the backyard, almost there!

I basically did nothing but garden in the back yard for two solid days, with a few hours off to go ride my horse. I’m leaving August 5 for a ten-day road trip, and really wanted to get the back yard done before then. Back in early June I re-edged the whole long lower edge of the backyard garden, by re-cutting a sharp edge with a shovel, and removing sod, and then putting in a very low rock wall. Here’s how it looked:

June 4

June 4

June 4 002Then I did other things—and the grass moved in big time. July 25 I re-weeded the outside of the low rock wall, and the next day put down a heavy layer of old hay:??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Then the next day July 26 I tackled the inside of the rock wall. I weed barehanded, and early on in the process I grabbed a nice handful of weeds, plus a bumblebee, ouch! But it didn’t slow me down. By the end of the day I had pulled weeds for about 8 hours, and I had a completely weed-free back yard garden for the first time ever. Whew! Since then I’ve been putting on wood-shaving mulch to keep it that way. I took lots of pictures!

wide mulched paths

wide mulched paths

the rock wall is visible again

the rock wall is visible again

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yarrow and tall balloon flower have been staked

yarrow and tall balloon flower have been staked

a false sunflower also had to be staked

a false sunflower also had to be staked

I’ve never seen so many hummingbird moths as in the last week. The garden was LOUD with bumblebees and moths as I worked.

bee on anise hyssop

bee on anise hyssop

hummingbird moth on pink phlox

hummingbird moth on pink phlox

The next project is finishing the wall around the “square” garden, and moving a few plants around in it, adding some composted horse manure, mulching, and putting in one wide path through the middle, taking out the smaller side paths. Here’s how it looks now:various photos 071And after comparing a lot of catalogs, I’ve settled on a new-to-me company to buy a few (only 225) tulip bulbs for planting this fall–the company is colorblends.

back yard coming along…

This will have to be a quick post because I am short on time. This morning I took some pictures of the work I’ve been doing in the back yard. Mostly weeding, laying down newspaper, and putting on used wood shavings from the stables.

a nice clean edge, and weed free, for the moment!

a nice clean edge, and weed free, for the moment!

more space around the plants, more room to walk, too.

more space around the plants, more room to walk, too.

ran out of newspaper and mulch here...

ran out of newspaper and mulch here…

here you can see the weed edge--weeded bare earth, and a wall of grass!

here you can see the weed edge–weeded bare earth, and a wall of grass!

the view of the back yard from the bench under the apple tree, looking east in the morning.

the view of the back yard from the bench under the apple tree, looking east in the morning.

 

Mr Fluff coming to share the bench

Mr Fluff coming to share the bench

red dahlia and morning sun

red dahlia and morning sun

 

beautiful wine-red dahlia

beautiful wine-red dahlia

 

clouds of phlox

clouds of phlox

dahlias on the right, garden on the left--I weeded the edge there between the two, put down newspaper and alot of old hay.

dahlias on the right, garden on the left–I weeded the edge there between the two, put down newspaper and alot of old hay.

random garden art--this little turtle sits on a rock on the "strawberry bed"--I forget where it came from.

random garden art–this little turtle sits on a rock on the “strawberry bed”–I forget where it came from.

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major construction work in the back yard today

I didn’t get “before” photos, so my “after” pictures will not be as interesting, but I’m in the middle of a major effort to get the back yard garden in shape. I’d have to call it an “intervention”, keeping the grass and weeds from getting too entrenched. They are growing at an impressive rate.  At the moment I’m taking a break here in town, sipping a  cup of coffee and checking email, etc. When I get home I’ll get back to the garden project. I’ve produced many heaping wheel-barrow-loads of weeds already, and put down more newspaper and mulch. It’s an amazing experience, watching all the variety of insect life in the garden as I work. I’m mostly on my knees, weeding slowly and thoroughly by hand, so I have time to watch for fleeing bugs. I either scoop them up and re-locate them, or sweep them to the side so I don’t kneel on them. But before I do I take the time to look at them and admire them. Little ones, big ones, (not big by tropical standards, but by ours), all shapes and colors. Lots of centipedes (is that what they are?) and beetles.

???????????????????????????????I weeded the raised bed where the strawberries are (that’s it above) and as a reward found a ripe berry. After it was completely weeded, I scattered seeds there–larkspur, cilantro, small poppies, and cleome. It should be quite a show! I’ll just have to be careful to notice which sprouts are those and which are the ever-returning weeds. The flowers all around me were absolutely alive with bumblebees, hummingbird moths (more than I’ve ever seen) and other nectar-sipping flying insects. They were going for the phlox, false sunflower, echinacea and beebalm. Mr. Fluff was happily ensconced on the Aldo Leopold bench nearby, and Tater came visiting, walking around meowing and then settling in a shady spot not far off. I could hear the two horses snorting now and then. Heaven!

The backyard garden gets full sun for most of the day, and is on a gentle slope, so it’s a good spot for sun-lovers. We started this garden many years ago, by planting tithonia and elecampane in holes we dug into the lawn. I had grown these giants from seed. We dug large holes in two rows (we did rows back then). Then we smothered the rest of the area with newspaper and horse manure, lots of used wood shavings from the horse barn, and old hay. The tithonia never did well for us, but the elecampane became giants. They shaded out everything else and finally I had to dig them up and relocate them. The two in the photo below weren’t planted–they just appeared there. (Elecampane does grow wild all over this area, something I didn’t know when I grew mine from seed!) They look so nice we mow around them.

inula, or elecampane, in the back yard lawn.

inula, or elecampane, in the back yard lawn.

The pictures below are taken from the driveway, looking toward the house at the back of the backyard garden.

the hyperion daylily and phlox and echinacea in the back yard.

lemony yellow, fragrant hyperion daylily, false sunflower, phlox and echinacea

another view of the beautiful jumble in the back yard. Irresistable to the bees and butterflies, apparently.

another view of the beautiful jumble in the back yard. Irresistable to the bees and butterflies, apparently.

backyard garden

backyard garden

Since we are going away for two weeks in early August, and the semester starts up soon after we get back, I am working hard to get the garden settled before we leave. I’ll take some pictures after today’s work and post them next time I get to the computer.

garden visitors, human and not

This weekend a relative visited us and we spent quite a bit of time in the gardens. It was great to see the garden through her eyes–everyone sees different things. She left this morning and we packed the back of her car with some hosta divisions and a few other things for her garden. We looked at flower catalogs and did some “armchair garden design”: just sitting around saying stuff like “You know that back corner by the birdbath where the lilies are? What about putting some ….there?” We also spent a lot of time sitting on the front porch enjoying the front yard garden and the birds and butterflies that flitted around. She took a picture of me standing in the phlox patch in front of the sun porch:garden July 20 047This morning a friend from work came by to see the garden. We strolled around and talked about how this or that plant grows–or doesn’t, blooms–or doesn’t, and why. She left with a few intermediate iris corms–what I call “champagne”:

champagne iris

champagne iris

And the white and purple that is very showy:purples and orangesAnd a light orange one:iris intermed orangeWhen I divide plants to give some to friends I end up with more myself, since I re-plant the divisions in various places. I had another visitor who is a daylily afficianado, who came over to get some lilies, and brought me one of hers. The next day I visited her garden.

Anyway, I also had some non-human visitors–or residents. I managed to get a photo of a hummingbird moth the other day:garden July 20 039And a tiny tree frog took up residence in a daylily blossom:garden July 20 053The hostas, beebalm and cone flowers are all in full bloom, and the bumble bees are everywhere:garden July 20 026A house wren is nesting in the birdhouse on the telephone pole in the backyard, and scolds us when we or the cats hang around there too long.

The weather has been great for gardening. I’ve been weeding, newspapering, and mulching some paths in the back yard:???????????????????????????????The daylilies have just passed their peak but are still stunning, and the phlox are starting to billow. Do I have any pictures of them, you ask? Well, yes, I do! First, some of the phlox:??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????garden July 20 052garden July 20 048And here are some daylilies:garden July 20 032garden July 20 040Also, the dahlias are doing their thing:garden July 20 007garden July 20 004 By the way, this is my ONE HUNDREDTH post on this blog! I started it in March 2012. Here’s to 100 more!

the heat wave

More like a heat ocean, since it doesn’t come and go like a wave–it seems stuck here. Hard to do anything outdoors with these temperatures. You’d think that a major, long thunderstorm like we had the other day would have cooled it off, but it was still blazing hot yesterday. Ugh. Then in the evening and all night and this morning more rain. Plenty of water this year for the plants! So, what’s blooming in the garden:???????????????????????????????Daylilies are the big show at the moment. I go around every morning deadheading. It’s a nice way to start the day.??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????garden mid July 051garden mid July 087??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????garden mid July 111?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????And there are more, but this is a good sample. Besides daylilies, there are echinacea, yarrow, beebalm, hydrangea, and garden phlox blooming. Here’s some phlox:garden mid July 107???????????????????????????????And also, the hostas are blooming.???????????????????????????????garden mid July 144This miniature hosta, with tiny sword-shaped, lime-green leaves, went all out this year putting up flower stalks. Here’s a close-up:garden mid July 145In the morning and mid-afternoon I can sit in the hosta garden near the potting shed. The big maple tree shades the spot. Here the “bench” is still in the sun, but most of the day this is a cool shady spot.garden mid July 113Stay cool, everyone!

high summer flowers arrive

On the roadsides, black-eyed susan, viper’s bugloss, white clover, yarrow and lots of other flowers make a gorgeous garden, telling me it’s high summer. In my own garden, that means echinacea, daylilies, beebalm, false sunflower and phlox, among others.

nice rich salmon-colored lily

nice rich salmon-colored lily

echinacea buds

echinacea buds

july 9 029

a nice bright phlox, delphinium and a coneflower

a nice bright phlox, delphinium and a coneflower

The rain has been unrelenting. Hay sits rotting in farmers’ fields, weeds and flowers alike are growing happily. Hopefully the forcast is correct–it’s supposed to stop raining starting tomorrow. Jeanne visited this week and found some gooseberry bushes near our driveway. I’m not sure they’d be fun to eat–they look kind of prickly!

gooseberries

gooseberries

july 9 012We stopped at a nursery on our way back from Schenectady and bought this weigela “wine and roses”. It’s going to be planted in the middle of a refurbished “driveway garden”, as soon as the rain stops long enough for me to get to it.

a nice color for a daylily

a nice color for a daylily