Let us travel back in time to the fall of 2009. Late last October we attended the plant sale at the University of Tennessee display gardens with daughter Semi and little LTB. They had some muhly grass, Muhlenbergia capillaris planted in a wide berm.
Still holding the same prized magnolia leaf shown in the above photo that he had found on the ground as a measuring device, LTB decided to show just how big the planter was. It was big. There were plants in pots and planters planted up for sale, the proceeds going to the Friends of the UT gardens.
Although it was very cold for October, with rain expected any minute, there were a few other brave souls joining us. Some were there as volunteers to answer questions and sell the goods, some were customers and garden lovers, like us. You can see the greenhouses in the background and the Tennessee orange insignia on the tent where the money was collected for purchases made. Some containers were of the glazed pottery type that can winter over outside planted without breakage here. The prices were reasonable and we were sorely tempted.
I was babysitting LTB that morning and took him to the gardens with me so he could play while we waited for Semi to finish running in the Susan B. Komen race for the cure against breast cancer. Since she has started running the race rather than walking, and the family was not coming to join in the fun walk, I did my part by helping sponsor her and watching the little guy. When we found out that the plant sale was the same day as the race, well, you see for yourself how the situation was handled.
I was very happy to see this Cuphea micropetela displayed in these gardens. We added one of these plants, bought at Mouse Creek in our obsession with Cupheas this year. Ruth had gotten it from the University, with all hoping it would prove hardy here, as advertised to zone 7a. Mine does not look like this, but is rather about twelve inches tall with one stalk. I wonder how many plants make up this mound? If it is only one, I will be very disheartened and might have to give up gardening altogether.
The gardens had changed since we were here last. A post about that visit can be seen by clicking here-UT Bloom Days June 2008. Where the desert display gardens had been was now a large rose garden with two waterfalls flanking a stone staircase. A plaque announced that an endowment had been made to the gardens with the money to be used for roses. It is understandable that the gardens were happy to get such a nice gift, even with the stipulation of it being used for a rose garden. There were a couple that caught our fancy. That peach is my favorite color in all things and brightened the scene on a dreary overcast day. The single was outstanding, the bush was covered in buds and flowers. No name tags were on these beauties.
Aster tataricus ‘Jindai’ had quite a presence. One could see that this was several plants massed together. Maybe that was the case with the Cuphea as well. Jindai, three of them that looked similar to these specimens came to live at the Fairegarden this fall, purchased at our go to place for plants, Mouse Creek Nursery. We did not plant them close together, like this grouping, but rather fell back into the habitual plonking method of one here, one there. Will we never learn? It is not too late to move them though. After writing this post, we went out and moved the three Jindais together. Mark that off the list. Check!
Bermed beds with incredible soil tilth and free labor in the way of unpaid students to plant and weed make the plantings here lush and healthy. Semi remembered working in these gardens herself, helping her friend who was a hort student, weeding.
I could have stayed longer, and enriched the coffers of the friends of the gardens substantially more, but one look at poor, tired Semi watching to make sure LTB didn’t go head first after the koi in the pond, told us it was time to go. We will return next fall for this fine sale of prize plants, perhaps with more time to peruse and shop with warmer temps.
What we bought:
Juniperus horizontalis ‘Blue Pygmy’
Chamaecyparis obtusa ‘Nana Lutea’
Spiraea thunbergia ‘Ogon’