Friday, July 27, 2018

All That is Pleasant in My Cottage Garden

The weather this week is not pleasant. In less than three days 11 inches of rain fell here, much of it torrential, causing damage to my plants. Those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram saw the pictures. I considered writing a blog posting about the devastation, until I picked up Cheryl Wilfong's book on mindfulness, Garden Wisdom: 365 Days. I read Cheryl's July 26 entry:
' The first step is mindfulness. Let's begin here today by walking through our gardens and examining what is: noticing the pleasant and noticing the unpleasant.'
I took a 'mindful' walk with my camera. I decided to focus on the pleasant as I had already documented the unpleasant. In spite of the storm damage, there is much beauty. I delight in the morning glories that I allow to bloom in all the places they reseed. My two favorites are shown in the picture above. The dark purple and white-with-purple ones climb the arbor near the patio.  They perfectly complement each other.

I find beauty in hydrangeas, daylilies, and clematis:

Three of my hydrangeas: top - 'Pinky Winky', bottom left - 'Limelight', right - mophead H. sp.
Daylilies Hermerocallis 'Chicago Apache' and h. 'Siloam Bo Peep'

Several clematis are blooming. (I don't remember the names of these two.)

I am surprised and happy that the torrential rain didn't batter down Joe Pye. In the same border, my new favorite plant, sea holly, is now surrounded by the cheerful blooms of cleome. You can see why I call this border The Abundance Garden.

Eupatorium dubium Joe Pye Weed 'Baby Joe.'
Sea holly Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Wilmott's Ghost' and cleome.

Hostas have been glorious this year, and several continue to strut their stuff in Serenity Garden. 

Two of my many hostas, bravely surviving both the weather and the deers' nibblings

After their blooms are spent, hostas continue to please with the beauty of their foliage. I often choose plants for their leaves: While the canna, 'Striata', has striking blooms, I picked it for its (almost translucent) striped foliage.  The red leaves of the banana tree are stunning. Every gardener knows what it is that makes coleus so lovely.

Top: coleus; bottom left: hosta sp.; bottom right, canna 'Striata' with banana tree

Foliage also dominates the container garden, enhanced by some bursts of color from annual begonia. 

Containers in the Stone Garden
Turks' cap lilies

I ended my stroll around the garden by basking in the warmth of the Turks' cap lilies. I inherited these marvelous native plants from my mother-in-law. A stand of them nod their heads over the fence to passers-by. You will find them in another bed near the entrance to the Woodland Walk.

I am grateful to Cheryl for sending me a complimentary copy of her book. I recommend you check out her blog, The Meditative Gardener. When I finished my walk, I realized there was so much more 'pleasant' than 'unpleasant' in my storm-ravaged gardens. Practicing mindfulness is very rewarding.

Pamela x

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Saturday, July 21, 2018

Old Favorites and New in the Summer Garden

I love cottage gardens because I adore their traditional flowers, especially delphiniums, foxgloves, roses, and hollyhocks. Growing these plants here has been a real challenge this year (a great argument for avoiding them and choosing native plants, but I'll never learn.) After an horrendous winter, my roses looked black and dead and the foxgloves didn't make it. I cut back the roses, almost to the ground, and new leaves appeared although there were few blooms this year. I bought new foxgloves, choosing Digitalis x hybrida 'Foxlight™ plum gold' that last year bloomed all summer. The delphiniums came back strong as did the hollyhocks. Numerous heavy rains and storms, however, bashed down the delphiniums (in spite of staking) and caused a nasty infestation of rust on the hollihocks. Yes, it's been a difficult task, but those old favorites, plus some new additions, continue to bring joy to my summer garden. Let's take a walk and see what's blooming today:

Pond and Cottage Garden
Look beyond the waterfall in the picture below, or click on it to enlarge, and you will see the giant blue delphiniums I planted in the spring. I doubt they will come back, so I'll treat them like annuals and order more for 2019.

Delphiniums  Delphinium 'Magic Fountain Pure White'
Delphinium 'Pacific Giants' (not so gigantic now.) Love that blue!
One miniature rose is blooming. The hollyhocks began well, then succumbed to rust.

Foxglove Digitalis x hybrida 'Foxlight™ plum gold.'

The new pond plants are thriving and some are blooming:

Variegated water garlic (Tulbaghia violacea variegata)
Dragonflies are one of the bonuses of having a water garden

Other plants blooming around the pond and in the cottage garden include veronica, daylilies, yarrow and hydrangea, as well as purple cone flower, bee balm, goose-necked loosestrife, and lambs ears.

Veronica sp.
Mophead hydrangea Hydrangea macrophylla
Top: Yarrow Achillea sp., Bottom: Daylily Hermerocallis 'Lemon Drop'

Serenity Garden
Bloomwise there's not too much going on in Serenity. The many blooming hostas are the summer stars of this peaceful space.

Hostas in Serenity

Kitchen Garden
The kitchen garden is stunning with healthy vegetables and plants buzzing with pollinators. I started everything late due to the weather. My grandson, Jon, helped with the direct-sowing. Production is in full swing: zucchini galore, snow peas, Swiss chard, kale, broccoli, and the promise of cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, and beans. Oh, and red beets are ready to harvest and can.

The 2018 Kitchen Garden. Red beets in center of this picture.
Cockwise from top left: Swiss chard, peppers and tomatoes, cukes, cabbage, pole beans
I am so happy more monarchs are visiting this year.
Clematis 'Tie dye' covers the arbor at the kitchen garden entrance

Cutting Garden
Part of my vegetable garden is devoted to flowers (that I start indoors from seed) for cutting. Of course, zinnias and marigolds take center stage. I started a couple of trays of snapdragons and I'm amazed how long the flowers are lasting in the heat of summer.

Clockwise from top left: Cactus zinnia, marigold sp., zinnia sp., snapdragon 'Cinderella mix'

Abundance Garden
Abundance does pretty much what it wants to do. This year there are a lot of self-seeded cleome (that also found its way into the cutting garden on the other side of the fence.) The coreopsis and amsonia that I planted in the wet area are doing well next to Joe Pye.

Threadleaf coreopsis, amsonia, and phlox

My topmost favorite plant this year, however, is the sea holly that bloomed AT LAST. I planted it three years ago; it did nothing until now. When I go out at dusk and see its mysterious, silvery silhouette, I understand why it is called Miss Wilmott's ghost.

Sea Holly, Eryngium giganteum 'Miss Wilmott's Ghost'

Stone Garden
 The Stone Garden is my container garden; getting its name from the lava rock that crunches underfoot. Partly in the utility area, the Stone Garden houses the generator and air-conditioner units. They are less than attractive, so I surround them with pots of plants. This year, H.H. found a vintage window shutter at a flea market that perfectly completes the generator vignette.

Container plants include lady's mantle, lamium, hostas, fuschia, and coleus.

Woodland Walk
The Woodland Walk has a new, and interesting, destination. While I was attending the 2018 Master Gardeners' Conference in Pittsburg, my thoughtful husband commissioned his friend, George, to make a replica outhouse as a surprise for me. Maybe not everyone would be as thrilled and excited to receive an outhouse for a gift, but I love it. Our 1850's house (my husband was born here) still had a decrepit outhouse when we married 30 years ago. Eventually, it fell down after being held up by long handled tools for years. The new structure is not an exact copy, as it has five sides and a cone-like metal roof: very unusual. What makes it interesting, historically, is the door. The house was built by a poor farmer; it had only one closet. The door on the new outhouse is the door from that closet. So special. Incidentally, George refused payment, saying it was a 30th wedding anniversary gift to both of us. Wow!

The new outhouse serves as a little tool shed. I call it George's Retreat.

Dude Update
Many thanks to those of you who follow me on Facebook and Instagram for your kind words and support when my miniature horse, Dude, became ill. He had a sudden loss of weight and foundered. Dude was diagnosed with Cushing's disease that is caused by a tumor on the pituitary gland. I am happy to report that he is responding well to medication. The meds are not a cure but should keep the Cushings under control. Dude is walking without difficulty again and eating well.

Dude, my miniature horse

Thank you, dear friends. Gardeners are the Best!
Pamela x

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