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.

Is it June yet? GBBD 06/15/2019

Geranium and peonies. Yes, the peonies flopped, but it’s nothing a little twine can’t remedy.

I can’t remember a cooler or wetter June than the one we are having right now. But, the garden loves it. Ok, so the hostas are suffering from edema. Yes, hostas can suffer from water retention. But everything else seems to enjoy this prelude into summer.

I just got back from England a few days ago, 24 hours before a local garden club visited my gardens. So, the day that I should have been recovering from jet lag, I was in the gardens getting everything ready. There were still annuals to plant and dog evidence to remove. This will be my first summer sharing the gardens with two standard poodles. I’m so grateful for my garden guy, Richard. He worked in the gardens twice when I was away and on the day the garden club visited. If it weren’t for him, the gardens would have not looked nearly so tidy. Note the new fence that challenged me to rethink some of the beds, and I’m quite pleased with that challenge.

So, what’s blooming? Scroll down.

The clematis is having a great time, but the bleeding heart is starting to topple over and will need shearing in a week or so. I’m not sure how this bed will turn out. The Gomphrema that I planted is getting trampled by the dogs, so who knows whether I will get anything that can go into winter bouquets.
By next month the State Fair zinnias will be tall and blooming. This is part of the rethinking that I have to do because of the fence. Note the purple petunias. There will always be a space for these because of their fragrance. They smell like vanilla. Petunias are more fragrant in the evening and so I like to walk past them at night.
My back door is my main entrance and this is what greets me when I come home. I almost always have a bag of something hanging from a nail under the light. And this little cement planter that I got from a neighbor is just the right size for a collection of plants. I decided to make my own potted arrangements this year. This one isn’t really finished yet, but I didn’t have time to put anything more in it.
Of course the peonies want to flop over. But a few carefully positioned tomato cages help keep them upright. The darker peonies were here when I bought the house, and I was sure I had banished them. Apparently not. But I’m glad they survived. I like to fill in blank spaces with annuals. The marigolds peeking out will provide that color when the perennials finish doing their thing. Notice the stones. When I first created these beds in the lower garden, I used stones from a patio that had all but disappeared behind the picket fence in the background. I placed them flat. This spring I decided to dig them up so they wouldn’t get buried again by time and grass. And then I wondered what things would look like if I stood them up on their edges. I’m still thinking about that, but so far, so good.
The blue in the background is Walker’s Low catmint. I love it, but this picture makes them look a little bluer than they are. But I’ve gone completely catmint crazy over the years and I don’t see any end to that brand of crazy. The catmint is at its peak right now, but it will give out a limited bloom throughout the summer if I cut it back. The native solitary bees love it. The pot to the right is one I made. Gosh, but it’s so much cheaper to do them myself rather than buy them already put together. Why didn’t I think of this earlier?
It’s only the pots of annuals that are giving off color, but don’t these hostas look gorgeous anyway? They and the ferns are loving the cool wet May and June.
Orange poppies, Alchemella, Lady’s Mantle, and, in the back, Amsonia provide nice early color in the Secret Garden. And the geraniums and pots of annuals pick up the slack when the perennials call it quits for the season. But day lilies, echinacea, and coreopsis will enter in a few weeks. The box in the pathway? It’s herbs and two tomato plants. They are destined for pots.
More Lady’s Mantle, and, somewhere in there is lupine and delphinium. They aren’t quite ready to bloom. I think. I hope.

Kousa Dogwood. What a glorious show this year. Last year it got nipped by a late frost. It’s making up for that now. I love how this tree is maturing.
The mock orange is looking better now that the lilacs have been cut back. Not the Amsonia. I love that blue.
I’m not a huge fan of coral bells, and I’ve lost track of what variety this is, but, it’s blooming.
I think the star of the month is the Giant Allium. I planted these last fall and was hoping for a dramatic showing in June. And that’s what I have. I wonder if I should plant more this fall.
I seem to have a blue/purple theme going, but I like the allium and the Walker’s Low catmint that are blooming in the entrance garden. And, there’s always room for red.

What’s Bloomin’ on Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day?

What’s bloomin’? Spring stuff!

This past winter was difficult for me. The cold seeped deeper this year. Or perhaps it just seemed that way because I had to go out into it more often. I adopted a second Standard Poodle that I wasn’t prepared for. She needed a place to live and I needed to give that to her. But, my yard wasn’t fenced in so I couldn’t just send the dogs out the door and stay in my warm house.  I had to go out into the cold, too.   The fence still isn’t finished because not enough materials were ordered. I’m dealing with some stylish panels of decorative aluminum fencing and less stylish propped-up chain link. At least the dogs can run through the garden and not the neighborhood.

But enough of that. Here’s what’s blooming today.

Ain’t this just the grandest of magnolia trees!
I hope the scattering of frost that showed up in some places in Grand Rapids did not hit the cherry tree. Its blossoms are beginning to fade and tiny little baby cherries are showing up, so it might be a good year for these sour cherries. I let friends pick them since I don’t really care for cherry pie or preserves. But last year’s late freeze made for few cherries.

The lilacs!

Sometimes called “false forgetmenots,” these hardy brunnera bring a true blue to early spring gardens.
Today’s sun and warmth is just what the Bleeding Heart needed.
I bought this trillium years ago at Wildflowers in Glen Arbor, Michigan. I think this is Trillium Cuneatum. I had hoped it would spread, but each year I only get this one.
Some of the allium are starting to show their color. In a couple weeks there will be huge globes of pink and purple. I love the “architectural-ness” they bring to my more cottage-y gardens.
I wish I could say this lilac was loaded with buds, but it isn’t. Still, this lilac is doing better than the other two. It might be time to pull these out and give them to someone who might be able to get more cooperation from them.
I hope I’m not too eager to put the annuals in. But, it’s so tempting to get buy marigolds and I think they will do quite well with the purple salvia.
Someday this redbud will be a graceful tree. I’m content to wait.



People often refer to them as Lenten Roses and it’s easy to see why. They tend to bloom during Lent, and their flowers look a lot like and old fashioned rose with a single layer of petals. They are also call “hellebores” and belong to a family of evergreen plants, many of which are poisonous. In fact, the name “hellebore” comes from the ancient Greek. “Helle-” which means “to injure” and “-bore” which means “food”.  Their seemingly fragile flowers tempt us into thinking Michigan’s fickle springs will break these lovely plants, but even four inches of snow that bends the hellebores to the ground can’t defeat them. 


Though snow weighed down this hellebore, it became a lovely flower just a week later.
This hellebore, a transplant from a friend and was the bud that endured four inches of wet snow.
Spring in Michigan wanders in between sunlit days and cruel frosts that injure my hopes of warmth.  Yesterday the sun warmed the garden and me.  But there were frost warnings last night and today it is cold and windy.  Still, the hellebores nod. 
They aren’t the only ones.
Often the old magnolia in the front garden doesn’t get to keep its blooms because rain, wind, or a frost can knock down or kill the flowers. So far gets to stay dressed in its porcelain-like blooms.
The old cherry tree in the lower garden stands guard over a hosta bed. When there is a late frost, this old girl doesn’t produce fruit. So far, frost hasn’t nipped her potential for cherries.
Look what is budding out, way earlier than I expected. This is a French lilac, but its name escapes me, and so does the location of the book I wrote it down..
Here’s the magnolia as seen from the street.
Every time I pass a large garden center or Lowes, I have to stop and look at their patio umbrellas. It would be nice to have some shade in this little seating area. In a month the Dutchman’s Pipe will have formed its green wall of very aggressive vines.
Looking eat in the Secret Garden. I love the Japanese maple. I love my Secret Garden. I know its name is a cliche, but it’s what I wanted to create.
I have figured out that this hosta has to be Fire Island, though I don’t remember buying it or planting it. But, what a beauty!
It is easy for me to fall in love with the deep pink hellebores, but this flower, too, is beautiful.
Every spring I would pass redbud trees in bloom and wished I’d had one. And now I do, in the Secret Garden.

The sprunging of spring

At last! I can walk out my back door without having to bundle up in my red walking sleeping bag of a coat, a heavy scarf, and a warm hat. I can walk a dog (I now have two) without fear of tripping on dangerous little hillocks of melted then refrozen unshoveled sidewalks. And, best of all, I can work in the garden.

But yesterday I walked down the street with a camera. And no dog. The sunshine continues to welcome all kinds of early flowers and awakens foliage.

My walk took me to the woods at the end of my street. It’s weird, really, to have that stand of trees in the middle of an urban area, but it’s part of a municipal park behind my house. It’s called a nature center, but it’s really just a pleasant wooded area with a trail that circles around. In early summer the catalpa trees bloom and give off the most wonderful fragrance.  Some don’t like catalpas because they are “messy”, but anything that smells that sweet and produces such lovely flowers has permission to be messy.  The leaves, too, are interesting because they are so large. Lots of people walk their dogs in the woods, as do I and I’ve gotten to know so many people and dogs.

I have no idea what kind of shrub this is, but the woods host lots of different trees and shrubs. The early evening light turned this one into lovely shades of garnet.

The scilla are thriving in yards all throughout the neighborhood. It’s hard to get that true blue in a garden. Or, at least it is hard for me. My soil is is alkaline and acid loving hydrangeas can hardly muster enough gumption to give me a light purple. So, I will appreciate the invasive scilla when it visits.

This little scilla blossom landed on the sidewalk. Some lawns on the street are filled with these small blue flowers.
Such a luscious shade of blue…


There are all sorts of daffodils blooming in the neighborhood. Every spring I tell myself that I will plant oodles of daffs in the fall and then I get overwhelmed by the chill and don’t plant anything but my posterior in a warm chair. I did plant the white one below, several years ago, and in multiples, but this is the only one that has bloomed so far. I wonder if I will get around to planting more in the fall.

While I enjoy seeing forsythia in bloom, I’ve never had the urge to plant it in my gardens. I can enjoy it as I walk and then not worry about keeping it tamed or hiding its nondescript presence . I’d rather use the space for perennials or shrubs with more interesting foliage.

Four years ago I hung a bee abode in my old cherry tree hoping to attract native solitary bees, especially mason bees. And they have found it their home. Or, more accurately, the females have found it for their maternity ward. Dozens of them have been buzzing in and out of the cylindrical chambers laying one egg and then sealing it up so they can lay another in the next chamber in line. Later in the summer a young mason bee will emerge from the first chamber followed by its siblings behind it. I think the white dribbles are bits of “cement” that the bees use to seal the chambers. It’s why they are called mason bees. You can thank mason bees when you pop a sweet blueberry in your mouth, or bite into an apple. Honey bees, which are not native to North America, aren’t awake yet, and, they have never been the best pollinators. Solitary bees are far better, though, they do not make honey.