Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Tour

What does a picture of a big weed have to do with the garden tour you ask? The above Verbascum thapsus, aka as Common Mullein was a big hit with visitors on this past Saturday. All wanted to know what it was and how could they get it.

The bloom is rather striking. My Nashville blogging friend Gail posted about this very weed a few weeks back and yesterday. You can check her post here. This weed makes a good tea which helps with congestion. Additionally, a little known bit of folklore with this plant is that it is sometimes known as the 'King's Candelabra'. If you soak the dried flower stalk in tallow or something similar, it will make a good torch. Some of the flowers in the garden last year looked just like a candelabra. This is a very neat weed. It attracted attention because it was different and quite large, over six feet tall. I think it is happy in my garden.

The leaves of this plants are huge. They are fuzzy and soft and persist quite a while. This plant is a biennial. It formed a rosette last summer and persisted throughout the winter. Once the flowers mature and the seeds form, this plant will die. The goldfinches truly love eating these seeds and it is worth growing it for that reason alone. You will never plant it. Just watch for it while in the garden and don't pull it out. Now, on to the tour and the visitors and helpers.

The very first visitor of the day showed up pretty close to 9:00 AM. She came from west of here and took the opportunity to stop by and view the garden and pick up a ticket to see all the gardens. Judie enjoyed talking to her and BJ is a one dog welcoming party all by himself. We (Me, Judie, Phil, Geri, Nancy, and Julie) all enjoyed meeting and talking with everyone who came by. We did not keep a good count of the visitors but estimate that around 100 people visited. There was a fairly steady stream and many took the time to sign my guestbook. I appreciated that very much.
One visitor that came is a nearby neighbor. Her name is Naomi. As soon as she pulled in the driveway she jumped out of her car with this pretty cutting of St. Johns Wort in her hand. It was a special gift for me. She bought a ticket but said she only wanted to visit here since she lives close by. Her son is just down the road from me as well. We exchanged phone numbers with promises of getting together soon.

You all will recognize my regular reader Nina. She brought her daughter (Dana) and granddaughter (Sarah) for a visit. Sarah was a very tired little girl by the time they reached my garden. I appreciated seeing them and being able to take a picture. I did not take many pictures on this day but made a special effort to get my camera for this shot. Considering how long I have been blogging, you would think I would know to have my camera always at the ready.

Many visitors wondered what this plant was that matched so nicely with the red bee balm. It is drumstick alliums, Allium sphaerocephalon. An easily grown allium which is very reliable in my garden. I like the deep coloring and the fact it is easy to grow and a reliable perennial here.

Some got quite a few laughs from a gift my mother gave me for Christmas. It is a set of ceramic plaques which have sayings on them. Some of the sayings are things like: "This is your last chance, Bloom!" and "I don't remember planting this." These signs were strategically placed around the garden. A good gift for any gardener.

Another feature of the garden visitors found interesting was the bowling balls. I was asked several times if I used to own a bowling ball alley. No, but I think it would be fun. Next I was asked where I got all the balls. Several people were interested in them for their own gardens. You don't think they were really just kidding me do you? Skeeter, the Saint cannot answer.

The vegetable garden was a big hit. My little red cabbages were putting on their best 'heads'. No pun intended. The bricks made the garden neat and clean and the vegetables were actually beautiful as well as functional.

A common theme of the day was "You have so much!". Yes, I am a collector. Probably more of a collector than a designer, but collecting and planting makes me happy and isn't that what gardening is all about? I am hopeless when it comes to plants. Most all call to me and I like the challenge of growing neat and unusual plants. Honestly though, most plants I grow are easy to grow and adapted for this area. Picky ones, such as roses are not too common in my garden. (Sorry Lilacs and Roses)

I was overjoyed to see many friends. Several came from my garden club. They included Sandy and her friend Ellen, and Ann and her husband. Ann and her husband are golden lovers, so they could not wait to see the big guy, BJ. All three of my dogs were locked away during the tour, but BJ made a few guest appearances.

One star guest was Lucy. I was going to feature her as my choice for gardener of the month once upon a time when I blogged through an FTP. I changed that plan once I switched to blogger. But by sheer coincidence I made contact with a reporter for the local newspaper. I gave the reporter several gardeners' names, and Lucy's name was one of them. There was a very nice article in the paper about this 'Gardener Extraordinaire'. You may have seen it? I am looking forward to seeing the last gardener in the paper too. She and Lucy would hit it off and this lady lives in my little town!
I was truly honored Lucy visited my garden all the way from Sango. She told me "Of course I would come out here to see your garden!" How could I doubt her? I had no idea she was coming. I have many plants growing in my garden which she gave me last spring. My friend Nancy arranged for Gerianne and I to visit Lucy's garden, and like a true gardener, Lucy gave us a bit of her garden to take home. I love all the plants and think of her whenever I see them. I actually have a 'Lucy' garden area. She is one of those gardeners you just want to be around in order to learn all she knows. Her garden is truly a beauty and should be on a garden tour as well. Her knowledge of all plants is amazing and she has taught me much.

Thanks to everyone who made the trek out here to my little town on the west side of Clarksville. Many visitors commented it was worth the trip. A trip most don't make due to it seeming to be so far away. The tour was wonderful. I tried to speak to everyone who came through. Many told me they used to read my articles in the paper, and many told me they follow the blog. Some asked for advice and opinions. But all visitors were very nice and commented that all of the gardens on the tour were special. That is a nice thing to hear.

I am not done with posting on the tour. I had the pleasure of touring seven additional gardens during the two days after the actual tour. Yup seven, I had the bonus of touring one garden not on the tour.
Stay tuned for more on the tour (I think I have one, maybe two posts left). And at some point I will prepare a tip post on how to prepare for a tour for all you gardeners out there who would gladly open your garden to the public.

in the garden....thinking about touring gardens.


  1. I knew the Drumsticks because the ones the Saint gave me as a surprise popped up and bloomed! When they came up, he thought they were onion I had planted near by! LOL... I had to laugh at him and tell him he did not even know what he gave me…

    Of course BJ had to be there! Your garden is not the same without BJ greeting me! And does that baby have his pool back yet or frogs still calling it home? LOL…

    I am so glad that everything fell into place for you and it sounds as though the tour was a total success! Did anyone jump into that pool you and Mr. Fixit worked so frantically to prepare?

    Job well done Lady!

  2. Thanks Skeeter! BJ DID finally get his pool back-yesterday. He went for a dip this morning in nice, cool, clean water. The tadpoles flew the coop. I will post about those guys later.

    I don't think anyone noticed the pool or spa. Though Gerianne (she is a good pool person) did clean leaves out of the pool prior to the tour. She noticed. That is the problem with pools and leaves.

    Alliums are in the same family as onions so of course the Saint got them confused. Hard to know the difference really.

  3. That weed is so interesting. I don't know if I've seen it here in PA. I have lots of weeds though, so I will keep an eye out for it. If the goldfinch like it I don't mind it being around.
    BTW - I figured out how to post as "Cindy" - haha.

  4. Tina,

    Did you let everyone know about your tour and I missed this? So sorry, I would have loved to see the garden and you!

    That mullein, it is something...and looks good in your garden!

    I nedd to get those alliums...the ever growing list.

    Come by and join a discussion I am having at C& L on clay soil and amending it!


  5. The mullein grows everywhere up here! About 4 feet, I didn't realize is gets to 6 ft. I know butterflies like it also. Glad you had a good tour and everything went well.

  6. All sounds good to me and the pic of Nina is great. What a cutie Sarah is!!

    This has been a long week....getting ready for our big annual 4th of July part. Did'nt think we had enough fireworks st headed out for NH at 8pm last night and got some more. Got home at 1am. Today have to go to town and come home and do mega cooking....potato salad, pea sald and deviled eggs for over 20 people. Have to do it most of it today as I have to go to a funeral tomorrow, in Calais. We will leave probably at 6am and won't be back till at least midnight so I guess this might be the last time I will be on here for a couple of days. With this being 4th of July weekend the airline will no doubt be a busy 100 miles of travel and slow going. At least the first 100 miles will be highway. But then again that is not true as the highway is closed from Brunswick to Gardiner for repairs so have to go 201. Sigh. Wish I could go to Calais and spend a few days but maybe next month we can go fo a better reason and spend some time. If I am not on again I hope all has a safe and happy 4th!

    BTW Tina when I was a kid, Baba used to soak cat n tails in something and burn on Labor Day for Uncle Rick and I. Think he used gasoline or keresone.

  7. Hi Tina --great pictures and it sounds like everyone had a wonderful time. I was absolutely thrilled to read this post this morning --we have one of those big tall weeds alongside the farm and my mom asked me yesterday --what is that pretty plant? Hahahah --I said it is probably a weed mom:) I had no idea but to get on here and actually see the same pretty weed and now I know what it is -I can't wait to call her and tell her. The kids want me to go over and dig it up for our yard, hahaha! I thought the leaves resembled lambs ear. Busy day here today --had our run this morning, piano and now we're off to the orthodontist --ball practice tonight. It sure is nice today --still wishing for a little rain. Have fun Jean --and don't work too hard before you leave --do like me and slave over the stove --and "buy" some tater salad:) I have done that a few times to save me some time --not as good as homecooked -I know but if you have alot going on --slow down so you'll be able to enjoy your 4th party:) See you all later!
    Hi Cindy --what part of PA? I am originally from PA --but been down south a very long time now:) I was raised in the coal region by the Poconos --Hazleton area. It has changed SOOOOO much since I lived there --really grown. Got to get a move on. Ciao!

  8. Hi Tina. I'm a fan of mullein too. Kids especially like it for the velvety silver leaves. Tall ones like yours are a real presence in a garden.

    Didn't know any of the alliums were so late to bloom. I will look for that variety. They are so carefree and easy to stick into small spots.

    Great garden tour.

  9. Tina--Wow, to have a garden that people can tour--I'm in the presence of garden gurus! your garden looks so beautiful, and I'm glad to hear you work around the cages, too. (I do actually like them now--I like to think of them as whimsical). Thanks for visiting my blog and most of all for letting me know about yours--I look forward to reading more about the tour and your wonderful garden. Cosmo

  10. Hello All,
    Tina that was a wonderful stroll through your garden. I just knew that it would be fine. I had a mullein in N.C. but at the time I didn't know what it was. I thought at the time that it was a very pretty plant. It also was about 6/7'. It actually came up through the rocks that we put on the side of the hill/yard to keep it from washing away. I'm glad now to know just what a beauty I had.

  11. Hi Tina, what a wonderful story about your tour. You really pack a lot of info in, good job. Your mullein being a big hit cracks me up. I guess some people have never seen that plant growing along the highway, or never noticed it. We grew it once in Kingsport, let it bloom and then got rid of it, too big! It might find a place in this yard though, among other tall fellows. Can't wait to hear about the rest of the story. ps, I am going to get some of those alliums too, the later bloom time is a big plus. All of mine have been done for some time now.

  12. Wow I got a lot accomplished today (hand watered everything, washed the inside of garage, washed car, cleaned house, ran errands) and it was a beautiful day! I had the windows open all day long until it hit 81 in the house about 4:00! No humidity and it was wonderful. Temp climbed to 94 but was great in the shade with cool breeze! That is something rare for this time of year in GA…Wish it would stay like this longer but soon the humidity will return, lets just hope not until the fireworks go off on the 4th...

    Weekend at the lake planned and also a trip to the Georgia Botanical Gardens in Athens! Looking forward to that in this nice weather and my first visit there so really excited…

    Jean, happy safe traveling and have fun! Happy 4th of July everyone! Will get on here when can but Saint off work the next 4 days and not sure what all we will get into…

  13. Yeah Cindy in Pennsylvania! These computers can be something else. Yes, do look for mullein. My sister says it grows in Maine so I am sure it grows in PA too.

    Gail, Enjoyed the chat on clay! Such insight from everyone. I am surprised you don't have these alliums. They seem ever so common but do get some.

    Dawn, The tour was fun. Not sure if I would do it again.

    Mom, We truly wish we could be there for your BIG 4th of July! Have fun, don't work so hard.

    Anonymous, Coincidences happen all the time on here. Do tell your mom what a pretty WEED the mullein is. That is why it is kind of funny it was so interesting to visitors on the tour.

    Marnie, Thanks so much. Yes do get some of these drumsticks. Such a cool plant. They do tend to flop late in the season (like now), but kind adds to the charm. You can plant under and around them.

    Cosmo, Welcome! I like your blog as you are pretty funny. Whimsy is my middle name! You are the ONLY other blogger I have seen with fences like mine. Someone did ask me the purpose and I told them the DOGS! No deer here-too many dogs.

    Lola, Mullein will grow right through rocks and bricks. I always remove it the first year though as it will tear up the brick the second year-and don't even get me started on pulling it. Do you see it in Florida?

    Frances, You are the third person on here who wants those alliums! I am surprised. The mullein being a big hit cracks me up too. I can't take gardening too seriously when as soon as folks get in the garden they are immediately drawn to a huge weed! How funny is that? Gotta grow more weeds-as if I don't have enough!

    Skeeter, I've been working in the house too. Yeah me! In between moving daylillies and planting stuff. Jimmy is finally getting the big boy room and we had to move him. Now I have to paint and re-do his old room. I can see some days not in the garden. I am looking forward to hearing about the botanical gardens this weekend and have fun on the lake.

    Speaking of something else, did you all see there are like two other blogs with the same name as "In the Garden"? Should I change my name to differentiate it? Just a thought. Not sure if I really need to do this. What do you all think? Maybe I should've thought of a more original name no one else would ever use. Ummmm-let's see what I can think of....

    As another aside, you would not believe what we passed on the road today! A dead ARMADILLO! I had no idea they had reached this part of Tennessee. I knew they were in Tennessee but we are on the border with Kentucky and they made it that far? A huge one cracked in two. I thought of photographing it but surely a dead armadillo is not that interesting. You all will have to take my word for it. ttyl So nice talking to everyone!

  14. Tina I have not noticed the Mullein in Fl. If it's here it's not very big. The size is what attracts & the fact that the leaves are fuzzy.

    Jean have a safe trip.

    Skeeter have fun & enjoy the gardens. My stepdau lives not too far from Athens.

    Hope all have a wonderful day tomorrow.

  15. That weed is pretty cool. It's a little too tall for my taste, but the top does make it worth it. Glad to hear your friends enjoyed your garden!

  16. Piú giú, in fondo alla Tuscolana...!?...passavo per un saluto!

  17. Your latest batch of tour posts have been lots of fun, Tina - the gardens are all interesting but also very different. Your own place was quite the destination garden it seems.

    Mulleins are appearing from all over the internet! They're so eye-popping in full bloom that bloggers can't resist taking photos and posting, I guess. My daughter just sent a photo from her garden and it sure looks like a couple of mulleins growing there, too.

    Hope your 4th is fun!

    Annie at the Transplantable Rose

  18. Thanks Lola! Look in fields in sunny poor areas the next time you are out-sometimes it is hard to notice.

    DP-Thanks! It is tall but shorter ones about 3 feet grow in fields. I just saw a field of them on post. They looked like 'mini-me' copies of mine.

    Rosa, Hello! I don't speak espanol but can recognize 'saluto' so hello back!

    Annie, Being fairly new to blogging (less than one year now), were the mulleins on the Internet last summer too? Or a new trend we are making others aware of? That is funny your daughter has a few growing. Does she also live in Texas?

  19. I don't know, Tina - sometimes I have to see something three times before it registers...duh.

    Not Texas at all - Washington State - they were less than 4-feet tall. Guess that could be a shorter growing season or it could be a different variety.


  20. Annie, You are funny. I will remind you next year if mulleins come up again. Okay?:)

    Washington state must be VERY different from both TX and TN (or so I have heard).