In the Garden with Rachel: Daylilies and Hydrangeas

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden Blog 2018

To properly represent late May blooms in Alabama on this blog, I visited my friend Rachel a couple of weeks ago. She grows daylilies and hydrangeas, which I don’t have in my own yard.

As I made the hour drive from Birmingham to Tuscaloosa, I was worried the weather wasn’t going to cooperate. But after a short storm, the skies cleared for a lovely evening of wine, appetizers and catching up on the patio.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden Blog 2018

I timed my visit to catch the hydrangeas at their peak. Aren’t they gorgeous? I love how some pink shows through the blue in the blooms below.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden Blog 2018

The mass a daylilies sweeping along the curve of the patio was an unexpected bonus to my trip. Rachel shared that when they moved in, the daylilies were scattered about the yard. They dug them up and replanted them en masse for a grand statement.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden Blog 2018
This is Roper, a cocker spaniel. He was in constant motion during my visit, but Rachel plied him with treats so I could capture him in portrait.

A single bright red-orange lily stands out among the others. This was a gift from Rachel’s late mother-in-law. When they moved, they dug it up and took it with them to their new home.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden Blog 2018

Next, we headed to the circle garden, which is divided into quadrants. (Roper came along to help.)

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden Blog 2018There the lilies are divided into groups based on bloom time. This beauty was showing off, raindrops and all.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden Blog 2018

I hope you enjoyed this visit to Rachel’s garden as much as I did. Please stop by again soon! Tomorrow, I’ll post for In a Vase on Monday from the mountains of Clayton, Georgia.

In a Vase on Monday: Sweet Gardenias

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018

The guest room smells amazing today thanks to the small vase of gardenias clipped for today’s In a Vase on Monday post.

Frostproof gardenias (Gardenia jasminoides)

I’ve written before about the drought that claimed quite a few of my plants and shrubs in 2016-17. I dragged my feet about replanting shrubs in the largest front bed, but I finally got the job done this year. I opted for a frostproof variety of gardenias, which are full sun and drought tolerant. The bushes started flowering last week, and they smell ever so nice. Gardenias have a heavy, sweet scent, but it’s not overpowering.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
A gardenia in bloom. Ahhhh, breathe it in.

Colorwheel, aka Stokes’ Aster (Stokesia laevis)

The colorwheel bloom in last week’s post got a couple of comments, so this time I’m including a photo of new versus old blooms. The palest bloom opened most recently; the others have darkened with age.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Colorwheel, aka Stoke’s aster, blooms deepen in color with age.

“Hot Lips” sage (Salvia x jamensis) 

The small white flowers tipped in red are “Hot Lips” sage or saliva. A couple of varieties of perennial salvia are shown in the photo below. I’ve caught a glimpse of a ruby throated hummingbird a few times this spring—apparently they love salvia!

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Salvia = hummingbird magnet

Thanks to Cathy and her blog, Rambling in the Garden, for hosting the IAVOM meme. It’s helped me connect to other garden bloggers and makes blogging much more enjoyable. Be sure to visit her blog and the comments section to see what she and other gardeners around the world have put in a vase on Monday.


In a Vase on Monday: Kangaroo Colorwheel

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018

Last week, I noticed a few garden bloggers chose fun animal vases for In a Vase on Monday. This week, I follow suit.

Kangaroo Vase

This vintage Fitz & Floyd piece is actually a toothbrush holder. As a vase, the holes meant for toothbrush handles function like a flower frog, helping stems stay in place. This is not the first time this estate-sale find has appeared on my blog, but it is its first appearance since I began posting for IAVOM, hosted by Cathy at Rambling in the Garden.

Colorwheel, aka Stokes’ Aster (Stokesia laevis)

The pastel, almost white bloom by the kangaroo face is the very first offering from my Stoke’s Aster this season. This perennial, full-sun plant is native to the Southeastern United States. It earns the nickname Colorwheel from the changing color of its blooms, which begin as the palest pink-purple and age to a deep mauve.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
An overhead view offers a closer look at the Stoke’s Aster bloom (bottom left).

Rounding out the colorwheel: repeat bloomers

The rest of the blooms in this vase have already appeared in various posts this year, and you will probably continue to see them in my vases through the summer.

  • The spindly brown stems bearing tiny white flowers are heuchera ‘Mocha’ also known as coral bells.
  • The clusters of small purple flowers are lavender (Lavandula angustiflolia).
  • With a truly ice-like shimmer, the neon violet flowers are ice plant (Delosperma cooperi).
  • The violet, cone-shaped clusters are butterfly bush (Buddleja), and speaking of …

The butterfly bush below our kitchen window went from one single bloom last week to full-blast flowering this week. Bring on the butterflies!

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Butterfly bush

More animal vases

Last week, posts from these bloggers inspired my kangaroo creation.

  • Wild Daffodil, hailing from the other side of the Atlantic on England’s south coast, featured zebra and giraffe vases.
  • In Florida, the Shrub Queen arranged native wildflowers in a cow vase and introduced us to a sweet real-life pup.
  • Bonney Lassie, of Washington state, has a fish vase that I adore.

More In a Vase on Monday

Visit Rambling in the Garden to see what Cathy and gardeners around the world have put in a vase this Monday. Thank you for stopping by!


In a Vase on Monday: Welcome May

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Red hot poker (yellow flower), butterfly bush, ice plant and Carolina snailseed

This week, vibrant new blooms join the spring party and the Carolina snailseed is being super clingy.

Today’s post is part of “In a Vase on Monday,” a weekly meme hosted by Cathy on her blog Rambling in the Garden. Give her a visit to see what she and other gardeners around the world have put in a vase today. But first, here’s what’s in my vase on Monday, May 7, 2018, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Red hot poker (Kniphofia uvaria ‘Grandiflora’)

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Red hot poker

Also known as torch lily, this perennial is another purchase from the Birmingham Botanical Gardens fall plant sale in 2017. This is its first (and only) bloom, so I hope more blooms are on the way. It’s a native of Southern Africa, and from what I read, its blooms are often bi-colored in combinations of yellow, orange and red. I’m not sure if my plant will offer only yellow blooms, or it’s going to surprise me.

Butterfly bush (Buddleja)

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Butterfly bush

We planted a butterfly bush under our kitchen window last year. True to its name, it attracts lots of butterflies. It’s covered in green buds this week, which will soon turn into dark violet-purple blooms. Although not fully bloomed, this one was far enough along to demonstrate its color.

Ice plant (Delosperma cooperi)

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Ice plant

I also featured this succulent ground cover in my IAVOM post on April 23.  It’s really doing well this year, so you will probably see it in my arrangements throughout the summer. Look how the petals shimmer in the sun.

Carolina snailseed (Cocculus carolinus)

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Carolina snailseed

When looking for vase ideas today, I was taken by how these young shoots of Carolina snailseed twisted together to achieve verticality. It reminds me of Jack and the Bean Stalk.

Thanks for dropping by my blog today, and don’t forget to visit Cathy at Rambling in the Garden for more IAVOM posts.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the Carolina snailseed as English ivy (Hedera).


In a Vase on Monday: Sense and Sensibility


(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Purple bearded iris, dalmatian bellflower, autumn sage, lavender, ice plant and thyme arranged in a Waterford posey vase.

I began this post with the most sensical intentions. Then my sensibilities took over.

It’s been a while since I’ve read Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility (or watched Emma Thompson’s movie adaptation), but my takeaway from the story is that we need to embrace a balance of both qualities in our lives. I relearned that lesson this week.

In a Vase on Monday is hosted each week by Cathy on her blog Rambling in the Garden. I missed it last week, and I was determined to be “sensical” and work ahead so my post would be ready first thing this Monday. However, I got distracted by my sensibilities. It was warm and sunny. The birds were singing, and the breeze was rustling in the trees. I decided to do my arranging outside.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden Blog, 2018
Dappled shade on the patio gets me every time.

Just when I was about happy with my arrangement, the breeze shifted all the stems. I moved inside. Once again, I had everything photo-ready, and I made a snap decision to go outside for more bellflowers. I was outside no more than 30 seconds when I heard the crash inside. So much for being sensical.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Chester the Tailless Wonder is quite possibly an evil genius, but we love him.

One of our cats, Chester, had taken down the small table I use when photographing flower arrangements. The vase was in pieces on the floor. The irony was not lost on me that just two weeks ago I wrote about exercising caution when it comes to cats and plants. I suppose I had it coming.

I cleaned up the broken pieces of pottery, salvaged the flowers from floor and started again. Without further ado, here’s what’s in a vase on Monday April 22, 2018.

Purple Bearded Iris (Iris germanica)

I thought my purple irises were not coming up this year, but it turns out they were just on a different timetable than the white irises. Snipping the stems released an aroma like slicing green onion tops for a salad.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Purple bearded iris–don’t miss the ladybug!

Autumn sage (Salvia greggii)

The leaves of this evergreen herbaceous perennial offer a heavenly, lightly sweet scent year round. It’s just beginning to flower and will continue through the year until first freeze. I purchased mine last year at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens fall plant sale. 

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
autumn sage

Dalmatian Bellflower (Campanula portenschlagiana)

I planted bellflower last fall as a perennial ground cover in a terraced area of the backyard, where it gets part shade. It’s just now beginning to take off, and I love its tiny blue-violet blooms.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Dalmatian bellflower

Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi)

On the opposite end of the spectrum, hardy ice plant is a succulent ground cover that can take the sun on full blast in the front yard. The blooms shimmer in the sun, giving the plant an “icy” look. This is another Birmingham Botanical Gardens plant sale purchase.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Ice plant flower

Lavender (Lavandula angustiflolia)

I planted lavender in my sunny front yard last year, and it has done well. I’ve divided it successfully and now have two plants.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018

English Thyme (Thymus vulgaris)

Thyme and I have a checkered past. I’ve killed it as a houseplant on several occasions. Most recently I killed lemon thyme in an outdoor pot (I’m not sure why but most likely because I left it out to overwinter). Elfin thyme looked terrific between the patio stones, but the environment was ultimately too harsh in the summer, even with lots of shade. I have, however, had success with regular garden thyme outside year round. It might not be the obvious choice for a flower arrangement, but I like effect of tucking in a couple of wild, graceful sprigs.

(c) Terri Robertson, T's Southern Garden, 2018
Garden thyme, also known as English thyme


The vase that survived this post is a Waterford posey vase (a gift from my parents on some birthday past).

Thank you for stopping by. To see what other gardeners around the world have put in a vase on Monday, please visit Cathy’s IAVOM post and don’t miss the comments below it.

Correction: The original version of this post misidentified the autumn sage (aka salvia) as “Hot Lips” sage. I have both varieties in the same bed, and I mixed them up temporarily.


Nature Walk at Jemison Park

Lesser Celandine (“Ficaria verna”)

Jemison Park Nature Trail is one of my favorite local spots. This greenway follows Shades Creek and meanders through Mountain Brook. It’s just a hop, skip and jump away from central Birmingham.

I’ve written about iNaturalist on this blog before, and I’m featuring it again in this post about my recent nature walk through Jemison Park. If you’re in the Birmingham area and want to learn about iNaturalist from an expert, I recommend “Introduction to iNaturalist,” presented by Dr. John Friel of the Alabama Museum of Natural History on May 6, 2018, 1-3:30 p.m., at Ruffner Mountain.

I’ve been using the iNaturalist app since attending one of Dr. Friel’s presentations last year. I find it helps me better observe and appreciate the intricacies of nature, which makes spending time outdoors all the more rewarding. I also like recording and identifying plants in natural areas because my hope is to gradually transform our privet-filled wooded backyard into a woodland garden.

Here is what I observed on my walk through Jemison Park:

Lesser Celandine (“Ficaria verna”)

I believe this ground cover (also pictured at the top of this post) is lesser Celandine (“Ficaria verna”). iNaturalist’s photo identification software suggested this ID. I carefully compared the database’s photos against mine. I think it’s a match, but the ID needs confirmation from the iNaturalist online community of citizen scientists. This plant is definitely going on my woodland garden wish list. [Update: I have since found out that Lesser Celandine is considered invasive in America, where it is not a native species. So it is off the wish list!]

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Next is Italian Arum (“Arum italicum”). Once again, iNaturalist software helped me venture a guess on the ID. A fellow user, who happens to be pursuing a doctorate in marine ecology and phycology, agreed. That moved my ID up to research grade. It will stay that way as long as two-thirds of iNaturalist users concur.

I also learned that some gardeners underplant Italian Acum with hostas. When hostas die back in winter, Italian Acum will maintain an attractive ground cover. I already have hostas, so I am definitely going to try this!

Beaked Trout-Lily (“Erythronium rostratum”)

The identification of the Beaked Trout-Lily (“Erythronium rostratum”) above illustrates the combined power of software and collective human brainpower in making sense of the vast numbers of observations uploaded to iNaturalist.

After looking through the software’s suggestions, my best guess at an ID was a Yellow Trout Lily (“Erythronium americanum”). However, another citizen scientist, self-described as a “hobbyist botanist, reasonably well-read on trillium and solidago,” countered that the plant I observed was in fact a Beaked Trout-Lily. His argument: “prominent auricles at the base of the tepals which encircle filaments; tepals not streaked with purple; flower not nodding; petals not sharply reflexed.”

This is a good time to mention another tip about using iNaturalist. Even if you are an amateur, do your best to research and identify your observations starting with kingdom at a minimum, and narrowing down the taxonomy as much as you can. The iNaturalist software and other references can help you do this, as long as you employ common sense and pay attention to the details. The more you can help narrow it down, the more likely someone who actually knows their stuff will look at what you’ve posted. They can then confirm your ID, further narrow it down or correct it if needed.

I’ll close this post with a few more iNaturalist observations from Jemison Park Nature Trail.

Red Buckeye (“Aesculus pavia”)


Little Sweet Betsy (“Trillium cuneatum”), also known as toadshade


My suggested ID, unconfirmed: Common Blue Violet (“Viola sororia”)

The Joy of Tiny Things


Left: Tiny bluet (Houstonia pulsilla). Right: Henbit deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule), dandelion, sedum, creeping jenny and garden thyme.

Appreciate the little things, sometimes even weeds.

My perennials have been coming back to life the past couple of weeks, including herbs, heuchera, creeping jenny, moss and various sedum plants growing in the nooks and crannies of the terrace walls. And, of course, weeds. I can find weeds quite pretty– especially if they are native and/or beneficial to the environment–and they are the inspiration for the tiny arrangements featured in this post.



I am fairly certain that the small lavender-blue flowers pictured above, are tiny bluets (Houstonia pulsilla), native to the Southeast. Moss covers our shady backyard, and the tiny bluets, with blooms no more than a centimeter in diameter, look so pretty against the blanket of vibrant green. I arranged them in a small amber-colored bottle. I will warn you that I had to pull out the tweezers for this one. (As my husband was kind enough to notice, I had a lot of free time that day.)

Henbit deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule)

The next arrangement features the vibrant purple-pink flowers of henbit deadnettle (Lamium amplexicaule), along with a dandelion, sedum, creeping jenny and garden thyme. Native to the Mediterranean, henbit deadnettles are fairly ubiquitous today. They attract pollinators and are a food source for some animals. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even eat them as an herb. (I haven’t tried them, but the leaves smell like parsley.)

Except for the dandelion, which apparently does not last long once picked, this rustic bouquet has brightened my kitchen for almost a week now.

Note: To see what other garden bloggers have put “In a Vase on Monday” check out Cathy’s blog and comments.