Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Just when I think I know what is going on in the garden these days, I come across some surprises. First, this gladiolus:

It's only a surprise because I planted the bulbs last year and nothing happened besides a few leaves popping up. I had planted them by the fence, not anticipating the shade it throws off, and so then chalked it up to a couple of dollars down the drain. To have this bulb survive the winter and decide to show up now in a mostly shady location was a surprise.

And to be perfectly frank, I don't love the color, but I'm biting my tongue.

Then I went around the corner to the Abeille Allée and saw this little gal:

More bulbs I'd planted this spring.  When I bought and planted them I was envisioning rows of fragrant lilies that would captivate me with their gentle scents as I walked by. Unfortunately, this is the only one (of about a dozen) that emerged from the ground. It's not 36" tall as it's supposed to be but rather 6", so I have to get on my hands and knees to smell it. It's my midget Stargazer.

Have you had any surprises in your garden lately?

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - August 2013

Persistence. I think that's the word I'd use to describe the garden right now. So much of it looks the same as it did on July's GBBD, which means that many of the flowers have been in bloom for a month! Other flowers are putting on a second show when I thought they were done for the year. Let's look around.

Front yard
I've largely ignored the front yard this year, in favor of focusing on the back and side. There are still a lot of good qualities to it but I'm trying to figure out a general design for it instead of just little beds here and there.

Russian sage and the ubiquitous Black-eyed Susan
How lucky am I that this view greets me every day when I get home? It is right next to the stairs that go up to the front yard and it is BRIGHT!

Gaillardia - I don't remember the exact cultivar.
I love the seed heads after this flower is done blooming.

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'
 I didn't pinch this sedum back so it's been in bloom for a couple of weeks now. I don't ever remember it looking so good.

I dig this dahlia out every autumn and store it in the basement during the winter. And for the third year in a row, before I can replant it, it starts growing again. There is some rogue dahlia tuber in the ground that has overwintered beautifully and adores this spot in front of my porch!

Euphorbia polychroma 'Bonfire'
Not exactly in bloom, but the foliage is beautiful.

Polygonum aubertii - Silver Lace Vine
My mother gave me two Silver Lace Vines to grow on the trellis we installed on the porch. They're just starting to flower.  Soon, there will be a cascade of white flowers from the porch roof down to the ground.

Black-eyed Susan and Coreopsis 'Mercury Rising'
I first blogged about 'Mercury Rising' on the June GBBD post - two whole months ago. I didn't cut it back or do anything to it - in fact, I've completely ignored it. It doesn't look as fresh as it did when it first bloomed but this plant is persistent!

Butterfly bush
Sadly, this is the last year for my butterfly bush. It is too big for the space and I have no place else for it. Sayonara!

Wide view of part of the front yard

Abeille allée 
What a difference a year makes! I only dug out the side yard last year and at that time had planted tiny perennial plugs along with some divided plants (like the hibiscus). This year it's been a riot of nonstop color. Even my husband, who has appreciated the gardens but never shown much interest in them, can't stop exclaiming every single day, "I can't believe how great the yard looks! It's never looked like this! There's so much color! You think you're done looking at it all and then bam - there's something else to look at!" Thanks, J. Glad to know my hard work is appreciated.

Geranium 'Rozanne'
This baby perennial plug that I just got in May is already blooming.

We've called a truce.


The hibiscus show has slowed to about one flower a day, but it's still glorious.

Wide view - looking from the back yard to the front

I'm making progress on digging out the sod, though I still have a way to go. This was all grass last year. The light yellow flowers are Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' and have been in bloom for about two months. Why have I never planted coreopsis before?

Back yard
I think most of the pictures from this month's GBBD will look almost identical to July's. I usually see the end of summer as a time when the garden starts looking worn down, but clearly my plants are happy and still going, and going, and going...

My hollyhock bloomed for the first time this year, though the leaves were decimated by hollyhock rust. I was hoping to harvest some of the seeds so I left the plant as it was, and then... it started growing new leaves (though you can see they still have rust issues) and bloomed again.

Echinacea 'White Swan' and Black-eyed Susan
I thought my White Swan was gone, but it appeared a couple of weeks ago. It's very short so I think I ought to move it, but it's nice to see it again.

Wide view - standing close to the house and looking back

Wide view - from the back looking toward the house

Thanks for checking out my August pictures and thanks to May Dreams for hosting another Bloom Day.

Friday, August 9, 2013

I need some help

I have a question. Two, actually. They're not related.

If you think you can help a fellow gardener out, please leave a comment below.

1) What are some good companies from which to order perennials and/or bulbs? I am looking to expand my portfolio beyond Bluestone and White Flower Farms. There are some plants I want that my local nursery doesn't always have, and I am also interested in planting a whole lotta bulbs this fall and don't want to break the bank.

2) I'm brand new to hellebores but have recently purchased two to try to bring some joy into my life when it's February and gloomy out. The tags say things like "part sun to shade" or "part shade to shade". In the winter here it's never sunny. It's bright, but there is total cloud cover almost all day, every day, creating a depressing gray sky for months. Would that count as something along the lines of part-sun, or should I make sure my hellebores are in among the shadows cast by my fence?

If you have any suggestions, I'd appreciate them!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Enjoying the process

Related thoughts:

* I have a vision in my head of what my garden will look like when it's done  (though anyone who gardens knows that this is impossible, as a garden is never done). This vision has served dual purposes. It drives me to continue to work outside, inching closer to the elusive end goal, but it also frustrates me to no end, as I'm not there yet and the garden doesn't look as good now as it will.

* Each spring, I'm so beyond thrilled to be outside again that I expend so much energy cleaning up and starting over. I try to get everything ready so that it looks good for some later date and find myself utterly exhausted and bored by July. I've been waiting for that feeling to return this year but thus far, it hasn't.

* After my July 2013 Bloom Day post, in which I confessed to not thinking there would be a lot to photograph, I've realized that there is so much color in parts of the garden that I want to cry because it's so beautiful. How did I not notice this before?


I've been instructed by yoga instructors to "focus on the breath" and have read in books on mindfulness that I should pay attention to the present. I know that Rome wasn't built in a day and have been advised to stop and smell the roses. But in most areas of my life, I've been too busy focusing on the end goal instead of the process. 

This advice was introduced yet again a few weeks ago in relation to another part of my life. Enjoy the process, don't focus so much on the result. Though this was probably the seven thousandth time I've heard it, it clicked this weekend.

I was digging out more sod in the side yard. The sun was shining, it was warm but not hot, and a gentle breeze blew. A butterfly danced in the air as it inspected my offerings. The soil was soft and loose beneath my gloves and the sod came apart easily. The day was truly, marvelously, amazingly gorgeous and I was so happy just digging in the dirt. Never mind that I still have so much more sod to remove before I can even start planting. Never mind that I was supposed to be going for a marathon training run instead. Never mind that I still haven't done anything to the forsythia to control its size.

No, on that day I was just smiling, watching, digging, enjoying. Later that evening, I enjoyed the back garden in its full glory when I really paid attention to what is going on right now instead of what I anticipate will be occurring in five years. At the risk of sounding over-dramatic, it was a transformative day.

Are you able to enjoy the process in your garden, or do you focus more on your end goal?