After the rain

We’ve had some serious rain, which is good for the garden. It also cooled things off somewhat. Before it rained, I added three wheel-barrows of old horse manure to the lower part of the front yard. I also moved a lot of the astilbe from the front yard to the new Thelma-rock-walled bed under the pine trees.

the Thelma rock bed, filling up with astilbe

the Thelma rock bed, filling up with astilbe

The astilbe were unhappy in the front yard because the soil there was too dry. The two giant maple trees suck up a lot of water. I also suspected that the soil there was in need of more amendments. So I laid the manure on pretty thick. I plan to add a layer of moldy hay as well, to really hold in the moisture. I took the time to re-set the slumped low rock walls, and beat back the spreading gooseneck loosestrife patch to re-claim a path. I did some weeding, and also moved a ligularia that was in too dry a spot. I’ve been moving a lot of hostas around. They’re amazing –being moved doesn’t seem to bother them a bit. ???????????????????????????????This is the very bottom of the front yard, near the road. I loosened the heavy, clayey soil, planted some very large hostas from other spots where they were crowding other things, and then added a layer of old hay to the top. There is also a bleeding heart and a columbine there. ???????????????????????????????This is part of the low rock wall (well, barely a wall–just a row of rocks, really) that I re-set. The rocks on the lower tier had completely sunk into the ground. Along with the ferns the ligularia are on the right, a small astilbe front and center, and the cimifuga uphill from the ligularia. I think you can see the manure I added. It is two-year-old well-composted manure, so I put it on very thick without worrying it would hurt the plants. The manure was full of critters–wolf spiders clutching their white egg sacks, pill bugs, earwigs, ants, worms, centipedes. I kept thinking of my sister’s garden which she is working to make more hospitable to worms. Her garden soil will look like this someday soon! I also thought of her chickens–they’d love scratching through this soil! ???????????????????????????????You can see that I rely a lot of ferns and hostas. In this lowest and darkest part of the front yard I also have astilbe, one massive cimifuga, three ligularia, some dwarf goatsbeard, chelone, and solomon’s seal. There’s a lot more variety in the top and northern side of the front yard because it’s quite sunny there. ???????????????????????????????I think this is an astilbe (maybe a dwarf goatsbeard?), and next to it a ligularia. Neither have been very happy in the last two years, so I’m hoping this new manure dressing will retain moisture better for them and feed them better. ???????????????????????????????Beautiful hostas! That light yellow-green one is wonderful in the shade. I bought this hosta as part of a collection five years ago and have now divided it into probably ten plants. That other one near the rocks could be divided into at least five plants–if I had space for more!June 28 001I used to dislike hostas–now I love them and have them all over the garden. This morning the raindrops gleamed on this blue-green hosta in the “below the kitchen window garden”. ???????????????????????????????Here is a pretty white and green hosta on the left, along with a patch of chelone that is spreading here nicely. ???????????????????????????????Here are some astilbe just starting to bloom. These are on the sunny side of the front yard. All around them are columbine that self-sow in this whole area, to my delight. There is also a blanket of sweet woodruff and a kind of ornamental strawberry that wants to take over the world. ???????????????????????????????This is standing in the shady part of the front yard, looking north down the path I just reclaimed from the over-enthusiastic gooseneck loosestrife. july 15 041This is a photo of those loosestrife from last July. Last July was brutally hot and dry, so in a usual year these are even more impressive. With all this rain we should have a good loosestrife year!???????????????????????????????

just sitting there…and Thelma rocks

Years ago my good friend Thelma decided to make a labyrinth in her yard, paved with shaped “stones”  made of concrete, and planted with various flowers and herbs. It was beautiful–she and a neighborhood youth she hired to help made hundreds of small flat pavers and she laid them in a lovely pattern. But it proved too much work to keep weeded and eventually she decided to dismantle it. The stones were up for grabs, and I spent $400 later to get new struts for my little Dodge Neon car, because I wore them out transporting so many of the “Thelma rocks” as we call them. These were intended as paving stones, but we have mostly used them to build low walls or to edge paths. They are pretty much flat and not very big, so they are easy to work with in wall-building.

This morning I woke up late–it was 7:00 and when I got yawning out of bed and looked out the window I saw that David was already in the vegetable garden watering the plants. I felt lazy and not at all ambitious, as I strolled around the garden with my coffee. I thought, OK, no big deal, take another day off gardening. It was already feeling hot. But something happened 15 minutes later–I got an idea and by 7:30 I was busy. I stopped work at around 11, when David yelled out the kitchen window “Time for a water break!”. I managed to remember to take a before and an after picture. Here is the before:???????????????????????????????The soil here was poor–sandy, fine, rocky, always dry. Nothing I planted here seemed happy except the will-put-up-with-anything daylilies and hostas. I went down to the barnyard for some serious soil medicine: two-year-old composted horse manure. I put three heaping wheel-barrow loads on the garden, and I have a pretty big wheel-barrow. Then I contained the now higher garden with a three-deep wall of Thelma rocks. Here are some “after” pictures:???????????????????????????????

It really looks nice from the downhill side.

It really looks nice from the downhill side.

The delphinium are splendid right now, I just don’t have enough of them. Here are some about four years old:June 25 002I’ve never bought a delphinium plant–I start them all from seed. Inside I have a new crop of them started:

ten baby delphinium plants

ten baby delphinium plants

In daylily news, the very first to bloom last week was the Stella D’Oro: ???????????????????????????????

Stella was joined this morning by the miniature “Itsy Bitsy”, a little double yellow:June 25 006After lunch I showered and changed into nice clothes and put the tools back in the potting shed to announce to the world (and myself!) that I was done working for the day. I won’t say I didn’t pull another weed, but I mostly did just relax and enjoy the garden. It was great to sit in the shade listening to wind in the lilacs, songbirds’ calls, and the occasional cow/calf bellowing from the pasture. I watched the hazy clouds go by,  various bugs and butterflies, the sunshine on greenery and flowers, and tried not to sit there planning the next garden project!

Late June garden report

It’s been a good year for the plants. We had a decent amount of snow  this winter and plenty of rain this Spring. Almost everything is green and looking healthy.

front yard peony bush in a sea of green

front yard peony bush in a sea of green

But that also means a lot of weeding!

hours and hours and hours of pulling weeds...

hours and hours and hours of pulling weeds…

And there are lots of mushrooms in the garden, too. Look at the size of this one I found the other day!garden late June 005This morning I woke up around 3 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I heard some coyotes sing a little later, and around 4 I heard the first sleepy-sounding robin calling. I was up and having coffee at 5:15, and in the garden weeding and doing other chores by 5:30. It was cool and fragrant then. I saw the sun come up orange.  I worked until 8:45 or so. I tied up some tall yellow yarrow that had flopped over, and cut a clump of them from the edge, and planted it in place of an iris in the square garden. Pulled weeds, moved a shrub from a place too small for it, watered another recently-planted shrub, stuff like that. Nothing too major. Tomorrow morning I plan to carry barnyard compost to a few places that could use a little more soil or better soil.

The delphinium are blooming nicely now. garden late June 013???????????????????????????????As is the evening primrose:???????????????????????????????

evening primrose close-up

evening primrose close-up

The daylilies are sending up scapes:???????????????????????????????Echinacea are all budded:garden late June 057I enjoyed chatting with a pretty potato bug. In my hand it curled up all its feet and pretended to be dead for awhile. Back on the potato plant it came back to life. ??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We don’t have many potato bugs so we don’t bother killing them. They don’t make much of an impact on the potato plants. I am not so kind to Japanese Beetles when I find them on my roses, but so far I have not seen any.

a "wild" rose growing on the weedy hillside overlooking the garden. Very fragrant!

a “wild” rose growing on the weedy hillside overlooking the garden. Very fragrant!

a bush rose in the meditation garden

a bush rose in the meditation garden

the red rugosa rose

the red rugosa rose

Tater watched me work this morning from his comfy spot on the front porch bench:garden late June 071

garden party and a little rain

The rain held off for the garden party, and lots of folks strolled around the gardens, then we pretty much drifted inside or onto the front porch for all the yummy food that people brought. Later in the day we had warm gentle rain, and a little more serious rain overnight. It was so much fun that we are already planning another garden potluck party for July–I have to figure out when the daylilies are at peak and schedule one then. Maybe for a brunch or supper, so it isn’t so hot.

last June 23rd this was one of the earliest daylilies

last June 23rd this was one of the earliest daylilies

By the second week of July the daylilies are exploding all over the garden. Here’s last year:

July 15 on the north side of the house

July 15 on the north side of the house

 

backyard, July 15 last year

front yard, July 15 last year

south side of the house last year

south side of the house last year

Here's July 21

Here’s July 21

I’m taking a break from gardening for a few days!

 

First Day of Summer

Tomorrow is my potluck garden party, and a few days ago I returned from a week and a half away, so I have been weeding like crazy. I missed the first peony bloom, but I walked around the garden with nippers, deadheading the truly spent ones, and cutting the almost-past-prime ones for bouquets inside.

before deadheading--shaggy peony bushes

before deadheading–shaggy peony bushes

the staking barely sufficed to keep them upright

the staking barely sufficed to keep them upright

???????????????????????????????Inside there were big bouquets on every available surface.

a few peonies make a bouquet

a few peonies make a bouquet

soft pink peonies

soft pink peonies

I can’t resist including a few of the portraits of peony blooms:

a gorgeous dark pink peony that I rescued from the shade of a giant maple tree in the yard of the abandoned house across the street. It's at least ten times bigger than it was under the maple tree.

a gorgeous dark pink peony that I rescued from the shade of a giant maple tree in the yard of the abandoned house across the street. It’s at least ten times bigger than it was under the maple tree.

a lovely dusty pink peony I ordered three years ago from Khlem's Songsparrow nursery.

a lovely dusty pink peony I ordered three years ago from Khlem’s Songsparrow nursery.

While we were away a woodchuck moved into the vegetable garden. It found the perfect spot, under the steps leading down to the garden.

home sweet hole

home sweet hole

Of course David lost no time–he filled the hole back in, then filled it in again the next day, then the next day—finally yesterday he tried pouring water down it and filling it in again. We hope this gentle harassment will make the woodchuck move away!

In other garden news, the campus (trumpet vine) we thought was dead last fall is looking vigorous. No blooms yet, but I’m sure it will thrive.???????????????????????????????Here are a few other pictures–more after the party!garden June 19 053

healthy potato plants

healthy potato plants

 

yellow digitalis looking good this year!

yellow digitalis looking good this year!

 

Mr Fluff

Mr Fluff

 

beautiful combination: purple comfrey, iris, and budded delphinium

beautiful combination: purple comfrey, iris, and budded delphinium

The front yard

My front yard is mostly in its final shape, and has the potential to be truly glorious. Right now it is lovely but not yet glorious. Here are some pictures I took this morning.

front yard bottom

front yard bottom

front yard bottom view 2

front yard bottom view 2

front yard looking up

front yard looking up

front yard again

front yard again

front yard against the potting shed

front yard against the potting shed

front yard bottom view 3

front yard bottom view 3

So the front yard has two parts–the top is fairly sunny and things there grow strongly. It’s quite level and easy to maintain. It includes the side section all along the driveway that gets both morning and afternoon sun. This section is pretty easy to deal with.

top and north side of of the front yard

top and north side of of the front yard

The lower part of the front yard slopes down toward the road. The two giant maple trees reach out over it and shade it all summer. There are lots of low rock walls and most things grow well, now that I’ve figured out the hard way what plants hate it there. The ligularia need a new home that is more moist. This wettish year they’re OK, but most years they languish, so I’m going to give away my three ligularia. If you have a wet shady spot come and get them. The ferns and bleeding hearts are starting to take over down there, so I’ll be weeding out the ferns and moving the bleeding hearts. Also, it needs more barnyard dirt added this year, and some wall repair. I’m planning to work on this garden in the next week (weather permitting) now that the back yard is done.

This morning I took some nice iris photos:June 5 002June 5 003June 5 004June 5 006 Those are all tall bearded iris. The siberian iris also bloomed today:June 5 029June 5 030And I also took a few bumble bee shots:June 5 022June 5 015

Today I made a MESS

Sometimes I’m good and I clean up as I work. You know, hauling away the piles of weeds or culled plants, and the sod and rocks, and the tools. Today I started gardening at 6 am and stopped at 2 pm, with short breaks for breakfast and coffee and lunch. I made a glorious mess, and didn’t clean up anything. I finished the back yard rock wall. Here’s the evidence:

top part of the wall

top part of the wall

the rest of it

the rest of it

another view--can you tell I'm proud of it? I took lots of pictures!

another view–can you tell I’m proud of it? I took lots of pictures!

I also weeded out some overgrown iris and added a rock wall to the garden under the black walnut tree (another garden that needs a better name!) June 4 001In the front yard I cleared out lots of overgrown white iris that bloom then immediately flop (as in the flower stalks fall and the flowers land face down in the dirt) every year. I just decided they had to go. ???????????????????????????????That created more space for a new addition–I moved a small bush from a shady spot where for years it has been unhappy. I hope it likes its new home.

potentilla bush in a new home

potentilla bush in a new home

I also did more edging in the back yard to finish the entire garden.

the after picture--no, I am NOT showing the "before" picture!

the after picture–no, I am NOT showing the “before” picture!

The little cat Tater kept following me as I gardened in different places. He’d quietly find a shady spot under a plant or bush, and then I’d hear his purring sound and know he was nearby. I saw a yellow swallowtail butterfly, and stopped a moment to admire it. June 4 013A few minutes later I saw three of them, and at that I stopped, put down the trowel, sat down and took a big breath. One butterfly is nice, but three all together is a SIGN, to stop and enjoy the beauty all around.

butterfly on Dame's Rocket

butterfly on Dame’s Rocket

June 4 014As I sat there watching the butterflies, I also noticed bumble bees, and a hummingbird moth, innumerable flies and other small insects. I listened to the birds, and the sound of the wind through the trees. It’s a perfect day, blue sky, mid-60’s, sunny with white puffy clouds. I thought, I’m happy that so many creatures enjoy my garden.