Tag Archives: summer garden

Far Edge of July

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

Reaching the end of July is unsettling—summer, slipping by.

The summer garden has had its disappointments. Hot and dry weather and grazing rabbits have left their mark. This week, at least, a couple of thunderstorms offered some relief from record-setting heat (Hurricane Isaias likely will add rain as well. I hope everyone along the U.S. East Coast will stay safe).  Despite the shortcomings of this season there are always discoveries in the garden to brighten one’s day.

This is my first time growing cerinthe. One plant began flowering this week.  After admiring it in others’ Monday vases, I decide to try it.  From a packet of seeds, I ended up with just half a dozen plants, which actually I had expected to have purple flowers and foliage. Rabbits nibbled away for a while but lately have left them alone.

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

‘Pride of Gibraltar’ Hummingbird Cerinthe

This is the sole surviving plant from a packet of alyssum. Bad bunnies!

Alyssum

The garden has a lot of dragonflies. I have tentatively identified this as Bar-winged Skimmer.

Bar-winged Skimmer (Libellula axilena)

This young, tiny anole found cover quickly when I tried for a better photo.

Carolina anole (Anolis carolinensis) on Dahlia ‘David Howard’

Cleome flower heads seem to float above the meditation circle.

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Dahlia ‘David Howard’ has proved to be my most reliable dahlia. It has great form and color.

Dahlia ‘David Howard’

Dahlia sp.

I spotted Easter Tiger Swallowtails multiple times this week but they did not linger long. This one was tempted by the saliva.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) On Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) On Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Coneflowers continue to brighten the garden. This one volunteered in the meditation circle.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

With a name like August Beauty one might hope this gardenia will rebloom soon. This week three fresh flowers appeared.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

I do not remember planting this gladiolus but was happy to have the companionship.

Gladiolus

I have not seen many Horace’s Duskywings this year. I believe this one is my second—dining on a spent verbena bonariensis.

Horace’s Duskywing (Erynnis horatius)

Crepe myrtles are the prettiest in years in my neighborhood. Blooms are mostly out of reach.

Lagerstroemia (crape myrtle)

Ocolas are plentiful around the lantana. This one is particularly worn.

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola) on Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Rabbits nibbled away as the rudbeckia emerged. The plants finally pushed upwards and bloomed under protection of a rabbit spray made from concentrated botanical oils, a gift from a neighbor.

Rudbeckia fulgida ‘Goldsturm’ (Black-eyed Susan)

At one time I planned a red border, but never followed through after drought set in that year. I like this red salvia up close but it is not very showy from afar. Hummingbirds do find it but seem to prefer the Black and Blue salvia.

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage)

This Silver-spotted Skipper found a sweet delicacy, Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea).

Silver-spotted Skipper (Epargyreus clarus)

Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the weekend.

Wordless Wednesday – Garden Benefits

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

Junonia coenia (common buckeye)

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Zebra Swallowtail (Eurytides marcellus)

Gray Hairstreak (Strymon melinus)

 

July Juncture

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Summer has turned the corner in my garden and plants are tired, weary and thirsty. July has been hot and mostly dry. Although we have had a few thunderstorms often dark clouds pass overhead to find a different target than our neighborhood . I have watered selectively, but sometimes even include the coneflowers because they are doing so well this year.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

In particular when watering by hand I’m trying to encourage the dahlias as well as my two tomato plants which were planted very late. (I tasted the first two grape tomatoes this week. The German Johnson shows little interest in producing more than just the two still-green specimens that formed early.) The dahlias are not doing as well as last year but a few nice ones show up. It’s so hot they don’t last long.

Dahlia ‘David Howard’

I am still trying to outwit the rabbits to protect a third sowing of zinnias. Spraying frequently seems to help some but is not a good long-term solution. My neighbor is scouting for rabbit fencing but supplies are out. It seems it will be costly anyway and fairly unattractive. If you have found a good solution to keeping rabbits at bay, we welcome your advice. She and I have white vinyl picket fencing (as dictated by our homeowner’s association) and is open at the bottom. She had installed chicken wire along the base but the rabbits are still slipping inside. One thing left unbothered by rabbits has been this crinum lily. The plant has had three tall shoots so far. Individual blooms are delicate.

Crinum × powellii (Swamp Lily)

This week on Instagram I joined Amy @newgatenarcissi for another #gardenmonthlycollage on for July 2020. There are so any images to choose from for July, but for the collage I found several for which I had made some Waterlogue counterparts.
Left to right: Green Anole (Anolis carolinensis) on Lagerstroemia (Crape Myrtle)
Canna With Echinacea (Purple coneflower)
Widow Skimmer (Libellula luctuosa)
Bombus (Bumble bee) on Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ hummingbirds seem to adore, but unfortunately mine is producing few flowers. (A tip I recently heard on an old Gardeners World episode is the salvia may just be too “happy” and it needs to be moved to where it will be stressed and has to work harder.)  I love to hear a hummingbird’s wings as they nectar close by. Other birds we are seeing now are American goldfinches, eastern towhees, nuthatches, cardinals, house finches, chickadees and lots of little brown sparrows, all which frequent the feeder. Mourning doves stop by and lumber around the meditation circle.

Yesterday I saw a new-to-me white moth which I have identified tentatively as White Palpita Moth (Diaphania costata). It flew frequently as I tried to photograph it and it always landed under a leaf, making it challenging to get a clear image.

White Palpita Moth (Diaphania costata) underside

White Palpita Moth (Diaphania costata)

Cleome has taken over the meditation circle again this summer but it is hard to mind.

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome and rudbeckia provide the most color to my garden right now. Both attract lots of bees.

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)

Finally coming into full bloom this month, Lantana draws many pollinators, such as this little skipper.

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

But where are the butterflies this year? Very few have passed by that I have seen. This one seems to have had a hard life.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

That is a look at July so far. 95° F.  Be safe.

Thursday Morning Garden Views

From the breakfast table I spotted swallowtails flitting about in the garden, but by the time I had retrieved my camera and stepped outside the butterflies had disappeared.

I snapped a few views to share of the early morning garden, mostly of Zinnia ‘Cut and Come Again’ (Zinnia elegant pumila). Each flower, each plant reflected relief at yesterday’s rain.

Zinnia ‘Cut and Come Again’ (Zinnia elegant pumila)

Zinnia ‘Cut and Come Again’ (Zinnia elegant pumila)

Looking toward the meditation circle…

Zinnia ‘Cut and Come Again’ (Zinnia elegant pumila)

Additions I made in early May to a little corner bed behind the zinnias have been rewarding this summer. Dianthus Ideal Select Mix, Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge) and Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood) all have been attractive.  I had expected great things from 3 Dahlia ‘Fireworks’ but they are small and not showy.

Artemisia, Euphorbia, Dianthus

Cleome and Verbena bonariensis add nice vertical accents to this same corner bed.

Verbena bonariensis, Dianthus, Cleome

A few days ago my husband and I sat on our front porch enjoying a summertime pleasure, chocolate ice cream. We amused ourselves watching a languid Blue dasher that had settled along the table’s edge.

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)

The coloration is marvelous on this creature.

Blue Dasher (Pachydiplax longipennis)

Wordless Wednesday—June On The Wane

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

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

Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens)

Common Eastern Bumble Bee (Bombus impatiens)

Eastern carpenter bee (Xylocopa virginica)

Ocola Skipper (Panoquina ocola)

Yellow Garden Spider (Argiope aurantia)

Summer In A Garden

June Solstice 2018. Northern Hemisphere. 6:07 AM Thursday, June 21.
(Images from June 16-18, 2018)

Allium and Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Baptisia and Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Bee on Echinacea With Lavender

Calla Lily

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea)

Sedum s. ‘Autumn Fire’ (stonecrop)

Dahlia ‘Fireworks’

Dahlia ‘Fireworks’

Dahlia ‘Fireworks’

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

In A Vase On Monday—Summer Zinnias

In A Vase On Monday - Summer Zinnias

In A Vase On Monday – Summer Zinnias

Monday brings the chance to join Cathy’s In A Vase On Monday to share an arrangement using materials gathered from the garden.

As this is going to be a very busy week with little time for flowers or the computer, I planned ahead with a simple vase of zinnias prepared on Saturday.

In A Vase On Monday - Summer Zinnias

In A Vase On Monday – Summer Zinnias

I have grown zinnias for many years, but they are stronger and more beautiful this summer than I ever remember. The same types of zinnias were used last week, but instead of a spare grouping of Ikebana vases, today’s is a hefty vessel embracing a fierce burst of floral colors.

Materials
Zinnia ‘Cut and Come Again Mix’ (Burpee, popular cutting variety, 24” H)
Zinnia ‘Burpeeana Giants Mix’ (Burpee, colorful huge 6’ Blooms, 24” H)
Zinnia elegans ’Cactus Flower Blend’ (Botanical Interests, 4-6” wide, 2-3’H. Heirloom Twist and shout. Double and semi-double)
Brown and blue glazed ceramic vase

There is no real front to this type of bouquet but here is a look at the opposite side.

View From The Back

View From The Back

There are plenty of pinks but having so many yellow and orange flowers this year makes for more eclectic combinations.  Here is a close-up peek at this white flower tinged with green.

In A Vase On Monday - Summer Zinnias

In A Vase On Monday – Summer Zinnias

Thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

 

In A Vase On Monday—High Summer

In A Vase On Monday - High Summer

In A Vase On Monday – High Summer

Each Monday brings the chance to join Cathy’s In A Vase On Monday to create an arrangement using materials gathered from the garden. That anything can bloom in such hot, humid conditions invites pause and contemplation. Nature surprises again and again.

It is a treat today to share a new botanical themed vase, a gift from my sisters. The ceramic vase is three-sided with a green, embossed exterior that is highly textured.

Birthday Vase -Three-sided with embossment

Birthday Vase -Three-sided with embossment

 

Birthday Vase - Width and height are same

Birthday Vase – Width and height are same

The interior is colorfully patterned and decorative. Top edges are adorned with berries and tendrils.

Birthday Vase

Birthday Vase

Berries and Tendrils Sit Atop The Vase

Berries and Tendrils Sit Atop The Vase

Working with such a complex vase was a bit challenging. First I imagined it filled with hydrangeas, but mine are well past their prime. Next I envisioned using lots of foliage and that is what I decided to try. My pass-along dahlia is five feet tall and full of buds but very few flowers. The leaves are healthy and attractive so I cut several stems to use a a starting point for the arrangement. I also chose one stem of Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow.’

Vase - Outlined with Foliage of Dahlia and Euphorbia

Vase – Outlined with Foliage of Dahlia and Euphorbia

Next flowering stems of heuchera and sprigs of multi-hued lantana were added help define the design.

Early stage- shaping the design

Early stage- shaping the design

I liked the vase at this stage and could have stopped here, but with many other cut flowers left,  I wanted to continue working on the arrangement, forgetting to take any more photographs as the design was progressing.

Materials
Flowers:
Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Adonis blue Butterfly Bush)
Fresh Look Mix Celosia (citrus colors)
Heuchera villosa ‘Big Top Bronze’ (Coral Bells)
Lantana camara (Common lantana)
Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea)
Liriope muscari
Pelargonium (Geranium)
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)
Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)
Zinnia

Foliage:
Dahlia sp.
Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

These are some of the colorful summer flowers growing in the garden that fill today’s vase.

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Pelargonium (Geranium) and Liriope muscari

Pelargonium (Geranium) and Liriope muscari

Zinnia hovers above Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’, Liriope muscari, scarlet Pelargonium, Physostegia virginiana

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea)

Cactus Flowered Zinnia

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', Lantana, Zinnias

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’, Lantana, Zinnias

I need up having to remove some of the foliage to give room to the flowers. A view from above:

In A Vase On Monday - Overhead View

In A Vase On Monday – Overhead View

At our house this week we will be enjoying the colorful summer bounty of the garden.

In A Vase On Monday - High Summer

In A Vase On Monday – High Summer

Thanks to Cathy for hosting this weekly chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her at Rambling In The Garden to discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday. Feel free to join in.

Late June Garden Highlights and GBFD

Daylily

Daylily

Summer arrived officially on Monday, and right on schedule the season was underscored by higher humidity and temperatures this week. The late June garden is full of flowers. Cicadas vibrate their song, hummingbirds sip at the offerings of Monarda and Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red,’ fireflies pulse their glowing presence in early evening. Sitting on the front porch we often observe Carolina anoles (Anolis carolinensis) scuttling about. They exhibit a range of color from brown to green and occasionally we see males with extended red throat fans searching for mates.

Day lilies have added bright color and interest to the eastern border, much happier than in recent years.

Daylily

Daylily

Daylily

Daylily

Last year Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers,’ a dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea, quickly faded to brown under the severe heat and drought. Now with sufficient rain, after three years it at last has fulfilled its promise of colorful summer flowers. These started out crisply white and have taken on a blushing red aspect.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’

Phlox paniculate and Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) have made a welcome return to the western border.

Phlox paniculata and Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Phlox paniculata and Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

This phlox, possibly Robert Poore’s, is especially attractive this year. In last year’s drought it scarcely bloomed at all.

Phlox paniculata, possibly 'Robert Poore'

Phlox paniculata, possibly ‘Robert Poore’

Phlox paniculata, possibly 'Robert Poore'

Phlox paniculata, possibly ‘Robert Poore’

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) once again has self-seeded. It has a fascinating flower structure.

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Two hybrid echinaceas add spark to the summer garden, ‘White Swan’ and ‘Big Sky Sundown.’

Echinacea 'White Swan'

Echinacea ‘White Swan’

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)

Hybrid echinaceas are nice and pollinators love them, but the unnamed ones make a larger impact in my garden. Echinacea is reputed to be drought tolerant but adequate rain brings superior performance. It has spread itself in satisfying ways and runs throughout the northern border.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

More echinacea is planted against the back of the house which has western exposure and so receives the hot afternoon sun.  This view is from slightly behind the border at the corner near the north end gate, looking toward the meditation circle. In this area echinacea plays a supporting role Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm).

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

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

Beebalm actually makes up the larger portion of this area. Bees love monarda, as do hummingbirds.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Shasta daisies line a border against the house between the back garage steps and steps leading to the screened porch. (That’s the red monarda peeking through the railing from the opposite side of the house.)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Looking very fresh this daisy grows at the far end of the same border, in front of the hydrangeas.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Dahlias both bright red and rich deep mahogany or wine red have returned from last year and I look forward to using them in indoor arrangements.

Dahlia (from Libby)

Dahlia (from Libby)

Dahlia

Dahlia

Breakfasting this morning on the screened porch overlooking the garden we watched as a baker’s dozen American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) sat feasting on Verbena bonariensis in a small island at the southwest corner. I have tried many times to photograph bird visitors but my camera produces dismal results at this distance.  Still you may be able to spot the males clothed in brilliant yellow and the equally lovely females wearing more subdued greenish garb.

A baker's dozen American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) feast on Verbena bonariensis

A baker’s dozen American goldfinch (Spinus tristis) feast on Verbena bonariensis

Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day (GBFD)

For the first time in a long while I missed sharing Garden Bloggers’ Foliage Day on the 22nd with Christina and others, so thought I would include in a few images to illustrate how the foliage is holding up. This time last year even rigorous daily watering, which generally I am loathe to do, could not keep things green. This year feels totally different though. Because of plenty of spring rains and some recent heavy thunderstorms, the June garden feels lush and green.

For some unexplained reason the Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) barely tried to flower this year. Perhaps the poor weather last year kept it from properly forming buds last fall for spring display. Its foliage however looks nice. Often by now the leaves are drying and turning brown but this year it remains happy. To its left Callicarpa americana (American beauty berry) has grown immensely in the past couple of years and is forming flowers.

Also ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress adds evergreen structure to this corner that forms the northwest boundary of the garden.

Arizona Cypress, Callicarpa americana, Cornus florida

Arizona Cypress, Callicarpa americana, Cornus florida

I have kept the flowers of Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ for the time being but went ahead and removed those of Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’ several weeks ago.

Euphorbia 'Shorty' (Shorty Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Shorty’ (Shorty Spurge)

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow'

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’

This passalong dusty miller makes a nice complement to the ‘Ascot Rainbow’ forming a nice ground cover as it threads itself along the western border. Columbine which was cut back after blooming has freshly regenerated leaves.

Euphorbia 'Ascot Rainbow', Dusty Miller and Eastern columbine

Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’, Dusty Miller and Eastern columbine

Somewhat resembling the passalong Dusty Miller seen above, the Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood) seen below behaves much differently, forming a well-behaved mound of silvery foliage. Something I often show for GBFD, it is at its best this year.

Artemisia 'Powis Castle' (Wormwood)

Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

Thanks to Christina for hosting GBFD each month.

I will leave you with two more images I am out of time to describe. I am off to get ready to celebrate 39 years of marriage with my sweet husband this evening. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea)

Lathyrus latifolius (Perennial Sweet Pea)

Petunia Easy Wave ‘Red Velour’

Petunia Easy Wave ‘Red Velour’

 

 

Early June In The Garden

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Having missed an end of May report, I am compelled to record some of the special garden joys of early June.

Recently Annette wondered about the white flower she was expecting on her Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’. I assured her these plants do have white flowers and promised to follow through with a planned post to show how these penstemon are looking in my own garden.

I planted Husker Red penstemon in the meditation circle as an evergreen choice for a section of the “wall.” It has thrived, reseeding freely, enabling me to establish new plantings throughout the borders and to pass along specimens to friends.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Other penstemon planted in the labyrinth at the same time have not fared as well. One of my favorite colors, this purple one is called Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’. Of a dozen or so plants only this one remains in the meditation circle, but last summer I was able to transplant a piece into the northern border.

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

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

Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ was added last year and has done great this spring.

Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Penstemon x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ (Red Rocks Penstemon)

Bees love these penstemons. They also have been enjoying tradescantia, foxgloves, Verbena bonariensis, echinacea and recently blooming Blue Sky salvia.

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Digitalis Foxlight 'Ruby Glow' PPAF (Ruby Glow Foxglove)

Digitalis Foxlight ‘Ruby Glow’ PPAF (Ruby Glow Foxglove)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) with Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) with Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Salvia uliginosa 'Blue Sky' (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Bees really love Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear). It will soon need cutting back but I hate to when the bees are so enamored of it.

Stachys byzantina (Lamb's Ear)

Stachys byzantina (Lamb’s Ear)

I like Echinacea in early summer. The flowers are fresh and take on so many forms before finally opening their petals. In the background at right is the meditation circle with Husker Red penstemon blooming. I also planted Angelonia in white and purple for color throughout the summer.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Here are more echinacea with explosions of pink flowers from Red Rocks Penstemon in the distance.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

A pass-along dahlia overwintered successfully and began blooming this week. (Thank you Libby!)

Dahlia sp.

The dwarf oak leaf hydrangea has finally put on its first big floral display after taking several years to get established.

Hydrangea quercifolia 'Ruby Slippers'  (Lil' Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)

My favorite pass-along old-fashioned rose had a few new flowers this week. Unfortunately I spotted a Japanese beetle on one. Those haven’t been a problem in several years.

Old-fashioned Rose

Old-fashioned Rose

Three of five August Beauty gardenias survived near the northwest gate, where they were planted to provide a screen for the air conditioning units. It has taken them much longer than expected to grow but with the heavy rainfall this spring they finally look healthy and are blooming.

Gardenia jasminoides 'August Beauty'

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

And finally to close I leave you with some favorite photographs of a second purple gladiolus that opened this week. The sunlight coming in from behind made the centers of the flowers glow like fire.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

Sharing The Garden

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Multiple heavy storms this week have my friends complaining, “Enough water!” but by some fluke of nature, promising dark clouds bypassed my neighborhood day after day, time and again. So this afternoon when a nice steady rain started up, I welcomed it readily.

One benefit of the need to be out watering yesterday morning was the enjoyment of seeing bees and hummingbirds sipping from the flowers. I also spotted a beautiful butterfly atop Echinacea purpurea, so came back out later with my camera. I welcome corrections because my identification skills are woefully undeveloped and potentially unreliable, but according to me, this one is Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia).

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeyes are found all over the United States, except in the Northwest. And supposedly here in the south where I live, they are well, rather true to their name, common; however, I do not see them commonly, so one picture was not enough.

When the butterfly is fresh its eye spots have a lavender tint.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Here the butterfly is sharing politely with a bee. There is a little sliver missing from its upper left wing.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Eventually the butterfly drifted toward the ground to light upon Phlox subulata (Moss Phlox).

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Its ventral wing coloring is lighter in spring and summer, helping to camouflage itself. In fall and winter the color darkens to a rosier hue.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

Another insect that caught my attention yesterday was the Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus). It is also is found abundantly in this area of North Carolina. For the longest time I tried to discern shades of coloring and markings (chevrons, smudges, spots?) to identify if this is male or female. Still not sure, but I am guessing female.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) On Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) On Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) On Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus) On Phlox divaricata (Woodland phlox)

The club-shaped ends of the antennae are black on the outside and orange on the inside.

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

Fiery Skipper (Hylephila phyleus)

I will close with a look at one flower I am especially enjoying this week. It is a striking shade of my favorite garden color—blue. The black calyces and stems add contrast and drama.

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Post 550—Flowers And Insects

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

It is just a number, but having arrived here, I like the idea of marking my 550th post.

Most days this week I have enjoyed the garden by getting up early, between 5:00-6:00 a.m., to take pictures, water certain plants and spend some time in quiet reflection before the neighborhood starts bustling. A red Daylily started flowering a week ago, this yellow one opened today.

Wednesday I noticed a colorful creature spiraling an Allium Atropurpureum. Perhaps someone will be able to help me identify it.

Allium Atropurpureum

Allium Atropurpureum

Scattered all around the garden, Echinacea purpurea has been reliable in the heat. Some planting of echinacea received no extra water during this drought, but I watered this section fairly regularly since I was watering nearby. Even drought-tolerant plants such as this one respond positively to some attention.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) Along Back of Northern Border

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) Along Back of Northern Border

Bees are becoming active at this early time of day, but frequently during my walks I have come upon them asleep on Echinacea and once, on Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint).

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

Another bee pair was lazily hanging out on the spire of a Liatris spicata. This one is the only liatris that has kept its dignity during the recent heat wave.

Liatris spicata

Liatris spicata

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox) came into its own this week. Along with Cleome it helped to fill in some gaps along the fence in the western border, attracting more bees at the same time.

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Bee on Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Bee on Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

A recent addition to the garden, Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’ (Mexican petunia) is taking its time getting adjusted to its new home. Eventually it should make a nice large clump and overwinter, I hope. There are  a couple of new flowers each morning, gone later in the day—the bunny or some other phenomenon? I have not seen the rabbits in 4 or 5 days nor have I come upon an abandoned little blue velvet jacket.

Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’ (Mexican petunia)

Ruellia brittoniana ‘Purple Showers’ (Mexican petunia)

Under the screened porch a long border was overtaken years ago by Shasta Daisies. When they first come into bloom they are fresh and inviting.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Always too quick for my camera on a few mornings there was a single hummingbird sipping among the Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm). The blooms are drying out so one time the tiny bird caught a a long red petal in its long beak instead of finding nectar—I could almost see it trying to spit it out.

Last night a huge storm passed us right by and hovered instead over the town of Chapel Hill. Several friends reported hail damage. Tonight a smaller storm carried some light rain our way for 45 minutes. The bird baths were filled only half-way, but the water should help refresh the garden. Have a great weekend.

Summer And Summer Phlox

Phlox paniculata 'Robert Poore' (Summer Phlox)

Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Summer Phlox)

Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 12:39 pm—Summer Solstice ( June Solstice) is today.  The temperature currently is 89 °F (31.7 °C) at 11:00 am, quickly heading toward a high of 99 °F (37 °C).

June 2015 (source: weather underground.com)

June 2015 (source: weatherunderground.com)

The weather continues to be quite a distraction and hindrance to gardening, yet somehow certain plants persevere even when the gardener falls behind. Summer phlox began blooming this week in the western border.

Phlox paniculata 'Robert Poore' (Summer Phlox)

Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Summer Phlox)

Phlox paniculata 'Robert Poore' (Summer Phlox)

Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Summer Phlox)

Happy Summer!

A Garden Review of 2014: Summer

Cathy at Words and Herbs began a project last week to review her 2014 garden in three segments: Spring, Summer, and Late Summer/Autumn—one each week running up to Christmas—and she encouraged others to join in. This is part two of my 2014 review, a look back at Summer.

June

In Early June the sight of a gardenia flower opening was especially appreciated. There were very few blooms this year as the bushes had been severely damaged by last winter’s cold.

A Passalong Gardenia jasminoides

A Passalong Gardenia jasminoides- June 5, 2014

Several small evergreen trees in the mixed border hedge had to be removed, leaving some broad gaps in the overall structure (that still need to be filled), but many parts of the garden were doing well. The iris flowers were being replaced by those of nepeta, echinacea and monarda.

Facing West, Overlooking the Northern Border and Meditation Circle

Facing West, Overlooking the Northern Border and Meditation Circle

Nepeta 'Walker's Low' (Catmint)

Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’ (Catmint)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

There were several refreshing rains. For the next few days there were a lot of flowers opening. Monitoring them made early morning garden walks delightful. On June 11 Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ added its beautiful salmon hue to the Northern Border.

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower) in northern border

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower) in northern border

On June 12, I noticed the first daylily had opened in the Southern Border—a full week earlier than last year. By this time of the summer American Goldfinches could be seen gathering around stalks of Verbena bonariensis, while bees were feasting on lavender and on Monarda didyma and Tradescantia, both native plants. I was happy to see the rich color of Drumstick allium return to the landscape.

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Allium sphaerocephalon (Dumstick allium) [ I had misidentified as Allium Atropurpureum]

Allium sphaerocephalon (Dumstick allium) [ I had misidentified as Allium Atropurpureum]

Feeling very ambitious, I suppose, on June 19 I took a complete inventory of the plantings in my narrow side garden along the Southern Path.

Southern Side Path

Southern Side Path

July

By this month I was pretty much done gardening for the summer and wrote a long excuse about it the third week in July. But thank goodness during this time I continued to photograph the garden, to search out flowers for Monday vases and to write occasional posts. I can see this is where having a better structural foundation for the garden would help carry it through the summer. As it was, long views were not always pleasing during July, but up close there definitely were a few hotspots of color.

In early July, I had some limited success with bachelor buttons grown from seed. I love that blue color. What I most enjoy is to have flowers that return reliably each year such as Shasta Daisy, tall garden phlox and Buddleja.

Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’  (Bachelor’s Button, Cornflower)

Centaurea cyanus ‘Blue Boy’ (Bachelor’s Button, Cornflower)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Adonis blue Butterfly Bush)

Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Adonis blue Butterfly Bush)

Also in the first days of the July I was happy to see a few gladioli flowers. I had planted a new collection of colors (purple, lime green and white), but none of them bloomed well at all. This rich blue one was planted when the garden was first created, and is one of the last remaining gladioli bulbs from that time.

Gladiolus Among Echinacea

Gladiolus Among Echinacea July 2, 2014

Much later in July I welcomed the first Lantana flowers. This plant had died back hard during the cold winter and it took longer than usual to bloom. Once open it was covered in flowers until the first freeze. Similarly, Thyme covered the center of the meditation circle with blooms all summer.

Lantana camara (Common lantana) July 20, 2014

Lantana camara (Common lantana) July 20, 2014

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ did well in a patio container and Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ burst outwhenever the rains tempered the heat, such as on July 23. Several patches of zinnia made a colorful impact.

Euphorbia 'Blackbird' (Spurge)

Euphorbia ‘Blackbird’ (Spurge)

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

Zinnia In Early Morning Sunshine

Zinnia In Early Morning Sunshine

August

Up to this point, while nearby areas were getting lots of precipitation this summer, we mostly just saw the clouds. More consistent and beneficial rains finally returned to this area in early August. Rudbeckia fulgida (Orange Coneflower) and Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) responded immediately but neither put on much of a show.

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) August 6, 2014

Salvia greggii ‘Furman’s Red’ (Autumn Sage) August 6, 2014

Storms drenched the garden in midAugust, a welcome relief.

The garden after a storm August 12, 2014

The garden after a storm August 12, 2014

A quick mid-month bloom study showed how the plants appreciated the rain, including the White Swan Echinacea and a new dahlia. My passalong perennial sweet pea enjoyed a comeback that lasted until the first freeze.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Dahlia

Dahlia

Perennial Everlasting Sweet Pea

Perennial Everlasting Sweet Pea

Later in August Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ began flowering. This is valuable plant for long-lasting effect.

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ (Herbstfreude)

 

For August Garden Bloggers Foliage Day the new-to-the-garden-this-year Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ continued to prove its worth.

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not)

Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ (False Forget-Me-Not)

Thank you to Cathy for hosting this 2014 garden review. It was good to look back and remember overall the summer garden was greener and stronger this summer than usual.

May 31, 2014 marked my 13th year in this garden. I feel fortunate to be able to tend this small, peaceful space, but honestly I rarely spend much time working in the summer garden. Nevertheless, during these hot months the garden had some very nice moments and by summer’s end, I discovered I was rejuvenated and more eager to partner with it once again. Taking a break was worth it.

Flora at Duke Gardens

Visiting Duke Gardens last weekend I was struck by the complexity of foliage, but anyone who knows me would not be surprised that I was also enjoying the flowers.

The rose garden was punctuated with beautiful Oriental Lilies.

Oriental Lily

Oriental Lily

Next a cheerful group of summery yellow composites was enhanced by bring planted with Pineapple Lily at the beginning of the Perennial Allée.

Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy' (Pineapple Lily)

Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ (Pineapple Lily)

Eucomis comosa 'Sparkling Burgundy' (Pineapple Lily)

Eucomis comosa ‘Sparkling Burgundy’ (Pineapple Lily)

Once inside the Terrace Gardens the view was vivid, yet serene. The dark foliage and red blooms of the Canna nicely offset the cool, sedate greens vying with multicolored flowers.

View at Duke Gardens

View at Duke Gardens

Taking the steps and rising above the canna I found the Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’ to be quite winsome.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Indian Summer' - Black-Eyed Susan

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’ – Black-Eyed Susan

Richly hued annuals accented the Terrace Gardens where each level is organized with thoughtful  and exciting plant combinations. The Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’ were especially vibrant, so I studied what other materials were used in this area.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherokee Sunset'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’

In addition to Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’ the garden beds on this level featured:
Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Pineapple’ – Pineapple Coleus
Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Dipt in Wine’ – Dipt in Wine Coleus
Gomphrena ‘Qis Red’ – Globe Amaranth
Lantana Bandito Orange Sunrise – Lantana
Mecardonia ‘Magic Carpet Yellow’ – Baby Jump-Up
Manihot esculenta ‘Variegata’ – Variegated tapioca was also listed on the plant marker for this grouping but I could not recognize it.

Solenostemon scutellariodes 'Dipt in Wine' - Dipt in Wine Coleus, Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherokee Sunset'

Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Dipt in Wine’ – Dipt in Wine Coleus, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’

I like the effect achieved by mixing the Rudbeckia with the red Globe Amaranth and the dark wine coleus. The colors relate to the higher level as well.

Solenostemon scutellariodes 'Dipt in Wine' - Dipt in Wine Coleus, Gomphrena 'Qis Red' - Globe Amaranth, Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherokee Sunset'

Solenostemon scutellariodes ‘Dipt in Wine’ – Dipt in Wine Coleus, Gomphrena ‘Qis Red’ – Globe Amaranth, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’

Rudbeckia hirta 'Cherokee Sunset'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Cherokee Sunset’

The bright citrus yellow of Pineapple Coleus is a strong and attractive choice in this collection. I do not plant many annuals but would enjoy this color in my garden. I have a much larger Lantana with similar coloring that could use a good companion.

'Pineapple' - Pineapple Coleus, Lantana Bandito Orange Sunrise - Lantana

‘Pineapple’ – Pineapple Coleus, Lantana Bandito Orange Sunrise – Lantana

Late Evening Garden

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

When finally I had a chance to walk through the garden yesterday the sun was well on its way down. A small circle of flowers in the front yard drew me out for a closer look. While there is a lot of pink Echinacea throughout the garden putting on a fine display this summer, this ‘White Swan’ adds a touch of sophistication.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Planted with the White Swan is Liatris. It did fine last year but turned brown right away this season, perhaps not happy with the excessive moisture. Another Liatris in the main part of the garden fared a little better and last evening drew a late diner to its flowers.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Liatris spicata 'Floristan Weiss' (Gayfeather)

Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather)

Cleome is coming into its own now. In the Southern Path it has taken hold among the stepping stones and needs to be relocated. This patch is growing against the house near the northern gate.

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

The Latana has filled out now with its multicolored clusters. This non-native attracts butterflies, but is invasive in some places.

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Early Morning Garden After The Rain

Early Morning Garden

Early Morning Garden

Thunderstorms prevailed overnight. At dawn, rain rinsed the everything one more time for good measure, then left quickly. From an upstairs window the early morning garden stood strong, having withstood the winds and driving rain and looking calmly fresh and serene.

The bare spot in the northern border on the right is where I have been digging up Irises in order to remove Spiderwort. There is more work to do on that project all along to the back fence.

Early Morning Garden After Rain4

Late June Blossoms Redux

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Sifting back through photographs of last year’s late June garden, I noticed striking similarities between them and the images shown here that I took this morning of today’s garden.

A year ago Garden Phlox in the western border were just beginning to bloom. Liatris and White Swan Coneflower highlighted a small, front-yard circle garden. The tangerine hue of a daylily brightened the southern border and Cleome had reseeded and were showing up everywhere. In today’s garden I observed the same plants repeating the cycle.

This evening a huge line of thunderstorms is approaching. The rumbling sky has darkened dramatically. Almost daily rain is perhaps the biggest difference between the June gardens this year and last. Every plant in the garden seems to soak up strength and encouragement from the water, just as I do from seeing the garden cycle repeating.

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Hemerocallis (Daylily)

Liatris spicata 'Floristan Weiss' (Gayfeather) and Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Weiss’ (Gayfeather) and Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea 'White Swan' (Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Lantana camara (Common lantana)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Veronica spicata 'Pink Goblin' (Speedwell)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) and Veronica spicata ‘Pink Goblin’ (Speedwell)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox)

Lavender and Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Lavender and Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

June Heats Up

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower)

Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) is beginning to bloom profusely in several parts of the garden.

This week temperatures are rising along with the humidity. Currently it is 85°F (heat index makes it feel like 91°F). The pattern throughout the day for the last few days and forecast for the rest of the week is this: clouds move in and eventually spill their rain, sun emerges and steams everything, then clouds move in again. Yesterday’s heavy rain turned the meditation circle into a pool for a brief time, but today’s mid-day shower was light and the sun quickly returned.

At this point in the season I enjoy the strong colors that prevail in many of the borders. Previously I showed this tomato-red daylily (possibly ‘Michael Arnholt’) but it caught my eye again today. I very much like its rich color combined with that of the Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue.’

Many birds are enjoying the feeders, but the American Goldfinches prefer to select their own food and so head for the swaying Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) in the Western Border. Their beautiful yellow against the purple Verbena always delights me. Unfortunately the Goldfinches are too quick for my camera, but the color of Dahlia ‘Stargazer’ suggests a similar idea.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) In Western Border

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) In Western Border

The western border often looks unfulfilled so I have tried to enhance this area over the last few years. Many textures are too similar and plants need to be edited but this spot has been more exciting this year than usual. One successful pairing is the Allium ‘Drumstick’ the Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower).

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Here are a few more details within the Western Border.

Also in the western border my favorite Gladiolus bloomed recently. The buds are deep, deep purple, but the flowers open to a lighter hue.

Lavender has been blooming for a couple of weeks now. It is especially nice along the Southern Side garden. Cleome has self-seeded between the stones.

Southern Side Path

Southern Side Path

At the end of the Southern Side path I encountered a busy hummingbird a couple of days ago enjoying the Lavender and Monarda. I gave up using hummingbird feeders years ago, but hummingbirds visit the garden often, this year more than ever. These fuzzy hummingbird pictures were fun to take—hope you can make him out.

Summer Beginnings

Summer Solstice 2013 was at 1:04 AM (ET) on Friday, June 21.
Summer is my favorite season so I welcome its official arrival today. The weather is glorious—clear and sunny, only 78°F., humidity is low at 40%.

Summer is not the best time of year for my garden, that would be spring, but the weather has been fairly moderate with ample rainfall, so the garden is in stronger condition than usual as the seasons transition.

Gladiolus In Northern Border

Gladiolus In Northern Border

I always keep a few Gladioli and they recently began blooming.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

When I began this garden I encountered some snobbishness from a young horticulturalist about growing Gladioli and I remember it was an odd moment. Never before had I really thought much about why one chooses to grow (or not grow) a particular plant. It is an interesting subject to me now. Preference is one thing and the avoidance of invasive species is a necessity, but why would a plant carry a social stigma?

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

I love reading about what other gardeners are growing and I enjoy learning about new (and old) plants. The gardener’s personality comes out in one’s plant choices, it seems to me, and that can make each garden quite special.

Gladioli

Gladioli

Though I mention that incident from long ago, I actually I never worry what the neighbors might think if they spot a Gladiolus in my garden. The tall spikes of blossoms remind me of summer and of my maternal grandmother, who grew rows of glads, as she called them, for cutting flowers. As a child I loved helping her make large and colorful bouquets for her sun porch and that memory seems reason enough to grow a flower.

Gladioli

Gladiolus

As summer begins a few other plants characterize the garden. Echinacea and Salvia have been blooming for a few weeks now. Yesterday a friend offered me a piece of orange Echinacea ‘Sunset’ which I had recently vowed to quit trying to grow. I accepted without hesitation, of course, and will try to give it a good home.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Salvia guaranitica 'Black and Blue'

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’

A small container of mixed Sedum from last year has spilled over the sides of its pot and is flowering for the first time.

Mixed Sedum

Mixed Sedum

Happy Summer!

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.

Zinnia

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.

Color And Texture — Inspirations

For years I ripped out inspiring magazine images of plants and landscape designs. These I tucked into manilla folders, referring to them often for guidance or just for a reminder of what is possible when it comes to that gentle tug between nature and humans known as gardening.

Digital folders are easier to manage, tag and search these days so I am posting a manilla folder of images for later reference.

This gallery is a collection about texture and color in the summer, ideas garnered from a walk at Duke Gardens yesterday.