It’s time for a quick tour of the early summer garden with a few creative tips along the way.
If you would like to see previous garden tours throughout my life as a gardener, here you go.
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It All Starts Here
The spring-summer gardening season officially begins when the white bleeding heart (above) comes into bloom. Had I known it would be so happy there by the shed, I would have bought several more. Isn’t that always the way?
This is how the garden looked last July. There are some big changes coming up that you’ll see in about six weeks. I loved the garden like this but a combination of some invasive plants that needed pulling out and a new opportunity have pushed things in a whole new direction. I’ll show you more when I can.
Right now, we’re just heading into summer and, after a late start, the garden is starting to wake up.
After a freakishly mild winter, spring decided to monkey with us, providing cold mornings with snowflakes in the air and hot afternoons that fried the tulips and sunburned my skin.
This seemed to discourage the poppies, leaving us with the first May I can recall without those gorgeous, giant, floppy red flowers throughout the garden.
Now, with the cold temperatures finally behind us, there is a lot of catching up to do.
Spring cleanup starts with the removal of old plant growth that was left in place to feed the winter birds. I love this task. Cutting away the brittle stems and seed pods always reveals masses of new, green shoots hidden below. In one afternoon the garden can go from winter blah to spring green.
Next I scour the garden for all the various invasive plants and weeds that seem to take over the garden weeks before the ground has warmed. Why are the unwanted ones so vigorous?
When that mess is taken care of, it’s time to distribute a truck-load of mulch—5 yards worth—to help enrich the sandy soil and keep moisture in. This is the only time of year the garden requires a lot of work and I fall into bed at night completely physically exhausted. That’s a good thing in my books.
Who has a favourite flower, really? I used to avoid this question until hardy primroses (above) started appearing at local garden nurseries. I’ve been ogling over them in British garden magazines for years.
Now that I have some, I am completely infatuated.
There are so many colours and variations and all of them have a storybook charm that I would happily design an entire garden around.
Oh Sandy, Must You Really?
I have very few good things to say about sandy soil except you could dig your way to the other side of the earth in a very short amount of time.
Other than that, it either allows aggressive plants to spread way too fast or starves others that need consistent moisture and some stability.
But such is life as a gardener. Every growing space presents some challenges.
I got this chandelier a couple of years ago for $2 at a yard sale and it took me forever to figure out its place in the garden. Then, the other day, some Baltimore orioles were battling over a hummingbird feeder when the answer came to me.
I hung the chandelier from the arbor and places some half oranges on the lightbulb stands. I haven’t been able to get the final photo yet (orioles are so skittish!), but everyone is happy with this new arrangement. The orioles love the oranges and the hummingbirds are happy to have their feeders to themselves once again (so they can resume battling each other).
Purple and Green
With cold temperatures slowing the growth of the red poppies, the entire garden so far is a mass of purples, blues, and green. Irises, alliums, and Centaurea montana (sometimes called Bachelor button in this area) and forget-me-nots are ruling the garden.
I’ve got some annuals to plant as well, carrying on the same colour theme. Bobo (above) clearly approves.
The next group of perennials to bloom will be the reds, oranges, pinks, whites, and yellows—bee balms (monarda), all sorts of coneflowers (echinacea), coreoposis, button flowers, evening primrose, daisies, and many more. I love how the whole look and mood of the garden changes as some flowers finish blooming and others fire up and demand all the attention.
Related: How to Make Giant Garden Art Alliums
My little pond is host to Match.com for frogs and toads. They sing, they date, they mate, and wow, they sure lay a lot of eggs. Each with their own kind, of course. I don’t yet have froads or trogs.
I like the garden like this. I start things in one direction and then nature takes the baton and carries it forward in ways I never anticipate. While it will never be very orderly, it’s always interesting and lively.
The Essential Summer Garden Checklist
I came up with this checklist last year when I was thinking about the mountain of chores that we tend to impose on ourselves as gardeners. As much as I love working in the garden and making garden art, it’s a good reminder to take time for the stuff that really calms and recharges us every now and then.
Perhaps my essential summer garden checklist is your list too. You can see it here. And you can get a print for your home.
That wraps up this early spring garden tour. I look forward to sharing the garden again when summer has truly taken hold. If you’d like to see it along the way, be sure to follow me on Instagram.
~Melissa the Empress of Dirt ♛