Tuesday View: The Front Border 8.15.17

It’s time once again to join up with Cathy at Words and Herbs for her weekly take on the Tuesday view.  I’ve missed a week with traveling but the rains have not, and 2017 continues to be a marvelously well watered and well behaved summer.

front border

The front border continues to fill in and color up as summer progresses.  The sunflowers are now in charge.

It’s hard to believe that just a few months ago I wasn’t sure what exactly would be filling in the new sections of this bed.  People said it would all come together but I had my doubts.  Fortunately it did, and I’m very pleased with the results.

front border

Although they haven’t been in bloom very long there are already enough sunflower seeds to start bringing in the goldfinches.  I love that they find so much to feed on in my garden and their bright yellow feathers and constant chatter are always welcome.

Most of the filling in of the border relies on seeds, cuttings and divisions.  I bring that up now because someone mentioned surprise at how my wife is so good about me spending so much money on the garden.  At the time I just laughed it off, but as I thought a little further on it, it occurred to me that they might think I actually do spend a lot of money.  The short response is that I don’t. Excluding any snowdrops which may or may not have found their way into the border, I probably spent $60 on plants (for this bed) this year.  This includes $20 for my amazingly cool new variegated comfrey, $15 for an impulse-buy-lupine, $6 for a salvia, maybe $5 each for a new mail order butterfly bush and agastache, and I guess $9 for a few six packs of zinnia seedlings… although I bet it was closer to $6…

standing cypress ipomoea

A few unmulched spots of the older bed have sprouted a nice crop of the bright scarlet wands of standing cypress (Ipomopsis rubra).  I would call self-seeding plants such as these ‘free’ volunteers, and the price tag of $0 needs no spousal pre-approval.

The bulk of this border either comes from established perennials which were already in place, or the divisions, cuttings, or seedlings of things I already had on hand.

front border

The depths of the bed interior are now a hopeless mess of colorful annuals mixed with reliable, veteran perennials.  I haven’t even tried to get back there, the only attention it’s received has been a handful of fertilizer I threw in the general direction of the canna.  

Although my border does not do much in supporting the local nursery industry, it does seem to draw in the bugs.


A healthy, well fed monarch butterfly.  I wonder if I’ll see any fresh new ones this week as my former caterpillars should be about ready to emerge. ($0 for these butterfly bushes -cuttings off mom’s bush, $0 for the rudbeckia -grown from ‘stolen’ seeds) 

I sometimes just can’t believe how many bees, butterflies, and other insects can be found winging their way through this garden.  It makes me sad for my neighbors and their dull seas of lawn.

cannova rose

From the left, $0 for the sea holly which was grown from seed exchange seeds, $0 for the overwintered ‘cannova rose’ canna.  Free verbena bonariensis seedlings which were transplanted in, and free coleus grown from cuttings.

I’m at a loss as to how I can explain the importance of bugs to my less interested neighbors.  I’m thinking about the life happening all around me and they’re debating a bug bomb which could kill off all the pesky mosquitos and gnats from their entire yard.  A dead yard.  What a fun place to be…

purple salvia splendens

For $0 I found a few salvia splendens seedlings sprouting in the tropical bed, potted them up, got them going, and then planted them back out.  I was hoping for purple but the salmon color which was also there last year would have been fine… even though I really wanted the purple 🙂

So it looks like the bugs will keep this area as a ‘safe zone’ for a few more years yet.  I guess I could do better with more and more bug-friendly plantings, but for now this works for me.

front border

My $0 monster cardoon.  Grown from some seed exchange seeds it’s done better than I had hoped.  I can’t even remember the other two seedlings which were planted just behind it.

I’m out of buggy commentary and financially responsible planting advice.  Lets just take a look at the bed’s far end.

front border

My second favorite view.  $0 for Self seeded verbena bonariensis, $0 for coleus cutting, $0 for cannas. 

And one last look at a nearby bed 🙂


This spring I ripped everything out from around this dogwood.  The hostas went to a good home but nothing else other than mulch came back in to replace them… until now.  My caladiums finally have a summer home!

Enjoy the week and as usual thanks go out to Cathy for hosting each Tuesday!

19 comments on “Tuesday View: The Front Border 8.15.17

  1. Pauline says:

    Your border is truly amazing! I love all the colours, shapes and textures, I would much rather be in your garden than your neighbour’s! Next door must be a desert for the wildlife, no wonder they all come to you! You have made a wonderful display out of your seeds and cuttings, your border just shows that we don’t need to spend a fortune to have a beautiful garden.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Pauline. My favorite thing is that it’s interesting and there’s a lot going on with both flowers and wildlife. It could be more tasteful and it could be better designed but in the end it’s just fun… and there’s money left to spend on ice-cream runs 😉

  2. Cathy says:

    That border seems to be larger than ever with so many wonderful plants in it! You really have had the perfect summer it seems, and it all looks fantastic. In that last photo you can almost hear the Caladiums thanking you for their new home! I know what you mean about bugs and butterflies… so many of my neighbours are worried solely about their lawns and still use various damaging chemicals to control weeds and pests. As to the costs, well I think a few dollars are definitely worth it for such a wonderful display, and it makes staying at home and sitting/dining in your own garden a great option compared with going away or eating out! 😉 And just think what some people spend on other hobbies and all the accessories they deem necessary!

    • bittster says:

      A friend told me what he spent on his latest pair of sneakers and it just made me want to go online and order a bunch of new plants… and I still wouldn’t compare!
      The weather has been perfect for gardening this summer. After the warmth, tornado and hail in March I was concerned, but it turned out ok for a change but I’m sure I shouldn’t get used to it! Now all I need is a long drawn out autumn that slowly blends into a short, mild winter 😉
      I wish you could come and see the garden. I’m 6 foot and the sunflowers, hydrangeas, fennel and grasses all loom over me. Looking back at photos from last year the plants look absolutely stunted!
      I’m trying to convert a neighbor here and there but it’s an uphill struggle. They just don’t get the worth in using less poisons or chemicals. My garden is not an organic one, but other than a little fertilizing and some annual application of pesticides for the daffodils and snowdrops, things work themselves out on their own.

      • Cathy says:

        I’m with you on the long autumn and mild winter! And if I ever do get to the States, your garden will be on my list of visits! 🙂

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your border looks like a million dollars that is why some are wondering about it. No matter what you used to construct it I and the bugs appreciate it. Your collection of caladiums are gorgeous. They look so tropical.

    • bittster says:

      I hope that’s the reason! I think when people see dozens of coleus scattered through the yard they assume I bought them all and don’t figure they’re all cuttings off four plants I bought this spring! -actually I sometimes don’t believe how fast they’ve grown 🙂
      I hope the caladiums still grow in a bunch. I love them too but was a little late in restarting the ones from last year, so they’re still on the small side.

  4. Peter/Outlaw says:

    Your border filled in beautifully! Isn’t it amazing what a little summer rain can do? It’s looking grand. Can summer stay for a few months longer this year?

    • bittster says:

      If you can work out a longer summer let me know. I’m enjoying it far too much this year to want it to end!
      Regular rain is the lazy gardener’s best friend 🙂

  5. Lisa Rest says:

    Absolutely gorgeous! I’m running out of sunflowers already, between the goldfinches and the squirrels… Thanks for keeping the bugs alive! I’m with you, and I don’t know how to impress upon people how we are all connected with nature. But I guess as long as they’re leaving me alone I can’t complain too much. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I keep trying to drop hints as to how I worry about pets and kids and putting down pesticides, how the lawn clippings are really just the fertilizer you just bought and put down… I’ve got nothing for lawn weeds though, but how can anyone risk killing off fireflies and butterflies?
      The goldfinches are here pretty much around the clock. It’s awesome, even my wife said the yard seems to be flourishing with life this year and I think there are still several weeks left. I may need to leave more sunflowers next year!

  6. Your border is a gorgeous inspiration on how to garden without going overboard financially. I was much better at dividing things and waiting for them to increase when I first started gardening than I am now

    • bittster says:

      I think things change as you gain gardening experience. Patience either grows… or disappears… or both! I have seedlings coming along which won’t amount to anything for years, yet I hear about a new plant and have to search high and low to get it NOW!

  7. Lots of intense color – that’s what I love. Plus the goldfinches feeding on sunflowers are always a joyful sight.

    • bittster says:

      The goldfinches are such acrobats, and hopefully as the season progresses there will be plenty of other birds as well. I think they’re still busy munching on insects rather than seeds right now.

  8. Verbena bonariensis just won’t reseed for me. I think it’s too wet here. And my cannas aren’t any taller than last year. One bloomed in a pot, the rest think they are still waiting for summer to arrive. I guess the humidity hasn’t convinced them!

    • bittster says:

      I only get verbena seedlings sprouting on bare ground, any mulch will keep them from coming up. I’m surprised you don’t even get a single one coming up!
      My cannas are on the short side even though I planted them earlier than ever this year. They’re just starting to put out flowers now and usually they’re earlier on that as well. you should try the cannova series they don’t seem to mind cooler weather as much as the others do.

  9. Christina says:

    Frank, I always love this border but this year it is amazing!! Just shows what you can do with a little money and lots of enthusiasm and hard work. I love too how it all looks so natural.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Christina. Isn’t it funny how you’re your own worst critic? I look at it and see so many faults and room for improvement. It’s colorful but lacks structure and design and hopefully someday I can work on that!

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