Garden Photo of the Day

Spring in Jeff’s garden in Tennessee

Prunus subhirtella pendula NOT grafted
Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

We’re visiting with tntreeman, aka Jeff Calton, in his garden in Tennessee today! 

Daffs, Cornus mas, Ulmus alata ‘Lace Parasol’, Cedrus deodara ‘Aureum’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

He sent me these photos last Saturday, and said, “I worked in my yard today and I was overcome with the speed of everything ready to pop. This is my favorite time of year, just as things start to come alive. The observations and anticipation excite me more than the fully grown plants. You just do not get these colors the rest of the year–fresh greens, lime greens, clear pinks, blinding whites–it’s all good.

Heuchera ‘Lemon Lime’, ‘Blue Stem’ rush, Saxifraga stolonifera. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“I head to the garden early with my checklist: muck boots-check, iPod loaded with Citizen Cope-check, Felcos-check, ready to work, dance, and sing. The neighbors gave up all hope years ago, so now I am tolerated and provide GREAT entertainment.

Polygonatum odoratum var. variegatum. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“I think this is the most exciting time of year, as well as the most exhausting, but as Meander1 described it, “exhausting and exhiliarating at the same time.” The Sempervivum in the birdcage is NOT an original idea. i stole that idea from GreenThumbBlonde– hope you don’t mind but it’s too late now because I love it.

Prunus ‘Holly Jolivette’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

“Things happen so fast in spring the beds change personality almost daily. Spring just pushes me over the edge of sanity…how do people NOT grow stuff?!?!?!?”

It’s a mystery, Jeff. But thanks for sharing the stuff YOU’RE growing!

Poncirus trifoliata ‘Flying Dragon’, Cercis canadensis ‘Texas Traveler’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Salvia argentea, new growth. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Sedum ‘Angelina’, A. palmatum ‘Shishigashira’, Tsuga canadensis ‘Pendula’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Sedum ‘Angelina’, A. palmatum ‘Shishigashira’. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton
Sempervivum cvs. Photo/Illustration: Courtesy of Jeff Calton

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  1. wGardens 04/19/2013

    Good Morning. So pleased to see some photos (and ID's) from your place, Jeff! Beautiful! How big of an area to you have? Enjoyed your comments. And I too, LOVE this time of year. I am hoping to see your gardens again as the seasons progress. Thank you!

  2. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    i only garden about 1.5 acres give or take and there are lawns, i don't have the dollars or the time to garden it totally. those pics are a week old and everything has already changed. click gpod by state and you can see summer pics or there are pics on my pitiful little "blog" that i never seem to keep updated. amazing how fast things grow in one week in the spring

  3. cwrosten 04/19/2013

    Your pictures keep us going in flooded mid Michigan. I am
    so eager to see anything in bloom. Very uplifting photos, Jeff.

  4. briandowns 04/19/2013

    Yes Jeff- you have confirmed once again that the anticipation of plants growing, just like life itself, is the main joy. I almost enjoy Narcissus pre-bloom as much as when they are in bloom, along with so many other plants. Sometimes I wish I could " freeze " some things in early growth before they grow out.

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 04/19/2013

    exhausting and exhilarating is right! love the polygonatum coming up . looks like ocean life in the deep sea.

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/19/2013

    Hi, Jeff, you know I share in your singing the song of SPRING JOY (at the top of my lungs)...the lyrics are different for each of us depending on what's breaking dormancy at what time but oh, how we love the chorus "Spring is here, spring is here!" Your weeping cherry is sublime and glorious...I had a youngish one (in comparison to your amazing mature specimen)and, over the course of 3 years, it just died off...broke my heart so I always look upon ones like yours with extra admiration (and envy). Love the hens and chicks in the birdcage and if I get my act together, I, too, will borrow the idea from GreenThumbBlonde!
    Your property has a very gracious feel because of the lawn to garden bed has that sweeping effect.
    Thanks for all the accurate plant id's.

  7. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    meander1 that's why i labeled the weeping cherry as NOT grafted. if you could ever find one on it's own roots as opposed to grafted on those fence post trunks, , you won't have problems. every branch is weeping and you don't have those vertical suckers arising from below the graft. my only source for seedling weepers was Mr. Bullington, since his passing i have not found a reliable source. that cherry started out as maybe a 24 inch whip about 15 years ago, i would have to search my records for it's "birthday"

  8. Bobbie2c 04/19/2013

    I love all your unusual plants and I especially like your tripod with what appears to be insulators on top. But please identify the ball shaped container(?) either hanging or standing beneath it. Thanks!!

  9. bethnbijoux 04/19/2013

    Love the pug!! (And the garden is pretty awesome, too!)

  10. tractor1 04/19/2013

    Jeff has some very unique plantings. I was intrigued by that spikey one (not the cutie four legged 'Spike'), so had to look it up.
    I like it because with it's dangerous spikes it appears to be deer proof, I'm just wondering if it can withstand the usual sub zero winter temps up here in the northern Catskills. Btw, how do you manage to grow so many of the deer's favorites or is your property fenced, or are there no deer? I looked up that Texas Traveler too, a very interesting little tree, if it would grow here I'd certainly need to fence it. I also find spring the best time of year for gardens, I'm always anxious to see my favorite plants come to life, and I photograph many several times as they bud out to record their color permutations over time. In the second photo down on the right, what is that huge multi-trunked tree... I can't see its branching so I can only guess it's Accolade Elm: I planted a sapling three years ago with no expectations I will see it mature. And I enjoyed Jeff's phography, nearly every photo has the correct proportion of sky... see folks, it can be done! Thank you, Jeff, and please send more.

  11. dizzykayak 04/19/2013

    My neighbours have given up on me too! I am out in my PJ's every morning with my dog, to check out what is emerging from the soil. The rest of my neighbourhood is VERY elderly, so my girls and I are their entertainment. If any of my other neighbours were seen on the ground we would be calling an ambulance, but if it is me, they know I'm just checking out my plants. They love to see what I'm going to dig up next and plant. My early spring bulbs give them alot of joy, I planted many in the front yard just for them.

  12. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    tractor, thanks for all your kind words, i do appreciate it. the large multi trunked tree (in the photo with the S. argentea is an American Elm, i have 3 here that is the smallest and none show any evidence of disease. they are magnificent but messy. strangely, i do have deer pass through but i think they are so spooked after crossing the road they just run right on by, i have never lost anything to deer,,,,,,,,rabbits/voles another story. not sure of the hardiness of Flying Dragon, it has large recurved thorns so you can reach in easily it's coming out that is the problem. loaded with fuzzy oranges full of seeds, 1/2 the seeds will be curly the other half straight. pouring rain, just got home from nursery shopping. i am officially penniless but have great plants. the tripod is hanging with a sempervivum orb but the birds keep stealing my chickens! the insulators are on top because birds would sit there and i had bird mess orb. they can't perch on the insulators and they have plenty of other places to sit. the pug rules the roost and will point out every dandelion and stand there until i dig it out ,,, she must have been a Setter in a previous life. her name, Rosita Conchita Maria Gonzales de la Piedra Jones,,,,,,we call her Rosie

  13. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    tractor if you liked the elm you should see the branching of the Parrotia, it's finally past puberty and maturing nicely, heavily branched and now starting to show bark texture/color

  14. Happily_Gardening 04/19/2013

    Splendid garden and tantalizing narrative!

  15. wittyone 04/19/2013

    Meander1 is right about the sweeps of lawn lending a gracious air to your plantings. They give a person a chance for things to sink in before encountering the next interesting collection of plants.

    I know what you mean about the excitement of plants coming up in the spring. I remember one spring when I ran in to tell my husband (NOT a gardener) that such and such was up and wasn't it wonderful??!! He looked at me puzzled and said, "Oh did you think it had died over the winter?" I said no, I knew it was down there but now it was UP! He just somehow didn't understand why I was so thrilled.

  16. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    i understand wittyone, after 27 years of marriage my wife refers to anything taller than her as a tree and anything shorter as a bush :) she does, however, like the garden and gives great advice and suggestions and does plant 2 beds under the dogwoods herself. also, she can spot a weed from 40 yards away. she does give me a lot of grief about my "prize" monkey puzzle tree that i paid a small fortune for and it arrived in an envelope saying expect mature height of 150 ft in 1,000 years. every trip thru the yard she says i need to watch it because it's "just taking over"
    2" of growth in 2 years

  17. cwheat000 04/19/2013

    I am a little slow this morning, OK a lot slow. I jumped right to scanning some of the comments and I could not figure out why you were talking about you own garden. It took a lot more reading before I figured out who this Jeff guy was. It is great to see your garden! It can be a bit scary to share. It is wonderful. I can definitely tell someone who loves plants lives there. You have so many unique and amazing specimens. How do you like your sedum Angelina?That is what I bought a few days ago. I am not sure what I am going to do with it. I love the Cercis, the silver salvia, the reverse bicolor daffodils, the Ulmus, heck there is too much to mention.

  18. annek 04/19/2013

    Wow, meander1, I'm with you...the weeping cherry is magnificent. I have a small one that just doesn't seem to want to get bigger, so maybe Jeff has nailed the problem. It is a graft.

    Jeff, what is the decorative, metal post/tower on the concrete block? I love the rusted look of it.

    And I'm also about to replicate the birdcage sempervivum has become the rage, eh?

  19. cwheat000 04/19/2013

    Please do send in the future, a picture of your monkey puzzle tree that is " taking over the yard". I could use a good laugh.

  20. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    annek, that post is from a jobsite. we have been working for 20 years now at Rotherwood, an 1830 plantation house that was about to fall until the current owner bought it. she didn't like the rusted things so i brought the fence posts home with me, along with rusted pickets, gates and everything else. the carved stone fountain base she didn't want either so guess what,,,,,it's here along with all the rusted iron vent grates and the iron chimney covers. i bring everything home. i have grave stones here, cannon balls , deer skulls all found on jobsites. we once dug up a prosthetic leg, i still dont' know how one could lose that!
    cwheat, you are the FIRST one who has like my Salvia, i can't get anyone excited about it, you've seen my garden in a previous post, i had the daylilies you said you would help me divide. i'm still waiting for you to show up with a shovel and spade :) and angelina sedum is one of my favorites, great spring/summer color and even better color in winter. i have to keep trimming it off the steps and step stones but every small piece will grow, just drop it where you want it and it's good

  21. sheila_schultz 04/19/2013

    What a treat, Jeff... thanks for the gift of Springtime hope! I'm heading out to check my own gardens now, just to see how many of my babies have been nipped on their bips with our ice, snow and crazy cold nights as of late.

  22. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    cwheat, it's right behind the S. argentea, that very small spiny green thing. it is now a towering 7" tall

  23. User avater
    meander_michaele 04/19/2013

    In revisiting your pictures to look harder at some of the things other commenters made mention of (like the Flying Dragon), I stared harder at its neighbor, the Cercis 'Texas Traveler" and the lightbulb went off that it is a weeping neat! I don't think I've seen one before. How long have you had it and how big do you expect it to get. Does it flower just like a regular redbud? I have a variety called 'Oklahoma' redbud which I really like because the bloom color is even more intense and the leaves have a glossy sheen.

  24. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    texas traveler is slow and mounding, , it's in full flower now. i have had Oklahoma in the past but they tend to migrate to clients gardens , Lavender Twist is another weeping redbud. .. Flying Dragon is very cool in winter with no leaves, twisty branches, recurved thorns and hanging full of those fuzzy oranges

  25. trashywoman62 04/19/2013

    Jeff, I take offense about my fence post weeping cherry, see avatar!! But you are so right about the base, it is straight as a fence post and does not have the beautiful flow that yours does. Some of the branches want to go upright too. I did wrap lights on about 5 branches one Christmas and it looked like a palm tree!

    Spring just hasn't quite come here in Illinois yet but my Polygonatum odoratum var. variegatum is actually about the size of yours but that is about all. The clumps of daffs are such a wonderful anticipation experience for me. I, like others have commented, walk around the yard each day to see what has decided to wake up. It is such a treat when you see that first little green bud.

    Your eclectic collection of plants makes the rest of us safe gardeners envious!

  26. CarlaGriffin 04/19/2013

    Indeed! How can a person NOT try to grow something! I snitched a sport from a holly at work today to root. It is very toothy lobed & spiky. When I first saw it last week, I said I'm gonna take that sport home & I did!

  27. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    a client just emailed me an article about impatiens downy mildew , total crop failure here last year nobody's did well , and the article said it could be worse this year . does anyone have any additional information about this?

  28. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    carla, that is employee pilferage ! and i'm proud of you :) it would have been trimmed off by the maintenance crew anyway and lost so it's good that you took it, i think. but i will watch you very closely should you visit my garden

  29. cwheat000 04/19/2013

    I don't know how I missed that monkey puzzle tree before. It really blows your hair back. Hey, but someone is going to think you are the coolest guy ever for planting that, 150 years from now.

  30. cwheat000 04/19/2013

    What is wrong with people. The Salvia argentea is so cool. I would replace all my lamb's ears with it if it wasn't so short lived. I tried one plant and it only lasted 2 seasons, but I would grow it again , if it only lasted one.

  31. user-1020932 04/19/2013

    cwheat, you crack me up. yep, i'll be famous in 150 years . S. argentea is a very cool plant. i do use it in containers with purple phormium or burgundy cordyline some dangly thing and whatever good color/flower i have . i also never met a Carex i didn't like even the brown ones that everyone says " are those dead?" i stumbled on these plants last week they called Rhino horns, i still don't know the real name but they are cylindrical and very pointy ,,, architectural . no clue how i'm gonna use them but they only had 5 so , of course, i had to buy them all. maybe i'll put those rhino horns on mystery plant, , sure someone will identify them for me

  32. cwheat000 04/19/2013

    I have three of those brown carex. I will also be looking up those rhino horns. Regarding the downey mildew, I read a little about it a day or two ago online. Something like 35 states and several Canadian providences have got it now and the outbreak only started a year or two ago. The garden center I work for just got their first shipment of bedding annuals and it had impatiens in it ( even though it is too early up here). I will be talking to the growers soon. I will be interested to hear their take on it. I know it doesn't bother New Guinea impatiens. Nothing showed up infected from our grower last year, but a few customers brought back some really bad off plants. I told them, we'll give you your money back, just don't bring those in here. I have heard it can overwinter. Right now there is no remedy, except to destroy the plants. I know the industry is trying some remedies.

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