Hello Summer!

Hi Friends!

Early mornings in our Midwest garden fill my heart with both comfort and joy! Those relaxing busy hours spent garden-keeping have been the perfect time to watch my garden dreams materialize. It’s so exciting to see all of the changes in the garden!

Throughout last Summer and Fall, I worked diligently to ‘right-size’ my large perennial gardens. Early this Spring, we removed two more perennial beds and two bushes from the front yard, replacing them with grass. We just love our new, simplified front yard!

We are not finished making changes yet. The large Magnolia bed, Front Porch bed, and Side Porch bed continue to keep me very busy. This Summer I am pondering ways to ‘right-size’ these garden beds next. The guidance (and courage!) offered by garden author Kerry Ann Mendez, in her book The Right-Size Flower Garden, continue to inspire me to make changes throughout my garden.

Last Fall, I removed a large Cutting Garden near the deck, ‘rescuing’ and transplanting several of my favorite, old-fashioned perennials to the white, picket fence border of my Herb & Tea garden. Creating garden ‘maps’ last Fall proved to be one of my most useful garden ‘tools.’Β  Several times this Spring, I carried the ‘map’ out to my Herb & Tea garden as the plants emerged. It has been such a joy to watch all of the changes come to life! I will continue to edit my garden ‘maps’ as I move plants around and make new additions. Recently, I added Lime Basil and Cinnamon Basil to the herb bed. πŸ™‚

Last Summer I also worked extremely hard digging up a huge bed of Daylilies, providing space along our garage to create a new History Garden bed. In the Fall, I transplanted several old-fashioned perennials that were already growing here thirty years ago, when I moved here and learned to garden. To me, these plants are true treasures! Again the garden ‘map’ has been so helpful. As the plants bloom, I will fill in the missing colors on the ‘map’ using watercolors. I’m still saving a spot for one new perennial from my ‘Wish List.’Β  πŸ™‚

This year, my new Garden Joys’ journal has also become a very helpful tool as I document the changes in our garden. I’m noting the bloom times of the perennials in their new beds, hoping to provide continuous color throughout the garden.

Just looking back over all of the changes so far has been a joy!

It makes the time spent on this bullet-style garden journal feel so worthwhile.

I’m never alone in the garden…

The robins, cardinals, wrens, bees, butterflies,

squirrels, and bunnies are welcome guests.

It’s such a joy to watch the mother wren flying into the Herb & Tea Garden birdhouse

to care for the eggs in her nest!

I am always happiest when I am working in my Herb & Tea Garden.

Just stepping through the garden gate fills me with sweet memories.

It truly is the ‘heart’ of my garden ~ built with love!

We have our garden challenges this year, as well.

There is a very hungry groundhog in residence who has devoured

all of the Mums and the patches of Black-eyed Susans throughout the garden!

He (oops!) She now has five young groundhogs who are nibbling everything.

They have been climbing through the Herb & Tea Garden fence

and helping themselves to Oregano, too.

Although they really are cute…

Β I do wish our groundhogs would develop a healthy appetite for weeds, instead.

(We have more than enough weeds to share!)

The first two weeks of June were extremely dry, but recently we have had lots of rain.

So, garden-keeping has kept me extra-busy this week.

The wet soil has made weeding so much easier.

I just keep weeding, weeding, weeding…

and picking pretty bouquets

of Summer blossoms. πŸ™‚


What’s happening in your garden?

What challenges do you have in the garden?

What kind of blossoms have you been cutting for bouquets?

Hope you will share…


Perennially yours,

β™‘ Dawn


34 thoughts on “Hello Summer!

    • Oh, thank you, Karen! It’s such a busy time in the garden. What’s happening in your California garden? Have you been making any changes? Thanks so much for visiting tonight! Wishing you both happy, healthy Summer days, Karen! β™‘

    • Many thanks, Brenda! That happens to me every time, too! I put my camera on a little garden bench and I forget to use it most days. So often, when I am trying to take photos a breeze comes up and the flowers are dancing in the breeze. It’s always a happy dance, so I just smile and give up on photos that day. I lose track of time… and everything else in the garden. Our gardens are such blessings in our lives! Wishing you happy Summer days in the garden, Brenda! β™‘

  1. Your journal is as beautiful as your garden. I think you have a potential money maker there – a journal with some of the items listed so all us lazy gardeners have to do is fill in the blanks. πŸ™‚ I’ve been working on a Master Gardener project garden, and the groundhog(s) have destroyed numerous plants. I’m basically a live and let live type of person, but when someone starts eating the plants I pay hard cash for, someone has to go and It’s not me. I was talking to several gardeners yesterday about groundhogs playing havoc in their gardens. Their might be different approaches but they all had the same goal – get them gone. πŸ™‚ I haven’t been able to reduce as many of my beds, but I have replaced plants that require more maintenance with shrubs that do not. I’ve made a little progress but definitely not as much as you have. You, go girl. πŸ™‚

    • Such a sweet thing to say, Judy! I don’t think it’s possible to be a ‘lazy’ gardener! We are much too busy to be lazy! I think you must be the busiest gardener of all, Judy!! Oh, those hungry groundhogs! I think they have made a cozy home under our front porch and deck. I keep discovering missing pieces of lattice-work under both structures. I’m thinking of sprinkling Cayenne pepper on the remaining leaves of the Mums, Black-eyed Susans, and Oregano. Do you think that might deter them? What things have the Master Gardeners tried?

      I’m still on a mission to ‘right-size’ my garden. I want the whole front yard to be simplified and the backyard to become a ‘secret garden’ filled with color, fragrance, and birdsong. It will take another year, I’m sure. It’s such fun to see the changes as my garden dreams materialize! We are on this ‘garden path’ together, Judy! Wish we were neighbors! Happy weekend! πŸ’—

      • Neighbors? YES!!! There is a wide variety of thought on groundhogs, and I wouldn’t pretend to tell you how to treat them. As I was looking online to see if there were any successful things I could suggest, I ran across this comment: If the groundhog has been under the shed or porch for some time then it could have moved up to 700 pounds of dirt underneath the structure. Oh my gosh, now that is a reason all unto itself to try and banish them. But, now comes the hard part – how. Fence, trap, relocate, kill? Tough decisions. Please let us know how it goes.

      • What a shocking bit of groundhog information, Judy! Yikes! Our neighborhood seems to be a favorite place for groundhogs. I will let you know how it goes. Many thanks for checking out groundhog tips online. Groundhogs are our biggest challenge this summer! Happy garden days! β™‘

  2. You are just so organized with your garden journal Dawn. Love to see your scribblings. Unfortunately mine is not as organized, however I do keep a picture journal to see what does well each year, with notes popping up here and there. Perennials are my favorite, but for some reason some do well and others do not. For instance, I have the Veronica Speedwell both in front and in the back. Whilst they flower, the flowers are really quite miserable and don’t make a statement with those long spikes like I wanted them to. Again, the shasta daisies are the same, I buy them every year, they do well when I first put them in the ground, but then the flowers get smaller and smaller. Me thinks slugs are getting to it. But like you, I’m happy out in the garden. Would love to see some more of your flowers πŸ™‚

    • Thank you so much, Loretta! It’s a whole new style of garden journaling for me this year. I’m motivated by the chance to use a few art supplies and to practice a bit of lettering, too. I’m really hoping that this will inspire me to keep journaling throughout the growing season! πŸ˜‰ I’ve been making lots of changes as I ‘right-size’ my garden, so this is an exciting year in the garden. It’s fun to watch all of the perennials that I have moved around come into bloom. It almost feels like watercoloring… with real plants! 😊 I love Veronica Speedwell, too! Mine does best with careful attention to deadheading. I just love it’s spiky form. It adds such a nice contrast to a perennial garden! Slugs can be so pesty here, too. They love my Hostas, under the shade of our Magnolia. I promise to take more flower photos! I set my camera on a little garden bench, but I still forget to take photos. (Perhaps I could train the groundhogs to be my garden photographers! It might distract them from eating my garden!πŸ˜‰) Yesterday I invited my parents for a Skype-walk through the garden. They are enduring a 120 degrees heatwave in their desert home! So, it was a treat for them to see everything so green and lush. When I took them into my Herb & Tea Garden, we had fun reminiscing about that summer so long ago when my dad and I worked together to build the raised beds and picket fence to make my garden dreams come true. Such sweet memories!! πŸ’— Thanks so much for visiting today, Loretta! Wishing you happy Summer days in your lovely garden! πŸ’—

  3. Thank you Dawn for sharing your lovely garden and journals. I’m sorry to hear you have groundhogs, but I must admit to adoring the cute photos of them peeking through the picket fence.( As I was reading your post a squirrel just visited our patio running away from his brothers. Excuse me while I get my breath)! I love seeing all the critters in my garden and I know it’s healthy to welcome them. Even our black snake!
    My daylilies are blooming very nicely now. They bring much needed color to our front garden. The rudbeckia is starting to bloom as well as bell flowers and the astilbe.
    I love seeing your beautiful journal—Mine is not photo worthy at all! It is a wonderful tool to remind me from year to year all the good and bad of the gardening season.
    Have a wonderful week ahead. β™₯

    • Your garden sounds so colorful this week, Martha Ellen! It’s such a joy to walk through the garden in summer, isn’t it? I’m sure that your garden journaling is more consistent than mine. With all of the changes in our garden this year, I am trying extra hard to document each week. It will help me plan for more changes in the future, too. Sending happy hugs across the miles! β™‘

  4. Wow, what an inspiration you are to us all. I’ve been replanting my pots, watering between trips, and glad to see surviving plants upon returning. They are nothing like your lovely garden but your messages keep me motivated.
    Grateful to you and our friendship.

    • So sweet, Anne! I know how much bright color your containers add to your garden. How is your Lime tree doing so far this summer? I think of it every time we buy limes. I’m delighted to hear that you have been traveling! Anne, thank you so much for the beautiful, beautiful card and lovely wishes. You always remember our special day… and it means so much to us, dear heart! Wishing you happy Summer days, Anne! β™‘

  5. What a labor of love, Dawn. You are an inspiration with your garden changes and the way you have made them happen. Your gardening journal is lovely and is a personal almanac of sorts.
    Groundhogs! I remember the day our older daughter came in the back door to our 1st house and commented on the very big squirrel on the deck! Yikes! It was a groundhog and had set up housekeeping under a neighbor’s shed. She’d come up on the deck to eat windfall apples from our tree. (Never build a deck around an apple tree. πŸ™‚ )We had a family here, too, as well. She, then the whole family, waddle across the back. They, too, live under a neighbors shed, and raid our compost pile. Sigh.
    The early hostas are blooming and I’ve quite a few nice bouquets with them. I am afraid my garden remains quite weedy. Still . . . the prairie garden is thriving, the many pots are filling out, and several swallowtail caterpillars are trimming the meadow rue! Life if good. Have you tried Cuban oregano in your herb garden? It looks like a succulent and has a bit of a lemony fragrance.
    Lovely post, Dawn.

    • A ‘labor of love’ and a necessity, Penny! I am finding that I need more time for other things. So, my heart tells me that now is the time to ‘right-size’ the garden. Hopefully, my plans to simplify the front yard and keep all of my old-fashioned favorites in the backyard will make it easier! The backyard has always been my favorite. I love the idea of a ‘secret’ garden, more private and hidden away! Your hostas are blooming earlier than mine. I can’t wait to add their delicate blossoms to bouquets!

      Groundhogs make it ‘interesting’ in the garden, don’t they? In Summers past, resident groundhogs would eat the blossoms off anything new that I planted. Whenever I brought new plants home, I would have to hide them in the garage until they were planted. Otherwise, the groundhogs would eat them right from their pots. They were fans of nouvelle cuisine! This Summer, the young family of groundhogs seem to only have a taste for Black-eyed Susans, Mums, and Oregano. They have found all of the little patches of Black-eyed Susans sprinkled throughout the garden.

      Thank you so much for the tip about Cuban oregano. It sounds like a lovely addition to the Herb Garden! I know that you are super busy, but I hope you can enjoy some nice days in the garden this week, dear Penny! We are truly blessed by our love of gardening! β™‘

  6. Dear Dawn, I haven’t fallen off the face of the earth, I am here, and have enjoyed your last two posts. You know how I love that French Hen market you go to and found joy looking around at all the beautiful scenery. But two weeks ago I lost my beautiful BB3 cat and my heart is so heavy, it has been hard to shake. She would not have been 5 until October, but I admit looking back she was an accident prone cat and I guess she just used up all of her 9 lives. Mother and I are broken hearted. She was bitten by a rattlesnake. Cats almost always survive rattlesnake bites, both she and her brothers have been bitten before. But this time she didn’t survive and I don’t think even the vet knows why. I kissed her at the vet’s office, told her to be the world’s best cat and I would see her on Monday. But she died that night. Our house seems not quite right. Comfort dog, Molly, has done her best to tell us she knows we are sad. So each day goes on…
    We have had almost 2 inches of much needed rain this weekend from a big storm. We were without power for 24 hours, although not really, we have a trusty generator. Lots of tree damage however. Mom’s garden is thriving. And speaking of gardens, just how cute are those groundhog pups!? All my years in Ohio and all the groundhogs I have seen, I have never seen babies! They are adorable! You may have to run some chicken wire along the inside of your picket fence.
    And of course your gardening journal continues to amaze and inspire me.
    Thanks for the sunshine, it helps.

    • Oh, Chris. Arms wrapped around you, sweet friend! I am so sorry to hear your news about BB3. Sending you our sympathy, friendship, and tight hugs all the way to Texas. I’m really glad that you stopped to visit and share today, Chris.

      It’s so good that your family is safe after that severe storm. I always worry about our big trees during high winds and storms. Summer rain is a blessing for your mom’s garden. Please give her a hug from me!

      Our little groundhogs are definitely cute. But they are also very hungry. Wouldn’t it be great if I could train them to only eat weeds? Perhaps I should do a Groundhog ‘Giveaway’ here on the blog!! How many would you like to adopt???? πŸ™‚ Sending oodles of sunshine today and every day, Chris! β™‘

  7. Dear Dawn, I discovered you here at petalspapersimpletymes by clicking on your name on a comment you made on one of Susan Branch’s recent BLOG posts. I am one of the girlfriends! So, hello, Girlfriend Dawn. πŸ™‚ I really like your style, your garden photos, and your amazing garden/art journal. You are one creative lady! Thank you for sharing. I plan to visit often. Blessings and many happy days in your garden.

    • A warm welcome, Paula! I’m so happy that you stopped to visit! So many Girlfriends gather here. 😊Heartfelt thanks for all of your kind words, Paula. If you search ‘Susan Branch’ in my archives, you will find many posts. Susan has inspired me in so many different ways over the years. I’m so grateful for all of the friends that I have met through Susan’s book signings and tea parties. She has such a special way of bringing kindred spirits together! I look forward to your visits and hearing from you. Wishing you happy Summer days, Paula! πŸ’—

  8. Dawn I’ve been scrolling up and down over and over again, taking in all the beautiful details of your garden maps and journals. You have such neat printing! I’m beyond impressed. I love he little calendar icons you’ve drawn, the pretty flowers, the intricate notes, all of it. What treasures. They look to be as much fun to make as they are beautiful and useful. As for your birdhouse: be still my heart. There is nothing quite so sweet as a nesting mama bird. I’m sorry about those voracious groundhogs eating so many of your beautiful flowers. They are awfully cute though.

    It was finally “safe” to go out in the garden here, after a week-long, brutally hot heatwave. I’ve been pruning, clearing, raking, sweeping and yes, weeding. The last of the flowering sweet peas and cornflowers are out and the nigella are winding down. My small plot of corn and tomatoes are a complete failure. One of the tomatoes never grew taller than six inches. Another grew a foot, produced one tomato and then I pulled it out). So, good and bad, but still enjoying the time out there. The natives look terrific, and whenever I round a corner I find a bird or a lizard enjoying them. That’s rewarding. I love your posts, Dawn.

    • That’s just my second grade printing, Alys! Many years of practice! πŸ™‚ My little doodles are Pinterest-inspired. I’m having lots of fun creating them using Micron pens. It’s archival ink, so my Garden Joys journal should last for years to come. Originally, I planned to use stamps in my journal, but it has been such fun doodling, that I think I will keep it up! I have tried to stay with one style through an entire month, so it’s very good practice. It’s time to start thinking about my July garden pages! πŸ™‚ After so many years, this is the first time birds have made a nest in the Herb Garden birdhouse. So, I’m overjoyed! Those hungry, hungry groundhogs should be characters in a children’s book! They are always up to something!

      I thought of you during the heatwave out west. My parents are still enduring sizzling days in the desert. I’ve never tried to grow veggies. Were you using your special raised bed again this year? Early in the growing season, you had so much rain and now the heatwave. It’s a real challenge for the gardens and the gardeners. So glad that native plants are doing well. I always look forward to your visits and comments, dear Alys! Thanks for being such a special part of our little blog. Happy 4th of July, sweet friend! β™‘

      • I feel for your parents living in the desert. I can’t imagine that kind of day to day heat, but I know many people love the desert and all it has to offer. Your photos have certainly shared some of that beauty.

        Thanks for remembering the raised bed. I’m wondering if the water is draining too quickly, not allowing the roots to stay moist long enough to get a good drink. I’ve planted another tomato plant in the curb garden, and see that two of the orange cherry tomatoes are doing “ok”. Still, nothing like the tomato plants of prior years. The natives are doing well out back. We’ve had to replant in the front, a story for another post.

        I LOVE your printing Dawn. Please don’t say “just” as it is perfection. I’m glad you’re drawing instead of using stamps. It adds such a wonderful level of you. Not that I have anything against stamps, mind you, only that if I had your neat skills I would use them all the time.

        Happy and safe 4th to you, too. xo

      • Desert life definitely has its challenges, Alys! These lengthy stretches of intense heat can be so dangerous. My parents do their outside chores at 5:30 in the morning in an attempt to beat the heat of the day. My heart is breaking for everyone out west whose lives are touched by all of the terrible wildfires.

        Solving garden mysteries certainly helps us grow as gardeners. Hope you will be able to find the best way to help your tomatoes thrive. Hope all goes well for your front yard native plantings, my friend!

        I’m happy that I decided to try a bit of doodling in my Garden Joys journal, too! I had to laugh this afternoon… As I was cutting the grass and deadheading the Stella d’Oro daylilies, I found myself thinking about what style of doodling to use for the July pages! πŸ™‚ I think I will have to include little red, white, and blue stars on each page. Perhaps star bunting? Those happy, creative thoughts made my garden-keeping hours fly quickly! It’s such fun to combine my two creative passions! Have a star-spangled holiday, sweet Alys! β™‘

      • I’m smiling, Dawn. I do the same thing: Some of my best planning and thinking happens when I’m in the garden. It’s hard work and wonderful therapy all rolled in to one. I’m looking forward to your July journal. I like the idea of star bunting.

        Heat is dangerous, especially as we age. There were two heat-related deaths here in San Jose during the heatwave. I was shocked. Community centers offer cooling stations, but if someone is unable to drive there, they aren’t much use. It’s terribly sad. I hope your parents are happy in the dessert otherwise. How many months will they have to endure the extreme heat? Thanks for all your good cheer, Dawn, today and always.

      • So true, Alys! The garden is one of my favorite places to reflect on life. Solo walks in nature also help me think and plan.

        My parents love their desert backyard with mountain views. They will have temperatures averaging 105 daily from now through September. Early morning outdoor chores and outings are just a way of life during desert Summers. Here in the Midwest, we are having nice Summer days. Hope you are having a lovely holiday weekend, Alys! Warm hugs! β™‘

      • 105 through September. That is a desert! I would love to visit there one day as I’ve heard it’s beautiful, just not in the middle of summer. Our weekend has been full but relaxing so far. The “boys” now 17 and 20 got to sleep in after hectic weeks. Mike and I hit the hardware store, the nursery, a tea shop and a coffee shop (equal opportunity beverages) and now we’re home relaxing. It feels good not having an agenda. Lovely weekend to you, too.

  9. Dawn, I can’t say enough how much I love your garden maps and journals! I hope the critters will leave your beautiful garden alone. I’m having problems with aphids. And the deer always feast on my hostas.

    • Oh, thank you, Cathy! Such a sweet thing to say! I’m really enjoying this bullet-style garden journaling. It does take time, but I’m practicing a bit of doodling, using my Micron pens and Zig Clean Color Real Brush markers, and documenting all of the changes in the garden. So, I’m motivated to keep journaling! πŸ™‚ If only those hungry groundhogs would eat the weeds. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Garden pests come in all sizes ~ from aphids to deer. I really hope you can find a way to manage the damage they do in your beautiful garden. It sounds like there is a great deal of ‘Morning Science’ happening in all of our gardens!

      Cathy, I can’t thank you enough for telling me about Book Club for It’s Never to Late to Begin Again! Book Club members have been sharing our thoughts and experiences for the past week. Talking about our insights and discoveries into our own creative processes really does make a difference! It is just the Accountability piece that was missing when I tried to work through The Artist’s Way program on my own. Huge hugs, Cathy! I’m so very grateful! Wishing you a very Happy 4th of July celebration! β™‘

      • I am so glad you signed up! I did the original Artist’s Way with a friend 17 years ago and it is still a very fond memory! I just saw in one of your comments that you drew and not stamped all the “doodles” in your journal! I was thinking I couldn’t make mine look like yours because I don’t have the stamps–so now I will have to bookmark this post and use it to practice doodling your doodles for my journal. Thank you so much!

      • It’s so interesting to share thoughts about The Artist’s Way with kindred spirits, Cathy! I have started back at the beginning of the book and look forward to new insights and discoveries. πŸ™‚ You will find lots of doodling inspiration on Pinterest and You Tube. Search for ‘Bullet Journals,’ too. I’m so happy that you are going to try a new style of garden memory-keeping, too, Cathy! Enjoy your garden this week! β™‘

  10. I’m catching up here but I think it’s time to train those groundhogs. My oregano is in planters and has grown so large I’m not sure what to do with it all. Your planting journal has me green with envy at your drawing ability. I’ll second what Alys said. We are hand watering all summer. The rain stopped a couple of weeks ago when everything fried to a crisp and we won’t see rain again until maybe December. We never have it when we need it. 😦 I water very early in the mornings or very late just before dark. Slugs ate the cabbage but the tomatoes in the planter box are doing fine so far. No tomatoes yet.

    • Rabbit! Rabbit! Happy July, Marlene! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a ‘trained’ staff of weed-eating groundhogs? πŸ™‚ Your Oregano is really thriving in the dry weather. You could snip little bundles, rubber band them, then hang them upside down in your kitchen to dry. (The rubber band will keep the bundle together tightly as the stems dry out. I hide the rubber band by wrapping twine around it.) It’s always fun to bring a bit of the garden indoors! Add a cute, handmade tag and share your garden goodness with a neighbor!

      I enjoy hand watering in the morning, too. I love to use a vintage watering can for a simple, old-fashioned feeling that takes me back to slower, simpler times. (A bit of a Tasha Tudor moment!) Wishing you happy garden days, Marlene! Enjoy a star-spangled weekend with your company! β™‘

      • Thanks for the tips, Dawn. I like to nibble on the oregano fresh. I have been drying it and adding it to everything I cook these days. It’s incredible how many don’t cook anymore or I’d be happy to share. πŸ™‚ Happy 4th to you as well.

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