Close this search box.

Garden goals work best when they move


Mr. Much More Patient recently made an observation that painfully spot on.

There was a time in this gardening journey when I used to aim to be more or less finished planting by shortly after Memorial Day. Later, when the sheer volume of plants being put in the ground here got so large that was no longer possible, mid-June became the goal. And these days, well, if most of the plants sitting around in pots are in their summer home by the Fourth of July, well, that’s a good year.

By that measure, this was just barely a good year. Truth be told there are still two dahlias sitting in pots on the front porch steps as I write this. I guess at this point I’m just waiting for something to die to find a place to shoehorn them in.

I was going to count how many plants I plunked the ground this year. Somewhere around 200 I realized I’d never be able to keep track, but between the 800 or so that went in the new garden (don’t be too impressed, most were small plugs), the roughly 100 dahlias and hundreds of annuals and vegetables, I’m certain it was more 1,500 plants. Someone remind me: Never again.

Despite what can only be classified as a significant lapse in judgment in terms of what is reasonable for one gardener to take on, the garden shows little sign of the neglect it suffered while I was busy digging holes. 

So, as a means of catching up, here are a few glimpses of what things have been looking like around here.

I planted a few container. This was the urn that sits in the middle of the garden shortly after planting, but I loved the addition of the nearby alliums in this photo.

container gardener urn

All that panic sowing I did this winter meant that a lot of containers around here include annuals grown from seed. The disadvantage of that approach is that they were not nearly as mature as the annuals I purchased, so patience is required. This container, inspired by a Deborah Silver design, is full of four kinds of seed-grown Nicotiana surrounded by a blue (purple?) petunia and verbena. Check out the climbing hydrangea in the background. It was especially good this year.

container gardeneing planter

I had some fun with the circle garden this year. Instead of mass planting each segment a did plant groupings in some of the larger segments. In this one I used Senecio ‘Angel Wings’, lemon licorice plant and a white verbena. The nearby segments are planted with rhubarb and Alnwick David Austin roses. Oh, and the boxwoods in each quarter of the garden have been put into pots. I like the look and I wish I would have done it sooner. I’ve added to my watering chores but they look much better and, most importantly, they are protected from our male dog Odin, who is a professional boxwood killer.

annuals flowers

My love-hate relationship with roses continues. Several years ago I swore them off, and then, I walked back and swore off any roses that didn’t have a great scent. What a cop out. I’m weak. But, for me at least, it was a good rose bloom this year. That first big flush of flowers has been better than normal, probably due more to the warm weather than anything I’m doing. ‘Autumn Sunset’ climbing rose is gorgeous and I love it but it’s clear that cane hardiness is going to be a constant problem. But I’m not willing to give up on it.

Sidenote: Check out that ‘Cheer Blue’ delphinium I grew from seed. My god, that color. It’s a new release this year and an All-American Selection. 

Just when I was questioning (again) why I grow roses, a new one came into my life. ‘Fighting Temeraire’ is a David Austin rose that has just 10 gigantic ruffled petals, the most delicious scent, and has won my heart. I’ve planted it in large containers in the vegetable garden. It will be a true test to see if it overwinters there in the containers (which I’ve lined with board insulation). 

'Fighting Temeraire' David Austin rose

I love ‘Fighting Temeraire’ so much I briefly considered ripping out the Alnwick roses in the circle garden and replacing them. I can’t imagine why I’d bother: The sawfly larvae love them all.

Alnwick David Austin rose

If roses are my love-hate relationship in the garden, then breadseed poppies (which is the nice thing that people call opium poppies these days)  are just the perfect fuss-free children of the garden. I have only had success with them one way: by throwing seed on the ground in January or February or letting them self seed. This year it’s been fun to see how the seeds I’ve been saving from year to year are evolving. You never really know what the next flower is going to look like. I tend to prefer the single flowers over the doubles but this fluffy double was just so wild. I marked it to make sure I collect seed from it later.

Double pink poppy

single pink poppy with bee

I bought some new purple poppies and a few flowered. I’m a fan of these too.

lilac poppy

I didn’t know I liked pink salvias until I saw these. I’m embarrassed to say that I’m not sure what variety they are. My best guess is Salvia pratensis Fashionista Moulin Rouge.

pink salvia

The chive hedge in the circle garden got its first cut back of the year in early July. Within a week it was back to a good 7 inches tall. 

circle garden

The clematis are starting to do their thing as well. ‘Arabella’ scrambles through the garden, particularly through this Allium fistulosum and I couldn’t love this unexpected combination any more.

'Arabella' clematis growing through welsh onion

‘Etoile Violette’ grows up the stair railing and is one of the clematis I think everyone should have. It blooms so prolifically and asks so little: just a bit of fertilizer, maybe some water and a hard cut back in spring.

'Etoile Violette' clematis

‘Perle d’ Azur’ clematis is in just it’s second year on the front of the house, but it has managed to send up one long stem making its way up the new trellis. I adore the color of these flowers. I can’t wait until it becomes the monster it is purported to be. 

'Perle d' Azur' clematis

It feels good to have the garden at point where all it asks for is some water, a bit of bug patrol and someone to come pull out all the 4-foot-tall  thistles that have appeared out of nowhere.

16 Responses

  1. Picture #3 is breathtaking. I bought a ton of mail order plants and then a number of curb side picks. Finally got them all in and so I just ordered some more. I figure there is nothing else to do (at least for me this year) and so I am just going to garden til things freeze. Your garden is always such an inspiration to me even though mine is different. I love to see what a passionate gardener is doing because we never stop, we’re always thinking, moving and redoing.

  2. Your garden is stunning. I love the poppies, salvia, and clematis. And the circle garden looks like it should be in a magazine. I like that it’s natural looking with a variety of plants and not overly formal.

    I don’t grow Roses but my neighbor does and she feeds them “compost tea.” She mixes compost or composted manure she buys at the garden center with water and let’s it sit for a few hours and then waters her roses with it. Her roses look wonderful. She doesn’t use fertilizer at all, just compost tea.

  3. You might want to check out the series starting with ‘His Majesty’s Dragon’s’ by Noami Novik. I’m guessing your new favorite roses‘s name came from that book.

  4. I swear you must go out in the middle of the night to rearrange the groupings. Everything seems to fall in place so perfectly. You do have a wonderful touch with clematis popping up and being right in your face.

  5. How are you finding the Senecio ‘Angel Wings’,? I fell in love and tried it in a container last year, but it was a bust. Any hints? I’m in Rhode Island (zone 7 these days).

  6. Love the alliums! I think I’ll plant some this fall as yours (and your garden) are so beautiful.

  7. Your garden is filling in beautifully. That delphinium color is so gorgeous. I have trouble with delphiniums so I grow larkspur. They are not the intense color, but they are still very nice and they reseed easily. I am an old gardener now. I keep things much simpler than I did in our previous house. It is good to see you so energetic and to see so many plants and color combinations. And as for those thistles…good luck. A little patch in my old yard would sometimes take a few years to be totally rid of them. You might try a little weed killer on this obnoxious plant. Now globe thistles, the garden variety, I quite like. They seem to reseed nicely and they look nice in bouquets. Happy to see that your very hard work seems to be paying off.

  8. Everything looks so nice. This year has been a beast but it always makes me feel better when I can get outside and enjoy my hands in the dirt. Keep posting because we will keep watching and cheering you on!

  9. Ugh…thistles. They are a horror. Your garden is its usual lovely self. I just ripped out a climbing rose that just doesn’t cooperate. It grow beautifully one year then the next year it dies back. Too much trouble to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

What would you like to know? Search, or jump to categories below.