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.

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.

Hello, Garden

It is the first plant to bloom this spring, but in a few more days it will be gone, not because its season would have passed, but because it is a weed and was growing where I didn’t want it to, between the pathway bricks.

As always, a thank you to May Dreams Gardens for celebrating a monthly accounting of what is blooming in gardens all over the world.

It’s April 15 and Michigan played a trick on us.  The skies are oxygen blue and cloudless, but the garden is covered in four to six inches of heavy wet snow.  It’s ok.  Really.  There isn’t much blooming yet, a few daffodils and a cute little weed that became my first garden activity of the year.  That is, I started pulling it up.

The hellebores are eager to open.  And they are welcome to do so any time they want.  Often called Lenten Roses, this year my hellebores will be blooming during this last week of Lent.  What I like about them, aside from their lovely flowers and evergreen foliage is that the flowers hang around for a long time.  Their color fades over the season into something that looks a bit like a sculptor wrought them from thin sheets of balsa wood.  Perhaps I’ll try drying them in the pages of a book.  I gathered oodles of leaves last fall and planted them between the pages of favorite books. I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, but it was comforting over the winter to look at the dried leaves whose colors had deepened and remember that sister leaves would shake free from our bitterly cold winter and start their warming dance again.

If it hadn’t snowed yesterday, these hellebores, a gift from a friend, would be open. Tomorrow will see them. There’s always a future in a garden.

In January I adopted another standard poodle, Lucy.  I hadn’t intended to double my allotment of poodles, but Lucy needed rescuing.  I am sitting in my favorite chair as I write this and on the floor around me I see a teddy bear that has lost his eyes, a chew toy that has pockets for peanut butter and biscuits, a beef bone, a kong that just an hour ago was stuffed with kibble and peanut butter, a winter glove, and a paper towel tube.  Bridget doesn’t really require toys. She has a favorite bear and a stuffed hedge hog, but she doesn’t chew them.

Lucy likes to chew.  And chew.  I’ve lost two Mac power cords, a whole bunch of pencils and pens, and the buttons off a favorite pair of leather gloves. Bridget is a mellow old girl.  Lucy?  Not so mellow.  She loves to run and jump and because I don’t have a fenced in yard, she runs a jumps through the neighborhood.  That will change, I hope, this week when a decorative aluminum fence will go in.  But the real issue won’t be one of containment.  It will be one of waste disposal.  How will the promise of dog feces affect my gardens?  I don’t know, but I will find out this week, I hope. And, I will be very glad when Lucy is safely behind a fence and away from the neighbors and a busy street.

This daffodil will raise its head and bloom in full today.

In the meantime, the garden naps under a coverlet of rapidly melting snow.  Soon it will wake up, stretch, and touch warmer days.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: Oct. 15, 2018

This view of the zinnias draws me in.  I love all the color and the defiance of our ever lowering temperatures.

The mums were such a good idea!  They add pops of color in an ever chilling and browning garden.  But perhaps my favorite color belongs to the Limelight and Tardiva hydrangeas.  Timing is critical here, but for several weeks, I get to pick as many “heads” of blooms as I can.  Those blooms have started turning lovely shades of pink, and the color stays forever if you cut and bring them indoors.  I’m running out of vases because I now have time to pick. And pick.  And pick. It’s one of the perks of retirement.

The large vase these hydrangeas are in belonged to my grandmother who kept it on her front porch. Now it occupies a space next to my fireplace.


A combination of Limelight and Tardiva blooms that will keep all winter.

But, the mums and the zinnias deserve attention, too, though they will not last much longer.  I hate cold weather.  The older I get, the more I hate it. Today our high was 47 degrees and the wind cut through my sweater and light jacket.  I donned my bright red winter jacket to walk the dog.

As always, a grateful call out to May Dreams Gardens for the Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.

Catmint, marigolds, and mums brighten the back door gardens. Yesterday when it was warmer, bumblebees feasted on the catmint. The little mushroom shaped piece in the middle is a reproduction of a staddle.  These were used as foundations for granaries in England.  The staddles discouraged rodents because of the mushroom cap.


And here are the zinnias, still pumping out large blooms. This is State Fair and I will always save a place for them in my gardens.

The common pink anemones have gone, but Honorine Jobert is wonderfully lush.

Here is Honorine Jobert brightening up the eastern end of the Secret Garden.

Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day: 09/15/2018

Behold the mummobile.
Usually my head is consumed by class preparations that include reading and responding to students’ conversations about their readings, and planning, planning, planning. September has always been about teaching and barely about gardening.  But, I’m retired.  And, I’ve decided that I need to see more things blooming in September. So, I went out and bought a bunch of hardy mums and a few asters.  Take that, September. Bridget and I needed a photo for our West Michigan Therapy Dog name badge, and since we were sitting in the entrance garden, I thought I’d include us in the “what’s bloomin'” post.
Bridget and I continue to bloom, too.
Here are the two containers in the entrance garden. By this point they are a bit tattered
Though the blackberry lilies are long since past blooming, their seed pods and seeds are interesting. The rudbekia still has a few blooms. The bees like them and the birds will soon start eating the seeds.
This clematis has kicked out a couple more blooms.
Here are a few of the mums that I bought. Note the two clematis blooms and the pot of geraniums that, like the other containers, is looking a bit leggy.
This container brings a nice bit of color to the hostas in the Secret Garden.
This container also brings some color to the Secret Garden.
The medal, though, has to go to Walkers Low Catmint. It just keeps blooming. The bees, wasps, and butterflies love it.
The wonderful thing about hydrangeas is that once their blooms have “faded” you can pick them and keep them for years, looking exactly the way there were the day they were picked. This is Limelight. Many of its flower clusters will go in a winter bouquet along with Tardiva,  and some allium and blackberry lily seed pods.
The State Fair zinnias were not as spectacular this year as last, but they provide much needed color and lots of bouquets.
I confess that this Knockout Rose has become the star of the rose medallion. It has bloomed all summer and it stands up to japanese beetles and black spot. There is no fragrance, though.
What DOES have a fragrance is Sweet Autumn Clematis. It’s a late bloomer. And, sadly, it sometimes doesn’t survive our winters, but it’s a fast grower and I don’t mind planting it again and again.
Last are the marigolds that I plant every spring so that when the perennials have gone through their cycle, there is still color in the garden until the first hard frost.

GBBD: The Garden Welcomes Me Back

Thank you, May Dreams Garden, for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  It’s nice to feel welcomed back into my own gardens.  And it’s nice to hop on over to the GBBD website to get inspired.  There are gorgeous gardens to wander through at the click of a mouse.


Though the echinacea are not particularly attractive, the rudbekia are. The catmint got a haircut a few weeks ago, but a few new blooms are starting to appear. I like the contrast between the blues and yellows.

Our weird spring that brought blistering May days followed by near freezing May days may have alarmed the echinacea. This is the best of the lot. But Fragrant Angel is pretty bedraggled.






The Rose of Sharon is doing its gorgeous thing, and, of course, creating lots of seed pods that ensure a place on next summer’s weeding ritual. The zinnias are low maintenance and bring an explosion of color that lasts until frost. I love State Fair zinnias because they are tall and bouquet-ready.

This and Strutters’ Ball (below) are the last of the daylilies. I wish I knew this one’s name. My guess is that it was planted last summer and that I bought it online. But surgery, chemo, and radiation have turned my brain into a mush of vague memories.

Such a vibrant pink.




My neighbor’s mother-in-law gave me divisions from her shasta daisies and they are very healthy.  In Norse mythology, the daisy is Freya’s flower.  Freya is the goddess of love, beauty and fertility.

Tardive and Limelight are both bountiful havens for pollinators. I was once told that bees are most attracted to white flowers. I have made some beautiful bouquets from these two large bushes. Notice that Tardiva is in tree form. It forms an effective shade canopy so I’m going to once again divide a large Elegans hosta and plant a division under Tardiva. I fear that Elegans is plotting to take over the universe. Again.

Limelight got a heavy prune last year, and that doesn’t seem to have done it any harm.

This and the gold and maroon daylily are the last to still have blooms. It’s called Strutters’ Ball. I’m always sad to see the daylilies fade away.

GBBD July 15, 2018 The Love/Hate Confessions

It’s easy for me to get distracted and I often postpone tasks that should have been done.  Like blogging about the garden on days other than Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day.  I took some pictures a couple weeks ago and have been trying to think of ways to write about the garden other than to document what is blooming each month.  But here I am on GBBD and pushing against the clock and prepping for a class tomorrow.  Plus I have to walk the dog and ignore the clean sheets that are piled on a chair in the living room and get my annuity stuff together.  I’m retiring.  Things have to happen.

So, first, the love.

This is what is blooming in my garden today.

This is what I see when I come down the street after walking the dog. The old magnolia tree provides a perfect canopy for hostas. So, ok, there isn’t much blooming, yet, but if you look really hard you’ll see some impatiens. Go ahead. Squint.

And this is my view from my back door, which is technically my side door. The old cherry tree also provides wonderful shade for hostas. But nothing is blooming. Don’t even try to squint.










Let’s get to the good stuff. The day lilies are blooming. You’ll see my affinity for pink day lillies.

This gorgeous lilie is called Strutter’s Ball.


This is Sea Urchin’s best year. It’s petals always seemed to get scarred during the unfurling process, but not this year.

I couldn’t help myself when I saw this First Knight. I don’t usually get drawn to yellow day lilies, but egads, this one is gorgeous.

This is perhaps my most dramatic daylily.  Meet Red Pinnacle.


I love the brilliant red of crocosmia. And it provides a nice companion for the day lilies and the Garden Lady.
















The sunny bed next to the garage has some new tenants–shasta daisies curtesy of my neighbor’s mother, and a division of the crocosmia that is thriving near the Garden Lady.










Last summer I hardly set foot in the garden.  My trusty gardener did all the work.  Richard has been working in my garden for several years and I love what he does.  And the garden loves him back.  But last summer the garden belonged more to Richard than me.  Yeah, I was dealing with surgery and chemo and radiation.  And, I taught two classes, but much of that work took place online.  It took me weeks and weeks to recover from surgery.  And, about six weeks after surgery I started chemo which knocked me flat.  So, no gardening for me.

This year I get into the garden almost every day and do a little weeding, yank out the ever aggressive dutchman’s pipe, deadhead the day lilies.  The garden is mine, though, Richard still does his magic.  I don’t know what I would do without dear Richard.  He rearranges the hostas, curses at the dutchman’s pipe, and keeps a keen eye out for other forms of garden trouble, like the chipmunk that has made a home under some bricks in the Secret Garden.

So, what is this love/hate thing?

Day Lilies

I love them.  I dream 11 months out of the year about my day lilies. I’m quite fond of the pink ones, especially the dark pink lilies.  I know.  I said that already.

But the minute they begin to bloom, they begin to fade. The leaves closest to the ground dry out and turn brown.  And the flowers bloom for just one day. Everyday I pluck the previous day’s withered flowers and drop them on the bark that keeps moisture in the soil.  I’ve tried to plant lilies that are early bloomers, and others that bloom later, but the hate murmurs softly that each day will bring a little bit of death.  I know, day lilies don’t die when they give up their spent blooms, but it’s sad to see the scapes that have no more buds on them.

I love hostas, too, and I don’t feel sad at all when their flowers fade. Perhaps I’m being a titch too dramatic.