mid-summer garden update

by | Jul 28, 2018 | All Things Home, Gardening, summer | 73 comments

It’s been a few weeks since our front garden overhaul, so I thought I would give an update!  First of all, everything has been a success so far.  Everything is growing well and I’m enjoying checking on all of my flowers and bushes in the evenings to water, deadhead the petunias, pull weeds (although there aren’t many popping up), etc.

Here is how the garden looked back in early April…

And how it looks now…

I can even see how much our grass has improved.  It took a beating this winter from Sebastian’s pee and sidewalk salt to melt the ice.  Jeff’s really been working on it this spring and summer (thatching, aerating, spreading weed & seed and lawn fertilizer, etc).  It’s nice to see his hard work paying off.

I found the Annabelle Hydrangeas late in the season, so they were on sale and I was able to buy larger bushes than I may have otherwise.  It’s nice to have new plants that already fill the space pretty well and have lots of blooms.  I expect they’ll be even bigger and more productive next year.  (Annabelle’s are a variety that will have blooms on new wood.)  A pleasant surprise is that the white blooms turn a pretty green and start to dry out!  The ones I had at my last house lost their color and turned papery, so they weren’t very fun when they started to fade.  These are fun!

I heard different schools of thought on how to dry these, so I’m letting some dry on the bush and I clipped some and put them in water in a pitcher.  We’ll see which one turns out better.

Right now, the ones in the pitcher seem to be drying out well (instead of wilting).

The biggest change has been the Sweet Autumn Clematis growing on our homemade “column trellis”.  Here is how it looked just over a month ago…

And how it looks today…

Pretty impressive vine, isn’t it?  I didn’t think we’d have to add more trellis along the porch roof this summer, but it looks like we’re going to be adding that in the next week or two, so this plant has somewhere to climb.  I can’t wait to see it in full bloom this fall.

Speaking of porches, I think we have a couple of swallows (maybe?) trying to build a nest on our porch.  My Opa loved birds, but he always knocked down nests on his porch, just because of the mess the birds made.  I sort of like the idea of a bird making a home on my porch, but I know they can be messy and maybe even territorial.  Any opinions on front-porch-bird-nesting?


  1. Becca

    I think I did leave the bird’s nest. What a sweet way to invite nature to sit with you on the front porch.

  2. Becca

    Silly spell check. I’d leave it.

  3. Linda

    If you pick Annabelle blooms in early September they are a lovely sage green color. Arrange them in a container you’d like them to stay in for awhile with no water and all leaves stripped off. They will shrink slightly as they dry but last a long time. I usually keep my up until November.

    • mercedes scott

      Linda – that is exactly how I dry mine! This works like a charm!

  4. Karen L.

    Oh my….I love to hear birds and watch birds but I say no to their pooping all over my porch. The way I look at it is that they have all those trees to choose from they just need to choose wisely! 🙂
    They’re pretty hard to discourage though. My last house always attracted a nest in the wreath on our front door every spring and what a nasty mess it was, plus the bird would fly into the house when I needed to open the door (forgetting to “bang” on it first to warn it). They always freaked out, flew to the highest spot in the house (think second story foyer fun) so we’d work hard to catch it before it got hurt or pooped on all the draperies, etc. The last time was at 10:00 at night. Crazy. Of course, I quit putting a wreath on that door after that but that’s a bummer. We have a pretty door with some beveled glass in this current house so no need for a wreath here.

  5. Arli

    I love birds, but did not love the mess they made on my balcony the one time they built a nest in my flower box. The poop was EVERYWHERE.

  6. Ramona

    Your garden is growing and looking lovely.
    Those birds on my porch build mud nests and I knock them down. They are very messy! I believe the ones we’ve always had pestering us are barn swallows.
    I’m still loving every shot I see of your beautiful mirror! I believe it’s one of the prettiest pieces of home decor I’ve ever seen!

  7. Mel

    I love songbirds that build their nests in the trees around my home. I don’t love birds that build their mud nests on my home. Those nests get removed ASAP. They can choose from 4 other buildings on my farm, but the house is off-limits.

  8. beck campbell

    BEFORE they lay eggs just move the nest to another location…watch it carefully…eventually they will “move.” But don’t delay or you risk destroying eggs or babies. Besides, baby birds may “fall” out of the nest and that is disturbing especially if you have a dog or cat. And bird poo can be nasty. Love the landscaping! I’ve lived in my house 19 years and I am still working on some areas.

  9. Michelle

    In the South, we don’t want bird nests on the porch because of snakes. They will eat the eggs. I don’t think that would be a big worry in Minnesota, though.

  10. Sarah

    We just had purple finches make a nest in the fern I had hanging on our porch. It was a magical experience for the whole family to watch (especially for my kids). From first seeing the tiny blue eggs to when the babies hatched and grew and grew and finally left the nest. There was no mess on our porch but it got pretty gross in the fern. I just tossed the nest after the babies moved out and our fern is slowly recovering.

  11. Margaret Robinson

    We have a family of swallows that nest on our front porch every year. Yes, it can be a little messy (but really not that bad at all). I just hose the mess when it needs it, with a hose. We like having the birds around and have two dogs which are messier!

  12. Mary

    Marian – the gardens are beautiful! Birds nesting on the porch are horrible! Not only are they so messy and dirty, but when they nest on my porch we feel like we can’t use the door, or even look out the door because we disturb them and they fly away.

    Take back your porch a and just say NO!!!

  13. Denise

    Years ago, my cousin told me how to cut my hydrangeas at the end of the summer and dried. We dyed them different colors then hung them upside down to dry. Pretty faded colors . The colors are soft. Mine Mine are old hydrangeas and some Endless Summer.All lost along with my Lilies of the Nile in Hurricane Harvey last August.

  14. Kim

    Looking good! You’ve got a taste of what that variety of clematis will do. 🙂 Annabelles can be picked once they start to feel papery, which will be at a green stage. You can dry them indoors in a pot WITHOUT water just fine as well. They are also gorgeous in their BROWN state, so leave some on the bush and see if you like them! Really nice for fall arrangements. I’m with the others, nix the nest on the porch if it is near where you will be going in and out. If it is off to the side, then maybe leave it.

  15. Barbara

    Words of warning – bird mites. We had barn swallows build a nest on our porch a couple years in a row. The babies were adorable. It was great until one summer my entire house was infested with bird mites. We think they transfered to the dog and then to the house. Worst experience ever!

  16. Karen F.

    I have a Phoebe that is on her second family this year on the porch. They are so fun to watch. Papa and momma will sit off to the side if we are enjoying the porch, but we can watch thru the windows so not to disturb them. The sum total of mess was about 1 foot square, and can easily be hosed off. And think of all the bugs they are eating! What a learning experience for the boys too. Garden is lovely.

  17. Dale

    Regarding the hydrangeas: if you cut the plants back to about 12″ tall in the late fall, you can put the large green wire plant supports around them. In the spring, make sure the plants grow up mainly on the inside of the support. This will brace the large Annabelle heads throughout the season and give the plants more height. You wont even see the supports once the leaves come out.
    BTW, I let mine dry on the bush and don’t cut until their stems have gone brown.

  18. Janet

    For my own two cents worth, I used to work at a school district and the birds loved to nest in the rafters. We found out that once they take up residence we were restricted in what we could do – state regulations required leaving their “habitat” alone. It was sweet and wonderful for a week or two until we discovered why people take the nesting material down immediately, before there is a chance to actually build the nest. Bird poop contains toxins and is very slippery BTW. Knock them down. The birds will nest somewhere else – they don’t have to be on YOUR porch.

  19. Lea

    Wow, surprised to see so many people destroying nests while praising nature, flowers, gardens, etc. We want the pretty flowers but not the birds because of a little mess? Nature is messy, folks! These critters have had to adapt to us in their environment. I cannot imagine knocking down a bird nest that was just built. Perhaps let the birds hatch their eggs and move on, then take preventative measures so that darn awful inconvenient nature doesn’t make a mess again next year.

    • Beth

      Lea, I love your remark and I couldn’t have said it any better!

  20. Diane Ruebel

    Such welcoming loveliness in your entry. It would be a shame to spoil it with messiness from swallows. Their persistent resilience will outmatch yours if they make their home on your “loveliness.” However, that same persistence will allow them to begin again in a more desirable spot.

  21. Crystal

    Marian where did you find the narrow trellis for the vine? It looks so pretty!!

    • sandi

      She and Jeff custom built it – from an earlier post…

  22. JACKIE

    Marian— there are bird foils that you can purchase and put up in the corners of your porch ceiling to keep them from nesting there. They come clear so they’re not all that noticeable. It’s a strip of dull plastic spikes that can be screwed into the ceiling corners radiating outward. Believe it or not, it’s not good for the birds or the people to have them nest in such close proximity.

  23. Mel Donat

    Sweet autumn clematis can grow to 20 feet….you’re gonna need a bigger trellis!!!

  24. Diana

    Three years in a row we had birds make a nest in the wreath that was hung on our front door. After all the work they put into their nest I didn’t have the heart to knock it down. We had to be very careful opening and closing the door so that the mama bird would not fly into the house and to give her a chance to fly off of the nest. It was fun to see the baby birds grow up and then one by one fly out of the nest.

  25. Addie

    I did not read all the other comments…..so I apologize if this has been said. For drying hydrangeas, I clip with long on the stem and remove all the leaves. Then I take clothespins and clip them hanging down to coat hangers . Then I just let them hang in a darker undisturbed part of the garage. They dry out perfect and being upside down they stay rounded at the tops. It doesn’t take long, we don’t have too much humidity, just average. If you don’t remove the leaves they will be a crinkley mess…they gotta go. This works for all flowers.

    Oh!!! …and since you have boys like myself…….one year I couldn’t figure out why all the petals were always falling out to the ground. UNTIL!!!! I caught the culprit in the act…..my 7th grader just loved to hit those wonderful round fluffy balls with a baseball bat!!! Ohhh! BOYS!!!! 😉

  26. MIndy Pasco-Anderson

    Hi Marian

    Please consider using organic products on your yard. Corn gluten for weeds, organic fertilizer and milky spore for grubs. Help to keep your family, pup and the planet safe.



  27. Cherylan

    I am so glad to learn about Annabelle hydrangeas. I had been thinking that I would go with little lime, the smaller version of lime light. Now that I see your planting and read more about them, I am switching my “watch for end of season” search to Annabelle . I also enjoyed all the display and drying notes.

  28. Marc

    Bird nests on porch: be prepared for bird mite bites. They really itch.

  29. Marc

    The lawn: that weed and seed stuff (and other weed killers) are toxic to people, pets and wildlife. Go organic.

  30. Tracy

    I have to agree on not letting the birds set up house on your porch. Very messy. Swallows can get a little overbearing, they will swoop at you anytime you or your guests come near the porch or in and out of your door. Even if they are not swallows, I would not recommend, speaking from previous experience. Your front entrance looks great, but that’s what I have come to expect from you. Everything you do always looks great!

  31. Sue

    I had a sweet little wren build a nest in one of my spider plants on the front porch.
    We, my granddaughter and I watched as she came and went about taking care of the four eggs and babies until they flew. Not one time did she mess up the porch. Loved it.

  32. Katie

    We had a nest of swallows over our garage door light fixture. They were very aggressive; swooping and sometimes hitting us on the head as we walked by. Our eldest seemed the most “offensive” to the swallows, and she took to carrying a plastic lawn chair over her head when walking to and from the car!

  33. Ellen Shook

    Paint the porch ceiling “haint blue” as we call it in the South. It does help deter wasps and birds, and anyway it looks pretty. After we got a Cecile Brunner climbing rose established on the iron trellis over the front porch tat we put in a few years ago, blue jays nested! They swoop and they are MEAN! So — we get rid of their nests as soon as we see them developing. To dry hydrangeas I have used the easiest method imaginable: after they start drying out in a vase of water, I take them into the garage and clip them upside down down on a wire with a clothespin. I have several years’ worth now to use in Fall decorating. Hope my experience helps.

  34. JC at the uncommon pearl

    Your yard is growing nicely. I’m excited for you and your sweet autumn clematis. You’re going to love it!

  35. Debra

    OMG! Get rid of the swallow nests ASAP. We had them return several years in a row and boy do they make a mess! Their muddy nests stain your siding and that’s bad enough, but their poo that falls onto the porch is really bad !
    Although I’m jealous of the hydrangeas bc mine still aren’t blooming even though this is the third year for a couple of them. Someone told me that it takes some kinds till the third year to bloom. It’s been hard waiting so long only to have them not bloom again.
    As for drying them, we tried the glycerin method last year with my DIL’s hydrangeas. It worked pretty well. I haven’t had luck with either drying on the bush or in a pitcher. If mine ever bloom I’ll experiment with different methods. Love the plants and your website I’m glad I found you.

  36. Cape Cod Chic

    A little advice about Annabelle hydrangeas……….the secret to lots of really big blooms is to cut the plant back HARD in the Spring. Wait until you see the little buds forming at the leaf nodes and cut them to about 8-12 inches tall. You will not hurt them no matter how short you cut them. This is the complete opposite of so many other hydrangeas which is why it seems scary when you first do it. Be brave!

    • Joan

      YES! Am so glad you shared to cut Annabelle back!!!!!! Others need to know this!
      I cut my Annabelle hydrangea right to the ground every year/even as late as end of May,( yes, don’t be afraid to do this, they do not flower from a woody stem, so you can trim them back and they will still flower profusely! if you do not cut them down they will be so much longer and spindly! PLUS then they will fall flat onto the ground even easier after a rain because of their long length and large flower with rainfall causing them to be even heavier BUT do also put a wire cage in early spring into the center of the plant after trimming back so that you can support the heavy blooms and lightly string them up onto the cage or even two cages in there is better than one for this purpose). They are a soft stem/green stem hydrangea, I think Marian mentioned her Annabelle were wood stems, hmm, but I think that she should look into that/as you treat a woody stem hydrangea differently than soft stem or green stem. DO NOT cut wood stem hydrangeas back in spring you cut off the flowering parts, so therefore no flowers if you trim it off of course….that can take up to 2 years to grow back and flower. The wood stem hydrangeas are more like a woody shrub. Annabelle grows up fresh from the ground in soft green leafy stems every year. The ground area they grow from will get larger every year. Very easy to transplant by spading apart and up a ‘chunk’ of root and low young growth in spring.

  37. JoAnn

    We have swallows build nests on our porch and carport every year. The babies grow up so fast and then I hose down the mess. We think they catch mosquitoes. Do you have hummingbirds? We get a kick out of watching ours. Thank goodness my husband makes the nectar for them . I also enjoy hydrangea , and have an Autumn Clematis bush that is at least 75 years old so especially enjoyed this today!

  38. Valerie

    When the birds have finished with their nests around my house I take them down and put them in my flower pots or window boxes for a decorative look. Sometimes I add painted wooden eggs I buy around springtime at the craft store.

  39. Jan

    Sometimes bird poop contains harmful bacteria/virusus that can make people/dogs sick, as well as the birds themselves. With children in the house plus a dog, I would not want to risk that.

  40. Lynda

    The last time I let starlings build their nest above our front door under the eaves, the kids and I waited eagerly for their little blue eggs to hatch. One day I noticed my son, a little guy at the time, reading books on the couch in the front room but insistently scratching his head and brushing at his neck. After considerable sleuthing, we discovered an almost microscopic trail of tiny bugs coming from that nest, down the door-jam, under the door, onto the living room floor, up the couch leg, over the top of the couch and down to where my son was sitting. He’d settled right in their path and they’d crawled onto his neck, into his hair. Eeeeek. Those swallow’s eggs, unfortunately, did not survive a rather hurried relocation.
    So, if you do let the birds nest on your porch, make sure your door is bug-proof.

    • Lynda

      Oh, now I see “Barbara” commented above on “bird mites”. That must be what we had crawling onto the couch, and son.

  41. Susan

    I let the swallows nest one year, I thought it was so sweet…until the babies got big, and there was a MESS on my porch! Now, when they start checking out my porch, I hang a couple strips of ribbon in the corners. The fluttering scars them away. I have a blue ceiling. It didn’t help.

  42. Terri

    Like Jan, we discourage bird-nesting on our porches by checking them daily and pulling any straw/twigs down with a disposable glove. Not a fan of the mess and health risks (see Ocular Histoplasmosis National Eye Institute) which my husband suffers from (he is now legally blind in one eye and partial in the other). Despite that, we do enjoy the birds nesting in the trees on our farm.

  43. Arlene

    A wren nest or finch nest is one thing. Swallows are another. I’d get rid of it. As others have said they do become aggressive and they are messy because of the mud they drag in. So……unless you’re prepared to surrender your porch until the babies fledge, chase ’em off!

  44. Nancy

    You are showing that lovely blue and white platter again. Did you find out the pattern name and maker? Are there any markings on the back?

  45. Sue

    Love how everything you recently planted is doing so well and no front porch bird nests; robin nest, though, with three baby birds that just hatched this past Wednesday on my deck rafters. I can see them every time I am at the kitchen sink and I know I will have a mess by the time the baby birds are ready to fly away.

  46. Laura

    We had swallows build their nest on our porch for several years. They were stinkers and really thought the whole porch belonged solely to them. We finally got rid of them….can’t remember how. This was years ago. Then in the past two years, I’ve had birds actually build a nest in my forsythia wreath ON MY FRONT DOOR! It was actually rather amusing, but I felt really bad when I had to remove the nest.

  47. Ali

    Just a thought….your front door would look fantastic in the boxwood colour. It looks close, but maybe it’s must the photo.
    Never commented before, love your blog.

  48. Pat

    Once you have a bird fly into your house you ll not let them nest on the porch again!😳

  49. Rhonda

    We had a Robin build her nest by our front porch, and as much as I loved the idea of mama Robin choosing my porch to nest her babies, it was bittersweet. Papa Robin would see his reflection in the windows (we have two windows similar to yours on our porch) and felt threatened, I think he thought another bird was entering his territory. He would bang against the window mercilessly, day after day, until the babies grew big enough to leave. As he banged against the window, he left droppings all over as well, it was quite a mess to try and clean up.

  50. MaryLisa Noyes

    Your thumb is definitely green! Looks really inviting’! I say let the birds nest. It could be really fun for your boys to watch as they hatch and grow.

  51. Kate

    Your home is amazing inside and out! Regarding your fine feathered friends, they have excellent taste in their new home! If you will paint the ceiling a pale sky blue the birds nor wasps won’t build nests on the porch.

  52. Donna

    I simply cut the green hydrangea and put them in a vase with no water and they finish drying on their own. I also let the bushes stand all winter and the snow is lovely on the round heads. It will keep your front bed looking full all winter. I cut some of the brown hydrangea before Christmas and fill a basket on the porch with them along with evergreens and grass plumes with a big bow.

  53. Cindy

    We have a robin family that was always trying to build a nest on top of the back door light on our covered patio. We enjoyed having them so much that we ordered a wooden robin’s house made for nesting and hung it next to the light. They came back and didn’t want anything to do with the wood nest…and began building a nest in the light again! We moved the nesting materials from the light to the wood nest and they settled in happily. We love watching the babies hatch and grow…and take their first flights.

  54. Rebecca M

    Say no to the nests! Mites and poop are not fun!

  55. Katherine

    The swallows are such lovely birds but they are VERY territorial. We had a pair build a nest in the woodwork on our barn one year and they would dive bomb our children whenever they approached to get out their bikes or other sports equipment. We didn’t allow the nests in subsequent years. Have had robins build nests in both Sweet Autumn clematis and in a grapevine wreath in porch areas. Yeah, some poop but worth the clean up time to get to watch the nesting

  56. Sandra Haymart

    I do not recommend letting birds build nests on your porch. Birds carry lice/bird mites & diseases. Bird poop tracked into the house is not something I want to deal with. I won’t let a unknown person build a home on my porch & so therefore I won’t allow an animal/fowl to build a home on my porch.

  57. Rebecca

    In my last house, swallows created a nest on my porch. It was fun to watch them taking food to their babies. They came back the next year as swallows often do. I don’t recall any mess on my porch. I really enjoyed having the nest and birds.

  58. Debbie

    We had mud swallows make nests in the eaves above the front door. What a mess! We’d knock the nest down and they’d build it back overnight. Then they started divebombing anyone coming up the walk or standing on the porch! Just knocking down the nest wasn’t working, so we added wire screening to the eaves so they couldn’t rebuild. Painted the screen to match the house. They tried to build a few times, then gave up. What a battle. Don’t let them get a toehold.

  59. mary m

    After living in this house for 30 years all of a sudden we had a nest under the eave of our garage on a light. Hmm. Was much fun watching them grow hatch and flyway. My husband removed the nest thinking it was a one shot deal. Guess again. the following year they came back and no nest. They must have been very upset. So they rebuilt the nest and we just let it stay. So this year they did a little urban renewal on the nest and off them went. I have been told that they are called Phoebies.

  60. Mary C

    Usually in MN they are house Wrens, hence the name. Momma will have red on her. At our last house they had a nest over the outside light. We’d hold a mirror above it so we could see the eggs and then the babies. Once the babies left we just took it down and everything was fine.They are small and not too messy.

  61. Mary S

    Of all the things on the front of your house I love the AMERICAN FLAG the most!!
    That rocks!! Thanks for doing that!

  62. Donna Coletta

    I’m way down on the list of replying to this. But after living with birds making nests in every area possible in every home I’ve lived in, leave them be. They will nest, the babies will leave, and the nest will be abandoned and then you can remove it, save it (which is what I do) or get rid of it. They do no harm whatsoever and they also do no damage, it’s just a mother trying to find the right spot to have her babies.

  63. Sheri

    We had a robin that was continually nesting in our carport which is part of the covered area by our front door. Every time we would go out the door the bird would suddenly take off and startled me so often that I soon got tired of that and we knocked the nest down after it left and made it so it couldn’t return and build there the next year.

  64. Tonya Schoepf

    Just an FYI, once you let them nest they will come back every year or at least mine did. I thought I would like watching them but got old quick, always poop on porch and people had to be careful coming on porch. Also the poor babies would sometimes fall out of nest on cement with sad outcome.

  65. Bernie

    Is there any way to just re-locate the nest? At least you dont have neighborhood peacocks, like we do. Our neighbor feeds them, and then they come to my house to poop on the porch. I ‘ve had to hose down the porch twice a day, just to be able to get across the mine field to the front door. I wouldnt encouraage the nesting.

  66. Kimberly

    Oh I would leave the nest(s), it’s so fun to watch them from the window and they don’t hurt anything. Plus bird poo washes off, not big deal for the benefit of a new little family taking a small corner of the porch. 🙂

  67. Leah

    I would remove the nest. We had birds nest on our porch a few years ago and I thought it was so charming. However, it comes with some complications. They do leave a mess but it is cleaned easily enough. The hardest parts for our family were the terrified way the birds flew off anytime we were on the porch, the territorial way the birds flew at us after laying eggs, and finally, the babies falling from the nest and being found dead. It is an experience I wouldn’t want to repeat.

    • Marian Parsons

      Thanks for the advice! It looks like the birds moved on to another place, so I don’t even have to worry about it. They seemed to be considering it pretty thoroughly, though!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


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…


Subscribe today

and receive a FREE e-version of my planning sheets!

decorating, projects, and recipes for winter


Articles by Date


our sponsors

Bliss and Tell Branding Company