We do daffodils!

tc_steele_daffodils_01I came to the T.C. Steele State Historic Site early last spring, after working for many years at Brown County State Park. At first, everything seemed different — the scale, the pace, the historic aspect. Then I answered my first phone call from someone wondering when the daffodils would peak.

Starting around September, Brown County State Park receives numerous calls like this from people asking about ‘peak’ fall color, so I was slightly amused by the daffodil question. Then they began to bloom. Fall color vistas and our ‘sweeping drifts of daffodils’ may differ in scale, but I learned that they rate the same on the WFS (Wow Factor Scale).

After her move to Brown County in 1907, inspired by the abundance of wildflowers around her, Selma Steele made plans to ‘naturalize’ flowers over the hillsides surrounding her new home. She wrote in her memoir, The House of the Singing Winds,

A day came when I set out, as a first experiment, a handful of Scotch daffodils. Now … this bulb garden covers many of the hillsides. There are many varieties, blooming virtually by the thousands and thousands*, contributing an unearthly and elusive beauty to the landscape, all enveloped in the soft atmosphere of springtime.

tc_steele_daffodils_03Well I won’t even try to top that description. Why not visit and see the results of Selma Steele’s plan? You could call ahead to find out the perfect day to see the most spectacular show of spring color, but why bother? Selma planted such a variety and abundance of flowers that even if the daffodils aren’t ‘peaking’, something else surely is.

*Perhaps Carl Sagan read The House of the Singing Winds.



Davie Kean is the master gardener at the T.C. Steele State Historic Site.

Renaissance Woman

Loosely defined as a woman who defies convention and sets her own goals for personal achievements and perhaps is even somewhat outrageous, a renaissance woman is someone you’d probably want to know!  She gets things done, even if its sometimes unconventional.

Gene Stratton-Porter was just such a woman.  She lived in the early 1900’s, the youngest of 12 children.  She grew up to be a reknowned author of such books as “A Girl of the Limberlost” and “Freckles”, often outselling even Jack London at that time!  She was a naturalist and tended beautiful gardens at her home near the Limberlost Swamp in Geneva, Indiana and later at “The Cabin at Wildflower Woods” on Sylvan Lake in Rome City, Indiana, as well as in Hollywood, where she had quite a career as a film producer.  Her two Indiana homesteads are well-preserved as Indiana State Historic Sites, and still include fabulous gardens.  Gene is said to have hand-planted over 15,000 plants on the grounds of her Sylvan Lake “cottage” , including 1500 different species of Indiana plants.  Many of the plants were endangered at the time, but thanks to her efforts, are now flourishing. 

Enjoy a few photos, but like any thing of beauty, it is best viewed “up close and personal”.  The sites are open year-round, with information here and here.

P.S.  Visited the site again over the holiday weekend and got some great early-morning shots!  See how lighting makes all the difference in photography, in the last 3 photos shown…