I was sure when we had our cold snap in April that one of the losses would be this years' blossoms on my corner white azalea which blooms later than the others. Oddly enough the dropping brown buds that got zapped by the freeze made room for a much more ethereal gift of spring. Hard to believe that so many of the buds died because to me this ended up being about right. Every year it is a surprise to me how fast my back yard goes from fairly barren to a veritable jungle. It's getting better and better too as the self seeding flowers I want and the yarrow and other plants I love are managing to choke out the weed I don't want. The hardest decisions I have to make at this point involve the volunteer trees, ornamental bushes and virginia creeper. The back garden is becoming much shadier in the summer as I've let volunteer cherry, mulberry, apple, crepe myrtle, red bud and dogwoods grow. I am getting better about making decisions and managed to make a lot of progress today cutting down the volunteer trees that are too numerous. Much easier to weed with loping irons when the weeds are small trees than to have tons of conventional weeds to pull up. That's what is happening. The flowers and trees are leaving very little room for weeds although I need to do a better job of staying on top of some of the vines. Or maybe I don't. In most regards the wilder my garden gets the more it suits me especially if I can continue to keep moving it with a little effort in the direction I want it to go. One thing I love about the overgrown parts is what a good habitat for the birds I have. Boy are they letting me know too when I'm too close to nests. I can't see them but when I was out today trying to do some very minor pruning the birds went nuts, screaming at the top of their lungs. I moved away to another area that needed work and they quieted down. Nice that they let me know when I'm encroaching on their homes because the last thing I want to do is expose defenceless babies or unhatched eggs. Then again if you feed the animals you feed the animals. You can't blame a cat or a hawk or a dog for being what they are. One of the reasons I stopped feeding the birds with feeders is because I felt like I was pointing out to the neighborhood cats where to lie awaiting. There's no way I'm going to keep the cats out of my garden, even if I try, but as long as the birds are scattered throughout the habitat garden, I think they stand a better chance. There is so much for them to eat, except in the worse weather, that they still find plenty to eat in my garden without the feeders. Also, when we have ice or snow and I do help them out a bit it's usually the kind of days where the cats stay at their warm homes and don't come to my garden to stalk. I remember when I used to think of my garden goals in terms of a sanctuary. A place where I could hide away when I needed to. I'm increasingly thinking in terms of garden rooms too. That's part of why I'm allowing volunteer trees to stay in some spots that may not seem logical but they are helping to start separating the areas I think of as rooms. I don't want it to get so shady everywhere that my sun plants won't survive but it doesn't hurt to have more shade in the summer. I've discovered that a lot of plants that are billed as sun plants do well in the south with a bit more shade than you would expect as long as they get some sun. Especially if the shade doesn't become too dense until the later part of spring and summer. In addition to my secret garden, sanctuary, and garden rooms themes, I also like a crazy quilt in certain areas. I can't wait until the colors which would clash in most contexts are bursting out all over the place for my crazy quilt made of summer flowers. As long as we don't get too dry this will be a great year for early summer flowers. There are tons of buds already promising me the reds, purples, pinks, black, yellow, white, orange, and lavender riot that is soon to come. Perhaps one of my favorite aspects in my garden at the moment is that it makes me laugh. I have a rose bough that has grown beyond it's boundaries and made an arch down into my lettuce box. With the help of a broom I managed to shift it a little so I don't get hit in the fact by thorns when I try to pick lettuce. That makes me laugh out loud.
This is what I am learning about gardening in general:
My green thumb came only as a result of the mistakes I made while learning to see things from the plant's point of view.
~H. Fred Ale
Love the photos...wow what an azalea! You are such an inspiration to go out and work on that thumb.
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