Welcome to the Fairegarden. It is now late summer, and there have been some surprise guests that would like to meet you. If you would, please climb these steep homemade steps up to the middle terrace. Watch your step, it is easier if you take one step at a time for you will need to preserve your leg strength to last the whole tour, don’t use it all up at the beginning.
Here we are. You can catch your breath while the explanation is presented. There are two concrete swan planters that have been moved from the house in northeast Tennessee to Texas and back to southeast Tennessee. In the vehicles, not on a moving van. We are not quite that loose with the funds, contrary to popular belief. The hummingbird magnets planted in these swans are volunteers from the gravel paths around the knot garden.
For years we have tried to save seeds of certain colors of these Salvia coccineas. Starting them under lights in the greenhouse has produced next to zero results. The best plants come from this path around the quads and center quatrefoil. In the first year of its existence, the knot garden was planted with seeds brought from the Texas garden, where the S. coccinea was perennial along with seeding like the end of the world was near.
Lesson learned in transplanting babies from the gravel to desired locations include: (1) do it while they are small, (2) as early as they can be handled while the weather is still cool and there is more frequent rain, (3) shade them with large leaves borrowed from maple trees or Heuchera ‘Brownie’ to keep them from drying up, and lastly (4) water well until you see new growth.
While all of these S. coccineas are lovely and favored by the hummers, the human garden resident prefers the black calyx to the green. For years we have been plucking the green ones from the growing area in the knot garden path to allow only the black to scatter seed. There has been some limited success in this endeavor.
Moving on to the paths behind the garage you will see the orange Cosmos ‘Cosmic Orange’ previously mentioned in another post that is the correct height in its second generation rather than its predecessor who was trying to make the team.
Continuing along the stony surface another plant that will only show up in the gravel comes into view. Talinum paniculatum, ‘Jewel Of Opar’ is much beloved for the golden spoon shaped foliage, tiny flowers and seed head balls.
With groans, creaks and grunts one must get down quite low to appreciate the finer points of beauty here. Obviously worth it. The common name of this plant is referenced in the brilliant Edgar Rice Burroughs book Tarzan And The Jewels Of Opar. I believe that phrase is also is used in his Martian Tales books referring to the heroine, Martian princess Dejah Thoris’ beauty. Which came first, the book or the naming of the plant, is unknown. Anyone?
Following along the path we see that the little Nicotiana descendent of N. ‘Tinkerbelle’ has just begun to flower. This is yet another path only volunteer.
The offspring have lost the pink outer coloring of the named cultivar over the years and now sport solid celadon attire. This path was redone earlier and it was feared the seeds had been lost in the shuffle. Two plants have appeared, one in the gravel and one behind in the pine straw mulched path. It might be prudent to try once again to save and start seeds of this in the greenhouse, so as not to risk a total loss.
In the same area is a seedling that has been watched to see if identification could be ascertained. Now that the flowers have opened, detective work leads to a Veronica of some kind. Less blue than the V. spicata ‘Sunny Border Blue’ and S. ‘Royal Candles’ growing at the edge of the nearest bed, leaning toward a more purple hue. It will be protected from harm to see what the mature height will be. Do we dare move it into the Veronica bed?
Coming down from the hills to the area behind the main house we can see a little grass that appears sporadically every summer. It has been moved to a less traveled area with resulting death every single time, so it remains right smack dab in the middle of the most tread upon path just outside the back door to the mudroom. Does anyone recognize it? It has a fairy like presence and would be mass planted if only we could get it to survive in numbers to allow for seed retrieval.
The tour is nearly over, but there is one more volunteer that deserves to be pointed out before you are sent along your merry way. What is that you say, and why is it deserving? Does anyone know? No hands up to be called upon? After years of not being able to distinguish between the weed grasses so prevalent and the desirables, finally the defining feature of blue hue and narrow blade have revealed the baby forms of something quite special. These do transplant with success, it is reported happily.
This image from last fall shows what those little clumps will become. Muhlenbergia capillaris, muhly grass is on the cusp of blooming. A few little tufts of pink are showing in the segmented stems of a few already. September is the month of the muhly car stopping show along the driveway. Can’t wait.