Tuesday View: The Front Border 6.13.17

Welcome back!  That’s what I’m saying to myself as I get back to posting Cathy’s weekly view… after an *ahem* three week absence…

street border

This afternoon’s hot and muggy Tuesday view.  The iris are faded, summer has arrived, but the border is looking slightly less than interesting.

There are the usual being busy excuses, the typical computer broke problems, and of course home improvement projects which take on a life of their own, but today I’m more interested in letting you in on a little secret.  For as much as this might shock you, this blog is not as highly trafficked as the witty dialog and artistic photos might indicate.  Posts over the last few weeks have been down, and to be honest there’s not much pressure to post when your daily view count averages in the low 20’s.  As I think on it and ponder the reasons I’m starting to wonder if it’s the raw realness which is turning people off.

fading tulips

Although I’m completely distracted by the second, third, and fourth bloom stalks rising up from my precious red lupine, others might see faded iris stalks, yellowing tulips, overly vigorous weeds, and stray play equipment… I guess in an attempt to mend fences I should apologize for the mess 🙂

Maybe this upcoming week I can pretty things up and polish up on the blog’s readability.  Zinnia seedlings are just a seed packet away and the unusually reliable rains this spring should be very forgiving to late plantings.  In the meantime looking at the far end of the border should cheer someone up.

red hot poker kniphofia

I forgot which red hot poker (kniphofia) this is but I have yet to find one I don’t like.  Sure this one is over in something like two weeks, but I keep holding out hope I’ll find one with a longer season.  The rose is ‘William Baffin’ by the way.

‘William Baffin’ is taking over the end of the border and I’m just fine with that.  No disease problems, absolute hardiness, a nice 6 foot height, and even a little rebloom makes it a decent rose… but stronger fragrance would make it an awesome rose.  I bet all the better blogs have fragrant roses.

William baffin rose

‘William Baffin’ rose, hordes of fennel, and the first blades of the variegated Arundo donax grass coming up and swamping what used to be an iris patch back in May.

Who am I kidding?  Summer is finally here, the grass is a color other than its typical June brown, and there’s always a ton of new things to admire.  Maybe a little less admiring on my part and a little more work, but I’m quite pleased with (most of) the garden and even though I can’t go around the table asking cabinet members to tell me how amazing I am, at least I can look through older posts and hear myself remind myself how amazing I am.

The roses are coming on in the tropical bed as well. Plus three days of heat and humidity have done more for the cannas than three weeks of sitting in the cool dirt. Finally they’re sprouting.

So it’s an optimistic Tuesday view, and as long as I don’t dwell too long on all the other even more excellent blogs out there, I should be able to make it through the week without regretting the $3 a month which “Sorta Suburbia” demands.

Speaking of other more excellent blogs I’d like to mention and thank Cathy at Words and Herbs for her continued support of the Tuesday view.  She and other more excellent bloggers can be found there each week and come Tuesday it’s always a pleasure to see the seasons have progressed another week.  Enjoy!

27 comments on “Tuesday View: The Front Border 6.13.17

  1. Tim Calkins says:

    The realness is what brings me back. It’s easy to photograph and write about the perfect garden, the one with the ultimate design, a never-ending set of vistas and color successions — often tended by professionals with endless time and a unlimited stream of resources. It’s hard work to get a decent show, no matter how stellar the garden in your head may be, when nature, time limits, and all the intervening realities of daily life somehow seem to not cooperate. Who doesn’t like beautiful perfection? However, those of us who try to do this, who don’t give up on the effort no matter what the Japanese beetles, or hail, or inopportune baking temperatures inflict, have a real appreciation not only of results, but of the struggle, and it makes the occasional victory, whether large or small, one’s own or someone else’s, all the sweeter. One lesson a garden teaches is that perfection never lasts — and neither do failures. I look forward to the next post.

    • bittster says:

      Tim you write beautifully and thanks for the encouragement. I’m glad I had the chance to meet you this spring and your Facebook posts on the garden are always a pleasure as well!
      ‘Neither perfection nor failures ever last’. Thats a good thing to keep in mind when gardening and I’ll quote it the next time I drop the shovel and stop the wheelbarrow to admire the latest perfect flower.
      I re-read my post today and it does sound awfully ‘woe is me’. Fortunately that has more to do with the new computer and a switch from windows to Apple than it does the garden or blog… and someone has already pointed out more than once that I sound like an old man grumbling about new technology, which is something I’m not going to argue.

  2. Oh crap, I had a comment almost all completed, then I clicked on one of your pics for a closer look, and the comment disappeared. It was the most brilliant comment ever, too–you’ve never seen a comment so good! The BEST! No one has ever made a comment like it!

    Anyway, I think you and I hit the publish button on our posts at the same time tonight, and I must say, I’m glad you’re back–I kept checking my reader, and no new posts from Frank. Sad face. I too would be completely distracted by that Lupine! It’s a beauty! And that William Baffin! Be still my pink-loving heart! How about this heat and humidity–love it and hate it simultaneously! Great for the garden, not no great for the gardener!

    Here’s a suggestion–write a post about woodchuck resistant plants, and your stats will soar! My ‘What Won’t They Eat’ post is averaging 60 hits a day this month! But really, just keep writing the way you do. The realness, the self-deprecating humor, the quality of your writing, and the good information you provide are what keep me looking for more each week!

    • Oh, and I planted some cannas last week while it was still cool, and I think a couple of them are already sprouting. I can’t wait to see how they do for me!

    • bittster says:

      haha, thanks Kimberley! I think I’d rather keep my woodchuck-free garden status rather than do enough time in the trenches to know what they eat and what they don’t. Did I ever mention my neighbor trapped the whole family, sent them to the woods, and we’ve been chuck-free ever since? I’m sure new family will move in someday but for now I’m loving it!
      Fun fact on the pink rose. It’s slowly spreading outwards via a sucker here and there and to dig a few up and transplant them to the highlands is a very do-able scenario! You’ll need to find a spot though. Eventually it will reach rhododendron size.
      I’ve lost comments before. What a pain. You can never put it together again once it disappears and it’s never as amazing as the original!
      I should be back to a more normal posting schedule from now on…. assuming I don’t take a bat to the new computer…

      • Ooh, I’ll have to look around and see where there might be room for such a thing! Lucky you, being chuck-free! I believe I have more here than ever before, and they are eating things they’ve never before touched! My ‘live and let live’ attitude is being severely tested!

  3. Felicia says:

    I enjoy reading your blog and hope you find pleasure in capturing your garden at this moment in time.

  4. I love your ‘witty dialog and artistic photos’, Frank. Seriously, your blog is excellent, especially as it is about REAL gardening. For what it’s worth: I’ve found my daily view counts and visitor’s comments are down when I fail to visit and comment on other blogs. I have a note saying ‘I love your comments and will visit your blog in return’ or something like that. So I try to visit a blog a day. Works for me.

    I wish I could grow just one lupine. I have some leaves from last year’s sowing, but no flowers. I scattered another packet of seeds this spring. They germinated and I’m keeping my fingers crossed.

    Keep blogging! P. x

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Pam. I do have a bad habit of visiting blogs without commenting. Especially ones which are not WordPress based since for a while my computer was fighting me and just plain refusing to post my comments. I would have to reload the blog in Firefox and by that time it was more than likely something else distracted me away to a new site….
      Actually your blog is one that often gave me trouble. I hope thats all a thing of the past now that I’m working with a new computer!
      A funny story about the lupine is that about a week ago I took a drive through one of the new industrial park sections. I guess there lupine seeds mixed into whatever they spread across the freshly graded slopes because here and there in between the grass and daisies there were huge clumps of blue lupines! I would guess they were easily twice the size of mine, and although I like my red better seeing the blues gives me hope that these are plants I SHOULD be able to grow. It’s either hope or despair… since as I think on it some more it could be discouraging to realize my one pampered plant can’t even outgrow random seeds thrown onto bare construction site soil…

  5. Your posts – even infrequent as they sometimes are – are a blessing to all of us. When people compliment me on my garden I always point out that I have no children, no pets and I’m retired! I am always amazed at all your projects and seeds and unusual plants. I remember seeing a red lupine in a Penelope Hobhouse book 20 years ago and thinking, why don’t you ever see things like this in American gardens and now I finally have!

    • bittster says:

      We had a party here last weekend and although weeds filled many of the bare spots and I could see flaws all over the place the overall consensus was “it looks nice”. I don’t think it would hold up to more experienced eyes such as those of your garden visitors, but it does remind me it’s rarely as bad as you think it is.
      You should have seen some of the other colors of lupine which were begging me to buy them, Purples and bicolors, it was remarkable I left with only one. Ps- that’s very nice of you to say I’m the one with unusual plants. I do have a few things in the sun, but the shady spots here will never hold a candle to your goodies!

  6. Don’t ever look at the numbers. Look at the comments. You always get comments. That shows that while your readers may not be as plentiful as you may wish, the ones you do have are faithful. And yes, keep it real. Supposedly that’s how Pioneer Woman got to where she is today. And to a true gardener, giving precedence to the garden over the blog is how it should be. And in my humble opinion, if you’re not behind in the garden by June, you either don’t have enough garden, or you don’t have a life. Or, I suppose, you have a gardening staff.

    • bittster says:

      🙂 I had to look up Pioneer woman, it’s a nicely polished blog but I didn’t get past her talking about new boots! I think my blog will never go past ramblings about the garden and I’m entirely fine with that. My crabbiness was almost entirely due to a new computer and the switch from windows to Mac….. Hopefully someday I will be able to report a return to computer happiness!
      My kids aren’t turning out to be quite the gardening staff I had hoped for and the suggestion of new kids has been ruled out, so looks like I’ll just adjust to being behind in the garden. To me it looks better than any year since, but that still doesn’t mean it looks great. Fortunately most of my visitors only look for a mown lawn and a little color, so I’m like a gardening rock-star in these parts 🙂

  7. D. Swift says:

    I follow your blog because it details the garden life of a true gardening nut. (Like myself). It is real, and sometimes there are nice photos, and sometimes there is mainly a list of chores, done and undone. Just like all of us gardening fanatics have. (In addition to the rest of our lives with jobs and other responsibilities).

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! I feel much better knowing that real gardeners all have a few not-so-pretty spots, and maybe kill a few dozen plants for each one which grows to perfection. I think that’s part of the fun, perfection can get a little boring (not that I’d know!) and if you just want one look all year I think concrete and plastic are more of an option.
      Your garden sounds interesting, feel free to elaborate, I always like a good garden story!

  8. D. Swift says:

    P. S. Also love the red lupine.

  9. Cathy says:

    It doesn’t matter how often you write or what your stats are like, I still always look forward to and enjoy your charming posts full of humour and useful info on plants. 🙂 I envy you those gorgeous lupins – can’t grow them in this garden as the snails think they are in snail heaven. They must taste great, although I thought they were supposed to be poisonous! The fennel and Arundo look great together and I wonder which will gain the upper ground. I pulled lots of my Arundo out last autumn and it has kept it in check nicely. Have a great weekend Frank!

    • bittster says:

      I will enjoy every minute the lupines give me, I didn’t expect them to last as long as they have 🙂
      The funny thing about stats is that after my first few posts went live I would get nervous when views went up. It must have been a self conscious thing and not wanting the attention and it continues to this day. I still try to remain relatively anonymous!

  10. Indie says:

    I enjoy reading your blog a lot, and I love that you keep it real! Though if you want to know the truth, I have wondered before how you keep your gardens looking so manicured and nice looking! (I really need to spend a little more time weeding and mulching.) I think it takes a lot of time and effort to become one of those big time bloggers. I think they visit a lot of other blogs and do a lot of networking along with writing a lot of posts. Sometimes we just have other things going on in life, and that’s okay. 🙂
    Btw, in case you think you aren’t making at least a few positive waves in the garden blogging community, I actually linked to you in my last blog post. Thanks so much for your heads up on Narcissus bulb flies!

    • bittster says:

      Ugh. So you have bulb flies…. that’s terrible, but I have to say your blog photos are some of the prettiest narcissus fly photos I’ve ever come across! Speaking of ripples, it sounds like I should invest in a net as well and nab a few of the adults since I did see one or two buzzing around this year. Probably too late now but I’m sure there will be new ones next year…
      I’m pleased that you think my gardens look remotely manicured! I feel like all my gardening time is used up for mowing or weeding and still half the vegetable garden is unplanted and most of the yard is a thicket. It’s a shame primrose seedlings take priority over zucchini, since it’s about that time of year when I’d like to have a few things to pick and eat!
      You’re right about the time investment for bigger blogs. I just don’t want to make it into a job, all I want is an online scrapbook to follow the highlights of the year and if I make a few more gardening friends along the way that’s perfect!

  11. rusty duck says:

    It isn’t just you Frank, I often fear that blogging generally is on the decline. When I joined Instagram recently I found so many ex-bloggers on there. Instagram is easy and quick if what you want to do is share photos and short updates. For those of us who bizarrely find pleasure in firing up the quill and wringing out those elusive words night after night it’s hard to find a better medium than a blog.

    • bittster says:

      I’m with you Jessica! I like the connections and the constant updates of Instagram and Facebook but in the long run it’s just not satisfying enough for me. It’s like speed dating while blogging seems more like a relationship 🙂
      I was wondering if the decline was an all over drop in blogging interest. It does take a little more commitment to read anything over 140 characters but I agree it’s worth it…. and I’m glad you’re sticking it out a little longer as well!

  12. Alain says:

    Your William Baffin is very nice. I have one too but it does not seem to be happy. Strangely enough this year the William Baffin blooms seem half the size they normally are. It is the first time I have a rose do that. It must be some reaction to stress. I also envy your sun flowers. I try to grow some each year but they get eaten when they are still very small.

    • bittster says:

      Alain I just chased a woodchuck out of the garden yesterday morning. It’s the first one following a year of serious trapping and relocating, so I fear for the sunflowers!
      Sorry about William Baffin. Mine sulked for a few years before finally taking off. Now I guess it’s happy enough to even try spreading around, I have suckers coming up a foot or two away from the main plant!

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