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My central Virginia gardens endured one of the hottest, driest summers in recent history.P1050040

Since most of the fifteen-year-old landscape is well established, only the few new installations required weekly monitoring. The basement dehumidifier supplied a consistent 2-gallon supply of free water daily, greatly reducing the labor intensive task of hose dragging.


Let me introduce you to Black Diamond crape myrtle, added to my front garden this summer. Notice the wonderful deep leaf hue and pleasant color of the flowers…this plant blooms multiple times per year and reaches 12′ high. I look forward to many years with this new variety…

I gave up raising home vegetables in 2014. Too many persistent insects prayed on tender leaves, leaving undesirable remnants. I fully support organic growing methods, yet for the effort involved, I would rather spend my time tending the heirloom daffodils, peonies, and lilies that reside here. These spring beauties bring endless joy to me and my market customers come April/May, and by the time June heat and humidity build, I am spending only minimal time outdoors.

2015 Peony city market May

abundant peony harvest 2015


Early spring brings abundance


dazzling organic peppers grown by young farmers. There is no need for me to fight veggie insects in my gardens…when I can support local efforts.

Gardening during cool temps from November-March soothes my soul. The tempo is slow. The air is crisp and clean. I add to my perennial collections, as fall is planting season. And above all, the dastardly biting insects are absent and I once again enjoy the outdoors.


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

This month the arborist arrives with his bucket truck and helper. He annually sheers the 135 Leyland Cypress that border my property. This year I am tasking him with drastically reducing the elevation of the rows…tough love. Over the years, they slowly crept up to twenty feet, a height I no longer desire. Soon entire row at the back will be totally eliminated by the power company, as maintaining it is now unsustainable and my splendid privacy fence doing a fine job.


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.


I am in love with this chipper…perfect for the job at hand…

As of today the house and shed are washed/painted/caulked where needed. The roof chimney and vents are caulked and painted. The patio furniture has a fresh coat of paint (yes that DTM paint project two years ago was a miserable failure.) The windows are washed inside and out. 23′ of deer fencing is installed in the lower corner of the garden to close a gap. Three arborvitae and a Kousa dogwood will replace an ancient dogwood (Cornus florida) and an unimpressive japanese maple. Eventually this new installation will screen the deer wire.

THEN, on the fifteenth of November, I shall have knee surgery…just a repair for a torn meniscus.


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

Yes, gardening does take a toll. Perhaps last November’s foundation planting did in my knee. That two tons of river rock did not seem that difficult, yet perhaps it was the eleven hours it took to prep/plant the seventeen shrubs. Ahh, November.

A time to complete chores, reflect, relax, and bask in the glow of a dreamy winter ahead.


this is the view from my back door, over the herb garden during winter 2015


Copyright ©2016 by Diane LaSauce All Rights Reserved