How did it get to be Friday again? Specifically a Friday late in August? Sometimes it feels like the world is spinning a bit too fast.

Loi Thai photo
Have you seen Loi's fabulous Limelight hedge? I can't believe it's only three years old. (Stephen, if you're reading this I'm sure you knew I'd put this in today! :) )

This lesson on lawn shape is one I completely agree on and learned for myself a few years ago (which you can read about here and here).

I'll have to address this on the blog, but once again I am growing a giant zucchini plant that is producing very little in the way of actual zucchinis. Have you ever heard of such a thing? If I do get some (or find a friend with too many), I'm going to make this.

I wanted to give you a sneak peek of what's coming up on the blog soon. We have two interesting design related projects that I'm going to be looking for you to weigh in on.

The first is something I'm really excited about. A friend in Maine is moving to a new house with a huge yard that it currently almost all grass. She's an avid gardener who is not afraid of or unaccustomed to putting in time in a garden, but the slate is so blank she's looking for some insight into what she should do in this yard.

This isn't a great Google photo but you get the idea of what I mean when I say "blank slate."

Once we get a drawing pulled together we'll lay out some desires and requirements and then we're going to ask you, dear readers, to tell us what you'd do if this were your yard.

This is a photo of the circle garden from a couple years ago taken early in the season. It's now in shambles, overgrown and poorly designed. I'm ready for a change.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I think my circle garden is due for a refresher, which means I'm going to clear it out in fall in preparation for spring planting. That means that I'll have to make some decisions about what I'll be keeping and what will stay or move elsewhere, and since I'm feeling a little scatterbrained about it, I'm going to throw some options out here and see what you all think.

So that's what's coming up soon and that's it for this week, folks. I have some sailing and gardening on the agenda. You know ... summer stuff. May it continue for many weeks to come.


I first saw Eupatorium capillifolium 'Elegant Feather' late last summer at a baby shower. I spotted it from inside the house and ran out at my first opportunity to give it a closer look. It looked to me like a soft, feathery evergreen and I had to seek out the landscaper who planted to gardens to find out what it was. I was shocked to find it out it's a relative of Joe Pye Weed, which looks absolutely nothing like it.

The foliage is bright green with soft needlelike leaves that blow in the wind, indeed much like a feather.

I'm not the only gardener in this area who didn't know about this great foliage plant, which is an annual in our area but can be perennial in my warmer zones, where it can get invasive. I had a horrible time finding and ended up asking that same landscaper for his source.

I got five in gallon containers and they were all about 18 inches tall when I picked them up in June. Two of them went in containers and the other three were planted in a sort of awkward spot along the house by the back door.

And I've been shocked at how well they've done. I'd say they are all about 7 feet tall now and showing no signs of being tired. The two in containers need a lot of water these days and they are quick to let me know because the tips flop quickly when they are thirsty.

The dahlias in this container are in need of some additional support, but you can see how tall 'Elegant Feather' has grown.
Here's a shot of the same container just two months ago.
I'm particularly happy with how it's done in the large container by the door, which is can be challenging to find something tall enough to bridge the gap to the door which is on top of four steps.

Other plants have never really looked quite right in this odd spot, blocked partly by the tomato container, but three 'Elegant Feather' Eupatoriums fill the gap nicely.

It has also been a great filler in that funny area by the back door. There is a skinny bed alongside the house that borders the patio, which I've enjoyed planting mostly with annuals the past two years. But this bed is divided by the rather odd placement of our cellar door. On the side by the back door stairs, there is only about 7 feet of bed there, much of which is difficult to access because I put the tomato planter in front of it. By planting three 'Elegant Feather' plants there, I think it softens the background and makes that area less awkward. The only problem is that the plants have gotten so tall I have to be careful when I close the windows there to not trap them.

I've been so happy with how they've grown that I've been thinking about other applications. They would make a great temporary screen for a seating area. They are also a great way to add some height and I think they would be another plant to repeat in a long border.

Mine are all growing in full to part sun, but the ones I saw last year were in a pretty shady situation. They weren't as tall but they were still beautiful, so I wouldn't hesitate to plant this in a variety of conditions.

I think I paid $6 or $7 per plant. I'd say I certainly got my money's worth. Yes, Eupatorium 'Elegant Feather' will have a spot in my garden for many years to come.


I've got Olympic fever. For the past two weeks, if the television was on in our house, it was tuned to the Olympics, although I enjoyed watching some of the less popular events on the channels high on the dial (that reference will make no sense to people much younger than me) even more than the main broadcast.

So I'm dedicating this week's Friday Finds to the Olympics.

Have you seen the O'Donovan brothers, Irish silver medallist rowers? I'm obsessed with them (particularly Paul who is absolutely adorable). Because of them the hashtag #PodiumPants is actually a thing and you can't tell me that doesn't make the world a better place. If you can't get enough of them either, here's another interview with them before the race.

This horse (well I guess the rider) performed to "Ice Ice Baby." I don't know that much else needs to be said about that other than that it's a shame that the only clip I could find is so short.

Just to prove that there is a gardening tie-in to the Olympics, I give you the American athlete with the best name: English Gardner.

And if you're really in the Olympic spirit, you could consider growing some of these 'Olympic Flame' gladilolus next year (affiliate link).

That's it for this week. As for the weekend, if mosquito-swatting and weed pulling were Olympic sports you could consider me officially in training. I've been relaxing perhaps a bit too much on the weekends and the garden needs some attention. What events do you have scheduled?


The poor vegetable garden has gone mostly unnoticed on the blog this summer. That's a shame because at this time of year it really does provide an incredible abundance for us.

Part of my lack of excitement about is that I've been stewing over a plan to redo the entire vegetable garden area for a couple years now and that's really where my head is. By this time of year the veggie garden is never looking its best, but it's always doing its best.

As usual, my focus this year was on tomatoes. I can't help planting more than I should because I'm no sure it's possible for me to have too many tomatoes. I grew them from seed this year, some more successfully than others.

I see some ripe tomatoes I need to go in and harvest, not to mention cutting away all the blighted areas. Losing leaves now isn't a problem. The tomatoes will be ripen just fine.
As you can see, that area is suffering from a bit of neglect right now. The mosquitoes have gotten horrible, so I keep hoping I'll get home some day early enough to get in there and prune out all the bits that have succumbed to late blight (which always happens). Some plants have flopped, but they don't care. It's just not all that pretty.

As far as tomatoes go, the best producer so far this year is 'Oxheart Pink,' which we grew from seeds from the local seed library. They are relatively tasty but prolific so that makes them the current favorite in our house.

'Blueberries' cherry tomatoes are beautiful but don't eat them before they are really ripe.

'Barred Boar' is a beautiful tomato that is somewhat lacking taste for me. I was hoping it would be a bit sweeter although sometimes later fruits taste better. There's not been much production yet from any others as I'm still waiting for lots of green fruit to ripen. I will say that I'm growing 'Blueberries' cherry tomato for the first time this year and one of the things I read about it was that you have to wait for the entire tomato to turn purple before you eat it or it tastes terrible. That advice is completely correct.
'Mexican Midget' is doing great in a container on the full-sun patio. Elegant Feather in the background is growing behind it.

The star of the tomato show is not in the veggie garden proper, but rather in the container near the back door where I'm growing two 'Mexican Midget' tomatoes. These are lovely, small tomatoes that are the perfect size for munching on while passing by, which is exactly how I've consumed every one. Delicious little fruits that are a really nice size. I don't like big cherry tomatoes because they present a dilemma: bite them in half to take a proper amount but risk the dreaded cherry-tomato spray or stick the whole thing in your mouth and look like a complete pig trying to eat it.

I love me some beans, but they are sneaky buggers hiding under all those leaves.
The cucumbers and green (and yellow) beans are really coming into their own. I have to check what kind of cucumbers I decided to grow this year other than 'Marketmore.' I'm not happy with the size of them at all. I prefer cucumbers meant for pickling that you can eat when they are small and before they've developed a lot of seeds.

I'm just started to harvest beans, which are probably my favorite vegetable. These rarely make it back to the house until there are enough that I can't eat them all on the short walk.

I'm growing banana peppers for the first time this year and they've been going gangbusters. I've already pickled a few jars (I love them sliced on sandwiches). Basil is enjoying this warm, sunny summer as well.
Why am I growing so much kale? No one knows, but I see some of it is bolting.
The celeriac is going gangbusters. Yum.

Outside of the fenced-in veggie garden I'm growing entirely too much kale (what was I thinking?) and the celeriac, which I first grew last year, is doing great. I'm a fan of that one and it's difficult to find in stores or even at the farmer's market.

How's your edible haul this year?

You gotta love zucchini. I feel like it's the most optimistic vegetable.


I don't want to talk about how it's almost the middle of August, or how the back-to-school ads are incredibly annoying to me (not because I have any stake in anyone going to back to school, but such ads signal a certain time of year). Instead I'd rather revel in the fact that last night for dinner I ate a heaping plate of tomatoes, cucumbers and basil (with a little feta, balsamic vinegar and olive oil) straight from the garden. It absolutely doesn't get any better than that folks.

The Mexican Midget tomatoes I have growing in a container near the door and I love how they ripen from end to end. Not a single tomato has made it inside yet. All are consumed as fly-bys.

Everyone must be thinking about gardens at this time of year because it seems like it was a week filled with celebrity gardens.

First there was a tour of Anna Wintour's garden. Don't miss this beautiful New York Times video of her garden with a tour by designer Miranda Brooks. If I had to guess what Anna Wintour, the notoriously prickly and demanding editor of Vogue, would want her garden to look like, never in a million years would I have guessed it was this free-flowing (but very planned) garden that seems to be rooted in romance rather than cutting edge style. Sometimes I think people's gardens are truly the most intimate spaces, the ones that more than any other truly reflect their style, and if that's the case, the Anna Wintour most of us think of is a different person indeed. More photos and the story of the garden can be found here.

Ina Garten photo via Facebook

Then Ina Garten posted a photo of her lush but proper garden on her Facebook page the other day. Both of these gardens are in the Hamptons, but they have completely different feels to them. I couldn't tell you which garden I prefer because I think it would depend on my mood that day, but I love what Miranda Brooks says about Wintour's garden: "It's an adult, it's 20, it's got its own personality, so it sort of tells you; you know what's right for here."

By the way, notice the climbing hydrangea working its way up either an arbor or an outbuilding in the background.

In a complete change of subject, we're getting a kitten (well, a 5-month-old kitten) this weekend. We've missed having a cat around the house and Odin is getting lonely being the only four-legged in the house. But I've never experienced a kitten before so I don't exactly know what we have in store for ourselves. I did, however, learn that scratching posts and "cat furniture" are required, so I went on a hunt for not-ugly cat furniture. OK, folks, I'm just going to say, there is a market out there. All not ugly cat furniture (and by this I mean not covered in beige carpet remnants) is crazy expensive. I did, however, find this cat tree thing that is at least tolerable.

I know the cat won't care what the thing looks like, but I'm the one who has to really live with it in my face. I may pick one of these up but in the meantime I'm going to see if I can't come up with a creative solution to this problem.

One last note: I'm working on switching over the way posts are delivered via email. If you read The Impatient Gardener posts via email, hopefully all you'll notice is a nicer looking design. I'll probably officially switch things over sometime over the weekend, but if you ever have a problem, please drop me an email or contact me on the Facebook page.

Have a great weekend! What's on your schedule this weekend. I'll also take kitten advice, because I have a feeling I'm going to need it.


For years I've read horror story about Japanese beetles invading gardens. I'd even talked to local gardeners who have been plagued by the irridescent buggers. But until this year I'd never even laid eyes on one.

I read an article that suggested that our springs are too cold here (and particularly at my house near Lake Michigan) for them to get comfortable and take up residence and that seems like a logical explanation. Given the warm spring and very mild winter we had and the fact that I'm seeing them now for the first time also supports this theory.

This little bugger was just one of the little guys hiding in the blooms of my containerized rose. On the right you can see some of the damage they caused in the flower.

I first noticed them a couple weeks ago when I returned from being gone for 10 days. I was admiring the new blooms in my potted rose (developing because I was diligent about deadheading before I left), and noticed something black in the middle. When I pulled it out, there was no doubt: This was the dreaded Japanese beetle I'd heard so much about. I promptly crushed it and then found two more in other flowers that met similar fates.

I've only found them in flowers so far but I'll bet my total number of kills is up to 15 or so. And I'm not naive enough to think I've found all there are to find.

So far I've only found them in that particular rose, but I'm keeping an eye out for them elsewhere. They made a real mess of the flowers, chewing big holes in them, and I'm certain they are doing other damage that I've yet to discover. I've not noticed any leaf damage yet.

I'm concerned because some of their other favorite plants to munch on are viburnums, which I have at least a dozen of, zinnias and apples. I've checked the apple tree but I need to give the rest of the plants a close inspection.

I've also started doing some research on them, and it's not hard to find. Here's one good paper with some information from which I've just learned that squishing them is a bad idea because they release a pheromone that attracts others of their ilk. Turns out I should be drowning the little buggers in soapy water.

I'm not sure if Japanese beetles will be an ongoing problem after this year at my house. If we get a typical Wisconsin winter and spring, that may solve the problem (and cause others including making the gardener crabby), at least temporarily. Still, I'd have been plenty happy to remain one of the few who was blissfully unaware of this invader.


Vines can be misunderstood members of the plant world. We want them to grow quickly but not too quickly. We want them to grow in places where nothing else will grow, except there's usually a really good reason nothing else will grow there. We want them to boldy grow up structures but to respect those structures.

In other words, gardeners want it all. I get it. I am one of them. I don't believe there is such a thing as a perfect vine, but there are some that are pretty great.

And if you can get past a couple negatives, climbing hydrangea (Hydrangea anomala petiolaris) is certainly one of them. It has beautiful heart-shaped leaves that are dark green in summer and turn a stunning brilliant gold in fall. Large white flowers can cover most of it. It will grow in partial to full shade. And it gets big.

With all that going for it, what could possibly be wrong with it?

Well, for starters, it's slow. It takes a good three to five years for a climbing hydrangea to really get climbing (this is from the size you buy at the nursery to start). I've read more than one comment from gardeners complaining that their climbing hydrangea just doesn't do anything. But it will. Keep the faith.
Yes, this is one hydrangea, climbing up the west side of a local house.

It is also borderline aggressive. I would never call it ill-mannered (it certainly not like a trumpet vine that will move into your house with you and start charging you rent), but it is strong. It attaches to the structures it uses to climb with aerial rootlets that can get quite large and get quite a hold, so this isn't something you grow up a regular old trellis. You should think twice before growing it up the side of a house, although don't rule it out entirely. The most beautiful climbing hydrangea I've seen covers the entire west side of a brick house in town. A blogging friend told me the sad tale of a gorgeous one growing up her neighbors' house that was summarily removed by the people who moved in. The previous owners of the house simply peeled it back off the siding when it was time to paint, she said.

This climbing hydrangea ties a large ash tree in with the garden.

My favorite place to grow a climbing hydrangea is up a tree where it is sort of a sleeper. You plant it and sort of forget about it for a few years and then all of a sudden you look up one day and it's climbing up. It's the best way I can think of to bring height to a corner of a garden or easily connect a tall tree in the garden to the garden proper.

The climbing hydrangea growing up a tree next to the garden looks great in autumn.

I have a climbing hydrangea growing up an ash tree that will likely succumb to emerald ash borer at some point. If that does happen I'll cut the tree off on top of the hydrangea, rather than lose 10 years or so of hydrangea growing.

Although I love it when it blooms, I think I love it even more in fall when it glows against the deep blue autumn sky.

A couple years ago I planted another climbing hydrangea on the north side of the garage. I would love for it to cover much of that side of the garage and help it blend in with the garden there. Knowing that these climbers require patience, I've done nothing with it save for watering it and giving it a little fertilizer in spring, so it was a lovely surprise when I looked at it the other day and I saw it was starting to send up some longer runners. It occurs to me know that I'll have to be diligent about encouraging it to go out instead of up since I want the side to get covered and not the roof.

When I was in Mackinac Island a few weeks ago I spotted a climbing hydrangea making a huge statement on an arbor at the entrance to a house. I read later that this hydrangea is 30 years old.

Caring for these is easy: Water it to get it established (especially when planted at the base of a tree), give it a little fertilizer maybe once or twice a year and then forget about it. Seriously, forget about it. Because it will drive you nuts if you keep thinking about it. I have had a little bit of deer browsing on them from time to time, but nothing major.

So plant it, sit back, relax, and come back in a few years. I bet you'll be in love.


Even if I don't always get to them, I still love a good Friday Finds post.

First though, you will look at the very arty photo I took on a walk the other day. I believe I took this approximately five minutes before the dog got giant hogweed sap on his back which has led to a very ugly and painful reaction for him.

Quickly, a note about a home upgrade. We bought our TV (a skinny flat screen thing) about five years ago when the prices were finally starting to become realistic, but they still cost much more than they do now. The store had a deal for an included sound system for another $300 or something so we bought it. As you can imagine, that sound system was really lacking, and for years we've kicked around the idea of an upgrade.

I've had my eye on a wireless system because 1.) I can't stand wires everywhere and 2.) I wanted the ability to have a speaker that we could move around depending on what room we were in.

After years of researching these systems, we finally just bit the bullet on a Sonos playbar and an extra speaker. Sonos is sort of the industry leader in wireless speakers but they are also higher priced than some competitors. In the end though, we felt like it was the best option for us and for the last two days we have actually been able to hear the people on the TV talking without having to blare the sound and I've been enjoying music in the kitchen while I cook. I love that we can hook that other speaker into the television sound so I could hear the TV in the kitchen or outside (for football games) or I can listen to something completely different. And of course it's all run by an app on the phone. What isn't anymore?

So far we're really happy with it, but we better be after years of foot dragging. (I think if you click on that picture you get to an affiliate link.)

This pretty much sums up my feelings on roses (most of them anyway). Three cheers!

Emily Henderson bought a new house. I'm always happy when designers I like to follow buy new houses because I like seeing how their personal style changes from house to house.

Oh, I do love this toolbelt. I'm not sure I'm organized enough to pull that look off, but I aspire to be.

That's it for this week. I'm fully in summer appreciation mode so while there will be some gardening this weekend, it will be more of the lollygagging style and I will probably be holding a drink the whole time.

What's on your agenda for the weekend?


A few years ago I gave up even pretending that I would remember where I planted something or what I planted in a specific spot if I didn't use a plant marker. For years before that I insisted I would remember but either age or experience has taught me to give up even dreaming these things will stick in my head.

That doesn't mean, however, that I've gotten better about marking things. Sometimes I do, but I'll be honest, there are times when I plunk something in the ground and walk away.

While this can leave you looking rather foolish if someone asks you what something in your garden is, it also makes for a great surprise.

If you think you know the name of this lily, let me know!
When I was working in the garden last weekend I came across a single lily, flopped over on the west side of the house. When I pulled the flower up I couldn't believe what I saw: A lily with the coloring of a Stargazer, but with triple layers of petals and a lovely light scent.

I'm not a lily devotee, so with lilies especially, if I don't mark them I will never know what they are a month after planting. I've only ever bought lily bulbs through the plant buying co-op that I used to be very active in but only buy from occasionally anymore. I have a feeling I threw a couple lily bulbs into my order last year and then just stuck them in the ground somewhere.

I'll be honest. I'm kind of glad it turned out like this. The weekend was full of weeding and cutting back and a lot of sweaty, hard gardening. Finding this gem of a lily brought me immeasurable joy and I think it's even better since I can only guess at where it came from.

There were other surprises waiting for me in the garden last weekend. I've had high hopes for the trough container near the garage, specifically that the clematis in it would grow well despite not being in much full-on sun, but I've been cautiously optimistic. When I came home I found the 'Perle d' Azur' clematis with a nice display of blue flowers at the top of the vine. If there is one complaint about this clematis, it's that it tends bloom high, but that's part of the reason I liked it for this area. My hope is that the vines will be long enough to drape over the pergola and bloom there. For now, I just tucked them in the pergola bracket.

'Alba Luxurians', the second clematis in that container, is still blooming a bit and I continue to be fascinated with its lavender, almost gray, coloring. It's really quite interesting next to the gray of the garage.

Castor beans and a cardoon are finally growing and showing off their giant leaves.

And it's not really a surprise, but I was happy to return home to find the castor bean plants finally growing a bit. I love its great big foliage, I just wish it wouldn't take so long to get going. Maybe I need to start the seeds earlier in spring.

You have to love gardening. Just when you think you know a garden like the back of your hand, it finds a way to surprise and delight you.

What has surprised you in your garden lately? (And don't tell me about snakes. Those aren't the kind of surprises I want to hear about.)


On Monday I shared with you a few photos of what my garden looked like before I left for 10 days. I mentioned that I did my best to cut as many flowers as I could so the plants would keep producing flowers without needing deadheading while I was gone. By and large that was a worthwhile effort. Lots of new dahlia bloom awaited me and none of the plants showed signs of slowing down on producing flowers.

I was impressed in particular with how good the big planter by the front door looked. The 'Roxy' dahlias were blooming well, and even though the Eupatorium 'Elegant Feather' was showing signs of needing some water (it has a good tell: the tips flop), overall this container fared well. (The housesitter was watering the containers for me).

The 'Betty Corning' clematis by the front door was also in full bloom and looking fantastic, but it is mature enough that whatever it does, it does all on its own.

But other areas of the garden weren't looking as great. In fact, they were positively junglelike. There is a fine line between lush and overgrown and I'm pretty sure my garden crossed over it while I was gone.

I meant to trim back the nepeta along the path before I left but I ran out of time, so when I got home it was completely flopped. One of the first jobs was cutting it back (for I think the third time this year). It will rebound quickly and look great in a couple weeks.

I also should have anticipated that the 'Annabelle' hydrangea would need some support. That's just the nature of Annabelles and it does it every year but it never occurred to me. Now it's completely flopped and I'm not sure there's any propping it up. Unfortunately and surprisingly the 'Incrediball' and 'Invincibelle Spirit' hydrangeas also flopped over, which is uncommon. I think we had some serious rain while I was gone.

One of the things I was fastidious about before I left was deadheading the roses and that definitely paid off. The container rose is full of new buds.

Cutting off all of the sweet pea flowers before I left (for the best smelling bouquet ever) also paid off. The vines were covered in new fragrant flowers when I got home and the very first thing I did was cut a new bouquet. Cutting back, weeding and generally wading through an unkempt garden can wait when there are sweet pea blooms to smell.



So I'm alive. I feel like I should probably clarify that since I just totally disappeared on you. Once again I got behind on things before I headed out of town to go sailing and then the posts I had scheduled to go up didn't and well, I figured you'd all hang in there and wait for me.

I snapped a quick shot of the garden off the deck as I was running around before I left. 
I was off on my annual summer sailing trip (it was highly successful and full of great sailing, warm Lake Michigan water and lots of sun), but one of the posts I had planned for you while I was gone was about preparing to leave your garden for a week or more. It's scary to do, especially at this time of year when everything is growing so much, but after doing it every year, I've developed a few strategies.

This was the topic of an article I wrote for the Troy-Bilt e-newsletter "The Dirt." We always have someone stay at the house to take care of the animals and the containers, so I'm fortunate that I don't have to worry much about container watering.

I love a bouquet of sweet peas and sometimes the smaller they are, the more charming.

Even though I was running around like crazy before I left (this is my natural state of being before I go anywhere; I am always running around like crazy), one of the last things I did was make several big bouquets for the house. Sure they are a nice treat for the housesitter, but I have a much more selfish for cutting every flower I can: There will be more for me later. Flowers keep producing when they are deadheaded, but lots of spend blooms go undeadheaded when you're gone. By cutting all the flowers I can I get a head start on the deadheading. Sure the garden lacks some color while I'm gone, but who cares? I'm gone!
The 'David Howard' dahlias were going nuts when I left so I cut everyone I could find.

I also made sure to fertilize all of the containers (I don't ask the housesitter to fertilize, just water) and water them really, really well. And the last thing I did was run around (in the dark, for the most part) with the deer spray.

Only one 'Crichton Honey' dahlia was blooming when I left but I cut that too. I can't get over the gorgeous color on this one. 

I don't have a lot coming out of the veggie garden yet, but if I did I would have made sure to harvest any ripe vegetables so the plants keep producing.

So how did the garden fare while I was gone for 10 days? I'll show you the "after" tomorrow.

I wanted to share just one photo from while I was gone. We left to take the boat to Chicago at 11 p.m. Tuesday during the Buck moon. By 5:30 a.m. or so, the moon was still shining brightly while the sun was rising. I took this panoramic photo (and yes it's a real, untouched photo) that managed to capture both the full moon and the sun rise at the same time on opposite sides of the boat.