flowers along the front brick pathWell, we’re moving in the right direction. This week’s Monday morning update is coming out on Wednesday, not Thursday. Progress!

The garden along the front path is bursting right now. It’s an incredible change from this time last year, when I had just finished installing the brick path and had only begun to add the herbs and strawberries that line the walk today. If you missed the ‘before’ shot I posted of this area (taken in late May last year), just click here. The change is pretty dramatic.

That change, by the way, doesn’t really say a thing about me as a gardener. Or, at least, not much. Instead, it speaks volumes about the power and resiliency of plants, and the crazy-rapid pace of growth in a happy garden. This landscape isn’t mature yet, but it’s come an incredibly long way in just one year. Less really; I didn’t plant many of these plants until late June or July 2011. Some didn’t go into the ground until August last year. And, none of these were those big, huge, beautiful specimens that nurseries always display out front. Nope. Not in the budget. It’s mostly starting-from-seeds for me and my garden. I did splurge on a few plants โ€” I bought the rosemary, sage and gaura as little starts in 4-inch pots, for example โ€” but nothing luxuriant. That’s just not how I garden.

That’s the gaura in the foreground photo of that first photo, by the way. Isn’t it great?

Here it is again. I love its cheerful exuberance:

gaura blooming profusely

The bees do too (check out the pollen load on this lady!):

bee on gaura

Speaking of the front path, one of my projects this weekend centered around the front stoop. Can you spot the change?

front path in early june

Here it is again:

front stoop

Yep. I planted some sticks in a pot. Actually, they’re more branches than sticks. I’m liking the way they look — a little stark and architectural, but still organic and natural. The whole process took about five minutes. Or, well, maybe ten. I selected three long branches from my pile of recently-pruned maple branches. Snipped off the little branchlets to give them a cleaner look. Then, stuck them into the dirt in this container, which is actually an old-school Igloo cooler.

Don’t worry. This isn’t the final product. I haven’t decided to switch from growing plants to growing sticks.

There are some seeds in that pot too.

By mid-July, these sticks should be absolutely covered with ‘Scarlet Emperor’ runner beans. The hummingbirds should love it. I hope the neighbors do too.

So. I spent a little time this past weekend dressing up my front path with dead branches (the neighbors must really wonder about me at times). But, I spent most of my weekend on the other side of my driveway, working in a patch of no-longer-lawn that I’m converting to a wildflower hill:

wildflower hill

It’s hard to tell from the photos, but the hill here gets pretty steep. It’s a pain to mow. Plus, it enjoys some of the best sunlight on the entire property. Why waste it on grass and clover (mostly clover, thankfully)? It’s been a gradual process, this transformation. I’m moving plants from elsewhere on the property. Some are coming out of the not-allowed front yard garden, because I want the space for veggies or I just changed my mind about their placement. Other plants are transplants from places where they weren’t happy before. There’s a blueberry that’s (hopefully) recovering from a near-death experience, and a Virginia sweetspire that is THRILLED to be out from under the branches of a white pine.

I’m mostly growing native plants here. The idea is to attract even more pollinators and beneficials to the yard. Maybe some more songbirds too. The more, the merrier! (Unless they’re catbirds.) So, yes, natives. Virginia sweetspire โ€” I’m growing ‘Henry’s Ganet’ which gets an intense burgundy in the fall โ€” is one of the foundation shrubs, and hopefully that recovering ‘Jersey’ blueberry will grow to be another anchor. There’s also black-eyed Susans, purple coneflower, a goldenrod cultivar (No, you are not allergic to goldenrod. You are allergic to ragweed.), two clumps of liatris, and a purple snakeroot. And a crazy deep-red monarda. Wish I could remember the variety here:

red bee balm bloom

Oh, and a bird house. Can’t forget the bird house.

birdhouse on wildflower hill

There are edibles too, of course:

pumpkin planted on wildflower hill

wildflower hill sweet potatoes

I stuck some pumpkin seeds into the leafy loam around the Virginia sweetspire, and scattered clumps of corn, winter squash and sunflower throughout the hill. After our dump of rain yesterday, I’m hoping these seeds will start emerging soon. There’s also a line of 13 tomato plants along the very top of the hill. And, of course, I included two sweet potatoes planted in bushel baskets. Gotta take advantage of the sun wherever I can find it!

Elsewhere, the flowers are continuing to welcome June:

pink cosmo bloom

culver's root about to bloom

Even the tomatoes and potatoes are joining the flowering fun:

tomato flower

potato about to flower

And, it’s definitely time to harvest some more chamomile:

chamomile in bloom

Speaking of harvests… Mmm…

blueray developing berries

ripe northland blueberries

And, here’s one last photo for the week, introducing my new neighbors:

bluebird sitting on a bird house

Bluebirds! Smack in the middle of the Outlaw Garden! I’m so excited!!

That’s the garden tour for the week. Next week, maybe I’ll get this out on Monday. Maybe.

How is your garden growing?

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