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."

Sunday in the Garden

Hi everyone.  I’m Greg and I’m a plant-a-holic.  (Hi Greg!)

It’s not an unusual thing for me this time of year, to lose track of purchases and find myself eating a little extra Ramen until the next paycheck rolls around.  But there are so many delightful plants to choose from – and still so many that I’ve never had the privilege of growing – that it is sometimes difficult to choose.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was when Mr. Downstairs (builder of wonderful decks and – for the record – the Best Landlord Ever) informed me that we were going plant shopping yesterday.  It had already been a pretty terrific weekend which included a plant-seed swap with Susan of Trout Towers and pair of great concerts with my friends in the Chamber Singers.   So the idea of choosing plants for the yard and not having to pay for them just tickled me no end.

The list of purchases was pretty long.  Mostly, I selected annuals this time around, as we have lots of perennials already and I’d have to be creating new beds in advance of choosing more of those.   So I focussed on the things which will – hopefully – bloom all season and help to showcase all those perennials we do have.   I was excited because, since its my second year here, I had what I think were some smarter ideas about what plants to put in which locations.

Some of these weren’t in bloom yet, so its hard to pick them all out in a photograph, and you’ll have to wait a little while before I feature them here.

But I planted little promises for the future everywhere, including cleome, agastache, bacopa, snapdragons, bachelor buttons, gazanias, portulaca, geranium, WAVE petunias lantana and plenty of marigolds.

And as I worked in certain beds, I also added seeds for more marigolds, cosmos, bachelor buttons and (say it with me now) allyssum.

Some of the plants were chosen for containers, a few of which were half planted already, just to fill out the planter.   I find plants do better in those circumstances when they are crowded up close to one another.  Also, trailing plants help to shade the container soil, so water is less likely to evaporate on the hot sunny days ahead.

I haven’t bought any of the WAVE petunias in a few years, and I think the deep purple might be a new color choice since my last purchase of them (which I think dates back to before I started this here garden blog).

HGTV fans may recall the commercial jingle that sings “The WAVE puts the ‘oooh’ in petunia.”, but even that doesn’t tell the Uninitiated that the WAVE petunia is a sort of super-hybrid that has long stems that radiate out from the plant’s center and, with reasonable fertilization, will be just covered in flowers throughout the season.

I’ve had good luck in the past letting them trail through other, taller plants, but this year have put a couple in containers, too.   I think they’ll perform well, as long as I remember to feed them and keep them pruned to encourage them to branch more.

The purple flower in the photo above is called Browallia, which is indicated for part shade/sun, so just perfect on of the planters on the side steps, where it joined some sweet woodruff (also above, but harder to see in the upper left) and some previously planted pansies.   The dracaena (spike) and the variegated ivy (in the right of the same photo) went into a different container that was already hosting some impatiens and coleus.

It was a beautiful day for working in the yard, although perhaps I ought to have thought more carefully about some sunscreen, which is more important to remember on mostly overcast days such as this one.  Although it was pretty humid with temps in the rising 70s, there was a pretty steady breeze that helped cool things a little.

One of my favorite things about gardening is being out there in Nature, feeling like you are a part of something bigger.   As I worked, chipmunks flew back and forth across the lawn, yelling at one another (and no doubt the rest of us, too) about chipmunk things we don’t understand.   The oriole, spotted once or twice at a distance over the past couple of weeks, was finally tempted to one of the feeding stations in the yard thanks to an offering of grape jelly.   Everywhere you walk in the yard now, there are robins trying to lead you away from their nests (as we now host three of them:  under the new deck, in the lilac and also in the hollow of the old apple tree).   And on one of my trips around to the front of the house, I spotted this little turtle.

I think this is an eastern box turtle, but if so, then a young one (the one I knew in my last Eastham garden was decidedly larger than this little fellow) measuring about four or five inches across and only slightly longer.  If anyone knows enough to correct me, your re-directive comments are most welcome.

He was not pleased that we came in for a close-up look, as evidenced by his shrinking back into his shell.  After a moment, though, he resumed his march, making a quick exit into some taller grass and the cover of an o’erturned rowboat in the side yard.

I was sort of interested in where “he” was headed and I was a bit torn between giving it some privacy and tracking its movements.   It was moving west, so I assume – in hindsight – that its destination may have been the marsh across the street.   There’s no evidence to the contrary this morning, so I’ll assume that the crossing of the road went well.  Or perhaps he’s taking up residence under that rowboat.  I’ll keep you posted about any future sightings.

In the midst of getting all the new additions in the ground, I was also able to do some other maintenance work in various beds.   You may recall this Montauk daisy, which I planted beside the Monkey God last summer.

Since the Montauk daisy blooms so late in the year (usually somewhere around mid-September), this is a good time to give them a pruning, to encourage more branching – and consequently – more blooms, so I grabbed my pruners and gave the whole bush a bit of a trim.

Well, most of the bush.   I did leave one branch tall for now, since it’s terminal bud was hosting a little spider and her nest.   I can touch that one up later on.

But I didn’t discard those pruned branch tips, either.   While I was pleased at the idea of spending someone else’s dollar at the nursery, I also still don’t believe in discarding things that can be useful and save us money in the future.  And I like to think that, about gardening at least, I am something of an evil genius.  Except maybe not so evil.  But still, bwa ha ha.

I learned sort of accidentally about four years ago that its quite easy to root broken branches of Montauk daisy, so I saved these for after I’d finished all my other planting.   Back upstairs, I trimmed the bottom leaves off of each of the tips and then stuck them into a planting box I got pansies in last year.   This – and regular watering, naturally – should be all I have to do to encourage some new seedlings to thrive.

They look a bit floppy just now, but I have high hopes that at least some of them will survive and take root here, where I can keep a closer eye on them.   If this experiment works out, we might someday have a whole hedge of Montauk daisies with which to greet the autumn.

Bwa – ha- ha.

Ha.

On Saturday, there was talk of tornado warnings in a great many locations in the Northeast, and sadly, tornados took a number of lives in Ohio over the weekend.   As the day went on yesterday, our skies grew more cloudy and what had been a comforting breeze turned into something a shade gustier and for a while I wondered if we should be worrying about tornados which are rare hereabouts, or at least another big thunder-boomer like we had on Saturday, which are not so rare.

That never materialized, though I’m happy to say we did see a bit of light rain after dark, for which all the new plants were surely quite happy.

Hey, a special shout-out to my buddy George, who found himself in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy this weekend.   Wishing you a speedy recover, pal!

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