Wednesday, July 23, 2014

summer love ~ gardens

It's amazing how quickly gardens grow and change over the summer. I was just looking through old posts on my blog to see when was the last time I posted photos of the flowers, herbs, and vegetables around my house: it was June 6th in this post. So here it is six weeks later and wow, how things have changed! I hope you'll enjoy this updated tour.

I love when the tiger lilies finally bloom in the ditch in front of my house. This photo was actually taken at the beginning of July. The blooms are all pretty much faded already. It's the only thing I don't like about lilies - the blooms only last about three weeks.They sure are a nice "filler" plant though and don't require any maintenance. 

This Illinois native prairie plant (can't remember its name!) that I planted by my front walkway is so cool. I'm fascinated by it every spring and summer. It has long, arched green stems that start to develop bundles of flowers in a tissue paper-like sac.  

Each sac finally starts to break open, revealing clusters of flower buds.

And then those flowers finally burst through and explode with their beauty.

 The stepping stones leading to my patio are being overtaken by the groundcover, pachysandra. I highly recommend this groundcover for shady areas - it fills in quickly and is another no-maintenance plant. I don't think we've ever watered it in all the years its been there. It even stays green through most of the winter!

I love my little patio area but it's just a shame that we can't enjoy it more in the summer.
The mosquitoes are terrible here.

The plants in the butterfly garden are finally blooming, though the Lamb's Ear (in front) is starting to take over. Another plant that quickly takes over is Tall Garden Phlox. See the purple flowers to your right? That's Phlox overtaking the butterfly bush. I didn't even plant it there - it reseeded itself. I think I'll remove the bench in back of the garden and dig up the Phlox and plant it there. 

Here's Phlox in another spot in my backyard - where we purposely planted it. You can see it grows almost like a bush. The blooms are so pretty and make great bouquets.

Yellow Tickseed beside the Phlox...

My mom gave me this rose bush, but I admit - I know nothing about taking care of roses except that you're not supposed to get the leaves wet when watering. But I noticed the leaves are starting to get little holes in them and some white spots. Fungus? Bugs? I need to do some research - unless someone out there has any ideas.

 We always underestimate how much room veggie plants such as zucchini need to grow! These were just two small plants in the beginning. I harvested my first zucchini yesterday and it was part of a delicious dinner...I diced up the zucchini, chopped some fresh tomatoes, cut corn off the cob, and chopped a couple of cloves of garlic. Fried all that up in a little bit of olive oil, then added cooked whole wheat penne pasta to the veggies. I then added half package of Boursin herbed cheese and simmered until the cheese got melty...and then I poured in  some half and half to thin the sauce. To finish it off, I put in some chopped fresh basil.

My herb garden gone wild! Word to the wise: mint is best grown in containers. ;-)

My tomatoes are finally ripening!

 Now speaking of gardens...Brian and I had a chance to tour the Anderson Japanese Gardens in Rockford, IL this past weekend. Such a beautiful, peaceful place. Here's what makes a Japanese garden unique (taken from the AJG web site):

Three of the essential elements used to create a Japanese garden are stone, which form the structure of the landscape, water, representing life-giving force, and plants, which provide the color and changes throughout the seasons. Secondary elements include pagodas, stone lanterns, water basins, arbors and bridges. Japanese gardens are very carefully designed and patiently pruned according to aesthetic principals to create a work of natural art that inspires calm, renewal, discovery and an invigorated soul. Though most Japanese garden materials are not unusual, the way that all these basic elements are brought together and the emotions that they provoke is what makes a Japanese garden unique.

What's blooming lately in your own gardens or where you live?

Linking up with: Green Willow Pond: What We Accomplished Wednesday.


  1. Both your garden and the Japanese garden are beautiful!! I like the idea of your pasta dinner too! xx

  2. Your garden is lovely. I was just wandering through my own last night, deadheading the last of my daylilies and waiting for the zinnias to open up. I was thinking the same thing, I love the phases of my summer landscape!

  3. Look at these examples of the rose sawfly larvae and see if it matches what you find on your rose bush:

    1. Thanks for the link - but no, that's not it.

  4. Hi Melanie! How pretty your gardens are - both flower and vegetable! Looks so green and lush everywhere around your house!


  5. Your yard and gardens are gorgeous, Melanie!! Loving that Illinois native flower...beautiful!
    Mary Alice

    1. Thanks, Mary Alice - I still haven't identified that particular flower!

  6. Melanie, your posts just keep getting better and better . . . prettier and prettier :) Your garden is like a park . . . you must spend a lot of time caring for your flower beds and it shows. I've heard of this trick, but because they spray for mosquitoes in our county I have never tried it. Always have a couple fabric sheets (those you use in the drier) in your pockets and the mosquitoes are suppose to stay away from you. Try it and let me know how it works :) Also did you get my email and recipe?
    Have a wonderful weekend . . . Oh, those Japanese garden photos were lovely and I love how you and your hubby get out and enjoy your surroundings together. You make such a sweet couple :)

    1. I've heard of that trick with the dryer sheets, but never tried it. I made some natural mosquito spray the other day and we've only used it once, but it worked, so far! Yes, I got your email. I replied. Thanks for saying such nice things, Connie!

  7. Thank you for visiting Laura Madalene, but I'm not sure who you're referring in mentioning Becky and Brenda.

  8. Hi Melanie, You gardens are beautiful...looks like you give a lot of love to your flowers and veggies. Everything is so lush..... like being in a pretty park.

  9. I just lost a good comment, thank goodness Comcast is coming on Wednesday! I wanted to say how pretty your garden looked!! I hear you on the mosquito's. At the lake we use citronella candles. I don't know for sure if that's a natural sort of thing, but I find that the key is to light the candles a good couple of hours ahead of time, the scent needs to get in the air. For your patio space I think one of those buckets would work. I get them at the Dollar Tree. Putting the candle on the ground works well, too, as the scent rises.

    For he leaves, I Pinned something last year that helped with my climbing rose. Mix 1 t. olive oil and 1 t. dishsoap with a gallon of water. In a spray bottle, use on the leaves everyday and after it rains.

    Looking forward to seeing you at our lunch!! I will bring you the books and the stamps I told you about. Oh, I read your last post on Phil, it broke my heart. You all seem to be handling things well but I know the hurt never goes away. I just don't know how you do it. :(

    Jane xx

    1. Thanks for the tip on the cintronella candles - we've tried those in the past and they don't do a darn bit of good here. Thanks for the tip on the roses! Thanks for your thoughts about Phil...I guess I just get up every day and put one foot in front of the other. It's all I can do! I'm looking forward to seeing you, too.

  10. Your flowers and gardens are looking great, Melanie! I really like that groundcover plant. We've got an area behind our fence that borders the alley where I think it would do well. The photos of the Japanese garden are gorgeous! What a lovely place to spend an afternoon!

  11. Your garden is beautiful. I really like how big your phlox is. I'm also pretty jealous of the size of your zucchini plant... Mine may have been destroyed when the cats thought it was the perfect place to wrestle...

  12. Hi Melanie,

    How pretty your garden is right now, with a mixture of adorable annuals and edible veggies! Your sitting area is lovely, too bad about the mosquitoes. It's true, how a garden morphs so rapidly in the summer. Thanks for sharing your loveliness!


  13. The Japanese garden is gorgeous, but I like your own better, just because it's more personalized! Your roses probably have sawfly larvae, check under the leaves for green caterpillars. I deal with them by spraying with neem oil or insecticidal soap, both organic. I see you've already discovered that mint should be grown in containers. It really will take over, as will Lamb's ear. I've always found phlox to be well behaved, you just have a strong, large plant! I do that all the time, plant something too close to nearby plants. Enjoy those summer veggies, I sure am!

  14. OK, I'll take a look under the leaves and see if I can find any creatures! I don't mind the Lamb's Ear taking over...I like it. Funny about the has spread in quite a few places!

  15. Hi Melanie,
    Catching up with my blogging friends and enjoying looking through your Summer Posts. Love your backyard retreat and the white wicker pieces.
    Your garden is growing just lovely, what a special and well tended spot to enjoy a Summer afternoon.


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