Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My Neighbor's Garden

From In the Garden

It has been just about one year since my little garden was on the local master gardener garden tour. It was an exciting time for me. I've always enjoyed sharing my garden and to have folks come here and visit was a fun event for me. You may remember a neighbor of mine stopped by with a special present for me. She had never met me before, but was a gardener and only came here to say hello to me-another gardener and neighbor too. (There is a nice picture of the two of us on the earlier post.) She brought me a branch of her St. John's Wort (pictured above). I tried really hard to make that one branch grow roots so I could have it in my garden, but alas, it was not meant to be.

Well, guess what? This same neighbor was thinking of me this year when her St. John's wort bloomed. She called me to find out if I'd like one for my garden. She had extras as she was potting plants for her garden club's plant sale (27 June-Veteran's Plaza), and it would be no problem if I'd like to come on over and get one. I said sure! See a garden, uh uh, I'm there. Turns out Naomi does not live far from me so it was a quick trip.

I was astounded by the beauty and maturity of her garden. First of all, as I was getting out of my car I was greeted by three blue peacocks and one green one. They were the most iridescent ones I'd ever seen. Naomi said they were wild and she hoped they would move along to greener pastures soon. They sure were pretty.

While I knew what the peacocks were, I have no idea what this plant (pictured below) is supposed to be. Anyone recognize it? Naomi did not know what it is as she starts so many plants from seeds it is hard for her to remember them all. I am sure I should know this plant, but cannot think of it, so if you can help me out I'd sure appreciate it.

Naomi's garden is bordered by a small stream and is surrounded by fields and woods and wildlife. It was a veritable dream for someone who totally loves seclusion and country living. It was also the site of an old iron furnace. Did you know Tennessee's history is rich with iron smelting days of years past? There are remnants of furnaces all around this area. From the history I've learned, these furnaces were used to smelt the mined iron ore. The iron would then be shipped via boat down the Tennessee River. Here is a good picture of the old furnaces. What does this have to do with Naomi's garden? This waterfall and pond were made on the remnants of a iron furnace on Naomi's land. If you look closely along the waterfall, you can see the rock is cut in regular forms, it is part of an old furnace. Naomi made this waterfall by using concrete to form the wonderful waterfall down the furnace. The huge pond at the base of the furnace/waterfall is also made of concrete; which Naomi fashioned all on her own. The pond is filled with large koi.
This picture shows the top part of the waterfall. I hope the picture can truly show the uniqueness of the waterfall, but here I wanted you all to see the Verbascum thapsis, aka Mullein, that is surrounding the waterfall. How cool is that? Of course mullein grows wild. Naomi chose to leave it there. I think it is spectacular and adds to the stateliness of this very tall waterfall.
There were so many areas of Naomi's gardens that fascinated me. Her vegetable garden was most innovative. She has many contraptions that help to keep the wildlife at bay. I may post on one soon. She also grows a clematis at the base of her trees. I was excited to see that! But one of my most exciting finds was all of her Japanese maples. Most were of the weeping variety. Naomi likes weeping trees and I can't say as I blame her, they are splendid. Here is but one of about 1/2 a dozen mature Japanese maples. I am not sure of the cultivar but it is probably 'Crimson Queen' or maybe 'Garnet' or even 'Tamukeyama'. I could not believe the size of the trunk! it was a full 6 inches in diameter at least. The largest I had ever seen. She tells me this tree has been here only 12 years (she has lived in her home for 34 years). All of Naomi's Japanese maples were severely damaged in THE late freeze of 2007. In fact, Naomi thought she'd lost them all, but they have slowly come back to life. She simply cut out the damaged areas and left well enough alone. She was most lucky. Trees like this are nigh on impossible to replace.
I really liked this blue cornflower/yarrow combination. The amount of color in her yard was amazing, but what really floored me besides the Japanese maples, were the immense numbers of zebra swallowtails fluttering around. I have seen only one at my house in all the years I've lived here. While Naomi and I talked, there must've been three happily sipping nectar from some nearby flowers.

I was so honored Naomi thought of me-one of her neighbors. And I am happy to say my St. John's Wort is snuggled down in my garden, along with a nice white wild geranium Naomi also dug for me. I love them both and will think of my neighbor often.

in the garden....


  1. Oh, I love the waterfall with the furnace (boiler). It's beautiful!

  2. What a wonderful job you did on posting this garden. Love the waterfall too. How sweet was that of Naomi to think of you?

  3. I would love to see her garden. The waterfall is amazing, it looks so natural. Don't recall ever seeing a white geranium, I'll bet it's lovely.

  4. Lucky you! Visiting the most beautiful gardens! Loved all the features of Naomi's garden. The colours in the last photo are a visual delight. Will check out the links.

  5. What a lovely garden. I would be just sick to my stomach if something happened to our Japanese Maples.--Randy

  6. Great post Tina. Naomi sure has a lovely garden. A very ingenious way to incorporate something from the past into you present garden by making a waterfall. Love it. Did you know that there is an old furnace at LBL?

    Hi Anonymous, Skeeter, Dawn, Nina & Jean. I hope all of you have a lovely day.

    Still very hot here. Can't garden past 10 A.M.

  7. That is a nice garden--I love visiting other people's gardens because you don't see the 100 things that need to be done, the way you do in your own! :)

  8. Dawn, That is for sure a wonderful feature. Nice sounds too.

    Darla, It was MOST sweet of Naomi to think of me. The best part perhaps.

    Marnie, Glad you like the waterfall. It is at least 15-20 feet tall. Naomi is quite the worker. I hope the white geranium takes off, and I'll post on it.

    Jamie and Randy, I was thinking the same thing. I would go thru some serious grief stages. We invest so much into them. Everyone in this area suffered damages. Naomi was lucky hers came back. It might be the great soil she has and the fact her trees were most mature. I lost two small ones, and many others have had major issues, all due to this late freeze and the subsequent drought in 2007.

    Lola, Hello and good morning. Yes, there are furnaces all throughout this area. I've seen that one at LBL. It is quite a good example. It was way before I blogged or I'd have snapped a picture. I wish there was more info on the web about these furnaces, but what I could find was most interesting. I think it too cool Naomi has one on her land. The soil is quite a bit different too. There is a residue in the soil, that seems to be very good for the plants. Her soil quality was awesome and that is most likely due to the ash from the furnace. It is a neat part of our history here.

  9. Monica, So true. I can't even walk thru my gardens and enjoy without seeing those weeds. Drat it! I do enjoy others so much!

  10. That waterfall is just gorgeous and so cool that it is built around/in the furnace. Smart and talented lady for sure. The yarrow sure looks healthy as can be. Very pretty combo.

  11. The mystery plant looks like a Gentian to me. The waterfall is spectacular.

  12. hi Tina, what a lovely garden to enjoy! That waterfall is just gorgeous. How clever to make it from the old furnace. Where we live right now is so flat, to see the height of that waterfall is pretty cool. Love the maple. Super tree.

  13. Fantastic waterfall, I've never seen anything like it. How nice you got the chance to visit another beautiful, and you even got to keep a couple souvenirs. That's a good garden tour.

  14. Tina, What a lovely garden your friend Naomi has...and the waterfall is amazing! She has quite a talent. The gentian is lovely...Hypericum is a great plant for a TN garden...H frondosum is a native plant. You'll love it this fall when the leaves light up the garden! gail

  15. Your neighbor's garden looks like paradise. She did an *amazing* job with the waterwall.

  16. Hi Tina --that waterfall is way too neat!!! Now, I'll be on the lookout for furnaces in the area. I always learn new things on here about the area, thanks Tina:)

    Hi Lola --you are so right can't garden past 10 with the heat and sun. Stay cool and enjoy the bounty that sun brings from your garden:) I am happily enjoying the cucumbers daily from ours:)

    Have a super day Jean, Nina, Dawn and Skeeter!!! Ciao!

  17. Looks like a couple of people were able to help you with your mystery plant id. That waterfall in your neighbor's garden is gorgeous, so natural looking too. Gardener's are so generous, I'm glad she shared some wonderful plants with you. :)

  18. The third photo top to bottom is amazing and your commentary and images are great. Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  19. St John's wort is another one of those magical plants I can't keep alive. The list is long, and I'm jealous. But peacocks? Now I'm really jealous! Somebody in my neighborhood had them when I was a kid and their shrill calls are unmistakable. Once you've heard them, you'll never forget it.

  20. What a beautiful Waterfall! I have always wanted a pool with a huge water fall such as this one! Amazing how they used an old Furnace for the base of the fall. Have you heard of Cumberland Furnace, TN? Named after the furnaces for sure. I did not know the history of the old furnaces but have seen them in many different places while driving on country roads! I need to research Montgomery Bell (State Park named after him) as he made his fortune on the iron from the land! That is what my mom tells me.. Maybe a drive to Montgomery Bell is in store for me while here as I love that park! Have seen them at Land Between the Lakes (LBL) also and the buffalo roaming too...

    I had the best visit with Anonymous and the kiddos yesterday! I got to see the fishes swimming and had a treat with Boy 1 playing the piano. Quit a little Liberachi (spelling) there! Tell Sidekick I could not have had a Sleepover as i had more company later on.:)

    Tina and Christine stopped by for a little visit. Christy left after a quick yard walk but Tina stayed until about 10:00 in the evening or so! She arrived at about 7:15 or there abouts and was only planning on staying for a bit. After she, mom and I started to chat on the screen porch, well before we knew it, it was 10:00! Poor Tina still had to go to Wally World after leaving us. I am sure Mr. Fixit thought we had kidnapped her! Jimster probably never missed her as he was entertaining some friends in the pool! lol... Anyway, it was wonderful having Tina sit and chat with us and not just about gardens but family and friends as well! Was great!

    Not as humid today but still a bit hot if moving or working. We picked up seed, corn and other supplies for the yard critters and did a bit of driving around town. While in one neighborhood, my dad spotted a friend working in his garden and we pulled in. I was surprised to see my PE teacher from Elementary School, Coach Haley! He was shocked to see me as well. We have not seen each other in probably 30 years! What fun with all the surprises this home visit!

  21. How nice of her to think of you and bring you one of her St. John's Worts.
    Her garden is beautiful, and you know I love that waterfall! She did an amazing job on it!

  22. Hi Tina, you are a lucky gal to have made the acquaintance of Ms. Naomi! What a story her garden tells, the plants and especially the furnace and waterfall. The zebra swallowtails will only lay eggs on the paw paw tree, she must have some nearby. The hypericum is a favorite here too, we added H. frondosum last year for those yellow starburst blooms. Delightful!

  23. I wanna live there! Seriously that waterfall takes my breath away! I'd never leave the yard if I had something like that to look at.

  24. Mom, She is quite the worker and did a great job on that waterfall. For sure.

    Dan, Thanks for the ID! I had no idea what it was at all.

    Janet, Tons of hills here for sure. We were one of the lucky ones who got a fairly level yard, but I've still built berms. Changes in elevation are good.

    Megan, It really is awesome and in a private backyard too.

    Gail, She is quite the gardener. I've tried St. John's wort twice before and both times it died. I shall give it another try-who knows three times is the charm? Wish me luck. Thanks on the ID of the gentian. I had never seen it before. I didn't even know it grew here.

    Sweetbay, Her waterfall is really amazing indeed. And to think she did it all herself.

    Anonymous, So glad you guys had a good visit with Skeeter yesterday. That pool sounds inviting right about now. I've been in ours quite a bit-not usual for me but since hubby is home I've slowed down a bit. You stay cool and enjoy those cukes!

    Dirt Princess, Thanks!

    Racquel, Partnerships with other gardeners is a must have in order to have a really unique garden I think. Swaps are a great way to get neat plants I tell you. I really like all the gardeners I know and I've learned so much from them-not to mention the nice plants too.

    ACIL, Glad you liked her waterfall. It is quite spectacular and close to her house. Imagine that view each day.

    WS, Oh yes, peacock calls are unique-and loud. That is one reason Naomi wishes they would move on. Not to mention the 'presents' they leave in the yard and on the porch.

    Skeeter, So glad you had a nice visit with Anonymous yesterday. I enjoyed myself last night very much. Wally World was fine. Kind of neat going there late at night as it is a WHOLE different clientele than during the day. But I got all my things and went home to relax finally. Mr. Fix-it was sleeping hard, he hardly knew I came in. Such is life. You have a good visit. I'm still doing a paper. Sigh.

    Catherine, Naomi is a very nice lady. And considering not many garden where I live, I sure do treasure her as a close by neighbor and kindred spirit.

    Frances, Yes, that is what I figured too. Naomi has 50 acres so I expect there are tons of Paw Paws in that area. Paw paw trees are so cool! I saw the hypericum on your blog this morning. I remembered it from last year. It's history and association with this day is interesting. Are you getting any ideas for your hill for a huge waterfall? This is a project I could see you tackle for sure. It takes a tough lady. Way tougher than me in the garden.

    JGH, It is an awesome backyard for sure. I'd be hard pressed to leave too.

  25. Tina - what a fabulous garden! It sounds so wonderful. I can't believe how she created that gorgeous waterfall.

    As for your St John's Wort, get your video camera ready. You won't believe the bee frenzy on those yellow blooms. The bees just go into a high-speed crazy crawl on that bloom, then they take a rest! :-)


  26. What a beautiful place! I would have loved to visit this neighbor's garden with you. I've been to Tennessee several times, but never knew it once was the site of iron mines. The old furnace is interesting, but I much prefer Naomi's waterfall!

  27. Building a garden around the old iron furnace reminds me a bit of how Buchart Gardens was built. It's beautiful. I wish I had a neighbor with a garden as lovely as this ~ it would inspire me with my own. Another great garden Tina.

  28. I love garden tours and I so love this especially because of the water feature. What a wonderful creation! The pink and blue go together nicely, Even the leaves' shapes match well - nice effect.

  29. Gorgeous! I love peeking in other peoples gardens. What a talented woman! You don't meet people everyday who can build their own waterfalls! I didn't know there was mining here in TN. Where I grew up in NJ/NY there were a lot of mining remnants, particularly in Sterling Forest, the old buildings are so haunting. It's also sad to think how many trees were cut down to fire the smelters.

  30. Wonderful garden, and generous gardener! The waterfall is gorgeous.

    Hope your new plants settle in well in your garden Tina!