Saturday, September 1, 2012

Farewell to August

Inca Marigolds in deep orange bordered by Profusion Cherry zinnias.
I thought I'd take a walk through the garden tonight with Joel's camera to record the last blooms of August.  Here we are heading through the garden gate right around sunset.  I had to take pictures quickly because the light conditions change so fast.  Sunset is my favorite time in the garden, the shadows give great depth and mystery.

  (And you can't see the weeds as well, either.)

 This is the time of year I enjoy the most for now the annuals we raised so carefully in the spring take center stage.  With the drought and extreme temperatures we had this year, not every plant performed as well as they usually do.  In other words, plants I tried for the first time will have to have a second or maybe even third year of planting trials before I can determine if the plant is really a dud or not.

Profusion Cherry Zinnia looking very tired in the River Bed.
Take for instance my very favorite zinnias, the Profusion series.  They have had a very hard time of it this year.  This zinnia has been a fixture here in my garden for ages.  However, if this had been the first year out, I doubt I would ever plant it again.  Most of them look pretty ratty right now.

And some of them look worse than ratty.

Many of them have given up the ghost.  Dead as a doornail. 

Looks like a color/negative shot, doesn't it?
Depending on their location in the garden and soil conditions their appearances vary.  There's a possibility some had more shade or moisture than others.

The same zinnia, bordered by 'Crystal White' angustifolia zinnia out by the mailbox.
The picture above is what the Cherry Profusions usually look like right up until frost.  No dead-heading necessary, either.  Will I plant them again next year?  You bet.  Though they look pretty toasted in some areas of the garden, the fact they're still alive is a testament to their worth.

The white zinnia in the picture above is another annual I adore.  Zinnia angustifolia "Crystal White' may not look like much when you first plant it, but it is a powerhouse of bloom, never needing deadheading and tough as nails.  Powdery mildew is very, very rare with this plant.
Can't see the tree grates very well anymore, the hyacinth beans are covering them up.
The white flowers at the base of the driveway beds are also Crystal White zinnias.  The soil they are growing in here was downright awful when we started planting the area, mostly gravelly sand.  But the zinnias can take a beating and keep on flowering.

The first picture is the west side of the driveway and the petunias are putting on a wonderful display right now.  Gotta love the hay mulch we put down earlier this year, it certainly kept them going.  Bubblegum pink Supertunia is in the pot (I made cuttings of these and they filled out beautifully) and the others are Grape and Pink Avalanche petunias along with a Denver Daisy rudbeckia and another batch of Inca Orange marigolds from seed. 

Just another view of the same side, I was enjoying the way the evening sun was hitting the Karl Foerster grasses and the Emerald Green cedar.
 I planted hyacinth beans on the tree grate trellises; well, that was a waste of time.  There have been no blooms at all.  Normally they would be dripping with purple flower clusters and lovely purple bean pods.  But not this year.  At first I thought it was because the tree grates are cast iron, and boy, the iron did get HOT when the temps soared, but even the beans planted on my normal trellis in the River Bed have failed to put out many blooms at all.

So, the poor hyacinth bean would have been another casualty scratched off my 'Stuff to Plant Again' list if I didn't know what they can do in a more normal conditions.   Hey, everybody has the right to have an 'off' year, right?

Let's see the other side of the driveway:
As I mentioned, the soil in this bed started out less than desirable, but as the years go by, the mulch breaks down, improving the fertility.  The little white flowers are the zinnia angustifolias again, but the bigger blob of white on the right is Tidal Wave Silver petunia.  I wasn't sure if my seedlings would survive out by the road, but I guess I have my answer.  The Tidal Wave is starting to climb the cedars.  This is the first year I've planted them directly in the ground, and it won't be the last.  If they can handle the heat of a gravel driveway and tree roots to compete with, they are keepers for sure.

The hyacinth beans on the east side of the driveway really look pathetic, though I kinda like their leaves softening the cast iron.

Willie the Willow and Ernie, two year-round companions in our driveway.
Ernie the Urn, sporting his Bubblegum Supertunias, wanted to get in on the act, too, so here is a dramatic side profile of his rugged good looks.  The petunias in the foreground, among the Dusty Millers (which also wintered over and came back this summer---gosh, we had a mild winter!) are seedlings coming into bloom for the first time this year as volunteers from Ernie's parent plants. 
Willie is a massive willow tree already. I had to smile when I overheard some garden visitors gazing up into his branches and canopy and wondering how old he was.

 "I wonder if anyone will ever know how many years this tree has been here?"one of them asked the other.  "Can you imagine what tales this tree could tell of how things have changed in all the years it has lived?"

Well, I know how old Willie is.


I hated to burst the bubble of our visitors, though, because they thought he was Ancient.  Somewhere around here is a photo of me, sitting on our brand-spanking new electrical power box with what looks like a feather in my hair.   The 'feather' was Willie who was planted just behind the power box.   I was 20 years old and Willie was just a sprout then.     He was given to us as a little whip that had been rooted in a pail of water by Carl's late uncle, Jack.  When we planted the tiny branch, we had no idea it would survive in the sand, but we kept watering it.  Apparently he liked it here. 
Found the picture....there's me and Willie waaaaaayyy back in 1978.  (Time was kinder to Willie.)  And that hayfield is our garden now. 

We have worries about him falling over and landing on the house some day, and have done some preventative pruning here and there.    Weeping willow trees are not for everyone; so many visitors say they like the look of the tree, but would never plant one due to their messiness.  I don't feel Willie is any more or less messy than any other tree, really.  Yeah, he loses twigs here and there, that's for certain,  and he needs his bangs trimmed every so often, but he is so well-behaved, allowing hostas to thrive right up to his trunk.  No roots to deal with, considering his size. 
St. Fiacre enjoys the shade along with Gold Standard hostas and a climbing hydrangea.

And the shade he casts is a cool oasis on a hot summer day.  Willie is the first tree to leaf out in the spring and the last to lose his leaves in the fall.  In fact, we've had snow on the ground in both spring and summer and there's Willie, wearing his green in spring and bright yellow in the fall.   No other tree has the graceful  movement in a passing breeze.  For all Willie does around here, I can put up with his 'messiness'. 
 As long as we're still in the driveway, there's my lightshades full of petunias.  Once the flowers fill out, you can't tell what they're planted in.  The planters really look tough now, though.  I didn't trim them back the way I should have and along with the blazing heat, they've been through a lot.  But they're still doing their best to blossom.
The hoses add a nice touch, don't they?  Ooops.

Ok, enough with the driveway already, let's head for the Pachyberm out on the front lawn.
My favorite time of year with the ornamental grasses is here.....they're blooming.  I can't capture the essence of the way light plays on them, though. 

The miscanthus is eating the pathway, but that's ok.

More miscanthus, Emerald Green cedars and Cassia Alata seedlings in the foreground from my friend and fellow blogger, Cindy aka Tufa Girl in Fort Worth, Texas.  I was so hoping to see the cassias bloom, but I don't think our growing season is long enough.

The leaves are so exotic, I'm going to try to germinate some more of the seeds next spring and try again.  Cindy, if you're reading this, I love this plant!

Another oddity this year were my castor beans, which should be towering in the range of six+ feet by now.  Well, they're about two feet tall, but they're still growing.
Two foot tall castor beans and cassias.  But they're pretty.
 Cindy said the cassias would be just about the same size as the castor beans.  And they are both short this year.  I feel bad about the castor beans too.....I had 'blue' castor beans one year and thought I'd saved the seed.  Well, apparently I saved the wrong seed because all of my crop this year is red.  Drat.  I'll have to germinate some more next spring and see if I can 'find' the blue ones. 
Castor Beans finally flowering.
Silver grass doing what it does best, reflecting light.
Karl Foerster lighting up the yard behind the house.
And another specimen out by the road with zinnias and salvias.
Gotta hurry up, it's getting darker out.  Pachyberm with assorted grasses and some struggling rudbeckias.
Moving on to Thing One and Two bed
We limbed up all the cedars over by the little foot bridge this summer.  At first we had one of those 'what have we done' moments, but now it's growing on us.  There are new vistas to enjoy now instead of straggly limbs lying on the ground.

Of course, we had to move some rocks in to the area.  The way the sunset lit up this one caught my eye.

The begonias have finally taken off down by the dry river bed.  The tree in the background is 'Fat Albert' dwarf spruce, kept as small as possible by my amateur pruning efforts.

Let's head to the Formal Garden.  Now the mosquitoes are bugging me, gotta step it up a bit.

The plantings in this garden didn't do much at all, but there's some color.  I'm thinking of moving more hostas down here as the crabapple trees mature.  The inside walls need straightening, too.

Follow me to the Quarry.  Nope, there ain't much water.  But what can we do?  Did I mention we lost our big koi this year?  Raccoons came when the water was even lower than this and somehow cornered the twelve year-old fish. Judging by the huge scales we found lying on the shore, the pests had a fish dinner.  Oh, we felt SO bad.  I just hope the end was quick.

Looking down from the top

Up from the bottom, lol.

 From the Quarry to the Formal Garden.

The back wall of the Quarry.  See the sand on the fourth level?  Woodchucks have been digging.  SIGH!

Goldsturm rudbeckias are still blooming, but even they are starting to wane. 

East Hill

Really getting dark here...trusty Aermotor windmill in background.

Little closer......I moved the potted petunias here after we yanked out all the Indian Summer rudbeckias.  And can you find the live trap in this picture?  Trying to catch the woodchuck who keeps on DIGGING holes everywhere!

The bees are building nests under the cut stones needing mortar.  Carl used the flame thrower and changed their minds a bit.
Heading to Aaargh....Carl worked all afternoon battling the wasps.  We may be good to go tomorrow morning, but we'll be cautious.  In the picture above, the circle is going to be a round window.

Heading over to the main hosta beds, the Royal Standard hostas are blooming now on the right.  Love their fragrance.

 I had no idea the impatiens would thrive in this area as well as they have.  Just another oddity chalked up to the weather. 

  Heck, they're making our bigger rocks look puny.

Ok, almost done on this walk-through.  Getting really, really dark.

What have I learned from this growing season's successes and failures? 

You can't control the weather.

"If at first your plants don't succeed........

Try, Try, Again."

There's always next year, and we gardeners are an Optimistic Bunch.

 Hope you all have a great Labor Day Weekend!!


Nadezda said...

Karen, stunning pics! I love your spruce, its color is pretty. I have the fir the same color.

Sue said...

I loved it ALL---and in particular your remarks about the toughest annuals. I've been getting SO confused over petunia strains and at least now I have some good varieties to try. Thank you! And despite the horrible heat and drought of this year, your garden is amazing. Love the photo of you. I can't imagine EVER being that young. LOL!

FlowerLady said...

Dear Karen ~ What a lovely evening's walk this Saturday morning as I drink my coffee. Makes me feel like I've been on a mini vacation. Your place is beautiful!

I love that photo of you!!

Hope you have a wonderful weekend.

FlowerLady Lorraine

Lona said...

I love your evening walk through the garden with the sun glittering through and the shadows. Your plants look beautiful despite this terrible dry and hot summer we have had. The grasses look so pretty now here as summer is coming to an end. Have a wonderful weekend.

Junebug said...

What a beautiful sunset walk I just took through your gardens. The pictures are stunning! Especially the 1978!!! Have a great weekend working in that beautiful yard of yours! hugs!!

Zoey said...

Love that Tidal Wave - such a pure white.

My hyacinth vine looks just like yours. It really does soften the metal. If it was nice and full it would probably hide too much of the lovely rustiness.

Holy smokes, Willy is amazing. I had to call my husband in to see how he grew!

Had to smile about the hoses in your picture. The same thing happens to me all the time. I will be very glad to put them away for the winter.

I have always bypassed Karl Foerster in the grass isle at HD (only source I have for it) because he looks pretty ugly in the store. After seeing how handsome he is in your garden, I may have to take a second look.

Hope you have a nice weekend, Karen. As always I will be working on labor day. :(

Debbie@Debbie-Dabble and A Debbie-Dabble Christmas said...


All I can say is Breath taking!! I can only imagine all the work you put into this magnificent place but the results are spectacular!!

What an achievement for the 2 of you!!

Debbie said...

Karen - You looked beautiful back then and you look beautiful today! That willow tress shows how a lifetime can grow and change with a beloved tree. We once had a Weeping Willow that my daughters cherished. They would gather the vines and swing from them.

Poor fish -- I guess I'll be dealing with racoons and such before too long again. We have some in our area that we live in now, but they don't make many appearances.

I love it when you take us along with you on those walks. You have me so addicted to hostas and can't wait to get them started on my acreage!

And, the place looked great, even with the hoses!


Karen said...

Hi Nadezda, oh, I bet your blue fir is really beautiful--and the needles must be very soft, too!

Sue, yeah, who knew I was ever young? And I was so camera-shy back in the day which is a real shame, since I'll never look like that again.
As far as the petunias go, pretty much any of the Waves have been good for me but no other petunia performs like Supertunias, especially Vista Bubblegum. I hear they are coming out with new colors next season. Can't wait to see what they hybridizers have come up with next.

Thank you, Lorraine. Every time I visit your blog, I feel so refreshed, too!

Lona, I hate to see the season end, but it was a bugger to keep up with all the watering. Those grasses really take up alot of room, and I love 'em for it, lol.

Junebug, oh, if I could have that 1978 figure back again! LOL Thank you.

Hi Zoey, too bad you always have to work on Labor Day, I'll be thinking of you. Karl Foerster is my Favorite of all the OG's. I know it looks really sad in pots most of the time in stores, but when it is in the ground it is a very versatile plant. I love it in all seasons, I could do a post just on good 'ol Karl, lol!

Hello Debbie, thank you, and I know how much work you put into your lovely home and decor, too. It is a labor of love, sweat and tears, isn't it?

Lana, you're too kind! Gosh, I'm blushing, lol. Yes, the raccoons are a nasty bunch, I hope you have no varmints when you move to your land, but they are everywhere, aren't they? And I smiled; my boys used to hang from Willie's branches, too.

Granny Lyn's Garden said...

Hi Karen , Everything in your garden takes my breath away. Wow!!! . Someday I am going to see it in person !!! I am making that promise to myself!
Take Care and God Bless,Lynda

Rosemary said...

Totally loved the garden tour...... everything looks darn good to me....... even with the dryness.......

africanaussie said...

Thank you for another wonderful tour. I am always totally amazed by the amount of colour you manage to cram into your garden. awesome!

Anonymous said...

Hello my sweet, How I've missed our chats this year. The garden is amazing you have had a tough year with the heat but have still produced a STUNNING garden.
Huge hugs my friend x

Corner Gardener Sue said...

Hi Karen,
Your place looks grand to me. I love it! Yes, the season has been off. I'm hoping for enough snow this winter to ease our drought, and for next season not to be like this one.

Thanks for taking us on your walk. I hope you got in before the mosquitoes came out. I'm sorry about your fish. Larry has tried to keep a couple in his water garden, but raccoons found them more than once.

Cathy Wiechert said...

I love the tree story and the beautiful pic of you! As always, your gardens are gorgeous. If only I had just a smidge of your green thumb...

Peonies & Magnolias said...

I so enjoyed walking through your gardens. You and Carl have such a beautiful place and I love seeing all your pics. Have a great week.


Beth said...

Karen, I'm always glad to take a virtual walk in your fabulous gardens! Thanks for the tour. Your annuals are the stars of the show right now. Loved seeing them!

Shyrlene said...

I just love your gardens ... someday when my gardens 'grow up', they might look half that lush!

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