April Drive By Ootsing


On a recent rainy day we grabbed the camera and went out for some drive by shooting of the photographic type in our small southern town. We began downtown, which is very close to our home. The corners around the courthouse square are all nicely planted with shrubs and seasonal color. These fall planted pansies are bright and cheerful. New street lamps were installed a couple of years ago after a study was done on how to improve the quality for tourism of this historic area.

A short walk, er drive, up the street takes us by a tasteful planting in front of a dentist office.
The window box is thoughtfully planted with colorful foliage including coleus and golden creeping jenny, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’,( thanks for reminding me to put the correct name, Helen). Well done.

A few more steps, er wheel rollings, away is the main entrance to the college campus. This is where three of our four offspring attended school, playing soccer for tuition breaks, allowing us to purchase the house we now reside in for them to live while in school. We are very proud to show the block wall on the left that had to be rebuilt after the original stone, seen on the right of the steps, deteriorated. Those newer blocks are the same exact blocks as our own long wall are, ours were ordered at the same time and built by the same contractor as these. They have weathered nicely and have the patina of age.

On to the residential street just a block away from the campus downtown is an area recently designated as historic by the town council. They were advised to do this by the same consultant that helped give ideas for the sprucing up of the courthouse square. Any remodeling done to the houses in this area has to follow strict guidelines to keep the flavor and integrity of the neighborhood. This is a good example of those rules being followed. Of course there was a terrible wailing and uproar about government taking over their lives, etc. but the politicians were steadfast in doing the right thing.
A couple of houses down is a smaller, though simply charming home with blooming Carolina jessamine along the porch. We had this same plant near our house and had to remove it to prevent the roof and rafters from being invaded. I assume there is constant pruning on this, and see a ladder to back up this supposition.


Closer to our house is a fine example of good planting, (please ignore the hose reel it could not be cropped out). Deciduous azaleas still in the pots, I am positive that they did not come from the grocery as those bags indicate, brighten this side yard near a carport. A couple of days later we saw workers had planted these and mulched all the beds for a finished look. Kudos on plant selection, neighbor!


Now we are to the meat of this story, a very special parking lot for the YMCA. This facility is well used by the local residents for its exercise classes and other offerings. The parking has always been inadaquate and last fall a new space across the street from the building was erected. Our interest was piqued everytime we drove by. This signage in a kiosk in the middle of the lot explains what has been done.


I love that the boy scout erected the kiosk. The whole thing is so well done and makes me proud of our little town.

It has been very difficult to get the grass established with the above average rainfall that we have experienced since this was installed. The lot had to be roped off to cars for many days so the grass could recover. It still is patchy but the strangest thing is driving on the grass rather than the pavement. It just seems wrong.
The plantings on the roof appear to be doing well.When I got out of the vehicle to snap these photos, a bird was squawking at me the entire time. It looks like a Killdeer, so named for the call it makes when someone is threatening its nest. I looked around for the nest but didn’t see one. She was quite bold and my photo shoot was shortened so she could relax. We hold mothers and mothers to be in the highest regard.


On the way back to Casa Fairegarden we did a final drive by snapping of neighbor Mickey’s lovely yard. The row of seventeen Knockout roses along the fence by the street has grown to partially block the view of the gazebo and Chamaecyparis bed, but you get the idea of this park like setting.

I hope you enjoyed the drive by of our neighborhood. We bow to the vivacious VP of Veg Plotting for sponsoring OOTS, Out On The Street, and encourage you to join in the fun and show us where you live or have visited. You may leave a link anytime, she is very forgiving about dates. And it should be added, she and Helen, the Patient Gardener are hosting the Meet At Malvern blogger get together at the spring show in the Malvern Hills in the United Kingdom. We hope to report back from that very location soon.

Frances

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30 Responses to April Drive By Ootsing

  1. debbie in knoxville says:

    I love those yellow azaleas! I have looked at Lowe’s where you said you had found some but no luck. I particularly liked the orange ones you showed a few days ago.

    Thanks Debbie. Keep looking for them, surely some nursery will have them, since they are in bloom right now. They usually sell out when people see them in bloom though. They are on the shelves in early March fully budded, the best time to plant, but can be planted now. Give lots of water the first year and good luck! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  2. patientgardener says:

    I really enjoyed a tour of your local streets. I particularly liked the mass pansies, it made me realise that I plant mine far too far apart and then they look awful. Also liked the window box what a simple combination. Not sure I know what creeping jenny is but will have to see if I can find it here

    Thanks Helen, my you are a night owl! I too never plant the pansies close enough, but am trying to do better. The pros always pack everything so close together. The creeping jenny is Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’. I will addd that to the post, sorry for being so lazy. Can’t wait to meet you and see your lovely garden! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  3. Darla says:

    I must say, Ms. Frances you should be very proud of your town.

    Oh I am, Darla. When they were building the parking lot for the Y, we were amazed at the ecological thought that went into it. Not the usual for our town in the past. They are adding sidewalks with benches and nice plantings all over too. We wonder who/what is behind this, but applaud it in any case.
    Frances

  4. Beckie says:

    Frances, you live in such a lovely area. And, it seems, a very intelligent population as well. To preserve beauty and enhance it should be a given, but isn’t always-even rarely. In a country where bigger and newer seems to be the norm, it’s wonderful to see a community preserve their heritage. I know you must feel fortunate to be a part of it. And I have a feeling you encourage it always. Thanks for the tour of a very lovely area.

    Hi Beckie, thanks. Of course there are some really REALLY horrible parts too, but why show them? Better to inspire and encourage then berate and browbeat, IMHO. I am thrilled with the path the city seems to be taking, not so when we first moved here at all.
    Frances

  5. Randy says:

    Frances,
    The Killdeer nest can be right under your feet and you will notice it, very camouflaged! The jasmine on the eaves of that house can be work as it does like to get into wood. Enjoyed this post!

    Thanks Randy. The Kildeer was quite bold with me, getting close and scolding something fierce. I wanted to take more pictures of the plantings but decided she was too upset with me and left. The other cars in the lot were up the hill closer to the Y, maybe why she chose that place for her nest.
    Frances

  6. tina says:

    A lovely drive indeed Frances. That parking lot is a super good idea. Hopefully it will catch on with other municipalities.

    Thanks Tina. I have asked around but can’t seem to find who was behind this type of installation. We figure it must be from a grant of some kind, maybe part of the stimulus package? It is first rate in concept, and so unusual from what has been done in the past.
    Frances

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    The tour around your pretty little town was nice Frances. I can’t wait to see all about Malvern.

    Thanks Lisa. I can’t wait to be able to tell you all about Malvern! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  8. Gail says:

    Frances, I was charmed by your town…and the new green movement is exciting. Some forward thinking boy scouts, too. Our mayor wants to make Nashville the greenest city ever! He wants to pass Austin in green! I laughed with delight at the thought of a green community and at his grandstanding. I would love to replace our asphalt drive with pervious paving of some kind~even if it was in one section.~~The killdeer is marvelous. gail

    Thanks Gail. You know it is not all peaches and cream here, but they seem to be moving in the right direction. What a great concept, let’s see who can be the greenest! Win win. The paving is interesting. If we ever move and have to install a driveway again, we would certainly look into that. The bird was soooo mad at me, or scared, she wanted me out of there, so I obliged. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  9. Rose says:

    I’m so impressed by the new parking facility, Frances–a rain garden and a living roof, wow! Your town is very progressive. I always enjoy these drive-bys and getting a glimpse of other people’s hometowns. You must be getting very excited about your upcoming trip–have you packed your bags yet?

    Thanks Rose. This is quite unusual for our town, a pleasant change from their usual back biting politics can’t see the forest for the trees mentality. I don’t know how it happened, but am glad for it. Excited about the trip? You could say that. lol We are still in the thinking stage for clothes. We packed too soon for Chicago and kept having to get into the bag and switch things out, so will wait. But there are lists…. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  10. Those old houses have such character.The grass parking area is a neat idea. I just wonder how much traffic it can hold up to. We’ve been so ingrained with staying on the roads that it would feel wrong to ride on the grass!

    It is, Dave. Driving on the grass was odd, especially when there was pavement right next to it. The grass has had a very difficult time with all the heavy rain. The cars have to make a sharp turn when entering the lot at the end closest to the Y, which is very hard on the little baby grass. Hopefully time will help it get established.
    Frances

  11. gittan says:

    Hi Frances, it’s interesting to see a bit more of your town. I’m trying to convince the Carpenter that the roof on top of our garage would be perfect for one of those living roofs / kram gittan

    Hi Gittan, thanks. The green roof idea could be used on small buildings like that, keep working on him! πŸ™‚
    Kram,
    Frances

  12. joey says:

    Thanks for the charming neighborhood tour, Frances, I loved it!

    Thanks Joey. It is a quiet small southern town, not a lot going on. That’s the way we like it. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  13. A lovely tour Frances. That Killdeer really was eyeing you suspiciously…I do wonder if there might have been a nest hidden somewhere.

    Thanks CV. I am sure there was a nest somewhere, the way that bird was acting towards me, quite aggressive in fact. I had to make a quick getaway! But was happy to do so. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  14. Meredith says:

    You know, I never thought to see a parking lot I could tolerate — much less like! Bravo to your town for that wonderful creation. And I always appreciate deciduous azaleas, but those are particularly pretty. πŸ™‚

    Hi Meredith, thanks. I agree about parking lots, would never guess that one would be featured on my garden oriented blog post, but this one is special. The azaleas are making life worth living at the moment. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  15. Jenny B says:

    Loved the tour, Frances. I especially loved the old home near the college–so graceful and full of old charm. We have several examples of the growing roof tops around town. They are usually planted with prairie grasses and wildflowers, and are very striking this time of year. The Killdeer looks very vigilant. So nice of you to cut your picture taking short to calm her down.

    Hi Jenny, thanks. There is one street, off the main grid that contains those houses, a pleasant surprise on my Oots tour. I remember seeing the roof at Starbucks when we were at the spring fling in Austin a couple of years ago. Very impressive. Poor Ms. Killdeer was very upset with me. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  16. Alice Joyce says:

    Frances, thank you for stopping by AGTB and commenting (haven’t figured out how to reply without having to see my comments on main page so I hesitate to reply there).
    For some reason, one of the only birds I tend to easily recognize is a killdeer, so I was very proud when I read your text and it confirmed my guess. I love the idea of OOTS! Thanks for taking me along;-))

    Hi Alice, my pleasure to visit your blogs and see what you have been up to. The Killdeer is distinctive with the call and ground habit. Surely there was a nest around there somewhere. Thanks for coming along on the tour of our small town, after all of the touring you do of fabulous spots. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  17. I love to drive around to see what’s happening in neighborhoods this time of year. Great tour of your town.

    Thanks Cameron. We love to drive around looking at houses and gardens too, lots of inspiration out there. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  18. nancybond says:

    You’ve taken us on a lovely tour, Frances. Everything was beautiful…and I especially love that bed of pansies. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Nancy, for going along. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  19. VP says:

    What a fantastic tour of your town and neighbourhood Frances, with some most thoughtful comments to boot.

    I’m most struck by the parking lot design in particular – so many OOTS issues addressed here. I look forward to seeing whether the grass holds up under your town’s traffic and weather and also how the roof gardens get along.

    Thanks for a wonderful OOTS.

    AND it’s not long until I get to see you and Gail for real! This British gal is getting very excited πŸ˜€

    Hi VP, thanks. I love the idea of Oots and always see loads of interesting things while buzzing around town. This parking lot was above and beyond the norm here. Sometimes they have the grass barricaded to cars when there is a lot of rain so that the grass can regrow, but it might just be an ongoing problem. The roof garden looks great, it made it through our harsher than normal winter just fine. We’ll see how it does in the heat of summer. As for the meet up, the excitement builds by the minute! We might burst before we get there, and definitely will be squealing like piglets when we finally meet. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  20. Les says:

    I am glad to see that the powers that be in your community have some sort of vision, beyond the next election. Not only does this make it a nice place to visit, but more importantly makes it a nice place to live.

    Thanks Les. This was quite a surprise to be honest. Our powers are not known for far sightedness. But it is a nice place to live anyway. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  21. Racquel says:

    What a lovely area you live in Frances. Thanks for sharing your outing photos with us. πŸ™‚

    Thanks Racquel. We have shown some of the better spots, but why not put your best foot forward? πŸ™‚
    Frances

  22. Barbarapc says:

    Thanks for the visit – so lovely to see where you live. We’d had the same concerns here when homes and streets were declared historic and subject to lots of rules. But at the end of the day it makes for much more interesting streetscapes. And, the folks who are drawn to that kind of home and neighbourhood, always seem to take tremendous care – making it so much nicer for everyone.

    Hi Barbara, thanks so much. The historic designation and all that comes with it was debated by the city for several years. Some people put their homes up for sale in protest, but it has all smoothed over now and seems to be a step in the right direction. Easy for us to say since our street is nearby but not part of the ruling. These homes are way too modest for anyone to care what is done with them. There are some remodels going on here, a welcome sight after we have literally poured money into our house. Lots of potential here with affordable fixer uppers.
    Frances

  23. Frances, isn’t OOTSing fun? I need to do another run. That kill deer looks like an awkward teenager!

    Hi Monica, thanks for visiting. Looking around town for plantings of interest is always fun, but I seldom have the camera with me, or the time to pull over and take photos. The bird was quite defiant! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  24. Why is it that pansies always look so relentlessly cheerful – great big booming grinning faces that follow the sunshine – such lovely flowers!

    Hi Louise, thanks and welcome. The pansies are so sweet, they do well here planted in the fall, growing good root systems for a big spring extravaganza. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  25. Jen says:

    I think this is the first time I’ve seen “Out on the Street” – would love to join in sometime. That parking lot was fascinating – I can see how it would feel weird to drive on the grass – but kudos to them for the rain garden and maintaining a much-needed patch of green in a busy area. Fun to have a look around your town!

    Hi Jen, thanks. Do join in, anytime is fine. You can add your post to the Mr. Linky on VP’s blog whenever you want. She usually does them quarterly, but anytime is okay, really. The parking lot is amazing, hope the grass fills in, even with cars driving on it all the time. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  26. Great shots! I think the last 2 are my favorites. I love the details in the bird.

    Thanks Sue. The Killdeer is very pretty and fairly large, almost like a bird you would see at the beach. But she was mad at me! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  27. Town Mouse says:

    What fun! And thanks for pointing out the hose reel in the azelea photo. I actually missed it first ;->

    Thanks Town Mouse. I hesitated to mention the hose reel, wondering if I was actually drawing more attention to it. Looks like that was the case. HA πŸ™‚
    Frances

  28. Anna says:

    Enjoyed the neighbourhood tour Frances. i have been cursing and pulling out creeping jenny for years – now I see that she has potential πŸ™‚

    Thanks Anna. The creeping jenny is rampant, but makes a good weed suppressant under larger shrubs and perennials. It has its place. πŸ™‚
    Frances

  29. sequoiagardens says:

    “Right!”, I said, “Frances lives in Oosting, now I can find her on GoogleEarth!” Luckily I read the post before trying…

    I love the parking lot, and the completeness of the project: the fact that it was not only done, but documented so well is just so… well, FIRST world. I know it is negative to define yourself negatively, but do you get my drift … :0

    Enjoy Malvern! And while you are there try to see Hidcote and Kiftsgate. They are not open on the same days (or weren’t when last I checked). If I had to chose between them, I think, to Frances, I would recommend……… Kiftsgate!

    Oh how funny, Jack! The parking lot is simply incredible, especially for our small town mentality. It is shocking actually, that the powers in charge made it happen. The information in the kiosk is very detailed, right down the the cost of each item. Well done, Eagle Scout! The gardens we are seeing have already been chosen for us, but if there is time available and opportunity to do so, Kiftsgate it is! πŸ™‚
    Frances

  30. That parking lot is fantastic. Hopefully someday it will be run of the mill.

    Thanks MMD. It is an interesting idea and a step in the right direction. πŸ™‚
    Frances

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