It’s Been a Year…

…since I even visited my site. There is some dusting to do.

But, the gardens are doing well and are gradually getting buttoned up for the approaching cold weather. Fortunately I have pictures.

Heliotrope was on sale at a garden center, so I bought it and planted it. I didn’t pick a very good spot, and it took a while to get started. It, of course, has a lovely fragrance, so I’ll consider planting it again in a better spot.
The State Fair zinnias are the annual champs of the gardens again.
The one great thing about the end of summer is all the bargains available at garden centers. I picked up lots of annuals to fill in the sad blank spaces the day lilies occupied. This pink zinnia ended up in the Secret Garden.
This vibrant red State Fair zinnia lives in the Lower Garden amongst yellow, pink, orange, white, and other reds in a banquet of abandon. And, of course, I had to go all arty with it as I fuel my macro learnings.
This Praying Hands hosta leaf comes from the hosta bed under the rose of sharon.It’s companions are Naked Lady, Seducer, Obscene Gesture, Stiletto, Climax, etc. Praying Hands sits in the middle of all those naughty neighbors.
The Sweet Autumn clematis is a little more than midway through its blooming cycle. It provides a lovely passage to the Secret Garden. And, it’s fragrant.
This was taken toward the end of the day lily bloom time. The phlox in the back was just beginning to bloom. The coneflowers enjoyed the sun.
I’m always a bit ambivalent about the hibiscus. They are dramatic, and the buds, like this deep pink beauty, are bold.
Pink Anemones are still quite happy just inside the Secret Garden.
I used Cleome in the containers this year. And though they are striking, they are tall and spiny, and they don’t do look all that attractive in a grouping of other plants. I won’t use them again.
This lovely stokesia struggled in the Secret Garden. It didn’t get enough sun or space. Now it lives in the Lower Garden with the zinnias and appears quite happy amongst its new friends.
The Shasta Daisies want to take over their universe, and they are lovely. But next year they will need to be thinned. Again.
And here’s Lucy, occupying her throne.

Taking Pretty Pictures

See more images on my Flickr page.

I have always been into photography. When my father got his fancy 35 mm Zeiss Icon film camera in the early , early 60’s, he gave me his old Kodak. I had great fun. When I became an adult and could afford my own 33mm, I bought an Olympus. I loved that camera. But, something went wonky on it and stopped using it. And, of course, I had to get the pictures developed. Perhaps 10 years ago I bought a Nikon D3000. I still have that camera and use it.I discovered the joys of instant photography gratification. Once I thought I had learned enough to get a more sophisticated camera, I bought a Nikon D750. I love that camera, though, I think it might be smarter than I am. These days most of my picture taking adventures happen in my gardens. My dog dozes under the Japanese maple and I gather bouquets and snap close ups, pull weeds and deadhead spent flowers. Below are some samples taken with a new super macro lens, a Loawan 60 mm super macro f 2.8 lens.

For 13 years I have been trying to get rid of this weed, tradiscantia fluminenses. I’ve almost succeeded, but not quite. So, using my new fangled super macro lens, and before it is gone completely,I took a picture. The little sucker is rather pretty, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to keep it. I take great pleasure in ripping viney plants out by their roots.

Quite a few years ago I planted five caryopteris bushes. But, they didn’t do well, and eventually I pulled them out. Late last summer I found one at a garden center. So I planted it in a distant corner. And, it’s blooming!
A friend gave me a little clump of this Honorin Jobert anemone. I love it. Long after the day lilies have sent out their last blooms, the anemones begin to bud and flower. I love how the light sparkles off the petals.
Not all hosta flowers are lovely, but that’s not true for Stain Glass. Not only are they lovely, they are fragrant. How interesting that the morning sun caught the anthers and makes the flower look as if it were in a chapel..
It’s hard to ignore a daisy after it rains. This flower was one of dozens and dozens greeting the sun each day.

August 15, 2020: Bloom Day

And we are still coping with Covid and I am weary of the worry.

But, the sun shines, the flowers bloom, and the in-ground watering system kicks on at the right time. Here’s what’s blooming in my garden today.

The Walker’s Low catmint got a bit of a hair cut so that will encouraged it to bloom again. The pollinators love it. And, the rudbeckia welcomes everyone who walks down the street and past the entrance garden.
Every year I plant purple petunias near the entrance to the lower garden and my back door. That wonderful vanilla spice fragrance brightens my mood each time I pass them. And they are especially fragrant at night.
Some of the hansa roses are still blooming, but they are being eaten by japanese beetles. The Knock Out and Carpet roses don’t seem to be bothered. They have consistently bloomed all summer. The black curly haired dog thinks she is garden art. At least she isn’t digging this year. The Rose of Sharon is blooming. I’m still pulling out saplings from last year’s seed pod deposits.
The last of the lower garden day lilies is blooming today. I bought this tagless beauty last summer from a grower who was going out of business after her husband passed away. She dug them out of the field for me, but had no idea what their names were.
This is either Endless Summer or Forever and Ever. Despite getting a heavy dose of acid along the drip line, most of the flower heads are pink. I’ll keep upping the dose and hope for more blue.
But look at those State Fair zinnias. As soon as this post is finished, I’m going to go out and pick a couple of big bouquets. Notice the pots. I have harvested TWO tomatoes so far. This is my first “serious” excursion into growing something other than flowers. Zagreb Coreopsis got thinned last fall and again in early spring. Most of the blooms in the Lewd Hosta Bed have come and gone. That’s Praying Hands in the lower left, balancing Midnight at the Oasis, Obscene Gesture, and Naked Lady in order to keep the universe safe.
Here at the entrance of the Secret Garden, the daisies and hibiscus are showing off.
The echinaceas are doing far better this year than last. In fact, I’d given up on Fragrant Angel, the white flowered variety in the middle. Also doing well are the pink phlox. I thought they were goners, too. A few weeks ago two sad looking lilacs were removed and maybe that opened things up. The phlox always got mildew, but so far, it’s looking unblemished. The last remaining lilac will come out, too. Three other lilacs have been removed from a different section of the Secret Garden. They were looking sad and they weren’t kicking out very many blooms.
There’s that pesky poodle again. The sweet potato vines have spilled over into the pathway, but I find that rather charming. Or, I’m too lazy to cut them back. Notice Tardiva blooming on the left. All day it is filled with the hum of pollinators. I love it! The day lilies underneath Tardiva are going to be moved to a place where they will get more sun. Excuse the debris in the center mosaic. It’s mostly day lily fronds.
This is one of two day lilies that are still blooming in the Secret Garden. This is the last of Rosey Returns until next year.
Midnight Raider is the only other day lily still blooming. The pollinators will miss it. Notice all the pollen scattered around the petals. There are two more buds. Once they bloom, the day lily season will be over.
Here is where three other lilacs used to stand. I suspect part of the reason they stopped thriving was because Dutchman’s Pipe was stealing nutrients and water.
The hosta flowers you see to the right belong to Francee. I’m waiting for Stained Glass to kick out it’s lovely fragrant flower scapes.
Here’s a beauty shot of one of the zinnias. I’ve been having fun with my macro lenses.

Many thanks to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for creating Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

Bloom Day: The garden doesn’t know about Covid

Perhaps it is because there is only one dog tromping through the gardens. Or, we’ve had the right amount of rain. Or the Garden Lady is working her magic. But I don’t think the gardens have ever been this lush. I did buy seven big clumps of day lilies last summer, all without name tags, and they are thriving. And, I filled in some blank spots with annuals, but I always do that. I could also say that I have spent more time at home because of Covid, but I’m retired. I have a lot of free time these days. But it could also be that my garden guy, Richard, has worked his magic. We make a good team. I’m bossy and he takes direction well.

Thank you to Carol at May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day each month. This is what is blooming in my gardens today.

The Francis Williams hostas are blooming. The rest of the color in this bed in the front is Caladium. It seems to like this spot under the magnolia. The White Dome hydrangea hedge is doing well, too.
Here’s another view that shows off the Caladium better.
The catmint needs a hair cut. The hanging bag near the door got badly burned during our first big heat wave and I’ve been nursing it along.
The little entrance garden is doing ok. I have no idea what the purple and white pots are. They were on sale and didn’t have a tag. I planted the rest of the pots using Paul Zammit’s advice to pack those pots way past what you think is enough. Paul is the Director of Horticulture at the Toronto Botanical Gardens. He should know.
This is one of the new day lilies, obviously testing the boundaries. Notice the bloom at the top? It’s polytepas. What does that mean? It has more petals and sepals than it’s supposed to have.
This little bed got thoroughly trashed last year when the new fence went in. It’s still struggling to find its identity. But, hey, that potted arrangement looks fabulous, dahling.
Notice the flat of marigolds? I bought those a few days ago because you can never have too many marigolds. I think this bed in the lower garden will get some day lily transplants. I’d use the standard poodle as garden art but, dammit, she keeps moving. It’s hard to find good garden art these days.
This is the “lewd” hosta bed in the lower garden. “Lewd?” Striptease, Hanky Panky, Stiletto, Obscene Gesture, Naked Lady, Climax, Seducer, etc. See how much fun hostas can be?! And, Praying Hands, a really interesting hosta, sits in the middle. Hope springs eternal.
The State Fair zinnias are just starting to bloom insuring that there will be lots of bouquets. That is Zagreb Coreopsis in the foreground.
The hansa roses need a hair cut, but the red carpet rose and the Red Knockout are bloomin’ their little hearts out. I need to move the tomato plants because I don’t think they are getting enough sun.
I’d say the Annabelle Hydrangea is doing well. Egads.
And here are some of the day lilies. The pale yellow ones are First Knight. The dark pink ones are Strutters’ Ball, and the peachy ones are Kathy Perkins and Saloam Double Classic. Across the path is, maybe, Druid’s Chant, but I suspect it’s something else. In the midst of moving plants last fall, some plant tags were kidnapped by aliens. Or a poodle or two. The bright red is Crocosmia.
This enthusiastic show of colors and textures includes shasta daisies, more Crocosmia, and two containers that have some very rambunctious sweet potato vines. The annual selection at garden centers this year was pretty ordinary. I’m not surprised. Nobody knew whether garden centers would be able to open up soon enough to give annuals a chance. But Mr. and Mrs. House Sparrow are on their third round. I shouldn’t have put that planter right under their front door. It gets “decorated” a lot.
Farther down the path in the secret garden is one of my favorite spots. The big chartreuse is Stained Glass. In the back is Krossa Regal. And to the left of Stained Glass is June. The large hosta to the left of Stained Glass is Francee. In the foreground is Allegan Fog.
Looking west in the secret garden are more hostas, and that flash of red (other than the Crocosmia) is Red Pinnacle, a day lily that did not bloom last year. .
See, poodle garden art moves. Some of the day lilies in this shot were moved from below the Tardiva hydrangea where they were getting too much shade. Several others are nameless and part of the haul from last year’s tromp through a day lily farm.

There are various echinaceas planted here and I’ve lost track of who’s who. But the white ones are White Pow Wow.

And here’s a last shot of the secret garden.

Summer Prelude: GBBD

I got a bit of a late start planting annuals and pots because the shredded bark had to go in first. But, the bark went in and so did most of the annuals. I’ve also planted more containers to add color and interest. We are having a wonderful June with moderate temps and enough rain. Best of all, the gardens don’t know there is a pandemic.

Many thanks to May Dreams Gardens for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

The entrance garden is happy with its containers and the newly trimmed boxwood hedge.
This summer it will be white begonias that will grace the curve.
And who doesn’t love Walker’s Low catmint. Except for the purple and white pots, I made the others. The trick is to load the pots so densely that you don’t think you can get anything in it. And then more. I thank Paul Zammit, Horticulturist at Toronto’s City Gardens for that wonderful lesson.
Gardens are always about patience. I a couple weeks this bed , part of the fence installation aftermath a year ago, will look lush and in the evening those purple petunias will give off their wonderful vanilla fragrance.
The bleeding heart is almost done and the old white climbing rose is handing out a few blooms.
Forgive the drip line, but feel free to enjoy this pot full of annuals.
Alcamella in the Secret Garden is always welcome.
Lucy is under the impression that she can help fill the pots in the Secret Garden. I don’t think so.
The Garden Lady is protecting this random Persian Star allium. I didn’t plant it, but every year at least one will pop up somewhere.
More pots in progress in the Secret Garden. There are two new climbing roses, planted last fall, that survived the winter and are showing off their peachy blooms. Do I know the name of these roses? Of course not. The ability to keep track and label have left me. I blame it on the dogs.
Another pot in the Secret Garden. The Amsonia is just finishing its show. The white “litter” behind it are petals from a mock orange.
And, here is the mock orange. Sadly, it is not very fragrant. The three pots here get a mix of sun and shade. I went drip line crazy and asked the irrigation guy to put in a bunch of extra ones.
This nicely behaved perennial geranium provides some early color to this spot in the Secret Garden.
This geranium is not very tidy and rather than fight her scraggly manner, I’m going to yank her out and put something more gentile in her place.
The last peony. I picked all of the others right before a storm came through.

The Covid Garden: May Bloom Day

I confess that the longest periods spent in the gardens these past couple of weeks have been devoted to misguided attempts to remove hair from my dogs. They are both standard poodles, and they need regular haircuts. I bought a decent battery operated clipper. Once charged, I led Lucy, my two year old poodle, to the Secret Garden, sat down, and began cutting. Shaving would be a better word, though. I worked on her no more than 10 minutes and decided to stop. I would tackle more later. Because the weather turned cold, later came a few days, um, later. Honestly, she looks like an escapee from a horror movie. Over the course of a week, I was able to shave the parts of her that were likely to mat.

The more difficult task was Bridget. I confess, I’ve barely begun. She only has three legs, so her stamina isn’t all that great. My goal is to keep her from getting matted, and to shave off the dingy white hair. I’m looking at her right now and she’s still really dingy, even in the places that I ran the clippers. I don’t think I have the patience to groom my dogs. I am going to always generously tip my dog groomer.

All of this Covid-19 sheltering in place has been depressing. The private dog park where I take my two year old standard poodle closed down for about a month.

Anyway, it’s hard to celebrate my gardens. But, I just called the irrigation company and made an appointment for them to turn on the system. And, I called the landscaping company to order the shredded bark that goes on all the beds. And, my garden guy has been in the gardens twice and will be returning for more prep, transplanting, and general sprucing. There are things happening in the gardens and I decided that my best approach for documenting would be close ups. So, I dusted off the closest macro lens and started searching for beauty. Odd, that picked up my spirits.

Thank you to Carol who dreamed up Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day as a way to showcase each month what is happening in our gardens.

This Hair allium will be finding a home in someone else’s garden. It’s interesting, but I don’t really see a place for it’s brand of interesting.

This allium, though, one of the globe type that have those huge round flower heads, will always be a keeper. I heard that some people spray paint the seed heads and I may have to try that this summer.

This, too, is a globe allium, ready to burst its buttons.

I take a picture of the bleeding heart every spring and all of them look pretty much the same. Most of the images in this Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day post were taken in the early evening after a day of rain. So, fading light and raindrops were my friend.

There were lots of fiddle heads starting to unfurl. I don’t know what the name of this fern is; a neighbor gave it to me. It has since gotten divided and planted in various shady spots in the Secret Garden.

I think the timing of this shot is perfect. I didn’t plant this columbine in the Secret Garden, but somehow it traveled there. I think the buds look like stern little fairies. Do you see their faces?

Gotta love those hellebores.

A friend gave me this lovely hellebore.

This solitary trillium lives under the Kousa dogwood in the Secret Garden. She was definitely ready for her closeup.

We’ve had a series of late frosts and I’m not sure yet how they affected the cherry tree.

You can see at the top left what happens when frost bites the cherry blossoms.

I read an article that discussed the “medical” end of an epidemic and the “social” end. The author noted that we were now in the social ending of Covid. I knew we were there last week when there was a rapid increase in traffic. I travel daily to the dog park and, masked and gloved, stop mostly at groceries stores on the way back. Today it will be corn tortillas.

I do know that the medical end of this pandemic will not end for a long time.

October 15: Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

It could be the last Bloom Day of the season, but November sometimes offers a few surprises. It is the annuals that are showing off, of course, but the mums, a bargain at $2.00 a pot, provide lots of color. And, Honorine Joubert Anemone is shining brightly in The Secret Garden. There is one surprise. The morning glories that I planted late last May have finally decided to bloom. The last hibiscus flower is looking gruesomely beautiful.

I couldn’t resist getting the two standard poodles in this month’s chronicle, though they weren’t very cooperative. What I didn’t know at the time is that Lucy, the black poodle, was busy digging yet another hole in the lawn. See all those bare patches? That would be Lucy’s contribution to the gardens. What is interesting, though, is that I take her regularly to a large dog park where she hasn’t dug a single hole. Anyway, the mums and the Limelight hydrangea in the upper left are blooming. And, of course, there are the annuals that keep summer going a bit longer. I’m always grateful for marigolds.

Mums, marigolds, and, um, moldy peonies are part of the lower garden. I’m looking forward to seeing how the new day lilies look next July.

But, as usual, State Fair Zinnias are still kicking out bouquets. I usually plunk a few hosta leaves in the vases with them.

Here’s a beauty shot of one zinnia.

It’s been a dreary, rainy day, and it perfectly intensified that morning glory blue. The raindrops are just an added bonus. I’m glad my young standard poodle, Lucy, and I got our two mile walk in before the rain came.

I think the Honorine Joubert Anemone is more than six feet tall, propped up, of course by a hidden tomato cage and some garden twine.

They are slightly iridescent so that, even on a rainy day, they glow.

The leaves are reddening and falling. This maple probably found its way from a giant tree in my neighbor’s yard. Last fall I picked up fallen leaves during my walks with Bridget, my 11 year old standard poodle. They are pressed into various books. I think I may have to start collecting some this year, too. The red “sputnik” berries come from the Kousa Dogwood in The Secret Garden.

And, lastly, the gruesomely beautiful dying hibiscus flower. See you next, my beauty.

Shades of Fall on Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day

It’s time for the anemones, and Honorine Joubert glows, even on a gloomy mid-September day.
Anemone Robustissima (I think) is rambling all over its domain just inside the entrance to the Secret Garden.
A friendly bumble bee enjoys a late season meal. This is likely a new queen who will mate with a male, find a nesting space in the hollow of a tree or a rodent hole underground, and hibernate through the winter. The male bees and female drones will die before winter. In the spring, the new bees will grow from larvae and then pupate. A few weeks later the first drones will emerge from the nest and harvest pollen for their queen.
This Alba clematis kicks out the occasional bloom all summer, and it’s doing so now, just as the Sweet Autumn clematis begins its big show. These two varieties occupy the same arbor.
You can see the Sweet Autumn clematis peeking out between a morning glory vine that decided not to bloom this summer. I’m not sure why, but I’ll plant it again next spring. I like those true blue flowers.
I am grateful for annuals like these pink impatiens that produce color all summer. I’m going to do more with caladium next spring, and come up with a better plan for this bed.
Lucy think’s the Secret Garden belongs to her.
Hello, Hibiscus! She’s joyously blooming in the Secret Garden.
Zinnias and marigolds keep the lower garden interesting. The mushroom shaped piece in the lower left is a staddle, or, rather, a reproduction of a staddle. They were used in England to raise granaries off the ground to discourage rodents and moisture from getting into the grain or game that was stored inside. I love the moss that grows on top.
More zinnias and marigolds for color, this time in front of the Dutchman’s Pipe, the green “wall” that separates the lower garden from the Secret Garden.
The great thing about going to garden centers in late summer is that you can pick up some great deals. I bought two pots of very healthy looking pansies thinking I would divide them by color and sprinkle them throughout the gardens. But they were so happy in their pots. And that’s where they’ve stayed.
And here’s a beauty shot of one little flower deep in thought.
I also picked up this bag of white impatiens for just $3.00.
In the spring and early summer, I mutter curses at the old rose of sharon that grows in the lower garden. I’m constantly pulling out baby sharons. But then it blooms and I have to give a little bit of love to this tree.
So, what’s this? Well, there’s a rose of sharon seedling. And some weeds. And what looks like a partially beheaded Zagreb Coreopsis. I would draw your attention to the hole in the center bottom. That is the entrance to a yellow jacket colony. Yellow jackets are wasps, not hornets. They kill insects and eat them and they are aggressive. So, nobody wants to play gardener near this entrance.

As always, a thank you to May Dreams Gardens who hosts Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, a monthly collection blogs that focus on what’s growing on the 15th of each month. If you are interested in gardening, go to her site and sign up. She has a lot to offer.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: August 15, 2019

It’s Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day thanks to May Dreams Gardens!

The first set of pictures are of the Lower Garden. Most of the color comes from the annuals, but a the hydrangeas provide food for pollinators and graceful blooms. Or, rather, Limelight provides blooms. The Endless Summer hydrangea gave me one pink bloom. I suspect it was pruned too vigorously this past spring. The Rose of Sharon is turning out its usual lovely blossoms that will turn to seed pods that will turn into a zillion little sprouts that will have to pulled out. Or not pulled out until they form little trees. Oy. The little brush footed butterfly (I think it is a “staff sergeant”) finds some of the zinnias quite appetizing.

In the Secret Garden the echinacea are in full bloom. I seem to have lost Fragrant Angel to our hard winter, but Pow Wow White is doing well, as are the pink phlox. The daylilies are finished, but the Tardiva hydrangea is providing lots of nectar for the many pollinators that rely on it. Monarchs, swallowtails, bumble and carpenter, mason and leaf cutter bees, as well as several varieties of wasps are regular visitors. In the little bed by the garage a family of house sparrows are busily feeding their latest brood. The daisies are just about finished, but the anemones are getting ready to pop open. And the little hibiscus that I planted a year ago is showing off its saucer sized dark pink flowers. The Rainbow’s End hosta under the Kousa dogwood is blooming. Most hosta blooms are a bit boring, but a few varieties like this one have lovely flowers. The pots of annuals light up some of the more sparse spots in the Secret Garden.

The Entrance Garden greets passersby with an explosion of rudbeckia. The Walkers’ Low catmint was cut way back and is now forming lovely mounds that, I hope, will send out lots of blossoms to feed native bees. In the meantime, they dine on the rudbeckia and the Blackberry Lily. The pots of annuals are starting to show their age.

And that’s it. GBBD, August 2019.

Bloom Day: July 2019

July always means day lilies. And deadheading. I wasn’t sure how the day lilies would take to a young standard poodle on the rampage. She has trampled some of them, but they really need to be moved anyway. The tardiva hydrangea is casting too much shade. Finding a new spot for those will be a fall project. The pictures above show First Knight (yellow), Strutter’s Ball (dark pink), and the ever wonderful scarlet crocosmia in the background. The peach is Kathy Perkins.

The zinnias and shasta daisies are bloomin’ their little brains out. And the purple petunias are filling in. I always plant purple petunias because of their vanilla fragrance. They are especially fragrant in the evening. My new fence has forced me to re-imagine my in-ground watering system. I have pots searching for water and I keep misjudging where the spray is. I’ve turned the system on a bunch of times for just a minute so I can inspect the spray pattern, but, I’ve still got pots that aren’t getting enough water.

The pots in the front are doing well. There are two drip lines that keep them watered. The blackberry lilies in the front garden are starting to open up. And, the Secret Garden is hosting some katydid nymphs. This isn’t the first time. Some katydid nymphs can do a lot of damage, but these seem to belong to a different club. This one is doing whatever katydid nymphs do in a Saloam Double Classic daylily.

And as for this last bloom…I thought I had something special growing in my garden–a lady slipper. It is a lady slipper, but it is not native and it is highly invasive. Epipactis helleborine is not a friendly species. It might look innocent, but where it invades, it chokes out native species. And that impacts pollinators and other species. I have at least a dozen of these growing in the south west corner of my lower garden. They are going to die this week.