What four azaleas and a white fence can do. A modest home in central Springfield becomes a dream.
Rhododendrons and azaleas brighten this neighborhood in south-central Springfield, Missouri.
|A Green Thing|
We spotted this marvel in Close Memorial Park in Springfield, Missouri. The blossoms are 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|
A Snowball Viburnum in its mature color.
We once told a garden-book publisher who thought the only real gardening in America happens on the East and West coasts, "If you want to see some real gardens, try driving down the back alleys in Springfield, Missouri." We did that very thing last May and caught this scene out our car window.
This shady island bed in south Springfield could be a model for masterful design, especially in the way it balances out the sloping tree.
It might be the best of the midwest--a fine old home with a wraparound porch, a weathered wall, a vigorous rose, and a white picket fence, all in central Springfield, Missouri.
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.
Once upon a time, maybe long, long ago, someone planted these hibiscus around a telephone pole in central Springfield, Missouri. Now they spring up every year--bringing more than a little cheer.
|A bright touch|
A generous planting of yellow coreopsis brightens this already-beautiful home in north Springfield.
Are gardeners in the Ozarks packrats? Are they resourceful? Do they have a sense of humor? This planting border turned up in Springfield, Missouri, in midsummer. We rest our case.
What could be more fun than this colorful gardening mix in west Springfield?
We don't know 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? If you say so.....
This striking "mystery plant" sprouted every year at Steinert's Restaurant in Republic, Missouri. Audra, the young lady in the photo, said she'd heard it identified as an "Emperor Tree." Then Sharon Weis in Bluemont, Virginia, emailed us that its correct name is "the Empress Tree," species name Paulownia tomentosa, which has huge juvenile leaves that grow smaller as they mature. We're wondering, though, if the plant might not be Catalpa.
|A Spectacular Tree|
At first we misidentified this tree as the Empress Tree. In mid-May in Springfield, Missouri, it took our breath away, being 40 feet tall and filled with fragrant flower clusters over a foot wide and deep. Biology professor Paul Redfearn e-mailed us that the tree is in fact Catalpa speciosa, or Northern Catalpa. A beloved landscape tree in Missouri, it grows to 40-70 feet tall and 20-40 feet wide with large, heart-shaped leaves. It blooms in late May and also produces very long bean pods.
Laden with blooms, these branches of the Northern Catalpa form a shady, peaceful alcove.
We can almost hear it now: "Hey, kids, keep the ball out of the crape myrtle!" An autumn scene in south central Springfield, MO.
Maiden grass, marigolds, geraniums, petunias, and a wonderful earthen pot. A serene front yard on Walnut street in Springfield.
|Simple Elegance 1|
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|
The entryway, with just enough white picket fence, plantings,and hedge to work beautifully.
|Simple Elegance 3|
A little closer look at the island bed in this homeowner's simple but eloquent landscaping.
One of the most fluid, lovely garden designs we've ever seen: a border flower bed in east Springfield, Missouri.
|Clematis and old wood|
An aged wood fence seems a perfect setting for this clematis along a south Springfield street.
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|
Another beautiful clematis, on the same remarkable fence.
And here's what can be done with a decorative lampost, hostas, and a purple clematis.
|Coral Nymph Sage|
It would be hard to find a plant more pleasing in the garden than 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.
A gardener in west Greene County, Missouri, was surprised one morning this past summer to find this unique morning glory blooming on his fence. "I didn't plant anything like this," he said. "It looks handpainted. Could it be a mutation of some kind?" We don't know; we've never seen anything like it. Have you? Let us know.
|The easiest plant?|
We spied this Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro) in a garden in Phelps Grove Park in Springfield, Missouri. Widely considered a weed, it's actually prized by most gardeners for its airy, blue-lavender flowers and dramatic foliage and seedheads. It grows to 4 feet tall, thrives in sun or partial shade, and tolerates poor soils and drought. To prevent wild reseeding, remove flowers before they go to seed. The long tap root makes transplanting difficult unless plants are young. Globe Thistle blooms from June or July through September, butterflies love it, and it makes wonderful dried flowers.
A small house in west Springfield. And now a few bars of "Brighten the Corner Where You Are...."
|Return of the hollyhocks|
These hollyhocks spring up every year in front of this shop on east Commercial street in Springfield. The owner says they do it all on their own, with no help from him.
|Hollyhocks and friends|
A closer shot of the hollyhocks in the previous picture, with some friends who certainly seem to belong there.
|A Hydrangea tree|
Peegee Hydrangea (Hydrangea paniculata) is outstanding in any form and even more so as a standard tree. These grow in Close Memorial Park in Springfield. The fast-growing shrub bears its flower clusters through the season. It likes full sun or partial shade and does beautifully in the Ozarks. These are two of ten trees donated to the park by Kristen Wolfe Taylor in memory of Pansy E. Wolfe and her son Kirk O. Wolfe.
|A rare find?|
Not really. Having never seen one, we thought it rare when we found it in an abandoned lot near Brookline, Missouri. We then learned it's Alcea nigra, a plant sometimes found in nurseries. We took a small start and sure enough, it thrived the next year in our own yard.
|A different spiderwort|
This colorful Spiderwort thrives in Phelps Grove Park in Springfield. 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.
|Rose & wood|
This home in central Springfield sports the colors of summer and, apparently, is ready for winter.
These hollyhocks in south Springfield lend an old-fashioned feel to the entire neighborhood.
A mobile home in west Greene County greets drivers along highway 60 with a burst of color.
|When you've got a lemon...|
...we hope you can make the kind of lemonade this Republic, MO, homeowner did by using a bridge and a rose arbor to turn an outsize, ugly drainage ditch into a beautiful landscape feature.
Can it be any cozier than this for a climbing rose? A home in north Springfield where, the owner says, this rose has grown for "many, many years...longer than I can remember."
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.
|A perfect climber?|
The Hyacinth Bean Vine, with its beautiful foliage and delicate tendrils, seems perfect for this white arbor we spotted in Springfield's Phelps Grove Park. The plant is a vigorous annual climber that can reach 20 feet in length. It's highly effective on arbors, gazebos, fences, and walls and when used as a groundcover or in hanging baskets.
|Hyacinth Bean flowers|
A close look at the Hyacinth Bean of the previous picture, showing the summer-long purple-and-white flowers and rich purple seedpods. No wonder this one is an enduring garden favorite.
Spirea are a beloved plant in the midwest, for obvious reasons.
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'.
In late October 2005 our autumn color was spotty but still pleasing to the eye, as on this quiet neighborhood street in south-central Springfield, Missouri. The photo was taken October 23rd.
This most striking 'Blue Picotee' Morning Glory appeared on a chainlink fence in west Greene County, Missouri, one late August morning--the first bloom from seed planted in mid-May.
|A Special Dahlia|
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|
The same 'HS Date' dahlia photographed with other colors.
|American Beauty Berry|
This 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 produces clusters of berries ranging in color from deep purple to light violet or even 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 also called French Mulberry.
A more detailed look at the beautiful clusters of berries on the American Beauty Bush.
|A Garden Thing|
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.
|'Blue Mirror' Delphinium|
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 work.
What a simple climbing rose can do with a chainlink fence.
Islands of iris, a peony, and trees are enough to turn a clear fixer-upper in north Springfield into a lovely scene.
This engaging spring arrangement turned up in a long-abandoned lot in the countryside near Springfield, Missouri.
A member of the morning glory family with a much larger bloom is the exotic Moonflower (Ipomeoa alba), shown here opening at dusk in rural Greene County, Missouri. Also known as Moon Vine and Belle de Nuit ("Beauty of the Night"), this twining vine can reach 10 feet in length. The blooms can be as wide as 6 inches. The good news: It does beautifully in the Ozarks.
Could we find a better picture to show what ornamental grasses can do for a neighborhood landscape?
|Rhodie Bank Up Close|