The garden before the black-eyed susans take over

The black-eyed susans are starting their annual invasion. This year the phlox are showing signs of spreading too, despite some mildew and munching by the deer. And those coneflowers!

Bees are happy, butterflies are happy, hummingbirds are happy. I’m happy!

Some shots on what is supposed to be a scorcher of a day:

butterfly on coneflower 2

phlox front

phlox and day lily

phlox and black-eyed susans

phlox, coneflower, butterfly

The lovely crocosmia are now in three or four spots, and they need to be divided again this fall (well, some of those baby bulbs dug out with fingers?).

crocosmia july 19 2015 002

crocosmia july 19 2015 006


side bed with red, red, white

Dividing the amsonia (below)  could add the feathery leaf structure to another spot. More phlox (white!)  needed in the center of the long front bed. Daisies from the side bed could work too.

divide the amsonia in the fall

And I WILL break up the black-eyed susans into sections, promise!


Red, white and blue in the garden

red white and blue

There’s plenty of red (bee balm) and white (daisies) — and if you look closely, you might find a speck of blue-ish nepeta walker’s low tucked in there. Well, it’s there, if not in the photo.

Or if you prefer it all spread out, also across the garden:



white daisies



Happy Fourth of July!

Changing Scenery

This is how the front walk looked a week ago:

Front walk around June 6

And this is how it’s looking today, as the red-hot pokers fade and the shasta daisies start blooming:

When I came back from London just over a week ago, I thought my desire for “exuberance” had gone too far and that it was looking … well, overgrown. But as I tied the sprawling daffodil foliage into neat bundles, I realized there was plenty of space between (some) flowers. And even more space when I pulled out a few weeds that snuck in.
This weekend, I noticed how one spot close to the door needs filling in. The Brit put in a few nicotiana, but they will take time to grow. In a few other spots, I tossed in some cosmos and sunflower seeds that needed using up, but that will take even longer.
I just got some new plants through Bluestone’s 50% off spring clearance sale, including some cool-looking rudbeckia like this one, called Cappuccino:

And this interesting Solar Eclipse:

Maybe they’ll do the trick. I just hope the deer don’t munch them. Black-eyed Susans aren’t deer-resistant, but the clumps of more established ones are untouched. These seem a bit more established than some that have self-seeded, so keep your fingers crossed for me!

En route

I was bicycling in Basking Ridge, NJ when I came across this front yard, dominated by monarda (bee balm) on both sides of a fence, with purple coneflowers and some rose campion mixed in. I also like how it uses the narrow strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street–eliminates some mowing! It is inspiring me to use my bee balm more strongly, accentuating shasta daisies (white) and coreopsis (yellow), repeating it several times along the front path. The bee balm already is due to be moved from in front of the garage window, where it showed up last year and I had to say hasn’t done as well as the clumps I’ve given away.

This front garden made me stop pedaling!
This front garden made me stop pedaling!
Look behind the fence. See the sundial and bird bath? Think there is a bench too.
Look behind the fence. See the sundial and bird bath? Think there is a bench too.
One way to reduce your mowing
One way to reduce your mowing

Pest control

A week ago, we came home from the theater to find five deer in the front yard, eyeing the buffet (our front garden), or perhaps were between courses. I angrily chased after them, and chased a bit more for good measure.
The next morning I inspected the damage and was relieved to find it wasn’t too bad. The biggest was to some asters near the house that I now wonder whether will bloom this fall. They might have had a bit more of the azalea, and perhaps some daisies and zinnias. So far, at least, those “deer-resistant” plants we favor seem to be living up to their reputation.
Battling the deer is a constant. Not only do we abut preserved woodland, but the deer population in New Jersey is supposed to be seven times that of colonial times (though how anyone did a census then is beyond me). Deer generally stay within a mile of where they were born, and in our area, they have no natural predators (or even hunters). They are so at home that they don’t run off in fear. They prefer to stare. And feast.
Remember those tomatoes I was so excited about at the beginning of the month? Munched. (The plants in pots aren’t protected by netting. Still. If it happens again, blame me for being too lazy and caring more about the 20 or so that are in raised beds surrounded by netting.)
Deer aren’t our only animal nuisance. Something has eaten most of the beans and munched a bit on the peas. The netting was up, and there is no way a deer could have ducked its head under it. So I am thinking rabbit — perhaps the same one that I suspect of having eaten a lot of calendula (flower) seedlings?
I was so angry that I have bought smelly pellets made of dried blood, eggs and other things that are supposed to deter such pests. Apparently the smell of this getting up their nostrils is enough to send them away. Hopefully our rainy season is finally over and this can stay on the ground long enough to train them to stay away.

Purple for Memorial Day

Lots of verbascum
Lots of verbascum

A month ago, the garden was heavily yellow with daffodils. Now it is purple, with the catmint and alliums (globe and spaceship) in bloom, even a few Siberian irises that survived days unplanted last fall. We also have pale verbascum, which somehow to me seems very “cottage garden”. Some white breaks it up — the first daisies and the last of the irises. And of course plenty of green foliage as other perennials gather strength for their part of the show. A few blanket flowers are emerging, an early sign of the red and yellow that will follow.
The front of the bed, by the driveway, is absolutely packed. The end of the walk has room for recent plantings to expand and for many of the zinnias that we have grown from seed.

Some color from the kitchen window
Some color from the kitchen window

In a bed at the back of the backyard is our first peony flower (!) and some pink foxglove (digitalis). Another bed is heavy with hostas, only slightly munched by the deer. There’s a blue-tinged giant-leafed one, a hefty clump of small blueish heart-shaped ones, a bit of Guacamole from a friend, other bright greens from another friend and some of the variegated that we have plenty of. Not yet packed, but if the deer do stay away, expect more next year.

Tomatoes by the Fourth of July?
Tomatoes by the Fourth of July?

And then the vegetables … one of the Silvery Fir tomatoes growing in pots has three flowers!! (The other is slower, which I’ll attribute to a deer nosh). We’ve had lots of lettuce greens (may be time to start a new crop where some are), the “Easter egg” radishes are popping out of the ground

Fresh from the garden
Fresh from the garden

and the broccoli raab needs eating before it bolts. Beans and peas are in the ground, more to come. Raspberry stalks are flowering, some strawberries are visible and slowly starting to ripen (I will beat you this time, Mr. Squirrel!). Our rhubarb on steroids has given us enough for two rounds of crumble-baking. Yum!