As I said I would…More Seasonal Garden Progress


Ya, ya ya…I know my garden again. I said I would show seasonal progress and change. Garden Walk season is starting in a few weeks and the Lewiston GardenFest is this Saturday and Sunday. I will be busy there for a few days.

What is Trolius it planted with? Husker Red.

What is Trollius laxus planted with? Husker Red. There is a native variety of trollius native to central NYS, but not this one.

I don’t know the interest in my garden of many of my readers, but I know some do come for the flowers.

Others, the birds, and even more the photography in nature. My job is designing so at home I am a bit lackadaisical on my own turf. I just have less interest when I am home, so it does not always look weed free, edged perfectly, or even the grass mowed neatly. In fact, the photos are never taken with care either.

I have lots of clover in the lawn now for the bees. I care more for the bees than what the neighbors might think about longer, weedy grass. I think more should take this direction too, but hey, as a designer, it is my job to do as asked without pushing a personal philosophy. On my blog I can, so you will often hear how I feel about nature and how I don’t really look at gardens as nature in the pure sense of the word.

Clover-GrassSee the white clover in the lawn? When mowing, the mower is set to the highest setting too.


I wonder if that GardenFest sign should be planted in the clover (not native) and weed infested lawn?

PenstemonSee the bee in the penstemon? My lovely bees!!!!! I did not know he was in there until I looked closer.

Virginia Ctenucha Moth

Virginia Ctenucha Moth

Yes, lots of insects in the long grass. I found this guy early evening.

Front-Garden-3But I am supposed to show you the garden. You can see I get easily distracted by what VISITS the garden.


Amsonia, ‘Blue Ice’

I thought amsonia (native cultivar) was missing this year and went out to get another one. A bit more than a week later there it was, so now I have it in four places. It was very late to pop out of the ground, but when it did, it almost went right into flower.

ScabiosaOh look what was not here last week.


What are the partners of the scabiosa?


Foxglove opened this week. It pops out of the Forget-Me-Nots, another self-seeder.

I sodded the garden when I installed one of my new designs (there have been 4) and that is the last time the neighbors saw verdant green Kentucky Blue Grass in my garden.

My last post on the garden was June 10th., so what is it like only a week later? Plants just coming into flower, now are flowering profusely. I called it a garden that changes and it does. A few weeks from now, it will change quite a bit.

Front-Garden-1PoppyThis is my one poppy that whatever creature has beheading them has left. I still have not caught the culprit after three years of headless poppies.

IrisThe reds are coming….

Roses-carnationsAnd the yellows.


By the hundreds…And like I mention on the evening primrose, native Oenothera fruticosa is also very rampant in a garden.


YarrowPinks too.


Still plenty of blues. White and blue are pretty consistent colors here in my garden. Oh and the bell flower? Yes, very aggressive.

Bell-Flower Unopened, opened. Soon (another week) to be by the hundreds. They get around too.


Campanula glomerata, not our native.

All gardens change through the seasons, but not all have constant color. Some like those times of rest, others want the riot of color until the snow drops. I enjoy gardens that are “quiet” as well with all the texture and shades of green. You can guess that from all my trips into nature where color is provided mostly from those with wings – birds and insects. But a nice Japanese garden can be so relaxing.


What they don’t tell you about native plants.

It is not just all the good stuff.ย  Goldenrod, oenothera (evening primrose shown by the sidewalk in the full frontal view) and penstemon (above) are very aggressive in the garden. In fact too aggressive for a small city garden. Most native plants are, and you will see more as the season progresses. These plants are cultivars and were bred to be better controlled, but it is all relative to what one calls controlled.

A problem with this vigor, especially the goldenrod and oenothera, is that it even pushes out other plants that are also considered zealous, like the native asters, monkshood, and hyssop. I also have milkweed, another plant that needs to be thinned for space as does Monarda.

And don’t get me started on Rudbeckia fulgida var. sullivantii ‘Goldsturm’. The whole side garden became that plant. Milkweed was seeded there, so I am curious which one will be victorious in taking over the space. I removed carex for this reason from a very well contained space and tradescantia is on the block next to go. That plant is now in the back garden where it never was planted. Some plants are tenacious. I think it climbed out of the compost bin and slithered itself into the back garden. I have to keep an eye on my compost bins.

I wonder how many gardeners have enough years of experience with native plants before they suggest them for others to use. Many don’t even know what is native to their state or county. In NYS you can check this source.

Plants generally need more than three years in one spot to see of what they are capable. I myself have been designing for 30 years next year, so I am familiar with these aggressive plants and use them with restraint in smaller gardens – well aware once they get fully established, removing them becomes a chore. In large estate gardens with acres of meadows and ponds, they are plants used without a second thought.

Many plants liking the conditions and habitat have the potential to become aggressive, native or non-native. Plants you would think not, do if they are happy and uncontested in their location. Bearded Iris and Asiatic lilies overwhelm their bed every three years. Neither are native though. They can act just like all the native plants I mentioned. It all depends on soil and where in the country (weather and sun) they are located.


Too many say that if you plant native it will reduce maintenance,ย  I think that is an unjustifiable claim for the most part. Most gardens heavy with native plants predominately have a weedy look, like they do in nature. People just get accustomed to this aesthetic and only think it is maintenance free as a result. I myself will let some weeds go to flower because they are masked by all the native cultivars.

Really look at those smaller gardens with a discerning eye for design and you will see what I mean. Many look weedy and rarely have color consistent through the growing season. Plants featured are usually surrounded with much green foliage waiting to flower at a later time, that or brown sticks of plants past prime.

Of course it is possible using native plants to extend the color through the seasons. You can see that in my garden, but look closer and see that it is not exclusively native plants. Adding annuals, perennials, shrubs, and trees not native, yet attracting many pollinators and birds, will keep the garden in flower all season long. Follow along or look back at garden posts in previous years to see the garden bloom and bloom.


Next, back to nature with more grassland birds. Big birds in a marsh (a photography post), and birds that sing in beautiful meadows (all about nature post). Maybe I will continue my garden update, because as a designer, I like to impress upon readers the WAY plants perform, not just after a year or two, but over time.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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67 Responses to As I said I would…More Seasonal Garden Progress

  1. Wow very beautiful! Thanks for sharing

  2. I enjoy coming here for your flowers …. I particularly love the beautiful Iris – such a gorgeous colour. Your garden is soooo pretty and your writing is always interesting, bless you.

  3. Donna, I never get tired of looking at your flowers, insects, or birds whether they be in your yard or on your garden walks. Also, I’m always interested in your photography (even though I don’t understand all of it). You are a wonderful source for me in my search for important information that I use in my garden blog. I have a lot of the same flowers in my garden areas as you do, and while I highlight them in my garden blog I always try to give my personal experience (in addition to research) on whether or not I have found a plant to be aggressive. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thank you very much Sue. You are one of the few that do tell much when you feature a plant. Your posts are often very informative, especially to many just starting out in gardening. I can see you getting a lot of searches too. The thing about giving plant advice, and I say if often here on my blog, it is very often most useful to the general area where you are located. I have jobs a mere seven miles away that have very differing conditions, like soil or wind, and some plants will just not thrive in those conditions. I have to explain to some, from experience, that they always can’t have a plant they desire.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I would come for the flowers – would personally like to have a poppy or two. Just don’t get around to it. I liked reading your perspective about native plants, etc. I have so much to learn.

    • I love poppies and so does some animal in my garden. I cannot figure it out either, the poppies are tall. The only thing missing is the flower. I joke we don’t have deer here even though deer live only blocks away in the gorge, but maybe one comes each year at night.

  5. Pat says:

    Lush and beautiful!

  6. alesiablogs says:

    Amazing flower photos….And WHAT–how could anyone tire of your “philosophy’? Keep it going!

    • Thank you. I am a bit different from what most garden bloggers might say on plants. Why it is different is I don’t only have my garden as reference. If you only have one place to learn, it jades thinking on what it is like say 40 miles away. Conditions will be different and some plants that flourish one place, won’t – even across town.

      • alesiablogs says:

        I suppose so. I think it is like anything else. When we have the FULL exposure and looking at something from different points of view-we become more well rounded individuals. I am not sure if this has anything to do with your blog post, but thought worth sharing and exploring.

  7. acuriousgal says:

    I wish I was in your area, I’d so come to that gardenfest. Just loooove your garden, especially the blue and white tones in the front. Questions, what are the pink flowers near the curb in the front and how best to plant and care for Foxglove? Also, what pairs well with it? Thanks, Donna…answer in your spare time, which is probably non existent….I realize that๐Ÿ™‹

    • The GardenFest is fun. Most gardeners would enjoy it. Thank you. The pink flowers are Evening Primrose. They multiply like crazy. I have them in a bed which is pretty contained, yet they even grow in the sidewalk cracks. They are planted with Verbena and Catmint. They last a long time, but by the end of June, they will start to disappear. The green foliage stays, but the flowers go, some return in fall. Oenothera speciosa.

      The foxglove, just let it seed itself. Don’t cut the spent flowers. I had them planted with roses and they popped up under and around the roses for a pretty show. I only ever added one plant and the one foxglove did the rest. They like a bit of shade, but mine are in full sun with no problems.

  8. lucindalines says:

    So many pretty flowers. I am too selfish and usually only plant in the blue hue or white. Well a few pinks, but the yellows are banished. Perhaps I need to rethink my colors. Thanks so much for sharing and I just adore the photo with the flag in the background, would make a really great poster or print.

  9. Phil Lanoue says:

    Everything really looks great! Nice that the bees have this wonderful environment to visit and get their work done.

  10. Beautiful Captures – LOVE the Pops of Colors ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy Hump Day!

  11. Gorgeous!!! ๐Ÿ’๐ŸŒธ๐ŸŒท๐ŸŒน

  12. Denise says:

    ‘Lackadaisical ‘, a new word for me. I learn something new from your blog every time I visit. But I don’t understand why you lack enthusiasm for your own garden, it is lovely.

    • It is because I am in the “gardens” of clients and get worn out by the time I get home. Whether doing architecture or landscape design, being on a site can be exhausting. By the time I get home, I don’t feel like doing anything outside in the garden, except maybe taking a nature hike where there is very few flowers. It is one reason I did add many native plants, so a little of nature could come to me.

  13. By now you know how much I love letting a garden take a few liberties of its own. I don’t like absolute cleanliness and straight lines or perfect coordination. You have managed to grow an amazing garden which is full of life! I relate to your love for bees. Lately I saw many of them having a special interest in my Hoya carnosa [wax plant or as we call it here Asclepiad]! Much more than they do for my oregano, pelargonium, thyme, lemon thyme and lavender.

    • I am glad you said that Marina. Gardens don’t have to be so organized, nor do they have to be only about the home and homeowner. Making them about nature and for nature is a more responsible thing to do now that we are faced with climate we cannot be sure will be the same from year to year. Oh, and your herbs, certain pollinators like certain herbs, so you will see varying interest from some of the bees. Tiny bees like my herbs.

  14. Thanks for the link to the floral atlas. I hope to see you at Lewiston GardenFest!

  15. Great post, beautiful flowers of yours, wonderful photos, especially the opening one. Blessings, Natalie ๐Ÿ˜‰

  16. Donna, such wonderful photos! Will you teach me how take such great shots? ๐Ÿ™‚ Your gardens are gorgeous. I, too, am a huge proponent of native plants but also enjoy some non-natives because of their beauty. Definitely can attest to Evening Primrose being aggressive and spent 4 days removing a 5″ by 2″ bed of Irises that the previous never thinned – it was like cutting through cement. I have a little over an acre of land under a wide range of conditions from wet meadow to deep conifer shade. The wet meadow I let go and, except for a couple of spots, have given up on trying to eradicate the purple loosestrife. It is a losing battle because the meadow takes in road drainage and the seeds just keep on coming. But where I do work to keep it out I have planted native cattails. In another spot, native Boneset grows along with nightshades and goldenrod so the loosestrife is not welcome there either. The new battle is in trying to control the phragmites creeping in from my neighbor’s property. I will never get rid of it, but will not allow it to go to seed on my land and will cut it all down once the Red-winged Blackbirds have finished nesting in the reeds. Thanks for your insights – makes me feel a bit less guilty about having some “feriners”in the mix.

    • If you are serious, email me (on my about page). I would enjoy a nature walk and an opportunity to talk camera use. If you thought iris is bad to remove, try a bed of carex one time. I thought it would kill me to remove it. Every two-three years I divided it and the next year to two it was back full force. The evening primrose is planted in the same place. I am starting to think that spot is radioactive or something. It is dry as bone, no nutrients, full of gravel from building the sidewalk and drive, and the clay in there is like glue in Spring, concrete in summer. Why any plant would be happy there is beyond belief, but so far everything I put there has thrived.

      That is too bad on the pitch and slope of the road to wash in the seed. I can just imagine the battle with phragmites and loosestrife. They are two plants that would love your wet meadow. I bet you have dragonflies galore.The cattails? Do you have an issue with the invasive one, Typha angustifolia? I learned the difference, but still they look so similar to each other, it is hard to tell them apart. When I worked on a wetland project in Tonawanda the two were there. I commend you for leaving plants until birds are finished nesting. I would do the same if I could. I always look at it from my perspective, like how would I feel if that happened to me? I can tell you, it would be devastating losing my home and family. If I lived where you do, I doubt I would plant too much, maybe some native trees and shrubs if the site needed them. I would hope nature to be kind, and fill my meadows with all the wildflowers, insects and birds. My luck those wildflowers just might be loosestrife too. ๐Ÿ˜€

  17. I love your penstemon photo that does such a wonderful job of demonstrating the synergy between our plant and animal worlds…Really enjoy all of your garden photos.

    • I could do a photo that with many of the plants in my garden. So many work to please the critters. I think the bee is the wool carder bee. They are not hive bees and look for safe places to rest at night, and in there I almost missed him. I thought he was part of the flower at first glance.

  18. mjarz says:

    As a novice I have really enjoyed reading your posts and got comments on balancing natives with perennials, shrubs, and annuals. Your photos both close up and showing your design are wonderful. Thanks for the inspiration

    • It is about balance. I find when the natives get too rambunctious, I have to intervene and “balance” it all back again. I just never did that in the side garden. It has grasses and the Goldstrum that battle each other. The aggressive grasses are always on the losing end too.

  19. Jet Eliot says:

    Oh Donna, your garden is bursting with life! Thank you so much for all the lovely photos, and for sharing your lively garden. ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. Alisha says:

    your garden is really so beautiful..all pictures are amazing..I was so moved seeing al this…thank you so much for sharing Donna !!

  21. Anita says:

    Thank you for ‘keeping it real’ and giving good advice on the spreading abilities of natives in a small garden.

    • I wish more would do that. When people first plant many of the natives, the plants look straggly. The next year they fill out and look very nice and contained – even cute. The next year and maybe a year or two after they shine in full glory, but after, they establish and spread the wealth. I find the five year mark as the one where many natives become trying to contain. It is loads of work if you have a garden that needs to be behaved.

  22. A.M.B. says:

    I love it when you feature your garden! It’s so beautiful. It’s interesting to see how the garden changes throughout the year. There’s always something fascinating going on, and my favorite times are when the focus is on texture and monochromatic color.

  23. Your garden looks lovely! I love the photography of the bees and the moth… it’s so interesting to see the macro details ๐Ÿ™‚

  24. My Heartsong says:

    When I was housesitting for a friend , I weeded her garden but left some rather large flowers “because I was not sure.” Well, sure enough they were the “voluntaries” that take over the garden,so when she got home there was more weeding to do. In the past I have weeded what were some precious flowers. I am seeing for myself what the carraguanas have done in the river valley. I am having trouble finding the saskatoon bushes, most have been choked out. The blooms are stunning this year, were late but burst out in their glory and making up for lost time.Love your array of colour and recognise some from here, also enjoy the bees. Thank you.

    • It is hard to know what is a weed and what is a native sometimes. The leaves of natives are often what turns people off to having natives in the garden. They are rarely the nicest foliage in the garden.

  25. I for one am always happy to see pictures from your garden. I have never tried globeflower but have been entranced by pictures in catalogs. Is that white and blue salvias with the scabiosa? Sadly my scabiosa did not return this spring. I have planted a couple of the O. fruticosa but they seem to be growing only tentatively. Maybe they don’t like their location. I would have constant crescendos of color if I could pull it off, but so far I can’t. Perhaps that is a good thing.

    • Do try globeflower. You will like it. Yes, it is the salvias, but also goldenrod behind along with the mini butterfly bush. Scabiosa is really a strong plant in my garden. The clumps grew very large. The rain flattens them though, but I cut them back and they re-flower. O. fruticosa grows slowly at first, but after five years it is pretty strong and will push other plants around, in my garden, they push around the yarrow. I had Siberian Iris there and had to move them. They were in far front where the water from the neighbors drive kept them moist, but other plants started over taking them. My O. fruticosa are planted in rock solid clay, never are watered and right by the house limestone foundation. Conditions could not be worse and they are healthy and pushy. As for color, it is personal preference. I grow tired of it sometimes, but I have had color restrained gardens here too. I bore of them much faster.

  26. Indie says:

    Your garden is gorgeous! I love hearing your accounts of how plants perform over time. I am really interested in knowing that, as I have yet to live in a house long enough to find out myself. Now that I live in the Northeast, my garden conditions are much more similar to yours. In North Carolina, I often searched for aggressive plants, just so that they might survive in the clay, but here many of those would probably spread too much for me.

    • Oh, clay is here and that is what we “call soil.” The clay has not stopped a lot of my native plants. I add compost each year, but by mid-summer, the clay gets crusty, cracks and there goes any compost. It is like the earth swallows it up.

  27. bittster says:

    I always love to see pictures of your garden, and it looks particularly colorful this time of year. The photo of the dianthus among the forget me not seedheads is my favorite. I would have never considered keeping them as a feature, I just tolerate them in order to get next year’s plants!
    I like to grow natives, but don’t discriminate against the newcomers either…. unless they’re the pushy type. But like you I rip out plenty of the pushy natives too. Going back to a native landscape is next to impossible, the fire and large game that were a part of it just don’t have enough room to carry on. Plus non native earthworms are changing the entire soil structure of America to one natives plants may or may not like. It’s so much more than just pulling out your tea roses.

    • I would say fall is the most colorful, but going into summer is pretty bright too. Lilies /daylilies are next along with all the daisy and daisy-like plants (coreopsis as one). Monarda is ready to open too. It really is non stop here, but fall is my favorite time. I love the asters. I don’t really keep Myosotis past prime for looks, but for the seed for next year. I just love the look in spring with the ground cover phlox. It is a tapestry. I agree going back is impossible for so many reasons. You are right, native plants sometimes will not grow where they were historically. I would love to see the research on how earthworms are detrimental to soils. Gardeners always talk about the benefit to worms. There has to be disadvantages from them too. I never looked into that. I happen to like them in the soils here because of the clay, but they do munch down my compost.

      • bittster says:

        I like them too, but earthworms were wiped out of most of North America when the glaciers came down, so the ones you see now are European. Here’s a link but try searching ‘earthworm effects on northern forests’. The introduction of worms shifts a woodland from fungal based decay to bacterial, and many natives aren’t adapted to that, hence the rapid spread of other non natives.

        • Wow, that is interesting. I will click that link. Thanks, Frank.

        • I just read the article. That was enlightening seeing the difference to the forest floor. I knew understory plants were in severe decline, but I though most was from logging and other activities to clear out the shrubby layer for access. I never knew the earthworms were responsible. I can understand the deer damage more fully now too. Browsing is much higher into the tree canopy as a result. Thank you, I really learned something today.

  28. We have similar viewpoints on gardening and living with nature, Donna. I’m adding more native plants over time, but I also have some areas that have non-invasive, non-native perennials and annuals. Most of all, I agree with your philosophy of providing flowers, season-long, for the pollinators!

    • I think it difficult, as in more work, to plant native in such a small space, but I do love the insects. My garden is more organized than many that use natives, but living in close confines in the city, one has to keep it pretty neat, hence plants that are not native. Where you live, you have much more opportunity for a relaxed landscape. I hope to have a property one day where I can let nature have the reins more.

  29. Your garden look glorious! I like how your blooms mingle together. Certain areas of my garden are finally starting to grow together. I am a big promoter of using native plants since they attract most of the native wildlife but I also feel there is a place for non-native, non-invasive plants. I also have 5 acres to work with so I like when the natives spread. I think you have a beautiful balance in your garden! Enjoy your garden walk!

    • Thank you, Karin. 5 acres is a lot of land, so it makes sense to have much planted natively or planted as nature intended. I do have clients with 10 acres or more, so having the balance of wild to designed is easily done on properties of that size.

  30. Beautiful blog posts, as always. Drop by my recent posts to see my spring display. I am in the process of watching two potential garden thugs…siberian iris and I think a rudbeckia…time will tell.

  31. I see we have many of the same flowers…I too am letting our lawn go over to clover as it will anyhow without use of chemicals to get rid of it (and I won’t use them)… and the pollinators love them not to mention the rabbits and woodchucks will go for the clover before they touch my veggies. I agree that many natives are not suited to small spaces and need large areas. And I like some of the well-behaved non-natives mixed in for season long color and blooms for the pollinators. Can’t wait to see who wins…the rudbeckia or the milkweed.

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