This year I was away on vacation for almost two months from the middle of July to the beginning of September – 7 weeks in total. In the meantime our garden got quite neglected, but nevertheless, many plants seem to thrive. My husband was keeping an eye on the garden, but since he is not really a gardener and quite busy, he was not taking a good care of it. He has just watered the plants a few times and cut the grass, when necessary.
This year we had a lot of rain – I think it is the wettest year ever since I can remember while living in GTA (Greater Toronto Area). There was only occasional a sunny day. Some plants loved it, other, like roses, not so much, and many of them have developed some black spots or some white powdery mildew.
While I was away, I worried how our garden will survive during my long absence and so much neglect. To my surprise, all of the plants have survived and some of them did surprisingly well, as you will see in this post.
Sedum – Autumn Joy
Below is the first one of them – Autumn Joy – a sedum variety. It has grown quite big and when I arrived it probably has just started blooming with light-pink colour flowers, which got much darker later in season. This plant while in the top blooming period attracts a lot of insects – mostly bees, but also some flies etc.
I was very happy to see that our new Clematis, which I have purchased this year from a local Walmart store and planted in spring, has grown so much and was blooming with beautiful, dark pink, originally looking flowers. It grows just in the middle of our garden on the right side of the metal gate.
Here is a close up picture of this Clematis variety. Isn’t it amazing?
Its flowers have totally different shape than our other dark purple Clematis, which was blooming in late spring and early summer on the opposite side of the gate. You can see other Clematis we have in my earlier post “Flower Blooming in Our Garden in June – Part 2“.
Here you can see both of our Clematis plants. The one on the left – dark purple variety, is not blooming anymore, but you can see how big it was able to grow within just about 5 months. It was cut almost to the ground in the early spring. This variety blooms on new wood. Dark pink Clematis is on the right of the gate and much smaller, but this is its first year in our garden, so hopefully it will grow much bigger next year.
In the back you can also notice our overgrown, and this time, very neglected vegetable garden, as well as huge sunflowers – another surprise I have found after I returned from my trip. I will write more about the vegetable garden in my next post – probably part 2 of this article.
For now just have a look at the sunflowers.
I have planted them sometimes in June, or maybe even in the beginning of July, and they were supposed to be just a small, decorative purple variety. I guess the company which was selling them must have mixed up the seed since non of them looked like on the package. In fact they looked very similar to the sunflowers we had in the previous year.
Perhaps the seeds I have planted have not sprouted and they have just grown from the seeds left in the ground from the previous year. But these sunflowers were growing pretty much in a row, as I have planted them, so I am not sure how they could do that since in the meantime in spring I was moving the soil there before planting new seeds. Anyway, they are for sure sunflowers and some birds and our squirrels, as well as many mostly beneficial insects loved them.
Once the seeds were ripening, the flowers started to dry. I have observed squirrels, which were sometimes taking a bite of the sunflowers, but mostly left them in place. Then, a few weeks ago during one day they have quickly and skilfully work to cut almost all sunflower heads and took them to some secret location only know to them. I am not sure how they were able to cut and move all these pretty big sunflower heads so quickly. They have probably cut them into smaller pieces. I guess squirrels have collected them as a perfect food supply for cold autumn and winter days. That’s OK with us since we were not really growing them to eat seeds, but to feed birds and help the squirrels to survive the winter as well.
Butterfly Bush, Sage, Mallows and Some Roses.
Some other plants like Butterfly Bush (also called Budleia), Mallows, as well as Russian Sage also did very well, even if looking a bit neglected. We have two Butterfly Bushes – bigger and smaller variety. Both have grown very well and were blooming profusely attracting many butterflies and interesting moths, which moved the wings so quickly I initially though they could be hummingbirds, before I looked at them closer. Many bees and other nectar loving insects were also coming to visit the bushes. I didn’t see any hummingbirds coming to them, but they might have been here earlier.
I thought cutting the spent flowers helps them to bloom more, but while I was away, my husband was not cutting Butterfly Bush flowers at all and the plants were still blooming profusely, only they didn’t look their best with all these spent blooms. Once back home, I have tidied them up to improve the look of the plants. In the above picture you can still see them as I have found them with many old blooms still in place.
The smaller Butterfly Bush keeps blooming even till now and we are at the end of October, but this Autumn, contrary to a very wet Spring and Summer, was very nice with a lot of sunshine and higher than normal temperatures. If you would like to try to grow Butterfly Bush in your garden you might like to read my article about them here.
Russian Sage and Mallows, as you can also see in the picture above, did very well in our neglected garden. The only problem was they were not staked and falling down. I have just lifted the branches up providing some sturdy support and cut back some of the Mallows. Both kinds of flowers are still blooming till now and we are at the end of October. They like a lot of sunshine and are very easy going.
Mallows make lots of seeds, as you can see in the top left corner of the picture above. If you don’t want new plants sprouting all over the place, you better collect the seeds. Since Mallow plants might not survive the winter in colder regions, it is a good idea to keep some seeds for the next year, just in case.
As I have mentioned, roses didn’t do to well during my absence and my husband said most of them stopped blooming right after I have left for my trip in the middle of July, but I guess they were not blooming so well since there was too much rain, not enough sun and because he just “deadheaded them once”. Besides most of the roses we have, in our zone bloom the most in June and the beginning of July. But there are some which bloom constantly and all should repeat blooming.
Here above you have proof that some roses were still blooming while I was away. This is Poseidon rose I have planted last year in summer. This year it bloomed more but the blooms have the tendency to just dry on the plant and stay there. However it is pretty resistant to various diseases and insects seem to like it less than some other roses.
I also wrote more about plants which thrived the most in my neglected garden in my next post – part 2 of this article. Stay tuned and subscribe to my blog to receive automatic updates.
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