Friends Old and New

On Tuesday morning, I had the opportunity to present a gardening program, Making the Most of Shade, at the North Carolina Arboretum in Asheville, just a short 90-minute drive up the mountains west of Greenville. I always look forward to a visit to NCA, which offers superb education programs and exhibits in addition to its gardens and hiking trails. Plus, I can always count on discovering something new or exciting.

Salvia madrensis

Salvia madrensis

On Tuesday, I did both. Upon arrival, I immediately bumped into an old and much-missed friend, Forsythia sage (Salvia madrensis), which I grew in my previous garden. This very large and vigorous salvia is a late-bloomer that grows to mammoth proportions, reaching 5 to 8-feet tall and spreading roughly half as wide. In the Upstate, it begins to flower in late September and carries on until frost, but in lower Florida and other frost-free areas of the South, it blooms until spring. For those in the Piedmont who want to give it a try, the cultivar ‘Dunham’ is more hardy than the species.

Equally exciting was the warm welcome of a new and dear friend, Louisa, who traveled to Italy with me in June and surprised me by attending my program. It was a thrill to see Louisa again and a great comfort to have a friendly face with me in the classroom.

A Hedge Against Extinction

A Hedge Against Extinction

On departure, a stroll through the garden provided other pleasures. The Arboretum’s well-known sculpture, A Hedge Against Extinction, by artist Martin Webster, was graced with the pink, cloud-like blooms of muhly grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris). And the quilt garden, a great favorite of every visitor, was near the peak of its autumn glory.

Lacinato kale (Brassica oleracea) with chrysanthemums and pansies.

Lacinato kale (Brassica oleracea) with chrysanthemums and pansies.

The North Carolina Arboretum's quilt garden, October 7, 2014.

The North Carolina Arboretum’s quilt garden, October 7, 2014.

23 thoughts on “Friends Old and New

  1. Gloria Ballard

    I’ve only visited the NC Arboretum once, in the spring, and I remember how lovely it was. Thanks for sharing these fall views.

  2. pbmgarden

    Marian, sounds like a nice time at the arboretum and wow, what a nice time to visit Asheville. I’ve been to the arboretum only once and it was fabulous (although I was dragging around a group of non-gardeners). Love the quilt garden.

  3. Christina

    I love how you say “a short 90 minute drive”; an hour and a half seems like quite a long drive to me coming from England where that would take you a long way! It looks worth the drive and beautiful garden.

    1. Marian St.Clair Post author

      Christina–I’m just reading Bill Bryson’s Notes from a Small Island (don’t know how I overlooked this book for so long), and he says much the same thing…something along the lines that the English will take days to plan a drive that an American will make just to get a taco. Funny man. In any case, I would love to drive across England to see every nook and cranny, but am afraid I wouldn’t get the knack for keeping to the left of the road.

  4. Nancy Shannon

    The gaston gardners recently had a trip the nca and the nan chase garden I have bought sun chokes in charleston to plant when I return home. We stole some seeds at the nca I am going to throw out some swamp daisy and larkspur seeds and see what happens. I hate to leave charleston but miss home, pets and will. There are too many Yankees here now and lots of traffic. Wrecks everywhere. They have put a dent in my little piece of heaven. N

    Sent from my iPad



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