The Lure of Undiscovered Beauty – A Brief Glance at Motivation

It’s a regular ritual – I strap on my walking shoes, set out to “get my exercise”, then begin scanning my route with hawk-like observation to discover that plant that I’ve never seen before or spot the hidden garden of a yet unknown gardening soulmate. Sometimes I return simply sweaty and ruefully satisfied the fresh air and accomplishing my 12,000 Garmin steps are good for my heart. But sometimes I uncover a gem along the way, as I did today, and my heart always benefits from viewing the beauty of nature and the passion of gardeners around me.


Iochroma cyaneum cultivar

While in my hometown of Macon, Georgia for a high school reunion, I took off this morning for a long walk in an area that I’d never walked before. I looked up to see the entryway to a home that hinted at being a botanical delight. Mr. Willingham, the homeowner, just happened to be adding a few new plants when I walked by.

Angel Trumpet
Angel Trumpet – Brugmansia

After a few minutes chatting about the unique tropical plants at his entryway, he asked if I would like to see the rest of the garden.

Malvaviscus arboreus var. drummondii – Turk’s Cap.

What followed was a beautiful wooded winding walk through 35 years of gardening love around the home of Mr & Mrs Willingham . Even in drought-stressed, mid-autumn condition, this art-accented garden showed pops of bright color like Turks Cap and Butterfly Weed Asclepsias .

Nestled garden art

Along a sloping bank was a harvest of lantana for a hord of butterflies.


A hidden treasure of a garden, a delightful conversation with a fellow garden geek newly met, and once again confirmation that there are so many beautiful places in the world around me yet to be discovered.

So I’ll keep on walking.

Around The Garden World – Day 58 (Asheville, NC)

passionflower – Passiflora 
A couple of years ago I was in Asheville, NC, for a garden bloggers meeting. One of the places that we  were supposed to visit was the White Gate Inn. I was a quite curious as to why we were going to this bed and breakfast place as part of our tour. 

 It didn’t take me long to figure out why we needed to see this place.

Thermopsis villosa (Carolina bush pea or Aaron’s root) back by Japanese Maple

 This is a lover’s paradise. A plant lover, that is.

Malva sylvestris “Zebrina” hollyhock growing among the Picea pungens blue spruce. 

Houttuynia cordata

Ghost Japanese painted fern


Eucomis (Sparkling Burgandy Pineapple Lily)

Inviting pathways

that open up to lush plantings

little treasures along the way

Evergreen dogwood – Cornus kousa

a few more hidden treasures

Hydrangea and hosta flanking the pathway

 The mandatory self-portrait in the suspended gazing ball.

 Unique garden art

Around The Garden World – Day 49 (Parc du Bois de Coulonge)

 A visit to Quebec took me to the beautiful botanical garden Parc du Bois Coulonge

lovin’ the begonia!

 I do love a fabulous window box!

 And containers with canna, euphorbia Diamond Frost, and celosia

great combination of bronze and gold foliage

 Summer poinsettias!

 Bonfire begonia and lysimachia


 Sea holly – Echinops ritro


purple sage

Astilbe and Hosta

Gryphon Begonia

Fireworks gomphrena

a Helen Battersby sighting! 

 made for the shade



Around The Garden World – Day 36 (Central Virginia Gardens)

Diane LaSauce caught me mid-snooze during our fun-filled Garden2Blog event at P Allen Smith’s Garden Retreat.

It’s been a long week planting a few thousand flats of pansies and violas, and I am feeling the need to get caught up on a little rest. Fortunately I have some garden friends around the world that love to share their gardens.  Check out  and be inspired by my friend Diane LaSauce’s end of summer garden in central Virginia:
Another Reason to Share the Garden

That’s Diane on the left in the cute hat with bright green ribbon.

Around The Garden World – Day 32 (Birmingham, Alabama)

AWESOME container plantings!
Last year about this time of year I was able to visit the Birmingham Botanical Gardens with my #4 son and his friend Hannah. 

 Take a tour with us!

The artwork fountain was mesmerizing.

Add caption

These old logs were begging me to take their picture.

The Birmingham Botanical Garden is right across the street from the zoo.

The Japanese Garden

The Zen Garden

Spring Plant Trials 2013 – Day 1

 The Proven Winners courtyard display at Chaminade Spa and Resort in Santa Cruz, Ca.

 I arrived as a guest of Proven Winners (I’ve go into that more tomorrow) the day before Spring Trials began and was able to snap a few photos. Still pinching myself that I get to be at this event!

I enjoyed getting container combination ideas like this one with begonias and Diamond Frost Euphorbia

Ready for show and tell!

The views from the trial garden patio was fabulous! 

I kept getting distracted by the wisteria – so elegant!

Supertunia Vista Bubblegum and Vista Silverberry have been 2 of my favorite for years because of their vigorous habit and because they don’t need to be deadheaded. 

The scent of wisteria always gives me a feeling of comfort and home – had it growing right outside my window growing up. 

Did I say I loved the Wisteria? 

Ligularia “Bottle Rocket” with Hosta ‘Hudson Bay’

Jeanine Standard – my hostess for the Proven Winners event. Jeanine is the head of media and public relations for Proven Winners plants and is a completely delightful person to enjoy dinner with!!

Austin City Limits and Beyond!

 While speaking at the Lake Austin Spa Resort, one of my biggest treats and greatest surprises was getting to know organic gardening guru, Trisha Shirey – the Director of Flora and Fauna at the Resort.

 We were like two organically grown peas in a pod, trudging off to collect plants for our hands-on container planting demonstration.  Our first stop – the kitschy/clever little garden store called Sunshine Nursery.

  Garden Art!

 Displays for inspiration.

 Our next stop was a container gardener’s mecca – look at those colors!

 Look at all these options! And the funky black containers

 At the Natural Gardener

 I absolutely loved these guys – they followed me all over the nursery.

 Beautiful gardens throughout the grounds

 Inside the butterfly garden

 the maze at the Natural Gardener

 I’ve never seen Euphorbia so large.

 The maze

 An exact replica of Willi Nelson’s guitar

My momma always said that country music guitar playing would grow on me.

Why Didn’t Anyone Tell Me That Heaven Was Somewhere Close to Lake Austin Spa Resort?

Nothing like a shaded hammock on a warm summer afternoon to call my name…

As I landed in Austin, Texas, about nine hours ago, the thought crossed my mind that I had never actually spoken to anyone in person about the speaking gig that I was heading toward. We’d had lots of emails and confirmations, and I’d looked up their information online – impressed by the Conde’ Nast ratings and their online presence. But I had never actually spoken to or even met anyone from this resort and I started to get a little nervous. My fears were calmed a little by the fact that the limo driver they had scheduled was there waiting for me, with my name in his hands, as I descended the stairs to baggage claim, and fell away even more as we entered the drive into the Resort. 

The pathway to the spa was what I would have envisioned being like  Grecian bath house.

Shaded verdandas covered with vines

water features throughout the resort create a quiet ambience

The pathway to my room

Loved this funky flower – no idea what it is

There is a calming symmetry to the resort

with well tended trumpet vines to accent the trellised walkways.

 A few of my new friends along the way

Reflections through the library window (you can see my arm taking the picture!)

The place where I am giving the seminars – Lake Austin Spa Resort – is a total escape from reality. Right now I’m sitting on the charming porch of my accommodations after a delectable meal (with veggies grown from their garden) delivered t

o my room, listening to the sounds of late summer with the garden and river before me in the fading sunlight. Citronelle candles keep mosquitos somewhat at bay, a glass of wine and a riveting novel in hand after a day of travel and exploration – the only thing that awaits me is a deep bathtub with bathing salts, a lavender scented bedroom, and the gentle hum of cicadas to lull me to sleep. This is my kind of speaking gig.

Moss Mountain Farm – An Early Spring Visit to P Allen Smith’s Garden Home

Out working on the farm, P Allen Smith road his bike up to the house to greet all of us who came to visit his farm last week-end. I went with a group of friends gathered for a 30 year reunion.

P Allen Smith and lovable Angel welcome folks to their garden home.
This was my favorite room – the 2nd floor sleeping porch,

sleeping porch comes with a very inviting copper bathtub.
And the view from the porch will make you want to visit every season.
Coming down the front stairs
then I see THE TREE – glimpsed looking out P Allen’s front door.
Lunch was served here, in the updated barn.Called there by
The lunch bell.
A glimpse into P Allen’s art studio.

P Allen’s containers – loved getting ideas from him.
The poultry shedsSo whaddaya lookin’ at?!

Can’t wait to come back in May for Garden2Blog2012!