july 2019 garden update

by | Jul 10, 2019 | All Things Home, Gardening, summer | 47 comments

Well, things in the garden are finally blooming and looking much better after a harsh winter and a late spring.  A couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t sure that this garden was ever going to fully wake up, but the cycle of the season is carefully built into each plant and they know what to do even if I don’t.

The petunias and vinca vine in the concrete urn are starting to spill over, just as I hoped they would and the hostas are filling in nicely around them.  I can see I might need to split them again in a year or so, which is fine with me since I have some other places I’d like to plant them.

My Annabelle hydrangeas are blooming and beautiful!  I was nervous about them, since I just planted them last year and the winter was so cold, but they are doing great.  I really struggled with hydrangeas at my last house (I think I bought the kind that only blooms on old wood), but this variety is known for blooming reliably each year.

And my creepers and ground covers are creeping and covering.

The biggest disappointment has been the sweet autumn clematis.  The plant by the trellis came up and then died.  The other one was very slow in appearing and is just now starting to reach the trellis with its fingertips.  It was being eaten by slugs, so I looked up a few natural remedies.  I ended up out in the dark spraying the plant with watered-down peppermint oil and sprinkling a ring of coffee grounds around it.  That seems to have worked, but I also bought some proper slug/snail/bug repellant.

There are a couple of neighboring shoots coming up, but I think the slugs may have gotten to them.  We’ll see if they make it.

The one by the trellis is dead a doornail, though.  I’m leaving the plant in the ground, though, because I suppose it could come up next year.  Right?  I didn’t want an empty trellis, though, so I bought a Huldine Clematis, which also has white flowers, but it flowers all summer.

So, we’ll see how this guy does.  He has a long way to grow!


  1. Julie

    A pie pan with beer will attract and drown slugs. Kinda gross, but works

    • Dori Johns

      Julie, we did beer in a pie pan several years ago. It did, indeed, work, but we also had some tipsy squirrels.

      • Heidi

        Hey now, nothing wrong with the squirrels having a little fun now and then, right? As long as they stay out of trouble 😂

    • Jane

      The rule of clematis vines
      Feet in the shade plant something to shade roots
      And top (vine) in the sun
      From an old chick who learned the hard way

  2. Sara

    I have never grown clematis, but I know they like “cool roots” . I notice that the ground is bare around the bottom of your clematis. Perhaps you should add some mulch (3-5 inches) around the roots, or plant something low growing in front of the clematis roots that will cast some shade and keep the clematis roots cool.

    • Marian Parsons

      Yes, mulching is on my list! It’s just been a busy few weeks.

      • patti

        I’m in zone 5a here outside Chicago and I’m stunned about your autumn clematis. Mine is so overly hardy and aggressive that I spend most of the summer hacking it back to keep it in check until it’s ready to bloom in the fall – otherwise it takes over the surrounding plants and overwhelms it’s own trellis to the point we can’t walk around it. I’ve never had the slug issue however, so maybe that’s it. I would not count the roots out though, they most likely will be back. Clematis rules are – first year it sleeps, next year it creeps, the third year it leaps! This is only its first “real” season after planting so I’m betting it comes back strong. It will probably overtake the second clematis you planted there unless you prune aggressively.

    • Kate

      I put a flat stone at the base of the plants as well as mulch and that has worked for me, Neem oil is my all-purpose go-to for bugs, fungus, etc.

  3. Kim

    Clematis roots are SUPER tough. They are extremely difficult to kill. It is highly likely that you will see it grow explosively next year even if this year the tops are eaten. I have moved many clematis in my 30 years of gardening and even when you remove 99% of the roots, the ones remaining almost always regrow a new plant in a couple more years.

    You can put a border of copper (wire, tape, pipes, whatever) around the plant and the slugs cannot cross it because they get electrocuted. Just make sure none of the plant is low enough for the slugs to crawl onto. You can also kill a lot of slugs by burying a small jar in the soil and fill it with beer. The slugs will crawl in and die, but ICK, it is going to be pretty gross in there!!

    Annabelle hydrangeas will not disappoint you! They are ironclad hardy and bountifully gorgeous!! I’m at the same latitude as you but over in eastern Ontario, Canada, and I have had massive, long hydrangea hedges for years! Winter is extremely harsh here, and no problem.

  4. Bea

    Wow, Kim, you are very knowledgeable! I am in Virginia, so my hydrangeas- both Annabelle and regular are done- but of course they still look lovely as they dry. Just a warning- watch out for puppies around Annabelle’s- they are toxic, found out the hard way ☹️ My pup survived, but not without some big vet bills and lasting tummy issues. Now that he is a big boy, he ignores them, but I ripped out the ones he could get to without my knowledge.
    And I still hold out hope for the autumn clematis- that is one tough plant- give it time !

  5. Katie

    I have or my family has grown clematis most of my life and just recently learned a few years ago from my mother-in-law that by leaving the vines without cutting back at the end of the season, they go gangbusters throughout the summer! At first I thought it just wasn’t a desirable look having dead looking vines throughout the winter, but the amount of blooms and greenery are so worth it! Nonetheless, your garden still looks absolutely gorgeous!

  6. Karen

    Apparently, Gardening requires patience… ;-P
    I wish I knew how to grow Hydrangeas – I love them but my yard has Full-Sun. Perhaps, it’s the heat & humidity we get in Alabama (Zone 8a)? I guess I really need easy to grow/Fool-proof plants! Years ago, my neighbor told me that some plants can take their sweet time. She said, “They sleep, they creep, and they leap.” So, hopefully, all’s not lost. Maybe your new plants need a little more time.

    • Nan

      Karen – I live in Texas (8b). I’ve always heard to grow hydrangeas on the north side of house, which is where I grow mine (lots of sun on that side too) . I grow both Annabelle and Oak Leaf kinds in BIG styrofoam pots. They come back year after year.

      • Karen

        Thank you for sharing!

    • Christy Keyton

      Hi Karen,
      I also live in Alabama and my yard is full of hydrangeas because it is my favorite flower. The best ones for the sun are Limelight hydrangeas. They LOVE full sun and bloom like crazy. My other hydrangeas are all in partial shade and get plenty of water – that is the secret to growing them in Alabama.

  7. Lee Ann

    Patience is a virtue … especially when it comes to gardening! My sister-in-law gave us a small sign for our garden that reads: “My garden is watered with sweat and tears.” Every time I see it, I add “… and blood!” Your hard work will pay off; I’ve always heard that the third year is when everything really explodes with new growth. Also, for container gardening, such as your urn, have you heard of the “something to thrill, something to fill, and something to spill” method? It means planting something tall and spiky in the middle, then something to fill the top of the container (like your petunias), then something to spill out over the edges (which you have). A tall, spiky plant would add height and interest. I love your palette of greens and whites; so soothing for hot summer days!

  8. JC

    Your garden looks beautiful! Sorry about the Sweet Autumn Clematis, but you never know it might come back! Still the same everything else looks amazing. I LOVE those Hydrangeas! Is that variety easier to grow?

  9. Pam

    Karen, I live in Atlanta and I grow limelight hydrangeas in full sun. I have one that is about 5 feet tall and they are all blooming profusely right now and will continue till frost.

    • Karen

      Thank you, sweet friend, I will look for that variety!

  10. Helene

    Save all of your egg shells….put them in a plastic bag and crush them. Sprinkle them on the garden. Slugs will not craw over them as it is too rough and cuts them. Free calcium for the plants. Great organic practice

  11. larry

    love white flowers

    • Mary Jane

      White flower makes such a lovely moon garden. I tried to convince my husband when we built our house three years ago to let me do all white flowers. I lost the argument. However, I do have some of the Annabelle Hydrangea and they are awesome, and he tells me all the time “I love that white bush”….. next house, I think I will plant all white and have my moon garden. I live in the northern part of Georgia, I think it is zone 8.

  12. larry reeves

    coffee grounds heip

  13. Eileen

    The copper solution is probably the best as well or taking both ends off a large tomato sauce can or something similar and sliding it over the plant and putting it snugly in the ground. Or, even better, invest in a large copper fitting from the plumbing section of the hardware store and doing the same thing. It would be a long term solution as you could reuse it every year. Also the beer works.

  14. Diane Ruebel

    Good afternoon MMS,

    Like Katie from her mother-in-law, I learned from a friend to deleaf the clematis vines in the fall and leave them bare. They actually add a lovely silhouette and sprout anew all up and down the old vines. It’s amazing how gorgeous they become. Also, have you tried evergreen clematis? It’s prolific here in the PNW staying green all year. Perhaps, a possibility in your neighborhood!?

    happy summer from Camano Island,

  15. Betty

    Hi, At my last house I had a large perennial garden that the slugs were feasting on. My young Daughter and I would go out with salt shakers and apply salt to the huge slugs. Took care of a majority of our problem, as due to pets we couldn’t put down beer traps or chemicals etc… She’s in her 20’s and still will remind me of those gardening stories.

  16. Marlene Stephenson

    All looks nice, some needs more time than others.

  17. Gale

    Clematis are said head in the sun roots in the shade plant something in front of the clematis
    returns every year does well with miracle grow may rebloom in fall.
    When you plant new plants / flowers
    try Milky Spore mixed into soil natural bug
    killers if u see holes in leaves of plants you have slugs / bugs get on Amazon some Lowes
    white powder last for years

  18. Judith

    Marian, please be very, very careful with the slug bait. It is deadly to dogs. As to the beer, I tried that method and all I got were fatter slugs; they loved it. They would drink, then crawl away. Egg shells are a far better and safer treatment. As far as clematis, it is very finicky. I’m way south of you and can’t get it to do much. Good luck to you.

  19. judy

    your garden looks great. i believe digging in the dirt is good for the soul. always learning something when i am out in it. i also highly recommend YouTube garden answer. lovely young couple with great knowledge and inspiration.

  20. Robin

    Clematis…..the first year it sleeps the second year it creeps and the third year it leaps.🙂

  21. Laura

    Oh, I wish I could grow clematis and hydrangeas! So beautiful but not here in Palm Springs, California! Palms and lantana, yes. Sigh….

  22. Mary

    Diotometric Earth is a very reasonable priced product you can sprinkly around all your plants… it is a natural product with microscoptic sharp edges that we can’t see with the naked eye. Slugs are cut if they try to crawl over the DE powder and they die. If you have Hosta, it works around them as well. It’s very safe and can be sprinkled around the foundation all around the house to deter creeping crawlers.

    Climates are trying. My nursery said to cut them way back after they bloom to encourage them to put out more flowers. In addition I use root booster to give them a nudge when they are tired…. helps them a lot. I’m surprised the sweet autumn didn’t come back as it is rather invasive. Don’t give up… Perhaps there hasn’t been enough sun – everything seems to be late this year.

  23. Mary


    CORRECTION…. DIOTONATIOUS EARTH… I misspelled that word… Sorry!

  24. Jenn Anderson

    It is educational to read all the comments from experienced gardener’s on your garden updates. I love it! I have not personally grown clematis here in the Twin Cities, but I’d say leave it and I bet it will come back. I haven’t had to treat for slugs either, but I probably should around my rhubarb plants as I have seen some holes in those leaves. Hostas are so great because of being able to divide them and use them other places. Free plants! I enjoy your garden updates and seeing how things are growing, plus learning from commenters. =).

  25. Diane

    There are different types of clematis. Those you cut back in the spring and those you don’t. You will need to identify you clematis and then do your research about the kind you have before pruning.

  26. Alice

    I’m happy you are leaving your Clematis root in the ground. I had one that I was sure was dead and just last week green shoots were waving at me after one of our rare rains here in New Mexico. It may surprise you!

  27. Linda Greiss

    Marion, You could plant some white morning glory seeds or another fast growing annual vine to cover your trellis until clematis grows.

  28. Charlotte Embry

    My two favorite garden sayings are:
    1. Perennials—First year they sleep, second year they creep, third year they leap!
    2. Container gardens need a thriller plant, some filler plants and spiller plants!

  29. Shirley Housepitality

    Love your Annabelles Marian..I hope to plant some in the new house soon….hope you find a solution to get rid of the slugs…look like there is lots of great advice here!

  30. Leslie

    Be careful with those variegated vinca, keep them trimmed back and don’t let them touch ground or they’ll go crazy. They’re extremely invasive. I put them in containers like you did and they rooted and I had a horrible time with them. Your garden is lovely! Love the beautiful white palate.

  31. Lynne

    I am learning a lot from everyone! I also had no success with a sweet autumn clematis – the deer loved it! What I did have success with was planting blue morning glory seeds on each side of my door. They grew profusely and formed an arch over the door full of blue flowers. It was lovely!

    Marian, your garden is beautiful, a classic green and white. Each year, there will be disappointments in the garden. Try to look at the whole picture and not focus on the disappointment. This is how gardeners learn and grow. 🙂

  32. Sarah

    I have had great luck in Michigan climate with kiwi vines. They are fast growers and have pretty verigated leaves. They have been dependable return plants each year.
    Would be great on your trellis.

  33. Michele M.

    Marian, do you give your plants food? Also – have you ever tried NEEM OIL? It is a natural pest repellent. Highly recommend.

    Your garden is looking great. so sorry about your Clematis.

  34. Jo

    If you cut a “bracelet” out of a wide copper pipe, you can pull the clematis through it so it surrounds the base of the plant (and any other plants that slugs chew on). The slugs won’t touch it because copper gives them a shock!

  35. grace

    crunched up egg shells around hostas work well and it’s free, unless you don’t eat eggs. 🙂

  36. grace

    sorry, egg shells are good against slugs


Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…

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