A look at the August 2017 garden, here at Whimsey Hill House

Fred Gonsowski’s garden at Whimsey Hill House, August 2017

Every gardening season has its challenges, and this year was one for the books! Here in up-state New York, during May and June, there was either too much rain (practically raining every day) or days that were hot and humid, which made working outside almost impossible. On an average year, I plant the canna and dahlias tubers around May 1st, but this year, with all the steady rain, I got part of them into the ground around June 15; and ended up throwing the rest away out of disgust. When trying to turn over the soil to plant the dahlias and cannas , it was soo wet, that the next day I experienced back pains; not something a gardener wants to have to go through.

Each Spring I started zinnias and other plants from seed, and buy flats of annuals at a local garden center. With the constant rain, I probably planted about half of the plants that I grew from seed, and just discarded the rest. The annuals that I bought at my local garden center were planted, but they just sat there, not producing much growth, and definitely minimal flowers. The only plants that did well, this year, were the perennials that have more extensive and stronger root systems, and the unwanted grasses and weeds that sprouted with great abundance in the beds and borders.

One more bit of gardening observation… with all of the rain, the flowering time of a lot of my things was pushed back about three weeks; plants that should be in full bloom around July 9th, were doing their thing at the end of the month.

So now that you’ve read my little gardening rant, lets look at some photos of how the garden looks this year.


The two cover photos for this blog post and the three closeups seen above, show the front garden which runs from my front steps for almost 115 feet along the driveway, down to the road that runs in front of my house (click on photos to enlarge).


A topiary bear, created out of a conical yew, basks in the sun on the edge of the bed that separated my land from my neighbors.
Two planters, filled with seasonal annuals, add a bit of texture and color by the mail box.

On the south side of my house, the hydrangea are happily blooming, due to the mild Winter that we had last year. My mother brought the hydrangea from Nantucket, Ma. and Newport, Ri which are plants that don’t do well in my zone 5-4 location (Winters that can go from -20 to-30 degrees below zero), because they were probably meant for a zone 6 and above garden (Winters that run 0 degrees Fahrenheit and above).

We’ve now passed through the garden gate and are in my back yard. The back lawn and garden space is about 125 foot square, and is completely surrounded by privacy fencing. I’ve planted many evergreens around the perimeter of my land so when the gardening period is over, for the year, there are still year-round things to look at.

The above photos show my version of a “Parterre Gardens”; they are on both sides of my back deck/porch, which bookends my patio area. I’ve always loved the Parterre Garden at Bunny Williams and John Rosselli’s Falls Village, Connecticut place, but I could not create mine out of boxwood as they did, because the piping for the pool runs under the garden. Instead I created mine of Dusty Miller, which is an annual, that can easily be pulled out of the soil.



The above four photos show the big border that runs across the backside of my land. This year it is more of a tapestry of foliage than flowers, as many of the annuals have not produced flower heads yet, or have just started to bloom. Oh well, it’s still  pretty enough!
The last photo shows two of the large urns by the pool. The large wide mouth planters, at their bases had to be planted twice, as too much rain rotted out the initial plantings in them.

So there you have it, a look at this year’s garden. Even with its challenges, it still looks presentable to me (far from perfect, but presentable to anyone who drives by, or gets to see the garden from close up). I do think that no matter how perfect something looks to others, in the creator’s/gardener’s eyes, there could always be something more that could be done to heighten the visual effect. Oh well, maybe next year I will get it right;-}

Enjoy the fleeting end days of Summer, let’s hope they continue into late September!

Companion posts on Fred Gonsowski Garden Home.com.

When designing a perennial garden, it’s ALL about the Shapes of Leaves 1-15-2011,
How to Plant (Design) a garden..Mass versus Specimen Planting 2-17-2011,
Colored Foliage adds that WOW Factor to a Garden 2-22-2011,
Stagger plant Heights when Planting (Designing) a Garden 2-23-2011,

Grow a Topiary from an Upright Yew 6-15-2011,
Starting a Rose Bush and other plants from a Cutting (Slip) 6-17-2011,
Daylilies..Planting, Dividing and Maintenance 9-9-2011,
Hostas (Plantation Lily)..Planting, Dividing and Maintenance 8-14-2011,
My Hydrangeas Don’t/Won’t Bloom is a lament uttered by many 6-21-2012,
It’s Easy to Grow PUSSYWILLOWS 2-15-2012,
How to Trim a Golden String/Thread Cypress into a Pyramid 3-10-2016,

When Designing a Shade Garden, think Focal Point, Plant Color and Shapes of Leaves 9-4-2011,
Evergreens are Winter Interest in My Garden 1-24-2012,
Some Ideas about Planting Trees by your Home for Curb Appeal 4-26-2012,
Foundation Planting..Laying out Foundation Plants in front of your Home 9-28-2013,
Putting Foundation Plants across the Front of your House 10-21-2013,
Got Grass growing out onto your Sidewalks or Driveway?…Edge it 8-26-2012,
Planting a Garden Room on your Property 2-17-2013,
Some ideas about using Garden Ornaments, they add that finishing touch to a Garden 6-29-2013,

A Way to Garden..A tour of Margaret Roach’s Columbia County Garden in Copake Falls, NY 6-30-2016,
Bunny Williams new Studio at her Falls Village, Connecticut Estate 6-30-2016,
Visiting Real Housewives of New York (RHONY) Dorinda Medley’s home, Blue Stone Manor, in Great Barrington, Massachusetts 7-17-2017,
Martha was there, and so was I, Trade Secrets Ct, Sharon, Connecticut 5-24-2014,
My visit to the Farmers’ Museum in Cooperstown, NY 7-30-2014.

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About fredgonsowskigardenhome

Your eyes deserve to view beauty. I hope Fred Gonsowski Garden Home helps to turn your vision, into a reality.
This entry was posted in Fred's Garden at Whimsey Hill House, The Summer Garden. Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to A look at the August 2017 garden, here at Whimsey Hill House

  1. Lovely gardens! We had the rain issue in Toronto, too!

    • Hi there Nancy, Rained again yesterday, this morning the weatherman said one and one half inches fell. We must be close to 10 inches over what is normally had by this time of the year. Hopefully the rain does not turn into snow as we approach Winter. Thanks for your comment ;-}

      • rpnewton says:

        Hi Fred, couldn’t find a better way to reach you! was wondering if I could use one of your illustrations in a blog post that is specifically about your blog? I’m a realtor in Atlanta, and the post is about the spectacular advice your “principles” post offer. Thanks! (btw, you can reach me at richardnewton@dorseyalston.com

      • Hi there rpnewton, I see your blog is private, you can use the illustration for your blog post, but it must be linked back to my website. It must not be used for any kind of poster, card, calendar, etc. or any other kind of commercial venture. If you link my illustration to this blog, I will see the number of people from your site that click on it and look at my website.

  2. P.W. says:

    Oh my gosh Fred! Your garden looks so beautiful! Your driveway garden is spectacular! It is what I dream of my yard looking like, but the deer keep my gardens from reaching their full potential. I did discover that they do not like zinnias, snapdragons or coreopsis, so I know what I will plant next year. Hope springs eternal in a garden!

    Anyway, everything looks beautiful to us Fred, only you see any imperfections.

    • Hi there P.W. I’m showing the garden from its best angles possible. Unless you look close, you are not seeing the weeds, etc. Right after taking the photos, I’ve already cut back a lot of stuff, out back, getting it kind of ready for Fall. Next week, when I have time, I will move cleome that have self-seeded late into the bare spots for visual interest.

      So far, I’ve been lucky not to have deer problems. I’ve seen them up the road about a mile and a half from me.

      P.W forget the Snapdragons, this year I planted the large variety, and they did not perform good (maybe it was the rain?). Thanks for your comment!

      • P.W. says:

        I have to confess that I didn’t actually plant them this year. They either dropped seeds from last year or over wintered somehow! But they were a low growing variety. Maybe give them a try.

      • Hi there P.W. Maybe next year I will try the smaller variety. I saw the larger variety last year blooming at a local clothing outlet, and they were doing fine, so I thought I would try them. This year, as I said in the post, many things did not perform good for me. The red salvia that I buy yearly, bloomed and then lost all of their leaves, and grew back new leaves and just sat there. The blue salvia that I grew last year were just spectacular, but this year grew smaller, and have a lot less flowers on them. I have zinnias in the garden that have just started to bloom, or are still green plants that have not produced flower buds yet. I am hoping that everything will eventually bloom, even if it is just for the last few weeks of Summer, just before the killing frost, so they look good for even a short period.

        Recently I was at my doctors, who is a big vegetable gardener, and the majority of his conversation was asking me how I felt about this years growing season. After I told him my findings, he said he was having the same problems, so together we saw that things were not like other years.

        P.W. I occasionally look at the websites of the famous of the design and garden world and they are always telling their viewers how perfect everything is. I really question the validity of their “everything is perfect” all the times comments. I do in a way think it makes others feel something is wrong with their efforts, especially if things don’t work out as they wanted. Here at FGGH if something works I will tell my readers, if it fails I will also say what happened.

        Hope does spring eternal, and sometimes a person/I have to have failures, to make changes, that could even, in my case, improve my garden.
        As always P.W. Thanks for your comments!

  3. Mary says:

    Thank you for sharing pictures of your gardens. It’s amazing that one person has created all of that beauty! I always enjoy reading your posts because they’re full of such well-researched and useful advice. Hope that your back gets back to 100% so that you can enjoy digging in the dirt again next spring!

    • Hi there Mary, The back pain lasted for just a few days and was gone. I was surprised I had the problem, since I go to gym regularly and thought I was in shape. Turning over dirt and digging must use an entirely different set of muscles that are not addressed by doing exercises.

      This has been the 26th gardening season, here for me at Whimsey Hill. The garden has gone through changes as I went on “Oh TOO Many” garden tours, and got ideas from the places I visited. The one thing about going on garden tours, especially at the estates of the rich, is they have help and my garden is only planted and maintained by me. Being that I’m an artistic kind of person, it is really not about gardening, but about me creating a picture that I live in.

      Hopefully next year will be better, as I’m looking at the garden in different spots and am thinking about making changes. Thanks for you comment ;-}

  4. Margaret says:

    Oh boy do I completely understand the delayed blooming this year, I experienced it too. I had to wait an additional month to enjoy my flowers, tomatoes and herbs.

    Your property is just beautiful Fred! The zinnias, popping their heads up, are so playful looking and the bear is fantastic! The backyard has so much interest, and draws the eye around and about in a relaxing way. Wonderful! I’d say yes, you certainly got it right.

    I want to thank you for your advice on African Violets Fred. Mine are now happy and thriving!

    • Hi there Margaret, first of all your comment…“how beautiful that you and your sister had the privilege of being able to hand your mom over to God…” in my post “Looking at the Easter 2017 Decorations…” has been something that has repeatedly come into my mind when it was most needed. Margaret, my mother’s name was Margaret Rose, and my sister’s name is Margaret, so what a perfect comment from a Margaret. I told my sister of your comment and she also thought how profound and really perfect it was. It oh soo well helped in moments of sorrow.

      Now on a lighter note, since writing the gardening post, there have been a couple days with lower humidity and cooler temperatures and I’ve weeded and cleaned the garden of about 15 big brown bags of garden debris. I still have more to do, but it is looking better, and I see, in my area that the days will be cooler toward the end of the week, so I will be out there giving everything a once over.

      Margaret is was nice hearing from you, enjoy the rest of Summer and early Fall, and the flowers that grace the garden this time of year.

      • Margaret says:

        Hi Fred, I’m glad you found some comfort in my sentiment. I truly believe that only a select few are able to accept and carry out that privilege, one of dignity and honor. I’ve known people who are so squeamish and afraid that they’ve literally run out of a hospital room right when their spouse was passing away, or won’t visit a terminally ill person because they “can’t see them like that”, or refuse to go to a wake or funeral because they “just don’t do wakes and funerals” ( not even just sit in the back for a little while??). Believe me I’m not one to judge because life is too short for that, but I’m always so shocked when I come across some of these people. I’m sorry to carry on here but I’m always so impressed when I hear about people like you and your sister, you are truly brave and special people.

        I enjoyed your post about Dorinda Medley, her home is beautiful as are the grounds. She certainly has good taste. How nice of her to open her home, and what a great photo of the both of you!

        Enjoy this great weather we’re having in the garden, and happy Autumn to you too Fred!

      • Hi there Margaret, we are neither brave nor special people, just people who had to face the issue (Mother’s death) at that moment, and that was it. I feel the mind turns off, and a person is just in the moment and is facing things as needed. Only after the funeral did we, all of a sudden, start thinking about what we just went through. My objective when she came home to die was that she be fresh and clean, that she be as calm and relaxed as possible, and not too afraid. I think we covered that.
        Thanks for your comment Margaret Rose!

      • Margaret says:

        Oops I got so distracted by my rant that I forgot to mention that my middle name is Rose also! I’ve come across a few other Margaret Rose’s over the years, I wonder if they admire African Violets too?? It’s a small world, isn’t it? Have a great weekend Fred!

  5. Living Soils says:

    Wow – t hats quite a garden. IT must take a lot of time and energy to keep up with it. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

    • Hi there Living Soils, some people’s passion is playing golf, other’s is tennis or fishing, mine just happens to be the garden. I love the land I live on! Most days I don’t mind the work, it gets me outside. Just have trouble with it when it’s too hot, humid or rainy. Thanks for your comment;-}

  6. Your garden is beautiful!

  7. JoAnne Ellis says:

    Hi Fred, I came across your beautiful flower gardens. Very pretty, my father loved flowers like you do, plus he had a veggie garden . People used to come to our house and ask to buy the flowers, of course he said no. I still have the paintings you did.Hope we can catch up on the past sometime!!!!!

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