Tag Archives: cleome

Far Edge of July

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

Reaching the end of July is unsettling—summer, slipping by.

The summer garden has had its disappointments. Hot and dry weather and grazing rabbits have left their mark. This week, at least, a couple of thunderstorms offered some relief from record-setting heat (Hurricane Isaias likely will add rain as well. I hope everyone along the U.S. East Coast will stay safe).  Despite the shortcomings of this season there are always discoveries in the garden to brighten one’s day.

This is my first time growing cerinthe. One plant began flowering this week.  After admiring it in others’ Monday vases, I decide to try it.  From a packet of seeds, I ended up with just half a dozen plants, which actually I had expected to have purple flowers and foliage. Rabbits nibbled away for a while but lately have left them alone.

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

This is the sole surviving plant from a packet of alyssum. Bad bunnies!


The garden has a lot of dragonflies. I have tentatively identified this as Bar-winged Skimmer.

Bar-winged Skimmer (Libellula axilena)

This young, tiny anole found cover quickly when I tried for a better photo.

Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis) on Dahlia ‘David Howard’

Cleome flower heads seem to float above the meditation circle.

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Dahlia ‘David Howard’ has proved to be my most reliable dahlia. It has great form and color.

Dahlia ‘David Howard’

Dahlia sp.

I spotted Easter Tiger Swallowtails multiple times this week but they did not linger long. This one was tempted by the saliva.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) On Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) On Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Coneflowers continue to brighten the garden. This one volunteered in the meditation circle.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

With a name like August Beauty one might hope this gardenia will rebloom soon. This week three fresh flowers appeared.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

I do not remember planting this gladiolus but was happy to have the companionship.


I have not seen many Horace’s Duskywings this year. I believe this one is my second—dining on a spent verbena bonariensis.

Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

Crepe myrtles are the prettiest in years in my neighborhood. Blooms are mostly out of reach.

Lagerstroemia (crape myrtle)

Ocolas are plentiful around the lantana. This one is particularly worn.

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola) on Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Rabbits nibbled away as the rudbeckia emerged. The plants finally pushed upwards and bloomed under protection of a rabbit spray made from concentrated botanical oils, a gift from a neighbor.

Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan)

At one time I planned a red border, but never followed through after drought set in that year. I like this red salvia up close but it is not very showy from afar. Hummingbirds do find it but seem to prefer the Black and Blue salvia.

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)

This Silver-spotted Skipper found a sweet delicacy, Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea).

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the weekend.

Meditation Circle

The garden is in a fairly natural state this summer which seems to suit the pollinators just fine. Angelonia (Summer Snapdragon) creates a colorful swath along paths in the meditation circle.

Angelonia In Meditation Circle

Angelonia in blue, white, purple and bi-color bring vibrancy to the circle as well.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘PAC – Angelos Bicolor’ and Angelonia Purple

Angelonia Blue and Angelonia White

Angelonia Purple

Angelonia In Meditation Circle

The paths themselves are overgrown with self-seeding Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) which I cannot bring myself to pull out. Even though the labyrinth is unwalkable in this condition the overall contribution of the cleome creates an effect in the garden that is magical.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Thymes planted along the paths are in bloom underneath the cleome.

Cleome Soaring Above Various Thymes

Cleome Soaring Above Various Thymes

A few more glimpses into the cleome garden…

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) In Meditation Circle

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) In Meditation Circle

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) In Meditation Circle

Back to the pollinators, these happened not to have been found on the aforementioned plants but quite nearby. Here is Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

The garden was full of these skippers yesterday. This one is enjoying Echinacea.

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus) Nectaring On Echinacea

Hope your gardens are teeming with blooms, activity and life.

Early September Observations

On the first day of September a serendipitous sun shower in late afternoon was followed by a quite stormy evening. That night the garden received a refreshing inch of rain. Now a mere week has passed without rain, but the effect on the garden was immediate. All of the borders are browning, shriveling and retreating as plants lose their vigor.

Though the days are still warm, the nights are noticeably cooler and the amount of daylight is decreasing. Responding to these signals, the changes in length of day, temperature and moisture, the garden appears to be receding.

Rarely do I water the garden, but I would like to prolong this year’s flowers a few more weeks. With no rain in the forecast for another five days, I walked out soon after dawn to apply some selective relief. At that early time of day the neighborhood was luxuriously quiet, interrupted only by pleasant birdsong and rich tones from wind chimes catching a gentle breeze.

Cardinals and hummingbirds went on with business as I carried around the hose. As bees have been mostly absent this summer I was surprised to see a large number of bumblebees. Two American Goldfinches, brilliant yellow, each stood atop Purple Coneflower seedpods surveying the bounty.

With the watering done I walked the meditation circle, then used the camera to make notes of the morning.

There still are some flowers to enjoy. The garden has two Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ and one is completely spent, yet the other at the bottom of the southern side path continues to bloom profusely.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to Phlox Paniuclata, which thrived with all the rain this summer. No deer bothered jumping the fence to get to it either, a first in many summers.

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)   'Robert Poore'  possibly

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox) ‘Robert Poore’ possibly

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)   'Robert Poore'  possibly

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox) ‘Robert Poore’ possibly

Orange Coneflower is one of the plants that began sagging so much this week without water. One would expect this native plant to be more drought-tolerant than a week.

Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower)

Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower)

Cleome bloomed well all summer. Though many have dried up and formed numerous seedpods, a few are just beginning to bloom.

Self-portrait with Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Self-portrait with Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Zinnias look bright and colorful against the back fence and draw butterflies to that corner of the garden.



Though many stalks and leaves are now brown, some foliage remains in good shape. Columbine, which had all been cut back after flowering, now has formed gentle mounds in (too) many places. Some of the leaves are taking on a slight reddish tinge.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Baptisia and Artemisia team up nicely along the southern side path. The rains this summer really brought the Baptisia along this year.

Baptisia 'Purple Smoke' and Artemisia 'Powis Castle' (Wormwood)

Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ and Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Autumn Joy Sedum began blooming abundantly this week, making its little section of the garden seem quite happy.

View of Mediation Circle with Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

View of Mediation Circle with 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)

Cleome Sparkles In Early Morning Dew

Early morning sun revealed water droplets on Cleome petals in the side garden this morning.

Dew on Cleome (Spider Flower)  09-10-2012

Old-fashioned Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) is an annual that reseeds easily in my zone 7b garden. Many years ago a friend gave me a few plants she had started from seeds purchased at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home in Charlottesville, Virginia. The plants came to me with her warning, “They will spread.”

They did and they do; I love them. They grow easily but require little effort to pull up if they get into the wrong spot.

Cleome were still blooming last year in November. By mid-May this year Cleome seedlings were again on their way. I transplanted a few to other areas of the garden. In one new situation where it was very sunny they did well, but another area was perhaps too shady for them.

Cleome Seedlings Mid-May 2012

Cleome hassleriana has such an interesting form with buds, open flowers, fruiting bodies and sticky, palmate leaves all coexisting to create a complex architectural structure. As buds continue to open near the top, fruit forms underneath and all the while the stem grows taller and thicker, easily reaching 3-5 feet by the end of the flowering season in fall.

Cleome (Spider Flower) 8/24/2012

The flowers are delicate and airy with 6 long stamens suggestive of spidery legs (in shape, that is, not in number) and four oval petals.

The fruit of Cleome hassleriana are long capsules. Being dehiscent, the capsules split open when mature, discharging the seeds and setting up another possible encounter with dew on Cleome petals in the garden next year.

Cleome (Spider Flower) Capsules

The weather is beautiful. Temperatures began cooling Saturday night and lows in the 50s and 60s are forecast for this week. Highs will be 79F tomorrow and 80s for the rest of the week.

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


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.


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.

A Colonial Garden

During an enjoyable trip last week to Historic Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia, one highlight was visiting the Colonial Garden on Duke of Gloucester Street.

There we had a chance to speak with the garden’s founder, Wesley Greene, who has recently authored the book, Vegetable Gardening the Colonial Williamsburg Way: 18th-Century Methods for Today’s Organic Gardeners. 

Dressed in eighteenth-century garb, Greene was quite friendly and generous in sharing his time and knowledge.

The garden, which I have seen many times, seemed especially compelling this time. Researched and planted to accurately represent the colonists’s choice of vegetables and growing methods, this productive garden was irresistible in its beauty.

Pomegranate trees orange with flower and fruit were first to catch my attention.


Woven supports for the vegetables were artistic as well as practical and that notion of craftsmanship carried throughout the garden.

There were lovely Cleomes, back in the garden for the first time in many years, according to Greene, now that archaeological evidence in another Virginia garden has confirmed it was planted during the timeframe covered by Colonial Williamsburg.

Nearby was the exotic-looking cardoon. Cardoon, it was explained by one of the garden’s helpful Colonial interpreters, is an ancestor of the modern artichoke. The leaves of the cardoon plant would be stripped away, leaving the stalk to be eaten somewhat in the manner of celery today.

The combination of vegetables, herbs, flowers and history made the Colonial Williamsburg garden an inspirational garden to explore.

Note: View each of the galleries in this article at a larger format by clicking on one of the images within a set.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – June 2012


I embarked on a major garden renovation in January 2011, installing some new privacy shrubs, a picket fence and a meditation circle with a labyrinth.  These projects made a large impact on the garden and measurably increased my enjoyment of it. So I coasted for a year, just enjoying the flowers, but lately I have begun thinking again about various aspects of the garden’s design, structure and views.

Fortunately Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides hosts Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) each month, and this prompt provides an opportunity to examine the role foliage plays in the garden.

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

Summer officially arrived this week and temperatures in the nineties reinforced this changing of the season. This time of year the sun’s glare can pale even the strongest-colored blossoms, making the garden appear washed out. Strong foliage color and varying texture can add interest, especially during these next couple of months. I am often drawn to plants with leaves of deepest greens, reds and purples and find these plants help anchor the garden in summer.  Silvery foliage, such as that found in Lavender, Dusty Miller and Artemisia, is equally useful and serves to complement the dark-leafed plants.


Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Canna’s strong form and deeply patterned, smooth, waxy leaves add interest at many levels as it grows.


This week the first reddish-orange canna flower appeared. (The actual blossom looks yellowish in this picture, but in fact is orange, similar in color to that of the Echinacea cones in the background.) The long, slender leaves of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) are quite graceful and delicate when juxtaposed with the boldness of the Canna’s leaves.

Canna and Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Several weeks ago I transplanted some of the volunteer Cleome (Spider Flower) seedlings from the Southern path to other areas of the garden that needed filling in. These transplants have not grown very tall yet, just 2-3 feet, but they can reach 4-5 feet. The medium green palmate leaves are but one part of the interesting and complex structure of Cleome.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

This Cleome below is opening in front of a stand of Monarda stems; the mid-range dark purple is Setcreasea ‘Purple Heart,’ a reliable plant used as a ground cover in this garden. A gift from a friend many years ago, Purple Heart dies back but easily survives the winters here.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Setcreasea ‘Purple Heart’

When viewing the Cleome flower from above, the foliage assists by providing the perfect backdrop for the flower to be seen.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

The garden holds many examples of foliage variations, but over time as plants have migrated, decreased, multiplied or died out altogether, many original plant pairings have ceased to exist. Much of what is left is happenstance. As I consider the garden’s overall design, I need to look closer at foliage and other characteristics of plants in the garden, noting what combinations work well and under what circumstances.

Check out other GBFD bloggers by visiting Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides.

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.


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.

A Trio of Notables

Since the beginning  of the southern side garden ten years ago, Cleome or Spider Flower has been a summer staple.  It self-seeds usually quite heavily but for the last couple of years, only a few cleome have emerged, probably due to heavy applications of mulch in spring.  There are a handful of cleome now that were late maturing but worth the wait. The striking flowers sit atop stalks that are five or six feet tall.

Meadow Sage provided some deep rich color early this spring, then took a break during the heat of the summer.  Encouraged by refreshing rains and cooler temperatures, the meadow sage has returned this fall to fill the front of the northern border with  spiky texture and deep indigo and burgundy tones.

Added to the meditation circle in early June, Penstemon ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ seemed like an ideal choice because the ‘Husker’s Red Penstemon’ had done so well earlier. It soon became evident this is a wilder, more scraggly plant that bloomed intermittently throughout the summer, but never was attractive.  Today the flowers do look beautiful though.

Blooming In Mid-September Part 4

This completes a series illustrating the variety of blooms found in this garden in mid-September.  Once extreme heat and drought set in during July the garden looked browned and parched. Now, eight weeks have passed with little maintenance, and the garden has awakened. Cooler temperatures and some key rainfalls have brought out a burst of blossoms.


Echinacea (purple coneflower) is planted throughout the garden and these perennials have remained in bloom longer this year than usual. As the petals drop the seed cones provide food for the American goldfinches. Most of the Echinacea have dried up now and the brown stalks and cones are being left for winter interest and for the birds.

Crape Myrtle

A pair of pink dwarf Crape Myrtles at the front entrance took forever to bloom this year, while these Southern favorites were coloring the landscape all around town (and even in this neighborhood). The peak flowering period seemed to be about mid-August.

Periwinkle (Vinca)

Because this annual is so commonly used, bringing it home was merely an afterthought at the garden center in early summer.  During the worst of the dry, hot July days though, it added happy spots of color (both pink and magenta) to the border.

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Only a few cosmos self-seeded from last year’s effort to fill the side border with feathery greenery and delicate blossoms.  Usually these are very simple to grow but last year neither these nor the zinnia seeds produced a reward.  The deer still graze down this side garden and seem to be attracted to the cosmos.


Cleome or Spider Flower is a magnificent accent in the border. The complex structure of the blooms and the long seed pods forming below the flower give this annual an architectural look.  This is an old-fashioned flower that is remarkable.

More In the September Garden

Ending the tour of blooms in this mid-September garden, there are several flowers blooming for there are no accompanying photographs, but they have been featured before: Pink YarrowDianthus, and Verbena bonariensis. The pink yarrow bloomed profusely in the spring before browning in the heat.  Only a couple of these are in bloom now.  The dianthus was planted this spring and did well with deadheading though early summer before fading in the heat. It has revived somewhat but is not significantly showy. Verbena bonariensis, a tall plant with small flower clusters on long stems, has been blooming since mid-May.  Yellow American goldfinches love them and love to sit on them, bending the stems eventually. Several new ones added to the garden in late spring survived.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)

While this Asclepias tuberosa is not actually blooming now, the seed pods are interesting. Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch butterfly. The caterpillar is feeding on the leaves and storing energy for the pupa stage.

July Flowers

Rainstorms swept through the region this week, missing this garden more times than not. Big splats, soft mists, ominous thunder, but often it was not even damp under the trees by the end. The flowers seem revived nevertheless and the first of the Cleome (Spider Flower) and Canna opened.

There is a lot of activity in the borders. Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) is popular with a great variety of bees, moths and other insects. Hummingbirds regularly visit the Monarda (Bee Balm) while American Goldfinches enjoy Verbena Bonariensis.

Unfortunately deer jumped the new fence this week to nibble on the daylilies and to devour a container of ornamental Sweet Potato Vines, putting an end to thoughts of keeping the daylilies and even reintroducing Phlox paniculata ‘David’ to the borders.

Among the interesting blooms in the garden this week are:

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’
Shasta Daisy
Salvia ‘Blue Sky’

Spring Cleanup

Weeds surround iris

For the past week weeding the garden beds has been a main focus of activities.  There are other important tasks, such as pruning and transplanting to attend, but catching the weeds now will save labor later.

This season weeding has proven to be as much an opportunity as a challenge, as it allows a chance to spend hours at a time listening to the birds and succumbing to moments of reflection. And sure enough, it is satisfying to see the results of of one’s labor!

There is another pragmatic and immediate benefit of this week’s weeding.  Mulch is scheduled for Saturday delivery and I want to inspect every inch of the beds to avoid stepping on or covering up emerging plants.

Cosmos Oct 16 2010

Lots of little seedlings were visible in the side garden yesterday, where last year’s largely failed project to fill the bed with annuals – zinnias, bachelor buttons and cosmos – occurred.

This combination should have been a sure-thing, but results were disappointing.  Some seedlings do appear to be zinnias.

Cleome June 26 2006

I will be on the lookout to protect any volunteering cleome (spider flower) as well, which in previous years had overflowed that garden bed.

The cleome’s flowers are so appealing that for a long time it did not matter the cleomes eventually obstructed the path and dominated everything else.

Cleome July 9 2006

Disciplining plants is not primarily important in my garden when they offer reliably luxurious bloom and color, but eventually I took action to suppress the seeds.  Now I hope a few of this old-fashioned plant survived.  Originally they were passed along to me for my previous garden by a friend who purchased seeds during a visit to Monticello.

Rain fell all night and at 7:15 AM it already is 56 degrees (on its way to 65).  More rain and storms are predicted during the day, so there may not be much chance to weed today.  It’s a sure bet the warming temperatures and last night’s rain will encourage even more weeds.  Will the weeding continue to feel more like opportunity than overwhelming challenge?