Tag Archives: monarda

Mid-June Musings

Garden View In JuneThe 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

Iris Border

Iris Border

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.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

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.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Garden Fauna

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.

Mid-July Musings

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

‘Chuck Hayes’ Gardenias began blooming at the end of May this year and since then a few occasional blossoms have continued to appear. This particular bush lost several limbs last week when the top of a neighbor’s Loblolly Pine came crashing down during a severe wind and rain storm. The jolt seems to have encouraged a few more flowers.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Temperatures are heading toward 100 today. A few individual heat-loving plants are going strong, but for the most part the garden is shutting down. There are no lush drifts of color or interesting plant pairings to note.

There are still plenty of bees around enjoying such delicacies as Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes,’ Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue), Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) and Salvia ‘Blue Sky.’

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) began flowering on the last day of May and though it looks stressed from the heat, blooms continue to appear. For the past three weeks hummingbirds have been regular visitors.

Goldfinches dart among the tired and ragged seed heads of Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower). For a while longer I can justify leaving the drying coneflowers for the birds, although their sprawling stalks (and most of the garden in general) have become very unsightly. This garden is definitely at its best in Spring.

Shifting Palette

Western Border With Gladioli, Liatris, and Echinacea

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.

Western Border With Gladioli and Echinacea

Western Border With Gladioli and Echinacea

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

[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.

Dusty Miller


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.

Sweet Alyssum

Drought-free Vignettes

Gladiolus and Liatris Spicata

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.

All In Good Time

Minty fragrant leaves of Monarda didyma (Scarlet Bee Balm) had emerged by the first week of January, but unlike so many plants that bloomed early this year, Monarda is beginning to flower at exactly the same time as last spring. I have been watching and waiting for several weeks now for the first red flowers to appear, but for this eastern North American native yesterday was soon enough.

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)

January Winds Down

On this fifty-seven degree sunny afternoon, a mild breeze lifts the fragrance of Daphne odora wafting into the air.

Held up by a very cold winter, last year the hellebores began blooming by February 19 and continued through June 20, 2011. This winter they began blooming a month ago on December 30, 2011.

With its scent noticeable for a few weeks now, the aromatic Monarda didyma (Bergamot, Scarlet Beebalm) is growing. Beebalm is native to this area.

Monarda (Scarlet Beebalm)

Another native, Cercis canadensis L. (Eastern Redbud), is volunteering under the back steps, at least I think this is a redbud.

A Volunteer - Redbud?

Magenta Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) will be back in the garden this year thanks to a neighbor who shares my passion for these old-fashioned flowers. The garden is full of white rose campion grown from seed, but for some reason the magenta ones, which had been passed-along many years ago by a dear cousin, had disappeared. Rose campion are not native but generally do well in this climate, reseeding easily.

Rose Campion