Garden Memory-Keeping

Hi Friends!

My favorite days are those with quiet moments of reflection. Beginning my days by writing Morning Pages encourages me to nourish my creative soul. Ending my evenings with quiet time to write in my Gratitude Journal comforts even the busiest of days. As a new gardening season dawns upon us here in the Midwest, I’ve been thinking a great deal about the different ways I have preserved my garden memories over the years…

Thirty years ago this Spring, I bought my cozy, little bungalow with its large, mature garden. Oh, my! There was so much to learn (and remember) ~ both inside and outside!!  My dear, sweet parents would come visit every weekend to help with house restoration projects. My mom offered her sage wisdom as she taught me all about gardening. (Heartfelt thanks, Mom, for sharing your passion for gardening with me!) I definitely needed a place to hold all of this new learning!

That Spring, so long ago, my garden memory-keeping began…

My earliest garden journal was a simple, spiral sketchbook, filled with pencil-drawn maps of each flower bed. As I learned the names of my plants, I would happily add them to the little maps.  Plant tags and empty seed packets were taped into my journal as my garden grew. I took careful notes of how many flats of each annual I bought to add instant color on planting day, every year in mid-May.

Over the years, my gardening style evolved into cottage gardens filled with old-fashioned perennials… and my garden journal grew even more important. Each year, I happily dug, divided, and moved my perennials around and created new flower beds. Every Spring, I was so grateful that I had those little garden maps to help me identify the foliage as the perennials peeked through the soil!

Years later my garden grew again, as my dad and I worked together to build raised beds and a white picket fence to create my Herb & Tea Garden. My garden journal was filled with dreams, measurements, lists of culinary herbs and herbs for tea. (Huge thanks, Dad, for making my garden dream come true!)

Every year, I took photos to document the changes as my garden grew. With the advent of digital photography, my garden memory-keeping took a different turn. Instead of pencil and paper, I began recording the changes in my garden with weekly photographs of each perennial and herb bed. At the end of the growing season, I looked forward to creating a digital slide show of the year in the garden. I adored those slide shows, burned them to CDs, and shared them with family and friends. What could be sweeter on a cold, Winter’s day than to take a year-long ‘walk’ through the garden, while enjoying a cup of tea! It was also a great resource as I planned for the next gardening season.

For the past three gardening seasons, my blog has been a handy place for garden memory-keeping. It’s fun to look back to see when my perennials bloomed and to plan for changes in the garden. It has also been a great way to share plants with nearby friends. After seeing blossoms in blog photos, several friends have come to dig flowers to start gardens of their own. Sharing plants is truly one of my favorite joys of gardening!

Last summer, inspired by the wonderful book The Right-Size Flower Garden, I began making some very big changes in my garden. I decided to eliminate my large Cutting Garden bed, and transplanted several old-fashioned favorites to the borders of my Herb & Tea Garden. Next, I eliminated a very wild Butterfly Garden bed and created a History Garden bed filled with perennials that have been a part of my garden since long before I moved here. After all of these changes, I sketched and watercolored two new garden maps. Thank goodness for the garden maps! Now it is such a delight to watch the foliage of those perennials emerge in their new beds this Spring!

There will be many more big changes here during the 2017 gardening season as I continue to ‘right-size’ my perennial beds in the front yard. It feels like this could be the year that my garden will undergo the biggest changes of all.  In addition to garden maps, photos, and gardening blog posts, my heart has been wanting an extra-special way to preserve this year’s garden memories.

So, I have just begun keeping a journal of “Garden Joys.”

I think it will become a wonderful place for quiet reflection

and feelings about all of the changes ahead in my garden this year.

I’m excited to use a few art supplies from my little Paper Garden studio downstairs

as I document this year’s garden!

There will be a bit of doodling, along with bullet-style journal entries.

 So far, I’m really enjoying this style of memory-keeping!

It’s inspiring to try something so different from my earlier garden journals.

It’s a fun way to nourish my creative soul and grow…  just like my garden!

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Do you keep a garden journal or preserve your garden memories in some way?

Hope you will share with all of us!

♥♥♥

If you are curious about some different ways

that people document their gardens,

be sure to visit my blogging friend at Jean’s Garden.

Jean has done some interesting research on different varieties of

Garden Record-Keeping and has some very helpful tips to share!

♥♥♥

Thanks so much for stopping to visit!

Wishing you gentle showers followed by warm, sunny days…

It’s your time to bloom!

♡ Dawn

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Home ‘Tweet’ Home

Foxgloves

Hi Friends!

Oh, my! These young summer days are keeping me as busy as a bee outside! I celebrated the Summer Solstice by spending the whole day in the garden. Time in the garden has been a rare blessing for the past few weeks. So, it was a real treat to make time for a bit of pruning and weeding on the longest day of the year. What a glorious morning it was!

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‘Stella d’Oro’ Daylily (Hemerocallis) and ‘Dalmation Rose’ Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea) add a welcome splash of color to our white, picket fence Herb & Tea Garden in June.

 

As I worked, surrounded by a sea of bright, orange Daylilies and fluffy, white ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangeas, the butterflies and bees were busy working right alongside me. The birdsong was especially cheerful on this special day, too!

As I busily pruned the Quince bush that grows near our ‘Welcome’ arbor, I had to suddenly stop cutting the long branches.

For there it was…

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Robin’s nest with four eggs waiting to hatch.

The mother robin must have seen me approach with my pruning sheers in hand and quickly flown away. I was astonished to find the sturdy nest with four beautiful eggs!  Of course, I had to stop pruning and left the nest undisturbed, hoping the mother would return. The Quince bush has a very funny shape right now, short in front, with long branches remaining in the back to protect the nest.

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With great relief, I noticed the mother robin return shortly to her little Home ‘Tweet’ Home!

Just a few feet away, while I weeded along the Friendship Garden bed, I could hear very cheery, bubbling birdsong nearby. I quickly discovered that the music was echoing from a unique, wooden birdhouse that has been in my garden for years. I’ve always considered it decorative, with its barnwood box, metal roof, and interesting, antique metal embellishments. Mounted on a pitchfork, this birdhouse always stands waist-high in a Daylily bed, near our garage.

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Imagine my delight, as I followed the singing and peeked in to see little beaks bobbing up and down! All weeding stopped, as I reached for my camera, and watched Mother Nature’s show on this first day of summer! The happy family of house wrens continued to sing for their breakfast, while the mother and father dashed out to bring back moths and other insects. They watched me, as I sat motionless watching them. One-at-a-time, the adults would hunt for an insect, land on the white picket fence near the Foxglove, fly to the small Elm tree, fly to the birdhouse, look around and dart into the hole. It happened again and again as they worked to feed their happy, little family! (You can enjoy their bubbly birdsong here.)

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There is nothing quite like a small, happy family taking good care of one another,

in an old home surrounded by colorful, flower gardens.

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It is definitely a Home ‘Tweet’ Home kind of summer here this year!

I have undertaken a HUGE project that will truly keep me as busy as a bee for quite a while.

Working on home improvements makes me oh-so-happy!

I have always loved restoring the beauty of an older home.

In fact, that’s the reason that I moved into this cozy bungalow so many years ago.

All those years of watching This Old House and reading Old House Journal have left their mark on my heart.

As our home nears the century mark, it’s time for another project filled with hard work and tender, loving care.

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Front Porch Restoration ~ Phase One: Ceiling and Trim

While my parents were visiting us in May, we shopped together for the best tools and supplies for my big project. In early June, I began the front porch restoration. Scraping and painting the ceiling and trim took weeks. I am taking special care as I remove the old paint, so clean up each day has been long and meticulous. My husband and I wrapped the front of the house in plastic to protect it from dripping paint. (Thank goodness! There were lots of drips.) I’m so happy with the way the ceiling turned out!

This week, I will scrape and paint the four porch columns. In the coming weeks, I will work to strip and restore the floor. Finally, we will have new railings and stairs designed and built. With each phase of the project, I am learning new things. It was so exciting to discover all of the colors that the ceiling had been painted over the years! As I work, I often think about the history of our front porch and why it is so important to me to carefully preserve it. I can’t wait to hang the original porch swing again, bring out the original rocking chair, and add our vintage wicker furniture to this very special outdoor room!

Day-after-day as I work, neighbors are offering kind words of encouragement and passersby often call out, “Lookin’ good!” as they walk past. My favorite music is playing  and I’ve been singing along to keep my energy high. I’ve had to climb down from my ladder several times to do a little happy dance… because that’s just how I am feeling! ♥

Taking on a HUGE project like this really feels quite

exhausting,

achy (with sore muscles),

hot (especially wearing protective gear),

solitary (missing fun times with my friends),

challenging (as I solve problems along the way),

but most of all…

empowering!!

I love it!

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Waving from the top of my ladder!

I’ll be back just as soon as I can… with so much to share.

Sending happy summer wishes from our little Home ‘Tweet’ Home to yours!

Warm hugs!

♡Dawn

P.S.  When was the last time you completed a hard task that left you feeling empowered? Hope you will share with us…

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Chatting By the Garden Gate

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Hi Friends!

Springtime days in the garden just make my heart sing! Warm, sunny days seem extra-special this Spring because they have been so rare. We are experiencing cooler than normal temperatures and twice the normal rainfall here in the Midwest. In fact, 17 of the last 24 days have been rainy days. This week alone, the rain gauge in our garden has collected two and one-half inches of rain! More storms are on the way…

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Delicate blossoms of ‘Cranesbill’ Geranium brighten our perennial borders.

Each time the rain stops, a bit of gardenkeeping begins. Everything is growing so quickly! The pollinators have already been very busy doing their important work in the garden.  The bee baths are collecting rainwater and encouraging the bees to stay in our garden, rather than leaving to find fresh drinking water.

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I have been dividing clumps of Spring blooming Anemones in our Friendship Garden bed.

Our Friendship Garden bed always beckons me first when gardening season begins. As I work, I try to watch my step, hoping to prevent some soil compaction in the wet, fragile earth. The ‘perennial’ chore of digging up invasive Bishop’s Weed seems endless in our garden. I divided several perennials before adding a fresh layer of mulch to this large backyard bed. Very soon, this special flower bed will be all abloom in the colors of Springtime!

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Ferns unfurl in our Woodland bed, beneath the towering pine trees.

The additional moisture this season has encouraged the ferns and hostas to unfurl so quickly! We have an abundance of small ferns this year.  This week, I transplanted a few into pots for the front porch. It’s a bit of ‘trial and error’ research! Have you had success transplanting ferns into containers? A few years ago, I transplanted hostas into containers with great success. They thrive on our shady front porch and overwinter easily in our unheated garage. I’m so curious to see if the potted ferns will be just as happy and content!

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Lily of the Valley add their heady fragrance to the Woodland garden bed.

The month of May has always been my favorite time in the garden. It’s truly enchanting to see lush foliage, pops of color, and swelling buds that seem to change daily! May holds the promise of all the months yet to come. I have been mowing the lawn often and digging up dandelions, too. Today as I worked, the first peony opened its petals. A short time later, the first ‘he loves me’ Daisy bloomed. It’s always fun to reward all of my hard work by picking bouquets of blossoms!  It was a treat to fill a stoneware crock with Lilacs for the front porch last week. Yesterday I filled a small, pink vase with Bleeding Hearts and Lily of the Valley to bring a bit of Springtime inside. It’s the little things that make life so sweet!

After mid-May, I look forward to planting some new additions in our Friendship Garden. Hyacinth bean vines will climb a trellis and historic Western Jacob’s Ladder will grow along our white picket fence. There is also a new addition for our Herb Garden. For the very first time, we hope to grow our own Red Kuri pumpkins for our favorite Autumn soup. Next week, it will be time to fill containers with colorful annuals, too. This weekend, our nighttime temperatures will drop into the 30s. So, I’m trying so hard to patiently wait… just a few more days!

I hope that you are enjoying a bit of time in nature, too. Whether you are working in the garden, walking in a park, or hiking through the woods, listen closely to the birdsong… and the song in your heart!

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I’m so happy that you stopped to chat by the garden gate today!

Can’t wait to share the most wonderful way to spend a rainy afternoon… next time!  ♡

Sunny wishes!

♡Dawn

  P.S.  What flowers are blooming in your garden this week?

Golden Sunshine

Come into my garden, so my flowers can meet you.

“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon:

to me those have always been the two most beautiful words

in the English language.”  

~ Henry James

Hi Friends!

What a delightful summer afternoon!

Today was made of blue skies, gentle breezes, warm sunshine,

buzzing bees, singing cicadas, and colorful butterflies fluttering about.

Happiness was blooming in every direction…

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“The garden

is a mirror of the heart.”

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Gardenkeeping was on my agenda today.

Mowing the lawn, trimming bushes, and deadheading flowers

are always much more fun

when one is surrounded by

golden sunshine!

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Bright yellow highlights our Friendship Garden this month.

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Rainy days in June helped the ‘Herbstsonne’ shining coneflower (Rudbeckia nitida ‘Herbstsonne’) grow taller than it ever has grown before!

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Bright patches of yellow add sunshine throughout the entire garden in August.

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Although phlox, salvia, obedient plant,

 mums, hydrangeas, bee balm, and coreopsis

fill the garden beds

with shades of purple and pink.

Yellow takes center stage in our garden in August,

brightening even the cloudiest of days

with

golden sunshine!

BlessingsFall

Today I hope you will find a little

golden sunshine…

and carry it with you wherever you go!

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Thanks so much for visiting today!

My flowers were so happy to meet  you!

Garden blessings!

♡ Dawn

P.S.  What color really stands out in your garden this week?

 

Garden Dreams…

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Who helped to plant your love of gardening?

Hi Friends!

It seems like just yesterday!

Those golden summer afternoons spent in the garden

while I was growing up are such sweet memories.

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My mom was as happy as a lark

tending her beautiful rose garden

and all of the old-fashioned perennial beds

that lined our backyard.

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I was as happy as a lark, too,

… sunbathing!

Mom gardened all around me,

while all of my attention was focused on

the latest issue of Seventeen magazine.

While she worked with her pruners, trowel, garden gloves, and flower basket,

my ‘garden tools’ were a beach towel, radio, Coppertone sunscreen, and sunglasses!

(Mind you, I wasn’t a princess! My outdoor chores included mowing the lawn, edging, shoveling snow,…)

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When our afternoon work was finished,

Mom and I would sit together in the shade

sipping iced tea and chatting.

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Oh, my…

If only I had been paying attention,

learning the names of all the plants and their special needs,

borrowing her tools and lending a hand…

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Yet during all of those summer afternoons so long ago,

I was learning something

important…

I saw the joy of gardening in my mom’s smiles

and the peaceful feelings found amongst her flowers!

{via}

Many years later,

after college, graduate school, and

teaching for several years,

 I finally saved enough money to buy

a home of my own.

It was a cozy little bungalow,

with a swing on the front porch,

and a large yard filled with garden beds.

(Oh no! Garden beds of my own?)

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The previous homeowner had planted lovely perennial beds and colorful annual beds.  My yard was filled with day lilies, still blooming almost thirty years later!

So, I happily watered everything in my garden each day!

My parents would come each weekend

helping to make my dreams come true.

My dad and I would work on restoration projects

and my mom and I would garden together.

Each weekend, Mom would point out the weeds and the flowers.

There was so much to learn!!

(If only I had been helping in her garden while I was growing up!)

Mom was so patient,

  each weekend teaching me how to plant, prune,

and deadhead the spent blossoms.

...

With Mom’s tender guidance, I grew more passionate about gardening with each passing year!

Over the winter months,

my parents helped my dreams grow

as we worked together

on indoor projects,

like stripping the paint to reveal the beautiful woodwork,

one room at a time.

My little bungalow was slowly,

very slowly,

returning to the original charm of its 1922 roots.

DSCN5366My dreams were coming true,

with the love and help of my incredible parents.

I planted new perennial beds ~ a Friendship Garden and Cutting Garden.

My dad and I worked together one summer long ago, to build my Herb & Tea Garden and an arbor.

Over the winter months,

I brought home armloads of gardening books

from the library,

and read and read…

and dreamed garden dreams.

I reread the same gardening books each winter

for several years…

 growing 

just like the plants in my garden!

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When my parents retired,

it was time to make their new dreams come true,

in the Sonoran desert,

in Arizona!

Now my mom happily gardens with

cacti, succulents, and desert wildflowers.

When I visit her desert garden,

I love learning the names of her flowers,

 trees, and cacti.

...

When we hike in the desert or walk through the neighborhood, there is always so much to learn about the plants of the Southwest!

Each summer,

when my parents come back to visit us,

my mom always brings her

garden gloves.

She loves the lush green abundance

of the Midwest,

where she learned to garden

when I was very young.

So, my mom and I spend precious moments

working side by side,

in my garden together!

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Playing in the garden together last week!

I feel so very

blessed

that my mom has shared

her love of gardening

and her gardening knowledge

with me over so many years!

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Heartfelt thanks, Mom, for helping my garden dreams come true!

You taught me how to bloom!

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Is there someone special in your life

who shared their love of gardening with you?

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Thanks so much for stopping by today! I always enjoy our visits!

Sending sunshine!

♡ Dawn

A Walk in the Garden

Hi Friends!

We are oh-so happy that July has arrived in the Midwest with bright, sunny skies!

We really need a little sunshine!

Our weather in June made the record books. It was our cloudiest June in 122 years and the fourth wettest June in Illinois history. Last month our area had eight inches of rainfall (twice the average June rainfall) and some areas south of Chicagoland had fifteen inches of rain. Roads flooded and rivers overflowed their banks. One terrible night, nine devastating tornadoes ripped through rural communities south of Chicago. What a month!

It’s time to look on the bright side of life…

Our gardens here are lush and flourishing!

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Let’s take a quick walk through the backyard garden today.

Step through the arbor

Bright, orange daylilies welcome friends, as we step through the arbor into the garden.

Clematis blooms fill the arbor

Colorful Clematis blossoms fill the arbor, twisting and climbing all the way over the top.

The flagstone path has been a special part of this garden since the 1920s. It leads to an old stone grill  and patio, built by the original homeowners.

The flagstone path has been a special part of this garden since the early 1920s. It leads to an old stone grill and patio, built by the original homeowners. Some day I will tell you the whole story! But we can’t linger today…

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The path leads to our Herb and Tea Garden. It is the Heart of My Garden, built with so much love! Culinary herbs fill one raised bed, Mints and sages, just perfect for making herbal tea, fill another raised bed. Next time, we will pick our favorites to make tea.  But we mustn’t linger today…

A weathered birdhouse

A weathered birdhouse welcomes our feathered friends to the Herb Garden, too.

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Our backyard is a sea of orange and yellow in late June. The daylilies bloom just in time for Father’s Day each year. Yellow Stella d’Oro daylilies add color to the Friendship Garden for many weeks.  Asiatic lilies show off their blossoms in the Cutting Garden.

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Pink Lacecap Hydrangeas and white Annabelle Hydrangeas put on a dramatic show with their large blossoms. Delicate blossoms add color and interest nearby.

I really wish that we could spend more time enjoying the garden together today.

However, along with the flourishing blossoms,

the mosquitoes are flourishing, too!

They are biting like piranhas and are really attracted to me.

News reports warn that Chicagoland will have the second largest mosquito population

in the United States this summer.

(Only Atlanta is predicted to have more mosquitoes than us.)

This week, as new broods of mosquitoes hatch, they are chasing me from the garden.

In midday, I wear long sleeves, long jeans, a hat, and garden gloves,

but still get bitten, and my face is covered with bites.

The brief moments that I take off my garden gloves to take photos,

my hands are covered with bites.

In addition to the discomfort, the bites can be dangerous.

Mosquitoes can carry West Nile virus and Chikungunya, a newer mosquito-borne virus.

It’s important to empty the standing water

from birdbaths and bee baths in the garden.

A green approach to keeping mosquitoes away includes planting

Citronella, Marigolds, Lavender, and Catnip.

The Basil and Lemon Balm in our Herb Garden are said to repel insects, too.

I’m afraid that insect repellent

will be a necessary item on our shopping list.

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I still dream of lingering in the garden on summer afternoons.

Yet this is becoming a very challenging gardening season!

Hope you can share some helpful ideas with us…

Sunny hugs!

♡ Dawn

Young Summer Days

White Peonies in bloom along white picket fence

“What is one to say about June,

the time of  perfect young summer,

the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months,

and with as yet no sign to remind one

that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.”

~ Gertrude Jekyll

Hi Friends!

It has been a perfect young summer week here in our Midwest garden! Our above-average rainfall in May has made the first week of June oh-so beautiful. This afternoon, as I worked in the Herb Garden, I had lovely company. Several robins kept me entertained as they splashed in the nearby birdbath, flew to the picket fence, and filled the air with their birdsong. A young rabbit happily munched on clover in the grass.

Our Friendship Garden bed is just beginning to show its June colors, with pale purple Iris, yellow Iris, deep purple Siberian Iris, bright pink Peony, deep blue Spiderwort, and delicate, white Anemones in bloom this week. These special perennials are all gifts from the gardens of friends. Admiring at each plant always brings warm memories of dear friendships in my life.

Enjoy a little peek at some of the ‘friends’ in this garden bed…

Deep purple Siberian Iris and delicate, white AnemonesDeep purple Siberian Iris and delicate, white Anemones show off their colors and distinct foliage.

Bright pink Peonies and creamy white Peonies

Bright pink Peonies and creamy, white Peonies add a heavenly scent to the Friendship Garden.

Siberian Iris with Birdbath

The slender, spiky foliage of Siberian Iris provides a sheltered area for a pretty birdbath.

Bee bath with Iris

This simple bee bath is a new addition to the Friendship Garden this week. A shallow bee bath, with rocks to land on, will encourage bees to stay longer when they visit the garden It was inspired by the amazing Stephanie who blogs at Garden TherapyI simply used a clay pot base, a shallow, stoneware bowl from the thrift store to hold fresh water, and river rocks. Now we have bee baths in the Friendship Garden, the Herb Garden, and the Cutting Garden to encourage pollinators to stay awhile.

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Gardenkeeping has filled my days this week, as I work to pull out groundcover-gone-wild from several flower beds. The culprit is Bishop’s Weed (Aegopodium podararia). This fast-growing groundcover was already growing in the garden when I moved here 28 years ago. In spite of constant attention, it spreads vigorously by shallow roots under the layer of mulch. Our rainy weather last month really jumpstarted its rapid growth. In June its white flowers, looking a bit like scraggly Queen Anne’s Lace, bloom atop 3 ft. stems. Each spring, I work so hard to pull out the Bishop’s Weed and dig its roots out of our Front Porch Garden, where it invades the Hostas, Hydrangeas, Salvia, Daylilies, Anemones, Coreopsis, and Dianthus. Although it remains  a constant work-in-progress,  I am very grateful for the damp soil this week that makes the job a bit easier!

Since we had close to 5 inches of rain during May, our soil remains quite damp. One thing that I am being mindful of is preventing soil compaction in our garden beds. When the soil is packed tightly, it is more difficult for the roots to grow and water runs off, rather than soaking into the soil. According to Garden Gate magazine, “Studies have shown that 80% of problems affecting plants may be caused by soil compaction.”  If the soil is compacted, there may be fewer flowers.

Did you know that foot traffic in the garden beds affects the top 6 inches of your soil?

If you garden in an area that has a wet Spring climate, it’s important to avoid soil compaction while cleaning up and planting. Garden Gate magazine offers some helpful tips to prevent soil compaction:

⚛   Creating narrow garden beds or border gardens, reachable from both sides, reduces the need to walk through the beds.

⚛   In wider garden beds, walking on stepping stones or a path can reduce soil compaction at the base of the plants.

⚛   Try to plan gardenkeeping tasks, like weeding or deadheading, when the soil is dry.

⚛   Mixing lots of compost into the soil will create air spaces. This helps the soil to spring back after it is stepped on.

⚛   Spreading a thick layer of mulch in the garden beds will encourage earthworms. They naturally break up the soil.

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Very sadly, some parts of our country are experiencing severe drought, while other areas are dealing with extreme flooding. Our thoughts go out to everyone who is affected by such harsh weather conditions. We hope that the weather will be kinder and that life can return to normal very soon.

I hope you can enjoy the beauty of the young summer days in your garden this weekend. If you are not a gardener, a walk in the park or through the neighborhood is a perfect way to enjoy a ‘taste’ of young summer days.

Respected British horticulturist, garden designer, and writer, Gertrude Jekyll,  reminds us all that June is “the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months.”  We have waited a very long time! These young summer days are a delightful treat! Enjoy!

Happy weekend!

♡ Dawn

            P.S.  What gardenkeeping tasks are keeping you busy this week? Which June blossoms are your favorite?