Chatting by the Garden Gate ~ July 2019

Hi Friends!

Shall we chat… as we walk through the garden?

A tall glass of iced tea is just what we’ll need

on this hot, sticky, July afternoon.

Our Summertime weather arrived much later than expected this year. After a very cool, rainy Spring, Midwestern gardeners are playing catch up. In late June, our temperatures suddenly rose to ‘hot and sticky.’ Now whenever the sun appears, I run outside to do a bit of gardenkeeping. Heavy rainstorms often drench our gardens as the afternoon heat builds.

My perennial gardens are thriving with all the rain.

I just love watching the color palette change

with each passing week.

The Clematis is climbing so quickly that I haven’t been able to help weave its long, graceful stems through the arbor. It’s putting on a spectacular show completely on its own!

The Asiatic Lilies add a bright pop of orange to our History Garden bed. These plants have been ‘at home’ in my garden for so many years.

The Annabelle Hydrangeas are spilling over the picket fence of my Herb & Tea Garden. Two years ago, I transplanted a tiny root from the huge Annabelle near the deck, and it is really happy in its new home.

This week, I began cutting big Annabelle bouquets to fill crocks and pitchers for the front porch. It’s my very favorite way to begin my mornings! πŸ™‚

The first of the ‘He Loves Me’ Daisies mixed so sweetly with the last of the Anemones to fill another pitcher. Mother Nature’s timing is wonderful!

Just yesterday, the orange Daylilies blossomed. Every year, my Daylilies bloom in mid-June, just in time for Father’s Day. Our cooler weather really slowed them down this year. All of the rain made their slender stems grow longer than I can ever remember. Some of the blossoms are at shoulder height this year! The Daylilies will be bobbing in the breeze for the Fourth of July. Mother Nature’s fireworks!

We have welcome guests in the Herb & Tea Garden birdhouse. There is a new nest inside and a mother robin can often be seen sitting on the peak of her roof and peeking into her doorway. The birdsong is extra sweet as I tend to the herbs in the Summer stillness.

Photo Source: Gardener’s Supply

We have a brand new addition to our garden this year! This bamboo Mason Bee House, a gift from a dear friend, should attract more non-stinging pollinators to our garden. There are over 140 species of native mason bees in North America. In the Spring, the females collect pollen and nectar and pack it into a tube cavity. When there is enough food stored, the mason bee lays an egg in the tube. Then she seals the end of the tube with wet mud and begins to fill another tube. Although I haven’t actually seen the female mason bees at work, I have noticed a few tubes have been sealed closed already. (Read about these fascinating bees here.) As always, I have several homemade bee baths scattered throughout my perennial beds. We want to encourage these vital pollinators to stay in our garden, rather than leave in search of fresh water. Large sweeps of colorful blossoms also keep our bees busy and happy! It will be fascinating to see what lessons the mason bees teach us this Summer! πŸ™‚

An abundance of rain can only mean an over-abundance of WEEDS (and mosquitoes, too)!! I hereby declare that this will be the ‘Summer of Weeds’ in every garden bed. 😦  My time in the garden is quite limited and and the weeds are unlimited. Whenever time allows, you will find me hard at work, in one perennial bed or another, pulling weeds for composting.

Several years ago, I tested out a ‘friendly’ way to prevent weeds on our small patio. It works beautifully! First, I pull all the weeds growing between the flagstones. Then I generously sprinkle baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) into all of the cracks. I water it in… and enjoy the magic! For several months, no weeds grow on our patio. Now I buy large, inexpensive boxes of baking soda to use as a natural weed preventer on cracks on our driveway and sidewalk, too. Have you tried baking soda as a natural weed preventer? Do you use any other natural solutions for weed prevention?

Our rain helped our Peonies bloom with great abundance in June. The palest pink, brightest pink, deepest maroon, and the purest white blossoms all bloomed at once a several weeks ago. I recalled reading a tip a few years ago in Garden Gate magazine about delaying the bloom time of Peonies. This was the perfect year to test it…

On June 15th, I cut a few, small Peony blossoms at various stages of bloom. I shook off the ants and brought the Peonies inside. Right away, I placed them into a large, clear plastic bag and tightly sealed it with a twist tie. (I also taped the bag closed, just in case any ants were hiding in the blossoms.) Then I placed the bag of Peonies on a shelf in the fridge. I waited and watched… and waited and watched… for almost three weeks.

The Peonies in our garden have long since bloomed and have been deadheaded. Wouldn’t it be fun to have just a few more Peonies to enjoy? So, just this afternoon, I cut open the bag. I wasn’t prepared for the amazing fragrance that rushed out as I cut the bag. Oh my! It was glorious! I admired the Peonies as I placed them in a small vase. We’ve never had Peonies from our garden for the Fourth of July! It’s amazing how one appreciates just a few small, delayed blossoms! They will have a special place on our kitchen windowsill. I’m sure that I will try this again next year. Next time, I will gently flip the bag over every few days to help preserve their round shape. This weekend, I will truly savor these blossoms… and my husband will enjoy having more room in our fridge! πŸ™‚

We also have a BIG garden mystery this Summer…

A very hungry critter, with a special fondness for Coreopsis and Coral Bells, has been enjoying our garden, too. In years past, groundhogs could be seen gobbling up their favorite flowers. However, this Summer we haven’t seen any groundhogs at all. I’ve seen lots of bunnies nibbling our clover blossoms. (I just LOVE them! I really hope they aren’t doing all of this damage!) Yesterday, for the first time ever in our garden, I saw a cute, little chipmunk scurry across our deck stairs. Could chipmunks be our very hungry critters?

Hope you will share your garden wisdom and tips with us! β™₯

Thirty-two years ago this week, I bought this cozy, little home with its big garden. Many of those same plants are still a special part of my beloved perennial gardens. My sweet mom taught me all about gardening and still shares her garden wisdom with me. My garden is one of my favorite blessings! I cherish the plants and the stories they hold ~ stories of the people who shared them with me and the places these old-fashioned plants came from. My garden continues to fascinate me, reward me, and teach me important lessons every day!

Enjoy the sweet blessings of home and of freedom!

Happy Independence Day!

Garden blessings,

β™‘ Dawn





18 thoughts on “Chatting by the Garden Gate ~ July 2019

  1. Dawn, Thank you for sharing your beautiful garden with us! You have a knack for decorating with your flowers!

    • Thank you for your very kind words, Mary! My garden is such a special blessing. This year it is teaching me a great deal about patience! Thanks for visiting and saying β€œHi” today! πŸ’—

  2. I’m behind again but I’ll catch up now. Loved every photo here. Such a wonderful garden. I pulled two five gallon buckets of weed this morning and there are so many more to go. I just can’t keep up anymore with all the work. I love visiting your garden and seeing the robin’s house. Our heat is coming. We have been luckier than most so far. 32 years in the same house!!! I can’t fathom it.

    • I know, Marlene! Thirty-two years is a long time. My home is 97 years old and such a special part of my life! I bought it when I was single ~ so my home and I have grown older together. Oh, the wonderful stories we could tell! 😊
      The beauty of close-up garden photography is that the weeds don’t show! The weeds are growing so fast! Everything is thriving. I’ve been cutting the grass twice a week due to all of the rain. We both have to take it slowly in the garden, Marlene! I hope your heat will creep in slowly. Our heat came in one big wave just about a week ago. Suddenly, it was Summertime!
      Wishing you a nice, relaxing Independence Day, Marlene!πŸ’—

  3. Happy 4th of July, Dawn. Reading your cheery post was a balm for my soul today. My daisies were slow this year, but, true to form they began their yearly performance today. They always bloom for the fourth. πŸ™‚ All your flowers are beautiful, but, to have peonies on the fourth – what joy.

    Enjoy the rest of this holiday.

    • Happy 4th of July, dear Penny! I hope with lots of rest you are beginning to feel better. πŸ’• Please be patient and let your team help you with the final Garden Walk preparations.
      My garden is really on autopilot this year. What a delight it was to bring my mom a huge bouquet of Annabelle Hydrangeas today! I’m excited for her to see her Yucca, from our childhood garden, blooming in my History Garden in the coming days. 😊
      Your Daisies sound just lovely, Penny! Did you pick a bouquet to bring inside or to enjoy on your deck? Daisies and Hydrangeas will ALWAYS be my my perennial favorites! So different, but each exquisite.
      Penny, the Peonies look even more beautiful today!! As they fully opened overnight, their round shape returned. Their scent greeted me this morning as I walked into the dining room. We must remind one another to save a bouquet of Peonies for Independence Day next year!
      Sending much love and big hugs your way, Penny!πŸ’—

  4. Your gardens are looking beautiful and lush. I totally understand the onslaught of weeds from all the rain. I’ve picked and picked, and it’s like I hardly make a dent. I’ve never tried baking soda. I’ve tried vinegar, haven’t been impressed, and I end up with yellow spots. My clematis and peonies are finished, but the lillies are starting. It was ‘real feel’ of 99 today. I worked out for a couple of hours but finally had to quit for the day. There’s always tomorrow. πŸ™‚

    • A gardener’s work is never done! It’s a good thing we love gardenkeeping, Judy! 😊 Baking soda really works well on hard surfaces that have cracks where weeds love to grow. I use Preen in the garden beds to prevent the weed seeds from germinating. However, so many of my weeds are the creeping variety. They zoom through my flower beds quicker than I can pull them out.
      Judy, I’m so grateful that I had the foresight to ‘right-size’ several garden beds two years ago. Even though my perennial beds just grew by a few inches each year, so many years have passed! They are beautiful, but too labor-intensive now. So, I am planning another big change that will make smaller, ‘right-size’ beds with flowering shrubs, rather than perennials in the front yard. Kerry Ann Mendez is still inspiring me with her garden wisdom! 😊
      Hope your heatwave subsides a bit in the coming week. It looks like we will have sunny days in the 80s, rather than 90s, next week. A blessing!
      Hope you had a nice Independence Day, Judy!πŸ’—

  5. Absolutely adore the bee hive!! It’s a sculpture. I feel as though I am there with you walking through your beautifully tended garden. Thanks for sharing.
    Big slightly shaky California hugs,

    • So very grateful, Anne, that you let us know early this morning that you and your family were ok after yesterday’s earthquake! John and I were very relieved to hear from you, dear heart!πŸ’•
      Isn’t the mason bee house a work of art? I’m excited to observe and learn more about these important pollinators. They are most welcome guests among the flowers and herbs!
      Thank you for only noticing the blossoms, and not the weeds, Anne! Everything is flourishing due to all of the rainy days. I’ll be doing a ‘weeding workout’ here in the garden this weekend! 😊 Fresh air… and lots of exercise!
      Hope your weekend will be a very calm, quiet one.
      Sending our love! πŸ’—

  6. Wow Dawn, what a lovely journey you took us on. I love, love, love your photos. Each one a piece of art. Especially love your bird houses – how special to have birds nesting there. And your new bee home – so beautiful. I’d love to spend time in your garden. Feels like there would be so many little things to feast my eyes on – must be such a relaxing place to be, even while working there. And your rain and sun will be making everything thrive. Your beautiful photos are the next best thing to actually being there.

    Here in Aotearoa NZ I’ve had to wait a few days to read your post as we’ve just had several grey wet days, with not enough solar power to charge my computer! But sunshine today so everything is getting charged up and I was even able to use my blender πŸ™‚

    Interested to read about your baking soda remedy for weeds. I wonder if it would work on my weeds/grass that grows up around the edges of my mulched areas? I’m going to try it. I read a recipe online: white vinegar, dishwashing liquid, epsom salts – but it didn’t quite do the job for me. Just this morning I was out tackling the agapantha clump I have – in some parts of NZ people are banned from planting it, but yet you see them everywhere. I have a smallish clump which has definitely expanded. So far I’ve cut all the leaves off and plan to cover the roots with black plastic and big stones to kill it. My neighbours tell me they harbour rats too, which I definitely don’t want. I actually like the flowers but this plant is growing right where my wee retro caravan needs to sit once it gets here.

    Lovely to share your gardening adventure – aren’t we lucky that our gardens give us such joy and nourish us so much. Love and hugs my friend xox

    • Oh, Vicky! Your ever-so-kind words just make my heart smile! Thank you so much! It’s a very old garden. Our cozy, little home is 97 years old now and I am the third gardener to live and share this garden. I’m certain that each of us made big changes! When I moved here, many of the beds were planted with colorful annuals. I dreamed of old-fashioned cottage-style beds filled with perennials and a white picket fence Herb & Tea garden. Over the years, my dreams slowly took shape.

      One of my very favorite pastimes is dividing and transplanting my perennials to create new looks in the garden. With shovel in hand, it feels like I am ‘watercoloring’ using real plants! I just love dividing perennials to share with friends. Several friends began gardens of their own by digging up enough plants here to fill garden beds! Sharing plants is one of the very best parts of gardening!

      Vicky, I thought of you this morning as I enjoyed the sunshine and birdsong in the garden! There is so much color in the garden right now. I will email you more photos!
      I thought about your rainy days and your solar power, too. So glad that you are charged up again!

      Perhaps you could try the baking soda on a tiny strip. I always pull the weeds first, then apply the baking soda to prevent new weed seeds from germinating. It seems to last for about two or three months. This Summer, with so much rain, I have already applied the baking soda twice.

      Oh, yes! Our gardens fill us with such joy and nourish our souls! πŸ’•You are rewarded with fruits and veggies and I am rewarded with flowers and herbs. It’s so wonderful that your garden continues to grow throughout your mild Winter, Vicky!
      Sending you bright, sunny days for your solar power!
      Warmest hugs! πŸ’—

  7. Dawn, I simply adore your lovely garden posts. I’m so happy to hear your weather has warmed up to give you such beautiful blossoms! Your beautiful Annabelle hydrangea is stunning. And the bird houses are so charming. It’s wonderful to work in the garden with so much life around. The house for beneficial pollinators is one I have considered making with the grands. What a sweet gift you were gifted. I’ll have to try your hint with the baking soda. I’ve not heard that one. We use cheap white vinegar to keep the weeds in check on our gravel driveway. Weeds are growing in abundance here as well, but it is so hot and humid it’s hard to be outside for very long. Grayden and I set our alarm to awaken us to go for our walk around 6am. If we don’t walk early we are unable to stand the heat that comes by 9am. How sweet to have a peony blossom for July! Very clever, my friend.

    • Welcome home, Martha Ellen! Can’t wait to see the gardens you visited on your wonderful adventure! You always say the sweetest things, my friend! Garden posts are some of my favorites to write! Happiness blooms in the garden and the tiniest gifts of nature fill me with joy. I just love chatting by the (virtual) garden gate! 😊

      The Annabelle blossoms are huge right now, Martha Ellen! This morning, I cut armfuls of them to fill crocks and pitchers on the front porch. Yesterday, I brought my mom a big vase filled with the huge, white blossoms. They are such wonderful, old-fashioned flowers.

      Your grandsons would love helping you make a Mason bee house out of reclaimed wood scraps. Drilling holes in the wood would provide the female bees with safe places to store their nectar and pollen in preparation for laying their eggs. As we read about this type of bee house, we decided to let nature take its own course with our bees. However, there are ways to become very involved in the life cycle of the bees if the boys are interested. Such a great science lesson!

      Thanks for sharing your white vinegar tip. I will try it here, too. So many weeds!! Martha Ellen, the Peonies that I held in the fridge are still surprising me every day! Every single bud opened and they are just lovely. I smile every time I see our July Peonies in the dining room!

      So glad that you and Grayden are able to get in an early morning walk before the heat becomes oppressive. I think we will have to switch our evening walks to cooler morning walks now. Enjoy your time back at ‘Home Sweet Home’ again. Sending love, hugs, and cool breezes! πŸ’—

  8. I have that same bee house, and forgot all about it until I read your post. I’ll have to go out in the morning and see if any holes have been filled!

    • I’m very curious to hear if the mason bees have been busy in your garden this Summer, Ericka! There is so much color in our garden in mid July. So, I’m hoping that the bees are busy collecting nectar and pollen in preparation for laying eggs in our bee house. Welcoming more pollinators to our garden is not only important, but fascinating, too! Thanks so much for stopping to visit today, Ericka. Wishing you happy days in the garden! πŸ’—

  9. Hi Dawn,
    I am a bit behind but thought I would check out your blog today and really enjoyed seeing all the summer photos! Thank you so much for sharing. I am interested in trying the baking soda on my brick sidewalk, i am always pulling out the weeds that get started in the cracks and they do a number on my finger tips. How did the Mason Bee Hive fare this summer? Hope to see you soon at the library!

    • Such a lovely surprise to see you here today, Patty!😊 The baking soda method of weed prevention should be pet-friendly, too. Do check to be sure, though. We don’t have any pets.
      Our Mason Bee Hive has several of its tubes filled with eggs and sealed up with wet soil. So, I’m fascinated to watch the progress in the coming months. Last weekend, we visited the Chicago Botanic Garden and saw two other beautiful Mason Bee Houses. I’ll share more photos here very soon.
      Hoping to join you at the September Crop, Patty! I’m really looking forward to spending creative time with friends. It will be here before we know it!
      Summer has flown by so quickly this year. I still have lots of Summer stories and photos to share here. Stay tuned…
      Thanks so much for visiting today.
      Happy weekend, Patty! πŸ’—

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