Sunday, August 9, 2009

Christening the Garden . . .

Throughout the summer I have mentioned in posts and comments about my new wild/butterfly garden. Now that it's finally full of blooms, I wanted to share it with you and to ask your help in choosing the right name for this new area. But first a little history . . .

Last summer I got the bright idea to turn an ugly area of the back yard into a "wild" garden where extra plants could spread at will. This is the area I often call the "back forty," which isn't forty acres at all, obviously. It's a circular patch of lawn between the house and main yards and the outbuildings of the farm. Forty years ago, the old farmhouse sat in the lower front area of this picture.

Not to mislead you in any way, this garden is a small area, perhaps 10 feet square--except it's not square, of course, more of a hexagonal shape, if anything. It is bordered on the left by the well pit (very convenient for watering), on the right by the old cistern, and on the back side by a concrete pad leading to the ugly, but necessary, fuel tanks needed for the large tractors working the nearby fields. In the summer, hollyhocks grow all around this area and weeds grow behind it:) You can barely see a spot in front of the fuel tanks where newspapers were laid down in an attempt--later aborted--at lasagna gardening. Mr. Procrastinator kindly tilled up part of the area on Mother's Day for me, but he didn't realize I meant a larger area than it first appeared. Later I tilled up more, but the size of the actual garden became smaller than intended as the end of May approached, and the gardener's arms grew weary from the jarring motion of the tiller.

I was determined not to have any kind of formal planting plan, just to plant whatever struck my fancy wherever there was room. Last spring I transplanted coneflower seedlings and yarrow here, as well as some pass-along false sunflower from Beckie, who warned me these yellow pretties might take over. These three plants eventually could take over this whole area, but of course, I am too impatient to wait for that, so other plants were purchased to fill in the bare spots.
Should I call this my Wild Garden?

Beckie and I attended a plant sale in the spring sponsored by the local herb society and the Prairie Plant Society, where I made several purchases which went into the new garden. The Obedient Plant pictured above was beginning to bud on Sunday, but by Wednesday it lay on the ground, its stem broken near the soil line. Perhaps it was a victim of the strong winds on Tuesday, but another possibility might be a certain errant Golden Retriever lunging through the garden on one of her butterfly-chasing expeditions. Another native, the Blazing Star, fizzled out soon after planting.

The two Joe-Pye weeds, however, survived and are finally putting out some buds. But they have been disappointingly short, not the tall plants expected when placed at the back of the garden. Oh well, perhaps they'll take a growth spurt next year . . .

Another native, Rudbeckia "Goldsturm" is also a survivor. The lack of any formal plan can be seen here as this Susan is completely overshadowed by the much taller orange cosmos in front of it.

Could this be the beginnings of a Native Garden?

After the natives were planted, various seeds were sown, each area carefully marked with a neatly lettered plant marker. However, many seeds failed to germinate, and weeds began to encroach upon all bare spots. Several times throughout the summer, in fact, I thought the most appropriate name for this area would be my Weed Garden:)

Eventually I gave up on the no-shows and weeded the area ruthlessly, planting other seedlings in their place. Cleome, purchased as a small four-pack, have done extremely well this year, better than the larger plants purchased last year.

A new perennial pink Salvia, "Eveline, " needed a home and found an empty spot in the garden, as did a new "Black and Blue" salvia.

The quirky pink Gomphrena didn't fit in anywhere else, but found a niche in this anything-goes garden. Later, empty spots in the garden provided temporary homes for a few of the new daylily purchases.

Looking at the garden today, perhaps I should call it a Hodge-Podge Garden?

Seed sowing was not a complete failure, however. Remember the cast iron pot I bought earlier this summer? It was planted with nasturtium seeds and placed atop a stump I found.

Bright orange and yellow blooms were meant to draw the eye upward, away from the weeds:)

The only problem is that I didn't take into account how tall the Bachelor's Buttons would grow. I love these bright blue blooms even though they hide the potted nasturtiums. Oh well, this is a garden where surprises abound.

Many of the seeds started indoors last spring either didn't germinate or didn't survive transplanting. Those sown directly in the garden like this pink cosmos seemed to fare better.

Many of my seeds came from some dear blogging friends, like the orange cosmos pictured above and in the very first photo which came from Tina . They have amazed me with their height and prolific blooms and are the first plant to draw your eye to this area.

These delicate little blooms are Nigella, or "Love in a Mist," sent from the UK by Cheryl. I should have had more blooms from other friends, including some Tennessee Coneflowers from Gail, "Kiss-Me-Over-the-Garden-Gate" from Monica, and Verbena Bonosenarius from Cheryl. But I think the Tennessee Coneflowers didn't like Illinois soil, and I have a suspicion that the other two may have been mistaken for weeds when they first emerged and fell victim to a ruthless hoe one day. Maybe next year I'll do a little better . . .

Besides the gift of seeds from friends, I also have passalong plants from Beckie--the false sunflower and goat's beard. Then my father gave me these small annual phlox he had grown from seed.

Maybe I should call this my Friendship Garden?

Kneeling in the garden the other day while weeding, I caught the distinct fragrance of lemon and sage from the lemon verbena and the pineapple sage plants. A hint of lavender nearby also reached my nose. Besides the smells and the visual and tactile effects, the garden is full of the pleasant sounds of birds in the nearby apple trees and the buzzing of the ever-present bees.

Another choice . . . the Sensory Garden?

One day I heard a steady hum and looked up startled to see a hummingbird no more than 3 feet from my face. Of course, by the time I had the presence of mind to grab my camera he had flown to a nearby tree. You can barely make him out in the photo above, but I keep trying--he's become a frequent visitor to the garden lately.

Although there was no real plan to this garden, I did try to plant many species that would attract the hummingbirds and butterflies. Several Bee balm and butterfly weeds are two of those not pictured here. Attracting the hummingbirds has been a success, but the butterflies have been conspicuously absent for the most part. Until yesterday, that is . . . While watering the nasturtiums, a beautiful Monarch butterfly swooped down and rested on the cosmos. Of course, no camera was at hand! I rushed back into the house for the camera, but she had moved on to other areas.

She paused just long enough on this zinnia in the main garden for me to get proof of her existence here, although she refused to open her wings.
I'm hoping this is just the first of more to come---could I dare to call this my Butterfly Garden?

So there you have it--this is what this little garden looks like today. Not a very flattering photo, especially in the bright sunlight. But if you were here, we could explore it together, finding all the little hidden surprises tucked in every nook and cranny and behind the taller flowers. For example, just today I was surprised that a "weed" I had left in place turned out to be . . .

. . . a blooming Poppy! Thank you, Cheryl!

All I need is a name for this wild/native/weed/hodge-podge/friendship/sensory/butterfly garden . . . What do you suggest?


  1. Hi Rose, I suggest Sunshine Garden because the plants are so colorful and sunshine also includes the ideas of butterflies and friendship, I think. Now, I don't want to rain ont he sun, but that doesn't look like Joe Pye weed to me... isn't that normally pink/purple, even in bud? If it remains white, it could be boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum), which goes very well with Joe Pye Weed. :)

  2. Ah the naming of the garden. I say name it whatever its purpose is or location and make sure you can remember it. Perhaps hodgepodge might be best to combine all the other possible names? Not sure but I tend to forget my garden names unless they are straight forward. So glad those cosmos are doing great. You can't beat them for color all season. Mine usually self seed but I collect seeds just in case for next year as I couldn't garden without the cosmos. Great you got a poppy blooming! I think we often weed seedlings without knowing and it is an awful feeling. Good luck naming it! P. S. I think it a beautiful garden with lots of texture and color like Monica said.

  3. How lovely, Rose! It's a gorgeous garden, with lots of love throughout it...lots of friendship, too! I love all of the categories you placed it in, but it does appear to be sun-related (since it's in the sun, right?) and obviously it reminds you of friends who have sent you seeds...what about 'my sunny friendly garden'? Whatever you name it, it's very cheerful indeed! PS I just planted two Obedient Plants but until I read your post I couldn't remember what they were called! Thanks for reminding me!

  4. Whatever you call it, the garden is just lovely. I'm sure you have many more butterfly visits to look forward to! I should look through my seed stash and see what I have that you might be able to grow there. I think there should be a few things that will work.

  5. I was going to suggest the Surprise Garden because it's full of surprises, but I think I like Monica's suggestion - the Sunshine Garden.

    I like your garden! You've done a beautiful job, and I think all your love and experimentation, hard work and joy are reflected in this Special garden (ha! another name! - that was not intended, I was trying to say no matter how wild or unplanned, your garden is beautiful)

    Butterflies and bugs, hummers and other birds will be drawn to your wild garden. I was thinking (after my weed post a while ago) to create a wild garden in my front yard. We'll see what next year brings.
    Happy gardening. I'll pop by and see what names others have come up with. Such fun!

  6. If I were you, I would name it my 'Butterfly-Friendship Garden'. What a lovely collection of blooms!

  7. Hi Rose. That's a lovely garden with lots of beautiful flowers, and I'm sure there are lots of bees and butterflies, too.

    I suggest "Therarosa Garden" for it's name... which is "There arose a garden" kind of all said in one breath because you started with nothing and well, "there arose a garden" from that nothing. And it is kind of fun that it is a made up word...

    Carol May Dreams Gardens

  8. Hi, This is the first time I have seen/read your blog. I got lucky.
    I think a good name for your garden is The Friendship Garden , because gardens make great friends and great friends will help with the gardens growth, longevity, and maybe even the weeding.

  9. I like Carols idea for a name. The name will come to you some day. It is so beautiful.

  10. Monica, That's a great idea for a name! I felt so bad that the "Kiss-me" seedlings didn't make it; what a name for a plant:) I think they came up, but got choked out by the thug grass that kept re-appearing. You may be right on the Joe Pye, but that's how it was labelled at the sale. I do hope they didn't make a mistake!

    Tina, I had no idea these orange cosmos would grow so tall! They are gorgeous! I will try to collect some seeds from them as well. The nicotania seeds you also sent germinated and were fine until I transplanted them in the shade garden; perhaps I didn't water them enough at first--I keep learning from all my mistakes:) I could call this an "eclectic" garden, but the grandkids wouldn't be able to pronounce that.

    Cindy, Thank you; this very messy garden has really been fun for me this year. I still have the poppy seeds you gave us at Spring Fling; I thought it might be too late to plant them in June. Do you think they will be okay next spring?

    Wendy, It's been fun being more spontaneous here and not worrying about the color scheme, etc. More butterflies have been arriving daily, so I hope they enjoy all these flowers.

    Janet, Thank you! Those are my two favorite names, so maybe I should combine them.

    Carol, This garden is full of bees, and now that more butterflies are arriving, I hope they will visit it, too. LOL, I like the name--but I thought you meant it as "therapy for Rose":)

    2cats, So glad you stopped by and I hope you'll come back for more visits. BTW, I have 4 cats:) Friends are great about giving me seeds and plants...the weeding might be another matter.

    Lisa, Thanks; I'm leaning toward the butterfly garden, just because the grandkids enjoy that.

  11. Rose, I like Friendship garden. But some of the others fits too. You could just call it the lovely garden cause that's what it is.

  12. I like the name butterfly garden, since that's what the one of the goals for it is. I was thinking hodge podge, though, before you suggested it. LOL Most of my yard is hodge podge. I really enjoyed this post, your photos and the things you said about them. The garden is lovely, whatever its name!

    By the way, I have a friend who gave me some Kiss me ... seedlings this spring, and I posted about them last night. I hope you get some to grow next year.

  13. Oh.... that is such a lovely garden, packed with colour and lovely things. Great photos.
    I envy you all the space but I really don't think my back could cope with any more than my tiny garden.
    Maybe if I was twenty years younger!
    Why not call it Bloggers' Retreat! So much of it ends up on line! LOL!

  14. I'm not good at naming gardens and call mine unimaginative names like the lilac garden or the gravel garden. You did a great job with it in just one season. My newest garden doesn't look nearly that nice.

    After watching my newest plants grow for a season, I can see many were situated badly and will need moving next spring.

  15. I can just imagine all of the beautiful butterflies you will be seeing very soon in your lovely new garen!
    I would call it "The Butterfly Kisses Garden."

  16. Dear Rose,
    My gardens have changed their names over the 37 years I have been gardening. I have had a deep shade garden become an instant sun garden when a storm took down an old Apple Tree.
    The sun garden in back has more shade every year as the Ash tree grows ever taller and wider. When the deer ate the tea plants I was growing in pots the "Tea Garden" became a memory. The older I get the tired I become so native is good!
    You will continue to see more and more butterflies as your gardens mature. Host plants are always nice for caterpillars. Seed to seed, friend to friend gardens are delightful. Not only is your garden a gift from friends but it is a gift....I bet you will see Gold Finches on the Coneflowers too...Birds and bugs and friends, sounds as if you are creating a safe haven, a sanctuary, for all your friends. Wonderful sharing and caring and being a good steward.

  17. What a beautiful garden, you have worked on it so imaginatively. Such lovely blooms and how wonderful to see the Humming Bird! I liked all the names and the only one I can think of to add is The Garden of Delights. Beautiful photos Rose.

  18. Dear Rose.....this is a beautiful bed, absolutely perfect........can you imagine what it will look like in a couple of years. It will be full of wildlife. I would absolutely love to walk and talk with you, and see what secrets the bed holds.....

    It is for me a perfect COTTAGE GARDEN.

    I love the wonderful, such pretty little birds.

    A beautiful post and I am so pleased love in the mist and the poppies appeared. You will never be free of them now Rose!!

  19. do know how to tell a good story! I love the evolution of your garden~~no matter it's name, it's an absolutely wonderful garden filled with lovely flowers, happy critters and created with hard work, hope, imagination and dreams! gail

  20. I think Friendship Garden is really nice. And your garden is so beautiful!

  21. Oh what a difficult decision to make Rose but what a pleasurable one. What about using Monica's regular post title and calling it your "Mish- Mash" garden ?
    Whatever you decide on it contains some lovely flowers and reminders of gardening friends.

  22. You have so many beautiful, wonderful plants there, which lure such beautiful creatures, how about The Amazing Garden

  23. Hi Rose, what a charming post for an enchanting little garden. I vote for butterfly, but all the names might fit. How cool that you have a cistern. I even love the word itself. You have done well, capturing butterflies and hummers, not to mention the flowers, great image of the blue cornflower.

  24. Love the wild/butterfly garden! How nice to get so many contributions from blog buddies – friendship garden indeed.

  25. Susie, Thanks; many good suggestions here--I'm more undecided than ever:)

    Sue, I think most of my gardening is hodge-podge, too:) I'll have to check out the "Kiss-Me" plants; I need to know what the seedlings look like so I don't weed them out next year!

    Maggie May, I do think before I start any new flowerbeds how can I make this easy on me and how can I maintain it? Husband just rolls his eyes whenever I suggest I'm going to start a new flowerbed:)

    Marnie, Thanks for the encouragement--I planted quite a few annuals, which provide more instant gratification:) But I do have to do some moving next year, too, or at least a little better planning for height.

    Jane Marie, I do hope to see more butterflies soon. I love that name!

    Sherry, I think you've said it before, but it's oh so true that the garden is constantly evolving. This area will probably always be a sunny spot. I've enjoyed finding plants that the butterflies, hummingbirds, and bees love.

    ShySongbird, That is a lovely idea for a name! This area seems to be a favorite for the hummingbirds, which really does delight me.

    Cheryl, I had never thought of the Cottage Garden, but that seems a perfect name! I was so disappointed the verbena didn't grow, but I really think I accidentally weeded it out. Beckie gave me some starts, but as they grew, I recognized them as something different--bee balm!:) Oh well, Beckie is going to try to save some seeds this year from hers. I was so surprised to see the nigella first of all, and then the poppy! I think of all my friends when I look at this garden.

  26. I think you should call it lovely. ;)

  27. My Garden of Medley. ;) Great photo!

  28. I love wildflower gardens, they always make me want to paint them.

    I enjoyed reading the story of how your garden got started and now that it's in full bloom you want to name it.

    There are so many aspects to the garden that it's hard to narrow it down to one name that will encompass it all. Its location appears to be a sort of pocket so Prairie Pocket comes to mind. A pocketful of sunshine, bees, birds, blooms and friendship.

  29. Gail, Thanks; I've really enjoyed this chaotic little garden. I was out this morning taking photos of some Susans hiding in all the midst of it:)

    Liz, Thank you; I think of some of my friends every time I look at it.

    Anna, I've gotten some excellent suggestions for names here:; "Mish-Mash" certainly fits its style:)

    MMD, It is pretty amazing when I think of where many of the seeds came from, even "across the pond."

    Frances, I've been leaning toward "butterfly" ever since early summer. It does attract some wildlife, including a few mischievous cats and dogs:)

    Sarah, Friendship garden has been another strong contender. Beckie and I had so much fun sorting through seeds from a blogging seed exchange.

  30. Sweet Bay, Thanks for the lovely comment!

    Barrie, Now there's a name I hadn't thought of either:)

    Carolyn Gail, This would make a very colorful painting! Thanks for the Prairie Pocket suggestion--I like that one, too!

  31. Hi Rose, I just wanted to comment on your short Joe Pye weed. I went home and looked at mine last night. The buds look just like yours. Mine is 'Phantom' which is a dwarf version of the taller Gateway (there are a couple dwarf Joe Pyes). This is Phantom's first season and it's about 24-26 inches tall. It will probably get fuller but not much taller. I couldn't find Gateway locally but may keep looking.

  32. Well at first I was thinking you should call it the Wild Garden since you said there was no particular plan for it. But by the end I'm thinking the Surprise Garden because there's always something surprising you - the weeds that turn into lovely blooms, the hummingbird, the pass-a-long plants and seeds that don't bloom, the butterflies that show up when you DON'T have a camera, etc. I think it looks lovely regardless of its name!

  33. Hi Rose, whatever you decide to name it, it's beautiful!

  34. Looking at what you have got here and how you have shown it, I would suggest Beautiful Garden. Otherwise - How about Blogging Garden?

  35. You know best what to call your garden! At least it looks to me like an honest garden where plants can grow freely at places they have chosen themselves. It's a very lovely and colourful garden!
    Thanks for sharing.

  36. What a delightful garden and post this is Rose. I love all the different names you have given your spot in the back forty. Its going to give you so much pleasure for years to come.
    Thanks for your nice comment on my " D " post. Kenya,the work and the friendships made will be in my heart forever.

  37. I like all the names; it's so hard to decide! I really like Monica's suggestion of the Sunshine Garden. Like everyone said, no matter the name it's beautiful! I am very partial to the anything-goes, cottage-type approach for gardens. I love you use of so many natives and the rewards with all those hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies must be wonderful! Thanks for sharing!

  38. Marnie, Thanks for the info; I was hoping I had the tall Joe Pye--I planted it in the back!

    Jean, "Surprise" is a good name for this garden!

    Linda, Thank you; I'm sure it's not to everyone's taste--it's a bit wild and unkempt:)

    Rune E, Thank you; it does remind me of my blogging friends.

    Reader Wil, Thanks; I like the way you describe this--I have "let" the plants decide where they want to grow.

    Photowannabe, Thank you; gardening does give such long-lasting joy.

    Rose, The Sunshine Garden is a good name, but I'm leaning towards something for the winged creatures who seem to enjoy it so much.

  39. simply beautifully captured shots....lovely!


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