So far, in Maine, this summer has been nearly perfect. Warm and hot during the day, cool at night, and just enough rain for the plants and flowers to flourish. Oh, I could take nine months of this. I know. I live in Maine, where it is downright cold much of the year. Perhaps that’s why summer here is so sweet?
My front gardens, with their profusion of evening primroses, come into their own the end of June and the beginning of July, when everything is an exuberant burst of yellow. However, all good things must come to an end, and so it is with the evening primroses, which are nearly done blooming. There are other flowers to look forward to—black eyed Susans and daylilies—and the hostas and ferns hold everything together, but for the front yard, the peak is over.
On the other hand, the back garden is just coming into its own. The Bee balm is in glorious red bloom—I can’t stop taking pictures of it—and soon there will be a profusion of especially lovely daylilies to join them. There will, of course, be more pictures.
I like to joke—well, maybe it’s not such a joke—that I have the worst yard in Winthrop in which to garden. There is shade galore, and much of it—especially in the front yard—is dry. Thirty years ago, we bought this house for other reasons—the price, the woods, the roominess despite its small size. It was our first house, and I hadn’t yet been bitten by the gardening bug.
However, after a couple of years here, I was bitten. Hard. I was young, I was strong, and I began digging like a fool. I planted willy-nilly, with little regard for the conditions. Let’s just say that there was plenty of heartbreak and loss. What I wanted was a blooming cottage-style garden. My yard had other ideas, and I wasted a lot of time, energy, and money before I came to my senses. In retrospect, I realize that I should have put raised beds in the front, which would have helped with the dry shade.
But, as the saying goes, we grow too soon old and too late wise. The gardens are dug, and I don’t have the energy or the resources to replace them with raised beds.
I have finally followed the advice of a friend who is an accomplished gardener. “For God’s sake, Laurie, plant some hostas.” This I have done. They are thriving in the dry shade, and they look cool and elegant until the slugs munch them to ribbons. I’ve also planted ferns, which are lovely. But, oh, my heart aches for hollyhocks and roses.
In the backyard, I am happy to report that I learned from my mistakes in the front yard, and the large garden along the patio is indeed a raised bed. There are only six hours of sun in that garden, but I can grow irises, bee balm, and daylilies. Phlox does well, too.
This might sound a little woo-woo—to borrow from my friend Susan Poulin—but the garden has taught me lessons. That is, conditions are not always ideal. We might want hollyhocks and roses, but instead we get evening primroses and hostas. Yet, in what we get, there can be creativity, value, and even beauty.
More photos from my mid-July garden.