Wednesday, August 26, 2015

My August Garden

So much has changed in my garden through the month of August. I'm glad I took a few photos of flowers at the beginning of the month (even though I didn't post them), as those blooms have faded and finished already. The weather has cooled off dramatically in one week, and today it feels like autumn is already nipping at our heels.

I really enjoy seeing the day lilies blooming. I only have a few varieties, but they do so well that I'm thinking of getting more next year.

I had some gorgeous Asiatic lilies as well, but last year the leaves were eaten away by what I thought was the rabbit. I moved all those lilies up to the patio garden to keep them further away from the rabbit. Unfortunately, although the lilies all came up in huge numbers, they were attacked again. It wasn't a rabbit at all, but Red Lily Beetles that were decimating the entire flower! Apparently, there is no known way to eliminate the beetles aside from picking them off the flowers manually. My husband even took the shop vac to the blooms a few times, but the beetles are prolific and continued to munch through my entire bed of lilies. I finally ripped out all the dead stalks, roots and all! Gone. Sadly, no more of this ... 

Before we went away camping, my husband and son worked away at the front garden setting up this simple brick edging. I had seen the idea on pinterest, and knew I wanted to do this to help tidy up the front garden. 

Pretty blue balloon flowers are doing well here :)
When we visited our favourite gardening store earlier in summer, I noticed they had these bricks on sale for 50 cents a piece! There were only a few bricks left, but it turns out there were just enough to complete the job. I spent even longer out there digging out huge weeds (mostly thistles and dandelions), and then pouring six huge bags of bark nuggets across the garden. 

I'm really happy with the look, and the bark nuggets will help keep the weeds down. I don't do a whole lot with this garden since it gets full sun and is really hot to work in except for the early morning ... so it gets neglected. But since it is the front garden, everyone sees it and I wanted it to look a little more loved.

Right now my sneezeweed and balloon flowers are all in bloom. I've noticed lately in the gardening stores that the balloon flowers you buy now start off closed like a balloon, but then open up into a star-shaped flower. My balloon flowers remain closed, which I prefer. It takes a long time for them to sprout a new plant, but when they do I move it to another location to allow it to spread. I lost a huge balloon flower last summer, and still have no idea what killed it, but it seemed to have been something destroying the roots. Luckily, I had a few other plants already taking root in other locations so I still have them around.


I have loads of Black-Eyed Susans that I keep splitting and spreading around the gardens. I like the fact that they're native to North America, and we saw lots of wild ones up north where we were camping. By the end of summer the garden is in need of a burst of colour, and this flower does the trick! The flowers last a long time, and even when the blooms are finished, the little birds enjoy the seed heads right into winter, so I never cut the stalks down.

Black-eyed Susans

One surprise I got this year was a hollyhock! I planted this hollyhock many, many years ago (probably more than 10 years ago!). I never saw it again a couple of years after I planted it. But this year, suddenly I saw this delicate papery yellow bloom, and went out to investigate.


Do you know, I think I have been ripping this poor flower out every year thinking it was a weed. There is a weed with a similar leaf that grows low to the ground, and I think I've been mistakenly ripping out the hollyhock year after year. I'm quite amazed that it survived such punishment! So here it is now in all its glory, and I will remember to leave it alone next summer. All these years I've thought that hollyhocks didn't do well in my yard too. Now I know the truth, I'll be picking up some more next year ... can't wait to grow more along the fence!


Despite my moaning about the pond garden earlier in the year, things here have filled in to the point of it looking like a jungle! I bought some Love-Lies-Bleeding in the spring and planted about six plants here and there around this garden. It did so well, and now the flower heads are enormous! Love this plant as it has such a dramatic look. You do have to stake these heavy plants up though. I bought a few plant hooks at the dollar store and they work great. If you don't stake up the plant, the flowers won't grow very big at all (which I discovered with another plant in a separate garden).

The above two photos were taken earlier in August. You can see how thick the love-lies-bleeding have become in a few weeks. 

Below is how the garden looked in July ... love that astilbe!

An interesting plant I picked up in July was this ... a Sensitive Plant ... 

Whenever you touch the plant, the leaves close up instantly! Very curious. It even has the tiniest of flowers which I'll show when the next one blooms (I missed the photo opportunity this past week). I'll keep it in the pot so that I can bring it in in the winter. I doubt anything called "sensitive" will survive our cold winters.

my miniature rose :)
The gardens did well this year, with only a couple of dead things. My iris were such a tragedy, even though they have now been transplanted, I doubt they will survive. There were grubs in almost all of the corms, and the corms were all mushy. But stranger things have happened ... like the hollyhocks ... so I'll keep my fingers crossed that one or two of Mom's iris return. I doubt I can ask my sisters for any more of their iris (also from Mom's garden), so if mine don't come back to life, I've lost my most favoured flowers in my garden. Here's what they look like now ...

the iris are the spindly bits above and below the wall :(

Not terribly promising. But now that I know a thing or two about caring for the iris, I can always buy some more and start again with new varieties. But you know how it is when you inherit a flower from your mom and your mom passes away but leaves you this sweet reminder of her. You really want that flower to survive!!

The potted plants did well ... geraniums and creeping thyme. The geraniums will be brought indoors again. I figured out that what they really need is a good fertilizing every couple of weeks. I'll continue that through the winter so that they'll keep looking good indoors as well.

A small fern I couldn't resist ... I think (but am not sure) this is a Japanese fern. If I can confirm that it is, I'll pop it in the ground. If it isn't, I may have to bring it in for the winter.

creeping thyme ... I think I'll bring this indoors for winter ... I hope it doesn't take over inside the house!
There are a few other things, but I'm sure you've had quite enough to read with this. Sorry it's such a long post! And thanks so much for stopping by and I hope you have a wonderful day :)


my burning bush has begun to burn!!!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Catching Up

I've been a negligent blogger as of late, seeing that my last post was July 11!! That was way back when my brother and his two boys were visiting me for two weeks ... seems like ages ago. I broke out of my secret blogging life and told my brother about my blog, so now I have to really watch what I say ;)

Summer is flying by!! We normally take some time off for holidays in July and in August, but the PanAm games that were hosted in Toronto changed that, and we could only take holidays at the very end of August ... when the weather is usually cooler and a little less predictable. My husband had to volunteer through his work for the PanAm games. I dislike waiting till the end of the summer to take my vacation, but that's the way it's worked this summer.

We've just returned from our yearly trip a little north of us to Algonquin Park, Ontario. We had a wonderful week out in the woods, where we did lots of canoeing and hiking. The weather really was unpredictable right from the drive up there and onwards. We drove through a horrific thunderstorm during our nighttime drive into the park, and actually had to pull off the road for a while as we could no longer see the road with the rain hitting the windshield so hard. What a long drive that was! The next day shone brightly, and we eased into our vacation with a short canoe paddle and a short hike.

The next couple of days the weather heated up and up, and we went on an extremely long four-hour hike to the top of a great lookout on the Track & Tower trail. There used to be a fire tower at the top of this peak, but it has been taken down.

overlooking Cache Lake from the lookout on Track & Tower

The final ascent was a steep climb and the awful wooden staircase brought you to the tippy top. Stairs always seem to make the climb more difficult, I prefer a rocky path instead where you don't have a measure of how many more steps it will take!

Another hot, hot day and we took the canoe and kayak along the Madawaska River for a six-hour paddle. There were a few portages along the way, but nothing too strenuous. Once we got over the last portage, the waterway seemed so wild and distant from everything. It was beautiful to see, and the spicy aromas coming off the water plants was amazing. The twists and turns in the river seemed to never end. I loved this section, but not all in our party was enjoying it as much ;)

When we hit yet another beaver dam across the river without any solid-looking spot to cross, we admitted that we were all getting pretty tired by then anyway and just turned around for the easier downstream paddle back. It was much easier going with the river than against it, even though the current didn't seem that strong on the way up.

On the way back we encountered a black bear on the bike trail that we had to portage across. The bear had been enjoying the raspberries along the bike trail. A couple of cyclists were stranded on the other side of him for a while too. I don't enjoy meeting up with bears on the trails ... a tinge of uneasiness comes to me, and I really wanted to be on our way in the canoe when he kept trotting his happy way towards us.

The storm clouds we saw throughout the week were quite amazing, even though we were often in the canoe on the "wrong" side of the lakes when we saw them. Doesn't this sky look menacing?! The wind really picks up quickly, and we still had to paddle to the farthest shore straight ahead in this photo.

We were fortunate that we didn't get caught on the lake in any of the sudden storms that did whip up! One storm burst on us while we were driving along the highway, and small trees came down across the road, with leaves and branches being torn from the trees from the high winds and hail. I didn't envy the backcountry campers we saw heading out into the rain from Canoe Lake! Another day we watched determined campers heading out into yet another storm on Lake Opeongo. I don't know why they didn't wait for ten minutes to let the black clouds fly past before getting into their canoes. Crazy. We rushed to the truck when the first drops hit that day and watched the campers struggle through the high winds and rain. Five minutes later the sun reappeared.

Boats racing back to the dock ahead of an incoming storm on Opeongo

Water taxi taking some folks up to Hailstorm Creek to see moose ... an expensive trip, but apparently worth it!

Although the weather was up and down, we did enjoy our time in the woods. The time always goes by much too quickly, and before we knew it, it was time to say goodbye.

A very large beaver swam out to see us off the morning we left. I think we were keeping him from coming to shore to have a munch on some branches, so we finally parted ways and let him be.

I've got lots of catching up to do, and still things to attend to here at home/work this week. Will try to get a few posts up again this week to show the things I've been up to this summer. I hope everyone is well and you have enjoyed your summer! I hope to be around a bit more now ... sorry for the long absence.

Thanks for stopping by today!


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