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After all, it is mid-September.

Most of the blistering heat and drenching humidity is over for another central Virginia season. Many of the annoying, biting insects departed last week when the temperature dropped to 49 degrees F overnight.

look what is ripening in the garden this week! Cayenne peppers. No fungus or insects hang around these prolific plants!

look what is ripening in the garden this week! Cayenne peppers. No fungus or insects hang around these prolific plants!

I am in bliss. Can you tell that I am a spring/fall gardener? I delight in the change of light, the tilt of the planet, always keeping pace with the universe. During spring, the slow awakening of plant life dazzles the eye and offers the observant eternal optimism. When fall approaches, the array of home/garden/life chores slows to a manageable pace.

This summer I accomplished more than I planned. My interpretation of a 90′ privacy fence was constructed on the rear property line in January. It would take until August for me to realize that I was once again the designated primer/painter/stainer. Check.

Before it was stained shot of the 90' privacy fence

Before it was stained shot of the 90′ privacy fence

photo of stained privacy fence. After a contractor's estimate of 12 hours and $400 labor, I knew it was up to me to complete this job. Six hours over two days delivered one handsome fence to Swallowtail Cottage.

photo of stained privacy fence. After a contractor’s estimate of 12 hours labor and $400 price tag (not including stain), I knew it was up to me to complete this job. Six hours over two days delivered one handsomely stained fence to Swallowtail Cottage. PS, pine needles work splendidly as mulch for both sides of this fence…needles collected from a nearby school who was happy to have me rake.

Next 2015 summer project: I refurbished the rear terrace wall that was seriously in need.

block wall on terrace demands attention this year. Dry Lock Extreme and new coat of paint will restore...I'm hoping...

block wall on terrace demands attention this year. Drylok Extreme and new coats of paint will restore…I’m hoping…

terrace wall refurbished with Muhly grass showing off on the other side...September is mighty showy here.

terrace wall refurbished with Muhly grass showing off on the other side…September is mighty showy here.

Then the front mulched path needed major intervention. For years the sloped property caused mulch to float during heavy rains. So the answer was river rock edges, pea gravel, and repurposed aggregate stepping-stones. All affordable DIY solutions. Of course my labor is free…sweat equity, ahem.

This is the before shot of the sloped path.

This is the before shot of the sloped path. The Siberian iris are gone! Very invasive gift from a friend…and it nearly killed the man who dug them…gardeners beware!

First the mulch was swept away. Then stepping stones were reused from the rear, and set into the dirt.

First the mulch was swept away. Additional river rock lined the mulched side of the path. Then stepping-stones were reused from the rear, and set into the dirt.

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Then 40 bags of pea gravel arrived in three separate car loads, as to not break Baby 5. Did I tell you this was another DIY project?

Baby 5 was my perfect companion during this gravel project. She held steadfast, despite my concerns that I would break her.

Baby 5 was my perfect companion during this gravel project. She held steadfast, despite my concerns that I would break her.

This was also a wash area every time it rained. So gravel was the answer. One heavy rain since placement confirms its success. Gravel will continue to replace mulch where ever it is appropriate. What took me so long???

This was also an aggravating wash area, near the rear garden shed, every time it rained. Mulch was removed. Gravel was the answer. One heavy rain later confirms its success. Gravel will continue to replace mulch where ever it is appropriate. What took me so long???

The front path today...rain runs through it smoothly, leaving the path in tact. My hands and knees are really getting a workout this summer!

The front sloped path today…rain runs through it smoothly, leaving the path in tact. My hands and knees are really getting a workout this summer! And that foundation bed needs attention…PJM’s are not happy.

OOo, I have not shared the latest project with you…this time not a DIY other than the design elements. I have never liked the dull, ordinary appearance of the front of this house. Built in the early ’70’s, nothing had changed inside or out until I bought the property in 2001. Following 6.5 years of interior work and exterior landscaping, I usually ignore the front facade and use the back door…until I spent the past week groveling around the front door…oops.

photo of front entrance looking towards new carport, completed last summer. Ugly

photo of front entrance looking towards new carport, completed last summer: https://dianelasauce.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/three-men-and-a-truck/. Ugly is the only word for the front entry of this home. I never liked the vinyl and shutters, nor the flat plane. The barberry shrubs (overgrown with chronic fungal issues) and rug juniper (invasive) are coming out as soon as the arborist arrives for the annual cypress shearing. I always add a few garden edits while he is here, as his chain saw, muscle, and chipper work wonders in short time. This is the link to the vestibule I found on the Internet. With a few edits, reusing my windows and front doors, and a clever builder, it will become mine..

Photo of former failed rosemary bed now containing 14 heirloom peony plants...soon to be mulched with pea gravel...

Photo of former failed rosemary bed (disease from nursery!) now contains 14 heirloom peony plants…soon to be mulched with pea gravel…after the mulch is removed and dosed with BioZome from Jen Neve. This is one steep bed, designed for mountain goats and maintained by one crazy woman!

Back to reality: As for the rock/gravel revelation, the second large peony bed (sloped) is about to get the treatment. If I knew the person who graded this lot back in 1971, I would haunt him till the day he dies…

Despite my huge failure to raise but one monarch this season, due to numerous predatory flies, I strive to learn better ways to outsmart these critters next season. If you need advice, check out my Facebook page for links to many helpful sites.

female monarch ready for release

female monarch ready for release

So my friends, summer quickly draws to an end, and how timely. Not sure if the bod can take much more garden abuse this year. Still, there is green, flat stuff to mow (weeds), and more garden clean up to tend, yet, this morning said, “STOP!” and I followed the call until the temperatures nudged me inside.

matcha is the perfect beverage for morning strolls

matcha is the perfect beverage for morning strolls

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did composing it. I would love to hear what your summer was like and if you have revelations to share. With this home, garden, life, I am continually reminded that all things are temporary (except rock/gravel), and lessons are endless if we remember to remain open and take time to stop and listen.

Be well and I hope to hear from you in the comments section of this blog.

Copyright © 2015 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved