Gardens Eye Journal-July 2015


“I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border.  I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.”  

~Sara Stein



June has been an unusual month in so many ways.  The heat left, the rains came and I got precious little done in my garden.  But it seems even with the rainy cool start to July, it will heat up to be a typical hot, humid and possibly dry July.

I really do like rain during summer as it is important to feed the veg garden, and the plants moved and planted in spring.  But a bit of dry weather for more than 1 day would help us as we beat back the record number of mosquitoes this year.  They lay in wait near the doorways, and even with our vigilance, they get in and seek me out.  I have had more bites indoors than outdoors this year.

And our mosquitoes here carry deadly diseases as they are telling us again….EEE and West Nile have butterfly weedbeen found locally.  And there are record numbers of ticks too carrying Lyme Disease.  To say I have to don armor to go outside is an understatement as I use 3 different, no make it 4 different, defenses against these insects. 

But I am determined to get to our garden chores as much as I can.  My garden helper hurt his back so he is not able to do some of the heavy chores, but those will wait.  Biggest among the chores is weeding everywhere, and again we are finding more poison ivy all over the garden.  So I have to carefully and slowly work my way through each bed.

While I review a bit of my garden in this long post, I am linking in with Helen@The Patient Gardener’s Weblog for her End of Month View.






rain collage

As I watch the deluge of rain nonstop here I wish it would somehow make a few stops out west to relieve the drought and oppressive heat in the western US.  This is how June began with a dilly of a storm.  We had been warned that heavy rains and flash flooding were coming our way, and I was happy to get them as May had been too dry.

Look how black the sky became, and how hard the rain came down in these pictures.  Rain is hard to capture in pictures so you know it was raining hard to get these shots.  Below is a short 20 second video showing the rain as it began.



We received an inch and a half in 15 minutes.




back flood collage

And an hour later when it slowed down we had 3 inches of rain.  By the end of the day and the end of the storm, we had a total of 4 inches of rain.  You can see the flooding in my backyard, and the bottom picture is the run-off gully that was filled with a few feet of water.  The big birds, like these grackles, were out playing in the rain during the entire storm and seemed to really enjoyed it.

June ended with another storm like this one except it had some of the most dangerous lighting and flooding we have seen in a long time, killing on person.  Roads were impassable everywhere, and some homes were under many feet of water.  The storm dropped 3 inches of rain on us in a couple of hours, and we ended June with 21 inches of rain for the month.  Never before have we seen so much rain in one month.  Add to that a rainy early spring, loads of snow in winter, and I would say our clay soil is saturated.




Garden Views

So with all the rain, I had to stick to the front gardens to work, which are in full sun and dry out quickly.


Sidewalk Gardens

front collage

You can see we have had many things blooming this year and the best have been the hydrangeas (hard to see now because the weeds are so tall), and the echinacea except there is Aster yellows disease in some that will be pulled.  It is clearly visible even as it is just blooming.  I do hope I don’t lose all my echinacea.

These are the last beds to tame with weeding and pruning especially those trees.  The one thing I did do was to change out all the porch containers.




front pots collage

On the steps, where there had been pansies and violas, I planted PetuniaTorenia fournieri, CalibrachoaColeus and Angelonia.  The Torenia and Coleus are in pots on the right side that is shadier due to the trees.  All the other pots on the porch have nasturtiums growing in them.  They are slowly filling in, but already blooming.




Mailbox Garden

mailbox garden collage

This little garden was weeded in early spring and mulched, but the grass grew right back with loads of ivy and other weeds.  You can see the before picture on the left, and the after shots on the right.




mailbox flowers

In spring, it is filled with smaller bulbs and creeping phlox.  Now these are the flowers blooming (all unnamed for now as I lost most of the tags):  catmint, gaillardia, lavender, clematis, echinacea, Aquilegia (a late surprise bloom), yarrow and geranium.  Soon to bloom are daylily, coreopsis, and later aster and Agastache.  And yes if you look closely in front of the mailbox there are a few volunteer sunflowers growing.




Kidney Garden

kidney before collage

This is a bed I rarely show, and it is named for its kidney shape.  It straddles the property line, half on our side and half on our neighbor’s, the repossessed house.  The cable TV and telephone boxes are in this garden so I don’t plant anything here I will sorely miss.  As you can see it looks a mess.  There is a tall red clover and Campanula punctata ‘Plum Wine’ that have overtaken this garden.

After pulling loads of campanula and clover here is what was left growing and blooming….




kidney after collage

Three Diablo ninebark bushes, a daylily, echinacea, geranium, burgundy sedum, lavender, thyme, allium sage and campanula.  I had to remove a large clump of echinacea also infected with Aster yellows disease.  I plan to also remove the daylily (too tempting for the deer), and one lavender plant.  And I am moving some allium, hidden under the bushes, so it is next to the allium near the Welcome sign.  I also plan to add a clump of iris and a medium size grass behind the sage. I am moving these from the sidewalk garden.  

In spring, there are a few crocus and grape hyacinths growing here, but I’d like to add some other bulbs as well this fall.  Preferably some the voles, rabbits and deer detest.


So that is it for the front gardens so far this year.




Tree Following


linden in June

Last month, I profiled the tree I am following, the Tilia americana or American Linden tree.  It does appear to have grown a foot already, and is now 7 feet tall (center picture).  And the side branches that were chewed off by deer last year, have regrown with loads of leaves as seen above.  I am still waiting for it to flower.

I am linking in with Lucy@Loose and Leafy’s Tree Following meme that happens around the 7th of every month.





other june critters

Well have we had critters in June.  Two families of woodchucks (young one pictured top left) moved in under the sheds on either side of us.  Once they are old enough, the mother brings them out of the den and gets them acclimated to the area so they can find a new home (the sheds until they make dens).  Needless to say 5 young woodchucks is too many in such a small space, so they had to be moved to a wild area where they could flourish.  And the toad was found in the Kidney Garden when I was weeding.    He was very tolerant of me.

No baby deer are out yet, but this young doe has been spotted a few times in very early morning.  Probably a mother getting some food for herself.  And there is Hunter our year old fox.  I have another story about him coming up next month.  The bunny is one from the nest we had earlier this year.  And the hummers are all over the garden.  I have a fun story about them I recounted last week on my other blog, Living From Happiness.




baby birds

We are finding loads of recently fledged birds about the garden.  In the center is a just fledged American Robin.  None of these birds actually nested in our garden, but they come to eat in our garden, and find spots to rest and hide as they become more comfortable with flying and maneuvering.

The top left picture is a Song Sparrow parent getting food for the babies in the nest.  They usually nest in the Front Garden shrubs.  Next is our crazy mother robin with her fledgling who is expecting to be fed still.  The 2 blackbirds look like grackles and one is a young bird who was being fed.  The last picture is a female red-winged blackbird (left) and her new fledgling resting and being fed on top of the pumpkin trellis.

I will be sharing all our critters with Saturday’s Critters hosted by Eileen@Viewing nature with Eileen that happens every Saturday.





Last, but certainly not least, is the first butterfly I could actually get a picture of, the Eastern Black Swallowtail.  It enjoyed the beautiful patch of Common Milkweed growing by the pond.  Right now the Common Milkweed and orange Butterflyweed (Asclepias tuberosa), both at the top of the post, are growing beautifully pleasing so many pollinators.

This butterfly is a female and I hope it left some eggs on the various larval plants I grow for the Swallowtails.  She has fennel, dill and Italian parsley to choose from.  So I will be checking out these herbs soon to see if there are some lovely caterpillars to watch.

Anna@ The Transmutational Garden has a new Butterfly Bucket List meme the 4th Sunday of the month.  I am not sure if I am in time, but I will include it here none-the-less.



Aunt MaryOne more note.  My WWII memoir story about my Aunt Mary was published yesterday on a wonderful website, Rosie’s Daughters.  Please visit to read Aunt Mary’s story and so many other women’s stories of their work and struggles during WWII.


And if you would, leave a comment at the end of the story to let me know what you thought.  My Aunt will be reading the story and I am sure she would love to see the comments too.




In A Vase On Monday 


I have a couple of vases today as well…..

ginger bday bouquet

The first is a lovely bouquet I put together for my neighbor who was having a 4th of July birthday.  The container is her Ball jar mug that I returned.  I filled the jar with Baptisia seed pods and foliage, Shasta Daisies, Rudbeckias, Campanula ‘Cherry Bells’, Trifolium rubens (Red Feather Clover), and a pink ‘Invincibelle Spirit’ hydrangea.

I have loads of volunteers of all these plants except the hydrangea, and I will be digging them up and gifting them to my neighbor as she loves to garden.





Of course I had to have a bouquet too.  Since I had precious little time, I took a walk around the gardens and grabbed a bit of this and that for the vase.




early july vase collage

You can see a pale blue delphinium, a pink ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea, a pink lily, yellow daylilies, Knautia macedonica, Stachys officinalis ‘Hummelo’, Campanula ‘Pink Octopus’ and variegated hosta leaves.  A perfect early summer vase of pale colors.


I am joining in with a few memes this week as I prepare these vases:  Cathy@Rambling in the Garden for her wonderful meme, In a Vase on Monday, Today’s Flowers hosted by Denise@An English Girl Rambles and Judith@Lavender Cottage who hosts Mosaic Monday.


Next up on the blog:  

Next Monday, I will have a combined In A Vase On Monday and Stuck Foot post just in time for Garden Blogger’s Bloom Day.

I am linking in with Michelle for her Nature Notes meme at her new blog just for Nature Notes.  It is a great way to see what is happening in nature around the world every Tuesday. 



I am also joining in I Heart Macro with Laura@Shine The Divine that happens every Saturday.

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