It is always fun to see what has transpired in the garden during my absence. I had been away from Ault Park for about a week and was eager to weed, water and hopefully take a few pictures of something new.
The gardens look a bit worn. They are lush, and in some areas, too prolific with flowers, but there is a feeling to the gardens that they are ready for cooler weather, a few days of soft rain and for the fall show to commence. I can relate!
Weeding the four gardens takes all of a half hour. The remainder of the time was spent watering one garden with a hose and cutting back unruly flowers (darn those over achieving Black-Eyed Susans).
I was happy to see that the toad lily is in bloom and that I had not missed them. Some plants are worth getting down on our knees to see!
The beauty of a garden is ever changing. What is a pregnant bud one day is a flower in bloom the next and soon, a seed head and the promise of a garden the next year. When I am away from the gardens for a few days the changes are clear but when you are in a garden day-to-day, the subtle changes can be alluding.
I love how this photo shows the full circle of life in a garden.
If you have visited this blog before you know that budget issues have put a halt on planting some of the gardens at Ault Park. One of our Focal Gardens was allowed to go to seed this year. For much of the year park visitors would ask me, what is up with that weedy mess?? Now I think they are singing a different tune for the Focal Garden looks awesome!
The Focal Garden did look pretty raggedy for much of the season. But now it has come into its prime and is a wash of unbelievably bright orange flowers. There are also some milkweeds, sunflowers and Verbena that self-seeded for a second appearance this year. The butterflies and hummingbirds do not seem to mind that the garden was left to fend for itself this year. Next year, if left on its own, I do not know if the garden will look this good again. Fewer flowers to leave seeds will make for a thinner garden. The good news is we have money and labor (yours truly) set aside for next year to plant the focal garden.
I hope that next year we plant more plants like we have now. Maybe work in some annuals to make the spring garden look a bit more pulled together and some perennials with a bit of substance to add bones and structure and a different shape and texture to the garden....We shall see!
I was able to watch this butterfly for a long time.
This little guy had too much energy! Try as I may, this was the best photo I was able to get.
Bumble bees are so much fun. They bump into me, land on my arms and seem not to give a hoot that I am poking my camera up to their flowers.
These bees are all business. They never sting me, but they seem to buzz around like my presence is disrupting their work. Unlike the Bumble Bee that I often see just hanging out, these bees are always on the go.
Last night, as I climbed the steps to my gardens at Ault Park, I was thinking how I would weed, water and then spend the rest of the night taking pictures. However, the gardens looked pretty good already and truth be told, I really wanted to spend more time taking pictures. I also had the lesson I learned at The Bloedel Reserve running through my mind; be calm, be quiet, be still. So, I switched gears, stashed my garden tools in a good hiding place and set off with the camera. So glad I did!
I saw this bee, just hanging out in this Hibiscus. He wasn't collecting pollen, just resting. He would fly out of the flower, do a few loops above my head then head back to the flower for a teeny, tiny catnap. How nice, he was being calm and quiet!
But then I saw this!
The praying mantis must have caught this bee just moments before I found him. This is not the first time I saw a praying mantis, but it is the first time I was able to watch one polish off a bee. Apparently, being calm, quiet and still is not a good idea for bees!
When the intense heat of summer kicks in there are two places in the Adopt-a-Plot gardens I like to visit; my shade garden and Mark's garden. Mark's garden embraces the heat saying This is all you got summer? I can take more!
When many of our other gardens are looking parched, wilted and worn out from our near record breaking heatwave, gardens designed for the heat look fresh, bright and full of life. Which begs the question, why do we fight so hard, work so hard to grow plants that may not be the best possible fit for our gardens? Sure, almost any garden will look great if you can keep it watered, fed and groomed on a daily basis. But as gardeners, shouldn't we allow ourselves a bit of relaxation in the garden?
As much as we love working in our gardens, isn't it also nice to spend a quiet afternoon just being in the garden? It sure is nice to know that if you are away for a weekend or, gasp, an entire week, you know your garden will not suffer from your absence.
This is why I love Mark's garden. It is in the hot, full sun with three sides adjacent to cement. The gravel mulch and lush plantings keep the weeds at bay and the drought tolerant plants are immune to our infrequent watering at the park and our extended periods of rainless days. When many gardens are looking battered, this low-care garden shines in the heat of the summer.