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Garden Finds





adventurous-rose.jpgA leisurely drive through most any town or countryside in southwest Missouri is bound to turn up some pleasant, fun,  even delightful surprises.

       Let's call these "plant happenings." They might be spot plantings, island flower beds, borders, plants in containers, hanging baskets, or simply fortuitous "accidents" of nature. Whatever their form, they make life in our part of the country especially enjoyable. They also reveal how clever and generous ordinary folk can be in beautifying their surroundings--and ours.

       The scene above, for example, showed us how an old climbing rose can so beautifully complement a fine old midwestern home. We were delighted to discover it in central Springfield.

      There's more than fun to these photos, though. They can give us terrific ideas for our own gardens. And who knows, since they're all random sightings, maybe you'll see a bit of your own handiwork here.



Adventurous Rose
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This just might be the best of the midwest--a fine old home with a big, wraparound porch, a weathered wall, a vigorous rose, and a white picket fence, all in central Springfield, Missouri.






Azaleas
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What four azaleas and a white fence can do. A modest home in central Springfield becomes a dream.




Rhodies, Too
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Rhododendrons and Azaleas beautifully brighten this neighborhood in south-central Springfield, Missouri.









A Bank of Rhododendrons
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We'd never seen such a long, tall bank of rhododendrons until we came on this scene on the south side in Springfield, Missouri. It was all, well, sort of breathtaking.




Rhodie Bank Up Close
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A closer look at the amazing bank of rhododendrons, showing how each blossom seemed nothing less than perfect.




A Modest Little House
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I love this picture. It's a tiny house on the north side of Springfield, Missouri. For me it speaks volumes about our people in the Ozarks.




Shade Design
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This shady island bed in south Springfield could be a model for masterful design, especially in the way it balances out the sloping tree.






Smoke Tree
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The Smoke Tree  (Cotinus coggygria) is an old favorite, and fun, thanks to its nicely rounded shape and clouds of airy, smoky flowers from June to September. It grows 10-15 feet tall and 8-14 feet wide, thrives in almost any soil, takes drought, and the leaves turn yellow, red, and purple in Autumn. This one was caught in south central Springfield, Missouri.



A Bright Touch
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A generous planting of yellow coreopsis brightens this already-beautiful home in north Springfield.







A Masterpiece?
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One of the most fluid, loveliest garden designs we've ever seen: a border flower bed in east Springfield, Missouri.




Clematis and Old Wood
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An aged wood fence seems a perfect setting for this clematis along a south Springfield street.




Winding Skyward
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The same clematis, as it reaches the top of the fence and showing some wire support. We don't know the variety. If you do, please fill us in.




A Clematis Cousin on the Same Fence
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Another superb clematis that seems to go perfectly with old wood.




'If You Want to See Some *Real* Gardens...'
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We once worked with a West Coast publisher of gardening books who believed the only worthwhile gardening in America was being done on the East and West coasts. We told him, "If you want to see some real gardens, try driving down the back alleys in Springfield, Missouri." We took that advice ourselves last May and came upon this scene out our car window.



Focal Point
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And here's what can be done to catch the eye with a decorative lampost, hostas, and a purple clematis.




Simple Elegance 1
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If we gave out prizes for gardens that prove beyond doubt that sometimes less is more, we couldn't give enough to this front yard garden in south Springfield. We think it's so charming we have to show you three views of it.




Simple elegance 2
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The entryway has just enough white picket fence, plantings,and hedge to work beautifully.




Simple Elegance 3
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A little closer look at the island bed in this homeowner's simple but eloquent landscaping.




Climbing Roses
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And now for a few bars of "Brighten the Corner Where You Are." A small house in west Springfield, Missouri.




Potpourri
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What could be more fun than this colorful gardening mix in west Springfield?




Return of the Hollyhocks
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These hollyhocks would spring up every year in front of this shop on east Commercial street in Springfield and the owner said they were doing it all on their own, without any help from him.




Hollyhocks and Friends
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A closer look at the hollyhocks in the previous picture, with some friends who certainly seem to be enjoying themselves.



Rose Fence
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What a simple climbing rose can do for a chainlink fence, and the property.




A Mystery Plant?
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This impressive "mystery plant" sprouted every year at Steinert's Restaurant in Republic, Missouri. The young lady, Audra, said she had no idea what it was but had once heard it identified as an "Emperor Tree." Well, we just had to find out for sure, and after getting some false leads and downright wrong guesses, an email from biology professor emeritus Paul Redfearn correctly identified it as a Catalpa tree.



A Spectacular Tree
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After learning that the "mystery tree" above was a Catalpa, we had the good fortune to see a full-grown specimen in Springfield, Missouri. Being 40 feet tall and laden with huge, foot-wide, fragrant flower clusters, it took our breath away. It's actually a beloved landscape tree in Missouri, a Northern Catalpa, or Catalpa speciosa, that reaches 40-70 feet tall and 20-40 feet wide and comes into full bloom in late May.



A Catalpa Sanctuary
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Laden with blooms, these branches of the Northern Catalpa form a shady, peaceful alcove.




Rock On
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Softening this ancient rock with moss rose on top and a sprinkling of pansies and petunias down below worked nicely for this gardener in west Springfield.




Fixer-Upper
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Islands of iris, a peony, and some nice existing trees are enough to turn a clear fixer-upper in north Springfield into a lovely scene. 




Rose and Wood
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This home in central Springfield, Missouri, sports the colors of summer and, apparently, is ready for winter.




Serenity
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Maiden grass, marigolds, geraniums, petunias, and a wonderful earthen pot. A serene front yard on Walnut street in Springfield.




Hollyhock Cottage
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These hollyhocks in south Springfield lend an old-fashioned feel to the entire neighborhood.




The Moonflower
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Sometimes a great garden find can be a single flower. A member of the morning glory family, the exotic Moonflower (Ipomeoa alba) here was opening at dusk in a garden in rural Greene County, Missouri. Also known as Moon Vine and Belle de Nuit ("Beauty of the Night"), it can twine to 10 feet in length with 6-inch-wide flowers. The good news: It does beautifully in the Ozarks.




When You've Got a Lemon...
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...we hope you can make the kind of lemonade this Republic, Missouri, homeowner did by using a bridge and a rose arbor to turn an outsize, ugly drainage ditch into a beautiful landscape feature.




A Flowery Greeting
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Driving down highway 60 west of Springfield, Missouri, we came upon this mobile home, and a burst of color.




A Garden 'Thing'
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We've no idea what this framework for the rose is, but it's about 5-6 feet tall, looks very old, and we love it. It turned up in a backyard in south central Springfield, Missouri.




A Rare Find?
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Not really. Having never seen one, we thought so at first when we found it in an abandoned lot near Brookline, Missouri. We then learned, however, that it's Alcea nigra, a plant sometimes found in nurseries. We took a small start and sure enough, it did beautifully the next year in our own yard.




A Creation
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We don't know exactly what it is, but we like it, this creation of blue-violet petunias, purple hyacinth bean, and other goodies in a front yard in south Springfield, Missouri. A magical wishing well maybe? You decide.




A Rosy Nook
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Can it be any cozier than this for a climbing rose? A home in north Springfield where the owner told us this rose has grown for "many, many years...longer than I can remember."




A Morning Surprise
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A gardener in west Greene County, Missouri, was surprised one summer morning to find this unique morning glory blossom on his fence. "I didn't plant anything like this," he said. "It looks hand-painted. Could it be a mutation of some kind?" We've never seen anything like it. Do you know? If so, please fill us in.




Oh, Glory
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This virtually breathtaking Morning Glory appeared on a chainlink fence in west Greene County, Missouri, one late August morning. The gardener told us it was a 'Blue Picotee' Morning Glory and the first bloom from seed he planted in mid-May.




A Closer View
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This closer view of the Hollyhocks reveals a little more of their charm.



A Very Special Dahlia
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This beautiful dahlia turned up in September in a flower garden in west Greene County, Missouri. The variety is 'HS Date', HS referring to the "Happy Single" series of dahlias developed by Verwer-Dahlias BV. It features delicate peach petals with a claret-color "zone" and a darker center.It grows to 28 inches tall and like others in the HS series has decorative dark foliage, is striking in the garden or in containers, and attracts butterflies.



A 'Date' In the Garden
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The same 'HS Date' dahlia along with the colors of goldenrod, white fleabane, and a marvelous blue flower we don't know. (If you can identify it, please help us out.)




Ingenuity
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Are gardeners in the Ozarks resourceful? Do they have a sense of humor? This planting border turned up in Springfield, Missouri, in midsummer. We rest our case.




Transformation
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Could we find a better picture to show what ornamental grasses can do for a neighborhood landscape?




The Perfect Climber?
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The Hyacinth Bean Vine, with its beautiful foliage and delicate tendrils, seemed perfect for this white arbor when we spotted it in Phelps Grove Park in Springfield, Missouri. An exceptionally vigorous annual climber, it can reach 20 feet long and is dramatically beautiful on arbors, gazebos, fences, and walls, as a groundcover, and in hanging baskets. No kidding.





Hyacinth Bean Flowers
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A closer look at the Hyacinth Bean of the previous picture shows the summer-long purple-and-white flowers and rich purple seedpods. Small wonder this plant is an enduring garden favorite.




A Different Spiderwort
a-different-spiderwort-jpg.jpgAnother denizen of Phelps Grove Park in Springfield is this colorful Spiderwort. We think it's Tradescantia pallida, common names Purple Heart, Purple Queen, and Pink Spiderwort. Long-jointed and sprawling, it grows 18 inches tall and likes full sun but will also bloom in shade. The deep-royal-purple foliage in time takes on a subtle dusty cast and the orchid pink flowers appear all season long. An outstanding groundcover, it can be grown indoors, too.


The Easiest Plant?
the-easiest-plant-question.jpgWe spied this Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro) in a garden in Springfield's Phelps Grove Park. Widely called a weed, it's actually prized by many gardeners for its airy, blue-lavender flowers and dramatic foliage and seed heads. It grows to 4 feet tall in sun or partial shade and takes poor soils and drought. It blooms from June through September, butterflies love it, and it makes great dried flowers.



Nature's Bouquet
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This engaging spring arrangement turned up in a long-abandoned lot in the countryside near Brookline, Missouri. We were especially taken by the yellow tulips being so beautifully complemented by the tiny dandelion blossom.




'Blue Mirror' Delphinium
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The vivid electric blue of this 'Blue Mirror' Delphinium is about to find a home with the Dreamland Zinnia on the right, the soaker hose, and a pine nugget mulch chosen for its texture. We think it'll all work pretty good in this country garden near Springfield.




Basketball Garden
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We can almost hear it now: "Hey, kids, keep the ball out of the crape myrtle!" An autumn scene in south central Springfield, Missouri.




American Beauty Berry
american-beauty-berry-jpg.jpgThis plant is American Beauty Berry (Callicarpa americana), a uniquely lovely perennial shrub native to Missouri. From June to August it bears pink blossoms and from August to November clusters of berries ranging in color from deep purple to light violet or pink. It grows to 6 feet tall and blooms in sun or shade. This graceful specimen thrives at the Nature Center in Springfield, Missouri. A wonderful plant for the garden or landscape, it's sometimes called French Mulberry.



American Beauty Berry Clusters
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A closer look at the beautiful clusters of berries on the American Beauty Berry bush. The berries are an important food for many birds, including bobwhite.




Blue as Blue Can Be
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If blue is your color, Blue Plumbago (Plumbago auriculata) is the plant for you. This South American native is a relatively fast-growing, reliable perennial shrub that likes sun but can also bring wonderful color to partial-shade gardens. It reaches 36-48 inches tall and 30 inches wide. We spotted this one while visiting a yard sale in south Springfield, Missouri. We not sure of its varietal name, but it looks like 'Imperial Blue'.



Coral Nymph Sage
coral-nymph-sage.jpgWe can't imagine a plant more pleasing ithan this sage we found in a rural west Greene County garden. Coral Nymph Sage (Salvia coccinea 'Coral Nymph') has bright green leaves and lovely spikes of delicate rose-pink and white flowers. It grows to 18 inches tall and 18 inches wide and blooms prolifically all season long. In this garden it was thriving beautifully with only about 3 hours of direct sun per day.



Autumn Street
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In late October 2005 our autumn color was very spotty in the Ozarks, but still pleasing to the eye as on this quiet neighborhood street in south-central Springfield, Missouri.




A Green Thing
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We came upon this marvel in Close Memorial Park in Springfield, Missouri, as it was becoming the Springfield Botanical Gardens. The blossoms were really this green. We've since learned that it's actually one of our prettiest shrubs, a Snowball Viburnum, just before the blossoms turn white.




A White Thing
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The Snowball Viburnum in its mature color.




Serendipitous Hibiscus
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Once upon a time, someone with a vision of prettying up things around this telephone pole planted some hibiscus seeds. And what do you know, lo, the cheery scene today. We found it along a streetr in Springfield, Missouri.




A Strange and Wonderful Zinnia
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This amazing zinnia turned up in the garden of a friend. It's a 'Zahara' zinnia and
the pink flower and the orange flower are on the same plant. The yellow flower shown is a stray sunflower, but earlier this plant also had a yellow flower, making three colors of blossoms on one zinnia. We'd never seen or heard of this before. Have you? If so, please let us know.




A Tiny Garden Room
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We think this is a great model for creating a world of beauty in a relatively tiny space. It's what a Senior Center in Springfield, MO, did to make things nicer at their little brick building..



An Unusual Front Yard
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We think this the most unusual front yard we've ever seen, and its rail fence and unique "totem" really caught our fancy. Photographed in south Springfield, Missouri.



Hospitality
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How about this for garden-flavored Ozarks hospitality? We found it in south Springfield.




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