ballerina.

    Thanks YZ, I checked it out and the outer color is much darker on Semi’s rose. The form is very similar though, probably related. It’s a starting point and your help is much appreciated.

  2. Nicole says:

    What a day of lovely surprises indeed-those roses are just gorgeous and ‘frothing’ over, as for the color of those robin’s eggs… I certainly wish I could get some Kniphofia for my garden.

    Hi Nicole, thanks. The Kniphofia is a giant plant, easily four feet in diameter. That puts into perspective the size of Semi’s hill. It’s the reason there is just not room for it in my garden now, although a small piece was saved for the new heather bed. The plan is to keep it small if possible. Large enough to flower but divided every other year or so to keep the footprint smaller. We’ll see how that works out. Semi has plenty of room, trying still to just fill it in to keep the weeds at bay.

  3. Frances, that robin’s nest is the best! I’m growing red hot poker for the first time this year… I’m told it’s not always hardy in our zone, but I’m viewing it as an annual. Mine’s only maybe 8 inches tall. I have a photo alll ready for my next post. (We often seem to have similar idea but you always beat me to posting them!) I love that Clematis โ€˜Rooguchiโ€™ but don’t even have to look it up to know it’s not hardy in my zone; if it were, I’m sure I’d have seen it around here as it’s GORGEOUS! (Wait, I just looked it up and it’s hardy to zone 4, one colder than me! Well HOORAY!)

    Hi Monica, thanks, it is so big! Hooray for the poker and hooray for Rooguchi being hardy for you. I don’t know that the poker will bloom the first year from seed. But there are different kinds besides the one I inherited. As for me beating you to posting ideas we have simultaneously, well, sorry! ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. tina says:

    Happy Memorial Day to you too! Semi’s garden is coming along most nicely and all those roses are lovely!

    Thanks Tina, and a special thank you to you and your whole family for their service. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I’m no rosarian so I really can’t help.

    The Clematis โ€˜Rooguchiโ€™ is really nice.

    That’s a good sized nest for a little robin. They’re inquisitive little birds aren’t they. Along with the Redstarts, you can almost get them to feed from the hand. I did say almost!


    Hi Rob, thanks anyway. We are pretty sure this is an antique rose, so we will begin the search there if no one recognizes it. Our American robins are different than the European ones, aren’t they? Ours are larger birds of the thrush family with brown backs and orange breasts. They don’t visit the feeders, preferring worms and insects. We hope their diet is more heavy on the insects for we are swamped with them at the mo! ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Kathleen says:

    Amen on the salute to Veterans. I remember you saying (in a comment on my blog) that the finches liked your red hot pokers ~ I’ve never seen them touch mine but the orioles give them a thorough going over with every visit. Interesting, huh? It looks like they are happy in their new site. What a lot of labor you’re doing while the Financier is golfing. Whew. Lucky Semi to have you around. Things are looking good in her garden. Love the verbascums no matter how they got there. Wish I could ID the roses but unfortunately can’t. That full, lush one is delicious tho. Clematis ‘Rooguchi’ is also gorgeous. Reminds me a bit of my ‘Integrefolia’ ~ something about the bell shape always intrigues me more than the usual open petal flowers. Hope you can relax in your garden some this holiday weekend.

    Hi Kathleen, that is interesting. Since I don’t have any pokers blooming here, the one I kept is too small to flower, I can’t catch a photo of the finches on them. It is mostly the goldfinches. We don’t know if there were insects inside those tubes or it was the seeds forming. My camera ran out of batteries while shooting at Semi’s so I couldn’t get any more shots there either. She has many birds, her garden is so wild, but she lacks mature trees for it is a new development. Working in the garden is a labor of love, no matter whose garden it is. I am lucky Semi gives me such free rein too, although I always discuss the plans with her. Not much relaxing in preparation for the Chicago trip! ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Lola says:

    A lot of lovely flowers in Semi’s garden.
    Sorry for the inconvenience of the straw bed full of eggs. Looks like BBQing will have to wait.
    Have a marvelous Memorial weekend.

    Thanks, Lola, and you too enjoy the holiday. The eggs just appeared a couple of days ago but the nest has been there a while so a grill will have to be borrowed. It is a very friendly neighborhood and the neighbors all hang out in Semi’s garage, a bit of a man cave with two tvs, a bar and a poker table!

  8. gail says:

    Semi’s garden is really coming along since the first time you showed us the stone steps you added….Her roses are delightful and I can’t help with them…but I think the unknown mulleins are gifts from nature…not natives, but naturalized. … Verbascum blattaria or moth mullein. They can be white or yellow and they have the fuzzy purple stamens…the moth! I love robin’s egg blue and think it a wonderful color for a guest bedroom. A very soothing color. Can you believe that SF is almost here! See you soon Frances! gail

    Hi Gail, thanks. Glad to get the ID on the Verbascum. Semi remembers having seeds, and they might have been included in a wildflower mixture too. Hard to tell, but we will be saving seeds of these for they are beautiful. You don’t have to remind me about SF, my mind is in overdrive trying to think what all has to be done and not forgetting anything. The weather report is studied at length and trips to the travel section of the grocer’s keep bringing us more and more much needed stuff! HA

  9. I guess you won’t be bbq’ing for awhile.

    Hi Linda, one would think that. ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Daphne Gould says:

    No Memorial Day BBQ in that house. I wonder if they will be fledged by July 4th?

    Hi Daphne, they have another old charcoal grill that will be called into service today and tomorrow. Those eggs just appeared in the grill with the last day or so. Surely by July 4th they will have hatched and flown the coop. You would think it would be so hot in that metal box for baby birds too.

  11. Racquel says:

    Hope you have a safe & Happy Memorial Day weekend with your family Frances. Semi’s garden is really looking great. I wish I had some slopes in my yard, they really do create more interest.

    Hi Racquel, thanks and the same good wishes to you and yours. Some slopes are nice, Semi and I both have a little too much of an incline. We have both slid down hers, not intentionally either, unlike her son who goes down head first with arms in front like Superman! HA

  12. Janet says:

    Love how tall the Verbascum grew to reach the light. (Me thinks the grill needed to be used more in the winter/spring!) ๐Ÿ™‚

    Hi Janet, thanks. It is a beautiful plant. I am wondering if the tank was out of gas or something for they do a lot of grilling.

  13. Darla says:

    She is so blessed to have your talent and knowledge in her gardens!!

    Thanks, Darla, that is so sweet of you to say. I am blessed to have her company as well.

  14. That first rose looks like a carpet rose to me. I don’t know roses very well though. My pink Carpet rose blooms like this.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for helping out. That is another path to follow to find the identity.

  15. Brenda Kula says:

    I was beginning to think we didn’t have robins in Texas, as we did in Oklahoma. I have lived in various parts of the state, and had never seen any. But this year I’ve been seeing them. I love the robins eggs. That first photo is spectacular!

    Hi Brenda, thanks. I am so happy for you finding robins where you now live. They don’t come to the feeders, but do hang around here and build nests all over the place. We keep our grill covered. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. commonweeder says:

    I loved looking at those roses, but I can tell I’m not likely to recognize any down your way if you describe Queen Elizabeth as a climber. I am reminded of a British neighbor of mine showing her visiting brother her Queen Elizabeth. He sniffed and said, Oh, I didn’t know there was a dwarf variety.

    Hi Pat, thanks. One thing about the packaged roses from the big box stores, they are not always what the label says. I do think Queen Elizabeth is as billed that is growing at Semi’s. It was quite small for the first few years. Last year she dumped a truck load of mushroom compost on the whole area to make a new bed. The results on all those roses along the fence are incredible. Try it! ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Catherine says:

    That does look like a lot of nice surprises. How interesting that the birds used the BBQ as a nest box! I love the clematis, I can see why you both bought it.

    Hi Catherine, thanks. I have never seen that happen either. We have an old grill under the deck with the insides taken out and a coir liner in it that I use for potting soil. No birds have ever been tempted by it! HA

  18. eliz says:

    I have a similar unknown rambler like the one in the picture; I posted once on it, but don’t think any of the guesses were correct.
    Love the new use for the grill.

    Hi Elizabeth, thanks. When there is time I will try to do a search for an ID. If I discover it, I will let you know. Right now, things are pretty hectic around here. ๐Ÿ™‚

  19. mothernaturesgarden says:

    How wonderful you and your daughter can enjoy gardening together. She is lucky to have you in many ways I’m sure but especially in the garden. I remember every moment spent with loved ones in the garden.


    Hi Donna, thanks. We are both lucky, and the whole family loves gardening so we have lots of conversation starters! ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Rose says:

    You didn’t say, but I assumed you went out to eat after all?:)
    It’s obvious Semi has inherited her mother’s genes; she has a beautiful garden, and I like all the garden art she has chosen–stuffed Batman, little red wagon, and all. To me, that makes an inviting garden!

    Hi Rose, we did go out to eat that day. For Memorial day they brought the old charcoal grill into use. If you liked Semi’s garden, you would love the inside of her house! HA ๐Ÿ™‚

  21. What an inconvenient and wonderful surprise. I’ve never seen them build such a large nest.~~Dee

    Hi Dee, that is a great word to use to describe the situation! The size of the nest is unusual. When robins build in our trees the nests are about a quarter of that size. I guess they wanted to fill the space, sort of a king sized bed! ๐Ÿ™‚

  22. Robin says:

    Those robins didn’t know when to stop did they? The robins egg blue is tranquil beautiful color; I can see why you would want to duplicate it.

    Hi Robin, isn’t that funny? Lucky for them there is loads of straw and grass to use for building materials. There is something about that color that bores straight to my soul. ๐Ÿ™‚

  23. Semi says:

    Thank goodness for the old charcoal grill, the eggs were saved!! The wild rose area is one of my favorites. I hope the annual seeds LTB and I threw will grow. The hill is really looking good. I am glad you are willing to help me and donate plants from fairegarden! Love you semi

    Dear Semi, yes, the old grill to the rescue. One benefit of not throwing stuff out! With the rain we have had, your seeds will germinate easily. It will be another wild and wonderful flower filled spot. I enjoy helping you and you know how many plants are available from here. I love working with you.
    Love, Frances

  24. Terra says:

    What a fun finale to this blog post, with the surprise nest and heavenly (as you say and I agree) blue eggs.

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