A Lesson on Hibiscus

“What is that big pink flower?”

I would be well on my way to becoming a very wealthy woman if I had a dollar for every time I answered that question posed by someone who stopped to admire the pink hibiscus in our front yard.

As a gardener, it is very gratifying watching people stop to admire our flowers, and even more so if they want to talk about them or ask a question. This time of year, admirers often want to know more about the giant pink flowers by my front porch. Gardener-types usually want to know what type of hibiscus it is. I know there are many types of hibiscus, but I really know very little about them. It was time to learn more about this amazing flower. Like any good student today, I went to Google and did an internet search. There are many amazing tutorials and articles from which to glean, but my favorite was this excellent post. Please click on the hyperlink if you are equally curious to learn more about a flower which delivers such beauty to the late summer garden.

Rose mallow Hibiscus ‘Tie Dye’

Happy gardening!

Putting the Word before the World

I hope it’s no secret that I am a Christian who truly desires to live every aspect of my life in such a way that Christ is honored and glorified. When you read what I write, I genuinely hope you see the Word of God is the hub around which the wheel of my life revolves.

Most who know me personally consider me to be a mature believer, but I know there is much room for growth. If I am honest with myself, there are days when I fall very short in my goal of making the Bible central in my life. For this reason, I have accepted a challenge to become part of the Word Before World Bible study challenge – a group of believers seeking to make time in the Scriptures a first thing in the morning priority. Before all the things which will capture our attention during the rest of the day that follows. Before we pick up our cell phone or log onto our computers, or turn on our televisions. Time in the Word before we pick up that interesting novel, or check to see what’s going on in Facebook or Instagram world.

First in my heart.

Our little Word Before World group is now 12 days into the challenge. It’s a virtual group – perfect for this day when social distancing is recommended. While we may never actually meet one another on this side of heaven, it has been delightful getting to know other women who struggle just like I do, yet have the same heartfelt longing and desire. We have been praying for one another, sharing insights we have gleaned from our time in the Word, sharing verses and encouraging one another.

So, here’s how my day 12 went.

It is my custom to listen to the scripture while I’m getting ready for my day – sometimes before my feet even hit the floor. Yes, it involves picking up my cell phone, but I rather like hearing the Scripture spoken out loud (by a wonderful narrator) on my Bible app. Today I decided to listen to the suggested reading while I took a morning walk. I began with Psalm 103 and ended up listening to the entirety of Psalm 119 (176 verses!).

Along the way on my personal “psalm-walk,” I stopped to enjoy God’s magnificent creation in the gardens of a few of the neighbors along my route. There were several beautiful gardens, but I think this mailbox garden was particularly impressive.

When my route finally returned me to my own driveway, I grabbed a cup of coffee, headed to my favorite Bible study spot and opened my Bible to Colossians (which I am currently studying). It’s a little book, just four chapters, yet so very challenging to me – particularly as it relates to my responsibility to pray for other believers and encourage them in their walk with Christ. Next, I flipped back to Psalm 103 to read the passage our group was challenged to read together. As I spent time reading and contemplating this psalm, verses 17 and 18 made me stop and thank the Lord for his steadfast love – and that His love and righteousness has been extended to my own children and each one of my grandchildren too.

My current favorite Bible-reading spot

But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.

Psalm 103:17-18 (ESV)

I couldn’t help but pull out my coloring pencils. and write the names of my grandkids in the margin as I prayed for each one.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

Psalm 103:1 (ESV)

Six on Saturday: Bees & Birdhouses

It’s the blue-skied, breezy sort of day that lures you outside to just sit a spell and enjoy summer’s final days. I’m sitting in a comfy chair on my backyard deck, enjoying the sights and sounds around me while I sip on a cup of coffee from a favorite mug and spend a little time reading my Bible.

In addition to all the usual weed pulling, deadheading, and watering, we’ve kept pretty busy this week. My hubby has been busy building birdhouses for our yard. He’s been using the lumber salvaged from our former deck in his creations. The birds don’t really care one little tweet if their new homes are decorated, but I have been enjoying getting a little artsy with painting and embellishing them. I’ve got a spot all picked out for the latest creation…a nice spot between two trees in the backyard. I’ll post a pic once it’s in place.

The latest creation needs to find a spot in our yard. The little brass bit around the entry is salvaged from a kitchen faucet we recently upgraded.

Yesterday my hubby and I went to a new eye doctor to have long overdue eye exams. Of course, COVID-19 precautions meant they are being extra careful, so we parked in a shady spot and checked-in for our appointments via phone from our car, then were instructed to wait in our car until someone came out to the car to ask the screening questions.

Waiting in the car for your eye appointment isn’t so bad. Especially if your waiting room looks like this…

Hubby’s eyes had only a minimal change since his appointment four years ago. I had been noticing changes in my distance vision since my last appointment three years ago. Things weren’t quite as crisp and sharp as they used to be. Sure enough, my eyesight had indeed changed significantly, so now I wait for new lenses for my glasses.

The sweet chair garden by my 3-season porch is filling in nicely with a little stand of phlox. You might recall that a few of my granddaughters painted this chair for me last summer. (You can read a little about this chair here too.)

Bees are happy I decided to plant a few zinnia seeds in two of our raised beds this year. I enjoy cutting the zinnias and love creating little bouquets to take to my friends at BeeHive Assisted Living and Memory Care.

I hope you enjoyed the mini six photo tour of my garden this week. Most Saturdays during gardening season I join up with blogging gardeners around the world for a virtual garden tour. Six things, in the garden, on a Saturday. Could be anything – a flower, a tree or bush, a favorite gardening tool recommendation, a gardening dilema, a cool bug or critter…anything at all. Our little show ‘n tell is hosted by The Propagator, who shares what’s going on in his amazing garden, then invites others to share as well. If you’d like to take a peek at the gardens too, just click on The Propagator’s site and give his weekly post a read, then scroll on down to the comments section where you’ll find loads of links to explore. I know he’d love to have you join in on the fun too.

Hello August!

One highlight of my Saturdays is joining up with blogging gardeners from all around the world for a virtual garden tour. This group called Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator, who provides the inspiration and forum for a weekly, six photos at a time show ‘n tell. If you’d like to take a peek at the gardens too, just click on the Propagator’s site and give his weekly post a read, then scroll on down to the comments section where you’ll find loads of links to explore. Without further ado, here are my six (okay, I know it’s Monday, but a couple of grandgirls were here visiting and grandkids trump gardening and blogging).

My sweet grandgirls – I mentioned last week that I was away from home visiting family. On one of the days (the hottest day) I took my granddaughters to nearby Illiniwek Forest Preserve and did a little impromptu photo shoot. What a lovely place.

Such a sweet time with my three lovely grandgirls

Phlox Cleanup Experiment – If you read my last gardening post, Tending the July Garden, you might recall that before I left on that trip I had tried a homemade concoction for cleaning powdery mildew off my garden phlox.

Powdery Mildew Concoction:
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Liquid Soap (I used organic Seventh Generation)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Gallon Water

I also promised I would let you know how it worked.

In this photo you can see the before and after. Pretty dramatic. Not perfect, but I was pretty impressed.

Well… here’s how it looks a week later.

I’m pretty bummed. I think I’m on the right track though. The concoction works well, but I may have been a bit too aggressive in my cleaning and managed to bruise the leaves. I will back off on the liquid soap the next time, as I think it probably disturbs the protective coating of the leaves…maybe just a couple drops. I also think it will work better if I use it when I first notice powdery mildew.

‘Tie Dye’ – On a happier and more beautiful note, my hibiscus ‘Tie Dye’ is still busy producing stunning flowers in my front yard. (And Japanese beetles are still trying their hardest to devour them.) I showed you a closeup last week, but here’s a step back to show you it in scale relative to my front porch.

Daylily season is (sadly) coming to an end, but some of my late bloomers are still putting on a pretty good show. My husband and I enjoy this little deckside patch of daylilies while we enjoy our evening meal.

Annual Regret – It’s this time of year when I lament not having planted more flowers which would provide color through the fall months. I do have zinnia, petunias, cosmos, hydrangea, and a few other late summer bloomers trying to keep the show going. Joe Pye Weed and a native aster are also doing their thing right now keeping the bees buzzing and butterflies happily flitting about.

‘Mighty Chestnut’ is one of my late blooming daylilies which provides a punch of late summer magnificence. It’s a heavy bloomer – so many scapes and SO many flowers. When it is finished blooming, I hope I will remember to take a division or two from it and get it going elsewhere.

Let me end this week’s six photo tour with this thought:

“We might think we are nurturing our garden, but of course it is our garden that is really nurturing us.”

Jenny Uglow

Tending the July Garden

The philosopher who said that work well done never needs doing over never tended a garden. 
- Ray D. Everson

I’m away from home for a few days and envisioning weeds taking over my garden as I type and Japanese beetles treating my beautiful flowers as a sumptuous buffet.

Lily ‘Stargazer’

But time with my family trumps gardening. The garden can wait.

Right now my garden is awash in a rainbow of color. The peak of daylily season in my garden will inevitably begin to wane in the next week or two.

TOPGUNS ‘Mandarin M’elange’

A supporting actress has made its dramatic entrance in this week’s garden show: the beautiful balloon flower. The photo below captures several stages of its fascinating growth. First is the tight little pentagon-shaped bud. Then, almost overnight it seems to ‘inflate’ looking much like a balloon. As its petals unfurl, the blue-violet color begins to emerge and deepen. Then comes what I call the ‘fairy ballgown stage’ when the petals flare slightly open. Once fully open, the flower transforms into a sweetly upturned bell.

Platycodon grandiflorus (Balloon Flower)

Rose mallow (hibiscus) ‘Tie Dye’ is loaded with buds this year and should provide a punch of lovely pink until autumn. Though planted by the house, these beauties garner attention from passersby. It’s a bit of a challenge keeping Japanese beetles from munching on them, but I am keeping ahead of them so far.

Rose mallow (hibiscus) ‘Tie Dye’

Last week I mentioned my problem with powdery mildew and asked for your advice. One reader suggested washing with baking soda and water, so I mixed up this concoction and gave it a whirl on my favorite phlox, ‘Glamour Girl.’
Mix together:
1 Tbsp Baking Powder
½ tsp Liquid Soap (I used organic Seventh Generation)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 Gallon Water

Here’s a before and after – pretty dramatic cleanup, I would say. We’ll see if it works. I will give an update in a future post.

Before and After

Well, that’s my little garden tour for this Saturday. If you’d like to tour a few more gardens, check out Six on Saturday hosted by The Propagator who provides the inspiration and forum for a weekly, six photos at a time show ‘n tell. Just click on the Propagator’s site and give his weekly post a read; then scroll on down to the comments section where you’ll find links to a variety of gardens to explore. Have fun!

Daylilies like it hot

It’s going to be downright toasty today with temps expected to reach 90 degrees – factor in the humidity and we will have a “feels like” temperature of 102. Definitely not my idea of ideal gardening weather. I think it will be a wonderful day to chill out indoors and catch up on laundry and a bit of housework, finish reading a great book (that’s due to be returned to the library), work on a sewing project and (of course) write about gardening.

It’s a perfect day to post my blogging contribution to Six on Saturday: six things in the garden on a Saturday. The “six” can be anything – a flower, a success or failure, a weed you’re hoping the worldwide community of gardeners recognizes (and knows what to do to get rid of it), a project you’re working on, a gardening book you recommend, anything at all. Join in!

My six this week will focus a bit on daylilies (again), as that’s what’s in full swing in my garden. I thought I’d show off a few of the beautiful oranges and reds.

My garden is a riot of color, but does tend to lean toward yellows, pinks and purples. I have added oranges and reds over the past few seasons to heat things up a bit. Here’s a little collage of some of my favorites this week.

I never turn down an offer of help in my garden. This week’s help was exceptionally great. First, my wonderful hubby devised a way to feature a birdhouse my grandson painted for our garden last week. Charlie seems to have inherited the artsy gene, evidenced by the sweet autumnal birch trees he chose to paint on all four sides. Hubby sunk a post near our crabapple tree, added a sturdy scrolly hanger, then later topped the post with a solar lit cap (sorry, I don’t have a photo with the light on it). Perfect!

Grandson Charlie (age 12) wowed me with this amazing birdhouse

Over the past several summers, my grandgirls have helped me paint discarded chairs to serve as artsy flower rings and decor in my flowerbeds. My friend Anne Marie recently gifted me with two old chairs which once belonged to her grandmother. Yesterday, my granddaughter Noelle spent time helping me prep one of those chairs for painting. We have a color picked out (and it’s not purple this time!), but you’ll have to stay tuned to see what it is.

What color do you think it will be?

I didn’t get a photo of Noelle’s daddy (our son Matt) helping me with an especially weedy flowerbed. He pulled in an hour or two what would have taken me several days to accomplish. I am most grateful! One thing he uncovered was this bit of Phlox paniculata ‘Glamour Girl’ which apparently needed more air space and less moisture, judging by its heavy coating of mildew. So, I need a bit of advice from you, my gardening friends. Is there some way I can salvage this otherwise beautiful plant? (please offer your advice in the comments section below)

Phlox paniculata ‘Glamour Girl’ is looking pretty sad!

I have a few red daylilies strutting their stuff this week. For the past few summers, I have been dividing some of my red Stella D’Oro daylilies and planting them here and there in the borders of my garden. Next year I plan to add some purple Stellas. I love the Stellas because they are generally loaded with blooms from early summer through killing frost. Other than cutting back the spent scapes to encourage more scapes and blossoms, it’s such an easy plant with lots of pluses.

I have three other red daylilies that I especially like. One is a very deep burgundy red, teetering on black in certain lighting. The other two are more of a cardinal red. I have been dividing and transplanting bits of these plants for a few years now and am happy with the splashes of red in the riotous palette of color that comprises my mid-summer garden.

Well, that my six (okay, I know I cheated by adding the collages). One highlight of my Saturdays is joining up with blogging gardeners from all around the world for a virtual garden tour. This group called Six on Saturday is hosted by The Propagator, who provides the inspiration and forum for a weekly, six photos at a time show ‘n tell. If you’d like to take a peek at the gardens too, just click on the Propagator’s site and give his weekly post a read, then scroll on down to the comments section where you’ll find loads of links to explore.

Six on Saturday: Daylily Magic

It’s been a busy week in the garden – lots of weeding, tree and bush trimming, moving a few plants around, and snapping photos. Lots of photos. How do I choose just six for this week’s installment of ‘Six on Saturday’? Well, I guess I’ll start with an updated photo of one of my (new this summer) purple garden chairs.

The purple chair’s seat is filling in nicely with this show-stopper of a daylily (I’m pretty sure it’s ‘Elegant Candy’).

My granddaughter spent time with me last week helping me with a great deal of weeding. It was the push that I needed to continue making progress. Yesterday was spent weeding (a 55g bin filled to overflowing) and trimming overgrown bushes. My gardening muscles ached when I went to bed, but I slept well.

I have a hard time answering the question, “So, what’s your favorite color flower?” It pretty much depends on what is blooming at the time, but I know that I do love to plant splashes of yellow throughout my gardens. I’m really loving this little stand of yellow daylilies happily thriving under the dappled shade provided by our locust tree.

This deep fuchsia pink daylily and blue-green hosta combo nearly took my breath away with its beauty.

But I’ve been adding some hot colors to the garden in the past few years. This orange daylily ‘Tuscawilla Tigress’ is a new favorite.

Then again, there’s this coral beauty (forgot the name).

Ooooh! But, then there are so many charming pink daylilies too!

I go by the blogger name of ‘Barefoot Lily Lady’ and I think you can guess why. I find it fun to participate with gardeners from all around the world who invite people to virtual tours of their gardens every Saturday. The group is called Six on Saturday and is hosted by The Propagator, who provides the inspiration and forum for a weekly, six photos at a time show ‘n tell. If you’d like to take a peek at the gardens too, just click on the Propagator’s site and give his weekly post a read, then scroll on down to the comments section where you’ll find loads of links to explore.

July Gardening – Time for Daylilies to Shine

It has been sheer joy to be in my garden during the beautiful month of June. It has been a few years since I’ve had this much time to play in the dirt. There’s plenty left to do, but they are looking more cared for than they have in a long time.

Momma moved to heaven in May, so being able to tend to the minutiae of my flowerbeds without the extra responsibility of caregiving has been cathartic and heart healing. As I pull weeds with my mom’s favorite garden tool, I think of how much my mom loved to weed gardens. When I don her gardening hat, I see myself looking a little bit more like the remarkable woman my mom was. Flowers that I transplanted from her garden are now blooming in mine and my heart is reminded of her once again. It is so very comforting and beneficial.

Momma in her gardening hat – 2018

Now it is July and the month when my garden explodes with daylily wonderfulness. A few of my daylilies are opening, but many more are standing in the wings with bud-laden scapes, ready to burst into glorious blossom. Oftentimes I look at lilies and I think of a passage in scripture (Matthew 6:25-34) which reminds me I am under God’s care and that there is nothing to be anxious about. I especially love this bit:

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.”

Matthew 6:28-29
Stella de Oro ‘Happy Returns’

Yellow is such a happy color. I love to sprinkle it liberally throughout my flowerbeds. Stella de Oro ‘Happy Returns’ daylily is one of my favorites. A front of the border reliable rebloomer, it stands about 12 inches tall and boasts almost a continuous blooming habit from spring until frost, especially if spent flower scapes are cut back. It comes in many colors, but I think yellow is my favorite (although ‘Ruby Red’ runs a very close second).

Second-hand birdhouse with a fresh coat of paint

Hubby and I stopped at a Goodwill store in Wausau in the Rib Mountain area. Best. Goodwill. Ever! We admired how nicely displayed everything in the store was, how clean and tidy, clearly marked social distancing, friendly staff – you name it, this store was doing it right. Wayne found a birdhouse (see above) that he thought I might like to spruce up a bit. We bought it ($2.99), I (re)painted it, and it has found its place in my yard and is already attracting the attention of potential tenants.

Most of my hostas are flowering now. Isn’t this one sweet?

First zinnia to bloom this summer.

We have three small raised beds – about 4’x4′ each. One of the beds is devoted to strawberries, and the other two have typically been for a few veggies. Other than a single tomato plant, I decided that we’d give vegetable gardening a rest this year and plant zinnias. When I got home from a little holiday weekend today, I was happy to see one lovely pink zinnia had opened.

My guy chose me as his wife 44 years ago when we married on July 3, 1976. I’m thankful for Wayne in so many ways, including his support of my barefoot gardening endeavors.

I’m also thankful to be part of a group of gardeners from all around the world who can be found walking around their gardens snapping photos to post every Saturday. The group is called Six on Saturday and is hosted by The Propagator, who provides the inspiration and forum for a weekly tour of gardens – six photos at a time. If you’d like to take a peek at the gardens too, just hop on over to the Propagator’s site and give his weekly post a read, then scroll on down to the comments section where you’ll find loads of links to explore. See you next week for another six.

Six on Saturday: It’s a Dirty Job

It’s midnight. Given all the time I’ve spent the past few days in my garden, you’d think I’d be sleeping. This week has found me out in my garden tidying up flowerbeds. The casual passerby probably won’t notice what I accomplished, but I see it in the little things. Buckets and bins full of weeds and garden debris. Dead branches trimmed out of trees and bushes (courtesy of my wonderful husband). Spent peony blossoms removed. Bits of this and that moved here and there. Korean lilac bushes trimmed back by a third. Flowerbeds weeded and mulched. There’s much more to do, but it feels so good to see progress. Without further ado, here are my six:

  1. This week I’m seeing Japanese iris blooming. They always seem to wait until their German bearded iris and Siberian iris cousins are finished blooming before they unfurl their lovely petals. This one is my favorite and it looks adorable next to my painted mailbox (I keep a spare set of garden hand tools in there). The purple is not as vibrant as it was last year, but they are still gorgeous.

2) There’s a cute not-so-little backyard garden center on the edge of a nearby town. The lady pots up divisions of her perennials and sells them for $5 each. I try to visit her each Spring and bring home a new treasure (or two or three). Last year I added this lovely bit on the front edge of a very sunny front yard flowerbed. It has doubled in size, has very interesting and attractive crinkled foliage, and is loaded with flower spikes in the prettiest shade of purple. I think I’d like to add a few more of these to my garden next year (might even be able to divide this one).

Stachys monieri Hummelo –

3) I volunteered some time earlier in the week to tidying up the gardens at BeeHive, the assisted living memory care facility where my mom lived for the last year of her life. I was trimming up a dwarf crabapple tree and found this sweet little robin’s nest with three napping babies.

Snuck a quick photo while Momma Robin was out shopping for breakfast.

4). My clematis vines on my arbor entrance to the backyard are definitely climbing and just might meet up in the middle by summer’s end. The pink clematis on the left is ‘Princess Diana’, a lovely bell-shaped rebloomer. I should have trained it to the trellis earlier, as doing so now might damage some of the blossoms. I’m still not sure what the purple one on the right is called, but it’s a transplant from my mom’s garden in Milwaukee and I’m just happy it’s thriving and blooming at relatively the same time as ‘Princess Diana’.

I’m considering painting the arbor next year. It’s about 15 years old, but still in good shape; however, it seems to be made of 2 different metals, which are aging differently too. As you might have noticed in previous SOS posts, I’ve painted a lot of things purple as garden accents, but am unsure what I’d do with this. Should I leave it more neutral, or give the arbor a punch of color? (Please leave a comment below if you’d like to weigh in and help me decide.)

5) The surprise Asiatic lily bulb (a surprise only because I forgot that I planted it last fall and had NO IDEA what color it was) is now open. Definitely a pretty shade or orange.

6) And what would a garden be without lush greenery? I’m loving how much this hosta bed next to the deck on the north side of my house is filling out this year.

That completes my better late than never “Six on Saturday” post for this week. Here’s my invitation to join with me and gardeners from all around the world who post photos (words optional) of six things in the garden on a Saturday. Let me tip my hat to The Propagator, the creator of Six on Saturday, who provides the forum for gardeners to virtually traipse through one another’s gardens every week. It’s a lovely way to show off our gardens (both the pretty and the yummy), share knowledge, and even glean some advice for how to deal with our garden failures. Have a great week, friends.