I usually do a blog post at the beginning of summer talking about the herbs and flowers I’ve put in the containers on the two decks. This year I didn’t because the choice at local nurseries and big box stores was abysmal, even downright weird, and to start with my pots and boxes looked pretty pitiful. Then I forgot about posting. Then I got busy. But, hey, I finally got around to taking some pictures—though sadly I’ve now forgotten the names of everything we ended up sticking in pots so it won’t be a very dense-with-detail post.
We looked at so many different flowers, and so many of them were in a poor state, that in the end our selection was more of an assortment than a deliberate plan, so I just experimented. And by ‘we’ here I mean me and our handywoman, Sue (who helped fix our Einstein Houdini Ferociraptor problem). i made lists and pointed and said, I want something big and red there, and some small blue things with yellow and pink there, and some trailing stuff here, and she planted them and hefted the pots about because I can’t do that. So when I say I’m not a gardener, I really mean it. Kelley’s input was: Put all the herbs on the kitchen deck this time, please. And this year we could do that, because this year we finally got around to trimming the trees overhanging the deck at the side and so finally had enough sunshine for herbs to thrive.
So, anyway, here are an assortment of pictures, some with cats, and two videos of hummingbirds, one for each deck. One is of a hummer dogfight—if you turn the sound up you’d swear they’re unsing light sabres. In the other, the hummingbird is working itself half to death on the Flaming Lips salvia, even destroying one of the blooms in frustration while a bee works her way around the furious bird.
We’ll start with the kitchen deck because that’s where I spend most of my time. Here’s what it looked like in early June just as we’d got started.
That big blue pot contains the jasmine we’ve had for four years now, and some fuchsia and a vine thing that all overwintered. Next to that is a pot of sage and marjoram, and above that the coir basket with the salvia that overwintered, plus new marigolds and some tiny blue flowers (lobelia, I think) or perhaps never knew in the first place.
Here’s what that looks like now.
Everything’s flowering—the jasmine, fuchsia, marigolds, petunia, cosmos (I think but could be wildly wrong) and even, sadly, the marjoram—which I neglected to tell Kelley was there, so she hasn’t been picking it for cooking, so it just kept growing. And I just liked the tiny little pale mauve flowers so wasn’t much concerned. We have some geranium in there too somewhere. I think. And maybe a few nasturtiums.
There a clay pot balanced behind the salvia basket, with rosemary and more marigolds. Herbs in the coir baskets include more sage, parsley (lots of parsley—we use it it to make soup and salad dressing), oregano, thyme, basil (which Kelley enjoys on cheesy tomatoey things that I can’t eat; I prefer it in the tofu dressing we’ve been making for 25 years but sometimes forget exists until we rediscover it), chives (not doing well this year, I don’t know why), and mint (very handy for cocktails).
And here’s a photo of a bit further back on the deck.
The crows love to come perch on that hanging basket support every morning—before we let the cats out—to wait for their food, which we put on a white plate on that railing. When the cats are out Charlie often sits near the (empty) plate hoping for a crow to have a brain cramp and come back just one more time. George, meanwhile, is in the ravine hunting.
And further back from that you can see a pot of fuchsia, the latest parsley we haven’t yet potted (seriously, we eat a lot of parsley), and past that another coir basket of fuchsia—Kelley loves that stuff—and lovely forget-me-not-like-things plus more of that brighter blue flower I can never remember the name of for sure but think is lobelia.
The kitchen deck is where all the wildlife action is: hummingbirds, butterflies, bees, crows (the towhees and chickadees and tits stay away now, sigh—the robins do too, but I’m happy about that). The hummingbirds are addicted to the Flaming Lips salvia.
Hummingbirds also really enjoy the back deck salvia, but even more they like those gigantic purple salvia spears and what might be veronica. If you turn the sound up you’ll hear this pair engaging in a dogfight over the flowers armed with invisible light sabres.
The back deck is where I have no clue what we’ve got planted, except for the stuff that overwintered from last year. You can see those humble beginnings here, with some of the new stuff—two sets of petunia, one pink, one red, and a set of marigold—still in their little seed-start six-packs waiting to be potted.
The things that overwintered include, starting in that corner pot and moving clockwise, the humble-looking pile of pale green leaves, that will soon turn into the huge purple hummingbird attractors, and those little shocking pink flowers look like a cross between miniature petunias and tidy impatiens but are neither—but I want to say they’re million bells (we have pink ones, peach ones, and yellow-and-white ones of whatever they are, scattered about in various pots). The only thing I know about them, or thought I know about them, is that they’re annuals, not meant to overwinter. So—not a gardener, remember. To the right of that is that sword-like palm thing and the little white flowers, both nameless. To the right of that, on the deck, is more of that delicious-to-hummers Flaming Lips salvia. And below that, again on the deck, the sweet bay that only just survived plus more of that vine thing that grows in the big blue jasmine pot on the kitchen deck.
Not shown are the motley collection of stuff that might include bee balm, cone flowers, cosmos and geranium (and please remember I could be wrong about all these names). Here’s what the pots look like a month later.
Here’s a close-up of the big pot with sweetbay now being overpowered by flowers.
We also have a few other pots on the other side with things like lavender, veronica, marigolds, petunias, big red salvia and more. The petunias in one pot are the loveliest soft and dusty mauve.
But they seem to be temperamental things, also prone to being munched on. So here’s a photo of the kitties one early morning in the first half of August that gives you a pretty good idea of how things look now (all those petunias are gone).
The weather this year has been wonderful for flowers: bright, sunny, not too dry, not too hot. These two decks with their flowers are what have made this pandemic isolation bearable for me. I spend an hour on the kitchen deck after lunch with a cup of tea, some chocolate, and a book. In the evening, Kelley and I sit in the slanting light with wine, and sometimes something on the grill, talking about our day, smelling the flowers, listening to the birds. It’s all made more precious by the knowledge that in two months all the glorious colour will be gone and we’ll be heading into the grey cold of winter. All the more reason to enjoy it now.