In case you haven’t noticed it’s National Pollinator Week. Butterflies seem scarce this year in my garden so it was nice to spot a lovely male swallowtail enjoying echinacea in the side garden.
Bumble Bee (Bombus griseocollis) identified through iNaturalist.
Friday and Saturday the garden gratefully welcomed more rainfall. By mid-morning Saturday the showers had stopped and I hurried out to see the first daylily blooms of the summer.
The garden is taking on a summer look.
Only a few Shasta daisies have opened. There are many tight buds.
Monarda and cleome have been blooming about a week.
Though not very tall, much of this pink yarrow was flattened by the rain.
Scattered throughout the borders, Purple coneflower is having a good year. Last year it scarcely made an impact at all.
The color and form varies widely.
I especially like the white echinacea, but it does not spread like its pink relatives.
Each Monday brings the chance to join Cathy’s In A Vase On Monday to share an arrangement using materials gathered from the garden.
Each July Fourth America celebrates Independence Day, acknowledging the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. Eschewing classic red, white and blues I opted for subtler, yet still bold, variations of the traditional colors. In several attempts I could not get reality aligned with my design ideas, so I ended up with four very different arrangements.
The shasta daisies are the fourth effort and my favorite. Creating this simple grouping was made easy using the colorful multi-stemmed vase.
The third try was a loose display of purple coneflowers, Blue Sky salvia, red dahlia, shasta daisies, and starring a lovely lavender gladiolus.
The second vase was composed of two coral gladioli among two hydrangea blooms. I liked this one also.
The first arrangement of gladioli, phlox, hydrangea and Blue Sky salvia was more formal.
The house is filled with flowers today—four arrangements for the Fourth. Have a happy day wherever you are.
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)
Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)
It is time again for Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina at Garden of the Hesperides.
Near the back steps, a passalong dahlia is preparing for its second year in my garden, courtesy of Libby at An Eye For Detail. The foliage looks strong and flowers are forming. I neglected to dig the dahlia last fall so am relieved to see it made it through the winter.
In the upper left of the image above, fragrant Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) is inconveniently growing up through where the garden hose is stored and needs to be reined back. In front of the monarda, a few dark red leaves of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are visible. Also here several plants of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) are pushing upwards through some impertinent clover and a ground cover of Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft). Foliage of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) peek through as well. The Aquilegia’s last remaining red flowers nod their heads.
Here is a closer look at the Echinacea and Aquilegia, with seeds formed on Iberis. The textures were not planned but do look interesting together.
The other side of the steps features a long, sunny border fronted largely by Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy).
Across the garden in its shadiest corner, several Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells) responded well to the recent rains and have grown substantially. Their multi-hued foliage is rich and full for the moment. Meanwhile Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not) finished blooming, but the smaller silvery, patterned leaves add a bright pop to this planting area (lower left of image). In back at left fern-like foliage of Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy) and sword-like iris leaves add height and texture.
In a small nearby border with a bit more sun grows more Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’. Its companion Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ has similar coloring. A stand of self-seeded Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) with long green, leathery leaves gives a change in texture and color.
Silvery shades of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and soon to bloom Lavender complement more leaves of Bearded Iris.
Four Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’ have been planted for about three years. Most are finally getting some size and buds are forming.
One of the August Beauty gardenias has been eclipsed by its aggressive neighbors. Soon the monarda will explode with red, inviting hummingbirds to sip its nectar, and dark pink flowers will grace the echinacea. But for now this spot is a relaxing green with Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ providing white accents—a cool, calm, peaceful interlude.
Thanks to Christina at Garden of the Hesperides for hosting. Read her foliage update and see more links to foliage perspectives from many parts of the world.
Monday brings the chance to share cut flowers from the garden by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday. I had hoped a promising anemone coronaria bud would make its way open in time for today’s vase, but in its stead is a variety of foliage and tiny blooms gathered yesterday morning.
The container is a small teacup from a favorite Pringle Pottery set, glazed in cream, light green and blue.
Dark red leaves of Husker Red Penstemon, feathery deep green Tansy fronds and a silvery-patterned, curving leaf of Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ provided a foliage framework for the arrangement.
Two fresh echinaceas, opening to a muted dusty pink, were the first flowers to be selected. To them were added a lone cluster of bright pink Achillea and a pair of lavender viola blossoms.
A few tiny flowers of Pink chintz thyme are still opening in the meditation circle and several sprigs of this thyme were included for their subtle dots of pink, as well as for foliage texture.
Dark burgundy flower heads of Verbena bonariensis were clustered toward the back. A couple of stems of white Iberis sempervirens were included to try to keep the design from becoming too dark.
Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft)
Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not)
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)
Stoneware cup glazed with bands of cream, green, blue. (from set of 4 cups and pitcher, Pringle Pottery, North Carolina, circa 1977).
All around us for weeks there have been tremendous downpours, but we have been missing most of the activity, just had lots of gray sky. There was a nice rain last night though. I need to invest in a rain gauge someday. We usually just measure by whether the big dip in the street’s pavement in front of our house is full of water. It is a pretty reliable measure. Although this morning it was not full, I was happy we had not been passed by completely.
The sun was back out today. I had time for a very quick tour of the garden this morning and enjoyed seeing the Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea) in the early light.
An Echinacea purpurea mysteriously appeared in the meditation circle this summer. It is compact, only a foot tall, and has rather oddly formed flowers, as if it is trying to be a double.
These older flowers are the ones that first caught my eye a few days ago.
This morning there were several freshly blooming flowers.
Also in the meditation circle’s path, the pinking shear circumference of this rain-washed white Dianthus flower caught my eye.
Today, the first Monday in September, is designated as Labor Day in the United States. It has been a federal holiday since 1894 to recognize the importance and contributions of workers. It is also time again to join in Cathy’s challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.
Although I love blue-hued flowers my garden most often seems to be filled with pink ones. Since for today’s arrangement I avoided reusing multicolored Zinnias and yellow Rudbeckia, today’s Monday vase is also filled with pink flowers.
Everlasting Sweet Pea is blooming better than it did at springtime and Obedient Plant is in its prime. Most of the Echinacea is attractive now only to the American goldfinches, but I found one large, fresh bloom to include. For a touch of blue I also chose a handful of Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ and more pink, a few stems of Verbena bonariensis.
I collected a mix of greenery to support the arrangement, so much in fact I later had to remove quite a bit to allow the flowers to stand out. The foliage is dark green Japanese holly, bright yellowish-green, Wintergreen boxwood and silvery Dutch Lavender.
The arrangement was created using floral foam in a shallow, plastic dish. The vase today is a small potato basket.
The basket is one of the first baskets I made one autumn many years ago during a 4 or 6-week program at The Arts Center in Carrboro.
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting Sweet Pea)
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Buxus microphylla var koreana ‘Wintergreen’ (Wintergreen boxwood)
Ilex crenata (Japanese holly)
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender)
Lomey 6″ clear designer dish
I found this old photo of my baskets. Commercial dyes were used to color the reeds and the color has faded considerably. The egg basket handles were formed of wisteria vine, a material easily found in my yard at the time. For several months my kitchen was filled with basketmaking materials. I made baskets for my daughter, my sisters and a special friend and gave them as Christmas presents that year and then never made another one.
Monday is here again bringing the chance to practice flower arranging by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.
With a Monday vase in mind I have had my eye on a white phlox that began blooming last week. New to the garden this year, this one is called Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ and is a dwarf garden phlox. Last night I gathered two of the only three blooms on the plant to use today. For companions to the featured phlox I selected a large bundle of lavender and some echinacea.
The day was busier than expected so I abandoned the idea of formally arranging the flowers and decided to eliminate the echinacea altogether. Using a Portmerion botanic vase that reflects the lavender and white coloring of today’s blossoms, I massed the phlox together in front and the lavender together in back for a simple display.
Once I photographed the flowers I was not satisfied with the design. My use of space struck me as more flat and two-dimensional than I would like. So in the end I decided to add an echinacea or two to get something happening on another plane. It took more than two but I liked the result.
Adding the echinacea made the arrangement more dynamic and definitely gave it a pop of color.
It is always instructive to explore and experiment with these arrangements. If I were to start over I can think of several other ways I might try to assemble the flowers. But this is it for today.
Phlox paniculata ‘White Flame’ (Dwarf Garden Phlox)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
In the eastern border that sits against the foundation of the house, Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) has grown tall, succeeding the Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) that bloomed here earlier. The red flowers should draw hummingbirds, as did the columbine.
In the western border of the main garden I have been monitoring the Chuck Hayes gardenias as they try to recover from the severe winter. One appears to be lost, but the others, despite showing the stress, will pull through
Meanwhile, a couple of passalong gardenias on the north side of the house recently came into bloom without me realizing it. Rooted from cuttings by my former neighbor, these went quickly from little 6-inch stems to 6 feet tall shrubs. Most of the blossoms have brown spots and do not look very attractive, but even with only a few fresh ones, they all smell luscious.
Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge) grows in a pot on the patio. I cut it back severely in early spring, doubting it had survived the winter, but it looks healthy now.
Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) has been blooming vigorously for weeks and is attracting bees.
In many spots around the garden clumps of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) are primed with buds. Just a few have opened so far, mostly along the southern border. These are drought-tolerant plants but they do better in years with plentiful rain.
Also along the southern border Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ is just beginning to flower.
Shasta daisies form a wall of green in a border near the back steps. They have seemed ready to bloom for a while now but are biding their time.
At the edge of the shasta daisies is a nice combination of Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage) and English Thyme.
This is the type of weather I used to wish for when I was a teenager visiting the beach: beautiful, bright and sunny—perfect for swimming and sunbathing, but not so wonderful for gardening.
For the last five weeks it has been terribly dry. Though some parts of this region had heavy precipitation, here in my garden during all of May there were only two rains, one so brief it seemed a tease. Again yesterday a thunderstorm formed overhead, then passed by without even dampening the ground or pavement. I have hand watered the garden a few times, but it desperately needs a good soaking that comes from some sustained, restorative rainfalls.
Happy Birthday Little Garden
This garden turned 13 on May 31.
I really have been letting the borders coast along this year. I have weeded and trimmed but have not done much planning or renewal. A few weeks ago I scattered packets of Bachelor’s buttons and zinnias to brighten several bare spots where several trees had to be removed. So far only a few seeds have responded to my benign neglect.
Anyway, whether it rains this week to encourage the zinnias or not, this garden is so much more. It has come a long way and it has brought me along. Together we have both grown. This quiet personal space I cultivate, cultivates and nurtures me as well. It is a peaceful retreat that brings a lot of satisfaction.
Each Monday brings opportunity to practice flower arranging by joining in Cathy’s weekly challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.
I think of my garden as an informal one, a cottage garden planted with old-fashioned, easy-to-grow favorites. Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow) began blooming about two weeks ago and Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant) opened just a couple of days ago. I took them as a starting point for creating this loosely arranged collection of blossoms.
Both of these plants produce their flowers in clusters (umbels). The flat-topped clusters of Appleblossum yarrow range in hue from a pale, straw yellow to this peachy colored one. The Asclepias, of course, is a bright, deep orange.
Now that the irises and peonies are but a memory for another year, the garden is transitioning toward summer flowers. Currently there is not a lot of any one plant dominant in the borders, so I gathered a bit of this and that to round out the cottage garden bouquet.
For foliage I selected Dusty Miller from a large silvery clump in the western border. For a tall, spiky accent I found two colors of Veronica spicata, ‘Pink Goblin’ and only slightly darker ‘Rotfuchs.’ Both are just coming into bloom.
Verbena bonariensis is finally taking hold in my garden after a few years of trying it in different locations. This week it is cheerful, still standing tall. The American goldfinches enjoy it and its stems bend gently under their ever so slight weight once they begin perching on it and harvesting seeds.
Three stems of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) provide round focal flowers for today’s arrangement. These flowers are just coming into bloom and usually I can still find one or two for a quick vase in October. Each year I try to add a few more of this native plant to the garden. The Echinacea’s orange cone center echoes the color of the Asclepias, which could be exploited in a more formal design for an interesting effect. The yellow-hued achillea works less well with the color of the Purple Coneflower.
Today’s floral container was handmade by local artist Jim Pringle of Pringle Pottery. A treasured wedding gift, this ceramic pitcher is part of a set that came with four cups similarly decorated in bands of blue, green and white. Together the pieces have held countless informal arrangements of garden flowers, but they are rarely used for beverages.
Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow)
Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)
Veronica spicata ‘Rotfuchs’ (Red Fox Veronica)
What A Plant Knows
Can we say that plants have senses? How do plants sense their environment and how do scientists study plant senses?
These are questions I am exploring for the next few weeks in a free, online class entitled What a Plant Knows (and other things you didn’t know about plants). The class is taught by Tel Aviv University Professor Daniel Chamovitz, who wrote a book by the same title.
The class began last week and I am enjoying it so much I wanted to mention it here. It is not too late to start the course, offered through Coursera, a company that offers massive open online courses (MOOCs).
We finally had much-needed rain this past week and even now there is a fine mist. It is cool 68.7 °F and gray, the opposite of last weekend when we had clear blue sunny skies and temperatures in the high 80s. Last Sunday I helped with a neighborhood plant swap. It was heartening to see the turnout of people (including some children) interested in sharing plants with each other.
I shared Monarda, Hedychium coronarium, and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ and in return, I could not resist some reblooming Irises of unknown color and a white peony, Paeonia Festiva Maxima. Today I found several rebloomers flowering in the garden.
The Swamp Sunflower continues to tower over the back border. Today it was covered with bees. On Thursday during a cold, heavy rain I spied a hummingbird stopping in to visit along the top of this plant. The hummingbirds are gone now and no more Monarchs ever showed up, just that one.
The Sedum gradually is turning brown now. The last time I photographed it a big grasshopper was sitting on it. No way to know if this is the same one but it looks completely cushioned by the tiny flowers.
As September 2013 winds down I have some photographs and notes to record. This is the fifth and final post in this series.
The Southern side path leads from the left front of the house toward the garden in the back. Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass) is blooming there currently. It sits at the bottom end of the path, just before the walk turns right to guide visitors through the white picket gate entrance.
Other plants featured at this time in the Southern side garden are Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Lavender, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood), Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue.’
An Iceberg rose belonged to a dear friend and though I am not much a a rose grower, this one is special for sentimental reasons. Since the weather cooled it has been reblooming.
I keep trying Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) in various spots around the garden. American Goldfinches love the seeds and look pretty against whatever remaining lavender flowers have not gone to seed.
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is reliable and that is reason enough to like it. Although it is always listed as drought-resistant, it really did a lot better than usual when we were having plenty of rain.
Last year I planted a row of three Italian Cypresses in back along the Northern border. Most of the time since, they have not looked quite convinced they should live and thrive, but do seem to be growing now a bit. Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) is planted nearby.
Self-seeded Zinnias are still blooming in the northeast corner of the garden, as well as in a border near the back steps. These are the giant variety so they add some much needed height to the garden. I have not seen any butterflies around them lately, but earlier they attracted many Eastern Tiger Swallowtails.
Partly cloudily, 66.6°F. at 7:25 pm, heading toward low tonight of 54°F. Warmer days for the rest of the week. No rain forecast. Waning crescent moon.
As September 2013 winds down I have some photographs and notes to record. This is the third of several posts.
Sometimes pictures of my garden are just too ugly to show. I think my photography has improved more than my gardening skills since I began blogging, as I try to find ways to show parts of the garden without revealing how it all really looks. No one wants to see, I reason, the spent flowers or unweeded patches, the air conditioner units or brick foundation, the odd item left out of place on the patio, the neighbors’ cars or such. And of course I want to show the garden at its best. So often the views I show are from the same points, where I can compose an image that hides some of the truth.
But I started pbmGarden in January 2011 as a way to plan and design changes for the garden. The blog was to be a way to work out ideas and document the progress of the garden. I was reminded of that point when I looked at yesterday’s pictures of the Southern border, compared to images from when I first began the blog 2.75 years ago.
In the picture above, taken yesterday, I was down on the ground trying to capture the freshness of this Echinacea about to bloom in front of French Lavender. The salmon-colored Salvia should be in the frame as well. Oh, and I told myself to try not to show utility boxes on the side of the neighbors’ house.
Below, here is another view from yesterday of the same area, looking from the middle of the garden toward the Southern border with its Blue Point Juniper hedge. Among other criticisms I was struck by how much flat wall I could see of the neighboring houses.
But it is actually helpful that photographs can go beyond the photographer’s vanity to show an honest record. When I look back at that border just after planting that hedge in February 2011 it is clear to me I have made some progress in this garden.
One of my big goals at the time was to gain some privacy so I could better enjoy gardening. Looking at the Southern border then one could easily understand why this was important. The yards were wide open.
Standing in my yard a month after the Blue Point Juniper hedge had been installed and looking toward the Southern Border (and the neighboring house beyond), I realized privacy was coming no time soon. I began making arrangements for a fence.
The fence was a costly budget item for this garden but when now when the lantana and other perennials die back in this winter, the garden will still retain a sense of enclosure and privacy.
Standing at the opposite side of the garden, again looking toward the Southern border, I notice how much the Blue Point Juniper hedge has grown.
While looking back through some photographs of the garden’s history today I was reminded how helpful it is to have lots of those images that tell the stark, ugly truth. They are useful in evaluating progress and in setting and recalibrating goals for the garden.
Of course for the blog it is always fun to throw in a beauty shot as well. Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) is blooming in several places around the garden.
There are several new notables in today’s garden. The Swamp Sunflower has grown way up into the sky, reaching ten feet or more during the past couple of months. Today, the first full day of autumn, a few of the yellow flowers finally emerged. This Helianthus is a native plant but it can spread aggressively so I try careful to watch it closely.
This little yellow spider, perhaps a flower crab spider, may be the same one I saw a week ago on this Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower).
A white-flowerd Alyssum was a garden star last summer and fall but this Easter Bonnet Violet has been quite the opposite this year. Planted in late April, it is only now gaining some confidence.
An unknown variety of Aster added to the garden when new, soon became unruly and spread so much I tried to remove it from the garden. It is defiant though and shows up year after year.
Salmon-hued Dianthus did well last year in the meditation circle. This year it did fine in spring, languished in summer and is now looking refreshed.
I came across an olive-green grasshopper standing firm and erect against an Echinacea stem and have tentatively identified it as a Differential grasshopper.
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.
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.
The Autumn Joy Sedum attracted this insect today (a wasp of some kind?) and a few bumble bees as well.
The Sedum’s flowers are deepening from light pink to a darker shade as they age.
Meadow Sage has rebloomed now that night temperatures are cooler.
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.
Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) died back during the hot summer but is returning with a fresh flush of new growth.
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.
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.
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.
Summer Solstice 2013 was at 1:04 AM (ET) on Friday, June 21.
Summer is my favorite season so I welcome its official arrival today. The weather is glorious—clear and sunny, only 78°F., humidity is low at 40%.
Summer is not the best time of year for my garden, that would be spring, but the weather has been fairly moderate with ample rainfall, so the garden is in stronger condition than usual as the seasons transition.
I always keep a few Gladioli and they recently began blooming.
When I began this garden I encountered some snobbishness from a young horticulturalist about growing Gladioli and I remember it was an odd moment. Never before had I really thought much about why one chooses to grow (or not grow) a particular plant. It is an interesting subject to me now. Preference is one thing and the avoidance of invasive species is a necessity, but why would a plant carry a social stigma?
I love reading about what other gardeners are growing and I enjoy learning about new (and old) plants. The gardener’s personality comes out in one’s plant choices, it seems to me, and that can make each garden quite special.
Though I mention that incident from long ago, I actually I never worry what the neighbors might think if they spot a Gladiolus in my garden. The tall spikes of blossoms remind me of summer and of my maternal grandmother, who grew rows of glads, as she called them, for cutting flowers. As a child I loved helping her make large and colorful bouquets for her sun porch and that memory seems reason enough to grow a flower.
As summer begins a few other plants characterize the garden. Echinacea and Salvia have been blooming for a few weeks now. Yesterday a friend offered me a piece of orange Echinacea ‘Sunset’ which I had recently vowed to quit trying to grow. I accepted without hesitation, of course, and will try to give it a good home.
A small container of mixed Sedum from last year has spilled over the sides of its pot and is flowering for the first time.
The garden at this point in June seems like an entirely new one—so different from the early spring palette. A salmon-orange Gladiolus from years ago brashly turned up in the Southern border today. I almost admired it for being so bold, but in the end I cut it and placed it in a nice vase indoors. Beebalm is in full bloom, Echinacea is maturing in many parts of the garden and last year’s Allium ‘Drumstick’ is back. All are attracting bees. A hummingbird visited the beebalm yesterday. There have been a few other hummingbirds this year, but now that the beebalm is blooming perhaps there will be many more.
A Foxglove mystery may be solved. This Foxglove has been in the garden since 2008 or 2009 and I thought it had caramel in the name, but never could find the tag. The coloring is creamy when the flowers first appear. Inside the flowers are yellow with reddish-brown veins and a hairy lip. Today I researched it a bit and hope I have it identified properly now. Could this be Digitalis ferruginea (‘Gelber Herold’, ‘Yellow Herald’, Rusty Foxglove)?
Today the weather was clear, hot and very humid, reaching 93°F. before severe thunderstorms passed through this evening. The winds overturned a bench and a flowerpot, but otherwise things seem ok for us. Some of our neighbors are reporting trees down, cable service lost and even roof damage.
Irises and Spiderwort
Despite the heat I chose today to dig up some of the dozens and dozens of Spiderwort that have aggressively expanded throughout most of the borders. I had to dig up many irises in order to get to the roots of the Spiderwort, so now there is a lot of work to replant some of the irises and find a good home for the rest. Fortunately the high temperature tomorrow will be a nice 81°F. so the work should be enjoyable. The irises have needed division for years, but actually they bloomed incredibly well this spring anyway. The amount of Spiderwort I managed to dig today is just a small portion of the total I want to remove.
This white one looked so innocent and beautiful this morning. Actually this particular clump has not spread like the others, but it is getting very large.
A variety of birds fill the garden with color and song. Fireflies or lightning bugs have been out in the evenings for several weeks. Frogs sing frequently and incessantly, though I have not seen one in the garden. A couple of little bunnies are nibbling Thyme in the meditation circle. No sign yet of the 17-year cicadas.
The Northern Border needs a lot of work. Now that the irises are finished this border is changing into a hodgepodge. Despite my efforts tradescantia is invading the iris beds and other aggressive plants have taken a strong-hold as well. Roses and Peony ‘Pink Parfait’ was ruined by the heavy rains this year. Fortunately I cut four peony stems early to enjoy inside.
In front of the peony a large planting of Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) bloomed very well during May. Now though it is flopping over and I have already cut part of it back. Nearby, a pass-along plant, Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox), was very late to open, but it made a strong show eventually.
Old-fashioned Sweet William were planted in this border in early spring and they are blooming beautifully now.
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is beginning to bloom in this northern border and throughout the garden.
This border is where I need to focus immediate attention.
While irises have captured most of my attention in the garden this spring, other plants have competently played supporting roles and many more are leading the way as transition toward the warmer season takes place.
An amaryllis I have been watching to develop surprised me today when it opened up and was white, not red. I also found one with a red bud nearby. These flowers did not bloom well last year and I had forgotten the particulars of them.
Pincushion Flower is an enchanting name for this plant, nicer sounding than Scabiosa. This plant seldom last more than a couple of seasons in my garden and this is year two. It has been blooming well this year, starting just over a month ago. The cooler temperatures and plentiful rain this spring seem to have kept it happy. If I can force myself to do regular deadheading it will help.
Slow to open this year the peony flowers show some browning after heavy rains this week. In the previous two years this ‘Pink Parfait’ bloomed by May 11, but this year, still waiting.
A Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ purchased last year is beginning to bloom. I enjoyed it last year so purchased 3 new ones this winter by mail order, this time ‘Red Fox’ Veronica. They arrived bare-root and are still very small.
This black iris has a few more blooms open today.
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) has been blooming for a couple of weeks and now several thymes are also beginning to flower. Echinacea is shooting up in many of the borders and forming buds. In the meditation circle Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ and Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ both opened today.
Every Southern garden should have hydrangeas and, thanks to Jayme at EntwinedLife, my garden has a healthy hydrangea that not only has survived, but is forming flowers. Thank you Jayme.
This year I ordered an Allium Raspberry and Cream Collection, which is in fact a mixture of Allium Nigrum and Allium Atropurpureum. One Allium Nigrum is open this week.
To end this this garden tour today I will mention my family’s old-fashioned rose that my grandmother and mother grew. This was passed along eons ago by my mother’s cousin and my dear garden mentor. She shared with me so many of her favorite plants and they have become my favorites too.
Thunder rumbles in the distant night after a nice spring day. There was a brief shower early this morning and then the sun peeked in and out. Temperatures are warming and the garden quickly has become more lush and full, a very different garden than just a few days ago.
Echinacea and Canna are emerging.
Tender young foliage weaves in and out offering strong textural and color contrasts, although they are more observed than actually planned.
The Baptisia ‘Purple Smoke’ is blooming. (Certain plants are difficult to photograph and this is one.)
Only a few flowers are present so far in this massive planting of Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion).
The highlight of the garden is the Irises, now in full bloom.
One week before the autumnal equinox, large puffy clouds adorn the deep blue sky. It is a beautiful, sunny day, 79°F.
This Stargazer Dahlia is a cactus-flowered dwarf variety. Grown from seed and passed-along a few years ago by a dear neighbor, this lone survivor returns annually without any special attention.
Speaking of survivors, this tomato was a surprise, surprise when I discovered it last week growing underneath a bird feeder. My next-door neighbor grows beautiful and delicious tomatoes and I assume a little bird thoughtfully brought this into my garden.
A patch of zinnias is finally adding some cheerful color in a back corner of the property. Mixed seeds always seem to be mostly pink but finally a few yellow, coral and orange are blooming now.
Though most have faded by this point in the season, several Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) continue to display fresh blossoms.
Tradescantia (Spiderwort) are a very favorite flower but they have become so aggressive I have had to cut back, pull up, and repeat the same removal process over and over throughout the summer. The result is that many Tradescantia are still present and blooming. My former garden has very heavy clay and lots of shade and the tradescantia stayed very well-contained, but here it is too spready. This white blossom is an unusual one, most in this garden are blue or violet.
The gardenia shrubs continue to be welcomingly fragrant. This is one of the Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’ that grow along the western border of the garden. The newly planted ‘August Beauty’ variety is doing well but it will be some time before it can provide much screening to hide the heating and air conditioner units.
Roses are not my forte but this Rosa ‘Iceberg’ belonged to a special friend who passed away a few years ago. Several times I have almost given up on it but it did not give up. So here is this lovely bloom today as a special reminder of a special person. I enjoy that gardens can honor memories and cultivate friendships. Thanks for visiting my garden today.