lost kodachromas of the Freda and Coleman Tarnoc bog gardens

stumbled across a box in the barn at the farm a week ago-opened and peered in. lots of slides of plants that I took for doing plant talks before digital cameras were invented. Back then you had to take forty or fifty or maybe a hundred photos to get one that looked worthy of viewing. And you had to wait a week or two to actually see just how bad your photography (or camera) was. I just got these digitized and returned last night while in the Big City. Pictures from Coleman and Freda Tarnoc bog garden (1994-1996). This unassuming couple created and nurtured an internationally significant bog garden for 30+ years in South Mississippi.

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S. leucophylla with its normal red floral scape, with a single green-leaf and red-veined dwarf hybrid S. flava in the bottom, center of the frame. Totally awesome.

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look at this amazing plant. Its a Sarracinea Leucophylla genetic anomaly that Mr. Tarnoc found in a bog in Alabama. These photos were taken at the Tarnoc bog in summer of 1996. Thanks to Darla Pastorek for shooting these photos

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at the time of this photo, I was star struck

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at the pond edge with the master plantsman

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notice in the above image, the verticle blackened stems of woody plants burn by Mr Coleman’s annual fires.

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The yellow splash in the center of the image is of Sarracenia alata and the taller yellow, choclate-necked Sarracenia flava, a florida native, prolifically hybidizing with S. leucophylla, the white species, in the foreground. The distance sits the base hulk of an old crane that sat rusting in the sun along with some other relict tractors. You could tell they were not junk but keepsakes to Mr. Coleman.

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the nearly closed hooded pitcher top of S. minor, with the blurred white flowerscapes of Venus Flytraps. The Flytraps had naturalized and covered the ten acre bog with hundreds of thousands of plants. He had a purple leafed Flytrap cultivar growing and he would never point it or the double leucophylla out when most folks were around. He didn’t want folks sneaking in and getting it. click on the picture

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above, S flava in foreground

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purpley aliens, obvious hybrids of S. flava and S. purpurea

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exceptionally dark red colored scapes of S. leucophylla


a photo from the Picayune Item Newspaper October 21, 1992.  from left, Crosby Arboretum curator Bob Brzuszek, floral artist Coleman Tarnok, horticulturist-teacher Dr. Jane McKinnon, and myself. Bob and I were picking up Frog Belly pitchers for one of the first Crosby plant sales. We walked the bog gardens with Mr. Coleman that day for one of the first times. I was invited there regularly to visit and talk plants with Mr. Coleman.


click to enlarge this fine photo from Martha Stewart Magazine, October 2000, the Freda and Coleman Family bog garden, Carriere, Mississippi. I brought nurseryman and plant explorer Dan Hinkley there in 1999, at the time Mr. Hinkey was working as a consultant, writer for the Magazine, and he advised the shoot.   here’s the link to the article and interplanetary photos     http://imgur.com/a/9YO1X

In 1998 when I inquired about bringing my friends Scott Odgen of Texas and Kim Hawks of North Carolina, Mr. Colemand and Mrs. Freda graciously invited us and we visited for hours that day and its there in history at the Tarnoc bog that Kim asked Mr Coleman if he would be interested in working with her on getting the double flowering Pitcher we saw that day. She wanted to bring it into horticulture through tissue culture and through sales in her nursery, Niche Gardens. He said he’d think about it. Punch in a search for Tarnoc sarracinia and see this intriguingly beautiful bug-eating plant for sale from numerous high-end plant purveyors around the world. Its in some of the finest gardens. Mr. Coleman and Mrs. Freda would be proud, I’m sure.

What a gift in my life to have had the pleasure of calling these two pioneers my friends and what memories these photos bring flushing back. 🙂



Crosby Arbo and LSU Design hosting eco-landscape Rock Stars

Its a matter of coincidence I’m sure that at the end of the month, within three days, the Crosby Arboretum, an arm of Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University, and LSU’s Robert Reich School of Landscape Architecture will each host lectures by an internationally recognized expert in the field of ecological-natural landscaping.

How cool is that?!!!

March 28th will bring to the Crosby Arboretum, located in the metropolis of Picayune, Mississippi, Rick Darke, an amazing speaker, horticulturist, author, and scientist. He has been promoting and using grasses since back in the early 90’s when I was just a whee whippersnapper novice to natives. Mr. Darke teamed-up and has just published his latest book, with Entomologist-nature-guy Doug Tallamy, titled The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden. Darke has written an amazing collection of horticultural publications including the Encyclopedia of Grasses for Living Landscapes, the American Woodland Garden-an American Horticultural Society book award winner, and The Wild Garden, among others. See this guy or regret your foolish absence. 🙂


On Monday April 1, at 5:00 at the LSU Art and Design auditorium, Dr. James Hitchmough, the world renown and highly acclaimed Professor of Horticultural Ecology, University of Sheffield, UK, will be speaking through the Paula D. Manship Endowed Lecture series, invited here by my fellow-instructor of the LSU Urban Meadows class, Prof. Wes Michaels. I had the great pleasure of meeting and spending a brief bit of time with Dr. Hitchmough a year ago at the 2014 NDAL and thoroughly enjoyed that time with him but I especially enjoyed his lecture. His is a most interesting and enlightening perspective, backed by hard-science, and of course the proof is in his awe-inspiring meadow gardens that he designs. His focus is on the seeded, urban landscape; one that evokes profound emotion and inspiration. His most recent books include Urban Landscape Management and The Dynamic Landscape. If you attend this lecture, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.


I hope to see a good crowd in the audience for these two, for them to come from so far, and carrying such important messages. Do like me and tell all three of your friends.


Crosby Arboretum bog burns nicely/ Hilltop Arboretum Symposium Lectures and plant sales

Wonderful burns at the Crosby Arboretum Bog Exhibit Wednesday. We spent about six hours and burned three compartments, about 9 acres of the bog area. We started at ten in the morning and could barely get a fire started. But after the humidity dropped and the wind kicked up, we had some really sweet roaring fires. We finished up and everybody was safe and the fire contained. Nice job to all who helped.


Houston, we have liftoff!


Nice fine fuel load of about 2 or 3



The Antique Rose Emporium will represent at the Hilltop Winter Symposium tomorrow morning in Baton Rouge. I will be hunting for some hard-to-find roses when I show up. The Antique Rose folks are expected to have some great plants available for you to purchase. These are some of the best plants to garden with. I know a dozen or two of the cultivars they grow really well but there is never enough room for roses. Can’t wait.

I will be talking about native herbaceous companion plants for garden borders and backyard natural meadows. I’ll talk about how some of the premiere plant nurseries in the country are selling and promoting natives to be used in fine horticultural design.

here is my power point presentation. I think you can upload it by clicking it.

hilltop baton rouge

Notice I mention James Hitchmough on the last few slides. He will be speaking at LSU on April , 2015. awesome