The August Garden…

In June, I was just happy things had survived the winter.

In July, I was excited to see the butterflies enjoying the garden.

What happened to August?  I’ve got no idea where the month of August went. It is just gone. Weird. The best times always fly by don’t they? This summer has flown by. It has been a great garden year – in my opinion. We’ve had a bit of rain and things have flourished. With all that rain and extra plant growth, I decided some new muck boots were in order. I realize that I don’t really have any official muck in my urban landscape, but these little colorful things are the best. My new boots have added a little fun to my garden maintenance duties…

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Despite living nowhere near the mountains or any semblance of an open or nature type space, a hummingbird made it’s way to my garden!  And – I just happened to be outside – in my new muck boots – with my camera – at the perfect time! I occasionally hear the hummingbirds but very rarely get a glimpse of them. So, I was pretty excited to see this little guy…

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The Rose Garden is thriving. This is the view from our dining room window. Yes, I am now referring to this area as my “Rose Garden”. These finicky plants weren’t supposed to survive after the garden reorganization last fall.  I don’t love roses, so I wasn’t too broken up by the thought of losing them. Though, now, they are survivors. It looks like the roses are here to stay. You’ve got to love the tough survivors…

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My August garden is usually dried up, dying, and generally lacking much interest. I am constantly trying to add late summer color to our landscape.  I think I may have gotten a good start this year in the side garden. There is a pretty sprinkling of color with coneflowers, black eyed susans, coreopsis, sage, and the previously mentioned roses…

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The ornamental grasses that border our baseball side yard have taken off. Last year some of these plantings were only a few blades of grass at less than 12 inches high. I love ornamental grass.

DSCN5064The regular grass is also a crazy, beautiful green for this time of year. I don’t remember a year when the grass has been this kind of bright emerald green. It looks a little like Wizard of Oz around here – minus the flying monkeys – and floral muck boots instead of ruby slippers.

We’ve also got some Dr. Suess going on in the August garden.  The hens and chicks have sprouted some sort of odd flower tower that is kind of cool…

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You know I can’t talk about any kind of gardening without mentioning my favorite green roof sedum ground cover. These are clippings from trimming back my south side garden. I threw the clippings down on the north side to see if it would take. It did.

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As just mentioned, I am always trying to improve the garden color and interest in August. In the past, I haven’t had a ton of success with just plants. Our front yard is a good example of my point. I have added “more color for the front yard” to my action plan for 2015…

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This year I decided to spuce the place up with a few colorful decorative elements…

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I also added a little bit of the traditional back into the side yard. A mini birth bath for any birds who would like to frolick in some clean water.  I haven’t had any takers yet…

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The front bed that got rebuilt and replanted in the spring has filled out a bit. Here is the before – just as a quick reminder where we started a few short months ago…

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Here is the after – filled in and fluffy…

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It still has great color with the annual impatiens.

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The columbines bloomed again which was a nice surprise that I didn’t expect…

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The dogwood – the big green shrubby thing at the corner of the front bed that was planted for winter interest – has done so well that Tad thought it was a weed last week…

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The edible plantings were also quite successful in the month of August – delicious grape tomatoes, tasty lemon cucumbers, and strawberries, again.

The grapes are getting ripe. Thank goodness because Tad’s sister has been asking if the grapes are ready to pick since June. She loves the really sour, tart flavor of these tempting clusters.

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Then, there is my favorite – even though it does signal the beginning of fall…

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Green chiles.  There is nothing better than the smell of roasting chiles all over town – and in my own kitchen.

Happy Labor Day.

The July Garden…

I’ve got a daily visitor to my July garden.

He is carefree, bright, happy, and yellow.

He dives.

He darts.

He zigzags.

He is our neighborhood butterfly. He seems to follow the same path every day at about the same time each day.  I look forward to his visit. He floats by our south side windows in front of my work area, then heads up and over the roof, and down by the west windows of our sunroom.  He repeats this routine for an hour every day.  He seems so happy as he drifts side to side enjoying his daily flyby. This butterfly sighting is a moment of beauty and calm in my day. In fact, I have rearranged my work day to accommodate this butterfly’s daily flight by my windows.  I wish I had a better photo to show you but this little guy is elusive…

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As far as plants go, I am forever trying to get all season interest and color. My July garden still needs work. With that said, I’ve got a few spring plants still trying to hang on.  I appreciate their perseverance.

The very last wild geranium bloom…

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Long lasting bright pink coral bells…

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This growing season, so far, I have harvested radishes, a few carrots, and a bunch of leafy greens.  Most of my lettuces have now bolted, but some heirloom arugula is still going strong and is still edible…

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Another batch of strawberries is ready for harvest.

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Other edibles around the homestead are showing good potential – lemon cucumbers, mini eggplants, peppers, chilis, raspberries, rhubarb…

Grapes. Lots of grapes.

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The first ripening tomatoes of the season.

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A few blooms of color are sprinkled around the garden. This is the part that I am forever working on – getting some midsummer color in the garden. It isn’t as easy as it sounds…

Yellows.

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Reds.

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Oranges – including an orange ladybug (you have to look closely – even I missed it when I was snapping the photo).

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And, purple, my favorite.

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The one area where I think I have nailed the midsummer interest and color thing this year is our shady patio…

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My mom turned me on to coleus for shady areas.  She had the most amazing mixed arrangement of coleus last year. I just had to give it a try this year. I think I did pretty well…

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Speaking of shade – our aspen trees are providing a good amount of shade to our mountain inspired front yard. I’ve spent the last two years trying to nurse our aspen trees back to health. Last year, they looked really, really bad. In fact, all the neighbors kept commenting that it looked like it was their last stand.  I did tons of research. I called numerous tree companies looking for a cure for my little aspens. I asked around at a couple of our local nurseries. I ended up doing everything that was suggested – more water, fertilizer, and insect control. I even spent a fair number of mornings out in the front yard spraying off aphids with a sharp stream of water from the hose.  I think my efforts paid off. The aspen trees look really healthy this year.  The neighbors even noticed and asked what I did. I don’t know exactly what did it, but I will keep up the routine since it seems to be working…

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The June Garden…

For me, spring is all about blooming plants, strawberries, and garden tours.

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My yellow shrub roses are a huge pop of spring color.  They are in bloom for a short two weeks, but I probably get more comments about them than I get about any other plant in our landscape.

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It is a little funny that I even still have these lemony yellow roses. When we had our landscaping done initially, some 10ish years ago, I had asked for copper shrub roses.

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The landscaping was done in September or October so the roses weren’t in bloom at the time. It looked like they put in the copper roses as requested. Spring rolled around and they bloomed yellow. I was like – what is going on? I only had two copper ones and the rest were yellow. And, even the two copper ones had and still have random yellow blossoms mixed in…

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Over the years I came to appreciate the fluffy yellow shrub roses. The yellow blooms last longer and are more abundant than the copper ones.

Then, I nearly gave up on these roses two years ago. They had rust disease so all the leaves would yellow and drop off. They looked really bad. I was bummed, but I’ve not got the patience for high maintenance plants. So, when the rust disease persisted into a second year I was ready to remove these things.  Then, I felt bad about giving up on these little guys. I decided they deserved a real chance at survival.  I cut them down to the ground (which is not recommended for shrub roses), cleaned out the beds thoroughly, and started a fertilizing routine three times during the season (Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day) with some rose food made specifically for our region (at the suggestion of a friend). It worked!  Last year the rose bushes sprouted back in good health, but with only a few blooms.  The few bloom thing was an expected consequence of cutting them to the ground the year prior. So, I (im)patiently waited another year. I had been planning what I was going to replace them with this spring. I didn’t have a lot of faith that they would make it back. I was wrong. They have not only survived – they have thrived! This is a lesson learned for me. A little care, minimal maintenance, some food, and a lot of patience pays off. The blooms are beautiful this year.

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My favorite spring bloomer, you ask?  Definitely, my purple giant alliums…

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A quick update on my 2014 gardening project…

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The front flower bed has been a work in progress this spring with it’s stacked stone redo and early plantings. Now, I’ve added some spring bloomers – columbines, lupines, and coral bells. I think it is coming along…

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If I was stuck on a desert island with only one food item, I would pick strawberries. I love, love, love strawberries.  Usually, the squirrels and birds beat me to harvest. This year my strawberries have been disguised by the mini sedum. Another reason this sedum is the best

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Beautiful gardens and creative spaces are the reason I love garden tours.

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Our neighborhood tour was this weekend. There was one overall garden that stood out for me.  It was mounds of mass sedum plantings. Not the sedum roof mix I have been raving about (and been planting in my own garden), but individual sedum patched together in blocks of color.  The owner described her yard/garden as a “crazy quilt”.  The pictures don’t do it justice. It is beautiful.

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My favorite blooming plant of the tour was the wisteria.  We don’t get to see wisteria blooming here in Colorado very often. So, you can imagine that this wisteria vine was quite popular amongst most of the garden tourists. While I was standing there snapping a few photos, the gardener must have had a dozen inquiries about what variety it is.

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 We all want one.