September!

Even though there is plenty of summer left when September rolls around, we love the promise of autumn that turning the calendar page to September brings.

We planted some dahlias early this summer along with the coleus and it's just now blooming.
The clematis is also blooming again!

Favorite views

We love the huge Osage Orange trees (and even the thorny locusts) that grow at the back of our property. They give us such wonderful shade (so much that we can't get grass to grow there.) We planted the little lacebark elm on the right last fall, and it won't be long before it's adding its own nice spot of shade.
The window boxes (or rail rider boxes) have done so well this year, and I hope to add a couple more next year. They add such a bright spot of color planted with zinnias, gerbera daisies and begonias. Plus, they offer a nice "privacy fence" for the deck.
It's quiet and cool under the deck... 
...and I must admit I love this view of my "lawn boy" (aka my husband), especially when my work is done and I'm just relaxin'.

Things are getting pretty squirrel-y here

We have four of these little guys who call our yard home, and they certainly have kept us entertained over the seasons. (They are pretty much fearless and sometimes they get a little too close for comfort!)
When the grandkids are here, feeding the birds
and squirrels with Papa is a special treat!

Everything's coming up roses

We thought we'd have to wait until next summer to enjoy the transplanted roses, but they have surprised us and done quite well! We have two more to transplant, and may have lost two, but we've learned, with roses, to not give up too soon!
I've been able to keep little bouquets in our house, as well as take some to my mom in the nursing home, so these rose bushes are definitely earning their keep!
This one has leaves that actually look like velvet! Just beautiful!





Disappointment

Our sweet doves failed to hatch their babies this time. We're not sure what caused it, but the eggs never hatched, and eventually, the doves started leaving the nest for longer and longer periods of time, and finally they never came back, leaving the unhatched eggs. We didn't investigate to see whether there were birds in the shells. I just didn't want to know. :(
When the doves hadn't returned for two or three days, we finally removed the nest and eggs and planted a few rooted cuttings in their place. We're sad these almost three weeks didn't result in any hatchlings, but we enjoyed watching the doves care for their eggs until they seemed to sense there was no longer any hope.

Here we go again!

You might remember that the hanging planter on our front porch was host to a family of mourning doves early last spring. It was a delightful experience watching that devoted pair tend the nest, and finally to discover two little hatchlings survived the May 19 storm that did major damage to our house.

The plant they nested in didn't fare so well from lack of watering for two months, and we decided once was enough for that kind of experience.

We hung the planter up later in the spring this year and it looked like we'd managed to discourage the pair from nesting there this year. Until July 12 when I caught a dove flitting to and from the planter and discovered this inside:
I quickly cleaned out the "mess" that was the beginning of a nest, and shooed the dove away. But only an hour or two later, I came out to see this:


And when the dove flew away, I peeked inside to discover this:

And a few days later, this:

So I guess we're going to be privileged to watch the miracle all over again. And like I told my husband, it would really be cutting off my nose to spite my own face to evict the bird whose song is one of my favorite sounds in the whole wide world!

Mulch magic

We found a source for FREE mulch...a place that shreds Christmas trees for mulch, so spent this morning, July 8, spreading mulch. We're always amazed at the difference mulch makes in the way the flowerbeds look. We call it mulch magic! And it's good for the plants and trees too, conserving water, helping the roots to develop, and keeping the weeds at bay.
It feels like there's a carpet under our feet now that we've mulched this sitting area under the deck.
We still have many more places that need mulching, so we will be going back for several more loads of this wonderful stuff. But for now, it's a huge improvement and nicely within our meager gardening budget.

Trees

Early July and I'm really noticing our trees. We have such big, old trees in this neighborhood and it means wonderful shade and color. I feel like I'm in a treehouse when I sit on the deck early in the morning and later in the evening.

But our trees provide much more. A home for the birds and squirrels. And now, fruit for our enjoyment...soon. The apple tree looks nice and straight from this angle, but if you walk around it . . .

. . . you'll see it's growing at a sharp angle, almost brushing the ground, especially as it gets heavy with apples. But it looks like a nice harvest ahead for us in a few weeks!
We have a pear tree too (besides the ornamental Bradford Pear in the photo above) in the front yard. Unfortunately, though the tree is loaded with pears, we've been battling some sort of fungus and have had to cut away many branches. We hope there will be at least a few good pears before harvest time—or before the tree dies, whichever comes first.

That's just a few of the trees in our yard. The others will get their day in the sun soon.

The flower cart

 One of my favorite possessions is the beautiful rustic garden cart my dad built for us as a housewarming gift when we moved into our last house almost nine years ago. I've had fun filling it with different combinations over the years (see just a few of them below) and it makes a good landmark when people are looking for our house.
 The coleus and begonias I have planted there this year are really enjoying these cool days of July (yes, you read that right! We've had a wonderful cool spell this first week in July.) The cart makes a nice view from my office.

Japanese Magnolia in bloom again

We don't remember the Japanese Magnolia (aka tulip tree) doing this last year, but of course, it got hammered by last spring's storm, and that affected a lot of our plants. At any rate, we're delighted that it's having a second bloom these first days of July. The first bloom was rather unimpressive this year, unlike last year (see below) when it was covered with "tulips" and really brightened up the landscape. Our next big project is cleaning up the front entry garden and getting it mulched. It got pretty torn up when they put the new siding on so we transplanted most of the plants out of there to other places in the yard. So far, we've been pretty successful at moving things here. 

Transplanted roses and other things . . .

Last summer we moved two of the many rosebushes at this house to new locations. They looked pretty peaked the rest of the summer and we weren't sure they were going to make it. But this spring they really started to take off and now they've provided many cut roses for the table and nightstand. (We're delighted that the hostas we transplanted are in full, beautiful bloom now, too!) Here's a cut rose from each of last summer's transplants:
This summer, we transplanted six more roses, gathering them from all around the house to group into this corner for a rose cutting garden. Based on how long it took the transplants to come around last year, we really didn't expect any roses from these transplants this year. But we have a few! And it's looking like all but maybe one of the bushes transplanted successfully.

I really look forward to future summers when I can walk barefoot across the checkerboard and cut a lovely bouquet of roses of all colors and varieties to bring inside—not to mention how pretty they'll look from my perch on the deck. Or underneath. The comfy wicker chairs are my favorite garage sale score this year! (They also ate up our garden budget, so new mulch will have to wait a while.)

Another thing we've transplanted—this time from our old house—is sedum. We had a whole hillside rock garden covered in several varieties of sedum at our small-town home, and we just loved how easy it is to care for. So we brought several pots of sedum with us and we've slowly been filling in the checkerboard squares closest to the house with little bits of sedum. The recent rains and gorgeous weather have really helped it take off. I predict by next summer it will have filled in all the bare spaces.
Here's a bird's eye view from the top of the deck:

The blooming game

Our clematis burst into beautiful bloom at the very tail end of May but a hard rain washed all the blossoms away and it hasn't done anything since. Does anyone know if this is normal? Will we get another batch of blooms before the summer is over? (I hope!) Is there anything we can do to coax it into blooming again?