A look back on the garden, part III

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Hi there! Don’t mind me, in this third part post, I’m just walking down memory lane where I look back on the garden from July and August, and boy was there a lot going on! Some plants, like my sweet pea, took a while to get started, but once they did, they really took off. I grew three different types of sunflowers this year. What was nice about the different varieties was 1. how completely different they looked and 2. how they all bloomed at different times. This meant that I was able to enjoy sunflowers from summer into fall. These two months saw a lot of growth in the pumpkin / squash category, too. And let’s not forget that July is notable for harvesting lavender and garlic. Let’s get started!

Collage of flowers from the garden in July: pumpkin flowers, peony, hosta, poppy, sunflowers, iris and eggs.

This first collage is from the beginning of July, and the yellow Itoh (hybrid) peony ‘Hillary’, on the bottom, just made the cutoff. I only had one delicate flower, and its color was quite lemony, a first for my garden. It was planted two years ago, so it should have more blooms in 2022. The other ‘end of the season’ peony was my Sarah Bernhardt variety. I’ve had this plant quite a few years so I get lots of big, beautiful, and scented, flowers. If you like peony, I’d definitely recommend this variety. Also during this time, the pumpkin and squash plants started to progress up the pumpkin arch. While they never made it all the way up, I did in fact, gets lots of pumpkins and squash – we’re still eating the squash!

To add some ‘interest’ along the hedge in the new garden, this year I added a bunch of planters filled with hosta. Most of the plants I’d had already, either in containers or in the ground. But I did purchase a couple of new ones as well, which are in the smaller pots, and they bloomed in July. The hosta flowers are not as nice as the leaves, if you ask me, as I think the leaves are the real attraction. These iris, as every year, were the very last of my four varieties to bloom.

While some flowers were finishing up for the season, it was at this stage that the first of the sunflowers started to bloom. They were mid-height – they were supposed to be 5 feet (1.5 meters) tall, but were more in the area of 3 feet (.9 meter) tall – and had only one flower per plant. This would be my least favorite sunflower because of the single flower. That doesn’t mean I didn’t like them, though. 🙂 At the top of the collage is a double poppy that thankfully shows up in the garden every year. And finally, I have a picture of three very different eggs, representing the 3 new variety of chickens that joined my hens this spring.

July collage of flowers: coleus, poppies, sweet pea, pumpkin flower, apples, Maple tree

Apple update: the pretty blossoms are now cute little apples! Another picture of the double poppies, because they are absolutely beautiful. I’ve also included a ‘yucky’ picture in here, too: it is my maple tree with a powdery mildew. We haven’t seen this before, and there isn’t really anything you can do for it, except at the end of the season to clear away the leaves (and not add them to the compost). Fingers crossed that it has a better season in 2022. The picture of the sweet pea is the first cutting of the season. I know this because it is such a small posy, and by the end of the season they were big bouquets.

The middle photo is of my ‘rainbow garden’. In the front, the cream colored David Austin Lichfield roses and yellow potentilla shrub are at their peak. I only learned this year that I could prune the potentilla, which I duly did at the end of the season. I can’t wait to see how it looks in 2022. I have helenium ‘Moerheim Beauty’ growing in a couple of places in the garden, as it’s a lovely splash of red and golden color (here it is along side my daisies).

I am all about having splashes of color in the garden, no matter if it’s from flower plants or veggie plants. It’s another reason I love to grow pumpkins and squash, I mean, what’s not to love about those big orange flowers? I picked the last photo for the pretty sunset, as the poppies under the birch trees are not quite at their peak.

July collage of flowers including garlic, freesia, peony, lilies, sunflowers, roses, poppies, and pumpkin arch

We’re in mid July here, and that’s when I harvested my garlic. The timing was perfect as we had some dry weather. There’s nothing worse than getting caught in a wet spell and not being able to harvest the garlic in time. I’ve planted about half of that amount for the 2022 season, which will still be more than enough for us. It keeps all winter, in a cool, dry location. Garlic is one of the easiest things to plant, and I highly recommend growing your own. It is so worth it in taste!

You will see through the different collages that I have a lot of containers. Part of that is me trying new flowers, part of it is that we have a deck that suits containers really well, and part of that is that I don’t have a more suitable place in the garden for those flowers. The pink, yellow and white freesia are a perfect example of looking lovely in a container but wouldn’t suit in the garden. So I’m glad for the containers! Funny enough, I filled both my garden and containers with lilies this year. Best decision ever as they are so easy to grow and are perfectly showy.

The birch tree bed was completely taken over by poppies in July. It was quite remarkable as they were 99% one variety (a single flower, lilac color) and I didn’t plant any of them. They come from my compost which apparently doesn’t get hot enough to kill seeds. So whatever I put in the compost, has the potential to come back!

I threw in another picture of the mid-height sunflowers as a progress report, as well as some roses just to remind me that the roses were still going strong. 🙂

End of July collage of flowers: sunflowers, lavender, daisies

We’re now at the end of July. The second variety of sunflowers have started to bloom – and this Claret F1 lasted well into fall, with so many flowers per stem. The colors were from chocolate to yellow and burnt orange / burnt red, with medium sized flowers, and they grew pretty tall (well over my head!).

I was a bit late in harvesting my lavender this year, but that didn’t stop me from making some fresh wreaths (pictures in the next picture). The clematis, ‘purpurea Plena Elegans’ is a pretty raspberry/wine color, but doesn’t really like the amount of wind that we have. It looks ok, but isn’t ideal in our yard, unfortunately.

The lychnis Coronaria rose campion has really pretty fuchsia pink flowers, although the evening sunlight in the picture doesn’t show that very well. Those flowers will actually spread like wildfire, so unless you want them everywhere, you have to pull them out as soon as they show up in their new spots (they are easy to pull out).

Of course I had to throw in another pumpkin arch update!

July collage of flowers: roses, sweet pea, lavender wreaths, blueberries

We’re finishing up July with blueberries! We had a great ‘little’ harvest this year, of several little bowls of blueberries. This was the first year that we covered the shrubs with netting and that worked great for keeping the birds away. I also spread out our plants that were crowded together previously, and fed them more than I typically would, which paid off. I’m excited for the 2022 season, as we learned a lot last season.

Finally, a picture of the chickens! We added three new varieties in March, but I only took video of them in the beginning, so I had no pictures to share earlier. We have a Bluebell (she’s gray), a Maran (with stripes), and a Daisy Belle (the largest of all of them and quite pretty with green shimmers in her black feathers). The Bluebell is quite friendly and likes to sit on my lap when I’m in the yard with them.

I made these two fresh lavender wreaths (as opposed to dried lavender). The bottom one I made first, and the one above was made second – I think I get better over the course of the season! The Celosia, the top right picture, I grew from seed. They were easy to grow, and dry really well, so I might grow them again.

More roses – of course!

August collage of flowers: helenium, pumpkins, hydrangea, gladiolas, lilies,

I told you it was a lot of flowers! These pictures are from August. This is another another batch of helenium flowers. These are next to my ‘Teasing Georgia’ yellow David Austin roses, as I think the colors go nicely together. The other flowers are: ‘Magic Star’ lilies, gladiolas ‘Pink Parrot’, hydrangea Selma, clematis ‘purpurea Plena Elegans’, and some more poppies. This sunflower is the first of the dwarf sunflowers to bloom. Next to the two small pumpkins is a picture of Liatris spictata Kobold, which is such an unusual flower for my garden – so I love it!

August collage of flowers: incrediball hydrangea, vanilla fraise hydrangea, coleus, lilies, agapanthus, calla lilies, sweet pea, Russian sage, pumpkin arch

So I found myself picking flowers for this collage that we’ve seen before. But it is interesting to me to see how much they grow and fill out and change colors during the season! The Incrediball hydrangea (bottom right) was moved in early spring 2021, but seems to have settled in well. This plant takes a lot of water, and I have still not figured out the perfect balance of getting that right. It doesn’t help that it is just out of reach of our hose, either. I’ll keep at it until we get it right! It’s not too far from the paniculata hydrangea Vanilla Fraise, actually – which is just starting to turn pink in this picture. The paniculata has not had any water issues, thankfully.

The coleus was my pride and joy this summer as I grew it from seed and it just looked so spectacular! Also, it was planted as a reminder of my dear former neighbor and friend Betty, who always grew them.

See the single, purple agapanthus flower? That didn’t do great in a container for me. Turns out the few that I had in the garden weren’t very happy either, but I had them in a somewhat shady area. So I’ve moved all of them into a new – sunny – spot in the garden and I can’t wait to see if that does the trick (along with extra feed).

Look at the Russian sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia ‘little spire’)! I had some growing in partial shade and it wasn’t very happy. This guy, in full sun, is just shouting out with joy! I’m glad the space is large enough for it. These potted pink Calla lilies looked really well and bloomed for weeks.

Of course I’ve included another update on the pumpkin arch!

end of August collage of flowers

We’re wrapping up August with this collage. I rarely mention the wild fennel that I grow, but it is very pretty. The flowers are yellow and dainty. I enjoy watching the birds as they try and balance on the stems while eating the seeds in the winter. The plant isn’t just for birds, as it is edible for our consumption, too. The other plant not mentioned often enough: globe artichokes. I’ve used some in this flower arrangement – they look like purple thistle. The globe artichokes were arranged with roses, sunflowers and helenium.

The paniculata ‘Vanille Fraise’ hydrangea has turned pink by this stage. It’s around this time that you can cut the flowers to easily dry them. The Red Kuri squash look orange at this point in their growth, but as they mature, they will turn a more burnt orange/red. This view of the pumpkin arch shows us two Red Kuri squash, which are still orange, growing up the fencing.

The red apple tree is an eating apple tree, while our second tree is a cooking apple tree. I know I’m biased but, the red apples are incredibly tasty! I enjoyed eating our supply of apples right up until Christmas. I should have cooked and frozen some, to keep them longer. That will be something I’ll try in 2022, if we get a good crop.

The top picture is of some of my lilies – both pink and white. The white ones are in the garden, while these pink ones are in a container. They’re just so easy to grow, why wouldn’t you want that beauty and fabulous scent?

And finally, the sunflowers: the neat line of dwarf sunflowers bloomed in a perfect line. Not only that, they also then continued to bloom multiple flowers on their stems. The burnt red and yellow sunflowers were tall and floppy, grew all over the place, and were absolutely lovely in their uniqueness.

Phew! Are you still reading? You’re amazing! That was a really long post. I’m kind of impressed (and surprised!) with all of the flowers that I grow. Although I of course know all that I grow, it is only looking at them in this monthly review format that I really appreciate all that I have. And I really do appreciate them! I appreciate them so much that I created a new bed, in order to plant more flowers! 🙂

Thanks so much for stopping by. Let me know what you think!
Part IV will finish out the year.

In Peace,
Dana

An unsettled start to August

Hello and welcome to my blog! Here in Ireland, we have enjoyed some glorious weather this summer. Near the end of July we had two full weeks of sun, heat and stillness with no rain. It was amazing (and unusual)! The garden is now appreciating the long drinks of water it has been getting the past week. There is a distinct change in the air, though, that fall is not too far off. The garden is in a constant state of flux, and it is fun to note it with a simple meme of ‘Six on Saturday’, hosted by The Propagator. Let’s see what’s in store this week!

Blueberries in hand in July
Bowl of Blueberries 5 August

1 – Blueberries! I planted blueberry shrubs in my garden quite a few years ago. From the beginning, it seemed they didn’t really enjoy our garden. They always seemed to drop their berries before turning blue! But it turns out, the birds had more to do with this than I realized. I didn’t mind too much, since to me the plants were spectacular in the fall with their leaves turning from green to crimson. This year, though, with the garden revamp, we decided to spend some extra time to see if we could get some blueberries for us to eat! We first spread out the older shrubs as they were getting quite cramped. Also this season, we added Sulphate of Iron to the soil. I believe it was Laura, from Garden Answer, who suggested it in one of her videos. The third thing we did differently this year was we added netting. Although it wasn’t the pretties of setups, it did the job, and the blueberries stayed on the shrubs until they were blue! I picked two small bowls of blueberries, and a few times I just went out and ate a handful. They were delicious! We will hopefully figure out a ‘prettier’ way to cover them next year.

Garlic in June
Garlic harvest July 11

2 – Garlic! Last October we planted our over wintering organic garlic Vallelado. It is very easy to plant garlic! They should be planted between the end of October and the end of November, ideally. Plant at a depth of three to five inches (7.6 cm) and six inches apart. I harvested mine the beginning of July and they have been drying out in our shed since. The only other thing I did was weed the bed a few times. We also had a relatively dry spring, so I kept it watered. So easy, and so tasty!

lavender and shaved plant
The lavender plant looks like it got a shave!
Dana with lavender harvest
There’s some lavender left on the plant beside me.

3 – Lavender! I’m a bit late on writing about this one, too. Lavender is usually harvested in July. I managed to still cut some in August this year as our growing season was a bit off due to a strange spring. I love working with lavender! I made a few fresh lavender wreaths this year (as opposed to dried lavender wreaths). I didn’t make any Lavender Wands this year, though. (You can check out how I make them here.) There just wasn’t any time. If you do dry lavender, it is worth noting that the flowers keep their scent for years!

Double lilies in rose bed
Lotus Dream Mix
double lilies on deck
Magic Star lilies in a container on my deck.
Double lilies
Double Surprise lilies blooming before the plain white variety of lilies bloom.

4 – Double lilies! New to my garden this season are two groups of lilies: I purchased a Lotus Dream Mix of double oriental lilies and planted them in my rose bed. I also added a Magic Star lily to my container garden, on my back deck. These join my ‘double surprise’ lilies, which live next to my largest lavender plant off of the back deck and are neighbors to a plain white variety of lilies that are always last to bloom later in August. I love scented flowers, and these beauties have a wonderful scent that can be noted without having to bend down to specifically smell them!

Perovskia Russian Sage
Perovskia atriplicifolia Little Spire or Russian Sage

5 – Perovskia atriplicifolia Little Spire! I have to confess that when my friend Susan exclaimed how fabulous my Perovskia looked, it took me a minute to realize she meant the Russian Sage. I’m just not very good at proper names. Hopefully now I’ll remember this one! This plant was purchased as a small plant in 2017 and seems to be quite happy. If you like to dry flowers, this one keeps its purple stems for quite a long time before fading.

Pumpkin arch update 7 Aug 2021 with rainbow
The rainbow is quite faint, but can bee seen right over the pumpkin arch in the above picture!
Back of pumpkin arch 7 Aug 2021
A view of the back of the arch.
Pumpkin arch update 7 Aug with sun
The blue sky backdrop is harder to come by these days. I captured this in a very short window between heavy rain showers! We’ll see if the vines climb any higher.

6 – Pumpkin Arch update! The arch has two different types of squash growing on it: Jack O’Lantern pumpkins and Red Kuri squash. The pumpkins are growing quite large. I usually grow baking pumpkins which are medium to small size. These guys are getting huge. I’m not exactly worried, but I think it would be better if they didn’t get so big! The Red Kuri squash start out yellow and then change from orange to a reddish color. They are medium sized. Some have started to change color already. You can’t really see any of that just yet since all of the leaves are still in the way! I will have to try and get some close up pictures so you can see the squash and pumpkins. I’m wondering if it won’t grow any higher, either. It doesn’t seem to have grown ‘up’ this past week, although the outside vines of some of the plants are still growing out. We’ll see. It certainly is getting plenty of rain this week.

That’s my garden update! I hope you are enjoying your summer, no matter what the weather is like. 🙂

In Peace,
Dana

A floral arrangement for ‘Six on Saturday’

Hello, and welcome to my blog! The garden is really hitting its stride now, with just a ton of growth everywhere. It is fun to watch the changes happen, seemingly overnight! If you follow me on Instagram (you do, right?), you’ll know that I capture a lot of the garden in my stories. I like to take a walk around the garden first thing in the morning – well, right after I feed the chickens. It is a peaceful time to listen to the birds and see what’s happened in the garden, and of course to note what needs to be done. Before I get into more details about what is happening in the garden, let me just say that I’ll be joining The Propagator again this week for his ‘Six on Saturday’ meme. If you click the link, you can find lots of other bloggers joining in, too! O.K., so here are my six:

Arch update 9 July 2021
Pumpkin arch

1 My pumpkin arch. This is probably my favorite item in the garden. My husband ‘made’ it for me this year (the arches were bought, but he added fencing material over it and staked it all, in order for it to be able to support pumpkins). A lot of work went into it! The pumpkin plants on either side of it are flowering and there are a bunch of fruit, too. I have been weaving the ends through the fencing, working it up towards the top. Just watching its progress is fun! This entire area had a complete makeover this year. Here is what it looked like in July 2018:

Pumpkin beds July 2018
Pumpkin patch July 2018

The pear tree on the right is the same that is on the left in the first picture. You’ll notice that I grew pumpkins and sunflowers then, too! I think the garden looks much nicer now 🙂

Strawberry Hill roses with Iris in background

2 Strawberry Hill rose, a David Austin variety. I have it on my front gate, and to me the color is just so delicate and pretty. Thankfully, blackspot hasn’t taken over this one (yet?). The fuzzy purple in the background is my late blooming iris.

Strawberry Hill rose single flower
Strawberry Hill, a David Austin Rose

3 Blueberries! We love eating blueberries, and I have to say that it is lovely growing them, too. Many years the birds enjoy them before us, but we’ll usually get some, too. I moved these this year as part of the big garden makeover, and they seem to be happier. Fingers crossed we get to eat the blueberries before the birds get them!

Blueberry shrub July 2021
Blueberries upclose July

4 Lavender poppies. This variety came to my garden through a friend. She shared a few with me as she thought I’d like them, which of course I do! That was a bunch of years ago. These current ones, and most of them in my yard now, were not planted, but came via my compost. I always throw the spent poppies into my compost. If there was any doubt as to how the poppies end up all over my yard, I have two brand new beds this year, that I didn’t have any poppies in last year (so no chance for self seeding). But both beds were given a ton of my compost. And now I have a ton of poppies! Good thing I like them!

Lavender Poppies in Birch tree bed

5 Coral poppies. This variety was given to me about 5 years ago. At one point I thought they wouldn’t return, as I had so few one year! But I had nothing to fear. While the lavender ones are predominant this year, the coral were predominant last year. It’s only fair to take turns, right? 🙂

coral poppies in rose bed

6 Floral arrangement. Today I was supposed to weed (haha! every day could be a weeding day!) but I found myself walking around the garden gathering flowers to make an arrangement. It is fun when the mood strikes, to create something from the garden!

Flower arrangement with lady's mantle

I started with poppy seeds, I think that they are so neat! It’s nice to have that unusual shape. Then I added lady’s mantle. I don’t usually like lady’s mantle, and I often pull it out of the garden (it grows and spreads like a weed). But I really liked the color here, and the texture.

Flower arrangement close up peony

I was surprised to see that I still have a few Sarah Bernhardt peony left in the garden. The smaller blooms were perfect. I also used the late blooming iris. Here I’ve used 3 that aren’t open yet.

flower arrangement cream roses and peony

And finally, I used Lichfield angel roses, another David Austin variety. They are a lovely cream color, although they have a peach tint before they bloom. Some of the flowers were quite heavy. The one in the picture above is actually resting on the peony bloom.

Flower arrangement side view

This is more of a side view. The vase is an antique, one of a set, that my mother gave to me a number of years ago. It is one of my favorite gifts from her and I love to fill it with flowers.

And that is my Six for Saturday! I hope you’ve enjoyed them. I know I am enjoying being a part of this meme. See you next week!

In Peace,
Dana