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.

All original content is copyrighted and the sole property of Donna Donabella @ Gardens Eye View, 2010-2015.  Any reprints or use of content or photos is by permission only. 

85 Replies to “Gardens Eye Journal-July 2015”

  1. The garden is looking good in spite of the rain. It always amazes me how plants bounce back after even the hardest of storms. I cringe watching them being bent over in wind and rain but mostly they seem well adapted.

    1. I agree Jessica the plants seem more adaptable than I do…and even with all the rain when it rains buckets again, the garden refreshes and then dries out….I am amazed by it.

  2. You certainly have had a challenging summer thus far! We were really dry for about a month but we’ve gotten some much needed rain the past few days. My garden is much happier now. I had to do some research on aster yellow because you are the second person to mention it recently. I haven’t noticed it in our garden but then perhaps it is too hot here since it seems to favor wet cool summers. Sounds like it can be very problematic. Congrats on your story publication. I will hop over and read now…

    1. Indeed Karin Aster yellows can spread and wipe out all the echinacea which would be a shame, so I pull the plants I see. And then I have to replace it with something not in the Aster family as it can infect other plants in the aster family. Glad to hear you had rain finally….still getting it here but longer periods of dry in between and warmer temps.

      Thanks for reading my Aunt’s story…I appreciate the support.

  3. It is so hard to imagine that much rain falling in only one day; I wish some of it had come here; it seems there was no rain at all while I was away and now it is very hot (37° C) and there was mist this morning so that means it is humid too. How lovely to give your friend flowers for her birthday; I was able to take 9 stems of gladioli to my friend on her birthday last week, we had a lovely meal with only the light of the full moon, such fun. Sorry I wasn’t able to leave comments while I was away but it was too complicated with the iPad.

    1. Oh Christina that sounds like a lovely dinner with friends….I wish we could do that but oh the mosquitoes would have more of a dinner! I will try to send you some of our rain as it keeps coming in waves. And I know how hard it is to comment with iphones and ipads….so no worries….I knew you were here in spirit.

  4. I enjoyed watching the video of the pouring rain. I sometimes enjoy rain – we have certainly had our share. I love the idea that you have a mailbox garden. I keep looking at your “campanula” mess and thinking it has a wild, pretty look. So glad you saw a butterfly!

    Hope to write a comment on the post on your aunt later (I read it yesterday).

    1. Thanks Leora….I love messy too but not so messy in my front gardens. The mailbox garden is fun and a great place to have a small garden.

  5. Wonderful story Donna! Now that I have time to read it. I love family history. I don’t know much about my family but it seems every time we get together something new is revealed. I treasure those times. We had two DRY days! I hope you did, too. Do you have a rain chain? I love, love, love mine. I have so many weeds in my own garden, at work … a little boy asked me at work what I was doing and I replied weeding. He asked me how many weeds were there and I said THOUSANDS! Ha ha.

    1. So glad you liked the story Kathy. We did have a few dry days, but I had other priorities and did not have much time in the garden except the veg garden…hoping the dry wave stays as I need to attack the rest of the front and side garden weeds.

      I do have a rain chain hanging off the porch and a rain gauge out back to measure the rainfall. Love the little boy’s question…thousands of weeds and they just keep coming!

  6. Your post is so interesting this week. I loved the video you inserted in the story! How I wish we had “your” rain. It was so weird looking at it, because that is exactly what we are supposed to be having here in Oregon…just like that in June. But now? Ten straight days in the high nineties. Awful. Your garden still looks happy. Mine is fine, but the big “dinner plate” dahlias are suffering. It was just too hot too early.
    Congratulations on your story, I look forward to reading it. And take good care dear Donna. I was sorry to hear about the many bugs biting you, that is pretty unpleasant.

    1. I wish I could send some of the rain your way Susan…..we have had plenty to share. And thank you for your kind support of my story! It means a lot. As for the bugs, well when I keep in long sleeves, use repellent and a few other things, I actually can keep the hoards away….I hate the repellent though and the long sleeves as the heat causes me to stop often.

  7. A great post, as usual, small chapters that could be easily turned into a book about garden and life. I like your vases, too, they look so fresh. Thank you, Donna!

  8. We had a very rainy June (in fact it was the rainiest June on record), but nothing quite like your big storms. July here has been dry so far. There is supposed to be rain tonight and we actually could use it. Hooray for your Black Swallowtail – I can never tell the sexes apart – I do hope you get caterpillars.

    1. I didn’t know the sexes of the Swallowtails either Jason so I looked it up in hopes of caterpillars…still hoping for them….We had 2 inches as July started and a few storms but nothing like June….hoping for a drier July!

  9. Twenty-one inches of rain in one month! I think that’s more than 5x as much rain as we got in total last year. It’s too bad that deluges like that bring such problems. But your critters don’t seem to mind! They all look happy to hang out in your garden and I’m sure I would be too. Both your vases are wonderful as usual, although I admit that the first one, made for your neighbor, is my favorite this week. I thought about using Trifolium in one of my vases this week but didn’t – I’ll definitely try that soon.

    1. I did want her vase to be special….yes Kris too much rain can bring problems, but I think they are short-lived compared to extensive drought like yours….I am amazed at how resilient the critters are here.

  10. You’ve had more than your fair share of the wet stuff Donna. I hope that July is drier and gives the garden a chance to recover. It sounds as if you have to be most careful when venturing outside with all those nasty critters about. Hopefully one day there will be an all in one protection to make life simpler. The bee photo at the top of your post is fabulous.

    1. I would love an all in one protector Anna….of course all the rain makes for more mosquitoes. So glad you enjoyed that bee on the milkweed!

  11. Unbelievable rain Donna. We’re finally having a bit, but neighbors all around are complaining of too much. Many of the clouds just pass right by us while a mile or two down the road the cloud opens up. Great vases this week and great shots of the hummingbird and swallowtail.

  12. I love the quote by Sara Stein and hope the rain is behind you with sunny days and hot weather ahead.
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday Donna.

  13. After seeing the rain fall on your garden I will never again complain about rain here in the UK! You have been busy, your garden, mosaics and cut flowers are all lovely.

  14. My goodness – that’s a real multi-purpose post! And what an amazing amount of rain! I loved to see those seed pods in the vase for your neighbour – a resource I rarely think to use, And the campanula in yours is fantastic – this type of campanula often succumbs to slugs here so it’s probably not worth the risk in trying it, more’s the pity. Thanks for sharing

    1. Oh that is too bad Cathy as campanula is a quick growing groundcover. Glad you enjoyed the vases and the post! I wish I had time to blog more often and break up these posts.

  15. Hi Donna, it looks like we have the same experiences for June, as our heat left too and rains has come, however of course the replacement here is not as cold as there. I too love taking shots of the rains but hasn’t had much luck yet. I love those photos you got there, i am sure you really enjoyed taking them too. And the plants are all looking happy and healthy.

  16. I would be happy to take some of that rain from you, it’s very dry here in London 🙂
    We are promised a short shower tomorrow morning, 2 hours with a bit of rain doesn’t really make up for much but perhaps I won’t need to water my pots tomorrow evening.
    Your garden is looking lush and green from all the rain, and I loved your two vases, really pretty. I hope the weather is turning for the better for you this week!

  17. What a lot you have to contend with, Donna – those mosquitos, poison ivy, ticks,flooding. Relieved you’ve got good armour. The quote made me laugh. Life wasn’t meant to be easy! I also loved the video, like being there. The garden’s looking great and the critters appreciate your efforts too.

  18. You could have been describing my garden in your first paragraph, Donna–we, too, had the wettest June on record, making it hard to get out and pull all the weeds. I did get most of mine pulled last week and finally got all the mulch down, but the mosquitoes!! Even with a layer of insect repellent, they still seem to find me:) Still, your garden looks lovely; so many colorful blooms.
    My daughter and family are arriving later this morning, so I don’t have time right now to read about your Aunt Mary, but I will as soon as I can. I have read several stories about the work that women did during WWII, including a novel by Fannie Flagg that I really enjoyed. I’m glad these women are finally getting the recognition they deserve!

    1. It will take me at least another week to weed the front and then a month for the back as it is so wild and so much has seeded and needs to be removed for now. But the wild look is pretty too.

      I do hope you enjoy my Aunt’s story! Thanks for the support Rose!

  19. Wow! That was a long post. Hi Donna! I hadn’t realised how wet it has been for you. yuck. Despite the rain, your garden and white fence are beautiful! I am trying not to be envious of your vases of flowers (cause envy isn’t very nice!) as they are amazing! I won’t even bother with naming the individual flowers because they are all so pretty and so lovely together. (but the pink hydrangea and lilies, and light blue delphinium stand out for me!!!) Your butterfly is lovely, too. I miss the different varieties from home. Lovely to see in your blog. Have a good week! I hope things are a bit drier now 🙂 Dana

    1. Dana, I really love pink and blue and yellow pastels in a vase so it was a favorite for me too! I think we may get a few days of sun and heat finally….of course the veggies are just going wild.

  20. Wow! You covered a lot of ground in one post!
    Beautiful flowers and interesting critters!
    Your Linden tree is looking good – I love the color and shape of the leaves.
    As for the rain, we had 9 1/2 inches rain in 24 hours (July 3rd). It is still very cloudy, but thankfully no rain yet this week.
    Hope you are having a great week!

    1. That is what drew me to the linden Lea…those amazing leaves. NAd wow that is a lot of rain in one day…I think the most we had so far in 24 hours was 6 inches.

  21. We’ve had tons of rain, too, and my sage is rotting. But I prefer too much rain to drought. Your garden looks great! Love all the wildlife. :o)

  22. It’s Wednesday already and I’m still catching up with my fellow Mosaic Makers! You do create some clever shapes for your collages, they re all so very interesting. Great post.

  23. Hello Donna, we have had more than our fair share of rain here. I am ready to share. I love this post, your flowers are gorgeous. And I even enjoyed the rain images. The critter mosaic are some of my favorites, along with your pretty flowers in the vase. Have a happy day!

  24. I have enjoyed your post, and seeing what is growing in gardens far away. Love the mosaic pictures too, it shows a realistic view of nature.

  25. Aster yellows? I had better look that up. This is the first year I planted seeds in pots and none of them did anything other than throw up a few shoots. I had ordered them as a container garden set from Renees Seeds. I wonder what I did wrong… Or maybe all the wet…. Michelle

  26. So many pretty mosaics! That is a lot of rain in such a short period of time. When that happens in my area, there is usually more damage than good due to flash flooding, etc.

  27. Hi Donna, your posts are always so interesting and each photo and collage is a delight to see. I will enjoy reading your aunt’s story and will make sure I make a note of the link. Thank you so much fo all the lovely comments on my vacation blog, and I wish you a very happy week.

    1. I really enjoyed your vacation from the comfort of my couch…what a grand excursion with family, great sights and wonderful food! Thank you Denise for your support of my Aunt’s story!

  28. I always find that the weather you speak of is very similar to what we have experienced here. Though Spring was dry it has been a good summer for rain. I notice a difference in plants like Astilbe that might otherwise be struggling in July. I love seeing all the animals that visit your garden. I used to have more, but hubby has made the fence a bit too secure. If only it would keep the neighbour’s cat out too. I caught the darn thing hunting birds in my garden this afternoon.

    1. I agree Jennifer it is wonderful to see the plants alive, growing and lush instead of dry and struggling….I struggled with keeping the fence a bit more open or not and we welcome the critters now but not the cats….

  29. Niagara did not get all the rain Central NY did. It kept just missing us. We have been pretty dry for the most part. As much as I like the wildlife, I could do without the deer, groundhog and rabbit. I have a lot of plants to share, but not for those hefty eaters. You are lucky your garden is much larger. The photos in the rain are pretty.

    1. It is amazing how different our weather can be Donna. Groundhogs are not permitted in my garden as they are so destructive, followed by deer who just eat everything here….the rabbits do stick to the clover, but will sneak up on the patio or in beds if not netted especially the young curious ones.

    1. What a pleasure to have you visit Louisette….I hope you will stop by again. I have always wanted to visit Belgium…such a beautiful spot.

  30. Your floweRs, whether in vases or in mosaics, are always arranged so beautifully. Lifting my spirits on a day when I am cleaning, straightening, organizing, moving back in. All things I’ll feel good about but all indoors! On a summer day, EEEK!

    Love the critters, the ones in the first ohoto too… Bees and ants busy at work! But definitely not the Mosquitos you mention. Or the ticks. Be careful out there.

  31. I wish we were having normal rain, it has been unusually dry and the ground is like concrete with cracks in it. That makes it hard to establish little seedlings. I’m sorry to hear about your mosquito troubles, that sounds like a nightmare, as well as the poison ivy weeds. I’m having difficulties because it seems the hard work pulling, lifting, digging, and carrying in my 2 acres have critically worn out my knees to the point of limiting my mobility and abilty to do all the work. My husband is not much of a gardener, either, so not wanting to take on all my work. Your garden looks like it is doing well in spite of all the water and weeds. I like your vases, I’ve never seen such a kooky campanula as ‘Pink Octopus’, how funny. I may try to do one on Monday, though I enjoy flowers more in the garden where they live longer.

  32. Wish I could send you rain Hannah….I know what you mean about the work getting to be too much. Pink Octopus is on of my favorite campanulas…just looks great edging my patio.

  33. Hi, Donna. Firstly I’ve read about aunt Mary’s story, it touched me. Very brave and resistant woman.
    Your video is the same that I see in my window now. I’m tired of this rain, water and cold weather. As you I have very short time to fight with weeds, yesterday I threw to compost 8 bins of them. And the rain again:(( Nice season for snails…
    Love your bouquets, Donna and your collage with robins, very cute birds.

    1. Thank you Nadezda! So glad you really liked Aunt Mary’s story. I am sorry to hear about your rain. Ours has tapered off and we are getting some dry sunny days so perhaps you will too. Now I can get out and weed more.

  34. 21 inches of rain in one month is incredible! With that much rain it is impossible to keep up with all the weeds. You are doing a good job. Here, it is too hot to do much weeding, and I know they are growing and laughing at me inside my air-conditioned home. I know the critters don’t mind the weeds at all. I like your fox!

  35. Thanks for the enjoyable trip through your garden(s). 🙂 The foliage and flowers are all beautiful, as is the beautiful green of your Linden tree. The critters are all wonderful, too! Thanks for sharing!

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