With 2008 drawing to a close, I have looked back over the changes in the gardens this year. While there were many beautiful blooms in the garden, it is the transitions through the year that seem most significant to me. The transitions provided by nature.
January 2008 brought just a slight dusting of snow. Just enough for a pretty scene, but not enough to cause any problems. At the end of January, we cut back the ornamental grasses, the butterfly bushes and chaste tree.
By mid-April the garden was very colorful. The roses along the fence had new foliage and buds. The Japanese Maple was brilliant and the dianthus provided a spicy fragrance.
By June, it was beginning to feel like summer as we experienced several days in a row of 100°F heat. The Japanese irises were in bloom all along the rain garden path and the dry stream bed.
The corner willow tree provides the dividing corner where the cool colors of the front outer garden give way to the hot colors in the butterfly garden.
The little garden bench provides a perfect place to sit in the shade to take a welcome break from gardening and watch the hummingbirds in both gardens.
The willow tree is a favorite hangout place for all the birds who visit the garden.
Salvia uliginosa (bog sage) and perennial ageratum bloomed beautifully in August. The coneflowers had been in bloom since June and were still going.
In September, my husband and I pulled out three abelia and a weeping cherry tree in the cottage garden. The shrubs and tree were too large for the space. The cherry tree was always a target of the Japanese beetles, making it unattractive throughout the summer. Rather than fight nature, we decided to change the garden to be more suitable to the environment.
I amended the soil and planted a mix of agastache, salvia, echinacea, sedum and verbena for the full sun space. These perennials will take the heat, remain a size suitable for the space and will not attract the beetles.
I left space to sow poppies and other annuals since this garden space is by the front porch. The poppies have already emerged as seedlings, having been planted in October.
When I reflect on the garden this year, I think about what worked well and where I can make improvements. I'm making a list of things I learned this year so that I won't forget... to partner with nature.
Photos and story by Freda Cameron