A Morning Stroll

We had a decent morning last weekend and I was sore enough from digging a new bed and moving sand (don’t ask, I know I have plenty of beds) that I didn’t feel like doing anything more strenuous than taking a few pictures.  Actually I did attempt to figure out a few camera settings, but it was a complete disaster so back to ‘automatic’ it went, and gosh what a relief to again embrace the idiot settings.

front perennial border

Agastache ‘Tutti Frutti’ is probably what this lilac-purple agastache is, but I never expect them to live long enough to really be concerned about the name.  I love that it has a nice height to it.

So other than an ego-crushing moment with the camera and a secret garden project that I’m still a little embarrassed to talk about, there’s really not much for me to ramble on about.  Better to just ramble through the garden on a beautiful morning and share only the nicer parts 😉

front perennial border

Because of someone’s yellow foliage addiction, there’s way too much limey-yellow in the front border.  Rather than stress over the addiction I’m just going to wait until rock-bottom hits and then see where the shovel is.  

front perennial border

Of course a year without showing agapanthus ‘Blue Yonder’ is a lot to ask, so here it is.  Next year I will have to learn about transplanting agapanthus since the encroaching spruce is much less mobile.  Maybe I’ll even learn about dividing an agapanthus…

self seeded sunflowers

For some reason I had little interest in planting up the tropical garden this spring, so grass, yellow pokeweed, and self-sown sunflowers have been allowed to erupt into an eight foot mountain of lushness.  I’m fine with that.  I think the whole bed will be going to perennials over the next few years, but you never know.

Helianthus decapetalus 'Capenoch Star'

A perennial sunflower?  Yes, I think it’s Helianthus decapetalus ‘Capenoch Star’ which has been moping along here for the past ten years.  Why it decided to look great this year is unknown, but it’s really taken its time!

Biscuit the yorkie

Biscuit the yorkie accompanies me on all morning walks.  The rabbits don’t seem 100% panicked, but they do run off at a somewhat concerned pace when this little beast comes barreling across the yard.   

pond frog

Biscuit has absolutely no interest in our pond frog but the frog seems even less concerned than the rabbits.

deck plantings

From the lawn you can see the deck plantings have filled in.  I notice quite some yellow foliage again, but the pink mandevilla vine is what really stands out.

potager garden

Towards the back of the yard the potager is looking neat, and from a distance the chaos inside isn’t as obvious.  

dahlia from seed

One major disappointment in the potager this year are the ‘Bishop’s Children’ dahlias which were started from seed this March.  I would demand a paternity test, because unless there’s a dumpy housemaid involved, these dahlias should be taller, single, darker foliaged and hotter colors than they are.  I’ve been wanting to grow these for years… I finally ordered the seed…  

potager garden

Some of the potager is respectably planted with vegetables.  There are beans weakly climbing their poles, borer infested squash, bolting parsley, and undernourished tomatoes, all providing a good cover for a gardener trying to appear serious about tending the earth for the nourishment of his family.

cabbage cut back

One success has been the cabbage harvest.  The harvested stumps of last year’s plants re-sprouted this spring and out of curiosity I let them grow.  The sprouts were thinned to a single plant and to my surprise all of them are making perfect cabbages.  Here the center cabbage has already been harvested and the new plan is to thin the latest sprouts and hope for a third harvest.  

castor bean carmencita

Castor beans are quite toxic and not good potager plants, but here’s ‘Carmencita’ flowering and looking awesome anyway.

meadow garden

Behind the potager is quite possibly my favorite spot in the yard, the meadow garden.  This year Queen Anne’s Lace (Daucus carota) is defying my no QAL policy and making a nice forest of white lace above the golden rudbeckia and birds foot trefoil.  I think I will pull them soon.  That’s a lot of seed.   

meadow garden

I don’t know why I’m bothering you with a view of the berm other than it’s weed whacked… except for some weedy asters which I like… and now sports an odd ledge which I felt the need to carve into the berm.  fyi it’s just the right width for a boy and his dog as they walk the perimeter of the estate.  

lycoris squamigera

The first magic lilies (Lycoris squamigera) are opening.  They are a funny group of plants and I’m really getting a good chuckle over how I thought they would grow well here and now they’re not.  Hahaha, good one.  I could fill another whole blog post with all the pictures of the other ones which aren’t flowering this year, including the new ones which I had faint hopes for flowers, but nah…     

lobelia cardinal flower

Maybe the Lycoris were talking to the cardinal flowers (Lobelia cardinalis) and realized they’d have quite some trouble competing with this show.  They’re awesome this year 🙂  **hint** just put in a new path and they’ll sprout throughout the joints, rather than bother growing in the amended soil where they’re planted…  

And that brings us around to the far side of the house, leading to the front again.  For those remotely interested, this side of the house is where the new bed is located, and the new bed has something to do with not having enough room for caladiums, even though that side of the house is really too sunny for caladiums.  Don’t bother trying to make sense out of it, it just doesn’t, but I’m quite happy and don’t even care if I’ve gone too far again.

Hope you’re having a great week and staying safe from whatever plagues your neighborhood this week.  Covid variants… smoke… wildfire… heat… upcoming hurricane seasons… it’s all so 2020 and I for one have just about had enough of it!

16 comments on “A Morning Stroll

  1. pbmgarden says:

    A lovely walk-around! Mornings are the best time in the garden.

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Nice to see what’s happening in your garden, Frank. You may be disappointed with your dahlias, but they are pretty all the same. Love the L. cardinalis. I was wondering about the berm, and I see the evergreens seem to have taken hold. I like the meadow…QAL does feed black swallowtail larva, so careful if you trim them. 🙂 I’m pretty extreme when it comes to host plants these days. I’ve even taken to returning inch worms that come in on flowers back outside. Our birds depend on them and the decline has been pretty dramatic. I’m making peace with holes in my plants… unless it is an all-out attack that requires hand-picking. I.e. non-native Jap beetles which get put in soapy water as they have no natural enemies here. Ever read any Doug Tallamy (Nature’s Best Hope is his latest)? He has opened my eyes to the plight of insect decline. He lives in PA, too.
    Hope you’re staying cool in this heat. I lasted a little over an hour out there this morning, before retreating to AC.

    • bittster says:

      Yes, I shouldn’t complain about the dahlias, they are nice, but I’ve been convinced for years these would be the most amazing dahlias ever, and now it looks like someone just filled a seed packet with a kinda-close dahlia…
      You’re right, the evergreens have made some progress on the berm and because it’s been a wet summer, I’ve only done a little watering to nurse them along. Hopefully in a few more years my little additions to the berm will bulk up enough to see 😉
      Good for you on making your garden a bug factory. I’ve read Tallamy’s first book and it really made a lot of sense. Now it’s just a struggle to convince others that even the annoying bugs play a role and it’s a good thing. Right now I have a ton of pollinators but that seems to make it tough on the caterpillars and plant eaters since so many wasps will hunt them. For all the fennel in front and the QAL in the back, plus parsley in the garden I rarely see black swallowtail caterpillars. Monarchs are the same, I see the butterflies but rarely a caterpillar. On a plus note, I did pick a tub of Japanese beetles the first week they were swarming, but since then the birds seem to have taken over. Often there’s a sparrow or finch wrestling with a beetle, every time I see that I smile!
      Here it cooled this evening, but tomorrow will be hotter. I’ll take it though, summer flies by too quickly! Enjoy 🙂

  3. Deborah Banks says:

    I enjoyed your chuckle over plants you thought would grow well and now they’re not. Hahaha, good one indeed. I have a few of those chuckles here also. And then there are the hysterical plants that were doing great for a couple years and now they aren’t. (Often a vole-shaped hole is involved.)

    • bittster says:

      Haha, they all think they’re so funny! (although voles are more a reason to move than to laugh… grrrr).
      This morning I saw another Lycoris bud coming up. Jerk. It just wanted to make me look bad for saying none of the others were going to flower!

  4. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    That stand of Cardinal Flower makes me green with envy. I haven’t found a place in my garden where they last for more than a season. Growing right beside that pink Itea is a perfect pairing.
    What a cute little garden companion you have. At least the rabbits know they aren’t the only little furry creature in the garden.
    That agapanthus is a beauty. I am still amazed that it is perennial for you. And cabbage too??? Never heard of such a thing.
    I agree about the wild carrot. I have seen acres of that plant after it had taken over. UGH…
    Can’t wait to see your new turned area full of caladiums.
    So much to see in your garden a wonderful diversion for me today. Cheers…

    • bittster says:

      Hi Lisa. If it makes you feel better all the cardinal flower plants which I’ve planted on purpose have all died out within a year or two, and these all showed up on their own 🙂
      I guess we just had a perfect combination of wet weather and the seeds falling onto the bare dirt (if you can call the clay-silt I put under the stepping stones dirt), and it all just came together. I wonder what will happen next year?
      I like the itea, it’s the pink version and has the same strong scent. Full on it’s a little overwhelming, but drifts here and there as you walk by is perfect. Those big shiny black wasps, maybe mud daubers? love it and although they look terrifying they just go about doing their own thing on the flowers alongside bunches of bumble bees. It’s all very entertaining!
      I thought for sure the cabbage would just go to seed after surviving the winter, but no… I’ve already harvested three big heads from four of last year’s stumps.
      Yeah, I think I you’re right. I should go through and pull the QAL before it seeds all over. I have no doubt there will be more again next year even if I try to get it all, since I’ve already tried to get it all in years past.
      Hope you find a cool spot to spend the day, here it’s a little cooler than yesterday’s 90’s but wet, and I’m getting a little tired of the wet.

  5. hb says:

    The beautiful bits sure are beautiful. That red Lobelia is one i have dreamed of growing but this is not its climate. Really enjoyed seeing yours looking so good.

    Agapanthus is easy to move and split — it’s just like a clump of daylilys if you have ever grown any of them. Fork out the whole clump and wiggle off the fans to separate. Very easy plants. Keep in mind that in So Cal it’s the plant of choice for gas station or convenience store planters. Tough!

    That’s a beautiful Castor Bean plant–here it is an evergreen tree that is listed as is a noxious weed. Your cold winters make it a well behaved annual. What a difference a climate makes.

    Little Biscuit is so cute. A wonderful companion

    Best wishes for happy gardening!

    • bittster says:

      Haha, please let the cardinal flower be that one plant which you can’t grow so that I feel better about the hundreds of plants that grow well for you but don’t stand a chance here 😉
      I shall be more confident next spring when I tackle the agapanthus, I thought I’d need an axe and a saw so wiggling fans off sounds much more promising. Here I suspect the newer hardier types will become very popular, and it makes me a little sad to think they might someday be all over at every shopping center… probably looking a little miserable, but you never know. Maybe this will finally be the plant which makes our commercial areas look a little less ‘gritty’.
      Biscuit is a good little buddy, but he’s so small I worry about him thinking he’s more rottweiler than he is tiny yorkie, and some bunny or woodchuck turns on him. Plus we have plenty of hawks…

  6. Cathy says:

    Your garden is beginning to look very ‘estate’-ish with that potager and the wild meadow standing out.😉 There must be a lot of buzzing and fluttering of pollinators. 😃 Queen Anne’s Lace is abundant here too, but I love it. (We also have thistles galore…. ) A perennial cabbage is fascinating! Your veg garden is possibly as successful as mine… 🙃… the beans are very slow and may never make it to the plate, but the flowers are pretty! I wonder how you manage to get an Agapanthus through the winter. Any special treatment? It is all looking lovely, and I can sense that late summer calmness that comes over the garden (and gardener) mid August. 😃

    • bittster says:

      Haha, yes ‘Estate’ (capitalized of course) is the look I’m sure I’ll end up with here. I just have to fix up just about everything first lol
      There are plenty of pollinators this year, but so many of them are bees and wasps! I think many of the wasps snack on caterpillars, so my plants are mostly pest-free but I would like a few more butterflies.
      I finally started giving the veggies some liquid feed and it’s waking things up. I think there was too much competition with weeds at the start of the year, and I think the new soil in some of the raised beds is short on nitrogen as the mulch etc breaks down. But like you say, the flowers are pretty!
      The agapanthus is a hardy deciduous form. I worried about it for the first two years but now I just enjoy it. It’s mostly carefree, I just give it a little liquid feed whenever I remember (which is only once or twice a year lol)

  7. Looks great! I especially love all the sunflowers and the Lobelia. There are quite a few wild perennial sunflowers but they tend to be pretty rampant.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks, the lobelia were quite the surprise when they all started sending up blooms. I knew they would flower, but I didn’t think they would be as impressive as they are! Not bad for weeds lol

  8. Fleur says:

    ‘Bishop’s Children’ was the first dahlia I grew years ago and it was only for the foliage, not the flower, but it’s a nice bedding plant. Growing dahlias from seed is a bit of an adventure because they have eight chromosomes so the genetic variation is great. Every seedling is a new, unique dahlia and they are mostly singles which is a dominant trait. You can only grow a clone of a cultivar from tuber divisions or cuttings from tubers.

    • bittster says:

      Hi Fleur, thanks for that! A friend grew them a few years back and I loved the mix she saw, and like you say most were singles, almost all with the dark foliage, but the seeds I planted seemed to tend more towards double and also shorter. I do like that they’re all unique and I really can’t complain! -but I guess I do 😉

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