A Tour Of The Gardens: Garden Bloggers Bloom Day June 2016

– Posted in: Bird Sanctuary, Cutting Garden, Deck Alcove, Fern Alley, Front of the House, Herb Garden, New House, New Gardens, North Deck, Parking Pad Bed, Roadside Beds, Slope Garden, South Deck, The Secret Garden, West Deck

It’s been four years since I started working on the gardens here at the “new” house. I thought it was about time I gave you a full-fledged tour. It takes a bit of time to see all the gardens, so prepare for a leisurely visit. Can I pour you something to drink?

The Front Garden

Let’s start the tour the way I usually start it, by walking out the front door of the kitchen.

Front garden as seen from the kitchen

This is what I see when I step outside from the kitchen.

The bed closest to the house is coming along nicely. On the left, however, you can see a casualty of winter’s last stand–a small Japanese maple that lost all its leaves on the right main lateral. The left lateral leafed out fine and I am crossing my fingers that the right side will re-leaf. This was the only “shrub” from the original planting around the terrace that I decided to keep, and I added a lot of red flowering or foliage plants to play off of it. It would be a pity to lose it.
Seed grown dianthus

These dianthus are from a Tennessee gardening friend.

The dianthus are seedlings of a friend’s original plants. Now the ones she gave me are themselves seeding about. It is wonderful to sit on the porch and have their fragrance waft around you.

I wanted to have something blooming in the roadside beds all the time. Anyone who has tried this knows it’s not that easy–especially if you don’t use perpetually blooming annuals. I envisioned that the flowering quince would bloom after the tulips bloomed, and that after the flowering quince the peonies would kick in. As you can see way in the back on the left in the first photo above, there is one lone peony blooming: ‘Bev’. Here’s her glamour shot:

'Bev' peony

I fell in love with ‘Bev’ years ago and she still makes me swoon with her beauty every year.

It might interest you to know that there is another ‘Bev’ on the other side of the walk and she doesn’t even seem to have flower buds. They both came from the same original plant at the old house. Maybe the blooming plant was bigger to begin with? There are other peonies there in a row parallel with the road, and I really thought more of them would be blooming by now. At least most of them have buds. Later on in the season there will be a daylily extravaganza here.

The Parking Pad Bed

If we turn right and walk on the lawn underneath the shade of the oak tree said to have been planted in 1885, we eventually come to the driveway and the parking pad, where we view the parking pad bed. This is incorporated into a stone wall that keeps the parking pad from sliding into the carriage barn below.

Azaleas and irises not usually blooming at the same time

A stunning combination

I really love the purple irises with the scarlet and gold flowering azaleas. “Why haven’t I planted more of these irises?” Then it dawned on me: most years, the azaleas bloom in May, and the irises bloom in June. They have never bloomed together before! I blame winter’s last stand. After our earlier-than-usual-Spring-Part-A we had our deepest snow (a mere six inches) and our coldest temps (single digits! Ack!) before we had our cooler-and-slower-than-usual-Spring-Part-B. Many spring shrubs never bloomed: forsythias, redbuds, magnolias, lilacs, and the ‘Olga Mezitt’ rhododendrons. The late spring/early summer bloomers are blooming later than usual, I think.

Fern Alley

By walking down the driveway just a bit and turning left, we arrive at the entrance to Fern Alley.

Ferns growing against a stone wall.

Fern Alley is cool and shady.

Besides ferns, there are many spring ephemerals and other plants that like moist shade, such as Siberian bugloss and foxgloves.

The Slope Garden

After crossing the driveway in front of the carriage barn, we come to the major change of grade between the front of the house and the back. The Slope Garden was here when we moved in, overgrown not just with weeds but with vigorous perennials that had taken over. As I’ve removed those thugs–or at least reined them in–I’ve been adding more shrubs and ornamental grasses. This bed really comes into its own in the fall, but here are some current highlights.

lupines and peonies

Both the lupines and the peonies were already here.

Magenta rhododendrons and Japanese primroses

Color-coordinated rhododendrons and Japanese primroses

Another case of delayed bloom–the rhodos are usually further along. But wasn’t it clever of me to plant the primroses there?

The Herb Garden

Let’s do an about-face and turn back towards the house and visit the Herb Garden. Mediterranean herbs such as lavender, oregano, and sage like it hot and dry in summer and well-drained in winter. I chose a narrow bed sandwiched between the attached garage and a bluestone walk as the most likely place for them to succeed here, and I amended it well with grit to improve drainage.

cold climate herb garden

Some herbs are struggling and others are thriving.

Even with the special treatment, some of the plants really struggle, but getting hit with winter after they thought it was spring really set some plants back. What I’m most proud of is the little patch of Arum italicum I’ve got growing in a corner of this bed.
Arum italicum

Don’t tell my little Italian arum it’s not supposed to be hardy here!

It’s not an herb at all–in fact, it’s poisonous–but I planted it here because I figured it was the warmest microclimate I had. Because, you see, Lords and Ladies (its common name) is only hardy to Zone 6, although sometimes you’ll see it listed as zone 5 “with protection”. In warmer climates it can be invasive, but here I am just happy it is growing at all.

The Cutting Garden and the South Deck

cutting garden

You can see how the herb garden (in the back along the garage), the south deck (along the lattice) and the cutting garden relate to each other in this photo taken in late May.

The south side of our deck is one of the few places with a southern exposure that I can actually garden in. In the past I have tried roses here, but many of them haven’t done well. This year I decided to try dahlias in that spot, but they won’t bloom until much later this summer. My friend Cindy of My Corner of Katy sent me some rain lilies (Zephyranthes sp.) and I tucked some in around the lower growing dahlias.
Rain lilies around a dahlia

Growing southern-born rain lilies has been a fun experiment.

Doggone if they didn’t bloom! I wish I had read this Wisconsin gardener’s method of growing them before I tucked them in the ground. It sounds like it’s easier to winter them over if you grow them in pots. I’ll probably try to keep them for next year anyway. They sound like they’re pretty tough, and they are really cute.

In the corner of the stairs leading up to the deck, foxgloves have started to bloom.

Jaybird Siberian iris

In between the foxgloves and the rain lilies, a clump of ‘Jaybird’ Siberian iris blooms abundantly.


Very bright–and fragrant, too.

The cutting garden has been planted with annuals, most of which are still tiny seedlings. But last year it was sown with a wildflower mix, and the wallflowers must have been part of that mix. I’ve never grown them before, and I wasn’t expecting to see them, so it’s a good thing they bloomed before my daughter and I started weeding here! I need to learn more about them; I’m not even sure whether they’re annuals, biennials, or perennials.

The West Deck

Walking around the Cutting Garden, we arrive at the back of the house and the West Deck. This bed is in the midst of a major rearranging.

flower bed early June

Plant re-arranging in progress here.

Many plants are divisions or rooted cuttings and don’t look like much yet. Those three huge hostas were in that exact same spot when we moved in, which is why they’re so huge.
apricot bearded iris

This dreamy iris was also here when we moved in, but I moved it here from the Parking Pad bed. Do you know its name?

The Deck Alcove and Stairs

deck alcove and stairs

To the right of the stairs is an alcove where the deck is bumped out.

I’ve been planting shrubs here, hoping they’d grow tall enough to be seen from the deck. The ‘Coppertina’ ninebark has already achieved that goal, and the ‘Amber Jubilee’ ninebark is trying hard to catch up. There are plenty of shade perennials underneath them, as well as Abelia monsanensis, which is hardier than Abelia x grandiflora and deliciously fragrant.
hardy abelia Abelia mosanensis

This hardy abelia used to be difficult to find, but Proven Winners now offers a cultivar of this plant, so hopefully it will become more widely available in the north.

garden bed at foot of lilac

A lilac anchors the left side of the stairs.

grape expectations heuchera Japanese painted fern

I love this combination of Japanese painted fern and ‘Grape Expectations’ heuchera growing at the base of the lilac.

You can also see a bit of Mountain Fringe vine around the edges of the heucheras and also growing up the stair handrail (in the previous picture).

The North Deck and the Bird Sanctuary

Rounding the next corner, we are face to face with the north side of the deck.

north deck garden facing west

I’ve planted tall plants visible from the deck and taken advantage of a wild clematis already growing there. (Excuse the rain drops on the photo.)

With ‘Black Stockings’ meadow rue and ‘Black Negligee’ bugbane growing here, I sometimes think this should be called the boudoir border. But no one would get that but me.
black stockings meadow rue

The ‘Black Stockings’ meadow rue doesn’t usually lean like this, but we’ve had several exceptionally windy days.

The clematis is Smoke on a Rope, which I’ve profiled before. The golden foliage is Astilbe ‘Amber Moon’, which I really love for the contrast it provides. If you turn around you’ll be face-to-face with the bird sanctuary.
bird sanctuary

This area of brush was here when we moved in. It’s the birds’ favorite staging area before flying to the bird feeders on the deck.

Most of the woody plants in it are ones that provide berries for birds to eat. I really don’t know why the previous owners left this wild area when the rest of the landscape was so well groomed, but I’m working with it, removing invasives and adding native plants.
native rose

There is a lovely patch of bloodroot that blooms in there before the trees leaf out, and this native rose is blooming there now.

bird sanctuary further back

Here’s the back side of the sanctuary, so you can see how it relates to the rest of the house.

We’re almost done

Returning to the North Deck border, we slip through a narrow opening between the corner of the house and the bird sanctuary. The north side of the house has some spring ephemerals, but they are all done, so we’ll just round the corner . . .

northwest side of house

. . . and we’re almost back where we started. We’re looking down the length of the front of the house.

You can see the front walk, which is where we started, and off in the distance, beyond the trailer, you can make out a bit of scarlet from the azaleas in the parking pad bed. (Click on the photo to enlarge it if you can’t see the scarlet.) But hey, turn around one more time.
secret garden entrance

Down a slope and across the north lawn you can see the entrance to the Secret Garden, beckoning you.

Read about the Secret Garden here. Thank you, dear readers, for your patience. Why don’t you join me on the porch for a cool drink?
front porch

We’ve got plenty of seats, including that glider I painted earlier this spring!

Inspired by the words of Elizabeth Lawrence, “We can have flowers nearly every month of the year,” Carol of May Dreams Gardens started Garden Bloggers Bloom Day. On the 15th of every month, garden bloggers from all over the world publish what is currently blooming in their gardens, and leave a link in Mr. Linky and the comments of May Dreams Gardens.

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

If winter is slumber and spring is birth, and summer is life, then autumn rounds out to be reflection. It’s a time of year when the leaves are down and the harvest is in and the perennials are gone. Mother Earth just closed up the drapes on another year and it’s time to reflect on what’s come before.

~Mitchell Burgess in Northern Exposure

Comments on this entry are closed.

Worx Aerocart June 24, 2016, 7:23 am

Wow Kathy!! I love the way your garden looks, it reflects the amount of passion you put in to it.

Pat Webster www.siteandinsight.com June 19, 2016, 7:44 pm

What a great tour, Kathy! and what a lovely garden. I very much enjoyed walking around with you. But best of all is that photo of peony Bev. Wow. That is real beauty.

Vicki Green June 19, 2016, 7:07 am

Thanks so much for the tour of your beautiful garden. Although I love the close-ups of all of the flowers most of us post, it was really fun to see the big picture of entire planting areas.

Laura ~ Raise Your Garden June 24, 2016, 6:18 am

I agree! I don’t like missing out on the whole scope, the whole picture of the garden. Typically, I can’t just read a book or go on-line if I want a close up. But to really get inspiring ideas….I need to see the whole plant. Love your front porch nook, what a great place to kick back, read a book and snuggle the cat. Fern alley is equally enthralling. Well-done in 4 years! I’ve got my work cut out for me!!

gail eichelberger June 17, 2016, 7:53 pm

Kathy, Every part of your garden looks fantastic! So many beautiful plants. The Dianthus really took off! Thanks for the tour!

James Weisz June 17, 2016, 4:04 pm

Thanks for the tour Kathy. God, you are so lucky to have a garden like that. Staying close to mother nature and enjoying its glory is something that people like us living in big cities lack. I would love to visit the countryside, stacking all the stress and trouble back home and enjoying the pure bliss.

Merrie johnson June 17, 2016, 3:52 pm

I read in one of your blogs people were looking for the lavender PNE poppyseeds and I have a ton of those. Some from last year’s and of course now they’re blooming and I’d be happy to collect some if you need them. I’m going to have to weed so my guard out of these beautiful flowers

Anita Stevens-Personal Garden Coach June 17, 2016, 9:38 am

How lovely to be invited into you garden, thank you! I would like to learn more about the garden where you are moving plants around. I do the same, but quickly lose enthusiasm!
I enjoy advising my customers, but not so much for doing this in my own garden! Any tips?

Kathy Purdy June 17, 2016, 8:42 pm

Anita, that is a great question! I think I will respond with a blog post soon.

Joanne Toft June 17, 2016, 7:57 am

Thanks what a fun tour! So much to see. I love seeing your works in progress as well. So many people only show a perfect garden. I love seeing what you are working on as well. Live in a real garden! Thanks for sharing.

Kathy Purdy June 17, 2016, 8:44 pm

You’re welcome, Joanne. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

Pat Evans June 17, 2016, 7:52 am

Lovely. So nice to see the whole landscape in context.

Donalyn June 17, 2016, 6:48 am

So lovely, Kathy!

Layanee June 17, 2016, 6:36 am

Glorious blooms. You have made huge progress in your short time at this new house. I guess it is a new/old house.

Kathy Sturr of the Violet Fern June 17, 2016, 5:49 am

What a beautiful house and gardens you have Kathy. I so enjoyed this morning’s tour with my cup of Deathwish coffee (world’s strongest coffee ha ha). You have such a wonderful collection of plants and shrubs. I can’t pick a favorite but I think I would be sitting in the bird sanctuary. Thank you!

Kathy Purdy June 17, 2016, 8:47 pm

Hmm. Currently there is no place to sit in the bird sanctuary, but thanks for the idea. It is a wild mess; there is hardly a way into the center. I have considered making a fairy garden in there but I need to make an access path first.