Monday, June 24, 2013

Wanted: Gardener- must be able to tolerate long hours in the sun

It is hot and steamy outside today.  This is the third day in the row of what I call intolerable heat.  I was not made for summer.  Anything over 80 degrees is just too hot to be comfortable. (And yet, I also do not like air-conditioning as a rule since many places keep it too cold)   Plus I just melt if I am out in the sun for any length of time!  So it is quite ironic that I have such extensive gardens to tend.  It is way more than a lady of my age, with my knees and constitution can manage in truth. (My husband tried to warn me, but did I listen??)
So- since I mentioned it last week, I thought I'd give a garden tour this week.

The house is surrounded by gardens. This is the first garden I planted after we moved here. The Clematis refuses to use the trellis.
To the left of the steps is what I call the houseplant recovery area.  Sad looking plants go there for the summer.  If they look better in September they come back in.  If not, they make good compost.

 Continuing around, the foundation plantings are irises, holly hocks and lady's mantle.  The Hydrangea on the corner was supposed to be blue, but apparently I have the wrong soil for it.  Pink is pretty too.
   My front bed is all self-seeding annuals: California Poppies, Pink powder puff poppies (I don't know their real name), asters, snapdragons and "zebrina"
The Bridal veil Spirea have blossomed and been trimmed to a more reasonable size.

The Wisteria on the corner was loaded with blossoms this year! There is a magnolia just left of the corner- didn't realize I cut that off.  It has a ground cover planted around it. 
As soon as the pink blossoms are off the shrubs, they'll get trimmed back.  The self-seeders are taking over the walkway
 The walkway into the door we use. (right)
There are paving stones and pea gravel under all the artemesia.  I like this better.  To the right, there is baby's breath, dead nettles, blue ajuga and crane's bill in a battle for supremacy.  Notice there are also lots of pots both on the ground and on the porch.  The houseplants love being outside all summer.
The deck garden: Shasta Daisy, Bee balm, Blue asters, something I think is a hyssop, oh and those white things I can never remember the name of.  In the spring I have a ton of crocus here and some hyacinth.  Occasionally I get a morning glory to climb up to the porch.
 The only shady spot is behind the deck.  The tall one to the left is my poke weed.  Funny story about how it came to be there.  I'll have to tell it another time.  Also lilies, forget me not, lungwort, rock cress, and a tall yellow thing I dug from the side of the road.  (oh, in my search, it turns out the tuber is edible.  Who knew?  :-)

Since there is still a bit of work to be done around the garage, I haven't planted yet.  Soon there will be  (lilies, hollyhocks??) along this side.

 Small garden to camouflage the utilities. Snow mound spirea, black eyed susans, daisies, achillea and more of those tall yellow things.  Occasionally a morning glory grows up the wire trellis here, too.  If one grows I leave it, but I don't plant them.
 Behind the utilities is the power transformer.  I threw a wildflower seed packet in there and this is what still lives there.  I wish I could get the Sweet William to grow in other spots!  One year out back they were glorious. The next year, nothing.
 On each side of the driveway is a corner fence to mark what we call the front yard.  This one has more native soil so the Forsythia isn't doing well.  The Rudbeckia and Liatris love it here, though.  To the right is my hibiscus.  It gets lovely pink and white flowers!  On the front side of this is mostly wildflowers- lizard tails, pink evening primrose and some sunflowers.

On the other side we had to build the soil up.  This forsythia is too happy.  :-)
Most of the poppies are self seeding annuals, but there are a couple of the perennial kind in there.  I keep trying to get more hollyhocks to grow there.  The hydrangea here is the kind that gets the lacey flowers- mostly white that turn rusty red.
 On one side at the end of the driveway is this garden.  You used to be able to see three big rocks, but the lilies have assimilated them.  There is also a ton of grape hyacinth in here, some liatris, an occasional cosmos and a weed that cannot be killed.  (below) 

I couldn't describe it well enough to find it, but it bears some resemblance in growing habits to horsetail. It laughs at roundup.  I haven't tried the vinegar on it yet.

 On the other side of the driveway is the aptly named "guy-wire garden". Currently it has assorted spring bulbs, blue asters, irises and cone-flowers.  I tried to get perennial or wild (below) morning glories to climb it, but failed.  The daisies are volunteers.

They grow about five feet away from the guywire garden.- climbing the cat tails.  Figures.  

 And just a foot or so from where I stood to get the morning glory picture is everyone's favorite- poison ivy.  At my house it's not IF you get poison ivy, but when and how often.  You learn to look carefully when you walk around!
 Last on the tour is the big U shaped perennial bed in the back yard.
 Each side is about 30 feet long.  It's about 6 feet wide all around.  I wanted it to look like a park, and maybe someday it will.  The four bushy things are crab apples.  The deer ate them back the first year we planted them, so they got bushy instead of tree like. 

 In this garden I have: Yellow loosestrife, Lupines, Lady's mantle, a weird kind of oregano, assorted ground covers, wildflowers including daisies and phlox, Two sand cherry bushes, day lilies, columbine, rudbeckia and cone-flowers. (We lease our field to a farmer. This year it is soybeans.)

 To give you a frame of reference.  This is the center in the photo above.  The pedestal sink got a big crack in it, so I put it in the garden.  The deer ate the hens and chicks.  So I settled for Sedums  (they could show more flowers on this site, in my opinion) and cactus we dug in Wyoming.  (Let them eat that!)
They do keep my burning bush trimmed nicely for me.  :-)

Among the highlights of this garden is this "tiki" Lucas carved for me.  His mouth is a hole that was already in the log when he found it.  It reminds me of one of the monoliths on Easter Island.

 My Grampa used to tell me that if I sat quietly at dusk, I could see the fairies dancing under the toadstools.  Oh, the hours I spent waiting....

Every project needs a supervisor!  She follows me around and "helps" when she can.  

Lucas also arranged for this boulder to be placed in the back yard next to the poplar tree I had just planted.  I put some surplus irises, rudbeckia, lady's mantle and lilies around it, but I don't really tend this spot as you can tell.

Of course there are spots in the gardens that look as if I don't tend THEM, either.  (sadly)

So that's where I spend my sewing time in the summer.  It's a lot of work, and not a lot of reward other than that I get to be outside. I'd love my garden to look like this, but I have to accept my limitations.   I do love my flowers, and growing things; and I love watching the wildlife.  A "few" weeds shouldn't bother me, then. Right?

I guess the whole post is "green" in a way.  But for my environmental sermon this week I am choosing the fact that some people are not allowed to hang their laundry outside.  Ok, they probably know the rules when they move into a planned community type neighborhood.  But what is the point of that rule?  Does it somehow negate the beauty of your McMansion to be environmentally responsible- or to have your sheets smell like fresh air?  It's just one more way the mindset of America needs to be changed.

I am grateful for:
Air conditioning in the bedroom at night. 
Food I can cook on the grill.
A shady spot to lay in the hammock.
I actually got to sew yesterday.
The other cat ladies at the shelter who put up with my millions of questions.


  1. Your gardens look beautiful, so your hard work shows.
    I remove gardens now.
    Too much work I don't want to do!

  2. This isn't in relationship to this post but a very old one instead. I am looking for fabric to do a "Where the Wild Things Are " quilt or a pattern or something. Any ideas?

    1. Debbie, I just traced a page from the book and had it enlarged at Staples. I used mostly batiks with the right textures for mine. If you go back a couple more posts, you can see how I altered some of the fabrics with inks and watercolor crayons. I'm not aware of any fabrics, but that would be awesome!
      Just a word of advice if you plan to enter yours into any shows- I applied for permission from the publisher in January and am still waiting!!!