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. 🙂



deep south, mississippi boggin’

Digging in on a plant rescue in an old Pineywoods bog last week, I got to enjoy spring where most people don’t, up to my boot-ankles in water, sloshing around in a slurpy pine flat, since it had been raining on and off for the past two weeks. I recall doing bog transplantings/ rescues just a stone’s throw away from this spot, back in the late 1990’s for Crosby’s bog exhibit areas, with Bob Brsuszek and a bunch of other Crosby regulars. There was a Wal-Mart store proposed for that property and we volunteers were allowed to save and preserve many thousands of plants and clumps of precious soil from imminent and certain death. I dug and moved these recent plant rescues to my seed farm-pine restoration, just ten miles north from here.


Pearl River County Mississippi pitcher plant rescue site, set for fill and construction-mitigation soon.


click on the photo to see this old-old, leafless, and very sculptural Nyssa biflora, many years old (maybe ancient).


a new species of Aristida for me (shown against my glove). A five footer, Charles Allen says its likely A. palustrus.


Sunbonnets, Chaptalia tomentosa, were scattered across the floor of the landscape. Late february is for Sunbonnets in the bog. Very nice, indeed.


The red of Aronia arbutifolia berries, still holding fruit this late, after winter is done.


above: The red of a Hypericum leaf, colored-up, and colorful.


In this native garden, ten miles north of Picayune; my friend Jim’s bog progressess. It was turfgrass lawn when he and I started turning it into a bog meadow in 1999. There’s a carpet of fluffy sphagnum moss covering the ground very beautifully through much of the garden area now; a wonderful achievement, I would say. Jim has nurtured this ground on his own, patiently caring for new plants he has to introduced through the years. He calls it gardening.


Jim Sones of Carriere, Mississippi with his bog woodland friend, Cyrilla recemosa


above: the bark of Cyrilla is often pinkish on old specimens, this one being much older than I, I am sure.


My friend Charlotte Seidenberg’s recent photo of a frog inside a pitcher plant tube, in her garden. She was wondering how the plant will eat if the frog is taking its dinner! Charlotte is the author of The New Orleans Garden and The Wildlife Garden: Planning Backyard Habitats, both excellent reference sources for gardeners in the southeast U.S. -click on it to enlarge. She too, has nurtured a meadow garden that we both built.

Below is a ten-second youtube video, a brief glimpse of one of our three different controlled burns done in portions of the 20+ acre Pine Flat Bog exhibit at Mississippi State University’s Crosby Arboretum, Picayune, in Feb. 2015. You can easily see why we called it “controlled”. Fire can be managed if you’re starting with a good plan of action and then follow through with it. click the link below. but don’t try this at home, kids. 🙂

longleaf male cones with candle (growing tip)-2 longleaf male cones-3

Male cone of Long Leaf pine, Pinus palustrus. Long Leaf is the Queen of the Southeastern coastal plain forest. photo courtesy of Dr. Charles M. Allen. click on these to enlarge them -they’re beautiful works of art.


palustrus, meaning swampy or marshy.


The new book by Professor Robert Brzuszek, Landscape Architecture, Mississippi State University, hot off the press. Bob was the Senior Curator for the Arboretum from about 1988 to 2000.


One of the many giants of horticulture that I am glad to say I had the great pleasure to meet an speak with on a few occasions. J.C. Rauston; an amazing horticultural force he was.


Dr. Sidney McDaniel is one of the major scientific contributors/collaborators of the Arboretum. He studied and documented the flora of the Crosby Properties. His brilliance helped launch the Arbo into Earth-orbit.


the early conceptual design by Dr. Blake for Crosby


Dr. Blake’s graphic of the existing hydrologic zones at the Crosby. The bog-savanna areas are to the right in yellow, green and white. click to enlarge. Notice the grid built onto the design. Each corner of the grid is marked permanently by a foot-long, one inch diameter brass rod hammered into the ground. This system is used regularly by Crosby staff, researchers, and University students in following changes, patterns in the landscape vegetation.


above: The Crosby Master Plan, by Dr. Ed Blake


Ed’s sketch of pine bog herbs, at Crosby.


Dr. Ed Blake was a friend of the planet Earth and he is sorely missed.

*Crosby book images published with permission from Mississippi State University and my friend and fellow-polack, the author, Robert F. Brzuszek