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020You can hardly tell I killed two rosebushes this year. Even expert gardeners (which I am definitely not) have their moments of massive garden fail. I tried moving the bushes to give them more space and more sun. What I gave them was death. And yet, the Pink Garden is so forgiving, you can’t even tell.

041I built a new trellis for my clematis last fall. The vine grew so large that the original trellis (which was a in fact two trellises I put together with a hinge in the middle, thinking to outwit the gods of excessive growth) was utterly consumed. The plant had nowhere to go. Flowers were plastered all over the ground. The whole point of vines is to create vertical interest, and in the case of this clematis, to cover the garage wall. I used my picture framing skills to build a massive trellis with some cedar and galvanized steel screws from the hardware store. Now I have the pleasure of an original design in the exact height and style I wanted, and my vine has its run all the way to the roof. (Note: if you try this yourself, just remember to make the ends that sink into the ground about 1/3 the length of the trellis, and dig deep. Nothing is worse than structural elements in the garden being out of square. A firm structure contrast and supports the unpredictable windings of vines.)

014Clematis flowers still trail the ground a bit, but we can still see innumerable blooms from the dining room table. Oh, did you notice the rabbit? It seems my matrix planting has created quite the little wildlife habitat. The Pink Garden is a matrix planting, which means one establishes three layers of canopy – tree, shrub, and ground cover – and plants thickly enough to prevent most weeds. I add permission for happy perennials to self sow. Plants that like the site spread and form low maintenance clumps. There’s yarrow, anemone, coneflower, penstemon, geranium, butterfly weed, evening primrose, and coreopsis, and a few more. There’s also flowering shrubs which add beauty and structure with less work than perennials: oakleaf hydrangea, azealas, spirea, pink potentilla, and of course the newly replaced rosebushes. I almost never have to do any work in this garden, and the rabbit lives there clandestinely to prove the absence of my feet tromping through the brush most days.

005Other wildlife visitors include an array of birds and butterflies.This Tiger Swallowtail discovering a Tiger-lily drew me into the dense planting to catch his picture today. A Monarch was sweeping round and round the yard as she has been all last week, but she didn’t want her picture taken. Monarchs have become scarce since I began gardening, so it is always a delight to be adopted by one or more. Skippers and bees abound, and I caught a picture of this Painted Lady nectaring on a coneflower:

019Perhaps it’s the summer heat getting into my brain, but this season I’ve been less motivated to write about the garden and more inclined to plop my ass down and enjoy it. The Pink Garden all grown up and full and flouncy makes relaxing in the garden so easy. The veggie garden still demands I labor away at harvesting its bounty, but the flower gardens let me rest. I think part of why I started blogging about the garden was to convince myself this hobby was worthwhile, that I wasn’t such a loser for spending so much time at it. I feel less and less like I need to prove anything to anyone. I feel more and more like I will work or rest or plop my ass down where I wish, and you other people can go compete, succeed, and prove yourselves. At the end of the day, I’ll have more pesto and tomato sauce in the freezer. I’ll have lived well and eaten my own fresh food all summer, feasted my eyes on a succession of flowers from spring to fall, and used my own hands to work the soil as if I were a natural born inhabitant of this ailing planet and not an alien visitor exploiting it for my own temporary gain. Maybe I am a loser, but it’s okay: I’m lost in a bit of Paradise.