Friday, June 20, 2014

Preparing the Garden for Summer

The first day of summer arrives June 21 with the summer solstice, although Memorial Day (in May) was the  unofficial start of summer in America. Each season brings specific gardening chores, but there are more tasks in spring than at any other time. I confess I love the busyness of May and June and the satisfaction I feel as each chore is completed. I am frustrated that the wet weather of this June forced me to take breaks in my summer preparations. But a walk around my garden shows how much I have completed.


The biggest chore was to spread compost on every bed in the kitchen garden and on all the flower gardens. H.H. and I try to give the plants three to four inches of the good stuff at the beginning of every growing season. I didn't need to test the soil before amending it this year, but before spreading compost, I weeded. I begin the annual chore of keeping ahead of the weeds as soon as the first one appears. I don't mind weeding when it is raining lightly as it makes weeding easier, but I was forced indoors by heavier rain several times this month.


Kitchen Garden begins to sprout.

I planted my vegetables later than usual. The late spring is my excuse, and I'm hopeful that the harvest will be sufficient, in spite of the efforts of the rabbit who lives under the potting shed. I spray a deterrent, but the daily rains wash it off, and the little bunny nibbles away. H.H. offered to shoot it, but that bunny is far too cute.

Because of the brutal winter, I needed to prune back the roses very harshly, removing all the dead canes. I lost one rose completely, and my favorite, 'Peace,' barely survived. In addition, the rhododendon was badly damaged by the winter weather.

Usually my roses and peonies bloom at the same time in June, but as you can see from the first picture there were peonies but no roses at the beginning of the month.

I wish you could smell the peonies.

Today, the peonies have been beaten down by the rains, but two roses have started to bloom: the yellow knockout  and the climber, 'Blaze.'

Yellow Knockout Rose

Climbing Rose 'Improved Blaze'


Each fall, I divide perennials that have overgrown their space, and any that I miss at that time I divide in the spring. The bearded iris was enormous and I was able to make four plants from one. I put a large clump in a big, stone container behind the waterfall. Hopefully, the container will curb the plant's further expansion.

Container of Bearded Iris

The bearded iris along Bluebell Creek are blooming

The deer rarely eat iris which is a big advantage. But they pruned the weeping redbud for me...

The weeping redbud has a very uneven 'skirt' due to the nibbling deer.

I divided a large clump of Sweet William to border a flower bed that I totally changed. This is where I planted new perennials this year. The newly arranged bed has its own story, which is for another posting.

Sweet William Dianthus barbatus


H.H. takes care of all water containers. He even provides a puddling dish for the butterflies. This is a shallow dish containing sand mixed with soil or manure and filled with water. The male butterflies flutter their wings in the concoction to extract minerals. This year, H.H. placed one in a sunny spot in the kitchen garden. 

Puddling dish for butterflies

One of the last spring chores is TOUCHING UP THE MULCH which we will do this weekend if the rain stays away long enough.


The most delightful task of the new gardening season is to enjoy every new bloom.

Bleeding heart

Goatsbeard Arucus dioicus

Goatsbeard is a native perennial. The effect if that of a giant astilbe.

My favorite peach-colored iris looking its best.

Knockout Rose


The eggs hatched and two new baby robins emerged

They quickly grew. This one had his mouth open continually.

Very soon they developed wings and left the nest.

The baby robins are gone, but there are baby barn swallows in the stable. Such fun. 

One of the MANY chipmunks in his favorite spot, on the head of the stone dog.

I am linking with Donna's Seasonal Celebrations at Gardens Eye View, as I mark the change of season with lots of chores in preparation for summer. I am reveling in Earth's new birth: blooms, birds, and all sorts of critters. This has to be the BEST time of year.

Enjoy your garden!

Pamela x

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