Claudia and I became fans of Oklahoma native wildflowers in our landscaping when we lived out east of town from 2001, through my retirement (2004-2005) until 2016.
When I retired over 15 years ago, I developed an interest in the wildflowers that were growing along the roads and highways in Oklahoma, especially the roads leading from our house out east of town back into town, and then later, any and all roads in the state. I became a fan of those special varieties of wildflowers that do really, really well in Oklahoma in the spring through the summer. So here is what we wound up having around the house at Nutmeg Drive.
As you can see to the right, we planted huge areas in Black-eyed Susan, and threw in two Jap Maples in our front-of-the-house-bed inside the walkway around the east side of the house, with Butterfly Weed and non-native but gorgeous ornamental peppers thrown into the mix too.
You also see the purple Foxglove, but even the Old Farmer’s Almanac warns its readers that
Common foxglove is a biennial, which means they form a rosette and leaves in their first year, bloom in their second year, and then die. Foxglove reseed easily, so plant foxgloves two years in a row for flowering plants. Also, new perennial varieties of foxglove have been developed that flower in year one.
In a flower bed, foxglove can grow up to 5 feet, so they tend to look best at the back of the flower bed. Ensure the planting location has rich, neutral to slightly acid soil with good drainage. It should be planted while temperatures are still slightly cool.
Please note: All parts of foxglove are poisonous. Historically, compounds from the plant have been used in heart medication; depending on the species, ingestion of Digitalis can induce symptoms ranging from nausea to cardiac arrythmia.
Most of the property, though, was planted in Oklahoma native plants, flowering plants that were attractive to birds and butterflies. Indeed, we had and used our copy of the paperback book, Oklahoma Native Plants by Connie Scothorn and Brian Patric to know what way most mentioned by the state’s wildflower fans. In that book over 50 forbs (flowering plants) are discussed and classified according to
- height (ft or less, 1-3 feet, over 3 ft)
- exposure to sun (shade, partial, full sun)
- soils (dry, medium, wet/clay)
- pollinators (birds, insects)
As usual, the chart that features this useful information is organized first by type (Forbs, then Grasses) and then alphabetically by botanical name, followed by common name, height, exposure, soils and pollinators, in any:
I have always found this list especially helpful in deciding what what flowers to add to our landscaping, first, out at Nutmeg Drive, and later back in town at Silverton Circle. Remember, though, these are other sources of “what’s best” to plant in Oklahoma, and some giving you other ways of searching for those plants.
For example, I like to plan our flower gardens by color and well as height, so one web site I use from time to time is the Wildflower Search site:
Location of Nutmeg Drive in Cinnamon Run, East of Norman
We were located just a few miles east of Norman, out Highway 9 toward Lake Thunderbird.
Our Cinnamon Run addition was located south of Lake Thunderbird–or actually, more specifically, south of the west end of Lake Thunderbird . . . and a couple of miles south of it. Indeed, a half mile south of state Highway 9:
I want to show what we ended up with at our former residence out east of town, off 72nd Street, on Nutmeg Drive. While we lived out there, I probably spend as much time on the web at Texas A&M’s Wildflowers in Bloom as I did at any other web site!
It was a 2 acre property that literally backed up on its south side to the orchard field of an Asian pear farm that in the 90’s was owned by a Japanese investor, a Mr. Nomura, who was told about the favorable climate and ecology of central Oklahoma for Asian pear trees by a faculty member at OU.
The farm was actually overseen by a Philipino who Nomura hired, and that overseer, along with his small family, ran the nursery operation and even sold some of their produce at the farmers markets in OKC and Norman. My wife and I loved the apple-like pears enough that I bought a long-handled “picker” to get a pear or two every now and again over the chain link fence that surrounding the pear farm’s perimeter and was on the south side of our property!
Our Cinnamon Run property was in the wooded Cross Timbers area of Oklahoma’s east side rolling hills, with gobs and gobs of Blackjack and Post Oak, with a few overgrown Red Cedar thrown in, but we had open spaces on that generally wooded property for a house, an enclosed patio in the back, a deck that looked out over a pool that we put in, and a shade structure that offered covering for guests at the pool–and a little half acre of grass under the trees.
In the years we were out there, I thinned out approximately 100 oaks and “bucked up” the wood around the property as 16 inch logs for next year’s use in our living room’s fireplace. Still, that cutting just cleared some room for Tall Fescue grass to grow beneath the understory of the trees: squirrels could probably still go from one end of the property to the other without having to deviate very much from a straight line path! I had plenty of trees left, just remind me of the ice storm events we went through.
Our Buildings on Nutmeg Drive
We had a small, 2,000 square foot 3-bedroom house with an enclosed patio behind it on the south side of Nutmeg Drive. I built a shop/painting studio (a 36 x 24 building down the hill from the house, at the other end of the house garage apron). I used an old garden implement building 12 x 20 as my office, and we put a carport south of it for extra coverage in case of hail/ice events . . . and guests needing coverage from hail for their car!
Off the patio and between the lower-in-elevation pool area to the south was a set of two terraced gardens (contained by 6 x 6 treated timbers), then finally a “shade structure” that was north of the pool, giving guests a place to sit under some shade while using the pool.
Back of the House
We took every opportunity to plant wildflowers, shrubs, blueberry, blackberry and raspberry plants, veggies, and ornamental peppers around the pool, but especially in the two, quite long terraced beds. Here is the pool, with the almost complete shade structure we built to keep the sun off of anyone using the pool:
On a terrace on the east back side of the house, we had two different varieties of grape vines as well:
Front of the House
We love Black-eyed Susans, so we gave over the beds in front of the house to them, with two Redbuds in the middle of them to set them off in the spring. I don’t seem to have a picture saved of the tall Black-eyed Susans in bloom, but you can imagine a sea of yellow 3′ flowers with dots of black in their centers, with a Red Bud shading a few of them:
East Side Flower Garden and Bird Feeder (for our Savannah, Tugger)
We worked hard to allow our big Savannah cat, Tugger, to have access to the living room windows on the east side of the living room to keep track of the squirrels and numerous species of birds that used our squirrel-proof feeder, our hummingbird feeders, and a birdbath on the north and east sides of the house:
It was a great place to live, but I had made it a full-time chore, what with the pool we added to the house, and all the flowers that had to be maintained. God! I loved it, though.