September 3rd, 2006

Almost-fall garden interlude

When I moved to my present house I inherited a perennial garden.

That wasn’t my main concern. Just having a marginally affordable place to live was the important thing, because I managed to buy my house in a seller’s market (and I bet that, whenever I move, it will be a buyer’s market. Ah, well.)

The garden was an unintended responsibility, one I wasn’t sure I could meet. Actually, although the house is fairly small, there were three gardens–one in front, the sun garden; a terraced rock one on the side and one in the back, both shade gardens. I had to do a lot of reading and learning about growing flowers to rise to the occasion and do right by those gardens, since I knew virtually nothing on the subject when I first moved here.

But I think, all things considering, I’ve done rather well. Some plants died and I replaced them with others. Some thrived. I moved things around. I learned that what looks good in June or July can look crummy and bloomless in August. I learned my favorite garden joke, which I’ve written before but will repeat once more, with feeling:

Q: What’s the definition of a perennial?
A: It’s a plant that comes back every year, if it had lived.

It’s not always easy to get the garden to look good in September. But I will restrain my innate modesty to say that I think mine isn’t all that shabby right now. And, getting an even tighter grip on that innate modesty, I’m going to post a couple of photos of the front garden, taken just yesterday, when it wasn’t pouring rain, unlike today:

9 Responses to “Almost-fall garden interlude”

  1. ginger Says:

    Neo…..wish mine looked that good this weekend! It’s been so bloody hot here the past couple of months that it was either pay for a doubled or tripled water bill or admit defeat. Perennials are a challenge, as you say, what looks good one month are horrid the next. Finding the right mix, to keep something blooming all summer, is tricky. But once established….how glorious! Good job! My greatest surprise here in the new house this summer were the ‘magic’ lillies! Huge beds of them, from previous owners, delighted for almost 3 weeks.

  2. DBrooks Says:

    Ginger–Those “magic” lilies are Lycoris Squamigera. They are very hardy bulbs that used to be very popular in gardens, but had fallen out of favor in modern gardens. Recently, there has been a renewed interest in them. They grow strap-shaped green leaves in spring, which wither and die, and the flowers pop up in August. Lycoris spreads easily, and doesn’t take much care, if any. I love to plant them among hostas and ferns–the appearance of flowers amid the foliage in August seems like a nice memory of Spring in late Summer. I apologize if you already knew all this. I just happen to really like Lycoris.

    Love your garden neo-neocon. It is difficult to keep a perennial garden looking great in September. Like you, I inherited a small garden when I bought my house many years ago. I have grown to love gardening, and have several different gardens in my yard now. It is a long process that requires a lot of thought, effort, and compromise. When it works out well, or evolves into a success, it can be quite rewarding in a way non-gardeners usually don’t understand. It’s a little like a parent tending a child–filled with ups and downs, but every effort is rewarded in the end, and, somehow, the harder the work, the greater the reward.

  3. meander Says:

    Your gardens look great…you’ve obviously proven yourself up to the challenge. There are probably some common traits in creating an interesting and long lived garden and a blog having those same characteristics. You’ve mastered both.

  4. D. B. Light Says:

    Very nice. We have gone for a different strategy. Spectacular springs, lots of azaleas and rhododendrons and such, and mediocre results the rest of the summer. You are making me reconsider.

  5. here you go Says:

    Tell you what compost is one of the most important aspects of maintaining the environment. It benefits both the area around you and your gardening capabilities.

  6. ¶¶¶___TOR Hershman___¶¶¶ Says:

    Flowers are beautiful; they remind moi of bees.

    Sees my bees @

    Stay on Groovin’Safari,

  7. ElMondoHummus Says:

    I wish I had a garden. ‘Cept, I wouldn’t be growing perennials and things like that, I’d be growing herbs.

    No, not the nudge-nudge, wink-wink grind ’em up & smoke ’em in a bong type herbs. I’m talking basil, oregano, chives, cilantro etc. And maybe even some non-herb kitchen stuff like peppers. Right now, in my humble little apartment, I’ve got some herbs in pots in the windowsill. I’d luuuuv to have an actual garden so I could have many more planted.

    Anyone know which herbs grow well potted and indoors? I know that my oregano isn’t doing all that well, but the basil’s growing like mad. I’ve already had to repot twice, and I water them (two pots worth) constantly, it seems like. I do know that the garden shop warned me against growing cilantro unless I can positively guarantee a plethora of sunlight, which all but means having it outdoors. Other than that, I don’t really know what herbs do well in indoor pots.

  8. BeckyJ Says:

    Your garden looks great, Neo. My mudhole of a backyard (mostly shade) is pretty depressing right now. I do have some inherited tiger lilies that return every year. We found them under the 5 ft. plus weeds that were growing in the backyard when we moved in.

    Do you have any recommendations for books on shade gardens?

  9. PCSO Lotto Draw Results : Says:

    small gardens are nice because you can just fit it in any part of your home, small gardens have that “cute” factor too.-“

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About Me

Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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