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  • Writer's pictureHeather Thomas

The Season Continues: May - July, 2023

Tour the 2023 Garden - Part two: May through July, 2023.

My excitement builds as the April tulip garden fades and warmer days arrive. No time in the gardening year enchants me more than the fleeting weeks between late May and early June. Below are many pictures that will tour you through the garden. I hope you enjoy them.

May and June at Cape Cottage Garden bring the scent of wild honeysuckle which mingles with the scent of the May lilacs. So many plants burst into bloom during this time that I can almost see the roses and clematis petals open before my eyes. The birds fill the air with song, interrupted at times by the lazy drone of a faraway plane, or the hum of a distant lawnmower.

The garden is so bountiful and colorful that I can scarcely imagine that two months ago, everything in sight was drab and grey. On days when I finally get to put my work duties aside, the long days enable me to garden outside until the sunlight slowly fades over the tops of the flowers and the first stars begin to dot the sky. Can I admit that I have been known to keep gardening by iPhone light until my husband calls me inside? This time of year when everything is fresh and beautiful reminds me that we are part of a grand and beautiful ecosystem that changes endlessly around us.  

Cottage garden with rose arvors
Cape Cottage Garden: The East Garden in early June
Of course, achieving all this beauty takes lots of work. As Mother's Day approaches and we cross the threshold of our frost safety date, I have lots of planting to do. (When my family asks each year what I want for Mother's Day, the answer is, "One whole day to myself when no one asks me anything!")

Each year, in mid-May, I gather up my newly-purchased or overwintered annuals such as geraniums, marigolds, foxgloves, and petunias that have been waiting backstage and get them ready for planting. Surrounded by bags of potting soil, I also begin to envision and create the summer containers. In 2023, I fixed up and planted 27 containers around the garden, which is its own special level of crazy! Given my tulip obsession, a big mid-May task for me is tulip clean up. Throughout May, I'm continuously pulling out the fading foliage of thousands of tulips after their leaves turn yellow.
Here's a behind-the-scenes peek of what this preparation process looks like. In the picture below from May 12, 2023, what do you see?

Backstage preparations for the summer garden

-I spy tulip foliage that I have removed and put on a blue tarp;
-Blue mats that I am using as kneelers to plant the annuals at the bed's edges;
-An auger and shovel that I am using to plant annuals like the pink geranium on the lawn;
-A huge container of petunias on the lawn ready to be tucked into a nicer pot;
-A hose running water to thirsty plants;
-Shade cloths which I spread out on bamboo poles to combat the day's unseasonable heat in an attempt to extend the life of the heat-sensitive pansies and clematis.

Many a Mother's Day weekend here has been spent this way.

With these preparations complete, late spring turns into early summer and the garden begins to look like this:
May, 2023

How sweet is the month of May? It's so beautiful that it almost makes my heart ache. Some of my favorite May pictures are below.

The clematis on the arbor create a dreamy effect. 'Dr Ruppel' (l) 'Bees' Jubilee' (r).

May tulips overlap with alliums and annual petunias.

Garden views in May

'Royal Snowcap' Iris mingle with 'Sarah Bernhardt' and 'Red Supreme' Peonies

'Johnson's Blue' Geraniums glow in the early morning light
June, 2023

Just when I think that the garden can't get any more beautiful, early June arrives. The pink roses - 'Bonica', 'The Fairy', 'Eden', and Brindabella 'Pink Princess' - unfurl in the beds and over the arbors. The garden is filled with the blue spikes of salvia and Baptista, the purple alliums and iris, and the lilac shades of the early Phlox.

June: The East Garden arbor bed is in peak bloom

Iris, geraniums and salvia interplay with 'Bonica' shrub roses.

Rose 'Eden' climbs up the arbor.

Containers of annuals tucked into the beds interplay with alliums and 'Walkers Low' Catmint

Pink shades dominate the June garden.

July, 2023

The July heat brings the hydrangeas, lilies, and phlox into bloom. The containers are lush and full. The summer heat causes me to take a break from gardening and finally put my feet up to enjoy the view.

house with flowers
The south garden in July

Phlox, hydrangeas and daisies dot the July garden.

The East Garden in July

'Annabelle' hydrangeas and 'Pink Diamond' hydrangeas in tree form brighten shady spots in the garden

'Annabelle' Hydrangeas in early July
'Annabelle' hydrangeas in early July

Pinks, purples, whites, and yellows

For me, gardening is a passion that requires hours of glorious envisioning, followed by yards of planting designs which manifest in my mind's eye, which then get built out via carefully made flower selections at the garden center as I seek to create a fantasy world around our home - a place where waves of successive blooms cascade through the beds from April to October and every view outside our windows sparks joy.

Of course to sustain this fantasy, once the beds are built and the young plants are put in place, you need to commit to years of knee-bending work, clipping and trimming, fights with destructive pests, lots of praying for rain followed by prayers for the rain to stop, and forever dirty fingernails.

Is it hard work? Undoubtably, but the fleeting beauty that results from these efforts sustains and nourishes me all year long.

Like many who spend time in nature, I relish the natural world and all the beauty it offers. It may be winter as I write this, but in my mind's eye, I can call to to memory the intense pinky purple striped shades of the May clematis that carpet our arbor, the velvety purple shades of our June iris, the drone of the bumblebees, the scent of the honeysuckle, and the glorious puff ball blooms of the white 'Annabelle' hydrangeas which dot the garden in July.

Hope you enjoyed this tour of nature's beauty on display at Cape Cottage Garden in May, June and July.

If you'd like to rewind to enjoy the garden in April, click here. To move ahead and read about the garden in August, September and October, click here.


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