Backyard Garden Ideas From The Road

A demonstration garden in a small town, yields backyard garden ideas.

Do you keep an eye out for new ideas to try out in your backyard garden?  I do – especially when I am traveling.

This is the last of a three-part post where I shared with you my discoveries while on a road trip through the midwest.  From large fields of flowering bulbs in Michigan to unique containers found in Amish country in Indiana, there were quite a few ideas to inspire me in my own garden.

The last step of my journey led us to a demonstration garden in a small town located in the northeastern corner of Missouri in the town of Hannibal.  If that name sounds somewhat familiar to you, there is good reason.  It is the boyhood home of Mark Twain and the place where the setting of the adventures of Tom Sawyer took place.


At the end of Main Street, is a statue depicting Tom Sawyer and his friend, Huckleberry Finn.


Throughout the town are famous landmarks signifying events that occurred in the books.


This was Mark Twain’s father’s law office.

As we walked through the downtown, I was wishing that I had paid better attention when I read Tom Sawyer in school.


The town of Hannibal is located right on the Mississippi River.  Although I grew up near water (the California beach), the Mississippi River was quite a novelty to me and it was so interesting to see how large it was and how tall the surrounding levees were that kept the Mississippi from flooding the town.

Continuing our walk through the town, we came upon a small demonstration garden.


Of course, I had to go in and explore it further.


Along the brick wall of a building, were espaliered apple trees that were beginning to blossom.


Wooden planks were used as a border for this newly planted vegetable garden.  I confess, that I hadn’t seen a garden border made from planks before, but it looked like it was working well.


My favorite part of this small garden was the butterfly garden.  I like how this sign describes larval plants (those for caterpillars) as a “kid’s menu”.


Another sign described the life cycle of a butterfly.  I liked the homemade quality of the sign instead of the more polished, professional signage that you often see in gardens.


Plants were beginning to flower in the garden in early May, including this Salvia officinalis with its beautiful, blooms.


Another area in the garden had a unique border made up of small terra-cotta pots.  That would be so easy to do in my own backyard garden and fairly inexpensive.


As we got ready to leave, I passed by this delicate-looking plant – I believe it may have been a cat mint.

While the demonstration garden was small, it was obvious that it was well-cared for and I came away with backyard garden ideas to take home with me.


We enjoyed our short time in Hannibal, but it was time to leave and we soon found ourselves traveling on Route 66 on our way to Carthage, Missouri.


You may be wondering what there was to see in Carthage?  Well, it is where my great-great grandparents lived.  We stopped by the cemetery where they were buried and I spotted this glorious pink peony in full bloom.


Most of the time, I am perfectly happy with the wide variety of plants that I can grow in my zone 9a garden.  But, I do lament the fact that peonies will not grow in my climate – it doesn’t get cold enough.  So, my dream of a garden filled with flowering peonies will never come true.


After a quick visit to Carthage, we took to the road toward Fort Scott, Kansas and visited the old fort from the Civil War.  It was very interesting to walk through the buildings and learn the history of what happened there.


I was surprised to find a small garden while walking through the grounds of the fort.  This garden was surrounded on two sides by old stone walls.  The small garden beds were bordered by stones set into the ground, which I though lent a cottage-garden feel.

A variety of perennials and iris were growing in the beds.


The iris were beautiful and I was thankful that I could grow those in my own garden, if I decided to.  The cool purple and green colors made the warm day feel a little cooler.


I think that if I grew iris in my own garden, that I would have a hard time deciding on which colors to plant.

I came away from this last part of our road trip with some new ideas for garden borders – I like the stone border best.


I hope you have enjoyed coming along on my road trip through part of the midwest and were able to pick up an idea or two for your own garden.

  1. Joan says

    Nice pictures. Spring is almost here and we might see some flowers in about 3 months from the greenhouse and 5 months for those that are perennials. (That is in central Alberta, Canada)

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