Monday, December 28, 2009

A journey down a path

At the end of the block in a suburban neighborhood in Shawnee, Kansas, there is a gated driveway leading to a lovely estate.  Land Art created many of the garden areas surrounding the residence.

A stone pathway from the pool and outdoor bar wraps around several mature trees to a sitting area by a fire pit and water feature.  Pragense Viburnum, boxwoods, Drift Roses, Lo and Behold Blue Chip Butterfly Bushes and fragrant perennials fill the gardens.  Filling the gaps of the stone pathway and patio are fragrant creeping thymes.  Although it is a new garden, the path and structures have a reassuring feeling of permanence about them.

A city sidewalk leading to the entrance of the Kauffman Memorial Gardens has been transformed by Purple Robe Locusts trained into arches.  Gardens on either side of this pathway have been heavily planted with perennials and annuals. Pathways lead the visitors throughout this two acre garden.

Though the Kauffman Gardens are wonderful year round, I can't imagine a better place for a garden stroll than in May with the fragrance and view of the flower clusters hanging from the arching trees.

Several years ago my husband and I ventured west of Chicago and stopped at the Garfield Park Conservatory on the way to visit Frank Lloyd Wright's studio and houses in Oak Park.  Niki in the Garden was on tour at the Conservatory and it just seemed like a great place to stop! 

One of my favorite sculptures from the exhibit was surrounded by a confusing pathway that led around in circles and it seemed to take forever to get to the destination in the center.  This is definitely a path my life has taken this past year. 

And, then out of nowhere, doors opened to an opportunity.

Though the creators of the Heartland Harvest Garden at Powell Gardens may have had something else in mind, I see the open barn doors as an invitation to explore and learn. 

After a very challenging year, I'm thrilled some doors opened for me and am excited about the year ahead.

Happy New Year!

Want to know more about Purple Robe Locust? Check out this article.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving at the Arboretum

Rather than napping, watching football or eating more turkey, I spent Thanksgiving afternoon at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens.  There were dozens of families, some walking their dogs, enjoying a stroll that beautiful afternoon.  

The sumac at the entrance to the Arboretum tricked me into believing that there may not be much to see.  

  Pinwheel Felicia, a tough little annual, added color to the edge of seating area close by the Elliott Carlson's sculpture of the Two Frogs. 


In the Monet Garden, a couple of the clematis were still beautiful. Ramona Clematis had a single flower.  The seedhead of Belle Nantaise Clematis looks like spun sugar. 


Touches of red and burgundy show up in the  gardens with the fruit of the crabs, foliage of the Oakleaf Hydrangeas and the tops of the Dorothy Wycoff Pieris Japonica.  

I'm looking forward to going back for the 10th Annual Holiday Luminary Walk the weekend of December 4-5.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Standing at the corner of 12th & McGee

At 7am on a Saturday morning, I am not usually standing on a street corner downtown waiting for a bus.  However, offering to volunteer for a national youth conference gave me that opportunity.  While waiting to greet busloads of out of town high school students and chaperons, I had time to look around at the streetscape of Kansas City's Downtown.  

The Board of Education building at 12th and McGee has an area with Variegated Maiden Grass planted in front of a wall surrounded by concrete.  It's thriving in this harsh site. To the east, there are planter boxes of steel with maples, liriope and yews.  Not too exciting?

For a more creative streetscape, you have to venture to Kansas City's newest entertainment district. 

At the Sprint Center, the entertainment begins outside.

Created by New York artist, Chris Doyle, the Moons video screens capture the attention of visitors of the adjoining Power and Light District.  Planted at the base of the screens, by a water feature, are Vanderwolf Pines.  The ornamental grasses and evergreens soften the walls and outdoor seating area in the background. 

At the Power and Light District, Ginkgos wrapped in blue lights add to the festive atmosphere and nightlife of the area. 

What is your favorite streetscape? 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Autumn Flowering Cherry

It is such a beautiful day today at the nursery.  We have been swamped with customers and calls and everyone is in a hurry.  Perhaps, it is because the weather forecast hints of cold weather next week.  

While out tagging trees for an order shipping tomorrow, I saw this wonderful Autumn Flowering Cherry.  The clusters of blush pink flowers look so beautiful against the blue sky.

Autumn Flowering Higan Cherry, Prunus subhirtella 'Autumnalis', actually flowers heavily in the spring with an occasional lighter flowering during a warm period in the fall.  The green summer leaves were orange and bronze earlier this fall.  It is a fast growing tree that will mature 30 x 30'. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Hort NetWORK - The Secret Powers of Social Networking

The Secret Powers of Social Networking

Wednesday, November 18
St. Andrew's Golf Course
11099 W. 135th St
Overland Park, Kansas

The Hort NetWORK is excited to present "The Secret Powers of Social Networking" presented by Keith Sauro, editor of Kansas City Homes & Garden magazine. 

The Secret Power of Social Networking will present facts and myths about the recent social media explosion. Learn how through practical application, your involvement in social media can help increase your internet footprint and drive direct results for your business in a very different way.

The Hort NetWORK is Kansas City's networking group for green industry professional.  The Hort NetWORK promotes information, education and cooperation and hosts numerous educational, philanthropic & social events each year. If you cannot make it to this event, check out to get information about our next educational program.  Hope to see you there.  RSVP to

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Winter Red Holly

Yesterday afternoon the sun was shining and, while out tagging trees for an order, the Winter Red Hollies caught my eye.  These hollies, in a #3 container, have been in this location at the nursery for a couple of months.  Now that the foliage has dropped for the winter, the fruit really stands out.  I loved the contrast of the bright red fruit against the stone wall.  The shadows were an added bonus! 

Winter Red, Ilex verticillata 'Winter Red', is a deciduous holly with green leaves all summer long and colorful fall foliage.  It matures 8-10 x 8' and is pollinated by Southern Gentlemen (available in a #3 container).

Remembering that we also have ball and burlap Winter Red Hollies, I stopped by the b&b shrub block on the way back to the office.  They were even more spectacular!  

Deciduous hollies can be used for screening or as a specimen plant for a location needing some winter interest.  The persistent fruit will attract songbirds to the garden. They do best planted in sites with full sun to partial shade and adequate moisture.    

Here's another article on hollies:
Boy Holly + Girl Holly = Fruit?
Selecting the correct pollinating Winterberry Holly is important for fruit production.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Just as I had hoped

A couple of years ago, Larry stopped by the nursery to pick up some plants and showed me a Weeping Ginkgo he had in the back of the truck from his own garden center.  I had to have one.  Unfortunately, I forgot to ask how much.  A couple of weeks later, he dropped one off for me.  He was in a hurry and said I could pay later.  Again, I forgot to ask how much. 

When it arrived at home, my family couldn't understand why I bought a crooked tree.  My daughter thought it had personality.  My son assured me that we could stake it and with time it would grow straighter.  My husband was certain that it was one the nursery was throwing away because it was ugly and, therefore, it was free.  Fortunately, I still didn't know how much. 

Now, a couple of years later, the arching form drapes over a metal disc on the fence.  There are Bearded Iris along the base.  A bench is close by.  And, the Ginkgo's yellow fall foliage glows on sunny days. 

How much?  It turns out that it really didn't matter.  Not with a payment plan option.  Besides, it is just as I had hoped. 

Thursday, October 8, 2009

An evening viewing of a garden

The garden transformation has been in the works for just over a year with this Johnson County garden. Laura Stack, Creative Consulting for Outdoor Spaces, and the homeowners recently shared the garden with friends and neighbors.

A Pot/Trellis Garden was added to the back of the house. Sections of trellis break up a wall and create a backdrop for the Variegated Vinca to climb. Not only do the panels of trellis echo the window panes, the shadows that are created against the white backdrop are a welcome feature in the garden.


Plants in the Knot Garden Retreat include Germander, Lavender and Santolina. Ogon Sedum are the bright yellow plants in the picture. Mexican Heather, Cleome, Diamond Frost Euphorbia, Blue Salvia and Asiatic Lilies are also in the garden.

Many of the guests enjoyed the Fire Corner Patio. Cushions on top of the low wall added seating but most preferred standing and chatting around the fire.

I really wish the quality of this photo was better. Sometimes I just get too excited and forget to focus. I love the view of the statue through the slit in the brick wall. Though the neighbors were confused during the construction of the wall, it all made sense when it was completed and landscaped. From the walkway off the driveway to the backyard, this wall breaks up the view yet allows a glimpse of the garden beyond.

The side of the wall is softened with a white tree rose, Variegated Liriope, Green Velvet Boxwood and a container with red flowers.

Jerry Cicero, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, was also at the garden party. He set up many different fixtures to demonstrate the dramatic impact of outdoor lighting.

Since we were all well behaved, I'm hoping they will have another tour in a couple of years to show the next phases of the garden transformation!

Colorful Shade Trees

The fall color at the nursery has been beautiful and the blackgums are especially amazing. Nyssa sylvatica, commonly known as Black Tupelo and Blackgum, is available both single stem and multi-stem. It is adaptable to a wide range of conditions including poor drainage. Mature size is 35 x 25'.


Green Mountain, Acer saccharum 'Green Mountain', Sugar Maple has yellow and orange fall color. Avoid wet sites and sugar maples will do well. Green Mountain matures 45 x 35'.


Several of the oaks will also add color to the fall landscape. Scarlet Oak, Quercus coccinea, is a tough tree that matures 50 x 40'.


Not a shade tree but colorful and useful for screening, Crimson Spire, Quercus alba x robur 'Crimschmidt', is a columnar oak that matures 45 x 15'. A cross between White Oak and English Oak, it has mildew resistant dark green summer foliage with red fall color.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Green Vase Zelkova

The foliage of the Zelkovas are starting to turn orange and red for fall. Green Vase, Zelkova serrata 'Green Vase', is a great choice for tough urban areas including street trees and parking lot islands. The upright vase shape form also works well on residential properties. The dappled shade of the foliage allows grass to grow under the canopy. Green Vase is a fast growing tree that matures 60x40'.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Settings after Sundown

along with the Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens
and other valued industry partners
is excited to present

Settings after Sundown

• Learn more about the Overland Park Arboretum
• Network with other industry professionals
• Discover new applications specifically geared toward nighttime
outdoor settings: repellant...
nocturnal plants.
Join us for an evening of information, education and cooperation.
TIME: 5:30-7:30PM
This event is FREE to HortNetWORK members and their guests.
Suggested donatation to The Hort NetWORK and Friends of the
Arboretum is $5 per person.
Refreshments & snacks will be provided.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

A bottle of wine, a bit of inspiration

Lenexa Garden Club's host for the September meeting is a couple with a wonderful sense of humor.

They have a garden full of surprises. Though I have visited several times over the years, it is never the same. A brick walkway was added a day prior to the Extension tour a couple of years ago. The evening before our garden club tour, a fountain requiring several neighbors and several bottles of wine was installed. Plants and art are changed out often.

Don is a Johnson County Extension
Master Gardener. With his wife, Mary Ann, he has created a garden that backs up to a road. One corner of the garden that could have been left to be quite visible to passing traffic has been screened with evergreens, shade trees, shrubs, partitions and art. In another corner, a mermaid has found a home.

We all came away from the garden tour full of ideas. And, now when someone asks me what to plant for a customer that wants a no maintenance garden, I may suggest a tree created from beads, wire, and a metal tube.

Lenexa Garden Club's next meeting is Tuesday, October 13 with special guest Betsy Betros, author of A Photographic Field Guide to Butterflies in the Kansas City Region.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Maples in the Big Field

The big field at KAT Nurseries is the holding area for larger caliper ball and burlap trees. Red Sunset, Karpick, Sun Valley, Autumn Blaze, Autumn Fantasy and Marmo Maples are on sale through November 30, 2009 while supplies last.

Marmo Maple
Acer x freemanii 'Marmo'

Karpick Maple
Acer rubrum 'Karpick'

Sun Valley Maple
Acer rubrum 'Sun Valley'

Pacific Sunset Maple
Acer truncatum x platanoides 'Pacific Sunset'

Red Sunset Maple - single and multi-stem
Acer rubrum 'Franksred'

Autumn Blaze Maple - single and multi-stem
Acer x freemanii 'Jeffersred'

Autumn Fantasy Maple
Acer x freemanii 'DRT 102'

Amur Flame Maple - multi stem
Acer ginnala 'Flame'