Pretty Things in August

As I reviewed the 843 photos from Sunday, the realization came that any number of posts could surface from such a volume. I became overwhelmed with ideas; the possibilities are abundant. I have enough photos to write something about hardy fuchsias, hydrangeas, bee-attracting plants and the veggie garden. I think I have ideas lined up for the next few weeks. But, for now, being overwhelmed, I did what I naturally do, i.e., go for the pretty pictures like a magpie to shiny objects. Below is simply a collection of images from the first week of August in the garden, ones I like for one reason or another. I hope you enjoy:

At the eastern edge of the labyrinth garden, Rudbeckia hirta are beginning to bloom, giving the definite sensation of summertime.

Berberis jamesiana, in its green grape phase. These will turn to a coral pinkish color come fall, followed by lovely orange fall color for the leaves before they drop.

Asters and Agastache foeniculum backed by Stipa gigantea flowers.

In one of my favorite beds, Hylotelephium 'Stardust' is forming flower clusters that will bloom white in a few weeks. Behind are several shrubs that echo a silver, purple and green theme.

In the middle of the orchard, standing amongst the queen Anne's lace, which, of course, was already there. We allowed the meadow to grow between the fruit trees, only mowing paths. I rather like it.

Chandelier flowers of Itea ilicifolia, now in its third year (I believe), are stunning. I love this evergreen shrub for its drama.

This part of the garden is finally looking as I imagined it with hot pinks and oranges, no more yellows. That's an orange California poppy in the middle that reads yellow, but it is indeed orange. Also now that the rosemary is cut back it allows light to the plants behind.

From the southeastern corner looking up towards the house and the edge of the labyrinth garden.

Soft yellow Coreopsis 'Moonbeam' in its new home, away from the now orange and hot pink section seen earlier to spots between Festuca rubra 'Patrick's Point' and Muhlenbergia rigens which is beginning to form spiky inflorescences.

A closer shot of the hot pink and oranges in this part of the garden.

Wider shot showing the convergence of several different garden beds in the gravel garden.

A section of the dry labyrinth garden with Teucrium chamaedrys, Cotinus 'Pink Champagne' and an unknown Hylotelephium or sedum cultivar. These are all drought-tolerant and the Teucrium chamaedrys or germander is evergreen, a great solution plant for a small evergreen shrub for sun that requires very little water once established. It can be pruned to shape it. The bees LOVE it when it's in bloom, by the way.

Macleaya cordata, plume poppy leaves.

A wider shot of the Teucrium edge. These will be pruned back after the blooms are finished.

Same bed from the other direction.

In the gravel garden, many shrubs are crowding one another. I have two acres and I still have the tendency to cramscape. Old habits are hard to break.

Golden yellow berries that will turn red-orange on Viburnum opulus 'Aureum.' Birds love these berries, especially cedar waxwings.

Arctostaphylos silvicola ‘Ghostly’ foliage.

A wide shot of one path through the labyrinth garden flanked by two Acanthus mollis.

Looking west past the gravel garden.

The orchard is on the right, the veggie garden on the left and the labyrinth garden straight ahead. The path between these two areas I am standing on is simply a mowed path.

Plump hips of Rosa pomifera. I am looking into harvesting some of these to make tea - if anyone has tips, do speak up.

Not everything looks summery around here. We've been battling the moles and voles with a vengeance this year - because of issues like this. Moles are continually making gigantic mounds under this row of cistus - no matter what we do, they come back. While moles are carnivores and don't eat plants, they do make tunnels that leave roots dangling in caves and this happens. Half the plant is dying while the other half is fine. The voles do eat plants and they are an issue in the shade garden where many favorite plants are completely gone because of them. The voles also use moles' tunnels, a win-win for the rodents. Lose-lose for us. 

On to small projects. We have been collecting rocks for a while now and recycled concrete so FM made this fabulous stairway for us. It used to be wood and rebar, now it's solid stone and concrete. Thank you, FM!

From the other angle. I love it! Rustic Chickadee Gardens style, just how we like it.

FM also made us a barn-owl box to hopefully attract some form of critter control. This is posted on the edge of the orchard where there is quite a community of voles.

Finally, the first of the shallots were harvested. I leave this here to remind myself that it's the middle of food-preservation season and that we'll be busy over the next couple of weeks pickling green beans and beets, harvesting and curing onions and shallots, drying herbs and making sauerkraut. Life is good, busy but good. Now if I could figure out a way to make a living doing all of this, what I love . . . any ideas?

Oh, and in case you were wondering, not all of those 800+ photos were saved. No, I culled them down to a couple of hundred, something I do every week. I do the same thing at Joy Creek Nursery for our Facebook page there - 800 is not unheard of in a couple of hours to create several posts for the week, something I do year-round for the nursery. I guess I get carried away with photos but as many of you know, it takes a lot of shots to get a decent one.

Well, that's a wrap for this week at Chickadee Gardens. As always, thank you so much for reading and commenting, we love hearing from the plant-loving community! Happy gardening one and all!


  1. Yours is my absolute favourite blog. I really appreciate all the wide shots, and how you describe your design goals and developments. Thank you!

    1. Wow, what an honor! thank you Teuth so much! I appreciate your reaching out to say so. I think it's important to i.d. plants, at least I love it when reading a garden magazine, for example, and want to know what I'm looking at. Cheers!

  2. Maybe I missed something, but could you please talk about why you moved the yellow out of the bed with the orange and hot pink? Are there other colors in that bed besides those two? As for the moles and voles, get some old-fashioned moth balls and toss them down the holes and the creatures will simply leave. Eventually, the moth balls will disintegrate/evaporate and you may have to do it again, but by then the critters have found another place to live. The fumes shouldn't be harmful to you since they will be outdoors.

    1. Hi Judith, you didn't miss anything really, I just mentioned a few times in the past that the particular part of the garden I described had too many color combinations - that is it didn't harmonize for my tastes. It had the yellow coreopsis with a variety of pinks, purple, blues and others - it just didn't work for my eyes. I wanted harmonizing colors - colors on the same chunk of the color wheel, that's all. So I found another spot for the yellow coreopsis whose placement I am happy with now.

      Thanks for the tip on moles and voles, we appreciate it and we're hopeful! Thank you!

  3. Anonymous8:57 AM PDT

    Thanks for sharing your "pretty" pictures. No theme necessary. I love seeing your well-planned, well-tended, beautiful garden in a climate so different from my own.
    Steve B.

    1. Aw, good! No theme necessary...I love it! Thank you for your kind words. Cheers.

  4. I love the new stairway; I remember what it looked like before. Good work, FM!

    I very much appreciate your inclusion of the picture of your sad cistus situation. (Say THAT three times fast!) While swooning over all your gorgeous pictures of that amazing garden, sometimes it's rather soothing to see any "less than perfection" you might have to endure. It seems like it's a constant struggle over here - everything always seems to be planted in the wrong place, getting too much sun or not enough, too much water or not enough - so it makes me feel just a tiny bit better to see what's not - quite - beautiful chez Chickadee! : )

    1. STEPHEN! I know your pain. Sometimes it feels like every plant placement is wrong wrong wrong and you will be forever "tweaking" their placement. You are not alone. Your garden is probably amazing, you are likely too hard on yourself. But, you can move plants until you get it just right. Fall/winter are good times to move plants, it's less shocking for them when they are dormant.

      And oh, yes, nature always has the last word. Many other issues too, I just cleverly edit most of those out ;) Believe me, the struggle is real. Hugs!! xox

  5. Few people have a garden that looks this glorious in August, Tamara, so sharing it in its moment was entirely appropriate in my view. I sympathize with your battle with moles and voles as I've been engaged in my own battle with a gopher (I can only hope it's just one). Prodded by friends, I even named him - Kirottu, Finnish for "damned one". I don't want to jinx myself by claiming victory but I think the solar-powered sonic devices I used to "encourage" him to move in the direction of the canyon may have had an effect, or perhaps the coyotes finally visited at the right moment.

    1. Thank you, Kris - I think part of why it looks fine in August is that many are drought tolerant plants, I know other areas of the garden that require more water are not looking so hot.

      I have a friend who has gophers and it makes a man who moves flies out of the house not wishing to harm another creature take out a rifle to try to get the gophers. They have that impact (their damage) on people.

      OH, I hope your device works. Knocking on wood for you too. Eventually the balance will come back, right? I mean with predators/prey? I hope so.

  6. Don't you love digital photography? I didn't know it is your dedicated efforts I enjoy on Joy Creek's FB site. Great job, girl! I'm sorry about your moles and voles. I've been seeing a few mounds in the garden too. No voles though, probably because we have neighboring cats come through. Hopefully the owls will use that new house. Your garden looks fabulous. FM did a great job on those steps. Your Macleaya photo is gorgeous.

    1. Oh, digital is fabulous. Remember developing photos, anxiously awaiting to pick them up?

      Yes, let's cross our fingers for a new owl occupant. That would make my year!

      Thanks for your comments, FM is my hero, he'll appreciate your kind words. Cheers, Grace! And thanks for your kind FB words. I've been at it several years now (Joy Creek).

  7. So many gorgeous plants. Though I hate the heat gardens in August really are at their peak. The only tip I can offer about rose hips is to be careful with the little hairs on the inside of the hip. They can lodge in your esophagus. Just scrape them out if you are not going to use the hips whole.

    1. Thank you so much for the compliment and the tips. Good to know - thank you thank you :)

  8. "I have two acres and I still have the tendency to cramscape. Old habits are hard to break."... love this observation, and that tendency is probably a big reason why I love your garden so much.

    Great stairs FM!

    1. I thought you would appreciate that comment ;)

  9. Hello Tai, thank you for your comments and for reading the blog! Thank you for your input on the owl box, that could be an issue, we'll look into raising it up. Yes, it's only about 8' high at this point so higher would be better. Also thank you for the moth ball comment, we haven't used them and are glad to know why we shouldn't. Cheers and best wishes with your new garden - there are many fantastic native plant nurseries and places to explore.


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