Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June Muse Day . . . Excuses, excuses

It's the first of June, and to me that means summer, even if the summer solstice is still three weeks away.  It's certainly felt like summer the past two weeks with temperatures in the high 80's and even the nineties, along with the high humidity of a typical Illinois summer.

Tarzan naps while I garden.

Today is also Garden Muse Day held on the first of every month.  I haven't had much time to think of or find an appropriate poem for June, so here is my feeble parody of a familiar nursery rhyme:

Little Prairie Blue, come bring your hoes
The crabgrass is in the veggies, and the bindweed in the roses.
Where is the gardener while the weeds do creep?
She's on her cool couch, fast asleep!

Pretty lame, I know, but can you think of a flower that rhymes with hoe??  Besides, quite frankly, I have been feeling very overwhelmed lately.   Between the heat and frequent rainy days, I have had trouble getting everything done in the garden.  My typical early morning routine of coffee and blogging has been cut short in order to get an early start in the garden before the sun's rays get too strong.  Still, after a few hours, the sweat is running into my eyes, and my knees and arms ache from bending and digging.  After an early lunch, I collapse on the couch and spend the afternoon in the comfort of air conditioning.  With another birthday soon approaching, I'm beginning to wonder--am I getting too old to garden??

Besides the weather, another obstacle to my own gardening is trying to put in as many MG volunteer hours  as possible.  The past three Saturday mornings have found me in the Idea Garden, including two stints planting the Annual Color Garden assigned to the new interns. In the photo above you can see only two of my friends in the front area, but what you don't see are the other 20 or so in the rest of the annual garden on this very hot day.  Wouldn't it be nice to have this much help at home?!  Then there are the hours spent manning the help line in the Extension Office, where at least it's cool--too cool, in fact--but where I am learning how much I still have to learn. 

Meanwhile, the pot ghetto in front of my garage door keeps growing as I keep buying more plants . . . I haven't been able to find my favorite Persian Shield in any of the garden centers this spring, but I have found lots of other plants I didn't even know I needed.  I have many containers to fill, but this is one I don't need to worry about. This dianthus has been coming back in the same pot--and the same soil--for three years now! I should plant such a persistent flower in the garden, but I hate to upset it when it seems so happy being neglected.  And somebody should tell those pansies it's too hot to bloom:)

I have been a woman on a mission . . . a mission proceeding at a snail's pace.  While the frequent rain showers have kept me from getting all the plants in the ground, they have enabled the weeds to grow by leaps and bounds.  I have kept my nose literally to the ground, too busy to even take photos of the changes in the garden.  The chives, which along with the parsley survived the winter, sported lovely lavender blooms the past two weeks, but I didn't think to take out my camera until they had faded to a dull shade.

There are new blooms appearing each week, many of them new to the garden this year, which have not gotten the attention they deserve as I hoe and plant.  Inspired by Chicago gardens last spring, several types of allium were added last fall, including these, which I believe are Allium Roseum.  The catalog described their blooms as a dainty pink, but these are pure white.

Definitely pink, however, is this surprise bloomer--Penstemon X.  It's a little hard to see its bell-shaped blooms, I know, with the PPPP competing for attention in the back. Both were gifts from Gail on a visit to her garden last October--thank you, Gail!  I remember finding a small bare corner in the butterfly garden last fall to quickly plant them in, but I think the Penstemon deserves a spot all its own for next year.

Another Penstemon, 'Husker Red,' I think, is a passalong from Beckie.  I can see this one is going to pop up more frequently each year, as the one I received from Beckie has now turned into two plants.  In fact, the Butterfly and Friends garden is full of lots of re-seeders this year as well as many surprises.  A post on this garden will be written as soon as I have time . . . Isn't it ironic that there was plenty of time for blogging all winter long when the ground was covered with nothing but snow, but now that there is so much going on in the garden, there isn't enough time to show it all?

I have a bad habit of stressing myself out, with self-imposed deadlines and worrying about the loss of stamina I once had.   I realized after looking at my posts from last year, that I am actually ahead of schedule compared to this time last year.  I need to take a deep breath and remember that gardening is supposed to be fun and relaxing.  I need to return to that mindset where I look around the garden and simply enjoy what I see, like the return of the bees, rather than see what still has to be done.

One thing that has definitely brought me joy the last two weeks is the re-appearance of butterflies.  After the scarcity of butterflies we had last year, it is so reassuring to see them returning in large numbers this summer.

The Red Admirals are particularly numerous, covering their favorite purple blooms of the Nepeta here or the Salvia 'May Night' above (shown with the bumblebee). 

They have cavorted about, literally dancing through the air and providing another hot-afternoon diversion for Toby and Sophie--"Butterfly television":)

But the most exciting of all?--The hummingbirds have returned!  I think this little lady was so glad that I finally got around to putting out the feeders that she stayed just long enough for me to take some photos.  This is about as good a photo as my point and shoot camera will allow, but I'm happy.

Yes, I think it's going to be a good summer!

Gardening requires lots of water--most of it in the form of perspiration.
--Lou Erickson

For other musings on this first day of June, please visit our hostess, the talented Carolyn Gail at Sweet Home and Garden Chicago.


  1. I know just how you feel regarding not having the stamina you used to have. Geez. It gets more difficult to get everything accomplished every year. I have to do everything I want before it heats up. I don't like to get out there to sweat up a storm. UGH... I think the mindset should be do what you are comfortable with and try to enjoy it. There are only self imposed rules in the garden.

  2. Rose girl I so understand your worry about how on earth can I continue this each year !! I won't mention the getting older part.. no one needs to admit to THAT one ? ;-) .. You are getting more rain than we are (although for the first time in weeks we are getting a sprinkle right now .. never enough though !) ..
    I have been MIA with the discs in my back screaming at me and it has nearly driven me mad .. Husband held my arm yesterday so I could take a few pictures .. so much is leaping forward and begging for attention .. and I am still trying to recover .. worst possible predicament for a gardener at the height of the season ? aarrgghh !
    I too have found odd missing annuals this year .. you with the Persian Shield .. me with no Diamond Frost euphorbia ? what is going on ? I love Tarzan's nap mode .. and Sophie with her feline buddy watching butterfly TV .. how cool is that ? haha
    Yes girl .. we could all use those extra bodies in our own gardens .. click our heals three times and wish VERY hard ? haha
    In spite of all that is going on you got your post in girl ! Congrats : )

  3. Humming bird time again, already?! This year is going so fast!

    Lovely photos as always, it is grey and wet here! So lovely to cheer up the day with your post, thank you.

    Think of you often :)

  4. Before I write another word, let me say that seeing that photo of Toby and Sophie, made my heart happy.

    I hate missing even one of your posts, but I'm also having trouble in the stamina department. Slowly, I'm coming to the realization that it's okay if I don't do EVERYTHING.

    Very early morning has always been my computer time, but lately I've been sleeping later because of being exhausted from the day before. Oh, where is that young, energetic woman I used to be? lol

    Persian Shield was on my list this year, but I haven't seen it either. Did you ever plant your Zahara Starlite Rose Sinnia seeds? I did, but doubt that the scraggly little seedling will ever amount to anything.

    It's always a pleasure to visit Prairie Rose's Garden.


  5. That's a great picture of Sophie and Toby!

    I, too, am feeling overwhelmed, in almost every way. The summer heat certainly doesn't help. You're smart, staying inside when it gets too hot.

  6. That photo of Tarzan and Sophie is just precious!

    It certainly looks like summer at your place. I feel the same way - overwhelmed, exhausted and behind on most things. Hopefully we'll all get caught up soon. Because napping like dear Tarzan looks very appealing! :)

  7. Butterfly television...I like that! Isn't it wonderful to have the hummers back? Everything in your garden looks wonderful, Rose!

  8. It sure does seem like blogging has slowed down. Time for a break for sure. You identified the red admiral for me! I had no idea what type it was but saw one recently. Butterfly television must be most fun judging by the expressions!

  9. I love how Toby and Sophie are both so alert--that is one awesome photo. And Tarzan really has the right idea. I don't think anyone is ever to old to garden, who REALLY WANTS to garden. I think gardens get bigger as one gets older (I know even mind feels huge to me these days), so one can have TOO MUCH to garden, yes. I also volunteer for MG hours, and enjoy it, but always in the back of my mind when I'm tending others gardens I think "Hey, dummy, you should be working in your OWN garden." Mine just feels so overwhelming--I really do have a lot of area to keep up--whereas when I volunteer I'm giving one or two manageable tasks that I can complete. Success! Progress! Those things never happen in my garden, which is an ongoing project. :)

  10. Hi Rose, I know how you feel. The job, my aging parents, the house/garden/lawn is wearing me down too. And the summer is just starting...

    Anyway, your plants are beautiful!!! Hang in there:)

  11. Rose, give yourself a break please. You have done so much since I have known you. Sometimes we really do have to stop, draw breath, and just look around. Each day, regardless, I walk the garden in solitude. Even in the depths of winter I do this......

    The hummingbird is beautiful...how lovely to have them in your garden....along with the butterflies and bees. Your gardens are changing, the wildlife know......you will attract more and more beautiful creatures.

    Take care Rose.......

  12. Rose, I agree with Donna, "my heart feels happy." Toby and Sophie are so intent and in the present. Here we are in arid California waiting for the sun to shine and you are already perspiring! Your garden is truly beautiful and I hope you'll be able to relax and enjoy soon.

  13. There never seem to be enough hours in the day Rose and I certainly wish that I could turn the clock back too. Here we are suffering from a very dry spring - was lugging the watering can round most of April it seemed. Enjoyed your post Rose and fell in love with Tarzan and penstemon X.

  14. Rose, you know you have sympathy re the heat! Those afternoons on the sofa are good for you ... you're recharging both physically & mentally! Plus I'll bet Sophie and Toby love having you to snuggle with.

    If you have a Lowe's by you, check there for the Persian Shield. I saw one gallon pots of it at mine yesterday.

  15. I agree that the irony of wanting to blog in summer but not having time is pretty ridiculous. Also, we have had butterflies return here as well! Such a welcome site!

    And like everyone else said, give yourself a break! Your garden is already beautiful!

  16. Hey Rose, I liked your poem, short and to the point.

    You have some beautiful blooms going on. I have that same Husker Red penstemon for the first time. So far it has done well blooming.

    Can't blame Tarzan for wanting to take a nap. As hot as it was here today I wanted to do the same thing.

  17. Dear Rose, Aging is not for sissies or so a comedienne has quipped! What I've found is the heat/humidity get to me much more then the aches~So I quit before too much pain sets in!

    I just love that Penstemon X is blooming for you~let it go to seed and you'll be rewarded with more!


  18. Don't stress yourself out so much Rose. It's hard to do as much as you're trying to do and blog as well. Thanks for sharing all the great shots today. Love the cat & dog watching the butterflies, lol. :)

  19. Lisa, Glad to know I'm not the only one who feels this way. I think the heat especially is getting to me.

    Joy, Sorry to hear about your back. This is definitely not the time of year to be laid up; I hope you're feeling better soon. I've found lots of Diamond Frost here--maybe we could make a trade:)

    Suburbia, I was so excited to see the hummers back again. When it's not raining here, it's sooo hot!

    Donna, I'm glad you enjoyed the photo of Toby and Sophie--they were mesmerized by the butterflies flying around the window. I did plant some Zahara Starlights, but my seedlings were leggy, too, so it remains to be seen if they'll ever bloom.

    Sweet Bay, I may impose too many rules on myself, but on these hot days I stick to one rule--staying indoors in the afternoon!

    Kate, I've taken far too many naps lately:) But the heat really zaps my energy, so I might as well give in.

    Nancy, Thanks; I was so excited to see the hummers found the feeder.

    Tina, I used to confuse the Red Admirals with Painted Ladies, but I've finally got these two names down...now about 1,000 to go:) I've noticed a real drop in blog comments lately--I think we're all too busy in the garden.

    Monica, I just loved watching Sophie and Toby watching the butterflies--I should have taken a video! You've put your finger on exactly how I feel. I'm really enjoying working in the Idea Garden and my other volunteer hours, but I keep thinking, when am I going to get MY garden done??

  20. I am in total sympathy. In addition to being so busy in our own gardens when so much needs to be done Immediately! - there are all those community projects. I am not an MG, but I'm on the Bridge of Flowers committee and we just had our big plant sale as did the Garden Club. Lots of happy work that benefits our communities.

  21. Marnie, I'm glad to know I'm not alone in feeling this way. With your added responsibilities it must be even more difficult to keep up with everything. I think things will slow down once everything is planted.

    Cheryl, The last two weeks have just been very busy and rather frustrating with the heat. I'm almost done planting, so I'll take a breather then. Thanks for reminding me to slow down and just enjoy!

    Amy, Someone I met recently said she was leaving for California for a vacation and was looking forward to cool weather:) Summer has come early here.

    Anna, I was lugging around the hose, too, during these hot days. But the rains have returned, so I won't have to do that for awhile...nor will I be able to get back in the garden!

    Cindy, I shouldn't complain about our heat--I know Texas must be much worse! Our local Lowe's had a disappointing assortment of annuals this year; usually I can find lots of good choices there.

    Rose, I'm remembering all the snow-covered plants I posted in December:) Now I don't have time to get a picture of everything in bloom!

    Susie, You're the first one to comment on my silly rhyme:) I think it must be hot everywhere in the U.S.!

    Gail, Love that quote! The heat is what gets to me the most, too. I'm so happy about the Penstemon; I wish I had gotten a better photo of it, though.

    Racquel, Thanks; I've just had a few frustrating days--the heat makes me cranky:) Sophie and the cats are so much fun to watch; glad you enjoyed them.

  22. Now i know why the rain we have long been waiting doesn't come early, they outpoured more than enough in your place, hahaha! Your pansies are so lovely and of course the rest of them too. However, i am amused by your cat because it looks like one of our three. If you think it is already hot there and difficult to garden, wait until you experience our heat and humidity, grrrrr! thanks for your visit in my site.

  23. Oh Rose, thank you for writing my post for me! You've just said everything I've been thinking but haven't had the motivation or energy to write!! Same old aches & pains, same old heat/humidity tolerance diminishing, same old feeling of needing to slow down! Spending time in the garden has taken precedence over blogging and blog visiting, for me. And I have found it extremely ironic, as well! So much is blooming but I haven't taken many photos...but am working like a dog and basically just trying to 'experience' each moment rather than write about it! I've been thinking that maybe, if photos eventually get taken, I will post them during those cold, boring winter months. Maybe we could all do that! Instead of the old 'Christmas in July' saying, perhaps we could use 'July at Christmas'!!!?? Your animals look very content. And I hope you will be, too. Enjoy your summer, and your garden, and everything else you are doing. Do what you can and what you WANT, and do not allow guilt to set in! Take care;-) Jan

  24. Rose I hear you on the bending and aching happening in the joints...I have now learned to pace myself.Work stop rest refresh snack and it seems to help. I used to go all day without stopping..you know we gardeners lose track of time.Post chemo I find that my stamina is NOT what it used to be!
    No how cute is that portrait of the fur babies watching burrerfly TV!
    We too have been getting lots of hummers come by for their daily drinks!
    Come by my place I am serving fresh lemonade with LOTS of frills!
    Take it easy in your garden Rose.
    BTW here we are experiencing heat and humitity with only one day of rain!!!I'm doing the rain dance daily...my frills are wilting!!

  25. I hear you big time, Rose, sighing, watching you plant! I can't keep up either ... you are not alone. Between tending my huge gardens here and running back & forth to the lake (tending and tweaking there too), both head and body ache. Thankfully, we just closed on my sister's house at the lake (one less home to worry about) but must be out this month. Happy June gardening :)

  26. Rose, I can so relate. Not enough time yet we need to take time to "smell the roses". I loved that shot of Sophie and Toby. Before I got my full time job (just 3 weeks ago), I would garden early in the morning and then blog in the cool of the AC in the afternoon. Give it a try!

  27. Rose dear, you sound just like my mother--and me! I call it the Martha Effect--always worried about what needs to be done instead of sitting and doing what is more important--enjoying the garden. Mine has totally gotten away from me. The weeds are very happy, but then so are the flowers and wildlife.

    Tarzan is so handsome--what a good gardening buddy--so patient! Toby and Sophie look so sweet--like they are saying their afternoon prayers--most likely that God would open the window so they could catch those pretty fluttering thingies! ;-)

    You do wonderfully with your little point and shoot camera--much better than I do. Love that quote--it is so true. If my sweat could water my plants they would be lush and green without the need of the water hose.

  28. Hi Rose,

    What a busy lady you are. I can empathize with wanting to stay inside right now. I am in love with my air-conditioner this time of year. I love your recurring dianthus. They are so pretty. Isn't gardening much more fun with companions such as Toby and Sophie?

    PS. Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments.

  29. There's always so much to do, isn't there, and seemingly not enough time to do it all in. But it's okay. We're into a period of wet, which is keeping me out of the garden because I mean WAYYYY wet, but I am working away on the book and watching the hummingbirds from my windows too. So glad the hummers and butterflies are populating your garden so happily, and I Love 'butterfly television', a channel our kitties don't seem to subscribe to. :-)

  30. Great snaps of the humming bird!

    Of course you're not too old! Just slow down, relax. You have all the time in the world!


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