Notes on My Summer Garden

In mid-July, at the height of the summer, here are notes on my summer garden.

At the top of my list of seven things my perennial garden taught me is patience. Sometimes it takes a while to get your garden the way you want it to look. And then, just when you think it’s perfect, you have to change something. Maybe the bugs get a plant when you’re not looking, perhaps you can’t water enough in a drought, or the possibly the flower that was so healthy and strong last year just dies before your eyes. Or it never comes up at all.

The perennial border in June

At the top of my list of seven things my perennial garden taught me is patience. Sometimes it takes a while to get your garden the way you want it to look. And then, just when you think it’s perfect, you have to change something.

Maybe the bugs get a plant when you’re not looking, perhaps you can’t water enough in a drought, or the possibly the flower that was so healthy and strong last year just dies before your eyes. Or it never comes up at all.

Still, you persevere. And every once in a while you can look around and see the very real results that your work, along with some money and a lot of water, have achieved.

Cleaning Out the Poison Ivy

One of the big priorities I had two years ago was getting rid of the poison ivy that was growing so thickly up by the stone wall. I hate poison ivy, mostly because I get it very badly. Plus, the cat could walk through it and then bring the oil home on her fur. It had to go. But I wasn’t about to go near it. So I paid the landscapers who work on our condominium complex to remove the poison ivy, along with all the brush it was growing in and through. Then they prepared the ground for planting, edged the area and mulched it.

One of the big priorities I had two years ago was getting rid of the poison ivy that was growing so thickly up by the stone wall. I hate poison ivy, mostly because I get it very badly. Plus, the cat could walk through it and then bring the oil home on her fur. It had to go. But I wasn’t about to go near it. So I paid the landscapers who work on our condominium complex to remove the poison ivy, along with all the brush it was growing in and through. Then they prepared the ground for planting, edged the area and mulched it.

Poison ivy before (left) and after (right)

Where the poison ivy used to be, I now enjoy a clear view of the stone wall along with row of stella d’oro lilies, some iris and day lilies. It’s very hot and dry up there, so I have to be careful what I plant. Daisies might go in next. The sprinklers do water that area but it really bakes in the afternoon sun and not just anything will survive the July and August heat.

Creating a Border

Close to the house I inherited an area of gravel to catch the drips. The grass intermingled with the gravel because there was no edge. It looked raggedy and unkempt. When my daughter re-landscaped her back yard, I took home the edging blocks she had discarded and stacked them up. This was actually kind of fun because my two granddaughters had a good time helping me to carry the blocks to my car. We loaded up some on every trip I made to visit them until I finally had all the blocks. Then I paid the landscapers to set the blocks in so they are even and level. Now I have a clean border with shade-tolerant plants behind it, neatly mulched.

Lawn border and shade garden from above the perennial border

Close to the house I inherited an area of gravel to catch the drips. The grass intermingled with the gravel because there was no edge. It looked raggedy and unkempt.

When my daughter re-landscaped her back yard, I took home the edging blocks she had discarded and stacked them up. This was kind of fun because my two granddaughters had a good time helping me to carry the blocks to my car. The three of us loaded up some on every visit made to visit until I finally had all the blocks. Then I paid the landscapers to set the blocks in so they were even and level. Now I have a clean border with shade-tolerant plants behind it, neatly mulched.   

Wasps and Lilies

And even though carrying them gave me Lyme Disease, the hybrid day lilies I purchased at Bob Seawright’s going-out-of-business sale are thriving and putting out beautiful blooms all through July. I have already moved some and that spreads their gorgeous, saturated colors to other areas.

To help the bees, chipmunks and squirrels, I keep a dish of water on the retaining wall in front of the garden. It’s just one of the saucers that goes underneath a big pot but I set a couple of rocks in it for stability and keep it filled with clean water.

The wasps are another story. While I wasn’t looking (because I usually sit on the deck facing the other way) they built a rather large nest up against the drainpipe outside our bedroom. I just sent a message to the management office requesting that they send someone out to remove it.  Wasp-free living is one of the advantages of condominium living.

Wasp’s nest in the corner

Although I hate to encourage the chipmunks that have proliferated exponentially since Mystique got sick and was removed, albeit temporarily, from the hunt it’s fun to watch the little critters come and drink. I have my eye on a carved stone birdbath from White Pond Farm in nearby Stow, MA, though. Because gardeners can always improve things.

The wasps are another story — no improvement there. While I wasn’t looking (because I usually sit on the deck facing the other way) they built a rather large nest up against the drainpipe outside our bedroom. The use the water I put out for the other creatures so I guess I encouraged them without meaning to. But I just sent a message to the management office and the exterminator will come out early next week. Wasp-free living is one of the advantages of having a condominium.

Expanding the Garden Effort

Am I finished? Of course not. Gardeners are never finished. We just pause, take a drink and smell the roses. Then we start thinking about what else we can do, how we can adds more plants, what plant would look best where, and when would be the right time to put it in.

To help the bees, chipmunks and squirrels, I keep a dish of water on the retaining wall in front of the garden. It’s just one of the saucers that goes underneath a big pot but I set a couple of rocks in it for stability and keep it filled with clean water. Although I hate to encourage the chipmunks that have proliferated exponentially since Mystique got sick and was removed, albeit temporarily, from the hunt it’s fun to watch the little critters come and drink.

Birdbath with day lilies, astilbe and hosta

Given that the gardening space here at the condo is limited, I have expanded my efforts to the Memorial Garden at the First Parish of Sudbury.

This is a multi-acre woodland plot that is far larger than the church’s Landscape Committee, a small group of gardening ladies, can handle. But it gives me room to roam and to places to plant some outtakes from my perennial border.

Life is good in the garden.

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