What’s blooming now that it’s September

It’s been a while since I photographed the flowers in our gardens, but to be honest, it’s been a rough summer on them and they haven’t looked all that picture worthy.

Recently Mark and I spent a couple of days digging out the last swatch of Chameleon Ivy tangled with the roots of the Liriope and Daylilies in the Angel Garden. Halleluia. I think we are done with that for the most part.

In our St. Francis Garden the roses have made a come-back since earlier scorching heat followed by a good drenching, or vice versa, pretty much decimated them. I cut them all back and they came out in full force a week or two ago. They are starting to fade now. And the Sedum are starting to turn color. Otherwise it is pretty lean pickin’s in the garden. We plan to plant some mums again this fall. For some reason we’ve not had good success with them here.

Out front the Hosta are blooming and so are the Liriope. We have quite a few Liriope around the yard and in the garden.

We added a few Caryopteris to the Angel Garden last year. I’ve always loved this blue misty bush.

And finally a single zinnia bloom made it to the light of day. I think the deer have been pruning the plants that sprouted from the seeds I planted in the spring. I like to cut zinnias to bring them inside. Perhaps a bud vase this year. I dead-headed the spent daisies a few weeks ago while we were working on the ivy, but a few are brightening up the garden still. Let’s hear it for the late bloomers. We put marigolds in a bare spot that we are trying to decide what to do with. We may keep that area for annuals. It’s nice to have color you can count on all summer.

I was thinking about abandoning the Woodland Garden. It is just a lot of gardens to take care of. But I walked up there today to see if there were any wildflowers blooming. The Woodland Garden looks so inviting. I startled a robin that was perched on a tree. I may take my camera and camp out on the bench some afternoon to see if any of my winged friends come to call. I think I may keep the garden after all.


And my final bloomer isn’t a flower at all, bu the berries that came after the flowers on the Gray Dogwood trees (or shrubs). I think they deserved mention. Don’t you?

How are the flowers doing where you are?

June flowers — what’s blooming now

My gardens are colorful and lush this time of year before the summer’s heat starts to wreck its havoc on the leaves and flowers.


The most striking things right now in my St. Francis Garden are the volunteers you see stretching up to the sky in the middle of this shot.


These sunflowers sprouted from seeds distributed by the birds and squirrels who frequented our bird feeder this winter. I suspect we’ve had these volunteers before and unwittingly yanked them as weeds in early spring. This year I allowed the little sprouts to stay out of curiosity.


The buds are forming. I’m very excited about these, especially considering the sunflower seeds I planted have never prevailed due to small creatures eating the seedlings.


These little annuals are visible in the bottom left corner of the above garden photo if you look hard enough. (Clicking on the photo helps). I don’t know their name and forgot to keep the tag.


I have high hopes for this Mandevilla on the trellis. They’re supposed to attract hummingbirds I’m told.


If you look down past the feet of the sunflowers, you might be able to spot these bright little daisies. I used to have three nice bunches of them along the stone steps through the garden, but the bird feeder placement had a detrimental effect on them.


These are the same daisies Mark and I planted at Annie’s grave, where Mom and Dad are now also buried. Since the cemetery is  about an hour and a half north of here they bloom a little later. I will wait about a week or two and then make the trip to see them blooming on the gravesite.


At the bottom of the garden near the woods, these white astilbe are blooming. I think I need to plant more of these for next year. The other shade plants here—sweet woodruff, lilies of the valley, columbine, bleeding hearts—have all had their moment in the spotlight and are now done for this year.


We have a nice little patch of yellow Stella d’Oras blooming at the end of the garden before you get to the back yard.


I love the flowers on this variety, although the lighter cream or vanilla colored stella doras in our Angel Garden are my favorite. They have a lot of buds, but aren’t blooming quite yet.


You probably noticed the spot of color provided by these purple petunias. I added this hanging cone-shaped basket last year.


I’m trying to use more containers, but am not as vigilant as I might need to be to be successful at it. I rely heavily on Mother Nature in my perennial gardens.


I think these are verbena, but don’t hold me to it. You’d think I’d know not only the common names, but also the biological ones for my plants— but, no.


In the background you can see my biggest splash of color this month – the oak leaf hydrangeas.


They bloom all along the upper edge of the Angel Garden. We have our home’s original owners to thank for them.


Our daisies in the Angel Garden are doing quite well. This is the shorter variety like those we have in the St. Francis Garden. We also planted a taller version that haven’t started blooming yet. Initially we had those behind the shorter ones, but we transplanted them this season to the far end of the garden where they won’t be competing with the Stella d’Oras when they all bloom.


We put in a little patch of vanilla marigolds in an open area near the far edge of this garden. Some of them are doing fine, others not so much. You might notice an occasional orange or yellow one interspersed. Someone wasn’t watching the tags on the flowers very closely when we bought them.


Here is our little section of chameleon-ivy-infested liriope. Last year, or the one before, we dug these up and cleared this section of the ivy, but apparently not well enough. We will have to do it again. Most of the rest of the garden we worked on two times. I don’t think we’re going to see the end of the chameleon in our lifetime.


We have a few princess spirea bushes that are blooming now.


I love to run my fingers across the soft flowers. I think we must have had these somewhere when I was young, because it brings back an early memory.


I’ve taken my container-gardening to the deck. We always had the railing boxes, but I’ve added several other pots. I’m starting to appreciate all those articles I used to read about the joys of container gardens. But they do require constancy in their care. You can’t neglect them for weeks at a time and hope they’ll get by with an occasional rain shower.


This one is particularly demanding. I think it is some kind of rudebeka, so I assumed it would be low-maintenance. No so. It wants to be watered every day. And if you forget, it reminds you by completely wilting. At least it has the courtesy to revive in short order once given some water. I have a bad feeling about this one in light of the weekend trips on our calendar.


Container gardens can still present a surprise or two. Could these be more volunteer sunflowers?

What to do?


I planted a lot of red on the deck this year to encourage the hummingbirds to stop by. They don’t seem to be that crazy about the geraniums though.


Here’s another Mandevilla. I have to give it occasional haircuts at the top or it starts looking like it has a mohawk.


You can see why the hummingbirds like these.

Here’s a little gallery of the rest of the pots on our deck.


And finally, the little container I found under our deck and planted with red petunias sits on the table we got from Mom and Dad’s yard, and the glider Dad loved to sit in—just one more reminder for me of those I loved and lost.

I hope your world is filled with color. Send me links to posts about your flowers.

What’s not working in my garden- or thank goodness for cameras

Cameras can create reality, especially with a little help from a blog. Ain’t it grand?

On my recent Now Blooming  post, a good blogging friend, Julia Munroe Martin made the comment, “I love reading your blog about it [gardening] because you make it look easy!” I not only make it look easy, I also choose to show you the shots that make it look good. Julia’s comment gave me the idea of showing you what doesn’t look so easy, or good. So this post is dedicated to all my blogging friends and readers out there who have to live with reality, and not carefully framed and subsequently cropped camera shots, when they look out a window.

The yellow foliage you see are my anemic bleeding hearts that really need to be cut to the ground. Put that on my to-do list.

These irises are neatly trimmed.

But these renegade ones with the spiking leaves are looking a little bizarre right now.

This is a good one. These are my newly, and not neatly or requested, pruned hostas that I planted this year. Somebody’s been having a party.

This is supposed to be moonbeam morning glories, and I believe the leaves with holes in them are the morning glories. The other heart-shaped leaves belong to some kind of uninvited vine. I’m still holding out hope for the morning glories. The red flower belongs to the Mandeville which is doing fine and is  also climbing the trellis.

Here’s a classic mistake. My bad. When we planted the daisies a year or two ago, seen at the left edge of this photo, I thought it might be cool to have short daisies in front of tall daisies.  I actually think the height difference does not look cool, and unfortunately, the vanilla-colored daylilies, my favorites, are blooming at the same time, right behind the gargantuan daisies. Gardening 101 – never plant tall plants in front of short ones. Note to self: transplant tall daisies after they’re done blooming.

Here’s a closer view where you can see how the daisies are stealing the show from the daylilies. Not good. Even if I do like daisies.

And here’s your run of the mill weed the size of a corn stalk. It’s not the only weed in these gardens as you might have guessed, but I thought it was particularly noteworthy.

Are you all sick of the tales of the Chameleon ivy yet? I know I am. Here is the left end of our Angel Garden. Pretty, isn’t it?

You might not have noticed these dead plants we transplanted after removing the ivy when the drought struck right at the same time that Mark put the sprinkler system out of commission by breaking it in not one but three places while digging out ivy. Casualties of the ongoing war against the Chameleon.

In some ways, you’ve got to admire this persistent plant. I wish you could see it here, but the lighting wasn’t right. In this hole that Mark dug under this landscaping boulder, many ivy plants, full of mature leaves were happily thriving in this dark cave. It’s truly remarkable. If Mark hadn’t pulled them out today and filled the hole back in, I would go out there right now and take a photo with a flash, just so you could see. Alas, you’ll have to take my word for it.

Here’s a section of the garden where the ivy has come back. The first time we “got rid” of it here, we evidently didn’t dig deep enough. It’s back with a vengeance. My latest strategy is to simply pull the plants up, depriving the monster motor, and brains, of the invasive and diabolical organism that lies below the dirt of its energy from the sun as synthesized through these seemingly innocent leaves that are at times even attractive, although they emit an unpleasant, in fact downright disgusting, pungent odor. I’m yanking them until we can get around to finishing them off.

If I wasn’t being painfully honest, I could show you this photo and pass it off as a picture of our daylilies, where you would in all likelihood focus your attention. Or you might notice the angel or the rock with the play of light. You might not even see the ivy, if I didn’t point it out.

Or I could show you a photo from this angle, and you might notice the angel, or the white daisies, and probably wouldn’t even pick up on the fact that they are dwarfing the daylilies.

I love these daylilies.

Here’s a good one. Anybody recognize this? And no, it is not somewhere deep in a woods far away from the house,

but a mere two feet from the St. Francis garden right beside where all my wildflowers, grown from handfuls of cast seeds, have graciously decided to put on a show.

I’ve got spent Spirea to shear,

boxwoods to trim,

and mangled leaves of a big-leaf hosta to remove (probably due to my pressure washer exuberance over the weekend).

Doesn’t the sidewalk look nice? I spent a whole afternoon cleaning moss off of it with the pressure washer. I didn’t even know the sidewalk was that dirty until I started cleaning it. If you’re OCD and you don’t have a pressure washer, you should go get yourself one. Very satisfying.

I’m going to leave you with this hidden picture challenge. Can you find the barberry bush? Neither can I. It looks ridiculous and it’s got to go. Put that on my to-do list too.

The truth is out there.

Have faith. There’s always cameras.

These are the good ole days

We had glorious weather here this weekend, and Mark and I used it to our advantage to make a concentrated strike against the Chameleon ivy still in sections of our garden.

This is a photo you may have seen that I took in April when Mark was preparing the soil to plant new grass along the edge where we had to kill about a foot wide border of grass that had been infiltrated by the ivy.

In April we spent a week or two clearing the right end of this garden of ivy. This panoramic view shows about 2/3 the length of the garden. The grass seed has been planted, and a large section of the garden has been mulched. The left end of the garden that is not pictured here still has a lot of ivy.

If you look closely under the hydrangeas on the right, you can see how the ivy has moved up the hill and into the wooded area. I’m not sure when we will get to this section, but every passing day the ivy creeps further into the woods, and back down the hill into the garden. A person could get paranoid.

You can see here where we stopped. This was taken in April, so the ivy doesn’t look all that pronounced, but all the brownish red you see in the grass and among the perennials is the ivy.

By the end of May this garden looked like a weed jungle. Mark is removing ivy from the top section. He had already spent a couple of days working at the very left edge of this garden. You can just make out a patch of brown dirt along the far bottom curve where he’s been.

I spot some salvia that we planted last year struggling to get it’s blooms above the wave of ivy.

Oh look. There’s a daylily in there.

We worked Friday and Saturday and got this far. It is time-consuming work. You can’t just yank the weed out of the earth. It is attached to long runners that are all entangled with each other under the soil and deep down into the clay. We have to double-dig. Mark fills my cart with shovel-fulls of the ivy-filled soil and/or clay and I hand sift through it clump by clump, pulling out every blooming last little piece of runner. Even the tiniest piece will grow if left in the soil.

We spent the entire day outside on Sunday and got pretty far.

What’s left is basically this section of perennials, which sadly, we already did once. It was one of the first sections we worked on last year before we understood the full extent of the problem. We will have to go back in and double dig to try to get all the runners.

You can see all of Mark’s new grass here along the finished edge of the garden, and why we have to stop the spread of this ivy. Truthfully, it is infiltrating the grass and will take over the entire yard in a few years if the super heroes don’t stand together to battle it back.

Here’s the good part of the story. There was a nice breeze blowing and birds were singing. I had set up my i-Pod speakers in the garage and was blaring music out of there so that it would be audible where we worked at the far end of the garden. Sometimes Mark and I  talked and sometimes we worked silently together. It reminded me of early in our marriage when we worked together to refinish a hardwood floor in the dining room of our first house. I remember reading at the time that it was good marriage therapy for a couple to work on something together.

I was sitting there sorting the dirt, saving the worms, watching out for spiders, when “Anticipation” by Carly Simon starting playing over the i-Pod speakers and into our yard. Yes. I thought. These are the good ole days.

Early spring gardening

These are the best of days.

From the back deck of our house on top of the hill, I can see the woods are beginning to fill with an elusive green mist where fairies play.

Our duck couple has returned again. I saw the mother with babies trailing in a neighbor’s yard our first spring here, before I knew this fine pair liked to nest near the creek that flows behind our house.

Closer to the house, I can see the green mist is actually a delicate veil of early leaves on honeysuckle bushes that have infiltrated our woods.

This tree near my St. Francis garden outside my kitchen windows sports a single blossom, an early harbringer of spring too impatient to wait.

The early spring woods provides a beautiful backdrop from the emerging iris in my St. Francis garden.

The daffodils have opened to greet the day. Mark moves the black pole that supports the bird feeders and cleans up the remnants of the birds’ winter feast. We leave a feeder on the front port and back deck. I’m going to miss watching the birds from my kitchen table.

In the spot to the left of the daffodils and owl, I plant three hyacinths, not pictured here. They aren’t fully developed or in bloom yet.

Impatient for flowers, I plant this columbine in the lowest level of the St. Francis garden that receives nearly full shade.

It is the level below the rocks on the right. You can just barely see the little red flowers at the bottom edge of the photo. I’m going to have to talk to the photographer about this. First the hyacinths, now the columbine. . .

I fill our six deck flower boxes with pansies and make a fine mess doing it.  They’re a nice flower to have around in early spring and hopefully will survive any foul weather Mother Nature throws our way through March and April.

Out front this little tree blooms white. I see it from the desk where I work in my study. I think it is a Bradford pear. I don’t know if the previous owners planted it or it came out of the woods on its own. Mark and I have talked about planting other flowering trees in the strip of land we own across the private drive.

What do you think? Bradford pear? Truthfully, I don’t care much for the fragrance.

These hyacinths border one of our landscaped areas in our front yard. Most of the plants were here when we arrived a little over two years ago, as were these.

The tulip tree at the corner of our house sports many blossoms on its top limbs.

Most are not quite ready to open.

The little purple flowers on what I believe to be Vinca Minor or Creeping Myrtle create a magical look to the edge of woods across the drive.

And to the woodland garden. I’m waiting for something magical to happen here,

with gnomes, and fairies, and a walking path with bench.

We need more magic.

These barely budding oak leaf hydrangeas separate what I consider the woodland garden from the angel garden.

I call the hillside garden the angel garden because I put angel statues in it, one of which has taken a tumble and lies on its side in the yard.

The flat land at the top I call the woodland garden. When we first moved in, it was a dense tangle of overgrown gnarly honeysuckle, hawthorn trees, sticky bushes (probably wild roses), and poison ivy. We cleared most of that out, leaving as many trees as we could. I hope to create a nice little space to walk and/or sit up there someday. But we have more pressing matters for now, like the ivy.

Tell me it ain’t so. . .Chameleon ivy.

I had to dig out some of the ivy with its runners just to plant two daffodils. This flattering photo was taken by my daughter. Although it looks like my head is in the refuse container, it’s not. Even so, you can still see what hard work it is to extract the invasive ivy from the garden.

Arthur feels the same way.

But the work is worth it, when I see my garden blooming ivy-free. Although I’m not sure exactly how long it will take us to make the garden completely ivy-free, perhaps forever. The runners are under these beautiful and incredibly heavy landscaping boulders. I feel towards the ivy runners like Wile E Coyote felt towards the Roadrunner. And you know how far that always got him.

The birds always love it when I garden.

See more posts about gardening in my series.

Tuesday’s two-minute movie – Chameleon Crazy

Well, this was actually going to be “Monday Movie—one day late.” I’m trying to really embrace this blogging culture. “Monday’s Movie,” “Tuesday’s Trauma,” “Wednesday’s. . .” well, I’ll get to Wednesday later. Anyway, I may not need one. I will probably have given up on this idea by then.

Then I remembered how my son informed me that my “Proof Copy” video was too long. So I wonder how long is too long? Is a two-minute movie okay? Aha. It’s Tuesday. I need a two-minute movie. Unfortunately I have a 7 minute and 41 seconds movie. Now is the perfect time to learn to edit my films.

You’ll see the cuts. Be patient with me; I’m still learning.

And the two minutes is more like two minutes and 46 seconds. I’m working on it.

Grote Ink productions not-so-proudly presents, Chameleon Crazy: or the hard way to remove invasive ivy from your garden.

See more posts about gardening in my series.

Finding color in the dog days of summer

I ventured outside with my camera yesterday to take stock of the gardens. Good news and bad news.

Although many things are done blooming and are dried up and falling over, the hosta in the landscaping outside our front door are adding color with their bright, white blooms. I don’t know what variety these are. I am more familiar with the lavender hosta blooms.

You might notice my little white mobile lawn decoration in this photo.

Around the side of the house, things are not so cheery in the angel garden that runs alongside the driveway. The ivy is resurfacing in many places.

The photo on the left was taken June 16th when we have put our shovels away for a while. Because we did not double-dig this section, by now much of the ivy has returned as you can see in the photo on the right taken yesterday, August 8.

The beautiful daylillies that I photographed on July 6 are now brown, scraggly and getting choked off by the ivy that you can see returning in the photo on the right taken yesterday. The reason the ivy is gathered around the base of each plant is that we tried to remove the rhizomes between the plants, but did not want to uproot the daylillies before they bloomed. Rhizomes travel under the roots of our perennials and send up shoots around them. We plan to lift the daylillies when the weather cools and attend to the remaining ivy rhizomes here.

The good news is, much of the garden is relatively ivy-free where we took great pains this summer to lift plants, double dig, and pull all the rhizomes out as you can see in this photo also taken yesterday.

If you look closely, though, you can still see the Chameleon ivy leaf rearing its head here and there. If we leave even a tiny piece of rhizome behind, even a mere 1/4 inch in length, the plant will resurface. The vigilance this project requires is exhausting. But these isolated little plants are easy to weed away.

I took this photo of the far left side of the garden where we did not yet pull the ivy. If we wouldn’t have worked to eradicate it, the entire garden would appear to be one large mass of this plant.

I did find this little blooming lythrum in the angel garden. When we were clearing the ivy and weeding, I saw this little scrawny weed-like plant, but I wasn’t sure that it was a weed, so I planted it back in. Happily so. I’m going to buy more of these next year because they add a nice color right now when not much else is blooming.

The little sunflower light is a solar light I bought for this garden. I actually bought three. I thought they would be nice little white lights at night. Much to my surprise, they are actually colored lights and oscillate through red, blue, and green. Mark likes them. My jury is still out.

The St. Francis garden is looking sorely neglected. At our old house I used to clip the iris foilage back to about five inches to neaten things up. I haven’t done that here yet.

The sedum will make a nice show when they bloom, which looks like it could be pretty soon.

My three little knockout rose bushes are the color powerhouses in this garden right now.  I also have a few black-eyed susans. I’ll have to keep an eye on those so they don’t take over the garden. I noticed a yarrow, not shown here, that may bloom soon. I wonder what color it will be. I don’t remember from last year.

This little purple mum (I think. I don’t believe it is an aster), should be quite colorful soon.

One of the things I love most about gardening are the little surprises that happen along the way. This scrawny little sunflower plant is a volunteer. I don’t know whether it sprouted from the ones I planted last year, or from the birdseed we used last winter. It’s not doing so good, but when something tries that hard to survive, I let it (except, I guess, for the ivy).

These cheerful little zinnias are also volunteers from last year’s plants.

At certain angles, and you have to tilt your head to the side for this one, the garden still looks lovely,

and is productive enough for me to have a few little cut flowers on my window sill.


See more posts about gardening in my series.