Loving My Home: The Great Outdoors

One of the chairs where I set a planted basket

Mama went to the dentist today.  I stayed in the car while she went in but I have to say it was no hardship at all to wait.  Her dentist has created a little haven of tranquility.  His office is built to look like a colonial home which he's landscaped all about with flowers and trees.  In the 'back yard' of the house there are bird feeders and bird baths and flowers.  Bird songs resonated about me the whole time, sitting there in the spring sunshine with a cool breeze blowing through the windows.  It was so peaceful and lovely I had to wonder how much more calm his patients must be than the average dental patient.  Just walking from the car into the office was enough of an experience to soothe you. 

I watched the dentist as he filled the bird feeder, dead headed a few flowers, filled the bird bath, watered a basket.  I couldn't help but think how restorative that must be for him each day to slip outdoors and tend to things.  And what a calm demeanor he must bring in to his patients!

When Mama came back to the car I told her how much I'd enjoyed waiting on her.  She told me, "When they are working on your teeth, they have you facing the window so you can watch the birds at the feeders and see the flowers."  My goodness!  I can't even imagine how that must distract from what's going on otherwise.  Can you tell I'm a little nervous when it comes to dentists? 

I also couldn't help but think, as I sat there waiting upon her, that this interlude in my day, this quiet spot, wasn't planned but it was most certainly the tranquil point of my day and was very restorative.


I am amazed at how much work I've accomplished in my yard thus far.  My inspiration of course is Granny.  She was widowed a little younger than I and she got through that first year of grief by working in her yard, creating a flowery haven that was filled with scent and almost year round blooms.  She pruned and trimmed and transplanted and created new flower beds where none had existed before.  The result was not only a beautiful yard but a place that brought healing to others as they visited with her.  Except on the very coldest and rainiest days, visitors sat on the porch, overlooking that lovely yard, admiring birds and blooms and rabbits and soaking in the utter peace of the place. 

I am not working through any grief as she was, but I have always wanted a lovely yard.  In the first years we lived here I had the back of a young man who was all too willing to dig flower beds for Mama and I planted them with lovely flowers.  The most beautiful plot of flowers I've had to date was at one end of the patio and it bloomed with gorgeous zinnias, cosmos, touch me nots and more.  It was stunning. 
Touch me nots

There was a big round bed in the center of the yard planted with roadside finds of wild purple verbena surrounded by orange day lily.  It was a beautiful combination but I failed to think of fact that the orange day lily were going to bloom for only about a month, being an old variety and not the newer ever blooming sort.  If I'd had the newer variety it might have satisfied far longer.
Old fashioned and wild Orange Day lily

I had a front porch flower bed of pink four o'clock and Heavenly Blue Morning Glory that were saucer sized flowers.  And I discovered that some plants, no matter how lovely, will take over.

But alas boys grow and move out into their own lives as they ought to do and I was left to my own devices.  For a few years I had nothing much at all.  Then when I realized how much I was missing flowers I had pots.   Potted plants satisfied where flower beds had once done.  Flower beds overflowed and had to be divided and eventually I was too weary to even attempt to find spots for them all.

So why this 'sudden' need to have flowers once more?  I missed them.  I need to be surrounded by lovely things.  I'm not nearly done yet.  I have another flower bed to tend to, one that will require digging up some older plants but I mean to work at it a bit at a time until it's done.  I am thinking of spreading seeds of zinnia and cosmos at one side of the driveway in an area not too grown over by grass at present, since they don't care for rich soil but prefer poorer sorts (and heaven knows that soil is poorer).  I mean to fill pots with flowers and set them about here and there in neatly mulched beds and as I am able (or happen to have strong backed young men about) shall have them dig a hole or two while they visit and plant a few things for permanency. 

I'm going to take a page from Granny's book and create my own haven of loveliness and peace and tranquility.


You know that phrase 'Live and learn'?  Well I've learned!  No more plants growing wild at roadside for me.  I have a green thumb, I do truly, and in my hands these roadside plants thrive beyond reason.  They thrive to the point of plague in my yard and overtake beds and spread and spread.  They are a lot of work as they go out of control and I am still fighting several of my poor choices in roadside finds no matter how much I might like them. 

I'll mention a few of them for those of you not in the know: Spiderwort, Bouncing Bet and old fashioned four o-clocks which began from 1 (O.N.E.) seed Granny gave me from some unknown source and which then spread and spread and grew huge (H.U.G.E.) tubers underground. They do smell lovely and yes, they flowers generally open about 4 in the afternoon which makes them a lovely plant for night scents.  I knew one older woman who planted them in a barrel and so kept them from spreading in her yard in that way.
Four O'Clocks

Morning Glory is a lovely thing in the cultivated sorts but let those go to seed and you'll have an annual supply of tangled vines with quarter sized flowers take over every where they might be dropped.  Know that birds love Morning Glory seeds and then 'drop' them as they go about their business.  I do not recommend gathering seeds from field morning glories.  Or indeed in not being diligent to snip off spent blossoms  on intentionally sown morning glory, so that seeds might not form unless you don't mind them taking over.  That said, one of the loveliest sights I've ever seen was a wire fence which was planted annually with a deep purple morning glory that simple stunned when seen in masse.  Still it's the Heavenly Blue ones that wow me more than any other, although Katie once gathered a lovely old morning glory seed that was white with deep purple stripes.  Alas those would not grow here and I used all the seed up attempting to get them to do so.

There is a lovely feathery vine that grows near rail road tracks with tube shaped red flowers.  The old folks here call it Lipstick Vine but I've yet to find an image of the plant I mean.  It's quite pretty.  And can be as pernicious as any of the rest of the aforementioned wild flowers.  I will say however, that I've seen it twice displayed in a lovely way.  One was in a friend's yard.  She had it growing in a low pot and trained to go up a trellis in a heavily mulched area.    It was gorgeous.    The other situation was on an older home with a carport with open side.  The owner ran strings up and planted lipstick vine at the foot of each string.  They grew up and blocked the street view (she lived on a corner) and made a lovely thing of that carport.  It took my breath each time I saw it.

The wild verbena that grew in the yard was lovely.  It still comes up mid-yard where it was planted originally and now and then I go dig up a few young starts though John does keep that area mowed.  Along roadside it's quite pretty and it blooms all summer long, though it does get leggy compared to the hybrid variety.  Oops.  I think I may be talking myself into starting a bit of it in a flower bed.  Shoo!

wild verbena

Bouncing Bet is pretty with pink blooms and a habit of lying upon the ground which does make them good ground cover.  It also means that they develop roots all along the stem and creep steadily over and out of the area where you've planted them.   I've planted in shade and the vines grow lovely and green but it needs sun to bloom.
Bouncing Bet

 Bouncing Bet and Spiderwort both have a tendency as well to grow wherever even the smallest piece of plant is accidentally dropped or from the tiniest root.  And how they do spread.  I've decided I can best afford these plants in the edges of the woods where they are now growing after being tossed there as I slowly eradicate them from flower beds.  I've also noted that unless John is diligent in mowing there are about a thousand coming up in an 9 foot width from each spot where they've been planted.  Should we ever abandon this place it would first be overtaken by Spiderwort and briars, then by Cedar, Privet and Sweet Gum trees.

Spiderwort's saving grace is that bees adore it.  And I like bees.  It's also a blueish violet trefoil shaped flower and it gives nice height in a flower bed. I think it's a doggone shame it's called Spiderwort because it really is rather pretty.   That said, you've heard it's faults, so be wary.


All that said, two flowers I covet which grow wild and will do absolutely nothing at all for me:  Black eyed Susan and Queen Anne's lace.  Now and then I'll have a bit of Queen Anne's lace come up in some portion of the yard and I guard it and threaten John to leave it be and place brick about it so it won't be mown down nor poisoned.  And just as it blooms it dies and that's that.  Black eyed Susan does nothing at all, never germinates from seed and fails utterly to set roots if moved as a plant.  I've even bought the hybrids and get the same results.  In this area, my green thumb fails me time and again.


Granny seldom bought a flower or plant.  Most all of hers were pass along plants except for petunias and a few Siberian iris.  Nearly all the rest were lovely old fashioned sorts of plants and as I said she had blooms pretty nearly year round.  She did avoid a few plants herself, namely hyacinths and narcissus neither of which she cared for.  She always called hyacinths 'funeral flowers' and I'm not sure just who in the family died at the time of year those were in bloom but it apparently left a rather lasting impression upon her.  She did cave when she was in her 80's and plant a few bulbs, but those flowers were never ever cut and brought into the house as just about every plant in her yard was.

If I have any regrets it's that I failed to acquire plants from her home when she was living and encouraging me to get them.  I loved walking about the yard with her and hearing that Mrs. Butler gave her this plant or Mrs. English gave her that or Mrs. Wainwright offered her the start of that one and Mrs. Spillers gave her another.  Many plants came from women she'd known through the years and while I did meet Mrs. Butler who was a handsome woman with a fondness beyond reason for bearded iris, the others were older women when Granny was a young woman and so they live on only in the memory of the lovely flowers they offered to Granny to start in her own yard.

I have accepted a few along the way myself, though passalong plants are not as frequently come across as in the old days.  I have day lily from Mama's divisions, as well as an old fashioned lantana that the butterflies flock to each summer.  There's the New Dawn rose from Granny and a lovely old prolific spring blooming deep red rose that is wonderfully perfumed from a departed friend, Nancy, as well as iris from Debbie's great grandmother's yard.  I also have iris from Grandmama and Granny's yards and I can say honestly that these plants bring me great joy when they bloom.

Nancy's lovely and aromatic antique red roses

Grandmama's beautiful yellow Iris

I guess that's enough garden talk for today but you can see I do love my flowers outdoors as well as indoors and I've learned a few things over the years in planting them. 


Rhonda said...

Beautiful photos and I'm so happy you that your yard is getting pretty :)
I've never heard or seen of some of your flowers, it's funny how things are so regional.

Kathy said...

Loved your garden talk! Your flowers are beautiful, and I know that some of them are even more special because of your Granny. Your flower beds look lovely, and I'm glad that you can enjoy them.
I have some lilacs and rose of sharon that my Daddy planted for me. Also some daffodils and tulips from him, and I regret that I didn't get more of the roses and forsythia and such.
Do wish that I could give you some black eyed susans; they have taken over my front flower bed. My weigala has gotten too big too, and the mint has taken over the side of my house. I'll keep in mind your suggestions about what not to plant also. I don't have your green thumb though.

Sew Blessed Maw [Judy] said...

Your flowers are lovely.. I enjoyed the tour. We are getting settled into our new 'old ' house.. I miss my flowers at the other house..But, I did move some of them, before the house sold. I am working daily in this yard, trying to get the flowers going. Lots of pots this year as I don't have lots of flower beds made at this time..But, I will keep working and enjoying what I do have..
Have a blessed week.

Vickie's Kitchen and Garden said...

I love seeing your Spring flowers. So pretty! Mom used to grow four o'clocks and they never cease to amaze me of their beauty and their timing! I never have been successful at growing them though.

Dentists scare me too!

Have a great day!

Lana said...

We are a green thumb family. My sister is a certified master gardener. Yes, we talk plants all the time! I am glad she is not coming for a visit anytime soon since my flower beds need a lot of work right now. Your yard is looking great!

Lana said...

We are a green thumb family. My sister is a certified master gardener. Yes, we talk plants all the time! I am glad she is not coming for a visit anytime soon since my flower beds need a lot of work right now. Your yard is looking great!

Grammy Goodwill said...

This post really speaks to me. I love flowers outside and tried for years to have pretty flower beds. I kept moving the borders to make them smaller and more manageable. Since we've moved into our patio home, I finally have one I can handle.
Funny story: I, too, would transplant anything I could find when we lived at our old house. One was a type of sedum, I think. When it "popped", seeds would scatter and plants would multiply. My husband hated them, but I was desperate for ground cover.
Your iris looks lovely.

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