Suddenly June

The deck was cleaned and ready just after Memorial day.  Considering how much extra time I supposedly have that isn’t much different than a “normal” year… and by normal I mean getting all the summer stuff up and running a week or two or three after everyone else does.  Things just run late here, and I’m starting to see that maybe it’s more than just basic laziness.  Maybe it’s laziness plus plain-old slow thats effecting how things run around here.

front border

I did manage to do a front border cleanup of old tulip foliage and baby weeds, and at least that part of the garden looks promising.

Slow is just fine with me.  A more generous person might say I’m not, and that I just overthink things, but unless your idea of overthinking includes an ADD journey of the mind then I don’t think it’s that either.  Maybe it’s something else…. someone else accused me of being a perfectionist, but that’s clearly not what’s going on either and I gave a little laugh when they said it.  One look around the garden really settles that point.

iris demi deuil

Iris ‘Demi Deuil’, an old, smaller iris with a cool pattern to it.

The garden is only now coming back into rights after the cold spell we went through in May.  Iris season has been disappointing with many freeze-deformed and aborted flower stalks and blooms, and only a few of the amazing clumps which usually celebrate the finishing up of spring.  Two years of excessively wet summers didn’t help as plants were rotting left and right, but I know they’ll be back.  The bigger uncertainty is how many more I need for next year in order to fill this emotional void.  I suspect there is some transplanting and dividing in store… maybe a few new ones as well 😉

allium nigrum pink jewel

A new allium this year, A.nigrum ‘Pink Jewel’.  The white, straight species is so reliable I thought it was time to try one of the pinks.  So far my impression is lukewarm but I’ll give it time.

Although thoughts of dividing the iris have already sprung up, there’s so much more to do first.  Tulips and daffodils need digging, snowdrop seeds need sowing, weeding is endless, and the lawn always needs another cut.  I should mulch as well, plus the potager re-design needs finishing up before the growing season rolls over into 2021.  I should really give an update on that, but just a few more finishing touches before I bare my soul on that one.  In the meantime at least the foundation beds are  taking care of themselves…

foundation planting

The relaxed and overfilled foundation bed is completely unlike what a front foundation planting “should” be, but there are too many interesting plants out there to waste time on yew meatballs and few azaleas in a sea of mulch.

What might be the most anticipated plant of the year (possibly only by me) is the huge self-sown verbascum sitting right there in front of the house.  It’s a weed.  I know.  But also so lush and promising, and I’m hoping it’s something just a little fancier than the regular run of the mill mulleins.  I’ve let both grow here in the past, so it’s a crap shoot as far as seeing which one this will be, but it’s huge, so I love it.

johnny jump ups

Johnny jump ups trying to outgrow the mullein.

What I don’t love is weeding and planting the tropical garden.  In a no-excuses gardening year I’m stuck weeding it properly and not doing the old throw-it-all-in-and-eventually-it-will-all-look-ok planting method.  I don’t like it.  It’s work, and I think the tropical bed’s days are numbered.  We will see, but as of today a swath of sundrops (Oenothera fruticosa) which was slated to be removed, has been left, and although I never planted it there, leaving it in place sure is easier and a spot of low maintenance doesn’t sound bad today… even if that means a much smaller spot of the tropics.

tropical garden planting

The tropical garden in progress.  Who doesn’t like a hit of bright color on their way to enjoy a day at the pool next door?

There will be other things to keep me occupied.  Right now for some strange reason the wild back of the yard is my favorite spot to be occupied.  I barely lift a finger there but love to watch the bugs and birds and see what all can happen on its own.

tent caterpillar

Tent caterpillars used to disgust me but once lily beetles, gypsy moths, and Japanese beetles moved in, these little tents of silk barely register.  Maybe the birds will enjoy a snack, the apples off this tree are overrated, and there are still leaves on the tree, so it seems everyone wins a little when they stay.

I spent some of the first quarantine days digging various tree seedlings and shrub transplants into the berm that stands between us and the new Industrial park behind our house.  They don’t look like much at all but in a few years…. maybe….you never know how well these things will do.  In the meantime they’re alive, and some of the rooted rhododendron branches which I butchered off their mother in April are actually alive enough to bloom.  Alongside the clovers and mustards and daisies it’s quite the show, but I’m not sure everyone around here prefers lively flowers over neatly mown embankments.  Let them mow it themselves I say.

the berm

I’m endlessly fascinated by these new weedy little meadows alongside the berm.  I don’t think it’s normal to be this obsessed, but who cares?  So what if I get overly excited for a new weed showing up or a new wildflower opening, I think it’s grand, and all I have to do to enjoy it is mow a few walking paths.

I hate to leave you off talking about weeds, but after being covered in smartweed last year the berm has now transitioned over to all kinds of clover and grass.  I don’t know what triggered the change but I suspect there was some fertilizer spread when they first seeded the slope, and now that its run out the smartweed is not happy.

aesculus pavia

Hopefully the red buckeye (aesculus pavia) can tolerate the full sun and dry soil of the berm.  I’d like to see it expand into a nice sized shrubby tree.

So I could talk for a while about the types of grass, the relative attractiveness of their seed heads, the spreading daisies, the annoying crownvetch and mugwort which I still need to eliminate, the rudbeckia yet to come, and all the topsoil building which is taking place, but I’ll spare you.  My fingers are sore from weeding and sanding and chiseling mortar and the typing isn’t helping much so you’re off the hook and I’ll just wish you a happy Sunday.

23 comments on “Suddenly June

  1. Looking GREAT! I have been very slow with the beds as well. The yard always needs mowed but I refuse to do it more than once a week. I have not gotten all the Colocasia rhizomes planted because the soil where they go has been continually wet. The vegetable garden is coming along fine, though. Always like reading your posts. Thanks for sharing!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks! We had a short stretch of hot and dry, and it did slow the grass down a little, and gave me a breather from that job. Even though I’m sure there’s much less mowing here than by you, I still resent all the time and energy it uses. But it does look nice once it’s done!
      My vegetable garden is having a decent season as well, but we really should try and eat more of it rather than giving it all away!

      • The grass did seem to slow down here a bit here the past week for the same reason as you. Most of my garden is doing well and I hope the last planting of sweet corn gets with it soon.

  2. Lisa Lindquist says:

    “Yew meatballs.” I laughed, I cried, 5 stars!!! 😉

    • bittster says:

      Haha, I just added three more boxwoods to the yard. My BIL dug them up because his beds looked “too crowded”, I laughed and said I’m sure I can cram them in somewhere here.
      He prefers his little meatballs surrounded by an appropriately empty sea of mulch. I of course think that’s the most boring thing.

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    Your post sounds very familiar, Frank. I could just reblog this saying, “My thoughts exactly!” 😉
    I always feel behind in my own garden (probably because I garden for a few clients, who get theirs done first). I set this weekend as my ‘catch-up’. Finally got the annual seeds in the cutting garden yesterday, along with a few beans and potatoes. Colorado potato beetles are already making an appearance, alas. 😦
    I feel the same fascination with succession meadows after the soil has been ‘disturbed.’ It is a pretty amazing process to watch Nature reclaim land and see the critters that move in to colonize it.
    For the record, your gardens look wonderful to me!

    • bittster says:

      How is it that we are always behind!? I think August will be the first time when I can look out and say it looks ok. -and most of that is just the realization that you’ve done all you can and it is what it is.
      I’ve been avoiding more seed starting. Annuals are so tempting, but things seem to be following a dry pattern and I’m just not one to keep up with watering.
      Flea beetles and few potato beetles here, but otherwise things could be a lot worse. He says this and gives a little laugh because he knows things will absolutely be a lot worse. But it’s fun 🙂

  4. johnvic8 says:

    Confess up. You love it.

  5. Your garden is looking good Frank. We all have weeds and places that need attention. Being retired I have no excuse at all. These 90 degree days do keep me inside for the most part though. I has turned furnace like this week. ugh…

    I am excited to see your verbascum bloom too. I love it when they mature and the birds come to eat the seeds, especially the downy woodpeckers. Of course the butterflies and moths that like to pollinate it are interesting too.
    Happy Sunday to you too.

    • bittster says:

      Did you enjoy the cooler weather? I’ve been loving it and can hopefully finally get the vegetable garden settled. So much stuff to dig and move, all the while trying to get the veggies going and keep them weeded. It’s starting to look nice though, and that’s always encouraging.
      The first flowers are opening on the verbascum. It’s a nice one 🙂 they’re bigger yellow blooms and I also have another one which has come up with white flowers! The ones I originally planted were white so that’s exciting, but it looks like they’re smaller than the original. I’m still quite pleased.

  6. I am glad to hear you are planting things into the berm. No reason not to have good things to look at. And I wonder if you are slow, or the seasons change so fast. With the cold May, it seems like we went from winter to summer and skipped spring. There are several chores I won’t do until there’s no more danger of frost, and then they all need to be done asap. This makes me feel behind even when I’ve been out there doing those chores every minute I can spare.

    • bittster says:

      I like that. From now on I’ll just act surprised that the season moved ahead so fast and I just didn’t have a chance to keep up!
      But, as usual, I’m always fighting myself. The cool new things I added last year all need a little tweaking, from all the weeds between the stepping stones (I’m sure you know that one), to the leak in the bog, to the finishing cuts to the stone around the pond, to the weeds that just run right past my stone edging (you also warned me about that as well), to the…. it seems like it never ends.

  7. Cathy says:

    You are so modest! It seems you have been quite busy and the garden is looking great. Anyway, a certain amount of laziness is necessary to enjoy the garden too. After a mad first six weeks or so of our lockdown I have slowed down and find I now have so much time everything can wait… well, maybe the weeding can‘t. I‘ll start tomorrow. 😉

    • bittster says:

      Isn’t it funny how you take advantage of every minute when you first get a chance, but then when it becomes the normal you roll back in to a new routine. I’ve done the same, but I do really enjoy the extra time, even if I don’t make the best use of it.
      Weeds are so much easier to pull if you give them a little more time to grow 😉

  8. That’s one heck of a mullein you’ve got there, Frank! It looks more like a horticultural specimen than a weed! Speaking of weeds, as I was driving the other day, I found myself admiring all the wild mustard along the roadside and actually pondered digging some to put in my own garden so I’d have some yellow flowers at this time of year to complement all the purple and blue shades that are so prominent now! So, I think letting that berm go all wild and meadow-y is a fine plan! I wish I were half as “lazy” as you, by the way–maybe then the beds here would look like something! At least the weather yesterday and today is great for working outside!

    • bittster says:

      I have to admit to liking the mustard, but I think the yellow clover is even better! It doesn’t get as lanky and has a nice strong color. I’m pretty sure it’s considered a weed, but you are more than welcome to a handful or two of seed!
      I did manage to put some of the nice weather to good use today and made some more progress in the potager. It’s starting to look good, but I have two weeks of online training coming up so that will throw a wrench into the plans. Bit by bit, right?

  9. Deborah Banks says:

    Your pictures are lovely. That Iris ‘Demi Deuil’ is a beauty. I agree that it seems like it suddenly is summer and I’m behind on every part of the garden, after such a lovely long cool spring. Also, we seem to be in a super early drought already. The few rain clouds these past 3 weeks have gone around us. Puts a big hitch in my plans for moving plants around, as I’m carrying water to the newly planted stuff.

    • bittster says:

      Hope that last bunch of rain didn’t miss you! We got a nice amount, but since it was also droughty here there were a few areas where the rain just didn’t soak in. Still it helped a bunch.
      The cooler temperatures are also nice. I did plenty of digging and have plans to do more tomorrow, and I don’t even feel bad about transplanting.
      Now if I can just do something about those stupid gnats…

  10. Your foundation bed is stunning. What a great combo of foliage and texture. And nothing like Mullein for drama. People use it here a lot, even the plain yellow one. What’s not to like. Your Iris is a stunner. My garden is generally too moist and shady for Iris to do well. I have a few but it is hard to get them to survive, let alone increase. The red buckeye is wonderful. I have a self seeded one but I am sure it is nothing that noteworthy. But my oak seedlings are all doing well so I can’t complain. Your crisp edges on your beds always make everything look so well cared for. I like my gravel paths but the lack of crisp edges sometimes makes me think it makes things look out of control.

    • bittster says:

      I just ordered a delivery of coarse sand to use as paths in the vegetable garden. I wanted something a little closer to gravel but I’m afraid of adding stones and pebbles to the soil when it all gets mixed together. I’m planning on a couple different types of edgings to keep it neat looking, but eventually there will be parts where it just merges into the bed. I don’t think that’s an out of control look, and that idea never crossed my mind when looking at your garden photos.
      There are always a few oak seedlings coming up around here. It amazes me since the nearest oak trees are hundreds of yards away, downhill, and the efforts that the squirrels or jays put into moving these seeds is impressive!

  11. It all looks great to my eye. I like the Allium nigrum. And I don’t think I would ever be inclined to pull a patch of Sundrops (but I don’t have any real patches, so who knows). The Festuca makes a great edging plant. And I envy all that wild, sunny space you have.

    • bittster says:

      I’m lucky to have all that sunny space, and it’s always interesting to see what’s happening out there and how I can tweak it a bit. Right now the soil is real thin and sterile, but as plants get their roots in there I think things will liven up. Also I’m planning to add a few interesting seedlings and see what happens with them.

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