Let’s start where we usually do on our morning garden tour, at the bottom of the driveway outside the back yard deer fence, to admire the clematis that climbs the fence. There are two kinds, one dark purple and another more fancy. Then we will visit the “overflow bed #2”, located downhill of the wood pile. This bed was not actually ever planted. I set clumps of extras here right on the lawn, and piled a little rotting hay around them, that’s it. Now it has daylilies, bleeding heart, volunteer phlox, and spiderwort.
Next we will turn to the white garden, still filling in but getting more shaped up every year. We will follow the path through this garden, under the spreading arms of a magnificent black walnut tree. If you look carefully you can see the black metal chair in front of a small maple tree on the right. You can sit for a while in this comfy chair, admiring white echinacea, hostas, and white daylilies. If you sit there quietly for five minutes (that means you have bug spray on of course) you’ll see house wrens, catbirds, goldfinches, and cedar waxwings in the tree and on the ground searching for insects. From this chair you can also see the riot of color that is the annual bed just outside the white garden. The path continues past our compost bin and into what we call the square garden. It takes you to an Aldo Leopold bench placed under a pine tree. You’ll have to duck under the branches of my “sculpture”, a bunch of tree branches stuck into a chimney tile. This is a favorite perch for wrens, catbirds, and phoebes. You’ll want to sit on that bench for some time, because there is usually a breeze in that spot. Next we will cross the driveway to the front yard, but before that, take a look at overflow garden #1. This spot has sandy, poor soil and slopes so it gets very dry. I started putting plants there that I couldn’t fit in the garden proper, because there were some that needed to be divided or moved, but were too nice to just toss over the bank. Recently I went in and hand weeded the area and now it seems I’ve got another garden. The other day I added some orphan beebalm, and phlox. We will continue on now to the front yard. Right now the main flowers are beebalm, echinacea, phlox, and daylilies. Viburnum, winterberry, and hydrangea bushes add some height. We will start this walk at the bottom of the yard near the road. The path is lined with hostas, gooseneck loostrife, sweet woodruff, turtlehead (chelone, Solomon’s Seal, and cimicifuga, among others.
The path aims first toward the potting shed, then angles up through the middle of the garden to a stump sporting our little caterpillar garden sculpture given to us by Prairie. The caterpillar is chewing on a copper leaf. The path then takes you up to the front porch, where you’ll smell garlic–we pulled it yesterday and it’s very fragrant! Up on the porch you’ll also see the vase my niece made with some meadow flowers in it. From the front yard we turn the corner to the path that goes along the south side of the house. Let’s follow Euclid, our neighbor’s cat who also hangs around here now and then, through the gate of the deer fence, to the patio area. The patio is just outside the south door of the house and it’s our favorite spot for coffee breaks and lunches. The path leads on from the patio toward the meditation garden. This path used to be very narrow, until I got tired of squeezing through the plants worried about what I would step on. Now it is wide and feels more spacious. It requires a lot of work, because we cover these paths with wood chips, and they are all hauled tub by tub in my Subaru Impreza hatchback, then carried in and dumped and spread. It takes time but it lasts well and looks good. I line the paths with low stone walls or with branches I find in the woods. From here, let’s continue into the meditation garden. It is especially lush this year because it got a major renovation this Spring and I added many wheelbarrows full of composted horse manure. Add that to all the rain we’ve had and it’s spectacular. This small garden is home to a very big daylily, which I just call Big Yellow. You can see one of the blossoms in the picture below. I have already divided it umpteen times, either to put elsewhere or to give to friends. But it will need to be divided again soon. The blossoms are huge, and also fragrant. It has quite a personality. From the meditation garden let’s keep going into the back yard. This garden is protected by the deer fence, so the plants don’t get pruned by them, but I do miss the way the deer used to come and clean up all the apples that the tree drops on the ground in the late fall. This garden is also protected from strong winds by the house on one side and a tall row of lilacs and a huge Norway spruce. It gets full sun and just about any sun-loving plant will grow happily here. Let’s go sit in our new white cedar bench located at the northwest top corner of the garden. From here we can see the whole garden. Sitting on this bench, facing southeast, you can have your morning coffee and watch the sun rise. In the late morning the apple tree shades it, so it’s not too hot. From mid-afternoon until evening the sun is blocked by the house, but still shines on most of the garden, so you can sit in shade and still enjoy sunshine.
Three paths converge on the bench. One follows the outside of the garden along the deer fence. It cuts through tall beebalm, phlox, false sunflower, echinacea, yarrow, and others. From this path you can always see honeybees and bumble bees, hummingbird moths and many many other flies, bees, wasps, beetles and other insects among the flowers. The back yard is also a favorite spot of chipmunks and red squirrels, and birds. The tiny house wrens dominate the space with their amazing torrents of song all day long. Other frequent visitors are catbirds and robins.A second path cuts diagonally through the middle of the garden. This path is lined with peonies and delphinium, as well as bee balm, phlox and daylilies. A third path goes under the apple tree back to the meditation garden. If you leave the bench and take this path you’ll see the shade garden to your right under the apple tree. This garden has some native wildflowers like foam flower and wild ginger, as well as hosta, brunnera, violets, geranium, bleeding heart, and coral bells. This path connects to a path that runs parallel to the south side of the back yard. One of the highlights of this path at the moment is the cloud of cleome that are just starting to bloom. These are self-seeded from last year’s planting. The bees love them.
So, we have finished our tour of the flower garden. This morning I walked the garden with my camera and snapped pictures every few yards, so if you missed the garden party yesterday you can still see what’s going on around here!