On beyond azaleas 

Like their homes at either end of a River Ridge street, Carol Mendel and Hilda Boger's gardens are at either end of a spectrum. Both are vast — Mendel's spilling down a sunny sloping expanse that has the Arkansas River for a backdrop, Boger's acres lush and shady. It takes a lot of plants, shrubs and trees to green up so much land, and master gardeners like to shop for plants, everywhere and anywhere, including seed catalogues. In fact, it might be said that there is no plant place at which they do not shop, and that includes every town they happen to pass through.

But nurseries in Central Arkansas and various outposts offer a great selection, if these yards are any example, of plants that with the right color thumb can thrive in our own Zone 7.

“We're no longer working from what our mothers taught us,” Mendel said. “The plant world has been turned upside down genetically.” Plants are being engineered to live in a wider variety of climates, and nursery stock is different from years past.

Boger's front and back yards, for example, include 35 varieties of Japanese maple alone, and is a lesson in how wide is the variety of beauty in the world of shrubs and trees. She likes to shop at Arkansas Nursery, River Valley Horticultural Products, Custom Landscape in Hot Springs and Carden-Harris Azalea Nursery (in Branch, up in Franklin County) for her woody wonders, and says if the nursery doesn't have a plant she needs, they can often get it for her. She's created an uncommon and often fragrant forest in her front and back yards with such trees as Persian ironwood (Parrotia persica), which has fall color and small winter flowers; fragrant Styrax (Styrax obassia); and the flowering Dove tree (Davidia involucrate). The native shrub Carolina allspice (Calycanthus floridus), whose red petals look carved from wood, lines her driveway.

Boger's garden blooms at ground level as well, thanks to a wide variety of shade plants (and a good sprinkler and drainage system). Many of the hydrangeas in her yard — oakleaf, big-balled Annabelles and varieties that grow on vines — come from Cricket Hill Farms in Conway. Many of the shade-loving perennials and native plants that thrive in her side and rear yards — peacock moss, hellebore, orchids, bear's britches (Acanthus mollis), native columbine, epimedium, clethera — come from the Good Earth and native plant specialist Pine Ridge Gardens in London. That mandevilla? Home Depot. That enormous pile of mulch yet to be spread? From Burnett's, in North Little Rock.

Boger (and Mendel too) have a problem most city gardeners don't: Deer. Boger pointed to nibbled hostas and sighed. She finds that a little Milwaukee sewer sludge — which she gets from the Farmer's Coop — helps keep the deer away.

On the sunny side of the street, Carol Mendel has expanded the garden in her home of seven years down the great sloping acreage that is her back yard. It features, along the way, three decks and other places to sit and enjoy the view. Mendel, an interior designer whose garden combinations are her own, shops from the same nurseries as does Boger; and like Boger is wild about Japanese maples, which she finds at Green Tree Nursery as well as Arkansas Landscape. She loves White Wagon in Maumelle for what she said is an “incredible” selection of herbs and perennials, and Botanica Gardens and the Good Earth for the annuals that provide hot-season color. Her flower of the moment is the white-flowered hydrangea Blushing Bride that blooms on new wood all summer.

Standing among a profusion of sun-loving asters and coneflowers and gaura and cannas in a patch set off by antique metal gates, Mendel makes the point that a garden is about “stuff” as well as nature. Ornamentation punctuates and defines sections of the garden — and when your garden is more than an acre that's a good thing. Unlike Peter Rabbit, Mendel's rock bunny, from Botanica, adds rather than subtracts to her garden.

Mendel also likes not to shop. Mulch is free from the city of Little Rock, and “they're very good about delivery.”




Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Leslie Newell Peacock

  • Coming to McLeod: Hursley and Simmons, land and dreamscapes

    Heads up for Thursday, Oct. 27: Matt McLeod Fine Art Gallery opens "Landscapes/Dreamscapes: At the Crossroads of Observation and Memory," an exhibition of drawings and paintings by Little Rock artists Jeanie Lockeby Hursley and  Dominique Simmons. 
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • Good Weather, outdoors and in (Elliott Earls)

    If you read this week's Arts and Entertainment feature on Good Weather Gallery, you are probably wanting to know a little bit more about the show opening tomorrow, Oct. 22: Elliott Earls' "Death of a Salesman."
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • White Water gets Southern Salted

    Lauren McCants, the Southern Salt Co. food truck founder and chef, is now serving food at the White Water Tavern Tuesday and Thursday through Saturday. On the menu: hamburgers and cheeseburgers (of course) as well as deep fried pork tenderloin sandwiches, deep fried chicken sandwiches, a smoked bologna and over-easy egg sandwich (real good, she says), chicken nachos and a special, like coconut curried chicken. There are vegetarian options, as well: Deep-fried tofu sandwiches, prepared with avocado and like a fish taco; and sweet potato and avocado tacos.
    • Oct 21, 2016
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Top Stories

  • Good for the soul

    The return of Say McIntosh, restaurateur
    • Jun 1, 2010
  • Robocalls are illegal

    Robocalls -- recorded messages sent to thousands of phone numbers -- are a fact of life in political campaigns. The public doesn't like them much, judging by the gripes about them, but campaign managers and politicians still believe in their utility.
    • May 31, 2010
  • Riverfest winds down

    With Cedric Burnside and Lightnin' Malcolm, Steve Miller Band, Robert Cray, Ludacris and more performing.
    • May 30, 2010
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Five Fun Fall Activities

Five Fun Fall Activities

Autumn temps are perfect for outdoor activities

Event Calendar

« »


2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Faith of our felons

    • He's a monster with monsters who aid his unholy lust

    • on October 22, 2016

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation