2020 will be a memorable year simply because of Covid, but I’m beginning to think it will also be one that I’ll recall as one of the prettiest. Last year we had such a wet, wet spring that most field crops weren’t even in the ground until mid-June, so this year’s much earlier planting season has certainly eased that tension. I was fussing, because thousands of my annuals were still in flats rather than in the ground. This year, nearly everything was planted before the end of May. As you can see, the daylilies began opening a bit earlier this year. Normally the small-flowered ones (Bumblebee and Stella d’oro) do open towards the end of June, but the large-flowered ones wait until July. But, “Monterey Jack” in the center of the bed has already been flowering for several days as June comes to an end.
There are more self-seeded Rudbeckias (descendents of “Chim Chimnee”) than usual in the Front Garden this year, but that’s fine with me. I love them. This year, there are no tall zinnias in the Front Garden. By the time the bulb foliage dies down so they can go in, it’s too late for them to do really well and fill out they way they should. Not a good look for a Front Garden, so instead the front, dwarf “Profusion” zinnias extend further back. I think I like it better this way.
The word that come to mind most often this year is “editing.” I find myself editing the gardens. This year what’s being edited out most is black-eyed Susan. After the recent rain, dozens and dozens were pulled out, mainly to give the newly planted roses some breathing space and more sunlight, but also to be able to add more variety to this garden. Several “David” tall garden phlox (pure white) were added and although they won’t provide many flowers for a year or two, they also need space to grow. And, I’ve pulled all the black-eyed Susans from under and around the “Tiger Eye” sumac so it make a more dramatic effect with its twisted branches and trunk. In the June photo, it’s totally surrounded! I’ll also be editing out all the self-seeded magenta and pink garden phlox as they come into bloom and potting them up for a future plant sale.
Sometimes I call it the “Windowbox” garden, so I need to decide on its definite name. The rudbeckia have nearly taken over this area, so I’ll do some editing after they finish blooming, but they will hide the less than attractive legs of the hollyhocks so some will remain. They are also filling in for all the slightly shorter (but still yellow!) gaillardia that are normally on the right hand side of the border, but were dug out over the winter by some nocturnal critter.
These “Chim Chimnee” rudbeckias were grown intentionally from seed, not self-seeded so the narrow quilled petals and range of colors is more representative of the variety. They are also a bit shorter than later generations of volunteers.
This border has evolved since its initial planting in autumn of 2015. Some things just couldn’t handle the amount of water coming off the potager and disappeared. Although I liked the look of the tansy, it just became too overpowering for its neighbors, so it was replaced by a more friendly “Blue River II” hibiscus, which will have plate-sized white blooms (if I can keep the Japanese beetles controlled!) The “May Queen” shastas in the upper right corner are nearly finished, so they’ll be cut to ground level, and the space created will be filled with tall celosia and tall zinnias. I love the clover in my lawns and so do the bees.
I didn’t do much editing in the potager interior border this spring and it shows. Self-seeded dill, cilantro, and borage filled in ALL the space between the daylilies, roses, lemon balm and sweet peas, but I love the joyous abundance of it all. Actually, there are also pepper plants, calendula, dwarf snapdragons, alliums of various sorts and red cabbage plants in there as well! The garlic in the bed on the right is browning and will be dug yet this week.
You know that I love succession cropping to garner the highest yields in my small space. I delight in those transitions from one crop to the next. For instance, in the second bed down from top right, there were peas on a fence. They’ve finished, and the bed wasn’t empty 20 minutes before a row of “Little Gem” lettuce transplants went in, a row of leek plants, a row of rutabaga seeds, and a row of “Romano Purpiat” beans went in. The lettuce and beans will be gone before the rutabaga needs more space. While it rained, I did a little math and found that by June 30th, 234 linear feet of growing space had transitioned from first crop to second, and of that 18′ were already on third crop! 234′ could be an entire garden!
Not that long ago, the Cutting Garden looked pretty empty, but now its filled with color: Purple verbena, white larkspur, yellow and white yarrows, rudbeckias, shasta daisies, zinnias, and blue salvia are all in bloom. But, I’ve yet to cut a bouquet, and unless we invite company (which isn’t likely these days) I probably won’t. Instead, I’ve been picking the sweet peas from the potager trellises, because the flowers have such a lovely form and fragrance, and if I don’t pick them and keep them from setting seed, they will quit blooming.
Now for the potager numbers: In June, the number of varieties growing in the potager increased from 60 to 82, some from transplants grown first in the basement and some from direct seeding.
Harvested: 95.75 pounds! Of course, last year’s 71.5 reflected pitiful, wet weather but 2018 had good weather and was only 57.5. Obviously, efforts at improving varieties and succession cropping is making a difference. Additions to this June’s menu: lots more strawberries than last year, peas, garlic scapes, broccoli, cauliflower, beets, fava beans, aspa broc, cabbage, “Royal Burgundy” beans and kohlrabi were added to the abundant spinach, lettuce, etc. that were picked in April and May. Total 2020 harvest to date: 144 pounds.
On the preservation front, 31 jars (strawberry jam, elderflower cordial, pickled beets) entered the pantry and 9 packages (peas, broccoli, fava beans) were added to the freezer. Since there are still broccoli and peas in the freezer left from last year, I’ve planted fewer of both, and we are eating most fresh from the garden rather than preserving this year.
That’s the report for June 2020. Since the rain, the melon vines, tomatoes and squash are exploding in size. There are egg-sized melons, 1/2″ cukes and full-sized tomatoes waiting for ripeness. July is starting out HOT and humid, but that’s great for many vegetables, and hopefully for the blackberries as well. Hope your garden is happy and healthy, and that you remain that way as well! Blessings!
Truly love everything-what a garden you have! But I have to say, I think my favorite was the rudbeckia by the lady cottage… exactly the part you were thinking of thinning!
They are cheerful, and normally self-seed a bit but this winter was mild and they just went crazy. There must be 60 plants in there and not room for all to grow in future. I do love them…as you probably noticed there are some in nearly every garden! And, I like the gaillardia, too and they deserve a bit of space.
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Your grounds are amazing!!! You’ve got your own Eden going on. 🙂
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Thank you. I am lucky that I can grow what I want (except lupines, and I DO want lupines!) in the colors I like best. For over 40 years I grew what the customers wanted, and just had the leftovers that didn’t sell to plant in my own gardens, so this does feel like a treat!
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I am so jealous of your beautiful gardens and amazing harvest. We finished our last jar of homemade strawberry jam just a few days ago – 31 jars of your own preserves is brilliant. I’ve put in 20 Melba strawberries in the last couple of weeks in hopes of a bigger harvest next season. I just need to keep the birds and possums off them.
Two beds of strawberries were added in spring a year ago, to the two already established in the potager, and there were so many runners on the Annapolis, that I added a 5th bed last fall but they didn’t produce much this year. Next year there should be lots…if I can keep the raccoons out!
You have such a beautiful garden! I love all the photos of it, and I’ll definitely be back to read more of your blog. Thanks for sharing!
Thank you, and thanks for taking time to read and comment.
That is a stunning garden (or gardens given the different areas).
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Hello! Thank you for your kind comment on my blog.
I like the name of you blog because our gardens truly are our blessings. One of the silver linings of covid-19 has been the fact that people have started appreciating green spaces more, long may it continue (not the lockdown, but people’s appreciation of the environment 🙂 ). I always like nature/plants, but the lockdown deepened my love for the garden. It’s a communal garden as I live in a big house made into small flats. But I consider myself lucky.
Your garden is wonderful!
May it continue bringing joy to you and others who get to see it.
I too, hope the appreciation of nature and the time people can spend outdoors continue to be valued after life becomes more sane. And I hope all the people new to gardening this year, find it a joyous and satisfying experience and will continue!
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Carolee, I look forward to this monthly review of your beautiful space! I appreciate the rare glimpse of your front garden, too. Your blooms are beautiful, and that harvest is impressive as always. We seem a few weeks behind you in progress, and this week is wet and cool again — something the strawberries dislike!
It’s been very hot here, and I just looked at the forecast…rising from low 90’s to the upper 90’s for the next 5 days and no chance of rain, which we need. That little rain I was thrilled about didn’t do much to help, especially the field crops. Fortunately, I can water the potager. No, strawberries do not like lots of rain, but melons do. I just started planting fall crops (how can it be time already!?!?!) and they will not like all this heat. May decided not to germinate at all!
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Your garden is such an inspiration, Carolee.
Thank you…so are your paintings!!!
Your garden is amazing! I love everything. I am looking forward to visiting your blog. It is delightful.