Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Shabby Garden

It was a slow morning, overcast and quiet.
It was nearly 7 before the cats managed to coax me from bed.
The air outside was grey and still, no birds singing and calling from the trees.
Even the hummingbirds seemed less frantic in their swoops and swirls about the syrup feeder.
A look at the dull skies convinced me that it wasn't a day for hanging out laundry.
I put fresh sheets on the bed, greatly assisted by Edward the Cat, who several times rolled himself up like a sausage and had to be extracted before the bed could be spread up neat and smooth.
I could have done the laundry and used the electric dryer, but there was no particular urgency, so I'll wait and see if the sun shines forth before the weekend.
J. had errands to do, so we made a hasty breakfast of dry cereal with bananas.
I put a dollop of Greek yogurt on mine.
I have new boots--a gift from J.--so I hauled them on and strode grandly through the damp grass, carrying cat litter up to the dump at the far edge of the back meadow.
Pebbles the old horse poked her head out of her stable and trumpeted a greeting.
The boy cats escorted me back to the house and then out for an inspection of the lower garden.

[I am meant to be doing some much dreaded and necessary book keeping, but found myself inventing reasons to procrastinate before heading indoors to my stack of papers, invoices and checkbook registers!]

Nellie is a most companionable boy. He and his brother Bobby have an unflagging interest in the mole tunnels which undermine the lawn. They dig into them with great determination, coming up for air with dirt on their furry faces and paws. 

Bobby crouches on the big rock, thinking himself hidden by the screen of the cleome.
From here he can observe me watering the container plants on the porch.
He can bounce out at me ['Aha!] as I trek toward the mailbox.

Trailing cats, I stop to admire the Michaelmas daisies. 
I have resisted buying the vivid pink variety, Alma Potschke, but am coveting several I've seen pictured in  softer pinks and lavenders. 

Several of my seed grown achileas are making a brave fall showing after a ruthless pruning.
I fear I have lost the one called 'Paprika' and the 'Coronation Gold' is looking feeble.
Achilleas are sturdy plants, but they didn't enjoy the long spell of soggy weather in July and early August.

A clump of echinacea [coneflower] in a deep apricot color is holding its own, though not spreading as vigorously as I hoped.
The common rose-colored coneflowers are spent now and their seed heads are stiff and bristly.

The cosmos have been a joy and a delight this year in spite of being blown about, rained upon, crashed into by the sunflowers that went down in the fierce storms of July.
I had a large quantity of saved seed which I sowed quite thickly.

The cosmos are tumbled and tangled but it hasn't hindered their exuberant bloom.
About a week ago I discovered one stem of white flowers among the profusion of pink.
I brought out a length of garden twine and fastened it around that stalk so that I could collect and save that seed separately.
Today, though I spent perhaps 15 minutes searching [with Nellie pouncing helpfully through the undergrowth]
I couldn't find the string marked stem!
Such things frustrate me--I know I'll be back out there peering through the green tangle, gently lifting the stems aside, hoping to find that seed head.

Another seed started achillea. 
There are several cultivars of veronica in this end of the strip.
Somehow this froth of blue flowers [which looks like an ageratum] isn't something I recall planting.
Any plant which survived the rainy summer is welcome--if it behaves.

The zinnias, usually staunchly brilliant until frost, have not been at their best.
The leaves have been spotted with mildew and the blooms have quickly gone shabby after opening.
From across the dooryard they are still colorful, but don't bear closer inspection.

I have been ripping out morning glory vines each summer.
They rampaged freely for so many seasons previously that I expect we will never be without them. 
This one has clambered up one of the leaning sunflower stalks.

One clump of marigolds glowing bravely from a tangle of weeds, zinnias, and morning glories.

Nellie has trudged patiently behind me, stopping to bat at the odd butterfly or bee.
I am often dismayed when I see the damage [digging!] wrought by the boy cats who have dooryard privileges. I will continue to scold them, keep on barricading my seedlings with a surround of twigs, placing weighty stones in the potted plants on the porch to deter inquisitive paws.
All is forgiven for the pleasure of catly companionship in the garden!


  1. Your garden still has plenty of colour,mine is looking rather dull apart from the so'll ashes of red from Apple's,plums and Versailles. I always mean to plant more for autumn colour but somehow never quite manage it!

    1. Rowan; My fall garden usually has more in the way of second bloom from many of the perennials. The very wet summer prevented the kind of weeding and pruning which the plants should have received.
      Still--I'm grateful for each swatch of color!

  2. Lovely trailing through your garden, with the cats in tow, very evocative....

    1. Thelma; I can't imagine any small excursion in the dooryard that is not accompanied by cats. They trail me to the clothesline, the gardens, the barn--and if I want to walk farther afield I have to collect them and shut them indoors for their safety's sake.

  3. Your garden looks so colourful. My Paprika Achillea was planted this year, flowered briefly, and then lapsed into insecurity in the border. Hopefully next year it will put on more of a show, once it is established.

    I FINALLY got out in the garden yesterday and had a huge tidy up of the gravel garden - so overgrown you couldn't see the gravel!

    I find I have lost my gardening mojo though, because we are "in limbo" over moving.

    I will just have to enjoy your garden instead!

    1. Jennie; I wonder why the 'paprika' achillea seems so lacking in hardiness. The wild achillea [yarrow] seems to survive anywhere. My seed-grown plants did produce an apricot-orange flower which is appealing, but I covet the return of the dark red.
      Garden tidying is never-ending--and more laborious as my years increase!

  4. I wish my garden looked like this! Lovely tour around your beautiful plants. Thank you.

    1. Em; I'm still trying to put together a concept of the 'moor'--the landscape in many of your photos seems similar to that of the American interior west, although I know that there is a huge difference in altitude.
      You'll have noticed that my plant photos are very short range--the larger aspect is distinctly shabby.

  5. your description of the cats antics is quite delightful!

    1. Kath; Observing the 'antics' of our cats is a never-ending fascination--even when I heartily disapprove of their doings!

  6. What a delightful and colorful post this morning. I love your feline companions, and your flowers are wonderful!

    Enjoy your day ~ FlowerLady

    1. Lorraine; I view your flowers as wonderful exotics,quite foreign to my zone 6 Kentucky garden. Sadly, I've given up on some favorite perennials which survived the winters of my gardens in Vermont [zone 3-4]. I think I live right on the cusp of climate tipping into a sub-tropical heat.

  7. Love these tours of your yard with the cats. You still have plenty of colour to enjoy. I expect my cats would get away with it all, too just so I could have the pleasure of seeing them enjoy themselves. Have a lovely day and there is always tomorrow for laundry. Deb

    1. Deb; We cat lovers endure a good deal of mess and destruction in exchange for the joy of feline company. And yes, today I've been favored with a laundry-drying day!

  8. So many pretty pictures, but the new header has to be my favorite.

    1. Lillian; I am pleased that you are enjoying my header photo--it is quite the best from yesterday's walk-about with the camera.

  9. I really enjoyed the tour of your garden. Everything is so pretty. Was quite disappointed that the cosmos didn't reseed themselves this year, so it was nice of you to "share" yours with us! I'd forgive those adorable cats also!

    1. Jane; I'm wondering if comos seeds can't winter over as they fall to the ground in your colder zone. I've had zinnias and sunflowers pop up in the spring after the garden strips are tilled. The cosmos seed are deliberately gathered and saved, then planted when the soil has really warmed up. If I lived nearby I could hand you some over the garden fence!

  10. As always a pleasant tour of the garden with cats in tow! In their defense re: tearing up the yard, sometimes catching the moles makes it all worth it as it decreases the number. Happy Fall!

    1. Marilyn; I surely wish that all the digging and poking their paws into mole tunnels done by the cats would convince the subterranean creatures to go away! The cats do catch one occasionally--likely an imprudent one that sticks its head out at the wrong moment. I don't let the cats eat a mole if I see them with one. Any mole consumed comes right back up within moments--indigestible!
      Willis and the two tortie girls who patrol the barn know their business where mice are concerned--I fear the remainder of my darlings are more decorative than useful.

  11. I would love to wander up the hill and through the garden with you and the cats...

  12. Hildred; I would enjoy your company! We would talk of peonies and clumps of iris and gardens past and present.
    I wish I could help you dig in your garden--and then we would both need to rest our backs and read a book!