Tag Archives: shasta daisy

In A Vase On Monday – Daisy Days

In A Vase On Monday – Daisy Days

In A Vase On Monday – Daisy Days

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share a vase of materials gathered from our gardens.

Today Shasta daisies fill a handmade pitcher decorated with color bands of white, green and blue.

In A Vase On Monday – Daisy Days

In A Vase On Monday – Daisy Days

Happy summer days and daisies go together.

In A Vase On Monday – Daisy Days

Years ago I purchased Leucanthemum × superbum ‘Alaska’ and ‘Becky’ and based on the heights I believe this group to be ‘Alaska’. This is the shorter, 2-3 feet tall, and more vigorous of the two.

In A Vase On Monday – Daisy Days

In A Vase On Monday – Daisy Days

Hydrangea macrophylla
Leucanthemum × superbum ‘Alaska’ (Shasta daisy)
Stoneware pitcher. Pringle Pottery, North Carolina, circa 1977.

As always thanks to our host Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for providing this opportunity to to share our vases. Visit her to discover what garden surprises she and others are offering this week.

Ebony Jewelwing

Spotted a beautifully colored damselfly on the Shasta daisies this morning. This is Ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata).

Ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) on Shasta daisy

The rich black wings and the metallic blue-green body indicate it is male.

Ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) on Shasta daisy

He rested patiently while I took pictures, opening his wings slowly and infrequently (the video is set to loop, so it exaggerates the action).

He lingered awhile longer then gracefully lifted himself away.

Ebony jewelwing (Calopteryx maculata) on Shasta daisy


Early June 2014

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) Along the Southern Side Path

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.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) In The Eastern Border

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

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

Gardenia jasminoides 'Chuck Hayes'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘Chuck Hayes’

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.

A Passalong Gardenia jasminoides

A Passalong Gardenia jasminoides

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.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird' (Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint) has been blooming vigorously for weeks and is attracting bees.

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

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.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Also along the southern border Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ is just beginning to flower.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

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.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

At the edge of the shasta daisies is a nice combination of Salvia Dorada ‘Aurea’ (Golden Sage) and English Thyme.

Salvia Dorada 'Aurea' (Golden Sage) and English Thyme

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.

Facing West, Overlooking the Northern Border and Meditation Circle

Facing West, Overlooking the Northern Border and Meditation Circle


Mediation Circle With Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' In Bloom and Fading Pansies

Mediation Circle With Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ In Bloom, Thyme and Fading Pansies

Early June Garden View Facing Southern and Western Borders

Early June Garden View Facing Southern and Western Borders


Color In The June Borders

During a brief stroll through the garden this afternoon I was struck by the strong colors, including greens, dominating each of the borders.

Fragrance is important too and as I approached the western border to inspect the new blooms on the butterfly bush the delectable scent of nearby gardenia was quite magnificent, powerful enough in fact to overcome the Buddleia’s rather peculiar smell. The color of this Buddleia is actually a bit less blue and more purple than it appears in this image.

Buddleia davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Butterfly Bush)

Buddleia davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Butterfly Bush)

Echinacea is filling out many of the borders currently. The colors range from the pale pink to a deep almost raspberry. My would-be favorite-colored echinacea, the orange Big Sky Sundown, never lasts a season in my garden, so I am resigned to enjoying them in the pink ranges for now.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Hummingbirds and butterflies are enjoying the drifts of bright scarlet Monarda and indoors these flowers last for many days.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) Creative Commons License
Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) by Patricia Moffat, pbmGarden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

A large grouping of Shasta Daisy near the back steps is bright and cheerful. These flowers seems to require a lot of water, which I very seldom dole out to any plants in the garden after the first few weeks. After a mostly cloudy day it is raining here this evening, so everything is getting a nice drink.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – March 2013

It is Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD), an opportunity to notice the value foliage plays in the garden, as feature or support. GBFD is hosted by Christine at  Creating my own garden of the Hesperides. This month I have been watching as clumps of perennials shake off some of the ragged winter look and start greening.

Monarda is growing noticeably and it smells delightfully minty. Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ seeded freely last year so there are several tucked into places now other than just in the meditation circle.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)  and Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) began dying out in the meditation circle last summer. Highly drought-tolerant plants, they seemed ideal for this spot, but the summer through winter were unusually wet. Combined with some pesky mole activity the condition of these penstemon worsened.  So nearly half of the Pike’s Peak are gone.  Earlier in the week I pruned the remaining plants and am hoping they will bloom.

Penstemon  mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

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

Also in the very center of the meditation circle I this week planted a few clumps of Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme), a low-growing fragrant Thyme,

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Iris leaves are up everywhere. This is Iris ‘Davy Jones’ (Davy Jones Bearded Iris) making its debut this year. It is a Tall Bearded Iris with a purple ruffled bloom. Tall Bearded Iris are among the last to bloom.

Iris 'Davy Jones' (Davy Jones Bearded Iris)

Iris ‘Davy Jones’ (Davy Jones Bearded Iris)

Autumn Joy (Stonecrop) in several spots are contributing interest at this time of year as is an overflowing pot of colorful mixed Sedum that I added to the garden last spring.

Hylotelephium 'Herbstfreude'  Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

Mixed sedum

Mixed sedum

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is forming a nice mound of fresh leaves.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Shasta Daisy has taken a strong foothold and needs some serious attention to keep it from gaining any more.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura) sports colorful leaves this time of year. I have been unhappy with its performance in this location and need to find it a better spot. It became very floppy and did not bloom very well.

Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Blush' (Butterfly Gaura)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed) sprang up through a thick mulch layer this week. I was hoping to suppress it and have for years been wanting to manage it.  This is invasive but lovely as a ground cover and was a pass-along from a dear friend many years ago.

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop's weed)

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed)

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’ is a nice plant for the front of the border. I’m gradually increasing their number. Looks like I should be dividing this clump but am not sure if it is a good time.

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

So as March winds down many individual plants are contributing their foliage shape, patterns, colors and textures to add interest to the early spring garden. Thanks to Christine at Creating my own garden of the Hesperides for hosting GBFD each month.

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.

Red, White and Bluish Flag Day

June 14 is Flag Day in the United States, marking the adoption of the flag in 1777 by the Second Continental Congress. In honor of the day here are a few garden red, white and blues. This ‘Jackmanii’ Clematis bloomed during the first half of April and last week seemed done, but it rallied again today. There are only a couple of blossoms though and of course, it is not really very blue. The red flowers growing underneath this vine are Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm) and they are very red.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’

Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ (Pincushion Flower) was added to the garden this spring. This is a perennial that always looks so compelling at the garden center, but does perform well in this garden and seldom lasts beyond one year. It may need more sun and definitely requires a lot of dead-heading to keep it blooming.

Scabiosa columbaria ‘Butterfly Blue’ (Pincushion Flower)

The carnivorous pitcher plants in the hybrid pitcher-plant beds looked amazing this afternoon during a brief walk at the nearby North Carolina Botanical Garden. There are many colorful ones, but this red and white was very interesting.

Pitcher-Plant (NCBG)

There are two varieties of Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy) in the garden, one is probably ‘Becky’ and the other, ‘Alaska.’ One has been blooming since the last week of May, while this one is only now starting to open. The earlier-blooming one is taller with narrower leaves.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy) 2012-06-14 – This image by pbmGarden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Creative Commons License
Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy) 2012-06-14 by pbmGarden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

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)

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)

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.

A Mild March Day

It is seventy-one this afternoon and the clouds move in and out.  Earlier, the sun was nice and warm and the several hours spent weeding this morning passed easily.

Suddenly the spiraea is covered in little white flowers, several weeks earlier than usual perhaps. This deciduous shrub is a long-time favorite.




Nearby a recently transplanted plant with two mottled, red leaves is reminiscent of a trout lily, but its identification is uncertain.

Perhaps a Trout Lily?

Three or four Digitalis purpurea (Foxglove) were visible all winter and are starting to grow.

Digitalis purpurea Foxglove

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy) never died back during the winter. The clumps could use division. Transplants from last year look healthy and strong.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Several new Phlox subulata added to the garden a few weeks ago have acclimated well. This one is ‘Purple Beauty.’

Phlox subulata 'Purple Beauty'

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose) continue to add color around several areas of the garden. I transplanted a few small seedlings to a shady spot near the back steps.

Helleborus orientalis (Lenten rose)

A row of ‘Chuck Hayes’ gardenias once formed a low hedge along the back border of the garden, but a couple years of drought killed off many. The five that remain look greener and healthier than usual this Spring.

Gardenia jasminoides 'Chuck Hayes'

The daffodils are already finishing up their cheerful displays. This one is ‘Flower Carpet.’

Daffodil 'Flower Carpet'

Chilly Garden Walk

Shasta Daisy

Following several days of steady rain the temperature dropped, catching a Shasta Daisy by surprise. Holding at around 34 degrees on this gray afternoon, the chill is a reminder this is winter after all.

At least eight cardinals are bustling about. As they jockey for a turn at the feeders their bright red plumage contrasts brightly against the background of their favorite waiting stations: the verdant ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress, the brownish-gray, shrubby spiraea, or the stark, white fence. Yet when a person enters the garden gate the cardinals quickly tuck themselves away, masters at hiding and waiting.

A few early daffodils have been blooming for a month in spots around the neighborhood. Now the popular and reliable King Alfreds are emerging around the garden, as are last year’s addition, Flower Carpet. It is not unusual for Winter Daphne (Daphne odora ‘Aureo-marginata’) to display some pink color this time of year, but they started early this year, since the first of November.

An Odd Mélange

Glimpse into my garden on this sunny 66-degree day, the first day of 2012, and you will see an odd mélange for this time of year. Keeping company with a rusty garden ornament that catches the sun, there are emerging daffodils, a budding Shasta Daisy, a crimson Dianthus and the silver-green, wooly textures of Lamb’s Ear. The warm weather will soon end and the garden will reconfigure itself–a new assortment will represent this place.

Blooming In Mid-September

The garden has been completely on auto-pilot for the past eight weeks. With July’s extreme heat and drought came parched plants and severe gardening lethargy. Then the months of August and September brought several important rains, and as is the way of gardens, this garden responded, sparking renewal in growth and interest.

Blooms, Blooms

Touring and taking inventory today it was impossible not to revel in the multitude of blooms.

A few days into September the gardenias began blooming again, putting on a more magnificent show than in early June when temperatures in the mid-nineties forced them to struggle. Now the air is filled with the lovely and unmistakable scent of gardenia.

The Orange Canna adds height and interest to the east end of the side garden. Throughout July the canna’s blossoms wilted almost immediately. Today its elegant blossom brightens this space again.

A few Shasta Daisy flowers continue to bloom in different spots around the garden.  The divisions transplanted in early Spring are healthy.

It was a treat to discover the Jackmani Clematis in bloom today.  This is unusual for this garden. Again the rain seems to have made the difference.

The lantana has been in this garden for ten years.  It performed beautifully this year, one of those plants that does not mind the heat.

The Meditation Circle

The flowers in the meditation circle have held up well throughout the entire summer. The marigolds and angelonia withstand the heat and humidity brilliantly. Both have spread beyond the 12-inch allotment of space between the stepping stones, but an occasional shearing works to restore order to the labyrinth and yields long-lasting bouquets to bring inside.

The perennials in the circle, candytuft, thyme and penstemon, all performed well and look healthy. Between the two types of penstemon (Beardtongue), Penstemon Digitalis ‘Husker Red’ is the preferred choice. The 18 ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemons (foreground) have done fine but are more scraggly and flowers are not very showy–fine in their own right but not great accents for the labyrinth in the meditation circle.

To Be Continued

Many more flowers deserve mention today so this post will be continued later.  For a last glimpse at the garden today, here is Salvia ‘Blue Sky.’  This was brought from a former garden ten years ago. It is particularly lovely this year.

July Flowers

Rainstorms swept through the region this week, missing this garden more times than not. Big splats, soft mists, ominous thunder, but often it was not even damp under the trees by the end. The flowers seem revived nevertheless and the first of the Cleome (Spider Flower) and Canna opened.

There is a lot of activity in the borders. Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) is popular with a great variety of bees, moths and other insects. Hummingbirds regularly visit the Monarda (Bee Balm) while American Goldfinches enjoy Verbena Bonariensis.

Unfortunately deer jumped the new fence this week to nibble on the daylilies and to devour a container of ornamental Sweet Potato Vines, putting an end to thoughts of keeping the daylilies and even reintroducing Phlox paniculata ‘David’ to the borders.

Among the interesting blooms in the garden this week are:

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’
Shasta Daisy
Salvia ‘Blue Sky’

Views Of The Late June Garden

Gone is the lush, verdant freshness that characterized the garden in spring.  Summer has arrived.

High temperatures and lack of rainfall are taking a toll on the garden’s charm and beauty as many plants begin to dry and yellow. The grass is browning quickly.

Though the garden has peaked for this year, there remain a few spots of interest.  One such spot is a borrowed view: a neighbor’s striking row of sunflowers add a happy whimsy.

Closer to home, spikes of Liatris Spicata ‘Alba’ contribute interesting texture and plantings of Shasta Daisy, Monarda, and Echinacea add drifts of color, but the garden definitely is losing its overall cohesiveness.

Part of this year’s garden renovation is to evaluate the garden in every stage, through every transition, and to decide how to improve the plantings, extend the blooming period.  Finding success in redesign will allow the garden graceful ways to peak, rest, and recover throughout each season.

In the meditation circle Angelonia angustifolia (summer snapdragon) provides dramatic color, especially the Angelface® Blue.  Ten more angelonia, purchased at a great sale price from Southern States, were added to the labyrinth last Friday.  They are a lighter shade, Wedgwood Blue, but should contribute blooms until the first frost.

The Rudbeckia Hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ has formed buds and will soon add some bright yellow at the back of the west border.

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Mid-June Garden

Gladiolus, Liatris Spicata and Echinacea

The garden is holding up well this week despite a lack of rain or watering.  In the northern bed Echinacea (Purple Coneflower) and the first blooms of Liatris Spicata ‘Alba’ (Gayfeather or Blazing Star) and Gladiolus dominate the view.

Liatris Spicata


In the southern bed, sweet peas and pink yarrows are still pretty although the color is fading on the yarrow. Mexican salvia, with its intense blue flower is coming into its own in the southwest end of the bed, while Lantana, with its multicolor flowers, fills out the southeast corner.


Daylilies, which I had many times threatened to pull out completely in an attempt to keep deer away, have persisted and (now that the fence has deterred the deer so far), they may actually bloom this year.

The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) is winding down its long blooming period that started in early April, so I cut down most of it this week.  I had never noticed a sensitivity to this plant before, but I developed an itchy red rash on my arms after carrying the trimmings away.  The rash lasted a day or so; fortunately the itch lasted only a half-hour or so.

Several Shasta Daisy flowers opened last week but as a group they are blooming very slowly.  The Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is starting to form buds. Several types of lavender are in flower, which delights the bees. Perovskia (Russian Sage), echinacea and bee balm were introduced last year into some additional areas and they seem to have adapted equally well around the garden.

Shasta Daisy Moment

Shasta Daisy and Asclepias

The first Shasta daisy opened this morning, probably the cultivar Leucanthemum superbum ‘Becky’ but alas, possibly Leucanthemum superbum ‘Alaska.’

There are several clumps of shasta around the garden and this very large grouping really needs to be separated.  It is a task which seems difficult, often resulting in mangled, broken pieces without root.

In late winter I managed to separate and replant a few that are now thriving.  Those may not bloom this year but by next year should be big enough to contribute a nice show.

When deadheaded regularly Shasta daisies reportedly bloom into autumn, but in this garden the first blooms are the purest and prettiest.  After that the foliage browns, probably from the strong heat of Piedmont North Carolina summer and from lack of regular water.  So, this is the moment to enjoy the Shastas.

Morning Garden Walk

The backyard garden at the end of May is pleasant and lush, with inviting colors, textures, diversity of plants, and sounds of birds, elevating this morning’s walk to a remarkably satisfying experience for this gardener.

Chrysanthemum, silvery Dusty Miller, Sweet Pea combine with soft leaves of Eastern Red Columbine.

The tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) wake up the early morning garden with intense blues, but close under the strong sun by midday.  The pink yarrow and white rose campion mix well and the tall blades of iris add balance.

Nearby a lantana has sprung to life and soon will be covered in multicolored clusters of red, yellow and orange.

Stachys (Lamb’s ear) brightens the back corner between some irises and a gardenia.  The gardenia will soon add its unique fragrance to the garden.

The Liatris spicata (Gayfeather) earlier seemed terribly crowded by the irises, but as its bloomtime approaches it stands tall.

Verbena bonariensis frequently draws American goldfinches to the garden.  It is surrounded by a foxglove, shasta daisies, tradescantia, a rudbeckia ‘Irish eyes’ and gardenias.

The meditation circle with its labyrinth still has more mulch than plants. Five bonariensis await planting within but I am hesitant about whether they are a good choice. Meanwhile the penstemon and angelonia have worked out great.  The thyme lacks a strong presence, though it grows fine and has bloomed.  The candytuft bloomed a rewarding second time.

Many more plants are tucked and packed into this small backyard haven, making each morning’s walk new and interesting as they transition through life.


After a week of extreme heat, with temperatures reaching into the nineties, last night’s cooling breezes and this morning’s crisp air were welcome.  Despite the prediction of rain I broke my rule against watering and gave some plants a good drink.  Still only 66 degrees by lunchtime, the heavy rain started suddenly and continued steadily until early evening, and streets flooded in Chapel Hill.  The garden’s meditation circle flooded near the entrance and in the middle, draining pretty well afterwards, but leaving a stark contrast to its bleached-out look under the severity of the sun earlier in the week.  After a rosy-clouded sunset, the rains returned.