Mixed Border Beds | Volunteer Gardener

– [Troy Marden] Over the
years, I’ve made lots of gardening friends and I always love to visit their gardens because
there’s always something new around every turn and every corner, new plants, new gardens to see, and this garden is certainly no exception. Jimmy Williams, thank you so much for having
– [Jimmy] Hey! – [Troy] us here today
to Tennessee Dixter. Tennessee
– [Jimmy] Tennessee Dixter, – [Troy] Dixter.
– [Jimmy] well pretentiously – [Jimmy] and preposterously named Tennessee Dixter after
Great Dixter in England. I imagine you’ve been
– [Troy] Which is – [Jimmy] there before.
– [Troy] absolutely my – [Troy] favorite garden anywhere. – I agree with you 100%. – And the guy too. He was was a great old guy. But I tell you what, you’re close. (Jimmy laughs)
You’re darn close. So
– [Jimmy] Thank you, – [Troy] this obviously is
– [Jimmy] thank you. – [Troy] the main kind
of perennial border, the sun perennial border as it is. Mixed border.
– [Jimmy] Mixed border, – [Jimmy] as Crystal would say.
– [Troy] Right because it’s – [Troy] mixed with perennials, shrubs. You plug some annuals in
– [Jimmy] I plugged some – [Troy] for some color.
– [Jimmy] annuals here – [Jimmy] and there, I absolutely do and even small trees in there some and so forth, but yes it’s
difficult as you well know in our climate to keep a
purely perennial border goin’ all year without something
lookin’ bad in there. And so we’re early of course now and late for our real early stuff. This was full of phlox
varicata a month ago and we just couldn’t
almost see anything else. And it changes, obviously,
from time to time. I’ve been working on this
border for nearly 40 years, and Christopher Lloyd said,
“You won’t ever get it right.” (laughter)
He’s absolutely right. – [Troy] Well and because
plants change, gardens change, gardeners change. We like different things
– [Jimmy] Tastes – [Troy] at different times.
– [Jimmy] change. – [Jimmy] Most of my stalwart things, I would say my summer things,
of course summer phlox not bloomin’ yet, it’s
full of summer phlox, given various ones, and I’ve found that the hand-me-down phloxes work better than most of the ones you buy.
– [Troy] Than the varieties. – [Jimmy] (laughs) They do.
– [Troy] They’re – [Jimmy] really do.
– [Troy] cultivars, – [Jimmy] And the old one,
– [Troy] yeah. – [Jimmy] Robert Poore it’s called, and you know about it, of course,
which is a brilliant pink, magenta pink, but I had it before they ever named it Robert Poore. I think it’s the same
thing, the person gave me, but that’s one of my favorite things, of course is summer phlox. And in the spring, I’ve got
all the spring stuff in here. Lot of bulbs in here, and you
don’t see ’em now of course. And this is full of
– [Troy] But they’re perennial – [Jimmy] daffodils,
– [Troy] bulbs, and they come – [Jimmy] narcissus,
– [Troy] back every year. – [Jimmy] whatever.
– [Troy] But the nice thing is – [Troy] this border is so lush that once those daffodils are going down, everything else kind of
– [Jimmy] You never – [Troy] covers up.
– [Jimmy] see ’em. – [Troy] You never see ’em.
– [Jimmy] There’s foliage in – [Jimmy] there now, but you can’t see it,
– [Troy] And you don’t – [Jimmy] and that’s the
– [Troy] notice it. – [Jimmy] wonderful thing about perennial, and I have adapted over the years. We’re out in bright sun right now, but I’ve got more shade
now since I planted all these trees 40 years ago. I have had to adapt a little bit and go to more shade plants. In fact, I’ve got hostas
in here and so forth. This gets afternoon shade, so I’ve adapted a little
bit in that regard. And then also, Troy,
it might be interesting to the viewers that in a little concession to (laughter)
old age, I’ve begun to put more shrubs in here. Shrubs in the long run are less maintenance.
– [Troy] Less maintenance, – [Troy] more structure, a little more permanent.
– [Jimmy] Many ways, I hate – [Jimmy] to do it because
those perennials are such a joy, but I have pumped in a few shrubs. There’s a Red Twig or Midwinter Fire Dogwood right there
– [Troy] Dogwood. – [Jimmy] that’s good in
winter when everything else is now–
– [Troy] Just a little green – [Troy] shrub now, but in
the winter, the stems come up. – [Jimmy] So I have conceded
a little bit to my age, but I still go at it pretty hard. – [Troy] And speaking of
shrubs, I love this barberry. – [Jimmy] That’s just a Crimson Pygmy. But I shear it
– [Troy] It is? – [Jimmy] about every month
– [Troy] But you shear it – [Jimmy] and keep the red
– [Troy] down. – [Jimmy] comin’ on, and I’ve got more in my red border down below. I’ve got Orange Rocket down
there, which is a good one. But anyway, it’s a perennial
border or mixed border like it. You know better than anybody, it is not a low-maintenance deal. This garden has never
been low maintenance, and I warn people about
that when they come here. Most people have no clues as to how much much work
– [Troy] How – [Jimmy] this involves.
– [Troy] much work – [Troy] it really is. I say to people all the time, because people ask me, “I want a low-maintenance garden.” Well, what’s low maintenance to one person (Jimmy laughs)
may not be low maintenance to another. I spend at least one full day a week, I’m workin’ all the time,
but I’m spending at least one full day a week in my
garden, maintaining it. And to me, that’s low maintenance. That’s my joy to get
out there on that day. But to other people, havin’ to
spend a whole day every week may not be
– [Jimmy] They shudder, – [Troy] their–
– [Jimmy] they shudder. – [Jimmy] I’ve heard people say and read in many of the books, (Troy laughs)
not yours, and by the way, I’m giving a plug to your
book, “Plant This, Not That.” That’s a wonderful book.
– [Troy] I appreciate – [Jimmy] It saved me
– [Troy] it. – [Jimmy] a lot of trouble already. But people, they want a lot of color
and low maintenance. It absolutely does not go together. You can have a green garden, a green garden and relatively, relatively low maintenance,
– [Troy] Low maintenance. – [Jimmy] but the color–
– [Troy] If you want color – [Troy] and flowering
plants, you’ve gotta be – It’s a high maintenance garden.
– [Troy] willing to work – [Troy] for it a little bit.
– [Jimmy] Yeah, that’s right. – [Troy] Well there’s
– [Jimmy] Absolutely right. – [Troy] a lot more here to see, (Jimmy laughs)
so I wanna take off and look at some other things.
– [Jimmy] Okay, good deal. – [Troy] And you’ve got
quite a few conifers mixed into your garden here. – [Jimmy] Well I do, Troy. I’m not a conifer collector as such, but I do have quite a few and
none of ’em extremely rare, but I do have ’em mixed in here. Japanese maples and
conifers go great together, and I might just say that one of my really favorite ones is
this deodar cedar here. Yeah, it’s a, I think, Silver Mist maybe or something like that, but I’ve had it for 10 or 12 years, and I’m trying to keep it to that size.
– [Troy] Right, so you keep – [Jimmy] I keep it sheared.
– [Troy] it sheared. – [Troy] And if you didn’t do that, it would be–
– [Jimmy] It’d be way wide, – [Jimmy] and I shear
it about twice a summer. And once they get to that stage, and it builds up some close
wood in there, can’t go back into old wood of course, but I shear it about twice a summer,
which is five-minute job. – Well and I think that’s an
important thing to mention is that so many of our plants can be sheared and manipulated, but not in a contrived sort of way. This all goes together. That upright and the weeping
form of the Japanese maple, they all complement one another. And so you’re using your skill to prune and shape these plants in a way that they look
attractive together. – [Jimmy] Well even a
dwarf, so called, conifer, will eventually get bigger
than you want it to probably. This little gold cone juniper
here’s not gold right now because it’s already flushed. But that thing I’ve had
for 10 years probably and no problem keepin’ it that size.
– [Troy] Well speaking of – [Troy] other interesting
plants that you’ve got in here, I wanna know a little
bit about these azaleas because we’re nearing the end of May now. And if you’ve got azaleas still in bloom, and I think most of think
about azaleas in late March and on into April, but not
maybe this late in the summer. – This is a late bloom
and one of my favorites. It’s tough as nails. I’ve had it many years and never frozen. It’s Chinzan, Chinzan, and I’m not sure if it’s a satsuki or not. I don’t really think it is. And that thing can get
10-feet wide if I didn’t, and it’ll get taller than that. I’ve kept that down.
– [Troy] Right, and you keep – [Jimmy] The other azaleas
– [Troy] it sheared. – [Jimmy] behind have already
bloomed out of course, but this is one of my
favorite late azaleas, and I have others. – [Troy] Jimmy, as you
come into the garden, you’ve got a lot of plants
in containers up here: conifers and all kinds of other things. Tell me about how this came
to be and your philosophy behind having all these
plants in containers. – Well when I built the walk here, I eliminated all the grass behind it to keep from havin’ to mow back in there. I put in Vinca minor groundcover, but I’ve got into hypertufa
same at one times. Many of ’em are hypertufa
pots that I made. And others, made otherwise as well. But anyway, some conifers
in there as you see and then some not conifers,
but they’ve bonsai’d themselves almost with a little help over the years because they’re so pot-bound, root-bound, and I do have to be really conscientious about waterin’ that. I think a little shade there helps. It’s under a big pin oak up here. That’s one of the first things I planted, and used to be full sun. But I think in our
climate, the shade helps. It’ll get sun middle of
the day, a little while. – Just a little sun during the day. Well, they’re
– [Jimmy] Well, I haven’t had – [Troy] all beautiful.
– [Jimmy] all that. – [Troy] And one of the things
that is so striking up here on the front porch is this vine. Tell me about it. – [Jimmy] Well, that’s Schizophragma, which people call climbing hydrangea. It is a Japanese vine,
but the blooms are showier or a little bit showier. They’ve got those sepal that come out, and they stay on there for a
long time, I’d say a month, at least a month. – [Troy] So it’s almost like
a lacecap hydrangea flower. Is this the variety Moonlight?
– [Jimmy] This one is, – [Jimmy] and it’ll
take at least five years to get to first blooms. – [Troy] And I’ve had that experience, but I’ve had the experience with the real climbing
hydrangea that it’s been in the ground 10 or 15 years,
and it’s never bloomed, so this blooms at a much
younger age and more reliably. – [Jimmy] And when I found out about that, I had done a couple of design jobs for people that insisted on the other one, and (laughs) it’s five or six,
– [Troy] And – [Jimmy] seven years later,
– [Troy] they grow for years – [Jimmy] nothing,
– [Troy] and never see – [Jimmy] nothing,
– [Troy] a bloom. – [Jimmy] so I tried to talk
’em into pullin’ ’em out, (laughter)
but they won’t do it. But anyway, yeah it’s much superior, much superior.
– [Troy] Okay, great. – [Troy] Now one of the things
that I like that you have are some of your color-themed areas. And this is a red border,
so everything in here is in the red, orange, burgundy sort of color range, right? – [Jimmy] That’s right,
and we’re here, of course, the end of May, and this
hasn’t really kicked in yet. And again, there’s very
few red perennials, and I have to augment it. I’ve got grasses in here
and forced foliage plants with purple plum. And then this Orange Rocket barberry, I’m just crazy about
– [Troy] And that is – [Jimmy] that.
– [Troy] beautiful! – [Jimmy] It’s great.
– [Troy] I love that! – [Jimmy] I love that plant, and I got two of ’em in here. And then, I got the roses in here. I know I’m not a rosarian as I said, but some of ’em go in here well. – [Troy] Is this one of those little Oso Easy
– [Jimmy] That’s a – [Troy] or one of those?
– [Jimmy] Oso Easy Paprika. – [Jimmy] That’s right, and
it’s a tough, little, old thing. And then of course, these lilies.
– [Troy] And then you’ve got – [Troy] these big, beautiful lilies just really showin’ off today. – [Jimmy] I don’t know the
name of ’em, but they’re easy. Asiatic,
– [Troy] They’re an Asiatic. – [Jimmy] they’re a lily, that’s right. – [Troy] A little viola still
or pansy still hangin’ on a little bit.
– [Jimmy] They’re hangin’ on, – [Jimmy] and I’ll change
those out just pretty soon and probably put some red wax begonias, a red salvia or something
in this little pocket right here.
– [Troy] Right, and then – [Troy] you’ve got one of my
favorite plants right here, just comin’ into bloom. – [Jimmy] This is a Indian pink of course, and it’s a Spigelia marilandica. And it is a native of Maryland. It’s also a native of Tennessee, though I don’t see many in the wild I’ll tell you.
– [Troy] I don’t see a lot – [Troy] of them here, but I
have seen them in a few places. – [Jimmy] I had a hard time
gettin’ started on those, but I’ve got quite a few clumps built up. They’re easy, sun or shade. I have some in deep shade. They bloom just as well,
and they divide real good. After a couple of years,
you can start dividin’ ’em. – Now what I do notice
about mine in my garden is that the ones in the
sun, if I deadhead them, will come back and rebloom
another time a little later in the summer.
– [Jimmy] Absolutely, if you – [Jimmy] deadhead ’em quickly
and not let ’em go to seed, if you let ’em go to seed, then you will get seedlings, a few. But yes, deadhead them down
in there a little ways, and then they will shoot right back. The second bloom is
– [Troy] A second flush. – [Jimmy] not quite as prolific.
– [Troy] Spectacular. – [Jimmy] Yeah, not quite as good. – Well Jimmy with all this
garden, I know it’s hard to pick a favorite plant or a favorite spot because it’s all so
beautiful, and I would imagine that no matter what season it is, there’s something goin’ on.
– [Jimmy] Well, we do have – [Jimmy] some color in the winter, the conifers and so forth. But by 1st of February,
we have crocuses galore, maybe several thousand actually. So yeah, it carries on through, and it’s different every few weeks. – [Troy] Right, different every few weeks, different probably every
day, and I know in my garden, different from mornin’ to night some days.
– [Jimmy] Absolutely, – [Troy] That’s on of the
– [Jimmy] absolutely. – [Troy] greatest things about
– [Jimmy] Strata (mumbles) – [Troy] it.
– [Jimmy] bloomin’ now, – [Jimmy] but there won’t
be any out this afternoon. – [Troy] I have to point out
just real quickly before we end how beautiful your crape myrtles are that you have here.
– [Jimmy] Thank you. – [Troy] And the key to that
is that you don’t cut them off. – It just makes me sick every time I go by some crape myrtles that’s 20 years old, and they’ve cut ’em off
about high as your head. You get a whole wad of
little, old water, thickets, branches, and you just
gotta prune ’em up, not out. I’ve taken off the bottom branches. As it grows, don’t do it all at once, and there’s a little
scar there as you see it. Here’s one I just did
this year, a little scar. But anyway, I wanna get that up.
– [Troy] But it grows up – [Troy] into this big, beautiful tree. And I have said many times,
there enough crape myrtles on the market of sizes
from knee-high to 30 feet that you can find a crape myrtle to suit the correct situation, and
you don’t have to butcher them in order to make them stay.
– [Jimmy] And the bark – [Troy] Such a beautiful.
– [Jimmy] is a six, 12-month – [Jimmy] feature and the
Natchez crape myrtles especially, and they’ll get 25 feet tall. The bark is just spectacular
– [Troy] Yes, – [Jimmy] yeah,
– [Troy] it is. – [Jimmy] yeah.
– [Troy] I can not thank you – [Troy] enough for letting us come and visit today.
– [Jimmy] Well thank you! – [Troy] You and Peggy
– [Jimmy] Thank you. – [Troy] are always the
most gracious hosts, and we love coming to see your garden.
– [Jimmy] Well, I – [Jimmy] appreciate it. And you come, it’ll change later.


  1. Great video!!! I hope you guys take up the owners offer and go back later in the season…. Thank you for the video :0)

  2. Wonderful mixed boarder garden! I wished I could have seen it when the spring bulbs were out as well. Thank you for sharing!

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