Tag Archives: ugly foliage

It isn’t always fun and blooms

A strange feeling overtakes me when I get a lot of props from the readers of this blog. The more you say “beautiful photo John” or “your gardens are gorgeous” or “you may be the coolest individual alive John” I get an overwhelming feeling of guilt. While I appreciate all the great feedback, I feel the need to offset the great photos with some of the not so great looking ones. It’s a sort of cosmic balance that serves as a reminder that for every beautiful blooming perennial, there is another one that didn’t survive the winter or fried in the heat of summer or slowly succumbed to powdery mildew.

A lot of beginning gardeners I talk to who read gardening blogs or read gardening magazines get very frustrated when they cannot successfully grow plants and make them look like they do in print. They immediately call themselves a “brown thumb” and give up. Well I’m here today to tell you it’s OK. I’ve been an obsessed gardener for close to fifteen years now and I still suck at it. Seriously, I still make the same mistakes or ignore the same good advice year after year. The reality is that the idea of “low maintenance” doesn’t really exist. You have to be willing to put in some time and effort. It takes time, patience and a lot of trial and error. But that is what makes it so enjoyable. You will never be an expert and have your entire lifetime to learn.

Taking photos and putting them in a blog is a great way to fool an audience. At the right angle, your blooms can look just right and you can crop out the dying branches or weeds. It’s easy as hell to make yourself believe you are a kick ass gardener. Today, I’ll first show you the “nice” photo of a plant and then follow it up with a “reality check” photo. And it’s all because I am such a caring and empathetic individual:

Wonderful blooms on a Geranium ‘Brookside’:

What it looks like after the blooms quickly fade:

What it can look like if you’re not lazy like me and cut it back immediately after bloom:

Nepeta (Catmint) blooms are a thing of beauty and draw in so many bees and butterflies:

Just realize you need to cut it back at some point or else they will look all ratty and crap as they do now because I ignored my own advice:   

Phlox ‘David’ is an all time fave for me:

And without fail, the foliage declines at the same time the blooms appear and I want to throw the f’er to the curb:  

Astilbes are a great combo of blooms and foliage in shade:

Just remember it loves and needs consistent water or it will quickly fry: 

Daylilly blooms are always phenomenal:

Just get ready to deadleaf the foliage on a daily basis or it will completely detract from the blooms: 

Northern Sea Oats are reliable as can be and the seedheads add an incredible level of interest summer into fall and even into winter:

Oh yeah, they also reseed like crazy and can take over a garden bed in the spring. Glad I remembered to cut off the seedheads before the winter set in:   

That initial flush of bloom on Daylily ‘Happy Returns’ is impressive:

Speaking of impressive, how impressive is this ugliness, post bloom?:  
Ahhh, I feel much better now. The secret is out of the bag and I can go about my business without any additional guilt. 
Have a great weekend and garden your ass off without fear!
John