Home of the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox and other native plants for pollinators

Monday, May 11, 2009

Through the Garden Gate and Into The Garden of Benign Neglect

Dahlia loves the purples and pinks that are blooming now

When I thought of joining Cindy's (My Corner of Katy) Through The Garden Gate Mondays...I actually caught myself wondering how to show the garden without a gate! I never think of having one! It was forgotten back there in the Garden of Benign Neglect.*

Cindy, my friend, I hope that you don't mind that today, we meander about the garden instead of lingering near the gate! Full disclosure requires I tell you that some of these photos were taken before ten days of heavy rain! So, the garden will look a lot different next Monday when we Walk Through the Garden Gate! Think of Jack, his magic beans and the beanstalk's explosive growth! But, I wanted you to see how sweet the GOBN is in late April and early May!

We don't use the gate to enter the garden, we enter the garden from the patio.
~~Please remember to enlarge any photo by clicking on them~~
We really enter from the patio

But, let's just pretend we entered the garden from the gate!

Standing at the gate (click to enlarge)

If we stand by the gate we can look directly into the areas we have reworked. This small slope is incredibly wet after our late winter and spring rains. Water actually squished up when you step out there!

It's a perfect spot for the Hamamelis vernalis and Itea virginica that's planted in a small raised bed. The short rock wall is built from stone that I dug from this backyard. There are still plenty of rocks just beneath the shallow soil if you want to come and dig them out. It's clay and limestone's most successful harvest!
Little Henry itea and a peak into the sunnier bed

Doesn't the lawn look healthy and green?...You should see it after all the rain! There are plenty of weeds and I planted Spring Beauties! Before long the
Western Daisy...will move in!

Moving in closer to see the end of the dry creek

Climbing up the slope.
This area is still being cleared of invasives!
Vinca major and V minor are vicious thugs
and they have had their way for years.
It will never be eliminated from the garden;
just tamed with regular maintenance.
Can you see the other thug, the tawny day lily,
that has managed to creep over from the adjacent property!
It's coming up in the pine straw.
Forget pulling it out...it will grow from the tiniest section of root!

But, I digress! Planted on the upper portion of the slope
are deciduous hollies, deciduous azaleas, bulbs, ferns, corydalis, penstemons and spring ephemerals.

If you turn around and look back down the slope The very naughty squirrels have left muddy footprints on the feeder!

you can see the bird houses,
which are to the left of the garden gate as you enter the garden.
They really worked out nice, don't you think?

We're heading to the top of the slope to sit on the marble bench. To get there you have to climb around the plants and over a fig tree that has finally begun to green! Turning around...we look down the slope to the gate and the birdhouses. Can you see that a new Cherry Laurel isn't doing well, either! I love that we have a guarantee.

You may be wondering why this part of the garden is so sparsely planted? ...Underneath this innocent looking pine straw is shallow soil and rock! It is a major undertaking to plant anything here...so planting is on hold until I decide how to proceed. I love rocks, but digging them up is hard work.

Here we are at the marble bench! It's a great place to sit and watch what's happening in the garden. the bench as seen from the front of the garden~~can you see why I love PPPP!

From here you can catch the fragrance of the scented blooming flowers...
viburnums and hyacinths early in the season and now PPPP.When the day is warm, the Phlox pilosa perfumes the entire garden...

The azaleas

were in bloom in late April along with the last of the tulips and daffs. Native grasses, carex, Penstemon X, amsonias, baptisias, heuchera and other native perennials and wildflowers will be blooming before long. Lunaria's seed pods are prominent and part of the design.
They are illuminated brilliantly when the sun rises in the morning.
Aren't the developing seeds quite interesting looking!

(Don't forget all photos do enlarge with a click on the photo...who knows what you'll see!)

Our 50 year old ranch house has an L shape that wraps around the patio.
We can see the garden from the patio doors and from the kitchen window. In fact, there isn't a window on this side of the house that doesn't have a view of the garden! Again, I digress! I am standing in front of the bench to get this view.

Do you remember the gorgeous orange tulips that surprised me?
Well, here are more mystery tulips!
Where did the candy cane ones come from?
Even this clown pants gardener wouldn't plant some of these together!

I love to sit on the bench and look around.
From here you can clearly see the dry creek and its friendly fish inhabitant.The dry creek has been diverting water from the patio for more than 15 years. Now the rain water keeps the witch hazel and Little Henry itea happy. You can Penstemon X with its feet quite wet! It will grow just about anywhere! It's practically perfect, too.

Let's take the path across the dry creek and turn around.
When you enlarge this photo...you'll get a very clear idea of how very aggressive vinca can be!
Again, under the attractive pine straw is shallow soil and deep pockets of rock! The rock in the right of the photo was dug from the garden. The rock walls of the dry creek were dug here, too!

Phlox, lunaria, trillium, spiderwort and other lovelies
live happily in the garden along both sides of the dry creek.

Stepping further away from the bench, our back to the patio, we look over parts of the wayback backyard. I know what is needed back there, but working with the soil, the shade, tree roots you don't want to smother, the rock and the invasives means that we can't always do what we want!
But, I am actually okay with what I have ...I don't need another garden bed!

Turning toward the house, we have a good view of

Please do click on this photo to enlarge it!

Practically Perfect Pink Phlox pilosa, spiderwort greenery, newly emerging baptisia, columbine and the fading flowers of lunaria. You'll notice that Rusty Blackhaw (Viburnum rufidulum) has a few blooms. I am thrilled! This is the first year for him to bloom!

Let's stop here...I'm sorry you
haven't even seen the heucheras, the amsonias, gaura, the Mexican Feather Grass Trail or even the liatris popping up!

Next Monday, I'll show you the stairs to this garden, what's getting ready to bloom and the Jack in the beanstalk super growth spurt after 10 days of rain!

From the top of the steps

I am so glad you stopped by and let me show you around!
You are the best tour group I've ever had! Okay, you're the only tour group I've ever had!
Btw, Doris did not talk me into adding my garden to the tour!

I hope you get enough time in your garden and with those you love.

*Rose, The name will remain!


  1. Beautiful! I know it is ever prettier in person....Hugs....Brooke

  2. Brooke, Thank you...It's coming along nicely...now if it would stop raining for a few days! I hope you had a marvelous Mother's Day weekend? gail

  3. Everything looks so lush, and if I read this right, this was before the rain. Thanks for the recommendtation to enlarge, the small pictures miss a lot of beautiful details.

  4. Your garden would do great on a garden tour Gail. Love your 'harvest'. My PPPP is blooming! As is Penstemon X!

  5. Good morning Gail, what a lovely tour. Each photo showed a wonderful setting. Great bursts of color!

  6. You're the best tour guide, Gail, did you know that? I love the Practically Perfect Pink Phlox pilosa especially. Can I spend some time in your lawn? Or may be build myself a hut? :D

  7. Les, We had a really wet early spring...that is continuing! Thanks for enlarging the photos...I am still trying to learn how to take decent 'landscape shots'...Hope you had a great weekend! gail

  8. Hi Gail, I loved taking this tour with you. The GOBN is looking wonderful. It's hard for me to imagine gardening with rock so close to the surface. Quite a challenge.

    BTW, my PPPP is doing great, blooming and happy.

  9. What a perfect set up your house has! I am still trying to talk Cheesehead out of planting lawn in the back yard so I can have multitudes of other plants there instead. I still have an awful lot of fancy talking to do before he'd even think about allowing anything like that though. Thanks for the wonderful tour. You've done a lot of work back there!

  10. Ooh, ooh, ooh, what wonderful blooms. LOVE that seed pod and love the deep orange dahlia. I too love orange and purple--zowie! Spring beauties are also cool. My PPPP seeds haven't germinated yet... they need some cold and they got it last night, so I'm hoping... Happy Monday!

  11. Breath taking! I loved the tour! Everything is just so beautiful!

  12. What a great tour! I especially love your combo of phlox, columbine, iris, etc. I can see why you love your garden. And I can understand the difficulties in gardening on rock (not that I worry about that now but I used to!).

    I can't wait to see your amsonias. I ordered some this year and so far they're just sitting there. Guess they're trying to decide if they like the south or something. ;-)

    Please save some time for me at CSF to explain to me how you get your photos to enlarge!

  13. Gail, you do have such a lovely garden. Sigh. I could sit on your marble bench for hours and just soak it all in. I might even help you dig up some of those rocks...for a cup of tea, that is. ;) I'll be interested to see what you eventually plant in that rocky area -- lots of low ground cover, perhaps? Thanks for the tour!

  14. Gail, your garden looks wonderful. I'm drooling over your iris as well as the big spread of PPPP. Now that PPPP lives here, she needs to spread herself around in the future. She's too pretty to be in a few spots.

    Thanks for the tour!

  15. Gail, I felt myself very comfortable and even cozy in your garden. It seems to be very peaceful. On the practical side, I noticed that the rocks you dig out from your soil are more attractive than the rocks I dig out from my soil! All in all, I enjoyed the tour, thank you!

  16. Ha! Benign neglect! Around here, we just hope that our plants think that our neglect is benign! Thanks for a wonderful tour.

  17. really beautiful tour of your gardens...none looked neglected to me. a lot of time and love went into all you have done.

  18. A great tour but I want one in person some day! I can see why you love that phlox so much. What a nice color en masse!

  19. Yes the lushness is beginning to show. Just gorgeous!!

  20. Hi Gail, it is just wonderful, and clicking on the photos does bring a whole new world to the computer screen. I can't wait to see it in person, for the first time since it was not open for viewing when I last visited. I am blown away by PPPP, it really livens up the scene. Those birdhouses are such a great design element, love their diversity. I will bring my boots though, in case it decides to rain, again. :-)

  21. I love your garden. Now I know the name of the PPPP. I'll have to write it down. I saw some growing on a river walk and took seeds from it, now I have it on the outskirts of my garden. Your candy cane tulip is cute, maybe it a sport.

  22. What a wonderful tour! I L-O-V-E the stone wall! Just... well I can't even think of the right words. Beautiful...--Randy

  23. Thanks for the lovely tour of your beautiful garden Gail. I love all the Natives that live & bloom happily there. Those rock walls and red pine needles are a striking compliment to the plants. You've been a busy bee! :)

  24. Catching up a bit today. Can sure tell you have been receiving some rain! Us too and I am excited as the lake is filling up more each day! The Blog on your mom is wonderful and brought tears to my eyes with sweetness of the tales. My mom is the same way, give her AC over a garden and sweat any day but she does fuss at my dad if he does not plant some flowers for her to enjoy from the windows. lol... The Blue-eyed Mary is a darling of a plant and great with the sky complimenting it! I must admit more pictures gazing then reading today as way too much to read as I am so behind...

    I hope the skies clear soon so you can enjoy all the work in the GOBN...

  25. Whew. I'm glad you stopped. There's so much to take in. It's overwhelming. I don't know where to start. It's all so amazing Gail. First, I guess I have to say, I bet you are loving your new patio/grassy remodel area. It looks heavenly. I would eat breakfast/lunch & dinner out there every chance I got! Next, how stunning does the orange dahlia look with your pppp??? I can think of no better combination. Skipping ahead a bit, I think the assortment of tulip colors is happy even if not coordinated. The photo made me smile. I can only imagine how hard it is to dig that limestone rock up. You've made a lot of great progress. It would have taken me years to build that little retaining wall if it were left to me to excavate! Okay, that's it for now. I'll come back later and look again. It was a great garden gate tour...

  26. Great tour! I just couldn't stop! (Now I have to go back and actually click on the pictures).

  27. Dear Gail.....you gardens are a credit to you......they are so pretty and quietly coloured. I love them. I see myself sitting there, and being totally at one with all that surrounds me......I love the way you landscape....

    I enlarged some of the photographs....I am so glad that I did.....they showed such detail...

    Thank you for the garden tour, also the offer re: PPP, that is so kind.....
    I am still hopeful with my plant, I have taken a photograph today......the buds have not opened......we are expecting heavy rain for the next few days, I hope it will be ok.

    Have a lovely week and may the sun shine on your space......

  28. Don't be surprised if one day you find me standing on your doorstep, shovel in hand. I just love your rock walls. They are so beautiful and make such a statement in your garden (which, btw, looks really lovely now).

  29. Lovely tour, thanks. Such variety in both plants, of course, but also soils! I think rocks in a garden are pretty cool, perhaps you should enphasise the rocks instead, make the an even more prominent feature? Anyways, loved the picture of the Lunaria's seed pod – amazing design!

  30. Camellia, I love rocks, too! ...and wish I had more latge boulders...that's a goal! I love the lunaria, too! The touch of purple is perfect!

    MMD, Thank you! I think the grass helps the chaos known as Benign~ You can come dig anytime!

    Cheryl, You are so kind...I would love to have you sit here with me...your peacefulness would be a gift to this gardener! I can still send it! I sent a bottle of wine to France once!

    Town MOuse, I am so delighted and complimented! Can you see why I went for the lawnette next to the exuberance of Benign!


  31. Kathleen, You are always so generous with your compliments and praise...and the dahlia is the perfect date for PPPP's lilac coloring. One thing...I must make clear...I dug the rock but the masons built the wall! I try to spend as much time as possible out there but pretty soon the mosquitoes will drive us in!

    Skeeter, Thanks for taking a look at the other posts..I totally understand getting behind...here I am barely able to get my comments together these days! I am ready for sunshine, but not the heat and humidity that will come with it! How about you? Has the h&h hit your part of the south?


  32. Dee, Thanks..It is charming right now! What luck the day PPPP came to live here! I hope the natives for summer look half as good as PPPP does!

    Racquel, Thank you...I am pretty happy with it...except that darn vinca...the bane of my gardening life!

    Randy, The big wall came with the property, although, we had it raised two feet! Then we added the little wall for the itea and witch hazels to live. But thank you for your kind compliments.


  33. Lovely. I think all of my garden beds are one garden of benign neglect, too. Trilliums are just now blooming for us. That columbine grows wild in the field, but it's just a low froth of foliage right now.

  34. Gail, I'm so glad you joined me to take a look through the garden gate! The only way that tour could have been more delightful was if I were taking it in person! I love the rock walls you built and wish I could come dig a load to take away with me. I guess that's not really practical, but it's a nice thought. I can just hear me telling the Executive Producer now ... "See you later, honey, I'm going to pick up rocks in Tennessee!"

  35. Hi Gail,
    Wow, what lushness you have going on right now ... absolutely gorgeous views! Talking about mystery tulips ... we had two bright yellow ones pop up over the weekend in a spot where we have never planted tulips! No clue where those came from but we welcomed them to the garden.

    We got our Jack and the Beanstalk plant (the new Tree Peony) in the ground last Friday and hope it grows quickly, but I suspect it will be more restrained. We're still thrilled to finally have one in the garden!

  36. All is so lovely! Love the tour.

    Cameron in Paris

  37. Gail, Thanks for this lovely tour. Seeing the PPPP in these photos reminds me that you once said it "plays well with others"--it certainly does! It brightens up so many areas and seems the perfect companion plant for anything else.

    I can see how much work you have done already in the GOBN. I know I would be daunted by the thought of having to dig up all that rock, but waiting and thinking through your planting plans sounds like a good idea. Hopefully, you won't have to disturb too much.

    I've missed two days of blog reading, so I am catching up today--I remember this story about your mother last year. It's so funny and yet a touching memory about a woman who wouldn't let her friends down no matter what! I hope you had a happy Mother's Day, Gail, and that the hollyhock seeds grow as another reminder of your mother.

  38. Huge hugs for the lovely garden tour, Gail. Glad I filled my coffee mug ... it's been delightful! Can't wait to return and sit on your bench! You've orchestrated a splendid harmonious garden!

  39. I say virtual tours are top of the list - and this is one of the best! What a great time of the year. My favourite comment the year I was on was from the President of the Hort Society who said to me after days of back breaking work, "Barbara, your garden is looking very good. You hardly notice the weeds." Yup, virtual, is much, much better!

  40. Thanks for the tour. I love the scene from your patio. It is quite lovely. It makes me want to also have a walkway decorated with flowers!

  41. I didn't know about this event on Mondays. I shall have to put it on my calendar. I love that illuminated leaf pod. Also the birdhouses. And that big area of flowers is so "English gardenish." So many pretty trees! Poor Robert is out there trying to build a deck and encountering endless tree trunks! Sweat pouring off the poor man. So I understand your rock problem well!

  42. Gail .. I'm in extra slow gear lately .. but I loved the tour and how alive your garden is with such wonderful plants .. it really seems you are far off in the country in this gorgeous garden .. the different lay of the land and plantings are perfect and remind me of my childhood when I could go play in the woods and not have a care to worry about there .. peacefull yet always something amazing to see and wonder about : )

  43. Such a lovely, flower-filled tour. I love how your garden reflects who (I think) you are. I know mine does. Thanks for a great post.

  44. We had that heat and humidity for a few days during the rain last week but nice and cool again with AC off and windows open! I am loving it too. Planted 15 bargain finds today and found more bargains tonight that I plan to get into the ground some time tomorrow after Dental visit with teeth Cleanings. Arggg...

  45. Beautiful post Gail with beautiful pictures. We just found some of the Lunaria on the edge of the woods of my parent's yard growing wild. We'll be bringing some seed home as soon as the pods are ready!

  46. I love that yellow azalea. :)

  47. What a lovely garden tour! I love the bird houses! -Jackie

  48. Dear Gailie,

    I am behind on your blog, but catching up a little this morning. You are so prolific - both online and in real life! :)

    I love the chaotic tulips...I think they fit right in with the rest of the GBN. I also wonder what you will end up doing with your sparse and rocky areas...I recommend going with the flow and figuring out what will work without digging and hauling - we are too old to be digging up rocks!

    Love you, Lynn


"Insects are the little things that run the world." Dr. E O Wilson