What A Difference A Year Makes

What A Difference A Year Makes in our lives. It is most notable when we look back at photographs taken at the same period each year as we record our daily experiences. What we don’t seem to notice on a daily basis appears to jump out at us when looking back at previous years. Children grow, parents age, and fashions go out of date.

Another example is how our gardens change from year to year and how weather can affect their growth. One year there may be perfect growing conditions and your garden appears to grow inches over night. Flower gardens will burst forth in beautiful blooms and vegetable gardens  will provide an abundant crop. Another year, your garden may suffer from adverse weather conditions, pests, and disease. Plants will suffer as a result and sometimes are lost or are stalled in their growth.

Astilbe In Bloom In The Shade Garden
Astilbe In Bloom In The Shade Garden

Last year, springlike weather came earlier than usual in Maine. Growing conditions were perfect and the gardens thrived throughout summer and fall. This year springlike weather was late in coming and it was wet and cold. The month of June had eighteen days of rain with additional days that were overcast and grey. What a difference a year makes.

Looking back at photos of my garden at this time last year, it is obvious that weather has affected certain plants. There are bare spaces where some perennials didn’t come back after a snowy winter. Other plants have grown large and are covering surrounding plants. Let’s compare last year to the same time this year and see the difference a year and the weather makes in the garden. In each case, the first photo is from last year compared to the next photo which is the way the garden looks this year.

Last year, the Endless Summer Hydrangeas were leafed out, growing well and in bloom early in the month of July. Their big, beautiful blue globes are one of my favorite blossoms that I associate with summer.

Endless Summer Hydrandea
Endless Summer Hydrangea

This year, the Hydrangeas are sparse and just starting to form buds. I had four plants but one didn’t make it through the winter. Of the three remaining, one is only about a foot tall and its leaves are spotted but it is forming two blossoms.

Endless Summer Hydrangea Just Forming
Endless Summer Hydrangea Blossom Just Forming

The lakefront garden was almost in full bloom last year at this time. Only the Bee Balm hadn’t stated blooming.

Lakeside Garden In Bloom
Lakeside Garden In Bloom Last July

By comparison, this year the Coreopsis Moonbeam hasn’t started blooming. It appears little of the Bee Balm survived and the Rudbeckia is small and only one flower has opened.

Lakeside Garden Just Starting To Bloom
Lakeside Garden Just Starting To Bloom

The shade gardens seem to be similar to last year as they don’t need as much sun.

Shade Garden In Bloom
Shade Garden In Bloom Last July

This year, the Astilbe are just starting to bloom but overall the gardens look healthy.

Astilbe Are Just starting To Bloom In The Shade Garden
Astilbe Are Just starting To Bloom In The Shade Garden

The garden next to the back deck is located in a protected spot. It gets the most sunshine of all our gardens. The lilies seem to have enjoyed all the rain and are crowding out neighboring plants. They will need to be divided next year. I’ve never seen as many buds and blossoms on them as they have this summer. Two daisies didn’t survive the winter.

Deck Garden Last July
Deck Garden Last July
Garden By Our Back Deck This Year
Garden By Our Back Deck This Year

The biggest difference can be seen in the tomato garden. Tomatoes need at least five to six hours of sunshine. With so many cloudy and rainy days, the tomato plants seem to be in a holding pattern…just waiting for sun and warmth before they really start growing.

Tomato Plants Last July
Tomato Plants Last July
Large Green Tomatoes On Every Pland
Large Green Tomatoes On Every Plant Last July

When looking at the tomato garden this year, the difference is amazing. Not only are the plants smaller but there are only a few small tomatoes about the size of a nickel.

This Year's Tomato Plants In July
This Year’s Tomato Plants In July
This Year's Green Tomato About The Size Of A Nickel
This Year’s Green Tomato Is About The Size Of A Nickel

Sunshine is one of the biggest factors in the success of a garden. So far this summer, there hasn’t been much. It has been the second wettest June in 142 years. Because of the rain, I’ve watched the tomato plants for any signs of disease. Unfortunately, Septoria leaf spot, a very common foliar disease has started to appear. I’m trimming any leaf that is affected and disposing of it. Hopefully, I can control the problem.

Septoria Leaf Spot On Tomato Leaves
Septoria Leaf Spot On Tomato Leaves

It will be interesting to see if the tomato plants can catch up with their growth later in the month of July. More importantly, I’m wondering if there will be much of a tomato crop this year before the first frost arrives early this fall. I’d love to know what other gardeners are experiencing this year. Hopefully, you are having a great growing season.

No matter how hard a gardener works to have a successful garden, in the end it is all in the hands of nature. It really is interesting…what a difference a year can make.

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214 thoughts on “What A Difference A Year Makes

  1. Yes we can’t control nature. I hope you have perfect conditions now to finish off the growing season. We have sun here now and summer arrived but whether the gardens can make up the lost time, I’m not sure. Lovely to see your Maine garden, Karen. It looks beautiful there.

    1. Hi Kay, Nature…the one thing that we can’t control has the most influence over our gardens. We had four days of sun but we are back to on and off rain for this week. It will be interesting to see if the gardens can catch up. I’m glad you enjoyed seeing our Maine gardens…thank you.

  2. I feel your pain – it has been a challenging year for we gardeners. Imagine what a bloody challenge it must be for farmers! It is frustrating enough to deal with at home but at least my livelihood doesn’t depend upon it.

    1. Hi Jerry, I think the key word “challenging” is going to used a lot this year when discussing our gardens. I often say the same thing about farmers…it is a hard way to make a livelihood some years. It is why I gave up selling the apples from our orchard.

  3. I can relate to every sentence. Rain and unusually warm days have been hard on everything, including people. I barely have sign of tomatoes, but there’s lots of lettuce. What made me really sad is that the peonies rotted on the stem before all were open. Oh well…..

    1. Hi Linda, This certainly isn’t a normal year weather wise…very disappointing so far in the gardens. I was hoping that you were having a little better weather. Sorry about your peonies, they are such a lovely flower.

    1. Thank you Sylvia, I’m glad you enjoyed our gardens…they are in a lovely spot. Hopefully, I’ll have more flowers to share latter this summer.

  4. I so enjoyed seeing the differences and have often wanted to photograph the same. Your deck garden is so very lovely. We are having the same tomato issues this year, could be worldwide!!! OMG! Our green beans, squash and root crops have gone crazy and the melons are already producing eatable sized melons. We have had horrific heat spells with temperatures up to 108 and therefore the flowers have sizzled. Thanks for the most interesting post.

    1. Hi Tin Man, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and photos…thank you for your compliment. Keeping photos of the garden from year to year lets me see what has survived the snowy winters and how things grow throughout summer. Sorry you are having the same tomato problems but the rest of your garden sounds great.

  5. Lovely! We are headed out your way tomorrow. I always look forward to, what I call, New England hydrangeas at this time of year. I haven’t seen such brilliant blue anywhere else.


    1. Hi Bonnie, I hope you have a wonderful vacation while visiting New England. I use Espoma Organic Traditions Soil Acidifier on the hydrangeas so that they have a lovely blue color. 🙂

  6. I know exactly what you mean, though it was the opposite for us. The weather was hot and dry early on and it seemed my veg garden was holding even though I was watering when I could (we are under water restriction). But the last two weeks we have had rain showers which have made a world of difference — rain is always better than watering.
    I do hope your tomato plants can catch up, your tomato crop was so beautiful last year! Sending a little extra sunshine your way. 🙂

    1. Hi Judy, It really is hard to keep plants growing well when you are under water restrictions, I’m glad you finally got some rain. We had a great crop of tomatoes the last two years. We usually have large ripe tomatoes by the end of July but I don’t see that happening this year. The usual first frost date is September 21 – 31st for our area so our season is very short. Thank you for your nice wish…I do hope the plants catch up.

    1. Hi Mandy, I thought the same thing when I looked back at last years photos and thought it would be an interesting post. We do enjoy our summers here in Maine and the gardens add to that enjoyment. Thank you for your compliment and wish. 🙂

  7. Hi Karen — I live in the Rocky Mountains (Sun Valley, ID), and am having a stellar year in my vegetable gardens. I tried something new this year.
    1. Tomatoes: I installed red plastic mulch in all my tomato beds. I’m not keen on the look of plastic around my raised beds, but it’s really working out well. My tomatoes are very full and 5′ to 6′ for many varieties (I grow 10 different types).
    2. Corn: I have a cute picket fence around my corn patch. I removed it in panels, and built walls constructed out of greenhouse roofing material. That’s create a very hot microclimate for my corn. It’s growing about 2 inches a day! Once it’s about 4′ tall, I’ll replace the picket fence again to retain that down-home look I love. Anyway, just a couple ideas for you.

    1. Thank you for stopping by for a visit and leaving a comment. I’m happy to hear that you are having a great growing season. It is very unusual for Maine to have had so little sun and so much rain since the first of June. We just have to deal with what nature goes us in any given year. 🙂 Wishing you continued luck with your garden.

  8. While your garden this year is a little behind, it’s so pretty and sure looks like it will be even prettier in a few weeks…just different from last year, as you said. We’ve had so much rain here with more to come, everything is sodden.

    1. Thank you Betsy, for your nice compliment. I think you are right…even if behind, I love our pretty little gardens. It appears there are a lot of gardens and yards that are getting too much rain. Hopefully, we will all get some sunny days soon. 🙂

  9. Last yr was so dry for us:( This year is so wet..
    To be truthful I have noticed that my gardens do much better with more rain like this yr..lush and full..
    Some Clematis did not come back..but they may reappear next yr..because of animals..I only have a small pot of patio tomatoes..my herbs are fine..they are in a boat:)

    1. Hi Monique, I’m happy that your gardens are responding well to the rain you are receiving, especially since it was so dry last year. I think your gardens are lovely. Continued good luck with the growing season.

    1. Thank you Angie, I hope that the hydrangeas do well as they are one of my favorite summer flowers. Hopefully, our tomatoes will take a real spirt of growing soon. Wishing you a nice crop of tomatoes. 🙂

    1. Thank you Tanya, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the photos of the garden. I use an acidifier a couple of times a year to condition the soil where I grow the Endless Summer variety of hydrangea. It really helps keep them blue.

  10. We are in the same boat. It has rained almost everyday since april. And when it isn’t raining it’s 95 and humid. My tomatoes are having the same problems plus a lot of people around here have been fighting with blight. So far mine are doing okay, but barely. I love all your flowers!

    1. Hi Ann, I’m glad you like the flowers…thank you. I’m sorry that you are experiencing the same type of weather but happy to know that you are not having any disease problems…especially blight.

  11. Your weather patterns this year and last sound similar to ours — and my hydrangeas struggled this year, too. I was thinking I was going to lose them, but they are slowly coming back (I think perhaps the late spring cold snaps stunted their growth or perhaps killed off part of the new growth and made them think twice about coming back)! Beautiful gardens you have!

    1. Thank you Kat, for your nice compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos of our garden. I think you are right about our hydrangeas…hopefully with a little babying, they will do better.

  12. Hi Karen, great post, I wish I was as organised as you for documenting my garden. I think no matter where, everyone is going to find similar happenings in their garden this summer. I lost a lot of shrubs the winter before, & now this winter & wet spring a lot of the perennials have rotted. I too have sparse Rudbeckia, mine are pink or will be if & when they bloom. I’ve tried filling in the gaps but my garden looks nowhere near as full as last summer. Oh ! The joys of gardening.
    It was nice to see all the different spots your garden, especially the lakeside garden.
    Best wishes & continue to enjoy your garden.

    1. Thank you Barbara, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. I wish I could plant more in the lakeside garden, but it gets the most wind and has lots of roots from the birch trees. I know that you have had a very wet season as well. It seems that it is going to be a challenging year in the gardens for a lot of us. Hopefully the weather will get a little better before the growing season is over. 🙂

  13. Hi Karen, I feel the same way about my garden. Last year it looked great, this year it seems like I’m still waiting for it to take off! I’m concerned about my tomato plants. I’m doing the same sort of trimming on my tomato plants also. It’s almost as if they’ve received too much water. I’m having a problem with Dill, it has died twice on me in MA and I don’t know why, it’s got great new compost, lots of sun, it is thriving in ME in the same soil conditions . . .

    The only spring plant that looked truly stunning was my peony – but then the rains started coming and that was it for them.

    My 4 varieties of hydrangeas (Endless Summer, Little Lamb, Limelight & Pinky Winky) have buds and I’m just waiting for them to burst!

    I like the photo journal of your garden, it truly serves as a visual marker for how your garden grows year over year. Your pictures speak volumes & I’m so happy it wasn’t my imagination!

    Such is the life of a gardener.

    1. Hi Mary, I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post. I couldn’t believe the difference in the garden and thought others might be interested in how weather can affect our plants from year to year. I’m sorry that you are experiencing the same problems. I was hoping you were getting more sun by the ocean but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Before planting this year, we totally reworked all the beds…adding lots of compost and peat. If we had sunshine, I think the plants would be thriving. As you say, such is the life of a gardener. 🙂

  14. Your flower gardens are beautiful. You certainly have a green thumb whether you are at home in Maine or NH. Our tomatoes have lots of blossoms, but we don’t even have a small tomato yet. We do have an abundance of lettuce, have picked cucumbers, broccoli, cauliflower, couple of squash and some peas. But, I’m concerned also that we don’t stand a chance of getting a good tomato crop because of all the diseases and bugs that may hit us before we get enough tomatoes on the vine. I’ve been cutting off the leaf spot and the Japanese Beetles are here in swarms. If anyone ever questions who is really in charge, it certainly isn’t the gardener. 🙂

    1. Thank you Judy, for your lovely compliment. I don’t know how green my thumb is but I do try very hard. 🙂 I’m sorry that you are having the same problems with your tomatoes. I got blossoms but they just keep falling off or drying up. We will be lucky if we get a tomato crop of any kind before our first frost arrives. I totally agree with you, nature is the ruling factor in our gardens not matter how hard we try.

  15. It is very interesting. What a great way to showcase the difference a year can make. You’re right we see it in our kids, ourselves, those we love – I never thought about looking at nature that way. Beautiful post.

    1. Hi Kristy, I’m glad that you thought the post was interesting. Yes, we always look back at our family and those around us and notice the changes over the years. I thought it would be interesting to look at nature the same way.

  16. Really interesting comparison! We’re lucky in that we’re getting plenty of rain this year, decent sunshine, and the weather is cooler (though still warm – but 90 degrees rather than 100). We have one Hydrangea that has a bloom as big as a basketball! I rarely see them that large. One of our tomato plants is also suffering from Septoria leaf spot (and I didn’t know that’s what it was called, so thank you) but the others are doing OK. I’m hoping for some ripe tomatoes in another few weeks. Anyway, really enjoyable post — thank you.

    1. Hi John, I’m glad you enjoyed seeing the comparison between the last two years. Thank you for your nice compliment. It sounds like you are having perfect weather…if not perfect, then at least great. I’m glad I could help you identify Septoria leaf spot. Normally I would be having my first BLT by the end of the month but not this year. I’ll be looking for some pretty tomato shots on your posts real soon. 🙂

  17. With such a short growing season I can see why having a warm sunny spring makes such a difference and your shots make it really obvious. We fight fungal diseases all year, but I didn’t realize they were an issue in Maine.

    1. Hi Larry, When we don’t have warm sunny weather, it really hurts our very short growing season. Just think, my tomato plants were almost three feet tall when we brought them up from the potting shed in New Hampshire. Septoria is very common in Maine and a couple of years ago late blight was devastating to tomato crops all over New England. Fungal diseases seem to be a problem in many parts of our country.

    1. Hi Ambrosiana, Last year’s hydrangeas were so beautiful. Hopefully I’ll get some lovely blossoms this year. I would have thought you would be way ahead of us with your tomatoes. I hope you have a good crop this year. 🙂

  18. Love the pictures of your beautiful gardens. Even here in sunny Southern California, we have had strange growing issues. My garden is very small compared to yours. We planted brussel sprouts, lettuce and spinach early on…February early. And 1 little tomato plant which went crazy producing hundreds of little cherry tomatoes. The lettuce was amazing, brussel sprouts did nothing and the spinach really fizzled. Have since planted 2 other tomatoes which did nothing and a lemon cucumber which produced 1 cucumber and then went toes up. I think we need to redo the soil before next year……raised beds are us. The beds were/are new this year and my neighbor, who started all this, used the soil and mulch recommended by the retailer where he bought the materials. Disappointing.

    1. Hi Sheila, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice compliment. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the photos of our gardens in Maine. It has definitely been a strange year so far in many gardens across the world. We add compost to our garden each year before planting and usually have a terrific crop of tomatoes. This year, lack of sun and way too much rain is the nemesis in our garden. You never know what nature is going to throw at you each year…it keeps you on your toes. Good luck with the remainder of your growing season as you have a nice long one.

  19. That is a wonderful analogy and I am so glad that you had pictures to show the difference. We are having lots of rain too. We had 10 inches in June and as of July 4th, we had 5 inches in July. As always, I love your posts!

    1. Hi Southern, Thank you for your nice compliment…I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Photos are a great way of realizing how different our gardens are from year to year. This year the entire east coast seems to be having way too much rain.

    1. Hi Cristy, There really is a visible difference in our gardens this year. I’m sorry to hear that you are having the same problem with your hydrangeas in Florida.

  20. We are certainly feeling your pain down here in Georgia. As of last week, we have exceeded our rainfall totals for the entire year….mold is rampaging the overt wet damp ground as doctor’s offices are now full of full blown “allergy” like illnesses. The tomatoes that are on the vines are still green but sadly splitting due to the excessive rains….this time last year we were burning up with heat and drought—no perfect scenario for any of us I fear….fingers crossed for the garden to turn around and hopefully survive!!!
    The colors of your flowers are divine!!

    1. Hi Julie, Thank you for stopping by to visit. I can certainly feel your pain as well…that is way too much rain. Hopefully the weather will improve for many of us and our gardens will start to provide us with a bounty of wonderful vegetables and flowers. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  21. I enjoyed seeing the then and now comparison of your various gardens especially the deck gardens which at least did as well as they had in the past. We have the same sort of situation with the plentiful rain and reduced sun so I’m glad I didn’t plant anything other than a few herbs.

    1. Hi Boleyn, I’m glad that you enjoyed the comparison of last year’s garden to this year’s. I thought it was interesting but especially the remarkable difference in the tomato plants. Herbs are usually a safe bet in the garden. It is so nice to go out and cut the fresh herbs we need for each meal that we prepare.

  22. Great post Karen! This was a super idea you had here. It’s really interesting to see the comparison of the two years. We’ve had a cool and damp spring down here in Pa. Although June was really wet and then the heat wave hit last week with the thunderstorms every day. I do have to say, you have lovely gardens even though the weather has been less than optimal.

    1. Thank you David, for your lovely compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. I think we have both been having the same weather. Two weeks ago it was very rainy and cold…I still had the feather comforter on our bed. Now it is hot and humid with rain every afternoon. I have to agree that even if the gardens aren’t at their best, they are still pretty…thanks.

    1. Thank you Phil, for your nice compliment. I’m glad to know that you enjoyed the post about the difference in our gardens between this year and last. Sorry to hear that you don’t think you will be getting many apples. We had less than a 100 apples in our 300 tree orchard in New Hampshire last year, it was the worst year ever. This year we have apples growing but I think there will be problems because of the rain.

      1. The big problem with a wet spring during blossom time is that the bees aren’t out and the blossoms don’t get pollinated.

  23. Such an interesting comparison! It has been a tough year for many plants here also, except for my clematis – they are blooming so much better this year with all of the rain!

    1. Hi Susan, I’m glad that you enjoyed the comparison. The rainy weather seems to be effecting so many of our gardens this year. Apparently clematis are thriving though. Thank you for your nice comment.

  24. Hi Karen
    Though I’m sorry you are having troubles–I’m sort of glad to find out it isn’t just me. So many perennials did not return this spring. I have so many “bare” areas. But it is in the vegetable garden where the most problems have cropped up ( Oh, a pun!)
    Beans, corn, and squash just rotted in the cold ground. Normally, that would mean the salad greens and cauliflower/broccoli would do well, but that isn’t the case either. I’m writing this year off……if things DO develop, well, -happy days. But I’m not counting on it. I do have potatoes and onions and garlic that are robust and healthy……but not much else.

    Hope you see some more sunshine this month and I’m looking forward to your updates on the condition of your garden.
    Have a wonderful week, and best of luck!

    1. Hi Sue, If anyone could make a garden grow perfectly, it is you. I’m so sorry to hear that you are having problems as well. Let’s hope that the weather patterns change and we get some sunshine. I know that your growing season is even shorter than ours…with snow on Mother’s Day no less. It sounds like it will be nice dinners featuring hash browns at least with some sweet berries for dessert. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that you can get a fall crop if you replant.

    1. Thank you Jo, for the nice compliment. I’m glad that you like the lakeside garden…hopefully it will fill out a little later on.

  25. Lovely garden. It’s fascinating to look back at the differences between the two years and interesting to think that without the photo evidence how difficult, maybe impossible, it would be to remember how all the plants were faring at the same time last year.

    1. Hi B, Thank you for your nice compliment. I’m glad to know that you found the post interesting. The photos are are good way to keep track of what didn’t come back, what is thriving and what needs to be moved. Otherwise, it is hard to remember what was planted in the bare spots.

    1. Hi Donna, Thank you for your comment. Hopefully, you are correct about the three remaining hydrangeas. I’m hoping they will be strong healthy plants that can make it through the winter.

  26. Gardens are always at the mercy of Mother Nature. We had too much rain last year here in Florida and we lost many plants, but this year the weather has been a bit more balanced and we are enjoying lots of tomatoes. I’m hoping for a gentle August for your tomatoes. Maybe they will still come through for you. 🙂

    1. Thank you for your comment and wish Mary, I appreciate it. If we get some warm sunny days, we could have a decent crop of tomatoes. I’m glad to hear that your garden it providing you with lots of tomatoes…that is great. 🙂

  27. This post reminds me of our summer gardens in Maine. One year more food than we could process or give away and the next wondering if we’d get much at all. More rain in 142 years? That’s even before MY time and I’m pretty old. 🙂

    1. Hi Maureen, This is definitely one of those rainy years, at least so far. Some of the garden is thriving…it is just the poor tomatoes that are suffering from very little sunshine.

  28. Pretty flowers! Hope you’ll be getting a yummy tomato harvest soon!

    June was wet here and sadly ruined some of our hopeful cucumber flowers but the last week has been brutally hot and has sky rocketed many of the heat loving plants!

    1. Thank you Pamela, I’m glad you enjoyed our gardens. Hopefully, this rainy weather pattern will change soon and we will be able to get a decent harvest. Sorry about your cucumbers…but it’s nice that some of your plants are thriving in the heat. 🙂

  29. Karen, you live in such a beautiful part of the world. I loved seeing your garden again. That hydrangea from last year looked magnificent! Interesting to see the differences you point out.

    1. Hi Lizzy, I do have to agree with you that we live in a beautiful part of the world. I’m glad that you enjoyed photos. I just love blue hydrangeas…they seem to be part of summer in New England. Thank you for your nice compliment.

  30. Karen, The love you have for your garden shows through how meticulous you keep it. I admire your effort. The second photo is of one of my most favorite flowers, in that color. Happy Gardening!

    1. Thank you for your lovely compliment Fae, I really appreciate it. I have to agree with you…blue hydrangeas are a favorite of mine too. Later this summer, the Asiatic Lilies will be blooming…they are a favorite as well.

    1. Hi Laura, Wow…eight days of triple digit weather is terrible. At least your tomatoes liked it. 🙂 Hopefully, your reprieve from the heat will last for awhile.

  31. It’s fascinating to view the difference between the two years. It’s actually quite shocking, especially the toms. In the garden I used to have one particular spring was exceptionally wet with a hot summer so a lot of the bi and perennials thrived. The following year was the opposite. Luckily by that stage the perennials had matured so the difference wasn’t so marked. You’re right, no amount of work can replicate that of nature.

    1. Hi Johnny, I’m happy to know that you thought the post was interesting…thank you. I really was shocked when I looked back at how big the tomatoes were last year at this time. Nature is definitely the deciding factor when it comes to the success or failure in a garden.

  32. Thank you for walking us thru’ your beautiful garden. It is interesting to compare but nothing in life stays the same and ‘you can’t go back, it isn’t there’. Next year you will get a different scenario again. But ’tis true: it is a pity about those tomato plants: can’t quite see them giving you the crop you remember . . . have a wonderful summer holiday tho’ . . . 🙂 !

    1. Hi Eha, I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos of our gardens. It is so true…you can look back at previous years but they are never quite the same. No matter what, we will have a few delicious tomatoes this year and enjoy what we have. Thank you as always for your nice comment and you wish.

  33. I was just thinking this same thing over the weekend, Karen, but your pictures capture it best. This time last year my cherry tomatoes were thriving and my herbs were green and bushy. I always had a nice little “harvest” at the end of the day. This year, though they’re, just so sad looking lol. Poor things!

    1. It is a shame when we baby our tomato plants hoping for a nice harvest and then nature doesn’t cooperate. Hopefully as summer progresses, the plants will do better and we end up having some delicious tomatoes. 🙂

  34. What a shame. That certainly is a lot of rainy days to have in just one month – and a month when you’d normally be having plenty of sunshine too. I’d have to say your garden is gorgeous though. So well kept and just blooming with colour xx

    1. Hi Charlie, I’m glad that you enjoyed seeing photos of our garden…it is colorful when in bloom. We certainly haven’t had a warm and sunny start to our summer. Hopefully we will start getting more days of sunshine and then the garden can thrive.

  35. By having the photos as evidence, you don’t have to ask yourself if your memory is accurate! It is really true that sunshine makes all the difference, and that’s the one thing we really don’t control. I had the same delay in sunshine last summer, and my tomatoes never did perform! I must say your garden is beautiful even with its slow start. There’s still time…maybe fall will come a little later this year, Karen! 🙂

    1. Hi Debra, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos of our garden. I hope you are right…if fall frosts are delayed this year, we might get a decent crop of tomatoes. We just need some sunny days now to get the plants growing again.

  36. So so true Karen. We can only control so much. Your gardens are beautiful even the smaller than normal tomatoes. I do hope they catch up. Mine are pretty good in the green house but they are out of control. I really need to work on proper pruning as they grow. The indeterminates are smashing into the plexi glass ceiling. They are also yellowing a little so I’m going to check for this disease you mentioned. Sometimes I think they are just not happy being in a box.
    We have had very warm, sunny weather for the Pacific Northwest with a couple days of strong rain in between which is encouraging growth in everything.

    1. Hi Wendy, I’m glad you like our gardens…thank you. I would say you are having a wonderful growing season. If your indeterminate tomatoes have reached the ceiling of your greenhouse…that is terrific! If your leaves are yellowing a little but not spotted, it could be that they are just so large and using up all the nutrients in their boxes. I can see a lot of tomato dishes in your future. 🙂

    1. Thank you Danny, for your nice compliment. I have to agree with you…even though not in full bloom the gardens are pretty. Yes, I’m looking forward to some ripe red tomatoes in our future. 🙂

    1. Hi Suzanne, I’m glad to know that you enjoyed the post. I thought it was a very interesting comparison, especially with the tomatoes. We really do enjoy the garden by our back deck. We see it from the large windows in the cottage that overlook it and well as enjoying it everyday that there is nice weather when we are outside.

  37. Thanks for posting about this, my hydrangeas aren’t doing well either and I thought it was something I wasn’t doing. We’ve had a lot of rain here too, yesterday there was extreme flooding in the city (we’re up north so not even sure what damage we may have at home). Crazy weather for sure.

    1. Hi Eva, I’m sorry that your hydrangeas aren’t doing well either. I don’t think you are doing anything wrong…I believe it is weather related. I hope your home doesn’t have any problems while you are out of town.

  38. You are SO right. 🙂 I’ve planned and replanned, planted and replanted and replanted AGAIN, and slowly but surely I’m learning to just enjoy what DOES survive, still keep trying new things, and not holding tightly to any of my plants. 🙂 Your garden is beautiful!!

    1. Hi Krista, My thinking entirely…if you are a plant in my garden, you have try your best. I’ll help by enriching the soil, applying fertilizers, water and baby it as much as I can. Hopefully, nature cooperates and everything survives but that is not always the case. We will see at the end of the growing season how successful this year was. I’m glad you enjoyed my gardens…thank you for your nice compliment.

    1. Hi Elizabeth, I’m happy that Cape Cod is having better weather than we are here at the lake in Maine. Our weather at the lake is influenced by our closeness to the mountains and each afternoon we have been having thunderstorms. Happy gardening.

  39. What a beautiful garden and interesting to see the difference. We’ve had a lot of rain too and I expect our tomatoes plants to be shot when we see them later this week after being gone for six weeks.

    1. Thank you Sam, for your nice compliment. I’m glad that you enjoyed seeing the difference from this year to last. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that at least a few of your tomato plants will have survived in your absence. 🙂

    1. Thank you Mad Dog, I’ll need all the luck I can get this year with the tomato plants. You are right…homegrown always tastes best.

  40. Loved your photos, Karen. I enjoy looking at the changes in my garden/landscape each year as well. Sadly, my tomatoes were a disaster this year – they aren’t easy to grown in Arizona or keep the birds away from. Thankfully the lemons and limes and picking up the slack. Your place is just beautiful!

    1. Thank you Danielle, for your nice compliment. I’m sorry that you had problems with your tomatoes. It certainly is a challenge to grow tomatoes in Arizona. Happily your citrus trees are doing well…I love lemons and limes. 🙂

  41. Oh Karen, same here. I was thinking how I had the heat on in May this year & June was just impossible to get out & get anything done in the yard. About 2 days after my peonies bloomed, we had that incredible downpour w/hale that took every petal off the bushes & that was the end of that. My back hill is so overgrown I feel like I’m living in the middle of a jungle & was just making some headway beating back some of the brush & then the heat wave struck. I guess I’m glad that I didn’t start any vegetables because it would have just frustrated me more. New England weather…

    1. Hi Diane, This truly hasn’t been an easy start to this year in New England. A winter that didn’t want to quit, a spring that didn’t want to arrive, and now a summer that has been too cool, too hot and too rainy all within a short period of time. Hopefully summer may return to a more normal pattern soon!

      1. I totally agree but it appears that here at the lake, we will have to wait until Sunday for a sunny day without rain.

  42. Mother Nature is definitely in charge- Like you my garden is proof of that. This year, we had an extended spring ( in Florida) which allowed my tomatoes the opportunity to grow.Usually, we go from winter to summer at the drop of a dime, and the tomatoes don’t care for such hot weather.

    This was a great post.


    1. Thank you Velva, for your lovely compliment…I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. I definitely know about Florida’s hot weather, having lived in south Florida for many years. I suffered from the heat while living there like your tomato plants. 🙂

    1. Hi Kelli, Yes, my tomato plants that I lovingly raised from seed are now facing the real world. Right now, it is filled with lots of grey skies and rain and they aren’t happy. Hopefully, the hydrangeas will do as well as they did last year. Thank you as always for your nice comment. 🙂

  43. Wow! Indeed what a difference a year makes. I love your comparison photos. We too have a short growing season here in Central Oregon. Our last freeze here was in Mid June and typically our first frost is sometime in September. But we tried an “experiment” this year and started our tomatoes from seed in late February indoors, then planted the seedlings upside down in hanging baskets in late April. We’ve had great success and could move them around the yard for the most sun, plus bring them inside during the freezes early on. We already have about five ripe cherry tomatoes, and our beefsteaks are about the size of the cherries.

    Now as for your hydrangeas, my mom told me that her mom used to push rusty nails into the ground around her hydrangea bush (this was in Texas) to achieve the bright blue color on her hydrangeas. I always thought that was such an interesting idea! Hydrangeas don’t survive our climate here on the high desert but I did buy some potted ones this year for my deck as annuals.

    1. Hi Kathryn, I’m glad that you liked the post. When you have a short growing season like we do, you have to give your plants as much of a boost as you can. It sounds like we did similar things with our tomatoes. My plants were started from seed and lived in my potting shed at our home in New Hampshire. We brought them to Maine when they were about three feet tall and I used a wagon to move them around in the sun and put them in our garden shed at night until they were planted. I have heard of people using nails for the blue color. I use an acidifier that I mix into the soil a couple of times during the growing season around the hydrangeas. I enjoyed your comment…thank you.

  44. What a great idea to compare this year to last – with photos! I agree, this year is incredibly different than last year, here in Maine…Your gardens still look amazing, albeit a bit ‘smaller’… hopefully September will be lovely, warm and sunny! (:

    1. Hi Jennifer, I’m happy that you enjoyed seeing the comparison. With the wet start to the growing season, I hope you are right and that fall will be sunny and warm this year. I might get a decent harvest of tomatoes that way. 🙂

  45. I thoroughly expected to see photos of last year’s floods, Karen. When all was said and done, they really didn’t hurt your garden at all, relatively speaking. I hope your weather clears, giving your tomatoes a chance to rebound. It’s a lot of work starting plants from seeds, more so when your garden is in another state. It would be nice to be rewarded with a good harvest. 🙂

    1. You are right, John. I looked back at the photos of the lake when it was flooded last year and it was the first week of June but after that we had lots of sun and warm weather. This year the lake is high again but not flooding. Unfortunately, we have gone days at a time without sun with thunderstorms most every afternoon. If we can get get some sun on the plants, they may rebound this year as well. Thank you for your nice comment and wish.

    1. Thank you Meg, for your nice compliment. I’m happy that you enjoyed the photos of our gardens. I have to agree that even if not perfect, the gardens are pretty. I’m hoping for sun too…not only for the plants but we usually spend most of each day outside during the summer. 🙂

  46. I’ve just followed the link back from your comment (thank you) and spent a while flicking back through your posts. I love your blog!
    What a good idea to put photos from this year and last year together – it brings it home just how much the weather affects the garden. We too have had a cold wet spring and the garden is weeks behind last year, though suddenly it seems to be perking up with the recent sunshine.

    1. Thank you Anne, for stopping by to visit and looking back through my posts. I’m happy that you enjoy my blog and appreciate your nice compliment. I believe our gardens will both perk up with much needed sunshine…I’m glad your gardens are.

  47. I’ve had quite a day today and I must admit, seeing this garden and those beautiful hydrangeas placed a smile on my face and everything was alright with the world again. I’m so happy I got to enjoy this post today

    1. Hi Kay, I’m happy to know that my garden photos brightened up your day. Thank you for your sweet compliment. Hope you have a better day. 🙂

  48. My father-in-law used to try to tell my about how to grow tomatoes – I wish I would have listened more. I love that you have photographed year to year – a great photo-journal. Your garden is still lovely and there is always next year.

    1. Hi Madonna, I’m glad you you enjoyed my gardens. I’m sure we will get a few tomatoes no matter what and they will be delicious. As you say, you can always look forward to the next year. Sometimes we all regret not paying more attention when people offer advice. 🙂

  49. What a gorgeous piece of property! Love all of you flowers, plants, vegetables – everything. Very envious of the hydrangeas. We had huge plants in our yards when I was a kid and in the years that is had a good bloom, the plants with covered! So beautiful. Thanks for sharing you lovely space!

    1. Thank you MJ, for your lovely compliment. We do think we have a lovely spot on the lake and really enjoy the gardens that have been created. I agree with you, hydrangeas are so beautiful when blooming.

  50. wow that really is a huge difference between tomato plants. We’ve just had 12 days of heavy consecutive rain in Sydney and it destroyed my tomato plants. Had to butcher them right down. It’s funny how each year is just so different and unexpected. Wonder what it’ll be like next year?!

    1. Hi Lisa, I knew our plants were not doing very well this year because of very little sunshine. I was amazed when I looked back at last year and saw the difference. I’m sorry that the rain ruined your tomato plants. Gardening can be a real challenge some years…let’s hope next year will be a better one weather wise.

    1. Thank you Tandy, If we could just get some sunshine, I think the plants would get a spurt of growth. They are forecasting sun for Sunday. 🙂

  51. Karen, what an amazing garden you have, filled with flowers and plants and looked after with so much thought, care and love – I am always amazed when I look at the wonderful pictures from your garden. Truly a wónderful and most interesting post!
    Karen, hopefully the weather this summer will be wonderful and nice!
    Ganz liebe Grüße aus Bonn – the very best wishes from Bonn,

    1. Thank you Andrea, for your kind words. I happy that you enjoy the posts about our gardens and find them interesting. The flowering plants have a way of brightening the day…even a rainy one. 🙂

    1. Hi Celia, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Last year at this time, we were looking forward to our ripening tomatoes and ended up with such a wonderful crop. If the weather patterns change and we start getting sunshine, I think the plants could catch up. I certainly hope so. 🙂

  52. Great post. The weather here in New England has been terrible – the few days when we’ve had sun, it’s been 90% humidity and 95 degrees! I’m sorry the tomatoes aren’t enjoying the weather either. Hopefully we’ll see improved weather for the second half of the summer!

    1. Hi Pumpkin, I’m glad that you enjoyed the post. Unfortunately, you have described our weather to a T. I hate to complain but I’m with you…I certainly hope it gets better and soon. 🙂

  53. Flowers, shmowers… I wanna walk off the end of your dock in to that lake! Oh, my yard is turning browner and crunchier by the day and your photos are lovely! Mmmmm….

    1. Hi Rachel, I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. I’m sorry to hear that your yard is turning brown and crunchy…that is terrible. Wish I could send some of our daily rain your way. A swim off the dock is a refreshing way to enjoy a summer day. 🙂

  54. one thing for sure is we can never count on weather to be predictable. after the drought moved from texas, then to arkansas and midwest, now to colorado and california while others get non-stop pouring rain in the east… *sigh*

    1. So true, Theresa! We have had so many overcast, grey and rainy days and that is indeed unusual. Wish I could send some of the rain to others who need it.

  55. You have plenty of apples, tomatoes and such beautiful flowers! I’m surprised you ever travel. You have everything you need to be happy.

    1. Hi Sissi, Thank you for your sweet comment. It is so true, I am very lucky to have such a wonderful life. As to travel…it is one of my greatest pleasures. I love the adventures of traveling, whether discovering a place I have never been to or returning to a favorite. 🙂

  56. Your photos are lovely, I hope your garden does catch up! We have had SO MUCH rain in Alabama, my endless summer hydrangeas have only produced and occasional bloom and we’re still waiting for the first tomatoes. I’ll have tomatoes and hydrangeas in October at this rate! Your lake is beautiful!

    1. Hi Jenna, I’m happy that you enjoyed the photos…thank you for your compliment. Let’s hope for some nice sunny weather so that we don’t have to wait until October. By then our tomato plants will be pulled and our cottage closed for the year. 😦

    1. Hi Chris, I thought it was very interesting to see such a different…especially with the tomatoes. Hopefully, the plants can catch up in the next several weeks if we get enough sunshine. Thank you for your wish.

  57. Excellent photos. Sorry to hear about the weather. Given where we are, we are used to having cold weather in June but not that much rain.Temperature has dropped today with a storm system that has rolled in but can’t complain – so far the season has been good. I hope the weather improves and your season is long. Best of luck with your tomatoes. I haven’t seen anything like that before.

    1. Hi YK, I’m glad that you enjoyed the photos. It really is a much different year for growing tomatoes. Thank you for your wish…I’m hoping we will get a change in the weather as our season is so short.

    1. Hi Hester, We really do enjoy living in New England. It is so nice that you have a hydrangea that is a cutting from your grandmother’s garden. Each beautiful bloom must remind you of her. 🙂

  58. Great story telling photos, Karen. It’s so true how too much or too little of something can make such big difference. Although, your garden is still beautiful… 🙂

    1. Hi Emily, So nice to hear from you. I’m happy that you enjoyed the photos of our gardens. You are right…too much of anything is not good. I agree that the gardens are pretty even when they are lagging behind…thank you.

  59. Karen, I am in love with your garden.I can almost smell the fresh cut grass, green tomatoes and beautiful hydrangea flowers all the way in HK. I am certain that your garden keeps you out of trouble many hours during the day. Beautiful to look at but lots of work. Will we be seeing a recipe for fried green tomatoes soon? Or maybe we have to hold out until August and see some amazing heirloom tomato recipes. Take Care, BAM

    1. Hi Bam, You have a good nose…the grass was just cut yesterday. 🙂 The gardens aren’t as much work as you think as long as you do a little each day. Hopefully there will be some tomato recipes next month. As for fried green tomatoes, I think we will have more than our share when it is time to close down the cottage at the end of summer.

  60. Hope you had some sunny, hot and drier days and your tomatoes and other heat loving plants took off. Before I went on vacation at the end of June, my gardens were not doing much either compared to last year, with the heat wave this past week, returned home to find the tomatoes and Chinese long beans took off still waiting for eggplants and okras to start moving.
    Your Endless Summer Hydrangea is so blue, I should amend my soil. How do you manage to keep the deer away from your deck garden? Love the layout especially the rocks.

    1. Hi Norma, We had our first day of sun and no rain yesterday. Yea! We are supposed to have nice weather through Monday. It is so nice to be able to be outside in the sunshine. I know the plants will be enjoying it as well. I see a big difference amending the soil for blue hydrangeas…I think you should give it a try. I’m glad your plants are responding to your warm weather. I hope it happens here as well.

  61. Just adore you paradises – both of them – it seems like it’s the same fantastic weather on both side of the Atlantic, we had hardly any rain neither for nearly 2 months – farmers not very happy … the spring was very slow and cold, but when it arrived the summer came strongly just behind. Your flower beds are just wonderful … and beside poppy the hydrangea is my favorite summer flower.
    Can see myself sitting on the dock with my feet splashing the water … such a wonderful post, Karen.

    1. Thank you Viveka, for your very kind compliment. I do think we are very lucky to be able two enjoy two lovely and totally different homes. I think you would enjoy sitting under the umbrella at the end of our dock on the lake…it is a very pleasant place to spend a nice summer afternoon. If you need to cool off, you could sit on our little beach with your feet in the water or go for a swim in the lake. 🙂

  62. We, too, have had WAY too much rain, so the poor plants are just water logged. One thing you can try is to put sheets of newspaper under your tomato plants, This keeps the water from splashing up on the bottom leaves, and helps prevent th leaf spot. Hope that helps! Our tomatoes are just “straggly” looking and it’s already July! Hope your garden “catches up” soon! Take care.

    1. Hi Susan, Thank you for your nice wish. We have now had two full days of sun and should have one more before any more rain is forecast. That will really help the tomato plants. I’m sorry to know that you have had too much rain as well…hopefully you will have better weather. I like your idea of using newspaper as a mulch. It is important to keep the leaves of our tomato plants trimmed up very high so that there won’t be splashing water getting on the plants. 🙂

  63. Isn’t it interesting to compare different years, the spring here was so cold, wet and long, and now finally we have warmth and sun, and what a relief it is, but things are still behind -all the broad beans and peas are only just fattening up and yet I’m about to pick the first courgettes! whatever the weather, gardening is still beautiful and thanks for sharing your beautiful garden with us Karen

    1. Hi Claire, Our weather seems to have been similar ever though we are separated by that big pond. I’m happy to know that you enjoyed the post and the photos of our garden…thank you. I hope we both end up having a successful summer season in our garden.

  64. My garden is the opposite…last year in mine is this year in yours and vice versa. Lots of fab growth on all the plants and in the veg garden. Hybrid tomatoes are doing well so far and all the heirlooms have some sort of fungus…blight or leaf spot….I did not mulch the tomatoes so I will have to be better next year with some heirlooms. Lots of peas and beans and the garlic and onions are wonderful. We shall see how it all turns out.

  65. I agree~~every year is so different in nature. We tend to think it will be the same, but nature is always throwing in a wild card. Your photos are lovely. Reading the above comment, am glad that you are able to be in the sunshine, at least for a while.

    1. Hi Kiran, I’m glad that you like our gardens, thank you. I don’t think I could handle another garden…keeping up with mine is enough. 🙂

  66. Wow, that is a huge difference in the tomato plants… who’d have thought it? I hope they’re able to catch up… it doesn’t look like they’ll be yielding much at this rate!

    Incidentally, my wife pointed out some flowers the other day and said they looked nice… I’m extremely pleased to see that I correctly identified them as hydrangeas! 😀

    1. Hi Charles, We have finally had a couple of days of sun and no rain. Unfortunately, I think you are right…I don’t see how we will have much of a crop of tomatoes this year before we close down the cottage at the end of September. Hydrangeas are a very lovely flower…you were right with your identification. 🙂

  67. late reply here but I can report that my lilies and iris’ have gone crazy with rain and I have never had such a prolific crop! However my peonies were beat down by the June rain and we barely enjoyed 2 days of them. Hydrangeas are happy and in full bloom so that is probably the difference in zones between Boston and Maine. I was “holding my breath” with the tomato plants through all the rain and just when I thought they would all turn yellow and keel over from the rain – we started with the heat and humidity. They have recovered nicely and are producing green fruit now and in the case of the cherry variety – I just plucked my first ripe ones yesterday! but they are smaller plants than usual for sure.

    1. Hi Carol, Yes, I’ve never seen so many blooms on my lilies as well. My cherry tomatoes are growing well too and will be the first to be picked. It is the heirlooms that are so far behind. Let’s hope we both end with with some delicious slicing tomatoes later this summer. 🙂

  68. Whew, I’m relieved that it isn’t just MY tomatoes this year 🙂 I never saw tomatoes with so many blossoms and so few tomatoes. Hopefully, they will catch up now that we have hot sunny weather.

    Great idea to compare and beautiful garden!

    1. Hi Jeannee, It appears that I’m not the only one having a problem with tomatoes this year. 😦 We finally have sun so hopefully things will catch up but I think we will have a poor crop. I’m glad that you enjoyed the post comparing the two years…thank you.

    1. Hi Ducky, Last year’s hydrangea blossoms were beautiful. Hopefully we will get some nice ones as summer progresses this year.

  69. good luck with your tomatoes. and I am sorry to hear about the wet June. here in Sweden has been pretty good instead, after a long and grey winter. hopefully the sunshine will be there with you and your garden whole August!

    1. Thank you Barbara, for your nice wish. Since I posted this story, we have had hot sunny days. 🙂 I’m hoping we will get at least a small crop of tomatoes before we close the cottage down at the end of September.

  70. Karen, I was in NY for the month of July and am back in Germany now but when I was there my grandfathers tomatoes in his garden were having the exact same problems. Stunted growth and spotted, browning leaves and stems. I had heard that it had rained there pretty much the entire month of June. This was evident to me when I arrived and saw a moat of water in the drainage ditch which surrounds the garden. The water has since evaporated in the warm and sunny July weather we had this month but the tomato plants definitely took a toll and even when I left this past weekend the plants were still struggling and producing only small amounts of fruit. It’s fortunate that I had a balcony of healthy and happy tomato plants to come home to, though!

    1. Hi Laura, I wish I could say that my tomatoes are doing great but they aren’t. I have some ripe cherries tomatoes and some small green heirlooms. I’m happy to know that you returned to a balcony of healthy tomato plants. I was thinking about you as I’m planning our trip to Europe. We are returning to Germany again in October but we are only going as far north as just above Stuttgart. One of these days we will have to venture further north.

  71. Lovely photos, as always! We have a number of plants in common – the moonbeam is a favorite of mine and seems to do well no matter where I put it. Sadly, I’ve had horrible luck with astilbe, but we just planted bee balm this year and it’s doing fabulous, so far. It is amazing how plants can vary so much year to year. Right now, I’m still waiting for my tomatoes to ripen, even though the Cherokee’s are huge. If they don’t start ripening soon, I won’t be responsible for my actions. 🙂

    1. Thank you Lesley, for your lovely compliment. I’m glad to know that you enjoy my photos. We do have similar plants in our gardens. My moonbeam is now blooming but the astilbe didn’t put on the show like they did last year. I have a few Cherokee tomatoes on my plants but they are still small and green. Hopefully yours will be turning red very soon. 🙂 Everyone has been asking about my tomato plants…I’ll have to do another post about them soon.

      1. Everyone’s asking about my tomato plants too, like I’m some sort of gauge as to how tomato plants should be. 🙂 I suppose i should take that as a compliment, right? I’m looking forward to seeing your Cherokees though I won’t lie…I’m hoping I see my own first!

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