Tagged Endless Summer Hydrangeas

What Happened To My Gardens?

WARNING: GARDENER’S DISCRETION ADVISED – SOME IMAGES MAY BE TOO GRAPHIC FOR TIDY GARDENERS – VIEW AT YOUR OWN RISK

Neglected garden has not been tended for two years.
Neglected garden has not been tended for two years.

There was a time when I took great pride in the appearance of my gardens, making sure to pluck each weed and nurture each plant to it’s prime.

Then along came a handsome man who stole my heart away. I began to spend my free time with him riding bikes along the trails of Minnesota, attempting to master the sport of golf, and generally just having a great time hanging out with that wonderful, kind, humorous soul who eventually became my fiance’.

My gardens started to lose their closely tended appearance.  An occasional spear of quack-grass poked through the decomposing layers of mulch.  Soon there were patches of grass and thistle poking through and threatening to choke out those precious perennials.

Then on a fateful day in September, 2008 that handsome man was late to arrive at work.  When I went looking for him, I discovered him lying on his kitchen floor, unable to move his left side. It was the second time in my life that I’ve called 911 in a panic (I’ll write about the first another time).

That fateful day changed our lives forever.  A stroke had immobilized my big, wonderful, hunk of a man.  It would take three months of in-house exhaustive therapy to get him back on his feet. Caring and nurturing the gardens at my house stopped that September day, as I turned my attention to the care and recovery of my soul-mate.  (Click Here to learn about signs of stroke).

Two weeks ago I began the clean-up of what becomes of gardens that have suffered two years of neglect.  My daughter accompanied me and photographed the gardens while I began to weed and mulch one garden at a time.  My goal is to have each of the gardens back in shape by the end of the summer.  As you can see, I have my work cut out for me.

These photos were taken by my daughter Heidi, as I began the “Garden Rescue Project.”
CLICK HERE to see the neglected gardens (view at your own risk).

A pull-behind sled makes a great container when you’re harvesting YARDS of weeds.

A sled full of quack grass, thistles, and creeping charlie.
A sled full of quack grass, thistles, and creeping charlie.

That evening, after several hours of intense weeding and mulching, one of the gardens began to start to look like a garden instead of a weed patch.

The weed patch began to look like a garden again.
The weed patch began to look like a garden again.

Thankfully, the company that I work for allows a flexible summer schedule so I’ll have Fridays off to tend my neglected gardens.  If all goes as planned what currently looks like this:

Neglected pond
Neglected pond

Will be on track to look like this again (in a year or two):

Pond in September, 2007
Pond before neglect set in

Dead-heading Endless Summer Hydrangeas

Endless Summer Hydrangea - Twist & Shout
Endless Summer Hydrangea - Twist & Shout

A month ago we purchased  and planted two Twist and Shout Endless Summer Hydrangeas to commemorate the sites where we buried the ashes of our two beloved labs.  Beau – a wonderful, large, and stubborn yellow Labrador Retriever who passed away from cancer in Aug. of 2007 at the age of 8; and Sophie a beautiful black Labrador Retriever who passed away last fall from unknown causes at the age of 5.  Their ashes had been sitting in boxes and it was time to find a more permanent and restful place for both of them.  Since they both loved water, and subsequently the backyard pond, we thought it appropriate that their final resting spots would be on the backside of the pond.

The Hydrangeas bushes are doing well.  They like a lot of water, especially since the area is sloped and gets about 8 hours of sun a day.  If it doesn’t rain, I water them nightly. They were in full bloom when I purchased them from the nursery and those blooms are faded, but more blooms are forming.  A quick trim of the faded blooms made them look much better, and will encourage more growth and blooming throughout the summer.  I trimmed each faded bloom stalk back to the second set of leaves.

Both shrubs seemed to have faired the application of lawn chemicals on the neighboring lawns.  I’m looking forward to the new buds maturing for another colorful display of purple and blue blossoms.  I’m confident that if  Beau and Sophie were still with us, they would both care less about the blossoming hydrangeas  – as long as the pond was full and the shade was plentiful.