Troy is a plantsman, author, photographer and garden designer who co-hosts Nashville Public Television's hit gardening show, Volunteer Gardener.  He has recently joined forces with Garden Travelers, of Indianapolis, Indiana, leading unique, small group garden and history focused tours both at home and abroad. His personal blog, "Gardener Cook" is a hit with gardeners and food enthusiasts, alike. For more information about Troy, visit troybmarden.com.
 

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Jewels of the Spring Garden
by Troy Marden - posted 04/20/14

Just a quick Easter morning post to show off a few flowers that are some of my favorites in the garden each spring.

Some are from my garden and one or two are from other gardens here in Nashville that I look forward to seeing every year.

 

This Lenten rose is from the Golden Sunrise strain from Ernie and Marietta O'Byrne at Northwest Garden Nursery near Portland, Oregon. Introduced to the gardening public by my friend Dan Heims at Terra Nova Nurseries, they are now widely distributed by Monrovia Nursery.  This is but one in the series, which includes a variety of spectacular colors and forms, including some of the best doubles on the market. Some have been a little slow to establish in my garden, but once they get going, they are gorgeous!

 

I look forward to this moment in Nashville every spring--a beautiful yard in an older neighborhood that bursts into a lavender haze each February with a carpet of Crocus tommasinianus.  This display covers close to an acre and if I had to guess has been re-seeding and spreading itself around the property since at least the 1940's and possibly as early as the 1930's.

 

A few years ago I was able to buy one small plant of the rare, double-flowering bloodroot, Sanguinaria canadensis 'Multiplex'.  It is painfully slow to multiply--three years old and still only one bloom this year, but it is a sight to behold in its fleeting moment of beauty.

 

This unusual trillium is a hybrid I picked up a few years ago at a local garden center--probably a naturally occurring cross between Trillium sulcatum and Trillium flexipes.  It has been spectacular in the garden here.

  

I've been in an epimedium phase, of late, and Epimedium pauciflorum is one of my favorites.  It is dainty and delicate and may need a little coddling to get it started, but it is well worth the effort.

I hope your gardens are coming to life and that you have a few treasures like these to enjoy each spring!  Happy Gardening and I'll have another update soon!

 

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Dreaming of Summer
by Troy Marden - posted 03/25/14

One of the most frequently asked questions when people visit or see pictures of my garden is, "Where do you find such cool plants?"  The answer is, "Everywhere!"  You just have to develop a keen eye and look past the most common offerings.  Petunias, while they have their place, rarely, if ever, find a home at Wits' End.  And even if you are tempted by the most common of bedding plants, at least look for the most unusual forms of more common plants that you can find.  That's what will set your garden apart from the others.

While I do plenty of shopping at and firmly believe in shopping my local garden centers--and encourage you to do the same--sometimes I have to cast a wider net to find the best of the best.  I also encourage you to do that!  It makes the garden much more exciting!

Here is a list of a few favorite mail-order nurseries and their websites to get you started.  I buy plants from many of these sources each year and have always been pleased with the quality of the plants and service I receive.  Happy shopping and gardening!

www.plantdelights.com   Rare and unusual Perennials, Tropicals, Annuals and Shrubs

www.diggingdog.com   Excellent selection of unusual perennials

www.anniesannuals.com   Some of the most exotic Perennials and Annuals of any nursery

www.rareseeds.com   For the vegetable gardeners who love heirlooms and unusual varieties

www.dahlias.com   Swan Island Dahlias, the most beautiful dahlias available today

www.pineknotfarms.com   Exceptional hellebores (Lenten roses) for Southern gardens

www.woodlanders.net   A great mix of natives and exotics, the most unusual varieties of each

www.arrowheadalpines.com   Rare and unusual perennials, bulbs and more

www.brokenarrownursery.com   Rare and unusual woody plants (trees and shrubs) and perennials

www.cistus.com   Also top notch when it comes to things rare and unusual.  In the Pacific Northwest, but they sell a variety of plants that will grow well in the South.

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list.  There are hundreds of fantastic mail order nurseries in the world today, but these are a few favorites that get my repeat business.  So kick back and start browsing--and maybe keep the credit card in the other room until the impulse buying period has passed...

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Where, Oh Where, Is Spring?
by Troy Marden - posted 03/01/14

With the winter we have experienced this year, it seems that spring may never arrive. Good news! Winter's days are numbered--literally--and spring is just around the corner.

One of the first true signs of spring in my garden and in the fence rows and pastures along the country roads where I live is the flowering of Narcissus pseudonarcissus, the bright yellow daffodil that has naturalized itself on old homesteads and farms all over the South. I can't think of anything more cheerful than its bright yellow flowers that appear in late February and early March, brightening up the landscape during winter's last drab and dreary days.

Narcissus pseudonarcissus

 

These "wild" daffodils are soon joined by other garden varieties whose flowers continue opening throughout March and into early and mid-April. In a good year, the daffodil season will start in late February in my garden and last for nearly two months, with the very latest varieties finishing up in mid-April.

Some of my favorite narcissus, or daffodils, are the species and wild forms that have been grown for many generations throughout the South and include the following:

Narcissus 'Von Sion', also known as "butter and eggs".

 

Narcissus poeticus var. ornatus, the "Pheasant's Eye" narcissus, is one of the very last narcissus, or daffodils, to flower. Often, it is still blooming near the beginning of May!  Just remember that the later they flower, the later into the season their foliage will remain standing in the garden. It is important to leave the foliage of ALL of your daffodils standing for at least 6 weeks AFTER they finish flowering to give them enough time to store energy to flower again the following year. Cutting or mowing them down sooner may affect the quantity and quality of blooms next season and repeated early cutting over a period of years will eventually starve the bulbs out entirely!

 

 

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