Garden Pics

I really wanted to take these pictures yesterday and have them ready for Anne Laurie this morning, but it rained and was crappy most of the afternoon. The rain has paused briefly now, so I took some pictures- the lighting isn’t spectacular. At any rate, if you all remember, my main goal when I started this backyard project several years ago was to create a pretty garden that had near constant blooms all summer and would also be very good for bees and butterflies. It’s starting to pay off. I have several huge patches of bee balm, and while you can not see the bees in these shots very well, if you are standing next to them you can see dozens and dozens of them, in all shapes and form:

bee balm

bee balm

Several patches of these, which are doing quite well (I am brain cramping and can not remember the name):

I have lilies all over the damned place, here is a pretty yellow one (I love this color of yellow):

The coneflowers are doing well all over the yard (and there is a big old bee on top, too!):

And then I have about a ten yard stretch along the fence that I have dedicated just to wildflowers, and they are starting to come up:

Now we get to the bonus blooms. This is an okra blossom- I only have about 20 plants that I raised from seed- it was an experiment to see how it would grow here. Jury is still out, but the blossoms are beautiful:

I have a number of different varieties of bell pepper which are about a week away from picking, as well as habaneros and other hot peppers, but I just love how these look so this is the picture you are getting:

The peas are doing well even though they did not climb anywhere near as high as last year, and in the back you can see one of the patches of sunflowers (I should have about 50-60 sunflowers this year all over the placve) is almost six feet tall:

Now for the ugly- the first round of tomatoes (this is the early July crop, the early August andlate August/September crop come later) has just been wiped out by leaf spot. I’ve trimmed away as much as I can and used neem oil and what not, but this is the price you pay for using plants you bought instead of grew from seed. My later two crops are grown from seed and planted farther away, so hopefully they will fare better. Still, I look to get about 100 tomatoes out of this bed or more.

Finally, Rosie is overseeing my yard activities:

Have a ton of lilies that should be blooming shortly, a lot more wildflowers, and a metric ton of gladiolas should be arriving soon.

77 replies
  1. 1

    Several patches of these, which are doing quite well (I am brain cramping and can not remember the name):

    There’s an app for that…

    And I love the red echinacea – I have some and everyone always wants to take some, but it’s slow to expand and spread.

  2. 2
    Lapassionara says:

    Wowza! Bonus Sunday garden pics. Thanks.

  3. 3
    opiejeanne says:

    @TaMara (HFG): My purple coneflower has not come back this year. The Rudbeckia has crowded it out almost every year once it got established. Echinacea just isn’t as aggressive.

    We have almost achieved that elusive goal of having something in bloom from April through September. I mean, some of the weeds that bloom are quite pretty.

  4. 4
    Faithful Lurker says:

    @TaMara (HFG): My resident doe and twin fawns came through yesterday and neatly nipped off all the buds on my red echinacea. Oh well, the fawns are cute. Maybe it will regrow bigger and better for being cut back.

  5. 5
    Patricia Kayden says:

    Looking lovely, John. You’re truly blessed with a green thumb.

  6. 6
    prostratedragon says:

    It’s a lazy afternoon.

    Morgana King

  7. 7
    smintheus says:

    The die off for bees this winter in PA was just horrific. We saw almost none this spring. The blooms on almost all my fruit trees were pathetic, but without bees there is virtually no fruit set. Maybe half a dozen cherries on three trees; a single peach on 5 trees; no pears that I can see; a handful of apples. Only the pawpaws are loaded this year, and they don’t rely upon bees.

    Anybody else grow fava beans, which we just harvested? Absolutely love their buttery flavor, and they freeze well. Plus they harvest early enough that we can plant a second crop (typically a late crop of corn).

    Love the okra blossoms. I didn’t realize that okra could be beautiful. Must admit I don’t like the taste.

  8. 8
    geg6 says:


    I think she approves, Cole.

  9. 9
    prostratedragon says:

    So, grow okra for the gumbo and get beautiful flowers in the bargain. Nature has its bright spots.

  10. 10
    Barbara says:

    Your plants are lovely! Love bee balm (monarda)!

    After going back and forth with a landscape gardener to no fixed conclusion, we finally started doing some significant work on our own, in stages. I don’t like having too many new plants I have to keep well watered at one time, so we didn’t get the pollinator garden in place this year. I am ordering a bunch of plants for Fall planting, so we will be busy throughput summer.

  11. 11
    Dan B says:

    Four O’Clocks – Mirabilis jalapa (The botanical latin sounds great. Is it a miraculous jalopy or a miracle witnessed in the Mexican state of Jalapa?)
    Keep an eye on the Bee Balm / Monarda. They can get aggressive – like the Willow…

  12. 12
    smintheus says:

    @Faithful Lurker: We have a stray yearling who spends much of her time in our yard. The woods are full of deer but she always seems to be alone. Was rather thin earlier this spring. She insouciantly walks around the perimeter of our garden while I’m working inside the fence, barely acknowledging me, but, curiously, never touching the fruit trees or other cultivated plants…at least when I’m in sight.

  13. 13
    Barbara says:

    @prostratedragon: Melon and peas as well, although they can get out of hand.

  14. 14
    opiejeanne says:

    @smintheus: We had too much rain when the cherries were blooming their heads off, so even the self-fertile varieties produced little fruit and we got not a single cherry. It’s a shame because the trees were just loaded with blooms.
    We don’t usually see American honeybees here until late May or early June. The early bees we have are a motley collection of assorted flying things, including some flies and large bees that are not true bumblebees. I don’t know which things are good pollinators for which other things when it comes to insects. This year the honeybees seem to be attracted to blue flowers and not the yellow ones. which seems all wrong to me.

  15. 15
    smintheus says:

    @opiejeanne: There are dozens or hundreds of kinds of wild bees, but no matter the type their numbers seem way down this year. You’re right, the rains did also help to wreck the blooming season, especially for our apples. Come to think of it, I should check whether we have apricots on the massive old tree atop our orchard.

  16. 16
    Anne Laurie says:

    Cole, I think that’s actually a daylily (hemerocallis), not a ‘true’ lily. Daylilies have ‘strap’ leaves that grow from a clump in the ground like grass, while botanical lilies have little leaves sticking out all up their stems instead. Also, species Lilium last for some days as cut blossoms, while hemerocallis blooms don’t even last on the plant!

    For me, that’s an advantage — daylilies were the first perennials I planted, since they didn’t require much care & I didn’t need to worry about doing anything with the flowers. They’re still favorites, in all their glorious variety.

    Besides, true lilies have been pretty well wiped out in this area by the disgusting lily-leaf beetles. We have one 20-year-old pot of Casa Blanca lilies that get to bloom about one year out of three before the beetles eat them down to the bare stalks, poor things.

  17. 17
    CaseyL says:


    This year the honeybees seem to be attracted to blue flowers and not the yellow ones. which seems all wrong to me.

    It would be funny to think BeeWorld has fads like HumanWorld, and this year blue flowers are the hotness, and yellow flowers are “SO last year!”

  18. 18
    jnfr says:

    Ah, this is where I should have left my sad garden pics. I fear the morning garden thread is over now.

    Colorado hail storm. They don’t usually hit this hard, but when they do….

    All my flowers are shredded, and the strawberries too.

    ETA: Your monardas (bee balm) are gorgeous, John.

  19. 19
    NotMax says:

    Purely a trick of the camera, but on first glance it sure does look as if Rosie is guarding a half eaten body.


  20. 20
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @opiejeanne: @CaseyL: Mine prefer the purple stuff.

  21. 21
    seefleur says:

    What did you use for the shade fabric on your pergola? Trying to refurbish something similar – but we need the fabric to be waterproof as well as provide shade.

  22. 22
    opiejeanne says:

    @smintheus: Our four apple trees have set enough fruit that we will get a few dozen. The trees aren’t very old, the longest any has been in the ground here is 8 years and half of it broke off in a storm in its second year. My favorite is William’s Pride and it has a about twenty apples, maybe more. The Honey Crisp fruit probably won’t be edible, again. Some affliction like cork spot has damaged the fruit the past three years. It’s a shame because the fruits are huge and pretty. Our best performers are the pair of Melrose, and one of those is the broken one. I haven’t counted the fruit on any of them, feeling it’s a bit like counting your chickens before they hatch.

  23. 23
    John Cole says:

    @Anne Laurie: It is a daylily! I have tons of them I planted all over the place.

  24. 24

    I say again, John, your neighbors must be thrilled you bought that house.

  25. 25
    opiejeanne says:

    @CaseyL: LOL! That would be funny.

    I always understood that yellow attracted bees, and when I drove a bright yellow Escape I saw evidence of that as well as it being attractive to some wasps. I was at a stoplight on a nice spring day in Fullerton, CA when a swarm of bees appeared out of the landscaping and I closed my windows right quick. There were still quite a few riding on my car when I was about a block away.

  26. 26
    NotMax says:


    Speaking of wasps, one more reason to be glad to not be living in Alabama.

  27. 27
    satby says:

    @jnfr: oh, that’s too bad! Hope some of it recovers.

  28. 28
    Mary G says:

    So many colors; it’s all amazing and could be in a magazine.

  29. 29
    satby says:

    @John Cole: it all looks beautiful John!

  30. 30
    rikyrah says:

    You have done well. Looks beautiful, Cole 🤗😎😚 😘

  31. 31
    opiejeanne says:

    @Dorothy A. Winsor: John’s neighbors should be thrilled that he bought the house.

    OTOH, some people who danced for joy when we bought this place* have quietly indicated that our ditch is the scourge of the neighborhood. One guy we like a lot came over and mowed it and dug out all of the blackberry vines, after asking if we could. He seems to think our weedy ditch is the reason the house across the street from us hasn’t sold. It couldn’t be the $10million price tag that’s holding back the buyers, or the fact that every bedroom has been converted to an office with cheap built-in cabinets and desks that leave no place for a bed. The house is 17,000 sq feet (you read that right, indoor pool and indoor basketball court) and the guest house is bigger than our house. I think we have the smallest house in the neighborhood.
    We bought in a semi-rural area and almost everyone has wildflowers and weeds in their ditches out front. A handful of houses have landscaped theirs, but most have not.

    *The previous owner was a very difficult neighbor, fought with everyone, actually cut the phone lines for the whole block once to spite one particular neighbor, was especially hateful to the Jewish family next door.

  32. 32
    HRA says:

    Beautiful work, John!
    I have 11 area of plants and bushes plus nine hanging pots. There are a few on the deck which are gifts for Mothers Day.
    I stopped worrying about not remembering or knowing the names of my blooms.
    Every year I invite the family to come and take any plants for their yards. This year I got rid of 7 large hostas and have many more. I bought them all at a garage sale only for hostas.
    I believe you once mentioned day lilies. Six day lilies given to me by a BIL have turned into a day lily farm. They ring my trees, my side of the neighbors bushes, against the back lot neighbors chain link fence and a 20 x 10 plot. If you get them, put them in pots.

  33. 33
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @opiejeanne: There’s a reason all my neighbors are at least one holler away.

  34. 34
    opiejeanne says:

    @NotMax: That said California too! We had one of the regular sized ones in the Cedars at the north side of our house, too near the deck and an area we liked to use in the shade in the summer. mr opiejeanne kept putting off spraying the nest and a raccoon took it down one night. We think it was a raccoon. We found it cracked open and pieces strewn all over the yard near the trees.

  35. 35
    Alternative Fax, a hip hop artist from Idaho says:

    That yellow threadleaf coreopsis next to the monarda better be tough. The color looks like Marshall’s Delight (personal fave) and it’s very mildew resistant so even a rainy summer won’t slow it down. A mater gardener friend said she has an annual throwdown between the monarda and mint – with the mint in a concrete planter!

    Lovely pale yellow daylily there also. Happy gardening, Cole

  36. 36
    OzarkHillbilly says:


    The largest nest he’s laid eyes on took up the interior of a 1957 Chevy, Ray said.

    Reminds me of a 1957 Chevy septic tank hoisted out of the ground by one of the denizens of Lake Wobegone and carried thru town on the way to the dump where he met the home coming parade that his daughter was leading as homecoming queen.

  37. 37
    Barbara says:

    @opiejeanne: Word is that at least around here “top end” market houses are languishing.

    The idea that home values are more than marginally affected by your neighbor’s landscaping (if even that) is stupid, wishful thinking.

  38. 38
    jnfr says:


    Thanks. Some of my poor crushed flowers and strawberries are poking their heads up, carefully :)

  39. 39
    NeenerNeener says:

    Is that a Kamado grill on your back porch? I just completed a binge watch of Casual on Hulu, and the Big Green Egg grill was practically a cast member. I’d never heard of Kamado grills before that.

  40. 40
    Mike in NC says:

    Had a crew over yesterday to rip out the front lawn on both sides of the driveway. Bare spots, mossy spots, choked with weeds, and the moles were tunneling all over it. Fresh sod comes next week and we’ll give it another try. Failing that, maybe cover the yard in asphalt and paint it green.

  41. 41
    opiejeanne says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I really eyed my great grandmother’s house when I was in Camden County last week. It’s not for sale and it would be a massive undertaking to undo the awful remuddling that was done to it in the 70s. I’m guessing it was not all that pretty inside originally, but I don’t know. It’s not for sale but I think a distant cousin owns it. It was built to replace the ones the bushwhackers burned down after the Civil War ended. They shot my great grandpa’s dog, too. He was about 9.


  42. 42
    Nwerner says:

    Don’t peppers cross-pollinate with one another? When I grew hot peppers and bell peppers in the same year, I wound up with especially spicy bell peppers, as I recall.

  43. 43
    narya says:

    I want to sit on your back porch with you. I’ll even cook dinner and make whatever you want for dessert.

  44. 44
    L&DinSLT says:

    @seefleur: We have sunbrella for our bimini and seat covers on the boat. It’s spendy but if you treat it with 303 Fabric Guard yearly it will pretty much last forever.

  45. 45
    Martin says:

    Just saw the video of fans at the World Cup final chanting ‘Equal Pay’. I mean, that this is even an issue…

  46. 46
    jeffreyw says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I’ve been listening to the Murder Bot series on Audible. There is a type of robotic cargo vehicle known as a hauler bot the gets several mentions. The first few times the narrator says the name I heard “holler bot” and briefly imagined an automated square dance caller or some such.

  47. 47
    opiejeanne says:

    @Barbara: The more expensive a property, the smaller the “audience” for it. We live just to the east of Seattle, and just north of Redmond which has a huge Microsoft campus. And just south of Redmond is Bellevue, which also has a lot of MS office buildings, and which has just gotten the big fat contract with Amazon that AOC didn’t want for her NY district. I have mixed emotions about the whole tech industry forcing the property values into the stratosphere. I look at the current estimated value of our place and I wonder who will pay that kind of money for our place, but houses up to 3X the value of ours are selling pretty steadily still.

    We’re on a corner and the new neighbors across the street to our north bought a beautifully manicured place and have let it go to weeds, and worse, they tore out some beautiful landscaping to put a weedy vegetable garden in the front yard. They’ve even let the little garden by the front door go to weeds. We are no longer the disgrace of the neighborhood.

  48. 48
  49. 49
    mrmoshpotato says:

    @NotMax: Went back to look, and now I can’t unsee it.

    Damn you NotMax.

  50. 50
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @opiejeanne: “Oh hell’s bells, they even shot the dog.”

    Looks impressive. If it’s like most places built back then, it’s a mess. My buddy bought a place first settled in the late 1850s. First they built a 2 room cabin. Added to that was a 2 story timber and rubble structure that was basically 1 large room over the other but they could have been divided. Then another 2 story with an attic structure was added, this one balloon framed over a cistern that even now holds in excess of 3,000 gal of water. They tore down the original cabin and refurbished the rest. It looks good and is certainly unique, and they do like it, but I still think they would have been much better off if they had followed my advice.

    “Start with a match.”

  51. 51
    OzarkHillbilly says:

    @jeffreyw: Heh.

    @Nwerner: So I’ve read. Just to be safe I keep a fair distance between my sweet peppers and my hot peppers.

  52. 52
    Denali says:

    The monarchs just arrived to get a taste of my milkweed. I am so happy!

  53. 53
    seefleur says:

    @L&DinSLT: Thanks! Our gazebo frame is very sturdy, and we’d like to keep it – but living in Maine we can use it only seasonally. I’ll look into Sunbrella – if it lasts for years, that would be perfect.

  54. 54
    prostratedragon says:

    It’s a lazy afternoon:

    Shirley Horn

  55. 55
    Dan B says:

    @Dan B: On second look your “unknown” pink flowers may be Phlox. If they have some sweet fragrance and are open all day they are Phlox. My bad. :-(

  56. 56
    opiejeanne says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: Like this place. I knew the people who lived here before they moved into Great Grandma’s house after Great Grandpa died in the 1920s, but someone else lived there until maybe 20 years ago? The photo of the end seems to show it was originally a single story log cabin, with a second floor added at some point. UNCLE SOUD AND AUNT LULA’S HOUSE

  57. 57
    Dan B says:

    @opiejeanne: Here in south Seattle we have crazy huge crops of cherries, apples, and pears. This area was a 250 acre orchard in the 40s and many if the old trees are still here. Also we get a lot less rain than where you are north of Microsoft and uphill from wineries.

  58. 58
    opiejeanne says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I think my great grandmother’s house itself is sound. The original building exterior is some sort of cement with grooves to make it look like large blocks. The porch was completely restored in the 70s at some cost. I have been told that the porch has the date of construction painted inside the upper porch section, Early 1880s because they had lots of land but not a lot of cash to rebuild.

    It looked like this prior to 1922, which is when the tall man seated in the center died:: GREAT GRANDMA’S HOUSE

  59. 59
    Dan B says:

    @opiejeanne: Melrose is a wonderful apple! They’re great fresh eating, cook beautifully (baked apples!!), and store well for months. Anothe favorite of mine is a Russett called Ashmead’s Kernal. It’s homely, crisp, juicy, fragrant, sweet tart – heavenly. And it keeps for 2 months or more.

  60. 60
    Dan B says:

    @opiejeanne: Reminds me of the house my mother’s aunts had in Clarksville, Arkansas. It was a little town on the Arkansas River a few miles from the Ozarks. Had the College of the Ozarks where several famiky members taught. Helen Walton turned it into a project, the University of the Ozarks. Family members didn’t care much for Helen.

  61. 61
    opiejeanne says:

    @Dan B: Homely? Meaning not a “pretty” apple like the Red Delicious became as it also became nearly inedible?

    I really like both the Melrose and the Williams Pride. The WP has a perfume-like fragrance and when the apple is ripe it’s nearly purple. Not large apples, about average size, but delicious to eat out of hand. We need to replace a lot of trees, but we can’t put them where the old ones came out. I will keep an eye out for Ashmead’s Kernal. I’ve never grown a russet and you don’t see the apples a lot in the stores.

  62. 62
    opiejeanne says:

    @Dan B: My parents visited a school in the Ozarks, I thought it was that one.They raved about it but it seemed to only teach skills that might not have much practical application for, you know, making a living in the modern world.

    On exploration, it seems that’s not the case.

  63. 63
    Kay (not the front-pager) says:

    I’m so jealous of your deer-free yard! We used to have most of what you’ve planted, but the deer have gradually developed a taste for ALL of it. They never touched the bee balm, but the Japanese beetles just devastate it and I spend every morning and evening for the rest of the summer pushing them into soapy water. Milky spore did a good job beating back the beetles for quite a few years, but it has fallen out of favor and is hard to find these days. Some say it has lost its effectiveness, but I disagree. It just needs to be reapplied every few years. At least that’s the case in my yard. I did find and apply some last year, and haven’t seen any Japanese beetles yet, but it’s early days.

    Beautiful job, John. I hope you enjoy sitting on that porch and appreciating the view.

  64. 64
    Dan B says:

    @opiejeanne: OMG your great grandparents are doppelhangers for my grandparents. And the darkhaired young woman behind them, directly in front of the porch corner, looks like my mother (born 1908). Scottish Irish?

  65. 65
    Dan B says:

    @opiejeanne: Raintree Nursery in Morton used to sell Ashmead’s Kernal bareroot via mail order. They also carry lots of heirloom and modern tree fruits and berries.

  66. 66
    dexwood says:

    Bee Balm occupies a large patch in our backyard. Pueblo Indian potters have traditionally used it to get the black design elements by painting it on the piece before firing. My wife has used it for years, learning the technique from her grandmother. The leaves are boiled in water and reduced to a workable consistency, but man, does it stink while boiling.

  67. 67
    prostratedragon says:

    Postponing the inevitable return to trumpery. Besides, it’s still a lazy afternoon somewhere:

    Grant Green

  68. 68
    opiejeanne says:

    @Dan B: I’m not sure who that woman is. She may have be one of Great Grandpa’s daughters. I don’t have access to that photo. One of Mom’s cousins emailed it to me. She didn’t know how to use a scanner so the dpi is only 72 and she had scrapbooked it! Glued it into a scrapbook, the idiot. I don’t know who else has a copy and she’s probably dead now.

  69. 69
    opiejeanne says:

    @Dan B: We drove out to Raintree to buy a cherry tree, which is now dead. We came back from vacation and it’s dropped all of its leaves. No idea what killed it but it was struggling before we left.

    We try to buy more mature trees than they offer, being a bit on the mature side ourselves. I’ll ask around, see if Flower World will get one for us. Their trees are a couple of years older than what’s usually sold in nurseries.

  70. 70
    MomSense says:

    The top photos are monarda or bee balm. One of my favorite plants. They look like firecrackers. I think technically they are in the mint family which is why they are so robust in so many conditions. Mine haven’t quite popped yet.

  71. 71
    Gvg says:

    @Nwerner: cross pollination does’t effect plants. It effects the seeds. If you save the seeds and plant them next year,those will be the hot bell peppers.

  72. 72
    sukabi says:

    @Dan B: that would be my guess, or a dianthus.

  73. 73
    JulieM says:

    I planted two kinds of daylilies this spring and they’re really doing poorly– the leaves are turning yellow and falling off and not growing back, so the plants just shrink. I’d blame it on the weird rainy spring we had this year, but all the more drought tolerant perennials I planted at the same time (it’s a new bed) are doing great now. Not sure if this is a disease that can spread to other plants or not– has anyone else had this problem with daylilies?

  74. 74
    opiejeanne says:

    @Gvg: Always? Then why is it a problem to plant sweet corn and popcorn near each other?

  75. 75
    Gvg says:

    Apparently it’s because you are eating the seeds. Corn kernels are seeds. The internet isn’t giving a clear answer on this.

  76. 76
    sukabi says:

    @opiejeanne: Raintree Nursery

    They do mail order primarily but also have some stock available at their nursery. They suggest you call first before coming out if you’re looking for something specific.


  77. 77
    Henry says:

    Lillies are Poison to cats and dogs. You might rethink that planting there.

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