One gardener's observations, discoveries and random thoughts whilst simultaneously worshipping and dallying in a Cape Cod garden. "A garden," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "is like those pernicious machineries which catch a man's coatskirt or his hand, and draw in his arm, his leg and his whole body to irresistable destruction."

Mid-September Garden Report

Late-Shastas

Even though we’ve got half of September crossed off the 2009 calendar, it still feels mostly summery around here.   But  I know how quickly the seasonal wheel turns and there are plenty of projects I’ve got in mind for crossing off my mental list before things get cold.  Now’s the time to get gardens in order for next spring, after all.

Fence-Garden

The driveway fence garden is looking pretty good.   Here’s a look from the driveway side, so you can see the way the allyssum’s billowed out so far past the brick edging of the garden bed.

For reference, the red mum planted in the center of the bed is seated snug against the inside of that brick edging, so that gives you a sense of how far the allyssum’s grown from seed planted throughout the season.  Pretty cool, huh?

This bed’s in pretty good shape now.   The imperial mums are budding heavily and meanwhile, the yellow rudbeckia are blooming heavily.   That’s just one plant, but it grew sort of floppily in the rains of June and I never staked it.

Rudbeckia-in-Mums

The effect is working quite nicely know, since the one plant has spread itself through everything else growing in that bed, so it looks like a bit more than just that one.  Surprisingly, the shasta daisies are still blooming a bit, too.  Usually they are well finished by September.

No complaints, though…but not much to do in this particular bed.  There are already tulips planted here.  I might add some grape hyacinths if I can find a nice supply of those, but otherwise, this spot’s in good shape.

Rudbeckia-portrait-09

Ageratum

The garden bed on the south side of the house is looking pretty good.  Many of the perennials are finished and I’ve pruned them back, so now their green framework serves as a background for the zinnias and things I seeded in back in the spring.  Here’s some ageratum, with an assortment of button zinnias, from the same packet of seeds as those growing in pots on the deck garden.

Pink-Cosmos

That, by the way, is thriving in September’s cooler temperatures.   The large zinnias I’d all but written off (and was this close to ripping out of their window box) by the end of August have made a remarkable comeback and are happily in bloom, as is pretty much everything else I’ve got out there.

The dwarf cosmos are blooming heavily now, the cardinal climber flowers and morning glories seem to alternate days, although sometimes bloom simultaneously.   The cool temps have resurrected the violas and pansies and it looks like the fuschia is starting another big bloom before the season winds down.

Tiny-Pretties

Everything there continues to provide me more than enough to keep tiny arrangements here and there in the Nest, to scent the air and pretty things up.

All that’s pretty enjoyable, but I also know that I’ll need to start preparing for the winter months very soon.   The asparagus ferns potted up with the cosmos can be repotted and brought indoors for the winter.   Same with the fuschia and the hibiscus and the marine heliotropes.   The windowsills will be crowded, of course, but that’s part of the fun.

Cardinal-Climbers

But all that madcap blooming shouldn’t distract me from the tasks at hand, and this past Monday, I turned my attention off the deck to the back yard and the next garden bed in line for a makeover.

Before

Here’s the before shot, as seen from the deck of the Nest that morning.   Most of what was growing in there was unmown grass and nothing particular spectacular or interesting, otherwise.  You know I hate to throw around that “weed” word, but aside from the bamboo (a non-spreading variety), there wasn’t much I considered to be of value.

That’s just fine by me, since what I was looking to do is to open up some space for some potted things on the porch that needed permanent homes and also to have some open real estate for dividing projects tentatively scheduled for some upcoming gardening days off.

Worksite

The other pieces of the puzzle of this particular bed are an underground wired electric outlet on a post, disguised with pieces of driftwood to look like a tree stump, the wooden frame to support a grindstone which is too heavy to take out of the barn, and a little concrete statue we call alternately Mayan Guy or The Monkey God.

Once I got my tools arranged, a water bottle filled and a portable radio set up and tuned in, I got to work, outlining the bed and then carving the grass into manageable clumps for removal with my shovel and long-handled fork.   There was another of those nice steady breezes blowing, which kept the sun from seeming too warm (and its not too warm this time of year, anyhow).

Effing-Insects

I spotted these two insects en flagrante and at first assumed they were f**king yellowjackets, took a photo and gave them a reasonably wide berth.   It wasn’t ’til I looked at the photos inside on the computer that I spotted the longhorn antennae and realized my mistake.  The good folks at BugGuide.net tell me these are locust borers.   So who says you can’t learn new things?

Aside from some weeding and a smidge of digging, this was my first full-blown project since the surgery and although I did realize right off I needed to work a little more carefully than perhaps I used to, it was nice to get back out there and really do something.   It was a lovely day and sometimes a day with work for one’s hands can be handy for sorting through the contents of one’s mind.   Time in the garden always seems to put things in perspective and while I may not be cured of my neuroses and over-thinking, at least it was good to have the day to work and sing and laugh and think and cry and dig and plant and stuff.   As a special bonus, I was even buzzed by a sweet green dragonfly.  It’s all good.

Bricklaying

In the process of excavating, I found a few flat stones of reasonable size which had been laid down in front of the outlet/stump, but then covered with at least a few years of grass grown up and died.  I held those aside to lay out with some bricks into a nice “landing” area in front of the outlet, which I thought looked kind of nice.

When the project was all done, I added some new creeping thyme plants, since I know they will grow between the bricks and stay nice and low even if the bed goes wild in the future.

Also, I know the thyme will escape out into the lawn, which I always think is pretty sweet.  Not only are the tiny pink flowers nice in the lawn, but I like the fragrance when you walk on it, too.

The hardscaping part of the project was done by early afternoon, just in time for lunch.   Afterwards, I organized the things I planned to add to the bed.   There were an assortment of new iris roots sent from my gardening pal in Baltimore, the potted Montauk daisy left behind by the former tenants, and the lupine seedling I started last winter from the stand at Fort Hill.   Next I seeded in some of the blue columbine seeds from Butch and some red columbine from Theresa (thanks again to you both!).  They should give me all I need to eventually grow some lovely purple ones!

After

For good measure, I added some seedheads from a few different rudbeckia varieties and queen anne’s lace.   I think eventually it’ll be a sort of wild bed that may be somewhat low maintenance.  We’ll see.

I’ve just begun the project of finding rocks to edge the bed with, like with my older garden beds.  It always looks good, and makes mowing around a little easier.   Fortunately, the glacier left them all over the place, if you know where to look.

Technically, then,  it’s still a work in progress, but it looks much better already.   And just look at how happy I’ve made the Monkey God.

Temple-of-the-Monkey-God

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Comments on: "Mid-September Garden Report" (6)

  1. Nice locust borer photo. More than any other insect, locust borers signify autumn to me.

  2. The Monkey God is glowing with pleasure, no doubt. Interesting little statue.

    You make gardening sound so fun. With all the crap going on in my life right now, a day of digging and planting and thinking and sorting of thoughts, crying and dreaming and laughing is a damned good idea.

    I like the new garden patch.

  3. lovely!

    i hope you didn’t suffer after your adventure back into the realm of physical labour.

    Naomi, I was a little sore after, but I’ve been trying to do some physical therapy by beginning to collect the right sized stones for the border of the new garden. ; )

  4. Summer is coming to a close much too quickly.

    Agreed!

  5. Glad to see you’re getting your hands in the dirt again, Pal, and putting down more roots in your home. I love the Monkey God, wonder what his story is? When Mary began reclaiming the backyard of her then-new house, she discovered a mermaid statue hidden among all the overgrown plants. No idea what the story is about that statue either, but it felt for her (and me) like a house or garden spirit gave Mary her blessing. She now sits happily among a beautiful garden, just secluded enough to give her a little privacy.

    It IS nice to be putting down some more roots, so to speak. The Monkey God is a bit of a mystery, having come home with P one day last spring. I can see him from my deck and have been wanting to showcase him a little better, so this was fun.

    Seems to me that a mermaid in Indiana most certainly has some secret tale/tail to tell. ; )

  6. The locust borers shot is very cool. How long til the first killing frost? It’ll be here in a matter of weeks, if not days in my neck of the woods.

    Torn, I think we’ve still got a few weeks, at least, before we started getting frosted. Every year’s a little different, and often, we don’t get a heavy frost until late November, so some of the late perennials and heartier annuals will carry the show on for a while yet. Fingers crossed.

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