My name is Kathy Schreurs, and I garden in Sheldon, Iowa. (You’ve heard from me before: Iowa Spring, Part 2.) I’ve been enjoying—and envying—the recent and beautiful GPOD gardens located on the Northeast and Northwest coasts. Our northwest Iowa climate, so dissimilar, waffles between Zones 4 and 5, and in recent years late spring snow and ice storms and early fall frosts mixed with torrential rains and flooding in early summer have challenged farmers and gardeners alike. As I’m writing this, we are expecting five inches of snow on Easter and wind gusts up to 45 mph. And—oh, no!—my tulips are fully leafed out and the perennials have been emerging all week.
I wonder what my garden will be like come summer. And like people everywhere, I’m wondering what our WORLD will be like come summer. My faith gives me comfort. And hope. The pictures I scrolled back through give me encouragement and peace, so I’m going to share some with you. These were all taken mid-July last year.
Because I like seeing the settings of other people’s flowers, I’m including this panorama shot that makes our perfectly straight picket fence appear to be set on a hill. It’s not! Iowa is very flat, and so is our property. The picket fence was already in place when we moved here 25 years ago, but there were no shrubs or flowers.
I started with a thin strip along one side of the fence, and it’s grown since then. No grand design! Just a desire to add color and texture to our lives. The border now wraps around all four sides of the backyard, as well as foundation plantings and a “bush garden” (a secluded area of shrubs that shelters many local birds all year long and has become a stopover for many migratory birds). The second week in July is supposed to be the optimal time for late spring and early summer perennials to overlap in our location. In 2019, that was true. This picture was taken on July 10, and the summer plants were about to take off.
These Asiatic lilies (Lilium ‘Eyeliner’, Zones 4–8) are the first thing I see when I step out of our back door early in July. When they sway in the breeze, it’s almost hypnotic. My husband built the arbor about 20 years ago. He made it tall enough for our 6-foot 8-inch son to stand under, just in case he and his someday bride would want to take pictures under it. (They didn’t!) But I like the proportions with our three-story Folk Victorian house.
The second week in July is the most vibrant in our garden. The ‘Fireball’ bee balm (Monarda ‘Fireball’, Zones 4–8) shares the fence with the white Asiatic lilies.
‘The Rocket’ ligularia (Ligularia przewalskii ‘The Rocket’, Zones 4–8) and purple-leafed lysimachia (Lysimachia ciliata, Zones 4–8) glow in the sunset. None of them seem to mind that this section of the garden is quite shady in the afternoon, although they do compensate with long stems.
I never know in advance what color my coneflowers (Echinacea hybrids, Zones 4–9) will be when they open. These were all one of the red varieties when they were planted. (Editor’s note: Coneflowers self-sow when happy, and since modern varieties are hybrids of several species, their self-sown children can come in all sorts of colors.)
This little garden girl was a gift from my mom. I’m not sure what/who gave her begonia blossoms the day I took this picture. The wind? The squirrels? Or maybe the three-year-old from next door?
Lilium ‘Tango’ (Zones 4–8), an Asiatic lily with dramatic coloring.
I plant coleus in raised pots—my husband is handy with old landscaping bricks—so they can keep company with taller plants.
These grow along our backyard fence. The aroma at dusk when they are all in bloom is amazing!
Lilies. I can never have too many!
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