It's the beginning of a new month, and that means it's time for another "garden survey", in which I post overview photos of the flower garden/yard at large.
September is finally here!
I've been looking forward to it, because September means that October will be upon us shortly-- and October means-- deep, rapturous breath-- autumn! Release from the heat of summer (we hope, though sometimes it drags its heels)! Comfort outdoors! Blue skies and crisp air and falling leaves and the first cozy, twilight campfire and the perfect season for reading a creepy book-- ooh, and crocheting or knitting on the swing! Autumn means everything that is good and wonderful! (Yes, it's my favorite time of year; how did you guess?)
In the meantime, there's still at least a few warm (ok, hot) weeks to slog through. Many of the plants in our garden are beginning to show signs of fatigue. Some of them are still happy, but more and more are getting tattered, yellow (or brown) around the edges, losing leaves, showing signs that they're ready, too, for a rest.
There are weeds to pull. Grasshoppers are munching some of the plants mercilessly. We haven't had real rain in quite a while, and though I try to keep things watered, I can only do so much. There's an over-abundance of wasps in certain parts of the garden, congregating around particular plants-- moonflower vine (as always), but also viburnum and elephant ears, of all things! (I really hate wasps and am kind of senselessly terrified of them, to be honest. They can scare me as much as a snake, as silly as it sounds. The day the wasps finally pack up and get gone for the year will be a day for celebration.)
While I'm working to keep plants alive (watered, not completely choked by weeds), I'm admittedly slacking. We seem to have reached the point of the flower gardening year at which I have Had Enough. Vaguely, weakly shrugging the metaphorical shoulders. Let it be. Come what may. Insert your choice of fatalistic platitudes here. When the weather improves, I will emerge from my air conditioned den and set to work at repairing the damage. Until then, meh.
On that cheerful note, here are the photos I took yesterday:
I haven't been including the front yard much in these "garden survey" photos, but I'll try to remember to do so from now on. There's work to do up here, but it hasn't been high on my list, since we don't spend much time in the front yard-- nor do we even have many people driving by who would see it. (Lazy excuses, but true nonetheless.)
Not much has changed since the beginning of August, probably...
This is one area where the flower garden will be expanded, but I'm still not sure how it will be laid out and how far it will extend. (This is the area causing the analysis paralysis from an earlier post. (g))
One definite plan is to move the bamboo (right side of photo) further forward and out from the fence-- give it a little room to stretch and show what it can really do.
The flower garden will also expand on the other side of the banana shrub (left edge of photo). Maybe I'll make the cut-off point/garden edge a nice (easy-to-mow) curve starting somewhere about where the kiddie pool is and arcing around to meet the fence... It's just a fairly large addition to what I'll have to maintain. (Weeding and mulching are the biggest concerns.) I'm not sure it's the best place to "squander" time/resources, since this is a part of the yard where we rarely sit and linger, because it's near the easement. However, on the other hand, if it's improved enough, it might become a favorite spot. With screening plants in place, it will be private enough, and I do like the semi-shade area nearby... Decisions, decisions...
The ants have been terrible in the semi-shade garden, this past couple of weeks. I don't see any big beds (which would be easy enough to spot treat), but somehow I can't get in there to water or pull weeds without ants coming from somewhere and staging attacks on my hands or feet. ~shudder~ Needless to say, I'm watering from a slight distance and letting the weeds do as they will, for the time being.
We've already talked about moving the bamboo. I also intend to move one or both of the elephant ears plants, but I'm not sure where to... Maybe just nudged further down the fence... The night-blooming jasmine has picked up blooming, by the way. I remember complaining about too few blooms, a while back. Well, it's making up for lost time.
Looking down the path-that-will-be. We've worked on the gravel since the last survey, but as you can see, there's still a way to go. Maybe we'll do another segment this weekend-- or maybe not. ;oP
Another angle on the semi-shade garden.
I'm particularly pleased with the progress of curcuma elata (that banana-looking thing in the center), the variegated hydrangea, and the non-variegated hydrangea I grew from a cutting (right side). The hydrangeas haven't bloomed this year, but at least they're putting on some nice growth and getting to a decent size.
I'm so glad I moved the crepe myrtle and sago palm that were here at the beginning of the year. I like it so much better like this! It's good to remember that it's ok to move things, if we're not happy with where they are. Nothing is written in stone.
Another couple of looks down the path...
Further down the path...
Outside the fence, looking in...
Back inside the fence...
We're slowly whittling away at Mt. Gravel.
A while back, I started tying the climbing rose ('Joseph's Coat') to the arbor, but it's probably time to make a few new ties. This particular rose is pretty thorny and not very flexible, so it takes some time to train.
The Mexican petunia (purple-blooms, bamboo-like stems and foliage) hasn't bloomed as profusely this year as in years past, I think. Maybe it needs to be divided. There are one or two places I'd like to get it established.
The moonflower vine on the ivy trellis has taken off. We have to keep adjusting it every so often to make sure the meter box is visible.
The Mexican purple sage (Salvia purpurea) has gotten very floppy. Next year, assuming it overwinters successfully, I'll try to remember to cut it back in mid-summer. I don't know if the floppiness "hurts" it at all or if it might decrease its flowering (later in the year), but it's a bit messy looking. In some places, that would be ok, but where I have this one planted, it might be a bit too sloppy. (I'm happy that the cuttings of this plant "took". Now we have multiple of them-- better chances of one or two returning in spring. Must remember to apply heavy winter mulch.)
I've just about settled on it that either the double pink KO rose or the crinum lilies-- or both-- need to move, this year. (See them to the right of the sprawling Mexican purple sage.) If nothing else, I need to do some "nudging". They're just too crowded, and then cypress vine gets established in the middle, where I dread to stick my hands, this waspy, snaky time of year. With a little more space to see between them, maybe I'll feel braver about weeding.
Some of the elephant ears look sooo droopy, but I'm not touching them. There always seem to be wasps on or around them. I have no idea why-- if it's the plants themselves attracting wasps, or if the wasps just happen to be nesting nearby. (They seem to gravitate toward the other clumps of elephant ears, too, though, so I doubt it's pure coincidence.)
The cypress vine is taking over the circular bed, too-- particularly the monkey grass ring.
Not much (if anything) has changed here since last month. Most planned improvements are waiting for better weather. Just keeping things watered-- especially my beloved tea olive (Osmanthus fragrans), which is still just a tiny thing.
Taking a step back...
This is another area that has been causing analysis paralysis. I'm contemplating the possibility of adding a separated flower bed (not a connected extension) in the lawn, here. I'd leave enough room for mowing between the existing garden bed and the new one. It would probably be an "eye shape"-- or maybe just a simple, non-pointed oval.
This area of lawn is weedy and dry and not very exciting. It's right on top of our septic pad (drain field), so we're somewhat restricted on what we can plant here. Absolutely no trees. Even shrubs might not be a good idea. Flowers and ornamental grasses should be fine, though. The soil is sandy, sun-baked, and dry, so drought-tolerant, sun-loving plants would be best. Fortunately, there should be many plants that would fit the bill.
It'll be another big investment of time and up-keep, so I'm trying to make sure I'm willing to put in the maintenance work before breaking ground. It feels like the right next step, though. The longer I consider it, the more "right" it seems.
In some places, September is probably a bittersweet time for gardeners who are acutely aware that the growing season is coming to an end. Every last sunny, warm day is savored and stored up in memory to sustain them through a long winter.
Here-- from my perspective, at least-- autumn comes as a much-needed relief from an often oppressive summer. Cooling days mean saying the yearly goodbye to many flowers, but then, many things have long since ceased to bloom, anyway. Instead of driving us indoors until spring's return, the promise of cooler weather is invigorating. Soon, it will be pleasant to be outside, again! Projects we've put off can finally get underway. Fears of snakes and wasps and mosquitoes can be shelved for months to come. It's a season of garden possibilities, almost as much as spring is.
I feel like I've been waiting for autumn for months, already. Just a few more weeks, now...
Time to get serious about planning!