It's that time of year again.
I wait and wait and wait all fall, winter and early spring for things begin to grow and show life out in the garden. And the bulbs shoot up in March and keep going through early May. By then there are perennials peeking up and I know all will be well in my world. How anyone could stand to live in a perpetually cold or dry place, I do not know. My husband mentioned a job transfer to Minnesota once and I almost had a heart attack! I need a decent length growing season, at least zone 5, to make me content.
Anyway, August heralds in the shabby month of gardening. This is when I always wish I'd focused more on structure rather than on color and blooms. I like messy, rambling, big and busy gardens. I do like a bit of structure but only so that the whole garden doesn't look totally desolate in the winter months. But August also sees me rethinking what I've put where and what I can do to improve things. August is about the time it gets so hot that most things are getting leggy and dry, blooms are having trouble really looking their best. My roses look so promising as they bud and then quickly brown and dry out in the heat. My hydrangeas each have blooms that feature crispy petals. My geraniums last only about a day and I'm deadheading them before all the petals have bloomed because the rest of the flower ball looks so pathetic. Even the petunias are starting to look a little desperate.
I just gave most of my garden a major hair cut (er, stem cut). It was time. So now I have a lot less blooms to blot out the ratty foliage. I'm planning on rearranging the north side shade bed quite a lot. I can see better now that the astilbes really are getting too much sun where they are at. I can see that the hellebore I had such high hopes for is probably never going to reach the 36 inches promised on the plant tag and it needs to move forward. I can also see that I should have been more patient and bought fewer hostas because they are now crowding each other out.
I feel as if I am in a holding pattern. It has been in the 90s-100s for the past two weeks. We have a drip irrigation system installed that is keeping everything happy and well-watered which is good because I can hardly stand to be outside for more than a half hour at a go. My children cannot take the excessive heat either so we have been cooped up inside just the same as we are in January.
September will arrive soon and then I'll get my spirit back. I'll start haunting online plant nurseries and visiting my favorite local nurseries and cajole my husband into digging more holes for me in the ground. I can see where we need more structure and I'm starting to plan exactly what we'll need.
I'll keep you posted!
Gardening is in our blood. By “our” I mean my entire family. I have vivid memories of helping my grandmother in her flowerbeds where she tried to grow beautiful things in sandy Florida soil. My other grandmother also loved flowering plants. Once, when I was a teenager, she sent via railway express a bunch of lilies of the valley, cut but in bloom, to my mother who loved them. (They will not grow in Florida.) Mother loved flowering plants, too, but Dad did most of the gardening in our family. He and Mom split the work—Dad took care of what was outside and Mother’s responsibility was our home’s interior.
I came to gardening slowly, though even as a young single woman I always planted things wherever I rented, leaving them behind when I moved. And as a young mother I did some gardening. One year the Impatiens got taller than Jessica who was eight at the time. After my children were grown I took up gardening with a vengeance. When I bought our townhouse in 1994 I immediately began to transform the property. I had an end unit on a corner lot and there was more to landscape than I originally thought. Slowly, over time, I created new beds. I began to dabble with daylilies and fell in love with them. A coworker gave me a catalog to Oake’s Daylilies near Knoxville, and I have been a daylily gardener ever since. I mostly buy from Oake’s because of the high quality of their plants. When I sold the townhouse in 2009, I left behind more than 50 varieties of daylilies.
When I moved into my present home, I knew I needed to live in the house for a year before I began to work on the gardens. I needed to get a feel for the property. The fifth owner of an older home in an established neighborhood, all previous owners had different ideas as to how to landscape. So, I inherited a hodgepodge of overgrown plants and shrubs taller than the house. The last owner had five children, and I can promise you their mother did not have time to garden!
The flowerbeds of single-family home on a large lot have proved to be a bit overwhelming. Trying to bring order to chaos is a daunting task. The first important decision I made was to leave the back half of the property as woods. Here and there I have found and moved perennials from this wooded area, which leads me to believe that at some point that jungle was also landscaped. But it is now overgrown and too much for me to keep up. I actually like the wild nature of it all. It is filled with goats’ beard, money plants, Virginia creeper, sedum, and wild daylilies.
When I left the townhouse I was in mourning for my daylilies but decided to move on from them. I also made the decision that my new home would be surrounded by perennials, but I would not add any daylilies to the ones already there. Feeling overwhelmed by all that needed to be done, I began to rework neglected beds adding various perennials here and there. I took out huge, overgrown shrubs and created beds. Then I began to plan, albeit slowly. Gardens are a work in progress always and an act of blind faith. Creating them is good for the soul.
The front of the house gets hot, hot, hot so much so that the front door in summer must be touched gingerly. The side beds get some sun and the back is in almost total shade. After working on things for two years I finally made some hard decisions. One of the most important is that I still love daylilies. It just made sense to put them where it is too hot for many other plants. So, early this morning found me outside adding a few daylilies to a bed we dug along the driveway. A couple of weeks ago, I added several to my front beds. Today I will place a little name tag next to each one so that I can always remember which daylily is which. While I do know many by name, I can still get confused when I have several of the same color.
As I stated above, I LOVE Oake’s Daylilies-- http://www.oakesdaylilies.com/. Every year Oake’s has a Daylily Festival and this year Rachael and I planned our trip to Tennessee around it. Each year we take Dad on an outing, and how convenient it is that Oake’s is only 45 minutes from his house and somewhat on our way home. We easily found the place and with two young children in tow, made our way to the fields. These beds are for show only; the beds from which they sell are located elsewhere. All in all, the breathtaking beauty of so many daylilies all in bloom at the same time made our heart sing. Needless to say, a pleasant time was had by all, and I can’t wait to go back next year. In the meantime, I will continue to work on my yard, a major work in progress.
More pictures from the Oake's Daylily Festival follow ...