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Garden Bliss & Blunder, Issue #003
September 07, 2021
Hello there,

“The first breath of autumn was in the air, a prodigal feeling, a feeling of wanting, taking, and keeping before it is too late."

– J. L. Carr

Those Last Roses of Summer

My roses are putting on one last, magnificent show before getting ready for fall.

They are getting ready for the tough season ahead which is the reason we stop fertilizing in mid-August.

Once those last blooms are done, don’t deadhead or cut them back

…. leave those spent blooms for rose hips where they store nutrients and food for the winter birds.

Other plants are sliding toward the call of Fall….

My gorgeous Endless Summer Hydrangea know what’s coming and are letting their colour and nutrients drain back to strengthen their stems when the cold sucks all their energy.

Here's what it looked like in mid-summer.... all pinks and blues....

...and in late August.... colour begins to fade....

But the other woody stemmed bushes

are in their glory

working hard to compete with the roses.

I'm glad I took photos in the summer.

....the front garden is tidy and full

Because this is what it looks like the last week of August.

... blowsy - I love that word.

And the same for the side gardens....what a difference !

Photos also help me remember just how all my plants will grow.

Last May (and more about that when we get there) I cut back a lot of the Phlox

- almost in layers so it won’t all bloom at the top, at the same time, or all the same height.

But who knew this would happen?

I love this look, but now they hide my small Day Lily, a short Astilbe and a new grass

… all hidden behind this loveliness.

So much for planning.

And the Phlox?

Oh my….One of my late Fall or early Spring tasks will be to split them into smaller groups of 3 or 4 stems and replant them

- I have no idea where, because as you can see, this small garden is pretty full

… but I know some friends who will happily take some.

I'm glad I have photos of them in bloom -you can see the difference

- how would i know what colour to take out and what colour to leave

- so keep taking those photos and making notes.

I will print this photo and mark what colour is where,

so I will have a better idea what to dig and what to leave.

Crickets, cicadas, beetles and butterflies

Crickets, cicadas, beetles and butterflies

- the good, the bad and the downright ugly.

Of course, where there is beauty - there are beasts:

But remember this: it’s really about something called Mutualism

… where one species gets, gives and/or receives from another, ensuring or sharing survival of yet another.

It’s more complicated than that and the word really is worth a deeper look… but in a

nutshell let's look at what they do... for us, or against us....

CRICKETS: - are scavengers and not picky eaters who will eat plant and animal matter even if rotting or decaying .

CICADAS: - will actually prune out weak branches of a tree where they lay eggs, making that branch wither and die - trees saves energy by not dealing with a weak branch. When the Cicadas die, their bodies decay and release nutrients into the soil around the tree.

BEETLES: - feed on and break down, dead or decaying animals, leaf litter and even some crop pests.


- pollinate plants that produce crops ensuring diversity of native plants

So, squish the really annoying ones IF YOU MUST

- but leave the rest to do their jobs

and do your best to keep that circle of life going..

Early Fall Task- Dig and Split Iris

Iris grow from rhizomes:

But wait -

Let's see a bit about the difference between a rhizome, a bulb, a corm or a tuber.


- are swollen stems that grow horizontally and the roots grow from the underside of the rhizome as in Iris, Ginger or Bamboo


consist of a base stem surrounded by leaves like scales which store nutrients

- onion, daffodil, tulip


- are swollen stem bases without the scale-like leaves and papery layer outside

- they often grow little corms called Cormels that grow around the base of the Corm.

These can be planted along with the corm, but may take a few years to actually form a flowering corm.

- crocus, gladiola and Acidanthera


- are thick underground, elongated stems: lilies

-some have little eyes that sprout: potatoes

- or lumpy with eyes and knobs: ginger and root artichokes

- left - lilies - middle - Jerusalem or root Artichokes and Ginger - right - potato


In late summer or very early fall, my Iris looks tired and a bit scraggly.

They've done their best with blooms in spring and their grey sword-like leaves make a backdrop for other plants in bloom when their own flowers are spent.

Now there are dead leaves and often the clump is just too big,

... or the centre is bare. Time to split.

It is not a quick job, but gives us a chance to see what glorious opportunities there are to create more …

I use a GARDEN FORK: ( we found one at a tag sale for a dollar…- how great is that?

LOOSEN the largest clump until a smaller one breaks free.

Then SEPARATE (pull apart or cut with a knife) the individual rhizomes

CLEAN off the soil so you can see what you have.

CUT AWAY any soft, pieces with holes (Iris Borer) or those with no fans (leaves grow in a fan-shape) and any dead leaves.

CUT the FANS on an ANGLE back to about 4-6 inches so when you replant them there will be air circulation around the rhizome to discourage rot.

KEEP ONLY the healthy, firm roots (rhizomes) and each one should have one fan.

Those pieces of root with no fan, will not produce. (no photosynthesis).

As for those little roots with a single leaf, I put them all in a small hole together and sometimes after a couple of years, they develop… you need to have space and patience…. as sometimes the are not strong enough to survive but when they do?

Yay… so give it a try.,

Then put the cut rhizomes in a pot, cover them with some soil, and give them some water until you are ready to re-plant.

When you RE-PLANT, dig a hole, and mound up the centre with some of the earth you removed

… place the rhizome ON TOP OF THE MOUND and spread out the roots.

Make sure the leaves are UPRIGHT - the way they grow - and not lying down…

. push some soil around the back of the rhizome and pat it down to support it

…. then cover JUST THE ROOTS up to the edge of the rhizome.

You can put a small bit of soil on top, and then use your hand to smooth it out so the top of the rhizome is level with the rest of the bed

…. do not bury it or it cannot bloom.

Plant them about 18 inches apart… or so they say

BUT…. if I did that, there would no room in my garden for anything else.

So I plant them closer knowing I will have to replant them more often.

DESIGN IDEA: Sometimes I use them for the contrast those lovely grey sword-like leaves provide,and then I do plant them deep and very close together… eventually some will bloom but in this case, it is the leaf shape and colour I am after.

If you plant them too deep, they will not flower

…. too high above the soil, they cannot survive

...and please do not mulch over them.


- of course there are, but for now,

Go sit in your garden….and just look at it

… your successes (the failures, not so much) and really enjoy this time.

October will bring those other tasks…. for now… take photos and notes and sip that drink with pride at what you have done.

Then again, if you are like me and see something wonderful and imagine it in your garden.... like this....

A short hedge to accent a bed or lane,

Here is is..... at a drive-though Starbucks… what a ray of sunshine…

BOOKS to READ or later...

Here are some books to pile up for those long winter evenings when we can only dream about gardening and the stories therein:


- a novel by Claire Sullivan

The story of Mary, who chooses plants for her herb garden by their growth habits and folklore, believing what happens in the herb plot mirrors life.

When Mary eradicates the’ thug’, Lily-of-the-Valley from the farm, her mother-in-law takes to her bed and shortly, is dead.

Available at - $20.89 Free delivery in Peterborough Ontario, Canada - $17.



And... by Carol Michel -

“SEEDED and SODDED” - thoughts from a gardening life

“DIGGING and DELIGHTED” - Live your best gardening life

“CREATURES and CRITTERS” - Who’s in my Garden

“THE CHRISTMAS COTTONTAIL” - a Story for gardeners of all ages

Available from the author at:


Bye for now....Lucy and I are off to the deck...

And thanks again for subscribing to my newsletter... I hope you find something thought provoking, or that you can use for that a garden bliss you deserve

.... and never be afraid of the blunders.... they too, have lessons.

Until next month, feel free to pass this on or tell a friend.

Please go out and enjoy your garden, but if it's a rainy day, go back to my site - see what else is there.


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