Friday, September 2, 2011

The Back Garden - A Tour

I've done a very poor job of showing what has taken place in the garden over the past summer.  I talked a lot about my plans in the spring and then quickly became overwhelmed with work.  Once again I planned too much and was unable to keep up with all that I wanted.  Add a sore back into the mix from the car accident, followed by vacation and now here we are, the end of summer already.  So let's take a tour and see how the garden looks after another season has passed.

At the far end of the property I had big plans.  I intended to renovate the hedgerow and install a new large circular bed.  The diseased trees in the hedgerow were cut down but work stopped there.  This is a large project that will take a number of years to complete so one step at a time is okay.  Perhaps next spring I'll clear some spots for planting and we'll add a few shrubs.  The circular bed didn't go quite as planned either.  We rented a sod cutter to start the bed but had difficulties cutting the tall grass roots so only a crescent moon shape was cut.

The crescent shape that was cut back in May
The shape wasn't what I wanted but I was determined to make use of it anyway so I decided to plant annuals as a temporary cover.  Well, truth is I didn't even complete that!  I ran out of time and energy and only half of the crescent was dug over and the rest gone to the weeds.  Despite my plans being sidetracked I am actually pleased with the small garden that is there.  The annuals I planted have grown large and bring me much joy.  My growing dahlia collection found a home here.

You might recognize this white dahlia from last year.  I love the white blooms tinged with yellow.  Also growing are a pure yellow dahlia and most recently a pink dahlia edged with dark red.  Unfortunately in Irene I lost one dahlia altogether but I think at this point the tuber has had a pretty good growing season so I see no reason why it won't take hold again next year. 

Among the dahlias I also planted my tiny seedlings of Love Lies Bleeding.  I started these indoors in April and they have grown considerably since then.

They aren't as large as I had anticipated, only a couple feet high, but quite lovely just the same.  The bright red tassels laying against the lime green foliage are stunning.

The final plant to fill out this bed was sunflowers.  I planted a large variety called Giganteus which is already taller than I am but hasn't yet bloomed.  I'm hoping for a few more weeks of sun so these beauties have a chance to open up.  I tried starting sunflowers indoors to give them a head start but my indoor seedlings were quite scrawny.  The seeds planted straight into the ground did much better but have been slow to grow in our rainy summer. 

Half the crescent planted with dahlias and sunflowers
A second variety, called Ruby Eclipse has been blooming for weeks.  These are a slightly smaller sunflower that are good for cutting.

Red and yellow sunflower Ruby Eclipse
A red sunflower!  Aren't they pretty?  I've become obsessed with photographing these flowers.

From the first buds opening

To the multi coloured petals

Some of the flowers appear more red

And others are more yellow.

No matter the colour they all provide great shade for a black cat on a hot day.


  1. Marguerite I love your cresent shaped garden ! Even if you have future plans to make it circular, this cresent is so appealing : )
    The dahlia is very pretty indeed .. and Love Lies Bleeding was one I grew many years ago and loved it !
    But these sunflowers .. totally gorgeous in that red shade and yes I would be taking pictures of them in all stages .. they are stunning.
    Hey we all get side tracked with our garden projects .. I thought I would have more done this year too.
    Oh well it gives us more planning time during the winter right ?
    Joy : )

  2. Your bed looks very nice. Would never know that you ran out of time and energy! I have done that on my project this year, too. Oh, well, - I'll work on it again eventually! Love that love-lies-bleeding!

  3. I like those tall sunflowers in a crescent shape. I'm definitely doing sunflowers next year, and a small semicircle would be just right for a spot I have. I love how you found the things to enjoy in your garden even if you didn't get all your plans executed (yet).

  4. I love the sunflowers. All the great colors they come in these days. Don't beat yourself up too much. It will all still be there when you have the time.

  5. The Love Lies Bleeding plant is beautiful! Never heard of that one before. Will it come back next year?

    I love sunflowers. Had a bunch of them last year and had to share them with the blue jays.

  6. Beautiful pics! I love that moon-shaped garden. What fun! And, the Love Lies Bleeding is a stunner. Have a fun, long weekend! :))

  7. Marguerite your sunflowers are beautiful, I tried starting some indoors but nothing happened perhaps I will try them outside next year, your white dahlia is beautiful too,
    I know what you mean but trying to do too much and not getting it done, I think many people are like that, I don't just do it with my garden but with almost everything, because of our really bad May I didn't get my new raised bed finished and weeds started to show so I used some seeds I had that were free on magazines and scattered them this last few weeks they have been one of my pleasures in the garden now,
    tha hedge will take time you have a lot of work there,
    love the shiny cat eyes under the sunflowers, Frances

  8. The kitty looks so happy under there. What a great little garden patch.

  9. I'll echo the sentiments of many others...your sunflowers are lovely. I don't grow any in my garden but there is something so triumphant and almost sad about them. They really do signal the end of the summer, don't they?

  10. What a great start! Those red sunflowers are really cool. It would be hard to resist taking their picture. :o)

  11. Your garden is turning out just lovely despite your interruptions. I love your sunflowers!!!

  12. Fall's a great time to get a few things done! Have you heard of Solarizing? Put clear, heavy plastic over the part of the bed where you want to kill the weeds. Weigh it down with soil and rocks. The sun helps to kind of 'bake' everything underneath - if we have a nice fall it can get hot enough under the plastic to even nuke many weed seeds! In the lasagna garden method you can just put a thick layer of soil/compost over the nuked area and plant! Fall is a good time to establish shrubs and they are often on sale!

  13. Marguerite, It was comforting to read your post and know that I am not alone in being a bit disappointed with all that I accomplished this summer. I still need to replace some weed cloth in the circle garden amongst other things. It sounds simple typed into a sentence, but in reality, it is a big job. As your posts so often point out, it is those little triumphs that make the disappointments bearable. The sunflowers are really pretty! Enjoy the rest of the long weekend!

  14. You should see my gardens. I'm still working on getting them ready for spring planting.

    I'd have the same obsession with those sunflowers. From the cat's perspective that is. I love sitting in the shade

  15. Love Lies Bleeding - sounds like a crime novel! I always wondered what those flowers were called but never imagined such a colourful name!
    I had no idea there were other colours of sunflowers...I guess by their name you can only imagine them being yellow, what a surprise!

  16. Joy - the problem is I seem to be too good at planning and not very good at following through! LOL, oh well, I enjoy myself nonetheless.

    Holley - if only we all had enough time and energy for our gardens. The things we could accomplish! But even if I finish a project I seem to always find more things I could be doing.

    Laurrie - the crescent shape is intriguing in a way. I’m picturing a bench underneath all those sunflowers. Maybe when the full crescent gets planted next year.

    Tufa - it will all be there waiting with the weeds in full glory! Despite my complaining I have enjoyed this garden. I’ve never grown sunflowers before this summer and this was a pleasure.

    Liz - the Love Lies Bleeding is actually an annual flower. I find it unusual as it gets quite large for an annual. Apparently it self seeds so I’m curious to see if I will have any sprouts next spring.

  17. Kate - the weekend was glorious thank you. We finally received summer weather in all its hot and muggyness. No rest for the wicked though, I spent all three days in the garden.

    Frances - I think sunflowers are a bit finicky when it comes to wet. My indoor sprouts grew quickly but were very thin and most of them perished within weeks. The one plant I managed to take outside looks pitiful next to the flowers that grew in the ground. But even the outdoor plants had issues and I had to replant several times in our soggy spring.

    Sandy - the kitties have been having great fun in the garden this year. It’s so nice to see them hiding in the plants and lounging in the dirt. Last year when the garden was just starting they spent most of their time hiding under the porch.

    Debbie - boy did you call it. I’ve waited all summer to see those sunflowers bloom but now that they’re here I’m so sad to realize we’re at summer’s end.

  18. TS - I couldn’t resist trying a red sunflower and I wasn’t disappointed. But I’m also anxiously waiting for the big sunflowers to bloom. Those giant flowers will really be something to see.

    Sage Butterfly - Thank you. It's been a long road making a garden out of a lawn but I'm really starting to see some changes this year.

    Aagaard Farms - I've heard of putting plastic down but I always thought it was black plastic. Now that I think of it clear plastic makes good sense.

    Jennifer - I understand how something that sounds simple can be really really complicated. I think that's part of my problem. I think, oh well, I'll just pop in a new bed and it sounds easy but digging out sod, removing round after round of weeds, placing plants. It's far more work than I bargained for.

  19. wiseacre - many days I'm tempted to join the cats down there. Sure beats digging beds in the heat.

    Jane - I love your take on that name. I'm picturing one of those Harlequin Romance covers with some strapping man and a damsel in distress!

  20. Hi Mareguerite, tackling such a huge job I think you have to treat yourself gently. I am a past master at setting myself too-rigorous targets and then beating myself up about not meeting them, so I think your crescent of sunflowers, dahlias etc is a triumph. I love red sunflowers too. I developed a motto for myself for the allotment, because I was getting despondant at spending an hour up there and feeling as if I had barely scratched the surface. "If I can see the difference when I leave it is a success". You can clearly see the difference in your own huge project, so enjoy it like the cat evidently does and declare success!

  21. Beautiful garden. I know how hard it was to cut that sod. I love the sunflowers in the bed. I think next year the Love Lies Bleeding will be taller. I am amazed at some plants that grow little the first year....then.. wow~ big guys the next.