As I enjoy these last few weeks in my garden, I am reminded of this poem I wrote in 2013. Much has changed in my life since then, but the way I enjoy my flowers the most at this stage in the season, remains unchanged.

Hope you enjoy the little floral photo shoot I did this morning instead of organizing my house after a few busy weeks here at casa de Stephens!  How can one not ignore chores when there is such beauty to behold right at her fingertips?

I was so excited to see my 4’Oclocks, blooming!  They are the Morning Glory shaped flowers that are blue with the yellow and white throat pictured below.

I started them late, like, in June or later, from seed, and they had a rough beginning, and were almost devoured by caterpillars, suffered drought, extreme heat, and neglect while we were on vacation, but they persevered!  So excited to see these colors together!


©Marie Stephens 2014  All rights reserved. ©Marie Stephens 2014 All rights reserved.


Always behind

Never caught up

The more work you get done.

The more work you make up.









Where did the time go?

Where was it spent?

Tree leaves are falling

On my cement.

Zinnias are gorgeous.

Morning Glories are glorious

One Glory survived,

Now we’re victorious!

The one that survived

and beat all the odds:

Vine chewing rabbits

Seed eating birds

Sprout stomping dogs

My childrens’ feet

Not one of these were able to defeat.

Could not defeat this defiant Morning Glory

This lovely blue flower

That gives me satisfaction and power.

The power to see

That all this work:

The planting

The waiting

The rejuvenating

The digging

The pinching

The pruning

The trimming





That all this work is never done.

That all this work can be quite fun

That all…

View original post 125 more words


The Zone 4 and 5 Gardener’s To Do List for August/September

The Zone 4 and 5 Gardener’s To Do List for August/September


As you are about to see, late August/September is all about cutting back.

1. Remove Dead Flower Stalks from Perennials As Daylilies and Irises begin to die back, you can yank out the brown flower stalks, just give them a tug and they should pop right out.

2.  Daylilies and Irises:  Remove dead and dying leaves with brown tips.  With both, you can just grab the leaves at the base of the plant and give a downward and outward tug, and they will come right off.  If it’s the end of August, and you can’t stand the way they look anymore, you can remove all or most of the leaves, as these plants are beginning their dormancy anyway.  I just removed all the leaves from some of my day lilies 2 weeks ago, Aug 18, and they are starting to get a few new leaves, and looking much happier.

3.  Deadhead, Deadhead, Deadhead:  Deadheading is the term used for removing spent flowers from your plants.  If you have not been doing it all summer, it’s not too late to start.  Just cut off the spent flowers just above a set of leaves, or down to a set of leaves where it will make the plant have a nice shape.  Why deadhead?  This will cause the plant to spend less energy making seeds, and more energy on producing more flowers.  We could always use more flowers, right?

4. Peonies:  If your peony bushes are covered with white powdery mildew, now would be an okay time to cut all the leaves off to the ground.  I do this every year, and my peony bush thrives every season.  Spare yourself from having to look at those icky leaves and just cut them down, right at ground level.

5.  Hydrangeas:  You can begin pruning back the blooms as they die back, or thin them out so that they don’t sag so much after a rain.  My Limelight Hydrangea was so top heavy with blooms, that the last time it rained, it looked like someone had jumped the fence and landed right on top of the bush!  After they dried off, I thinned out the largest blooms, and the whole bush, sprung back up, as if saying “Thanks, momma, my branches were getting so tired.”  If you like to dry your Hydrangeas, wait until the florets begin to feel papery, and then cut them, and place the stems in buckets of water in your garage until they are completely dry.  They make lovely wreaths and floral arrangements.  If you are wanting to reshape your Hydrangea bushes, now is the time to do it, after they bloom.  Pruning it in the spring will result in no flowers the next summer.

6.  Asiatic and Oriental Lilies:  If you haven’t already done so, you can cut back the stems to about 1/2 or 1/3 their original height to remove the seed heads where the flowers once were.  As the stalks begin to brown all the way down…later in September, you can cut them back.

7.  Purple Coneflowers:  Remove the spent flower stalks, if you don’t like the looks of them.  You might get a few more blooms, but at a much slower rate of growth as the season is winding down.  If you don’t mind the looks of the seed heads, leave them on, as Goldfinches love to snack on them.  Also, they will reseed and your coneflower patch will expand for next season.

8.  Hostas:  Remove leaves as they turn brown or start to look bad, and cut spent flower stalks down to the base of the plant.

9.  Are you beginning to see a pattern here?  This time of year is all about thinning out and cutting back whatever is driving you insane because it’s so over grown.  Grab those pruners and a bucket, put a tarp in the bed of your pickup, and start filling it up with everything that is beginning to make you want to pull out your own hair.  Just remember, your garden might look a little “shocked” at first when you step back to take a look.  Don’t worry, garden pruning is just like haircuts for plants.  As my father-in-law always says, “The difference between a good one and a bad one is about 2 weeks.”  It will be fine, and you will feel  much more under control…..and maybe a bit sweaty.