Oh, hello. Have you been waiting for me long? Good. You're just in time for a little garden stroll. It's not so hot today, so we won't need sun hats!
First up, here are some hens and chicks my mom brought me in a paper bag. They fit perfectly into a spare pot I had!
Isn't it cool how these hollyhocks are backlit by the sun?
Here on the ledge of the railing on my front porch is my little thyme plant, which I got when I visited the Chicago Botanic Garden back in July with gardengirl. They were handing them out for free as small plugs in a paper bag. I put it in my empty plastic cup and carried it around the garden that day and then in my backpack the next sweltering day, all around Chicago and home on the bus. I'd say it survived quite well, and I'll plant it in the ground soon. How does yours look, Linda?
Next, we simply must look at my winter-sown tomatoes! Not just because I really love tomatoes (their taste and the smell of the foliage), but because people sometimes find it hard to believe tomatoes can be grown through winter seed sowing. Well, here's proof from zone 5!
Despite a few things I did, um, suboptimally, they are kickin' ass and takin' names.
(Incidentally, Fiona is also kickin' ass, but she doesn't care about names.)
The bottom of this pot has filler material, and it shouldn't, as tomato roots need all the room they can get. (I really know that!) Also, I possibly pinched off too many leaves when I noticed the tomato fruits weren't getting enough sun. And clearly, the staking leaves something to be desired. And, ideally the pot needs to be moved somewhere sunnier (the shade has changed throughout the season!). But despite all my foibles, the plant doesn't care and is producing huge fruit anyway.
I made two main boo boos with these tomatoes planted in the ground: I planted them too close together and I planted two eeny beeny seedlings per cage, intending to cut the scrawnier-looking one down a few weeks after planting. (Did I mention they were eeny beeny when I first planted them?) Of course, it rained so much this spring they grew by leaps and bounds and by the time I remembered to thin them out, it was difficult to see what to cut, and harder to reach (inside their little fence), so I just left them. Also, this is a new bed that I didn't have the chance to enhance with compost, so the soil is pretty bad. But, again, despite these suboptimal conditions, they're producing pretty darn well!
Two of my favorite fall bloomers are sedum (which you can see a bit of in the last photo) and Japanese anemone. These beauties are just so cute! I have some white ones and pale pink ones in other locations that aren't blooming quite yet.
Another favorite fall bloomer is sneezeweed, whether the native yellow kind or the orange or reddish cultivars. It makes a nice screen (of sorts) for my rain barrel.
Also, it is very sexy close up.
I got this cute little globe arborvitae 'Mr. Bowling Ball' free from Lake County Nursery in May 2007 in Cleveland at a regional Garden Writers Meeting. I generally am not a big fan of shrubs that are trimmed into geometric shapes (or that look like they were), and I never would have bought this little guy, but as it turns out, I really like it. The pale foliage and texture are great. (The same nursery gave out "Eternal Gold' junipers, which I liked at the time and continue to enjoy.)
I don't know how obedient plant got its name, as I find its tall habit and bright color more spunky than obedient. I got this one at a plant swap two years ago and it's well over three feet tall. Cute!
While the berries on this beautyberry bush are still small and not too impressive yet, they will soon turn unbelievably bright fuchsia-purple. At least I hope they will. We went for six weeks with no rain and even though I've been watering it, I'm not sure how it will turn out.
Even though late summer was dry (my lawn was dusty), spring was quite wet which meant my purple smokebush, which had been struggling for years, put on about six inches of new growth. I love the way its foliage looks covered in dew.
And what's fall without mums? I bought a bunch of small, past-bloom mums for 25 cents each two falls ago at Lowe's. I couldn't tell what color they were and planted them arbitrarily in my beds. As it turns out, they all match their surroundings! (If only I had that kind of luck in other areas of my life!)
And, finally, I've saved the best for last: Fiona and James pose near my new stepping stone (yep, I made it. Can you tell?!). They would offer you something to drink, but frankly they're really more concerned about what you may have brought for them. Some tuna or a mouse, perhaps?