An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

September 19, 2009

Norfolk Botanical Gardens Sept. 09

This past Friday there was a garden blogger's mini-meet up here in Norfolk. Racquel of Perennial Gardener Lover and Janet the Queen of Seaford met at my house where I was able to show them my little patch of Earth. Between the barking hounds and the workmen installing a new chimney liner, it was a little chaotic. Fortunately it was much more peaceful at the Norfolk Botanical Gardens where we went next.

I don't usually go to the Gardens at this time of year which is a shame, because there is no shortage of things to see, and this summer's abundant rainfall was evident in the thriving plants. Ornamental grasses were at their peak and are used in many places throughout the Gardens. Here is Miscanthus playing a supporting role to Agastache x 'Tutti Frutti'.

I don't normally like white Buddleia but it looked good with the Gaura lindheimeri 'Whirling Butterflies' .

I did not get the name of this clean white Japanese Anenome.

This fountain is the center piece of the Baker Perennial Garden. Its rills were lined with Salvia x 'Coral Nymph' and a linear leaf Zinnia.

We spent a lot time at the WOW (World of Wonder) Children's Garden where there are lots of activities for the kids set among gardens full of child-friendly plants such as Agave, Hardy Orange and Oleander.

The Bicentennial Rose Garden was deeply inhaling its second wind and was looking nearly as good as it did in May.

This Zinnia was nicely backed up by a bed of Black Pearl Peppers.

The Morgan Wildflower Meadow was tall with Ornamental Grasses, giant Ageratum, spent Verbena bonariensis and 6' stalks of yellow.

Also gaining in altitude was the Okra.

This spider and her sisters set up shop in a completely intoxicating Orange Flowering Osmanthus (Osmanthus fragrens 'Aurantiacus').

Whenever this treehugger sees a Chinese Lacebark Elm (Ulmus parvifolia), he can't keep his hands off of it.

I took a lot pictures of this ancient Crabapple. Underneath of it was one of September's iconic plants, Lycoris radiata which was all over the Gardens.

I think this recently irrigated Elephant Ear is Xanthosoma aurea 'Lime Zinger'. It and the plants in the next few shots helped me get my chartreuse fix.

Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’) was paired with what I think is a Veronica.

Margarita Sweet Potato Vine (Ipomoea batatas 'Margarita') and a white Rain Lily (Zephyranthes candida), two colors I would not normally think work together, but they do here.

Thanks to Flowergardengirl for introducing me to this bizarre plant, Asclepias physocarpa which has many common names including Monkey Balls and The Family Jewels.

Tie-dyed Thai Eggplant is in a similar configuration.

The last shot is like the first shot with Miscanthus in a supporting role again, but this time for one of my favorite fall perennials, Salvia leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage).

If you are interested, I have many more photos of the day on my flickr page, but if you are looking for pictures of Racquel, Janet or myself, you will be disappointed. I was too busy chatting it up and enjoying the Gardens to take any people pics.


  1. These pictures are all very beautiful. Even the spider is colourful. I see that you eggplant is yellow in colour. Ours are purple when ripe.

  2. What? No photo of the rice? Your photo of the spider is especially glowing!
    Thanks for sharing your garden with us and 'doing' the Norfolk Botanical was a very nice day.

  3. I'm still chuckling over your comment about the plants in the Children's Garden. Your pics are beautiful. Sounds like a great place for a blogger meet-up.

  4. Thank you for link. That Furr Balls is one sturdy plant. I really do have to recommend it for everyone. The seeds didn't cost very much. I got them from Thompson and Morgan Kew collection. Butterflies and Bees flock to it. I've got some Monarch eggs on it presently.

    Very nice tour from your gardens to those of the Norfolk Botanical Gardens. Glad you had a good day with some blogging buddies.

  5. Sounds like the most child-friendly garden ever! The white anemone looks like 'Honorine Jobert'. Mexican Bush Sage is one of my favorite fall plants too.

  6. How fun to meet up with Janet and Racquel! It has been too long since I visited the Norfolk Botanical Gardens, or as I knew it growing up, Azalea Gardens. Looks like it is more aptly named now! H.

  7. Superb pictures Les! And it is so wonderful you guys could all get together. You live in such a nice part of the country!

  8. Great photographs of the Chinese Lacebark Elm.

  9. Autumn Belle,
    I love to look at eggplant, but do not like to eat it. It is often cooked with other good ingredients that I just scrape off and eat seperately.

    I might be trying to keep our new edible ornamental grass find a secret. You are quite welcome, I had a great time.

    One of the center pieces of the garden was a giant topiary catapillar which was easliy 100' feet long, all made out of steel and the deadly poisonous Carolina Jessamine.

    I will be looking for this plant in my own garden next season, and will be trying to get the annual manager at work to get some.

    Sweet Bay,
    I thought it may be Honorine, but could not be sure. It was certainly fresh and lovely no matter the name.

    I remember the "Gardens By The Sea" from long ago with lots of Azaleas, the NATO tower and little else. They are very much nicer now than I would have ever imagined back then.

    Thanks! This is a nice place to live and it is a shame I have to remind myself of that from time to time.

    If you like the Lacebark bark, you should have seen the Crape Myrtles. They were spectacular.


  10. Wow beautiful shots Les. I really need to get a better camera. ;) Looks like Janet was the only one of us that got a people shot.

  11. So much beauty. That crabapple is to die for.

  12. I sure could go for some monkey balls right about now. I first had them on a mission trip to Brazil, but you have to roast them just right so they pop in your mouth--like that gel-filled gum.

    Too far?

  13. How fun to get together with your blog buddies! The botanical gardens are stunning – thanks for taking the rest of us along. The close up bark image was my favorite – it could be a sculpture. You and nature are the artists.

  14. Janet,
    Well, secrets are meant to be broken.

    I am very glad I got a new camera, but it can take crappy pictures just as easily as my old one.

    That tree was beautiful, and it looked so natural that you just know that someone has been working with it for years.

    I was surprised at how much there was to see. The gardens have come a long way from what I saw when I first visited.

    It wasn't like those Faces of Death video where the monkey was still alive was it?

    Thanks for the compliment. When you take pictures of something you really like, it helps.


  15. I enjoyed seeing all of these great pictures and gardening vicariously through your blog this morning, Les. I'm away from gardening right now due to some work and personal issues, and I really miss it. I have an orange osmanthus which hasn't bloomed yet, having been planted three years ago. I think it needs more sun, but can't find a suitable spot at the moment.

  16. I really need to find time to get together with you all! I'm just far enough away that it's not as likely I'd be up for a quick day-trip, unless I planned it in advance. Thanks for visiting! Jan

  17. These images are just gorgeous - thanks so much for sharing them! I love those elms too - just spectacular for sure. I like bark anyway - it has always amazed me how different the bark is on trees - the 'why of it' is a puzzling thing, but I'm grateful nonetheless.

    (Love the zinnia with the black peppers in the background).

  18. Jeff,
    I am sorry you are not able to garden. Your babies you gave me are doing well (except for one which has moved on). I love the Orange Osmanthus and wish I had room for one. Perhaps yours does need a little more sun, but I have seen them bloom in some shade. Maybe you can try a couple of triple phosphate applications in the summer.

    Plans should be made! Thanks for coming along.

    I try to learn bark, so I can ID trees in the winter. Some bark just makes the trees so huggable.