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

~~ I love reading your comments. I hope you leave one so I’ll know you visited!
I look forward to visiting your blog in return.


  1. Pamela, Your garden looks beautiful. Architecturally it is beautifully designed. I love Bluebell Creek and your arbors and white picket fence. The peonies and foxglove are very pretty. I have been very busy in the garden too. It's great that you compost everywhere...wish I had enough compost to do that. Do you make your own? I do, but with a very large garden I cannot make enough. Have a wonderful weekend. Visiting your garden today was delightful.

  2. Beth, Thank you so much for your kind comments. I have 4 compost bins but it's never enough. I purchase mushroom compost (from a reliable source)because I feel this task is so important as I garden organically. Enjoy the move into joyful summer. P. x

  3. Pam, I am so envious and tired reading all you have done. I have watched all my chores remain undone and the weeds growing over the poor flowers. My roses died to the ground as well but I see many are bouncing back.

    I adore that peach iris...I do not have a peach one and will have to remedy that at some point. I too need to compost my beds and divide and weed and prune....I think fall is going to be extra busy this year.

    Oh I almost forgot. I have been keeping the bunnies away by having a large patch of clover near enough to the veg beds...they will go after that and stay away from the beds. Just a thought.

    A perfect Seasonal Celebrations post and I thank you for joining in again and showing us your beautiful gardens Pam. Hoping someday to visit them first hand.

  4. Donna, We are both recovering from surgery so it is amazing anything has been done this year. My husband did all the grunt work, Bless him. I have really neglected my writing, including my blog, and I'm sorry my Seasonal Celebrations post is a bit late. We WILL get together one day soon! Thanks for your lovely comments my friend. P. x

  5. Our roses are still blooming, as we head into July and August, I unwillingly think of pruning them. I am busy harvesting bulbs and cuttings as I build my virtual new garden!

  6. You've been so busy but all your hard work is paying off, your garden is beautiful. I've never heard of a butterfly puddling dish before, fascinating. Those little robins are so cute with their mouths wide open, and so is the chipmunk. The peach coloured iris is a stunner. Hope the weather is staying fine for you, we've had beautiful sunshine on this first day of summer.

  7. That chipmunk looks ever so cute. Love the little robins and despite all the rain or thanks to the rain your garden looks so fresh, just beautiful. The goatbeard and peach coloured iris look wonderful. An then the bunnie......I have two wild bunnies in the garden, they look so cute but they are a real nuisance and eat flowers and buds from geraniums and aquilegias.

  8. Your gardens are awesome !! Loving all the color. I like the idea of a kitchen garden...ours is all over the place. Great shot of mommy and baby robin.

  9. You have such a wonderful garden, with so many pretty amenities, like the fence and arbor. Honestly, nothing can beat the ponies though. They are the best garden friend around I bet. The chipmunk is such a cute photo too. For me, the seasons just meld into one another I am so busy at this time of year. It was not too wet, yet six inches down the red clay remains moist.

  10. It does sound as if you've been busy, and things look as if they're finally taking off! My vegetables are only now just starting, I was also late in getting everything planted, the weather was a convenient excuse :)

  11. The chipmunk on top of the dog statue is hilarious. I had to look twice to be sure it was a statue. Like you this short spring has really played havoc with my garden chores this spring. So many tasks to finish in two short months, it really requires a strong burst of energy to get it all done.

  12. Hi, I'm new to your blog :) Your garden is very nice, I always liked cottage gardens. I always wanted to have a garden like my grandma had, full of annuals and vegetables :)

    I'll be visiting your blog, greetings from Poland.

  13. Pam, everything is looking wonderful in your garden - very lush and green - and those roses!

    Lucky you to have a robin's nest. Enjoy!

  14. Pam, Your garden is looking so lush and well tended. I didn't know about providing the minerals for butterflies. That is something I plan to do! Also very cute photo of the baby robins!

  15. It looks beautiful Pam! Summer is my favourite time of year. It's winter here but we had good weather this weekend and I managed to get a lot of garden tasks done - it was great! Not enough though (is it ever) and there are still plenty of chores to keep me busy - let's hope the weather holds! Enjoy your summer garden :)

  16. Oh where to start Pamela?
    Everything looks lush & beautifully postioned. But those baby robins are just sweetest of photos with their ever-hungry gaping mouths. x

  17. Thanks for yet another nice stroll in your lovely garden, loved the peony and the irises, I can’t really grow irises in my garden as most of it is too shady so I have to just enjoy them on other people’s blogs. That peach iris looks exquisite! And the chipmunk is hilarious – but I bet he can do some damage in the garden too?

  18. Helene - Yes, the chipmunks cause damage. They rearrange my snowdrop bulbs in the shade garden and some have disappeared. We have moles, too, and maybe I am laying the blame in the wrong place. But the chipmunks climb on the bird feeder and steal the seed. My husband recently fixed a baffle on top, so hopefully that problem is solved. P. x

  19. It's been a similar late spring here in Illinois. So many rainy days have kept me from getting all my spring chores done. But remembering the drought of two years ago, I won't complain about that too much! I think weeding is going to be an ongoing chore this summer. I also had to prune back the roses a lot this year; the winter was awfully hard on them. Love your peach iris! And the baby robin photos are so sweet--I also watched a nest from my porch, but never got a decent photo. They were high enough up that the only time I could really see them was when Papa brought food, and their open beaks stretched up for dinner.

  20. Your garden is looking lovely, and no wonder, with nice layers of compost! I've been hauling compost from our town recycling center on the weekends, but I can only fit 3 buckets at a time in my vehicle so it is slow going. At some point we'll get a trailer!

    That is too bad about the roses and so much winter damage. It is rather funny, as I was just reading today about how the Peace rose is supposed to be exceptionally hardy and isn't bothered by cold winters. I guess this one was pretty bad though. I'm glad you didn't totally lose your Peace rose! You have some beautiful plants!

  21. Lovely garden Pam. I had never heard of the butterfly dish .... will be looking to add one if it brings more into my plot.

  22. Pam your gardens are so pretty and I loved your robin and chipmunk friends. The chipmunk are so darn cute it is a shame that they cause so much trouble. Your summer blooms from the peony and roses are just beautiful!

  23. You were lucky to only lose one rose, I lost six, and I don't plant extra fussy ones! But it gave me a chance to improve the rose garden with better varieties. Almost all the non-fragrant roses are gone now, after all, who wants a rose if it doesn't smell good? You've been very busy, be sure to stop and enjoy your garden too!

  24. Pam, your garden is sooooo amazing... I love it...

  25. Pam, I have been to your blog many times and your garden is lovely. I grew up in Bethlehem, PA and have been to the Poconos many times. It is beautiful there. Growing up we had Peonies in our yard and my parents still have them there. I took them for granted back then but oh how I would love to have them here in Pasadena, CA where I now live! We just can't grow them here. I also liked seeing your photos of the Robins. We have them here but they do not seem as common as in Pennsylvania. We do have lots of hummingbirds though.

  26. Your garden is looking amazing, so all that hard work is worth it! Such a shame about the winter damage, my peonies were in full bloom when we had days of heavy rain here in the UK and it ruined them. Love that peach iris you have, so pretty.