Weeded and mowed. And first monarch caterpillar!

I cut back the bee balm this week. It’s stems sprawled, leafless and leggy, and a mildew rusted the few withered leaves that were left. A fresh crop greens the ground where the desiccated bee balm swayed before, and fresh stems leaf towards the sky. 

Cutting that back inspired me to demolish the catnip as well. It had bushed into a chest high tangle of brown stems and withered leaves at its base and almost to its tips, leggy and past its prime. Birds and bees still loved it for its flowers and seed heads, which caused significant internal conflict about cutting it back. We’ve got a ton of other flowers and seeds and branches for perching, so I whacked it.

 After two weeks out of the garden, and after a drenching rain, I needed to trim and neaten. Weeds trashed the garden. It looked like an abandoned parking lot. The grass was shin high and gone to seed as well. The yard was not tidy like I like it.

All week I watched the forecast, hoping for a pleasant Saturday to garden. All week, the forecast called for rain. I slept in, and when I awoke, the sun shone on sparkling wet grass. 

I spent the morning tearing out weeds, snipping dead flower stems, chopping aphid-infested seed pods off of milkweed. And in doing so, found our first monarch caterpillar of the season:

Everything is blooming, and the hummingbirds don’t mind that I cut back the bee balm. One just thrummed in front of me, zipping over to the firecracker plant. It’s drinking there now. I’ll finish up the mowing and go sit in my chair to enjoy the flowers without the distraction of weeds and tall grass.

Status of the garden: July

We’ve been away or I’ve been working the past few weekends, so I haven’t had a chance to spend much time in the garden. It’s a beautiful morning, though, and I took a few photos before starting work today.

The current status of the garden is: in bloom. In bloom and being eaten by bunnies.

  • Echinacea, zinnias, milkweed, blanketflower, lavender, blazing star, black eyed Susans, bee balm, hydrangea by the stairs are all in bloom, and the yarrow is in its second round of blossoms.
  • Bee balm is past it’s peak and is looking pretty bad. We need something low and bushy in front of it to hide it’s legginess.
  • Joe Pye and Shasta daisies should bloom soon. I don’t see flower buds on the hilltop hydrangea.
  • Mailbox wildflowers are doing great. Cosmos, candytuft, calendula, and a blue flower — maybe stock? — all blooming.
  • Bunnies ate the yellow milkweed in the back garden and also many of the wildflowers. The remaining wildflowers are slower going than out front. Calendula seems to be doing well.
From the hill: black eyed Susans, blazing star, and zinnias
Zinnias we grew from seed
Milkweed before the aphids come; no caterpillars yet
Echinacea looking good in July


Herb garden needs to fill in
Wildflowers from seed mixed with established indigo salvia
I replinished the flower boxes last week; they had browned pretty badly