Ultra-Thriller Plants Worthy of Michael Jackson!

by Patrick Muir on April 16, 2014


That this is thriller, thriller night

‘Cause I can thrill you more than any other ghoul would ever dare try

Thriller, thriller night

So let me hold you tight and share a killer, diller, chiller, thriller here tonight.

Michael Jackson, Thriller 1982

Most gardeners are aware of the simple formula to create the perfect container. Thrillers, fillers and spillers is the often repeated mantra.  The thriller is the big, bold, headlining plant often found in the center. Fillers are the complementary plants to the thriller that fill out the center of the pot. And finally spillers just tumble out of the pot and help to marry the combination to the suitable container.

But I believe there are some thrillers that are so dramatic they have no need for fillers and are best complemented with only spillers. I have bestowed upon this subset of thrillers its own moniker: the ultra-thrillers. As the name implies, an ultra-thriller plant deserves a large pot for water retention on long, hot days. If you had a greenhouse you could over winter some of these your ultra-thrilling selections. But in my book, treating them as an expensive annual can be justified based on the high-impact drama they’ll deliver through the first killer frost, which if we’re lucky holds off until October. Read more →


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383-Year Old Endicott Pear Tree — Still Going Strong

by Patrick Muir on March 19, 2014

It’s almost that time of year when orchards will be graced with millions of simple white flowers covered in bees. Well, I have a tale worthy of the indomitable pear tree. Shortly after the first Europeans landed at ye Plymouth Rock in 1620, a Pilgrim named John Endicott was appointed as the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1629. His instructions were to establish a welcoming setting for new arrivals. As part of his “Welcome to the Neighborhood Beautification Program” (my less than official title) he planted a young pear sapling. There is a good possibility the tree came to Massachusetts from England on the ship Arbella in 1630. In the presence of his children, the venerable Governor declared  “I hope the tree will love the soil of the New World and no doubt when we have gone will still be alive.” Oh, my learned brothers and sisters, was he selling that tree short.

Already over 170 years old, the Reverend William Bentley delivered some of the pears harvested from the tree in 1809 to one of my favorite leaders of history at the time, President John Adams, as documented in a letter of appreciation from the man himself. Bentley, perchance teetering on the verge of obsession on ye olde tree, arranged to have twigs sent to the less than photogenic Mr.Adams. (One would certainly prefer a portrait of General Washington or Mr. Jefferson, but I superficially, digress again.) We know ye twigs took root cited by a letter from Mr. Adams in 1815 sharing “The hurricane of yesterday has covered the ground around me in pears.” Read more →


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Perils of A Quadriplegic Gardener (Part 3)

by Patrick Muir on February 1, 2014

patricks flowersI don’t like to dwell on my challenges since being paralyzed 12 years ago. But the last year has been fraught with many such hurdles (love the irony of a paralyzed man jumping hurdles) and reflecting on them at this time gives me strength that I can accomplish anything, of course, through He who strengthens me.

At the end of last year, I had a bowel obstruction with sepsis and was out of it for 18 hours. Shawnee Mission Hospital protocol is to turn a person with wounds on their butt every two hours by propping you up on pillows on one side and then the other to avoid pressure wounds. At some point I was set up on pillows but I don’t believe I was turned because I went in with barely a wound and left with three on my butt as well as one on my elbow where it had rubbed against a railing. SMH has never done me wrong before but did they make up for it this time? One wound went so deep I spent a lot of time on IV meds fighting a bone infection and finally the left hip was taken out this past December.  After lodging a formal complaint with the patient advocate, insult to injury occurred when they responded “SMH had followed all necessary protocols” Read more →


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Ten Gifts for the Discriminating Gardener 2013

by Patrick Muir on December 14, 2013

A gardener goes through withdrawal as winter sets in but a well-chosen gardening gift can help regain their passion until the catalogs arrive.. So once again, it’s been a distinct pleasure to gather candidates throughout the year and select ten for your careful consideration. According to Florence Rodale in this year’s June/July issue of Organic Gardening, the Diamond Hoe ($76.75) is “an amazing tool made by Sneeboer, which cuts my weeding time in half”. This beautiful-to-behold Dutch import of hand-forged stainless steel has sharpened blades on all four sides. gardentoolcompany.com

Diamond_Hoe_by_Sneeboer_1s__38072.1336862696.1280.1280 Read more →


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Trinity Windowboxes 2014 Recipes

by Patrick Muir on November 26, 2013

The theme for this post, I suppose, is growing older and wiser. I’ve discovered the best time to design containers is right at the end of season when your thoughts and observations are fresh. Why did this take me decades to figure out? It’s particularly admirable this time because I want to break out of the safety of using just two varieties per box typified by three ‘Kong Rose Wizard’ Coleus separated by two Creeping Jenny ‘Aurea’. Being a creature from the often maligned advertising world, I had to create brand names for each.

Under the Sea 

1 Golden Shrimp Plant,  Justicia brandegeana

2 Angelonia ‘Angelface Dark Violet’






3 Elvolvulus ‘Blue My Mind’


2 3 1 3 2

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The Windowboxes at Trinity 2013

by Patrick Muir on October 25, 2013

Well my friends, once again I’m penning from my hospital bead after five days in ICU. My hip was so infected from a pressure wound gone awry that they took it out. It’s been a year in bed since this hospital gave me the three wounds that have put me in bed for the last year.  I had thought I was getting a skin graft on this final wound in January and back in my chair by end of February. But this hip is 10″ long by 5-6″ in places, so I’m fearful I may loose another year in my garden. So any prayers for recovery by frost free date (April 15) would be most appreciated.

Well seems like a great time to see what I was able to achieve from my bed with the help of the best damn gardening bus driver, Todd. So I’ll take lessons learned from these planters and the windowboxes from the previous post to craft an even better display next year. Have already captured the recipes for all these planters for planting next spring.

So for the first time ever you can see the front entrance in all its glory. Can you imagine how this looked five years ago when I started beautifying the campus. When life lands you in a nursing home at 43, one can fall into blaming God trap. But I choose to believe his Hand was at work when he placed me in a gardener’s paradise and the means to improve year after year as evidenced here:

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Trinity Front Containers 2013

by Patrick Muir on October 25, 2013

Well today is a real milestone in the development of Patrick’s Garden. My regular readers have heard my laments that the quality of the imagery, presented here to date, can’t hold a candle to that of you, my able-bodied friends. Until now…When the going gets tough, the tough have to think smarter. So I approached the local high school principal to see if some your photography students would like to do some community service and in turn I could mentor them based on my many years in advertising management. As you can see here we’re off to a fast start.

 So courtesy of Kale Williams and Kristy Mo of Shawnee Mission North (I’m a proud graduate of Shawnee Mission West), I’m prouder to give you more of the experience of visiting my humble abode. To Kale and Kristy, you don’t know how much joy you’ve given me with the gift of your talent. But while we’re doling out gratitude, let’s not forget about our beloved gardener/bus driver/man amongst men, Todd.
You may recall this is the planter I worked with my buddy Dan on to cradle one of the 2′ wide Kinsman baskets. I thought it was too risky to hang the baskets on trees near the entrance in our Kansas winds. So Dan outdid himself with the design. Am planning on contacting Kinsman this winter to see if they’d be interested in retailing the stands in cedar. As I can’t accept income on Medicaid, I’d only ask for a check for $1 and they be marketed under the brand name Patrick’s Garden. Would you be interested in buying one if it was on the market? Read more →


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