Grandpa Ott is Everywhere

We had a magnificent thunderstorm last night, with sky-cracking lightning and crashing thunder; rain in torrents!  It was a perfect ending to my birthday, which I celebrated with little fanfare.  I will not bore you with the details, but only share a snippet of an e-mail I got from dear friend “At Your Service.”

“You certainly chose a great place and delightful time to be born: In the most timbered state of the greatest country with the best yet government ever devised, early in the most significant decade of the twentieth century, right in the middle of the  Maine summer, long before global warming or climate change impugned man’s right to exist.  Nice going!”

It made me smile as the first late afternoon clouds darkened the sky and far off rumbling crept closer to my little town in this “most timbered state.”

Today, I share with you my post-birthday “Garden Tour.”  It will be mostly pictures with comments as needed.  A few caveats:  I am not a professional photographer, gardener, or blog stylist.  I am a writer who likes to garden.  On with the tour!

No tour should be without signage and I have carried this old Junior League of Boston Decorator Show House sign around with me since I moved home five years ago.  The Junior League retired it and I bought it at auction.

You’ll notice the pile of gravel stones; this will be the second summer I’ve had stone delivered and I use it for edging and other projects.  Moving stone by hand is a wonderful work-out; better than cross fit.

This spot is behind the sign and the rock pile; next to the garage.  Speaking of the garage, let’s take a few steps back and see the “little garden” in front of it.  Faye the Barber once painted her barbershop steps the same blue as I painted that old chair frame.  The geraniums look a little tired, don’t they?

Taking a few more steps back, we are now at the front porch.  I would like to restore the porch to its original state.  The current structure is circa 1970’s.  Behind the galvanized container is a spot that glows with sun drops earlier in the summer.

Careful on the banking next to the front porch garden!  One day, after the porch restoration, I would like to get rid of the grass on that section of lawn.  It’s difficult to mow and it’s ugly.

The next image is Madeleine’s Garden, which looks best at the end of June, in my opinion.  The hostas are large and fading and it’s mostly greenery now.  I do think I will use bark mulch in it next year to keep the weeds down.

As we turn right, we are at a raised bed installed in 2014.  I have a few tulips here in the spring and the Kennebec Valley Garden Club iris.  This year, I threw some old pie pumpkin seeds in this spot and I’m happy with the results.  Someone, who I will discuss later, has been nibbling at the leaves, but not enough to do significant damage.

This is one of five pumpkins currently on this planting.

Moving along, we are now at the back door and the Grandpa Ott morning glory trellis.  I have planted other colors, but these purple ones are all volunteers from last year.  Grandpa Ott is an old heritage seed; it’s very hardy, probably like Grandpa himself.

This is the view looking out from the back porch.  I decided to use bark mulch in the main garden spot because the grass and weeds were significant and made it difficult to keep it looking good.  I don’t know why I was hesitant to use bark mulch.  I think it’s a great help in keeping weeds down and creating visual lines.

Let’s call this my “oops” garden, or the one I haven’t spent much time on this summer.  I am planning to remove the peony, because peonies need more sun and they need to be with other peonies.  I don’t know what I will put here; maybe tulips and then some annuals.  I like the liatris, though, and you can see the green garden frog to the right, faithful and true.

This spring, I had some tree work done.  The arborist removed the remaining twin tree from a blizzard casualty a few years ago.  Then he leveled off the stump and I put this galvanized planter there.

This spot is another project.  In the spring, there is a row of daffodils along the barn side, but I’ve not found the right thing to plant.  I’ve grown potatoes here twice, but I stuck some buckwheat seed in the ground this spring and I’m going to mulch it in soon.  I’ve decided to plant all daffodils next spring.

Crossing back across the lawn, we find ourselves at the “vegetable garden.”  Apologies for the blurry Grandpa Ott’s.  This year, I’m growing cucumbers, tomatoes, and kale.  A baby woodchuck snuck in through the wires and ate my squash plant, so I’ll be putting some chicken wire along the bottom of the fencing.  The little one is probably too big to squeeze in now, but I noticed a few hungry squirrels inside the fence this summer and they did quite a bit of damage to my sunflowers, as you will see.

Here is a “Lemon Queen” sunflower, one of my favorites.  Standing tall and strong, this beauty wasn’t attacked by squirrels.

But others were.  Rats with tails, as my father likes to call them.  It was very dry earlier this summer and I think the squirrels were unable to get enough acorns out of the ground.  They resorted to eating sunflowers.  It makes sense, but unfortunately, they were too heavy for the stalks and they broke three in my garden.  I was able to stake and restore all three of them.

Honestly, it made me cry when I saw this one go down.  I ran into the garden and said out loud “I’ll save you!”

Baby woodchucks don’t seem to like cucumber leaves, fortunately for me.  And I shouldn’t be stealing Uncle Bob’s cucumbers, either, because I’ve got plenty of my own.

Outside of the fenced-in vegetable garden is another gravelled area.  I will be expanding this in the coming weeks.  There is a steep banking that goes down to a gully.

I love terracotta pots.  I got this one and the one by the garage at Surry Gardens in Surry, Maine.  Oh, such a wonderful greenhouse on the back road to Ellsworth.  Go there and be filled with delight.

Here is another angle along the back of the vegetable garden.  It’s lovely in the spring, that iris clump.  But at this point in the summer, even the daisies have gone by.

Here’s another Grandpa Ott, probably from last year’s garden cleanup.  It’s growing from the gully area, where I throw my grass clippings, weeds, and spent flowers.

One garden I left out is the one next to the back steps.  I have a lavender plant and lots of tiger lilies there, but it was just a tad messy.

I hope you have enjoyed today’s garden tour.  I would be remiss if I failed to mention that portions of my garden were built on the work done by former owner, Madeleine Perron; I am thankful for the roots she established here.  And of course, many thanks to the true Master Gardener.

I’m looking forward to more sunflowers, cucumbers, and ripening pumpkins.  And mums and early autumn.  But not until we get our share of the most wonderful month of the year…blessed August!

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