Our August yard

August 16, 2016, enclos*ure

Here are some mid-month pictures of our shaggy backyard on one side. (Click on any thumbnail image below to enlarge it.)

The pattern that I cut in the grass in May has blurred quite a bit, but I still enjoy it, especially in the morning light.

August 16, 2016, enclos*ure

Our little corner bean-shaped flower bed has produced a surprising number of blooms this summer, considering that I had pretty much written it off last fall and had started using it as a compost pile. I thought this would kill off everything but the golden spirea and the “Fairy” rose, and then I could start over with better ground.

Instead, the previously sickly looking hydrangea, hybrid tea roses, and sedums seem to like growing under at least 3″ to 6″ of half-rotted leaves and grass clippings (and some coffee grounds).  I did smother a lot of weeds, but I don’t know what has happened to the mice that were living there too.

My plan to follow the Spielhaus Garden this year for Bloom Days and Foliage Follow Ups has not worked out very well due to travel, rainy weather, and a sometimes hurting foot — with surgery planned in a few weeks — but I hope I can get over there sometime this month and bring you an update.

Thanks to Pam at Digging for hosting Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Follow Up on the 16th of every month. And to see the mid-month flowers of other garden bloggers, please visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

Our garden in June

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Today is Garden Bloggers’ Bloom Day, hosted by Carol at May Dreams Gardens. I don’t have a lot of flowers, but I am enjoying some orange hawkweed, which I hope will pop up in more places in the long grass this summer and next year.

Tomorrow is Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Follow Up, hosted by Pam at Digging. If grass counts as “foliage,” this is my contribution as well.

You can read more about our backyard in Stuttgart, Germany, here.

To scroll through larger versions of the pictures, click on ‘Continue reading’ below and then on any thumbnail in the gallery.

In a field by the river
my love and I did stand.  .  .  .
She bid me take life easy,
as the grass grows on the weirs. . .

— W. B. Yeats, from “Down by the Salley Gardens


Our garden: cutouts

My question here in Stuttgart is a common one: “how to make a garden without much gardening?”

Our backyard is  an enclosed  strip of lawn that runs the length of the back of the house and wraps halfway around on both sides. There are two large trees and a concrete patio outside the center door. In one far corner is a small, oval-ish planting bed with a few shrubs and perennials and a lot of weeds. About 5′ beyond the fence are mature woods.

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And when I say ‘lawn,’ I mean moss, clover, dandelions, plantains, buttercups, lawn daisies, sprouted trees, an assortment of other low creeping plants, and some grass.

I have no desire to dig the planting beds (or buy the trees and shrubs) that would improve this dull (except for the woods) space. We want to spend our time in Europe getting out and about.

But I do want to have a garden that’s a little more pretty aesthetically satisfying to sit in during the long daylight of summer.

My solution (at least for this year) has taken inspiration from several different sources.

pillow cover 3, enclos*ure1) The “wonky” log cabin patchwork pillows I made for the living room.

Hohenheim lawn 8, enclos*ure2) The front lawn of the 18th century schloss (palace) of Hohenheim (near our house in the southern suburbs of Stuttgart) — it’s part of the University of Hohenheim, which specializes in agriculture and natural sciences.

Hohenheim lawn 2, enclos*ureThe grass is cut short, except for five or six unmown islands.

Hohenheim lawn 10, enclos*ureNo doubt, the university is also trying to add some pattern and texture with low effort and cost.

Plienigen-Stuttgart, enclos*ure3) The public “hell” strips and other intermediary spaces along streets and sidewalks in nearby towns.  They have been left uncut and have grown into really beautiful urban meadows.  The area in the photo above was sprinkled with blue forget-me-nots a week ago.

4) Paths and patterns cut through long grass —  and labyrinths.  Here and here are a couple of images of a garden by Mien Ruys.

This is what I did about a week ago:

our yard 7, enclos*ure

Using my antique reel mower and some clippers, I cut patterns through the grass, which has only been mowed once this spring.

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I just “free-handed” it, starting with a patchwork-type design on the north side.

Then, I mowed a border around the patio and made a short path to the back gate.

our yard 17, enclos*ure

On the south side, my main concern was the planting bed, the shape of which does not even rise to that of a kidney.

our yard 2, enclos*ure

First, I mowed around it, enlarging it and cleaning up the edges (weeding it will come one of these days — it’s not really in our line of sight when we sit on the patio).  Then I matched it by making a similar shape on the other end of the same side of the yard, under one of the trees.

our yard 4, enclos*ure

I put our old table and chairs there (painting them is another chore for the future).

our yard 3, enclos*ure

Then, I mowed two curvy paths out from each oval, so they cross in the center.

our yard 30, enclos*ure

Then, I sat down to rest and admire my work.

Admittedly the results are, let’s say, “understated.”  But I have made my mark and I’m happier about the place.

The wheelbarrow is entirely ornamental.
The wheelbarrow is entirely ornamental.

For the rest of the warm months, I just have to mow the paths from time to time. I may plant some bulbs in the grass in the fall. And I’ve thought of wrapping the tree trunks in fairy lights.

In late fall (or should I do it in late winter?), I will need to knock down the long grass — which I’m afraid will involve me and a pair of long shears. There is always something. . . .