Back to Work

The rain last week did wonders for the garden and it’s become as lush as last year.  Lush is sometimes code for overgrown, so I spent some productive time trimming and weeding this weekend and I’m happy to say it appears to have paid off.  With pictures taken at precisely the right moment, from just the right angle, within hours after the lawn was mowed and edged, the yard finally looks nice.  I guess it’s about time considering we’re about four months into the growing season.

street border

The lawn cut and edged.  It looks almost parklike, just ignore the yellow spots… the kids were playing with a metal detector and searching for treasure in the turf…

I’ll try not to dwell on all the flaws I see.  The front border has much less color from annuals this year because of beetle attacks and a dry spell, but there’s enough which has come along regardless.  From the street side it’s really filled in, the usual perennials and random sunflower make a nice barrier between us and the road.

street border

The border does its own thing along the street with just an occasional whacking back when things get out of hand.

From the lawn side there’s also a good amount of perennial color, but not as much as I’d like.  I do prefer my plantings on the brighter side  🙂

street border

This picture is 100% showing off the lawn.  It’s a rare day when a well watered, green, freshly cut, neatly edged, lawn shows up on this blog.

Speaking of too much color, it’s not an official policy but in general I don’t have many daylilies in the garden.  I don’t like the way the leaves on so many of them look all beat up by the end of the year and for that reason got rid of most of them.  That may be a-changin’ though.  I spotted this one next door and there’s a good chance I may rationalize an emergency dividing, so I can sneak a few pieces over onto my side of the property line.

orange and pink daylily

Orange and pink.  This might be just what my border needs… or it might be one more piece of evidence in the case against any good taste in my garden.

I’ll have to be sure I don’t give in to the temptation of bringing a few bright daylilies into the tropical border.  It’s supposed to be all big leaves and bright colors thanks to explosive, non-hardy southern plants, not steady reliable things like daylilies.

tropical garden

A late start means the dahlias are only just now starting to flower, plus an unusually lazy May meant three or four were all that ever got planted.  Maybe less will be more this year…

The top part of the tropical border is again nearly overwhelmed by 8 foot tall sunflowers among other things.  This year I thought for sure I’d have the upper hand after pulling nearly all of them up but of course with more space the remaining plants grew even bigger.  I guess I could have worse problems.

tropical garden

At least the elephant ears look tropical.

The lawn isn’t the only thing enjoying some maintenance love.  I pulled out the hedge clippers and started doing a little trimming and was able to re-meatball all the lumps of yew along the house.  I don’t completely mind trimming hedges, but rounding off the same yews every year just to have the same yews rounded off every year seems incredibly pointless, so by the time I got to the big one at the end I was more than a little bored.  We’ll have to see where this ends up.

yew topiary

Maybe I can call my yew balls ‘topiary’ now.  Of course I have yet to clean up the trimmings or get a ladder to reach the top…

Out back the potager is particularly lush.  I’ve been relentlessly pulling sunflower, verbena, persicaria, and amaranth seedlings but plenty remain.  Through July I still pretend to be the one in charge, but by August I lose the urge.  From here on things will be getting messier and messier, with all kinds of halfway attractive flowers sprouting up and taking over as the phlox fade or the vegetables are picked.

potager vegetables

It’s phlox season, and each day far too much time is spent checking them out.

I do like my phlox, but experience has shown they don’t like me.  The list of named varieties which have perished in this garden is pretty embarrassing, so of course we won’t talk much about that, and hopefully more observant readers won’t notice that I again spent a decent amount of money on new ones earlier this spring.  They’re not dead yet which is a good sign I think.

phlox paniculata

A mix of seedling and named varieties of tall garden phlox (Phlox paniculata).  To my eye gold and pink do not mix well… in fact I hate the mix… but I need marigolds and I need phlox, so there you go.

From further away the phlox look colorful at least.  Close up the foliage looks abused and there are plenty of other issues, but the flowers keep coming, and it makes me wonder if they think this is their last hurrah before they kick the bucket.  I hope not, but I’m not going to fool myself into thinking they like it here.

potager vegetables

I feel like it’s a requirement to grow marigolds in your vegetable garden, even if it’s so fancy that you call it a potager.  Sorry about the white buckets littering the view, but this photo is to prove that there really are vegetables in here.

One last phlox photo.  I wonder if they’d like me more if I dug up a whole new bed and devoted it to even more phlox and more new phlox?  A few more reds would be nice and how much room do a few tomatoes need anyway?

I definitely need more phlox, and I also won’t rule out bigger clumps of the good ones like this white seedling. They’re native plants by the way, so maybe this is helping make America great again.

I’m sure by September I’ll be wishing for fewer phlox and more colchicums.  Maybe.  Hopefully it’s not chrysanthemums though since I’m this close to yanking most of them out in spite of the fact I needed bunches of them just a few years ago.  I hope not everyone is as fickle as I am.

Happy August and have a great week!

20 comments on “Back to Work

  1. Well, darn. I was just getting ready to suggest that daylily belongs in the tropical garden when I read you were going to resist the temptation to put it there. And that topiary yew made me chuckle. Has your wife seen it yet? What do you use to edge your garden beds? It must be a power tool of some sort, because I use a hand tool and can never get it all done in one weekend.

    • bittster says:

      No one has mentioned the yew ‘topiary’ yet. Apparently I am surrounded by remarkably unobservant people, or they don’t like getting me started!
      I usually edge the beds with a spade once a year and then use the string trimmer to keep it clean. When I’m done it’s a filthy mess because the trimmings go everywhere and I don’t have enough sense to wear long pants, but well….
      I like nice hand tools, but the nostalgia ends when it comes to the yawn… I mean ‘lawn’.

  2. Paula says:

    hey Bitt, daylilly foliage can be cut to the ground after blooms are done. Fresh foliage will grow and won’t turn yellow. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      I know, I know, but the empty holes the foliage leaves behind irritate me until new leaves grow. Maybe if I keep the clumps divided and vigorous they’ll do better. I’ll give it a try.

  3. pbmgarden says:

    Love those phlox and everything else. Looks so lush yet very tidy.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I think your comments about dayliies in your tropical garden are funny! We have a bunch of daylilies in our tropical garden. The majority of our tetraploids are located there. They are bloomed out before everything really gets going though.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks for the comment Rebecca, I really enjoyed browsing through your blog a bit. You have a real tropical garden! I love the leaves on that hardy tapioca and all the other foliage.
      Ok so maybe I’ll see if I can sneak a daylily or two into the tropical garden. I do like the splashes of color!

  5. No better summer combination than hot pink phlox and orange lilies of any kind. Looks great in all diections. And yes, we are all just as fickle as you!

    • bittster says:

      I saw some double orange tiger lilies last week and absolutely needed some. I have the single and lilies are just so elegant to begin with, but something about that mess of a double made me want it. I’ll have to keep an eye open for their clearance sales 😉
      So do you think an orange daylily in the potager would be a good choice? The daylily does have a touch of pink in it, so maybe I’ll try one there as well.

  6. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Fickle, I thought that was one adj to describe gardeners. Of course we are. The weather and whims overtake any confirmed thought about a garden. All gets jostled. I love your phlox collection. You need daylilies. Just get over your prejudice against them and get some of those gorgeous colors going in your garden. They are too easy to grow and give so much. Your edges and lawn look handsome. I envy those edges.

    • bittster says:

      Ok so maybe I’ll add a daylily or two. When I evicted them from the garden several went into a neighbor’s garden. I was over there checking them out, but I think for now I’ll start small with just that one. I should be careful. People have been known to go off the deep end!
      Aren’t the edges awesome!? This might be the only time it looks like that, so I had to show it off 😉

  7. Peter Herpst says:

    You’re too hard on yourself! Your garden looks fabulous and that lawn is to die for. I love your new topiary. Could you leave the tuft of hair on the top and find/make a huge barrette or maybe a bow of some sort to tie around it?

    • bittster says:

      I love that idea! Next year I’ll let the top grow again and see if I can tie it up in a bow. At first I just couldn’t reach the top, but when I stepped back to look at it the little tuft looks nice, so I’ll just let it grow back each spring.
      I do get hard on myself. I see all these pictures of fantastic gardens, and wonderful combinations and then look at mine and wonder why I bother. I love doing it of course, and love the color and wildlife, but just realize that some people do it much better. I guess not being the perfect dancer is never a reason to stop, especially if that’s your passion.

  8. Love the Yew topiary! Maybe you could do a series of emoji topiaries – happy face, sad face, etc. Your border looks great, and provides more evidence in favor of mixing annuals and perennials, for example for me those annual sunflowers really seal the deal.

  9. Chloris says:

    Your garden always looks fabulous in late summer, everything looks so healthy and you have so much colour. Are the dark red leaves canna lilies? I don’t much like day lilies either. Phloxes? I just can’t grow them, so I envy you yours. And your velvety green lawn looks wonderful.

  10. Cathy says:

    Your freshly mown and very tidy front lawn and bed are enviable Frank. We don’t appear to have any grass left in our brown patch that used to be called our lawn…. just a few resilient weeds! Phlox are something I have never liked much simply beacause they never do well for me, although they are quite pretty flowers and lovely colour. I think slugs are our main problem and I have grown to love only slug-resistent plants! Hope your August goes well, and do send us a bit of rain if you get some to spare! 😉

  11. How is that yew topiary coming along? Love to look back, but we must keep looking ahead!

    • bittster says:

      He’s doing well but a little rough right now! I’ll need to post a photo after the next haircut… I think if I wear a mask I’ll be ok to give him a trim later this month lol

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