Friday, August 23, 2013

There's Always Next Summer

It is time to take the blog back to the garden after many other things have taken us out of the garden beginning in April with heavy, winter-like weather. In May my father in law had a major health crisis,
requiring the Head Gardener's attention for nearly a month. Then in June we took our vacation. July was the month of company. Instead of weeding, we made four trips to the airport, changed beds, cooked, and hung out with dear friends and family. And then there was the weather. We did get enough rain to bring us out of the drought, but weeds grew where weeds had never set root before. Then we had that one storm of storms which brought buckets of rain punctuated with hail. Our friend's 25 acres of vegetables, watermelon, and musk melon was a total loss. Russ had the best quote of the summer when he referred to the disking under of his vegetables: "It's like having a sick horse. You keep waiting for it get better and then you know it isn't going to get any better, so you have to shoot it." And then he disked under the watermelons-- those huge, old fashioned melons with the black seeds, abundant flavor, and lots of juice--, along with the rest of his vegetables that he would have sold in his vegetable stand. The Head Gardener delivers Russ' sweet corn and melons to 11 grocery stores in Denver and the customers were eagerly awaiting those melons. Fortunately they are devouring the sweet corn.

There is always next summer.

So we didn't get beans planted or red beets, or carrots, or pumpkins, nor did we get new tomato cages built. We didn't get the front circle reclaimed and redesigned. We didn't get the water garden project finished.

There is always next summer.

Take a walk with me as I wonder through the garden to see what we did right.

We have a few cotton tails. Right now we see two babies. Sometimes they have little fear; other times they high tail it across the pasture to the neighbor's lilac windbreak. This little guy probably hides in these irrigation tubes, but he sat watched me.

Gladiolas: A great success. I planted 14 bulbs. A couple of bulbs did not mature; the ones that did are spectacular. Next year I want to plant 50, a 100, MORE.

Just as beautiful in the house in a glass vase on the kitchen table, they will bloom for several days. I'll pick off the spent blossoms at the bottom the stalks. I can't say which is my fav; I love them all. I have a peach one that will soon bloom. 

Okay. The vegetables. A sad, sad tale here. We did enjoy a few cucumbers. If you don't go out and pick every day, they grow so fast that soon they are past their prime and I think mine are done. No photo of the ugly, huge, bitter yellow cukes. 

But the peppers are coming along nicely. They require a lot of water to get the nice big peppers. We had stuffed green peppers for dinner. One my favorite summer dishes. 

The broccoli has really gone to town given that it was so bug infested that I gave up on it. However, the 3 plants thrived and have produced a mountain of broccoli, sans worms this year. I don't know about you, but I don't put any pesticides in the garden. I follow my dad's Rule #2: plant an extra one for the bugs. (He actually was referring to the tomato hornworms that he always saved because they metamorphose into the sphinx moth.) (His Rule #1, one by the way, is WATER). 

The cabbages got pretty beat up by the hail, as did the egg plant. This egg plant is huge. I didn't realize there was such a big one. We don't eat egg plant, so I took them to school to share with my faculty friends, but now that I am retired, I won't be doing that; however, I emailed one faculty friend who will come tomorrow to pick the egg plants. She will bring her daughter who lives in New York. They love coming to the country garden. 

The Roses. Some are devout bloomers; other are complaining. The red rose is finally producing roses the size that she had when I bought her 3 years ago. The yellow one, St. Patrick, planted last year is a prolific bloomer. Gertrude Jekyll, a pink David Austin, is growing very tall, but not producing many flowers this year. Same for the climber James Galloway (lower left). A David Austin climber, he is growing tall, but should have more flowers. The right pink rose has the most wonderful rose fragrance, but her blooms sag because the stems are not sturdy enough to hold her heads high. But what a beautiful bloom. She shares her space with one other rose, a Home Depot rose that has struggled and I doubted that she would ever amount to much, but she blooms those beautiful creamy white flowers. Tess of the Durberbvilles (have you read the Thomas Harding novel by the same name? As an English scholar, I must have such a rose in my garden. If you like Jane Eyre, you will enjoy Tess). Anyway. Tess, one of the new DAs, grows very tall branches and produces this gorgeous magenta colored rose. I have other roses that I haven't shown here; these are the delicious ones.

By the way. Do you have any tips for photographing red flowers? I never seem to be able to get the red color right. 

There have been other successes in the garden, too. The buddleja, or butterfly bush, is one of three that I have planted. I think this is its third year and finally it is showing some nice growth. I added two new ones this summer, so it will be a while before they get blogged.  

Look at my dinner plate dahlia. What she lacks in height, she makes up in bloom size. Barely two feet tall, she should measure at least 4 feet, but I suppose due to the lack of attention and perhaps water, she didn't rise to her full potential. I love her anyway.

 The last of the clematis clings to the vine. This vine with its bell-shaped flowers is a good bloomer, too, setting most of its blooms in late spring, early summer, and they last a while too. I love the shade of pink. 

The tiger lilies never disappoint. They have been dug, dragged, planted, and replanted with each of our moves starting in the very early 1980s when I first dug them up from the Head Gardener's grandmother's garden on the farm. They do so well, while my other lilies throw tantrums, turn yellow, and refuse to bloom the second year. I think I shall move them to this north corner garden where they won't get so much water, where they will be left to fend for themselves. Maybe then the Asians and Stargazers will be happy. 

Another garden favorite, the zinnia. This is the only one of three on the entire 5 acres.  A short, sad (annoying) story that I won't go into detail on because I love the Head Gardner; however, it is the only one of half a row of seeds that did not survive the hand cultivator. Need I say more? The other 2 zinnias came up volunteer. I had half a row of multicolored zinnias and lime green ones and a half a row of gladiolas. Guess it pays to be tall and gorgeous. 

There is always next summer.

As the gardening season draws to a close, I have very much enjoyed seeing everyone's gardens, their beautiful flowers and abundant vegetable harvests. Gardening requires such dedication. This summer, however, we just had other things to do and we sort of lost our momentum with a crazy spring. 

There is always next summer.

Oh, by the way. I just remembered an anniversary: August 19, 2010 my first blog post. It was slow going in those first few months, but I was determined to blog whether or not anyone read it. And look at me today. While I wanted to write about my garden and read about others gardening, I never really thought about the friends that I would make. I love you guys. Thanks for reading, commenting, and indulging my passion (and yours) for gardening (and other life stuff that tends to creep into the blog), photography, and story telling. 

This Grandmother's Garden: My first comment. Thanks Carolyn.

Kelli's Northern Ireland Garden: Kelli has been faithful to me since the beginning, commenting on nearly every post, beginning with my 6th post. Thanks, Kelli.

Have a fabulous week end.


  1. No problem, the garden does not walk away and can wait until another year. Most important is you have had a lovely summer with holidays, friends and family. My vegetable garden disappointed me last year, I had a good crop of beans and peas, but the cabbages were eaten by snails, little worms in the carrots, even the red beets were eaten by some little creatures, so this year I sowed grass instead of vegetables.
    We only have tomatoes and peppers in the greenhouse, lettuce and beans outside.
    Your gladiolas have lovely colours. What concerns the roses, I have Tess of d'Urbervilles in my garden too, I bought this rose last year at David Austin in England, only for the name. The book of Thomas Hardy is also one of my favorites. Beautiful rose but the colour red is always difficult to photograph and I have no idea.
    I guess the story of your Zinnias, haha, I could not help laughing.
    Have a nice weekend,

  2. What a wonderful selection of colour you have in the garden, especially in the gladioli. I planted half a dozen but next year will put in more.
    My roses have not done as well as last year, sadly.

  3. Congratulations on your blog anniversary!
    I have grown gladioli this year too but my buds have not opened yet,mi like an almost black one called 'black jack'

  4. It's the time of year to take a good look around, take stock, figure out what works and what was a flop.. So glad to see less then perfect veggies are not just growing in my yard.

    Zinnia's are a life saver...I am planting hoards of them next summer...and I will plant Glads too.


  5. It looks like you have MANY successes! We like to dream when we plan our summers. That's good!

  6. I love tiger lilies and your right they never disappoint. I love stuffed peppers, and hope to make some this week, love your flowers.

  7. Despite the many trials you've had I think you've had a great summer with friends. You're right about there always next summer to do some things a bit differently and look on the bright side too i.e your cultivator has probably learned a lot this summer. As for shooting red flowers - yip they can be a nightmare no matter how fancy a camera you have. I have to underexpose or else use a light diffuser to cover the flower from the sunlight. Here's a little bit of science behind it

  8. What a special post, Ann. You always make them interesting and have so much to share. Your glads were stunning...just think what 100 more would look like! I envy your peppers. Mine were smaller than mini and I only got a few. I need to try egg plant. I do like it in egg plant parmesan. My children thought they were eating "corn bread casserole" when I used to make it..I always rolled slices of egg plant in egg and meal and fried them first, then layered with meat, sauce and cheese. That is how we learned to eat them! Yours roses and other flowers look beautiful.
    Yes, there is always next summer to look forward to, and we will be planning for that I am sure. Happy 3 year blog anniversary!

  9. Hi Ann, thanks for the mention on your blog. I've been away on holiday so I almost missed it! Your flowers, roses and gladioli etc, are looking very pretty. I'll have to get some gladioli bulbs to try. Sounds like a very tough veg growing year with some really severe weather. I feel for the 25 acre veg farm. I've been lucky with much of my veg this year, until recently when I've been inundated with caterpillars that munch away chard and other plants in no time. Happy blog anniversary!