The idea for a quilt garden bed was conceived when four Master Gardener Volunteers (MGVs) went on a road trip to see Elkhart, Indiana’s Quilt Gardens. Charmed and intrigued by their quilt gardens we decided a quilt garden would be a great feature for a children’s garden. While Elkhart’s quilt gardens only include quilts planted with flowers, as the idea grew a floral quilt with a real bed frame seemed a unique idea. The Sunplace Special’s Quilt Garden hopes to attract kids and spark their imagination and interest in gardening through the familiar idea of their own beds and quilts except shown through flowers.

One MGV initiated the project by contacting people and seeking approval from the Master Gardener Coordinator and the finance committee. The next step was to select a design that could be rendered easily in the confined area of the bed frame depicted through annual flowers. One of our MGVs (an avid quilter) helped incorporate the design into a quilt template. Another donated and installed the headboard and frame. She also contributed ideas about the finished product.

The design is based on the children’s garden name Sunplace Special. Several patterns were incorporated to make it work. Several patterns were needed to make the design work to depict the sun and sky as seen in Sunplace Special’s original design as seen on our sign. Our Grandma’s Flower Garden presented several challenges quilt design with fabric not to mention flowers!

Quilts were popular during the Great Depression and made from fabric scraps cut into pieces to sewn together to form patterns.  Quilting was a way to reuse fabric in a thrifty and artistic way. Working on the colorful quilts probably brought to mind a woman’s own colorful flower garden during the cold winter months.

Quilt gardens must be planted with annuals so they maintain season-long bloom and an even height. MGVs chose which flowers to use and calculated all of the flowers needed for the project adjusting them due to availability. Annuals used in our quilt garden are:

  • Sun: Marigolds ‘Janie Primrose’ and ‘Janie Deep Orange’
  • Grandma’s Garden: Wax Begonia ‘Eureka Bronze Leaf Scarlet’
  • Sky & Clouds: Ageratum ‘Hawaii Blue’ and Dusty Miller ‘Silverdust’
  • Pillows: Vinca ‘’Pacific Polka Dot’
  • Border: Rye Grass

The final display will include educational information about how the quilt pattern was modified into a garden bed as well as the number and types of plants each individual floral section of the overall pattern. Sunplace Special thanks all of the MGVs involved with brainstorming and planting the quilt. Sunplace Special also thanks Warren Greenhouse for its advice and support in securing the needed plants.


Last summer we had to cut a large tree down (see photo) at the Wildlife Watch when a dead branch fell. The county grounds committee handles such things and when they took the tree down they let it fall toward the stream and left it there. At first I thought it would be a hazard (and fun) for kids that might like to walk down its trunk to the stream. However I now see it as a potential habitat for wildlife and an opportunity. It did change the shady nature of some of the Wildlife Watch Garden though. Today I planted daylilies (Hemerocallis) that like sun but can tolerate some shade. I hope they will get enough sun to thrive.

Today’s accomplished work list for the Wildlife Watch Garden at Sunplace Special: A Children’s Garden:

  • Dug six holes in in ground full of roots from fallen tree
  • Planted six daylilies (Hemerocallis) H. ‘Happy Returns’ and a legacy daylily of mine that may be a tetraploid
  • Mulched the daylily bed
  • Moved moss from the now-sunny pathway to a shady area I’m developing as a hidden nook for kids
  • Helped Jack move big log to end of garden pathway; it was so heavy we had to roll it into place. I intend to highlight it as a ‘bug home’ (see photo) Wildlife Watch
  • Weeded hosta and daylily beds
  • Hoed pathways prior to Jack’s mulching
  • Pulled up and stacked bricks from an uneven and unattractive sitting area
  • Waited for the ants to move their eggs – such tiny ants have such large eggs!
  • Shoveled a wheel barrel’s worth of soil onto the brick site to level the area
  • Re-laid the bricks into a diamond shape; didn’t plan well enough though, the pattern is not yet correct
  • It’s still a Work In Progress

My Ohio Digs Gardening Blog

In 2007 I started my first blog, OHIO DIGS GARDENING, at Blogger. I wanted the blog to become a group blog of my master gardener volunteer (MGV) class. I figured we could expand our classroom experience by interacting outside the classroom setting. I wanted to get the other MGV interns to help create a dialogue by also writing blog posts and commenting.

This idea never took off. I think my fellow classmates were not convinced that this blog thing could have any value. Additionally, many people were hesitant because of internet privacy issues. Unfortunately these are still issues I face today as I try to incorporate social media websites into our MGV program. Most MGVs only visit our Facebook page occasionally to learn about events. I can count on one hand the number of MGVs that are registered on Twitter and Pinterest. All of these social media could expand our program exponentially but I still have yet to find a way to increase our members and their usage.

But I digress. Let’s get back to the OHIO DIGS GARDENING blog. Google is changing their Blogger accounts and when I updated to the new account settings I also imported OHIO DIGS GARDENING into this WORK IN PROGRESS GARDEN blog.  When the import was complete it listed all of my 2007-8 posts to the top of my ‘Categories’ heading on my sidebar. So now it is chronologically backwards.

If you have imported a Blogger account into WordPress and know how to fix my sidebar issue please leave a comment for me. I need help! You can access it here:  I think I imported all of the content here but I am a novice. I will figure it out eventually; my blogging too is a work in progress.

A Different Sort of Rose for Memorial Day


My tribute rose for the fallen.

When I was in high school (way back in the day) my English class used a text book called The Best Loved Poems of the American People. They were selected by Hazel Felleman and printed by Doubleday & Company in 1936. Felleman says in her preface that she compiled the collection through her own insights garnered from her work at The New York Times Book Review where she was editor of the Q & A page.

I have always kept that book and find it a good source for poetry with different subject matters. It has chapters as diverse as love, inspiration, humor and today’s subject: Patriotism and War. This Memorial Day, I find this poem by entertainer extraordinaire Billy Rose (1899 – 1966) particularly moving and apropos.

The Unknown Soldier

by Billy Rose

There’s a graveyard near the White House
Where the Unknown Soldier lies,
And the flowers there are sprinkled
With the tears from mother’s eyes.

I stood there not so long ago
With roses for the brave,
And suddenly I heard a voice
Speak from out the grave:

“I am the Unknown Soldier,
The spirit voice began
“And I think I have the right
To ask some questions man to man.

“Are my buddies taken care of?
Was their victory so sweet?
Is that big reward you offered
Selling pencils on the street?

“Did they really win the freedom
They battled to achieve?
Do you still respect that Croix de Guerre
Above that empty sleeve?

“Does a gold star in the window
Now mean anything at all?
I wonder how my old girl feels
When she hears a bugle call.

“And that baby who sang
Hello, Central, give me no man’s land.
Can they replace her daddy
With a military band?

“I wonder if the profiteers
Have satisfied their greed?
I wonder if a soldier’s mother
Ever is in need?

“I wonder if the kings, who planned it all
Are really satisfied?
They played their game of checkers
And eleven million died.

“I am the Unknown Soldier
And maybe I died in vain,
But if I were alive and my country called,
I’d do it all over again.

About Memorial Day

  • Its year of origin is still disputed between 1862 and 1868
  • Some say that General John A. Logan, leader of Northern Civil War veterans, requested on May 5, 1862 that May 30th (which was not an anniversary of any particular battle) be designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” Logan called it Decoration Day. (I remember when it was called decoration day.)
  • Others say it began when Waterloo, New York began a yearly remembrance on May 5, 1866. Annually, Waterloo businesses closed and citizens paid tribute to dead soldiers by decorating their graves with flags and flowers.  
  • Originally the holiday was to honor Civil War casualties but now includes heroes from all US wars.
  • In 1968 Congress made Memorial Day a federal holiday and declared the official date to be the last Monday in May (took effect in 1971).
  • At Arlington more than 260,000 gravestones and about 7,300 niches are decorated by soldiers. Additionally 13,500 flags are placed at the Soldier’s and Airmen’s Cemetery. The 3rd U.S. Infantry requires about three hours for placement of all the flags. The Soldiers remain for the whole Memorial Day weekend to ensure all flags remain in place. 

About Billy Rose

  • Rose lived from 1899 to 1966.
  • Rose was born William Samuel Rosenberg.
  • Rose became famous as a songwriter and lyricist.
  • Rose wrote or co-wrote “Me and My Shadow,” “It’s Only a Paper Moon” (with E. Y. Harburg) and “Does the Spearmint Lose Its Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight” ((with Marty Bloom).
  • Rose was married to Fanny Brice.
  • He was portrayed by James Caan in the movie Funny Lady, a sequel to Funny Girl.

Some of my sources for this article are here:–and-a-quiz/2011/05/29/AG7PxlEH_blog.html


How can you create patriotic plantings? You will find multiple options by looking at the Latin names of plants. The following tables list some of the Latin terms used in plant names that describe or refer to plant parts that are red, white, or blue. If you look for these terms when buying your plants you can design a patriotic red, white and blue flower bed or container.  


Cardinalis cardinal red, scarlet
Cruentus the color of blood
Ferrugineus rusty, rust-colored
Haemanthus with blood red flowers
Haemastomus with mouth a blood red
Haematocalyx with blood-red calyx
Haematochilus with blood-red lip
Haematodes blood red
Rubra red
Rubricaulis red stemmed
Rubropilosus red haired
Sanguinea blood red


Alba-us, -um  
Albescens whitish
Albicans off-white
Albicaulis white-stemmed
Albidus white
Albiflorus white-flowered
Albifrons with white fronds
Albiplenus with double white flowers
Albispinus with white thorns
Albocinctus with a white crown or girdle
Albomaculatus spotted with white
Albopilosus with white hairs, shaggy white
Albopleno with double white flowers
Albospicus white spiked
Albovariegatus variegated with white
Albulus Whitish
Candicans hairy or woolly white
Candidissimus very hoary or hairy white
Candidus Shining or pure white
Canescens With hairs of off-white or ashy-gray color
Lactatus milky
Lacteus milk-white
Lactescens containing milky sap
Lacticolor milk-color
Lactiferous producing milky sap
Lactiflorus milk white flowers
Leuc signifies white in compound words
Leucanthus white-flowers
Leucocarpa with white berries
Leucocaulis white-stemmed
Leucocephalus white-headed
Leucochilus white-lipped
Leucodermus white-skinned
Leuconeurus dusky-white
Leucophyllus white-leaved
Leucorhizus white-rooted
Leucostachyus white-spiked
Leucoxanthus whitish-yellow
Leucoxylon white-wooded
Nivalus Snow-white, growing near snow


Azureus sky-blue, azure
Caerulescens approaching dark blue
Caeruleus dark blue
Cyaneus blue
Cyananthus with blue flowers
Cyanocarpus with blue fruit
Cyanophyllus with blue leaves

Figworts at Fellows



Fellows Riverside Gardens (FRG) is one of the jewels of Youngstown, Ohio. Part of Mill Creek MetroParks, it sits on land gifted to the park in 1958 by Elizabeth Fellows. Fellows also created a trust to develop and care for the garden. Planting began in 1963 on twelve acres and through the years has become a world-class garden always open to the public free of charge.

FRG isn’t just a pretty place; it offers botanical education through a number of programs. Today I attended one such monthly program called Breakfast Botany. It consisted of an educational walk through the park with the Horticultural Director, Keith Kaiser. Today’s hike was about the Figwort Family or Scrophulariaceae andKeith told us some interesting facts about them. I quote: “The name was derived from European species of Scrophularia, the common figwort. The plants were used to treat hemorrhoids, which were known as “figs.” Figworts were also used to treat scrofula, a form of tuberculosis carried in the milk of infected cows.”

Some well-known garden members of the Scrophulariaceae family include figwort (Scrophularia), butterfly bush (Buddleja) Twinspur (Diascia), nemesia, and mullein (Verbascum). Keith also noted that foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) and Penstemon (shown in top photo) were previously listed botanically as Scrophulariaceae but due to research have been moved to Plantaginaceae.

Of course, Keith also pointed out all of the currently blooming plants from other families too.  One was their wonderful kousa Dogwood (Cornus kousa), pruned to perfection (shown in above photo).

I also decided I need the Allium shubertii (shown in photo below). It looks like fireworks on a stick!

After our informative hike we had breakfast at the Garden Café inside the Davis center consisting of Canadian bacon and egg on a croissant and fresh fruit and beverages.  I’d say that overall this was a very progressive gardening day!

My Made in the Shade Garden

In the shade of the pin oak tree grass never grew well; to me this was an ideal opportunity to expand the garden beds. The feature plants were to be three large hostas, the first hybridized varieties I ever bought: H. ‘Sum and Substance,’ H. ‘Big Daddy,’ and H. ‘Halcyon.’

For ground cover I transplanted some soft foliaged Sweet Woodruff (Galium odoratum). To add color to the bed, I transplanted a purple azalea from the front porch bed.  For contrasting leaf shapes I added three lady’s mantles (Alchemilla mollis) and a spiderwort (Tradescantia virginiana) for its strap like leaves and dark purple blooms. Mid-height interest would be provided by shield ferns and a taller-sized legacy geranium (Geranium maculata).  A meadow rue, (Thalictrum ‘Black Stocking’), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum) and some columbine (Aquilegia) also added varying heights. Astilbes were added for their feathery foliage and mid-summer bloom. Edging plants consisted of Heucheras, Japanese painted fern, prim roses (Primula), foam flower (Tiarella), and balloon flowers (Platycodon). In the fall I planted some spring flowering bulbs: tulips, grape hyacinth (Muscari), alliums, and scillas. Annuals such as Impatiens and Cleome provided season long color. I also added a Mother’s Day gift hydrangea, a florist’s hydrangea that I didn’t expect to live. It still lives and occasionally blooms – if I remember to remove the overshadowing hosta leaves.

I must explain that the pin oak also edges the driveway and that means this shade garden grows in just about one fourth of the shady circle under the tree. After listing all the plants in this bed I now see that this shade garden has all elements I’d hoped for: a diversity of plants, contrasting, textural leaf shapes, and flowers with successive bloom times. I think it probably has progressed enough to qualify as My Made in the Shade Garden!

My 2012 Heliotrope Container

I like to use planted containers on my deck and steps. If you feed and water them regularly they repay you with season-long bloom and textural interest. It’s been nearly two weeks since I posted that I’d bought some plants for my containers. They are not all planted yet! Our last frost date is May 24th and we did have frost just last week. It’s much easier to bring in flats of plants than already-planted, heavy containers.

Maybe you, like me, have heard of using the formula, “Thrillers, Fillers and Spillers” to choose and coordinate your containers. I planted this medium-sized, red resin pot (see photo) using this philosophy last week. Heliotrope is one of my long-time cottage garden favorites. I love the textural veining of its leaves and H. ‘Fragrant Delight’ has a deep purple flower spike. This will be my ‘Thriller’ plant. I chose the Euphorbia ‘Blush’ because its leaves have dark blotch that echoes the heliotrope’s flower color. The smaller leaves and delicate white flowers contrast well with the firmness of the heliotrope and will function well as the ‘Filler’ plant. I then needed a ‘Spiller’ or a flower that would cascade over the side of the pot. I was looking for another white flower that was of bigger stature when I found Bacopa ‘White Wedding.’

What formula do you use when planting containers?

Four Favorite Cottage Garden Plants

Meadow Rue

Thalictrum aquilegifolium or meadow rue blooms from late spring through early summer. I love this plant. It’s as tall as I am, has delicate leaves and airy purple flowers that begin in May and last for weeks. They look good in a vase with roses or phlox.  It practically takes care of itself, only needing deadheading when the stems begin to fall from the weight of the flowers. Interestingly, it has hollow stems. The foliage remains nice until frost, turning a soft yellow in fall. The only thing it’s missing is fragrance. I think all my plants are Thalictrum aquilegifolium ‘Black stockings.’ This refers to their dark stems that are useful for juxtaposition in my borders. Thalictrum is Latin for meadow rue and aquilegifolium means ‘with foliage like columbine’ (aquilegia).


Phlox has a diverse plant profile, and fills many garden needs. It comes in both perennial and annual species, varying in size from a few inches to four feet high, usually with pastel-hued flowers. The shorter species make good ground covers. The taller species of phlox provide visual transition between ground hugging plants and taller shrubs and trees. Blooming in midsummer, phlox offers continual bloom and variation of texture and form.  A Native American plant, its sweet fragrance attracts butterflies, bees, and moths making it an important pollination plant in the wildlife garden. Phlox ‘David’ was the 2002 perennial of the year; it has pure white flowers.


I’ve come to appreciate this quiet back bone plant for the garden. A legacy plant on my property turned out to be Geranium maculate or wild geranium. It developed into a large mounding plant that became a favorite architectural element of the border. It blooms with single purple flowers and provides neat green foliage all summer and fall interest as its leaves turn reddish. I’ve had little trouble with these carefree plants. Geranium ‘Rozanne‘ was the 2008 perennial of the year.

 Lady’s Mantle

Alchemilla mollis is popularly known as Lady’s Mantle because its large leaves are shaped like a woman’s cape. Alchemilla was used in many Victorian and cottage gardens. It forms a pleasant, weed-suppressing mound and panicles of chartreuse flowers. I’ve heard some say they deadhead it because they grow it specifically for the leaf form and it will self-sow profusely. I don’t deadhead it because I like to use the flowers as a substitute for baby’s breath in arrangements and seedlings pull out easily. I’ve grown it both in sun and part-shade situations. I recently bought Alchemilla alpina, a charmingly, tinier version.


Eucomis ‘Comosa’ aka Pineapple Lily


Eucomis 'Comosa'
FRG plant sale purchase

I forgot that I had bought this small bag at Fellows Riverside gardens plant sale last week. It contains three large bulbs of Eucomis ‘Comosa’ or pineapple lily. My shopping buddy came upon the table of summer bulbs in bags. We’d never heard of it before and that alone made it interesting and a candidate for purchase. But this plant has huge flower spikes guaranteed to attract kids! Said shopping buddy is also a master gardener involved in Sunplace Special: A Children’s Garden; she designs, plants and tends the Bird & Butterfly Garden at Sunplace Special. She was certain we needed this for Sunplace Special! The bag cost $7 for three large bulbs. How could we resist? 3 bulbs for $7!

The informational paper attached to the bag said:

Eucomis ‘Comosa’ Pineapple Lily 

Dense spike of green, purple and white, sweetly scented flowers that butterflies adore. Conical flower head with fragrant florets topped with a tuft of green leaves resembling a pineapple. Eye-catching in a garden and can be planted in a container. Plant in well-drained soil. Critter resistant. Sun/Part Shade

My Taylor’s Encyclopedia of Gardening, fourth edition corroborates this, saying of the South African native: “Eucomis is from the Greek for beautiful topknot, from the leafy tuft at the end of the flower cluster.”

I was put in charge of the bag until we research their needs and decide their best location. Here’s some of the information I gathered so far:

  • The flower can grow to an impressive two-foot purple, green, and white raceme in late summer. Research says to plant it six inches deep and one foot apart.
  • Despite the description on the bag, some called the flower’s scent “unpleasant” or “funky.”
  • In our Ohio garden we will need to lift and store the bulb over winter. This makes it a good candidate for a container because it can then be easily stored.

Have you ever seen or grown this plant? If so please let me know your impressions and experiences.  I’ll let you know how we plant it soon.