Monday, August 25, 2014

Pocketful of Sunshine

The shade is winning and I'm tired of it. The joe pye weed (eupatorium) looks like a shepherds crook as it bends towards the sun and the cup plant (silphium) is down right Seussian. When I planted them a zillion years ago their spots were open and sunny. Fast forward to right now and there is little sun to be had. But all that shade has met its end.


Say hello to my little friend!

I positioned myself in the shady dog run and began sawing away. I like the coolness the shade brings to my garden but dislike its tendency to block the sun. While I know that's contradictory, I don't care. The only way to make peace with all this leafery is to cut out the high branches that block the most sun while leaving others that provide manageable shade. 


Truly sad silphium


and its partner in misery, Joe Pye Weed


These skinny branches supported a wide canopy. A few swipes of the Shade Blaster and they were history.


Small plastic dinosaurs say it best.


Sunshine!!


Opening up the canopy created more light for the entire area. Deam's rudbeckia thrive in the dry partial shade in this little corner along with 'Blades of Sun' snowberry and a 'Cool Splash' diervilla.


This is actually on a tiny slope that allows the 'Cool Splash' more moisture than the rudbeckia. Native diervilla rivularis and diervilla lonicera grow well here, too. A rusty metal cat tail marks the tiny white turtle head plants (chelone glabra) growing in the bog. They will eventually grow to be 4 feet tall. Shasta daisies grow in the very front.


A pocketful of sunshine was just what my garden needed.

65 comments:

  1. I am always lamenting my lack of sunshine, but I do love my shady garden! Thanks for the reminder about the Eupatorium. I am planning to plant some in September, and I was wondering how much shade it can take. I will give it to one of my few sunny spots. I am looking forward to the lovely blooms and the butterflies it attracts!

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    1. I love my shade, too, but enough was enough. The plants and I needed some sun. Joe Pye wants as much sun as you can give it. If he could dig himself out of my garden and move, he probably would.

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  2. I like your little friend.....last time I trimmed back my Pomgamia tree to make more shade and allow a better view of the harbour, I borrowed my neighbour's pole saw and did the deed....works really well.
    Love the extra sunshine you now have in your garden....I guess this means you'll be buying more sun-loving plants in the near future.

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    1. I loved using that saw! It would be great for attacking zombies, too. You can never be too prepared. ;o)

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  3. That looks like a useful tool. I need to cut some tree limbs too.

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    1. The extension drops into the main pole, which makes storage much easier.

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  4. I would love to be able to do this but we are surrounded by giant cedar trees. My husband refues to let me cut even one or two (or ten) down. He likes having the forest close and then wonders why nothing grows. You have touched a nerve and I might just be a little testy with him this evening.

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    1. Compromise is the name of the game! Cut some branches down and he might not even notice. If he wants to live in a forest, then he can go camping.

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  5. The problem is that plants don't seem to understand that some of them should grow fast and other grow slow. Trees are amazing. We bought the property in 1995 it was then a meadow. It is now a forest, some of the trees being 30 feet tall!
    Your post reminded me that I have a friend such as yours, hidden under the porch (I think). I could use it.

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    1. Time for a scavenger hunt under the porch! I think this saw will see a lot of action.

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  6. It's funny - I bemoaned the shade that dominated my former garden but now that I've got lots of sun, I rue the absence of shade. Still, if one keeps planting and waits long enough, shade tends to creep in. Your trimming exercise should keep the shade creep at bay another year. I'm sure your Joe Pye weed and Rudbeckia would be doing a happy dance if they could lift their roots to show their delight.

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    1. Beating the shade will be a yearly battle. I cut down two skinny but shady trees last winter, too. But I'd hate to a have a shadeless yard. I like the coolness it offers.

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  7. Hi Tammy, yes, a little sunshine goes a long way, doesn't it? Great that you were able to prune the branches with a lopper yourself. In our yard the Queen Palms and Strelitzia nicolais create a lot of unwanted shade in certain areas, but to trim them I need to get a professional tree service in since they are way to tall to be trimmed by us. That is always so expensive...
    Wishing you a good week!
    Christina

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    1. I was lucky I could handle this job myself. Having trees trimmed isn't cheap.

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  8. "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I contain multitudes." Walt Whitman

    (Do you think old Walt could have been a gardener?) Susie

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    1. Walt and I would get along quite well. :o)

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  9. A very good idea to trim out the overgrown branches. I need to do that. ;-) I, too, have mixed feelings about the shade. It's nice to have a little of both.

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    1. Balance is the key and the shade/sun balance was seriously outta whack in the back. Plus, I like pruning. It just feels so cathartic. All that sawing was excellent for dealing with frustration.

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  10. Hooray for a little more sunshine! Everyone will be happier! Oh that summer (and summer vacation) could be endless. When do you go back?

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    1. Our inservice week started Monday and the stress level is already stratospheric. There is nothing easy about arranging schedules for 1300+ kids and dealing with new technology systems. But the gerbils haven't escaped yet so it's all good.

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    2. In 180 school days, It'll be over for another year!

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  11. I'm still at the point in my gardening life (at least on this property) where there's loads of sun and rarely enough shade for all the "partial to mostly shady" things I want to plant.

    Still your post is a good reminder that I should relish the sun while I have it!

    I do. And I'm trying to find and plant as many sun-loving plants as possible that can take the heat, drought, wind, etc. It ain't easy, but it's fun trying to figure it out.

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    1. I'm growing dwarf tithonia next spring from seed. It's supposed to be able to take all of your conditions with ease. Plus, it's a butterfly/pollinator magnet. A little shade can be a blessing!

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  12. Well done! Your rudbeckia is looking fab.

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  13. Little friend? That tool is a serious piece of kit! I like the way you are using the slight slope to your plants' advantage. Enjoy the sun! (she says on a dark, wet, autumnal UK morning).

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    1. The next time someone knocks on my door to sell me something, I may answer while holding it full extended. It should encourage whoever's bugging me to leave. ;o)

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  14. That is a familiar story, I was out doing the very same thing myself just the other day, and I have plans to raise the canopy of my Bay tree too. It makes such a difference. I miss my eupatorium. It might enjoy the border under my soon-to-be-less-shady bay.

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    1. Selective pruning can make all the difference. I'm looking forward to using this again.

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  15. I have the same Love-Hate relationship with my trees. Shade is great when you want to sit out in the garden on a Summer afternoon and relax, but the veggies NEED the sun if they are to do well.

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    1. I only grow a few veggies but even a lot of my flowers need more sun. But I definitely don't know of any vegetables that like the shade!

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  16. Your talents never fail to amaze me, Tammy--great job! A pole saw in my hands would be a dangerous weapon:) I love my shade garden, especially in July and August, but it does limit plant choices. I'm sure your cup plant and Joe Pye are going to be much happier now.

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    1. I'm not sure sawing off a branch qualifies as talent. But I didn't kill or main anyone in the process, which is commendable.

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  17. Excellent problem-solving. When I had so much shade at a former garden I was really at a loss, now I wish for more shade but am afraid to let any trees grow.

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    1. Let just one tree grow and choose one with an open canopy. A crepe myrtle would be nice. I have some very happy plants under my crepes. I prune out the branches from the trunk to keep the interior open. :o)

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  18. It is such fun trimming overgrown trees. Not only do you get more sunshine but you can make your tree look more interesting too. There is no quicker or more fun way of changing the look of your garden. Mind you I don' t have a handy tool for the job like yours. I have to climb the tree saw in hand.

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    1. I can't believe you climbed the tree with a saw!!! I would have fallen out, broken a leg, and sawed off a body part in the process! You are a goddess!

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  19. I'm glad you've taken the matter in hand, Casa. Limbing up is one of those maintenance chores that needs to be done periodically, and sometimes entire trees need to be removed -- people often believe that any tree is a good tree, but many are simply random volunteers that have seeded around and can threaten to make gardening impossible. Especially if you have limited area in which to garden (as most people do), you sometimes need to make seemingly drastic decisions about what can stay and what must go. I hope the limb removal will allow enough light to grow the other plants you want in that spot. Thanks for reminding us to keep things in check! -Beth

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    1. I've cut quite a few branches in the past year and it's made a big difference. But choosing which limb is a strategic choice since they are also needed for privacy. But if I never pruned, that part of my garden would be a cave!

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  20. Good job! Let the sunshine in!

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  21. Wow Tammy you are one ballsy gardener and a woman of action! Just get out that saw and do the deed. We have trees that need to be thinned as nothing is growing under them. It is amazing what a little extra sunshine will do. I love your Dino's, you crack me up! Have a good one!!

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    1. I am a very action oriented person, fo shizzle! I was so excited when my new toy, oops, tool arrived. I thought the dinos were awesome, too. I think all drama should be acted out and retold with plastic reptiles.

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  22. Looks great and well done for getting in a Firefly quote.

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    1. I snuck in a Firefly quote? 'Say hello to my little friend' was originally from Scarface with Al Pacino. Was it on Firefly, too?

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  23. Now that is a great compromise...some shade and some sun...very nicely played.

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    1. Thanks! I'm happy with the outcome, too. :o)

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  24. Man...can you come here with that thing!! HA! Actually we have a chain saw on a stick but we need to get the battery fixed so I can start hacking too....too much shade here as well. I only get good sun in the front and in a couple of random spots in the back. We have an enormous ash tree that does not have much longer as we have the emerald ash borer in these parts....when that beast is gone my whole garden will change once again. Loving that your beauties are happy and are getting some more sun!!!! Happy week friend! Nicole xo

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    1. A chain saw on a stick? That would only end badly at my house! The trees in my back garden are ash, too, but I haven't seen any indicators of emerald ash borers although they have been spotted here. Get a new battery and start whacking off some branches! It would be excellent for dealing with frustration. :o)

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  25. I have never known that some flowers plants can grow so well on part shady area. Yours look so stunning.

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  26. That's a job well done! Your plants will thank you for it, no more stretching and drooping to find a ray of sunshine. I have that tool too, it's so easy to use isn't it? You have some lovely plants there, no sign of autumn creeping in there!xxx

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    1. It's still summer here and that's fine with me!

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  27. Bravery vs. restraint. Richard goes a little wild with saws and loppers. I tend to hold back a little too much. Why can't those trees and srubs realize when they have reached the perfect height and girth?

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    1. I do need my woody plants to be more cooperative. I also pruned my rose of sharon while I was in "let's prune stuff" mode and then felt foolish for not having done it earlier in the summer. I just hated the idea of cutting off all those beautiful flowers so I only cut the branches that had formed an arc over the walkway. I was tired of bending over to walk underneath. It looks so much better!

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  28. Tammy can you believe how bright the rudbeckia shines ? in shade too .. it is wonderful that we can control (some times) how much shade and sun our gardens get .. it is coming to a close soon though ... Autumn is creeping in ... Halloween is smirking .. I bought a pumpkin headed witch and a really cute bat to hang on my office door .. I am going to have fun with this.
    Thanks for reminding me I have work to do also though ... BIG sigh ! LOL
    Joy

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    1. I ignore Halloween and tell my students that if they knock on my door I'll give them a test. Mwahahaha!! We're still in high summer. I'm in no rush for autumn!

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  29. Amazing what a little light can do. Your Rudbeckia is looking beautiful!

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    1. Thanks! They're such stalwart, cheerful plants. :o)

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  30. Good work! Vast improvements can be made by limbing up the trees in your yard.

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    1. It's amazing how sawing off a few branches can totally change the feel and look of a garden bed. The whole area is brighter but still has a cool shady feel.

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  31. Hi Tammy, I don't know where I'd be without my tree pruner. We had to buy one after a rather vigorous ornamental cherry in the previous garden had designs of its own to take over. In the new garden the lower limbs of the scots pines at the back are about 50 feet up, making it a bit more of a challenge!

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