Tag Archives: perennials

MidAugust Blooms

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Echinacea have been a mainstay this summer, drawing bees, hummingbirds and American Goldfinches to the borders. The blooms on this white one, Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’, really improved after the recent rains.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

By design I have a lot fewer Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy) and Tradescantia (Spiderwort) in the garden this year, both of which were becoming rather aggressive spreaders.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort) and Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort) and Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

The sap of Tradescantia lately is causing me to have an itchy skin contact rash. For that reason and because I want to control its spread, I tried not to allow it to bloom at all this year, but a few sneaky flowers remind me why I have enjoyed it for so many years.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

I have simply grown tired of Shasta daisy after letting it roam for a lot of years.  One entire bed was taken over by this plant, so I still have a lot of work to do to tame it.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) are pairing up in a lovely color combination. This salvia also spreads freely but I have finally learned to be ruthless in pulling it out when it wanders too far.

Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage) and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) and Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ is finally blooming again encouraged by the recent rains.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

This passalong everlasting Sweet Pea looked miserable most of the summer but, like the Black and Blue salvia, it was rejuvenated by the rainfall.  I planted annual sweet peas seeds this year but none survived.

Perennial Everlasting Sweet Pea

Perennial Everlasting Sweet Pea

The bird feeder is always a source of entertainment and occasionally the birds plant a few flowers for themselves. I am not sure exactly what this volunteer is but it is cheerful enough.

Birdfeeder Volunteer

Birdfeeder Volunteer

For the first time in many years my Stargazer Dahlia, did not return, done in by the cold winter I suppose. It was a passalong from a friend and former neighbor and so I missed not seeing it this year.  In spring though I had picked up a dinner plate Dahlia bulb, packed in a fairly generic-looking box, but labelled to have come from The Netherlands.

Dinner Plate Dahlia 'Blue Bell'

Dinner Plate Dahlia ‘Blue Bell’

Well the dahlia has finally bloomed. Granted I selected a poor spot for it, but I do not think it will  reach the promised “up to eighteen blooms per plant.” Neither does the size nor color correspond to the package at all. The flower is beautiful though and I am happy to have another dahlia for the garden.



A Late-Morning February Walk

After a few more cold and wet days the sun returned today and we enjoyed an ever so brief walk at Duke Gardens this morning. This garden is interesting at every visit, but it was reserved and understated today. The terrace gardens are immaculately groomed and primed to burst into color soon, with all the beds full of the green leaves of emerging bulbs.

Bright red berries of Ilex verticillata (Winterberry holly) stood out at the Perennial Allée entrance.

Perennial Allée, Duke Gardens

Perennial Allée, Duke Gardens

Winterberry Holly, Perennial Allée, Duke Gardens

Winterberry Holly, Perennial Allée, Duke Gardens

The allee is planted with cherry trees and sedge [Carex ‘Amazon Mist’ (New Zealand hair sedge), I think. Need to verify during next visit.]

Winterberry Holly, Perennial Allée, Duke Gardens

Winterberry Holly, Perennial Allée, Duke Gardens

On our way out we stopped and watched a couple of mallards enjoying the water.

Mallard Ducks, Duke Gardens

Mallard Ducks, Duke Gardens

Mallard Duck, Duke Gardens

Mallard Duck, Duke Gardens

Mallard Duck, Duke Gardens

Mallard Duck, Duke Gardens

Early January Notes

During my frosty morning walk the sun had just begun to peek into the meditation garden, illuminating the burgundy and green hued leaves of this Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue).

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

A very few orange gardenia hips have recently appeared on the ‘Chuck Hayes.’

A patch of Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum) from summer surprisingly has withstood the cold nights. This delicate-looking annual is reputed to be cold hardy (and heat tolerant), but probably Its location near the foundation of the house is giving it some extra protection.

Lobularia hybrid 'Snow Princess' (Sweet Alyssum)

Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum)

Hellebores are not as early in blooming as last year, though I did find a few fattening buds. Camellias continue to bloom and provide sweet fragrance. Several Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft) flowers are visible but nothing to compare with last year’s early and prolonged display. Weeds are cropping up around the beds, especially the rather invasive Cardamine hirsuta (Hairy Bittercress). The garden is overdue for a few heavy maintenance days.

Finally, one plant I noticed and photographed during a recent arboretum visit was Abutilon megapotamicum ‘Little Imp’ (flowering maple). Native to Brazil this shrubby mounding plant begins blooming in spring and still carried a quite a few of its little lanterns on the last day of December. The red calyx (or group of sepals) surrounds the yellow flowers to form its little lanterns.

A Memory Plant

Newly open in the garden today is an old-fashioned chrysanthemum, a sweet pass-along plant from a dear relative many years ago.

This chrysanthemum has woody-stems about 3 feet tall, but they are not strong enough to hold the flowers upright once they begin to open. I try to remember to pinch back the buds, but am too inconsistent to ever learn if pinching would keep the stems shorter and the plant tidier. A nearby rose and its other neighbors provide some support, but admittedly the chrysanthemum sprawls quite a lot.

To many, these characteristics would seem not to recommend it, but I do enjoy having this plant in the garden.

The blossoms are small but abundant.


The deep lemon-hued petals pale toward white as they unfurl. The cheerful blooms are long-lasting indoors and here in the garden they should brighten the southwest border for weeks to come.


My garden is full of memory plants. Like having a visit from an old friend, I always am glad to see this chrysanthemum.

Early October Garden

Days of cool rain marked the year’s transition from September to October. The harvest moon remained hidden behind deep clouds.

Yesterday, temperatures and humidity rose dramatically. This afternoon the sun broke through the clouds lifting the temperature to 86F, quite a change from highs in the mid-sixties at the weekend.

Certain signs of autumn belie today’s warm weather. Berries now adorn the Flowering Dogwood, whose leaves had already browned in July’s extended dry spell.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

A windblown spire of Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) rests against of Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop). The Salvia’s pink calyx reflects the ruddy, rusty hue of the flowering Stonecrop.

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage) and Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

A multicolored flower petal of ‘Blue Sky’ Salvia sits suspended in a spider’s complex world.

‘Blue Sky’ Flower In Spider’s Web

The burgundy Chrysanthemum in the background has bloomed most of the summer and now complements the rose-colored wisps of fall-blooming Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass). In the foreground stands a spent stalk of Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage).

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Chrysanthemum, Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass)

Blue-violet Ageratum brightens a dark corner of the garden.


Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower), became very aggressive and was theoretically removed from the garden a few years ago. Unaware of its banished status, it displays brilliant yellow blossoms annually.

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower)

The annual, Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon), has bloomed throughout the summer among the stepping stones of the meditation circle.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

The meditation circle itself is soggy this week and needs attention.

Pine-bark mulch now sits in drifts, having been swept across the stone paths during the recent heavy rainfalls.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) still performs satisfactorily, while generous green mounds of Thyme surpass expectations.

Unfortunately other evergreen perennials that were chosen specifically for their drought-tolerance, Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon (Beardtongue), are brown and may not recover. ‘Purity’ was beautiful all winter and spring and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ was lovely in spring, but both choices will need to be reevaluated for long-term performance.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – September 2012

Each month Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), hosted by Christina of Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides, is an opportunity to examine the contributions of foliage in one’s garden.  It is 83F this afternoon, the first day of autumn, sunny with a gentle breeze.

Primed to focus on foliage I started out walking around the front of the house this morning where glossy leaves of Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne) shone in the early light. The anomaly of red-tinged buds was an unexpected sight.

Daphne odora ‘Aureomarginata’ (Winter daphne)

Along the north side of the house is a very narrow strip separating our property from the neighbors’ drive. Planted at the northeast corner of the house is a Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ and just beyond are several gardenias (variety unknown) that have bloomed well this year.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Both the camellia and the gardenia are trouble-free but do require some light pruning to keep from extending into the neighbors’ driveway. I had to trim them last month which I think stimulated this new growth on the Sasanqua.

New Growth On Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

Listed variously as fall-blooming and winter-blooming, this Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’ bloomed last year by November 1.

Camellia sasanqua ‘Yuletide’

A friend rooted the gardenias that grow here now and presented them to me when they were just six or eight inches tall about ten years ago. This view is looking west toward the main garden.

Gardenia in Northern Border

Both the camellia and the gardenias are evergreen with nice glossy leaves.  These shrubs serve to hide utility units from the street, but flowers, such as this creamy Gardenia flower, are a bonus.

Gardenia Flower in Northern Border

Next to the gardenias is a grouping of Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) which add deep green color and texture now and will enliven this area in winter and spring when they bloom.

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)

Moving down beyond the Hellebores the rest of the north side strip is planted mostly with Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) and Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed) that took over. The Aegopodium can be invasive and I have planned for several years to remove it. It will die back in the winter.

Narrow Property Strip

The reddened leaves of Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) suggest a sense of autumn.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

This variegated Aegopodium is a shade-loving ground cover.

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed)

Flowering Dogwoods are native here but this is not a good example of one. It turned brown during a three-week dry spell in July and never recovered. Flowering dogwoods usually have beautiful red foliage in the fall.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

The dogwood is setting fruit.

Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) Fruit

In front of the house near the street the Crape Myrtle that was blown over in July is rallying.  I was unable to match the variety reliably for a replacement so decided to see how it works out to let the tree recover on its own.  There are utility lines nearby so this is the easiest and least expensive approach.

Crape Myrtle

Crape Myrtle

Thanks to Christina for hosting this look at foliage.  For inspiration visit her at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides where you can find links to other Garden Bloggers Foliage Day entries.

White Ginger Lily Inflorescence

I had just a moment this afternoon to admire the first blossoms of Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) before a heavy downpour sent me running inside.

First flowers of Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Each day until frost several flowers should emerge and open with a sweet perfume evocative of gardenia.

Newly opened and  emerging flowers of Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

This is sometimes called Butterfly Lily for its resemblance to white butterflies or Garland flower because individual flowers are collected and used to create garlands.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) bud

Anomalous August

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Last year I did not post anything here during the month of August. By then in 2011, summer had been so inhospitably hot and dry, the garden and I retreated until mid-September.

Well what a difference a year makes. Weather has been hot and sometimes dry, but enough rain came this summer to encourage plants to keep trying. August in the garden this year has been a surprise, deviating from the normal rule of brown and more brown.

Sweet peas have bloomed all summer, highly unusual. This is not the sweet-smelling type, but rather a passed-along perennial one that has no fragrance, Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea).

Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ stopped blooming during the hottest part of July but by early August it perked up. I suppose extra rain must have helped it.

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

This ‘Dark Pink’ Butterfly Gaura and ‘Angelface Blue’ Angelonia continue to add color in a small front yard border garden that is new this year.

Gaura Belleza ‘Dark Pink’ (Butterfly Gaura) , Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

Cleome is an old-fashioned favorite. Many have set seed, others are just starting to bloom. The plant as it transitions through various phases is an architectural marvel.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Lantana nearly wilted under the 105F. days of July, but has begun blooming profusely again.

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

One of two Crape Myrtles at the front walk broke off in a storm just before bloom time in early July. This remaining one has bloomed for eight weeks.

Crape Myrtle

The gardenias usually rebloom but with this year’s additional rainfall have been especially beautiful.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge) is underplanted with an annual, ‘Snow Princess’ Sweet Alyssum. I have never been able to get Euphorbia to survive before, but this one has done pretty well in a ceramic pot. It seems to require a lot of water and I did give it a few extra waterings.

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge) and Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess’ (Sweet Alyssum)

Here is another look at the alyssum. I have not planted this little annual for many years and was happy to rediscover it this year.

Lobularia hybrid ‘Snow Princess®’ (Sweet Alyssum)

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’ bloomed March until May this spring. It recently began flowering again.

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

I just purchased three Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ to add to the borders.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude) (Stonecrop)

Zinnias were slow to take hold but finally are generating garden color and bouquets.


Foliage and flowers of Shasta Daisy dried up under the sering July heat. The plants were cut back by one-half and have bloomed sporadically throughout August.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ has brightened the garden since July. Next year I need to remember to stake it.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Just yesterday I noticed a flower forming on the Ginger Lily. It is open today a little bit more. Also found two more buds.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

I purchased Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan) Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower) from the North Carolina Botanical Garden this spring. Deer or rabbit, something has been eating it and for a while it totally seemed to disappear. Now it is trying again. At the Botanical Garden today I saw lovely groups of these in flower.

Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower)

This Buddleja was crushed under a neighbor’s falling pine in early July. I had been meaning to remove it from the garden anyway because it is now considered invasive in this area. It revived itself with extra vigor.

Buddleja davidii (Butterfly Bush)

Getting a good photograph of Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) has proved difficult, but I wanted to include it here anyway. Having started blooming at the end of May, this Russian Sage is becoming even fuller now and is arching toward a poorly sited Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass).

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Unusually lush, August this year has felt like an anomaly. Even most of the Fescue lawn is still green. No time off for the gardener/garden blogger this month.

Ginger Lily Surprises

As I was walking in the side garden today, suddenly a stand of Hedychium coronarium (White Ginger Lily) just beginning to bud caught my attention. In good years fragrant white flowers will perfume the garden in late summer to early fall and it looks like this might be one of those special years.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

This Ginger Lily, a pass-along plant from a horticulturist neighbor, has been an unreliable bloomer, but when it does bloom the effect is so memorable as to make it worth keeping it around just in case.

With plenty of heat and humidity this summer, conditions have been just right for ginger lily to thrive. Though there have been no showers for the past five or six days, there has been a good amount of rain overall, sending these moisture-loving plants up four to five feet in height.

Sometimes called butterfly ginger because individual flowers are reminiscent of butterflies, this perennial is thought to be native to the Himalayas. It is the national flower of Cuba. It dies back to the ground during winter in this zone-7b garden.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily) With Hyla cinerea (Green Treefrog)

The second ginger lily surprise today was the discovery of a Hyla cinerea (Green Treefrog) hanging out mid-day, flattened against one of the nearly two feet long leaves enjoying the shade.

Yellowish green with an ivory stripe along its side and yellow dots on its back, this Green Treefrog will be searching for flying insects later tonight.

Hyla cinerea (Green Treefrog)

Rudbeckia Hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ cheers up the southern entrance to the garden this week. The long stalks, blown over in a storm, rest amid some Monarda that is enjoying an extended blooming period. Yellow and red are not a favored color combination in my garden, but the monarda is not usually blooming at this time of year. In general the garden is doing better than average for August. Almost all the blooms are happenstance, much appreciated happenstance.


Thyme For Meditation

Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme)

Thyme in the meditation circle is green and healthy. After a year of growth it has gently spread, helping to soften the path of stepping stones. I am not completely convinced the trays were correctly labeled when I purchased these plants last year, but they were marked Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme). This thyme is not fragrant at all, but I must have thought with “citriodorus” in the name, it would be become fragrant eventually!

Dianthus and Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) Along Meditation Path

Drought-tolerant plants were selected for this labyrinth and some that performed great last summer may be staying too wet this summer. A few heavy downpours knocked over plants several weeks ago, blocking many of the paths. Yesterday was clean-up time.  I sheared away lots of Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) and Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon) to open up the stepping stones.

While some of the Pike’s Peak are still blooming, many are brown and look like they may not even survive. Similarly the center planting of Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) has died back significantly. Iberis bloomed from December to May this year and maybe just needs a rest. It may revive in the fall, but at this point last August, the Candytuft was lush and healthy-looking.

Meditation Circle


I realize the fence along back of the Western border looks awfully bright. While a new ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Cypress gets established, a mix of annuals were supposed to fill the void and provide vibrant summer color along the back fence.  The seeds did poorly though, giving just one small group of zinnias.  The cypress is growing fine though.

During a few weeks of drought and extreme temperatures in July, the garden had quickly turned brown and dried up. Convinced the garden was finished until September, I turned my attention elsewhere. Then something interesting happened. Rains returned and the garden responded. Now the garden overall is probably the greenest it has been in August for years. The last few summers have been so discouragingly dry, I failed to recognize and appreciate that this summer was different. 

So yesterday I began to make amends. I trimmed back some Shasta Daisies, Echinacea and a few other things to make them tidier and to encourage re-blooming. I did save a few cone heads for the American Goldfinches. There is still a lot of clean-up to do, but now I am much more motivated to make plans for autumn plantings.

Though an annual, the Angelonia should provide color into October.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

Everlasting Pea

In the southern border this week Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting Sweet Pea) is reblooming.

Normally, this Sweet Pea would have died back by this time of year, but instead it has lush green foliage and many cluster of pink, presumably stimulated by this summer’s odd heat and rain patterns.

In its current sunny garden location this Sweet Pea vine has higher aspirations for climbing than its trellis can support, so for now it is forced to sprawl among its neighbor, Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage).

This perennial came from my previous (and shady) garden eleven years ago, one of many pass-along plants from a dear relative.

Though not fragrant, the pink blossoms hold a certain old-fashioned charm.

‘Blue Sky’ Salvia and Everlasting sweet pea

Smiles and Starts

In the meditation circle this morning numerous bees were flitting in and out of the Penstemon  mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue). Watching them back out of the purple, bell-shaped flowers made me smile.

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue)


one bee seemed to stumble awkwardly

and fall a foot or so

from the top of the blossom

it had targeted.

The bee struggled for a moment but then regained control and flew away, thus escaping the trap set by this ominous-looking spider.

Argiope aurantia (black and yellow garden spider)

I had not noticed the spider myself and was startled to realize its presence.

I think this is a Argiope  aurantia (black and yellow garden spider), a common garden spider in the U.S. and not harmful to humans.  This spider incorporates a dense white zigzag in the center of its orb web.  This zigzag feature is a stabilimentum, the purpose of which is not confirmed, but one possibility is to warn birds away from the web. Interestingly stabilimenta are only found in spiders that are active during the day.

Closing Out June — Yellowing, Browning, Wilting, Crisping

Despite many ominous indicators around the garden, Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ cheerfully showed itself off in the new front garden.

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

I worry most about the shrubs and trees, which take so long to establish and are so expensive to replace. Inexplicably though, I spend the most time watering the Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes,’ which is ever so close to blooming, and also the patch of annuals where this morning I discover the first zinnia flower of the summer. Last year’s ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge gets a reasonable amount of water.

Watering the garden is something I rarely do, but for two of the last three days I have entered the garden very early and dragged around a water hose, encouraging selected plants to deeply soak in as much as possible of this cool, wet offering in preparation for serious times ahead.

The garden’s situation is diminishing rapidly as no appreciable rain has fallen here in a few weeks. The temperature was 105°F. yesterday and today is 102°F. so far this mid-afternoon. (These days forecasts are frequently supplemented with the feels like number, so I must add it currently feels like 105°F. if one takes the heat index into account.)

How do the plants like it? Much of the Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ is shriveled and no longer blooming. Shasta daisies are wilting, wilting, with many of the 4-foot stems simply flopping over. Other floppers include the northern border’s rosy Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower), which tends to land askew, pushing anything nearby down as well.

Almost evergreen here most years, the foliage of German bearded iris is yellowing throughout the garden. [Those irises really need to be divided this year.] Tall fescue lawn never tolerates the summer well and is a crispy brown, receding visibly and opening up patches of hard, cracked earth where weeds are waiting to take hold.

The garden always holds some measure of optimism. Just as I had begun to worry about it, thyme in the meditation circle (Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme)) presented a tiny little bloom yesterday. And today’s early morning walk around the meditation path was peaceful and full of sighs.

Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme)

Since starting to write this article our neighborhood lost electricity due to the demands from the serious heat wave. After 45 minutes it has come back on. Other neighbors across the highway were without power for 4 hours.

What Is Missing?

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed) 5/27/2011

My neighbor gave me some Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) this spring, so just as I got those re-introduced into the perennial garden, I noticed the Foxglove do not look like they will bloom this year. And where are the Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed)? There should be at least three of these native milkweed species plants providing larval food for Monarch butterflies. The one pictured above was flowering in late May last year.

Realizing several things are missing from the garden this year made me think back to some other plants that were once important to the garden, but are no longer around.

Colocasia (Elephant Ear) and Cornus C. Kousa Dogwood both succumbed to back-to-back drought years, but were great features in 2006. The Kousa never bloomed though.

Colocasia (Elephant Ear) 7/5/2006

Kousa Dogwood 7/5/2006

Eutrochium purpureum (Joe-Pye Weed) was actually called Eupatorium purpureum when this first grew in my garden. A native eastern North American plant, Joe-Pye can grow 5-8 feet. I planted this in a spot too close to the house and was not able to move it. Now I see places in the back of the borders where one might do well.

Eutrochium purpureum (Joe-Pye Weed) 7/18/2006

Both Rudbeckia hirta var. angustifolia (Black-eyed Susan) and Crocosmia should be easy to grow here. Both have repeatedly been added to the garden but they do not stay around.

Black-eyed Susan 9:6:2009

Crocosmia 7/25/2006

Hydrangeas are also finicky in this garden, probably not getting enough water in the years I have tried them. With all the rain this year perhaps one would have thrived. They grow all around this area, including next-door, so it is certainly possible. Asiatic Lily, Phlox Paniculata and Hosta were highlights in the garden’s early years. Deer have made these too frustrating to grow.

Hosta and Bishops’ Weed 5/25/2006

The garden is starting to slow and I am wondering what plants to add to give it more structure and carry it further into the summer. Trips to garden centers and public gardens are in order for inspiration.

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

Last Day of May

Canna and Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

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.

Canna and Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

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.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

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.

After A Brief Shower

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.

Newly Blooming

Fragrant Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’ and a few other plants are newly blooming in this Chapel Hill garden today.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Long before the garden’s picket fence was installed ‘Chuck Hayes’ was planted as a low privacy hedge in the western border. Both evergreen and deer resistant this gardenia variety is very cold hardy in this area. It prefers regular watering, but seldom is anything watered in this garden beyond a week or two after planting. The hedge is benefitting from the very significant amounts of rain the garden has received all winter and spring. It also responded well to the Epsom salts I applied a month ago when some of the leaves began to yellow. Many of the original ‘Chuck Hayes’ shrubs were lost to drought and the spots left bare are gradually being replaced with taller plants that can provide more privacy.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

Nearby the first clusters of flowers have opened on the Butterfly bush (possibly Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’).

Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’? (Butterfly bush)

Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’? (Butterfly bush)

The bees are finding plenty of food, including this Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell), which actually has been blooming for a few weeks now, not just starting today. It seems much revived after last night’s elaborate thunder and lightning storm that brought heavy amounts of rain.

Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)

Pale delicate flowers of Lavender are open today at last and bees are finding it irresistible.  In the background are drifts of pink Achillea and the ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge planted last year.

Lavender and Pink Achillea

The first blossoms of Salvia ‘Blue Sky’ appeared today, revealing this flower’s characteristic azure blue brilliance atop a 5-foot flower stalk.

Salvia ‘Blue Sky’

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’  is not quite open, but a little of the white flower is visible. The soft grass-like foliage provides a nice texture in the northern border.

Liatris spicata ‘Alba’

One more newly opened flower today, a cheerful Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy). There are many large clumps of this herbaceous perennial all around the garden, so soon this single blossom should have plenty of company.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – May 2012

Today I am participating in GBFD and examining how foliage enhances the garden.

Rising along the southern path medium green, smooth foliage of Hedychium coronarium or Ginger lily contrast deeply with silvery Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) and Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion). Hedychium has fragrant white tropical blooms for a brief time in the fall, last year not until late October. It seems to be thriving this year due to the regular rainfalls.

Hedychium coronarium (Ginger lily)

Here is another look at the thick, strongly textured Stachys byzantina and Lychnis coronaria along the path. This section of the path is generally very dry.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear), Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion)

Lavender with its long, narrow and also silver leaves has seemed almost ready to flower for several weeks. It is used as a short foundation hedge.


At the end of a narrow bed along the driveway thick, bronzed stems and leaves of this Canna provide some strong color. The large leaves and color of this canna make it a nice companion for neighboring Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower). By late June the canna’s rich, orange blossoms will echo the orange centers of the coneflower.


Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Canna

At the front of the Western border perennial Dusty Miller provides a silver and feathery foil to Tradescantia (Spiderwort), whose flowers are closed tight by late afternoon.

Dusty Miller

Long, basal leaves of several Digitalis (Foxglove) contrast with leaves of Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy).

Foxglove and Shasta Daisy

This is the same clump of Shasta Daisy as above. Behind it is feathery, airy Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow). The large shrubs in the back are spiraea on the left and gardenia on the right. Also visible on the right is an emerging clump of Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes.’

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy),Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow)

This is another look at the foliage of Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes.’ The original plant has not been blooming well the last couple of years so I planted a division in an area of the garden where it should get more sun. Monarda is creeping into its space.

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

The strong vertical movement of the swordlike Gladiolus leaves is repeated by the flower stalks of Meadow Sage ‘May Night’ while succulent leaves of Autumn Joy Sedum anchor the base.

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’, Autumn Joy Sedum, Gladiolus

Gladiolus and Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather) emerge from a mound of Nepeta (Catmint) which has strayed a little beyond it intended place. The foliage and flowers of the nepeta adds softness to these textures.

Nepeta (Catmint), Gladiolus, Liatris spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather)

The graceful tendrils and odd stems of Everlasting Sweet Pea weave themselves along into chrysanthemums and Aquilegia (columbine).

Perennial Sweet Pea

For more observations on garden foliage please visit the host of GBFD,  Christina at Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides,  to see her interesting take on this subject and to find links to other GBFD bloggers.

Sunday Garden Vignettes

The sky was gray since early morning and by early evening soft rain began to fall. At mid-afteroon the garden was a peaceful, serene setting for a leisurely walk.

Echinacea as well as lavender are opening in several places around the garden, just about the same time as last year. Perhaps Spring is slowing down from its frenzied earlier pace. Other observations: Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ will soon be blooming along the southern side path, a bit ahead of that planted in other areas. Liatris spicata is adding feathery softness to the northern border that has been dominated by sword-like iris leaves. Proving to be very weak-stemmed again this year, Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ is falling over into a thick stand of Shasta Daisies. Many of the perennials attract bees, including Veronica spicata, Stachys byzantina, Nepeta and Penstemon. Verbena bonariensis looks strong and healthy this year and the American goldfinches are loving it.

Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 3

Record keeping: Last in a 3-part series of notes about what is planted and what is blooming currently in the garden.

Yesterday I focused on long views of the garden borders to document what is planted in each section.  But yesterday morning there also were fresh new blossoms that can be best appreciated by examining them close up.


Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 2

Record keeping: Part 2 of a series of notes about what is planted and what is blooming currently in the garden.

Northern Border

Looking across meditation circle toward Northern Border

The northern border is filled with Tradescantia (Spiderwort), Nepeta (Catmint), Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox), Bearded Iris, and an Iceberg rose. Siberian Irises at the far end of this border are yet to bloom. Daylilies have grown large.

NE corner of Northern Border, facing SW across the meditation circle

Western Border

As the border transitions around to the west even more Tradescantia has crept in. Across the meditation circle toward the NW corner of the garden is a favorite native tree, Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood). This dogwood had its best show ever this spring.

A ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress that used to fill this corner of  the garden died last year. Its replacement is growing, but it will be a few years before it takes over to lessen the awkward, unbalanced look. I planted gladioli and zinnias against the fence this morning so the corner should be colorful later in the summer.

Meditation Circle, facing NW corner of the garden

Veronica aspicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)

Behind the meditation circle, in the western border (above left) red Dianthus and Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura) provide additional color.  Phlox subulata were added this year to this area in early spring are nearing the end of the bloom cycle but will remain green in the front of the border. A recently added Veronica aspicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell) is blossoming.

More Notes on the Western Border

In the western border a single Dahlia ‘Stargazer’ returns annually and I came across it this morning. It is the sole survivor of dahlias a friend started from seeds and shared with me years ago.

Backing up to the fence in this section, a Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ has grown tall but is not ready to bloom. Tradescantia mixes with Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine), Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena), and perennial Dusty Miller. Nearby Foxglove and  Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ are growing slowly, while Achillea x ‘Appleblossom’ (Yarrow) is beginning to bloom.

Along the fence five or so Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’ evergreens prepare to flower. In the center two Italian Cypress trees planted a couple of years ago are beginning to add  much needed verticality. A Spiraea shrub bloomed well earlier and needs pruning soon.

Both in the western border and in the meditation circle white buds sit atop Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue). This evergreen perennial has burgundy and green leaves that contribute color as well.

Western Border

Southern Side Path

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ is turning brown from fluctuating temperatures and little water. A couple of weeks ago it was 34 degrees and today it was 92.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet beebalm), Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) and Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ are starting to grow up behind the clematis.

White Lychnis coronaria (Rose Campion) just began blooming all along the path that leads up from the garden to the front of the house. In the middle section, yellow Bearded Irises are nearly finished for this year. Beyond the irises are lavender and Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear).

Southern Side Path

Early May Garden Views and Notes – Part 1

Forecasts warned today would be 92 degrees. Since there are a few new things in the garden I spent some time selectively watering them very early this morning. With the garden still sheltered at this time of morning by shade from the house, it was a peaceful time to be outside.

View from the Southern Border

With the grass freshly mown the garden is vibrant.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort) has moved into every available bit of soil, making the garden burst with color during the morning. By mid-day the little blue-violet flowers close up, diminishing the garden’s overall impact. I began cutting back large swaths of spiderwort this morning to make room for emerging echinacea purpurea, liatris spicata, foxglove and maybe a few more plants.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) has bloomed prolifically for six weeks and is beginning to go to seed. I removed many of the flower stalks today to make the garden look tidier and to prevent further proliferation of this native wildflower.

The one-year-old ‘Blue Point’ Juniper hedge is growing well, although I did notice a worrisome brown branch on one. Probably I need to clear some room around the trees to give them adequate sun and air to keep them healthy.

Japanese irises and white and black bearded irises continue to provide color and interest at one end of the southern border. The old-fashioned rose at the other end of the border is waning quickly. A group of Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear) caught the early morning sun as light began to enter the garden.