Gardens Eye Journal-August 2015


“Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs” ~ Henry Ford




This quote has been my strategy this summer.  Small chunks and small jobs.  And while it is taking me so much longer than I wished, I am glad to be making some headway with finding my gardens again.  I have started in the front gardens, as I wrote in my last Journal post.

I have almost finished the Sidewalk Gardens in the front of the house.  It is amazing what I can uncover when I take my time, and really look at what is in front of me.

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





july sunset

The weather has been complete turn around from June’s rainy and cool weather.  July started wet, promptly dried up and then turned up the thermostat.  We had 7 inches of rain, and most of it in the first half of the month.

It is hard to believe the garden is now bone dry after all the June rain.  And dry clay is hard to weed, but I am working through it.  The sunsets have been spectacular, and this is one example.




Garden Views


I have very methodically been gardening the last of the front gardens that border the brick sidewalk.


Sidewalk Gardens

front garden collage

This is the small Sidewalk Garden that is to the left of the front door.  In the top picture you can see what a jungle it has become.  Weeds and seedlings, and the dwarf willow trees were growing branches that were touching the ground.

I worked from the outer edges in, looking carefully at what was growing under all the vegetation.  You can see all the bare spots that are showing now.  Under the tree, I hope to move lots of the violets that have grown in this bed.  A perfect spot to let them grow free, while other ground covers can take hold again.  Some of the lavender plants (bottom right) also need to be moved, as you can see one spilling out on to the sidewalk looking for more sun.  




sm front driveway collage

Here is the cleared garden showing its summer blooms.  You can see the path running through the middle, created by the voles who have ripped up many a plant.  I will be moving some of the seedlings found here; especially phlox and hyssop.

Amazing that we can see under the tree now too.  Daylily, ‘Endless Summer’ hydrangea, Rudbeckia maxima, dwarf Balloon flower (Platycodon grandiflorus) and lavender which has really grown in overtaking a thyme plant (that I will move).  The container is filled with small hot peppers plants that are not liking this spot or more probably the container.




front grass side collage

The other side of the Sidewalk Garden is a long winding bed between the grass and brick sidewalk.  This view is along the grass side of the bed.  It starts (in the top 2 pictures) with my dwarf forsythia and dwarf echinacea, along with lavender, Stachys monieri ‘Hummelo’, and a ground cover rose that is buried.

The bottom pictures show thyme, Pontentilla shrubs, a medium size grass, gaillardia, tall echinacea and various seedlings; heliopsis, hyssop and Yellow Scabiosa.




1st half front grass side collage

I decided to prune the forsythia (top left) from below giving it some air and showing the ground around it.  And what a surprise I found, 2 volunteer forsythia that rooted from low growing branches.  I can’t wait to use these forsythia seedlings throughout the garden. You can see the main plants in the garden now that it is less messy.  The bottom picture shows the garden looking back toward the driveway.




front sidewalk long collage

This is the same garden, but now from the sidewalk view.  In addition to the plants above, there are hardy geraniums, dwarf Nepeta, dwarf sedum, dwarf Ajuga ‘Chocolate Chip’, daylilies, Ladybells, tall phlox and 2 boxwood shrubs.  The smaller plants give way to taller ones as they approach the clematis trellis and the tree.

The sidewalk weeds will be dealt with last.  I hope to add a bit of moss here and there in the sidewalk to give it a less weedy look.




long sidewalk done collage

Here is the first part of the garden above now weeded, pruned and thinned.  You can see two views.  Top one looking up the sidewalk halfway and the insert picture is looking down the sidewalk toward the driveway.





This last half of the long side of the Sidewalk Garden is not quite finished.  I got halfway done, and then had a small injury that has stopped me for a while especially finishing under and around the tree.  And oh my, the sidewalk is really weedy here.




front bush side

This is the last section of the long Sidewalk Garden on the grass side as it winds around to the side of the house.  It is so thick with this plant you can’t see the bushes here.  I don’t know what the plant is, but it reminds me of a ground cover chrysanthemum.  




grass side done collage

The bottom picture looks from halfway down the grass side where I thinned out lots of plants including the unknown monster that was taking over.  The top picture is a bit further down.  Trimming out the unruly plant and the bushes and now you can see through to the porch.  There was Joe Pye here that I cut down to use in vases below.  I will transplant them later to the side garden and meadow.

I still have to prune around the bushes more as I move around to the side garden.  Hopefully I will have this done by mid August.




Front Porch

front porch petunia

I wanted you to see how nicely these petunias have grown in since early June.  I love how they welcome folks to our purple front door.




porch collage

The begonias, coleus and miniature hosta (part of my Carolyn’s Shade Garden order) are part of a display next to the front porch bench.  Somehow I lost the tag for the lime green and purple veined coleus, but it is a stunning plant that I hope to bring inside this winter.




Tree Following


tilia july comparison 14-15

The Tilia americana or American Linden tree usually flowers in July, and I was hoping to show it to you this summer.  But it did not bloom….not one flower.  The top 2 pictures are of it flowering last year in July.  The bottom 2 pictures show the trees healthy leaves now, but no flowers this year.  The bees and I are so disappointed as we were looking forward to its intoxicating blooms.  I am not sure why it did not bloom, but the very cold winter may have had something to do with it.

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




Meadow View

july meadow

I haven’t shown the meadow recently.  Still growing in early July were a few lupines (top center).  Heliopsis (top right) is a big bloomer in summer as is the invasive teasel (center left).  The bees love teasel, but it will take over the meadow completely in a few years if left unchecked so we have to pull them when they pop up.

The middle picture is Monarda fistulosa (Wild bergamot), and next to it the bulging stems of goldenrod housing the Goldenrod Gall Fly.  Echinacea (bottom left) is just starting to bloom in July in the meadow with the bright pink Monarda didyma, Rudbeckias and a few left over Ox-eye daisies.





july critters

An interesting array of critters showed up in July.  Hummers continue to buzz around the garden partaking of new flowers as they bloomed.  This heron was hunting next door around the repossessed house’s pool, turned to pond now after 7 years.  We have seen 2 deer exactly 2 times in all of July and no fawns.  Not sure why….is it possible there are no fawns this year?

Lots of fledglings and young birds, especially robins (center right), were still in the garden in July.  And that is one of our baby bunnies seeing what is tasty on the patio.  Lastly there are baby frogs finally coming out of the pond after overwintering as large tadpoles.  This one looks like a Green frog.   


I will have a fun story about our young fox , on my other blog Living From Happiness, on Thursday.

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




july flutters

Lastly, we had a couple of new butterflies in the garden in July.  The top one is a Fritillary although I cannot positively identify which one.  Perhaps a Great Spangled Fritillary.

The second butterfly looks like a Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis).  Most likely a newly hatched summer adult that will lay the next eggs.  It was enjoying the sugar water in the Oriole feeder.


I am joining Anna@ The Transmutational Garden for her new Butterfly Bucket List meme the 4th Sunday of the month.  I know I am well past the time for the meme, but I will include it here none-the-less.


So there you have the highlights of my garden in July.  What was a highlight in your July garden?




In A Vase On Monday 


sidewalk 7

This vase was one of the easiest I have ever put together.  And I really can’t take much credit.  Every flower was taken from the Sidewalk Garden as I was removing the volunteers that were overtaking the main garden in the front.  

So how did I put this together?  I actually cut the flowers, brought them in and plonked them in a vase of water.  Yep, that was it.  I liked the look so much, I decided to leave it alone.




sidewalk vase collage

This vase contains 4 flowers.  Echinaceas that I had to remove as they were infected with Aster Yellows.  These were the best of those not affected.  Other flowers included Joe Pye that should not be growing in the smaller front garden, along with heliopsis that jumped from the side garden to the front.  Lastly we had loads of Anise Hyssop all over the garden so some had to go.  I couldn’t have asked for a better huge vase to put in front of the fireplace.  And it goes perfectly with the garden I was reviewing this month.




joe pye vase

Once I cut the large Joe Pye plant that was invading the small front Sidewalk Garden, I couldn’t throw all the beautiful flowers away.  There were so many, and I thought they would look great in their own vase.




joe pye vase collage

The Joe Pye looks wonderful in the early morning light as it is just opening now.


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:  

Monday, I will be looking at the blooms now taking center stage in the garden.

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. 

84 Replies to “Gardens Eye Journal-August 2015”

  1. we’ve had the opposite to you Donna – hot dry July ending in wet but still not enough to make up for the dry Spring. Enjoyed this post as you weed and cut your way back through the gardens -btw, what is growing amongst the grasses in the 1st-half-front-grass-side-collage image – lovely with the echinacea further along – this trio would look good as a repetitive pattern here
    p.s. what a welcome with the petunia urns – am surfinia- less this year but next year intend to grow some from seed for my windowsill

    1. The pale yellow flower in the medium size grass is Yellow Scabiosa which is seeded all over the garden in front. I am hoping to move some of the dwarf echinacea along this 1st half and a patch on the other side of the sidewalk. It is growing in enough and needs dividing already. The grass has grown too big here and I need to remove it and add smaller ones here.

  2. Oh, the Joe Pye arrangement is beautiful Donna! I love, love, love Joe Pye and it is certainly taking over my garden, too. I thought oh, I must weed and thin my garden but I am now taking a different perspective. The garden is morphing and I like seeing its changes. The Susans are now the new edging and the Joe Pye the backdrop. My forsythia died I believe and I will cut it down to the ground come Autumn. I used to think my garden looked wild and unruly but then, exciting news, we put in an offer on a lakefront property! Now, that is some WILD territory and has put my garden in a new perspective. I enjoy exploring the natural landscape. Because I have so many native plants I look forward to transplanting some to the lake front property and letting them go wild. You have done so much work! It all looks lovely. I had that same petunia last year in a box on my porch – it did wonderfully. I tried a different one this year but it has already passed on – lack of water and attention most likely during the heat. More bad plant karma.

    1. Really…is the property local? Are you moving from Clayton to the lakefront? I have a friend who just bought at Millsite Lake not too far from you…it is amazing there.

      I think our plants are more forgiving than we are….so no worries about plant karma!

  3. Wonderful you’re making such progress Donna. Your plonked vase of “trimmings” looks striking in front of the hearth. I love the way you used the Joe Pye weed as well. It suits that container perfectly. Sorry you’re having such a dry time. Same weather report here and no rain in the forecast.

  4. Hi, Donna! Your collages are pretty and especially of Meadow flowers, lovely!
    I saw the pics of garden before and after weeding and pruning – great work, dear. Of your vases I loved one with Joe Pye, I love this plant too.

    1. Thanks Nadezda…It has been slow and I know I won’t get half as far as I’d like now….but whatever I can do is good.

  5. Hello Donna, your gardens are looking beautiful! Lovely summer blooms. The critters are all cute, I love the hummers. And your joe pye arrangement is pretty. Happy Monday, enjoy your new week!

  6. You’ve been busy! I’ve gotten out into the garden on clean-up duty of late myself but only in the early morning and late afternoon when it’s cool enough to work outside. It does give one a sense of achievement to tidy things up a bit, doesn’t it? And, in your case if not in mine, it paid dividends with all the pretty trimmings you collected. I love both your vases this week but especially the simple green vase with the Joe Pye.

    1. It does feel good Kris to get this work started…I wish I had more time, but will get to whatever we ca at this point….it has cooled off a bit but now I am injured so am still not weeding again…geesh. Well at least I have some retty vases to look at.

  7. This is such a neat post Donna. I love the quote also. I have completed several major jobs by separating it into small chunks. It takes longer but looking back at them completed, that satisfied feeling of a job well done by my own hands is phenomenal.

  8. Good to wander through your garden Donna, and it must be very satisfying to be using trimmings in your vase – they look brilliant together and it’s no wonder you decided to leave them as they were. Thanks for sharing.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the wander Cathy….I really can’t throw flowers away anymore…If I trim, I look at them and think…hey they would be great in a vase!

  9. So true about breaking things down into small jobs. If I think about the garden as a whole, I am overwhelmed by the amount of work it entails. Taking one area or one chore and addressing only that makes it manageable and fun. I never considered cutting Joe Pye for a vase. You have opened my eyes.

    1. I have had that overwhelmed feeling too rickii….it is important to stick to that one task and finish it….I can be so distracted sometimes that I don’t always stick to it….but when I do oh boy what a feeling of satisfaction. Wonderful you enjoyed the Joe Pye…a very versatile plant and the butterflies love it.

  10. As usual, your post has been so interesting and informative, Donna! And I love your vases, great flowers and beautiful combination of colours!

  11. Donna, thta is the perfect quote for a gardener! Your gardens all seem to be full and flourishing. I love your vase full of fresh cut flowers.

    My husband and I have been slowly trying to replace the rock and clay sil in a large retaining wall in our backyard with flowers and shrubs. This is out third summer here and we have made so little progress as many of the perennials we plant don’t come back the next year. We keep trying different ones. So far we have had success with lavender and Russian Sage. I’d like some with more color but those seem to attract the deer and rabbits too much.

    1. That is frustrating Pat….hopefully you will discover more perennials that the critters don’t like. Have you looked into natives for your area…sometimes they have better luck growing in the soil and are not as threatened by critters….and they usually return.

  12. something very satisfying on many levels out of harvesting a vase full from prunings!
    I’ve hung on to advice from years ago – to tackle the garden deliberate bit by bit. Work for a couple of hours and SEE a difference.

  13. You are getting on so well in your garden and it is looking great. I like the quote. It reminds me of the one about how to eat an elephantt -‘one a time. That is how work in my garden feels at this time of the year. But one bite at a time you get there.
    I love your arrangement.
    Another post full of interest.

  14. Your gardens are coming along nicely Donna. I’m using the ‘small jobs’ idea to get my beds back in shape as a week away can sure make a difference.
    The Joe Pye looks striking in a vase!
    Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday.

  15. Looking good, Donna. Your brickwork and your porch structure are lovely! We’ve had quite a few extra activities and non-gardening required activities this summer. So now I’m glad to be getting back to quality/quantity time in the garden.

    1. I have been waylaid too Beth….and now again so I just have to go with the flow….your garden certainly is looking fabulous.

  16. such a lovely vase – I think the best arrangements are put together as you suggest in a naturalistic way. I am longing for my Echinacea to flower … and I love the Joe Pye which I will have to research as it is new to me.

  17. Voles and moles (and rabbits and deer, oh my!) wreak lots of havoc in my garden too. And the weeds of course grow better than my plants. I like to do a little at a time too, like the ant moving the rubber tree plant. Your garden is coming along nicely, I wish the heat and drought were not taking a toll too but the rainy season should be coming. I like your dreamy romantic look in the vase with the Joe Pye weed. I just planted one so maybe someday I will have some flowers.

    1. I will bet once it is established that Joe Pye will be multiplying and spreading around your garden within a few years Hannah….hoping your rain comes soon.

  18. You are making excellent headway! My garden has gone the same way and I’m doing exactly as you have and nibbling my way through. It can be exhausting though.
    Beautiful pictures from the meadow and your wildlife. I bet the whole garden is alive with nature at this time of year.

  19. I’ve been working in small chunks too, and things are slowly coming into shape. There are still a lot more weeds than I like, of course! We’ve had similar weather, and I’ve been hauling the hoses around to water. There are a couple pretty crispy looking Astilbes up in my Lasagna Garden that I’m hoping will recover for next year.

    Your Sidewalk Garden is looking great. I like the Hydrangea and the Balloon Flower. Voles are so annoying. I’m fairly certain they took out all of my tulip bulbs this year–the ones I plant behind the fence to save them from the deer!

    And what a pretty vase! Good use of all your clippings! My Joe Pye is a bit behind yours, with some of the buds just starting to open now. I remember it lasting well when I used it in bouquets in the house last summer.

    Have a great week, Donna. Looking forward to your next missive!

    1. Sorry to hear about your tulips Kimberley…the voles seem to just destroy about anything in their path. Hoping you have better weather for your garden soon. We get some rain but most is South of us.

  20. Hello Donna, I like your first quote too – so true, I keep telling myself that quite often 🙂
    We have had a topsy-turvy weather in July too, from extreme heat to very cold, but now it’s back to nice and warm again. It’s great to see all your hard work paying off, I love all your Echinaceas – will try some here in my new garden. And your vase is just lovely, so simple and elegant.
    Have a good week in the garden!

    1. Echinacea is such a fabulous plant so enjoy growing it Helene! I look forward to seeing the work in your garden…you really keep me inspired.

  21. So much eye candy! Your meadow looks like a very special place. No highlights from July to share from here I am afraid. It’s hot hot hot and eveything seems to have gone into a semi-dormant state.

  22. Such lovely summery flowers this week Donna and I have loved looking at your progress in your borders. I have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by my borders now that we have returned from our break and I am looking at all the weeds that have developed in our absence – I must remember your advice about small chunks and just keep plugging away. Thank you for sharing your lovely flowers and garden with us!

  23. Beautiful post Donna and again I am soaking it all in. I have the taller Joe Pye that is taking over and I didn’t know what to do. You are wonderful at transplanting things….. Michelle

    1. Cut down the Joe Pye flowers if you want it to stop seeding Michelle…and you can dig up the plant and compost it or transplant it just about anywhere as it grows in hot dry and wet areas for me.

  24. Hi Donna, the Henry Ford quote is certainly an encouragement to a gardener. You have done a lot in your garden this summer! The first vase is very pretty and is a good representation of your garden. i also love the vase with the Joe Pye Weed. It is simply beautiful, and the vase is a perfect complement to the flowers.

  25. We’ve had lots of rabbits and robins, an occasional hummingbird, but no frogs or herons, I’m sorry to say. I love the meadow, too bad about the teasel, those sort of plants are a never-ending struggle.

  26. What a wonderful post! Your garden looks so lush, I’m jealous. I like the way you format your photos. It’s very imaginative and really calls attention to the pictures. I believe you’re right on both counts with the butterflies. All your critters are so cute! Thanks for joining in on the Butterfly Bucket List!

    1. Glad I can join in from time to time Anna….I wish we had more butterfly visitors. And thank you for your lovely praise for the post and pictures.

  27. It isn’t surprising that your garden looks so lush and full of life. Just compare your 7 inches of rain with my three quarters of an inch! Plus as you say you had a lot of rain in June when also had a lot of rain in then but still less than 2 inches. Deep down your soil must be so moist, just drying out on top; trees and large shrubs will have their roots down where there is always sufficient water for them. It is a good feeling to get back on top of things and you’re going about it in just the right way, bit by bit. Lovely that you are enjoying the garden.

    1. I agree Christina…it is all relative isn’t it….if you received my rain your garden would be happy or maybe even flooded. And you are correct…the deep roots and the clay soil that soaks up so much water and retains it are the reasons why the garden survives here.

  28. Donna you’ve had a busy month, nice to see someone getting the better of too much vegetation, your beds look so much better for it, I agree about one small step at a time and sometimes I list the jobs as it gives a sense of achievement to cross them off,
    it’s a shame about your tree not blooming, good job you have so many other plants providing nectar for the pollinators,
    your meadow looks beautiful, always my favourite part of your garden, Frances

    1. Definitely busy Frances and I agree the meadow is exquisite…such a changing landscape. Looking forward to catching up with you soon.

  29. Lovely garden. I love the quotes too. What a wonderful post! Your garden looks so lush, I’m jealous. Nice that you are enjoying your garden. And I do enjoy your photos too. So neat. Imagining like putting a picnic bench on the area. It’s relaxing. So beautiful. Thanks for posting. Looking forward for more!

  30. You always have so much going on in your gardens and what a lovely bouquet. Same sort of weather change here…just a change of chores 🙂 Rather than mowing the grass every three days it was having to water all of the plants every morning. We did get a nice downpour the other day…that helped : )

    1. Sometimes I think there is a bit too much going on Deb 🙂

      I am glad you had some real rain….it has turned cool here and I love it!

  31. That’s so interesting … that the linden would bloom well one year and not at all the next, yet still produce healthy leaves. So there were no flower buds even? It’s neat that Nature gives us these puzzles! And thanks for the very useful quote.

  32. Dividing a big job into small ones is the only way I get anything done around here, especially when it comes to gardening. The only problem is that once I get “done,” it’s time to start all over again! We’ve had the same kind of July as you, Donna, and I’m ready to do a rain dance to help all my parched plants. You’re so fortunate in having some Joe Pye seedlings to move around; what a beautiful arrangement they make!

    1. I hear you Rose…I see those weeds up again where I weeded. I had to laugh about the Joe Pye seedlings. I keep them out of the front, but they have colonized the bog garden and are everywhere in the back garden. Happy to share with anyone who wants some!

  33. It looks like you have not had a lot of rain either, but a lot of work in the garden. When August hits, I stop my garden chores. Your gardens are very large and must take you an enormous time to tidy up. Things get out of hand so quickly in late July too. How do you remove the sidewalk weeds without a herbicide? Having seen the guys in my business hand do it for one client, it too two weeks to accomplish and many sore bodies. Generally they use Roundup.

    1. Hand weeding an an organic herbal spray that helps kill them making them easier to pull is how we do it Donna….of course I am unable to get to it now as I am sidelined for a while with no gardening, but now I can catch up with my reading 🙂

      I will be pushing back the chores and projects to fall and next spring.

      1. I assume you mean using vinegar. The Niagara Parks Department found using vinegar did not work on all weeds. Further study showed some negative effects on using the vinegar widespread like is done in parks. Even Roundup needs more than one application on certain weeds. The addition of salt or dish soap is not recommended, even though Roundup does have a soap component. Vinegar and soap have a negative effect on soils, as does salt. Parks do a lot of hand pulling, often with volunteers like I have done pulling Mustard Weed. Honestly, hand pulling is often the best approach, although very difficult between paving stones. A special tool is used professionally, and it still is time consuming. Certain paving materials, especially the cheaper ones cannot take the sprays, especially those with vinegar or salt.

        1. Yes vinegar has been the best so far. At the old house I used to use Roundup and even here before I decided against using it. And I did not find it much better on my weeds even after many apps….so I use vinegar occasionally on stubborn weeds and really resort to hand pulling mostly. I don’t like using soap or salt for many of the reasons you state here…and use of vinegar even too much isn’t great.

  34. You accomplished an enormous amount of work, Donna, and it is really paying off — your garden is looking lovely. Sorry about the injury — hope you have a quick recovery! P. x

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