Oak seedling in my garden

Maple seedling in my garden

You never know what you will find when you are actually in the garden. Being there on a regular basis helps train your eye so that you can distinguish the unwanted from the wanted. Weeds like dandelions and spurge, of course, are easy to recognize but how about those small volunteer trees that become a nightmare to dig out if you haven’t been paying attention? Unless you are actually working in the garden, you will not notice them until it’s too late. Many a landscape becomes overgrown because the homeowner never goes into the garden.

Wild aster seedling in my garden

What about the seedlings of wild perennials that have extensive root systems? Before you know it, they’ve taken over the garden. Wild asters are infuriating because in the spring, they look way too much like Phlox paniculata. Once summer arrives, the Phlox will start to bloom so if the leafy stems are puzzling you, the question to ask yourself is, “is this plant blooming?”. If not, it’s finally time to pull it.

Clematis terniflora leaf closeup in my garden; white markings (usually more noticeable) are most evident on leaves closest to ground

The seedlings of Clematis terniflora (paniculata), the Autumn Clematis, drive me crazy. I swear that every day I go out to the garden and I find more of them. The best ways to distinguish them from the clematis you want to keep are looking at the diameter of the vine itself (it’s much thicker than our beloved clematis) and looking at the leaves for white markings. Most of the time, the roots are already so firmly ensconced that I have to spade them out.

Buddleia ‘African Queen’ attracts butterflies and bees in my garden

Bee in Anemone hybrid in Detroit garden

The best times in the garden are sightings of bees and butterflies. Even though I was deadheading my Buddleia ‘African Queen’, the Monarch butterflies were busy sucking nectar from the beautiful dark purple florets. on my way to the Buddleia, I passed by some of my Japanese anemones in which fat bumblebees were working their way into the slightly cupped blossoms. Bees populations may be on the wane in some locations but not in my garden. I attribute their visits to my garden to the diversity of plants I have here.

Verbascum bombicyferum ‘Polarsommer’ seedling with Sedum ‘Hab Grey’, Echinacea ‘Pixie Meadowbrite’, Monarda ‘Dark Ponticum’, Phlox ‘Fancy Feelings’,

Being in the garden also enables me to see where the seedlings of biennials such as Verbascum bombicyferum ‘Polarsommer’ are too numerous and I can redistribute them, discard them, or pot them. Seedheads of perennials like lupines and columbine can be sprinkled where I want them to grow instead of where the wind disburses them.

If you spend time in your garden and thus get to know it intimately, it will be even more beautiful each year.