The Tour Part 1: The North Bed 2013-May 19, 2018

Hello everyone! I hope this post finds you all well. I thought I better get this post finished. Truthfully, I have started this post many times and even changed the name.

I didn’t know where to go with it. Currently, there isn’t much to show and I have barely gotten started. I have been busy with this and that and the fences. I decided to share a few photos of the yard and beds from the beginning when I moved back to the farm in 2013. Kind of the highlights.

One thing I need you to keep in mind is that I get behind weeding. I don’t have a well-manicured yard or well-kept beds. Mississippi was a different story. I had plenty of time there and the mansion was on one of the main streets in the historic district. It wasn’t perfect and was always a work in progress. I think that is the same with everyone, though. Our yards, beds, and gardens are always a work in progress.

The above photo was taken on May 6 (2018) of our house and yard. It was just beginning to green up well.


When I moved back here, I think on February 22 in 2013, there was already plenty of snow. A good friend helped me move from Mississippi and it was in the 30’s the entire 8-9 hour trip. We ran into snow about 2 hours away near Springfield. It was around 8 PM when we arrived at my parent’s home. It was dark and snowing a little still. Thomas and I unloaded the plants I brought with me and took them to the basement. Some that would be OK were left in the garage (because they were dormant). Everything else I brought was unloaded in the garage so Thomas could be on his way.


The above two photos were taken on March 2 in 2013. Dad was 82 at the time and mom was going to turn 81 on April 20. I was glad to be back on the farm and truthfully I have no idea where I would have went if he hadn’t asked me to move back. I had just sold the mansion and I had A LOT of plants. When dad asked me to move back, I told him I had a lot of plants. He said, “Yeah.” I know he had no idea and he couldn’t hardly hear what I was saying on the phone.

After I arrived he told me I could do whatever I wanted. GEEZ! He was the third person that told me that. None of them had any clue what they had said.



Naturally, as the temperatures started warming up my wheels began turning. I brought my old spade with me from Mississippi, plus dad had a shovel, and my hands were anxious to get around the handle and my fingers were itching to get into the dirt. The last time my hands were in the dirt in this location was when I had a garden here in the early 1980’s. Dad’s house is where one of grandpa’s gardens had been that I took over after he passed away. Yeah, things were really different than before and I had a new challenge.

This area receives morning and late afternoon sun. It is a perfect spot for plants that like a good amount of light but need protection from midday sun.


Conoclinium coelestinum ‘Aunt Inez’ on September 6, 2014.

Right off the bat, dad told me I couldn’t dig in the area on either side of the steps. He said he had flowers there that were from Aunt Inez. Aunt Inez was his mother’s sister. Sure enough, they started coming up from seed they had self-sown. By the time they had started growing good and started budding, I realized they were Hardy Ageratum, Blue Mistflower (or whatever you want to call them). They have continued coming up every year although I have only seen one so far this year. They grew very tall in 2017 and flopped over so most of their seeds may be in the grass. I made a mistake and didn’t cut their stems off and lay them in the bed last fall. That is the only thing I did differently and that won’t happen again. This may be a mistake that will be hard to correct with just one plant coming up.


Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) on the right side of the north bed on June 11, 2013.

I was very glad to see that dad had moved the Geranium sanguineum (Bloody Cranesbill) from the bed behind the old foundation to this bed. I bought their descendants from Bluestone Perennials after I moved to the farm in 1981.

These plants make a great groundcover but you do have to keep an eye out for crown rot especially when they get really thick. I think I am going to move a few to where they will get more sun to see how they do. This soil stays damp longer on the north side of the house and doesn’t drain well in the winter.


The flower bed on the north side of the house on June 12, 2014.

Hmmm… 2014. Oh yeah. This is the spring I moved one of the clumps of Achillea millefolium (Fern Leaf Yarrow) I brought from Mississippi to the north bed. I added the Astilbe with no label, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Goldilocks’, Agastache ‘Black Adder’, a few Coleus, and other miscellaneous plants I can’t remember right off the top of my head. Oh, yeah! I put a Lavandula angustifolia ‘Platinum Blond’ between the Coleus. I had bought the Coleus from Harrison Greenhouse and they were unlabeled. They grew MUCH larger than I expected and the next thing I knew the Lavandula had disappeared. Well, I had gotten busy on the farm and with other things and completely missed it was in trouble.

The Achillea doesn’t like it here and keeps moving farther away from the house every year. All by itself. I promised it I would move it where it will get more sun, probably back to the south side. I am also eyeballing a spot by the barn for the Achillea or maybe some Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon.’


Bed on the north side of the house on October 3, 2015.

In 2015 I had found a Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage) from Wagler’s Greenhouse and it was the highlight of the north bed. I had also moved the Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ to this bed which spread so well I started moving it to other beds as well. I am going to put a few back in the south bed this year. I always plant a few Coleus in this bed and they always do very well.


Salvia elegans (Pineapple Sage) on October 18, 2015.

The Pineapple Sage has awesome red flowers and a nice scent. It is also a hummingbird magnet.


Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ by the porch on the north side of the house on October 3, 2015.

I also transplanted a Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ that didn’t have variegated leaves on the left side of the porch. They always look great in mass plantings, but as a specimen they are AWESOME!


Conoclinium coelestinum ‘Aunt Inez’ and Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ next to the steps on the north side. This photo was taken on September 3, 2016.

In 2016 I put a few more Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon on the north side. There are always a few that come up without variegated leaves that I separate from the others so I put them here.


Colocasia esculenta in the north bed on October 27, 2016.

2016 was the first year I planted the Colocasia esculenta in the north bed. I had been planting the bigger bulbs in front of the chicken house but they seemed to be getting smaller there. Smaller is NOT a good thing when it comes to Elephant Ears. They did AWESOME in the north bed.

Of course, as always, a few more Coleus. I really like the cultivar called ‘Dipt In Wine’. The red flowers are Salvia coccinea (Scarlet Sage).


Bed on the north side of the house on July 30, 2017.

I found a Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ at Wildwood Greenhouse in 2017 which I planted next to the porch. I also FINALLY found a Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ I put in the corner behind the ‘Thailand Giant’. I had wanted a Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ for this spot for a long time but they were generally pretty expensive online. I found one at the Green Street Market (a great garden center) in Clinton but I didn’t want to pay $20.00. Luckily, I found a smaller pot at the Muddy Creek Nursery locally for half the price.


Colocasia esculenta and Colocasia gigantea ‘Thailand Giant’ (on the left) at 67″ tall on October 8, 2017.

The two Colocasia esculenta on the right were already bigger than the ‘Thailand Giant’ when I brought it home. Once it caught up with the other two, they were neck in neck the rest of the season. The Coleus ‘Spiced Curry’ was also a beautiful plant. I had also put a Lavandula dentata (French Lavender) next to the corner post of the porch.

I stored the Colocasia in the basement for the winter and they were all doing fine until recently. I noticed the ‘Thailand Giant’ rotted. I found a listing on Ebay so I ordered a bulb. It should be here this week and I will plant it in this same spot along with the two larger Colocasia esculenta. I may move them farther to the right so they will be in the center of the bed. The seller said he sent me one that weighed a pound so it may get REALLY HUGE! 🙂


The left side of the porch on May 18, 2018.

Well, it certainly doesn’t look like much now. As I mentioned above, the Conoclinium coelestinum ‘Aunt Inez’ is not looking good. I amend the soil on both sides of the steps every year because it gets hard as a brick. One year I completely dug up the soil and removed it and added new and it goes right back to the way it was. It’s like the new soil disappears and now there is a sunk in spot. Hopefully, more will come up besides just one. I have watered the area because it was so dry and thought maybe the additional water would soften the soil somewhat.


The right side of the porch on the north side of the house on May 18, 2018.

The Hosta ‘Empress Wu’ is looking really good but I think it needs to be moved farther away from the corner. I am going to move the Achillea where it will get more sun, too. The Lysimachia nummularia ‘Goldilocks’ (Creeping Jenny) continues to travel. I have already added an Agastache ‘Kudos Gold’ next to the corner post.


The right side of the north bed on May 18, 2018.

The entire north bed needs to be more elevated to allow for better drainage but that chore will be for another time perhaps. I just have to learn to stop planting perennials that need good winter drainage to survive.

When I started this post it was going to be about all the beds around the house. Well, it became too long so I thought I better finish it in part 2. I hope you enjoyed this little journey in time. It’s all a work in progress. We learn as we grow what works well in certain areas and what doesn’t. I have realized that when labels and information say full sun to part shade the plants will do their best somewhere in between, especially during the heat of the summer. The north bed is that somewhere in between.

It may sound strange, and I do consider this my home, but something is definitely missing. I know what it is… I think I long for a tropical climate without winter.

Until next time, stay well, be positive, get out and enjoy nature, and GET DIRTY!

14 comments on “The Tour Part 1: The North Bed 2013-May 19, 2018

  1. Jim R says:

    Very nice tour. It is good to have those gorgeous plants to catch the eye with every turn. Your folks must enjoy seeing them, as you do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, dad doesn’t get off the porch unless he needs to go to town a couple of times a month. Mom passed away on November 30, 2015. She did enjoy the flowers, though. About 6 PM another storm passed through. It was a virtual downpour and it added another 1 1/2″ of rain. I should have taken a video. I went out and took photos of the water running into the pond and out the other side. Thanks for the comment, Jim.


  2. Pixydeb says:

    You are certainly right that weeding is ALWAYSa work in progress and never done! We are always under the pump on weeding!! Last night I saw an evil one growing out from my oriental poppies that are about to pop into flower that has set seed Grrr! 😡
    Love the tour, (thank you for taking the time to do it) and particularly the Cramers Amazon – what a beauty she is! Wonder if I can grow that here in Surrey? 🤔

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Pixydeb! I think the worse spring weed here is Chickweed. My garden is covered in it now. I have it removed from the beds finally but not 100% officially. LOL. The Celosia spicata ‘Cramer’s Amazon’ will definitely grow in Surrey. They have nice maroon and green bi-color leaves. They can grow to 9′ tall and eagerly self-sow. Thanks for the comment!


  3. Masha says:

    It’s so great that you are able to live with your parents and help them out, I’m sure they are more than grateful for that. I don’t think I would be able to move back to a cold climate, I love the temperature of the desert HOT LOL . All the flowers look so pretty, and your love for plants is so apparent.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Masha, I enjoy being here with dad and on the farm. Mom passed away on November 30, 2015. There is always plenty to do here this time of the year and finding new plants is always fun. The anticipation of what will come back from the year before can be a bit frustrating but that is part of the fun. Hoping but not exactly knowing what to expect. The challenge of overwintering plants and bulbs that have to come in the house can also be rewarding (when they survive). I have never been a fan of cold temperatures and would much rather live where I can get my hands in the dirt 12 months a year. Just think what I could grow in the Philippines. 🙂 Thanks for the comment!


  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    With all that cow manure I would think you could make the soil in these beds like fluffy heaven for plants. I like all your flowers. Empress Wu will be brilliant when she gets settled in. I am amazed that Mississippi gets so much snow and cold. I always think of Mississippi as a hot Southern state. What is your zone? Do coleus have to be replaced yearly? I love that tall celosia. Elephant ears do make a big impact on a flower bed. Creeping Ginny is becoming an invasive plant in our area. It is pretty but very aggressive. It looks like you are having fun in your garden. I am sure your Dad enjoys your efforts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lisa, I am in mid-Missouri now not Mississippi. LOL! We are in 6a or b here and where I lived in Mississippi was 9a or b. I amend the soil with the composted cow manure from where the cows were fed hay the year before (at least). It is what I call “The Good Stuff”. It is AWESOME and smells like heaven! The only problem is that weeds from the pasture come with it. I have had to change where I feed hay so I can get “The Good Stuff” without certain weeds. “The Good Stuff” certainly does make a difference in MOST spots but on the sides of the steps on the north side have been a challenge. It is just simply weird. I read somewhere one time that when you dig out crappy dirt and replace it with other dirt, it will revert back to the way it was over time. That seems impossible, but that has been proven in a few areas around the house.

      Unfortunately, the Coleus do have to be replaced every year but there are a few ways to overwinter them inside. You should take cuttings in late summer to overwinter. Sometimes older plants that have been grown in pots will be OK, but sometimes not. They develop what is called “blackleg” and die. When I was in Mississippi I overwintered cuttings and there were only a few that the older plants would make it. There are so many cultivars that I like that I can’t find from one year to the next. If you check on the pages to the right you will see all the different ones I have grown.

      Alocasia and Colocasia (Elephant Ears) are definitely amazing. I keep the Alocasia in pots so I can overwinter them in the basement (of all places) but the Colocasia bulbs are stored AFTER they go dormant from a frost.

      The Creeping Jenny could be a problem if you look at it as being invasive. BUT, they have very shallow roots and don’t compete for nutrients. They crawl on the ground so they don’t crowd out other plants. I look at it as kind of a living mulch so we get along just fine otherwise I would be pulling it up like chickweed. 🙂 It does grow out into the yard so I sometimes pull it up and throw it back where it belongs. Sometimes I just make the bed bigger. That is a good reason to make the bed bigger, huh?

      Dad is OK with what I do with the flower beds but I think he thinks I am crazy sometimes. LOL! He doesn’t get off the porches so he doesn’t see what is happening on the south side of the house, in the shade bed in the “other” yard, or behind the shed where the plant tables are. Thanks for the comment!


  5. I love that patch of Conoclinium – I hope mine do just as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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