A New Spring

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It has been started from scratch, this new garden. There was nothing but a crabgrass lawn and overgrown foundation plantings when we took possession of the new house in August of 2014. Lots of work has been done and plenty of treasure expended, both physical and monetary. It, the garden, is beginning to reward us for the effort. Our favorite plants were brought here, some notorious for not wishing to be moved, like the first tree peony we ever planted anywhere, P. ‘White Phoenix’. It was written about and photographed many times in the old garden. This is its maiden voyage here.

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A very small root section was dug and potted a year before the big migration to Knoxville. The leaves were scraggly and heat burnt by the time it was planted in what was to become the Japanese Garden.

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The cork was popped on the prosecco when the little stick sprouted leaves last spring. It can take years for such a tiny specimen to flower, but since we held our mouths at just the right angle and made copious prayers to the powers above, a single bloom graced 2016.

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Panning out, the small white flower ball can be seen at the back right fence corner, just under the reddish new foliage of the Japanese maple. The camera shots of the first three images are not really lying, they just are showing White Phoenix at its best, pollen intact and petals shyly revealing their delights to any passing pollinators.  Someday it will be magnificent.

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The long shot showing the Japanese Garden that is framed by fence and the protuberance that is the breakfast area of the kitchen also reveals the planting just under the arched window. This is mostly shady and was determined to be the perfect home for snowdrops, seedlings of a dark flowered Hellebore and Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’. There are two downspouts that help to moisturize the soil on either side of the large window, all the better to water you, my dears. Forget me nots, Epimedium ‘Sulphureum’ and the spreading Euphorbia cyparissias ‘Fens Ruby’ help distract from the fading foliage of the various snowdrops, Galanthus ssp.

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Next to the kitchen window bump out is the back deck. It may be redone at some future date so plantings around it are not permanent, the perfect spot to grow some food! Sugar snap peas, lettuce, radishes and newly stuck in artichoke seedlings are protected from marauding birds and naughty cats by chicken wire until the veggies get more size to them.

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Moving out into the triangular shaped back yard, along the south facing fence are a few bulbs. Cardboard and mulch were applied last summer to try and tame the crabgrass mixed with the creeping devil bermuda grass. The pretty little daffodil, Narcissus ‘Prototype’ is on its second year of bloom.

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A handful of Tulipa viridiflora ‘Spring Green’ were tossed into a hole last fall. This variety of tulip was my favorite in the old garden, returning faithfully in the Knot Garden. Click here to see that vision of white. If these prove to be perennial here, more will be added. Tulips are considered annuals here, never blooming again like the first spring after fall planting. We shall see how it plays out.

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Across the yard are the two main garden beds, so called the upper nursery and lower nursery. A walkway was made between them using three extra bench tops plopped across the muddy path that connected the two mountains of planting mix/topsoil brought in by dump trucks. Both beds are fronted with small boxwood hedges rimmed with Muscari ‘Valerie Finnis’. The lower nursery hedge, which is more shady and wetter has Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’ mixed in, as well.

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Sometimes, make that always, the camera has a mind of its own as to what exactly I am trying to take a photo of. This shot got it right. Native deciduous azalea Rhododendron ‘Admiral Semmes’ luckily found at a Lowe’s in Asheville, North Carolina is in full bloom. One of two shrubs on either side of the metal edged gravel pathways that lead to the shed are citadels of golden welcome in early April.

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Let’s have a look at the lower nursery now, a riot of spring if ever there was one. Trillium luteum, dug, potted and brought to the new garden has settled in nicely in the shady moistness. Behind is a newly purchased last year spreading Phlox stolonifera ‘Sherwood Purple’.

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Trillium cuneatum, sweet Betsy, is showing itself. All the Trilliums were stuck into one pot for the move and I am not sure who all survived. We will celebrate those who made it and mourn the loss of those who did not.

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Throw in some hostas and various Heucheras and it looks like a party…

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…a chaotic, colorful graffiti gone wild miasma of fun and frolic.

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The view from the other end, the haphazard and hazardous walkway needs to be tweaked before someone, me, gets a board in the face as these bench tops are not anchored and starting to come apart. If you step on the edge the opposite end lifts up. Note to self….put this on the to do list.

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It is a pleasure to see the woodland plantings from the old garden settle in so well here. There was actually no moist ground there as the whole yard was on a steeply sloping hill all the way to the street. It’s a wonder these plants grew there at all. They are happier here, it seems, so far. I like the bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis leaf curtain behind the seed pod and hope for some seedlings to appear in the future.

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To finish up this overly long and image heavy post, I really must post more often, we bring you Xena. She is a young female Eastern box turtle who showed up last fall and then disappeared into the brush pile. We had a nice family of these turtles at the old garden which can be viewed by clicking here. Awake from hibernation and looking for adventure, she will lead the way with her bravery. Onward.


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25 Responses to A New Spring

  1. Linda T. says:

    Love to see your post. Yes, yes, please post more 😉

    Hi Linda, thanks for your support!

  2. Valerie says:

    Frances your garden is looking lovely. As I look out my window I see snow falling heavily. Looks like a late spring for me. Valerie

    Hi Valerie, thanks for stopping by. I am so sorry you are having more snow, but may your spring be wonderful!

  3. Vicki says:

    Good Morning Frances!

    What wonderful progress you have made. I loved your slope garden and the blog was always a delight. I am enjoying the new garden as well and love to read your posts. You have made me much more aware of color contrasts and I am branching out making my space more interesting, ( I hope). You are an inspiration! Vicki

    Good morning Vicki and thanks for such a sweet comment! It makes me happy to be able to share gardening photos that might help someone improve their own space. There is always something more to learn about gardening, isn’t there?

  4. Dee says:

    So happy to see your post. It’s starting to look like “your” garden Faire. Thank you for sharing.~~Dee

    Thank you for being so supportive, sweet Dee. This new garden is beginning to feel good, especially when the plants from the old garden appear to be happy.

  5. Marguerite says:

    Much fun and frolic here in my mailbox, seeing a FaireGarden post, — and that was even before we knew Xena, the reptilian warrior princess was on the guest list. These plants are appreciated on many levels, aesthetically for their beauty, botanically for what they contribute to pollinators and their biome, but most of all, I believe, emotionally. These beautiful plants provide a special comfort to gardeners, those emerging from the stark winter season and those in literally “new digs”…. Plants reassure the gardener that even though the town, the home, and the routines may be new, the plant’s familiar form, shape, and color will reliably bring creative joy. So happy to hear from you, Frances and can’t wait to see the new bones of the garden fill in.

    Dear Marguerite, your comment says it so well. Gardening is emotional for me and seeing the progress here is like coming out of a coma.

  6. Sebestiana says:

    It’s so wonderful to see all the progress you have made. I really have missed your posts. Happy gardening and a merry spring to you.

    Hi Sebastiana, thanks so much. I had nearly forgotten how to even take photos of the garden, load them and write posts. I need to do it more often, and hope to.

  7. A “a chaotic, colorful graffiti gone wild miasma of fun and frolic” is exactly what spring should be. So glad the tree peony made it and many of your trilliums. Maybe I can help replace some of the missing ones.

    Hi Kathy, thanks for being so sweet. The two trilliums now blooming are wonderful, but I would gladly accept anything you want to share! xoxoxo

  8. Barbara H. says:

    So happy to see you again, Frances. When I see your garden, young though it is, I feel I am seeing you through it. It looks like it is coming along splendidly. I’ve learned so much from your posts of both the old and new gardens and am always delighted when you show up in my mail. Happy spring!

    Happy Spring to you, Barbara! Thanks for the kind words. It’s true that I am my garden and my garden is me. There were some low points during and after the move, but things are getting better now, for both me and my garden.

  9. Diane says:

    It’s great to see your plants growing well in Knoxville. I love seeing your pictures because they are beautiful and you live nearby…me in Morristown. They are calling for frost this weekend….I have way too many plants to cover…..I hope most of them will make it through. Thank you, Diane

    Hi Diane and howdy neighbor! Thanks for visiting. There is no way I can cover stuff so will just hope for the best, too. Even if some leaves are burnt, it shouldn’t kill anything outright. Hope is all we can do. This should be the last of the *winters* although I don’t know if the blackberries are in bloom yet.

  10. meander1 says:

    When it comes to Fairegarden, there is no such thing as a post that has too many images. I am always delighted to closely peruse each picture and try to match your naming and description of a plant with the plant itself. Things are coming along splendidly in your new garden and I’m pleased for you that so many of your transplants are happily settling in. That is quite a sign of devotion to you that your tree peony has rewarded you so quickly with a lovely bloom. It’s a real beauty.

    Hi Michaele, thanks for your steady readership! Getting the names right is more difficult since I post so infrequently and have forgotten many of them. I had to go to old posts for some of them, good thing google is so helpful when I type *fairegarden* and whatever plant I am looking for. The tree peony bloom was a treat and it is hoped there will be more pleasant surprises throughout the year. That will help me to post more often.

  11. flowergirl3 says:

    Love, love, love seeing your posts and your lovely gardens. They are such an inspiration. More, please!

    Thanks for stopping by and the kind words. I do hope to post more often now that there are nice things happening in the garden rather than just sprigs here and there surrounded by bare soil.

  12. Layanee says:

    Has it been that long already? Your garden is looking luscious. Just luscious!

    Hi Layanee, thanks for stopping by. It seems like a long time to me, waiting to have something that could be called a garden here. It’s not quite to that point, but getting closer.

  13. A party indeed. Your new garden is looking fabulous this spring. I just moved an old pink peony tree. I didn’t know they didn’t like to be moved. ha… I hope it survives. And yes, you need to post more often. It is such fun to watch your garden evolve.

    Hi Lisa, thanks for visiting. I hope your pink tree peony grows well for you after being moved. The key is probably to get a nice big rootball and do it while the weather is cool and moist. Keep watering this year and good luck! I hope to post more frequently which relies on me figuring out how to photograph this level and differently situated piece of land.

  14. Kris P says:

    Your new garden is indeed coming together! A peony bloom in any setting is a cause for celebration in my book. I went crazy over the first bloom on my own tiny peony plant, a Mediterranean species, several weeks ago. Peonies of all types are hard to grow in coastal southern California but the bloom on this one single-handedly made me feel hopeful about what the garden year might bring here, drought or not. I look forward to seeing more posts about your evolving garden.

    Hi Kris, thanks for the kind words and sharing about your sweet little peony. Well done!

  15. Alison says:

    I never cease to be amazed at the beauty you’ve created there, where there was previously nothing but lawn. It’s so colorful and lush now, and you must be so happy with it. A testament to your hard work.

    Thank you, sweet Alison, for the support and sharing of plants! I have worked hard here, if much more slowly than making the old garden. I may be older and weaker, but I am smarter about what plants I like and how to grow them.

  16. Your new garden is now looking very established and impressive! April is a lovely month in your neighborhood. How wonderful to have a resident box turtle. Congratulations on your amazing new garden!

    Thanks, Beth. The new garden is getting better everyday now that it is mostly planted up. There will always be adjustments and additions, that is the fun part. Well, it’s all fun, actually.

  17. I was/am so happy to see your garden and read your post! You are always an inspiration to me. The phlox, heuchera and hosta are a delightful trio and then when you add those yellow Trilliums…stellar! xoxo

    Thank you, dear Gail, for those sweet sentiments. I am so happy that you got to see this garden in the *before* state. You would like what has been done with the place, I think. The Trilliums are having a good year. I do hope they spread in this more moist environment. xoxoxo

  18. Amazing Frances. It’s all looking very good. Never thought of using the phlox with the Heuchera – really pretty. The leaves can melt out here in the summer – same for you? Am changing over a couple of beds this year, and any time I get a little whiny about the amount of work involved I’m bookmarking this site/post to remind myself of the ultimate rewards of shaping a new garden. Well done. Barbarapc

    Hi Barbara, thanks for your continued support! Heucheras here do much better, meaning they don’t die immediately, if they contain H. villosa genetic material. Those like Caramel, Brownie, Mocha, Autumn Bride have been workhorses even at the old garden. Some of the new ones I bought since moving here died within months but many have done well. It is trial and error. All of them need shade, though. It is okay to whine about the hard work of gardening! Onward!

  19. indygardener says:

    Nice to see your beautiful flowers and garden!

    Thanks, Carol, glad you stopped by!

  20. Rose says:

    Lovely to see your garden coming alive this spring, Frances! Love, love the trilliums. I haven’t had much luck with them here, but perhaps it’s time to try again. I can’t wait to see how your Japanese garden develops–it’s one of my favorite styles of gardens.

    Thanks, Rose. The Trilliums struggled but lived at the old garden. I was hesitant to dig them up to bring here, but they, and many other moisture lovers are quite happy. Find your moist, shady spot and give them another try if you want. The Japanese Garden vision has changed after seeing how sunny it is in the summer, total shade in the winter. I had wanted a moss groundcover but will have to wait until the Japanese maple become much larger. Gardeners must be flexible. HA

  21. Sharon Elaine says:

    We lived south of Knoxville for 5 years and are back in NE OH now. It’s been a little over a year. My plants moved from OH to TN and now back in OH. The old Iris, wild yellow geraniums, hepatica, bloodroot and my favorite – columbine are doing well. Unfortunately, my trillium didn’t survive. I miss the long growing season in TN; spinach and kale year round. But there is always a purpose and plan in life and we need to embrace and enjoy where we are. Thank you for sharing your beautiful photos and inspiration.

    Oh Sharon, I feel your pain about moving plants back and forth and back again. Good that your wonderful wildflowers mostly survived. We are very fortunate with the climate here. I can’t grow spinach well, but chard is a year round crop, like parsley. Your attitude is perfect, we need to find the positive and be thankful for it.

  22. Les says:

    I am happy to see more photos from the new garden. What a lucky find at Lowe’s to pick up Admiral Semmes; I must shop there on the wrong days. And how lucky you are to have young Xena. Maybe that chicken wire could double as turtle wire; they love tender lettuce.

    Thanks for visiting, Les, nice to see you! I was super lucky to find those Admirals, they were even half off and large specimens. Xena showing up was also very lucky. She is welcome to dine on whatever she likes, but I am hoping her favorite meal is slugs.

  23. Mary Anne Rudolph says:

    There is a lovely nursery with wild flame azaleas in Sevier County, East Fork Nursery just off Jones Cove Rd. Coming from 411, it is 5 miles, turn right at the church. She has lots of other plants, native and non available. Or, go to the native plant sale at Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, sometime soon, no date posted yet.

    Thanks, Mary Anne, for that helpful info. I have been to the plant sales at Ijams before and have found some gems there. My calendar is marked for the UT Arboretum sale on April 15-16. They always have a great assortment of trees, shrubs, perennials and natives. Next time I am in Sevier County, I will check out East Fork.

  24. Kathy Sturr says:

    Beautiful! So difficult to start anew from scratch but so satisfying. Envious of those trilliums – make my heart patter. Love the box turtle! Congratulations on the successful transplant of both yourselves and the gorgeous peony.

    Thanks for the kind words, Kathy. Starting over can be difficult and it is sad to leave a beloved garden, but we are armed with wisdom and experience, hoping to make this garden the best one yet.

  25. My goodness Frances, no wonder you don’t post as much as you used to. You appear to be spending every waking moment building up your new garden. It’s coming along quite nicely, and looking more and more like the old Fairegarden every day!

    Hi Robin, thanks for making me smile! I am spending a lot of time trying to make this crab grass lawn into a garden to my liking. We are chipping away at it and making progress.

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