Ethyll and I had decided long ago that we needed a nursery adventure for
the peak of summer. She had to get flowers for a wedding she was doing
and I just wanted to have a day of girls day out running amock. My
other friend had come thru on her way to pick up her teenager from
summer camp in North Cackalacky, and on her way back had stopped in on
the return back home to say hi. I had already set up things with Squire
who would be down in his dragon cave working on mysterious documents on
his new computer, and when this other friend and daughter came just in
time for a spaghetti dinner and a neat movie with a sleep over, it
became perfect for adding two other females into the blend and day to come.
Our only snag was my vehicle's air conditioning wasn't working at the
time and I was waiting for the part to come in, she and I didn't think
much would come from us enduring the heat as long as there were the
window's rolled all the way down for blowing comforts. We made jokes
about having grown up in days where summer's were remembered as being
HOT, there wasn't such a thing as air conditioning at that time, with
only window fans and oscillating fans being the only relief one got on
sticky summer nights where you stuck to the sheets. Or visited relatives
or grandparents and slept on screened porches. So a little discomfort
didn't seem like too much of a problem this early in the day.
The Saturday had started out well. Ethyll showed up at departure point
in mid morning to get a jump on the first stop before they closed at
mid-day. A little eastern Knoxville seed and co-op where the bagged
garden soil was rich and black enough to eat with a spoon with just a
little sugar and milk, as the little man who had waited on me the last
time I was there had picked up on my excitement when I discovered this
gardening soil. (LOL),
my friend and her daughter were already getting it together and had
packed and were ready to finish the last leg of their trip and I
proposed that they follow us, stop off at the first nursery minded
adventure and then go on to stop and grab a frozen cappuccino in
Knoxville which was our ultimate partial destination for nurseries and
My visiting friend and daughter (who was posing as her running buddy)
informed us at the Starbucks we'd stopped at in Knoxville for a quick
frozen coffee, that they'd really rather stop somewhere else and eat a
nice early lunch, and I knew just the place and it was on our way to the
craft store, on their way to the hook up on the interstate and back to
Middle Tennessee, and we'd have a nice girls only luncheon in the process.
Nothing like a 15 year old girl seeing middle aged women of assorted
flavors and textures and characteristics eating lunch and yammering
about life and whatever else comes up between chewing and laughter.
There was LOTS of laughter. The spot I had chosen was a rather nice and
casual central American Mexican flavored restaurant of high quality food
and great atmosphere. I had wisely left the dogs behind due to the
heat, which proved almost our undoing later on, but without them to
worry about sitting out in the car waiting, we took our time and swapped
ideas and stories and caught up on personal gossip. My Middle Tennessee
friend was just getting to know Ethyll, and I had the opportunity to sit
back and enjoy the other three women as they all interacted with each
other. A great time was had by all, and as we parted at the end of the
meal, I gave directions to the interstate where we'd actually part ways.
She and her daughter heading towards towards home, and us to the
computer store first to pick up memory for Squire's laptop computer, and
then the craft store and double back on our last leg and stop at our
We did pretty good considering it was 102o and oppressively hot by this
point in the early afternoon. As we finished up everything in a pretty
timely manner, and were heading for the nursery, we made our plans on
our nursery assaults. Just careen into the shop and scatter like the winds.
We hit the parking lot with just 45 minutes to spare before they were
closing as summer hours had changed again on the wain of July 4th. We'd
had no idea, and there were hardly any other gardeners about. (just the
hard core's like ourselves and the tired and heat stricken young-un's
who were ready to close up, go home and grab a hot shower and have their
Saturday night.....)and the owner who was making last rounds.
The misting system had just started up again, and with the added heat,
now we were walking into a tropical jungle. I'm used to this sort of
thing, unfortunately Ethyll is not. The heat was beginning to tell on
both of us.
I headed immediately for the cactus table against the glass windows that
border the outside perennial staging areas under the shade cloth and
open outer wall. This outer wall usually has living wreaths and great
planters stuffed with coconut fibre and assorted tender annuals and
perennials in neat combinations. Planted outside of this open window
design are mature perennials and ornamentals that are coming into the
season's peak. The lance leaf Rudbeckia was setting buds and their phlox
was huge. Great stands of healthy Salvia was covered in butterflies and
As I searched the tables for something unusual that they'd started pups
from and admired the hanging baskets of perfect Burro's tail and two
quart pots of Rosary Vine succulents, string of beads, odd Euphorbia's
and such, I spotted a wonderful pot of Rosary Vine that beat the other
ones hands down. Huge leaves in the bed of the pot, cascading thick
threads of extremely large top leaves and graduating to smaller leaves
to about three foot or more and every vine all the way around was also
blooming those great looking little fleshy pink saxophones with the
black tufts of "hair" on them. I gently teased it from where the arches
of the tops of the heart shaped succulent leaves had tangled and gently
placed it in the cart. And reminded myself that I wasn't going to go too
insane as I already had things at home still to plant. (Crape myrtle and
yellow Carolina Baptismia, I'd finally planted the copper container with
the Dragon's wing Fallopia, and Chocolate Eupatoria with the Red Foxx
verbena in the center that I had given a haircut when I tucked it
between the other two darker leaves as contrast.)
I heard Ethyll remarking towards my general direction over the tables of
tropical plants still left to look at and pick over, and I noticed that
it was poinsettia sticking time as lots of tables were taken up on the
outer portions of the inner greenhouse with tips of assorted
poinsettia's growing happily in medium to be ready for Christmas by
Thanksgiving. I know the seasons in a nursery so well without thinking
it sometimes startles me.
I also noticed some impressive and highly tempting begonia's that almost
broke my will power as I saw great pots of filled out ones I've only
admired in the Logee's book. What you get from Logee's is what they
start out with and with the added bonus of a moist greenhouse, they can
grow them into impressive baskets and hanging containers that would take
me two or three years to attain that size.
I hollered at Ethyll to check out the colorations and textures and as we
joined back up she smirked that I'd already gotten something. We both
headed into the perennial room after much admiration of every begonia,
expressing our desires to have at least one of these packed and perfect
pots of begonia's to where everything sits on several back to back
tables in seasonal displays. I expected there would be a few early
mums, lots of asters, some surprises,but was pleasantly surprised with
seeing several pots of a succulent that had attained more maturity like
my own pot I'd purchased the year before and it proved too tempting to
pass up for the price as things were slashed a bit for the time. I
snagged one for Ethyll. I picked up three 5 inch pots of that Butterfly
weed like I'd had last year that the Monarch's adored but that never
returned this year, not even by seed that I carefully placed the split
pod upon the ground and secured to get a few germinations. But alas, no
returns to that bed where they had originally been.
I spotted some healthy pulmonaria's, but what grabbed both our eyes and
made us speak at the same time was the impressive pots of heuchera's.
Creme Brulee and Crimson ruffles. I weakened. I grabbed up a couple
of pots of Creme Brulee and one pot of Crimson ruffles. I already had a
pot in mind to plant up. Ethyll snagged herself a Creme Brulee. I then
turned around and this end cap table was packed with black-eyed Susan's
and next to them, great trailing pots of blue Platycodon's, gorgeous
pots of HUGE blue stars and puffy promises of balloons for later that
arched and gracefully fell down the sides of the gallon and a half
containers. I snatched one pot up and spotted the stiff, thin leaves of
the lance leaf Helianthus that was outside near the parking lot,
thriving and setting buds for eye popping yellow daisies soon. I
grabbed two pots of those.
As I scoured the tables for odd ones, I almost took a red tree peony.
Tempting......it looked a bit tired and I wasn't sure of myself. I took
the three pots of Butterfly weed back, and upon returning to the ever
fillng garden cart, I spotted a lance leafed Digitalis that is a true
perennial with brownish pink finger-like blossoms. I used to have one
three years ago. It was the only one of two pots and this one was the
larger and more filled out. I'm always guilty of "cherry picking" the
best pot. And these pots were incredibly sticky and apt to cling to
your hands or arms as you brushed past them.
As Ethyll talked over the size of each plant and the benefits of this
one over that one, I had this nice feeling of garden companionship come
over me. We were both grinning like loons and chattering like school
girls on a field trip without parents watching closely. <g> I resisted
the urge to get a pot of Lemons and Oranges gaillardia which I REALLY
wanted, but Gaillardia's do best in full sun and I wasn't going to
torture any of these pots to just have them refuse to return for me. I
haven't yet found their sweet spot where they'll thrive unnoticed.
I also knew there was coming in the mails, some fall blooming alliums,
specifically the variety of alliums called Ozawa. I held back. The van
was already loaded with ten, 40 pound bags of black Garden Magic soils,
now we were loading up perennials and we decided enough was enough. We
had to stop. And Ethyll was getting hot and toasty. As we made our way
to the front check out counter, the owner spotted us and I started
talking to him about when I could expect my first hardy Ginger blossom.
Ethyll looked at the loaded cart and laughed at me and remarked that my
face was a dangerous red color, and I agreed it was time we paid the
piper and headed homewards. She separated hers from mine and we both
spotted these adorable pot hanging cats of which one had the colorations
of the newest female in the feline family at my house...Maggie. I
snagged two black and white one and one tabby that hooked over the edge
of a pot and added them to the pile. No bargains today. Lisa was
absent and I suspected it was the heat had gotten her.
I was assured by Mr. Stanley that my Ginger would eventually give me
bouquets of white flowers over time, just patience and love were all
that was required, and we rolled the cart to the van. Break out the
"box-bags" I'd gotten years ago from Pinetree Seeds up in Maine and put
the bulk of them into those, and use the cardboard flats that Stanley's
nursery provides, and Ethyll remarked "when didja have time to get
THOSE?" And I laughed. There were two pots of lance leaved Helianthus
in amongst the Heuchera's, succulents, Rosary vine plant, blue Balloon
flower,and THREE pots of crocosmia's. An orangey yellow one in full
flower with a new bloom shoot, and two pots of finished George Davidson
that were bursting the 4 inch pots, and Lance leaved Digitalis. I told
her we'd barely missed a worst sticky pot situation by the fact that the
mists allowed us to escape without more clinging to our hands, arms, and
fingertips!! Ethyll said I was fun to go to a nursery with, but was
No relief for the hot and middle aged, we headed out the scorching
parking lot, admiring the late summer perennials and vowed to return to
see what they looked like in peak performances, and headed towards
somewhere with icy cold sweet iced tea and air conditioning.
One more stop after we got frustrated at the closest Micky D's as they
seemed to be more interested in gossip instead of waiting on over-heated
patrons, so we went to another place and got immediate service and the
last stop at the Sam's to pay a bill and get some spices.
Now we were prickley and starting to realize we were overheated but as I
pulled into the Sam's parking lot, I told her at least we could cool off
a bit and wander thru the warehouse and see if any garden supplies were
reduced and if we cooled off enough, we might sample some free tidbits.
But as soon as I said that, we both agreed it was just too danged hot to
The wandering around the warehouse though was exactly what we needed,
and while we were inside cooling off, a summer thunderstorm came up, and
as we made our way to the van, we got rained on. A nice warm rain that
begged me to just stand and get soaked. We leisurely walked to the van
and were on our way homewards finally after a hot and traffic locked day
had finally come to a close.
When we got home, the dogs were peeved at us for leaving them behind,
but I didn't have one iota of guilt for making them stay behind. Squire
assured me that the dogs had clung to him and son the whole time we were
gone, insisting on lying not close to them on the floor, but lying ON
their feet, "dogging" them everywhere they went, inside or out, even
trying to come into the bathroom with him, which he refused to
allow......LOL I immediately got accused of spoiling the dogs while he
is on the road working, and I laughed behind me as Ethyll and I made our
way back to the back of the van and began unloading the bags of soil
into the back of her little silver Honda. Five for her, five for me.....
Then we decided no frills, just dump the five of my bags over beside the
backside of the Black Cherry shade garden since son was passed out cold
inside and I didn't want to alert Squire as to the magnitude of sticky
Then we began sorting out our booty thrilling over the quality of each
plant and admiring the Creme Brulee in their pots, the textures and
ruffled of the other I'd snagged. She protested but took the wonderful
succulent I got for her, and as she loaded it up in the back of her car,
I hung the newer pot of Rosary Vine succulent near the older pot of
Then grabbing a small pot, I carefully teased the seedling of yellow
Corydalis that had seeded into the Cereus cactus pot and was thriving
quite nicely, dumped some rich Garden Magic soil around the whole thing
and gave the pot a deep sip of water out of the tub on the nook deck I'd
left for the animals to drink from until I decide to work the cactus'
large pot into it for the winter. That will take more heft than I had in
me at the moment, and the dogs and even the cats adore the full tub of
well water to sip and gorge from on these hot days.
As we tittered and twittered, we said our affections and bid each other
fond farewells with promises of solutions for plantings made soon, but
now a cool shower was in the forecast. At least Ethyll's air
conditioning worked in HER car.......soon mine would be fixed and it
would be in time for fall browsing for little perennials to tuck into
bare spots to quietly settle in for spring shows. And bulbs to hide and
hope her cat sized city squirrels would leave be. I'll tell her we're
going for bulbs some other time.................
thanks for the allowances of bending your ears. it was fun to share our
day with all of you.
Since we had this little adventure, I've potted the heuchera's into a
HUGE old slightly rusted enamel pot I was allowed to scrounge from Miz
Mary's yard of junk, since she's never coming home and the family is
slowly sorting thru the mess and sending most everything to the
landfill. I filled around the plants with a bag of that black rich
soil, alternated the Creme Brulee and Purple Ruffles and for accents and
colors next year, tucked in two George Crocosmia's.
The other black nursery pot I found that would accommodate the
perennials I planted the other Crocosmia, the blue Platycodon, and one
of the lance leafed Helianthus. The Ozawa Allium came when I wasn't
looking and I tucked them into the two pots and hoped they'd get along
like nice perennials.
The second lance leafed Helianthus I tucked into a bare spot on the
north side of the bricks bed where the white dwarf butterfly bush and
magenta purple phlox is still wowing the fairies and all their pets.
Over on the northeastern side where an oxalis had dissolved, I slipped
the lance leaved Digitalis and firmed and top-dressed the whole thing
with the remaining bag of Garden Magic soil.
Clip the spent blossoms on the white butterfly bush, notice that the
little white aster underneath was budding and a few were starting to
open, one sedum had dissolved from too rich soils and I made a note to
replant another aster in the spot, or a nice Clara Curtis mum.
The Willow leafed sunflower is starting to open those huge Coreopsis
like flowers and there is now a stepped up pace in the gardens.
Wild raucous fights between juvenile hummers of both varieties, Rufus
and Ruby throat as they vie for territory and show their young hormones
at summer's end. There are more females than males, and they sometimes
win over the tussles with the marauding males who race thru the leaves
and mimosa puffs and waning Trumpet vine flowers.
I felt sorry for the birds and filled every feeder with rich, fresh
black sunflower seeds, and all the large socks with new thistle and the
hanging feeder with the little birds at the edges on the chains I put
water into and hang so the birds can enjoy water high up enough to be
safe from Maggie and Pester's claws. Maggie is hunter supreme.
As I finish planting the nursery's spoils into containers, and start
searching for the watering hose, I hear the heated songs around me of
locusts, cicada's, assorted birds and the far off distant conversations
of the new neighbor's young dogs in the woods below Miz Mary's house and
at the bottom of the pasture in the woods. Just far enough off that my
own hounds ignore their barks, despite that Sugar is a dog person. And
about the time I think of Sugar and her love of other canines, her nose
pokes me wetly and coldly on my upper arm and she does that
"hellllooooo" thing she does with me, and I give her the jowls hugging
and patting I only give to her as she reminds me it's time to come
inside now and cool off with her. She's had enough. All this time as I
planted and pinched and noticed things around me, she had lain on the
middle hump of grass that grows between where the vehicles drive down
and patiently figured I'd be thru soon.
She loves to do that. The boy Smeagol is a self made house dog and
always goes back to the door and barks his displeasure at having to stay
outside. I sometimes let him in, or ignore him and he returns back to
harass Sugar and play rough with her until she puts him in his place.
But today, he's a wuss and I hear his pleas and barking's as he begs
someone to let him in, and soon I don't hear him and discover that
Squire had taken pity on him and let him back inside.
The day is closing fast, there are two new containers of perennials to
watch over and more adventures up the road. Of that I'm sure of it.
madgardener, up on the toasty and late summer heat ladened ridge, back
in a very dry Fairy Holler, overlooking a perpetually hazy English
Mountain in Eastern Tennessee, zone 7, Sunset zone 36