Let it Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow

I really can’t complain about too much for the 2019 gardening season.  Actually I really don’t have much to say at all about the 2019 season other than I still seem to be in my gardening funk.  Last year all the gloom and rain did me in, but so far this year I haven’t been able to shake it (in spite of marginally less downpours and fewer rained out weekends).  Don’t get me wrong, I’m still out in the garden any chance I get to check on what’s new and what’s grown, but overall it just seems like a lot of work to me.  Maybe I’ll just end up taking a sabbatical this summer and see what fall brings.

What doesn’t help at all is that my work schedule has been really interfering with my garden time.  May is a busy time to get planting and staking and I was stuck in Michigan for a week.  June is a time to weed and watch things fill in and I’m stuck in Missouri for two weeks.  Fortunately things should clear up by next week and garden projects can get going… or things can not get going.  We’ll see.

At least I got back from Michigan in time to see the last of the iris in bloom and pull out some of the biggest weeds.  Bigger weeds are much easier to find and pull when they get to the two foot stage, so I guess that’s a plus.

street front border

The front street border is well on its way to becoming the usual thicket with shrubs starting to crowd out the perennials.  One of my favorites is the yellow ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Aurea’) in the back.

In the weekend before I left again I tried to triage my way through the garden, chopping what I could, pulling what I should, and planting anything that wouldn’t survive two weeks of neglect (the family is completely unreliable when it comes to watering and such).  To be honest I was more than a little sore as I stepped out of the car at the airport Sunday night.  I lived though, and hopefully when I return this weekend it doesn’t look too much worse than when these last pictures were taken.

Let’s continue the farewell garden tour along the front foundation bed.  Here the plantings are mostly lower maintenance and that’s a great thing this year.

ranch foundation planting

The blue fescue border has come back enough to look acceptable (but a better gardener would probably still dig and divide the clumps to freshen them up).  As the plantings settle in here, I’ve finally reached the point were I don’t not like the colors in this bed.

I am a little excited about one of the things in the front.  The sweet william seedlings I’ve been nursing along for three years have finally bloomed, and although they’re much too dark to be showy I think they’re absolutely cool.

dianthus sooty

Dianthus barbatus ‘Sooty’, a dark red selection of the old fashioned biennial sweet william.

We’ll skip the just-planted-the-day-before-I-left-again tropical garden and go right over to the back of the yard.  Here the weeds and grass seedlings have covered up the mud and muck of all the construction and we can finally just stare at our row of wind tossed Norway spruce.  There will be plenty of time later to complain about how dull and lifeless the new barrier is, but for now I’ll just stick to complaining about how much more grass there is to mow back there.  At least the chainlink fence is gone and the area looks neat…  maybe too neat… how boring…

berm planting

You’re looking at all the fill I was planning on using to level my own backyard.  It’s all been covered nicely and seeded to lawn and I don’t think my mother in law would appreciate me bulldozering a few yards of it over into my low spots now, so guess who is out of luck…

With the completion of the berm we have far less dust and noise and lights streaming into our yard.  Those are all pluses which I need to remind myself of as I contemplate a fast-growing barrier of evergreens sapping the light and view from our back yard.  But it does look neat and tidy I guess…

ninebark physocarpus opulifolius diablo

More ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius ‘Diablo’) in bloom.  I love the foliage and shape of these shrubs, and if the garden was bigger I’d add a few more.  Hmmmm, maybe the berm could use a couple 🙂

Iris are about the only other thing worth noting in the back.  Last year’s swampy soil killed off nearly all the modern hybrids, but the older cultivars just kept doing what they do, and have me considering devoting more real estate to iris again.

historic iris

The historic iris (these are mostly from the 40’s and 50’s) held on while their modern neighbors turned to mush.  Obviously a better spot with improved drainage would be another option, but I like the less is more approach 😉

I guess it’s only been a few years since the last time I decided to devote more property to iris.  Things go like that around here, but unfortunately in between planting passions other amazing ideas come up and things get crammed in all over.

historic iris darius

This was a decent iris spot a few years ago but plant a shrub or two, some colchicums, some climbers, build a support for the climbers, and before you know it the iris are struggling along in the shade.

Replanting a few iris this summer should be do-able even if it means time away from the pool and a little kick in the butt motivation.  Deep down inside I know it will be worth it next June when they crowd the borders with brilliant color.

Now if I can only first manage to get the deck planters planted.

ornithogalum dubium

The last bits from under the growlights.  There was an abyssmal lack of seeds sown this winter, but for some reason I needed the orange Ornithogalum dubium bulbs, a dozen canna seedlings, and one cool little pink and white alstroemeria seedling that looks dissapointingly similar to her parent.

Who am I kidding.  Instead of planting the deck containers I took another round through the garden to make sure nothing new happened without me.  The sweetshrub is giving me its first year of decent bloom and I think the flowers are particularly cool.

calycanthus aphrodite

A hybrid sweetshrub (Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’).  A scent would be nice, but for now the flowers are just fine.

If worse comes to worse I’ll just spend this summer wandering the garden, smelling flowers, and contemplating the life cycle of weeds.  New plants are still going to be added, that’s a given, but maybe there’s just going to be a lot more mulch this year.  I like mulch so.  Mulching can be very zen 🙂

26 comments on “Let it Grow, Let it Grow, Let it Grow

  1. Your yard and beds look AWESOME! So, you will be in Missouri? Stop by for a visit. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Thanks, and I AM in Missouri! I came down to Kansas City for a two week training class a week ago but things were so hectic I only now got around to posting these pictures. You have a beautiful state but I’m glad I snuck in between springtime tornadoes and summertime heat.

      • Depending on where you are in KC, I am less than an hour away. You were just intime for a cool front.

      • bittster says:

        I had no idea I was so close. I would have enjoyed a visit but didn’t plan very well and ran out of time. I stayed in Lees Summit which seemed like a nice town although pretty built up around the highways.

      • Well, I try to avoid the city. All the highways, on and off lanes ending and beginning. GEEZ! Twice when I went to visit my sister I arrived at her house fine, but wasn’t told to leave a different way. Not funny. I figured it out after I was home and messaged my sister about it (the last time). She said , “OH, I forgot to tell you about that.” You would have thought it wouldn’t have taken the second time. So, now I know and it won’t happen the third time.

  2. Cathy says:

    I think you are like most gardeners and simply worry too much – it looks great! And maybe a little wildness for a year or two isn’t a bad thing. After all, the weeds die back in winter, don’t they! Hope you get more time in the garden when you get back. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      The wildness is actually giving me a chance to see who is with me and who isn’t quite up to the challenge 😉 I tend to fuss over a lot of plants so this ‘thinning of the herd’ might be a nice relief and not the worst thing in the long run!

  3. Love that foundation border and the Sweet William is gorgeous. I have red and black columbines in my garden and they are black holes in terms of design. But I love ’em. I have a big red Calycanthus and have never had the slightest fragrance. They say to buy it in bloom to be sure there is a fragrance but that is never going to happen. Ninebarks, Calycanthrus and some white-tipped evergreens in front of the spruce wall would be lovely and would eat up some of that grass.

    This spring, every few days I want to sell the house and leave the garden. One minute it looks lovely and the next I feel overwhelmed. I am trying to accept that it’s all in my head and I need to calm down and just enjoy it. Truth is, weeding is the best as my brain goes on vacation when I am doing that chore.

    • bittster says:

      I can understand you feeling a little overwhelmed. You have such a strong vision for the garden as a whole that every step seems to count more there than it does here. Here it’s just a matter of a bed getting out of hand and that doesn’t necessarily relate to the rest of the landscape. I guess a lack of design isn’t always the worst thing!
      When I get home I have to call the industrial park and feel them out as far as me planting on their slope. I’d love to and as long as they don’t give me a definite “No” then I’ll consider that a green light to proceed. I’m only calling so I can make sure I don’t make anyone angry as far as mowing their grass and straying onto their property.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Sounds like you are so busy that you need a break. Just kick back and enjoy all the hard work that brought this beautiful garden into existence. You deserve a break. The garden will await your attention.
    How about a wild meadow out there between your coddled garden and the berm????
    Around here you could get Quail Unlimited to come in and plant that area for you. Now that would be neat to me. 🙂
    That Sweet William is gorgeous. It really pops with the blue grass right beside it. I like dark flowers too. I have the species Calycanthus florida ‘Carolina Allspice’. Is that the same thing? It blooms beautifully early in the spring. I don’t smell it. I forget about it because it is almost overwhelmed by blackberries. One of these days it will be tall and maybe I can stick my nose into it.
    We are in mulch mode here. We are about half finished. Can’t wait to be finished then I can relax and enjoy the garden.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! I like how you think. I’m planning to get a break in when I get back, but there’s a pile of stuff waiting so it might still be a little while… and then another trip is planned in less than a month -but that’s an entirely fun trip so I think I can cope 😉
      I think the calycanthus I have is a hybrid with the asian type, but I’m not sure how different that makes it. I did see a full grown specimen last week, and it was over my head, so I didn’t expect that!
      I am absolutely planning to turn the grass next door into a wild meadow! RIght now there’s a tiny section on the left of the slope which is ‘meadow’ grass, I just have to slowly kill off the landscaper’s turfgrass and get the other grass to seed in. I don’t think I want the turfgrass there, it’s probably excellent grass, but it looks like its bred to be too green and I don’t know if it has the same airy seedheads as my meadowgrass does.
      I’ll mow it for a year to see what happens. Right now the fill has a ton of weeds in it so the mowing keeps them down while the grass establishes, we’ll consider the next step come springtime.

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    I’ve been similarly garden-depressed for years, lacking motivation/inspiration for most work, although I’ve been better this year, so it isn’t permanent at least. 😉 Sounds like you have a lot vying for your attention elsewhere.
    I was thinking the same about your berm. A few shrubs would do a lot to improve the boring sterility of single-line, marching spruce soldiers. Some white birch would look nice against the evergreen and add different vertical lines. Viburnum, nine bark, laurel? I expect you’d create something equally eye-pleasing as your front beds are.
    Hope you get your garden mojo back once you return, Frank!

    • bittster says:

      Laurel on the slope would be cool. It’s native to the woods around here but the soil on the slope is kind of heavy, so I don’t know if they would appreciate that even if it is a nice slope. Might be worth a little experimenting though!
      My fingers are crossed the mojo returns. I think the excitement of having a whole yard to play with is wearing off. Recently I’ve been thinking I want something more than just plants crammed in all over. I’m thinking of design. Design seems expensive and even more work… hmmmm…

  6. johnvic8 says:

    I understand your feelings, but please remember how much I miss my garden now that I am “retired.”

    • bittster says:

      Thanks John, that’s a great point. I’ve missed every garden I’ve left behind, but always had the good fortune of a few containers or new beds to play with. I can enjoy other people’s plants for a while but it’s much more fun to be able to change a few things here and there, even if it is a bunch of work at the time.

  7. pbmgarden says:

    Your Dianthus barbatus ‘Sooty’ is fabulous.

  8. Annette says:

    Hi Frank, sorry to hear your a bit overwhelmed by it all. I understand how frustrating it is if you can’t keep on top of things, especially at this time of year when the garden is a jungle. Your place looks fab though and you should be pleased! And all the spruce would make a nice background for rambling roses! 😉 That border with the band of Festuca is just gorgeous and shows how efficient a restricted plant palette can be. I’ll never get there, always put too many different things in. I hope that things will quieten down soon for you and that you find time to enjoy the fruits of your labour. Sooty is adorable indeed and so much more elegant than the cottage varieties in my garden. Take care x

    • bittster says:

      Oh let me tell you, I’m right there alongside when it comes to itching under a restricted color palette! Even if I start out responsibly and keep it coordinated I always love to throw something exceptional in… and then another thing and another 🙂 it’s so much more fun!
      I’m back in the garden since this weekend and have finally settled down to get some work done. Unfortunately I’m right back to doing all the silly things and never the to-do list, but at least I’m busy and the work is starting to show!
      Summer is always such a busy time but I love it.

  9. May I join you on the ‘Overwhelmed by the Magnitude of the Task’ bench? I’ve been feeling the same way myself. Partly it’s because there has been an unbroken string of delays in other things that would impact what I’d like to do, but also because I have the typical NY’er trait of impatience, LOL… that “I’m spinning my wheels but getting nowhere”, feeling isn’t a good one!

    • bittster says:

      At least you get to it. I like to think of all the things which need doing and then just think about them a little more and then just wander off aimlessly. I’ve been thinking about it and for as much as I love plants and animals and nature in general, it’s not gardening I love. Gardening is just too much work for this porch sitter, I’d rather just look at the flowers and listen to the birds 🙂

  10. I know what you mean about work interfering with garden time, especially during May. Still, I like the look of your blue fescue border and the sweetshrub flowers do indeed look cool.

    • bittster says:

      Luckily even when I’m not busy out there and putting in the hours of hard labor, enough comes back on its own and keeps the garden interesting (although not all that neat).
      A good reason to have a strong backbone of shrubs and perennials!

  11. I love the way you use colour in your garden. The blue fescue border is quite stunning!

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