Ornamental gardens are forgiving

Ornamental gardens are forgiving, and mine has certainly had a lot to forgive this year.
The back garden with its gravel paths is very forgiving of my inattention. Dee Nash
The back garden with its gravel paths is very forgiving of my inattention.

The garden’s slump started with my trip to Houston in April for work followed by another trip to England in May with Bill. Great fun, but traveling put me behind the eight ball. Then, I went to the Garden Bloggers’ Fling in Minneapolis in July and on a family vacation to Mobile, AL and Gulf Shores in August. On the way back, we visited Eudora Welty’s garden.

Ornamental gardens. Hibiscus My Valentine with Limelight hydrangea and a lime green barberry.
Hibiscus My Valentine with Limelight hydrangea and a lime green barberry. I love the hibiscus because that is its true red. It’s bloomed for over a month now. Limelight is fantastic too.
I also hurt my hand.

I’ve been going to hand rehab for the last six weeks although the problems started much earlier when I scratched my cornea. Lord, I sound pitiful when I write this stuff, and that’s why I haven’t been blogging much. I’m not sharing this info for sympathy, but to help others who might have the same problem. I have cubital tunnel syndrome (CTS), and the symptoms started a year or so ago. I google doctored it and knew what was wrong so I began wearing an Elbow PM arm splint at night. The CTS was manageable until I held an ice pack up to my eye with my left hand for three days straight. I inflamed the ulnar nerve in the cubital tunnel of my elbow so my ring and pinkie fingers were numb all the way down to my wrist. Not good. Although I have problems in both hands, the left hand is worse. I know this because I went to the doctor when it didn’t respond to home treatment. The doctor did a nerve test called Electromyography (EMG) and a nerve conduction study (NCS) to measure if I have muscle damage, along with how badly compressed the ulnar nerve is. Through the tests, I now know the CTS is mild in my right arm and moderate in the left.

Hand rehab therapy is twice a week to avoid surgery, and things do seem to slowly improving. I also learned how to use kinesio taping on my arm, and I do this before I do any gardening. It helps support the nerve when I type too.

The side borders are boring without the blackeyed Susans and shasta daisies. They are already bloomed out.
The side borders are boring without the blackeyed Susans and shasta daisies. They are already bloomed out.
Which brings us back how forgiving ornamental gardens are.

Typing and gardening exacerbate CTS, and the rehab therapist asked me not to do much of either. I type for work with frequent breaks. It’s been very, very hot here so it wasn’t hard to comply about gardening. Everything is on drip irrigation which helps a lot.

This morning, the weather was milder from a cold front, and I went outside to see how bad things were.

Phlox paniculata
Phlox paniculata

I can report that the Phlox paniculata and most of the other plants in these photos bloomed on without any assistance from me. The pollinators were happily going about their business too.

Zinnia and amaranth in the vegetable/cutting garden.
Zinnia and amaranth in the vegetable/cutting garden.

My vegetable/cutting garden is a mess. I pitched an idea about cutting gardens to my publisher earlier in the year, and they weren’t interested. After that, I didn’t worry too much about how it looked because I didn’t need the photos for a book.

Apricot zinnias are so beautiful.
Apricot zinnias are so beautiful.

I content myself with the idea that the pollinators are still happy with the zinnias and other cutting garden flowers. The butterflies don’t care if it’s messy and overgrown. I remember reading that years ago in Theme Gardens: Revised Edition by Barbara Damrosch. It helps take some of the pressure off.

Cleome Mi Amore was pretty, but I don't like it as much as Senorita Rosalita.
Cleome Mi Amore was pretty, but I don’t like it as much as Senorita Rosalita.

Next year, we’re putting in raised beds so I won’t have to work so hard in this garden bed. It’s really too much if you don’t till, and I don’t. Raised beds will make it easier to keep the Bermuda grass under control because they are much easier to weed.

This morning, I weeded the bed facing the street. I took out a pile of grass about two by four feet.
This morning, I weeded the bed facing the street. I took out a pile of grass about two by four feet. Because of the mulch though, it was easy weeding.

I do love my cutting garden, and it hurts to see it so messy. Oh well, let’s look at something else like the bed facing the street. It looks good after this morning’s weeding and cutting.

Pennisetum alopecuroides 'Ginger Love' is one of my favorite plants this year. It only grows to two feet in my border.
Pennisetum alopecuroides ‘Ginger Love’ is one of my favorite plants this year. It only grows to two feet in my border.

The vegetable garden is so sad I’m not even showing it. However, the ornamental beds and borders are going great guns. I’ll show you some of my favorite plants this year.

Catharanthus Soiree Kawaii Coral has bloomed all summer. It likes the weather hot and somewhat dry.
Catharanthus Soiree Kawaii Coral has bloomed all summer. It likes the weather hot and somewhat dry. I like how the blooms are like miniature periwinkles. Although they are in a different genus than Vinca, they are also commonly called periwinkles I guess. The blooms are tiny.

I’ve done a little cutting back and weeding, but not much. I am trying very hard to comply. My friend, Annette, has been coming over every other Wednesday to help me in the garden. She knows a lot about gardening and is a hard worker, so that’s been great. My sister, Nita, has also come over two or three times. She’s learning a lot about gardening. I’m not sure she likes it much. She said it was like cleaning house. I guess it is except you do have birdsong and wonderful things to smell while you’re cleaning.

Beautiful purple/red castor bean.
Beautiful purple/red castor bean.

We’re at that stage in summer where the roses need additional deadheading. I know it’s a little late, but cutting them one more time won’t hurt them. For the last several years, we’ve had long falls, and I’m banking on that again.

'Wasabi' coleus and another in the back garden bed.
‘Wasabi’ coleus and another in the back garden bed. The red behind them is another red coleus, probably ‘Henna.’ I like ‘Henna’ a lot. These grow beneath a red crapemyrtle.

Also, cut back your coleus and salvias to increase flowering. Pull out the weedy grass and give everything another good layer of mulch. We can’t make it rain, but we can insulate those roots.

Rosa 'September Song,' a Dr. Griffith Buck rose.
Rosa ‘September Song,’ a Dr. Griffith Buck rose.

Instead of spending my money on plants, I’ve spent the entire summer shopping for clothes. I still walk/run on the treadmill and walk at the mall on the hottest days to stay in shape. After I lost weight, I didn’t have anything to wear. Stitch Fix has become my favorite clothing service ever. In full disclosure, if you click on the link and order a box, they will give me $25 credit. I’m also doing Trendsend and Trunk Club. My daughter, Diva, calls them my little packages of fun. I may write about all of them later this fall because there are things I like and dislike about each service. I will say my wardrobe has never been better.

'Henna' and Colorblaze Marooned coleus.
‘Henna’ and Colorblaze Marooned coleus.

That last paragraph makes me laugh. Talk about making lemonade out of lemons. How has your gardening year been?


  1. Nell Jean says:

    I’m encouraged by your post. On the other hand, just when I was running out of excuses other than extreme heat and humidity, someone killed a Diamondback Rattlesnake 100 yards from our driveway and I have a new reason to stay inside.

  2. Sometimes our health can really slow us down in the garden, especially since most of us gardeners are getting up there in years. I had knee replacement last fall, so I’m back out there working this year. But last year was a complete bust. Such is life.

  3. Well, you would never know you’d been away from the garden. It looks well-tended to me! Sorry about the health issues–that’s especially a drag during gardening season. I tried Stitch Fix and ended up buying two items from the second box. I hope you got a credit? I like it. Some of the things are too expensive, but others seem reasonable. Take care, Dee. I hope the coming autumn will treat you well. :0

  4. Linda says:

    Things look good to my eye. We have no irrigation system so travel can wreak havoc. I recently joined a gym and told them I want to garden into my eighties. I have some arthritis in my hands and balance issues but I can’t imagine life without the garden. This aging is frustrating! Do write about the clothing. Sounds very interesting.

  5. I feel your pain Dee, I’ve had some kind of back/hip issue that has had me in physical therapy almost all summer and still not resolved, another doctor this week! Fortunately like yours, my garden seems to be doing just fine being neglected. I’ve managed the occasional weeding and recently have gotten to be able to do some digging and rearranging of plants, garden therapy helps as much as PT!! Good luck with your carpel tunnel, been there done that, had to have surgery and it still will bug me from time to time. It does get better — everyone keeps telling me and I know it does, it’s just hard to not be out there primping all the pretties. Your garden is beautiful!

  6. indygardener says:

    Sorry to hear about your hand issue. I agree that it is important to change our gardens as our abilities to tend it change. I look forward to seeing your new raised beds and your zinnias look marvelous!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      We simply have to change with the times, and they are a changin’. Haha.

  7. gardenannie says:

    Oh, man, your hand issue sounds down right awful. I hope you mend soon. Where did you get those zinnias?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Annie, I got the seeds from Floret. http://www.floretflowers.com/shop/zinnia-zinderella-peach/ I linked to them for you. Zinderella Peach. I would buy them again. I’ll probably collect see this fall too.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I’ve had a rough summer as well with back problems, but you just power through! Did the carpet tunnel surgery a few years back and I have never regretted it! It was fast and easy, a quick recovery and no scar.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Sorry you’ve had a rough summer too. Keep on powering on.

  9. While I am so sad about your health issues, I appreciate your sharing. We all take our turn and it means so much to know others stories. Praying for you! I am so glad much of your garden bloomed in spite of your health and travel!! A nice gift to you. Our gardens take care of us too. Nice to know about your wardrobe too! I keep thinking l’ll try one of the services. Hugs to you!!! ?

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Thank you Teresa for the prayers. They mean a lot.

  10. Lydia Plunk says:

    The first 7 months of this year, I spent more time working with a physical therapist than my garden. Both the garden and I have evidence of mutual need- and admiration. Not being able to “do everything” has a silver lining- the level of appreciation for what I could do (which was little)- and what the garden could do for me ( a lot)- the garden, what it means to be viscerally connected to God’s creative process gave me strength to continue healing.I would not have found this on my own. Blessings to you- with prayers for continued healing.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Lydia, you said it so well. Hang in there too.

  11. Cindy, MCOK says:

    I remind myself often that the pollinators don’t care how the garden looks! I do my best to be more like them at this time of year … it’s too danged hot to be out there grooming the garden!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Isn’t that the truth?

  12. You’ve inspired me to add coleus to the garden…So a few weeks ago I bought 4 of them on sale. They sure do add a punch of color and the pollinators like their flowers.

    Hoping your hand heals soon…Despite travel and injury, your garden looks lovely. xogail

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Gail, it touches my heart to think I inspired you. Coleus are such great plants for the pollinators and us.

  13. Your coleus are huge and I am still waiting for the first blooms on my hibiscus. And for around here it’s been a hot summer!

    1. Dee Nash says:

      We have such a different climate don’t we?

  14. You are having a troublesome summer health wise. Just think…next year you will be healed and you can jump in and kick—, pull weeds. 😉 Gosh you mentioned the M word. I need to mulch so bad. I did none this spring. We were traveling too. Despite your absence things don’t look so bad. Hang in there things will get better.

    1. Dee Nash says:

      Get mulching Lisa. Winter is coming. 😉

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