The Hermitage, Nashville, TN

I was fortunate-thanks to my sweet, lovely mother-in-law, Margaret to visit President Andrew Jackson’s former home, The Hermitage. Located near Nashville, Tennessee, many of the buildings date from the early 1800’s, and the tour of the manor was fascinating. As usual, I’m more interested in what goes on outside, so the gardens this past June were right up my allée.

The Hermitage Gardens Nashville, TN Southeastern Native Plants
Central Sun Garden at the Hermitage

In much the same way the house, grounds, and interior furnishings have been preserved allowing you to be transported back to 1819, strolling the gardens here takes you back in time.

Red Nasturtium from The Hermitage Gardens

The gravel garden path from the house began with deep shade- extra welcome due the outrageous temps and full sun around the house. The first plant that caught my eye was one of the few plants marked with a nameplate in the gardens. I zoomed in under the dense crepe myrtle branches and captured this cool, shady Nasturtium dressed with red pops.

Giant Purple Coneflower Georgia Native Plant
Purple Coneflower ‘Echinacea purpurea’

Stepping out of the deep shade I encountered purple coneflower, with sun loving iris behind them. This day in late June, the heat had weight. It might have been the hottest day of the year, but well worth it because everywhere was flush with summer blooms. It seemed that every plant was showing off it’s best and brightest beauties that day.

The Hermitage Gardens Nashville, TN southeastern native plants

The gardens are almost exactly the same configuration, and use similar or the same types of plants as were grown here nearly 200 years ago. There are even some original plants, and descendant plants. I found this to be a beautiful tribute to the garden’s original designer- English designer William Frost, and also to Mrs. Rachael Jackson. Rachael was known for her love of plants, and helped to plan and maintain the gardens. The Hermitage Gardens page gives details on the plants, and the garden’s history.

Canna Lily The Hermitage Gardens
Canna Lily

Zinnias The Hermitage Gardens

Many of the plants in the gardens are edible, medicinally useful, and/or native to the southeast-like the first two plants in this post, the nasturtium and the purple coneflower. My focus on herbs and vegetable plants on this blog grows from my desire to showcase plants with a useful purpose. As a bonus, their beauty overwhelms me.

I could go on and on about how I felt to be connected to the history of this place, for both the magnificent and tragic things that happened here. But, I just want to stop here for a minute, just sit for a spell (as my mother Alawayne, and her mother Hazel would say). Just sit a spell here in the sunshine, and enjoy the lovely flowers.

Gibbs Gardens Daffodils

I waited for several years to visit Gibbs Gardens when the spring daffodils were blooming. March 26, 2016 was closer to the end of the season, but there were plentiful daffodils and other blooming plants to enjoy. Gibbs Gardens, located in Ball Ground, Georgia, has one of the largest daffodil gardens in the world.

gazebo & daffodils at gibbs gardens
Gibbs Gardens 

Daffodils appear on my blog often, and I’m excited to finally share the pics of the gardens. It softly rained from time to time that day. The white cherry blossoms and the Japanese garden were stunning. The stroll through the gardens and forest felt magical.

swath of daffodils on slope

unknown daffodil

plants from Gibbs Gardens
What is this plant? Some type of Euphorbia I think.


view from the top of the hill

side of pond Japanese Garden
Japanese Gardens – the largest in the Nation!cypress stairstep over pond
Snowy White Cherry Blossoms
Cherry Tree

View leaving the Japanese Garden

I’m currently digging & transplanting crowded daffodil bulbs in my yard,  spacing them out, & hoping they will bloom next spring. I have a post in the works about that process.

Transplanted Daffodil Bulbs

I dug up a closely crowded cluster of daffodil bulbs in the fall of 2014. After letting them dry out in the garage over the winter, I planted them in my “bulb bed” in the backyard which already contains Dutch Iris and Iris, in the early spring of 2015. They grew last year, but no blooms as expected.

This year, blooms! Somewhat early, due in part to the warmer than average weather, and lots of rain. The heads are so heavy on this variety, they seem to have a hard time standing up straight.


The American Daffodil Society has a fantastic website and DaffSeek is an amazing identification tool. There are at least 25,000 different registered hybrids of daffodil! The photo below is a much smaller variety that is in desperate need of dividing. I will dig up some of the bulbs this fall and transplant them to other sites in the yard next year.


Journal 4 Daffodils

SSCN0909The Daffodil might be the perfect blooming plant. Their blooms seem designed to delight. I have loved them since I was a child, and they still continue to surprise me with their incredible variety and beauty. I wait anxiously for the pointy leaf tips to burst through the top layer of dirt in late winter. These pasts few weeks, I went back daily to watch them emerge. Since I just read Annie Dillards’s Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, I was reminded of her thoughts on growth. She talks about “the pressure of birth and growth, the pressure that splits the bark of trees and shoots out seeds.” These daffodils definitely felt the pressure to grow. The shorter, smaller, early blooming varieties are faded now, but the others are still gorgeous. Daffodils grow from underground bulbs. After the blooms fade, the leaves continue to soak up sunshine and nutrients in preparation for next year’s blooms. Finally, the leaves fade and the bulbs remain hidden underground waiting for the right cues to emerge next year and begin again. This cycle of growth, death, and renewal makes connections to many of the works we have discussed in Environmental Lit. this semester. The daffodils are a pretty example of this cycle at work.


Fragrant Freesia

Another thoughtful gift from my sister-in-law, M., these orange Freesia blooms are bright & lovely.


I was hoping to have more blooms this year, but I think the bulbs need more sun or nutrients, or both. I received new bulbs last Christmas and will plant those this fall in the backyard bulb bed along with the Daffodil bulbs I recently dug from the crowded clump under the Hickory tree in the front yard.

Dutch Iris

DutchIrisThese gorgeous Dutch Iris bulbs were a gift from my thoughtful sister-in-law. She knows me so well and has given me so many great plants over the years. Also know as the classic Fleur-de-Lis,  I was fascinated by these flowers as a child and am so happy to have them growing in my garden.



Sweet Daffodils

BigFrillyDaffyThere are hundreds of Daffodil species and over 25,000 named hybrids. I only have a few different types in my yard, and haven’t taken time to identify them.  I plan to divide and replant some crowded clumps of bulbs after the foliage fades this year to encourage more blooms next year.

I took these photos over the last few weeks.




They are all so beautiful and cheerful at this time when little else is happening yet in the landscape. I cut some of the super sweetly fragrant types a few weeks ago and put them on the mantle in the lovely bud vases my sweet sister-in-law gave me a few years ago.



Grape Hyacinth

GrapeHyacinthTiny, bell-shaped, frilly edged clusters of Grape Hyacinth blooms are starting to fill my containers now. I pair them with daffodils for pretty late winter color. I dug the bulbs from under the Crabapple tree just after moving here and put them into containers. The ground under the tree wasn’t ideal. They seem much happier in the containers and have bloomed profusely for years.


This photo was taken before the hyacinths bloomed, but you can see their trailing, green, skinny leaves hanging over the sides of the container. Also in this container, are a variety of miniature Daffodil and fantastically fragrant Freesia-which will bloom this summer. My sweet mother-in-law gave me the container when we moved in and I am so happy it’s finally filled with greenery and blooms.