Rollin, Rollin

So now it’s August.  August fourth to be exact, and I’m not sure how we started into the month already when I only just realized July was ending, but here we are.  Weeding continues and with the front yard relatively under control it’s time to give the back some attention.  The potager is always ground zero for mayhem.


The view from the potager up to the house.

From the right angle and with some nice morning light the potager looks like a flowery wonderland, but an actual visit would show plenty of weeds and needs.  Staking, deadheading, dividing… they’re all on the list somewhere, but weeding is all I really manage to get to.  In my new lower-the-maintenance kick I’m trying to think of better edging and maybe some raised beds and trellises but that’s a whole ‘nother lever and I don’t know if I can pull it off without someone else noticing that the closets still need new shelves and back in June in a moment of clarity that was chosen as the real summer project.


Full disclosure.  The back garden really isn’t as flower-filled as you may think, and the berm is just too steep and too boring to mow… just so I can have more to mow.  So it sits covered in weeds (actually struggling and dried out smartweed for those who need to know) until I commit to planting something better there.

I was kind of inspired by how well the phlox were flowering and didn’t really mind all the hard labor out back.  There are a few seedlings which are nicely fragrant which I always appreciate, and in general quite a few have decided to flower instead of die, and for me and my phlox that’s a big step.

phlox paniculata

Phlox paniculata with some hydrangea ‘Limelight’ in the back.  The hydrangea have grown faster than I thought they would, and this bed might need some rethinking.

I don’t grow the phlox well.  There’s always something they don’t like and I would guess that in any given year for the half that do well there’s another good half that look downright miserable.  I think they’d like a looser, more fertile soil with even moisture levels but that’s just not going to happen and they’ll just have to deal.

phlox paniculata

This pink seedling is my favorite this year.  It’s a pretty average color but up close I love the streaking… which of course doesn’t show too well in this photo.

I made it all the way to the ‘forgotten’ beds in the far back, which are less flower beds than they are just planted areas which I don’t mow.  The double tiger lily (Lilium lancifolium ‘Flore Pleno’) is back there and has finally opened up its congested and twisted blooms.  I never know for sure if I really like it or if it’s just too interesting to not grow, but I’m beginning to think I actually like it 😉

double tiger lily

The double tiger lily has been around since 1870 so of course I’ll need to keep it around.

I was about to tackle one of the worst of the ‘forgotten’ beds when I noticed someone else had moved in before me.  I treasure yellow garden spiders (Agriope aurantia) so when I saw this darling sitting in her web I decided enough was enough with the weeding and frost can level these things just as well as I can.

yellow garden spider

Yellow garden spider down in the weeds.  I can’t leave this darling exposed and homeless, so for the rest of the season this bed is officially a spider refuge.

I’ll regret letting this messy plot go to seed but in the long run I always opt for interesting over pretty so each afternoon I check out how well she’s respun her nest and weather she’s looking a little thin.  Every now and then a Japanese beetle gets flicked into her trap just to make sure she’s plenty plump by autumn.

cardinal flower lobelia

A few of my weeds turned into cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis).  They kind of make up for all the endless rain which gave them the soggy ground they enjoy.

Opting out of any more weeding really gave me a new lease on gardening.  Weeding the whole garden only to start weeding again is about as rewarding as mowing the lawn every time the lawn needs mowing, and it makes me feel like a dog chasing its tail except I’m not that into tails.  These never ending tasks just wear me down.  So the lawn is getting tall and the less noxious weeds are enjoying summer and I’m moving on to projects.  I finally decided to address the pile of flat rocks I had collected last fall and had been mowing around ever since.

building a bog garden

I don’t know how I moved that big rock back in the day, but last week with a lot of sweat and levering I finally moved it out from behind the grass.  Then I bulked up the stepping stone walk and settled on a spot for the bog garden.

For me projects make you feel like you’re actually making headway.  I want my garden to grow from year to year as well as season to season so changes always make me feel like that’s the case.  The reality is that the photos sometimes say it looked better in the before state, but where’s the fun in that?  Also I bought four new pitcher plants for like $15 on clearance so obviously I needed to invest hours of time and at least twice that much money in peat and sand just so they had a comfortable place to live.

hellebore garden

Leftover stones and a neighbor’s discarded bench were all the excuse needed to make a second new bed while the first new bed was happening.  Why not?

Someone might notice that adding beds to a garden that may already be too much might possibly be a move in the wrong direction but of course I don’t care.  Hobbies should be fun and you’d be amazed at how quickly a weed whacker and a pile of mulch can tame just about any mess.

devils trumpet datura

The rewards of messiness.  Devils trumpet seeded out in a cloud of volunteer fennel.  Not bad for a weedy snowdrop bed.

The bog is settling in and the bench now overlooks a patch of hellebores which have finally been moved out of the vegetable garden.  I would have taken and posted a photo but was so sweaty and disgusting the mosquitos even avoided me.  So much for the fun part of the hobby 😉

16 comments on “Rollin, Rollin

  1. Christina says:

    I know exactly what you mean about August, I always see it as the beginning of the end of summer although we are forecast some very hot weather for the foreseeable future! It’s too hot to do much in the garden except harvest crops but there will be huge amounts to do in September.

    • bittster says:

      I almost feel guilty thinking about the end of summer when it’s just the beginning of August, but the month seems to go so fast that I can’t help it. I should really just toss the calendar into the trash but there’s always so much to do….
      Hopefully in spite of the heat you can still enjoy the evenings in the garden. The good thing about the high temperatures is the plants slow down as well and jobs are not as pressing as they are in April. For you it’s even more extreme and in a way your rest is similar to the winter break we get here.

  2. That berm is a bugger. I might ignore it or do like your neighbor and put up a privacy fence if I didn’t want to look at it. However with your view from above a fence wouldn’t do much good. Perhaps a bunch of wildflower seeds broadcast on it would at least put some color there. Then from afar you wouldn’t have such a blah weedy look. Well, that was easy to say. 😉
    Your projects look like so much more fun than having your head in a closet during summer. That huge rock is awesome. I was wondering if you used those bats to beat it into submission or as rollers. tee hee…
    I have or I should say had tiger lilies. The straight species. The poor things gave up due to their placement. I always meant to move them as they were dwindling but being the lazy gardener I didn’t get that done now I am sorry.
    What a lucky spider. I used to have one by my downspout every year. I haven’t seen her in a long time.
    All of that stone looks great. Is that a HUGE angelwing begonia or one of those vining begonias? Which ever is is a beauty. I can’t wait to see your bog garden.

    • bittster says:

      I’m glad you noticed the begonia! I love that thing 🙂 . It’s a tall angel wing or cane begonia, I’m not really sure what you’d call it but it does get huge and it’s so easy to care for. It loses nearly every leaf in the winter as it sits dry in the cool and dark garage, but when it comes out again it greens up pretty quick… even if it does look 95% dead! Yesterday I saw the first flower cluster forming. It makes great big tresses of blooms as well and by next month should look even better.
      Sorry about your tiger lilies. They have a way of reappearing out of nowhere though, so keep your fingers crossed. Thats actually how I go the single one, it just started growing one year and I noticed the little lily leaves and let it be. Between this lily and a dill plant they’re the only worthwhile surprises I had in the garden I had before this!
      I did try and throw some birdseed (sunflowers) over the slope in the spring but only one sad little stunted sprout came up. Not sure why that happened, but other things are getting thrown up there this fall such as rudbeckia and coneflower seeds, and I will give it a once over during the winter to neaten it up. Eventually I’m sure it will be something nice, but right now it’s just blocking my view…

    • bittster says:

      I forgot to mention you’re absolutely right about the bats. I used them as rollers under the rock!

  3. How exciting to have new beds! Try planting some ditch lilies on that slope in addition to throwing seedheads on it. And don’t forget phlox seedheads!

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    August is when I start to grow tired of fighting pests, weeding and watering. This is how Nature wins… waiting for me to let my guard down to produce a billion weed seeds for me to deal with next spring. 😉
    Making new beds is energizing, it doesn’t have to be logical, we’re just following the Muse.
    I was powering through a bed overgrown with weeds and bleeding hearts that needed cutting down, when I similarly spied a garden spider and was happy to stop right there, done for the day. We brake for spiders. 😉

    • bittster says:

      One saving grace for me is that a good amount of the weeds I get can pass as intentional, and don’t look all that bad when they get out of hand. It really comes in handy when that August exhaustion kicks in, you just let it go and it all kind of works out. -except for the ragweed and quck grass, I still try and get them when I have the energy.
      i love that you brake for spiders 🙂

  5. There are always plenty of weeds and flowers that need deadheading. Your landscaping looks AMAZING!

  6. Cathy says:

    Brave of you to attempt new projects in August – isn’t it a bit warm for hard work?! 😉 It’s good to see your garden looking so content with plenty of rainfall. We are finally getting some rain worth mentioning tomorrow and I will sit and watch the grass turn green!

    • bittster says:

      It is absolutely too warm for hard work! I try to pace myself to a little work, a little sweating, a drink of water, and then a jump in the pool. Sometimes I skip the work part 😉
      Watching the grass turn green after a hot spell ends is always such a nice turning point. Let’s hope the rain and cooler temperatures hold!

  7. Lot’s of good things happening in your garden, along with the weeding efforts. Phlox and Cardinal Flower are wonderful. I desperately want August to slow down so that summer doesn’t come to an end.

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