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.
This is the sole surviving plant from a packet of alyssum. Bad bunnies!
The garden has a lot of dragonflies. I have tentatively identified this as Bar-winged Skimmer.
This young, tiny anole found cover quickly when I tried for a better photo.
Cleome flower heads seem to float above the meditation circle.
Dahlia ‘David Howard’ has proved to be my most reliable dahlia. It has great form and color.
I spotted Easter Tiger Swallowtails multiple times this week but they did not linger long. This one was tempted by the saliva.
Coneflowers continue to brighten the garden. This one volunteered in the meditation circle.
With a name like August Beauty one might hope this gardenia will rebloom soon. This week three fresh flowers appeared.
I do not remember planting this gladiolus but was happy to have the companionship.
I have not seen many Horace’s Duskywings this year. I believe this one is my second—dining on a spent verbena bonariensis.
Crepe myrtles are the prettiest in years in my neighborhood. Blooms are mostly out of reach.
Ocolas are plentiful around the lantana. This one is particularly worn.
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.
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.
This Silver-spotted Skipper found a sweet delicacy, Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting sweet pea).
Thanks for stopping by. Enjoy the weekend.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cleome has taken over the meditation circle again this summer but it is hard to mind.
Cleome and rudbeckia provide the most color to my garden right now. Both attract lots of bees.
Finally coming into full bloom this month, Lantana draws many pollinators, such as this little skipper.
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.
That is a look at July so far. 95° F. Be safe.
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.
Looking toward the meditation circle…
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.
Cleome and Verbena bonariensis add nice vertical accents to this same corner bed.
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.
The coloration is marvelous on this creature.
June Solstice 2018. Northern Hemisphere. 6:07 AM Thursday, June 21.
(Images from June 16-18, 2018)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The interior is colorfully patterned and decorative. Top edges are adorned with berries and tendrils.
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.’
Next flowering stems of heuchera and sprigs of multi-hued lantana were added help define 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.
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)
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)
Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)
Euphorbia ‘Ascot Rainbow’
These are some of the colorful summer flowers growing in the garden that fill today’s vase.
I need up having to remove some of the foliage to give room to the flowers. A view from above:
At our house this week we will be enjoying the colorful summer bounty of the garden.
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.
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.
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.
Phlox paniculate and Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) have made a welcome return to the western border.
This phlox, possibly Robert Poore’s, is especially attractive this year. In last year’s drought it scarcely bloomed at all.
Cleome hassleriana (Spider Flower) once again has self-seeded. It has a fascinating flower structure.
Two hybrid echinaceas add spark to the summer garden, ‘White Swan’ and ‘Big Sky Sundown.’
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.
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).
Beebalm actually makes up the larger portion of this area. Bees love monarda, as do hummingbirds.
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.)
Looking very fresh this daisy grows at the far end of the same border, in front of the hydrangeas.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 x mexicali ‘Red Rocks’ was added last year and has done great this spring.
Bees love these penstemons. They also have been enjoying tradescantia, foxgloves, Verbena bonariensis, echinacea and recently blooming Blue Sky salvia.
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.
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.
Here are more echinacea with explosions of pink flowers from Red Rocks Penstemon in the distance.
A pass-along dahlia overwintered successfully and began blooming this week. (Thank you Libby!)
The dwarf oak leaf hydrangea has finally put on its first big floral display after taking several years to get established.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
Here the butterfly is sharing politely with a bee. There is a little sliver missing from its upper left wing.
Eventually the butterfly drifted toward the ground to light upon Phlox subulata (Moss Phlox).
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.
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.
The club-shaped ends of the antennae are black on the outside and orange on the inside.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Storms drenched the garden in midAugust, a welcome relief.
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.
Later in August Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ began flowering. This is valuable plant for long-lasting effect.
For August Garden Bloggers Foliage Day the new-to-the-garden-this-year Brunnera macrophylla ‘Silver Heart’ continued to prove its worth.
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.
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.
Next a cheerful group of summery yellow composites was enhanced by bring planted with Pineapple Lily at the beginning of the Perennial Allée.
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.
Taking the steps and rising above the canna I found the Rudbeckia hirta ‘Indian Summer’ to be quite winsome.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Latana has filled out now with its multicolored clusters. This non-native attracts butterflies, but is invasive in some places.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 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.
I always keep a few Gladioli and they recently began blooming.
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?
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.
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.
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.
A small container of mixed Sedum from last year has spilled over the sides of its pot and is flowering for the first time.
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.
Each day until frost several flowers should emerge and open with a sweet perfume evocative of gardenia.
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.