WALKABOUT: April 2013

It’s usually a half-hour walk from my front door on Learnard to 9th & Mass (Massachusetts Street, the heart of downtown Lawrence), but it’s easy to dawdle and mosey. These photos below are from a few walks in April down an oft-taken path: the south end of Learnard Ave north to New York & 15th, past the Sunrise Nursery, then up New York to 9th and east four blocks. I took the pictures with a cheap cellphone. Captions are below the pictures, plant links at the bottom of the post. As you’ll see, we grow a lot of Yucca in Lawrence.

1quince 2

The front of the house. The flowering quince is going to town, the Yucca has a flower bud, the daylilies are waking up and the Euonymus surges anew. Those box in front of the porch will soon be transplanted to proper spacing, the clumps of lamb’s ears divided and interspersed with Munstead lavender, Gaillardia “Burgundy” and Sedum “Voodoo,” hopefully a somber peppermint stick effect. More catmint goes by the Yucca.

2mahonia neighbor

This Mahonia in my neighbor’s yard, plastered against an elm, has never bloomed better. Much more water than last year so far. Neighbors on both sides are gardeners.

3water garden learnard

This fascinates me–a serious water garden, not meaning a pond but a drainage filter. The photo doesn’t depict it accurately, but I’ll get better angles on the progress of this garden on future walks. Above the drainpipe is a berm that drops down three or four feet on the other side, frequently flooded this year. The basin is planted mostly with prairie grasses and native forbs–plenty of Rudbeckia and Echinacea with some clumps of Chasmanthium latifolium now taking prominent roles. A vegetable garden on the left of the house benefits from directed runoff. The mulched bed in front holds a message etched in ground phlox. I’ve had brief and friendly exchanges with the gardener, a woman I’m guessing to be around my age, late 50s. A sign by her driveway says “War Is Not The Answer.”

4bulb house learnard

This garden is a primary reason I favor this route in Spring. At this point, the the orchestra is just tuning up. More to come.

5stone wall learnard

A fine stone wall, a drizzly day and catkins.

6secret magnolia learnard

Early Spring in Lawrence, Kansas has three dominating flower colors: white from Bradford pears, and thankfully more and more from Viburnum; yellow from Forsythia and daffodils; and pink from redbuds and Magnolia. Here’s a tucked-away Magnolia giving thanks for the water.

7forsythia fence 15th

Forsythia is maligned these days–ubiquitous, color-harsh–but it is a sure harbinger of warmer weather. This one is particularly enthusiastic.

8blue tree ny st

The Blue Tree that stood here until a few years ago was a carefully pruned dead tree, painted the same color. It rotted so the sculptor across the street carved a new one.

9zen center ny st

The entrance to the Kansas Zen Center, two doors down from the Blue Tree.

10bamboo house ny st

I walk all over this town and I’ve only seen this big-leaved bamboo a few times from the sidewalk. Cursory research indicates it might be Indocalamus tessellatus. Nice box hedge working in front of the fence.

11dripping magnolia ny st

Airing the rugs under the dripping Magnolia.

12rock wall liebert house ny st

Steve Liebert, a top-notch craftsman, built this house and dry limestone wall on New York street. Exceptional work. He said the wall was harder than the house. My favorite part is the curb treatment, that long granite line topped with two brief steps. Steve lives in Belize now.

13art house ny st

I always look forward to walking by this yard.

14limestone fenceposts ny st

Limestone is plentiful in Kansas, easy enough to cut. Settlers ran hundreds of miles of limestone and barbed wire fence, still common sights on Kansas backroads. This is another favorite yard, casual and smart, though some of the current plantings are threatened by shade.

15yews ny alley

A quick side-step to the alley between New York and Connecticut streets to tip the hat to these noble yews. I don’t see this as the best setting for these fine trees but they are vigorous, healthy and nonchalant.

16church house ny st

This neighborhood chapel was converted to a rental residence more than a decade ago. From here, a five-block skip to the heart of downtown.


Back home. The Euonymus is out of control this year. The north side of the house is a jungle, six feet up the walls. Once the compost is spread, extermination begins. Euonymus fortunei “Coloratus” is listed as an invasive species in Kansas.

18pink silos

View east from the front porch. The camera didn’t pick up the sunset pink of the silos rising above the rental Legos just right of center. Some evenings it looks like Disneyland.

1 comment
  1. This makes me smile. Thanks for taking us along for the walk!

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