The Garden of Southern Follies and Delights

And so it begins... the Garden of Southern Follies and Delights.

I've been thinking for quite some time about clearing out the hodge podge of shrubs and perennials around the sun room and replacing them with plants normally grown in the south, including camellias, crepe myrtles and possibly crinums.

I actually started to call this area of the garden "The Garden of Southern Follies and Delights" a few weeks ago, even though I wasn't totally set on replacing those plants with marginally hardy southern plants.

Then I went to the grocery store for some salsa, just one jar of salsa. The entrance to the grocery story is a minefield for gardeners because they always have some tempting plants on display out front. Good plants, too.  I've found some interesting plants in front of the grocery story over the years.

As I walked up to the grocery store, I tried my best to keep from looking at the plants, from making direct eye contact.  But a flash of pink caught my eye and I looked.

It was a crepe myrtle. Specifically Lagerstroemia indica 'Strawberry Delight'. I tweeted out "Temptation, thou takes the form of a crepe myrtle." I wanted it. But I didn't buy it. Instead I made a deal with myself. We all make deals with ourselves when there are temptations tapping us on the shoulder, don't we?

I made a deal with myself that if I went back to the grocery store the next day and they still had a crepe myrtle out front, I would take it as a sign to proceed with my plans to plant The Garden of Southern Follies and Delights.

The next day, I went back to the grocery store. I was delighted. There were three crepe myrtles sitting out in front of the store.  It was the sign I was hoping for, times three.  I looked from one to the other to the next one. Should I buy all three? Should I buy two? Or should I just buy the one with the nearly black leaves called 'Midnight Magic'? 

I bought Lagerstroemia indica 'Midnight Magic'. 

Depending on who is selling it, this particular crepe myrtle is advertised as either hardy to zone 6 or zone 7.  If it is only hardy to zone 7, then I have purchased a lovely annual crepe myrtle. If it is hardy to zone 6, then some winters it will probably die back to its roots but grow back in the spring.  It will likely never get to its full height of four feet. 

I'll plant this crepe myrtle soon and then I'll have Midnight Magic in the Garden of Southern Follies and Delights. It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it?

Now that the new garden has been started,  I'll pull out the hodge podge of shrubs growing there and prepare the border for camellias.  I've been reading about camellias for over a year thanks to Eudora Welty so I know there are actually some winter hardy varieties that should survive my zone 6 winter. Should.  

I'll plant the camellias this spring to give them a good chance of establishing roots before winter arrives.

Crinums? I haven't quite figured those out yet. Perhaps I can dig them up each fall, like we dig up dahlies and cannas each fall?  I'll do my homework on those this winter when I plan out the rest of The Garden of Southern Follies and Delights.

I sure hope it grows more delight than folly... or I won't be whistling Dixie. 

Stay tuned.


  1. How funny! Saw your article on Twitter, couldn't resist clicking. Best wishes with your new adventure. Whistling Dixie! xoxo

    Marie at the Lazy W

  2. My crepe made it thru last winter (can't remember which it is but got it from Southern Plants booth last year). It's set bud but hasn't bloomed yet, probably needs a tad more sun. Interesting about the camellias, didn't realize there was a zone 6, have a small one in a pot that is just getting going. Love me my southern roots (plants)

  3. The crepe myrtle will reach 4 feet many if not most years I bet. The camellia will be the tricky one.

    Perhaps add a rose tree of China. Some of the more southern hibiscus.

    And a blue bottle tree of course.

  4. Everyone needs a few follies:) I've envied Southern gardeners for years for their crepe myrtles, so I would have had a hard time resisting temptation, too. Hope it brings you lots of delights!

  5. Do not buy any crinums! I'll send you some.

  6. I cracked up when reading the part of how you traverse the lurking plants outside the grocery. They always put the prettiest blooms right there to tempt you. I hope your Crepe Myrtle grows like magic.

  7. Much of gardening is an experiment.You have got to experiment! Can't wait to see the whole garden.

  8. It's fun to have a folly or three. Rock on!~~Dee

  9. Carol- If you dig up crinums and keep them in for the winter they will never bloom. They are homebodies. Plant them against the south facing foundation of your house and mulch them heavily. They are tough.

    Crape myrtles are hardier than people think they are, especially if they get some hardened wood on them. They can become trees in Nashville.

  10. Midnight Magic is a beauty! I can relate to this post, just in the exact opposite longing--to grow things like tulips and hostas that almost always get fried here in the hot-as-Hades summers in 8b, Austin, TX.

    I relate to grocery store temptations, too. I've given in more often than I should, but some grocery store plants work out great.

    Love the name of the southern garden, too! Have fun.

  11. This zone 6 gardener will be very interested to see how your Southern garden does. Keep us posted!

  12. I live outside dallas, and I grow lots of crinnums. their bulbs are Big. you might try growing them in a pot. good luck.

  13. I agree with Layanee: gardening is all about experimenting!

  14. I wish we could grow crepe myrtles up here in New York. I know that in some places downstate (near New Jersey) I think they are able to, but not so much up here in Central/Northern New York. It's fun to try new plants though. Gardening is always an experiment. You never know what's going to make it year-to-year. Good luck with your new garden.

  15. The least hardy crape myrtles here in Texas are Country Red (which no one plants any more), and the three which everyone loves: Muskogee, Natchez and Sioux.

    You might check to see if your crapes are one of these and being sold under a nursery name.

  16. While ultra cold may not kill your crape myrtle it will certainly cause it not to bloom the next year. So you may be left with a plant that just never reaches its potential.


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