At this time of year, when my outdoor gardening starts winding down, I take the time to look at photos I’ve taken throughout the year. It’s time to acknowledge some of the surprises and successes. It’s time to give thanks and be grateful that I am a gardener – there’s really no better pursuit where one can create beauty and cultivate food for the body and the soul.
One of the gadgets I got this year was a rain chain. I’d been lusting after one for a number of years. Consider rain chains functional garden art – beautiful to look at, mesmerizing to listen to and a fascinating downspout you’ll want to place in a prominent location. The rain chain came from Rain Chains Direct.
One of my biggest surprises this year has been the Albion day-neutral strawberries planted last spring. I planted them in raised beds and kept lightweight row cover on them all summer – to protect them from insect pests. They were mulched with straw so developing berries were never sitting on bare soil. I’ve been picking strawberries since the end of July. I added another layer of row cover for additional protection from frost at the end of October. I picked my last berries in November!
I’ve had a fabulous year in the greenhouse where I grow tomatoes – planted directly in the ground. I grow several kinds of tomatoes. I’m particularly fond of the big Beefsteaks for sauces and sandwiches but the workhorse of my greenhouse is definitely the grape tomato. By the end of the season, they have climbed all over the greenhouse dripping clusters of tomatoes as they grow. Visitors are always amazed at the lavish display. My favorite is Red Pearl available from Johnny’s Seeds. They’re nearly seedless so perfect for dehydrating.
I’ve mentioned it before and I’ll mention it again because I just have to rave about the abundant, show-stopping blooms of Gaura ‘Rosy Jane’. I had just one plant, located on the edge of a paved driveway in full sun – a tough location – hot and dry. Now, even with frost and cold winds, it’s still looking great. The long flower stems always seem to be swaying in the wind like whirling butterflies, one of its common names. It’s shown in this photo with Verbena bonariensis, Japanese forest grass and a dark-leafed canna. Wow!
Every year I plant sunflowers. I’ve been particularly fond of the standard big, golden yellow ones, but this year I planted a packet of mixed sunflower seeds. I was surprised to find a few new favorites. The rich color of this sunflower has inspired me to start painting again.
This must be the year that I take a crack at flowers in new colors. At first, I was taken aback by the color of Queen Red Lime zinnia but the more I used it in floral arrangement, the more I loved how it complemented dark-colored flowers particularly burgundy. It’s now a must-have zinnia on my list for next year.