Playing Favorites

I love this shot of my parents’ garden with the farmhouse in the background. Photo by Seavercreative.com

“What is the favorite flower in your garden?” an acquaintance asked last fall. Our beds are filled with many perennials, ornamental bushes, and foundational plants. I am not a master gardener, but I do love to garden and the challenge to find just the right place for each plant. I don’t remember why this question was raised; perhaps he was wondering why anyone would want the trouble of tending a flower garden. And when I think about it, that’s probably logical. Flower gardens don’t produce greens or vegetables for the table, and they need continual weeding and trimming. To many people they must seem like senseless, impractical work.

As I scrolled through the lovely flower images in my summer memories, my immediate answer to his query was day lilies. I have probably twenty different kinds of lilies. They naturalize quickly, making division and replanting (or gifting) possible. Within five years, a lily can be divided several times. I seemed confident with my answer. “I think it would have to be a day lily.”

Cheerful daisies. Photo provided by Seavercreative.com

Then I thought about the cheerful daisies. They also take root quickly and can fill a space with light and bloom. I started with two little pots from the garden club plant sale five years ago, and we now have over twenty square feet of daisies in all areas of the yard. They are hardy and disease resistant.  So, maybe I need to change my answer…

But then, how about our coral bells? Oh, they are so lovely with their little rounded base and fragrant, delicate blossoms so coveted by the hummingbirds and the bees. And each year there are new hybrids with different-colored or different-shaped leaves which call sweetly to me when shopping at the local greenhouses. There are varieties which flourish in full sun as well as many varieties I have tucked throughout the shady areas of our beds.

And how could I forget about all our easy-going hosta plants?

Wait a minute. Do the ornamental grasses count? They are hardy and add a different kind of interest…

And how I love my different varieties of hydrangeas…

Our three flowers. How could there be a favorite?

I looked at my acquaintance and realized he is obviously not a gardener. He isn’t attached to a garden and its unexpected moods and whims. He’s never scrambled to help plants survive in a summer drought or discussed “the new weed in town” with a gardening friend over a cup of tea.

Asking a gardener to pick a favorite flower is like asking a parent to pick a favorite child.

Impossible.

It’s a Fine Life.

If you want to attract orioles to your yard, there is nothing easier than these grape jelly feeders. The orange color seems to attract them, and the cups are easy to fill and clean up.

Monday Musings: The Gardening Blues

Brunnera and fragrant hyacinths from tonight’s garden. The blue is so vivid that I can see the flowers from the window above my kitchen sink.

I love this plant–Brunnera–which I introduced to my garden probably ten years ago. The foliage is a lovely green (some varieties have a variegated green) and if I water a bit during a dry spell, the green lasts through the summer. Besides the daffodils, hyacinths, and tulips, the Brunnera blossoms are one of the first in the spring garden.

They began blossoming this weekend–somewhat like a forget-me-not, but the blue is even more vivid. The flowers will last for about two weeks and then fade.

Brunnera is a excellent choice for a shade garden.

They naturalize beautifully, and their offspring have moved to other shady areas of my garden. They are not aggressive and make a beautiful ground cover. They are so quiet and polite that I often forget about them until they bloom.

I am not bothered by deer as we live in the middle of a small subdivision, but several horticulture websites indicate they are deer resistant. If you have some shade in your garden, I recommend them.

They can be purchased at most local nurseries and are even available on Amazon.

It’s a Fine Life.

Gardening Adjustments

My gardens have been continually changing since I started them over twenty years ago. What began with five spindly plants from one of those ten-dollar-mail-order offers has morphed into a backyard surrounded by perennial beds and ornamental bushes.

Late summer in our garden: perennials, annuals, and–as you will notice from the picture–a few determined weeds.

I didn’t follow any grand plan. I just started buying what I liked–sometimes on clearance at big box stores. Sometimes I set aside enough from our monthly budget that I was able to go to our lovely nursery in town to select a new hydrangea or other foundation-building shrub. And sometimes, my dad would leave a surprise plant or bush on our front porch as he was an avid flower and vegetable gardener. So I would say my love of flower gardening and the various projects grew at a slow pace for about fifteen years.

Here’s another section of the backyard. After this picture was taken, we had the birch tree trimmed , and we re-painted the fence. This summer, this area will receive much more sunlight.

Our garden has grown significantly over the last five years. Our back yard is surrounded by a picket fence, designed and built by my husband. Within the last year, he has moved river rock around the house and is edging the beds with metal. My husband’s involvement in the landscaping and gardening has been a shift for me. By adding his muscle, I have had to adjust to the addition of his opinions. I am used to making most gardening decisions. And while I have been occasionally reluctant, the end result has been very satisfying.

I don’t know how many ton of river rocks my husband has placed around the house. I was skeptical at first, but I now love how tidy everything looks AND we are having fewer problems with mice in the house. Perhaps there is a connection…

After this picture was taken, we trimmed the bushes and repainted the house and fence. We had a wedding in the yard last summer. (that’s a future blog entry…) We are looking forward to this summer when we can just enjoy the yard and gardens.

For the last two summers, this has been Dennis’s special project: a zinnia bed near the road. And again, I wasn’t sure about it. (You would think I’d learn!) Guess what? It is stunning in August.

So, all in all, the change has been worth it: a much improved yard and major projects are completed. And yes, I’m learning to make gardening adjustments!