During the recent two weeks when we had family staying a good deal of the time, I didn't work in my flower gardens.
The weather has been on a roll of partially cloudy/overcast with brief, but torrential late afternoon showers which give way to shimmering misty evenings.
Clumps of grass and weeds have burgeoned in the perennial strips.
Seedlings in small pots on the front porch have crowded out of their space, badly in need of settling into the garden.
The lower perennial strip alongside the driveway has had less attention than the upper strip.
I started it in the summer of 2010 primarily as a place for rugosas and other shrub roses.
I have relied on seed-started perennials and a very few nursery plants to 'fill in' between the roses.
This has resulted in quite a ragged appearance.
Gina purchased a number of potted plants at the Amish auction when she and her family arrived in April, 2011. As the weeks went by before they could move into their own home, most of the plants were stuck into the lower strip. The lupines, which I admired, languished and didn't reappear the following spring.
Several pots of verbena rigida managed to take over about 10 feet of the garden, pushing up around the roses, rooting into the lawn, threatening to crowd out all other plants.
On Friday I decided the verbena needed to go away--all of it!
I began loosening colonies of it only to find that tough, stringy, yellow roots ran in all directions.
Its capacity for sending out runners would rival the mints, as verbena rigida sends roots down as well as outward from the main plant.
Often I would seize the exposed portion of a root, yank on it and find that it extended several feet, entangled with the tidy roots of coneflower and monarda lambada.
I dug, pulled, unraveled, dug some more. I used a sharp-pointed slender trowel to root out plants which had spread into the grass strip between the perennial borders.
Several hours later, with a heap of wilting stems and wiry roots to dispose of, I realized that my forearms were welted with stinging scratches.
Googling the plant later, I discovered that a common name is 'sandpaper verbena!'
Only a few sites which picture and describe the plant advise that is is 'invasive!'
With the area cleared [I hope] and raked, I began fetching small plants from my stock on the front porch: Achillea, Spanish Foxglove, several varieties of Coneflower.
Given the enthusiasm of my feline 'helpers' I have hedged my seedlings with a forest of protective sticks broken from the slender water maple branches which litter the back lawn after each heavy rain.
I have two coneflowers bought as potted plants, both in sunset hues. Most of my coneflowers, such as this one, have been started from seeds.
They are hardy, surviving heat and drought, remaining upright in all but the fiercest of wind and rain.
My flower gardening is increasingly about sturdy plants which I can start from seed and divide when they become established.
The achillea in the foreground was candy pink as it opened and has faded to a softer shade.
It is from a seed mixture labeled as 'pastels.' Others in the mix have proved to be creamy yellow,
buff, pale salmon.
The Shasta daisies were also started from seed last season.
The pink phlox was from a mail order nursery and is so pleasing that I'm considering ordering
The ground on this side of the drive slopes slightly to the south and would have been a good place for terraced beds.
In my most improbable horticultural daydreams I think of building raised beds here with gravel walks between. [Not a likely happening!]
As I bent to pick up my muddy weeds, M. called out that only children play in mud!
As you can see my patched jeans are soaked to above the knees.
My feet in flip-flop sandals were wet and cold.
Bobby McGee, my helper was wet to his furry armpits.
My fingernails have required much scrubbing and my hands are not those of a lady!
Carting off my muddy debris, quite chilled and ready for a hot shower and a mug of tea.
It was near dark by the time I put away my tools, lined up seedling pots on the porch and swept away the litter of soil and greenery which I had created.
Oddly, the sky shows brighter in the photo than it was and the mauve and coral of the sunset is diminished.
Pebbles, the old horse, stands outlined against the sky and the barn is a stark outline.
My cold feet were slipping in my soaked sandals, the legs of my muddy jeans were clinging unpleasantly.
It was time to call it quits for the day!