Chatting By the Garden Gate ~ August

Hi Friends!

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? ā™„ 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! šŸ™‚

These old-fashioned Phlox have bloomed in my cottage garden for over 33 years! I have moved them from bed to bed several times. They seem very happy near the arbor in my Friendship Garden bed.

 

Phlox blossoms add a pop of color to our garden every August. The pollinators just love them!

 

Transplanting Phlox from place to place in my garden always feels like ‘watercoloring’ with real flowers. These closeups inspire me to mix watercolors on my palette and paint Phlox blossoms one day. šŸ™‚

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.

‘Stella D’Oro’ Daylilies make wonderful cut flowers. Although each blossom lasts only one day, there are several large buds on each stem.

 

The ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea blossoms turned from bright white to the palest shade of green as they began to dry on the plants. I love this shade! Now they are changing to a darker shade of green. It’s time to cut them to decorate some grapevine wreaths!

 

My perennial garden is bathed in bright, sunny blossoms

of Rudbeckia and Black-eyed Susans every August.

The Rudbeckia ‘Herbstsonne’ are much taller than me! I have to wait in line with the pollinators when I cut blossoms to fill vases. A nearby bee bath keeps the pollinators happy.

 

A bee bath in the Friendship Garden encourages the pollinators to stay longer in our garden. The Garden Stones encourage me to be mindful of my special ‘word’ for each year while I savor time in the garden!

 

 

Black-eyed Susans and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ line the walkway to our front porch. Such a lovely combination of sunny yellow and pale purple! This week’s garden bouquet for my mom featured Black-eyed Susans and delicate, purple stems of Hosta blossoms. Such a happy combination! ā™„

 

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!! šŸ™‚ 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!Ā  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!Ā  (Repeat after me… “These are not children or pets.” šŸ˜‰ )

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. šŸ™‚

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!) šŸ™‚Ā  Hmmm. Any guesses?Ā  šŸ˜‰

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!

ā™„ā™„ā™„

Thank you for joining me

for a very chatty, garden walk today!

 

Stay safe, sweet friends!

Be well.

ā™„

 

Perennially yours,

ā™” Dawn

 

 

 

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Sunshine in My Soul

Hi Friends!

Happy Eclipse Day! There is excitement in the air across America today as a total solar eclipse travels across our country. After a lovely morning in the garden, I am currently watching the progression of the eclipse in a live tv broadcast. Although I won’t be looking skyward during the eclipse, I will spend time on the front porch listening to the changes in the birdsong and the cicadas, as the sky darkens and the temperature quickly drops. Our area will experience 87% totality. Several of our friends and family have made the five hour drive to experience 100% totality over southern Illinois. Are you watching the eclipse today?

My garden is all abuzz with pollinators hard at work. I have also been working hard, week after week, to ‘right-size’ my perennial garden beds. There is sunshine in my soul today as I reflect back on all of the big changes that I made in the garden throughout the Spring and Summer. My big garden projects are now complete for 2017. šŸ™‚Ā  There will be a bit more time to enjoy my perennial favorites…Ā  all abloom in in mid August.

‘Blue Mist’ Bluebeard,Ā  ‘Royal Standard’ Hosta, ‘Annabelle’ Hydrangea, and ‘Early Blue’ Hydrangea

I have been enjoying documenting my garden memories, too. Bright, yellow perennials always have a starring role in my cottage gardens in August. So, of course, I doodled a few yellow coneflowers in my ‘Garden Joys’ journal this month. It’s lovely to look back over all that has happened in the garden so far in 2017.

Pleasant, cool mornings were a delight as I finished the last of the big garden projects that I planned for this summer.Ā  šŸ™‚

There will still be lots of gardenkeeping tasks in the coming weeks, but my thoughts will now turn to a few indoor projects.

Best of all, there will be more creative time in my little Paper Garden studio downstairs! I have been longing to practice more Chlorophyll Printing using the herbs from my garden. My first experience with this technique was last December. At that time, my garden was already asleep for the Winter. I couldn’t wait to try this interesting technique again during the Summertime!

So, the other day I walked along the garden path to my Herb & Tea Garden and happily snipped a few of my favorite herbs.

Using my Big Shot tool (Tab 2), I pressed herb leaves on different types of paper to create prints. (See Lydia Fiedler’s full tutorial here. She is my Chlorophyll Printing inspiration!) Instead of ink, Nature’s colors were pressed onto the paper. Heavenly herbal scents filled my little studio as I worked!Ā 

I was most successful using Recollections 110 lb Ivory cardstock. Although I really thought that watercolor paper would work well, it didn’t turn out that way for me. I also tried different types of kraft cardstock without too much success. I will definitely continue to experiment with Chlorophyll Printing!

I think it would be lovely to make prints using ferns, too. It will still take more practice to create better prints. Wouldn’t it be fun to create vintage-looking botanical prints of ferns on a kraft background, with the botanical names hand lettered? Oh yes! IĀ  can envision a series of framed prints as yet another way of preserving and displaying garden memories! šŸ™‚

Printed with with Candy Cane mint from my herb garden

I used the best of my Chlorophyll Prints to create a few notecards.

Chlorophyll Print using Chocolate mint from my herb garden

 

Chlorophyll Prints created with Sage from my herb garden.

Sending ‘happy mail’ while sharing the bounty of my garden with family and friends is one of my favorite ways to ‘give love.’ Finding new ways to combine my passions for gardening and card making truly puts sunshine in my soul!

Lately, I have been very intentional about finding ways to bring sunshine into my soul. Writing ‘Morning Pages‘ continues to help nourish my creative heart and soul. Taking a break from watching the news helps, too. Recently, I lit a candle as I wrote, in remembrance of the terrible events in Charlottesville and Barcelona that have touched all of our lives.Ā 

This weekend will be a big opportunity to bring sunshine into my soul. I will be joining with papercrafters from across the globe for the Papertrey Ink Stamp-a-Faire 2017. Although we will be working in our own creative spaces, we will all be working on the same Challenges and sharing our projects with one another online. Video tutorials by the amazing Papertrey Ink design team will present a new Challenge every two hours. (I am a little bit worried because I am a very slow cardmaker!) It’s sure to be three days of learning incredible new techniques and watching our skills grow! If you are interested, take a peek at the Stamp-a-Faire details and the weekend schedule. There will certainly be plenty of sunshine in my soul this weekend!

May your soul be filled with much sunshine, too!

 

Perennially yours,

ā™” Dawn

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