Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about the rain, but this kind of weather would have been much more welcome in April or May when things were going brown and shriveling up. Still I love it. It’s perfect for the procrastinating planter and the person who hates to lug the hose from plant to plant (that would be me), and by now even the grass has put on a green color once again!
The rain is also not a problem bloom-destroying-wise since my garden seems to wade through a lull at this time of year. There are plenty of blooms which could be gracing my beds right now but I just don’t have many of them in the ground. My garden peaks closer to the midpoint of summer and beyond, and I’m fine with the extra wait since this time of year is when I always seem to be ironing out the last plantings and thinking through all the projects which may still happen… such as widening the front border (again).
Sometimes with your nose to the wheel day in and day out you forget that there’s plenty of good coming together while you slave away at the not-so-good. Here if the viewing angle is just right, the front street border looks fairly well put together. A thick mulch of shredded leaves, a nice edge of shredded bark, and removal of nearly half of everything in the bed gives it an ‘under control’ look for at least one month this year. A clean bed edging always helps, but expanding another foot into the lawn really gave some breathing room… I should remember to enforce this rule next year as everything seeds and spreads out into the newly open space!
A plant which spreads out wherever and whenever it wants is my trusty giant reed grass (Arundo Donax ‘variegata’). I smile and make excuses for it when people comment about its possibly too-large size, but deep down I’m proud of it. I won’t even bat an eye when it consumes the iris and other plantings around it 🙂
Another spreader is the ‘Tiger eyes’ sumac which sits in a couple spots around the yard. For me yellow leaved and chartreuse plants are an addiction and I am constantly in need of reminding of the fine line between a few accents and the way-too-much stage, but the tiger takes care of this on his own. He (actually a she since this clone of cutleaf sumacs produces the colorful red female seed heads when mature) will pepper your beds with small yellow shoots here and there and I suppose someday take over the world, but for now I just pull the innocent little shoots.
For some reason this spring the kids have been coming along on nursery runs. I suspect they have some hidden agenda which includes a stop at the Dollar Store but regardless I’m going to enjoy their company while it lasts. Both insist on helping pick their own plants and sometimes even want to plant.
The front borders are looking pretty good right now but there are also a few nice surprises out back amongst the weeds. One of my favorites is the first blooms on this strawberry foxglove (Digitalis x mertonensis). It’s been a struggle getting this one to bloom since the harsh winters seem to do a number on the crowns, but this year a few made it, and I finally get to see the strawberry-ish blooms on the relatively short stalks.
Another spike out in the garden (I like my spiky bloomers) is this verbascum which hitch-hiked in with a gift plant. You know a plant (in this case a shrub dogwood) is coming from a good garden when two special plants tag along on the root ball. This verbascum (maybe V. chaixii?) is blooming nicely now, and follows up some nice scilla blooms which flowered in spring. It was only the dogwood I wanted, but surprises are always fun as well!
Some would call the uninvited sunflower seedlings weeds, many would call the verbascum the same, and many more would immediately rip out the thistle, but I have a more laissez faire approach to the less invasive of the volunteers. I let plenty of things go, but oddly enough this year the beautiful purple campanula glomerata is what I’m ripping out. I’m trying to reclaim the red border, and it’s the campanula which has made a takeover play. Enough is enough so a few weeks ago roundup was sprayed and it’s only a few pretty stalks which remain. I’ll hand pull these and hopefully with a little summertime vigilance will be able to clear this plant out.
Another borderline weedy area is the meadow. Last summer’s dry spell weakened the lawn turf so much that it barely had the strength to send up bloom stalks this spring. That’s a shame since I love the look of the tall grass waving in the wind and enjoy watching the bunnies work their way through each morning filling up on seedheads. But the lazy gardener needs to take these things in stride (I could have made the effort to water last year) and realize the daisies and butterfly weed show up much better in the more open meadow.
The butterflies are enjoying the meadow, but everything else is focused on the linden blooms (Tilia europaea I think). The tree buzzes with honey and bumble bees, flies, beetles, wasps, and a load of other things which I can’t even identify, and the scent is fantastic and fills the yard with a soft flowery honey aroma. It’s a decent size tree and I can’t even imagine the number of insects which fill its branches. If only I could follow the bees home and get a cut of the honey they’re making from all this.
Another plant which does its own thing without me raising a finger is my trusty hydrangea ‘Annabelle’. New hydrangeas will come and go, but I can’t think of a reason good enough to cut this one loose. It can flop, but in the spring it’s cut back completely and between lean living and full sun it holds up well enough. If I had the room I’d do a mass of these, maybe under a grove of white birches, but here all I have room for is a few scattered along the edge of the yard. Obviously I love the chartreuse of the opening blooms best of all since the next best thing to chartreuse foliage is a chartreuse bloom!
I’ve seen some photos of the newest ‘Annabelle’ siblings and they’re an amazing range or pinks to near reds in addition to the never out of style whites, so I would surely have to add one or two, but I think I’ll always have room for good old ‘Annabelle’. Speaking of room, it’s still a never ending seed starting and cutting taking rollercoaster here and for some reason I still start more. Hopefully I’ll be patting myself on the back when these late marigolds and amaranthus come into bloom and everything else is looking a bit tired!
I better get this posted, it’s been a work in progress since the weekend, not because there’s any amazing content in this post, but because I’m stealing minutes from birthday parties, baseball games, and pool time and would rather sneak in a trip to the nursery than sit at the computer 🙂 But lazy summer days are coming and things should ease up shortly, until then may you enjoy summer as much as I do!