Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. . .

Last night when we took a walk through the yard, we were surprised to find a new flush of blooms on the yellow floribunda rose. This is the bush (no more than a stick, really) that my husband got free from the garden center because they suspected it was dead! Every flower on this bush has been gorgeous from first bud, until it drops its petals. And now that August is coming to a close, I've decided to start bringing bouquets into the house so I can enjoy more than a passing glance of this beauty!

Seven cats in the yard

Mama Kitty and her second litter - five adorable kits this time - got to move out into the yard yesterday and oh, are they happy about that! All morning they've been exploring and scampering and tumbling and "rasslin'" and whatever else kittens do, while Mama and our old black cat stand watch.

Kitties have taken over the yard, but apparently the birds didn't get the memo! (You may have to click on the photo to enlarge to see five fat robins lined up on the fence! There were six at one point, but I couldn't fit them all in the frame.)

Pretty in pink

The sedums are doing so well this summer. Creeping like crazy - to the point that we're even pulling some of it out because it's hiding the rocks on Rock Garden Hill! This variety pictured is Stonecrop 'Tricolor' (Sedum Spurium) and the colors are just beautiful. Variegated leaves tinged in pink, with reddish stems. They really stand out against the rocks, and a nice contrast to the other sedums we have growing on the hill. I'll be curious to see if this one keeps its color all winter like the yellow-green sedum (Sedum Angelina) growing beside it.
I added this photo so you can see our "pretty in pink" in context. The various sedums really complement each other (and the dark green on the right is our favorite Waterperry Blue Speedwell). Below, is the bowl garden we planted simply by pinching a few starts from several sedums and hen-and-chicks.

Mystery plants...can you identify?

We have some things growing in our garden that we can't identify, but they're very pretty and we'd like to keep them and add them to our collection. If anyone knows what these plants are, we'd love to hear from you. (Click on each photo for a closer look.)

Mystery Plant #1
This is a slow-growing viney type plant with a pretty sprawling shape.
We first discovered it early in the spring. It has a much bluer leaf
than surrounding plants and no blooms on it that we can detect.

Mystery Plant #2
Could this be Lupine? That's one of the plants that was supposed to
be in the wildflower mix we planted and we haven't seen it show up
yet. The blue flowers on this plant look like Lupine, but the leaves
don't quite look like the photos we've seen of Lupine. Anyone know?

Moss Rose

We planted MOSS ROSE (Portulaca Grandiflora) in a small flower bed by the curb in the front yard (trying to draw attention away from the streetlight pole there while making it easier to mow around). The Moss Rose is really taking off and so colorful and cheerful there. I wish it was a perennial, but it's so easy to take care of and it's done so well in that spot, that we'll probably plant it again next year. It makes a nice contrast to the mulch and the rocks.

Snow in August?

I've been fighting to keep a little snow in our garden - Snow-on-the-mountain, that is, otherwise known as Euphorbia Marginata. Much as he loves prairie wildflowers, my husband refers to this one as a weed...or a pest...or worse. Last summer we had three huge plants that went to seed, so Ken has been yanking the sprouts as fast as they pop up. But a few managed to sneak by and I think I've persuaded him to let them stay for a few weeks as long as I promise we can eradicate them before they self-seed. I know they can take over a whole pasture in short time, but they sure are pretty. And with the hot spell we've been having, I'll take any kind of snow I can get!

Baby, it's hot outside

Mid-August and we've had a week of 100-plus degree temperatures and we're very thankful for our sprinkler system. It has kept things looking nice and green, but we're aware that it's also kept our plants dependent on that every-other-day douse of artificial rain. We planted several good-size trees this past winter. We've already lost one (and maybe two) pear trees to fire blight and we're really working hard to make sure the others survive the heat. Fortunately there's a "cool" front coming through...temps only in the low 90s next week! ; )

Song of Solomon 2:1

Song of Solomon 2:1-2
I am a rose of Sharon,
a lily of the valleys.
Like a lily among thorns
is my darling among the maidens.

We planted several Rose of Sharon bushes (Hibiscus) last year and ended up moving several of them, eventually losing all but two. But those we planted in the flowerbed underneath our bedroom windows are thriving and beginning to bloom. It's so nice to have something new in bloom now that these stifling hot days of August have hit. We enjoy counting blooms on our morning walks through the yard, but I probably enjoy them even more while I'm making the bed each morning. The smaller bush (above), just outside the west-facing window popped its first blossom this morning - the palest shade of pink. But the bush is loaded with bright pink buds waiting their turn. It's a good thing, since each flower only lasts for a day.

The Blue Dune monster

This Blue Dune Lyme Grass was an innocent looking specimen in a six-inch pot when we brought it home from the garden center last fall. Now, less than a year later, it threatens to take over the entire flowerbed behind the house! It really is a beautiful plant, and its blue color is a nice contrast with the green grass and the Rose of Sharon bushes that flank it. I just hope we can keep it from nudging those bushes right out of the garden!

What a difference a month - or two - makes

Above, the Arbor Garden mid-June. Below, this evening, August 7. We've had to move the birdbath twice because the dogwood keeps hiding it. The roses are climbing the arbor trellis and the pots have filled out nicely (we just love the purple fountain grass in the pots on the right...wish it was a perennial in our part of the country.)

Yesterday's chamber pot today's garden pail

I found this red-rimmed enamelware "pail" at an antique shop in Missouri and thought it would make a perfect place to put the blooms and leaves from pruning and deadheading. My mom informs me that my pail is actually an old chamber pot, but I don't care. I just love the way it looks hanging on this hook on the side of the deck.

The "leaning" pot was a freebie from Hobby Lobby. It didn't have a price marked, so the clerk gave it to me for free. I guess I got what I paid for, since the bottom broke out shortly after I set it out on the deck. But I kind of like the way it looks as a cache pot for a sprig of purple verbena.

It's August 5 and finally we're getting the hot weather we expected in July. We'll be watering trees this week unless we get more rain in the next day or two.

Lessons From the Garden

Last spring we bought half a dozen little pots of a low, creeping ground cover we hoped would fill in in front of the stone wall. The plants, called Stepables®, sat there for an entire spring and summer, odd round circles in front of the wall that did nothing but stay alive. We got tired of waiting for them to spread and dug them up in the fall, moving them to spots between the pavers in the Arbor Garden. Now, in their second summer, they are suddenly taking off and providing pretty yellow-green spots of color along the stone pathways. I'm so glad we didn't give up on them! So many lessons the garden has reminded us of: everything in its own season, and what doesn't work well one place will be perfect another.