Laboring for Labor Day

Welcome to September.  September is that wonderful time of the year when summer begins to die and the joy of millions of children is crushed as they head back to school.  Some people look forward to the end of summer and the roundup of children but I do not.  Still as the days get shorter and nighttime temperatures drop it’s time to seriously start the winter denial that comes hand in hand with cooler weather.  Summer will last forever, right?

Two consecutive soggy summers have put an end to my dreams of an ultra-drought tolerant cactus garden. Of course the expensive fancy ones all died away, leaving only the generic yellow, and then twenty minutes of pulling spines from my wrist pushed me towards getting rid of that one as well.

Optimistic readers will wonder how all the projects have come along on this Labor Day weekend.  Realistic readers already know.  In my defense the topsoil which was ordered three weeks ago is still “too wet” to be delivered, and having  that would have helped but I’m sure something else could have been worked out.  In the meantime I’m fine waiting 🙂

monarch enclosure

The monarch caterpillars have been evicted from the kitchen counter and are now on ‘vacation’ under a screen enclosure on the front lawn.  I knew those milkweed sprouts I’ve been mowing around would come in handy!

So since the official projects have been waylaid, a new project has been started.  It was time to weed the rockless rockgarden, so as long as that’s going on why not line it with rocks, pull up the remains of the cactus, trim whatever is left, and then decide that it would be better as a colchicum garden?  Ok.  So that was done instead, and although the bed was entirely rock-free as a rockgarden, it now has plenty of rocks as a cholchicum garden.  If all works out pictures shall follow during colchicum season.

In the meantime here are a few videos I took Saturday morning before any work began.  It’s a seedy, weedy, ragged lawn video, but it does give an honest view of the front and back gardens.  Pictures always make this place look better, video tells the true story and explains why there’s not a waiting list for tours 😉

I apologize for the grainy quality of the video.  I thought my phone would do a better job, but between shoddy uploading and poor cinematic quality the graininess is the least of its problems 🙂 . Here are some cleansing closeup still shots of the garden to bring us back to the way I wish it all looked!

tropicana canna

In the tropical garden, the light on ‘Tropicana’ is one of the less tasteful joys of the August garden.

The tropical garden is into its lush phase.

bengal tiger canna

I can never get enough of ‘Bengal Tiger’s foliage.  

The front yard is still fairly colorful and moderately well maintained.

dahlia happy single flame

Dahlia ‘Happy Single Flame’ has me debating adding more dahlias again.  For now I’m resisting, since all the complaining from digging them and the cannas last fall is still fresh in my memory.  

The front yard looks nice enough but the photos fail to capture the constant chatter of goldfinch families as they feed on the sunflower seeds.  One poor father in particular comes by with his four extremely demanding children and I don’t know how he deals with the never ending begging.  That and the frequent hummingbird divebombs keep things pretty animated.

molina skyracer

The grasses have been putting on a show lately.  As Molina ‘Skyracer’ catches the light and wind, it makes a nice veil to my lovely orange marigolds across the driveway, and mildewy gourds takingover the lawn.

coreopsis and salvia

I hadn’t been “feeling” annuals this spring, but fortunately a few salvia and verbena returned here anyway.  The pink coreopsis was planted though, if it makes it through the winter and looks this nice again next year I’ll be pleasantly surprised!

I did finally mow the lawn and give things a once over.  Here’s a glimpse of the nicer end of the former rockgarden.  My hope is that the rocks help with keeping weeds and the lawn at bay… my not-hope is that the rock edging will just make weeding more difficult as grass gets in between all the gaps.

variegated red pine

New colchicum garden to the left, my favorite variegated red pine front and center.  I’m always happy when a few purple verbena bonariensis come up next to it. 

Other parts of the garden are hopeless as far as weeding goes.  Along the deck I just gave up and call it a native plant bed.  Virginia creeper covers the brick and threatens to take over every time my back is turned, while red cardinal flower is trying to hold its ground against the invasion of jewelweed.  Native sweetspire (Clethra) is in there as well as is the ‘Tiger Eyes’ form of staghorn sumac.  I guess if you really stretch it, the peach dahlia is a native to the Americas as well… you’d just have to go back a couple decades in breeding and head south a couple thousand miles.

cardinal flower

The deck surroundings in need of some lovin’.  Obsessive weeders my be twitching to see this, but it’s very popular with the bumblebees and hummingbirds.

If you watched the first video you might have noticed the huge plumes of weedy seed heads which practically block the view from the front porch.  They were gone-to-seed lettuce which had filled the front planters and which should have been pulled months ago… but no one complained so I just let them be and wondered to myself just how few people notice anything I do here.  But enough was enough, so I pulled them up, transplanted all the lettuce seedlings (bonus!) for the fall garden, and filled the pots up with some new things!

autumn planters

The front walk looks a little better freshened up.  The purple oxalis was already there, but I splurged on some red nemesia, blue salvia, and one of those dead-looking grassy sedges which for some reason I had to have.  I like it 🙂 

And then that’s it from here.  It’s a three day weekend, so maybe a little more will get done, but with the rain that’s coming down and the barbecue which is being prepared I doubt it.  I’m fine with that though and I hope the coming week brings you nothing but fine as well.

16 comments on “Laboring for Labor Day

  1. Your garden looks mighty fine to me. A few weeds means you are living the life. Those cactus spines look deadly. I didn’t notice the lettuce but I wouldn ‘t know a lettuce bloom from many wild blooms. I like that sedge with the oxalis. I hope you have a great time this weekend and get to sit in those blue chairs some. Don’t eat too much BBQ. I enjoyed your grainy videos too.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Lisa. The cactus spines were absolutely deadly, and were the number one reason I had a change of taste regarding hardy cactus 🙂
      I did have time to sit in the blue chairs. And then sit some more. Not much gardening has been done since Labor Day!

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    I always admire your plant combinations, Frank. You have a great knack for eye-pleasing textures and colors. Your variegated cannas are stunning!

  3. Cathy says:

    I really enjoyed the videos Frank – it felt like I was visiting in person! The tropical foliage looks so good with verbena bonariensis. It all looks very green and lush in fact. Enjoy your holiday weekend, and Happy September! 🙂

    • bittster says:

      What happened!? I’m finally responding to your Happy September and the month is already halfway through. This time of year seems to fly by, and the shortening days become harder and harder to ignore. Hope you’re enjoying your weekend and some cooler weather!

  4. Chloris says:

    I love your tropical garden, vivid colours are what we need at this time of the year. Fabulous cannas. Well done on the videos, it is good to see where everything is.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks. My tropical garden pales in comparison to your son’s jungle wharf but it’s still fun. I hope we still get a few updates on all your new garden areas this season!

  5. johnvic8 says:

    Your garden and your blog are a great source of joy. Many thanks.

  6. Turning the rockless rock garden into a rocky Colchicum garden sounds like a fine idea. Your garden is looking pretty good to me.

  7. I am so envious of your cannas. But you knew that, LOL. 😀 What pine is that, by the way? Is it a dwarf? I have just started planting up a “pinetum” in the most well-drained full-sun spot I have, and am definitely considering one of the variegateds.

    • bittster says:

      Just give the word and a few canna will be on their way to LI!
      I believe the pine is ‘Burke’s Red Variegated’ and it’s supposed to be very tolerant of abuse, unlike some other variegated pines. ‘They’ claim it does not burn in winter, but mine usually has all the yellow brown out in late spring, and I suspect it’s winter damage but I also think it will grow out of it. Fast grower but mine suffers abuse from bats and sleds and annually has the growing tips damaged by some kind of budworm which all combine to give it extra character and slows it down. I love it though, it’s one of my favorite plants.

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