Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Left-Behind Flowers

The rugosas by the front porch are past their spring flowering and developing clusters of large and colorful rosehips.

I still yearn for certain elements of the gardens I have left behind--my Vermont garden was 18 years in the making and tending.
The fate of my Gradyville garden--bulldozed for a parking area--still troubles me.
Continued rain is hampering my efforts to create gardens here at the farm, but I am discovering a legacy of plants which the Amish ladies of the two houses tended.

Rose of Sharon, aka althea or Chinese hibiscus, is apparently beloved of Amish gardeners.
This one stands at the end of the porch.

In full glory nearly a week ago.

Each blossom lasts only a day,

Silky petals, laden with raindrops this morning.

Last week I trudged through the backyard of the lower house, squeezed through the gap at the gate and out onto the road--a round-about route to the mailbox.
I was surprised to see this profusion of flowers growing along the end wall of the long building which once housed the Miller's harness making enterprise.
I suspected it was 'balsam', although I had never grown it.
Photos online and in several plant catalogs confirmed the identity.

Most of the plants have a scarlet blossom, a few are more magenta in color.

Rounding the corner of the shop I found these.
Plants originally confined in a white-painted tire had spilled over the edges and begotten a host of offspring.  Identification of these was more difficult.

Comparing photos, doing some reading, I learned that four o'clocks over-winter in our climate, spreading and forming tuberous roots.

I learned that one plant can produce several variations of bloom color.

I went down later in the day and discovered that in spite of the rain some of the blossoms were more fully opened.  
I think [if it stops raining and I can garden] I will eventually move some of the smaller plants here.

This rose was planted in the raised bed that skirts the side of the porch.  It was tucked in the corner beneath the roof overhang.  It was very slow to break dormancy and I feared that it might be a variety which couldn't survive the harsh cold of February.

Finally I saw signs of life--a few leaf buds at the base of the plant.
I moved it to the corner of the terraced garden, clipping back the dead wood.
The photo doesn't do it justice.

Apparently Anna Miller grew cleome.
I grew cleome in the front garden at the Bedford stone house.
It self-sowed with rude abandon.
I brought a few seedlings over to transplant and then discovered that cleome were popping up by the dozens. I have had to pull out a few, along with random petunias and a host of cockscomb.

Monday evening, working til darkness fell, I tackled the weeds in the gravely strip which borders the cement steps.
Last autumn I tucked in several varieties of thyme, a few lavenders and a clump of daylilies in the upper part, then divided clumps of dianthus and stuck them in hoping they will eventually spread down the slope.
I decided to leave a few of the invading cockscomb, but ruthlessly pulled up those which were over-shadowing the thyme.

I've learned that several of the Miller women have kept their gardens at this farm home.
The lower house, where Mose and Anna raised their family was constructed nearly 25 years ago.
Several roses line the south wall of the house.
Our house was  built in 2006 for the Miller's older daughter who was widowed at age 29.
Typically the family rallied to provide a home for her and seven children.
She later remarried and the house was turned over to one of the newly married younger sons.
When he relocated a year ago, Mose and Anna yielded the big house to yet another married son and moved up the lane with their youngest child, Mary.
She was wed a few weeks before we acquired the place.

I don't know which of the women selected the plants I am now enjoying.
I'm intrigued that Amish women, who must paint the walls of their homes in the traditional shades of gloss blue, must dress lifelong in sober hues of blue or dark green, grey or black, can  give brilliant colors a dominant place in their choice of garden flowers.


  1. This post makes wish for a bigger garden. The rose is spectacular, never seen one like that before.

    1. Briony; Several attempts didn't result in a nice photo of that rose. It has a pale lemon-colored center. I'm always wishing for bigger adn better gardens--which, of course, I couldn't tend!

  2. What a great post about your 'left behind' bloomers. They are great and colorful.

    Keep enjoying all of the newness around you.

    Love & hugs ~ FlowerLady

    1. Rainey; Finding the four o'clocks and learning that they are perennials has delighted me. They have an almost tropical exuberance.

  3. Your writing style and voice remind me of Sue Hubble, an author I love. If you ever have time to read you might enjoy, "A Country Year". on Working Through The Wet

    Sharon Terhune

    1. Sharon Terhune;s comment showed up in duplicate. I hit
      'publish' for one and 'delete' for the second. Blogger decided to delete both. Sorry!
      And yes, Sharon, I've read "A Country Year"--it was gifted to me when we were building a house [literally] over our heads in Lander, WY

  4. Oh dear that must have been hard to leave and to know the fate of the other one. I've gardened both here and in England and have only managed seven years in one of our many homes! That rose is spectacular.

    1. Gillie; Having married a man with 'moving' in his genes, I've left a number of homes--and gardens--behind. Our longest stay was 18 years at the little Vermont house.
      I wish the lovely rose had a scent--but one can't have it all!

  5. You've done a lot of good gardening in the short time you've been in your new house. I struggle here, my garden is so full of weeds and it's just too hot for me to be out there, I long for fall.

    1. Janet; Each spring in KY I have thrown myself enthusiastically into gardening. The ever-lasting rain this summer is very discouraging--it seems like wasted energy to battle the weeds.
      I was thinking yesterday that I would welcome the approach of fall!

  6. I often visit Amish Country in Holmes County, Ohio, and am always amazed by the glorious, old-fashioned flower gardens. The flowers you mentioned in your post are all great favorites of mine.

  7. Lillian; I sometimes look at plants which have been 'improved' and hybridized into great poofy things--I usually like the old-fashioned forms better. I think it is interesting that having a brilliantly colored flower garden isn't considered 'worldly' for the Amish. Such pleasure after hard work to enjoy the blossoms.

  8. It's always interesting to see all the flowers that appear through the first year when you move into a new house. I've gardened here for nearly 40 years but but have had the experience second-hand in my children's gardens.