Away for a few weeks

We are leaving tomorrow for a two-week trip out to the west coast. No posting while I am gone, but it will be interesting to see how the garden changes while we are away.

Right now the phlox and the lilies are the showiest flowers in the garden. Rudbeckia are coming on and echinacea are still going strong as well. The last of the daylilies are blooming. The sunflowers are coming out, too. Above is our “pink diamond” hydrangea, which is very pretty right now. It is flanked by two large hostas. Later in the season these white blossoms will turn pink.

I dismantled half of the garden under the pine trees on the north side, and still plan to remove the rest, as well as the “sand” garden.

More when I return!


Garden visitors and helpers

I have not been in my office for awhile, which is where I have to be to post, so I have a lot of updating to do. First of all, I paid Sam to help me with dismantling the wild garden under the kitchen window. I took before, during, and after photos:




another view of the finished garden

We pulled out all of the rocks except the one pile where rainwater comes down like a waterfall, and one “wall” which you can see. The bottom tier we took out and Sam shoveled the dirt up to the top bed. While Sam hauled rocks away I weeded the bed and potted some of the plants I wanted to save. Then Sam covered the whole thing with a thick layer of very old hay. I plan to plant hostas in this bed, but I am waiting for rain before I do that.

This morning I took photos of the old herb wheel, where some orienpets lilies and some orientals are blooming. Here is the whole area and then some nice portraits of the lilies:

old herb wheel

yellow and white orienpet

old herb wheel and morning sun

pink oriental lily

another pale pink oriental


stargazer oriental lily

And there are also orange tiger lilies in the old herb wheel.

tiger lilies

These lilies are all ragged from the red lily bugs, but they survived to bloom, as you see. When it rains and softens up the soil somewhat, I plan to move some of these up to my “safe zone” where I patrol for red lily bugs. I can’t bring all of the orienpets, but I want to bring all of the orientals and a half dozen or so of the orienpets. The oriental lilies that I have been protecting in the meditation garden are blooming now and they are just gorgeous. Here are some photos of them from this morning:

meditation garden lilies–stargazer

an interesting “patchy” oriental lily

The daylilies are past peak now but there are still plenty of them around. I never tire of taking photos of them.

fragrant and ruffled pale yellow

daylily shadows

The phlox are started now, and will bloom in big billowy drifts for a month. Here are some pictures of them:

white phlox

pale lavender phlox

The other exciting news is that the hibiscus we planted in early July has its first bloom. We’ve been watering it diligently, and in spite of being transplanted while budded, it’s going to give us a show this year:

In insect photography, we have the usual bumblebee–this one is a small bee on the cimifuga:


The vegetable garden is doing very well, thanks to lots of hay mulch and daily watering, plus weeding, hoeing, adding of old horse manure, all done by the vegetable gardener in the family, David. Here are some photos of the garden:

compost bin on the right, herb garden on left, beans and potatoes beyond that


rhubarb and horseradish in the foreground, a few nice healthy weeds, potatoes and hardy rice (!) on the left; Jeanne’s kale is in there somewhere also.













Earwigs and other garden creatures etc.

This morning I saw a big toad hopping through the northside garden. And this is the year of the earwig–we have them everywhere in huge numbers. The hummingbird moths are out every evening. And small, fuzzy white caterpillars have been dropping like little parachutists all over the yard and garden lately. Monarchs, swallowtails, and admiral butterflies are more numerous in the last week than before. I have not captured any of these critters on camera, however.

I had my sister and her family here as guests last week. Her husband and son, in the blazing hot sun, pulled all the rocks out of the old abandoned herb wheel on the southside–a substantial task. Some of those rocks were impressively large–and all of them were carried or rolled there by you-know-who (yes, me) years ago. They filled up our  wagon with the rocks and David pulled them away with his tractor–but there were so many rocks he had to pump up one of the wagon tires first–it had flattened! That’s a job I’d been dreading and avoiding for several years, so thank you Todd and Karl!

the herb wheel in 2007

the herb wheel in 2008

The herb wheel was lovely the one or two weeks of its existence when it was under control. Most of the time it was madly overgrown, choked with grass and stinging nettles. Tomorrow I am hiring Samantha to work with me on dismantling the garden under the kitchen window, and replacing it with a bed of all hostas. I will definitely take before and after pictures!

So, here are a few pictures from July 15, just before the Great Rain:

Looking down the driveway, at the edge of the front yard garden. We are hoping to remove that grass strip.

meditation garden. You can see my elegant “rock” wall (the concrete blocks!). The reddish hibiscus seems to be doing OK.

Here is the back yard garden, getting watered

My sister made a quilted wall-hanging and gave it to us–here it is hanging in the living room.

a spectacular orienpet lily, one of the few that survived the great red lily bug lily liquidation. It’s a cross between oriental and trumpet lilies. They have the height and heft and color variety of trumpet lilies, and the intense fragrance of the orientals.

Finally, some rain

We had some very dramatic weather yesterday. David and the guy who leases the land and barn to keep his herd of beef cows were down in the barn trying to fix the water while I watched the blackish greenish clouds move in. Thunder muttered and the wind kicked up. It seemed to be raining all around us, but not on us. “Oh, come on, please!” I begged the wind, “bring that rain over here!” Before the rain did come we got some great views of lightning on the horizon. The sky looked so ferocious that David called the radio station to check if there was a tornado watch–no. But we did lose power for a few hours. Finally we got a downpour, and after that a soaking rain shower for most of the rest of the day. Heaven. I haven’t taken photos since the rain, but here are a few from a few days ago.

What? You want me to get off this hose so you can water? Pet me first, then I’ll think about it.

Hostas are blooming

White echinacea

dry, dry, dry

I finally gave in and have started watering. Each evening and early morning we set up the sprinkler. Still, rain is what we need.

driveway–you can see how dry the soil is.

Once again I have limited time for blogging–I have not been spending a lot of time in the office, since it’s not air-conditioned.

little spider on a hosta leaf

David picked the garlic this week–here it is drying on the front porch, with Mr Fluff supervising. The plants in the pots are the yarrow I bought awhile ago on sale for $1.00 a plant. they are doing very well, waiting for their spot.

The main show now is day lilies, of course. Here are some of them.

Quick post–about contracting!

Ever since I’ve lived here, for 12 years now, the garden has expanded and the lawn has given way, sometimes by inches and often by yards at a time.  Now, it’s time to contract. It’s just too much garden for someone who also practices two instruments and rides a horse.

northside sandy garden

Here are the candidates for de-gardening: the southside lower bed, also known as the sandy garden. It is not only built over a sand pile, but is also underneath a black walnut tree. What was I thinking! It has been a struggle every year to keep plants happy there, but now with this drought it’s pretty sad. We are considering pulling out all the plants and then raking and sowing a prairie wildflower mix, because we are still not enamored of lawn.

northside pine tree garden

The other candidate for de-gardening is also on the north side, under the row of pine trees and, you guessed it, black walnuts. My idea there is to plant a wide variety of daylilies very close together and hope they hold their own against grass. Third, we’re going to dismantle the garden under the kitchen window.

under the kitchen window garden

Lastly, I’m going to pull back the lower edge of the backyard garden by about 5 feet. We’re thinking of planting low shrubs there. At the same time, to make edges easier to deal with by having less of them, We’re going to de-sod the entire rest of the back yard. More later on all this–I don’t have a lot of time today. Some friends are coming for supper so we’re going home soon and cooking and doing a little house-cleaning.

Old friends and new acquaintances

yellow daylily

This daylily in the meditation garden is like an old friend. I have chipped parts of it from the edges every year to give away or to plant elsewhere but every year it keeps getting bigger. It’s my favorite daylily. It’s sturdy, with short but strong stems and thick, big blossoms of clear yellow. When it starts to bloom I feel like a friend has knocked on my door after a long absence.

yellow daylily with coneflower

Last week we went to my husband’s brother’s wedding, and on our way back we stopped at a nursery to look at their huge selection of shrubs. He somehow managed to find a place for the hardy hibiscus we bought in the already-full car. It has buds and I’ve been watering it so I am hoping it will bloom. Hibiscus are iffy in this zone, so we gave it a sunny, sheltered spot.

hibiscus in blue pot, not yet planted

And I also have some recent photos of Jeanne’s herb wheel:

Herb wheel July 6

It looks like her funky echinacea is blooming now. The plants look full, but there is still that nice space around each one. My garden doesn’t have the same feel. Especially the back yard right now–it’s just a riot and the plants spread into each other.

Mostly false sunflower and echinacea

front yard

The phlox are starting. That, along with heliopsis and echinacea, is my most prolific self-seeder. I have to weed phlox seedlings out all over my garden every spring–otherwise I would have a phlox garden with a few other additions.


Phlox are generous–they make big billows of color, they bloom for at least a month and a half, and when they self-seed, they create all kinds of new shades. The white one above with the little pink center is that kind–I never bought it, it just made itself up!

I made a few big bouquets for the cafe the other day. I think it’s my last one for awhile–I find it is a chore and not a pleasure. Plus the lilies that used to flourish here are mostly gone to the red lily bug, and this year my delphiniums are failing, so it is more difficult to make up this kind of bouquets. These lilies, asiatics, are the last of my red, pink, orange and whites. In honor of my friends Nat and Zoe, I want to end this post with photo of my furry friend Mr Fluff.  Our lives are so much richer because of our animal friends.