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Midsummer garden check-in


If you’ve been reading this blog for a number of years you know what’s been up. If you’re newer you may think I fell off the face of the Earth.

So this post begins with an obligatory apology. Every summer I head out in mid-July for a week or a bit more. And every year I have great intentions of scheduling a bunch of posts to run in my absence. But I never quite get around to doing more than one or two. My “drafts” folder is evidence of this. So, I apologize that it has been some time since you’ve heard from me.

I had a post ready to go right before I left and I was planning to finish it up and post it here, but it was about the general state of the garden which was a bit behind previous years. Even though those photos were taken only about two weeks ago, they are now hopelessly outdated and have no resemblance to what the garden now looks like. So I thought I’d just take a moment to catch you up on what the garden looks like right now.

annual border
The annual border is flush with color as the big dahlias are just starting to bloom.

For as much as I complain about the weather (as I’ve mentioned before, it is a midwesterner’s birthright to complain about the weather excessively), I feel karmically required to make note of it when it’s been practically perfect. Which it has. Although it was hot while we were gone, we never suffered from the oppressive heat that traumatized much of the country and even not far from our house. Rain has been relatively steady, so there hasn’t been a lot of hand watering as is so often the case in midsummer.

resdesigned garden

I revamped a small corner of the patio garden this spring and so far I’m very happy with how things are coming together. 

Salvia argentea
The reverse view of the above photo shows off the Salvia argentea, which I grew from seed. I’m absolutely lovely the bold and unique foliage in this area, especially where it mingles with the Supertunia Bubblegum and the chunk of driftwood kicking around in that bed.

One of the plants that was already in that bed was Allium fistulosum, which I picked up at a private plant sale (from this garden) some years ago. The redesign has really shown it off and I’m happy for that. It is growing with Clematis ‘Arabella’, which sprawls around in that bed, and Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Nouveau’. 

plant combination
The rainbow is an odd camera effect that wasn’t planned but I sort of love it.

Other clematis in the garden are also at their finest, including ‘Prince Charles, which grows throw the big Limelight hydrangea.

'Prince Charles' clematis

‘Etoile violette’ is also looking as good as it ever has. I’m trying to figure how exactly how many and which clematis I have so I started a spread sheet this year in which I’m also trying to keep track of bloom times. I’m so organized I don’t recognize myself. 

'Etoile violette' clematis

The big dahlias in the annual border are just getting going. ‘Breakout’ is new to me this year and it’s enormous and stunning. Unfortunately there was a bit of labeling mishap (on my part) and some dahlias, like that ‘Nuit d’ Ete’ to the left of ‘Breakout’ are not where they are supposed to be.

'Breakout' dahlia

For a time I had sworn off poppies, but I got some seed from my mom’s garden after she produced beautiful single and double pink poppies last year. I have both types growing in tandem now and I alternate between which I like more. Right now I’m appreciating the simple beauty of the single flowers.

bread seed poppies

The containers (which I will show you soon; another victim of heading out of town without my computer in tow), are at that sweet spot where they look good but not haggard yet.


The vegetable garden is not perfect, a state I fully accept, but it’s not too shabby. 

raised bed vegetable garden

And the container pond keeps getting better.

water lily in container pond

I was surprised, however, to find that squatters had moved in to the onion bed. I multisowed the onions (Charles Dowding style), meaning that I planted seedlings in clusters of five or so to increase the overall harvest, with fewer giant onions and be able to snag the occasional onion greens for salads. Apparently this mess also created a great habitat for a family of bunnies. If you want to see any more you can check out my story highlights on Instagram where they’ve become little, fuzzy, future garden destroying stars. 

baby bunnies

I’m thrilled that the lettuce is still looking great and tasting amazing. Salads are on the menu every day. The small romaine-type on the left is called Newham and it’s spectacular.


I forgot how pretty potato flowers are. I’m happy that the potatoes are looking great, but they are really hogging a lot of bed space. I’ll have to figure out a way to better contain them next year.

potato flowers

So now you’re caught up on where things are. And I’m happy to report that thanks to having things in hand before I left, I didn’t come back to the disaster that I have in the past. How are things looking in your garden?

If you’re planning on leaving your garden for the summer, here are some suggestions on how you can get it in shape to leave, how to fix the mess when you’re back and even a video on what I did this year to get organized

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

6 Responses

  1. I am envious beyond envious at all the color in your garden I have no idea where I went wrong as everything is faded. Even that salvia looks great and I swore I hated the look of the plant – it is perfectly located in your garden. Loved all the pics

  2. I love your blog and read it religiously. I am in southern New Hampshire, a climate similar to yours. You got me going on starting dahlias inside this year, and they are stupendous – started blooming at the end of June and are still unfolding. Finally have Cafe au Lait! Do you know the names of the two pink poppies? they are gorgeous! And what is the plant in the front container that has a pinkish brushy spike with green foliage at the top and big scrappy leaves? Your gardens are beautiful – I love the water garden. Bunnies and woodchucks are terrible here, but so far I haven’t found a nest, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

  3. I’ve been using big grow bags for my potatoes the last 3 years and it works great. For me, potatoes tend to get scabby if they are grown in the same place year after year. I dump out the dirt after harvest into the flower bed and use fresh bagged dirt for the potatoes the following spring. I order on line and grow fingerlings mostly, since I’m growing for flavor, not to feed my family all winter. You’d be surprised at how many potatoes come out of a 10 gallon grow bag.

  4. Good to see you are still in the garden. Your doggie is so sweet. A good thing those rabbits are out of reach he would think they were tasty treats. Your garden and planters looks fabulous.

  5. Your gardens are lovely! I live in Rochester, NY and we’ve had a similar summer. We get rain when we need it plus we’ve been spared from the heat scorching most of the country. What is the potted plant in the front? Is that liatris?

  6. Hey Erin
    I know you probably told us in a prior post but, tell me again. The eucomis variety you have in planter. It’s small and dainty which is unlike alot of the varieties I grow. Love the Salvia Argentina too. Thanks and everything is gorgeous!

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