Chatting By the Garden Gate ~ July

Hi Friends!

The birds are singing sweetly, the cicadas are even louder,

the mosquitoes are biting,

and late afternoon rainstorms have been blowing across the plains.

It’s July in the Midwest… 

and I’ve been spending lots of time in the garden!


Most days, this little sign on our front porch lets visitors know where to find me.  🙂

There have been more big changes,

as I work hard toward my goal to ‘right-size’ my cottage perennial gardens,

inspired by this wonderful book by Kerry Ann Mendez.

Throughout this busy month, I’ve also been doing a bit of garden memory-keeping,

bullet-style, in my Garden Journal.

In our area, we have had over seven inches (18 cm.) of rain so far this month.

Northern Illinois has had twice as much rainfall and rivers there are overflowing their banks.

Our thoughts are with everyone experiencing the terrible, widespread flooding.

Unfortunately, heavy thunderstorms are expected again tonight.


Fortunately, we have had plenty of dry, sunny days, too…

Last year, I dug out a huge bed of Daylilies to create a special History Garden

along the length of our garage.

It is filled with favorite perennials that were growing in this garden 30 years ago,

when I moved here and learned to garden.

This month, I dug again for several days

to remove another large patch of orange Daylilies. 

Of course, I waited until they were finished blooming!  🙂

After removing and composting this patch of Daylilies,

now we can fully enjoy the blossoms in the History Garden!

I reused the antique bricks that I rescued

when we removed a stone planter in the front yard this spring.

It made sense to use the oldest bricks to create a simple garden path

past the oldest perennials in our garden!

As I pondered what to plant along the path (left side in photo),

it dawned on me that the same principles

that I use in my artwork would be perfect in the garden, too.

So, I transplanted Hostas and Artemisia to create a limited color palette

and pattern repetition from nearby garden beds.

Digging and moving perennials around in the garden feels very much like

‘watercoloring’ with real flowers!

                          Finally, I planted grass seed in the bare soil in the foreground.

Just this week, it felt so wonderful to complete another big gardening goal!

Now I can enjoy a full view of the History Garden

while I spend time in my Herb & Tea Garden,

the true ‘heart of my garden,’

surrounded by the white, picket fence.  🙂

Just wondering… 

What are your favorite and least favorite garden tasks?

My very favorite:

I just love deadheading the spent blossoms,

harvesting herbs, cutting bouquets of flowers,

and brewing a cup of homegrown herbal tea!

My least favorite:

I’m constantly battling with Creeping Charlie (ground ivy),

and Bishop’s Weed as they spread through my garden.

Digging up Daylilies is just exhausting. So glad that task is finished!



Heartfelt thanks for chatting by the garden gate with us today.

Keep blooming and growing each day this summer!


Perennially yours,

♡ Dawn

P.S.  We just returned from a wonderful, little adventure! ♥♥ Can’t wait to share it with you very soon!





35 thoughts on “Chatting By the Garden Gate ~ July

    • Thanks so much for your very kind words, Lisa! It’s a new style of garden journal for me this year. I just love using a bit of doodling and using a few art supplies for garden memory-keeping! Wishing you happy summer days! ♡

  1. Dearest Dawn, your garden is so lovely and peaceful! I adore your choice of colors. The white picket garden is just beautiful-so sweet just like Susan’s! We love to use old brick in our garden as well. The pattern you chose will allow you to visit your plants when you wish. With so much rain I’m glad you were not affected by flooding. We’ve had 4 inches this July so far which is not bad at all! It has been so hot and humid here, though. Today was glorious and we were able to enjoy the patio this afternoon after I returned from PT. Gardening has been challenging for me this year with my knee issue and the heat, but Mother Nature lives on in our garden and we are rewarded with bouquets of flowers that make my heart sing!
    I’m looking forward to hearing about your trip! I’m so glad you will share. Enjoy your week. ♥

    • Oh, thank you, Martha Ellen! I’m so grateful that I saved the old bricks. I wasn’t sure why I was saving them, but I knew they were an important part of the history of our garden. I love their muted colors and patina. It’s a nice feeling to walk along the brick path now!

      I know that you have really had high temperatures and humidity this month. So glad that you had a cool respite today! Please continue to be patient with yourself as you heal, dear one. I really think that PT will help. It just takes time. You have so many wonderful things to think about while you are resting! 🙂

      Enjoy each beautiful bouquet from your garden. It’s so hard to believe that August is just around the corner, isn’t it? Sending warmest hugs and sunny thoughts! ♡

    • Such a sweet thing to say, dear Anne! I truly enjoy my peaceful hours in the garden. Oh my! While I have been working so hard in the backyard, the weeds have been having a garden party in the front yard. They are just flourishing with all the rain. I’m so glad you can’t see them!
      Hope you are enjoying nice summer days, Anne! 🙂 Sending sunny thoughts and much love! ♡

  2. so much beauty! In your garden, and in your heartfelt, beautifully written and illustrated journal! What a joy to read and “visit!”

    • So happy that you stopped to visit, Jodi! It was really an ‘ah-ha moment’ to be able to use something I learned about colors and patterns in watercolor, as I moved plants around in the garden! 🙂 Sending a bouquet of sunny thoughts, Jodi! Happy painting! ♡

  3. The big storms have been everywhere this year. So many of my friends around the country have had major weather; either too much rain or high winds or both. We had a huge June storm with 70-85 mph winds. We lost a big portion of our ” grandpa” pecan tree. He lived outside the yard but came down on our fence. We have patched the fence and the tree people came and did their job. It has been a year of loss and changes. Maybe next year, a year of renewal.
    I love what you are doing in your yard. And love the use of the old brick! Mom’s garden is slowing down, although every day finds 4 more zucchini on the counter! She has canned 14 pints of bread and butter pickles. I told her I feel safe that we can get through winter okay. 😀
    My herb bed is really coming along and I think will be very pretty next year as the anchor plants take off. I guess the garden chore I like least is watering. Here it is a daily task. Weeding in the spring here is exhausting, but by July and August even the weeds give up, and you spend all your time watering to keep up with triple digit temperatures. What I love the most is changing things. New ideas, new visions, which is what you did this year, with your history garden and your downsizing. it is so invigorating and joyful!
    Mom is already planning changes for her vegetable garden next year….let’s see, she will be 95!
    Looking forward to your adventure, they are always wonderful to read about!

    • Such extreme weather everywhere, Chris! I’m so sorry to hear about your huge Pecan tree. Yes, we must hope for a year of renewal! Your dear mom is proof that gardening is good for the heart and soul ~ and keeps us young!! She is amazing in the garden and in the kitchen, too. Please give her a big hug from me! ♥♥

      Hot, dry weather must be agreeing with your herbs! Triple digits definitely require daily watering though. Although I often wish that my herbs were in full sun, it’s delightful to have some shady hours to tend to them beneath the neighbor’s large Maple tree. (Happy gardener = Happy garden!)

      I must admit that I do enjoy handwatering with a vintage watering can, as I water the transplants, new seeds, containers, bee baths, and birdbath. It feels like a Tasha Tudor moment for me! I really don’t enjoy lugging our very long garden hose around, though. Our rains have kept everything well-hydrated.

      Change in the garden is invigorating! Digging in the dirt can be exhausting, but it has been a great workout for me this summer. 🙂 Let’s keep dreaming our garden dreams, Chris! They are filled with the seeds of happiness and hope! Sending happy hugs all the way to Texas! ♡

  4. Hi, Dawn! I just loved this post and found myself chuckling as I read…I just HAVE to get the book you mention: stat! My husband and I just returned from time spent at our cottage and I bought and brought back loads of unique coneflowers, a new miniature daisy, three Very Van Gogh veronica, etc,etc, to put ???? !!!! Apparently, I also have the urge to deconstruct/reconstruct in my gardens, as well 😉 Pop by, if you’re in the neighborhood sometime! Your gardens look just incredible! Complete works of art!!
    P.S. Do you have bunnies around? I sure do this year! They are sooooo cute, but oh! My poor pincushions and cat mint :*/

    • It’s a wonderful book, Louise, packed with great information and a delightful read! Our library has a copy. 🙂 After I checked it out, I knew that I needed a copy of my own! I often repeat a helpful mantra from Kerry Mendez as I dig and compost ~ “These are not children or pets.” 🙂

      Ooooh! I would love to see your new plants! Even though my head says, “It’s time to ‘right-size’ this garden.”…. my heart dreams of a new garden bed filled with different Coneflowers! 🙂 That was actually my plan for the old, stone planter that we removed this spring!

      We only have one or two bunnies… and lots of clover blossoms for them to enjoy. I have named all the bunnies ‘Benjamin.’ Less confusing! We had a family of five very hungry groundhogs, but I haven’t seen them nibbling my plants for about two weeks. So, they must be away on vacation! All of the Black-eyed Susans that they gobbled up have new growth and buds. They will be much shorter than usual this summer!

      My garden beds are works of ‘heart.’ There are lots of weeds, too! That’s one BIG reason that I am downsizing. Yes!!!! We must visit!! Maybe one day next week? We have walked past your garden several times this summer, hoping to find you working in the garden. Every time, I remark, “Doesn’t this look just like a Susan Branch house?” I’ll email… and we can choose a day!! Happy planting, Louise! ♡

  5. OH my goodness Dawn….your pictures of your yard are stunning! You have been quite busy! I loved seeing what you have been up to lately. So happy that I stopped by for a peek this evening. Hope you are doing well! 🙂

    • Heartfelt thanks, Katie!! It’s so hard to have two favorite passions ~ gardening and card making!! I just can never find enough time for both. Your gardening season is even longer than ours. How do you do it?? I’m dreaming of some time in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs. I’m really looking forward to a Papercrafting Crop on Saturday. I must get inky! 🙂

      Katie, your Bee Balm card is truly lovely. It also holds a special place in my heart. This entire garden project began last summer when I innocently said, “Maybe I should move the Bee Balm into my Herb & Tea Garden.” Suddenly, I had huge plans to move plants and make BIG changes! 🙂 Wishing you happy summer days, Katie! ♡

  6. Dearest Dawn, IT’S YOU! I now have made the connection between Instagram and YOU! Thank you for responding to my comment on IG which has led me back here to you and your enchanting garden. I remember falling in love with your little patch of paradise years ago; that picket fence is a show stopper!

    I love how you describe, “Water colouring with flowers.” Isn’t that true? Now, my favorite task in the garden believe it or not, is pruning my boxwood hedges. We don’t have any perennials except for two fairly new rose climbers that we are watching grow. Other than that, it’s all lush green and flower pots filled with explosive white petunias that are striking against the green. Then, I just sit back and enjoy. I think the latter is my favorite part of gardening! So good to see you! Anita Rivera

    • Bonjour, sweet Anita! It’s so lovely to see you here again after so long! ♥ I can tell that you are enjoying a nice, creative summer break! Your poetry and photography continue to shine. I know you are having fun! Yes, ‘watercoloring’ with real plants is much easier for me than creating a bouquet with paintbrush and watercolors… but I aspire to blossom and grow in both!

      Anita, have you ever read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron? I’m currently working my way through her newest book, It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again, (an Artist’s Way program for retirees and other creative souls). It’s so wonderful to discover the same passions that have wound through my entire life like lovely ribbons! I’m writing Morning Pages, going on Artist Dates, taking Solo Walks, and writing Memoir. It’s time consuming, but so rewarding! It seems like a book that you might enjoy, too! 🙂

      Thank you so much for finding me again, Anita! Relax and enjoy your most favorite garden task! ♡

  7. Garden is gorgeous and such neat handwriting in your journal. I assume evening with your feet up is when you take care of keeping up that journal. It’s a work of art too.

    • Such a sweet thing to say, Marcia. Thank you! After a long day in the garden, I often feel too tired to be creative. I’m really trying hard to keep up with my little Garden Joys journal through the entire season. It’s such fun to do a bit of doodling and use a few art supplies for garden memory-keeping! It’s fun to use my second grade printing, too! 🙂

      How is your new garden plot growing? Marcia, are you back to card making again after your move? Sending sunny thoughts! ♡

    • Oh, Judy! You are so sweet! I’m trying extra hard to make my perennial gardens manageable, so that I can continue to enjoy them in the coming years. Little-by-little, it will happen! 😊 I haven’t quite decided what the next garden project will be. So, now is the perfect time to weed other areas of the yard.

      I’m so impressed by how hard you work in your very large gardens, Judy! You do so much volunteer gardening… and still find time to create beautiful quilts! It’s a mutual admiration society, my friend!! We are both so blessed to be able to pursue our passions! Sending grateful hugs! 💗

  8. Dawn, you have totally inspired me to start a garden journal! I love dead heading and watering my flowers. It is so relaxing!!! Big hugs!!!

    • Oh, that makes me so happy, Suzanne!! 🙂 This is the most fun I have ever had with a garden journal. It’s just delightful to do a bit of doodling and use my Zigs as the pages fill up with sweet garden memories. What fun it will be to read our garden journals on a cold winter’s day, with a cup of tea. Just perfect for looking back… and dreaming next year’s garden dreams! 🙂

      I know that we will both be smiling as we dead head and water our flowers! Wishing you happy days in the garden, Suzanne! Heartfelt thanks for stopping to visit today! 💗

  9. Oh, my! You have been so industrious in your garden, Dawn, Good for you.
    My poor garden is overrun with weeds -especially creeping Charlie – and somewhat out of control this year (I DO have some good excuses, though). It is what it is. I’m hoping to get some weeding done this morning before a graduation party next door! 🙂
    Like you, I rather enjoy deadheading and the daisies definitely need that sort of attention today.
    One of my weed-whacking (though I don’t really use a weed-whacker) excuses is that I have had a very hungry caterpillar munching away. He’s disappeared, so, I’m hoping he (or she) has spun a cocoon and I do not want to disturb it – so, what I’ll end up doing is going out to pretend I’m weeding whilst I’ll be spending my time looking for a cocoon. 🙂
    “Digging and moving perennials around in the garden feels very much like‘watercoloring’ with real flowers!” – I LOVE this phrasing, Dawn, and it does feel that way.
    Here’s to bouquets from our gardens and more mornings like this Saturday one’s with gentle breezes and sunshine.

    • Yes!! “Bouquets from our gardens” and cool mornings, dear Penny! When I hung the flag on the front porch this morning, it felt like a lovely morning in Door County or Minnesota! Today is a perfect day for gardening. However, I have promised myself an entire day of creative time in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs today. 🙂

      You have had a lot going on this month, Penny. You also organized a Garden Walk and enjoyed special family visitors. So, your time in the garden has been limited. I have been making the garden my priority this summer, since I have a lot on the horizon. It is the ebb and flow of life… and we must give ourselves grace. ♥

      After all of our rainy days, the weeds are having a ‘garden party’ here, too! While I have been spending my days digging in the backyard, the front porch garden beds went absolutely wild. I understand your Creeping Charlie woes exactly. Ours continues to gallop across the grass and into the flower beds.

      Deadheading the spent blossoms will always be my favorite gardenkeeping task. It is a sweet way to honor the blossoms that have faded, while encouraging new blossoms. What could be more perfect? In years past, I have been known to cut big bouquets for my neighbors before leaving on a trip, so that new buds would form and be ready to blossom when I returned from my travels. *wink* A perfect win-win… and it always worked! 🙂

      Enjoy your time looking for a cocoon today, my friend! 🙂 Be prepared for mosquitoes! Ours all seemed to hatch just last week. I reached into a patch of daisies to deadhead and cut a bouquet, and came away with much more than flowers. My arm is covered in itchy mosquito bites.

      It looks like we will have wonderful gardening weather all next week! Sending bouquets of blossoms… and big hugs, Penny! ♡

    • Oh, Cathy! I wish I could come deadhead your Hostas for you! Actually, that’s the task I will be working on here tomorrow. This morning, I worked to cut the spent blossoms from Spiked Speedwell, Daisies, Coral Bells, and Stella d’Oro daylilies. It feels like I am honoring each spent blossom, while encouraging new flowers! 🙂

      I’m so glad that you enjoyed peeking into my Garden Journal! Tonight, I will design the August pages. I love the continuity of a single design for each month. Over the past few months, I discovered that it is so much easier to create the headers and banners and doodle them onto several pages at once. Then I just have to add the dates and the details. It makes it easy to stay caught up with garden memory-keeping! Thank you for always being here, Cathy. You are a special part of our gathering of friends here! Wishing you happy days in your garden! ♡

  10. Such beautiful perennials in your garden Dawn. I too am forever switching and swapping around with my perennials. I eventually want to mimic an English cottage country garden style. Love your journaling. You have beautiful writing too. We got a nice break in the weather this past week, and although it is 89 deg today, the humidity is pretty low, so soft breezes blow in through open windows. Isn’t that just the best? Keep on gardening, love reading all your chores. 🙂

    • Heartfelt thanks, Loretta! We love to move perennials around, just like we rearrange our furniture. It’s such fun to try new combinations and to discover the ‘sweet spot’ where each plant grows best. I’ve been enjoying my garden here for 30 years already. With all of the changes, though, it feels new every year. 🙂 Can’t wait to watch your progress as you create an English cottage country garden of your very own!

      It’s a bit cooler in the Midwest this week, too. What a treat to have our windows open as July ends and August begins! When our gardens are happy, the gardeners feel happy, too! 🙂 Waving from my garden to yours, Loretta! Wishing you a great start to August! ♡

  11. My least favorite chore is dragging the 100 ft hose from the only faucet to the front yard and then back up the hill to the back terraces. I get a full workout doing that. My favorite is weeding. Meditative .

    • Oh, I hear you, Marlene! It’s hard work to drag our 100 ft hose through our flat backyard and front yard. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to drag it uphill in your yard! I always admire terraced gardens, but I always wonder just how people manage to take care of them. I’m quite sure that I would tip over and roll down the hill, squashing the flowers along the way! 🙂 You definitely get a workout, Marlene! We had a very rainy month here, with 4 inches more than our average July rainfall. So, luckily I haven’t had to drag our hose around. I just carry a few sprinkling cans full of water wherever they are needed. All that extra rain has really made our weeds thrive. So, I had many hours of weeding meditation here this morning! Isn’t it fun to know so many gardeners across the country through our blogs? I just love comparing notes and sharing our garden wisdom! Wishing you happy August days in your garden, Marlene! ♡

      • We have been over 50 days without rain and none in sight for the next 15. 😦 I learn so much from blogging gardeners everywhere. It’s just wonderful. I do get a workout and fortunately the terraces themselves will stop the downward roll. 🙂

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