Saturday, September 6, 2008

Late Summer Garden Stroll

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?


  1. Aw, your cats and garden are so lovely! Susan

  2. Garden Faerie, Your garden looks so good yet. Such greens and pretty flowers. i love the purple obedient plant-all I have seen is the white. Your hen and chicks looks great in the saucer planter. A great way to display them. Enjoyed the stroll. Thanks!

  3. Beckie, LOL--I only take photos of things that still look good. A large portion of my beds are pooped out already, too. :)
    ~ Monica

  4. Fantastic tour, I had a great time. Yes, the back lit Hollyhock does look great. The plants veins really show nicely in your photo! I do believe that your tomato is absolutely perfect! I also love Japanese Anemone...I think I have September Charm, the description is 'like many Japanese Anemone, September Charm is a little enthusiastic! Nice way to describe a plant that may be a bit of a thug!

    Have a sweet day!


  5. Two very handsome cats beside a handsome stone.

    Your garden photos are gorgeous! I love the sneeze weed.

    I have a saucer of hen and chicks just like yours. Mine is way overgrown. They need to be thinned or all are going to suffer.

  6. "I don't know how obedient plant got its name" -Oooh, Ooh! I know! I know! Try wiggling one of the flowers. You will see that the flower stays where ever you leave it. That is, it "obeys" you!
    -Peter's brother Bob

  7. Gail, I love all anemones; I tend to get my plants as divisions from people who don't recall the cultivar names, so mine are white, pink, and purple! ;-)

    Marnie, yes, thank you, my cats are quite cute! ;-) I'll have to bring the dish of hens & chicks in over the winter OR plant them int he ground OR dig a hole the size of the pot and bury that. I'll probably opt for the first choice, by default!

    Bob, Come to think of it, I guess I have heard that about obedient plant before. I'll have to go try it.

    ~ Monica

  8. Monica, I'm on the line between zones 4 and 5. I didn't shelter my saucer in any way. Those hen and chicks are tough! It did collect a lot of leaf debris tho that was hard to pull out.

  9. I love your Japanese anemone. I have only the white one. They are sweet as are your kitties. Hen are chicks are unbeatable too.

  10. Tina, I love the white anemone too; one plant of mine has gorgeous buds (no, really; they're so cute!) and the other has just started blooming!
    ~ Monica

  11. Hi Monica! I enjoyed my garden stroll this evening. Your kitties are adorable!

    Your little thyme is looking great! I sort of, um, forgot about mine for a couple of days in that little peat pot, it dried out quite thoroughly, and I'm afraid I killed it! I made amends by getting three of them in 4 1/2" pots on clearance for $1 each - a silver, a lemon, and an English thyme. Lest I forget about them, I put them right into the garden post haste, and they're looking great.

    I killed a pink anemone last year trying to divide it. I learned later that they can be a bit finicky about being divided. I miss it, and I miss my baby thyme plant. :(

  12. Linda, sorry to hear about the passing of thyme! I'm shocked mine survived the heat of my backpack! I guess the old saying "ignorance is bliss" is really true; I didn't realize anemone were finicky transplantees; all four of my plants are divisions that I hurriedly dug and waited to replant (my usual modus operandi!) with no special care. I've also transplanted lavender by division with very very low failure rates (one plant out of maybe 12 didn't make it) only to find out in a lecture that lavender should be propagated by cuttings. Oh. Really? I've been toying with an entry of "absolute exceptions" or things I've learned to work despite much wisdom to the contrary!
    ~ Monica (part rebel, part explorer)

  13. A lovely tour that leaves me lusting for your tomato!

  14. Joey, I lusted after the tomato too--so much so that's its long since been devoured! ;-)
    ~ Monica

  15. Hi Monica, that was a lovely stroll and it was sure nice to see Fiona and James. Your tomato looks luscious as do the flowers. I have anemone prinz heinrich, very similar color. I also love all the heleniums, sneezeweed, an unattractive common name. I need to look for a yellow, have you divided yours? I love you mr. bowling ball and cheapo mums, also your tomato staking is similar to mine. No matter what you do, the tomatoes get so much larger than their cages.

    Frances at Fairegarden

    I have moved the blog to wordpress during the blotanical troubles. Do come visit me as I am starting the blogroll over again, too many to transfer.

  16. Monica, your Garden looks great. I planted some anemones for the first time last year and they're blooming now. I just love them. My Garden went downhill, not much to look at anymore. We had a long drought and watering by hand is just not the same as rain.


  17. Liebe Monica,
    was zeigst Du nur für schöne Pflanzen. Der Perückenstrauch mit den Tautropfen, das Helenium, alles ist einfach nur wunderschön. Und die beiden Parkwächter am Schluß sind natürlich besonders Klasse!
    Liebe Grüße vom Wurzerl

  18. Hi Monica,
    I found your blog a comment on our Organic Gardening blog, so I stopped by for a read. I'm really enjoying your late summer garden stroll. Beautiful images--Nice tomato shot! Hen and chicks too--
    thanks for taking us on a walk through your world. Well done!

  19. Liebe Monica, ich antworte Dir hier, dann musst Du nicht noch einmal in den gleichen Post bei mir hineinsehen.
    Nein, Du stehst natürlich nicht vor der Tür, oder besser: "auf der Leitung". Wurzerl ist eine bayerische Verniedlichungsform. Und Du hast völlig recht, auch eine kleine Wurzel könnte damit gemeint sein. Auch das würde auf mich passen, da ich als Mensch denke ich, gut "geerdet, oder verwurzelt" bin.
    Ich meine aber speziell auf meinen Nick-Namen doch die Dach- oder Hauswurz!!! Wurz = das Wurzerl oder Hens and Chicks!!! Wir wiederum kennen Henne und Küken als Name für eine Zimmerpflanze aus der Saxifraga-Familie! Es kann alles sehr verwirrend sein mit Namen, aber bei uns Bloggern gibt es kein Babylon, dafür kommunizieren wir ja miteinander!!
    Ich wünsche Dir eine gute Woche
    Renate alias Wurzerl

  20. Your pictures are so lovely! I definitely have to get some sneezeweed, not just because they're so pretty but also because it's fun to say. Sneezeweed!!

  21. Great Gardening Cats!
    Köln ist sehr mild und der "Garten" in einem Hinterhof. Die Rose hatte den ganzen Sommer nicht geblüht und sich dann plötzlich im November zu zwei Blüten aufgerafft. Normal ist das also nicht! Momentan ist es hier ungewöhnlich kalt (nachts -13 C) für die Region. Ich habe noch nie erlebt, dass Schnee so lange liegen bleibt. Du kannst sehr gut Deutsch!