Sunday, June 17, 2012

Clean Slate

It's been a long while since I wrote a garden blog post. That's because my garden has been in cold storage, so to speak.
Last year, tiring of the never-ending lawn chores, my husband hired a lawn care service to mow the lawn and clean out the beds of the thistles that had overtaken them. Unfortunately, while they were enthusiastic with the weed whacker, they didn't know enough about which were ornamentals and which were weeds. As they removed everything, including old mulch, with a vengeance, I lost many of my painstakingly grown perennials ( Sob, sob, goodbye Coneflowers and farewell tulips!) Incidentally, he decided that the ox-eye daisies, technically a weed, were ornamentals, and left those painstakingly in place. How annoying!
I was so disgusted with the whole thing, that I let it be for a whole year without attempting to add new plants. But hope springs eternal. This spring I felt the urge to surround myself with colors and new plants to fill the voids left, including the one resulting from the removal of a hedge of hollies near our deck that my husband had always decried. "What is this useless stuff, nothing but berries and thorns?"
I planted rose bushes where the hollies once stood. Just as thorny, but producing profusions of great yellow flowers that even my husband couldn't question, as they looked fantastic. These were end-of-season clearance from the local grocery, and were very unfussy prolific bud producers. I rounded those out with a tiny 'Knockout' rose and a blue hydrangea that I thought would like the partly shaded spot.Never mind if the colors don't match exactly. Martha Stewart's garden, this ain't!
Other than that, I decided to restore an azalea to a spot where it once stood, cut down some years ago because the older shrub was growing too straggly. No more unidentifiable perennials to be mowed down by an clueless lawn guy. A substantial, tagged shrub would not be weed-whacked out of existence. Annuals would add some color, and I wouldn't feel too bad about those being cut down by mistake, so in went a few petunias, celosia, and lobelia in assorted locations, both ground and pots.
Bee balm ( and I swear that I saw a hummingbird darting around it a few days ago), daylilies, tall phlox, sedum, a mini-rhododendron and a peony rounded up my list for a long problematic area near our deck. Once in the early years, it used to be a wildlife wonderland with assorted vines and a line of arborvitae separating our plot from the neighbor's. But it was deemed too untidy and to be removed and mulched over. When the removal was complete and mulch in place, I attempted planting some bulbs which enlivened only the spring. By summer, it became a fiesta of fleabane and thistles, some growing as high as 6 feet tall.  I spent some time and energy putting in black eyed susan, Russian sage, lavender, and assorted daylilies. All were now gone in the most recent sweep, along with the mulch which lent some depth to the area.
Now I went in there, adding in my new acquisitions.  I still need to put in a few more, then will place down newspaper and mulch surrounding the plants. Let me see if these will survive into the next season, despite clueless lawn guys and itinerant turkey and deer that love to munch on these kinds of delicacies. 
My English and French lavender survived the plant holocaust, fenced in as they were in my old vegetable garden. They have grown tremendously, producing profusions of fragrant blossoms, the delight of bumblebees and honeybees that buzz around incessantly from sun up till sun down.
I cut down the humongous thistles growing there and have put in a couple of cheap flats of an Early Boy hybrid tomato and a solitary zucchini. I will start pole beans and okra from seed. Again, no fear if I take off a couple of weekends this summer on road trips. If they survive they will, if not I shall not worry to much about them.

Here's a sampling of photos from my garden:








Balachandran V said...

By the time I reached the end of the post, I had an image of your garden in my mind; disappointed to find pictures of individuals, rather than the whole garden.

The way you describe your garden and you potting around - there is something ethereal about it, something spiritual, meditative... discovering pleasure and joy in the simple things of life is difficult and easy at the same time. Peace!

Sujatha said...

The locations of the plants are rather scattered, not an organic whole melding into a rainbow of colors, so an overall look will not be particularly attractive. Also, I'm a miniaturist and macro-fan when it comes to floral photography, so I tend to concentrate on close up shots whenever possible.

Maybe someday, when the gladioli have come in, I may include a long shot...

Lekhni said...

The celosia is beautiful, and something I've never encountered before. I've never had good luck with the blue "Endless Summer" hydrangea - I planted one which died, planted another in its place and that too died. Maybe it was the spot, but much as I like hydrangea, I've never mustered the courage to buy another one :(

Sujatha said...

@Lekhni: You haven't seen celosia before? I thought it would have been a staple at most garden stores. I find mine in K-mart and Walmart. There's a beautiful pink variant and orange var too- both are relatively inexpensive. There's also the rather pricey large version that I saw at Home Depot with huge showy red flowers. Mine are the smaller variant that I plant in combination with blue lobelia, just around the start of summer.
My 'Endless Summer' hydrangea is undergoing 'endless suffering' too- it wilts in the slightest sun, despite being in a location that gets only a few hours of sun every day. I'm hoping it will tide over this winter and survive into next year. We shall see. If it doesn't pick up by the fall, I may have to move it to a more shaded location, even if that doesn't bode well for the flowers.