Monday, June 6, 2011

Oh Those Spireas! Proven Winners and More to Boot


I love spireas! I feel awful guilty about saying that too. Terribly guilty. Spirea japonicas are listed as a significant threat by the Tennessee Exotic Plant Pest Plant Council. Significant threat means that  the plant possesses invasive characteristics; not presently considered to spread as easily into native plant communities as severe threat. This fact makes me watch my spireas closely for self seeding tendencies. My spireas have never self seeded in my garden but do tend to spread by rooting along the plant. That is a good thing for divisions but if a gardener is lazy the plants can take over a select area. Nonetheless, I love my spireas and will not garden without them. I've removed ALL other invasives on the TNEPPC list but am keeping the spireas. Can you see why?

The spireas shine and are so easy to grow. They are not fazed by drought, floods, clay, sand, or anything else in the garden. They bloom on and off all season and even when the shrubs are bare of leaves in the winter the shrub provides structure in the form of dense twiggy growth. The growth of spireas is a perfect mounded shape that spreads to about four feet wide by three to four feet high. No trimming is needed but a good haircut in the early spring may help the spirea to push out more blooms. This was the first time I have given my spireas a haircut and they sure are rewarding me with lots of blooms.
Spireas can be added in mixed borders or can be used as foundation plants. They are best used in my garden as weavers. That is they are the glue that ties together plantings. Their pillow form is a form that can fit in anywhere. Spireas are not fussy about conditions so using them in inhospitable spots is a bonus I take advantage of. I have spireas planted under trees, alongside a driveway, and in a shady border. All locations are diverse but work for the spireas.

The blooms this year have been fabulous. I have several cultivars including: Double Play Big Bang, Goldmound, Little Princess, and Dart's Red. I also just received a shipment of Proven Winners plants to trial and advertise recently that included two new spireas. They are: 'Big Bang Gold' and 'Big Bang'. I am ever so excited to add them to my garden and they are tucked into good spots on either side of a Japanese kerria in my Secret Patio Garden. I'll be sure to let you know how they do but for now those spireas are simply spectacular.


Also from Proven Winners are some daylilies called 'Going Bananas'. I already grew several of these daylilies in my garden but when my box arrived from Proven Winners it included another 'Going Bananas' daylily. I like this sunny diminutive daylily. It is a repeat bloomer and does well in my garden. The Proven Winners says this daylily "intermingles well with other plants" and I have to agree. I have it planted in my Front Sidewalk Garden right behind a 'Homestead' verbena. The yellow and purple combination rocks. Speaking of going bananas. At one time I grew some really REALLY tall hardy banana trees. This marker stone is a relic of those days and I thought it appropriate to include it in this post for you all to tie in with my Proven Winners daylilies.


Another few lovely plants in my box from Proven Winners this spring were some calibrachoas (Superbells). The two varieties pictured here are Sweet Tart and Cherry Star.
The 'Sweet Tart' superbells are the pink ones while the 'Cherry Star' ones are the bright red ones with the yellow star. I am not usually a container type person but decided to fill a few planter boxes with these Superbells. The superbells are doing great. I have another one in a hanging basket that only has the moss on the outside (allowing water to drain through quickly) and that one is doing just as well as these ones and I haven't even watered it! I received a few other plants from Proven Winners but will post on them at a later date.

And one last picture is of my beautiful golden retriever/lab mix dog who came from our local shelter ten years ago. BJ is an old man now and feeling every single one of his years. Like me he creaks a bit when he walks and sometimes just doesn't want to get out of bed in the morning. Here he is looking at me longingly because he feels he should not be locked up. He is perfectly able to wander around with me in the front yard but the evil dog (Lady) feels that if BJ is able to wander around then so is she. She will jump over our four foot tall chain link fence and leap high hurdles to follow BJ. So my poor BJ is relegated to the backyard when Lady is outside. BJ has been on my mind lately because he has a bad urinary tract infection and prostatitis. Poor guy. We are getting him better though. Note the ball right next to him on the ground? BJ is of course my avatar picture on my profile. He and I share many of the same traits and I find him to be a great friend so I borrow his picture for this part of my world in blogging....

in the garden....

One last announcement for my local readers. The Tennessee Yards Done Right workshop is scheduled for this Saturday. Call Karla Kean at 9316485725 to register.

Note: I had this post all ready to go and then last night the worst thing happened, the Ramsey's best friend and faithful companion for the past ten years, BJ, passed away suddenly. We are heartbroken and will miss him dearly. This last picture was taken the day before he died and shows him as he truly was-a beautiful and happy dog. 

I will be hit or miss on the computer as we grieve. We went through this last year with our dear dog Link so we know we will get through it but the pain is so real. The good part is that he did not suffer and all three of us were with him at the end. We are thankful for these small miracles to aid us in our daily lives because if we can see the good parts then perhaps the bad parts are not so devastating....

in the garden with my dear friend BJ.  

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. I am so sorry to hear about BJ but I'm glad you were there and he looked so happy in that last photo. Everytime I see your profile photo I smile. BJ made people happy far and wide.
    Take care.

  2. omg Tina ~ I'm so sorry about BJ. I was reading your nice commentary about him then never expected the footnote. It's devastating to experience that loss. I think all pet owners wish they would live longer. He sounds like an exceptional companion and from everything I can tell, he had a wonderful home with you and your family. Hugs to you.

  3. We are all thinking of you and your family while you grieve. I am so sorry, it is hard to lose an old friend.
    As for your spireas, I love them too, not sure why they are on the invasive list. How nice to have all those plants from Proven Winners.

  4. We are dog lovers also, and we grieve with you. These losses are painful but the dog love is so worth it.

  5. Tina - I am so sorry to hear about BJ. I know how much you loved him and remember many posts where you talk about what a great dog he was. He is just so sweet. I'll keep you all in my thoughts.

  6. Richard and I are so sorry to hear of your loss of BJ. WE know how heartbreaking it is to lose a sweet dog. HUGS.

    Spirea hasn't seeded here. I have 'Neon Flash', 'Limemound' and one other variety. I didn't realize it is invasive...perhaps the "parents" of the hybrids?

  7. TINA,
    our spireas came with the property. Never spread except by roots. Cut them down to the ground nearly this year, what a show right now! Most are white with pink, some years much more pink.

  8. My heart goes out to you. Sorry for your loss.

    I came across a link to your blog from the Wheelchair Gardener. Your blog is lovely and I'd like to return for future visits. Take care.

  9. I am just now realizing you posted today. I was on here this morning and did not see a post. I thought you may have taken the day off from the blog. I am so so so so sorry for the loss of BJ. I was smiling along with him in the picture and the smile turned to tears when seeing the last lines of this post. I know how special BJ is to you and I know you must be ever so heartbroken right now. He was the first one to greet me every time I visited Tiger Gardens and that ball, well he just knew the Saint was a ball tosser when they met. I loved the way he would walk around with his ball as we stroll in the gardens. He had the best home ever with you guys and went to his maker with happy paws. He is now running and chasing balls over that Rainbow Bridge with Link, my Skeeter and Alice bird amongst many other furry friends to keep him company. I will miss his sweet smile and wagging tail. Hugs to all….

  10. Tina, I am so sorry to hear about the sudden death of BJ. It is so hard to lose a member of the family like that. It was wonderful that you had just written such nice things about him in your post. I am a cat person and have suffered through the death of many, but it never gets easier. My thoughts are with you. Carolyn

  11. Oh dear Tina, what a great photo of BJ. Even with you calling and warning me, I am crying as I read about the big guy. Do you remember when I met him for the first time? It was when you were going away for a school and you flew me down to stay with Jimmy and Brian while you were away as Mr Fix it was also away. You ended up not going to the school then as Jimmy ended up in the hospital. Anyway, while I was there BJ kept bringing rocks up on the deck and he would chew on them!!! So sorry for all of you. I love you all.

    Skeeter you are so sweet to remember my baby's name!! Can you believe it will be 3 years in August that I lost her.

  12. Tina, please know we are so sorry to hear of your loss. We send lots of love and hugs to you all in this sad time. (hugs) Ciao!

    I have several spirea and love them, they don't seem to be invasive yet, but now I know to watch. Thanks!

  13. OMW, Tina I am so sorry about BJ. He is so happy in the last pic. I know you will miss him terribly. It is hard to loose one's pet whether it be dog, cat, bird, squirrel, horse, rabbit or whatever we choose to have as a pet.
    My prayers are with you & family at this time.

  14. Hello Tina, first of all my condolences for your friend's transition. Ours left 2 months ago and we still miss him. My batchmate in college also left last Monday from bone cancer. But life is really like that, we just leave not at the same time. And your flowers are all beautiful, even if i am not familiar with Spireas, they are very lovely.

  15. Yep I love Spireas too Tina and mine have never self-seeded or taken over in any way. Those PW Daylillies are so pretty and the name is fun too. :) Hope BJ recovers, my beagle is 13 and she has a hard time too.

  16. Tina, I am so sorry about BJ. It is always hard to lose such a faithful and loving friend. I hope that over the rainbow bridge he finds a garden to run in to his heart's content.

    After all the hubbub here this weekend subsided, and before Daughter flew back to Arizona, she had a sad task, too. She brought back the ashes of her beloved Pug, Odie, and buried him under the lilac tree and near his old buddy Roco. They're reunited once again for the adventures they used to have and that we still laugh about. May your memories of dear BJ also comfort you in the coming weeks, Tina.

  17. Tina, I've been thinking of BJ and all of you non-stop since Mom told me this morning that BJ passed away. I've been anxious to log on and see his picture and boy, he is soooo handsome. He is much lighter than I remember and it must be the haircut. I am very glad I got to meet him and I could tell he was a very special dog which was perfect for you as you are special to be so good to him and the others. BJ was very fortunate to have you just as fortunate as you feel to have had him. I admire you all for being there with him as I am sure it was NOT easy and honestly, I don't know if I am strong enough to deal with by babies passing away. As you said, remember the good through these times as it is clear he offered a lot of great times and was very, very special. Love and thoughts to you all. Terri

  18. Thank you to all my kind friends and family. Reading these comments brings tears to my eyes but the words are also comforting too.