Six on Saturday: mostly orange

Since my last garden was heavy on purples and pinks, I’m enjoying the bright oranges and yellows here, which contrast beautifully with the lavender-blues of all the hostas’ blooms. So this week, I’m giving you nearly all orange flowers. First, day lilies. I love day lilies. There were just a few at the old house, but lots more here. Last week I visited a garden center that had a wonderful selection. Did you know there’s a dark red day lily called “Bela Lugosi”? I restrained myself. In theory, I’m taking a year to get to know this garden’s contents and light in different seasons (but see below). But I’d love to plant loads more day lilies.

Second, the marigolds from my vegetable garden. I haven’t yet shown you any pictures of the vegetable patch. It’s a bit of a jungle, because I just plunked some things in right after we moved and have been hoping for the best.  Marigolds are supposed to ward off pests, and so far they’re doing their job.

Third, more marigolds, dwarfs this time, along with lantana, from the beds in front:

Fourth, still in front, a close-up on one of the varieties of coreopsis that I’ve shown before (yellow and red make orange):

Fifth, Black-Eyed Susans, more yellow than orange, but bright:

Sixth and finally, more dwarf marigolds along with one of my purchases, a globe amaranth called “Truffula”:

Truffula is still in her pot, and will probably go in a different corner of this bed.

I also bought two pots of columbines for the shade garden, because they were on sale and I love columbines, but they’re not blooming so they don’t look like much. And from the clearance shelves I liberated two junipers, two dwarf Alberta Spruce, and a dwarf lemon false cypress, because we’re going to need some evergreens against the back chain-link fence so we don’t have a totally clear view of the neighbors’ yard in winter. I’m still moving those pots around, trying to work out where exactly to put them. I want an artistic clump, rather than a regimented line, and also not to cast shade on the vegetable patch when they grow taller.

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator, who has a wonderful range of pinks spiked with green this week.

Six on Saturday

We’ve had hot days and quite a bit of rain, so the garden is flourishing. Mostly: the boxwood seems to have caught blight. I pulled out one completely dead bush and chopped back two others severely; will have to look into treatment options.

On a happier note, here’s another look at the bed with coreopsis, lantana, and sedum. There are actually two each of the coreopsis and lantana, as well as dwarf marigolds:

Third up, I pruned the lilac bush to make room for some hostas I brought from the old house, and discovered this lost piece of the rock garden:

Fourth, coneflowers and gladioli; judging from real estate-site pictures, the gladioli will be red, which might produce a garish enough combination to satisfy me. But they aren’t in bloom yet, so we’ll see.

Fifth, more hostas:

Sixth and finally, milkweed just over the garden fence (plus day lilies). I’ve seen monarch butterflies hovering in this patch, but didn’t manage to photograph one. Pretend the day lily is a butterfly, as it’s the right orange.

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator.

What urban soul?

Apparently, all I need to trigger a sense of home is hills and hemlock trees. The new house is in a town that has hills (this is a big deal in my part of the midwest) and lots of evergreens among the deciduous trees, including hemlocks. From my front door, I see two hemlocks silhouetted against the sky, and they make me feel so peaceful and happy. Despite the vile heat and humidity, suddenly I have no desire ever to move back to my home state, or to the one where much of my family live now. I don’t ever want to go anywhere again.

Well, I would like to go to the UK and visit some manuscripts. But apart from that, I’m fine right here.

Earlier this week, we went back to our former town to do some errands. It seemed like years since I’d been there, and very strange to think that I had lived there for so long. What was I thinking? Why didn’t I want to leave? I love the new house and the new town.

The enormous yard makes this place like living in a park. It’s tremendously relaxing to look outside and see so much green, and so little that has to do with other humans. We have squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, birds, and probably other animals who are more nocturnal; I’m sure there are also deer, possums, raccoons, and either foxes or coyotes.

I’ve been looking up old posts on Clarissa’s blog because I recalled her making a similar transition when she bought a house surrounded by greenery. She went from liking concrete to preferring leaves. She felt like she’d become a completely different person. She could see herself in that house at 80. Well, maybe by 80 I’ll be ready to move somewhere with no stairs. But I’m amazed by how much at home I feel here. Clarissa is one of those bloggers I find interesting precisely because often we are so different, but on this topic it’s like we’re soul mates!

Maybe it’s because humans in general need to be exposed to nature a lot, and it’s good for us. I spent a lot of time outdoors at my old house, gardening, going for walks, shoveling snow (oh, you know what? if you don’t have sidewalks, you don’t have to shovel them), and there were plenty of trees and other green things to see from the windows. But this is a whole new level of nature, and it makes me feel like a whole new person.

To be sure, there’s a grocery store and other shops about a mile away, perfectly walkable, so it’s not the level of isolation that both my brothers have, which always makes me long to rush back to civilization. I’m not willing to drive ten miles to buy groceries, and I think my feelings on visiting family influenced my sense that I needed to be urban. But now I think the suburbs are a fabulous place to be (even though I don’t recognize myself). I feel like I get to spend the rest of my life on vacation.

The long nightmare is over

I no longer own a big, beautiful, old house.

I hope it’s the house of the new owners’ dreams; that they appreciate its beauties more than they mind its shortcomings; that they love the oak floors, the inlay in the floors around the fireplace, the gas fireplace itself with its marble surround, built-in bookcases to either side of the fireplace and in the room that was Sir John’s study, the light from its many windows (most of which we had to replace), the closet space, the outdoor fireplace and the garden. On the ground floor, some doors have clamshell hinges that were only made for a brief period around 1913-16, which is the sort of thing that appeals greatly to some people. The second floor is an addition from around 1990, so it has large rooms and big closets, as well as two more bathrooms.

Besides those things, it had a narrow, cramped entrance at the front, a chilly, awkward set of stairs at the back, bad traffic patterns and airflow (running the fireplace sent heat straight up the stairs, so that it heated the upper hallway, where the upstairs thermostat was located, keeping the heat from coming on and thus making the bedrooms freezing), and it had settled considerably over the years, making the floors and trim crooked to various degrees in different rooms. It had structural problems due to a badly done cathedral ceiling in the master bedroom, which we corrected, but the additional weight of the tie beams made the house settle a little more. Having grown up in an earthquake zone, I wasn’t bothered by this from a safety point of view, but aesthetically the crookedness irritated me, and Sir John couldn’t stop worrying that the house would fall down (since he hasn’t had the benefit of experience with condemned houses that I’ve had). The basement was dank, with cracks in the concrete that let in water during heavy rains. It flooded twice before the city replaced the storm sewers; after that, no more floods, but it was still damp. Some things stored there were ruined in the floods. Others just got musty from being down there. The garden turned out pretty well after I spent years digging out the creeping bellflower, but since it infests many other neighborhood gardens, it’ll be back unless the new owners are also vigilant.

Within about six months of moving in, we wanted to sell it. But Reasons meant we couldn’t get it on the market as fast as we hoped to, so we missed the top of the market. When we did put it on the market, it took three years to sell. In 2018, we had some viewers but no offers. In 2019, no one even came to look at it. In 2020, the first people to see it, bought it. Go figure. We sold for less than we paid for it, never mind all the work we did to it, but now we get to Move On.

The relief is profound. Modern suburbs, here I come!

Six on Saturday, heavy on asters

I should know better by now. Anything pretty that pops up by itself is likely to be a menace, spreading aggressively. While I am pleased when the clematis and columbine seed themselves, I’m now regretting not having yanked out the few tall white asters that appeared last year. Just look: they’ve surrounded one of my pots of torenia plus purple alyssum (there’s also a pink impatiens in there but you can’t see it).

Here, they’ve joined the coreopsis and oregano in choking out the sorrel, salvia, and pansies that I planted last year; all those came back by themselves and were doing okay till this lot got going:

#3, they do look pretty surrounding the red rose (which is how they got away with this invasion):

All those were in the front, but they have even made it into the backyard bed, where they appear with this clump of three hostas (two variegated, one a solid blue-green). Oops, I should have gathered up that little pile of tiny apples that the apple tree has been shedding into the lawn, and which I left on the patio.

#5 is a different invasive, the dreaded Bishop’s Weed, illegal to plant in several US states and Canadian provinces because of its spreading qualities. Also known as Snow on the Mountains, it is pretty, but spreads like mad. I’ve managed to confine it to this bed, which is surrounded by concrete, but I do have to keep an eye on it:

Let’s just go back to clematis for #6, so charmingly well-behaved and grateful for its trellis (there are some sweet peas muscling into the picture, just the leaves, no blooms yet):

Six on Saturday is hosted by the Propagator!

Six on Saturday: roses and clematis

They’re the main events, and also the only photos that came out well. I meant to get out early in the morning, but that didn’t happen, and too near noon, it’s very easy to cast unattractive shadows across whatever I’m trying to photograph. Maybe next week!

So, the first two are a sort of time-elapse on the Sterling Silver rose, one taken but not posted last Saturday, the second today:

Then I have two red roses, one backed by a fancy day lily I put in last year (also pinks), the other by a volunteer aster:

And finally, the two clematis that share the trellis; the big purple one is B I G now:

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator: go over and look at everyone else’s pretty pictures! Lots of people actually know what their cultivars are!

Six on Saturday

Last week saw a lull in the garden; bulbs were over, but nearly everything else (except columbine) was in a not-quite-yet state. Today, though, I have a lot in bloom. I fear some of these pictures may be blurry. Sun was strong on my screen, so I couldn’t really tell what I was doing, just pointed, shot, and hoped for the best. Here we go.

The honeysuckle arch is in full bloom, and you can also see a thistle I’m too lazy to remove, and a pot I recently planted with impatiens, alyssum, and something whose name I have already forgotten torenia (wishbone flower):

Under the honeysuckle, the lilac is adding to the sweet scents:

Not far away, the iris also smell nice (hosta edging into the picture as well):

The volunteer clematis is the first to bloom:

Spiderwort and that yellow thing, which now looks a lot like mustard:

Pinks and columbine:

Whoever planned this garden focused on purple/pink flowers, with a few splashes of complementary yellow to highlight the purple, as you can clearly see this week. Personally, I like bright, exuberantly multicolored gardens with lots of contrast (adjectives like ‘garish’ or ‘vulgar’ might spring to some people’s minds), but while living here, I have tried to honor the choices made by someone who had a clear and tasteful vision. I may let myself go in the next garden—you have been warned!

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator.

Six on Saturday

It’s still Saturday in my time zone, anyway.

The apple tree is still blooming, and the scent is lovely, but I can’t photograph its perfume. We’ll begin, instead, with a new entry, the columbine that established itself by the back door. It’s pale pink, when it flowers.Next I have a time-elapsed sequence of coneflowers, one taken last week but not posted then, and one from today. I planted two fancy coneflowers last year, and this afternoon I found the tags giving their proper names, but I’ve forgotten (maybe Cheyenne?) and I have a cat on my lap, so I’m not going to go find the tags now.

Three, more evidence of clematis growing enthusiastically. The bigger one will be purple; it seems to be the kind that likes to be cut back, as I was firm with it a couple of months ago and now look at it. The smaller one is red-violet and seems not to be so happy about being pruned, but as the two share the trellis it was hard to know how to distinguish them.

Four, more violets. 

Five, the unknown yellow thing again. I don’t think it’s mustard, nor broccoli rabe, and yet there’s a certain resemblance to both.


I’ll end with another columbine coming up among the pinks that edge the front walk. I’m glad to see the pinks coming back, since when I uprooted the oregano last year, the pinks also took a beating. (Of course now the oregano is coming back all over the place.) 

Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator.

Six on Saturday

Hosted by The Propagator! I’m getting in under the wire tonight, as the day got away from me (grading, phone call from an old friend, a long walk, cooking). A lot of things went sproing this week.

That red tulip stopped hanging about and opened fully: The violets look very happy: The apple buds are now apple blossom: The largest clematis is visibly larger, taller, and greener than a week ago: I had to cut the “lawn” (mostly Creeping Charlie, at this point): Behind the oak tree, there’s a little patch with day lilies, spiderwort, and a white sweet pea, all of which are up (and you can see the creeping hydrangea in the background). But what is this thing with yellow buds that has popped up?


Six-ish on a rainy Saturday

A garden update (Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator):

1. Daffodils still blooming, with iris coming on behind them:

2. Hyacinth and narcissus:

3. Apple buds are almost there:

4. The climbing hydrangea is looking very green:

5. Although tulips by the garage are in bloom, the one I showed you in the front is still determinedly holding off:

6. Assorted clematis: the big clump, a volunteer, and the one that is supposed to climb an artistic support but prefers the lilac bush: