“I think everyone has a garden within them and it’s a way of expressing one’s creativity. And it is just the most satisfying exercise. It really is the purest of human pleasures.” —Frank Cabot, self-taught horticulturalist and founder of his garden in La Malbaie, Quebec, Les Quatre Vents
As summer comes to a close for the 2022 gardening season, I am savoring the growth, the blooms, reflecting on the lessons I have learned regarding what my garden wants, needs and where and how it thrives and taking a deep breath of appreciation for how it has matured in only three short years.
I am also finding the garden, as Monty Don pointed out in this past Friday’s episode of Gardeners’ World, to be a place of comfort, and while he as a Briton was paying homage to HM Queen Elizabeth II’s life and news of her death, the comfort thankfully extends during all times of our lives as well, and enhances, much like contentment, how we move through our days and thus lives. Not to make a pun, but it is true, the garden helps to ground us and hold us steady, so that we can appreciate, gain clarity and remember to bear witness to the awesomeness around us at this moment, of which each we experience are fleeting by nature.
The garden’s sagacity runs wide and deep, and two of the most powerful lessons for me taught by the garden are, one, the reminder of life cycles, and in so knowing this truth, the second lesson, to savor deeply the beauty because it is evanescent, as well (okay, a third), to celebrate what a plant or flower or tree naturally is and how it best grows and to not ask it to be something else, for when we accept and celebrate, that nurturing is felt and the plants thrive all the more, sometimes even moreso than we may have ever thought possible (or the plant tag that came with it originally, suggested to expect).
So now on this rainy weekend in Bend, a type of weekend weather I deeply savor and treasure, I sit next to the fire, Norman in his chair and I in mine, and reflect on the garden here at Le Papillon. A small, yet lovely piece of earth I have had the good fortunate to potter away in, dream in, and relax in for the past three years (view all of TSLL’s Garden posts).
On Thursday of this week, autumn officially begins, but whether it is summer or fall, September is an extraordinarily fun and busy time in the garden. As this article by Margaret Roach points out regarding flowers, September is the ‘New May’. September is also a bustling month stretching into all areas of the garden beyond flowers, that here in Bend, moves into October is becoming very similar in many ways to March and April. But I am getting ahead of myself. 😌
Today, Monday, is typically a post reserved for Motivation, but I wanted to give the garden full attention at this time with an annual celebration and reflection, something I look forward to continuing to do each September, and even if you are not a gardener, hopefully today’s pictures and images from the garden will provide a moment of calm, respite and sanctuary to draw a deep breath and savor Mother Nature’s beauty. (explore all of TSLL’s garden posts here in the Archives).
What I Am Loving and Made Me Smile
This year was the year of the Dahlias in my garden. Having invested in over 30 different individual tubers last fall to arrive this spring and be potted up, and being gifted a few from my mother’s garden, I really went to town and planted them all over the garden to see where they would be happiest. I have enjoyed being able to go out and cut a few blooms each week, bring them inside for a small bouquet throughout the latter half of the summer season. Granted my tubers were young, so it will take time for them to offer more flowers, but with each year, they will. Having my own dahlias certainly saved money when it came to picking up fresh flowers at the market, and that was an added bonus after putting in the investment up front last fall to purchase the tubers that will be with me for many years to come.
You’ll notice in the photos below that many are on the verge of blooming, so as of late, I delight each morning in going out into the garden and saying hello to them, to see how they are and what has transpired. Below you see primarily dinnerplate dahlias (Siberia, Cafe au Lait, Larkspur, Thomas Edison (the dark purple that isn’t yet open)), but I also have a few pom-poms – the Cornel Bronze, and I did and do have single layer blooms, but am learning where to put them for more success next year, as well, they were very young.
The Phantom Hydrangeas produced spectacularly large blooms this season, especially on the east-facing side as they receiving regular, ample water. I planted four of these flowers two years ago, and while last year they did well, this year, the blooms are more plentiful and larger. I was so tickled that in such a short amount of time, they are giving such an abundance of beauty. And what is particularly wonderful is that the blooms began to show in early August, late July, white in color and will continue to be in bloom until the first frost in late September, early October as they turn a soft, deep blush.
Creeping Thyme and ‘walkables’
Two years ago I added quite a few walkables in between the pavers that lead to the front of my porch from the street, and this year, they began to cover significantly the stone, which is exactly what I want. Softening up the walk, they don’t need much water, and are very happy as they have full sun, but on the east side of the house.
A cottage garden favorite, and one of my favorites as well. The bees love them too, which has inspired me all the more to add more foxgloves to the garden (more below on how I am going to do this without spending a lot of money).
The Sweet Peas
For the first year after attempting to sow and grow sweet peas for a couple of years, finally, I found a spot for them that they seem to be happy. What I learned this year, is that I need to begin sowing them in Autumn the previous year, and the other trick I learned was to purchase the deep growing trays as their roots like to travel deeply into the ground. They were much happier and did very well considering I planted them out quite late – late May/early June.
The Bird Bath plantings
A new addition was made in February with the stone bird bath, and it was a HUGE hit with the birds as they have a nearby bird café, and swoop back and forth constantly. I could not have been more tickled by this decision, and the water I was able to offer the birds especially during our hot days this August. I planted around the base of the bird bath Devon Skies and Blue Waterfall ground cover plants that offer small blue flowers throughout the summer, and while they were young this year, they did quite well and added the punch of color I needed in that corner of the bird/sunshine garden.
The Abundance of Blackberries
I will be harvesting all of the blackberries this week as they did very well this year, and then freezing most of them to enjoy in desserts throughout the winter. It also helped that I am now knowledgeable of which stems to cut each year as blackberries grow on last year’s growth. Before spring next year, I will go out and cut down to the ground the second year’s stems which bore the fruit this summer, and leave the new growth from this year. That made all the difference as last year I didn’t have a large crop at all, and it was because I cut the new growth down to the grown as well! I am learning. ☺️
The Summer Cascade Wisteria
Each year I share the progress of this one and only wisteria in my garden, a varietal that can tolerate the cold temperatures in Bend, and each year it grows in abundance, astounding and delighting me. While the blooms were finished in June, the vine then begins to stretch, grow and spread, and now the entire east side of my kitchen porch is full of green leafy wisteria vines, making me all the more excited for next spring’s blooms as their scent is out-of-this-world amazing.
Creating simple bouquets with flowers from the garden
As many of my pictures here on the blog and ones shared on IG demonstrate, I regularly have fresh flowers in my house. However, this year was the first time for the duration of just over a month, all of the bouquets were made with flowers from the garden here at Le Papillon. So tickled! Below are just a few of the bouquets that came together.
What I Learned or What Was Reinforced
Rozanne Geraniums love the sun at Le Papillon
Below, the geraniums (Rozanne) are in the background and surround my yellow David Austin Buttercup roses. I planted them in the spring of 2020, and each year, just two plants produce a wide breadth of purple blooms that last all summer and until the first frost. I love them and will be planting more this coming spring in sunny spots that need more color.
Dividing the chrysanthemums was a very good idea
I shared in this month’s A Cuppa Moments (September) that one of the best things I did for my garden that didn’t cost a penny was to split the 5-6 mum plants I had in my boulevard into now more than 12 (I did this in March). And in splitting them, they each, all of the plants, grew in diameter and all are about to bloom which should hopefully create a wave of color up and down my boulevard to take us into autumn.
Taking the Chelsea Chop to my Echinacea (coneflowers) gave me more flowers
In May, I gave the Chelsea chop to not only my boxwoods and any hedges, but also to my echinacea, and as a result, while they bloomed a couple weeks later, I also had more blooms. This is definitely something I will be doing again and also to my rudbeckias which were newly planted this autumn and will begin sharing their mid-summer to fall colors next year.
I don’t need to sow so many different flowers and plants, focus on what I love and what is most happy here
You may remember in the spring of 2020 I sowed many different seeds, and while more than a few did very well, I also realized, in time, which ones do well in Bend in my garden, which ones I love and which ones I just don’t need.
For example, I will continue to sow the herb chervil, and as I mentioned above, I will be sowing my sweet peas in the autumn and then a smaller batch in the late winter/early spring. I sowed more than 40 foxgloves this June, and they are doing very well, and this is something that while I may not have to do each year depending upon how they fare, I know I can do so and do well should I need to, all of which saves me money and gives me oodles of plants to create waves of color.
Nepetas (catmint) grow well in Bend and offer wonderful late spring color for a long duration
I planted a Nepeta last year along the edge of my path to my front porch, and this year it astounded me how large it became (I loved it!). Not needing much water, and sharing beautiful purple stems of blooms for nearly two months, I quickly went to the nursery this past June and added a few more. Wonderful for edging, and softening paths and sidewalks, the bees too love Nepetas and that is yet another reason to plant them in the garden.
Cut back lavender harder than you think you should
I learned this year from various readings written by garden experts that I need to cut my lavender back further, into the wood, leaving only a little bit of green growth, doing so after the lavender is done sharing its purple color. I also learned that lavender (of which I have many plants at Le Papillon) only lasts for about 10 years before you need to replace it, so I am closely examining my plants, most of which are only about 5-6 years old, and replacing any plants that didn’t do well due to age. So far, only one needs to be replaced, but hopefully my better attention to proper pruning will give longevity to the plants that remain.
Purchase high quality tools and sharpen shears/secateurs/loppers often
I invested in a good, sharp pair of hedge clippers this year and spent time learning how to care and sharpen them. This has saved my hands, time and conversely increased my enjoyment in the garden when tending to cutting oodles of lavender plants or Karl Foerster grasses each year.
Continue to sow directly sunflower seeds each late April/early May
Sunflowers just make me smile, and what I love about sowing so many seeds in spring is that even though you plant at the same time, they will mature at different rates, so I have been enjoying sunflowers since the end of July and still see new blooms just opening up to share their beauty. All of which makes for ample flowers for bouquets in the house – saving money and perking up the beauty in the house all summer long.
Sometimes you only are given one peach, and that is okay.
While I think the reason I didn’t have as many peaches this year was due to our late snow in April (the blossoms appeared in early April), it might also be that peach trees tend to have wonderful harvests every other year (which has been precisely the case here at Le Papillon). I am no expert, but if that’s not the case, the snow makes tremendous sense as well. Either way, I literally had one peach that made it, and this is it. My neighbors have been watching it grow as well, as they have enjoyed – during past years – the bountiful peach harvest. I actually loved this reality in the garden as it further entrenched the life truth to savor: let go of expectations and celebrate the goodness (which I did this weekend in a tart pairing the peach with blackberries from my garden as well – delicious!).
What I Am Up to in the Garden This September and October
Adding Soil Conditioner (i.e. rich compost and organic matter) to my North Garden
I shared with TOP Tier Members a video in August’s A Cuppa Moments of the “before” space of my North Garden. Slowly progress is being made, and this is my main focus when it comes to designing my garden at the moment as it is nearly bare bones, but that is why I am starting with the soil. Giving the compost time to really soak down in and change and improve the soil composition over winter, I look forward to diving in come next spring and putting my ideas into place from plants, a stone walk path and much more.
Planting out new roses in my Kitchen Garden and in my Cottage Garden and Boulevard
If you are reading this post on the day it goes live on the blog (Monday), you will likely be reading as I am out in my garden (rain or shine) planting my new roses and placing them in their new home.
While I have a handful of roses in my garden already, I want more of their beauty and scent. Specifically shrub roses that offer continual blooms throughout summer so that I can have both beauty outside and inside (with flowers cut for bouquets). Having made a list earlier this year of the varietals I knew I wanted, I waited until I knew the potential for sales may occur, and thankfully, they did. Heirloom Roses held a Labor Day Sale, and I scooped up the roses I had my eye on and saved up to 50% on most of the gallon-size pots. Needless to say, I am excited to see how they will add to the garden next year, as my over-arching approach is the aesthetic of a cottage garden, and quintessential to an English cottage garden is the rose. 😌
Cutting back the dahlias after the first deep frost sets in and storing and labeling the tubers
As I shared above, the dahlias were a highlight of this summer. Not that every one did well (and that is on me when they didn’t), but that I realized, this is a flower I want to invest in as it brings wonderful unique blooms in late summer to the garden. With that said, I am going to store most of the tubers, but I will be experimenting a bit and leaving a handful out to see how they do through a Bend winter. British gardener Alexandra Campbell shares in this post on her blog The Middle-Sized Garden what dahlias need if you leave them in the ground, and I am taking note and look forward to seeing where and if dahlias can survive the winters here in Bend.
Sowing Sweet Peas
Come October/November I will be sowing a few different varietals of Sweet Pea seeds that just arrived this past week. I will be using the deep root-training trays as that, as I shared above, seemed to make them far happier an enable me to let them mature even more before I placed them outside.
Patching the lawn
I am grateful that we have a landscaping business here in Bend that allows customers to stop by daily and purchase for $4 a slab of sod (leftovers from projects). For that price, I can easily patch up my lawn with one slab (2′ x 3′), as I cut it to size and then water it well. I did this last year, and the lawn in spring after having been repaired in fall looked wonderful and lush.
Planting rudbeckias (perennials) in the boulevard, but not black-eye Susans
Since we have high 80 and mid-90 degree days in late July and August here in Bend, I pay attention to which plants fare well. And it is the rudbeckias that provide wonderful bright color during these hot months and withstand the heat very well. This past week, I planted out Prairie Sun, Indian Summer and Autumn Sun rudbeckias, and am especially excited about the Autumn Sun as they are exceptionally tall (5-7 feet) and provide a light yellow color that will fit well next to my rambling rose after it is finished flowering in mid-summer. I am reducing the amount of Black-Eyed Susan (keeping what i have, but not adding more) because they don’t last long for a perennial (only 1-3 years), and while they do self-seed well, I like to be a bit more selective as to where the rudbeckias plop themselves down.
Cut back flax on the rockery
The big task of late summer/early fall is cutting back all of my flax (and California poppies) on my rockery which is a beautiful sight to see in May and June, but after that, the flowers are done blooming and begin to spread seeds (which I actually do want, as how they look now is primarily natural self-seeding, and only a few plants began what has become a beautiful wash of French blue and soft butter yellow blooms to celebrate the spring season). So this year I let them all die back until mid-September, and then, just as I did this past weekend, take my hedge clippers and cut them down to the ground letting the tall Karl Foerster grasses become the star of the show until they are cut down in February.
Added more bulbs for spring
As a gardener, as in life, we observe, learn and apply the lessons, and as the first flowers after winter come into bloom in the early spring, I note where I want more color, have just enough, and, well, I don’t think I could ever have too much color from Mother Nature ☺️. This spring I took note of where more spring bulbs would add early color to brighten the mood before the other perennials had time to do their thing, and so in June I placed an order for from Globemaster alliums and white daffodils, along with bulbs for my tulip pots (I am trying this again and am crossing my fingers I figure out how to do it successfully). I will be placing the bulbs out over the next couple of weeks, and potting up my pots . . . well, I am getting ahead of myself . . .
Potting up pots with spring bulbs
In the fall of 2020 I attempted to pot up trifles of tulip pots to no success, but I think my problem was I didn’t leave them outside. Tulip bulbs need to be in cold conditions, and even though they are kept in a dark space indoors, if the temps don’t get to freezing, they usually don’t do so well. At least that is what I have been told, so I am trying something different this year.
In frost-free pots, placed atop ceramic foots so the pots can drain, I will be potting up layers of tulips, muscari and one pot of Martinette daffodils that I so loved seeing at Sissinghurst this past spring in England (see the detailed post and video below) and am inspired to give it a try in my own garden.
Planting out Foxgloves, sown in June
With more than 40 foxgloves grown from seed, sowed this past June, I am tickled they are doing so well, and look forward to planting them out this fall. Many of them will be going into my North Garden after I place the soil conditioner down, but others will be spread about the gardens that already are planted.
Securing my wisteria
Preparing for the winter winds, I will be doing my best to secure my wisteria and train it to where I would like it to continue to grow. I always miss the green vines that I can see from inside my house as I cook in the kitchen or dine at the dining table, but knowing it will return in spring is inspiration to secure it in well and then let it be.
Time in the garden is a pleasure and a privilege, and having pups beside me as I potter about is the ultimate of each. Norman, upon observation, epitomizes true pottering as he pokes about here and there as I go about my tasks and gardening chores. When he wants to take a break he will plop right down and just watch the day go by. May we all have many days of such companionship and such natural beauty around us to appreciate and teach us to savor what is.
Thank you for stopping by today and wishing you a wonderful new week and many moments of everyday pleasure to revel in amongst Mother Nature. Bonne journée.
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