Tag Archives: angelonia

Mid-August Views

Summer has been scurrying along and suddenly it is the middle of August. Despite the heat until recently large quantities of rain have kept the garden going long past its usual late June demise. With no showers for the past week nor any in the forecast that luxury may be coming to an end.

A few minutes before 7:00 I took my morning coffee outside planning to take some photographs of the flowers. The drawing attraction was a large stand of Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage). It looked beautiful in the early morning light. I ended up weeding and trimming for three hours, nothing really to brag about since the garden has been neglected for many weeks, but I did feel better with a little work done.

Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan) shines golden while Rudbeckia, R. fulgida (Orange Coneflower) with its much smaller flowers is just beginning to open. The latter is usually underwhelming but it looks promising. The red flower in the blue pot to the right is Dipladenia ‘Madinia Deep Red,’ still looking nice.

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) and Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan)

Rudbeckia fulgida 'Goldsturm' (Black-eyed Susan)

Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan)

Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower)

Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ often goes dormant during the hottest part of the summer but perhaps the rain has been encouraging.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Zinnias are brightening up the garden with their signature colors and shapes. I have been conscientious about cutting them frequently and they keep producing. Butterflies visit throughout the day.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Female Swallowtail On Zinnias

Female Swallowtail On Zinnias

Attractive to pollinators, this pass-along Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant) is dutifully reliant.

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)

I have lost track of this dalia’s name. It has produced only a handful of small flowers but this morning the burgundy petals stood out against budding Autumn Joy sedum.

Dahlia sp.

Dahlia sp.

Dahlia And Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

Dahlia And Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

The meditation circle planted in the center with various thymes and with Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ and ‘Serena White’ along the outer paths, elicits a deep, satisyfing sigh.

Thyme In Meditation Circle

Thyme In Meditation Circle

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ and 'Serena White'

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ and ‘Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Hope your garden is making you happy today.

Tuesday View August 2, 2016

Tuesday View August 2, 2016

Tuesday View August 2, 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week and note the changes.

This Tuesday view shows the early morning garden at 7:14 a.m., under an overcast sky. Several storms this week brought welcome rain, but one also knocked down the larger of two Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) against the fence.

There are fewer flowers this week.  The biggest change I notice this week from last is how brown the neighbors’ sycamore tree has become. At center behind our fence in the photograph, this Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) is often brown and unsightly by this time of year, but  until now it had seemed fine this summer.

One of the first things I planted in the meditation circle was Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue), used to form a wall at one of the turn-arounds help guide walkers along the path.

Meditation Path with Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) at lower right.

This penstemon is evergreen and has proved to be reliable and has produced lots of new plants. They show up in random spots. I leave them for a while and eventually move them into other parts of the garden.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Another penstemon planted at the same time has a lovely purple flower but has proven much less hardy. It is Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple.’ Only one has survived through the years, but I am trying to nurse and encourage it. This summer it has done well and is reblooming now.

Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' and Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ and Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' and Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ and Angelonia ’Serena White’

To wrap up this Tuesday view I must mention the angelonia as it continues to brighten up the meditation circle.

Angelonia ’Serena White’ with Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ in the distance

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

In A Vase On Monday—Vivid Color

In A Vase On Monday - Vivid Color

In A Vase On Monday – Vivid Color

Each Monday brings the chance to join Cathy’s In A Vase On Monday to share an arrangement using materials gathered from the garden.

I will be returning home later today from a weekend yoga retreat at the beach and so have prepared this week’s flowers ahead of time.

In A Vase On Monday - Vivid Color

In A Vase On Monday – Vivid Color

This is a quick and simple bouquet set into a small blue ceramic vase. The flowers are a stem of pure white phlox ‘David’ contrasted with rich colors of Black and Blue salvia, garnet red dahlias at their peak and purple Angelonia.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' With Angelonia 'Serena Purple' and Phlox paniculata 'David'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ With Angelonia ‘Serena Purple’ and Phlox paniculata ‘David’

Materials
Angelonia ‘Serena Purple’
Dahlia, spp.
Phlox paniculata ‘David’ (Garden Phlox)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Small matte-glazed blue ceramic vase

Angelonia 'Serena Purple'

Angelonia ‘Serena Purple’

Thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday. Feel free to join in.

The Tuesday View: 5th July 2016

Meditation Circle at 7:00 a.m. July 5, 2016

Meditation Circle at 7:00 a.m. July 5, 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs‘ Tuesday View encourages garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week.

For my Tuesday view I have selected the meditation circle which at 20 feet in diameter covers a large portion of this 70 foot wide by 50 foot deep garden. The labyrinth is viewed from the top steps of the screened porch, facing west.

The house blocks the earliest morning sun, but soon light slides down on either side and spills along the edges into the garden.

Meditation Circle at 7:51 a.m. July 5, 2016

Meditation Circle at 7:51 a.m. July 5, 2016

This past week I purchased additional Angelonia ‘Serena White’ and completed the planting along the outside right path of the circle. This replaces the last of the fall-winter violas and pansies.

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

At the same time I laid in fresh hardwood mulch and cleaned off the pavers, though multiple rains since then muddied the effect. If I had a do-over I would build up the soil and raise the meditation circle to improve drainage.

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ finished blooming weeks ago leaving behind interesting seed heads.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

I usually leave them until they flop over, which has happened, and am rewarded with new plants.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red'

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’

Self-seeded young Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' between Angelonia ’Serena White’

Self-seeded young Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ between Angelonia ’Serena White’

Several types of thyme planted in the center and between the paths of the labyrinth are coming into bloom. Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ is the only one I can identify.

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Pink Chintz thyme has no fragrance nor culinary value but it flowers stand erect and draw pollinators (although none would pose this morning).

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

This very finely textured pass-along thyme is likely ‘Elfin.’

Pass-along Thyme (probably Elfin)

Pass-along Thyme (probably Elfin)

After encouraging these thymes for a few years now I am asking them for restraint as they overflow the pavers. I have been trimming back gradually but when they are in flower I find it difficult to do (not to mention it is a tedious task).

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

 

The blue gazing ball sits exactly on center of the meditation circle. This section is lined with Angelonia ‘Serena Purple.’ I like the way it picks up the hues of the Husker Red Penstemon and the soft lavender pink of the thyme.

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ and Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ and Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’, Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz'

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’, Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

The Tuesday View: 21st June 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs recently decided to host the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week.

Last week I joined in for the first time showing the meditation circle at sunset. Today it is early morning, the most peaceful time to be in the garden. The sun is shining now but around 8 a.m. the sky was slightly overcast.

Meditation Circle - Early Morning

Meditation Circle – Early Morning

Not visible in this first picture, the first thing I encountered was a bunny munching leaves of grass just to the right of the bench.

Mostly oblivious, it hopped into the labyrinth and crossed its way toward the back edge of the circle.  Along its route the rabbit tasted different varieties of thyme, which are beginning to bloom.

Thyme For Breakfast

Thyme For Breakfast

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz'

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’

Thyme In Meditation Circle (unknown variety)

Thyme In Meditation Circle (unknown variety)

Soon the bunny moved on to a small group of pansies and violas, leftover from fall and winter.

Bunny And Violas

Bunny And Violas

It is too hot here in summer for pansies so in late spring I replaced most of them with Angelonia. Having not purchased quite enough Angelonia to go around, on the backside of the circle I left three or four pansies until I could get back to the garden center. Scraggly and brown now, they still have a few blooms, enough I hope to keep the rabbit distracted from some newly emerging zinnias.

Angelonia is my favorite annual for the meditation circle “walls.” Sometimes known as summer snapdragon, these flowers bloom and bloom until first frost, no deadheading necessary.

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’

Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ with Thyme

Angelonia sp.

Angelonia sp.

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

Frost And Glisten

 

Frosted Thyme In Meditation Circle

Frosted Thyme and Angelonia In Meditation Circle

Thyme in the meditation circle was dressed in white in the chill of early morning. Soon petals, leaves and berries glistened as sunlight reached the garden.

Frosted Thyme In Meditation Circle

Frosted Thyme In Meditation Circle

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Salvia nemorosa 'May Night' (Hardy Sage)

Salvia nemorosa ‘May Night’ (Hardy Sage)

Artemisia 'Powis Castle' (Wormwood) and Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower)

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood) and Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower)

 

By 1:00 p.m. the afternoon was sunny and mild at 62°F. (17°C.), perfect weather for planting some new gardenias I bought at the State Farmers Market in Raleigh last week. I bought three old-fashioned Gardenia jasminoides (cape jasmine), but now am second-guessing whether they will be cold hardy.

In A Vase On Monday—Summer Spectrum

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

Monday morning is time to join Cathy for In A Vase On Monday, a weekly invitation to fill and share a vase using materials gathered from one’s garden.

After watering the garden Sunday morning I gathered flowers for a vase.  Choosing as many Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ as I could find, I clustered them together in the center of my grandmother’s glass floral frog as the starting point for an arrangement. The container is a hand-thrown ceramic glazed picece, about 9 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches tall.

Cluster stems of Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' in center of glass frog

Cluster stems of Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ in center of glass frog

I added a few stems of Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) to help define the outer edges of design.

Add Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) to help define outer edge of design

Add Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) to help define outer edge of design

For filler flowers I used a stem of Alstroemeria and different colors of Angelonia.

Add Angelonia to fill in design toward outer edge

Add Angelonia to fill in design toward outer edge

Next I deconstructed a gladiolus to use the individual blooms around the base of the arrangement.

Descontruct Gladiolus. Use to add color and hide mechanics.

Descontruct Gladiolus. Use to add color and hide mechanics.

A single Dahlia ‘Firepot’ and  an Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed) were used as focal flowers.

Dahlia ‘Firepot’, Gladiolus

Dahlia ‘Firepot’, Gladiolus

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed), Gladiolus

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed), Gladiolus

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

I can quibble with the design proportions—the materials need to be extended out wider and the shape is uneven. As I rotate the vase I realize the arrangement looks very different from front to back and from overhead it is askew.

In A Vase On Monday. View From Above

In A Vase On Monday. View From Above

And yet, I love this vase of flowers. The flowers are fresh, the textures are interesting together.

The rich vibrant hues in this assortment speak to me of summer itself. At first the colors contrast and shock, then they blend and meld.

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

Dahlia ‘Firepot’, Gladiolus

Dahlia ‘Firepot’, Gladiolus

Materials

Alstroemeria x ‘Tesmach’ (Inticancha® Machu Peruvian Lily)
Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Indigo’
Angelonia ‘Raspberry’
Angelonia ’Serena White’
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed)
Dahlia ‘Firepot’
Gladiolus sp.
Gomphrena globosa (Globe amaranth)
Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue' and Gladiolus

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ and Gladiolus

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed)

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ’Serena White’

Angelonia ‘Raspberry’

Angelonia ‘Raspberry’

Gomphrena, Angelonia ‘Raspberry’, Gladiolus

Gomphrena, Angelonia ‘Raspberry’, Gladiolus

Thank you to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for welcoming everyone to join her in this opportunity to share a vase each week. Please visit her to see what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Wednesday Annotations

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Echinacea are opening up all around the garden this week, mostly the species E. purpurea. Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ is a hybrid coneflower with a rich red center. At first it seems to be all cone, but eventually petals emerge.

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Over the past several weeks I have removed all the red snapdragons and most of the ‘Husker’s Red’ penstemon from the meditation circle and replanted it with annuals that should perform well through the summer. I was happy with the labyrinth this spring, its walls planted in taller, fuller plants, but stepping to the next stone became like navigating an obstacle course.

For the new simplified planting scheme I used several shades of Angelonia (Summer snapdragon) to add color without blocking the path. I wanted blue and white, but when I was ready to buy the blue plants were scarce. From the penstemon at 11 o’clock around clockwise to 5 o’clock I used Angelonia ‘Serena White’.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Angelonia 'Serena White'

Angelonia ‘Serena White’

With the hot dry weather in May, it was difficult to get these established, and I had to break my rule and water nearly every day in the month. We finally had a little rain yesterday and today is overcast, a welcome reprieve.

To complete the plantings on the other side, I used Angelonia ‘Lavender’ (in bloom on the far left path) and Angelonia ‘Raspberry’ on the interior path (not blooming yet).

Angelonia 'Lavender' and Angelonia 'Raspberry' In Meditation Circle

Angelonia ‘Lavender’ and Angelonia ‘Raspberry’ In Meditation Circle

Angelonia 'Lavender'

Angelonia ‘Lavender’

At the labyrinth entrance with larger and darker flowers are Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Indigo.’

Angelonia 'Alonia Big Indigo'

Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Indigo’

I could not resist slipping in another gardenia to show. A single flower of  ‘August Beauty’ is blooming for the first time. Three of five bushes survive that were planted in August 2012.

Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

 

Mid-September Monday

This cheerful Iceberg Rose did better than usual this year due to adequate rains throughout spring and summer. It has begun another round of blossoming recently.

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

I would like to know what kind of little yellow spider this is hanging out on the Purple Coneflower. The front legs are positioned so it looks like it is trying to hide its face.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

The Autumn Joy Sedum attracted this insect today (a wasp of some kind?) and a few bumble bees as well.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

The Sedum’s flowers are deepening from light pink to a darker shade as they age.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Meadow Sage has rebloomed now that night temperatures are cooler.

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

The annual, Angelonia Purple, was a good investment this spring. Last year I used it in the meditation circle for color and interest, but it grew too wide. I frequently had to cut it back to maintain clear passage through the labyrinth. This year I placed Angelonia as filler in a few portions of the border where it had plenty of room. It has bloomed and bloomed and bloomed all summer and will last until frost.

Angelonia 'Purple'

Angelonia ‘Purple’

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) died back during the hot summer but is returning with a fresh flush of new growth.

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft)

I am excited about a new purchase this week, a grayish-blue glazed ceramic urn to replace the periwinkle jar I had kept in the southern border since spring. The periwinkle pot will be returned to its indoor setting to keep it safe from the elements.  The new urn required two strong men to carry to its current location so I did not get a chance to try it out in a lot of places before setting it down. For now I plan to leave it empty but may add an evergreen form to it later.

New Garden Urn

New Garden Urn

New Garden Urn

New Garden Urn

There have been numerous Eastern Tiger Swallowtails gracing the garden this summer, but few have been of this dark female form. Enjoying Lantana, this is the same butterfly in all the pictures, with color variations standing out depending on the aspect of the view.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)-5

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Sometime during Sunday night or early morning raindrops hit the window and I was awake enough to be grateful, knowing the garden had become very dry. The previous rain was on September 1 and since then, despite cooler temperatures at night, there have been some very hot days. Grass in the front yard has turned crispy brown and the River Birch has given up many leaves. The grass in the back yard where the garden is also has begun dying back in places.

By early afternoon when I had a chance to explore the garden there were no visible signs the rain had passed through, but perhaps the plants had already soaked up the nourishment by then.

Garden View From Southeast to Northwest

Garden View From Southeast to Northwest

Late Afternoon In The Mid-October Garden

There were delightful sights, sounds and scents in today’s garden. A large bee buzzed and hovered near my face long enough to fan my cheek, making me smile. Late afternoon sunlight danced atop Angelonia in the meditation path.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

Throughout the garden Echinacea is in various stages of its life cycle. Many of the plants are fading even as new flowers emerge on others.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

More Camellia sasanqua flowers appear daily. The variety of this Camellia is unknown, but it is a highly fragrant one.

Camellia sasanqua

I noticed the first Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ blossom is open. It seems early but actually last year this shrub was blooming on October 25.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Another fragrant shrub, Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne), bloomed from late January to March last year. Today a dainty Daphne blossom made an early appearance.

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne)

Early October Garden

Days of cool rain marked the year’s transition from September to October. The harvest moon remained hidden behind deep clouds.

Yesterday, temperatures and humidity rose dramatically. This afternoon the sun broke through the clouds lifting the temperature to 86F, quite a change from highs in the mid-sixties at the weekend.

Certain signs of autumn belie today’s warm weather. Berries now adorn the Flowering Dogwood, whose leaves had already browned in July’s extended dry spell.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

A windblown spire of Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) rests against of Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop). The Salvia’s pink calyx reflects the ruddy, rusty hue of the flowering Stonecrop.

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) and Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

A multicolored flower petal of ‘Blue Sky’ Salvia sits suspended in a spider’s complex world.

‘Blue Sky’ Flower In Spider’s Web

The burgundy Chrysanthemum in the background has bloomed most of the summer and now complements the rose-colored wisps of fall-blooming Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass). In the foreground stands a spent stalk of Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage).

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Chrysanthemum, Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass)

Blue-violet Ageratum brightens a dark corner of the garden.

Ageratum

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower), became very aggressive and was theoretically removed from the garden a few years ago. Unaware of its banished status, it displays brilliant yellow blossoms annually.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

The annual, Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon), has bloomed throughout the summer among the stepping stones of the meditation circle.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

The meditation circle itself is soggy this week and needs attention.

Pine-bark mulch now sits in drifts, having been swept across the stone paths during the recent heavy rainfalls.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) still performs satisfactorily, while generous green mounds of Thyme surpass expectations.

Unfortunately other evergreen perennials that were chosen specifically for their drought-tolerance, Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon (Beardtongue), are brown and may not recover. ‘Purity’ was beautiful all winter and spring and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ was lovely in spring, but both choices will need to be reevaluated for long-term performance.

Thyme For Meditation

Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme)

Thyme in the meditation circle is green and healthy. After a year of growth it has gently spread, helping to soften the path of stepping stones. I am not completely convinced the trays were correctly labeled when I purchased these plants last year, but they were marked Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme). This thyme is not fragrant at all, but I must have thought with “citriodorus” in the name, it would be become fragrant eventually!

Dianthus and Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) Along Meditation Path

Drought-tolerant plants were selected for this labyrinth and some that performed great last summer may be staying too wet this summer. A few heavy downpours knocked over plants several weeks ago, blocking many of the paths. Yesterday was clean-up time.  I sheared away lots of Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) and Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon) to open up the stepping stones.

While some of the Pike’s Peak are still blooming, many are brown and look like they may not even survive. Similarly the center planting of Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) has died back significantly. Iberis bloomed from December to May this year and maybe just needs a rest. It may revive in the fall, but at this point last August, the Candytuft was lush and healthy-looking.

Meditation Circle

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I realize the fence along back of the Western border looks awfully bright. While a new ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Cypress gets established, a mix of annuals were supposed to fill the void and provide vibrant summer color along the back fence.  The seeds did poorly though, giving just one small group of zinnias.  The cypress is growing fine though.

During a few weeks of drought and extreme temperatures in July, the garden had quickly turned brown and dried up. Convinced the garden was finished until September, I turned my attention elsewhere. Then something interesting happened. Rains returned and the garden responded. Now the garden overall is probably the greenest it has been in August for years. The last few summers have been so discouragingly dry, I failed to recognize and appreciate that this summer was different. 

So yesterday I began to make amends. I trimmed back some Shasta Daisies, Echinacea and a few other things to make them tidier and to encourage re-blooming. I did save a few cone heads for the American Goldfinches. There is still a lot of clean-up to do, but now I am much more motivated to make plans for autumn plantings.

Though an annual, the Angelonia should provide color into October.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

A Garden Journal To Conclude July

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Desiccation was the word that best described the garden at the end of June, but as July ends there are some signs of verdancy. July was a difficult month for the already stressed perennials and shrubs, but some decent rains have had a visible restorative effect on many of them. Even the lawn now shows less brown and more green.

While the garden seems willing at this point to make the effort to improve, this gardener is finding excuses. The garden could really use some serious maintenance but as usual, it is getting very little attention as the summer goes along. Among the many tasks that need tackling are applying mulch garden-wide and dividing the irises. I have done some weeding, deadheading and trimming, but not nearly enough to improve the overall effect—there is so much more left to be done. Another week though before I can get some time to concentrate on it.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

In the meditation garden Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon) lies sprawling across the labyrinth’s path, knocked over by recent poundings of rain.

Last summer was the first time I had planted Angelonia, an annual, and it was outstanding well into October.  This year it has not been quite as spectacular, but it is finally beginning to bloom more profusely. The bees really enjoy the flowers.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

Garden View With Meditation Circle

The meditation circle is normally a very low-maintenance feature, but a heavy rain this past weekend also washed away much of the pine bark mulch, covering many of the stepping stones.

Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme)

The section of Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) is mostly green, but in some poorly draining areas it is starting to show some brown spots from excess standing water during the storm.

Perhaps the thyme will bloom yet. There are a few faint colored puffs on it that, when one looks close, are seen to be little lavender flowers.

Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft)

Once the star performer of the labyrinth, Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) is losing its shine.

Many of the mounds are severely stressed. This time last year it was holding up beautifully and was quite green.

The candytuft bloomed from December to May this year and perhaps needs a rest. Maybe some compost should be added for nutrition.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

‘Husker Red’ is still working well in the meditation circle. Curiously the leaves of the ones planted last year are mostly green, with little or none of this luscious dark red colored-foliage found in these that were added this year. The coral Dianthus lining the entrance makes a nice pairing.

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) has flopped over but is blooming now and should last well into autumn.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ and Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Encouraged by recent rains, Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ now has a few new blossoms. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is in full bloom to the delight of many insects. The stalks of this Rudbeckia seem very sturdy but, like those of so many items in this garden, they would benefit from staking.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome has flowered well in one spot and poorly in another.

In early July there was a heartbreaking loss of a Crape Myrtle in the front yard from a freak wind storm.

The same storm brought down a pine into the garden, obliterating a Buddleia davidii and some other plants in an area along the back fence, an area I have been actively trying to invigorate.

‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress

Zinnia

Actually there are several large gaps along the back fence. In the northwestern corner a ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress was planted earlier this year to replace the eleven-year old one we lost last summer. This is a fast-growing tree that will fill this area in a few years. Meanwhile I can tell it has grown quite a bit.

While waiting for the ‘Carolina Sapphire’ to mature I envision this corner overflowing with cutting flowers in the summer, but my efforts have been small.

Zinnias were planted from seeds, but thwarted by extreme temperatures, they remain small and insignificant. I think the birds must have eaten most of the seeds.  This is a rather poor showing.

Transplants of cleome did not survive here.

Also Gladioli planted in this same area flopped over after their first exposure to wind, so they did nothing to make the garden look nice long-term, but their blooms provided enjoyment in cut-flower arrangements.

So, there are many openings and opportunities around the garden at this time. Although I am not doing much work in the garden this summer, I am thinking and planning. I am optimistic the garden will be fun again next Spring. And, while there are no grand views, no wide vistas in the garden right now, it is surprising to me how many individual plants are providing some interest. It seems much better than in years past.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Meanwhile birds, wasps, bees and other insects do not seem to mind the garden’s disarray, as they feast on nectar and seeds. The yellow of American Goldfinches brightens the garden as these tiny birds feed on various plants—they especially seem to appreciate the Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower).

Hummingbirds regularly visit Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm), which is no longer lush and spectacular but is still in bloom.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

And fresh dew on Shasta Daisies is still a remarkable thing.

Almanac

With two days to go this hot July stopped short of setting a local record for the number of consecutive days above 90 degrees, when the temperature reached a mere 89 degrees yesterday. Precipitation was 0.5 inches above normal for the month (actual month total was 4.64; normal month total, 4.04). Three heavy storms on the 21st, 22nd and 28th accounted for 3.31 inches of that.

Early June Garden Characteristics and Aspects

Earlier this spring a six-foot diameter space in the front yard was left bare after removing a badly sited Chinese Elm. A few weeks ago the little area was planted with a mix of perennials and annuals.  Providing some immediate color were seven of the annual Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon), along with a richly colored perennial, Gaura Belleza (™) ‘Dark Pink’ (Butterfly Gaura).

Now the other perennials are beginning to bloom, Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather) and Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower). This spring bees have found many plants to their liking and the Liatris is proving popular too.

Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather)

Front Yard Garden

Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Cleome (Spider Flower) volunteers in this garden every year and has just begun flowering this week along the southern side path. It originated from seeds purchased by a friend at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. She passed some along to me more than a decade ago. Recently I transplanted a few of the volunteers to other areas of the garden.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Gladiolus is an old-fashioned flower that I read recently is enjoying a bit of a revival. I have always had a few gladioli in my gardens, although my favorite deep dark purple ones died out several years ago.

Gladiolus

A steady rain fell this morning until eleven. Skies became blue with plenty of white fluffy clouds for the rest of the day, but the temperature remained cooler than usual for this time of year. A brief excursion to the North Carolina Botanical Garden proved interesting and helpful. I was able to identify my pink yarrow in the southern bed as Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow).  Also a very friendly staff member was digging up and trimming back Tradescantia, a task I have spent many hours doing in my garden, so we fell into a discussion about how to deal with it. She demonstrated for me her technique for digging it out so as to get as much root as possible (using a sideways twist). In the end we agreed it can also just be cut back to enjoy again in September.

Notes On The Garden At Memorial Day

Northern Border

Temperatures reached 87 degrees and the day felt quite humid and summery. The borders appear full and lush, a tribute to the power of adequate rainfall; however, the first flowering period of many plants is past, so deadheading and trimming are on the agenda for this week.

Southern Border

There has been little work done in the garden for the last two weeks, but that must change. The garden is in transition and is very much in need of attention. Echinacea, Gladioli, Liatris and Daylily are replacing Iris, Lamb’s Ear and Tradescantia.

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather)

Shasta Daisy clumps will be covered in bloom any day. Meanwhile Meadow Sage should be cut back to encourage more blooms. Nepeta may need shearing soon as well.

Northern Border, Meditation Circle

Monarda and Lantana are teasing with a bit of color today.

Monarda didyma (scarlet beebalm)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

This weekend in town I came upon a large and beautiful planting of Baptisia and Autumn Joy, all in full bloom. In this garden all three baptisias lost their flowers suddenly this year after a just a short bloom time, but the foliage remains healthy and green.

Baptisia australis (blue false indigo)

Hylotelephium telephium ‘Herbstfreude’ (Autumn Joy)

Paths in the meditation circle are in some disarray lately. The pine nugget mulch being used this spring is too lightweight to stay in place when rains come. Also the mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ Penstemon has sprawled over quite a bit and requires staking again. Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ is so much better behaved and retains its upright place, (although its self-sown seedlings need to be removed soon).

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

The annual Angelonia ‘Blue’ in the meditation circle has begun to grow now that the weather is hotter.

Angelonia ‘Blue’

There will be plenty of tasks to keep this gardener busy this week but with an abundance of flowers blooming and the scent gardenia wafting through the air, it should be mostly delightful to spend time in the garden.

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Fall Gardening – Falling Enthusiasm

The garden needs attention and a spate of recent mild autumn days has left little excuse for not tackling a long list of fall garden chores. Yet, the irises are not thinned, the replacements for the Arizona Cypress that died are not planted, the weeds are not pulled. There are no interesting bulbs waiting to be planted. Enthusiasm and motivation for gardening, so easily tapped in springtime, readily elude this time of year.

Meditation Circle

November 10, 2011

One chore yesterday left the meditation circle in a disruptive state. I pulled the filler plants-marigolds and angelonia-that had provided intense color all summer.

The design goal for landscaping the labyrinth is eventually to fill the borders between the meditation path with evergreen or semi-evergreen plants so as to avoid this lopsided, barren look.

I have experimented with several types of plants in the meditation circle and am really happy with the performance of a long-time garden favorite in this garden, Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft). Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) is also working well for sections where extra height is wanted at the turn-arounds. These taller plants serve as visual cues for guiding visitors along the path.

The thyme is unimpressive so far. During the past six weeks, the Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) has bloomed much better than it did all summer, winning it a bit of a reprieve, but it has a wild scraggliness that is unappealing for the meditation circle. A landscaping friend is coming to walk the meditation path this week and I am eager to hear her ideas.

October Meditation On The Meditation Circle

April 15, 2011

In winter 2011 planning for a garden renovation was underway and one idea was to include a meditation space. By mid-April installation of the meditation circle and labyrinth was completed. Even in its then totally bare, stone and mulch state, the circle immediately became a dynamic focal point for the garden.

Throughout spring and summer perennials and annuals were added between the paths of the labyrinth. Various plants were chosen as experiments to see what would grow (and not outgrow) the narrow, six-inch wide path; what would survive the summer heat and dry spells; and what would contribute to understanding how to walk the labyrinth.

Five Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) and eighteen mounding thymes were among the first introductions, added in March and early April respectively. Coreopsis was considered, but eventually planted elsewhere.

Early April 2011

By the first of May two Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ were added to demarcate turn-around points in the labyrinth.

May 1, 2011

Angelonia angustifolia (summer snapdragon) provided dramatic color in the meditation circle. In the foreground is Angelface Blue.  A lighter shade, Wedgwood Blue, was added later along the lower left path.

May 1, 2011

In early June ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon (Beardtongue) was used to complete the plantings between the walking paths.  This proved less successful than any of the other plants. This native penstemon is wilder and more scraggly in stature, and less colorful than the ‘Husker Red’ it was meant to complement.

June 20, 2011

At July’s end the meditation circle garden was filled out and beautiful, transformed into a richly colorful space. The candytuft and thyme formed soft mounds, never encroaching beyond the designated space. Marigolds and the angelonia had to be trimmed back from the path several times–the cuttings made long-lasting indoor arrangements.  After a summer rain the angelonia stems fell over onto the stepping stones, but were easily uprighted.

July 31, 2011

Now, well into October, the annuals continue to bloom. French Marigolds at the entrance and profusely blooming Angelonia along the left side add welcome color and help serve structurally as a gentle guide for how to walk the labyrinth.

When frost eventually forces their removal (October 24 or so) the circle will look much different. The plan is for the evergreen plants of thyme, Penstemon (both ‘Husker’s Red’ and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’) and Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) to continue to provide winter interest.

Blooming In Mid-September

The garden has been completely on auto-pilot for the past eight weeks. With July’s extreme heat and drought came parched plants and severe gardening lethargy. Then the months of August and September brought several important rains, and as is the way of gardens, this garden responded, sparking renewal in growth and interest.

Blooms, Blooms

Touring and taking inventory today it was impossible not to revel in the multitude of blooms.

A few days into September the gardenias began blooming again, putting on a more magnificent show than in early June when temperatures in the mid-nineties forced them to struggle. Now the air is filled with the lovely and unmistakable scent of gardenia.

The Orange Canna adds height and interest to the east end of the side garden. Throughout July the canna’s blossoms wilted almost immediately. Today its elegant blossom brightens this space again.

A few Shasta Daisy flowers continue to bloom in different spots around the garden.  The divisions transplanted in early Spring are healthy.

It was a treat to discover the Jackmani Clematis in bloom today.  This is unusual for this garden. Again the rain seems to have made the difference.

The lantana has been in this garden for ten years.  It performed beautifully this year, one of those plants that does not mind the heat.

The Meditation Circle

The flowers in the meditation circle have held up well throughout the entire summer. The marigolds and angelonia withstand the heat and humidity brilliantly. Both have spread beyond the 12-inch allotment of space between the stepping stones, but an occasional shearing works to restore order to the labyrinth and yields long-lasting bouquets to bring inside.

The perennials in the circle, candytuft, thyme and penstemon, all performed well and look healthy. Between the two types of penstemon (Beardtongue), Penstemon Digitalis ‘Husker Red’ is the preferred choice. The 18 ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemons (foreground) have done fine but are more scraggly and flowers are not very showy–fine in their own right but not great accents for the labyrinth in the meditation circle.

To Be Continued

Many more flowers deserve mention today so this post will be continued later.  For a last glimpse at the garden today, here is Salvia ‘Blue Sky.’  This was brought from a former garden ten years ago. It is particularly lovely this year.

July Draws To A Close

July 2011 will be remembered as an extreme month of drought and heat, with the last week registering highs of 101,97, 93, 99, 102, 104, 100 and heat indexes that make one wilt. It is 74 now, moderated by storms that passed through and brought not just thunder and lightning, but actual rain.

This garden relies mostly on perennials, but at this time of year the garden’s perimeter beds have been browning and parching, with many plants barely hanging on.

A few plants have thrived as the summer progressed though the searing days of July, mostly those in the meditation circle’s labyrinth. The thyme, the Penstemon (both ‘Husker’s Red’ and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’) and the Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) are doing well. Here though the real stars are two annuals, the angelonia and the French marigolds, which seem to take strength from the strong sun. These provide the midsummer garden’s main color and impact.

Mediation Circle After July Rain

New Labyrinth Perennials

The meditation circle plantings have been incomplete as I studied, evaluated and fretted over what to plant.

Two ‘Husker Red’ Penstemon have performed well in the meditation circle, along with Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) and the fantastic annual, Angelonia. A grouping of thyme has survived, even bloomed, but is too finely textured to contribute a strong show and disappointingly has no scent.  An initial planting of French marigolds at the entrance, added just to get started with something, is an incompatible, jarring color and has bloomed unevenly anyway.

Happening upon a bargain this morning, I hesitated only two minutes before I decided on a perennial I hope is a good choice to help fill in the labyrinth’s wall.

Pikes Peak Purple

I selected eighteen ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon (Beardtongue) that had come into the garden center fresh from the grower recently.

This plant is a hybrid. Among its desirable qualities, it is deer-resistant, drought-tolerant and attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Its mature size (12-15 inches tall by 10-12 inches wide) and its upright growth habit makes it suitable to fit within the 12-inch space between the labyrinth’s stepping stones. It is evergreen and during its long blooming period, the violet-purple color will work well with the rest of the garden’s color scheme.

When the heat subsides this evening I will try to get them all planted.

Morning Garden Walk

The backyard garden at the end of May is pleasant and lush, with inviting colors, textures, diversity of plants, and sounds of birds, elevating this morning’s walk to a remarkably satisfying experience for this gardener.

Chrysanthemum, silvery Dusty Miller, Sweet Pea combine with soft leaves of Eastern Red Columbine.

The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) wake up the early morning garden with intense blues, but close under the strong sun by midday.  The pink yarrow and white rose campion mix well and the tall blades of iris add balance.

Nearby a lantana has sprung to life and soon will be covered in multicolored clusters of red, yellow and orange.

Stachys (Lamb’s ear) brightens the back corner between some irises and a gardenia.  The gardenia will soon add its unique fragrance to the garden.

The Liatris spicata (Gayfeather) earlier seemed terribly crowded by the irises, but as its bloomtime approaches it stands tall.

Verbena bonariensis frequently draws American goldfinches to the garden.  It is surrounded by a foxglove, shasta daisies, tradescantia, a rudbeckia ‘Irish eyes’ and gardenias.

The meditation circle with its labyrinth still has more mulch than plants. Five bonariensis await planting within but I am hesitant about whether they are a good choice. Meanwhile the penstemon and angelonia have worked out great.  The thyme lacks a strong presence, though it grows fine and has bloomed.  The candytuft bloomed a rewarding second time.

Many more plants are tucked and packed into this small backyard haven, making each morning’s walk new and interesting as they transition through life.

Almanac

After a week of extreme heat, with temperatures reaching into the nineties, last night’s cooling breezes and this morning’s crisp air were welcome.  Despite the prediction of rain I broke my rule against watering and gave some plants a good drink.  Still only 66 degrees by lunchtime, the heavy rain started suddenly and continued steadily until early evening, and streets flooded in Chapel Hill.  The garden’s meditation circle flooded near the entrance and in the middle, draining pretty well afterwards, but leaving a stark contrast to its bleached-out look under the severity of the sun earlier in the week.  After a rosy-clouded sunset, the rains returned.

Meditation Circle

Completion of the meditation circle has been a good impetus for bringing friends to visit the garden this spring. Generous rains have made the irises and roses look healthy and strong and have helped get the circle’s “wall” plantings established.

So far though only a few plants have been selected as the wall between the paths and at the turnarounds: Thyme, Penstemon, Angelonia, and Marigold, the last two being annuals.  Eventually the goal is to have a full, varied, perennial border within the circle.