Wednesday, July 8

A Working Vacation

I closed up my office late Monday afternoon, with the rest of the week free and two weeks worth of loooong days at work behind me. The laundry, the garden, the house, the dog, the boyfriend... all had been relatively neglected during our big summer event, and all needed some attention.

On Tuesday, I slept in, had a nice breakfast, took the dog for a very long walk, and then got out into the garden to enjoy all of the beautiful sunshine. First destination: The back yard, where some veggies are still in need of planting out and the weeds have been allowed to run rampant.

Romaine lettuce, skirted by woolly thyme, with a blueberry and 'Rotstrahlbusch' switchgrass

Looking across the bed closest to the house, I notice the absence of canna foliage. I was too busy to plant up the cannas this spring, and now that it's too late to buy more, my tubers are all shriveled or rotten. Too bad--this bed could have used their bold texture:

Maybe once the eggplants really take off, they will offer a little relief from the fine texture of the Russian sage and grasses. On the bright side, the clay tile planters are looking great again this year. I love the funky feel they add to this space:

And the way that they combine with the red of the Japanese bloodgrass to make a line of warm color through the cool blues, greens and purples:

Here's a close-up of the first tile planter--unfortunately, it's too early in the morning for the portulaca flowers to be showing off yet:

'Desert Sunset' lantana, a portulaca that was supposed to be 'Yubi Red' but isn't--the flower petals are "broken" in red and gold instead of being all red--and a coleus whose tag I will have to find to give you a proper ID.

And you can see that I've repeated the portulaca and orange-y coleus combination in the second tile, too:

'Sedona' coleus, 'Yubi Red' portulaca, and 'Angelface Blue' angelonia.
Surrounding cast: 'The Blues' little bluestem, 'Black Lace' elderberry, rhododendron, zebra grass, and 'Fuldaglut' sedum

If last year is any indication, the portulaca will eventually cascade all the way down to the ground. I love how it falls flat against the tile, so it still shows off the squareness of the planter. I also love the way the purplish stems and leaf centers of the 'Sedona' coleus pick up the deep color of the angelonia blooms:

Take a look back across this bed, over the second tile planter toward the first (and toward the driveway)... this is what I see from the corner of the main veggie area:

Continuing the orange-y theme, as you walk around the bed, these tile planters line up to lead your eye right to the native honeysuckle, lonicera sempervirens, growing along the fence. From far away, you can see that it adds height to the "back" of the bed:

Closer, you can see the pretty blooms on the honeysuckle as it towers above a stand of 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth:

Coco likes this corner of the garden, for a few reasons: 1) It's usually cool there. 2) The neighbors on this side have a chocolate lab named "Hugs" (whose siblings are named "Kisses," "Hershey," etc.!) who likes to meet her for a sniff here. 3) There's a knothole in the front panel that gives her a great view of what's going on in the street.

I like that she tramples the sweet woodruff there, and keeps it in check:

I'm taking a new approach to my self-sowing annuals this year. They each will have their own area of the garden--the bronze fennel gets the front driveway area, the ruby mountain spinach gets the back area by the grape arbor, and the 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth gets to add some pizazz, height and color here to Coco's corner:

'All Gold' hakonechloa, 'Hopi Red Dye' amaranth, hellebores, sweet woodruff, goatsbeard, and 'Hillside Black Beauty' cimicifuga/actaea.

There's still a little work to do in this bed. I didn't really wade in to weed, and there's lots of clover growing--along with many little 'Othello' ligularia babies, which have convinced me that deadheading this plant is the way to go in spite of how pretty the dead flower stalks look. Check out all of the little 'Othellos' at the feet of the nearby bugbane:

The ligularia seedlings aren't very useful, but many of my reseeders do double duty when pulled. The 'Ruby Orach' mountain spinach can be eaten like regular spinach. As I weed out some errant amaranth seedlings, I cut the ends and throw them into a vase for an arrangement that will pretty up the dining room table:

I'll probably throw in some lady's mantle blooms, and possibly some baptisia foliage, before I bring the vase inside. Here you see the lady's mantle flowers picking up the shades of yellow in a variegated sedum that, oddly enough, hates being in full sun but glows in this semi-shade area:

It might be nice to add in some of the orange butterfly weed (asclepias tuberosa) flowers, or the drumstick alliums, too:

But enough of that. There's still a LOT to do in the backyard today, from weeding to planting veggies to moving a few things that have gotten crowded along the way, like this poor fern:

This is one of those compositions that probably "shouldn't" work, but really does--for me, at least! 'Jack Frost' brunnera, carex platyphylla, and Scaly Buckler Fern surrounded by golden creeping jenny.

Somebody better whip my gardening assistant into shape before I need her help today, though. After just an hour of "hard labor" (supervising, mostly, but also eating raspberries and peas) in the garden yesterday, she disappeared. This is where I found her:

What a lightweight!!! LOL. We have two more gorgeous days of sunshine and great gardening weather ahead of us--and probably a mulch delivery, too--so there's still lots of work to be done. Time to get out there, and get busy... I hope that everyone else is enjoying the wonderful gardening weather that I'm getting this week!


Lisa at Greenbow said...

Your garden doesn't look a bit out of shape for its neglect. It is quite lovely. Enjoy your time off.

~~Rhonda said...

Isn't it wonderful to have time to putter and work in the garden? Never static, it needs so much attention. But what a labor of love, and how soothing to work there. Your photos are beautiful. I can only imagine how much more lovely your garden must be in person. Enjoy!! ~~Rhonda

Mr. McGregor's Daughter said...

Your designs are spectacular as ever, even without the Canna foliage. I'm so relieved to see that you've also got chartreuse foliage near your Brunnera 'Jack Frost.' I accidentally plunked some next to mine.
It's great that Coco has found a place she can hang out that doesn't do any damage. (I love the name "Coco's Corner.) At my former house, my Borzoi used to like to lay on the north side of the house - on top of the Hostas. They always looked terrible. Take it easy on that pup - it's hard to be furry & black in summer.

Shady Gardener said...

I love the color and contrast you have over there! You and I both have Japanese Blood Grass. I only have a tiny little patch, but it makes me happy. :-)

Unknown said...

I hope you have a wonderful time off, Kim, and your gardens look fabulous as always. Now, if you see the sun anywhere, please send him up here, okay? He seems to have forgotten us.

Cheryl said...

I notice you have a black lace elderberry too. I've just added one to my front walk this spring. No flowers yet, but a few green shoots of new growth.

The Jack Frost brunnera is on my list, I just have to find a spot for it.

And someday, I will grow veggies, I swear. Since I'm new to gardening, I'll try it next year. It must be wonderful to pick supper from the backyard

Yolanda Elizabet Heuzen said...

Loved this loooooooong walk through your garden Kim. Isn't it wonderful that our gardens are never the same even if we did the same thing every year to it (and who would want to do that, not me) they are -always- different.

Ha, your garden assistent looks about as perky as mine did when it was hot over here. ;-)

OT I never have problems picking gooseberries, I just pick them carefully with one hand while the other keeps the branch from moving. Works a treat and I hardly have any scratches.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Greenbow Lisa! But I purposely avoided taking photos of the really bad spots... ugh. lol.

Rhonda, that's soooo true. Having time to putter and work in the garden IS such a luxury, and a labor of love! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Mr. McGregor's Daughter, thank you. I actually had planned to pull the golden creeping jenny when it got too close to the silvery 'Jack Frost,' but when I missed it and saw how pretty the combo was, I decided to keep it.

And I'm LOL about your Borzoi and the hostas! Coco likes to sprawl out on either the mat of dianthus in the back, or the patch of sedum in the front... with similar effect. :) And it's definitely tough to be black & furry in summer--that's why I was so surprised that she was laying in the sunshine. Usually she's back on the cool, shady cement when it's sunny.

Thanks, Shady Gardener! I only have a tiny little patch or two of the bloodgrass as well--I don't think it likes my dry soil very well, to be honest. But like you, I delight in what is there. :)

Jodi, really?! It's been so sunny here that we're hoping for some rain soon. *sigh* Want to trade me weather? Please?!

Cheryl, I was surprised at how big this elder got this year... I think that next year I'm going to do a better job of cutting it back in the spring. I even have berries on mine, this year--but then again, I also have another elder to pollinate it.

Btw, Jack Frost can be tucked in anywhere... he's even fine with dry shade, which I love about him! ;)

Yolanda Elizabet, thank you for the info on the gooseberries! Every time I look at those intimidating thorns, I end up flat-out giving up on the thought of buying one... lol.

Your Garden Assistant ought to be 100% perky, no matter what the weather! She's still just a puppy, with all of that adorable puppy energy... :) (Glad to hear that she's getting along with the kitties, btw. I'm thinking of getting a kitty as a companion for Coco. We had two at the old house--they stayed with my ex-husband--and she loves cats.)

Gail said...

Kim, Thank you for the great reminder that I have a few clay tiles hiding in the way back that will give my garden some pizazz! Your combinations are invention and inspiring...must locate that spinach and amaranth....Have a delicious time off! gail

Kerri said...

Kim, I'm glad to hear you're having some time off from your busy work schedule. Isn't it a luxury to have time to walk with your furry garden assistant, and then potter in the garden (after the picture taking, of course!)? I wish we had some of your lovely sunshine, and less of our chilly, rainy days. We enjoyed a tiny taste of summer sun the last couple of days, but today was overcast again with thunderstorms and showers. It's every other day, it seems...or more!
Your color and texture combos are so beautifully put together. I love that 'Black Lace' elderberry, and your tile planters are cheerful and bright spots of color.
I'm sorry to have to tell you that my Russian Sage and Baptisia didn't winter over, along with a caryopteris passed along by my DIL. You can imagine my disappointment. However, I do have Cerinthe Major seedlings, so all is not lost!
This has been a lovely long walk through your garden. It's great to catch up with you! Give Coco a pat for me. I wonder how she'd like all our kitties :)
Happy July!

Muum said...

enjoyed your garden tour, and always learn from your explanation of color combinations. my 'assistants' are two cats, who do occasionally catch and eat a few grasshoppers for me. Maybe I need more cats, the grasshoppers are BAD this year in Utah :)


Hello Kim. Your garden is an absolute delight! I love strolling through it with you. I have a blog too about my gardens. Everything is new this year as we just moved to this house and I had to start literally from scratch. So it's especially lovely to wander through your so very well established garden.

I read back through a few recent posts too. What camera did you decide on? I have a Nikon D-80 which I both like and curse with regularity.

Thank you for sharing. Maybe since we're so close to each other, my plants will take the hint and start growing faster. All of them were planted this spring so I have to allow them some leeway.

Unknown said...

Gail, ooooh! That sounds like fun. Be sure to post a picture when you get the tiles in place, please--I'd love to have some new inspiration from seeing yours. :)

Kerri, it definitely is a luxury--sorry to hear that you've had chilly, rainy days there. That really takes some of the fun out of even the most colorful of gardens, like yours. Sorry to hear that the Russian sage and baptisia didn't overwinter--want to try it again next year?

Muum, thank you! I think that my Garden Assistant needs to get a little more productive... all she eats is tomatoes, peas and raspberries, currently. lol. I'd ask to borrow a cat, but it sounds like you need them there!

Coneflower, ah, another NE Ohioan! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a message--I can't wait to check out your blog a little more. :)

I didn't actually buy a camera yet, but I have a Nikon similar to yours at work. I alternately love and curse it, too... honestly, I HATE that the camera is soooo much smarter than the person taking pictures with it! I need to learn.

healingmagichands said...

I think your tile planters are wonderful, especially that coleus. My dog helps me exactly the same way! Sometimes I wonder what she thinks I am doing when I am weeding. . .

Pam said...

I thought I should speak up in defense of your gardening assistant, who seems quick intelligent if you ask me. Perhaps he's the brains and you're the brawn? :)

Dogs just crack me up.

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