Enter Summer

Well well well.  The lull is over and with official summer starting in four more days I’m completely ready for days to last forever and I’m completely ok to never put on a real pair of pants again.  Sorry,  please forget that visual.  I’m thinking shorts and bathing suits and whatever else kind of clothing you would wear to the park, not the gray polyester blend  pants you’d  wear to meet your lawyer.  Lawyers should only be dealt with in the winter in my opinion.

mixed flower border

The front border is full of early summer color and a remarkably well-tended assortment of plants.

Following a bump in the road it looks like garden work is back on track around here.  Planting weather continues and I almost feel guilty about putting it to good use when so much of the country sits under stifling heat and relentless drought.  But trust me, if not doing work would mean relief for the hot and dry, you know I would do my part.

mixed flower border

I kind of missed the flowery peak of the roses, but there’s still plenty of color.  Also nice is how much those little spruce and juniper twigs have grown.  It seems just yesterday I had a four inch pot in hand looking at the spot where today a six foot white spruce (Picea glauca ‘Pendula’) stands.

Roses are still obsession du jour, and the greatest tragedy this summer will surely be that I was not able to get up to Ithaca’s ‘Der Rosenmeister‘ to see hundreds of roses in full bloom, filling beds and covering arbors and wafting their various fragrances across the garden as I secretly inventory all the ones I’d like to cram into my own little yard.    I guess there’s next year, but in a strange turn of events I’ve turned into a very not-patient person, and I want it all now.  I can still be understanding and wait for things like small children, tree seedlings, and dogs, but the cup of you-go-firstedness has run dry and my filter is breaking down as I age.  I guess you can start calling me Karen.

westerland rose

Here’s ‘Westerland’ again.  Today it’s my favorite rose.

I’m Karen with a spade, and many of the less inspiring plants in my life are paying the ultimate price.  “oh it’s a good doer’ might save it in your garden but here it’s good night and good bye unless I love it or unless it saves me from even more work.  I’m thinking groundcovers with that last one, ajuga may not be inspiring but it does fill in between the giant reed grass’s stalks and saves me from crawling through there looking for prickly poppy seedlings.

arundo donax

The giant reed grass (Arundo donax variegata) is on the love list, but the clump looks deceptively small in this photo.  I may trade in the spade for an axe on this one, the inch thick roots are not something I’m looking forward to, but the clump needs reducing.

Weeds and plantings I’ve tired of might sound bad, but overall I love the garden right now.  A thick wall of weeds won’t win a magazine cover, but honestly I’ve been looking at them (every day of course) and all it takes is one plant doing well in there for me to think ‘wow, that’s #@&^ing awesome’.

common milkweed

A weed I love, common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca), looking and smelling great this week.  Three tips: be prepared for it to spread, chop it down to two feet after bloom, and just yank up all the suckers without worrying about the roots below (you don’t even want to know).

So as usual I’m babbling about nonsense when I should be finishing this up and ferrying kids to a dental appointment.  More pictures, less blah.

strawberry mertonensis foxglove

More strawberry foxglove (Digitalis x mertonensis) appearing out of the mess.  These don’t mind the droughts and spider mite attacks which do in the common foxgloves. 

penstemon dark towers

More of the foundation plantings.  As you can see the blue fescue border has not been divided and replanted, and still has way too much thatch built up, but… 

rock garden

The former rock garden, now the colchicum bed.  I’ve resorted to roundup once or twice a year to keep the stone border clean and it’s actually working out very well.

Did I mention I needed more roses?  I do, and it might be time for more clematis as well.  Finally I have a few spots for them to climb up and show off rather than making them crawl around in the dirt… which is not the kind of treatment they deserve.

clematis ruutel

Clematis ‘Ruutel’ doesn’t get much taller than this, which normally wouldn’t thrill me, but the dark red color is still a win.

A friend of mine grows more clematis than she should and that’s probably why she’s such a good friend, so I’m sure if I mentioned cuttings… hmmmm.  That would sure help cool off the credit card from plant purchases.

clematis ville de lyon

Clematis ‘Ville de Lyon’ does get taller, and I always like flowers at eye level or above.

So the rest is just a mix of unconnected things which are interesting this week.  We could call it a four on Wednesday but of course that’s got zero ring to it 🙂

calycanthus aphrodite

Even in an overexposed photo Calycanthus ‘Aphrodite’ looks pretty good.  I never expected it to become so showy.

aralia sun king

Aralia ‘Sun King’ is still doing well in a cramped, too dry, unfertile, location.  Nine out of ten garden designers despise how I left the rose campion nearby.

martagon lily sunny morning

Further into the shade the martagon lilies are blooming.  ‘Sunny Morning’ had a string of bad years with late frosts and swampy soil but then for some reason decided to send up three flower stalks and look amazing.  I don’t get it.  She’s been dormant by July for at least the last two years so I suspect this is a swan’s song kind of show.

meadow garden

The meadow is developing behind the neighbor’s house.  Oddly it’s one of my favorite spots and has gone from pure turf to a mass of bird’s foot trefoil, other clovers, and a few daisies.  

So I have to stay focused.  I want to go on and on about the butterfly weed and rose campion that needs to be seeded into the meadow, and the merits of adding native penstemons but in a purple foliaged form… but the spring stuff still needs to get planted,  beans need to go into the ground, and daffodils dug and a million other things and there will be time to babble on about uncut  meadows in August.

Hope you’re enjoying all the too-much as much as I am.  Have a great week!

23 comments on “Enter Summer

  1. “Nine out of ten garden designers despise how I left the rose campion nearby.” But not me! Oops. Could mean I’m not a garden designer.

  2. swesely says:

    Your front border looks great, and I like the rose campion, too. Guess I’m not a designer, either. I also like the strawberry foxglove – such a pretty color!

    • bittster says:

      Thanks Su. I’ll never be a designer, I just plant whatever I like in a spot that looks promising… and then do a lot of moving! Rose campion is hard to go wrong with though, unless you plant the white version in the middle of white daisies, that’s kind of a non-design 😉

  3. Cathy says:

    Me neither… (see above comment). I love Lychnis wherever it may seed itself! LOL! June really is the month where there is so much going on in the garden it is hard to keep up. I am convinced you have some kind of secret fertiliser that makes your plants grow so well and so quickly! The Clematis are gorgeous ( I bought another one yesterday – I wonder who gave me that idea……) and the Calycanthus is lovely too. It is new to me. The foundation planting looks fantastic. Sorry, I didn’t get the Karen joke… must be something American. But I think I know what you mean! 😉

    • bittster says:

      Cathy if you’re not a designer well then I want your luck because you created some beautiful beds on just the first try!
      For a little while it looked like we could get a breather as the soil dried and plants slowed down, but now a couple rainstorms will have everything (mostly the weeds) exploding again. I’m sure the bugs will follow but it’s still better than drought.
      That’s good to know the Karen jokes have stayed in America. Right now I think the more we keep to ourselves the better.

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    I love common milkweeds pom pom blooms. It can be a rascal. As to those garden designers bah humbug. I don’t pay much attention to them who ever they are. I have had one of those Aralias for years. It rarely gets any taller. It has never lived up to the one I saw growing in a botanical garden. I wonder why?? Couldn’t be because I have moved it several times and it doesn’t get much if any supplement water?? I have the straight species of Calycanthus. The blooms are gorgeouis deep maroon color. I love when it blooms. The’ Aphrodite’ sure is pretty with those larger red blooms too. ‘Ruutel’ is a pretty clematis. I have tried several ‘reds’ and they didn’t come near to red as this one seems. Hmmmmmmm Have a good week.

    • bittster says:

      I bet the Aralia would love more water. Mine is enjoying the rain and it better, because I’m not adding anything in the ground for more than a year on to the watering list… except the baby evergreens on the berm. Anything I can do to get them growing fast and blocking the view of tractor trailers is worth it!
      Is your Calycanthus fragrant? I feel like that’s the one thing missing from ‘Aphrodite’.

  5. Jayne says:

    Love a mature June garden…thank you for sharing yours!

    • bittster says:

      Up here I think June is the best month. Things are still coming off that spring high and haven’t had a chance to wear out and break down. Plenty of time in August for that!

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    I love seeing how your garden progresses season to season, Frank. I think your combos are inspired, yes, even campion and aralia! Let the summer begin!

  7. pbmgarden says:

    You should feel pretty satisfied with your garden–it really is looking fantastic. The rose ‘Westerland’ is just the prettiest color for a rose! And I love rose campion wherever it wants to be.

    • bittster says:

      Rose campion is so bright, and the gray foliage fits in just about anywhere in my opinion 🙂
      I love getting out there every day and seeing the changes and what’s new. Sometimes I feel like I’m wishing it along too fast but isn’t that always the case? I am enjoying it though.

  8. It all looks gorgeous. So many great texture and color combinations. I have to go back and look at everything again and take notes. I am inspired by your dig it out if it’s not working attitude. I am at the stage where the happy plants are taking over. It’s hard to say goodbye to some of them, but i think the time has come. This morning’s forecast rain split into two storms as it approached us and nothing happened. Now were waiting to see if the big storm with damaging winds and hail will come this evening. Just in case it really arrives, I moved all my unplanted things to a protected spot. So lucky to have good garden conditions at your place.

    • bittster says:

      I’m glad the rain made it to you minus any hail or high winds. That’s all you needed after a dry spell… holes in all the hostas and branches down…
      I’m torn between letting the happy plants take over and then dealing with the happy plants because they took over. Each year I seem to add a new plant to the no-more list, the most recent one is the cute little white vinca minor which didn’t seem nearly as invasive as the larger purple and blue versions. I guess it just needed time. Lily of the Valley is also starting to flex its muscles but I knew that day would come sooner rather than later.
      The hellebores are spreading… epimedium are doing very well… I guess given enough time nearly anything can make a play at garden domination!
      I’m still thinking I need more ferns though, your post was very inspiring 🙂

  9. Chloris says:

    Your garden is looking fabulous in all its summer glory. Of course you need more roses now, don’t we all? My roses are at their peak of perfection and I am in agonies of anxiety at what 2 days of non-stop rain are doing to them. Yes, I share your rose obsession and if you offered me a snowdrop now I wouldn’t even glance at it. I love your clematis and that asclepias is wonderful, I’ve never seen it before. It’s all lovely.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks 🙂
      I love when everything is doing better than it should and you can almost ignore the rust on the hollyhocks and the aphids all over the honeysuckle. Hopefully your roses weathered the rain and were able to dry out and fill the garden with fragrance. I really need more intoxicatingly fragrant varieties. The heat and humidity here seem to invite every rose fungus and mold in, and it’s hard to find a fragrant one that’s not just a bare, thorny mass of twigs by August.
      I hope you’re able to get the rose post up in spite of the rain, and some pictures out of the secret garden would be a treat of course. Have a great week!

  10. Great post! I am really admiring how you combine plant shapes and heights. I too am enjoying blooming milkweed though wondering if I will soon regret not pulling it all out. Great Clematis selection!

    • bittster says:

      I find I have to be ruthless with the milkweed sprouts and pull them as I see them. I’d estimate the roots for the clump next to my porch extend at least 15 feet in all directions since that’s where they routinely show. Also I like to cut the main bunch back to about two feet after blooming. They look nicer growing fresh leaves, and the monarchs seem more likely to lay eggs on the new shoots.

  11. That red clematis is amazing! Is it sunfast? It really does look true red in your photo, and if it doesn’t fade to *gulp* magenta in full sun, I have a spot where it might look a-maz-ing! But only if it stays red (I know, I’m so mean, lol). I have begun to adopt your keep/don’t-keep criteria this year also, and have tossed a few plants that simply didn’t measure up.

    • bittster says:

      I don’t know if you’d be happy with the color-fastedness of this clematis. Mine is growing in shade and the oldest flowers do go ‘off’ at the end, so I think it will do this more severely in full sun. Still I do consider it a wonderful plant, even if it’s not the rampant grower which I usually prefer.
      Honestly, I think you pioneered the ‘thank you, next’ theory of gardening. I would have probably tolerated many of the mistakes you had in your garden for years before biting the bullet and ripping them out. I’ve always had trouble with clean slates.

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