Garden Journal 9/12/99

It is most amazing, that once the summer starts, it is then suddenly fall. The season goes so quickly, but even more so when spring gets such a late start.  I have watched the roses bloom with such gusto in June and July, only a few are still blooming, Iceberg, Seashell, Don Juan, Ultimate Pink, Sterling Silver, and the Hans Rugosa rose.  Every one of these is fragrant and Don Juan is starting to produce large, rose hips.  Maybe this year I will collect them and try to make jelly. That is if I can bear not to deadhead for more gorgeous roses! 

Going around throughout the gardens, I am pleased that as a plant finishes blooming, another comes up to take its place, like the asters that have started blooming where the daylilies were, or the four o'clocks that supply color when Jacob's Ladder stopped blooming.  I had some Paprika Yarrow, which bloomed more rosy pink, looking great near the rose-pink Gaura, and when it stopped blooming, the chrysanthemum began blooming, a lovely, button white.   All season, the Jezebel kept producing sweet, white, clustered roses, setting the scene as a backdrop for this changing vista. Some of the lovely, purple agapanthus have bloomed, some are a little late.  Those will be a light lavender which will highlight the other white and yellow mums just budding.  The pink carnations nestled in among the Lemon Verbena are almost through blooming but her neighbor, blue Margarites, blooms non-stop.  It is most important for an all-season garden to have this overlap in bloom times, for the interest it creates.  Your garden will always have some lovely plant blooming, or some interesting foliage present.


Blue fescue is a most amazing grassy plant which is ice blue/gray and stands up to the hottest day, or relaxes in a bit of shade.  He starts small but quickly grows to a nice round and highlights plants around him.  Then in summer, he throws out seed heads on long, willowy stems from the center of the spiky, blue mass.  I have been thinking of doing a Blue Fescue groundcover at one end of the channel.  That gets the hottest sun and this would create a cool vista all year.  This is a very drought-tolerant plant.  So now I take a walk-about as the summer garden is ending.  First, I visit the Knoll Garden where the strawberry patch amazes me.  The plants are loaded with berries! And there are more white flowers blooming, berries to soon follow.  I have already frozen eight quarts of berries!  Looks like this year we will have berries until frost.  These are so delicious frozen whole to use later in shakes, power drinks, or over vanilla ice cream!  


The loud humming of bees comes from the honeysuckle which has covered a dead tree and is climbing up the fence.  The sweet fragrance of the last few flowers are drawing numerous bees.  I have picked the last of the purple, seedless Flame grapes.  It took three years for this crop to come in, but it was worth it! The flavor is so sweet, so clear in taste, unlike the grapes in the stores.  I was very happy to see four, large clusters hidden among the leaves!  Unfortunately, Lancelot, the peacock, had discovered them before me.  At least I got two bunches!  The green seedless grapes came in better, with numerous fruit on its vines.  These were small, but very sweet also.  What a delight!  Perhaps next year, the crop will have larger grapes. And I would like to try planting Lufa again, and Birdhouse Gourds.  Too much rain and coldness stopped them growing when they were wee ones last year. 

I had seen a pink Mandevilla vine growing at the state fair one year whose numerous, funnel-shaped pink flowers almost looked like monster morning glories.  I had always wished to have one since that first sight.  Although it is not frost hardy, it is so beautiful I had to have it!  I purchased one in a small, one gallon pot and I tell you, she has not stopped blooming all summer!  Lovely, pink flowers, opening a few at a time, when almost done, she sends out more!  I trained it to grow up in between the Manzanita branches where the pink blooms dress up its gray-green foliage.  She is still in her one gallon pot and come winter, will enjoy the warmth of the greenhouse.  This spring the Manzanita had pink, little flowers and this together with the Mandevilla was some sight.


Although quite late, Summer has been delightful with everything blooming so well.  The weather was quite amazing this year as it went from cold to really hot, then cool again.  Then came the summer storms and all through this, the plants were like, wow! Violas started to bloom again until it got really hot, then they withered and the agapanthus started.  But then it turned cool and they are growing slowly.  I watched as the purple salvia shot up through the yellow fox gloves, while the violas slept at its feet.  I admired the lovely phlox, growing tall in amazing colors, covered with blooms and scenting the air all around.  As they succumbed, the white Gaura stretched out her long, supple stems, dressed in a multitude of blooms, that gently waved in the morning breeze.   Then the yellow Coreopsis began to open her buds and has not stopped yet!  Yellow sunflowers and some exquisite, burgundy sunflowers appeared almost overnight, offering dining delights to little birds.  Multi-stemmed, they bloom until frost as the Coreopsis. The petunias are mad with color this year, they love the heat and the coolness in the evenings. I just love the deep magenta ones growing by the front door.


Nearing the Rugosa rose, (which is still blooming!) I peered into the grass to see the light lavender ground cover called Morning Glory.  It is delicate in structure, but a hardy perennial, and slowly gains more ground each year.  The flowers look like miniature morning glories.  This is nestled in between some rosemary plants in another area of the garden also, and the violet flowers really pick up the blue of the rosemary blooms perfectly.   Some of the most fantastic flowers are those of the Asiatic and oriental lilies.  I staggered the planting dates so I could enjoy the blooms over a longer period of time, and yesterday I noticed the last two plants had begun to bloom.  Fragrant, pink, spotted flowers, large and perfect, and they bloom forever! This is magnificent planted with the deep purple of the Heliotrope.  One of my favorite spots.  Ah, here are more strawberry plants that I use as a groundcover, they are perennial, turning colors in the crisp fall air, and they give me sweet garnets to eat!  They will grow almost anywhere and require very little care.  My kind of plant!  It seems the older one gets, this becomes very important in keeping a garden, the maintenance factor.  I have used mock strawberry also, planted here and there.  It does well in poor areas and is always green.  Spring brings small, tart, red berries not really meant for eating.

I put in some new plants this year for the shade gardens.  Lamiastrum, Golden Archangel, a sweet, variegated plant for the shade.  It has developed into a full, small globe of coolness, setting off the pink impatiens and is slowly spreading.  This year the snap dragons were wonderful, gorgeous wines, yellows, and whites, sprinkled with pink, they lit up the corners of my garden.  The numerous seeds they produced have filled a flat for fall seedlings.  Our Crape Myrtles are putting on their show now, since the end of August.  Frilly flowers in rose wine and white grace the branches and entice the honey bees.  I am still enjoying alyssum, white and fragrant, and pink baby's breath, sprays of which sit and dry prettily in an empty vase in the house.  


When I think that is all, more surprises await me!  The Cannas are tall, ready to bloom now, and the purple coneflower has new blooms constantly.  Tall, purple asters come back each year and are a large presence in the perennial bed.  I have beautiful, yellow fox gloves which are just starting their second bloom!    

Garden Journal 10/10/99  

The nights have definitely gotten cooler.  One even begins to think about turning on the heat systems in the house!  But then, the next day comes and it is hot and still, the cool, crisp evenings a mere memory.  This has quite an effect on my gardens!  My Pansies bloom and stop, the cannas gets taller and taller but show no flowers, and the Asters's show is short-lived.  My Impatiens become very, very thirsty, then after a mild rain storm, bloom profusely.  Rose production slows down, then jumps forward with the hot days.  The only constant is the verbena, she grows lush and full no matter what the weather!  Another real trooper is Gaura, always delicate and lovely, blooming still. I did lose one plant to gophers.  The little impression in the dirt was all that was left to mark the spot!


The new shade garden at the back of the house is coming along slowly, but nicely.  St. John's Wort has really taken foothold, and its nice, green leaves are full and sprinkled with yellow flowers in summer.  They have just stopped blooming here.  This plant grows quickly, takes sun or shade and I just adore it!  I plan on using it on our roadside area, sloped, bare banks.  Impatiens planted here in the shade garden are thriving, and in one basket next to the St. John's Wort, the flowers are spilling out.  Gophers won't be eating this one!  

I bought a new shrub called Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow which I have always wanted to try, and it is delightful! In early summer she bloomed, the flowers first purple, then lavender, and finally changing to white.  Each one went through the change in colors and there were always different colors on the shrub at any one time.  What a find!

I was not able to do everything I wanted to accomplish in the gardens this year.  The paths never got new gravel, several beds are without their layer of mulch, the new azalea bed never materialized and I still need to move some daisies and coreopsis.  One wild weekend I went through and cut out old branches, tired stems, and spent plants and they still lay where I put them!  Brown, withered, and always in my way, I need to take the time to clean them up, put them on the compost pile and do a major cleanup for fall.  More pebbles need to be added to the walkway near the house, and the walnut edging has to be replaced in front of the iris beds.  Pieces have broken off, and some rounds are totally gone.  I am not sure if the weather changes are the culprit, but I have little energy this year.


This is the time of year I walk through the gardens, and I note which plants are evergreen, which ones I can depend on for structure and interest once winter sets in.  They must be planted in the right areas to compliment their height, shape, and color.  With an eye to the spring and summer bloom colors, to complete a total picture which results in a perfect combination, this is my task at hand.  So I have a few great combinations:  candytuft along the walnut round pathway, blooming in front of the pink dogwood, St. John's Wort along the shade path, under the sentry of the Sequoia Redwood, small poofs of Ajuga which blooms purple spires in spring, and that lines two garden areas, fragrant wild violets that cover shade areas densely, the lovely, large-leafed Magnolias, at either end of the lawn, the Blue Spruce framed by pink Four o'clocks, rose Hibiscus, and pink Snapdragons, white, pink, and red Oleanders, along the fence line, and the fresh, green Bamboos along the pond.  Most of the herbs are evergreen, and when the Heather blooms little, pink flowers, it is a lovely sight.  

Of course, Rosemary is evergreen, and blooms those little violet flowers twice a year.  She has been in bloom for almost four weeks now.  Clumps of Daisies line the path in the herb garden, and fill a section of the Knoll garden.  Her flowers will rise again next year.  Thank goodness the Daisies are freely moving in to fill that space.  Last fall I spent hours transplanting daisies all over the property and it was a good move.  This is one way to unify gardens, to have a color or type of plant common to all areas.  Our blue-green Eucalyptus trees against the vegetable garden fence that withered last winter; well, we were too busy to pull them out and dispose of them, and I think it also depressed us, so they sat, brown and lifeless all Spring.  Then when Summer came, lo and behold!! They began to leaf out, sprout new branches and now they are full, lush, and quite happy! Believe it!  

The Pyracantha has berries that are slowly turning from green to orange, and by December, will be bright red and will give the birds great delight.  Beneath her, the Blue Fescue will be a wonderful counterpart in ice blue.  I once took a cutting of Ivy from a flower arrangement and it is thriving in the garden.  I placed it in a barrel and its flowing, evergreen lines spilling over is very nice.  So now I approach the greenhouse and vegetable gardens.  I see the green rows, still producing strongly, orange pumpkins dot the field, deep purple eggplant gleam in the sun, and bright, yellow pear tomato plants bear so heavily it weighs them down.  Our artichoke plants are large, full, fronds of grey-green leaves, but this year bears no artichokes.  Perhaps it was the erratic weather.

Garden Journal 10/29/99  

We have had our first rain.  It rained all night on Wednesday, and the smell of rain and earth meeting is so intense and so very refreshing!  I close my eyes, and breathe in deeply.  The plants are all happy and moist, shimmering in the freshness.  Others with tall, willowy stems, are not as happy.  They have fallen over and now kiss the earth.  But tomorrow will come, they will dry and once more lift their faces to the sky.  Now is the time to plant more pansies, some primrose, and fragrant stock.

Most amazing are the plants that are still blooming! Roses, such as Iceberg, Don Juan, Sea Shell, Sunset Celebration, Peace, Ultimate Pink, and Henry Fonda, are putting on their final show before the season ends.  There up at the end of the garden, purple Verbena spills out of its container, lacy and lovely with living mounds of purple mass.  Pretty n' pink Baby's breath sends up new sprays, while the soft, grey leaves of Lamb's ears keep sending out new leaves.  The Amaranth is stunning with its red foliage, keeping company with the evergreen Lilac bush and nestled in between Jacob's Ladder and the Zinnias.  Purple Petunias seem to never stop blooming, white and purple Alyssum, so fragrant and dainty, revel in the coolness of the days. And the best surprise is the Mexican Sage, blooming now with fluffy, purple blooms!  The Sedum is a lovely bronze color now, and I have taken some cuttings already.  These root so easily!!  Another surprise is the Campanula with its clear, blue flowers, just one bloom after another, twirling around slender stems.   Oohh! I see the wild Violets beginning to bloom! How wonderful! Soon the ground will be carpeted with these fragrant, delicate flowers during one of my most favorite times of the year.

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