Sunday Garden Chat Open Thread: Greetings From the PNW

From the indefatigable Opie Jeanne:

I always feel guilty when you post that there are no garden photos from members, but then I worry that I’ve sent them to you too often. And I am very embarrassed by how my garden looks in comparison to others’ gardens, especially Marvel’s.

At top is a bearded iris with variegated leaves. I guess they’re well-known but when I bought it several years ago I’d never seen one and bought it even though it wasn’t in bloom.

The next two are foxglove, growing in the gravel next to the potatoes. Volunteer flowers. We have no grandchildren and the potato leaves are toxic too, so we’ve left them. The weed cloth under the gravel is losing the battle after five years.

The huge blooming thing is a beauty bush. It’s 8 years old and was just a wee thing when we planted it back then.

This photo is to show you the volunteer flowers and weeds. Lots of Columbine, cranesbill, chives, and lupines. And the blasted buttercup with its pretty little yellow flowers. It’s insidious and gets everywhere, and mr opiejeanne was busy liberating a small rhododendron from the stuff today, Tuesday.

You can see just how bad the infestation of buttercup is in this shot. There were more than a dozen rose bushes in this large semi-circle, and the area was edged with lavender plants. We will be liberating this area later this week.

We gave up today because it’s just too chilly to be outside today. It was supposed to hit 73 but there’s no sun so it will stay in the low 60s (it if makes it that high; at noon it was 56) and there’s just enough breeze that it’s uncomfortable. It’s 2:30 and we’ve just given up and shut the windows. The cat is settling in for a nap on mr opiejeanne’s lap so I guess we’re going to read or something for a while, unless the sun makes an appearance.

What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?

55 replies
  1. 1
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Beautiful garden Opiejeanne. I like the messiness. I’d better. Most of my garden spots don’t look near as neat as yours. Seriously tho, imo a little bit of unruliness in a garden improves it.

    The weed cloth under the gravel is losing the battle after five years.

    It might not be that the weed cloth is losing the battle so much as that the gravel has acquired enough wind blown dirt and organic matter to give sustenance to plants that don’t need much to begin with. Our limestone river bluffs always have a few red cedars that somehow manage to eke out an existence where there is zero visible soil.

    Yesterday was 87 and humid. Today should be 79 and not so humid. I’ve got to move a bunch of rounds of oak from down slope up to the firewood shed for splitting. A little more mulching in the veggie garden as well as some weeding. Other than that my gardening now mostly consists of waiting. Waiting for some things to bear fruit (I might actually get some peaches this year)(and my mater plants are pushing 5 feet now) and waiting for other things to start/finish blooming. I am also awaiting the arrival of hornworms. (flea beetles and squash bugs are already here)

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    Sunday gardening posts are always welcome. I could see pictures of foxglove every week and still enjoy the posts. Today I have to hedge, water and then rest.

  3. 3
    NotMax says:

    Thought it might be of moderate interest to compare how a foxglove appears in a human visible versus an insect visible spectrum.

  4. 4
    NotMax says:

    Have to get to some mowing later today. Put it off for so long the landlady finally phoned up to inquire if I was all right.

  5. 5
    Raven says:

    Wonderful garden! We watched this the other night. The fellow moved to nearby Lexington Ga where he died in a fire trying to save his dogs. I hope you can view the doc.

    Growing up in rural South Carolina, celebrated American garden designer Ryan Gainey developed a love of plants at an early age. After moving to Atlanta in the 1970s, Ryan began designing gardens in affluent neighborhoods and around the world. A contradictory character, offensive and tender, artificial yet truly authentic, Ryan was known for his love of beauty and the ability to create it.

  6. 6
    Sab says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I agree on the attractiveness of an unruly garden.

    Our buttercups grow in the lawn. Very invasive but pretty. My husband is supposed to mow around them, which he does if he thinks I am watching. If I turn my back then “oops.”

    The peonies, echinacea, rubbeckia and siberian iris survived the goats clearing things last year. Apparently the beebalm did not. I just replaced it with some foxglove, but I think I’ll get more beebalm.

    I spent a few days last week digging out burdock and wild grape by the roots in the disputed territory between our fence and the neighbor’s garage. Nothing much was left to deal with but the jewelweed (effortless to pull) and the last patch of poison ivy growing on her garage. I was planning to go out and pull that while she was at work last Monday, but on Sunday she got her boyfriend to go after it with her new lawn mower. Urk. So now I can’t go near the area for a few more years.

    She isn’t sensitive to it, so she doesn’t see what the big deal is. I am curious to see if he is. He was wearing shorts.

    Kids these days.

  7. 7
    SectionH says:

    Real gardens by real people are always a bit messy at best. Well, That’s my line, and I’ll stick to it.

    Opie Jeanne – I love all your pictures – esp. love the volunteer foxgloves. I kinda once grew a few foxgloves, one summer in the Midwest. “Volunteer?” Jealous face… and don’t talk to me about Delphiniums… [slug food where I lived]. Black spot’s endemic on roses in our old location too. Basically, the humidity is killer.

    Last actual gardening I did was mostly about ceanothus and manzanita. They can be so gorgeous in bloom… when I moved to San Diego, I had to let go of “the most gorgeous plant” ideas from the past, and adapt. Because although very southern California coastal climate will support plants like Delphiniums, 30 miles north and inland, forget it.

    A lot of stuff from South Africa thrives here, and, well… some of it’s so easy to grow. I get why ppl grow them. I’m iffy, but they’re um, they work really well.

  8. 8
    WereBear says:

    Around here 60’s is shorts weather! Literally. But then, residents develop the antifreeze needed for the contrast to work.

  9. 9
    satby says:

    Beautiful gardens opiejeannie! I just told my DiL about the invasive buttercup that’s growing in the front bed of my old house in Chicago. I have to spend a day with her this summer showing her how and which plants need to be dug up and divided.

    Today it’s blessedly cool after a mild but humid day with huge thunderstorms afternoon yesterday, so I hope to finish the mini hugelkultur bed in front and get the plants in there. The grass is long again after all the rain, but it gives me more grass clippings for the bed. Then I have to find spots for the last two peony plants and start on my horribly neglected back raised beds. Lots of weed trees took root last year that need to be removed. I have tomorrow to continue with today’s chores if the nearly continuous rain holds off.

  10. 10
    satby says:

    On Friday I hand delivered a (late) shipment to a jackal lurker I had never met in person though she lives near my old Chicago neighborhood. She invited me into her back yard for a tour of her garden and it was wonderful! Lots of native shade plants, a water feature, and hand woven branch fences line the pathways. I encouraged her to send some pictures to AL, I hope she does.
    She told me she’s finding it hard to engage with any news or political stuff these days so doesn’t lurk as much. I told her a lot of people feel the same way! It’s overwhelming some days for everyone.

  11. 11
    JPL says:

    @satby: It is overwhelming and that’s why the garden posts are so welcoming.

  12. 12
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @satby: The rains return here on Tuesday. It’s like a rainforest around here.

  13. 13

    Here in south central Indiana, we have had regular rain, in fact, so much it was hard to find a time I could till the garden. But that got done about three weeks ago, and over past three weeks, I have managed to plant seedlings and seeds for tomatoes, okra, peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, pie pumpkins, three tepees for pole beans, and a long row each of collards and lacinato kale. For past two years I have focused on stuff I know will grow, and that we will eat and not go to waste. 28 tomato plants, about 12 varieties. Many dark heirlooms, also gold cherry tomatoes, one of our favorites. I also had to replant the herb garden from scratch. It was cut in half by trench to lay drain pipe 65 feet out from corner of house where heavy rain back in February managed to get into our lower level, causing extensive damage, but fortunately it could have been a lot worse. All repaired now, with new French drainage on that problem side of the house. All growing well right now, all seeds sprouted. I also am getting rid of the two small cold frames, which I simply have not used for years, and cleaned up the area below the deck, framing it with timbers, and planting zinnia and sunflower seeds. I already starting last year converted one third of the vegetable garden’s 2,000 sq ft, to flowers. This year I planted in rows that would let me till with my small Mantis tiller, otherwise, the weeds pretty much win and overpower the flowers, which almost happened last year when I just broadcast and did not plant in row. Anyway, despite bad lower back, by moving carefully and thanks to the magic of corticosteroids, I am getting two to three hours really good exercise every morning working in the garden and yard, and repairing the landscaping torn up by the drainage construction.

  14. 14
    rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone 😊😊😊

  15. 15
    rikyrah says:

    Beautiful garden, opiejeanne😍😍

  16. 16
    Sab says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Same here as to rainforest. So far I am enjoying it because we had pretty serious drought conditions for the last five years or so which was unusual in these parts. Easy for me to say because we live at the top of our watershed.

  17. 17
    satby says:

    @rikyrah: Good morning 🙋

    @HeartlandLiberal: sounds lovely! One of my problems with the raised beds here is that they were neglected for at least two years and were overgrown with weeds and the beginnings of weed trees, but I pulled the weeds, cut the trees down and then rushed to transplant my iris and daffodil bulbs from my old house the fall I moved here. I didn’t till or spade over the soil, and I didn’t put a weed preventer like Preen down because some coreopsis had also come along for the ride and I wanted it to reseed. It did, so did all the weeds. Last year I lost the weed and grass invasion battle, so it’s almost like starting over. And the soggy weather also cost me several iris rhizomes that rotted. The rest are blooming now.
    Fixed all the typos.

  18. 18
    Mary G says:

    Marvel’s gardens always intimidate me, too. Glad you got over that, opiejeanne. Love the iris and volunteer foxgloves. Plus kitty!

  19. 19
    OzarkHillbilly says:


    Easy for me to say because we live at the top of our watershed.

    Looks in the mirror. wink

  20. 20
    SectionH says:

    @SectionH: Ohhh oh yeah, Marvel has incredible garden chops. Like everyone else, I’m in awe. Especially with their big change of gardens.

    I know this year’s Heavenly climate, which used to be normal, won’t last, but we’ve had rain, and more rain, and after years of watching trees die, I want all the rain we can have. We had a lot of May Gray, and I’m hanging in for June Gloom, and the Fog of July, and Fogust… probably most of that won’t happen, but yeah.

  21. 21
    Lapassionara says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: We had drenching rain and hail last night in the greater St Louis area. I haven’t ventured out to check for damage yet. I have a ton of garden chores to do, mostly digging up honeysuckle bushes before they get too big, and getting the poke salat out before it goes to seed.

    Lovely photos. Thanks for sharing.

  22. 22
    Sab says:

    @satby: “Handwoven branch fences.” What a good idea!

    I was trying to think of something non-hideous that would discourage our recently adopted elderly cocker spaniel and my husband-with-lawn mower from stomping through my flower beds.

  23. 23
    satby says:

    @Sab: they were beatiful! The trees were mostly oak and maple, so not what you might first think of. She had wired them to the kind of metal faceplates you use for chickens and it looked organic and lovely. Just a beautiful oasis in the city.

  24. 24
    Baud says:

    @rikyrah: Good morning.

  25. 25
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @satby: @Sab: Damn. When I first read that it went right past me. Sab’s mention of it reminded me of a stolen idea I had years ago for a stair rail that I decided was insufficient safety wise, but it’s the all but perfect solution for another problem area. So I thank you both.

  26. 26
    Kristine says:

    Love your garden, @opiejeanne. I too am a fan of a little unruliness. Yup. @Marvel’s intimidated me as well.

    The insidious weed in my yard is wild violet. I let them do what they would in the shady sideyard to see if they could function as ground cover, and they ran rampant, invading the other plants’ spaces. So, I will be spending the next week or so pulling them out. I let them dot the lawn because the grass seems–at this point, anyway–to keep them in check.

    We don’t need any more rain here in NE Illinois. After one of the wettest Mays on record, June opened up with a thunderstorm warning and a burst of torrential rain. I wound up with close to an inch and a half in about a half hour, according to the rain gauges. Water pooled all over the backyard. Everything is blooming like mad, though the trees have been late to leaf out because of the unseasonable chill. The ferns and astilbes love the wet. So do the hosta.

  27. 27
    debbie says:

    A neighbor’s kid has staked out a small (2 x 2 feet) plot of dirt by her back door and filled it with small hostas, marigolds, and what I now know are foxglove (thanks, opie jeanne!). Hers, though, are fat and solid with blossoms, like an ear of corn stood on end. The heavy rains knocked them all over, but they managed to right themselves within a day or two. They are very pretty flowers. Can they be dried?

  28. 28
    MomSense says:

    I worked outside most of the day yesterday just trying to edge and weed the perennial beds. I haven’t dealt with the raised garden beds, yet. Maybe next weekend I’ll pick up the tomato seedlings and get started. Of course spending the day outside means the inside was ignored. Dog shedding season is not a good time to skip the weekly cleaning. Today I’ll have to clean inside and outside. The day is going to require a lot of coffee. A lot.

    Opiejeanne I love your garden.

  29. 29
    JPL says:

    @MomSense: I read that Collins’ approval ratings are dropping. Is there a good candidate to run against her?

  30. 30
    Sab says:

    @satby: I do hope she gets up her nerve to send pictures. I would love to see them.

  31. 31
    Lapassionara says:

    @Kristine: if you pull up wild violet, it leaves behind some part of a violet that will come back with a vengeance. That’s my experience, anyway. I dug some up this spring that were in my annual bed. Then I poured boiling water in the hole where they had been, filled the hole with compost, and covered the bed with a thick layer of newsprint and a thick layer of mulch. I don’t know yet whether this approach will help diminish their ranks. All I know is that just digging them up does not work.

  32. 32
    satby says:

    Just put together an orecchiette and chickpea with pesto dish for the UU church potluck that I sort of don’t want to go to. I started because it’s a lovely progressive group of people and a good motivator to get me up and about on a Sunday rather than sitting and reading for hours, but it’s going to be perfect weather and I volunteered for the clean up crew.
    Everyone have a restful / productive day according to your wishes.

  33. 33
    WaterGirl says:

    @opiejeanne: Love your flowers! I laughed when I read about your worries when there are no garden photos and worries again that you are sending too often. I laughed because you just described me as well as yourself!

    It reminds me of a humorous book I own: How to Make Yourself Miserable

    For a party, you worry that no one will come and you worry that so many people will come that you won’t have enough food. It’s a fun way to be reminded of how we are sometimes our own worst enemy.

  34. 34
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @NotMax: Is your lawn at the needs-a-weed-whacker-first stage or just a bit shaggy?

  35. 35
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    Time to get busy.

  36. 36
    StringOnAStick says:

    For some unknown reason this year’s aggressive seeds are mountain mahogany, so this fall I will vacuum them up. They dry into a seed with a corkscrew tail and when they get wet they straighten within seconds, so they screw themselves into the pea gravel, and quite effectively too. The other is chest grass but that’s always true, it blows in from the open space behind us along with all the other weed seeds.

    I went for my longest post-knee replacement walk yet yesterday and got caught in a scary thunderstorm so I had to hustle home or be zapped, and it was downhill so the knee is a bit pissed off now. 12 weeks as of tomorrow, and it really does feel like a natural knee, just dealing with finding the balance between not doing too much but doing enough. I’m used to hikes in the 7 to 12 mile range so this long and slow recovery can be frustrating. Knee #2 on July 2.

  37. 37
    NotMax says:


    There are parts of it that are nearly knee high. Luckily the riding mower handles that stuff with aplomb so long as I take it slow and do a half width swath at a time.

    The areas with the infestation of ragga-fragga cane grass are probably close to waist high (haven’t really looked) but have worked out a way to deal with that using the mower. Nose in, back off, make sure blade deck is clear, repeat, lowering the deck each time, then mulch the bejeezus out of it.

  38. 38
    Kattails says:

    Looks fine to me, Opie Jeanne. I wish I could get the foxglove to grow better, and where I want it, and your beauty bush is gorgeous.
    Here in New England we’ve had a very cool, damp, gloomy spring. My beds are all struggling and overgrown. Part of the yard is grass being invaded by Bishops Weed, which is a nightmare to get out. Another section is shady, so it has moss, tiny white violets, and ajuga, which I don’t mind. Yet another area is gravely from when the septic got put in, and the canopy is oak trees, so I really need to get some topsoil scattered and get it mow-able. It would be nicer to put in ground cover, but the oak leaves are so leathery they’d just smother everything (except the damned Bishops weed).
    If I can get the beds that are really overgrown with just weedy junk cleaned out, there are a lot of useful plants that could be divided to fill things in. Lady’s mantle grows well and makes a great edging plant, there are hostas, wild ginger, and a huge filipendula. Too many magenta phlox and plain old orange daylilies, and briars trying to move in. Luckily I have a kind neighbor with a tractor, whose wife has a horse, mule and 2 donkeys and he is delighted to drop off manure. The pile is big enough that I can load a wheelbarrow and dump the whole thing on a bed, a couple inches deep, not have to skimp. Some thank-you baking is in order.
    @satby: I would show up for that! Sounds delicious.

  39. 39
    Miss Bianca says:

    @StringOnAStick: It’s always mountain mahogany around my place! We are on the lookout for our wild currants and raspberries to start blooming – all this cold weather has delayed things around here.

  40. 40
    O. Felix Culpa says:

    We’ve had an unusually wet spring, including thunderstorms yesterday and more predicted for the next several days. Living in the southwest, the moisture is welcome, but I had PLANS for working in the garden which now have to be put off. Have to get the final tomaters and other seedlings planted and the drip irrigation set up before heading to Scandinavia in two weeks. Such problems!

    This afternoon I’m heading to an event planned by one of our rural Democratic wards. Unlike most of our county, it’s a red area and their (very good) candidate for state rep lost by 141 votes in 2018. The local Dems are determined to activate enough people to flip that around in 2020 and I’ll do whatever I can to support them. They’re on the fringe of our county and feel lonely sometimes.

  41. 41
    oldgold says:

    I continue my fight alone in West of Eden against the forces of Mother Nature, pests, atrocious weather and my sulphurically scented neighbor Dee Dee Plorable.

    Unfortunately, in this fight, in the middle of round May, I was staggered by slugs and went down for the 8 count. Now up, but staggering, I am testing out beer traps. This may help with the slugs, but exacerbate the staggering.

  42. 42
    opiejeanne says:

    @Raven: Thank you for sharing this. I will finish the documentary later, but what I saw just in the first 15 minutes was really impressive. I love how his garden is divided into rooms and alleys.

  43. 43
    mrmoshpotato says:


    handles that stuff with aplomb

    I hope the company’s ad writers used this.

    The areas with the infestation of ragga-fragga cane grass are probably close to waist high

    Long black hooded robe and scythe.

  44. 44
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @opiejeanne: Nice garden. We all aspire to get to Marvel’s level.

  45. 45
    oldgold says:


    We all aspire to get to Marvel’s level.

    Not all of us!

  46. 46
    StringOnAStick says:

    @Miss Bianca: It’s odd, Mt Mahogany seeds have never been a big issue and this year they are everywhere! As of last year, Chipmunks are now a part of our outdoor wildlife, never had them before either. Spring can be a bit rainy here but it’s been weeks of it on nearly a daily basis, hard on the heels of the post Mother’s Day 6″ of snow. The open space areas look great though the wildflowers are definitely delayed right now. My “almost got zapped” walk into that area yesterday was surprising for how little was blooming right now. Global weirding is truly changing weather patterns. We’re going to be gone for 6 days starting tomorrow and I may not have to ask anyone to water the potted stuff outside since rain is predicted for every single day while we are gone.

  47. 47

    What’s going on in your garden(s), this week?

    Chronic intimidation and inadequacy.

  48. 48
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @oldgold: False.

    I don’t even have a garden, and I aspire to get to Marvel’s level.

  49. 49
    opiejeanne says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Thanks for your kind words about the messiness. I think we are slowly winning the battle; the volunteer flowers in the gravel will mostly be given a pardon. The other weed giving us fits is convolvulus, better known as morning glory. .
    We’ve already gone through the striped beetles that attack the birch trees out front. They were everywhere, including inside the house a few times. We’ve been seeing the round green stinkbugs.

    Really nice that we don’t get tomato hornworms here. One of our daughters was over yesterday and asked if we’d planted any tomatoes. When I told her 5 she laughed and said, “Is that all?” One year there were 27 different varieties plus volunteer cherry tomatoes. We had that many because they were auditioning for the job, so to speak. I tell people “Don’t buy Boxcar Willie because they slap that name on just any tomato.”

    The weeds were ascendant when we returned from our second trip to SoCal in a month to close out the cabin sale. The weather was warm while we were gone and it rained a lot when we got back, so the blasted buttercup was really happy.

  50. 50
    opiejeanne says:

    @WereBear: If it’s sunny we start wearing short sleeves in the garden. There was no sun and the breeze made it cold at 60, when I wear shorts too if it’s sunny.
    I have some of the antifreeze in my veins, I even did some gardening in the rain last week, which was a little more than a heavy mist at that point.

  51. 51
    Redshift says:

    I don’t have a garden, just a few random flowers around the yard at times, but I still have invasive weeds to battle. Wild grape vine is eternal, and I’ve fallen behind enough on keeping the raspberries under control that they’ve taken over the back yard and I’m probably going to have to hire someone to clear then out.

    While I was out in a bike ride yesterday, someone had free iris out for the taking. Planting those is about my speed gardening-wise; I used to have dinner in the yard, but they’ve petered out. I need to figure out where we were and go back. (It was a stretch on neighborhood streets between trail segments.)

  52. 52
    Kristine says:

    @Lapassionara: I’ve been using a hand weeder and digging up as much of the roots and rhizomes as possible. Given that I live hard by the woods, I fear they will be a forever issue. But I did let them get out of hand.

  53. 53
    J R in WV says:


    Unfortunately, in this fight, in the middle of round May, I was staggered by slugs and went down for the 8 count. Now up, but staggering, I am testing out beer traps. This may help with the slugs, but exacerbate the staggering.

    Fortunately, slugs have no taste in beer, so you can use Natty Light for the beer traps, or any nasty stuff no one drinks for the taste.

  54. 54
    opiejeanne says:

    @J R in WV: We have so many slugs that it’s a constant battle, since so many of the plants I love (delphiniums) are a tasty treat to a slug. We have one big delphinium sharing a large pot with a bleeding hearts plant that’s been chugging along for more than three years now. I don’t remember planting the bleeding hearts in that pot. my youngest planted a little trailing plant in the pot with little purple flowers. It’s pretty stuff and I’m danged if I can remember what it’s called.

  55. 55
    Sab says:

    We have been making jokes about the willow, which actually seems to be accomplishing its intended purpose (drain the marsh.)

    I sure hope Cole didn’t plant the ivy. I f he did, he should go out and kill those poor little baby plants.

    Our house came with some ivy out back stabilizing a steep little hill beside the house. It’s an never-ending project to keep it in place.

    It worked its way around the side of the house, into the siding, into some window frames, and eventually into the new air conditioner unit. Then it continued on into the front flower bed and towards the front of the house.

    We temporarily gave up the battle last year when some yellow jackets living in it stung my husband in the ear.

    Last night rained heavily all night and today was only 60 degrees with a cloud cover. I spent two hours with a knife, three sizes of sharp clippers and a small shovel clearing that noxious weed from the side of the house. I pulled a bunch of 6 to 8 foot strands from the siding (they were living inside the siding or the house!) I clipped and dug up a bunch more. It’s eating the neighbors’ fence also. After two hours in perfect weeding weather I had cleared the siding, the air conditioner and about 6×8 feet square.

    I’m guessing I have about another week’s work if the weather holds and the yellow jackets hold off. Then I’ll put black plastic down, hope I kill everything off, and put raised beds over it next year. What a pain.

    I would love to poison it, but it/they are all attached, and we still need it to stabilize the hill.

    Husband wanted very much to help, but bending over pulling and hacking big weeds with spinal stenosis, degenerated discs, and spinal arthritis is not a good idea. Told him I had enough to do without nursing his collapse. And anyway, he didn’t plant the ivy. He married into the problem.

    Be very careful where you plant ivy.

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