Savor the Sunlight


A weathered teak bench placed thoughtfully beneath a golden locust tree tempts even the busiest of gardeners.

I'm busy – always busy – and yes, too busy. When I hesitate to slow down long enough to savor the last few moments of evening sun before it dips behind the trees, then I have lost sight of why I have a garden.

I didn't create a garden to have something else to do but rather so that I could delight in the fragrance of lavender, run my fingers through the silky Mexican feather grass (Stipa tenuissima), marvel at the many butterflies and enjoy the daredevil antics of the hummingbirds. And I can do all this  from a sitting position. I even put a bench in the perfect location. But what do I do? I start to jot down notes as to where the latest vole runs are, which plants need deadheading and ponder over what to do with the 'empty spot' which in my view is of course monumental. Sound familiar?

Take a moment with me (to justify my selfish break from 'work') and enjoy this little corner of our garden.


The view from the bench shows glimpses of colorful planting combinations and a distant cabin used occasionally for guests (or writing!)

I'm actually pretty pleased with how this vignette has come together now that I stop long enough to look at it! Arching stems of Lucifer Crocosmia are the highlight of many gardens at this time of year. Last summer the rabbits ate them faster than they could sprout until the plants  just gave up. This year the hummingbirds are feasting on them.


Crocosmia 'Lucifer' – a favorite of the hummingbirds but ignored by deer

A ribbon of Red Carpet barberry (Berberis) runs at the base of the Crocosmia. Each leaf is edged with bright green and the inner areas of the shrub are also more green giving a pretty two-tone effect. To brighten this I added the annual Lemon Fizz lavender cotton (Santolina). Its bright chartreuse finely textured leaves look fabulous with the barberry. This is a seriously tough annual. I planted it in early May and haven't watered it since, yet it is one of the best looking plants in the garden. The deer and rabbits have left it alone too.


Notice the bright margin on each leaf of the Red Carpet barberry – so pretty.

Lemon Fizz lavender cotton makes an amazing groundcover for summer

Lemon Fizz lavender cotton makes an amazing groundcover for summer


The large rustic container was a desperate attempt to stop the deer walking through that part of the border! It's soft blue-green shade has been a perfect backdrop for Walker's Low catmint (Nepeta) which has just finished blooming and been given a quick haircut. It will grow back in less than two weeks to form a fragrant froth of foliage at the container base.

Walkers Low catmint in front of the container a few weeks ago inter-planted with a few magenta sword lilies (Gladioli communis ssp. Byzantinus)

Walkers Low catmint in front of the container a few weeks ago inter-planted with a few magenta sword lilies (Gladioli communis ssp. Byzantinus)

Behind the container is a large Lochinch  butterfly bush (Buddleia hybrid) which started life in a container before I transplanted it to the garden last year. Considered the caviar on the butterfly buffet table it is a favorite of the swallowtail butterflies which visit my garden every year. The clusters of fragrant, lavender flowers are each dotted with an orange eye but I also love the beautiful felted silvery foliage. Buddleia davidii is invasive in many parts of the USA by virtue of its tendency to self-seed with abandon and be virtually indestructible. I have not found any seedlings from Lochinch. It is not sterile but perhaps a combination of my hoeing and mulching together with its breeding history makes this less of a problem. The butterflies and hummingbirds all adore it and our bench is the perfect place to watch them.

Lochinch flower close up

Hard to say which I love more – the silver foliage, delicate flowers, heady fragrance or the bees, butterflies and hummingbirds it attracts. Just glad I have the bench to sit and enjoy this Lochinch butterfly bush from.

I challenge you to take even ten minutes every day to sit and savor your garden. Not simply using it as a place in which to sit while you take phone calls or send emails from your iPad – that's still working! Sit. with no other agenda than to look and enjoy.

Planting note; all plants in this border have to be drought tolerant, deer resistant and be able to out run the rabbits. the voles are more of a challenge…..



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  1. Mary Perez on July 9, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Only a gardener would know how practically impossible that 10 minute challenge is…Bought two cushy Front Gate chairs- on sale- that any normal person sitting in could barely stay awake. Positive I haven't been able to sit in one for 5 minutes without getting up to dead-head, trim, or pull a weed. Want to hear if any of Karen's readers can make it for 10 minutes.

    • Karen Chapman on July 9, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Mary you need to come back to visit so we can time each other and see if we can do it!