Hope that you and your families are safe and healthy! Our thoughts are with everyone currently experiencing the wild forces of nature, in the midst of a pandemic. How are you doing? ♥ Please let us know…
The Farmers’ Almanac predicted that our 2020 growing season would be one of “drizzle and sizzle” throughout Northern Illinois. So true! During May, we had a record-breaking 9.52 inches of rain in our area. (Our Spring rain totals also broke records in 2018 and 2019.) Our perennials were taller than ever with an abundance of blossoms. During June and July, temperatures were above normal many, many days.
Most recently, the Midwest experienced a derecho, a widespread, long lasting, straight-line windstorm that caused tornadoes, heavy rains, and hurricane-force winds. Mid-afternoon on July 10th, as we were bringing inside anything that could be blown away, our tornado sirens sounded. We retreated to the basement for safety as 95 mph winds blew through our area. Thirteen tornadoes were sighted in the greater Chicago area. More than 800,000 homes were without power. Our neighborhood lost power for four days as the power company worked to remove fallen trees from the electric wires. Thankfully, everyone was safe and neighbors helped neighbors. We were so grateful for power companies from across the country who sent crews to help restore our power. Just down the street, we saw a power company truck from Alabama helping to replace the electric wires. It has been a challenging summer for so many!
Let’s stroll through the garden as we chat today! 🙂
It’s so hard to believe that August is winding down already. During our many months of staying at home, it feels like the days are long… yet the months seem to fly by quickly. Noticing the perennials in bloom helps me keep track of each month. My garden palette slowly changed from the bright, orange Daylilies of late June and early July (seen in the top photo) to paler shades of the ‘Stella d’Oro’ Reblooming Daylilies.
My perennial garden is bathed in bright, sunny blossoms
of Rudbeckia and Black-eyed Susans every August.
Very sadly, this summer’s garden view was obstructed by huge, yellow construction equipment parked in front of our house nightly. A huge city project dug up a nearby street to bury new water main pipes. The project lasted from early May through just last week. Oh my! Our little home was shaking as huge equipment pounded the pavement day after day. (My antique teacups were rattling until I packed them away for safety!) We kept our windows closed as clouds of construction dust drifted across the garden each day. I often wore a dust mask in the garden and while I cut the grass each week. However, many days it was just healthier to stay inside! So many of our outdoor projects had to be put on hold.
The past few weeks, though, I have been busy as a bee working on this summer’s plan to ‘right-size’ the three perennial beds along our front porch. Being a sentimental gardener, I have spent many hours digging… while reminiscing about all of the changes I have made to the front porch beds over the years.
When I became a homeowner, 33 summers ago, there were two narrow beds with tall hedges and a tidy border of annuals. The bed on the south side of our front porch had a tall pine tree, a ground cover of Bishop’s Weed, and pale, pink shrub Roses. My parents helped me to cut down the Pine tree that was much too close to the front porch. With more sunshine and room to grow, the aggressive Bishop’s Weed and shrub Roses thrived. That began my annual challenge to dig out the Roses and the quick-spreading ground cover.
I planted annuals in my first two years as a gardener… until I discovered the ‘magic’ of perennials!! 🙂 Each summer, I cut away just a few inches of grass so that I could add a new plant to my front porch gardens. Little-by-little, the garden beds slowly expanded over the years. More room for perennials… and more space for the roots of the Roses and ground cover to twist and twine beneath the soil.
It was such fun to make changes to the sunny bed to the south of the front porch over the years! I planted a lovely white Lilac tree where the Pine had been. Within two years, the underground root systems of the Roses and ground cover choked out the Lilac. For the next few years, beautiful Hollyhocks blossomed there. Later I planted a mature, purple Aster that attracted so many butterflies. However, the Bishop’s Weed and Roses would twist and wind their way throughout the perennial bed. Every two weeks, I spent time digging them out to no avail. Enough! I decided to add a thick layer of wood chips surrounding the perennials several years ago. That would surely solve the problem!
I just happened to have an antique wheelbarrow tucked in the corner of the garage. So, I rolled it onto the wood chips and filled the wheelbarrow with containers of bright annuals. A few years later, I tucked the wheelbarrow back into the garage and placed an antique picket fence gate on the wood chips. It was fun to hang different folk art pieces on the picket fence throughout the year. Alas, nothing seemed to solve the ‘root’ of my problem…
As I recalled the evolution of this special part of the garden, my strongest memory was all of the weeding as I battled the roots of the shrub Roses and rhysomes of the Bishop’s Weed. My heart told me that now is the season of life to ‘right-size’ the front porch perennial beds. Taking advantage of the shade early each morning, I can still be found digging down deeply into the soil to remove those aggressive roots one-by-one.
Inspired by author Kerry Ann Mendez, I often repeat her words of encouragement: “These are not children or pets.” I have been composting the perennials as I remove them. I certainly don’t want to share those ‘problem roots’ with friends and neighbors. I strategically worked my way through the bed allowing each plant to bloom one last time.
The south side of the front porch is almost empty now. My favorites, the Daisies and ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea, will be the last perennials to dig up in this bed. A bittersweet task! (Repeat after me… “These are not children or pets.” 😉 )
Newly planted grass seed has already grown a few inches tall in this space now. It ‘sparks joy’ each morning as I look for rainbows in the water spray while I sprinkle my new, grassy, ‘right-size’ garden bed. 🙂
I would LOVE some tried and true garden advice ~
What kind of weed barrier do you recommend I use in the area right along the front porch lattice work? I’m planning to cover the weed barrier (the length of the porch, approximately 4 foot wide) with wood chips.
Shh! I have a ‘secret’ plan for that small area of wood chips! In our basement, there is a very heavy antique that would be so lovely sitting on the wood chips holding colorful, container plants. It would be just perfect in the garden of a retired second grade teacher! (We also have a very friendly, very strong, young neighbor who always offers to help us!) 🙂 Hmmm. Any guesses? 😉
I have been tending this little ‘garden plot’ on the Internet
for six years now.
Nurturing the friendships we have grown is so heartwarming.
Writing nourishes my creative soul.
YOU inspire me to keep growing and blooming!
Thank you for joining me
for a very chatty, garden walk today!
Stay safe, sweet friends!
21 thoughts on “Chatting By the Garden Gate ~ August”
How lovely to join you on a walk through your beautiful garden. So satisfying to look back at your progress. Need to remember that. You’ve had so many years to grow your garden and have it be a good fit for you as you grow. And gosh what a challenging time you’ve had this year. Hopefully over now. I love your photos. What beautiful flowers. I’d be proud to have them in my garden. Beautiful colours.
You continue to inspire me with your writing. Feels like a long time since I’ve written and so much has changed. Hard to keep up sometimes.
I think of you so often. Take care and stay safe.
Sending love and big hugs xox
So special to stroll through my garden together, dear Vicky! It was a lovely, mature garden when I bought my home so long ago. Over the years I have enjoyed changing the look of the garden beds while always honoring the ‘history’ of my garden. Having my summers off gave me extra time to play in the garden. Each time I added a new perennial, I would tell myself, “It will be important to give myself something to do when I retire.”😉 Every summer, I always took lots of garden photos. So, it is really lovely to look back and see all of the changes. So many of the changes were simply moving the perennials around from bed to bed!😊 I would love it if YOU could photograph my flowers one day!
Oh, Vicky! When you have time, I really hope you WILL write about all of your exciting changes! Your readers will be fascinated to hear your thoughts and see lots of photos. I am so happy for you, my friend! My entire family has been very interested to hear about your special project each time I shared your photos with them. You will know when the time is right to blog again.
So many bloggers have found 2020 to be a very challenging time to write! This has been my sixth summer here at Petals.Paper.SimpleThymes. Words just haven’t come easily during this very troubling time for the world. Our everyday stories can feel trivial when a global pandemic has turned our lives upside down. Sometimes, though, it helps to turn our thoughts to the small, everyday moments that make our lives sweet. Blogging can share a bit of normalcy… even though our lives are anything but normal this year. I have noticed many more visitors from across the globe reading my blog each day over the past several months. So, sharing our voices might just help many people feel ‘connected’ while we must stay apart. I encourage you to share your story when you find time, Vicky!!
Sending love and air hugs all the way to New Zealand!
Wishing you nice winter days! Stay safe, sweet friend!💗
Thank you for your words of encouragement. I do have time to write. It’s about the emotional space. But I’ve planted a seed and you’ve watered it so I’m sure it’s propagating as we speak. Hearing what you say about perennials makes me think they’re not a great idea. I’m looking at flowers in a seed catalogue, along with veggies of course. Saw a lovely picture for their roadside mix. Lots of different colours and wild flowers. They sound low maintenance and I love the look of them. I’d love a wild part of my garden. I already have one but wild flowers over a bigger area would be lovely. Determined to eliminate most of my grass eventually. It’s coming up for Spring here so our fingers are itching with potential for growth and beauty.
Your garden always looks so beautiful. Hard to imagine all the work that’s gone into it over the years. I’m glad you’re sharing it with us my friend ♥️
Interesting ideas need lots of time to germinate, Vicky! I’m sure that is already happening, my friend. I always find that time in nature helps my ideas flow.
I can just picture a beautiful wildflower garden in your yard, Vicky! What could be sweeter than picking a little vase of wildflowers for your table each morning? My passion will always be perennials and herbs.You know how much I love old houses! Our house is almost 100 years old, so I always try to honor that history by planting old-fashioned flowers. Over the years, I have added some newer cultivars. However, it is the old-fashioned flowers that always win my heart!
With Springtime just around the corner, you must be so excited about planting time! We are still in the hot, sticky “dog days” of August here in the Midwest. It will be 98°F on Wednesday. So, I will only do a bit of gardenkeeping early in the morning.
Wishing you sweet garden dreams, my friend! Holding you close to my heart. Be well. 💗
I’ve smiled all the way through this except for composting the perennials. I can’t do that because I have another option in that I can move them to the edge of the property that borders a wooded area and wetlands. It helps my guilt in that I put them in the ground and if they die I feel like I gave them a chance. Is that crazy or what? 🙂 I haven’t moved forward in reducing my beds, but I haven’t made them bigger. 🙂 The only place I use landscape fabric anymore is under chips, and as long as it is the kind you can’t tear, you’ll probably be okay. We have had a wicked hot summer, have a heat wave for the next three days, and are in severe drought. Everything is brown. It’s ugly out there, but I’d prefer to be able to shower so except for veggies, the plants are on their own. 🙂 I will look forward to seeing that antique pice next year with beautiful annuals. Glad you and all your loved ones are well during this really strange summer of 2020.
Oh, I completely understand, Judy!! You are so blessed to border woods and wetlands.💕 Through the years, I have always, always tried to find new homes for my perennials. Sharing perennials is one of the my greatest joys! However, the invasive roots are so intertwined in each plant that I can’t pass along my ‘problem’ to any other gardeners. A few years back, I tried so hard to remove every last root of Bishop’s Weed before I transplanted a clump of Anemones into the backyard… and now that very aggressive ground cover is causing trouble in that garden bed. 😢 Alas, I am bundling up these perennials to be taken away for composting by the city. I don’t even want to put them into my own compost pile. To help overcome my guilt, I am experimenting with two different methods of propagating my Endless Summer Hydrangeas! 🌱If they grow, I will have nice, healthy, little Hydrangeas to transplant near the white, picket fence in the backyard. (Oops! That doesn’t sound like a way to simplify my garden, does it???? 😉I just adore Hydrangeas!!)
We ordered heavy duty landscape fabric that our blog friend, Chris, has used successfully. So grateful for all of the helpful advice!😊 It sounds like the perfect barrier along the latticework of the porch in all three beds. Then we will cover the fabric with wood chips. It feels like I am making progress, slowly but surely! I do think of you as I am digging, Judy!!😊
I’m so sorry to hear that New Hampshire is experiencing a severe drought. We are having a heat wave here this week. Early this morning, I cut the grass and hand watered plants in the backyard. I filled the bee baths and sprinkled our new grass seeds. It was just too hot and humid to dig in the dirt. We reached 97° this afternoon. The soil has deep cracks and the grass is looking stressed. Hope your veggies will make it!
Thank you for all of your good wishes, dear Judy! I love sharing garden chats with you. I always learn something new. Wish we were neighbors!😊 Stay safe. Be well. 💗
Oh, yes, neighbors would be wonderful. And, one plant we could certainly bemoan would be Bishop’s Weed. 🙂 A friend gave me a couple of springs several years ago, and she told me it would spread, but I thought aren’t those little green and white leaves cute. I’ve been digging it up ever since. 🙂 I’m a sucker for hydrangeas so I’d be dividing with you. 🙂 I had potted up a dozen raspberries and delivered them to a senior housing building where they want to try their hand at some fruits. It’s fun to share. Too hot to garden here today to do very much outside but hopefully tomorrow.
Judy, the previous homeowner here used Bishop’s Weed as a ground cover in one of the front beds. Left on it’s own to fill a garden bed it was pretty. Its tall, white flowers remind me of Queen Anne’s Lace. Unfortunately, it spread from bed to bed along the porch no matter how hard I tried to get rid of it. The Bishop’s Weed never spread into the grass. It would have to compete with the Creeping Charlie there!🙃
This was the perfect time to cut off the tops of the Endless Summer Hydrangeas to experiment. So, I saved several stems in large vases of water in an attempt to root them. They look so pretty on the front porch as I wait and watch! I also clipped tiny stems with new leaves and they are happily growing in 32 oz. Chobani containers with clear lids. Perfect little greenhouses! I didn’t have any rooting hormone on hand, but I am hopeful that they will root on their own. I will check after one month to see if there are any roots forming. Propagating Hydrangeas is my summer entertainment this year!😊
What a great feeling to share your raspberry plants! The seniors will love growing them. There is a small greenhouse area where my parents live. The courtyard flower gardens, with walking paths, benches, a pretty pergola and fountain have been so important during this time of lockdown at their senior community. The courtyards are used as a morning exercise space and filled with music in the afternoons. They are making the best of this most challenging time!
Keep cool today, Judy! Have fun inside playing with needle and thread. I’ll be keeping cool downstairs in my little Paper Garden. Love chatting with you!💗
Sitting here Sunday morning with my coffee on the porch with Jim and the dogs. It’s VERY quiet, no breeze rustling the leaves so I can hear the babbling of the creek. I love that sound. I always know the creek is flowing and that is a good thing in West Texas. Morning is the only time to be outside this summer, hot and dry. We here are cheering on the hurricanes praying they push far enough inland to bring us rain. Town has had some big storms, hail, wind and a little rain, but it has missed me completely, which is ok. Last one the other night had an 85mph wind gust that was recorded at the airport. I am good without that!
Your road construction project brought a wry smile to my face. With the exception of the pounding, the farm land on both sides of me keeps me in a constant cloud of dust that seeps into every imaginable crack and crevice. I never lived anywhere that I had to dust inside my kitchen cabinets! Nothing is safe. I have to be very strategic about when I clean my front porch. Why anyone came to West Texas to farm is a mystery to me.
“A garden is not a place. It’s a journey.” Monty Don. Like everything in life, it needs to be ever changing and evolving. I know when you are digging out the roots of your shrub roses and Bishop’s weed they seems formidable, but I bet a heavy duty landscape fabric like landscapers use would do the trick. But be careful where you buy it, much of it is thin and the weeds will poke right through it. Here concrete and asphalt hardly keep weeds at bay. This is just not genteel country. I leave you with one last quote: “I always arise from weeding a different person from the one who first knelt down.” Bronwyn Lea
It was so good to hear from you and know you are well. Stay healthy and safe.
Oh, Chris! So lovely to read your words this morning! I can almost hear the babbling of your creek as I envision you and Jim sipping coffee on the porch. Wishing that gentle rains will come to help the farmers and water your garden very soon! What crops are your nearby farmers growing? Such important, challenging work our farmers do for all of us!
Oh no, Chris! I can’t even imagine dust finding its way into your kitchen cabinets! We have been lucky to only have a dusty garden and front porch.
One of the special joys of gardening is creating changes from year to year. I was blessed to inherit a mature garden when I bought my home. Can you believe that those shrub Roses still bloom every summer even though I have been chopping the roots off whenever I dig them up for 33 years? They choke out other perennials as they make their way through two of the three porch beds. What a hardy variety someone planted so long ago!
Several times, my husband has said, “Let’s hire a landscaper to do the digging.” But it’s a project that I really want to do. It’s a time of reflection and closure to this chapter in my gardening journey. So, I’m grateful for the time at home this summer to keep digging. Early morning walkers check on my progress day after day.
Thanks for the great advice, Chris. I’ve been looking at landscaping fabric online. There are so many choices. I’m hoping to choose just the right one so that this will be the last summer that I must dig these roots. I’m dreaming of sitting on the porch admiring my ‘right-size’ garden beds for many years to come!
I love your garden quotes. Such words of wisdom! I will add them to my little journal of gardening quotes.
Chris, were you able to join Susan’s gathering last week? Hope so. I thought of you the entire time. There will be a replay available, too.
Sending big hugs to West Texas, sweet friend!💗
Susan’s talk was on my calendar! I even looked that morning at my calendar and thought happy thoughts! I had even canceled my dogs teeth cleaning from that day and rescheduled it. My brother came in the night before to visit mom and then my granddaughter texted and said she would elder-sit if I wanted to go to the grocery store. So I went to the grocery store………….and then it all just disappeared until the next day when I could not believe I had missed it!😢. But I have watched it with the link Friends of SB provided on Facebook. It was so wonderful. I hope she does more in the future!
I also am going to contact my son about some landscaping fabric that he recommends and will email you what exactly to get or at least look for. ❤️
Ah, so often life gets in the way, Chris! I’m so happy that you were able to watch the replay!😊 I’m looking forward to watching it again with a cup of tea, too. I love that is preserved. It’s so lovely to hear more little details of Susan’s adventures in the English countryside!
Thank you (and your son) for helping me choose the right landscaping fabric! 💕I really, really, really appreciate your help, Chris! Wishing you moments of peace on this Sunday afternoon! 💗
Your summer has certainly been eventful! We were without power one winter for 3 days which was manageable because we could heat with our fireplace and keep our perishables outside on the porch. Having such a long outage in summer would be another matter! I’m so glad you didn’t have to contend with damage to your property as well. But then to have that construction work going on on top of everything else!?? Well….You seem to have come out on top and must be enjoying the peace and quiet even more now. My garden has been a challenge to me. My library doesn’t have that book so I was reading what I could on Amazon’s Look Inside feature. I fall into the category of being a plant-aholic I’m afraid. For me it started when my youngest turned 2 and I was too old to have more children….so I started planting gardens instead. The hostas have multiplied like crazy in the last 30 years and a couple trees have died so now most of them are in the sun and get sunburnt. Then the deer come along and chew off the leaves which allows the sun to get to the weeds. I dug up one hosta bed and am still getting new hosta plants, so if I decide to rid myself of all the hostas I will have to hire a landscape company to bring in machinery to dig it all up (it’s on a hillside) and plant low-growing bushes in their place. It’s an area too difficult to mow which is why we planted the hostas there in the first place. I commend you for your fortitude to right-size your garden. Yes, they are not our children or our pets….but for some of us they do take the place of them!
We will ALL remember the summer of 2020 for too many reasons, Cathy! We were so blessed to have no damage in the wild storm beyond a few fallen branches. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have been hurrying to carry the vintage wicker furniture from the porch (a gift from a friend) down into the basement while the tornado siren was blaring. Last week, city trucks picked up 24 tons of tree branches. It will likely take three weeks to complete the branch pickup.
We so appreciate the peace and quiet now for the first time all summer! We heard the loud construction noise for almost four months. It was replaced by a week of roaring generators throughout the neighborhood. (We don’t have a generator.) Now it’s truly lovely to hear the birdsong and cicadas while I am digging!😊
Plant ‘collectors’ unite! We are all just doing our part to add beauty to the world! My plants are ‘our kids,’ too. In fact, when I come in from the garden, my husband always asks, “How are the kids?”
You grow such beautiful gardens, Cathy! I think I might have peeked at your garden through your kitchen window over the years. Right? Digging up Hostas on a hillside must be a huge undertaking! Hope you can call in the professionals. I still have several large Hostas to dig up in the week ahead. I wish I could pass them along to neighbors, but the rhizomes of the Bishop’s Weed are tangled throughout the Hostas. I would never want to spread this problem into other gardens.
Helpful advice from “The Right-Size Flower Garden” has given me the courage to eliminate three large beds over the past three years. The changes have truly been a blessing by giving me more family time. Soon there will be three smaller beds along the front porch. I have always enjoyed our backyard gardens the most. They will still be large, colorful, perennial beds where I can play at my leisure! 😊Then I can devote my more limited garden time to puttering in my beloved Herb and Tea Garden, the Friendship Garden, the History Garden, and the Shade Garden. It’s more shady and private in the backyard… and no one will notice the weeds but me!😉
I just love ‘chatting by the garden gate’ with you, Cathy! Enjoy your days in the garden. Were you able to attend Susan’s gathering on Wednesday? I’m sure it brought back such wonderful memories!
Sending big hugs from Illinois, Cathy! Stay safe! 💗
Dear Dawn, you are always a breath of fresh air. Thanks for sharing your garden with us, and your always-uplifting words. Your photos are lovely. I’m especially fond of the visiting bees. I’m looking forward to seeing your mysterious antique moved from the basement to your garden. What a great idea. Love to you, my friend. xo
Alys, dear heart! We were both writing to one another at exactly the same moment. Thank you for your blog post to let us know that you and your family are okay in the midst of the California wildfires to the east and west of San Jose. Our hearts are with everyone in California during this frightening emergency. I have been thinking of you each and every day, Alys! Seeing the smoky skies overhead and reading about ash falling over your garden today brings tears to my eyes, my friend. Please take extra good care of yourself. It is all just too much all at once.
Sending our prayers and hugs across the miles, Alys! Be safe!💗
Your perennial garden flowers are lovely and remind me of my gardens in New Hampshire and Maine. You are right about long days yet how quick the months have gone by. Sorry that so much is going on in your life with storms, etc. but it seems you are keeping busy in a good way.
Such sweet words, Karen! I will always remember your beautiful garden in New Hampshire and your apple orchard, too. I think we are truly kindred spirits who love old homes, gardening, and faraway travels. This week we have very hot, humid weather ~ a bit like your Florida weather. After two hours in the garden early this morning, the heat chased me back inside. Hope that you and your family are finding interesting ways to stay safe at home, Karen! Thanks for always being here and joining in the conversation! Be well!💗
I do think you are right about being kindred spirits. 😊 It is always my pleasure stopping by.
Your garden is lovely and I’m impressed you were able to continue work with all that construction going on. It unsettles the nerves a bit no matter how beneficial it is. We had months of work across the street when they moved the new manufactured home in and then landscaped. No matter what, it’s noisy and lots of heavy machinery. Looking forward to seeing what you do with that small section. I have absolutely no advice. Have a great week ahead. Hugs. m
So nice to hear from you tonight, Marlene! The nearby construction most definitely slowed me down. So, I’m making the most of early mornings now to dig whenever possible. My sweet husband has been a great help on the weekends. Tomorrow I will dig out three patches of Daisies. Then it’s time to lay down a weed fabric along the latticework. This week I will plant grass seeds. So, the three large perennial beds will be a much more manageable size from now on!😊 I will plant small, flowering shrubs along the porch in the springtime. Can’t wait to see the new, simplified look!
Hope that you and your family are all healthy, Marlene! Do something that makes your heart smile every day during these unsettled times. Sending air hugs across the miles!💗