Keep Those Projects Rollin

It sounded like a plan, kick all that midsummer apathy to the curb and really focus on getting some of those garden-changing projects done… but then I realized life is short and vacations are more memorable than a new bog garden, so vacation it was 🙂

maine portland headlight

One of Maine’s most photographed lighthouses, Portland Head Light.  After WWII, my uncle was stationed at neighboring Fort Williams so we’ve been visiting this site for a good 40 years now.  It’s always picture-perfect. 

We did a pitstop in lower Maine and then headed to the Canadian border and Campobello Island.  Five days of being outside, wearing sweatshirts, cooking on a campstove, and enjoying the scenery.  The kids and I enjoyed it… the wife again chose to stay home, close to electricity, wifi and central air 🙂

lubec maine

Looking across the channel to Lubec, Maine.  

These trips of course pass too quickly, so now it’s back to contemplating the maturing season and the back to school fliers.  I dislike both so lets instead look at how the latest projects have progressed.  You could probably guess that no one picked up a shovel to finish things off while I was gone.

hellebore garden

The new hellebore garden.  Mid August is not a good time to transplant hellebores, I believe after blooming is recommended, but after years of saying they needed to be moved if the mood strikes better to act on it. 

The new shade garden is already filled with hellebores.  I nearly died of heat stroke and probably lost about three pounds of water weight digging them out of the full sun spot in the potager and moving them, but the plants seem just fine in spite of the heat.  I wish I could say the same for the shovel I used to dig them.  Hellebore roots are strong, and apparently that strength is more than what was left in the shovel’s handle, so a new one was the first post-vacation gardening purchase.  Fortunately the bog garden construction required no tool-sacrifices.

bog container garden

Ok so the new bog garden is far, far, less impressive than a handful of transplanted hellebores, but I’m quite pleased with it.  Of course the most interesting pitcher plant is already half dead but the rest look promising and I’d still like to find some moss to add.  The pitcher plants were left potted so they’d be above the highest water level, but there’s absolutely no reason for the log.  I just thought it was a nice thing to add.

So maybe the projects aren’t rolling along as much as the calendar says they should.  Maybe it will happen this week… although the weather says otherwise… or maybe not.  You can’t follow a relaxing vacation filled with cool, foggy ocean breezes with a jump right back into the hot dog days of August.  You have to ease your way back, and for me I was happy enough to get the lawn mowed again and edged, especially since to do so involved first replacing the lawnmower blade due to a violent run-in with a hidden rock.

tropical garden

Looking past the tropical garden into the backyard.  The green of the lawn is misleading considering nearly all of it is weeds and annual crabgrass. 

Of course I took all these pictures prior to any work being done.  Even a single day away from the garden needs to be followed up with a thorough garden tour 🙂

front border

It’s only been a week but with plenty of rain and some serious heat things have grown quite a bit.  To my surprise no one has questioned the milkweed sprouts growing in the lawn or the gourds creeping in from the sides.  Even when I mowed, I mowed around them.  I like lawn, but a few interesting weeds are always an improvement!

All over things are exploding with color.  Again the sunflowers have taken over, and again I love it.  I’m always surprised by how well they elbow their way in, even with all the bird snacking and weed smothering mulch.  I tried ripping a bunch from the tropical border and the potager but as you can see I’m about as good at that as I am at finishing projects 😉

front border

The front border at its peak.  Even after skimping on this spring’s annual plantings it’s still managed to come together. 

I’m thinking about ordering topsoil and more mulch in order to finish the bed expansion which happened when the bog was planted.  It just makes sense to shovel and move tons of stuff when the humidity shoots up to one billion percent and the forecast calls for a nice little spell of heat.  If worse comes to worse I’ll just let it block the garage for a few weeks until the guilt overcomes me, and if I’m really lucky the sweaty mess of it all will make me almost relieved to see summer winding down.  Maybe.  I doubt it though.

Have a great week!

18 comments on “Keep Those Projects Rollin

  1. No matter how many reasons we come up with to put off chores, the plants, weeds, and grass keep on doing their thing. I have many reasons why I am behind but others may call them excuses rather than reasons. One reason by itself isn’t good enough, for sure, so I have to tally them all up together. For sure I have been really bored with myself which may be the reason for poor sleeping habits. I go outside and look at what I need to do and decide it is too hot or the grass is to wet. Then I go back inside and take a nap. Your beds look amazing and the mulch has certainly served you well. Great job with the hellebore bed and the new bog garden. It looks great!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! Funny you should mention naps. For a while I was sneaking a few in here and there, I prefer to call it ‘reading’ but my eyes always end up shut after a few minutes. Now I’ve moved on to afternoon coffee which also only has a small window of not too early, not too late but it serves the same purpose of getting in a nice little break.
      I’ve been real lazy lately but then some nonsense motivational quote comes up and makes me feel guilty about it. Today it was something about successful people getting there by doing things they didn’t want to do when they didn’t want to do it. It sounded good but then when I stepped outside the heat and humidity over ruled any thoughts of work. Maybe this afternoon.
      Soon there will be a twinge of a season change and then suddenly the motivation will kick in again. If not there’s always next spring!

  2. Your new Hellebore garden looks good. I know what you mean about those Hellebore roots. They are tough. Your bog garden is really nice. I like the log in it. If a small critter gets in there they can climb on it to get out and not drown in there. Will you leave this bog outside all winter? Is the tub set into the ground some? Inquiring minds want to know. Did you strew your sunflower seeds across the back of this garden? It looks good this time of year. I had only one sunflower that a bird or chipmunk planted. The long lawn and blowsy look of the garden is quite beautiful in my eyes. You are making marvelous memories for your children. That is what counts. The pictures brought back fond memories of a trip my DB and I took up through Maine to Campobello. We stayed in a B&B near there. My kind of camping. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      The bog is staying put all winter so I’m not sure how that’s going to work out. With the pitcher plants still potted I can lift them if I have to, but right now I’m just wondering if they’ll grow or fade away, but only time will tell. The tub is dug in a little and filled with a few more logs and a 50/50 mix of peat and sand. I went fancy and got the more expensive playground sand…. because it looked sandier to me 😉
      The sunflowers are a little bit of a mystery. I never planted any and assume birdfood was dropped or hidden here and there and then forgotten about. Each year they reseed on their own, with all kinds of subtle differences here and there, some for the better and some not so much. Right now I’m trying to discourage the big headed ones because they only have one big flower and then just hang their head as the seeds form.
      They grow so easily for me but oddly enough I threw a bunch of black oil sunflower seeds (out of the bird feeder) all along the bare earth of the slope this spring, and not a single one came up. I was really looking forward to a hillside of flowers so I’m not sure what went wrong.
      I hope that even if the kids seem bored by the trips now they’ll hang onto the memories forever and think differently when they’re older. I think that’s what happened with us, the trips were nice enough but just being outside and enjoying the change of scenery is what I still hold on to.

  3. Deborah Banks says:

    Great pictures. Impressive even. I thought you were going to say that the chunk of wood in the bog garden was the shovel handle. 🙂

    • bittster says:

      Haha, I guess I could have buried some kind of bad experience or treasure in there!
      I think I’m getting past the surround everything with plants stage and trying to get an actual garden going. Right now it just follows the perimeter of the yard, I’d like it to be something with views and destinations and passing through the plants.
      A bridge over a ditch filled with primula wouldn’t be the worst thing to add!

  4. Trish Becker says:

    Loved the garden tour, as always. Enjoyed the log in the bog garden. Let’s call it a stumpery too!

    • bittster says:

      In Maine I was on the lookout for driftwood or a small stump to replace the log, but no luck. I do like the idea of a stumpery. If they weren’t so heavy I’m sure I would have tried dragging a few in already!

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    Maine/Canada are so beautiful in the heat of summer, the water cools so nicely. I’m rather envious of your vacation, and I think your wife missed out, but I suppose it was a vacation for her as well. I remember feeling like that when I had little kids and my spouse would take them off my hands for a few days. 😉
    Isn’t it amazing how fast things grow in this heat/humidity? I have a pumpkin vine or two that escaped the compost and are threatening to take over the asparagus, rhubarb and raspberries. I noticed their blossoms close up are really quite beautiful! So it stays… 😉

    • bittster says:

      When we were younger my parents took us all over the place, but going south in the summer never did anything for me, it was always the cold north or high mountains which made me happy. My wife did enjoy the break. Plenty of back to school shopping was accomplished and for a few minutes the house looked great 😉

  6. Cathy says:

    The heat and rain really have made a difference and it all looks so incredibly green! Love all those sunflowers. I used to dream of growing them in the rockery at the old garden, but slugs and snails always got there first. They are thriving here though and we haven’t seen any slugs yet…. 😉
    The holiday sounded great and that picture postcard view of the lighthouse is so romantic. Your wife missed out there!

    • bittster says:

      Glad to hear that your sunflowers are finally happy! I bet they trudged right through your drought without a second thought, they’re really tough as far as heat and less than perfect conditions, as long as they get a ton of sun. My favorite thing about them are the birds they attract. Every day a steady stream of yellow goldfinches and small sparrows and finches work their way through the plantings. The hummingbirds are always aggravated by the visitors but I love all the activity.

  7. I like the new hellebore garden. Next time you have to dig some, get yourself a Root Slayer shovel. I love mine.My cannas seem healthy but they don’t have flowers. Don’t even see a hint of a flower stalk.

  8. Your cannas are stunning; mine are wimpy this year with no flowers. Your new hellebore garden is very impressive, as is the bog garden! As always your blog made me smile — you have a keen wit, Frank. P. x

  9. Pauline says:

    Sometimes in the heat, all you can do is rest with a long cold drink and a good book! Your borders are looking amazing with all your sunflowers, your birds will be very happy when the seed forms! Love your hellebore border, that will be so beautiful come next year. I have my projects sorted for September onwards when it is much cooler!

  10. You just can’t go wrong with sunflowers – they never fail to lift my spirits. I like the new Hellebore garden. Hellebores tend to fill in so beautifully.

  11. Chloris says:

    Great to spend time with your little ones in the great outdoors. Your late summer garden always looks great, those self seeded sunflowers are gorgeous. It is amazing how well tended the garden looks once the lawn has been mown and the edging done.

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