Welcome to A Writer’s Garden where writers who are gardeners or just love gardens will be sharing their garden and flower stories, as well as a bit about their writing gardens—aka their books.
Today’s guest is me, Catherine Castle, and I’m going to share my garden adventures and pictures from this season, with a peek at past years.
“If you would be happy, plant a garden.” Chinese Proverb
As I write this post, it’s supposed to be fall in our gardens, but here in Southern Ohio the weather has been more summer-like than fall-like. This past week is the first where it has actually felt like fall. The most fall-ish thing I see outside my kitchen window is my sedum, whose tops have turned maroon. I’ve never seen them quite this dark. I’m wondering if it’s because we had a nice amount of rain this year.
I’m anxiously awaiting the flaming red leaves of my burning bush to appear. If I’m lucky I’ll just be able to see it over the no-longer-dwarf mugo pines. The landscaper didn’t tell me I needed to trim them to keep them dwarf and now they block everything behind them.
Picture of red flaming bush when it was young
Since the temps have finally dropped below 40 degrees so I—and when I say I, I mean my dear hubby—can dig up some daylilies and wayward black-eyed Susans in a chigger-infested bed and make the bed more tidy. I can’t do heavy labor any more. I get the sit-on-the-garden-stool-and-sort jobs now. While weeding the bed this spring I was eaten alive by the no-see-em bugs, so all gardening stopped in that spot. If you’ve ever had a bunch of chigger bites you know how miserable that can be. I did discover that ice packs held on the bites until you can’t feel your legs kill the sting and itch.
North deck beds that has the chiggers
Another fall job we need to do is in the front day lily bed. This bed is full of weedy runner grass, also known as quack grass or snake grass. For three years we’ve sprayed and dug the three tiers back in this corner in an attempt to kill the grass. The grass is gone from the back and we’re ready tackle the last patch of pesky grass. We started the big job this Tuesday, and I think I’m going to have more day lilies than I have bare areas to replant them in. We may have to drop some back in the same place and just keep fighting the weedy grass by hand.
Weedy Day lilies
Because of my back issue, we had landscapers come in and do the heavy work this spring. They tore out most of my Shasta Daisies in the front beds. They had become puny and full of clover, which is extremely hard to eradicate or pull. I will be dividing my Stella D’Oro daylilies to fill the empty spaces in the picture on the left below. This is what the beds looked like in their heyday. They haven’t looked as nice recently as the clumps had begun to thin out and bloom sparsely. More weedy than lovely.
Old shasta bed (L) and cleared shasta bed (R)
Oh, and I must share the lovely beds my husband built me this spring along the front stairs and the gard. He leveled the slope out so I can stand in the beds or sit on the walls to weed. Slopes are harder and harder for me to navigate.
new beds to replace shasta daisies
I wasn’t much help with the building as he started. I was recovering from a severe sciatic attack that put me on crutches for a month. I mostly sat on the edge of the front wall and supervised. Great job if you can get it. J
By the time he’d completed the top layer, I had improved enough to work in the garden for short periods of time. My back still hurt, but I could function on a daily basis. So, one morning I grabbed a hoe and started smoothing out the top layer of dirt and compost. One step backward tumbled me over two bags of compost lying in the yard. I flipped heels-over-head backward and then the downward slope of the front yard turned me sideways. I completed the backward roll and ended up sitting, legs stretched out in front of me, facing the opposite direction.
In a very calm voice, my husband said, “Are you all right?”
Confused that I was now looking south, instead of north, I just stared at him, thankful that the compost had broken my fall and amazed that I hadn’t hit the flowerbed wall just above me and broken my neck. “I think so,” I said. Then I asked, “Why didn’t you help or call out my name?”
“I couldn’t get up in time,” he replied. “It happened so fast, yet you were rolling in slow motion. It was crazy.”
He offered to help me up, but I started laughing hysterically—the stomach crunching kind of laughs that put you in tears. After a couple of minutes, when I could breathe again, I inch-wormed my way to my feet—an acrobatic move that in itself would have been video worthy. Upon standing, I discovered my garden gymnastics had adjusted the last piece of my spine that was out-of-place. I had no back pain! And I felt as if I stood fully erect for the first time in months.
Unfortunately, my husband didn’t have his camera with him. If he had we’d have won America’s Funniest Home Videos and could have been $10,000 richer. The story made for weeks of giggles as I recounted it to friends. When I told the chiropractor he was amazed, but recommended I not use that particular adjustment method on a regular basis. I wholeheartedly agreed, although it was the best my back had felt in months.
Currently the new beds next to the stairs are empty, as I can’t make up my mind what I want to plant in them. It needs to be something easy to clean in the spring. At first I was leaning toward filling the beds with the day lilies I separate this fall. It’s been 14 years since my day lilies have been separated, and I’m sure I’d have enough to fill the new beds. But now I’m considering peonies. They die back in the fall and would be easy to clean up. I also love the heady smell of blooming peonies, but I hate the ants that accompany the plants. I know they’re necessary to help the blooms open, but I really hate ants. If you have any suggestions on other plants, I love to hear them. I need easy to clean and easy to care for.
I want to thank all readers who stopped by and spread the word about the blog and the lovely authors who have helped make this blog series a success this year. It’s been so much fun seeing all your gardens—both green and living and those stitched between the covers of your books. I hope you’ve all enjoyed visiting with me as much as I’ve enjoyed having you. At present, I’m planning to repeat A Writer’s Garden next spring, so keep snapping those garden pictures in anticipation of a new gardening year.
Here’s wishing you all Happy Gardening,
wherever you live.
About the writer/gardener
Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle loves writing, reading, traveling, singing, theatre, and quilting. She’s a passionate gardener whose garden won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club. She writes sweet and inspirational romances and both of her books have won awards. You can find her award-winning books The Nun and the Narc and A Groom for Mama on Amazon. Follow her here on her blog or on Catherine’s Amazon author page.
A Groom for Mama
By Catherine Castle
Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.
The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.
A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom For Mama.
A Groom for Mama won in the Contemporary Category this year in the Raven Awards!