Ready For My Closeup

I’m finally back in the garden after missing three of the last four weeks due to work commitments, and it feels good.  All the guilt and regret is washed away (both trips were sort-of voluntary) and I’m pleased to see the plants have mostly fared fine without me.  That’s a good thing of course, even if it does cut my ego down a bit to see how well things did without me there giving them a daily once-over but sometimes if you love something you have to set it free… Good enough in theory, but here the weeds really took advantage of the freedom and over the next few days (ok, weeks) I hope to address that.  In the meantime closeups work, and they’re so much nicer than the other set of photos which were going to show all the challenges and struggles ahead in this weedy garden.

iris roys repeater

Iris ‘Roy’s Repeater’, one of the interspecies cross iris which I’ve been mildly obsessing over for a couple years now.  Maybe I still have room for another three or four…. I do like the pale yellow ones 🙂

I got in Friday night so it wasn’t until Saturday morning that the tour happened.  Then it was coffee on the porch and a lot of thinking.  Needless to say I was in no rush to get working and even less of a rush to do the important things first.  That is unless you think staking the delphiniums is the most important thing which needs doing, because that’s were I started.  It was light work, just right for getting into the swing of things and getting the nails dirty again.  Funny how the most noticeable thing about being away for two weeks is that your nails get normal-person clean.


The first of the delphiniums, staked just in the nick of time.

After staking I weeded along the front porch.  That’s kind of cheating as well since the bed is so full few weeds stand a chance, but it was a start, and now at least I can sit out there without a heavy conscience.

rosa rubrifolia

The spring foliage of Rosa rubrifolia is nice enough that the flowers don’t even matter… which is a good thing since they’re so tiny.

With a little weeding under my belt I gave a little more thought to what needed to be done next.  I decided the best thing for me to do was go to the nursery.  It’s been a while and I didn’t want them to worry.  Plus if I do get around to weeding it’s a terrible idea to leave all those empty spots, they’ll only grow more unwanted weeds.  Better to fill the gaps with new plants.

hydrangea strawberry sundae

Hydrangea ‘Strawberry Sundae’ is coming on very well this year and I like how the red stems look against the ‘William Baffin’ rose… which is a blooming beast this year!

I spent way too long at the nursery and if you’re counting I may have spent way too much money as well.  It wasn’t easy but I’m trying to stick with my new self-improvement plan which includes me being a force of social change.  I wasn’t buying all those plants for myself, I was buying them to support my local nursery.  I was buying them to build up the little guy, to keep dreams alive, to encourage someone to have a nursery yard full of obscure interesting plants ready for me to buy whenever I need a plant fix!  I could have been weeding my own garden but instead I chose to go out and help make the world a better place.  You’re welcome.

nursery run

I may have said I don’t need any more plants with yellow foliage.  That was foolish.  I still needed a yellow fountain grass, ‘Lumen Gold’ to be precise. 

The plants were crammed in right after lunch.  Well actually there was a pool visit first and a lot of child throwing as well, but fortunately there was still enough energy left to scrape a shallow hole and bury a few root balls.  I’ve decided that plants need to realize quickly that it won’t be an easy ride around here, so tough-love planting is the new rule.  I do take care to break up the root balls as much as possible though.  The sooner those roots get out of their potting soil, and into their new soil the better.


The blueberries look promising.

So that was Saturday.  Sunday was father’s day and weeding was again pushed on to the back burner, but because someone also has a new ‘all purchased plants must be planted within three days’ policy it wasn’t a complete day of rest.  I spent a good two hours setting up the deck containers.  That sounds busy, but if you’ve ever watched it’s more moving plants and considering than it is planting.  I’m never really happy when it’s done, but once things grow in it always ends up looking good enough.

lonicera sempervirens

The honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens) has been entertaining the hummingbirds for a few weeks now.  Aphids can be a problem but I just ignore them and the distorted growth (lower right) they produce.

I spent the rest of Sunday puttering.  I was happy to see plenty of bugs but little plant damage, and I like to pretend there’s some kind of good and bad balance thing going on but experience shows it’s not likely to stay that way all summer.

stinging nettle

Stinging nettle has been tolerated and even encouraged in the back reaches of the yard.  The stinging thing is relatively harmless and cool, but even better is when the leaves start folding up around the red admiral caterpillars which this plant supports.  

One animal which always surprises me are the garter snakes which have moved into the arborvitae next to the porch.  There are two, and surprisingly enough they enjoy draping themselves across the branches and catching the morning sun when things are cool.  Not everyone agrees they’re good company but I like them.

baby praying mantis

I was hoping to get a photo of one of the snakes but found this praying mantis instead.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a tiny one before.

The rabbits and an on again off again woodchuck are other wildlife which are making themselves known, but there’s one native wildflower which is really announcing itself this year.  Jewelweed (Impatients capensis) loves the regular rain and its juicy little stems are showing up everywhere.

clematis ruutel

Clematis ‘Ruutel’ rising up from a sea of jewelweed.  Easy enough to remove, but there are other plants anxious to get out from under their shadow.  

I think that’s enough from me.  The on again, off again drizzle suggested I call it quits for garden work and I was fine with that.  Taking pictures is much easier than weeding anyway.

quaking aspen leaf

Quaking aspen out in the meadow.

golden hops

Golden hops looking for some support to scramble on up… someone should probably address that.

hypericum albury purple

Hypericum ‘Albury Purple’ living up to the name.  


I know the lavender colored flower is a Dracocephalum but the cactus has grown over the label and I’m just not curious enough about the exact species to brave the spines.  

thalictrum rochebrunianum

I love Thalictrum rochebrunianum.  The foliage is cool enough, but with the dark stems and their waxy coating it’s just a work of art.

sunflower seedlings

So much for weeding out these sunflower seedlings…

verbascum atrovilaceum

Verbascum atroviolaceum is a small floppy verbascum which only flowers in the morning and isn’t all that showy, but of course I think it’s cool.

front street border

The border along the street is just doing its own thing this year.  We may run a purge but if it ain’t broke don’t fix it…. says the gardener who will end up trying to fix it.

oxeye daisy

One of my favorite weeds is the Oxeye daisy, this one complete with a colorful inchworm.

pokeweed sunnyside up

Growing native plants is a noble cause, but once you start planting cultivars things get iffy.  I pull out plenty of the regular pokeweed, but apparently ‘Sunnyside Up’ has now entered the local gene pool… and is too pretty to pull 🙂

penstemon digitalis dark towers

The foundation planting has exploded into June color, and I’m wondering if these might not be the perfect meadow flowers to plant across the berm.  Penstemon digitalis ‘Dark Towers’ with Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ and Oxeye daisy again.

allium narcissiflorum

Allium narcissiflorum with a red carpet rose in the background.  I like this little onion!

anthemis tinctoria

Anthemis tinctoria with rose campion and more daisies.

common milkweed asclepias syriaca

Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) trying to take over the world (or at least the front foundation bed).

So that’s it from here.  Maybe it’s messy, maybe I’m not getting much done, maybe the weather is a little cool, but as long as you remind yourself it’s not January it’s all good 🙂

Have a great week!

16 comments on “Ready For My Closeup

  1. Stephen Shaw says:

    Very nice photos Frank, I love your plant selection also. Welcome back..

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Always a pleasure to see what is happening in your garden, Frank. I’ve had to weed in short bursts between showers, which seem nearly constant, but I suppose it is better than drought. (I do worry that fungus will make itself known by late summer, so I’d best appreciate the lush perfection now.)
    A yellow Pennisetum? I must search for this!

    • bittster says:

      I hope you’re enjoying this spell of beautiful (dry) summer weather! It seems like it’s been at least three days since the last rain (not counting todays brief cloudburst) and I’m almost worried the pots might need watering!
      I hope the yellow pennisetum does well. So far it just seems to sit there, not growing much. We’ll see 😉

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Your garden sure got going while you were away. Everything is looking good. Lots of color which is how I like it. I strive for that but I end up with lots of green it seems. I don’t mind really. I think you did the best thing by starting your weeding up by the house. I can always fool myself into thinking all is weeded when around the patio is weedless. ha.. Enjoy your week.

    • bittster says:

      I broke down and had some mulch delivered. Figured that as long as I’m doing some weeding might as well try and make it last a little longer. Of course it’s never as easy as just throwing mulch down, I’ve expanded beds, added and removed plants, and done some tree and shrub surgery so it always takes forever before you’re ready to put down another couple feet of mulch. It sure is nice to see it finished though.
      Close-up let it seem like there is plenty of color, most of the garden is green except for a few trusty weeds like red champion and oxeye daisy which are making a nice splash of color in a couple spots. Hopefully there’s something equally nice to take over when these pass!

  4. Does Allium narcissiflorum look anything at all like a narcissus? And use a firm hand with that golden hops vine. It will take over the world if you let it.

    • bittster says:

      The allium looks nothing like a narcissus. Unless it’s some obscure botanical reference that I don’t know enough to see! The flower is nice enough though 🙂
      The soil must be terrible enough in that spot that the golden hops is still very well behaved. I did notice a new sprout, but so far it hasn’t worn out it’s welcome.

  5. rusty duck says:

    Believe me, neglected gardens can look a lot worse than this! Nevertheless, you always manage to make me feel better about myself when I come here. Last year I learned heaps about responsible cost control and now I find I could justifiably describe myself, along with your good self of course, as a force for social change.
    One of the things I noticed a couple of weeks into our trip to Australia was that my nails had become clean. Not only that, they were actually growing! Now that’s not something you see every day..

    • bittster says:

      After a week of trying to re-tame the garden my nails have taken a turn for the worse. Fortunately as a male it’s much easier to get away with chopping them short and just ignoring whatever cracks and tears show up.
      I didn’t really want to add a new rosebush last weekend, but I’m a man of my word and when I say I’m going to support the local businesses then darn it I will. I’m already eyeing a new brugmansia for next weekend. I don’t really want that one either but I need remind myself it’s all for the greater good.

  6. I just got back from a 5 day trip (pleasure, not business) and the first thing I want to do is stake the Baptisia. We had plenty of Jewelweed when we lived in Wisconsin – in my experience, that is a battle not worth fighting, especially as the Jewelweed flowers are kind of cool.

    • bittster says:

      The jewelweed is very cool. I think that’s how I let it get away with as much as it has! But parts of my yard are becoming seas of jewelweed and I seem to remember having other things planted somewhere in there as well.

  7. Cathy says:

    It looks lovely with all that lush growth and so many flowers in bloom. Love your attitude toward supporting local nurseries! 😉 Jewel weed looks quite pretty, but I am glad I haven’t encountered it yet if it is invasive. I can compare it to my ground elder – I just learned to live with it and love the flowers and try and limit its spreading space. Enjoy your weekend and don’t work too hard! 😉

    • bittster says:

      The jewelweed is normally no problem, but the endlessly wet spring we had gave birth to a sea of seedlings and every last one seems to be doubling in size the minute i look away. Normally I’m searching out drought tolerant plants!
      I think ground elder is much worse, my little weed problems are from an annual that’s pretty easy to pull up and kind of interesting to watch grow. Plus the hummingbirds seem to like it in July and August!

  8. It looks gorgeous and very inspiring! I am envious of your delphiniums and in my recent research into rabbit-resistant (or at least not rabbit-tasty) plants I was reminded that they are supposedly on that list. I wonder if it might make up for not being able to have lilies…..

    • bittster says:

      I’ve killed so many delphiniums before getting this one plant to grow decently in this one spot. That’s probably similar to your rabbit adventures so I guess it’s worth a shot! My advice is to buy one in the spring that’s already showing some promising flower buds. At least you’ll get that first year if it ends up deciding to be an annual!
      This is the first year the rabbits are being annoying… unless it’s the random woodchucks which have invaded our neighborhood. I saw three of them last Monday, and they were all up to no good.

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