Thursday, September 2, 2010


As we pull into the neighborhood I have butterflies in my tummy and trepidation in my heart. The two Vitex agnus-castus trees at the end of the driveway have shriveled, burnt to a crisp leaves.
This gardener has been absent from her garden for over 6 weeks. The garden has been on its own at the mercy of a somewhat inadequate drip watering system and with a bit of luck some rain from heaven. It doesn't look like the latter happened.

Here's a good plant to describe what I see as I enter into the front courtyard. The Mexican sunflower, Tithonia rotundifolia, Torch( growing alongside the sunken garden) Nothing in here is blooming, Blackfoot daisies, four nerve daisies, skullcaps all dried up but still, I am pleased to say I think I see a little life. My neighbor tells me that some areas close by did get nearly an inch of rain, during our absence, but in our neighborhood not a drop. Most of the front courtyard has no irrigation, relying on a little rain from time to time. Even those areas with drip lines looked little better.

The sunken garden fared a little better although the blooms look stunted. The large sandstone pavers protect the roots of the plants somewhat. Even so, the narrow leaf zinnias and skullcaps, so prevalent between the stones, are withered.
I won't even share pictures of the vegetable garden before I began the morning. The weeds there were beyond belief. Some the size of trashcan lids. Some as high as as the plants they have infested. I began my onslaught by removing 2 trash cans of weeds.

By lunchtime I am starting to feel a little better. I can see the pathways again and there are some narrow leaf zinnias to brighten the, now empty, beds. Notice the lemon grass plant. I grew a plant like this once before and after it 'ate' all the soil it had to be removed with a chain saw. This is looking like deja vu.

This was a 4" plant in May. I need to get out the Thai recipes.

'Senorita' I'm impressed. One plant to test this year and who knows how many next year! You're a winner.

Gomphrena will always have a place in the summer garden.

Along the back raised bed in the veg garden the drips have done a better job keeping the zinnias and gomphrenas alive. Who cares about colors that clash!

What the garden needs now is a serious infusion of water. I think it will save this Mangave.

But maybe not this lamb's ears.
It's all in a gardener's day.


  1. Welcome back! Yep, it's been pretty miserable here. Wow--that gomphrena is a real winner, isn't it? I must try it!

  2. What a sight I'll bet you had! The globe amaranth (gromphrena) looks charming and I happen to think red and purple make for an exciting, funky color combo. I must admit, I've never seen lamb's ears looking quite so desolate, but then we can't seem to get rid of it up here in nw Ohio.

    Welcome back to the blogosphere!

  3. Shoot, I think your sunken garden looks fabulous for having been on its own for 6 weeks. Really. Parts of my garden look worse, and I've been tending it.

    I must grow Tithonia next year, and gomphrena. I have seeds and just need to create a bed for them. Are they deer-resistant?

  4. The purple and red are great together...remind me of the Red Hat Ladies! The Lamb's Ears are a sad sight...something to look forward to next year!

  5. Welcome home.

    Actually, I agree with Pam. For being on its own for so long, your garden doesn't look so bad.

    We had a nice rain last night. But, until then, we'd had very little, since June.

    I bet you have everything in top shape very soon.

    Have a great weekend.

  6. I've missed your posts! I sincerely hope you can save that mangave. The great thing about your design and choice of plants is that it will all be back to full throttle next spring.

  7. Oh, I can certainly empathize....

    I do think that this may be quite helpful to other gardeners when they see what survived in your garden despite less then optimal conditions. I do hope that most of your plants come back :-)

  8. iris- Thanks, it's lovely to be home. The gomphrena is a sure winner every year. I'll save some seeds for you. Easy to sow right in the ground.
    Teresa o- I'm not fussy at all about which plants colors go together. Generally I find the whole lot work of them work together and that's good when you live in such a harsh climate.
    Pam-There are parts of the garden that don't look quite so good. I have only grown Tithonia and gomphrena inside the walls so I can't attest to their deer hardiness. They don't seem to bother with the sunflowers out there so maybe Tithonia would work.
    MAndy- Such a pity about the lambs ears-no rain or even too much and they really sulk. I hope they managed to produce a few seeds for next year.
    Patchwork- That really was a nice rain- over 3" Rarely do I ask for rain and get it within a few hours! I'm sure it will be a garden saver.
    Denise- Thanks, I hope so. Right now I will be spending quite a bit at the nursery this fall with last winter's hard freezes and this summer's drought and heat. I shall try to make some better choices.

  9. Welcome back! I'm sure you're glad to be home. Sorry to hear about your shriveled plants. I love the "Senorita" and the gomphrena - so pretty. :-)

  10. welcome home! Feast or famine and you just came home to a feast named Hermine. Just about at 6" here right now.