For a person who harps on the joy and importance of getting in every garden you can (there's always a takeaway!), I don't really go on nearly enough garden tours. However, our master gardener group recently had the opportunity to tour The Christopher Farm and Gardens, an expansive private garden that is often open for charity events.

It is a huge property with several diverse garden areas, lots of garden art, ponds and certainly many thousands of tons of rock. 

Here are a few shots from our visit.

Off the conservatory there was an 8-foot wire form planted with mandevilla and sweet potato vine.  It was quite impressive.

A lot of annual salvia was used.

There is a Heritage Garden, shown here, and a separate kitchen garden. Both had raised beds made of 4x4s, which I thought looked quite nice.

A Japanese garden had a lovely stream and a pond with koi.

Along the top of the Japanese garden a walkway made with these pavers guides visitors to the next garden.

An enormous grape arbor is too fun to not walk through.

I think this is the kitchen garden, but it may have been a separate cutting garden. Either way I still like the raised beds and the gravel.

Several areas encouraged you to walk OVER the water on small stone bridges. How can you resist?

I don't know what this plant is, certainly something in the buttercup family, but I thought it was very charming.

About three weeks before we visited they'd had a terrible hailstorm and all of their hostas were in absolute tatters. I felt terrible for them.

I don't know what tree this was but I loved this little starfish-like cluster of pinecones.

All of the glass art around the garden was made by local artists. I thought it looked quite nice in this bed.

Have you visited any great gardens this year?


It is always interesting to see how the same plant can grow differently in two almost identical locations. And in this latest case it was even a little disheartening.

Sweet Summer Love clematis is a prolific bloomer, but one that needs a good while to get established before it really starts showing off. Four years ago (I think), both my mom and I got one in a small quart-sized pot. I can't say mine had done much in terms of blooming in the past, although it's a lovely vine that always looks healthy.

But this year it's starting to do it's thing. In fact I was fussing over all the flowers—only about an inch or a little more each—on mine and all the buds yet to open. I spent a good amount of time with my camera capturing this beauty, which unfortunately is on a homemade support that rotted on one side and is starting to collapse.

Sweet Summer Love clematis closeup

Later that day I stopped by my parent's house. They live only about 15 minutes from me, just a touch farther away from Lake Michigan (which is THE weather influencer here), although much higher as I'm at lake level and they are on a bluff. 

I was taking a look around her garden, which always looks amazing as she is a dedicated weeder, turned a corner and saw this.

Sweet Summer Love clematis
The purple cloud towering over this corner of the garden at my parent's house is Sweet Summer Love clematis, looking quite different than the one at my house. By the way, the three marked trees on the right are all ashes that have succumbed to Emerald Ash Borer, like hundreds on their property. They planted them by the dozen when they built the house in the 1960s and all are failing, so their property is undergoing some rather dramatic changes.

Not only is this corner of her garden—one she only recently started gardening in—absolutely stunning, but rising above all of that amazing color is a purple cloud.

That's her Sweet Summer Love. It would not be an overstatement to guess that there might be 5,000 flowers on it. There is a beautiful painted tuteur that is about 7 feet tall or more under all that, not that you can see it. 
Sweet Summer Love clematis
If you look closely you can see the top of the tuteur sticking out the top.

I can't explain the difference. Perhaps her just slightly warmer garden made the difference. Or maybe her soil, which is heavier than mine and has more clay, is more appealing to this plant. Maybe she just has hers in a better spot all around.

Or maybe, just maybe, my garden is  just a week or so behind hers and mine will soon look like this.

A gardener can hope.


Have you noticed that I've not shown you much (or maybe anything) from the vegetable garden this year? That's because I got so late planting stuff that even my kale is only a few inches tall. The only variety I grow anymore is lacinato, which, as you can tell from the photo above from Mackinac Island makes a pretty great ornamental, as well as being so tasty!

If you've read much on this blog you know I can't resist a good alliteration, which makes me even more excited to be one of the "Garden Gurus" contributing to the Proven Beauty blog. My first post there is about how to get your garden ready for your vacation. I'd love it if you checked it out and maybe even left a comment. Thank you in advance!

Most people in today have never stood under a majestic elm tree, but a huge effort to bring elms back has been underway for years. This story about the process of reintroducing Dutch elm disease-resistant cultivars and getting elms back is fascinating.

The size of the landscape projects Deborah Silver works on is astounding to me.

Warning: This next bit has a couple of Amazon affiliate links in it. Thanks for supporting The Impatient Gardener!

I have found a product that seems to keep the rabbits from nibbling! It's a spray by Plantskyyd. But oh my lordy, it smells so foul. The smell goes away as soon as it dries, but it will clear your patio if you spray it. It's also made of blood and it looks like it, so the garden takes on a bit of a murder scene look. The staining (unless you get it on your clothes) also goes away. BUT I just found out they make a granular product that I'm going to try. Seems like it would be a lot nicer to use. I'll report back.

By the way, I still swear by Messina's Deer Stopper II for the deer situation. And it smells like cinnamon and cloves, so you're basically spraying Christmas on your garden.

This is such a lovely podcast episode by Margaret Roach and well worth a listen, but I warn you, it will make you hungry!

We are actually going to be social this weekend! We have a very large party (it's sort of a work thing but also all of our sailing friends will be there) tonight and then we're having people over tomorrow (I have a bit of last minute weeding to do for that). That's quite a lot of socializing for us so some time in the garden on Sunday will be lovely.

Do you have gardening plans this weekend and if you're growing food, what are you harvesting now?

Have a great weekend!


This is not an exciting photo.

It's exactly what it looks like: A recently mulched garden bed with very few plants in it.

I'm sharing it with you to show you that things don't always go as planned and sometimes you just have to do what you can.

When I decided last year to reclaim this little corner from the naturalized area that takes up a good portion of our property, I knew I was being optimistic. I honestly do not have time to adequately maintain all the garden beds I've created over the years. (This is what happens when Midwestern gardeners get bored in winter: We design new gardens that we don't have time for.) We planted a couple hundred pink daffodils in it last fall and in spring it looked very nice. The plan after that was to direct sow a bunch of seeds and let it go a little wild.

And then the rabbits came. Every seedling that managed to come up despite a fair bit of neglect on my part was promptly nibbled down. In the end, even the Icelandic poppies that I had nurtured since February were mowed down. I saw one bloom and the rabbits even ate that so I don't even have any seeds to show for it.

As is the case in these reclaimed areas (which are far more difficult to turn into a garden than an area that used to be lawn), the weeds started moving in. I knew that all my hard work (not to mention a yard of topsoil I bought last year) would quickly be undone if I didn't act quickly.

So last weekend I edged the bed (still my favorite way of improving any garden space), weeded it thoroughly and heavily mulched it with chips from trees we had cut down in spring. Sidenote: Finding a place for the arborist to put those wood chips instead of having them hauled away was the best thing we've ever done. All year I've had a ready supply of really good wood chips for free.

It looks pretty ridiculous, to be honest, but I've saved it for this year and over winter I can develop a new plan for this area. If I do some moving and dividing of plants in fall I'll be able to plant there as well.

It's not what I had envisioned, but not every garden is a success right off the bat. In fact, few of them are. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right.