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.

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.

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…

112. The Joy of Small Surprises

We pulled into the Apple Hill driveway Saturday evening at dusk after a long, grueling, expensive week at the city house. We were all tending towards grouchiness — even Henry the cat, whose nap had been rudely interrupted to be jostled along in the truck. There in the driveway, between two old pine trees — one dead and one not looking so good — was this joyous flower: belladonna amaryllis Yes, it certainly is odd. One lone stalk bursting into five gorgeous icy pink lily-type flowers that circle the top. We had no idea how or why that one odd flower was growing in that one odd spot. But it made us laugh and take a picture of it.

A Sunday afternoon porch sit with neighbor Betty gave me a clue. Clara always called it a Naked Lady and got angry at anyone who mowed it down while utilizing instruments of lawn destruction.

Yes, I’ve been there. Every gardener has. Belladonna amaryllis Later I googled Naked Lady Lily — ahh, the small joys of the internet — and discovered that it is not, in fact, a lily. It is Amaryllis Belladonna, and the only true amaryllis. You know those giant flowers sold at Christmas time, under the Amaryllis name? Not. (For your gardening pleasure, they are technically named Hippeastrum.)

These lovely Naked Lady Amaryllis grow leaves in the spring that die down, and then, right about now, send up one lone stalk bearing amazingly gorgeous flowers. Once I had seen them in my yard, I saw them three times yesterday in other places as well. Belladonna amaryllis Apparently Clara’s Naked Lady doesn’t know that it is hardy only up to Zone 8, and up here in the frigid hinterlands of Zone 5, the bulbs have to be dug up in the fall and replanted in the spring. They look best planted with hostas, and they don’t mind a shady spot, though they prefer sun.

These lovely flowers are originally from South Africa and were brought by sailors to Europe in the 1700s. They love the Mediterranean climate the best. (Who doesn’t?) Belladonna amaryllis So now I have a quandary — should I just let it be and risk losing it? Should I dig it up and replant it in the spring with a few others? One website noted that they really don’t like being disturbed… The bulbs are 3 for $39.95! Gulp. No wonder Clara only had one! Maybe I’ll just plant some pretty hostas around it…

C.S. Lewis wrote about interruptions in a letter that is quoted in Yours Jack: Spiritual Direction from C.S. Lewis. He said that interruptions of one’s own, or real life, are not interruptions at all, but your real life — the life God is sending you day by day. Life is filled with little interruptions — sometimes they aren’t pleasant, sometimes they are just irritating, but sometimes they are little gems of beauty, laughter, joy.

These moments are your real life; note them and be thankful for them. No matter how small.

I had other small surprises this weekend that made me smile. How about you?