Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Upper Garden, another Tour

When I went out for last pics of the Upper Garden this morning, an azalea had out-of season blooms.

In spring, the Upper Garden sports a long row of azaleas and dogwoods in bloom. The rest of the year, they are evergreen foliage that hold the rest of the garden together.

We're going from the Front Garden through an opening to the Upper Garden, so called because it rises about 4 feet higher than the front down near the highway. The south edge was once a pasture fence. A row of pines were planted along there before 1960.

Another path slopes toward the left here down into the front garden, one of four entrances. The other two entrances have rough limestone steps.

This is where we were headed, looking west over the birdbath. This is more or less what I see from my kitchen window. We'll move closer but first, toward the bottom under the birdbath, the light folage is a bird-planted Dogwood that I let grow among the Elephant Ears. The Hydrangea looks pale because of the bright sunlight. Cold bitten, hydrangeas are shy to bloom this year.

I call this the Oval Lawn because that is what it is. The entrance has a dogwood on each side underplanted with pink Spiraea, out of bloom for now after I gave it a shearing after first bloom. Two paths lead out of the west end of the oval lawn, each determined with a 5-foot measuring stick so I was sure the mower could travel each path. Side paths cross and there is another path outside each of these.

The paths curve, not a squiggle or an S but a slight curve, more pronounced at the end so there's something to follow, not a visible destination except for a rough bench at the end of one.

The path on the north side widens into a lawn.

Left to right: Angel Trumpet, Sago Palm, Dogwood, 3 Loropetalum trees. and at the end of the pole edging a line of Vetiver Grass on the far edge of a small bed.

Now look in the other direction:
On the north side, a row of trees marks where another fence was, more than 30 years ago. When the fence was bulldozed, I asked that trees that had come up in the fence be left, a Live Oak, 2 deciduous Oaks and 3 Pecans.

Panorama photos distort reality a bit. This is actually a straight line with a bed under the first three trees from the left. Under the Live Oak are Gingers and other tropical plants and a couple of Loropetalums. Under the center Oak is a bed of Azaleas with some other shrubs and perennials. To the right are more Azaleas and an arrangement of rough pole cuts that hold summering potted plants. It is customary here to plant azaleas under the high shade of pines or limbed-up oak trees.

Plants are displayed on pole cuts and some pieces salvaged from the old cow barn. Vintage metal chairs look out over a field road at my Fruit Yard and a field of corn. Notice the vines climbing the tree and a bird-planted Beautyberry underneath that may need removing.

At the west end of the Upper Garden looking back east, another distorted panorama shows the grape arbor at far left, the Live Oak tropical bed, and four paths through the garden. Smack in the middle is Gary's tree, a memorial Little Gem Magnolia, this being the week of his death, 11 years ago. Pine trees follow the south edge, underplanted with Azaleas and turn the corner at an angle to parallel the highway. Scrub Oaks make a screen, with a single opening through which the magnolia is visible.

A closer view of the middle paths. Plantings along here are kind of nondescript in summer heat.

One plant that does shine in heat is 'Katy' brazillian Ruellia.

Over near the corner is a limestone rock with a depression that holds water for birds supplied by a dripping faucet. Gingers and Shrimp plant are among the plantings.

Much of my summer work is nothing more than pruning to keep low limbs off the Mower, remove dead limbs and plan for heavier work in cooler weather.

At left under the Live Oak is hardly visible another path, necessary to keep the jungle from taking that bed. Sometimes the only way I can get ahead is to mow and extreme cases, bulldoze what gets out of hand in a hot, humid climate.

By way of History of this place, He-Who-Mows was learning to walk when the house was built and they moved here. The original house was four rooms. It was added to twice in its history, in the 1950s and again in 1963 and what remained of the white cypress picket fence was taken down. We used to pick butterbeans in a garden right in the middle of the photo above. Cows were all around the house. The fence coming up the south side of the Front Garden was moved twice that I remember, each time to satisfy an eye toward improving symmetry.

There are Crinums, Cannas and Lycoris here that were here before me. Once in a while something shows up that we've not seen in years, or was never seen here before in my memory, like yellow Corydalis that commenced to bloom with Daffodils in the spring. Three ancient trees fell during or after storms in the past 20 years. Things change. Life goes on.

If you'd like to see the Upper Garden in all its Pink Glory in Spring:

Upper Garden in Spring Pinks -- last spring.

Azaleas Upper Garden 2014


  1. A lovely tour of your garden, your right, things do change, nothing stays the same, I think that just might be the most enticing part of gardening, anyway thankyou Im off to look at the upper garden in spring pinks!

  2. What a lovely, lovely place you have! Thank you for these tours you have been giving. I get inspired as I view your place.

    Have a nice day and a great week ~ FlowerLady

  3. Thanks for the tour! It's true, nothing ever stays the same in a garden. It's wonderful to live somewhere where He-Who-Mows has so much history. I remember your cows.

  4. I really enjoyed seeing some long views of your garden! Your property is gorgeous, and its sense of history makes it even more valuable and interesting. I appreciate how quickly the jungle can take hold, and you have done a great job keeping more garden, less jungle!

  5. Your garden has so many lovely places to sit in shade, assuming you ever have time to sit. It has got to take a lot of work to keep the jungle within bounds in your climate. When I had my truly tiny garden I always told my friends I wanted 2 acres. Now that I've got a little over 1/2 acre, I wonder how I thought I could manage with 2. (Of course, I was younger when that dream formed.) The Magnolia, like your stick house, is a nice memorial to your son.

  6. Thanks for the overall view -- really appreciated. I like how you interspersed the tropicals around. Where's the Spanish Moss -- doesn't everyone in the south have it?


I look forward to comments and questions and lively discussion of gardening and related ideas.

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