Finding rusty old junk is fun! Nevertheless, I have found that no matter how much "stuff" I find and collect, only God can fully satisfy my heart. Matthew 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

September 12, 2011 Fading Summer Gardens

What was going to be a simple sweeping of the porch ended up as a full-out lawn and garden clean-up. I decided to go ahead and get everything prepared for pumpkins and gourds, which should be coming into season very soon. As a matter of fact, we picked 5 mini-ghost pumpkins today from last year's toss pile (we were pleasantly surprised when we found the vines growing and blooming in July). We have been having some really crazy weather, from 100 degrees last weekend, dropping to 60 with torrential rain and then back up into the 80's, but I suppose that's about the normal, "unpredictable," Kentucky September. When we had our first autumn cool spell at the end of August I had decided to go ahead and change out my window box from bright summer flowers to an early fall arrangement, but the rainstorms destroyed my creation and I had to restart from scratch. 
I woke up one morning last week to find
one lone fern and some spanish moss remaining in the window box,
and the rest of my two hour creation strewn about
my flower bed. Wet spanish moss is not easy to clean up!
As much as I despise using silk flowers outside, I have found that they are a much better choice for the large box under our front window. I was spending quite a bit of money on flowers and they were just dying out within a couple of weeks each time, no matter what varieties I bought. No amount of watering or Miracle Grow could keep the soil moist or nutrient rich. I finally realized that the heat coming off the glass was going to make it nearly impossible to keep a vibrant show, so I began using high quality faux flowers and have been much happier and saved a lot of money. 

I wanted something a little different from typical fall sunflowers and raffia.
I chose oranges, reds, purples and browns so I could
use them through Thanksgiving with some minor changes.
 Real Autumn Ferns and English ivy grow directly beneath the planter which
ties in the landscaping with the window box.
Our little Luminas (just picked) add a bright pop to the warmer hues. I will
probably use them elsewhere later in the season, but for now they are sitting pretty.

Walking around the yard and picking up sticks and debris from the storm, I realized I hadn't taken any pictures of my flowers and gardens this summer. I directed two musicals from June-August and I didn't get to spend as much time enjoying my flowers as I normally do.
"Hen and Chicks" are planted in an antique child's toy
wagon (estate sale, $5).  The "chicks" were given to me
by my grandmother from her plants
(still growing in her yard) which were "chicks"
from her own mother's original Hen and Chicks plants
that she grew over fifty years ago.
 This spring I had found some really cute vintage enamelware pots and bowls at the flea-market and I used them for my mixed annual plantings, but as of last week it was time to clean them out to be repurposed for decorating inside the house. Most of the rest of my large, showy annual mixed planters were spent for the summer and I had already cleaned them out of their pots and tucked some autumn kale in their places signaling the arrival of fall. Nevertheless, the rest of my herbs, summer-blooming perennials, and shade annuals are giving it all they've got to hold out for several more weeks. I finished up the yard work in enough time to snap some pictures of their remaining beauty.

The oregano and parsley are still going strong. Perfect for
use in my Halloween witch potions as "Skin of Toad,"  "Lizard Scales," or
just in homemade tomato sauce).
Three varieties of basil are mixed with chives, sage and oregano. The
little garden hoe is antique child's toy from an estate sale ($1). The fleur de
lis tile was a yard sale beauty ($1). All urns, planters and pots
are yard sale and estate sale finds, ($1-$5). A single pink impatien stands
center stage in the small urn to the left,
and an antique lucky horseshoe (flea market, $1) helps
keep my garden growing green (mid upper-right).

My first mum of 2011 is placed near
 an autumn fern as a companion plant. The mum's red brillance
will help bring out the red striations that will appear on the
fern as the season progresses.
The plant stand to the left is part of a trio purchased at the flea-market this
past weekend for $8.
In a garden that is predominantly green due to large amounts of shade, texture is of
upmost importance.I choose my plants based on their textures and foliage shapes in
addition to their colors, and layer
as many different textures as possible for visual interest.

Our "well-established-looking" garden is actually only beginning its third year. When our home was purchased in the winter of 2008, three overgrown boxwoods were the only landscaping on nearly an acre of property. At over sixty years-old, they were enormous and encroached the porch landing and stairs. We removed them in the early spring of 2009 and managed to save two of them which were transplanted as privacy specimens elsewhere. The removal process took over eight hours. We were then left with a completely blank canvas where even grass had failed to thrive due to heavy shade. Shade-loving azaleas were an obvious choice, and several now form the backbone of our landscape. English ivy is allowed to sprawl across our yard "invasively" in place of grass as the primary groundcover. My husband and I wanted to invoke storybook charm to our landscaping by planting large amounts of ivy, reminiscent of the gardens and cottage homes we had admired on our trip to England in 2004.  Luckily, my grandmother had plenty to spare growing behind her garage. I dug up enough to fill a medium-sized cardboard box, and that was all it took to get it started. 
The old saying regarding English Ivy has proven true: "The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third it leaps." We prefer to let ours be "invasive" and sprawl as our replacement for grass.
A giant "Sum and Substance" hosta (my Mother's Day gift 2011)
is doing well in its first season. This portion of the landscaping
was just completed this summer. The ivy in the background
will one day cover the mulch and connect the new landscaping with
the older portion.

Liriope, Coral Bells, and several Hosta varieties are
top performers in our shade landscape
The Hostas on the opposite side of the
house are beginning to fade for the season.

 The fairy statue tucked into the rhodedendron is a "twin" to
 my younger sister's statue,
  (gifts from our father). Each of our fairies ended
 up having a broken wing on the
opposite side for unknown reasons. We chose not to fix them but instead use
the fairies to remind us that "we can lend 
a helping wing" to each other whenever we
may need one.
A simple planting of impatiens in a primitive wood
planter is still thriving under a shady tree
The front yard and porch landing as it appears in early September is now cleaned up and ready for its transformation
by some fall and Halloween magic. 


  1. This is what I dream my yard will look like. I have been here for 21 years I guess, and red rocky soil and hot dry summers are not my friend. I have been over the last 3 or 4 years planting a lot of wild and store bought bushes trying to get a nature looking retreat going. Someday!

  2. I also planted so many herbs in my garden. Planning to plant mint, lavender, rosemary and the other herbs. These are beautiful flowers collection. 4th photograph is my favorite, among all.
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