Garden of Shame


Gail from Clay and Limestone had her Garden of Benign Neglect (which she rehabbed), but I think my mess is a bit more embarrassing.   At least hers looked like it was a mass of wildflower wonder instead of a grassy meadow surrounded by worn railroad ties.

From the back
From the back

It’s a shame that I don’t love this garden as I should.  Every year, in the spring, I clear out the oak leaves, and I have the best intentions, but . . . .

From the front
From the front

Once again, I’ve let it go.

I can present no defense to the Court of Garden Bloggers except this:  the garden is too far from the house,  facing the street, and I never see it unless I’m coming or going down the driveway.  I cruise through the gate, see it, sigh and then cover my peripheral vision with my left hand as I run indoors.  Once inside, I promptly forget all about it.  If I do stay outdoors, I am lured by the siren song of the more beautiful garden out back.  Maybe, someday, when the children no long need their play set (and we are rapidly approaching that day), I can attach the two gardens with meandering paths.

Or, maybe not.

Hemerocallis 'Hyperion' (Mead 1924) backed by Perovskia, Russian Sage
Hemerocallis 'Hyperion' (Mead 1924) backed by Perovskia atriplicifolia, Russian Sage

One of the plants being covered by grass is the sweetly scented Hemerocallis ‘Hyperion’, an antique registered in 1924.  For more information and photos of ‘Hyperion’, please see this post at Tulip in the Woods.  While HH and I were riding the motorcycle the other night, we saw a beautiful garden way out in the country near Stillwater.  The woman had used ‘Hyperion’ throughout, and it was magical, its lemon yellow flowers swaying in the breeze.  She was outside, and we talked about the beauty of lemon yellow and how elusive it was because most yellow flowers have a golden cast.  She did not like gold and had removed all of her Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’.  Although that will never happen here, seeing her garden made me want to divide ‘Hyperion’ this fall and use it elsewhere, along with H. ‘Spider Miracle’ another lemony yellow.

Obviously I don’t even want to write about the ugly garden.

Unfortunately, this is the garden my neighbors see on their way to and fro.  Today, when I drove in from the hospital (where my mother is still in ICU and doing fair), I, once again, heaved a sigh.

Enough was enough.

I pulled on my rattiest t-shirt, slipped into my garden clogs and placed my large garden hat on my head.  With my toughest tools, the Felco pruners and my triangular hand hoe, I got to work.

Bear came outside with me and shot fireworks nearby in a show of solidarity.  (Not really.  She is required to have adult supervision when she plays with fire.)  She let me know before each one popped, but I still jumped.  She agreed that they seemed louder than on the 4th of July.  We pondered this for a bit while I drank some iced green tea I’d made.

Then, back to work.

After a couple of hours of hard labor, the garden looks better.  I will finish the last bit and mulch it.  In the meantime, here it is partially rehabilitated.

Partially finished
Partially finished

At least, you can see St. Francis again.

The surprising thing was, I didn’t lose many plants to the grass, but I reasoned that is because most of them are prairie plants used to grassy neighbors.  I think I’ll dig some of the Echinacea and Rudbeckia from the border on the east side of the house and add their songs to the prairie melody.  I might also head to TLC to see what they’ve got at the end of the season.  Perhaps, a new Echinacea in another color.  It depends on whether they’re having a sale.

Hemerocallis fulva, now consider invasive in the United States
Hemerocallis fulva, now considered invasive in the Mid-Atlantic United States

When it is mulched and pretty again, I promise to update you.  On the left side of the garden and above in closeup, you can see my tawny daylilies, H. fulva (a/k/a ditch lilies), which are so common in the United States that they are often considered a wildflower.  They aren’t.  They are an import from across the pond, and have become invasive in the Mid-Atlantic states.   This is because, unlike most daylilies, H. fulva spread underground by stolons.  At present, they are not invasive in Oklahoma, but that could change.  H. fulva ‘Kwanzo’, which is a triploid that looks like a double ditch lily is a thug in the daylily garden.  It often travels with other passalong daylilies.  It hides, and then you have a problem.  In fact, I have it quite accidentally in my main garden.  I dig it out every year, and a piece of it that I can’t see remains.

See, everyone has a garden she wishes no one saw.  I’ve now shared mine.


  1. Joan Wiley says:

    How’s your mom doing now?

  2. Pam/Digging says:

    Nice job, Dee. Isn’t it amazing what a difference some weeding and trimming can make? It looks quite nice now.
    .-= Pam/Digging´s last blog ..Cockrell Butterfly Center in Houston =-.

  3. Hi, Dee! Good work! Main thing is that now it will no longer be a drag on your consciousness as you come and go. It will be a relief. And I’m of the mind that whatever neighbors see out front is a gift to the community at large. Bet you have a bunch of people quietly thanking you! Hope your mom is doing better. xox

  4. ~~Rhonda says:

    Dee, as I sit here in the library listening to a gentle thunderstorm and rain water running off the porch roof, I find myself thinking of all the corners of the garden that could fit a post just like yours. So glad it’s raining…I’ll just have to put off shaping up those areas! ;-D

    Seriously, you’ve done a major improvement on the bed and you will be proud of yourself every time you drive in. No need to cover the view and dash for the house!

    We’ve had lots of warm, warm weather and lots of rain. The gardens are flush with flowers AND weeds. Seems the weeds grow ten times faster (and taller) than the flowers do. Pulling should be easy after the rain, right? I may get out there after all.

    Do you have false indigo in the bed? It’s a great prairie plant and, once established, needs no care. We have it in blue and in white. Both are lovely.

    Thanks for sharing. You’re inspiring! ~~Rhonda
    .-= ~~Rhonda´s last blog ..don’t say autumn =-.

  5. Dee, There’s no such thing as an ugly garden. Mine often needs weeding and suffers from neglect (especially when it’s so hot), but I just call it a “rustic” garden, and keep on truckin…
    .-= nola at the alamo´s last blog ..A Little Help From My Friends… =-.

  6. Mary Beth says:

    Oh, Dee – this makes me feel so guilty about my overgrown garden (okay, my two overgrown gardens!) – the guilt comes from the fact that I have no immediate plan to begin to attach them. Maybe I can gain a little inspiration from your clean=up! That’s what I like most about gardening; things look immediately better.
    .-= Mary Beth ´s last blog ..Impulse Purchases – Good or Bad =-.

  7. deangreen says:

    enjoyed looking at your daylilies. and I like the overgrown garden, I see it only as potential potential. but of course also as more work. ha
    good luck
    .-= deangreen´s last blog ..things blooming in the garden today =-.

  8. princessdiva says:

    It is so refreshing to see that even super serious gardeners still have things that aren’t perfect!! Thanks for sharing the hope with the novice and intermediate gardeners!
    .-= princessdiva´s last blog ..Drum Roll Please. . . =-.

  9. A woman with a mission, that’s what I like and a mission you surely had Dee. Wow, it’s amazing what you’ve done with that former garden of shame, now, eventhough not yet fully finished, it’s a garden of pride.

    This time last year my Mom was in ICU so I know how that feels. My thoughts are with the both of you.

    Take care, my dear friend!
    .-= Yolanda Elizabet´s last blog ..Heatwave =-.

  10. Cheryl says:

    What a wonderful job you did. I have a habit of using your method too – avoidance. If I don’t see it, then it isn’t there. My house and yard had been in such bad shape, and I just refused to look around me. When I finally did, I went to work and both house and yard were beautifully transformed. Lots of hard work and a fair amount of money too.
    .-= Cheryl´s last blog ..Ugly, slimy slugs =-.

  11. Beckie says:

    Dee, I agree with Frances-your garden has great bones and after the weeding looks wonderful. I think the addition on some coneflowers would really make it pop. As for my garden of shame, they all were this year, but I am working on them. Still have one bed that even though I have some new plants in needs a lot of work still. It is the one that can’t be seen from the roads so it is always the last to get done. Don’t you feel proud of yourself now? Good therapy to take your mind off of your Mom. Hope she does well really soon.
    .-= Beckie´s last blog ..Mish Mash Monday! =-.

  12. Rose says:

    You don’t know how much I appreciate your willingness to share this garden, Dee! My vegetable garden is usually my garden of shame, but this year I vowed to do better, and thanks to lots of mulch it’s not–quite–as overrun with grassy weeds as usual. It makes me feel better to know I’m not alone:) All your hard work, though, certainly made a difference–the street garden looks lovely now. I do hope your mother improves very soon.
    .-= Rose´s last blog ..ABC Wednesday: Starting Them Young =-.

  13. Phillip says:

    It seems like we always discover these areas when the weather is the hottest. I guess that is when the weeds really get going. It looks much nicer now!
    .-= Phillip´s last blog ..Close-up on hydrangeas =-.

  14. commonweeder says:

    I always think people are so brave to confess their problems. And to show them off. Right now I am thinking of the people who are preparing for a local garden tour. They may not have weeds, thanks to the help of weeding friends, but they do have the effect of all this week’s torrential rains.
    .-= commonweeder´s last blog ..Tynan’s Full Day =-.

  15. tina says:

    And what a beautiful garden it is. I must say if I was on the jury, your defense of the garden being far away from the house and one you do not would win you an acquittal:) It does look much better cleaned though. Do update it when it is mulched.

    I have hyperion and so love that daylily! Not so much for it’s lemon color but its heavenly scent and the fact it is reliable. I bet that woman’s garden was something to see for sure as hyperion is outstanding this year.
    .-= tina´s last blog ..Cicadas =-.

  16. Cindy, MCOK says:

    Dee, we’re always our own harshest critic. That garden has good bones, as evidence by how nicely it cleaned up.

    After having seen the running habit of those H. fulvas in a neighbor’s yard, I’m glad I never planted any. She removed most of hers several years ago but I still see their foliage in the grass!
    .-= Cindy, MCOK´s last blog ..Through the Garden Gate: Monday, July 6th =-.

  17. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Gosh Dee, I think we all have a spot like that in our gardens. I have a similar situation here. I hate to work out in front of our house which is what everyone sees. I should just pull out everything and let it go back to grass and put in a foundation planting and let it be. Sigh…

  18. Jean says:

    You are a brave woman to share the part of your garden that shames you! It really looks nice now though. I think everyone has a part of their yard that they just don’t want to deal with (for me, it’s my front yard). Perhaps you should turn that area into a wildflower meadow. Then everytime you see it you can say “that’s exactly what it’s supposed to look like”!
    .-= Jean´s last blog ..Over Too Soon =-.

  19. I have to admit, I didn’t notice St. Francis in the second photo & had to go back up to find him. The garden bed looks so much better now, but out of sight is out of mind.
    The gardener you spoke with and I are kindred spirits. I have no golden yellow in my garden, but I love pale lemon, which seems to go with just about any color (at least any of the colors in my garden).
    .-= Mr. McGregor’s Daughter´s last blog ..All Trussed Up =-.

  20. Darla says:

    It’s amazing what a little bit of time in a garden will change. I actually love this area of your yard!!
    .-= Darla´s last blog ..NEW BLOG!! =-.

  21. Your ditch lilies look slightly different than mine. Can’t tell if it’s the lighting, but yours seem to have a smoother petal texture and a brighter yellow in the center.
    .-= Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening´s last blog .. =-.

  22. Joy says:

    Dee .. I know what it is like to spend hours working in the garden .. and it does us good even if it hurts the morning after ? LOL
    I don’t believe a true gardener has no spot of shame in their garden .. we all have one .. maybe we should form a club about it ? LOL
    You did a great job girl !
    .-= Joy´s last blog ..Moon, Spoon, June ? er ……. July ! =-.

  23. Frances says:

    Hi Dee, not so shameful as it turns out! I love the show of support with fireworks and your jumping with each pop even when warned. Hyperion is such a long bloomer, we should spread some of that love around here too, thanks for the inspiration! Hiding your peripheral vision rings a bell here as well, that front garden just gets to attention at all, too public and the views are all from the back of the house. I really need to do some weeding and pruning there, more inspiration from you, Dee. So much to do, and time waits for no man, or woman. 🙂
    .-= Frances´s last blog ..Capturing A Blooming Daylily Hill-Without A Net =-.

  24. I had a similar attack of a guilt about a bed in our front yard on Sunday, it’s now weed free! Yours looks much better too, this kind of made me chuckle though. It’s a bit like ‘that’ closet we all have somewhere in our home!
    .-= Brit’ Gal Sarah´s last blog ..Brit Word of the Day =-.

  25. Indygardener says:

    It’s good therapy for both the garden and the gardener to recover and rehab a ‘Garden of Shame’. I have a few clumps of ‘Hyperion’ and agree they are beautiful yellow blooms. I should spread mine out a bit, too.

    Now, as for my garden of shame, well I have this one area… maybe this fall I’ll fix it up…
    .-= Indygardener´s last blog ..Finding Focus In The World Of Daylilies =-.

  26. Great lot of work out there and it’s resulted in quite the facelift already! 🙂 Quite honestly, you have a wonderful array of plants and flowers there.
    .-= Shady Gardener´s last blog ..Little Blue Eyes =-.

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