Summer is speeding by and with August in the rearview mirror we’re getting some relief from the heat and finally some rain. Despite the serious lack of rain during late spring and through most of summer my garden has soldiered on. I made good use of the rain barrels and each time when I got close to the bottom of the barrels, we got more rain and it all filled up again.
The butterfly garden, which is now in it’s fourth year, doesn’t need much help from me. Despite the seriously compacted heavy clay soil, most plants continue to do well. Unfortunately, the buds on my lilac dried up in early May when it was hot, dry and windy, but there is always next year to look forward to.
The last three years I lined the walkway through this garden with annuals. The first year it was yellow snapdragons; year two melampodium (a small yellow daisy-like flower), year three bright red celosia. In year two, after setting out the melampodium, snapdragons sprouted here and there. Mostly yellow, but a few red ones popped up and I let these volunteer seedlings intermingle among the other plants. Last year, again, various snapdragons reappeared and with it a new crop of melampodium. This spring, when it finally got warm, not only did volunteer snapdragons and melampodium pop up again; they were joined by bright red celosia. The combination of various yellows with bright reds enticed bees, flies, beetles and butterflies and it didn’t cost me a penny. This will probably continue for years to come and other than digging up the occasional plant which has reseeded itself in the middle of my paths and moving it over to the beds, I whole heartedly approve of the way nature is taking care of the garden.
While I allow for generous reseeding in this garden, I stay on top of weeding. After all, this garden is a front garden and I want to show that you can have a fully planted garden that looks great instead of a lawn. Similarly, the hell strip in front of the butterfly garden, (that piece of land between street and sidewalk) is planted with a variety of annuals and perennials, rather than with grass. Because there is no mulch in this hell strip garden, most weeds crop up here and I spent more time weeding this small strip than anywhere else in the gardens. Weeding after a good downpour allows me to pop up weeds root and all and eliminate them, hopefully forever. It’s a monthly chore, but a necessary one and it allows everything else growing there its moment to shine and that makes the work worthwhile!