Gardening with Shirley 101


I can hear Elvis crooning  “I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses.” It’s an old favorite of mine and appropriate to the situation.

b 0oak leav15 Sappy, I know, but that’s the way I felt as I toured Shirley’s garden at sunset just now.  As you probably know, Shirley Dawkins is the ultimate gardener in my book. Her perennial gardens are just beginning to awaken after a long, hard winter.

It’s still a little early for the explosion of hot color – but soon, very soon.

I sneaked away from the smorgasbord, while the others talked politics and weather. The late afternoon rain had left behind a magnificent musky smell and rain droplets reflected the setting sun.  There was so much to see, that I decided to capture it with my trusty Olympus for enjoyment later.

And of course, I plan to steal her ideas to incorporate in my own garden.  Shirley’s creative touches are everywhere.

bsun garden 020 I noted  a sign propped on her picnic table simply stating “Gone to Walmart.”  I couldn’t wait to get home and make a sign for my side courtyard.  Sadly, when I’m not home, I’m usually “Gone to Walmart” – looking for plants for the garden! I think I’ll make mine say “Gone to Dollar General.” Nah, too redneck.

The Sun Garden (above) is just about to burst into bloom – give it 10 more days  – tops, and color will be everywhere.

b 02garlic6

The herb garden above is being allow to set seed – garlic maybe? Not sure.

herbs23I forget what this little garden at right held, succulents? A tanning bed?  All the gardens occupy clearly defined areas, usually surrounded by pickets – to keep the deer away.

Pathways have been created within each one to allow Shirley to move freely about to tend the vegetation.

Everywhere you look there is some whimsical object to catch your eye and say to yourself  “Why didn’t I think of that?”

Suddenly I spied something new – a marvelous sculpture – commissioned by the Mississippi State art department, perhaps?  Upon closer inspection I discovered it was an ordinary bird feeder upon which Shirley had installed all kinds of gizmos to keep the squirrels out.  From a distance, it looked like mo-derne art.


Shirley’s tomatoes are treated to raised beds and I didn’t spot weed one.


A rusty old bike appears abandoned out behind one garden.

basket A pot of cannas almost appears painted on canvas.  Now, who would think of planting cannas in a pot. I’m going out in the dark to dig some now to pot up for my back porch.

I forgot to mention Shirley is also a dy-no-mite cook and the spread she put out for supper was as stupendous as the garden.  How do some people do it so effortlessly and the rest of us struggle just to open a can of soup and keep the marigolds in bloom.

6 thoughts on “Gardening with Shirley 101

  1. No, thank you! Especially for your latest “delivery” – incidentally, where would you recommend that I plant the beautiful ornamental verigated grass. Does it need a lot of sun? And I’m rethinking my aversion to yellow – those thingies you gave me earlier in the spring are blooming like crazy and I like the contrast after all.

  2. The grass does like sun—-but doesn’t require more than half a day. I, also, had to change my ideas about color in my garden. When I first started, I wanted only pink, blue and purple—————and, I could not believe how boring that looked from the distance of the house. Needless to say I have added every color in the rainbow. I really think that chartreuse makes other colors “pop”—–but yellow is also an eye-catcher.


  3. Yes, I like the way you have used chartreuse and aubergine (deep purple plants) together. Oh, forgot to tell you I tree formed my lorapedlum and I really like it. Have more room underneath for some chartreusie coleas.

  4. Your garden is absolutely gorgeous! You have to be daring to incorporate all colors, but you do it beautifully.
    As you know, I have a small yard – so I usually stick to 3 colors – white (15 Natchez crape myrtles, spirea(sp?) and vinca); coral (hibiscus, geraniums, impatiens); and green (all kinds of shrubs plus 15 kimberly queen fern – in urns and around the fountain. I plan to try the oak leaf hydrangia that you suggested. Most of my beds are in full sun.

  5. Joan, what is the kimberly queen fern. Can you send a photo? I love the oak leaf hygranga too. I saw a huge planting of them yesterday somewhere on highway 12 and was shocked to see they are perfectly beautiful in full sun. (Oh, incidentally, the compliments were directed to Shirley, not me, tee hee.)

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