The Summer of Rain

I have a postage stamp flower garden out by the mailbox. (It cost more than 49 cents to put in…)

It’s filled with new perennials that decided to be first year bloomers –salvia, rudbeckia, daisies, and a bush honeysuckle. The cosmos self-seeded from last year and is blooming more profusely than ever. A caryopteris I planted last fall is just starting to get little blue fuzzy flowers; the monarda and the echinacea haven’t bloomed — they are just looking green and healthy.

Salvia with the “weeds” — backyard daisies and Queen Anne’s Lace

The daisies were just growing wild in the back yard. I transplanted them so red, yellow, pink, purple, and white flowers will bloom together in one little garden. These are the first flowers I’ve planted since we’ve been here at the cottage; the fruit trees and the berries and the grapes and the vegetables have taken precedence.

Rudbeckia Hirta or Black-eyed Susan

I take so much pleasure from this small triangle of color out my window. Only easy-grow flowers that are on the Deer Don’t Like Me list are planted there; though a rabbit chewed on the coneflower leaves last night.

Diervilla lonicera or Bush Honeysuckle

I’ve been keeping blood meal around the flowers to keep the critters out; perhaps that’s why they are so happy. Or it could be all the rain. The flowers love it; the vegetables do not. That’s why I am writing about the flowers instead of the sad unripe tomatoes; or the peppers with no blossoms and no fruit; or the squash with lots of blossoms but no fruit. Sigh.

The flowers are splendid though, and they cheer my heart when I start to whine about the vegetable garden.

And, this year we have pears! More about that in two weeks or so…

(You will note that the sky in this photo is not blue. Blue skies have been few and far between this summer.)

Just in case you would like to see my “Deer Don’t Like Me” list of deer-resistant plants, shrubs, and flowers, here is the one I’ve compiled:

the beautiful Cosmos bipinnatus…you can never grow too many.

Perennials:
Artemisia Silver Mound, Lamium, Sweet Woodruff, Rocket ligularia, Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense), Wood Fern, Oenothera, Lemon Balm, Poppies, Monarda, Peonies, Achillea, Echinacea, Hyssop (Agastache), Iris, Coreopsis, Balloon flower (Platycodon), Daffodils, Lambs Ears, Asparagus, most herbs.

Annuals:
Snapdragons, Zinnias, Cleome, Lantana, Marigolds, Globe Amaranth, Ageratum, Dusty Miller, Larkspur, Nicotiana, Annual Vinca.

 

And the cheerful volunteer daisies, genus and species unknown…

Shrubs and Small Trees:
Spirea,  Blue Mist Shrub (Caryopteris clandonensis), Potentilla, Buddleia, Inkberry, Lilac, Korean Boxwood, Northern Bayberry (Myrica Pennsylvanica),  Pieris Japonica, Mountain Pieris (Pieris Floribundas), Summersweet (Clethra Alnifolia), Leatherleaf Mahonia, Red Elderberry (Sambuca racemosa), Russian cypress, Daphne (Carol Mackie), Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus floridus), Hazelnut (Corylus Americana).

This is just my list of what I like and might thrive here in Zone 6A. You might want to check out this site for a more compete list.

But every list will add the disclaimer –Nothing is completely deer proof. Holly is on most every list of plants that deer won’t eat; yet the deer ate my two holly bushes down to almost nothing last winter — and we had a mild winter with almost no snow cover.

Gardeners around Western Pennsylvania are hoping for a sunny August…

The Accidental Orchid Reblooms

Last March I wrote about my accidental orchid, and how astonished I was that this delicate hothouse flower would bloom (seventeen blooms actually) in my humble cottage under my humble and inexperienced care.

Allow me to extol her virtues further. The last of her white flowers dropped off sometime in June. (If I had known that she would be reblooming soon, I would have kept better statistics…) That is a four month period  of spectacular white flowers on my kitchen windowsill. I let her rest for a couple of weeks, and then cut back her two flower stems.

Can you believe that within a week a third stem began to grow, and now, the first day of August, a mere forty days after her last blooms dropped off, this amazing orchid has opened again. This time she has twenty three buds on three different flower stems.

I have come to love her serene beauty so much, that I’m thinking of buying another one to keep her company. I haven’t found the exact right color yet — perhaps a pale pink beauty — a bridesmaid to the Summer Bride.

Under the Shedding Sycamore

With apologies to Henry W…


Under the shedding sycamore tree
The irritated gardener stands;
The gardener, a busy woman is she
With aching back and hands,
And the muscles of her flabby arms
Are weak as rubber bands.


What, what to do with all that bark?
Now strewn out all around
It covers the the porch, the roof, the yard,
And every scrap of ground.
Why are apples in short supply,
Yet worthless bark abounds?


Her back is tired from bending,
The garden cart piled high
With quirky pieces of papery bark–
There a nose, there a mouth, an eye
A mask of camouflage, faces of wood
Still all on the grass they lie.


Week in, week out, from morn till night,
You can hear the litter fall,
Achenes in spring, bark in summer
Giant brown leaves in fall.
And the branches come down every season
With no regard for all.


Cursed, cursed are those who planted
This regal sycamore
With no thought to it’s future girth or height
Just ten feet from the door,
When we would prefer its litter to fall
All on the forest floor.


Toiling,—rejoicing,—sorrowing,
Onward through the yard she goes;
Each morning sees the same task begin,
Each evening sees it close;
How long, how long must this go on
Before she has earned repose?


Thanks, thanks to thee, my worthy friend,
For the lesson thou hast taught!
Don’t plant a sycamore near thy house
Or all thy days will be fraught
With leaves, achenes, bark, and twigs
And thy battle will come to nought.