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Plants survive gardener’s absence

In the Garden
Plants survive gardener’s absence Plants survive gardener’s absence
By Ralph Purkhiser, Purdue University, Master Gardener

What a difference a week makes. Even with a lot of preparation for a trip, one comes home to a garden that has changed dramatically. That is not necessarily all bad.

Yes, the weeds have continued to grow and a few plants disappeared from the garden (probably because of some bunnies in the area), but the gardener’s absence does not keep the progression of the garden in check.

I spent a recent week on vacation with family and returned home to a kaleidoscope of color. I had been concerned I would miss some of my favorite blooms while I was traveling, but I think they all managed to hang on for my return.

Daylily blooms had begun prior to my departure, but I returned to find the mid-season varieties in full bloom. The weather this year has made for a phenomenal year for the daylilies. The scapes all seem to have multiple blooms and many buds for extending the show.

Another favorite that has reached its peak is the Queen of the Prairie or Filippendula. This tall native sports pink plumes high above most other plants in the garden. They are beautiful as they blow in the wind. While these particular specimens are in the perennial border, I also enjoy them in the meadow.

While not as bright and tall, the graceful blooms of some white callas also greeted me in the perennial border. Oriental lilies in several colors are also providing dramatic accents.

The first flush of coneflowers, tall phlox and black-eyed Susans in swaths around the border complete the picture. I can live with the weeds for a while.

While my plans to visit a botanical garden this trip were nixed by the weather and a foot injury, I did spend a day riding a trolley through the Dogwood Canyon Nature Preserve in Blue Eye, Mo. This place is landscaping on steroids. It is a place of great natural beauty that has been enhanced by some additional manipulation.

There are many natural waterfalls along the trolley route, but some have been modified to increase the amount of water. The natural streams have been dammed in numerous places to create the pools favored by trout. They have also planted additional dogwood trees to create a dramatic display in the spring.

Although not completely natural, this attraction allows visitors a chance to enjoy great beauty of the Ozarks in a variety of ways. One may hike, ride horses, bicycles or segways, take the trolley or go on a Jeep tour.

The buildings are all rustic to blend in with the natural area. They include a chapel in the woods, an impressive treehouse with educational features, a restaurant, a working mill, a gift shop and even a covered bridge constructed entirely with antique hand tools. Bridges and other hardscape are built of stone and blend in perfectly.

In addition to the trees, wildflowers and other foliage, a visitor will have the opportunity to see a variety of wildlife.

We saw Missouri mink along the way. The streams are stocked with brown, rainbow and golden trout, and one may fish for an additional fee. They also have bison, elk and long-horn cattle in pastures at the top of the mountain, when one has passed from Missouri into Arkansas.

The property totals 10,000 acres, but only about 2,000 are open for visitors. The other acreage includes a working farm and acreage that has been preserved in its natural state.

It is only a short drive from Branson and offers a different venue to visitors to southwest Missouri. I highly recommend it, and I hope to go back sometime when the dogwoods are in bloom.

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