Late summer: Joe Pye weed, yarrow, Limelight hydrangea. It’s not the showiest bouquet, esp. since the yarrow and JP weed are fading, but in my defense, I was out of town last week, so I couldn’t catch them while they were hot. Also, it still smells great, and has a certain wistful end-of-summer quality to it…


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Bird and Flower

This house we’re visiting has a plethora of bird feeders, and for the last two hours, I’ve been sitting and working on a shaded porch, watching the birds go nuts, listening to their songs. I can’t name them all, but there are blue one and bright yellow ones and red-headed ones along with lots of browns and grey and blacks. It’s just so vibrant and full of life. Our back deck is too sunny to be comfortable sitting on for long (and hard to see the computer screen), but our front porch is a great place to work; I think I want to figure out where I can tuck a stand into the front yard, one that I can hang with multiple different bird feeders.
Also, we have a pergola over the back deck, but the roses I planted are very very slow to climb it, and I think may not have been the best choice. Maybe I should move the wisteria over there? What would you recommend for fast-growing, shade-providing? Kevin had suggested hops, and I’m not a fan of yellow generally, but I do think the flowers are pretty, so I’m considering that seriously now.
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Shady Path

I had originally planted roses here, when we first moved in, but they struggled for lack of sun — bad planning on my part! I moved the roses and put in dwarf hydrangeas (shouldn’t get more than 2-3 feet around), alternating with the boxwood (which I’m planning to prune into somewhat neater round balls). Love how the hydrangeas have such different forms. Slowly filling in with small hostas, astilbe, and silver-leafed lamium. Totally need to prune and tie up the rose over the arbor, but aside from that, this area is coming along nicely.

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Fun guy

I was actually in the middle of a phone conference when I noticed these weird neon chartreuse *things* in my plant pot, and for a moment, I thought the children had stuck outdoor chalk in there, but no — they’re mushrooms. It’s been very humid and warm here, which I suspect are prime mushroom-growing conditions.

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I love how many people walk down our street; it just makes me happy, saying hello two dozen times on a Saturday morning while I do half an hour of weeding and deadheading. One person asked if she could pet my dog (Ellie was leashed in the yard, because she likes to watch the world go by while I work in the garden), and someone asked what locals called the strip I was gardening by the side of the road, explaining that he was from Vegas, where they called it the devil’s strip. (It’s usually parkway around here, though I tend to use hellstrip.) It’s just…nice. Neighborly. (None of them were playing Pokemon, for a wonder. 🙂 )


Mostly this morning (along with the never-ending weeding) I was giving a haircut to various plants that had gotten scorched during our last heat wave — took all the brown, crispy leaves off the big hostas, used diagonal cuts on the browned tips of the iris and lily leaves. It all looks fresher now, happier. Pictured here, bottom right circling clockwise left and up: daylily, pinks and creeping charlie, summer beauty allium, hosta, achillea, coneflower, Russian sage.

First Stargazer (I think) lily of the season, with phlox and ageratum behind.


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This is a small garden issue, but I don’t know how to handle it. So I’ve been planting in the hellstrip, and it’s bothering me that even though a couple times a year I mulch and neaten the edge, it quickly gets messy again, as you can see in the first photo. I mean, mess is endemic in a garden, but somehow in that big public sidewalk, it’d be nice if it were a bit neater. What can I do to keep that edge crisper? Should I actually add some kind of plastic edging that pokes up a bit? Something else? What would a professional landscaper do, or the municipal planting people?


Coneflower and Russian sage, hosta and yarrow.

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Culver and Phlox

The only problem with planting prairie natives is that they’re *so* hardy and happy in this environment that they have a tendency to get huge / spread, and then crowd out the other plants. This is Culver’s Root / Veronicastrum virginicum, and I quite like it, esp. the pale purple variety, but if I’m not careful, my garden will be all Culver’s Root all the time very quickly. The name is derived from Dr. Coulvert of the late 17th to early 18th century, who found laxative properties in the plant.

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Garden phlox, another prairie native. LOVE the scent of them, sort of a mix of honey and hay, wafting up to the porch as I work.


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White Flower Farm offers a ‘perfumed garden’ collection of unnamed Oriental lilies, $29 for a dozen lilies. I split them up, six in one spot and six in another, and even though the bunnies ate fully half of them, the ones that survived are just splendid, lending drama in an array of pink-white tones. Really like them; am ordering some more for the front yard next year. If I plant *enough* flowers, surely the bunnies can’t eat them all?

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Finished a little early, my 45th birthday present from Kevin and Jed, a back patio and new seating! It’s nice that it’s done early, so it can be used during the upcoming party on the 23rd. 🙂 We had this area by the garage that had been originally intended sort of vaguely as a shady flower bed, but our back deck is tiny (big enough for a cafe table and two chairs, plus some plants), and for years we’ve really been wishing for a larger hanging out with family / entertaining space in the backyard. The random leftover condo furniture plopped in the mulch was just not appealing.

So we designed a little gravel patio, raised a bit to make it feel more like a separate space, with a small stacked stone retaining wall and a little planting bed surrounding it.
There’s a little more futzing to be done — I want to replace those hanging baskets with metal ones with coconut matting (I think I have those in my garage, actually, left over from our condo days), and add in some shade annuals (caladium, coleus) for brighter color in the bed. We’re planning to add a fire pit and some kind of small bubbling water feature. And Kevin has some scheme in mind for adding bars at the side and across the back to rig up some kind of privacy curtains, which I am a little dubious about, as I think it may make the whole thing too visually bulky, and I wasn’t sure we’d actually use them that much. But I told him I’d think about it. 🙂 If it were up to him, we’d enclose the whole thing in mosquito netting, but while I appreciate his deep hatred of mosquitoes, I think it’d be hard to do that in this space without ending up with visual weirdness.  Will try planting some mosquito-repelling plants; ageratum, marigold, artemisia, lavender, lemon balm. Smelly!

Thanks to Pam Whitehead for helping coordinate and design the project, Rudy’s Landscaping for installing (including re-doing it when they did it differently that we’d intended the first time), and Kevin and Jed for helping haul furniture around, plant hostas, heucheras, hellebores, etc., especially since I’m on lifting restrictions right now and can’t really move or plant anything. Oh, and thanks to Costco for having the least expensive set of this kind of furniture (their Niko line) in a color and style I liked better than the more expensive versions. 🙂
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