Summertime and outdoor dining go together and Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) was an attractive menu option this afternoon in the front side garden.
American painted lady (Vanessa virginiensis) has been around a few times in previous years.
This is the first time I have noticed the other butterfly, which I believe is Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus). Both were difficult to photograph as they flitted from one flower to the next and darted away when I got too near. The coneflower’s appeal soon drew them back, allowing me to get a bit closer.
I saw these ollas displayed for sale at the North Carolina Botanical Garden yesterday. Bury the unglazed clay pot leaving about 2 inches of the neck exposed. Fill with water. Plant within 18 inches from the center of the olla (creating a 3 foot circle that will be irrigated by the olla). Tempting. Have you tried this technique?
After featuring the red leaves of my dwarf oakleaf hydrangea in Monday’s vase I went back through some photos to evaluate how it looked earlier in the year. The sequence of its development each year is remarkable, so I thought I would share its colorful stages.
This is Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea). It was planted in April 2013 near a large Arizona cypress at the back of the western border, where it could receive some protection from the hot summer sun. It developed rich red leaves that first year and had one or two blooms the following spring, but in 2015 I moved it forward where it could receive more sunlight. Then it really took off.
April 30, 2017
By late April the hydrangea show begins. This oakleaf blooms on last year’s growth, but unlike the Hydrangea macrophylla in the garden, flower production has never been affected by cold weather.
May 8, 2017
The inflorescence can be about 9 inches long.
May 15, 2017
The deciduous shrub is said to mature quickly at 3 1/2 ft. tall to 4 to 5 ft. wide. Mine has not spread that wide, or maybe it has. I should measure!
May 31, 2017
The flowers open as pure white but in a couple of weeks take on a pink tinge.
June 27, 2017
In another month the flowers have developed a richer red hue. (Ignore those pink garden phlox in the background–an unplanned combination so shocking I almost like it.)
July 1, 2017
September 22, 2017
Eventually the flowers fade and at least in my hot summer garden, turn brown—the least attractive stage. I have no pictures of the oakleaf during this period.
Then in about September the leaf color begins to transform the shrub.
December 6, 2013
Brilliant red leaves developed even the first year.
December 21, 2016
Last winter I captured this frosty-rimmed scene.
November 25, 2017
And this year the color has warmed the garden with richness.
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ has been a successful addition to my garden. What’s your favorite shrub for extended seasonal color?