This week, I sipped lemonade with my friend Betty in her garden. She has some lovely things in bloom this April in Alabama.
Betty wore a wide-brimmed hat and greeted me in the driveway. We used to work together, and she advised me when I began gardening and landscaping in earnest. I’ve mentioned her before in this blog, though not by name. She’s the friend who suggested loropetalum as a privacy border and who told me that dogwoods in bloom should look like floating clouds.
When I asked if I could write about her garden, she suggested timing our visit with one of her showiest April displays: purple irises blooming in front of a Crimson Queen Japanese maple.
When she bought this tree, it was small enough to carry home in the backseat of her four-door sedan. She’s nursed it through two droughts. “Only in the past couple of years has it really taken off so that this time of year it is really gorgeous,” she said.
The irises are passalong plants from her younger sister, a master gardener. Her sister helped teach Betty about gardening when she first moved into her house. Now Betty is passing along her knowledge to me–what a nice way for things to come full circle.
Here are a few other highlights from my visit.
“Souvenir de la Malmaison” Rose
Betty purchased this rose from the Antique Rose Emporium in Texas. Its name comes from the Paris home, “Malmaison,” of French empress Josephine Bonaparte. “The Russian emperor came to Paris to visit, and he saw this rose in her garden and named it,” said Betty.
From bud to gracefully aged bloom, the flowers of this antique rose look pretty at every stage.
Betty noted the blackspot, a fungal disease, on the leaves. (She said she forgot to spray the rose with anti-fungal solution before it leafed out.) The blooms are so pretty, I barely noticed.
Blue Pin Flower or Pincushion Flower (Scabiosa)
“I like things that are perennials that will come back another year and I don’t have to replant them” said Betty, whose goal is to have something in bloom at all times, spring through fall.
This cheerful blue pin flower is a prime example of a hard-working spring perennial. I also like how the creeping Jenny in the background fills in the bare spots between plants.
Seeing clematis thrive in this sunny location at Betty’s house confirmed for me that the clematis I planted at the base of my fence does not get enough sun. I must find a new spot for mine because these flowers are lovely.
After the garden tour, Betty invited me to stay for lemonade. We chatted on the back porch enjoying the view and soft light of early evening.
When I left, she sent me home with a pot of pink muhly grass (an extra patch dug up from her yard) and two of her favorite gardening books, Founding Gardeners and The Brother Gardeners by Andrea Wulf, on loan. I will find a sunny spot for the pink muhly grass, and I hope to show off its blooms late summer or fall.
Thank you for stopping by, and I hope you enjoyed this post. I’ll close with one more photo of the irises and Japanese maple–because, frankly, I could not choose a favorite.