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June 20, 2005

The Other “P” Envy

Graham - June 2005 008.jpg (One of my prized Graham Thomas Roses)

Graham and I took the puppers for a walk earlier this week, and we decided to stop by the house of our friend Becky. She is a current Master Gardener and an avid native plant grower. And a big thinker.

Becky eliminated all the turf on her large suburban lot by laying down newspapers and scads of wood chips. She started this process before I got to know her, and I remember thinking, “What is going on at THAT house?” as I would drive by.

Becky wasn’t home that evening, but Graham and I invited ourselves into her garden for a look-see anyway. (Sorry, Becky, if you are reading this. I promise we didn’t harm anything!)

Her front yard is a mass of native plants in full bloom. It was designed by a landscape architecture student who grouped large clusters of native plants together, rather than mix them all up as in a prairie.

Becky had received a grant from the City of Plymouth to purchase native plants as part of a watershed education program. The plants used were hundreds of teeny, tiny seedlings, most acquired from Landscape Alternatives or through the City. I know because I helped plant some of them one Sunday afternoon.

Her front yard overlooks French Park and receives full sun. Her plants love that. They have grown tremendously and are very healthy. The thing that amazed me most about her yard was the vast scale of her plantings. She had ajuga growing in a patch that seemed to be 10 by 10 feet, and it was gorgeous!

Her gardens are huge – massive plantings of variegated lysimachia, expansive areas of prairie smoke, and enormous sections of such wonderful stuff that I can’t remember it all. I have seen less plant stock in certain garden centers than what she has in a single patch.

While Graham ran ahead to count the number of ornamented bowling balls Becky has placed strategically for garden art, I walked with the dogs along the paths and started my mental “ooh, I want some of that list.” I couldn’t wait to come on by with a shovel! I had a serious case of plant envy.

But this weekend while I was working in my own garden, it struck me that the plants are always greener, more exciting and healthier in someone else’s yard than my own. True, Becky does have some plants that I have always hoped to add to my gardens, but the only way that will happen is if I get rid of some of my own.

My garden spaces are brimming with lovely stuff now, thank you very much, and unless I make room for new things, I can hardly add anything else.

So maybe my “p” envy will have to remain subliminal – just like the other kind!

Note: If you are planning to attend the Bright Beginnings Garden Tour (see the side bar) on Saturday, July 30, you will be able to my garden and Becky’s. And four more gardens to boot!

What’s Happening in the Garden Now

Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad - I have finally planted those bloody cannas and all the other plants that have been awaiting my attentions. The little seedlings I started in April had grown to a respectable size, or at least big enough for them to thrive and for me not to be embarrassed to say I had started them.

I even added a flat of Profusion zinnias in “Orange” and “Fire” along the front of the beds for some summer-long color.

I like orange in the garden. I think it looks great against all the purple blooms of salvia, campanula glomerata and geraniums; the purple foliage of “Vera Jameson” sedum and “Husker Red” penstemon; and the silvery blues of “Elijah Blue” fescue and blue oat grass.

These zinnias are garden workhorses because they keep their blooms forever. I even use them in pots with coleus and lime green sweet potato vines. Now that’s a vivid combination!

This Thing Called Summer

Graham - June 2005 025.jpg

We finally had a wonderful summer weekend with temps in the mid 80s, lots of sun and relatively pleasant humidity. On Saturday afternoon, Brian took Graham to the Maple Grove pool so I could garden. (Thanks, dear).

Graham - June 2005 054.jpg

Graham loves this pool. It is completely family-oriented with the water never getting more than 3’6” deep. It has a gentle slide and a lazy river. It’s perfect for families with lots of little ones – or even just one little one.

Graham - June 2005 029.jpg

That evening we had our first bonfire in more than a month. While Brian took a well-deserved snooze by the fire, Graham and I buried our feet in the sandbox, delighting in the weight and warmth of the sand. He had never gone barefoot before and was a bit hesitant about it. I told him that as a little girl, I never wore shoes in the summer. He couldn’t quite figure that one out.

On Sunday we all slept in. Since it was Father’s Day, Brian chose the day’s activities: a return to the pool as a family later that morning with lunch at The Claddagh pub afterward.

It was a wonderful weekend with a nice mixture of summertime fun. At last!

The Mystery Plant

Congrats to Mia the Nature Nut who correctly answered Cimicifuga. She guessed “Brunette” for the variety since that is what she has, but mine is “Black Beauty.” Way to go!


This is the plant I spent a small fortune for, only to have Olivia, our Dalmatian, run it into the ground an hour after I had planted it. Now that Olivia is gone, it’s Pont’s turn to run it into the ground. Some things never change, I guess.

Can you guess what this week’s mystery plant is?

Here’s What’s Blooming Now

Graham - June 2005 013.jpg

Alpine strawberry – and fruiting, too
Missouri primrose
Hollyhock “Nigra”
Wisteria “Blue Moon”
Lavender “Hidcote”
Sweet William
Oxeye daisy
Penstemon “Husker Red”
Salvia “May Night”
Indian blanket
Nepeta “Walker’s Low”
Rose – “Carefree Wonder,” “William Baffin,” “Graham Thomas” and more

Garden Chores for the Week

Work on the vines – peas, clematis, wisteria and Concord grape. All have gotten out of hand with lack of attention and need some tying in.

Vegetable Garden

The climbing peas are almost four feet high and pods have started to set on the bush-type peas. The beans are up to about six inches now. The radishes have started to flower. It’s time to pull them out and do another sowing.

Posted by maasx003 at June 20, 2005 7:03 PM | Family | Gardens


Jacki/Brian--seeing this web site is like going to the movies--I LOVE IT!--however since I am so computer illiterate, I will be calling you re the garden tour--(can't figure out how to ge to the sidebar)--I am going to make a huge effort to get to this tour---oh yeah, Graham is such a handsome little boy--!

Posted by: karenm at June 20, 2005 8:13 PM


Posted by: Kasmira at June 21, 2005 8:38 AM

Hollyhock, indeed! That mystery plant was a pretty easy one. Can you guess what variety?

Posted by: Jackie at June 21, 2005 12:40 PM

Wow! That was a long post!
I too have "p" envy. Even though so many people come up to me every week and tell me how much they enjoy seeing my garden and that they even route their walks and drives home just to see them. Sad, isn't it, that I just can't be satisfied with my own art?

Darn, you were right, it was easy to guess! Uh, variety..."Nigra"?

Posted by: sylvana at June 24, 2005 3:25 PM

Just enjoying your pictures while browsing some other garden blogs.

Posted by: kerry at June 30, 2005 10:03 PM