May has been a blur with all the clean-up and gear changing that comes with extreme temperature fluctuations, torrential rain, and the relentless march of weeds through every bed. It seems like the moment I pull a weed, three more grow in its place. Kinda like when you pull a grey hair. So I stop pulling altogether, the hairs not the weeds, and I can only imagine what that would look like if I did the same in the garden.
Nonetheless, the garden is shaping up and plenty of plants are having their moment. I often imagine how beautiful it would be if it all just popped at once and remained so all season long. But then if it did, the novelty would wear off and there would be nothing to anticipate. I like knowing that no matter what, something in my garden on any given day is going to grab me and dictate my next move. As of late, my moves have been aggressive ones that entail the ripping and tugging out of plants, like Walker’s Low catmint and creeping Jenny (why the hell did I ever plant HER?), that have lost their luster. This spring has been about preparation for new plants and I’m excited to share it with you.
If you grow Walker’s Low catmint, you’re probably familiar with it’s bad habit of splitting through the center. It reminds me of someone with thinning hair and a bad part. Anyway, I’ve grown tired of it. While it looks so pretty in early spring emerging from the soil in a soft pillowy silver green tuft, I can’t help but think there’s so much more I can do around the patio. I planted it this week with dahlias, salvia, buddleia and coneflower. I’m still deciding what I want to direct sow in the spaces between but knee-high cosmos and zinnias are high on the list. They always are.
When six inches of rain fell in just a few days in May, this area of the garden flooded. It always floods despite the water loving trees like river birch and pussy willows that I planted deliberately nearby to help mitigate this common springtime problem. All the yards are sloped in the neighborhood and we were one of the properties that ended up with a sewer in the backyard. Lucky us. Grass won’t grow here and mulch washes down the drain during heavy rainfall. So my daughter and I decided we’d pick out the prettiest rocks we could find and place them around the sewer cap. I’m not finished with it yet but I like how it’s turning out and will do a YouTube video on this area sometime soon.
The tomatoes and peppers are usually planted sometime around Mother’s Day, but I waited until the week after to plant with the expectation that I’d have to provide protection at night with these cold temperatures. Empty water jugs come in handy for this. Daytime temps hovered around 80F then dropped to the low 40s overnight. For the night’s when I’m laying in bed and suddenly remember to cover my veggies at 11pm, the flashlight is another great garden tool for the truly obsessed. Matter of fact, a headlamp would make a great stocking stuffer this Christmas.
Sometimes you unintentionally plant a combination that catches your eye and this was one of them that caught mine as I was passing by with a load of catmint castoffs. Afterall, you have to stop and admire your hard working no matter how fleeting the moment. These are plants that I divided several years ago, and because I have a hard time throwing away a perfectly good plant, I plopped them all together on the side of the house and they did this. Not bad and it speaks to the their resilient nature. Gotta love a tough plant.
In no way am I a garden designer, but I like the softness of the geranium, the upright variegated habit of the iris and the heuchera that picks up the color of the little fuzzy parts of the iris flowers. I’m sure there’s a botanical name for this area of the flower, but for the the lay person like me, “fuzzy parts” will do.
As always, Bath’s pink dianthus never disappoints and you can read more about it here. If you’re looking for an edging plant in a sun-baked dry area, this little plant is a great choice. Clove-scented flowers perfume the area near the patio and when the flower show is over, I simply shear it back to the attractive blue-green foliage. It’s not commonly available but you can find it online from reputable nurseries like Bluestone Perennials. I’ve ordered several plants from them over the years with great results.
When I take a break, I most enjoy watching the birds flit and swoop around me. They are a peaceful sort of entertainment and one of the reasons I so love my garden.
Why is it so difficult to sit for any period of time without feeling compelled to work? The gardeners I know have the same problem. You’d think after this constant digging, ripping, tearing, discarding and swearing (after I trip over the wagon handle with an armload of catmint) I’d be more than ready for a cold beer on the patio. But just as I take that first sip, I spy a weed, a plant in need of TLC, or something that isn’t just so and I have to remind myself that it’ll wait for me.
Sit. Enjoy the beer. You worked for it.