July at Chickadee Gardens

The heat of summer has finally kicked in. July feels like July and the wet soil has dried. I watered for the first time this year, a fact that represents that this is the longest we've gone without watering since we moved here. 

Views are always changing as some plants take over and grow out or up while others are removed or just die. This view changes in flower color all year and keeps it interesting. This is the "summer look" down in the labyrinth garden - the Eriophyllum lanatum (Oregon sunshine) that dominates in spring has been cut back hard, so no yellow flowers right now. Also the Sedum spurium is blooming on the left, the pink blossoms, adding to the orange and hot pinks of this part of the garden.

The thyme lawn is officially filled in and covered in honeybees. Apparently the oil in thyme helps against the nefarious varroa mite, an enemy of honeybees so it makes me happy to see our bees all over this. Thymus 'Pink Ripple

At the base of the deck, dry sun-lovers dominate. The three large ceanothus, the largest shrubs behind the yuccas were limbed up this year to allow more light and air circulation in, plus they were crowding out plants below which, unfortunately, a few have died. That's ok, now that the ceanothus are large enough, there really is no room for extras. I kind of planned it that way.

Festuca 'Beyond Blue', Nassella tenuissima, sedums and the edge of the thyme lawn in the background.

The view from the deck of the garden shed porch. On the right is Carex comans 'Frosty Curls' and Miscanthus sinensis 'Cabaret' in the background and on the left is Festuca rubra 'Patrick Point' (the blue-ish lower grass) with Muhlenbergia rigens or deer grass (the taller green grass). Azara microphylla in the middle of the bed on the left although it's difficult to see from looking towards the sun in this shot.

On the left, the shrub is Ozothamnus rosmarinifolius 'Sussex Silver', center is Sedum album, right is Helenium 'Mardi Gras'. 

I like this shot because you can see both the Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis' with four blue mophead hydrangeas we inherited in the background.

From in the labyrinth, looking towards the northwest corner and the house.

Dianella revoluta ‘Allyn-Citation’, a gift from Danger Garden. I didn't know what to expect and have been pleasantly surprised at this mostly evergreen grass-like perennial with these surprising blue flowers this year, the first year it's bloomed.

At the eastern edge of the labyrinth garden a Santolina 'Lemon Queen' grown from a cutting fills in with Sedum album at its base. Tetrapanax papyrifer dominates in the center of this shot and its many offspring are poised to do the same.

In the meadow area, Verbena bonariensis, Catananche caerulea and Diplacus aurantiacus (syn. Mimulus aurantiacus) blend and sway in warm summer breeze.

Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem' looks pretty cool when the light catches the foliage.

Purchased last year, this Phormium (unknown variety) adds spike to an area that was too fluffy for my taste.

Rosa chinensis 'Mutabilis', a gift from my friend Anna of Flutter and Hum garden blog.

Dierama 'Plant World Jewels' 

Knautia macedonica and Allium sphaerocephalon in a wilder, looser part of the garden. The allium have shifted to more purples by now, this photo was taken a few weeks ago. By the way, the honeybees love the alliums more than anything else when they are in bloom.

Nassella tenuissima blowing in the breezes. Many find these to be too weedy, but I think it's worth it, plus they are super easy to yank out if needed. Nothing creates movement quite like these.

Asclepias speciosa, our native showy milkweed, a host plant for monarch butterflies. It smells great and many pollinators love it. 

Diplacus aurantiacus, syn. Mimulus aurantiacus, sticky monkey flower, a native sub-shrub to California and parts of Oregon. I had several of these I brought from the old garden, they were mostly D. aurantiacus 'Jeff's Tangerine'. They have all perished, but before they did they left a few seedings around the garden. This is one of about four in the garden, all this pale peach color.

New to me this year, Dierama dracomonanum's blooms are a good fit for the other hot pinks and oranges at the edge of the labyrinth garden.

Another new plant this summer is Coreopsis verticillata 'Sienna Sunset' which actually looks a little more orange than it does in this photo. They replaced Coreopsis 'Moonbeam', a fantastic yellow flowering plant that blooms for such a long time in summer, but I decided to move yellows out of this part of the garden. The 'Moonbeam' lives elsewhere.

One of many Papaver 'Lauren's Grape' that has seeded where it will, this time it's migrated to the vegetable garden in the asparagus bed.

Thymus 'Pink Ripple' poking up through a Carex comans seedling.

Berkheya purpurea, a South African daisy with thorns. Gorgeous lilac color.

Foliage of Pelargonium sidoides or South African geranium. This plant, reported to be tender, has been in this spot for at least three years. I even had a seedling show up. Its blooms are magenta and quite striking.

Clematis 'Romantika' before the moles undermined the roots and nearly killed it. It will be moved.

A sea of yellow Coreopsis 'Zagreb' and another unknown variety. 

Stachys monieri 'Hummelo', a buy from my local hardware store last year.

Our boy Hobbes having a tour of the honeybee situation. He loves watching them and basically leaves them alone. He's easily entertained. And, oh, hey, he became a "super senior" this July turning 15! We love our boy more than we can express.

Francoa sonchifolia has grown nicely in this spot under a rather large Acer macrophyllum. It's such an unusual flower, I really enjoy it. Recommended by my friend and fellow plantsman Nathan Champion of Champion Acres Nursery. Aruncus dioicus or goat's beard behind it.

The greenhouse or hoophouse got a shade cloth this year, thanks to GK Machine in Donald, Oregon. I have lots of seedlings in there, ready to sell at some point.

This is the year that I am harvesting flowers and herbs to dry for later use in tinctures, lotions, herbs for cooking and the like. This is Calendula 'Radio' drying in the shed. It will go into a cream for sore muscles or perhaps tea.

There are several nasturtiums that came up in very interesting color combinations this year so I also plan on saving seeds from a selection and seeing what happens.

We have nine gooseberry shrubs and this is the year they decided to kick into high gear and start producing. We've been giving them away to people who love them with the thought that next year we'll cook with them. Any recipes you would care to share?

Cauliflower 'Purple of Sicily' is so delicious and turns green when you cook it. Facilities Manager does a version lightly coated in flour and fried crispy on the cast iron skillet. You can spice it up with Indian spices for an extra level of yumminess. It also freezes well after blanching.

New this year are a few scarlet runner beans. These are mostly for the hummingbirds, but we'll give them a try in the kitchen. It's hard to beat fortex beans, however - these have stiff competition. Fortex are our favorites.

The artichoke harvest was epic this year. I left about 20 or so to flower and give back a little energy to the plants for next year.

It blows my mind every year that I plant microscopic onion seedlings started in the greenhouse and they turn into full-fledged onions. They are so small that you can't even see them in the soil until they are at least a few weeks old. I have three rows of onions and shallots this year, we love them so much. I also harvested 64 garlic bulbs last weekend. Yes, I counted.

Our old trustworthy Kalibos cabbage. We mostly use it to make sauerkraut, a task coming up pretty soon! I think this weekend will be beet-pickling time around here. That's the trouble with growing all of this, you have to do something with it! A fabulous problem to have, although I have no social life (even before COVID-19) due to the amount of work that goes into all of this. I love it, though.

That's a lot to take in, and believe me, it is for me as well. There are many little projects going on - simple things such as clean-up of garden beds, pruning, watering, picking, weeding, stair-making, mowing, edging, that sort of thing but my to-do list seems especially long right now for some reason, even with nothing noteworthy on it. Overall, life in the garden and on the farm is good, just busy. The biggest frustration right now are moles and voles, the biggest joy is the wildlife and our time with the kitties out in the garden. Oh, and the three new pullets we brought home two weeks ago. More on them another time.

As we roll into August the heat will likely continue, for which the corn, cucumbers and squash will be grateful. Summer really just kicked in around here, I hope it lasts for a long time, well into the fall.

That's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from you! Happy gardening.


  1. Your July garden is truly magnificent, Tamara. I enjoyed each and every photo. Of course, I can't imagine having a garden that requires no water until July. I wish my own creeping thyme bloomed that abundantly all at once. The Coreopsis and the Ozothamnus are now on my wish list. Best wishes.

    1. Thank you, Kris. I know, we're in totally different climates but we both garden with what works.

      OK, I noticed I had the wrong name on that Ozothamnus - I had it listed as 'Silver Jubilee' (of which I have two) but this one is 'Sussex Silver'. The differences are minor but I thought you should know. I also changed it to the correct name on the blog. The Coreopsis is awesome, by the way!

  2. Dear Lord. It all looks fabulous. My grandmother grew goose berries. Pretty sure she made jam--or maybe jelly (I think jelly was more her jam...) but can't remember what it tasted like.


    1. Aw, thank you Patricia. Well, no need for gooseberry recipes as I went down to harvest them today and they were ALL GONE. What the corn? Some critter must have had a feast. Boo hoo for us!

  3. What a pleasure to tour, and learn about new-to-me plants.

    Most of which seem to be absolutely thriving. Don't think I've ever seen a Sedum album blooming as densely as yours, but then conditions have been ideal for it: moist first half of the season, then dry with some heat.

    Going back for another round of drinking it in.

    1. Thank you, Nell! The Sedum album was epic this year, ideal conditions as you say is spot-on.

      Your words are very kind, thank you thank you! :)

  4. I love all the groundcovers you use under all your plantings. They really provide a finished look. As always I find lots of inspiration from your garden just too bad I can't grow half the plants you do. I have read you can mix gooseberries in with other berries/fruit in pies, jams, crisps etc. The tartness complements the other fruit's sweet .

    1. I love groundcovers! I guess I never really acknowledged that or thought about it until your comment! They are awesome, great for keeping weeds at bay and also holding in water.

      I wish I could use the gooseberries in some dessert or another, but unfortunately some critter must have had a feast as I went to harvest them today and they were all gone. Darn!

  5. What a splendid tour Tamara ! Your garden just gets better and better. I had to give my Knautia a severe haircut/dig-up a couple weeks ago. I do love it but one must be wary in a small garden like mine. It would be nice to let it have it's way !

    1. Thank you KS!! Aaah, the naughty Knautia. I moved it to the "meadow" area just for that reason - to let it have its way. It was taking over in a more manicured bed and it got yanked last year or the year before. It sure does seed around! Pretty when allowed to do so, but yes, one must have adequate space.

  6. I loved every inch of your July garden, but I must say that my favorite is the thyme path and the bees. Mother Nature, with a little help from her two friends, have created an amazing place to live!

    1. Aw, thank you Molly. We do what we can for the bees, I love the thyme lawn too. You can hear the bees when you walk by it, it's so lovely. Thanks for your kind words, cheers!!

  7. Love following your gardening story. Your mention of watering today got me wondering...how DO you water all that you have? Do you have some sort of drip system or what?

    1. Hi there, thanks for your comments! We just water by hand - no irrigation system or drip system. We designed it like that - rather we planted a dry garden to begin with, the farther out the more dry-loving plants. I water by hand individual plants, FM waters wholesale with sprinklers and times them and moves them. The thirstier plants are closest to the hoses and house so it's not that big of a problem now that plants are established.

    2. wow! that must be some job to do! Your property is beautiful; love the plant selections and combos you create!

  8. Your comment "I kind of planned it that way" made me pause. It sums up so much of gardening. And that photo of Grevillea lanigera 'Coastal Gem', I had no idea it could get that big! Finally Hobbes, what a great photo...

    1. Thanks, Danger. Hobbes is always the star of the show.

      I don't know if I get your meaning about summing up gardening - you mean planning? Call me dense today. Ha!

  9. I always see so much to admire in your posts. Color combinations, textures... A belated happy birthday to Hobbes. He looks like a kitten yet.
    That picture of the cabbage looks like a watercolor to me. Almost too pretty to eat.

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! Hobbes says thank you for the birthday wishes! Sometimes he acts like a kitten, it's great to see. Lately he's been napping like a super senior, though. Well, he earned it.

      The cabbage is almost too pretty to eat - but we do! And it's yummy. Cheers.

  10. I am absolutely in love with your thyme lawn .. I would love to convert our small bit of grass lawn in the front of our house to thyme. Maybe one day I will be able to do that .. and the fact the oil is so beneficial to the bees is wonderful. I have Romantika in my back garden trailing over an arbor bench, those intensely almost black looking flowers are gorgeous and it seems super hardy (of course so far I don't have moles ? LOL)
    We have our girl Sophie going on 16 this year and we can't imagine life without her .. you touched me with your boy.
    Wonderful post .. enjoyed the tour immensely, thank you !

    1. Thank you Canadian Garden Joy! The thyme lawn took a while to fill in and was kind of a pain to keep weeded all those years but now it's the star of the show, so worth it.

      Glad to hear about your Romantika - it seems pretty tough so I'm hopeful it will survive the mole attack.

      Aw, Sophie...I know. 16 years is a blessing, we are so lucky to have our furry ones, aren't we?

      Thank you for your kind words, take care.

  11. speechless -- okay, in a word...fabulous!


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