Happy June everyone! June is the month summer begins, or is supposed to at any rate. We are not off to a summery start here, in fact it continues much as May did. May closed out the third coolest spring on record in Minnesota (March-May). May was also a very wet month. Minneapolis had its fifteenth rainiest May on record with the wet stuff falling on 23 days of the month. Yesterday, the first day of June, we had rain. Today, however, has been dry and sunny and 65F (18C). Bookman and I took advantage of this and have been out in the garden off and on throughout the day.

Bookman began the morning mowing the backyard, a task that is getting increasingly more difficult to do with all of the various garden beds popping up across it. What we need is a goat or sheep that will only eat grass to keep what we do have short. Sadly, liberal as Minneapolis laws are, these animals aren’t allowed to graze city gardens. I am tempted to install a honeybee hive on top of my garage though. For that I don’t even need permission from my neighbors, just a beekeeping class and a city permit. Oh and a hive and bees. I don’t want the honey, just the bees. Does anyone know what happens if you don’t harvest honey from a hive? Oh but then when I tear down my garage in a few years and build a solar heated geodesic dome greenhouse in its place the bees would have to get moved to the roof of my house and that doesn’t seem like a good idea (to have the hive on the ground in my garden would require permission from my neighbors because the likelihood of bee stings increases).

With the grass cropped short for now, we commenced weeding beds that we have thus far neglected because we were so busy with vegetables and berries and herb spirals. Speaking of herb spirals, the herbs in it are doing great. A neighborhood cat found the catnip I planted in it though and had a bit of roll on it. Some of it got broken but most of it is just fine. I had hoped it being in the higher part of the spiral it might be spared cat discovery but the jig is up. Fingers crossed that it doesn’t get too many visits. I had some catnip in another part of the garden several years ago and it struggled for about three years before finally giving up after being continually crushed by roving outdoor cats.

It now being June it is safe to say that some plants are not coming back. The honeysuckle on my back fence which seemed like it was going wild last year must have just been putting on a last hurrah. I swear there is something about that fence that kills vines. Two grapes and now two honeysuckles have died not to mention the cardinal vine I planted there one year that didn’t even make it through the summer. Morning glories do well on the fence though, maybe I should give up on perennial vines there and stick to the morning glories.

The jackmanii clematis isn’t coming back either. I am not sure what killed it, the winter or Bookman’s vigorous style of grab and yank pruning. To fill the empty spot, Bookman planted what should turn out to be a giant sunflower and for extra assurance I planted a scarlet runner bean seed and a couple of sweet pea seeds. If all those do well, we won’t even notice the jackmanii is gone.

geranium

geranium

In addition to the blooms I mentioned last week that are all still going strong, I now have a few more plants bursting open. I have two different varieties of gernaiums one on the south side of my house that I planted a very long time ago and promptly lost the tag so I have no idea what variety it is. And one in the front garden that is a wild geranium and
wild geranium

wild geranium

a native. They are just starting to bloom and when they really get going they are covered in purple flowers.

Also just starting are the spiderworts. I have some on the south side of the house that I did not plant, they came with the house. These come up in spring, bloom their pretty purple flowers and then pretty much disappear in late summer. They are

spiderwort

spiderwort

hardy little things and happily spread quite nicely. I have a different variety in my front garden whose leaves are a yellow-green. It is well-behaved, has not spread at all, and is not blooming just yet. It is pretty, especially the yellow-green leaves, but I find myself partial to the more wild ones that come back year after year in spite of neglect and even occasional poor treatment.

And then there is the lily of the valley. These are wild spreaders that we have confined to a bed bordered by concrete and

lily of the valley

lily of the valley

the foundation of the house. We also keep them in check by forcing them to compete with New England aster and a giant coneflower both of which are also vigorous spreaders. We also have lily of the valley on the north side of the house. There they stay in check due mainly to their being in shade for all but an hour or two each day.

Peonies are usually about ready to bloom this time of year but the cool spring made them late to come up and it will be another few weeks before I see their big flowers. It’s just as well they aren’t blooming though with all this rain they would look an awful mess.

I almost forgot to mention I picked dandelion greens from the back garden last week and had them in a salad. I’ve had dandelion greens before, the big French ones from the produce section at the market. They were a little bitter but tasty. I expected my dandelion greens to be the same even though they are just the common kind and not French. But, oh, they were so mild and delicious and had an almost nutty flavor to them. I think it is because I clipped leaves from small plants that hadn’t yet flowered. I suspect since most have now flowered that the greens might have gone bitter and I won’t be harvesting anymore. But oh, what a nice treat it was. I will no longer be wary of picking dandelion leaves in early spring.

The forecast for the week says a rainy start with a chance to dry out Thursday and Friday and most of Saturday before the rain returns again. Instead of weeding, maybe I should be building an ark.

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