A September Surprise

I’ve struggled blogging this summer. As the summer wore on, I found myself busy comparing myself to other gardens and bloggers and becoming intimidated rather than inspired. Maybe this beginner was hitting a “sophomore slump” so I reflected back on why I started blogging in the first place.


I call this area ‘Wild and Wacky’

I started my blog a couple of years ago documenting the progress of my garden and sharing lessons I’ve learned along the way for other beginner gardeners. Given the number of pictures in this post, I feel confident that I’ve documented where my garden is at in September of 2017. Now, as far as lessons go, I’d have to say I’ve had more of an epiphany than a lesson: I love my garden in September.


Unknown aster with Grevillea miqueliana ‘Sunset’, Callistemon viridiflorus in the background

While the color and flower power of spring and summer are exciting, form and texture (see “Something Wicked This Way Comes”) stop me in my tracks at a nursery and in September I’m learning I really get a chance to appreciate it.


Penstemon ‘Blackbird’, Osmanthus heterphyllus “Sasaba”, Solidago ‘Fireworks’

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good splash of color and a beautiful flower as much as the next person and there are many examples throughout my garden reflected in this blog post.


Vernonia lettermannii ‘Iron Butterfly’ with Yucca ‘Color Guard’

In terms of practical lessons, I’d have to say the most important lesson I’ve learned this season has been – BE PATIENT! If you know me, you’re probably laughing right now because if there is one thing I am in short supply of – it’s patience.


Agapanthus ‘Graskop’, Solidago ‘Fireworks’, Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’, Hesperaloe parviflora***Please ignore the elephant in the room photinia. Long story for another blog.

People can TELL me it takes time for things to establish and that things will do better if I don’t move them around all the time, but I’m not always the best at hearing what’s being said. I’m sure the BF would chime in at this moment!


Halimium ocymoides, Baptisia ‘Cherries Jubilee’, Zauschneria ‘Select Mattole’

Also, just to be clear, I’m not going to stop moving things around. I’m just going to be more thoughtful about it!


Magnolia grandiflora ‘Bracken’s Brown Beauty’

I’ve come to love this little part of my garden. Spreading sedum, sempervivum and volunteers of aquilegia, gaura, rose campion and others are extending the depth of this bed a few inches every year.


Aquilegia ‘Leprechaun Gold’

As someone with self proclaimed control issues, it took awhile to appreciate the generosity of nature and allow it to just do its thing.


Penstemon ‘Enor’, Sciadopitys verticillata or Umbrella Pine

As I was watering the other day, a man stopped his car, rolled down his window and said, in his best Jack Benny voice…”Your perennials are textbook! They are fabulous, just fabulous!” Then he just drove away. I was so caught guard all I could must was an awkward “Um, th-thank you?”.

Funny the lens we have for our own gardens. Where I only see the mistakes I’ve made, holes from lost plants, the next move I’m going to make (ha!) or the color combination that just isn’t working, strangers see something totally different.


Gaura ‘Whirling Butterflies’, Salvia uliginisa,

The photos above and below are where I was watering during the drive by compliment. I definitely appreciated the compliment but it took me a bit to not look at everything that was wrong and appreciate what was going well. I do love the overall texture and feel of this weird triangular piece of land.  Although it hard to see, this summer I’ve been sneaking in three’s and five’s of things to help calm the “chaos” and to add more color for this time next year. Isn’t it funny how we go back to the beginning. (see “The Home Depot Years, Everything has to be in Three’s Right?”).


“Triangle garden” right wide shot

I’ve also been trying to add some continuity to my garden by repeating plants throughout the different beds. I love my “Collector’s Garden” but there are times where I feel like there’s just too much going on. It’ll be interesting to see how things feel next summer.


Ozothamnus rosmarinifolius “Silver Jubilee’, Penstemon’ Enor’ Asclepius tuberosa,                         I’m best guessing due to a tag loss – Agropyron magellanicum ‘Blue Wheat Grass’

This is the year my Gaura “Whirling Butterflies” really came to life. Although I planted just one four years ago, I’ve been gifted with many more throughout the years. Easily removed, I’ve been able to keep the ones I want and edit those I don’t. In fact, they helped me see the benefit of having multiples of the same plant as they helped provide continuity and a place for my eye to follow in the “chaos” of a large mixed border.


‘I’m kicking myself that I didn’t pick up more of this Allium “Medusa’ at Cistus Nursery this summer. While it definitely stands on it’s own, imagine it en masse!

I certainly don’t profess to have any sort of expertise in garden design but I’ve learned great lessons reading some wonderful blogs and I also try to understand what are the things that make similar gardens to mine “feel” right.


Sanguisorba ‘Pink Tanna’ seed heads add interest long after their color fades in spring

Last year I decided to move most of my peonies over here and I’ve really enjoyed and appreciated their leaves throughout the season – an idea I got from the BF’s garden. Keeping seed heads in place for interest is another lesson I picked up from a fellow blogger.


Achillea ‘Fireland’, Schizachyrium scoparium ‘The Blues’

I’m becoming obsessed with grasses. I wouldn’t be suprised if one day my whole garden looks like a prairie! I wish I had taken a better picture of the several schizachyrium I have throughout my garden. I’m just blown away by them. I kind of regret spreading them out.  Luckily some grasses seem to not mind being moved so we will see.


Salvia uliginosa or Bog Salvia

I am in love with this Bog Salvia (Sage). It is doing well in an improbable spot. Without a “boggy” environment, I’ve been able to keep it under control. Hummingbird crack and easy access for them!


Cistus ‘Mickie’, Coreopsis ‘Cruisin’ Broad Street’, Caryopteris ‘Longwood’,                             Anemanthele lessoniana in the background.I got an idea to replace my carex with Anemanthele lessoniana visiting a garden of a blogger friend.

One area that is not short on flower power and color this time of year is my hell strip. It’s also where I’m hoarding most of my grasses.  But, I’m not going to spend time here because I have a blog post in the works for it.


Zuaschneria, Grevillea miguelinia ‘Sunset’

I made the mistake of fixing up my zauschneria tags! I believe the one above is Zauschneria ‘Calistoga’.


Stipa gigantea, Lagerstroemia ‘Osage’, et all


Passiflora ‘Star of Surbiton’

This passion flower withstood the winter is thriving and now reaching 20 plus feet up the utility wires in the hell strip making for some beautiful displays.


Zauschneria ‘Silver Select’

I went a little crazy with the zauschnerias last year and went back for more!


Zauschneria ‘Select Mattole’


Crocosmia ‘Solfaterre’, Zauschneria ‘Silver Select’

The zauschnerias are rocking my world this year.


Now I really wish I had cut that Eryngium agavifolium stalk down!

Heading up to the house and back yard.


Tigridia making it’s last hurrah with my adorable Fred Meyer bargain penstemon from earlier this summer

I’ve struggled with this bed from day one. One day I will figure it out. The Inula magnifica needs some love but I hate to cut it back just yet. I did learn a tough lesson here: don’t move your Eryngium ‘Blue Sapphire’ while it’s flowering! There’s that pesky patience thing!


Edgewarthia, Miscanthus ‘Morning Light’, Solidago ‘Fireworks’

The BF taught me about “borrowed scenery” and my neighbors do a beautiful job here helping me out with my view for my morning coffee.


Entrance to back yard (from the front)

A peek into my back yard.


A peek from back gate

Things are starting to look a bit rough back here. The moles have done a number on the beds this year and the grass in looking pretty rough. This is the area of my garden that I’m still learning a lot about. Different soil types, tree roots and different levels of sun is challenging for someone learning as they go. Lot’s of trial and error going on back here.


Those not a fan of garden “accoutrement” will probably not be a fan of the back yard.

I learned a hard lesson in the back yard last year. Thinking that this area would be protected, I took chances on some less hardy plants that did not survive last winter.


The Gordlinia grandiflora survived the winter and has put on a ton of growth this year! Still waiting for it’s first flower.

I know this corner is a little crazy but it’s a favorite of mine. Texture and long lasting color wrapped into one make me very happy! It’s a good lesson for me to apply in the rest of my garden. Find what you like and repeat it!

As I wrap things up, I think the biggest surprise of this September is that I finally finished a blog post!

Thanks for taking a moment to stroll through my garden with me!

8 thoughts on “A September Surprise

  1. I think all gardens look a little crazy in September, especially after multiple torrential downpours. If you didn’t mention being a “beginner” I would never have thought it by the looks of your fantastic garden. The driver-by was right!


  2. Boy, does this post speak to me on the whole “comparison sweepstakes” thing. I move stuff a lot also. I first planted lots of things that I grew from seed, plants I loved, that I then pulled up and tossed in favor of things I saw in other gardens and on other blogs that I thought were “better” or trendy. I’m just now coming to the conclusion that I should have stuck with what I love. So, your gardening lesson for this year was “Be patient,” mine was “Plant what you love.”


  3. No! Competition is for sports not gardening. Your garden is perfect, perfectly gorgeous! Thank you for taking so many photos and posting them. Now about those plants you’re digging for the swap…. 😉


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