Another beautiful day in central North Carolina and it would have been a day perfect for working in the garden, but the day passed another way. Early this morning there were just a few moments to enjoy the crispness of the air, notice the bird sounds, greet next-door neighbors and savor that feeling one gets from being outside among the flowers.
With Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) now in full bloom, the western border is shifting away from the mostly blue color palette of spring. Similar transitions are occurring all over the garden as brighter colors, rich enough to compete with the sun’s bright glare, are beginning to dominate.
[Unfortunately the garden’s beautiful red-orange daylilies became deer food this weekend. They were ruined along with the garden’s secret hoard of phlox paniculata.]
Plants of white and silver work well as counterpoints against deep, bright hues such as these strong reds. Silver leaved plants such as perennial Dusty Miller, Artemisia and Lavender are useful in that they can make colors stand out, but they also can provide a restful tranquility to the garden.
Some white gladioli are already open; the dense spikes of white Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather) should bloom in another 7-10 days; and the white delicate-looking but sturdy annual, Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum), is filling out nicely and should make a good ground cover near the Monarda for the entire summer.
Today it was announced North Carolina is completely drought-free for the first time in two years.
This could change, as surely many hot summer days are ahead, but this remarkable spring with its generous rains has been a welcoming one for flowers in this Chapel Hill garden.
Gladioli and Liatris spicata have grown strong and tall and Hemerocallis (Daylily) looks well nourished. Even native and drought-tolerant perennials such as Monarda and Echinacea are noticeably healthier, with richer foliage and color.
This evening temperature is 79°F, still quite sunny with blue sky.
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.
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.
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.
Early this morning Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Canna waited in the shade as the sun slowly moved to warm these sun-loving perennials.
Echinacea purpurea is native to Eastern USA and bees find it attractive. Later American Goldfinches will enjoy its seeds.
While it still can this bee should enjoy the Tradescantia (Spiderwort) that abounds in the garden. This week I am making some progress in cutting it back, but am finding it difficult work to remove it by the roots.
Although afternoon temperatures reached 92 degrees, the garden this morning was pleasant and mostly shaded, perfect for welcoming visitors to view the flowers. So when a neighbor and her friend walked by while I was taking pictures in the front side garden, I eagerly asked them to come to the back to see my garden.
This year, more than in any other year, I have felt comfortable with the state of the garden overall and am happy when I can share this place. It is not perfect, of course, but some key garden renovation projects during the last year have made the garden much more cohesive and have given it personality. The meditation circle is one such project and today my neighbor’s friend walked the meditation path, experiencing a labyrinth for her first time. It was a nice morning in the garden.
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.
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.
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.
Monarda and Lantana are teasing with a bit of color today.
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.
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).
The annual Angelonia ‘Blue’ in the meditation circle has begun to grow now that the weather is hotter.
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.
An early evening shower splashed onto the garden briefly, leaving the air thick and humid and the flowers slightly heavy, weighted by tiny water droplets.