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…

DSCN4726

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…

DSCN4744

Long lasting bright pink coral bells…

DSCN4755

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…

DSCN4785

Another batch of strawberries is ready for harvest.

DSCN4781

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

Grapes. Lots of grapes.

DSCN4866

The first ripening tomatoes of the season.

DSCN4874

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.

DSCN4871

DSCN4868

DSCN4877

Reds.

DSCN4873

DSCN4865

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

DSCN4835

DSCN4750

And, purple, my favorite.

DSCN4864

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

DSCN4852

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…

DSCN4855

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…

DSCN4838

The June Garden…

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

DSCN4681

DSCN4682

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.

DSCN4563

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.

DSCN4576

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…

Random yellow blossom

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.

DSCN4580

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

DSCN4617

DSCN4592

DSCN4619

A quick update on my 2014 gardening project…

DSCN4686

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…

DSCN4684

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

DSCN4591

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

IMG_0790

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.

IMG_0787

IMG_0788

IMG_0789

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.

IMG_0783

 We all want one.

In search of sedum…

I am a bit obsessed with this Green Roof Sedum Mix.

DSCN4455

I first discovered these miracle plants at Lowe’s last year around Mother’s Day. Yes, I am going as far as to call this stuff a miracle plant! We were plant shopping with my mom. I wasn’t specifically looking for plants, but thought this stuff would be perfect as a ground cover between the stepping stones for my south facing, hot, dry garden area. I bought three or four tiles for myself and two for my mom. She was skeptical that these would work in her yard. We were both hooked immediately. It is really easy to plant. You just cut it to the correct size, scrape the surface of the dirt, place the tile piece and fill in a little dirt around the sides.

DSCN4475

It’s even easier to take care of. Actually, you don’t really even have to take care of it. It takes care of itself. This stuff is tough! And – it is pretty and delicate looking despite it’s durability.

DSCN4446

Anyway, my mom and I weren’t the only people that appreciated the merits of these plants. A week later, I went on a search of my local Lowe’s to get a few more for my sculpture garden area. Sadly, I had no luck…

DSCN4450

I was told that each store got a few pallets and they sold out within a day or two.  Same story in my mom’s town.  A few weeks later, I happened to be at a local nursery and stumbled upon a few remaining tiles. I couldn’t believe my good fortune! I was totally excited. I snatched them all up immediately. As the last tile was going into my cart, a woman rushed up frantically. It was so sad to see her disappointed face when she realized I had just swiped the last of the sedum tiles. She told me that she had called every nursery in town looking for these things – and that these were the only ones left in the entire Denver Metro area.  I wanted to run away quickly with my tiles and never look back. I stood there in silence listening to her story trying to formulate my escape plan. I felt bad for her. I imagined how it would be if our roles were switched. I would be really bummed. So, I split the loot with her. She was happy. I was happy that she was happy. When I planted the few sedum tiles I had procured, things looked a bit sparse. I like to think, then, that karma kicked in. I think that woman at the nursery probably saved me a little money, as well. I spent half the money I was prepared to spend and got beautiful results!

DSCN4517

I couldn’t have asked for better success!  I hope the woman who talked me out of half of my sedum tiles at the nursery had the same success…

DSCN4514

This corner was previously full of weeds, including the impossible to get rid of bind weed. The before photo doesn’t capture the garden corner, but it was pretty much the same as everywhere else – lots of dusty dirt.

DSCN1638

This after photo is a short one year later. It is a huge transformation – all due to Green Roof Sedum Mix. My sparse plantings of sedum are now one large blanket of soft, green sedum ground cover. Seriously, you’ve got to love this stuff!

DSCN4511

An unexpected discovery of this Green Roof Sedum Mix is that cuttings take hold easily in empty garden space. I had trimmed some of the sedum between the stepping stones. I tossed the cuttings to the side and forgot to clean them up. A week or two later, the cuttings had taken root and were spreading…

DSCN1875

A year later, a few cuttings have turned into ground cover – with no help from me…

DSCN4481

After these cute little sedums survived our very cold winter, I decided I wanted to add more between some of the other stepping stones of my newly organized front south side garden. I started the search early. I lurked at every Lowe’s around town in search of sedum tiles. I went to the local nursery that had them last year. No luck.  My mom was also on the lookout in her town, but she couldn’t find any either. Apparently, these tiles are so popular in my mom’s town that you have to be there within hours of the shipment because they sell out so fast. Anyway, I was strolling through Lowe’s one day looking for a soaker hose. Low and behold, there were four sedum tiles ready to be taken away.

DSCN4452

I kept two and two went to my mom. I finally got mine planted over the weekend.

DSCN4508

It’s exciting. It’s like winning the Sedum Lotto…

DSCN4504

On a side note, some research revealed that this sedum is actually cultivated for rooftops. Thus, the name “Green Roof Sedum Mix.” I think that is cool. I wish I had a rooftop that was conducive to planting these tiles.

And, I discovered that they also grow a mix that is more shade tolerant. I am considering that for the north side of our house.

Tonight, I will be heading out to Lowe’s again to see if they got more sedum tiles in.

I just can’t help myself :)