The Preview Continues

Here’s anther teaser of the gardens on our tour.

 As you drive up to the home of Susan and Doug Rendall, the first thing to notice is the field of restored prairie along the driveway. Many varieties of native grasses and wildflowers thrive here, and Susan is adding more. Occasionally there are unexpected surprises, such as finding the fringed puccoon blooming in the prairie for the first time in April 2017.

Her priorities in garden design are the use of color, along with leaf texture, shape and pattern. “I would describe the look of the garden as “organized, but not manicured,” Susan says.

When the Rendalls moved to Kansas from Wisconsin, they specifically looked for a homesite that had loose, loamy and well-drained soil, which would provide a good foundation for the garden she wanted to create. One important decision that has made a big difference in the success of her garden was their choice of location.

“We have been here for 16 years,” Susan says. The garden has reached a level of maturity since it was previously included on the Master Gardener tour in 2009.

Many of the large trees are natives, including several different species of oak. Smaller, understory trees such as redbud, dogwood, magnolia and fringe tree thrive in the dappled shade of larger trees, along with varieties of viburnum, hydrangea, spirea and others. Conifers such as arborvitae and juniper that were originally planted to protect people and plants from strong winds now provide an evergreen backdrop for smaller shrubs and perennials.

The garden next to the driveway features a mix of perennials that provide a succession of bloom, including many varieties of daylilies, as well as Coreopsis, Lavender, Phlox and Rudbeckia. A spirea shrub called ‘Mellow Yellow’ keeps its golden color all year and is a prominent feature in this area.

Susan readily acknowledges that she is a “plant-a-holic” and says there are only a few plants she would not consider growing, such as invasive bamboo and loosestrife. While she appreciates and incorporates native plants into her garden as much as possible, she doesn’t limit her plant palette exclusively to natives. “There are too many other wonderful choices. I could never take out all the roses and clematis!”

Stone paths wind through the garden, and stone benches provide seating areas. Many of the plantings are designed to attract butterflies and other pollinators. White-flowering plants are a focal point in the area surrounding the patio. The hot garden, named for its bright yellow, orange and red hues, is often her favorite. The golden-hued Redbud ‘Rising Sun’ is a feature here, along with orange and red daylilies, and the annual  orange Sunpatiens.

She also acknowledges that managing a garden this large and diverse is a commitment. “You have to be dedicated,” she says, and for her, “it’s a mental health kind of thing.” She also doesn’t do it alone. Her husband, Doug, does lot of the maintenance, including

mulching, mowing, trimming, and limbing up trees. The copper trellises placed throughout the garden, which were designed and built by the couple, have aged to a lovely dark patina, providing focal points and structure for vining and climbing plants.  As the garden continues to mature, Susan recognizes the need to continually adapt and make adjustments. Fortunately, she has always liked shade gardens.

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Tour Previews

With today’s post, I,ll be featuring the gardens.Come back every couple of days to keep up. ENJOY!

Be prepared to stay for a while when you visit Thelma and Bill Simons’ whimsical, casual garden. It has been an inspirational work in progress for over 15 years. One can hardly imagine that when the home was purchased in 1996, there was almost no landscaping except for a big silver maple tree and a few yew bushes around the house.
Thelma is responsible for the work that has been done to create her unique garden. She advises that once she finds a plant she likes and it does well, she buys several varieties of that plant. She also took a woodworking class to build the wooden arbor in the backyard. Even more impressive is the fact that Thelma also dug the dry creek bed and built the small bridge that spans it.
Take time to linger in the front garden. As you approach the driveway you notice the beautiful clematis that climbs over the mailbox. Blue salvia plants border each side of the driveway providing seeds for hungry goldfinches. Walk through the white arbor draped with more clematis and glance down. The stepping stone path is outlined with colorful craft stones and bordered by numerous plants including a Japanese rose and colorful columbine.
As you wander along the path and reach the corner of the house you encounter the sentinel of the garden… an enormous spruce. Its wide and soft branches provide another haven for the many birds that are welcome in the garden.
There is much to view in the back of the house. Children will love to search for the fairy garden and birdhouses. The curving borders contain a wide variety of perennial flowers and bushes and a gazing ball and bird bath remind you that birds are very welcome in this space. Walk through the arbor and across the dry creek by the foot bridge. Close by, at the base of a river birch tree, KU fans will discover a special corner dedicated to their beloved Jayhawks.
Turn to face the back of the house you catch a glimpse of a vibrant red Japanese maple. The bright foliage provides an artistic splash of color against the vivid blue house. Next to the maple is a comfortable bench. It’s the perfect spot to sit for a while and enjoy the view.
As you exit the garden, notice the rain barrel in the corner. The Simons’ grandchildren painted the adorable garden scene complete with trees, gardens and birdhouses.

Thelma’s favorite plants are:
Ruby Slipper Dwarf Hydrangea
Japanese Rose
Princess Diana Clematis
Spring Flurry Serviceberry
Victoria Blue Salvia
Find the right plant for the right space
A little at a time
You can do it

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Through a Camera’ s Eye.

Come learn with us!


Thanks to Deb Zabel for this post!

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Butterfly Plants









Saturday, 13 May 2017 – 8a to 2p

Ready to start a butterfly garden or improve the one you have? If so, come visit us at Monarch Watch for our annual Spring Open House & Plant Fundraiser.

We will have more than 10,000 butterfly plants (both annuals and perennials), including seedlings of thirteen milkweed varieties. These plants are ideal for starting butterfly gardens or adding to established gardens. Monarch numbers have been declining and we need to plant milkweeds to sustain the monarch migration. A list of available plants appears below.


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He was Due to be Recognized

Chip Taylor honored by Garden Club of America

Copyright University of Kansas 2017©









The Master Gardeners have been honored to work with Dr. Taylor on the Monarchwatch gardens.

LAWRENCE — Orley “Chip” Taylor, founder and director of Monarch Watch and longtime professor at the University of Kansas, was recently named an honorary member of The Garden Club of America (GCA), one of its highest accolades.
Honorary membership is limited, and a maximum of four is selected each year. Perennial Garden Club of Washington, D.C., member of the GCA, nominated Taylor for honorary membership.

Taylor was a professor in the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at KU for 48 years. He founded Monarch Watch in 1992 as a collaborative network of students, teachers, volunteers and researchers dedicated to the study and conservation of the monarch butterfly. A core feature of Monarch Watch is its tagging program during the fall, when monarchs migrate from North American breeding grounds to a tiny area in the Transvolcanic mountains west of Mexico City. Since 1992, more than 1.4 million monarchs have been tagged by volunteers, and more than 17,000 of the tagged butterflies have been recovered.

Taylor was among the first to recognize the alarming decline of the monarch, and his response was to mobilize the American public to meaningful action in one of the earliest and most successful citizen science efforts, according to the GCA.

In 2005, Monarch Watch created the Monarch Waystation program, recognizing that monarch habitat is declining at a rate of 6,000 acres per day in the United States. The goal of the program is to inspire communities to create habitats for monarch butterflies and to assist Monarch Watch in increasing awareness of the decline in resources for monarchs, pollinators and all wildlife that share the same habitats. To date, more than 16,000 Monarch Waystations have been registered by gardeners across the country.

“Taylor has placed conservation and the survival of the monarch in the hands of every North American who owns or tends to a plot of land, regardless of its size or purpose. This compelling conservation initiative has redefined gardening into being essential to the survival of an iconic butterfly,” said the GCA. “He has demonstrated that if we work together, we can achieve almost any conservation goal we take on.”

An outgrowth of the Monarch Waystation program is the Bring Back the Monarchs campaign, with a goal to restore 20 milkweed species used by monarch caterpillars as food to their native ranges throughout the United States and to encourage the planting of nectar-producing native flowers that support adult monarchs and other pollinators.
To facilitate this effort, Monarch Watch works with nurseries to produce and distribute regionally appropriate milkweed plugs. Last year, the organization distributed 206,000 milkweed plugs.

Monarch Watch also provides a variety of learning materials for classrooms and guides for Master Gardeners and others in the construction and maintenance of butterfly gardens.
Trained as an insect ecologist at the University of Connecticut, Taylor researched reproductive isolating mechanisms in sulfur butterflies, reproductive and life history patterns in plants, and comparative biology of European and Neotropical African honey bees, as well as migratory behavior of monarch butterflies. He authored or co-authored more than 50 scientific papers and has presented numerous invited seminars at universities and more than 100 talks to non-university groups.

He has assisted with the production of at least 35 documentary films about African bees and monarch butterflies, most notably with the National Geographic Society and Disney. He also served on the scientific advisory team for the documentary “Flight of the Butterflies,” released in IMAX by the Smithsonian Institution in 2012.
Recipient of many awards, Taylor has been recognized by the Kansas Honey Producers Association and The Lepidopterists’ Society and received the 2002 James I. Hambleton Memorial Award for research excellence from the Eastern Apicultural Society; the 2014 Growing Green Pollinator Protector Award from the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Berkeley Food Institute; and a 1998 University of Kansas Wally and Marie Steeples Faculty Award for outstanding service to Kansans. He also is an honorary national director of Wild Ones.

The GCA is a nonprofit national organization composed of 200 clubs with some 18,000 members who devote energy and expertise to projects in their communities and across the United States.

Photo: Professor Orley “Chip” Taylor at a 2015 monarch-tagging event. Photo from KU Marketing Communications

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Tour Teasers and Transplants

It’s getting closer..the 2017 Garden Tour! Today you can read more about the seven FABULOUS gardens.

“One amazing country garden offers a dazzling array of plants including a variety of clematis and climbing roses, magnolias, a Seven Son tree, many native plants, blueberry bushes and lots of perennials. You definitely want to allow plenty of time to visit this truly lovely garden.

The neatly manicured garden has lovely hostas, columbine, and a hydrangea bed. Enjoy the sounds in this garden created by the pond and waterfall. Don’t miss the custom iron gate at the back of the property.

A beautiful shade garden includes a large variety of plants, a bubbler and a creek at the bottom of the yard. Check out the tall raised garden beds if you have rabbits raiding your veggie garden.

The garden that overlooks a lake also has a water feature on the patio and various yard art pieces to spark your interest. The backyard is terraced and will be an inspiration for anyone who has to deal with a sloped yard.

One garden has a gorgeous pie-shaped backyard filled with an unusual variety of plants, a beautiful pond built by the homeowner, a giant bubbler, and many day lilies.

Another garden offers both sun and shade garden areas with well-established plant specimens, numerous hellebores, large trees, a huge berm surrounded by rocks, a pond and garden art.

The last garden is the home of a self-confessed plant collector. If you are always trying out new plants, or if you take over more of your yard for flowerbeds each year, this is a garden for you. It offers a variety of perennial and native plants, a decorated path, dry creek bed and small bridge, and an arbor built by the homeowner.


“Pictures and text by Thelma Simons

Selecting Transplants




Video Link



Thanks to Evelyn Neier from K-State for the transplant lesson,

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Tour Teasers and Tickets

As the big weekend draws nearer,more details are revealed….read and learn,Grasshopper!

If you attend the tour on Saturday, start at the Extension Office at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2110 Harper, Lawrence, where you will find a huge sale of neonicotinoid-free native plants. The sale is on Saturday only from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Plants are $4 each or three for $10.

You may purchase tour tickets at the plant sale on Saturday morning, in advance at the Extension Office, online using PayPal at this link; at local nurseries and garden centers, or at the private gardens during the tour. Tickets are $10 per person. Carried infants are free. No strollers.

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