even more plants

I’m still putting together my list of plants I’d like to include in our gardens.

Borage photo Borage_zpsfuofti3e.jpg

I grew Borage in the front garden at our home downstate, and it was so easy to grow, I almost couldn’t believe it. I just threw down seeds and – voila – I had a lovely patch of Borage. It has a lovely fuzzy texture, and the rather delicate blossoms are a beautiful purple color fading to white toward the center. In that zone 6 garden, it self-seeded and came back every year. I’ll have to see if that holds true here in zone 5. It also has a pretty long blooming season, which of course I love. I never tried it then, but apparently the blossoms have a honey-esque taste! It’s also supposed to be a good companion plant for spinach, tomatoes, and strawberries, which I’m going to keep in mind as I continue planning.

Iris photo iris_zpsr764vxuz.jpg

So many gardens contain Iris and for good reason. It’s a lovely bloom and even the foliage looks elegant. Of course there are a zillion variations to choose from, and I’ll likely go with whatever comes my way. I already have one passed along from my mom last fall!

Coreopsis photo Coreopsis_zps7zaryzhy.jpg

Coreopsis is a plant that I happened to start growing downstate because I found a few of them on clearance at the home improvement store. They turned out to be awesome! Some butterflies eat the foliage, and the flowers attract them as well. Speaking of which, they usually have a TON of blossoms which is really striking against the somewhat delicate-looking foliage.

Marigold photo Marigold_zpsvqem9jqf.jpg

For classic annuals, you can’t miss with Marigolds. They also self-seeded in my garden downstate, though I don’t think they probably will here in zone 5. It’s easy to save the seeds, though! These flowers are awesome companion plants and theoretically discourage mosquitoes from hanging around. Given my allergic reaction to mosquito bites, I’ll try whatever I can do keep them away.

Russian Sage photo Russian Sage_zps6d9o5zrh.jpg

Russian Sage is another plant I was introduced to by purchasing a clearance-aisle not-in-great-shape plant. I really dig the way it grows – it gets tall-ish, but doesn’t tend to droop over and isn’t a thick plant, so it provides a nice backdrop for other plants without making the area seem too crowded. It also blooms well into October and attracts bees and birds.

Penstemon photo Penstemon_zpskeoqbrri.jpg

I didn’t grow Penstemon very much – I think I got some on sale somewhere – but I did like it a lot and would like to grow it again. Theoretically it is attractive to hummingbirds!

Verbena photo Verbena_zpsa6t7ohry.jpg

Verbena is another classic that I think will fit in well in my cottage garden. It also attracts butterflies and has beautiful blossoms.

Yarrow photo Yarrow_zpsujriafdb.jpg

Finally for this post, we have Yarrow. Yet another plant I started growing downstate because I found some on clearance, I found that I loved the fern-y foliage and tiny clustered blooms. It attracts both pollinators and predatory insects (who will eat other, less desirable insects).


the sun is warm

And it finally came out for real today! It’s been raining and/or chilly for what feels like ages so I was really happy to see the sun full-on shining today. When I went for my lunchtime walk it was 70 with 5mph winds, so it felt glorious! I actually had to keep my walk pretty short because I wasn’t wearing uberstrength SPF and didn’t want to tempt fate.

The gardens have been happy for all the rain, but they also seemed pleased at today’s warmth and rays.

The other day I went out to empty our countertop food waste bin and noticed that something is sprouting right out of the compost bin!

something volunteering from within the compost bin

This looks pretty similar to some of the volunteers that have sprouted in the raised bed closest to this bin. I’m thinking maybe cucumbers, or zucchini? I’ll probably pull these out as carefully as I can and transplant them into the bed.

Some of the plants in the ornamental gardens are looking ready to bloom any day now.

Dutch Iris (Mixed) in the driveway-side bed:

Iris buds

Mystery plant in the garage-side bed in the back yard:

unidentified plant

Woodland Sage AKA Salvia ‘Plumosa’:

Woodland Sage

Bellflower ‘Ivory Peach’:

Bellflower 'Ivory Peach'

Dalmation Bellflower:

Dalmation Bellflower

Many of these are plants I put in last year after ordering them online. They were super tiny and didn’t really do much last year, so it’ll be exciting to see them actually bloom this year.

Speaking of things I haven’t seen bloom before, I got a ton of Pink Hardy Gloxinia on clearance last year, after it was past its bloom. Now it’s starting to get going:

Pink Hardy Gloxinia

It’s got teeth!

It's got teeth!

I’m a bit concerned about this Black Hollyhock in the front yard. It is clearly not happy, but I’m not sure what the problem is. Too much sun? Bugs? Virus?

something is killing my Black Hollyhock

something is killing my Black Hollyhock

Any suggestions will be appreciated!

More photos on Flickr.



Today has been, in the words of Lady Miss Kier, de-gorgeous! I started out this morning by freeing the tulip leaves in the driveway-side bed from the leaf mulch that was strangling them.

driveway-side bed

There are also iris coming up along the fence, and some daylilies sprouting. K also got out the Sawzall and cut down the stumps of the weed tree that we’ve been trying to kill behind the garage:

weed tree stump

weed tree stump cuttings

What an ugly mess! After doing that, we went to the Despot and picked up some lumber to create raised beds in the veg garden. We also bought some stump killer which we applied to this stump when we got home. I’m usually loathe to use chemicals of any kind on our property, but this tree is tenacious and I want it dead. It’s also in the best possible place to need to use chemicals – behind the garage and a distance from anything growing, and totally out of bounds for the dogs.

The raised beds were SO easy to build! I’d measured out how much space I wanted to cover, so we had the store cut the boards to length for us. The hinges I got for my bday last fall worked quite well! (Thanks, Mom and Dad!)

raised beds!

raised beds!

raised beds!

K kindly pitchforked the compost piles and transported a whole bunch of lovely, delicious-smelling compost from the bottom of the piles to these beds. I need to figure out how much soil it’ll take to fill these in and arrange to have that delivered.

raised beds!

I also cleared out some more thick leaf piles from the garage-side bed where tons of daylilies and other things are coming up:

garage-side beds

As you can see I didn’t clear away nearly all the leaves, but I had mulched it so thickly that I needed to take some out to let these guys grow.

After that, we finally finished scooping poop and raking the back yard and K did the first mowing while I pruned back some perennials. The yard is definitely showing some signs of dogs living here:

back yard

We seeded a bunch of white clover in the far back right corner last summer and it took really nicely back there, so I’ll probably order some more seed this year. There are also a lot of weird bumpy patches and big areas of crab grass throughout the yard, so we might end up fencing off sections, digging up the turf and re-seeding with clover. Did you know that white dutch clover does not turn yellow when dogs pee on it? You can also mow it like grass.

The dogs, of course, were delighted with all the lovely smells that we stirred up by mowing and spent some quality time snuffling around.

Brodie and Logan


Logan looks so regal basking in the sun, doesn’t she?

When I was pruning, I noticed that I have asparagus coming up!


This is the third year for the asparagus (since I planted it from seed) and it looks like it will finally be big enough to eat this year. These shoots are about half the width of my pinky finger and only about four inches tall, so they’ve got some room to grow.


sleeping in the flowers

Well, not really. It’s another rainy day, but I’m glad to see that it’s helping a lot of our flowers bloom. I didn’t plant these iris and tulips together on purpose, but they compliment each other nicely.

tulips and iris

I am totally digging these variegated tulips. I can’t remember when I planted them or where I got them, but they are really pretty.


My lone allium is getting ready to bloom. It looks neat with rainwater on it.


And I think this tulip looks like a baby bird beak does poking up out of a nest.

tulip beak

More photos at Flickr, n’est-ce pas.


rain, rain, come again

It’s been looking like rain for a couple of days, but today it finally actually arrived.

black tulips

The sun came out after, which meant I got to snap some nice pics. The pollen was puddled in a bunch of the black tulips like the one above. On the photo below, you can see a wee spider hanging out.

black tulip with spider

pink tulip

The irises I was having trouble identifying last month are now getting ready to bloom and they look like they’ll be a gorgeous color!


I’ve seen some posts lately about people’s opinions of violets – are they weedy and should be removed, or are they pretty and should be embraced? I’m of the latter school. They volunteer and have pretty flowers and relatively attractive foliage, so why not?


The red maple outside our front window is a strange shape (it has three main trunks, none of which is particularly dominant) but it’s leafing out like crazy and is sort of stunning in the sunlight.

red maple

More photos at Flickr.