Category Archives: Tall Garden Phlox

DOG DAYS ARRANGING

Since I garden in the southern great plains

There are things I’ve come to expect

In late summer.

Grasshoppers come to mind.

 

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Photo credit Debra Mitchell

Humidity is definitely a factor.

And it is often accompanied

By heat.

As I look out onto my garden.

I almost feel like I need to apologize

To the brave plants

Basking in the heat of the day.

Yet, some plants seem to not just survive

But thrive.

I can’t take credit for too much planning

But I do know I want cutting flowers

All through the growing season.

So there is some intentionality

To my methods.

And as a result.

When I went to cut for my Sunday church bouquets

I was pleased to find plenty to pick.

So how does this work?

If there’s a star in my garden

All season long

It has to be Annabelle Hydrangea.

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I have a hedge of five planted at the east end.

They have bloomed since late May.

Starting with fluffy white blooms

And maturing to the lime green that I love

Since it goes so well with many other flowers.

I’ve cut them all season

And they still have lots to give.

That’s why I’ve added them to the corners of my garden house.

And last fall in a front bed.

I even wanted a hedge of them in front of our new fence

But lost out to John’s desire for more Crepe Myrtle.

The next jewel of late summer arrangements

Is tall garden phlox.

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If you cut it back in the spring

The blooms will be delayed until early July here

And they will still be going strong in August.

These two flowers alone

With their big blousey blooms

Are a great foundation for arrangements

Large and small.

Cleome is another gift this time of year.

It’s a funky flower that brings interest to both the garden

And arrangements.

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Cockscomb is just beginning to come into it’s own.

So start cutting and don’t stop

Or you’ll have a cockscomb only garden before you know it!

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Now fill in with some blues and purples in the Veronica family

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Add Zinnias

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Maxmillion Sunflowers

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And Dahias.

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And you have a “Dog Days” arrangement

That will make you smile each time you pass by.

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Like much in life

I can’t change the heat of August

But I can find joy in the blossoms

It produces.

Take care,

Gail

 

 

 

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Filed under Bouquets, cleome, cockscomb, Dahlias, Flower Arrangements, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Hydrangea, late summer garden, Maximillian Sunflower, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Veronica Spicata, Zinnia

IT’S BUGGY OUT THERE

There’s a wonderful benefit

When the heat of summer hits.

And last week

The heat hit crazy hard.

Fortunately so did the bugs.

I love watching bugs in my garden

But I think of that as a late summer

Or fall activity.

This year

They seem to have come early.

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Starting a few weeks back

I’ve been seeing

Baby Orb spiders.

Caterpillars

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And baby praying mantis

Everywhere.

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I don’t know

If their early arrival

Is a good thing

Or a bad thing.

I do know it’s

It fun.

It also means

As I continue to weed and deadhead

That I have to make sure

I’m not composting

Any baby bugs.

Yikes!

Wouldn’t want to do that.

So I’ve been careful to relocate

Anything I might displace.

This morning I was treated

To “nectar harvest”

Among the Phlox.

I grabbed my nifty

Iphone telephoto add-on lens

And stood patiently

On the edge of a patch of Phlox.

I was rewarded with a visit

From this butterfly

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Flitting around the Phlox

And then it’s friend

The Hummingbird Moth

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Joined in the feast.

I was reminded of the many things

I’ve learned from my garden

And not just about gardening.

Patience

The power of observation.

The value of diversity.

It’s all there

Just waiting to be

Discovered.

Gail

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Filed under Bugs, Bumble Bee, Butterflies, Compost, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Hummingbird Moth, late summer garden, Nature, Praying Mantis, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

FIREWORKS

There are some plants

That simply light up my garden.

Spring brings us soft pastels

While falls favors

Rich jewel tones.

But summer has different ideas.

Hot days bring hot colors.

They need to be bright

To show up in all this sunshine.

Phlox is shining this week.

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We were gone last week

Returning last night

To the bright light patches

Of tall garden phlox.

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It’s an old garden plant

That I love.

The bees love it too.

With its open face

It provides nectar

For all kinds of buzzing things.

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It’s also a wonderful cutting flower

Just a few blooms

Fill in any arrangement.

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It does spread

But not too fast.

I’ve dug quite a bit this year

Sharing it with friends

And transporting some

To that Rocky Mountain garden.

But there is still plenty here.

Another of its fine qualities

Is that it tolerates sun

And partial shade.

And it plays well with others.

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In my book

It’s a keeper!

Gail

 

 

 

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Filed under Bees, Bouquets, Flower Arrangements, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

ARRANGING THINGS

It’s the height of summer here.

Endless sunny days.

And because we had all those wonderful

Badly needed rainy days.

The humidity is back

Big-time.

So what’s a gardener to do.

This time of the year is basically for maintenance.

Deadheading and weeding and watering are the order of most days.

I love it because it can all be done in little snippets of time.

But there is one more activity for high summer.

Flower arranging.

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For some reason I don’t bring a lot of flowers into my house.

I have a few here and there

But mostly we enjoy them from the inside of the house

Or on the morning garden walk.

So it’s great fun

When I have a reason to make flower arrangements.

Friday night was just such a reason.

We were one of several host couples

For a shower for our minister Andrew

And his bride to be Katie.

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Now it’s too hot to have the party in my garden

So it was held at a local lodge.

Decades ago it was part of an amusement park

And has been lovingly restored.

So along with chamber music

Yummy food

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Including crab claws In honor of Andrew’s Maryland roots

Family from home

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Church members

And local friends

We needed flower arrangements

And lots of them – 26 to be exact.

First order of business

Find 26 vases.

I’m embarrassed to say that 25 of them

Were alive and well living in my garden house!

The schedule went like this.

Weekend before dig out all the vases

And wash them

Tuesday the vases were taped with cross hatch pattern

To hold the flowers in place.

It was also the day to cut Euonymous.

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And Hydrangeas.

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They last for days if you sear the end as soon as you cut it

And let them rest in buckets of water up to their necks.

Wednesday morning Linda came to help with the harvest.

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We cut buckets of Phlox, Purple Coneflower, Dahlia & Dusty Miller

We added bits of White Balloon Flower, Veronica Spicata, Hellebore leaves and blooms.

Linda and Virginia each cut a bucket of Zinnias – one fuchsia and one pale pink.

I even used the blooms on the radishes that should have been pulled long ago.

Wednesday night the arranging began.

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Linda, David, Mary and Gay came on Friday morning to complete the arranging

And haul it all to the lodge.

It takes a village!

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Friday was a warm evening.

Not just the temperature.

But the people, the place and the occasion.

There’s something wonderful about small towns.

When I looked around the room

There were people I had known for decades.

We have raised our children together.

We have buried our parents together.

We have thrown a million wedding and baby showers together.

We have welcomed newcomers together.

Those newcomers have become new friends.

What is there to do in a garden

In the mid- summer heat?

Share it.

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Photo Credit David Meara

 

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Filed under Bouquets, Bridal Showers, Dahlias, Dead Heading, Euonymus, Flower Arrangements, Garden House, Hellebores, Hydrangea, Purple Coneflower - Echinacea, Radishes, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Vases, Veronica Spicata, Wedding Flowers, Zinnia

RAINDROPS ARE FALLING ON OUR HEADS

 

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For several years now we have been living under “extreme drought” conditions.

Going back to the summers of 2011 and 2012

We’ve been below normal rainfall.

And those summers were hot….really hot.

Last summer got better.

A little more rain.

A little less heat.

Then came the summer of 2014.

What a gift.

Mild temperatures.

Crisp morning.

And rain.

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During June it was as if we lived in Camelot.

Remember the line?

“The rain never falls till after midnight.”

Well that’s where we’ve been living.

Camelot.

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OK, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch.

Especially since Camelot is fictional.

People kept saying

What till July.

So when July came

And it got cooler

We were amazed.

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Last week we got several days of rain.

Alternating between hard driving rain

And soft gentle misty drips.

With mornings in the low 60’s

And days struggling to hit 70

We were in heaven.

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Humans love these days.

But gardens

Well gardens come alive.

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It’s amazing to me the difference that rain makes.

I know it’s a fact

Given the extra nitrogen that comes with rain.

But I am amazed each time

I walk through my rain soaked garden.

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There’s something about standing in rain.

Soaking it in

From the roots

To the tips of the last petal

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Letting the goodness that falls from the sky

Wash over an entire garden.

We are all attuned to the weather these days.

For good reason.

It takes drastic swings

And is entirely unpredictable.

Perhaps we need to take a cue from the garden

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And stand in the rain

Soaking in the goodness

Experiencing the renewal it brings.

To all kinds of lives.

Gail

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Filed under Calla Lily, Clematis, cleome, Cosmos, Dahlias, hollyhocks, Mandavilla, Oriental Lilies, Rain, Tall Garden Phlox

Arranging With A Purpose

You may not know but…

This is Rally Weekend

At least it is at my church.

That first weekend after Labor Day.

When people return to the pew.

It’s an unofficial new beginning

In many churches.

This year we also were re-dedicating

A room that has recently undergone a remodeling.

All of this required flowers

Lots and lots of flowers.

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So I spent Saturday morning

Arranging flowers

Something I love to do.

It all actually started on Friday night.

If you have the time

And remember

It’s best to cut flowers in the cool of the day.

Morning is the best

Evening will do.

Cut what you think you will need

And let them sit over night

In buckets of water.

Soaking up moisture from end to tip.

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If the stems are thick

Or woody

Make a slit in the bottom of the stem

To ensure they get a good drink.

Brunch was being served in the breezeway.

Which is basically a large open space.

That means a large arrangement is called for.

Luckily I have a big white vase

Just right for this space.

Big surprise!

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I also happen to have

Several other white vases

Two tall and narrow

And two low.

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All of which will do nicely.

Now I must confess that there is one flower

I have little to no luck growing.

Sunflowers

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Imagine that

I live on the prairie

Where they grow wild everywhere

But I can not get them to grow

In my own backyard.

So…because they are so wonderful

And absolutely say

Look at me

It’s fall.

I had to buy a few

To add to my own

Cockscomb

Dahlias

Phlox

Roses

Veronica

And Zinnias

Suddenly you have 8 fun fall arrangements.

Getting them to the church

Required the help of my friend Mary

Sitting in the back seat holding on.

And a second trip where

The flowered filled brass vases from the sanctuary

Were buckled into the backseat.

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Transportation is always interesting

And often truly comical.

I love doing this.

You never really know when you start

What you are creating.

It seems that each time I make arrangements

They turn out differently.

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But isn’t that what gardening is all about.

Enjoying the journey

Trusting the process

Having faith that it will be OK

That there is enough.

An abundance mentality.

Gail

 

 

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Filed under Bouquets, cockscomb, Fall, Flower Arrangements, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, late summer garden, Perennials, roses, Sunflowers, Tall Garden Phlox, Veronica Spicata, Zinnia

HALF TIME

If you count the days between
The last freeze of winter
And the first freeze of fall
You will find that we are at half time
Of the gardening year
Here in zone 7
So is the season half over?
Do we just maintain from here on in?
Cup half empty.
Or do we revel in the days to come?
Cup half full.
If you look closely
You’ll find that some things
Are just beginning
Or beginning again.
For instance.
I don’t plant my Zinnias
Until the Larkspur and Poppies
Have died and made room for them
So they are just beginning to bud out.

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The Arugula on the other hand.
Has gone to seed
Giving me a second crop.

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Which is great
Since I’m a fan of Arugula
Tomatoes are ripening on the vine
Except for the ones my nighttime visitors
Have dined on.
But volunteer tomatoes
Are just beginning to bloom and set fruit.
And because we are having a great summer
Eight inches of rain in July!
The roses are budding and blooming.

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Dahlias are equally happy

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And Cleome has re-seeded itself

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After those dastardly harlequin shield bugs a few years back.
Earlier in the spring I cut the tall garden phlox back
And it has paid me back with lush blooms.

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They came a little later
But it was worth the wait.
And of course the Cockscomb
Is beginning its takeover of the garden.

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And Peg spends endless hours in the garden

Doing what we have dubbed

“Bugging”

She loves the hunt.

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So here we are at half time
Enjoying the view.
Yes, there is much that can be done.
Much that actually needs to be done.
But for now I’m just taking it in
Knowing that there is much more to come
Much more to give.
Gail

PS. If you have extra garden produce please drop it by Loaves & Fishes Monday, Wednesday or Friday 9 – 12 or call for special drop off times. With kids out of school we are seeing more and more people in need of food. And what’s better than fresh garden produce shared.

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Filed under Bugs, cleome, cockscomb, Dahlias, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Harlequin Bugs, Larkspur, late summer garden, Perennials, Poppy, Tall Garden Phlox, Tomato, Uncategorized, Vegetables, Zinnia

THERE’S A BOBCAT IN MY GARDEN

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There’s nothing more scary than

Heavy equipment in your garden.

We had known it was coming for months now.

The utility company is replacing all the lines in our old neighborhood.

Somehow we had escaped destruction in the garden

When they were in the neighborhood all last fall

Laying the main lines.

But now it’s time to connect each of us to the new main lines.

Fortunately, though it didn’t seem fortunate at the time,

We had discovered a gas leak shortly after moving into this house.

Actually our friend Clark figured it out

From the circle of dead grass in the middle of the backyard.

So we have a new connecting line

With the meter placed at the house.

The preferred location.

All of this is important because

The main line

And the connecting line

Intersect at the back of my garden.

I was told last Friday

That my number would be up on Tuesday.

So I didn’t dare leave home.

And shortly after 8 they began.

Around 11:30 I discovered

A Bobcat in my backyard

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Heading straight for the garden.

Luckily after a quick conversation

They broke for lunch

And I began digging plants

Filling the wheelbarrow.

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They even found a leftover Easter Egg.

Filled with chocolate.

Which every girl needs

At such a stressful moment!

Most of the things in their path

Were pretty strong plants.

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Daylilies

Tall Garden Phlox

Gloriosa Daisies

Lamb’s Ear

There were however some more finicky items.

Hollyhocks whose tap roots don’t make transplanting much fun.

Alliums which I simply cut and hoped for the best.

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And the greatest loss

Purple Poppies.

I’ve never had purple poppies before.

I spotted these last year in my friend Becky’s garden.

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She was able to remember the source of the seeds.

So I ordered a supply.

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Held on to them through the fall and early winter.

Actually remembered I had them

Then found them

And sprinkled them on the snow

One day last winter.

This, I have learned, is the most effective way to plant poppies.

I had a really good stand of them

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And was looking forward to their blooming

Going to seed

And making lots of purple poppy babies.

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But they were right smack dab in the wrong place

For the Bobcat.

So I quickly found some empty space.

Dug holes for their new home

Before I even dug them

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Then dug them with as much dirt as possible.

And popped them into their new home

With a good quick drink.

Will they make it?

I don’t know.

Time will tell.

It is only fair to report

That the utility crew

Was as gentle as they could

When you’re digging a hole to China

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In a garden

At the end of May.

O Blah Dee O Blah Da … Life Goes On.

Gail

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Filed under Allium, Gloriosa Daisy, hollyhocks, Poppy, Seeds, self seeding annuals, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized

A GOOD DAY

I love the mundane.

Now I realize that isn’t “culturally correct”.

But really, there is nothing like a day of regular.

And that is what today was – mundane – regular – wonderful.

After a quick trip to the last Farmers’ Market.

I headed straight to the back yard

The goal was to finish transplanting on “the hill”.

It began about a month ago.

I was tired of the vinca minor running the show.

So I began to dig it up

And pull it back like a carpet.

Then I transplanted 5 big ferns.

I’m not sure but I think they are Cinnamon ferns.

They’ve settled in nicely.

So, today was the day to dig the hostas in the front bed

And bring them to their new home on the hill.

These were planted about 3 years ago.

They were bare root so they were tiny.

Unfortunately they just get too much sunshine in the front

And the last 2 summers they have simply fried.

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So a home on the hill under the shade of the old cedar trees

Should make them much happier.

The root balls were the size of small trees.

I’m thinking they’ll be just fine.

Smaller hostas were also relocated.

Layered in the front between the Hellebores and Ferns.

I did have my assistant gardener close by

She has figured out that when I dig

Worms appear.

And she loves worms!

Unfortunately some things disappeared.

My favorite pruners can’t be located.

My best guess is I buried them under one of those

Very large

Very heavy

Hostas.

Didn’t have the energy to dig around for them.

Hopefully they’ll surface tomorrow!

There are lots of little surprises

In the fall garden.

So on this

Mundane

Regular

Wonderful

Saturday night.

I thought I’d share a few.

May you find the blessings

Of a mundane day soon.

Gail

 

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Filed under Clematis, cockscomb, Dahlias, Fall, Farmer's Market, Ferns, Gardening, Gardening Friends, Hellebores, Perennials, Plumbago, Pruners, roses, Shade Garden, Tall Garden Phlox, TRANSPLANTING

Time & Weeds

Border Dahlia

When people visit my garden.

They often ask 2 questions.

The first

“How much time do you spend here?”

The answer is simple.

Not as much as I like.

Tall Garden Phlox

Tall Garden Phlox

The last few summers have been well…hot!

Which means that my long summer Saturdays in the garden

Have been more like mornings and evenings.

But the truth is my garden does not require endless hours of work.

And because I enjoy it…it doesn’t seem like work at all.

I’ve also changed my expectations.

Endless hours outside just don’t seem to happen

So I do a bit here and a bit there.

It’s amazing how much can happen in a few minutes.

So I focus on weeding and deadheading in small areas.

Peg helps?

Peg helps?

Which brings me to the second question.

“Where are the weeds?’

Once again the answer is simple.

Everywhere!

You just don’t notice them.

So how does this work.

There are two things that I’ve accidentally discovered

To keep the weeds away.

I’ve never planted according to instructions.

I almost always plant too close together.

Way to close together.

The pleasing results of overplanting

The pleasing results of overplanting

Which means the plants shade out the weeds.

Or simply don’t leave room for them to grow.

Granted it’s a little crowded

And some plants don’t have room to reach their full glory

But, for me, it works.

The second thing is those wonderful self-seeding annuals.

It begins with Larkspur in the early spring.

And ends with cockscomb from now till it freezes in the fall.

Throw in the zinnia and cosmos that I plant each year

And my garden is filled with “filler flowers”.

Zinnias & Cockscomb - "Filler Flowers"

Zinnias & Cockscomb – “Filler Flowers”

Which is better than “filler weeds”!

The truth is that lately I’ve been pulling up as many baby cockscomb plants

As I have weeds.

So you might think of it as a friendly weed

That blooms nicely.

And is great in arrangements.

"Filler Flower" arrangements

“Filler Flower” arrangements

I’m really trying to keep it out of the very front of my garden this year.

So, I guess it turns out that what some consider to be garden problems.

Are really just how you look at it.

Much like life!

Gail

 

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Filed under cockscomb, Daffodils, Dead Heading, Fall, Garden Planning, Gardening, Gardening;Perennials, Larkspur, late summer garden, Perennials, self seeding annuals, Tall Garden Phlox, Uncategorized, Zinnia