August 07, 2021

'Likes' and 'Dislikes' in the 2021 Garden

'Summer Beauty' Alliums (A. lusitanicum) bring magic and pollinators to the garden.

One of the best things about a dry, hot summer is the lack of mosquitoes. I can count on two hands the number of mosquito bites I've had during the past two months. Also, the watered parts of the garden are doing well, and the pollinators are still plentiful.

In just about every other area, including the garden, the combination of drought and heat is challenging. I've been thinking lately about the things I "like" and "dislike" about the garden this summer, and many of the dislikes are related to the early onset of high heat in June and being about 10 inches behind average in rainfall for the year. The combination has been rough on the garden in some areas.

problem areas
From top left, clockwise: What's usually a very large Hosta has been fragmented (probably rabbit lunches) and taken over by Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis); Mayapples (Podophyllum peltatum) are dry and dormant while Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia) takes over; Goldfinger Tithonia (T. rotundifolia) is barely hanging on, while it's thrived in this spot many other years; these Daylilies never bloomed and look stressed; I've been watering the Hydrangeas nearly every day, and they're still saggy; Jack-in-the-Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum) is sad, although it has produced seed.

As I post this, potential rain is in the forecast for the next few days, which is great, although it's too late for some plants that have gone dormant or underperformed. But there are so many other plants (some in watered areas; others drought-tolerant) and other garden aspects that are performing well and bringing happiness.

sea oats

Northern Sea Oats (Chasmanthium latifolium) is really filling in its spot this year.

monarch on zinnia

As always, the 'State Fair Mix' Zinnias (Z. elegans) are attracting butterflies and other pollinators.

monarchs mating

Monarch butterflies are plentiful lately, and it's magical to see them mating among the foliage pockets of the Dwarf Korean Lilac.

bluestar amsonia

I took a chance in partial shade with this patch of Hubricht's Amsonia (A. hubrichtii) several years ago. Every year it seems a little happier in its home. As you can see, it's surrounded by Hostas and caged to prevent rabbit damage.

metal art 1

metal art 3

metal art 2

I ordered several garden ornaments from Etsy, and they're adding little touches of whimsy around the garden.

wild senna

The Wild Senna (S. hebecarpa) is budding and beginning to bloom as I write this. It's one of only a few plantings in the middle garden bed that has survived rabbit damage and thrived for several years now.

pollinator garden

The small sunny garden almost always performs well, with sun and supports and fencing from rabbits.

mailbox gold rush

I added a few plants around the mailbox last year, and they're starting to show their personalities. This sweet little plant, Rudbeckia 'American Gold Rush,' was chewed in half by the rabbits but has recovered. I've repeatedly sprinkled rabbit repellent dust around it, and the lack of rain has kept the repellent in place. I've also since planted Daffodils and Alliums around it, which should help repel the rabbits in spring and summer. Fingers crossed.

mailbox coneflowers

Fortunately, the rabbits didn't get to the adjacent Echinacea 'Sombrero Baja Burgundy' plant. The color of this one is bright and varies with the angle of the sun. This morning, just before posting this, I noticed several bumblebees enjoying its nectar and pollen.

climbing wild rose

I'm very excited about this new native Climbing Rose (Rosa setigera), also protected from rabbits with caging. I've had many plants in this spot over the years, usually annuals, so hopefully this beauty will take up residence, thrive, and bloom for years to come.   


I've read that blooming Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) is a cue to hummingbird males to begin migrating. It seems early this year, and our little resident male hummingbird is still very active and keeping us entertained, along with some females (and presumably we'll see some juveniles  after they fledge).

hosta and lycoris

The Surprise Lilies (Lycoris squamigera) are emerging, and likely will be blooming in a few days...believe it or not, they grow inches every day, to a height of 12-24 inches total, and bloom just days after they emerge!

butterflyweed new

I've planted various milkweeds around the garden for many years, and I'm happy to see several new Butterflyweeds (Asclepias tuberosa) are thriving, blooming, and attracting pollinators. I haven't found monarch eggs on these particular plants, but there are plenty in other parts of the garden.

The garden conditions and results are mixed this year. Since more rain is on the way, I look forward to many more weeks of "likes" and garden smiles in the weeks to come.


  1. More good than bad it seems, Beth! Rotten rabbits. I'm glad you're having some success keeping them at bay. I didn't know they were attracted to Rudbeckia and I'm now wondering if I'll find my new Echibeckia munched one morning. I hope you get that rain!

    1. Yes, the rabbits are my biggest gardening challenge here--in all types of growing seasons. At least when it's dry the repellent stays put for a while. It looks like we got about 1.5 inches last night, with more on the way during the next few days. I wish it didn't come with heavy storms, though. Some light damage to quite a few plants. But others in the area had major building, home, tree, and other structural damage.

  2. I'm glad there are plenty of positives for you during these dry days. They teased us with talk of rain for Friday and Saturday but .03" does not count.

    1. Thanks, Loree. Agreed! We had some major storms a couple of weeks ago, and only got 0.5". It wasn't worth the damage. Last night, however, we received 1.5" and more is on the way. Yay.

  3. I am thrilled with the rain on Saturday night and again today. Anything will help at this point. I have been watering a lot in order to keep things newly planted alive. I am trying to get a few areas redone for next spring's tour. Between the heat and the dryness it is a frustrating summer. But you are right about the mosquitoes. Glad to see I am not the only one with a garden full of cages.

    1. Yes, the rain has been wonderful. Fortunately, we haven't had the damage that some areas nearby have experienced from the storms. Yes, cages are definitely plant-savers, aren't they?

  4. It's been a tough year for you and yet so many good things found their way into your report. Happy to see the monarchs. Wish I could send rain your way Beth. We finally had a decent one Saturday but it's already hot and dry again. Have a good week.

    1. We got some rain! 1.5 inches on Saturday, and probably 1-2 inches since then. The garden is happy! It's too late for the perennials that have gone dormant for the year, but the other plants are very perky after the rain. Yay. We will be in the high 80s and 90s for the next few days, but the forecast is pleasant after that. Yes, the monarchs are a welcome sight, for sure. :)

  5. We were so dry in June, that everything struggled. I recently read "A good rain in June, Sets everything in Tune."

    This year the rabbits have been awful. I will have to think of new ideas to save some of my plants next season.

    1. Carla: That saying is so true! There have been so many weird weather patterns this year; I am happy to not have fires and excessive drought or flooding. Now, the rabbits are another story...I will always complain about them because they are SO destructive!

  6. I like all your likes! You have some lovelies there and I hope the rain shows up and helps everything along. Love your Monarch photos. Interestingly, I'm already seeing some come through; it's a bit early for that but maybe not too much out of the ordinary.

    1. Thank you, Tina. Yes, we did get some rain--quite a bit, like 5-6 inches since I published this post. So, yay. :) I belong to a monarch group on Facebook and people are already saying they're seeing fewer in Northern Wisconsin. I'm still seeing quite a few, but maybe it's the beginning of the migration.

  7. Darn rabbits. Yet your garden still has many beauties. Happy to read you got some rain, with more on the way.

    1. Yes, darn rabbits for sure. :( They are my biggest gardening challenge. Thank you, though. And, yes, we got quite a bit of rain, which is helping substantially. Only bad thing is I have to use mosquito repellent. ;-)

  8. Lots of good stuff despite the challenging weather. I also love Zinnias and Butterflyweed. Your garden art is very cool. But beware of the sea oats! It spreads like a (bad word).

    1. Thanks, Jason. Zinnias are so special for so many reasons! The Sea Oats haven't spread much for me, though I've had them for several years. I placed them in a spot surrounded by pavement and pots and other "strong" plants. But I will watch them in case they "escape." ;-)


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