Six on Saturday – “Hello” to Autumn

Like most Midwestern gardeners, my season in the garden for 2018 is coming to a close and, as always, I have so much left to do. Over the past few summers, taking care of Momma has been my first priority with time spent in the garden has been very limited. This year Momma lives with me, so my gardening strategy has been to squeeze at least one gardening task into one of her daily naps. I know I’ve accomplished a lot more this year than the past two or three, but I still feel a tad bit overwhelmed. I have four new daylilies (purchased in June) which are still awaiting planting in my flowerbeds, hostas I’d like to divide, weeds that need to be pulled, bushes needing trimming, mulching that should be done, and my newly arrived mail-order of new tulip and daffodil bulbs awaiting burial in a sunny garden location. I’ve had all sorts of reasons (excuses) –  hot rainy weather paired with mosquitoes; cold rainy weather paired with soggy ground; and plain ol’ busyness paired with the tiredness that comes from late nights taking care of my mom as she wrestles with the fiend, Alzheimer’s.

With only a suggestion, my wonderful husband painted a few of my garden trellises to renew their almost spent life cycle. Here’s one he painted red for me. It looks amazing as a backdrop for some orange zinnias that are still lookin’ snazzy on the edge of a flowerbed awaiting fall cleanout.

One of autumn’s faithful beauties is most definitely sedum. So, so, so pretty.

Our fireplace woodpile houses a few chipmunks who love to use the top log as their stage for their morning ‘chippy’ serenades. I noticed something fun when I was looking through photos…their stage has a lovely heart shape in the wood-grain on the end.

One of my favorite shades of green in the garden is this one – a lovely chartreuse-y green that lights up the garden wherever it is planted. This ‘Tiger-Eye’ Sumac graces the north-east corner of our backyard deck.

I don’t recall planting cosmos this year, but I’m loving this fuchsia pink volunteer…and so are the visiting bees.

This beautiful cherry red zinnia makes me smile too. With very little effort, late summer and early fall are rewarded with this cheery flower. I’m a perennial gardener, but there is always room for zinnia in my gardens.

And I always, always wish I had planted more zinnia.

Well, I hope you enjoyed my very first contribution to ‘Six on Saturday’– a fun blog meme hosted by  The Propagator, and introduced to me by Carolee, whose blog “Herbal Blessings” makes me aspire to be a better gardener. Please take a moment to check out both of their blogs. You’ll soon find yourself virtually wandering through some pretty amazing gardens all over the world and I guarantee  you will learn something along the way.

 

 

Peonies: A Father’s Day Memory

A summer thunderstorm knocked off the petals of most of the lovely peony blooms last night. Thankfully, a few tightly closed buds hold promise of beauty yet to unfurl in this summer’s peony finale. As the peonies fade in their glory and prepare for curtain call and their final bow, the daylilies in their own splendidly colorful petaled costumes stand in the wings ready to take center stage and continue the summer’s floral show.

I’m excited for that show too, but I so wish the peony extravaganza would last a little longer! It’s so hard to say goodbye to the peonies each year.  Continue reading “Peonies: A Father’s Day Memory”

Winter Drags On

Spring keeps teasing us here in Wisconsin, drawing us out of our houses for walks in the sunshine or a little time in the garden, and has us washing the salt off of our cars and sweeping out the garage. Then, BAM! Winter is back!

To think that just a week or so ago I was working out in the garden without my jacket and sometimes without my shoes Continue reading “Winter Drags On”

Setting the Caregiving Stage

I love to get my hands and feet dirty. Try as I might, I can’t seem to keep my shoes or gloves on when I garden. I guess I’m a tactile sort of person who enjoys the feeling of the warm earth squishing between my toes or sifting through my fingers. I try my best to make things grow, but know in my heart that very little of it is up to me.

Landscape designer Tish Treherne wrote an article for Sunset magazine that I really enjoyed. Tish wrote about how she designed her personal garden space around their gorgeous waterfront home. She likes to keep things slightly wild looking by “loosely layering unfussy perennials.” I love her garden design philosophy and enjoyed reading her description of how the plants she chose nestle into one another like puzzle pieces to create a seemingly effortless whole. 

I start planning my garden in the dead of Wisconsin’s winter when the first seed catalog comes in the mail. I get out my Sharpie marker and circle the flowers that capture my attention in the catalog pages and dream about where I’d put them in the garden. I get out my garden journal and jot down a few notes about what I’d like to plant, what I want to move, which plants I’d like to dig out, and what I’d like to purchase.

Whether shopping by catalog, or cruising the aisles of my favorite garden centers, I pay attention to the description of each plant, determining whether I have adequate space or light, or whether I’m in the right planting zone. My dear husband fully supports my need for dirt therapy, allowing me to add to my cart whatever little lovely attracts my eye.

Bug-infested Roses

Even with careful planning, planting and faithful watering, not all of my plantings survive. I have lost count of how many failed butterfly bush and clematis vines I have planted. Likewise, each tulip and daffodil bulb I plant in the fall holds the promise of a gorgeous bloom to follow in the spring, but not all of the bulbs I plant make it. Winters can be harsh, Springs too wet or too hot, cute little critters eat my plants and bulbs, disease strikes, insects munch away. Like Tish said in her wonderful article,

“You’re setting the stage as a designer, but you don’t have total control over what’s going to happen.”  ~Tish Treherne

I often draw parallels for life from my garden, and Tish’s philosophy holds true on that front as well. As I seek to take care of my mother’s increasing needs for care, I am just setting the stage as a designer. With the help of our family, my husband and I turned our dining room into a lovely bedroom for her. She has a special spot at our kitchen table where she can watch the birds and view the gardens. We make sure she has meals that are reasonably healthy, treats that make her life enjoyable. I make sure she receives appropriate medical and dental care, and that she is adequately clothed and groomed. We try our best to ensure her safety by putting up baby gates, installing handrails, building half-steps, using video monitoring systems while she sleeps, and making sure someone is with her 24-hours a day.

I can design a stage for her care, but I do not have total control over what’s going to happen. She may take a fall. She will undoubtedly get a urinary tract infection and have hallucinations which will keep her (and us) awake. If this disease takes the usual sad course, she will lose the ability to walk, talk, swallow, toilet herself, or perform even the most basic of personal care. I have absolutely no control over her future. I have no idea what even this day will bring forth. But God does, and He will give me wisdom for the next step of Momma’s life journey…and mine.

In the meanwhile, we will enjoy the flowers that survived, each moment of restful sleep, the birds playing in the fountain, the September breezes, porch-sittin’ days, visits from family and friends, knees that are sorta working today, and all the other beautiful daily benefits that come from God’s storehouse of blessings.

 

Life: Just a Few Handbreadths

As I take care of Momma, the familial aspect of Alzheimer’s disease sometimes scares me. That fear isn’t all bad, in that it helps me realize that it is true that my lifetime is just a “few handbreadths,” a “mere vapor” that will pass before I know it. What I do with my days really does matter. Continue reading “Life: Just a Few Handbreadths”