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Just Fine

I kind of totally forgot I was supposed to write a blog two weeks ago. I think I remembered at one point and then headed out of town for the regional Garden Writers’ meeting and poof! – thought gone. It’s been crazy busy getting annuals in the ground even with us doing less of them than we once did. At this point there are not many to go though I have yet to plant my first dahlia. You all rest easy in the root cellar, I’ll get to you right soon.

I am incredibly grateful for a “normal” spring. At least I think it was normal. It’s been so long since I saw normal in relation to weather that I’m not sure what it is anymore. Rain has been available though whether you are getting just enough or way too much is dependent on which side of the street you live on. There’s that whole normal thing again. Seems we used to all get an inch during a rain event and now I might get an inch, the folks two blocks over get a quarter inch, and the folks three miles south get 2 ½ inches. And maybe that was the way it always was but we didn’t have such exacting measuring around (or I just plain don’t remember).

Despite good rain up to now I find myself looking over my shoulder pretty regularly to see if a drought is following me. I remember the earlier forecast of it coming again. And I certainly remember the last three summers, last summer in particular when it seemed all I did was water. Not that it could not have been even worse. I’m fully aware.

Today. Right now. The weather is just fine and the Gardens are looking great with many plants in full bloom and foliage.

Campanula ‘Sarastro’ remains a favorite. If it does not get crazy hot we can get three bloom cycles on these.

Sarastro plant

Sarastro plant

Lupines don’t always do well around here but Thermopsis (villosa?!?!) caroliniana, Carolina LOU-PINE, does fantastic.

Yellow Loupine

Nepeta ‘Joanna Reed’ bloomed from June til frost last year. This is its second year and looks wonderful. I hate the way the foliage smells on most Nepeta but there is no denying they tend to be real workhorses.

Joanna Reed

Love Geum ‘Double Bloody Mary’ even when out of focus.

Bloody Mary a red flower

Hot! Hot! Hot!

Double Bloody Mary a red flower

Deutzia x hybrida ‘Magicien’ is one of the best shrubs for shade. A blooming machine every year.

Magicien plant

Close up of Magicien flower

Penstemon ‘Dark Towers’ is very lovely with its combination of dark foliage and pink flowers. But if you read it is sterile, trust me, it is very fertile.

Dark Tower plant

I’m not a big fan of white flowers normally but I really like the crisp white of these Geranium sanguineum ‘Album’.

Geranium bushes

Dryopteris erythrosora (autumn fern) shows why it is so wonderful. This is ‘Brilliance’.

An autumn fern plant

Close up of autumn fern plant

Why I said earlier things were in full foliage.

Low plants in full green foilage

In its second full year the Four Seasons Garden is presenting well.

The four seasons garden at the IMA

The Formal Garden is in prime condition. Even the climbing roses are putting on quite the show this year.

The formal garden at the IMA The formal garden at the IMA

As always, the rain garden is lush and beautiful.

The rain garden at the IMA

And don’t you want to know what is beyond this curve?

A curvy path on the IMA campus

I could go on and on about the gardens being beautiful this time of year (along with the weather!) but those dahlias are not going to plant themselves. Not that it would hurt them to have a little ambition and at least drag their butts out of the root cellar. But alas, I must plant and water. Come on over and visit. The Gardens are beautiful. Wish you were here.


Trials but not so much Tribulations

Today we have an amazing array of plants available for our gardens. Plants that once would have been available only to the super wealthy can be found at a small independent garden center, a big box store, or even the grocery store. The change may not be so noticeable to beginning gardeners but those of us that have been looking through catalogues for 40 years or so can see a dramatic shift. Many of these new plants are introductions from other parts of the world. Many are “newly discovered” natives (“newly appreciated”?). And many are bred by humans that are able to bring together species that would never meet in Mother Nature’s singles bars. One of those humans is Dan Heims of Terra Nova Nurseries and one of those group of singles he’s brought together is coralbells, Heuchera.

Heucheras were once grown for flowers alone pretty much. And they are mighty fine flowers. Great in the garden and for cuts. I’m sure hummingbirds love them too. But the importance of flowers has changed beautifully in the last two decades, especially since Dan and Terra Nova started their incredible breeding program. Heucheras are better known for foliage now. And why not? The foliage is around much longer than the flowers. As in close to year round. Much as I desire colorful flowers I cannot forget foliage. And with Heuchera I get color from foliage so my desires are satisfied.


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Les Belles Redbud Fleurs

Everyone goes on and on about the flowering dogwood, Cornus florida. There are dogwood festivals and dogwood streets and dogwood subdivisions. Dogwood. Dogwood. Dogwood. Whatever. The flowering tree I think of as THE spring flowering tree is dogwood’s less lauded neighbor, Cercis canadensis – redbud.  If you want a glorious spectacle to enjoy take a drive south from Indy this time of year. Roadsides everywhere are brightened by the deep lavender-pink blooms of this native tree. My usual path is south on I-65 then west on I-64 to the old homeplace. But I’m certain State Road 37 down through Bedford would be gorgeous. I-74 to Cincinnati should be good as well. The redbuds seed into the open cuts made into forests when these roads are constructed and just keep spreading. When one gets cut down it quickly resprouts and in a few years is blooming again.

I’ve heard people complain about redbuds because they can get a canker that kills bits or all of a tree. They nearly always resprout and grow back into a lovely shaped plant again in short order so I don’t see the problem. The redbud is so much less fussy than the very nearly worshiped flowering dogwood.

Heaviest bloom does come in full sun but partial or even full shade is tolerated. I’ve seen them growing in the cut stone along an interstate. I’ve seen them growing in the yellow clay of a southern Indiana cow pasture. And everywhere in between.  Their naturally beautiful form makes them ideal trees for year round interest. Nice grey bark in winter is followed by the spectacular flowering. Deep green heart-shaped leaves deliver great texture through summer and come fall the lovely yellow foliage is one last reminder of how wonderful this tree is.

Redbuds are usually a good bright lavender-pink. I admit the usual color is not my favorite normally. But somehow it is different when the color is coming from the redbuds. Heavens though, do not plant them near anything with gold flowers. I don’t even like some of the different colored cultivars planted together let alone their shades of lavender, pink and “red’ with forsythia and the like.

Here’s a little collection of the different colors. You can see these Saturday and Sunday in the Deer Zink Events Pavillion at the Indianapolis Garden Club of America Show – Les Belles Fleurs. 




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Perennial Premiere Time!

After winter and a rather cold early spring the weather this week finally became likable. Actually, lovable!



Yes, I know 80s is a bit too warm but it wasn’t crazy like last year at least. What scared me was the way this week’s rain kept getting delayed. Always makes me think of drought anymore. But the rain came and everything is bursting into bloom – magnolias, daffodils, forsythia, spicebush, bloodroot, Grecian windflowers – the list goes on for a good bit now. It is a great time to visit with the grass greening up nicely to make all the colors pop. The redbuds (we have about a dozen different kinds) are in heavy bud. They will probably be in full bloom next weekend. That is just in time for Perennial Premiere, April 20th and 21st.

That’s right, folks. Another year has rolled around and it is already time for the 2013 Perennial Premiere, our annual kick-off for the coming growing season. As past attendees know, it is called Perennial Premiere but we will have far more than perennials. Everything from tropical bananas to native wildflowers to vegetables to bodacious begonias plus trees and shrubs will also be available. You can find a list of many of the available plants right here.  Read the rest of this entry »



Last week’s snow came as a bit of surprise. Yes, it appeared in the forecast a few days before arriving but I do not recall much mention of snowfall prior to that. The cold temperatures seemed to be refusing to move on so more snows could not be out of the question and yet this snowfall was kind of a slap in the face. It was like, “Well, shoot. I sure didn’t need this”. The nice thing about it was the temperatures did not drop much, just enough to create it and allow it to accumulate, leaving it warm enough that roads cleared quickly which I always appreciate.

And it was a pretty snow. Classic really. Christmas in March snow.

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About irvin

Job Title: Horticultural Display Coordinator

Interests: Cooking (love to bake and the waistline shows it), gardening (it seems to be a passion not just my job), helping my neighborhood stay on the upswing (while avoiding getting uppity)

Favorite Movies: Really enjoy classics from the 40's - 60's, in general dramas, comedies, romance, not big on action or horror

Favorite Music: Very eclectic, Broadway to Bluegrass, Klezmer to Country, plus anything Dance. But I only crawl across broken glass for Dolly Parton.

Favorite Food: Butter, bacon, and sugar (especially brown sugar)

Pets: An assortment of chickens and rabbits

Something you should know about me: I'm like Meg in the fact that it’s hard for me to have just one favorite in a category. That and the fact I'm really just a simple farmboy that likes shiny sparkly things.

Irvin has written 133 articles for us.