Sunday
May222016

The Jim Scott Garden, a Secret Paradise

It takes a good GPS system and some nerve to find the Jim Scott garden, down a plunging, twisting dirt road on Lake Martin in central Alabama. However, at the end of the harrowing drive, a paradise waits, removed from the world. Enter the gate, and you are welcomed into a land of whimsy and magical beauty. It has taken Jim Scott nearly twenty years to create this masterpiece. It is a private retreat for his family and friends, but Mr. Scott also opens it to the public at various times through the year.

You must savor the journey as you explore the secret paths and private niches within this stroll garden. There are multiple levels with elevated bridges and streams and waterfalls throughout. Take your time; walk too fast, and you will miss something wonderful. There are many seating areas placed so that people can relax and enjoy the vistas through the trees and over the lake. It is a playful garden, for the young and the young-at-heart.

A team of five caretakers works full time to maintain this botanical wonder. When I visited, everything was perfect, healthy, weed-free and gorgeous. Here is a sampling of the photos I took of Jim Scott's unforgettable garden. This post is longer than my usual posts, but I hope you can take time to appreciate the details.  

A winding path around huge boulders and across a little stream leads to an amazing wine cellar.

This is the entrance to a secret cave behind a waterfall.

I hope you enjoyed the tour! You may want to look at this post more than once to take it all in; I am already planning another visit to Jim Scott's garden!

Addendum: Thanks goes to commenter Linda, http://southernruralroute.wordpress.com, who found this wonderful short video about Mr. Scott and his garden, Absolutely Alabama Story Jim Scott - YouTube. The video really brings his garden to life!

Sunday
May152016

Indigofera kirilowii, a Ground Cover for Large Areas

Indigofera is a genus of about 750 species of flowering plants. It may be best known for the tropical herbs Indigofera tinctura and Indigofera suffructicosa, which are both used to produce indigo dye. Other species include annuals, perennials, shrubs and trees, which vary in hardiness from USDA zones 6 to 11.

Indigofera kirilowii grows in in my own garden. Views of Indigofera kirilowii in my woodland garden. Look closely at the lower left photo. Do you see the bee behind the flower? He flew toward the back just as I took this photo.Visitors frequently admire the soft, fernlike foliage and want to know about it. Hardy in zones 6 to 9, it is a deciduous, suckering subshrub that has small pinnate leaves and pink and white racemes of flowers from May to midsummer, with sporadic blooms into fall. Its cotton candy colored flowers are attractive to pollinators. It looks much like a ground hugging wisteria.

It grows well on banks and does a great job of stabilizing the soil on a slope. Individual plants grow to about 2 feet tall and wide. They spread by underground runners, and Indigofera kirilowii makes an excellent ground cover for large areas. It is easy to pull up excess plants, but I would never plant Indigofera kirilowii unless it had room to roam. 

Indigofera grows well in light shade to full sun. It is not picky about soil, but it will especially thrive in well-draining, loamy soil. My Indigofera grows in a section of the woodland garden that gets no supplemental water, and it has done well. It has been a very low-maintenance plant. Flowers are produced on new wood, and I do usually cut the dead stems to the ground in late winter to neaten the appearance and to make room for the fresh spring growth.