A couple of years ago I wrote a post, “Creeping Thyme Problems“, about my patch of creeping thyme that was totally a disaster. This post has also become one of my most popular, so I must not be alone in having ugly creeping thyme!
A couple years later, I’ve pruned it a bit more each year to keep it fresh and it’s still looking great. Except for the grass that has crept in.
If you’ve tried to get the grass out of ground cover mid-summer, it’s a thankless job. I tried to bribe the kids, but to no avail.
While walking around the yard checking everything out a few days ago, I noticed that the grass was greening up and was easy to spot and pull out while the creeping thyme was still dormant.
Definitely easier than pulling it out mid-summer when everything is green and thick. You need to get right down to the grass roots, otherwise you’ve just “cut” the grass and it’ll come right back. Since the thyme is dormant, it’s easy to find the roots and not have to dig around and disturb everything.
This is a new job I’m adding to my spring garden prep list that will hopefully save me weeding time in the heat of the summer. It’s also a useful time to pull out the creeping charlie that is starting to green up and “creep’ its way around the garden.
Looking forward to thick lush creeping thyme that smells great when I walk on it this summer!
This has been quite an unusual fall for many of us. Seems like the winter was in no hurry to arrive, so we’ve been treated to one of the warmest and longest falls in a long time. With that, many trees are still showing colors and many plants in my garden are still going strong. All this is going to come to a screeching halt tonight as we drop from almost 70 this morning to the 30’s overnight. Yikes!
Until then, here’s some of what’s still been going strong in my garden.
Tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, hot and sweet peppers and hardy herbs are still there for the picking.
Even the heat loving zinnias are still hanging in there! Their colors are blending beautifully with the fall garden colors. I think after today, I’ll be dead heading them for next year (Fall Seed Gathering Means Beautiful Summer Zinnias). If you look closely behind the zinnias, you can see the fall garlic shoots indicating next year’s garlic harvest.
Despite the abundance of fallen leaves, the geraniums aren’t looking like they’re ready to be done anytime soon.
The cosmos are still blooming strong. But, the hydrangeas behind them are ready to add winter interest to the garden.
The Victoria Blue Salvia is in the same bed as the cosmo. Usually this area is all salvia, but due to a mix up (well my mix up) when I ordered the annuals from a local plant sale, I didn’t actually buy any this year. These are self seeded from last year and added a nice splash of purple to the pink of the cosmo.
While the Purple Beautyberry bush(Callicarpa x NCCX1) is expected to look great this time of year, I thought I’d add it since it’s a fairly new shrub and thankfully doing great! I can’t get enough of those fall purple berries and each year I’ve had more.
I was fortunate to recently spend a week on the Hawaiian Island of Kauai. As you would imagine, the flowers are gorgeous and I especially loved all the hibiscus growing everywhere. No wonder they are the State Flower of Hawaii.
There are seven wild hibiscus found on the Hawaiian islands. We came across the Hawaiian White Hibiscus or Koki’o ke’oke’o (Hibiscus waimea) while visiting the scenic Waimea Canyon drive. These can be found natively only in the higher elevations of Kauai from the gorgeous Waimea Canyon to the ocean-facing valleys in the west and south-west.
Most of the other hibiscus found in Hawaii are Chinese hibiscus and other hybrids. But, they are no less beautiful and add gorgeous splashes of color to the gardens of roadsides, homes and hotels. Actually most everywhere on the island.
I might need to look into growing some hardy hibiscus back at home. Bring a little of the tropics to Chicago 🙂 Have you had luck growing hibiscus as a perennial in colder climates?
Zinnias are a great splash of color in the dog days of summer.
My friend Susan has a fabulous hedgerows of zinnias and she shared her secret as to how it looks great year after year.
Every fall she gathers the dead seed heads, dries them and stores them in a bag over the winter in a cool, dry location. I kept mine on my unheated porch.
When the temperature is warm enough in the spring, generally not for a couple weeks after the last frost date, she coarsely separates the seeds from the rest of the dead flower heads. Then in a shallow trench, she thickly spreads the coarse seed mixture, covers lightly with dirt and once the seedlings begin to come up, does not thin them. Zinnias thrive best in full sun and are quite drought resistant.
I had to try it! We collected seeds last fall from our gardens, and anywhere we could find lovely zinnia beds in need of dead-heading, including from the golf course we play at. This spring, when the soil temperature was warm enough (usually not until after Mother’s Day here at my zone 5 home) we planted our overwintered seeds by spreading the coarse seed mixture into shallow rows.
Zinnias everywhere! I need to find more places to plant them to enjoy all the color, but it worked. Not as nicely as Susan’s, but I’ll get there.
Susan was kind enough to send me some more photos of her yard. Enjoy!
I’m not the only loving the colors!
Soon she’ll be harvesting next year’s seed head before the first frost sets in.
All ready for another year of gorgeous color!
Many thanks to Susan for sharing her photos with me. And for enticing me to make my zinnia garden even bigger next year.
Once you’ve filled your yard with pollinator friendly plants and a hummingbird feeder, you need to make some nectar to put in the feeder. It couldn’t be easier!
1 part granulated sugar
4 parts water
Bring to a boil and boil for 2 min (longer can make it too concentrated).
Cool before filling feeder.
I’ve had this spoon forever, seems appropriate when making hummingbird nectar 🙂
So for example, you want to make just enough to fill the feeder, use 1/4 cup sugar and 1 cup water.
To make enough to store for a week or so, use 1 cup sugar and 4 cups of water. Store leftover in the refrigerator.
Things to remember:
Change the food every 2-3 days, sooner if it appears cloudy.
Boiled and cooled nectar can be stored 1-2 weeksin the refrigerator. If it begins to appear cloudy, or develops brown spots on the container, toss it. It’s either fermenting or growing mold and will be harmful to the hummingbirds.
No need to add red dye. Red on the feeder is enough to attract them and the dye may be harmful.
Never use honey, brown sugar or artificial sweeteners. Honey and brown sugar are not able to be digested properly and honey can be toxic. Hummingbirds are never on a diet, so they need the energy provided by real sugar.
Keep the feeder clean. Buy a bottle bush and scrub it out each time you refill the feeder.
It may take a little while for these fun little friends to find your feeder, but when they do, they will be back as long as you provide them fresh food. Seeing that they feed every 10-15 minutes to keep up with their calorie needs, they’ll be back a lot!
Every year I wonder if any pollinator friends will visit my gardens. I usually can count on the bees arriving early, but how about butterflies, hummingbirds and hummingbird moths?
Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe)
I’ve tried to plant mostly pollinator friendly flowers and over the years I’ve seen a steady improvement in the number of pollinators in my yard. Bee Balm, Phlox, Petunias, Snapdragons, Hosta among others.
As a gardener, one of the fun things about our new cabin in Door County WI is seeing what is going to come up in the gardens this spring and summer. I love taking a walk around the property to see what’s changed since the last time we were there. I know the previous owner took pride in her gardens, but since we bought the place in the fall much was already passed its prime. So this spring has been a wonderful surprise to me!
Much to my delight, there are so many interesting and colorful plants all around the house. Some in gardens, some hiding the rural necessities and some enhancing the “yard”.
Up front, we’re welcomed by a beautiful display of peonies, irises and ferns.
Iris reticulata “Springtime”
And all around the front step are these gorgeous, unusually colored columbine. A favorite of the hummingbirds and bees.
There’s hostas nearby as well, but the deer are finding them to be pretty tasty.
Luckily they don’t seem to like the Dragon’s Blood Stonecrop (Spurium Dragon’s Blood) or rug junipers. These are great ground covers and seem to be flourishing with minimal care.
In a bit of a low area, there’s a rock garden that provides a brilliant splash of purple and green.
It’s a relatively natural property, so I’m taking delight in the daisies in the grass. Since the grass is rather sparse, I glad something pretty is in its place.
It’s going to be a little tough to mow around, but we’ll figure something out.
Based on the plant records she left me, I know there’s going to be lots more in bloom next time we’re there!
Each year I head to the local garden store to pick out flowers for the planters. The results are rarely the same from year to year since I just pick what I like at that moment. Sometimes I might like yellows, other times maybe purples, sometimes more upright, others lots of vines. This year for the front stoop I was in apparently in a pink/purple mood.
In the backyard, I am a creature of habit. In two shady planters near the grill, I always put in coleus. My local garden shop carries a great selection of coleus so every year I can mix and match.
The one lesson I learned through the years is check the height of the plants. They can range from a few inches to a couple of feet, so match accordingly. Otherwise that favorite may be completely dwarfed by its neighbor.
Then there’s two long planters in the backyard that always have geraniums and something low. Usually it’s petunias, but this year I switched it up and used an annual lobelia. I did notice in the first few hot days that they need a lot more water than the petunias. Need to stay on top of that! But they do look stunning next to the hot pink geraniums.
The last two planters have had a variety of things going on. I haven’t really decided what I like in them. As it came time to plant them this year, I realized I was missing marigolds in the garden. They’ve been a mainstay in my garden ever since my first garden in NJ. I miss how well they grew there, but as one of my favorites, I keep them somewhere in my yard. It’s definitely one of those love/hate plants for gardeners. This year they went in the planters with some snapdragons. The snapdragons aren’t blooming yet, but soon will be attracting the butterflies and hummingbirds.
These are all recently planted, so I’m hoping they’d ill in nicely through the summer. With enough water and some periodic fertilizer they should look great.
As comparison, here’s some what these planters looked like last year…
Hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day last weekend! I meant to get this post out earlier, but my week got interrupted picking up one of my boys from college. A trip that included a flat tire and some nasty storms. But I have my boys home from school so all is good!
I spent last weekend in Door County, WI enjoying the great weather by taking a wonderful spring hike at the Ridges Sanctuary and bike riding on the Sunset Trail in Peninsula State Park. As if Mother Nature knew it was Mother’s Day weekend, the spring flowers were all abloom. It’s been years since I’ve been out in the woods in the spring and after this spring, I don’t think I’ll miss another.
The two places we visited were only a few miles apart, but they are quite unique habitats. The Ridges is a unique boreal forest, more like a Canadian forest, and made up of ridges and swales created by the rising and receding Lake Michigan shoreline. Peninsula Sate Park is a combination of second growth hardwoods, mostly maple and beech, and northern white cedar along the bluffs. These two areas lend themselves to quite different types of flowers.
At The Ridges, because of the cold Lake Michigan breezes, things are a little slower in blooming. But the early bloomers were out like the Trailing Arbutus (Epigaea repens) in pink and white.
I was so surprised to see a Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea). Even without the blooms, this carnivorous plant is easy to identify.
This tiny iris, Dwarf Lake Iris (Iris lacustris), is unique in that it is only found in the Great Lake Region, and almost only in Michigan except for a few colonies elsewhere including the Door Peninsula. It’s preferred habitat is sand or thin soil over limestone rich gravel or bedrock and, as in the case here at The Ridges, commonly found on old beach ridges of former shoreline of the Great Lakes. The Dwarf Lake Iris is listed as a threatened species by the federal government and the state of Wisconsin.
Some of my favorite plants are club-mosses, and plenty could be seen now that the snow and ice was gone.
Spinulum annotinum (Stiff Club-moss)
Dendrolycopodium obscurum (Tree Club-Moss)
Lycopodium clavatum (Running Ground Pine)
After exploring The Ridges, we took a bike ride on the Sunset Trail in Peninsula State Park. A very different kind of forest and so the flowers were also different. The Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum) was out in full glorious bloom!
The Large-flower Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora) always look like they are droopy and in need of some water.
Even though the Forget-Me-Not (Myosotis sylvatica) is a non-native species, but one that is almost universally enjoyed. Such a pretty spray of blue covering the woodland floor in the spring.
Lastly, the Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia), part of the Buttercup family, could be seen in some of the more open spaces of the forest.
Have you been out enjoying the spring flowers?
On a personal note, sometimes life throws you curve balls and a very dear friend of mine has been thrown the worst kind. She has been one of my blog’s biggest supporters, and I so appreciate her encouragement and support, and her friendship all these years. I just wanted to say thank you, and tell how much she’s loved by all her family and friends.