Tag Archives: annual garden review

Marking Time With A Garden

Snapdragons in Meditation Circle -April 22, 2017

Seven years ago, on January 7, 2011, I wrote my first pbmGarden article. Since that time I have been honored by your presence at my humble garden gate.

Lilium ‘Black Out’ (Asiatic lily)  – May 25, 2017

Initiated as a record-keeping discipline while I was working through some garden improvements, this blog has ended up being a source of deep personal satisfaction. You, dear readers, are the reason. As the garden grew, friendship sprouted. You have cheered me on with your own garden wisdoms and encouraged my efforts large and small.

Snapdragons in Meditation Circle – April 22, 2017

We share a love of nature, we savor gardening moments, we find energy, solace and joy among the trees, birds and flowers. Through our gardens we are nourished.

Iris sibirica (Siberian Iris) – April 26, 2017

It is a pleasure to have you visit. May our paths cross again soon.

Crossing Paths

Looking Back At 2017

Floral designs created for In A Vase On Monday were the majority of my posts this year, but there were some noteworthy moments in the garden itself. With emphasis on spring, my favorite time in the garden, here are a few favorites from 2017. Enjoy this quick view or click on a image to see the images full-size in a slideshow.

2017 Garden Reflections And Seeking Balance

I had to laugh at myself for deciding to review the garden over the past year. For one thing, I came across an almost completed draft of the 2016 garden review, abandoned.

This year I have been so disconnected from working in the garden, allowing it to become overgrown and weedy, that I have been loathe to photograph it in its true state. I stopped buying plants or even visiting garden centers; stopped walking the meditation labyrinth; stopped even strolling along the borders during some parts of the year.

For much of 2017 the garden no longer called to me in that special way it once did when it truly was my pleasure and salvation. This is not by any means my first wander away from tending the garden, but this year felt different. I simply did not have time to care for it and it became more obligation and burden than discovery and joy. For the first six months of the year my husband was recovering from 2 back-to-back back surgeries, undergoing extensive rehab and therapy, and gratefully he has done well. In the second half of this year my attention shifted further to yoga. After practicing since 2005, finally in June I completed training to become a yoga teacher, an endeavor I consider a personal milestone.

One encouraging influence of 2017 was attending the Garden Bloggers Fling. The attendees were friendly and delightful people; the gardens were inspirations. After starting the year with long days in hospital and rehab settings, I found such healing simply from being in these garden settings, their beauty touched my very core.

This year I managed to join In a Vase On Monday 49 times and that brought great satisfaction, both in creating an arrangement and in seeing what others had produced each week. For the most part I avoided participating in other thematic posts such as foliage day, bloom day or share-a-view day, which in other years I had loved writing. These can be quite fun and educational. Though there was never any obligation, I found myself stressing over them when I joined in and feeling guilty if I missed one; letting go of those commitments has freed me to enjoy those memes as a reader, appreciating the contributions, ideas and insights of my fellow bloggers.

In recent weeks I have sensed a subtle shift in attitude. Especially since the winter solstice I am aware of lengthening days. I have felt those tingling urges a gardener gets when imagining possibilities for next year’s garden. And so I find myself beginning to look forward to reconnecting with my little garden world in 2018 and to finding a manageable balance between that world and the rest of me.

Post-Truth Gardening

[Because of the way I was brought up, I have to precede the next sentence with, “Not to brag, but…”] Not to brag, but after re-reading old entries and exploring photographs from the past year, I must say the 2016 garden was just beautiful.

For example, clematis ‘Jackmanii’ bloomed magnificently in spring and repeated in fall.

Clematis 'Jackmanii'-4

Irises trailed colorfully throughout the borders.

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Iris germanica (Tall bearded iris)

Japanese Iris

Japanese Iris

Hydrangeas stood strong, camellias bloomed their hearts out.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

Camellia x 'Coral Delight'

Camellia x ‘Coral Delight’

Yet that my garden was successful had not been my perception this morning when I first started to reflect on the past gardening year. No, instead my mind leapt melodramatically to unfinished projects, battles with weeds, trees that died, despair at heat and drought or freezes and wet. I began to gear up to lament and apologize.  Why, I wonder, such a negative, emotional response?

I am struck by how my initial impression of having suffered through another twelve months unsuccessfully growing anything of interest clashes so distinctly with reality.

What changed my mind was taking time to browse the actual record set down in this blog, pbmGarden. I uncovered the truth about 2016 with its many wonderful gardening moments.

Narcissus 'Thalia’ (Thalia Daffodil)

Narcissus ‘Thalia’ (Thalia Daffodil)

In a post-truth* gardening sort of way, too often I allow seeds that fail to germinate or vermin that eat away at roots of plants to become the news, to become the defining stories of any gardening year. In my case these examples are legitimate and real issues, not made-up ones: yes, the grass turned brown during the hottest part of summer, echinaceas flowers underwhelmed, again this autumn Lycoris radiata produced foliage only and no flowers.

But in balance these topics do not deserve to distort the record against success. Why is it frequently whenever anyone asked I mentioned in reply the negative influences affecting the garden. Was the underlying reason false modesty, not wanting to appear to be bragging about a rich, lush features. Perhaps it was trying to manage expectations so when finally viewed in person it would look better than it sounded. For whatever reason, through repetition of telling, by the end of the year I had internalized  that the entire garden had failed.

I am glad I looked back today.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow' (Ascot Rainbow Spurge) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ (Ascot Rainbow Spurge) and Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Though it may never be a showcase of great design, this little garden definitely has its moments. It suits my needs as an opportunity for dreams as well as for rational, reasonable and down-to-earth experimentation with plants. Modest as it is, I love it for its peaceful sensibility and for being a haven where songbirds thrive and gardenias scent the air, where sonorous notes resonate from chimes in the meditation circle.

Meditation Path

Meditation Path

Not each one of these nice things is noticeable every single day but the potential is always there for beauty, knowledge and amazement. I must keep that wisdom throughout the year, enjoying the garden as a place where hope continues to exist while the world passes through its inevitable and sometime ominous cycles.

In rejecting a post-truth reality I plan to dig deeper for authenticity, truth and honesty in the coming year.

*In a year marked by surreal outcomes in the US presidential election and the Brexit referendum, Oxford Dictionaries named “post-truth” 2016 word of the year. In a post-truth world reality is created and framed through the lens of emotional appeal rather than through intellectual discourse and honesty. The art of repeating talking points while ignoring contradictory evidence takes on more importance than truth and facts.


Originally I had planned to do a different type of garden review than this and perhaps I will write it in the upcoming week.  Meanwhile, thank you for being part of my gardening world. Good wishes for a Happy New Year!

2016 Carolina Inn Lunch

After Five

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)

Five years ago today my initial pbmGarden entry, Garden Regeneration, began with these words.

The garden has been neglected the last few years. Too many frustrations: deer, noisy surroundings, drought, and life’s distractions. Time again to focus on what is important and to create a peaceful setting.

I began a garden blog on January 7, 2011, as a way to document some planned renovations, while also establishing some post-retirement discipline for myself. I never imagined at the time how much enjoyment it would bring.

Because of writing pbmGarden I have watched more closely the cycle of seasons, listened more keenly to bird song and call, and felt sincerely the friendships of readers from many parts of the world. I am glad you are part of my life and I thank you.

The perfect garden has proven to be elusive, but it is easy to spend a good day in the garden and to know a peaceful moment.


Fooled by temperate weather in December and despite below freezing temperatures this week, hyacinths are bursting forth with color. The weekend is expected to be very warm again and wet.

Hyacinth orientalis

Hyacinth orientalis

 

In January I usually write a review of the previous gardening year. I am starting with images of my Monday vases from 2015.

 

Garden Regeneration

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue) forms part of the Meditation Circle wall

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) forms part of the Meditation Circle wall May 25, 2014

Four years ago yesterday I posted my first entry on pbmGarden entitled, “Garden Regeneration.”  The first paragraph written then works just as well today.

The garden has been neglected the last few years. Too many frustrations: deer, noisy surroundings, drought, and life’s distractions. Time again to focus on what is important and to create a peaceful setting. (January 7, 2011)

Four years later the garden has been mildly neglected for a few months, but not years. Voles are my current nemesis and instead of drought the rains have been frequent. Though details of that first post are fluid and can easily be swapped one for another, the original intention is still clear to me: Time again to focus on what is important and to create a peaceful setting.

Japanese Iris and Iris germanica (Bearded iris) May 8, 2013

Japanese Iris and Iris germanica (Bearded iris) May 8, 2013

Though I long for it, I no longer think the garden will just one day finally become perfect and stay that way. Even when the irises bloom and the garden is at its best, I know it represents only one point in the nature’s cycle and change is already taking place. But I am reassured the ebb and flow of the days and nights through the seasons will produce more opportunities for me to seize.

Some goals set in January 2011, although met, continue to challenge. The labyrinth is one achievement that brings immense satisfaction.

pbmgarden Labyrinth Design

pbmgarden Labyrinth Design March 2011

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle Under Construction April 8, 2011

Garden View with Meditation Circle May 6, 2011

Garden View with Meditation Circle May 6, 2011

Garden View With Meditation Circle May 10, 2014

Garden View With Meditation Circle May 10, 2014

While documenting days in pbmGarden over the last four years, what I have known but need to continually relearn is this task of focussing and creating is a process, a long, sometimes arduous journey of personal change and development. The garden is a refuge as I work out this path. My goal of garden regeneration has really become gardener regeneration.

Meanwhile what I had not expected when starting pbmGarden on WordPress was finding such kind and knowledgeable blogging friends who brighten my days with encouragement, advice and humor. For five years prior I had diligently recorded garden observations at another site, without the benefit of knowing those of you who now stop by regularly or peek in occasionally. Once in a while I think my garden would profit from me spending less time blogging and more time gardening, but in reality the support I receive from you actually helps keeps me going.

As I say happy birthday to my little garden blog, I also wish to send a heartfelt thank you for visiting here.

 

A Garden Review of 2014: Summer

Cathy at Words and Herbs began a project last week to review her 2014 garden in three segments: Spring, Summer, and Late Summer/Autumn—one each week running up to Christmas—and she encouraged others to join in. This is part two of my 2014 review, a look back at Summer.

June

In Early June the sight of a gardenia flower opening was especially appreciated. There were very few blooms this year as the bushes had been severely damaged by last winter’s cold.

A Passalong Gardenia jasminoides

A Passalong Gardenia jasminoides- June 5, 2014

Several small evergreen trees in the mixed border hedge had to be removed, leaving some broad gaps in the overall structure (that still need to be filled), but many parts of the garden were doing well. The iris flowers were being replaced by those of nepeta, echinacea and monarda.

Facing West, Overlooking the Northern Border and Meditation Circle

Facing West, Overlooking the Northern Border and Meditation Circle

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

There were several refreshing rains. For the next few days there were a lot of flowers opening. Monitoring them made early morning garden walks delightful. On June 11 Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ added its beautiful salmon hue to the Northern Border.

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower) in northern border

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower) in northern border

On June 12, I noticed the first daylily had opened in the Southern Border—a full week earlier than last year. By this time of the summer American Goldfinches could be seen gathering around stalks of Verbena bonariensis, while bees were feasting on lavender and on Monarda didyma and Tradescantia, both native plants. I was happy to see the rich color of Drumstick allium return to the landscape.

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Allium sphaerocephalon (Dumstick allium) [ I had misidentified as Allium Atropurpureum]

Allium sphaerocephalon (Dumstick allium) [ I had misidentified as Allium Atropurpureum]

Feeling very ambitious, I suppose, on June 19 I took a complete inventory of the plantings in my narrow side garden along the Southern Path.

Southern Side Path

Southern Side Path

July

By this month I was pretty much done gardening for the summer and wrote a long excuse about it the third week in July. But thank goodness during this time I continued to photograph the garden, to search out flowers for Monday vases and to write occasional posts. I can see this is where having a better structural foundation for the garden would help carry it through the summer. As it was, long views were not always pleasing during July, but up close there definitely were a few hotspots of color.

In early July, I had some limited success with bachelor buttons grown from seed. I love that blue color. What I most enjoy is to have flowers that return reliably each year such as Shasta Daisy, tall garden phlox and Buddleja.

Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’  (Bachelor’s Button, Cornflower)

Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’ (Bachelor’s Button, Cornflower)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Adonis blue Butterfly Bush)

Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Adonis blue Butterfly Bush)

Also in the first days of the July I was happy to see a few gladioli flowers. I had planted a new collection of colors (purple, lime green and white), but none of them bloomed well at all. This rich blue one was planted when the garden was first created, and is one of the last remaining gladioli bulbs from that time.

Gladiolus Among Echinacea

Gladiolus Among Echinacea July 2, 2014

Much later in July I welcomed the first Lantana flowers. This plant had died back hard during the cold winter and it took longer than usual to bloom. Once open it was covered in flowers until the first freeze. Similarly, Thyme covered the center of the meditation circle with blooms all summer.

Lantana camara (Common lantana) July 20, 2014

Lantana camara (Common lantana) July 20, 2014

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ did well in a patio container and Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ burst outwhenever the rains tempered the heat, such as on July 23. Several patches of zinnia made a colorful impact.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird' (Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Zinnia In Early Morning Sunshine

Zinnia In Early Morning Sunshine

August

Up to this point, while nearby areas were getting lots of precipitation this summer, we mostly just saw the clouds. More consistent and beneficial rains finally returned to this area in early August. Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower) and Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) responded immediately but neither put on much of a show.

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) August 6, 2014

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) August 6, 2014

Storms drenched the garden in midAugust, a welcome relief.

The garden after a storm August 12, 2014

The garden after a storm August 12, 2014

A quick mid-month bloom study showed how the plants appreciated the rain, including the White Swan Echinacea and a new dahlia. My passalong perennial sweet pea enjoyed a comeback that lasted until the first freeze.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Dahlia

Dahlia

Perennial Everlasting Sweet Pea

Perennial Everlasting Sweet Pea

Later in August Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ began flowering. This is valuable plant for long-lasting effect.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

 

For August Garden Bloggers Foliage Day the new-to-the-garden-this-year Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ continued to prove its worth.

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not)

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not)

Thank you to Cathy for hosting this 2014 garden review. It was good to look back and remember overall the summer garden was greener and stronger this summer than usual.

May 31, 2014 marked my 13th year in this garden. I feel fortunate to be able to tend this small, peaceful space, but honestly I rarely spend much time working in the summer garden. Nevertheless, during these hot months the garden had some very nice moments and by summer’s end, I discovered I was rejuvenated and more eager to partner with it once again. Taking a break was worth it.

Why I Garden

As 2012 ends, I complete a second full year of WordPress blogging. I cannot express how much I appreciate your visits to pbmGarden. Thank you for taking time and interest in my little backyard garden retreat, for offering your friendly support and for sharing your ideas and expertise so generously.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower) October 4, 2012

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower) October 4, 2012

I began planting perennials in earnest about 1996 in a very different setting, though not far from where I live now. A bit of beginner’s luck that first season strengthened my interest and now it is hard to imagine not tending a gardening. I still miss that first garden, which promptly was returned to lawn after we moved.

Since it no longer exists, not even in pictures, it is easy to idealize that garden, but I will always carry with me a deep satisfaction of one moment in time, almost a sigh really, when I surveyed the spring blossoms through dappled sunlight and felt the world just click into place.

That stop-time experience is what I will always be seeking in this garden. It may never be reached again but several times this spring I sensed that moment was close.

The tagline for pbmGarden is actually one I used for another garden blog between 2006-2009.

Sense of place, purpose, rejuvenation and joy

It comes from realizing the awesomeness of working and just being in a garden. Of guiding and being guided by the world of plants. Of noticing the restorative properties the garden bestows. Of being humbled by the whims of nature.

I just like the way I feel when I am in a garden. What inspires your interest in gardens?