The Lazy Gardener

Tiger lilies abound in the summer

Tiger lilies abound in the summer.

Another weekend has come and gone and I still have plants to get in the ground.  We did get some tomatoes in and bought some more vegetables, herbs and flowers to go in.  In my shade garden I’ve strategically placed the two new variegated hosta and three purple shamrocks in their pots in the border.  They are just staring back at me willing me to dig holes for them.  Same with the three lavender and two purple salvia.

So instead I think I’ll show you what is thriving.  Boy, do I love low-maintenance perennials like these tiger lilies.  The Lilium tigrinum is also known as the Ditch lily, as it grows alongside the road in many parts of America.  Our neighbors here in suburban Maryland often have large swaths of tiger lilies lining their roadsides and they are very stunning in the early summer.


Blue hydrangea, 'Endless Summer.'

Blue hydrangea, ‘Endless Summer.’


My across-the-street neighbor has masses and masses of blue hydrangea bushes in her front yard and they are always GORGEOUS.  Don’t you just love a neighbor who plants beautiful flowers in front so all can enjoy?  I do!  I gaze and long for her hydrangeas from the shade of my front porch all summer long while I’m not planting.


Blue and pink hydrangea.

Blue and pink hydrangea.


My street corner hydrangea looks a bit sad.  Those are dead peonies in the front.  They were pretty in pink when they bloomed in late spring before school was out.


Pink peonies from the garden.

Pink peonies from the garden.



Blue hydrangea, "Endless Summer."

Our hillside, not in focus. It’s my eyes, not the iphone camera.


I’m having better luck with the hydrangea bushes on my hillside.  Oo la la!  Too bad I can’t see those from my front porch or driveway.  Yes, I too, plant pretty flowers for all to enjoy, especially those who walk their dogs down that side of our street.  Those orange tiger lilies peeking out from the bank of hydrangeas have to be one of my most favorite combinations.  Give me more! Give me more!


Wild daisy perennials with some white cosmos.

Wild daisy perennials with some white cosmos.

I love white wild flowers too.  Especially daisies.  It would be pretty to have an all-white bloom garden.  I think the concept is called a “moonlight garden.”  Very romantic.


Old stone mushroom.

Old stone mushroom.


John’s mom received this stone mushroom stool as a gift for her garden many, many decades ago.  Now we have it in ours beneath a large tree.  Our cat, Sydney, loved to sit on top and taunt the birds.  It would be perfect in a photo shoot for a woodland fairy tale.

Now, off to clip some hydrangeas for the house and come back inside immediately, avoiding the glaring need for holes for plants and the mosquitos.







Imperfect Gardener

Entrance to the garden. Photo by Rebecca Penovich

Entrance to the garden.
Photo by Rebecca Penovich


Two summers ago, Allison and I ventured into a collaborative garden in her backyard. Previous owners of her Victorian-era home had put in five raised beds in a fenced and gated enclosure and Allison had gardened there, trying sweet corn and other vegetables.   It was a lot of space for one gardener.  So we hatched a plan for a communal garden; one that we would get our children involved in as free labor.

As my yard up the street is mostly shade in the front and on the sides (I’m specializing in hostas, vinca, and other shade-loving ground covers, including weeds) and my back yard is something we call the ‘back slab’ due to the concrete-pouring previous owners who had a basketball court back there,  I jumped at the opportunity to grow some vegetables, herbs, and flowers in the full sun they require.

Please plant me in full sun.

Please plant me in full sun. Except that variegated hosta.


We started slowly, clearing out 4 of the 5 beds in the first summer and planting herbs and tomatoes.  The next summer, I got a compost tumbler for Mother’s Day (yes, I put that on my wish list!) and we parked it next to the garden and started composting from our kitchens.  (Guilty admission:  Allison was doing most of the kitchen composting.)

We gradually expanded in the second year.  My husband rented a soil tiller from Home Depot and went to town digging up the beds and aerating them.  Allison, the kids, and I added the “Black Gold” from the homemade compost, and Allison’s husband spread fresh mulch over all to tamp down weeds.

Mulching is fun, right?

Mulching is fun, right?


We tried more things, including zucchini, cucumber, jalapenos, different varieties of tomatoes, zinnias, nasturtiums, lavender, and even patchouli (my nod to the Grateful Dead and college years.)

We’ve had some success (many herbs, Sun Gold tomatoes) and some failures (why oh why are we the only gardeners in America who can’t grow zucchini)?

We call this section 'Italy' for the basil, rosemary and lavender there.

We call this section ‘Italy’ for the basil, rosemary and lavender there.


We have planted from seed and from seedlings.  We do it with trial and error.  We see what works (and try to replicate that) and we see what doesn’t work (and try to figure it out or abandon the effort).

We are imperfect gardeners but enjoying the challenge.

This year, Allison wants to conquer the zucchini challenge (is it our soil? our seeds?) and I want more garlic scapes and onions for cooking.  Oh yes, and flowers, lots and lots of flowers!

How does your garden grow?

P.S.  Cheeky raccoons ate all of Allison’s crop of corn just as it was ripe.  Beat her to it by one day.