Garden Photo of the Day

A Love/Hate Relationship With the End of the Season

Looking back on the gardening season just passed

Today’s photos come from Melina Mantey.

It’s been a wonderful summer in the garden, but I am now spending more time cleaning up the remnants of windstorms than deadheading my beautiful blooms. I always have a love/hate relationship with this time of year. A part of me is always ready for things to slow down a bit, to take a step back and let my body recuperate from all of the hard work that goes into spring planting and summer maintenance. At the same time, I find fewer reasons to pop out into the garden, and that always makes me sad. I often rely on my garden to erase all of the mistakes and negativity of the day—the plants whispering their assurances as I walk among them, the dirt pulling my mind back to the sun. As I am out there, the color seeps into every pore as my anxiety subsides, and I am able to head back inside ready to take on the world once again.

However, even as opportunities to go outside start to lessen, I can’t help but look back over the past few months and find myself excited about the changes I have made. As someone with an affinity for cottage gardens, I definitely went all out this year, adding more color and chaos than in previous years. I really got into salvias, black mondo grass (Ophiopogon planiscapus ‘Nigrescens’, Zones 6–9), nandina, Geranium ‘Rozanne’ (Zones 5–8), and any colorful cold-hardy succulent I came across. I also bought some varieties I hadn’t heard of before—Digitalis ‘Firebird’, Penstemon ‘Pep Talk Hot Pink’ (Zones 6–9), Lobelia ‘Queen Victoria’ (Zones 4–9)—and I am very excited to watch them grow with the rest of the garden. You never know what goodies you will find on the nursery shelves!

As with all gardeners, I’m already plotting for next year—prepping beds, researching new plants, keeping an eye out for fall garden sales, and just generally rubbing my dirt-stained hands together in plant-crazed glee. Next year can’t come soon enough!

Penstemon ‘Pink Pep Talk’Penstemon ‘Pink Pep Talk’, blue fescue grass (Festuca glauca, Zones 4–8)

Endless Summer hydrangeas‘Endless Summer’ hydrangeas (Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Endless Summer’, Zones 4–9) and nandinas (Nandina domestica, Zones 6–9)

garden pondCattail (Typha sp.), hostas, Euonymus ‘Emerald ‘n’ Gold’ (Zones 2–9), and sedum

Geranium 'Rozanne'Rozanne geranium

NandinaNandina, Echinacea (coneflower, Zones 5–9), Hot Lips salvia (Salvia microphylla, Zones 7–10 or as annual)

Sedum ‘Matrona’Sedum ‘Matrona’ (Zones 3–9)

A diverse mix of perennials and shrubs

Ukigumo Japanese mapleUkigumo Japanese maple (Acer palmatum ‘Ukigumo’ Zones 5–9)

Scottish MossScottish moss (Sagina subulata, Zones 4–7), sedum


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View Comments


  1. sandyprowse 10/28/2019

    Melina: you phrased it so well. I will copy your words into my personal gardening book:

    “I find fewer reasons to pop out into the garden, and that always makes me sad. I often rely on my garden to erase all of the mistakes and negativity of the day—the plants whispering their assurances as I walk among them, the dirt pulling my mind back to the sun. As I am out there, the color seeps into every pore as my anxiety subsides, and I am able to head back inside ready to take on the world once again.” Beautifully put and the garden looks amazing. Fantastic.

    1. melinalynne 10/28/2019

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I am so glad you can take something from what I shared. :)

  2. User avater
    treasuresmom 10/28/2019

    Love that Penstemon & the hydrangea (I grow that too). But oh, my, that Japanese Maple is out of this world.

    1. melinalynne 10/28/2019

      I love it too! It's now turning a sort of peach color with the fall weather. It's just stunning.

  3. User avater
    meander_michaele 10/28/2019

    Love reading your commentary, definitely struck a chord. Yes, gardening is a lot of physical work but the pay off to our psychological well being is priceless. Your Penstemon ‘Pink Pep Talk’ is quite a showgirl...I thought at first that it was misidentified...surely it must be a glamorous gladiola!

    1. melinalynne 10/28/2019

      I feel like it can always be so hard to remember sometimes! Some plants look so similar. That's why I intentionally stuck the tag in the soil for awhile. I didn't want to forget. I can't wait to watch it grow more next year, because the color on the flowers is quite something!

  4. cheryl_c 10/28/2019

    Melina, the picture of the Matrona sedum is really beautiful, but what really pushed me to envy was that old birdbath filled with hens and chicks! What presence it has. You have a beautiful garden - a wonderful respite even for those of us who can share it only by pictures. Please send more pictures!

    1. melinalynne 10/28/2019

      I love the birdbath too! I sort of stole it from my grandma's garden, because I needed some sort of feature in my bed there, and she wasn't using it. I learned pretty quickly that the water dries up way too fast because of how shallow it is, so I turned it into a planter. I continue to be amazed at the colors in there with the changing seasons. I will definitely hope to share more. :)

  5. User avater
    simplesue 10/28/2019

    Oh that feeling, yes I know it! Wanting a good winter hibernation for the plants and myself yet not wanting to let go of the gardening season! And the reliable serenity a garden gives. I was recently reading aboutしんりん よく (Shinrin-Yoku meaning: Forest Bathing) a similar experience to the feeling a garden gives one. And I also noticed the cement planter/bird bath- wow I'd have enjoyed a close up of that! And what a pretty garden you've created, complete with a calming body of water. And thanks for sharing your thoughts on how the garden effects you.

    1. melinalynne 10/28/2019

      Thank you so much! I know many people share in my bittersweet feeling when the season comes to end. Our gardens have so much to offer us. I will definitely try and share a close-up of the birdbath next time!

  6. Irene89 10/28/2019

    This is so well written and so exactly how I feel.
    Thank you for putting into words my world!
    Best to you and your garden!

    1. melinalynne 10/28/2019

      Thank you!!

  7. btucker9675 10/28/2019

    "Rubbing my dirt stained hands together in plant-crazed glee" - may be the best gardening phrase ever!!! I love your gardens with all their varied colors and textures. Enjoy your down time and all of those plant catalogs...

    1. melinalynne 10/28/2019

      I thought it was the best way to describe myself when I head into planning mode. Lol! I plan on taking full advantage of the off-time and lovely garden magazines and catalogs. :)

  8. carolineyoungwilliams 10/28/2019

    Thank you Melina for sharing your so real feelings and your beautiful garden. I can sympathize with you because I know exactly how you feel...But on a lighter note, the plant books are beginning to arrive. Your garden is beautiful; love the pop of color...especially your Pink Pep Talk and Endless Summer. They're just what I needed to brighten this cloudy day. Be Blessed

    1. melinalynne 10/28/2019

      Thank you! I am so glad you enjoyed them. I hope you have a wonderful off-season, and enjoy flipping through your plant books and planning for next season. :)

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