Tag Archives: thyme

Tuesday View: August 23, 2016

Tuesday View August 23, 2016

Tuesday View August 23, 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week and note the changes.

We were away last week so it has been two weeks between Tuesday views. This scene was taken at today at 8:29 a.m. Again the sunlight has found the tops of the trees but has not yet entered the garden, the contrast making for a poor quality photograph. The sun is not actually so harsh as this looks, but the image underscores how on summer mornings moments in the garden are best enjoyed during this early shady period.

The fescue grass is dying back, patchy with brown spots and an annoying annual grass has snuck into the lawn over the past several years. It grows faster than okra and cannot be kept trimmed.

One of the original thymes along the path has turned completely black the last two weeks. It began discoloring after I trimmed around the pavers, so perhaps I damaged it but I think it is stressed from the weather. In past years it has recovered but it looks messy now. The Pink Chintz thyme in the center is still blooming and Angelonia contributes lots of color.

Tuesday View August 23, 2016

Tuesday View August 23, 2016

Overall the garden is in retreat. There will not be much to see from here on out until early spring when bulbs start peeking out again.

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

Tuesday View: August 9, 2016

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week and note the changes.

This Tuesday view was taken at yesterday afternoon at 4:53 p.m., about an hour after a storm cloud dropped a small amount of rain. Thunder continued to rumble as I took the photograph.

I have not gardened at all for a week. Most of the thymes still are doing well but some of the original unknown one has died back in a few places (visible at about 4 o’clock in the picture). Otherwise there is little change from last week.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle



Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

Tuesday View August 2, 2016

Tuesday View August 2, 2016

Tuesday View August 2, 2016

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week and note the changes.

This Tuesday view shows the early morning garden at 7:14 a.m., under an overcast sky. Several storms this week brought welcome rain, but one also knocked down the larger of two Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower) against the fence.

There are fewer flowers this week.  The biggest change I notice this week from last is how brown the neighbors’ sycamore tree has become. At center behind our fence in the photograph, this Platanus occidentalis (American sycamore) is often brown and unsightly by this time of year, but  until now it had seemed fine this summer.

One of the first things I planted in the meditation circle was Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue), used to form a wall at one of the turn-arounds help guide walkers along the path.

Meditation Path with Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) at lower right.

This penstemon is evergreen and has proved to be reliable and has produced lots of new plants. They show up in random spots. I leave them for a while and eventually move them into other parts of the garden.

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Another penstemon planted at the same time has a lovely purple flower but has proven much less hardy. It is Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple.’ Only one has survived through the years, but I am trying to nurse and encourage it. This summer it has done well and is reblooming now.

Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' and Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ and Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' and Angelonia ’Serena White’

Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ and Angelonia ’Serena White’

To wrap up this Tuesday view I must mention the angelonia as it continues to brighten up the meditation circle.

Angelonia ’Serena White’ with Angelonia ’Serena Purple’ in the distance

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

Tuesday View: July 25, 2016

Tuesday View - July 26, 2016

Tuesday View – July 26, 2016

Note: Tuesday is actually July 26. Mixed up the date in the post title because I took the photographs on Monday.

Cathy at Words and Herbs hosts the Tuesday View, encouraging garden bloggers to post a photo of the same view of the garden week by week and note the changes.

This Tuesday view was taken at Monday 12:52 p.m. instead of at the usual early morning Tuesday time. Yesterday the sun had gone behind the clouds for a few minutes so I took advantage of the photo opportunity.

In a noticeable change from last week the grass is turning brown in spots. Fescue retreats in this type of weather, but should recover once cooler weather returns in the fall. Monday reached 97° F. There has been no rain for 10 days, leaving some things looking a bit desperate.  I have watered 3 times, but it has little effect.

Another detectable difference is in the circle where the path is lazily being restored. Yesterday I uncovered more of the labyrinth pavers, only a few left to go. A friend and I had done a meditation walk Saturday, and I realized that with the path obscured as it was by thyme, it would be easy to turn an ankle or trip. We managed to not hurt ourselves. The thyme released its calming fragrance as we stepped across it.

Meditation Path

Meditation Path

At lower left in the first photo, the edge of a small round border is just barely visible. Here zinnias, planted from seed (maybe mid-June), are finally beginning to bloom.







Looking back north toward the meditation circle, I took a last picture as one of dozens of skippers flying around landed on a Verbena flower. There also were lots of dragonflies and swallowtails but they were camera shy.

Skipper On Verbena Bonariensis.

Skipper On Verbena Bonariensis.

Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for hosting the Tuesday View. Check out her featured view and those of other gardeners.

Finding Color Along The Labyrinth

Meditation Circle

Looking Toward Meditation Circle Entrance

In these last days of July the meditation circle has finally come into its own. Originally, when this was a new feature in the garden, I attempted to use only evergreens or semi-evergreens here, but, since I could never find a perfect combination, I have been much happier just supplementing with low-maintenance annuals.

Entrance To The Labyrinth

Entrance To The Labyrinth Is Between Two Rows Of Dark Purple Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Indigo’

A beautiful but tough annual that never needs deadheading, Angelonia angustifolia (summer snapdragon), is providing plenty of color and interest. I know I have mentioned Angelonia before, but it is finally well-established and caught my eye a couple of days ago after a brief morning shower.  It does not mind the heat and scarcity of rain. Its size is a good fit for the narrow space between the paths of the labyrinth, keeping the paths open for easy passage without needing much trimming.

Angelonia ‘Serenita Raspberry’ and 'Purple'

Angelonia ‘Serenita Raspberry’ and ‘Purple’ (Purple turned out to be pink.)

I had planned to use a limited color scheme of white and blue this year, but blue Angelonia were hard to find this year at the time I needed them. Unable to locate enough white plants to use for the entire circle either, I ended up having to settle for a mix of mostly pinks and a few purples (Angelonia ‘Serena White’, ‘Alonia Big Indigo’, ‘Serenita Raspberry’, ‘Purple’ , and ‘Rose’). The ‘Purple’ turned out to be pink also. Though not my first color choices, I have enjoyed them immensely.

Angelonia 'Alonia Big Indigo'

Angelonia ‘Alonia Big Indigo’

Angelonia 'Serena White'

Angelonia ‘Serena White’

Angelonia ‘Serenita Raspberry’, 'Purple' and 'Alonia Big Indigo'

Angelonia ‘Serenita Raspberry’, ‘Purple’ and ‘Alonia Big Indigo’

I need to fill in where the original thyme was planted to define part of the wall. It has spread out from the center, but left patchy gaps in the middle. With that one exception the various thymes are doing well and have been blooming for a few weeks, attracting many pollinators. The goal of the labyrinth (or center of the circle) is planted in Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme).

Angelonia 'Serena White' and Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Angelonia ‘Serena White’ and Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

Here is the second Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia) I have seen this summer enjoying the thyme.

Common Buckeye (Junonia coenia)

There still are a few Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) left from the original planting a few years ago. They have self-seeded and I have left a few, moved some to other parts of the garden and given many away.

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme) and Penstemon digitalis 'Husker Red' (Beardtongue)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme) and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Another penstemon original to the labyrinth is Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue). Of the dozen or so only one survives. I think it likes this summer’s dry weather.

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

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

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

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

All in all I love the how the circle has enhanced the garden and I enjoy the peacefulness of the walking meditation.

Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

Yinyang Of The Morning Garden

Shady Side, Sunny Side-Meditation Circle on Frosty New Year's Day

Shady Side, Sunny Side-Meditation Circle on Frosty New Year’s Day

They are complementary opposites. Slowly across the meditation circle Yin (darkness) defers to Yang (sunlight).

Happy New Year! The first day of 2015 began frosty cold, but ice crystals on plants in the labyrinth quickly disappeared once discovered by the rays of the morning sun.

Dianthus 'Ideal Select White'

Dianthus ‘Ideal Select White’



Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

I have been dreaming my way through garden catalogs and making plans to fill gaps in the hedges bordering the fence with gardenias, camellias and yet unknowns.

Meditation Circle on Frosty New Year's Day

Meditation Circle on Frosty New Year’s Day

There is a Christmas gift of tulip bulbs to plant this weekend, even as many daffodils are already emerging.


Long Night Moon

Full Moon: December 17, 4:28 a.m. EST

The last full moon of the year lingered in the early morning sky, lighting up the meditation circle as I looked out from an upstairs window.

Winter lies ahead but spring’s return is on my mind. With winter solstice just four days away, I am heartened to note the days become shorter just four more times before that trend reverses. Today the length of day will be 9h 43m 11s.  On December 21 it decreases down to 9h 42m 45s, then the day’s length creeps back up.

Frosty ice enveloped stems and leaves in the garden overnight accentuating the mounds of Thyme that form part of the labyrinth’s walls. The large hole in the foreground is damage from mole/vole activity. Solar-powered mole repeller stakes that emit a pulsating sound underground worked well this spring and summer to keep them at bay, but the devices do not last very long.

Thyme In Meditation Circle

Thyme In Meditation Circle

The Pansies and other plants that line the path of the labyrinth are stressed from the daily cooling and warming. With other parts of the country already besieged by ice and snow I am not complaining. It is sunny and almost 60°F. this afternoon and by Saturday the high will reach 70°F.

Viola 'Delta True Blue' (Pansy)

Viola ‘Delta True Blue’ (Pansy)

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – October 2013

It is Garden Bloggers Foliage Day (GBFD) and well into autumn, the garden overall remains fairly green. A few perennials are still flowering, but this topic is about signs of the season other than flowers.

The cones left standing after flower petals drop bring a new round of enjoyment to Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes.’ This plant bloomed from late June through September. Now its wide leaves and tall stalks continue to add height and interest to the garden’s Southern entrance.

Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Just inside the gate is a grouping of Dutch lavender that was heavily pruned back late last winter after it had become very overgrown and woody. The lavender did not bloom much this year but it filled out well and looks more shapely. I use this lavender as a small shrub against the foundation of the house.

Lavandula x intermedia 'Dutch' (Dutch Lavender)

Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender)

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)

Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper)

A small pot of Isotoma fluviatilis (Blue Star Creeper) planted in the spring has yielded a good amount of growth.

I am experimenting with this ground cover  in the garden, but with an eye to using it as a partial replacement for grass in the front lawn strip between sidewalk and street, if it survives the winter. (And subject to Homeowners Association approval, unfortunately).

I cannot decide if I like it though—almost seems a bit weedy from afar. Up close I think the texture is wonderful and though flowers are not the focus for GBFD, Blue Star Creeper does actually bloom too. (Click image for close-up.)

This weekend a friend gave me some Elfin Thyme to try also. She has had great success with it in her street/sidewalk strip. Since I do not yet have approval for replanting the grass strip, I planted the Elfin Thyme yesterday in the meditation circle.  There now are three different kinds of Thyme there, on of which also has a small-textured leaf that reminds me of Elfin.

Thymus serpyllum 'Elfin' (Elfin Thyme) and Thyme sp.

Thymus serpyllum ‘Elfin’ (Elfin Thyme) and Thyme sp. in the meditation circle

In the northwest corner of the garden shockingly purple berries are now easily visible on the American beautyberry. This plant is still small but from others I have noticed lately, it may soon outgrow this spot.

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Callicarpa americana (American beautyberry)

Thanks to Christina for hosting GBFD on the 22nd of each month. Visit her at Garden of the Hesperides to discover what foliage displays she and other garden bloggers are featuring today.

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day – March 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thymus serpyllum 'Pink Chintz' (Pink chintz thyme)

Thymus serpyllum ‘Pink Chintz’ (Pink chintz thyme)

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

Iris 'Davy Jones' (Davy Jones Bearded Iris)

Iris ‘Davy Jones’ (Davy Jones Bearded Iris)

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

Hylotelephium 'Herbstfreude'  Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

Hylotelephium ‘Herbstfreude’ Autumn Joy (Stonecrop)

Mixed sedum

Mixed sedum

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

Rudbeckia hirta 'Irish Eyes'

Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

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

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

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

Gaura lindheimeri 'Passionate Blush' (Butterfly Gaura)

Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)

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

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop's weed)

Aegopodium podagraria(bishop’s weed)

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

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

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

Thyme For Meditation

Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme)

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

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

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

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

Meditation Circle


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

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

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

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

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

A Garden Journal To Conclude July

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Desiccation was the word that best described the garden at the end of June, but as July ends there are some signs of verdancy. July was a difficult month for the already stressed perennials and shrubs, but some decent rains have had a visible restorative effect on many of them. Even the lawn now shows less brown and more green.

While the garden seems willing at this point to make the effort to improve, this gardener is finding excuses. The garden could really use some serious maintenance but as usual, it is getting very little attention as the summer goes along. Among the many tasks that need tackling are applying mulch garden-wide and dividing the irises. I have done some weeding, deadheading and trimming, but not nearly enough to improve the overall effect—there is so much more left to be done. Another week though before I can get some time to concentrate on it.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

In the meditation garden Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon) lies sprawling across the labyrinth’s path, knocked over by recent poundings of rain.

Last summer was the first time I had planted Angelonia, an annual, and it was outstanding well into October.  This year it has not been quite as spectacular, but it is finally beginning to bloom more profusely. The bees really enjoy the flowers.

Angelonia angustifolia ‘Angelface Blue’ (Summer Snapdragon)

Garden View With Meditation Circle

The meditation circle is normally a very low-maintenance feature, but a heavy rain this past weekend also washed away much of the pine bark mulch, covering many of the stepping stones.

Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme)

The section of Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) is mostly green, but in some poorly draining areas it is starting to show some brown spots from excess standing water during the storm.

Perhaps the thyme will bloom yet. There are a few faint colored puffs on it that, when one looks close, are seen to be little lavender flowers.

Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft)

Once the star performer of the labyrinth, Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) is losing its shine.

Many of the mounds are severely stressed. This time last year it was holding up beautifully and was quite green.

The candytuft bloomed from December to May this year and perhaps needs a rest. Maybe some compost should be added for nutrition.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

‘Husker Red’ is still working well in the meditation circle. Curiously the leaves of the ones planted last year are mostly green, with little or none of this luscious dark red colored-foliage found in these that were added this year. The coral Dianthus lining the entrance makes a nice pairing.

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage) has flopped over but is blooming now and should last well into autumn.

Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ and Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’

Encouraged by recent rains, Clematis ‘Jackmanii’ now has a few new blossoms. Rudbeckia hirta ‘Irish Eyes’ is in full bloom to the delight of many insects. The stalks of this Rudbeckia seem very sturdy but, like those of so many items in this garden, they would benefit from staking.

Cleome (Spider Flower)

Cleome has flowered well in one spot and poorly in another.

In early July there was a heartbreaking loss of a Crape Myrtle in the front yard from a freak wind storm.

The same storm brought down a pine into the garden, obliterating a Buddleia davidii and some other plants in an area along the back fence, an area I have been actively trying to invigorate.

‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress


Actually there are several large gaps along the back fence. In the northwestern corner a ‘Carolina Sapphire’ Arizona Cypress was planted earlier this year to replace the eleven-year old one we lost last summer. This is a fast-growing tree that will fill this area in a few years. Meanwhile I can tell it has grown quite a bit.

While waiting for the ‘Carolina Sapphire’ to mature I envision this corner overflowing with cutting flowers in the summer, but my efforts have been small.

Zinnias were planted from seeds, but thwarted by extreme temperatures, they remain small and insignificant. I think the birds must have eaten most of the seeds.  This is a rather poor showing.

Transplants of cleome did not survive here.

Also Gladioli planted in this same area flopped over after their first exposure to wind, so they did nothing to make the garden look nice long-term, but their blooms provided enjoyment in cut-flower arrangements.

So, there are many openings and opportunities around the garden at this time. Although I am not doing much work in the garden this summer, I am thinking and planning. I am optimistic the garden will be fun again next Spring. And, while there are no grand views, no wide vistas in the garden right now, it is surprising to me how many individual plants are providing some interest. It seems much better than in years past.

Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm)

Meanwhile birds, wasps, bees and other insects do not seem to mind the garden’s disarray, as they feast on nectar and seeds. The yellow of American Goldfinches brightens the garden as these tiny birds feed on various plants—they especially seem to appreciate the Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower).

Hummingbirds regularly visit Monarda didyma (Scarlet Beebalm), which is no longer lush and spectacular but is still in bloom.

Leucanthemum x superbum (Shasta Daisy)

And fresh dew on Shasta Daisies is still a remarkable thing.


With two days to go this hot July stopped short of setting a local record for the number of consecutive days above 90 degrees, when the temperature reached a mere 89 degrees yesterday. Precipitation was 0.5 inches above normal for the month (actual month total was 4.64; normal month total, 4.04). Three heavy storms on the 21st, 22nd and 28th accounted for 3.31 inches of that.

April’s Middle – Garden Views and Notes

Garden Views

The garden was refreshed by gentle rain during the night. By noon today the grass had dried sufficiently for mowing, just in time too so visiting friends could wander around and linger in the garden.

Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine)

Artemisia, Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Bee On Meadow Sage ‘May Night’

Catmint (Nepeta) and Phlox


Several types of irises are blooming. Newly opened today are the pale yellow Japanese Iris, pass-along plants from a special sister-in-law in Idaho.

Japanese Iris and Tradescantia (Spiderwort)

Japanese Iris

This iris with pale lavender standards and dark purple falls is another pass-along from a former neighbor. I brought this and the Japanese Iris from my first garden nearly eleven years ago to help form the foundation of this current garden.

Bearded Iris

A more recent pass-along, this lovely white iris with very large flowers is from a gardening friend now serving in the Peace Corps.

I did not realize the garden had this black iris but am thrilled to discover it. It must have come into the garden at the same time as the white one above. It promises to be gorgeous.

Pass-along plants bring memories of friends and neighbors, but precise identification of these is not possible. I simply remember them by the names of the donors. Here is another iris from my old garden by way of a dear family friend.

Notes on Labyrinth Wall Plantings In The Meditation Circle

Meditation Circle

The meditation circle is a year old this week and the evergreen perennials that help define the walls of the labyrinth easily survived the mild winter.

  • Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (Candytuft) – Used in the innermost portion of the circle (goal of the labyrinth), currently this is ending a long bloom cycle that began December, 2011.
  • Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) – Two plants, used to define walls at one of the turn-around points, did so well that three more were added this spring. Self-sprouted seedlings from the original two are growing nearby and may produce some plants that can be added to the labyrinth, although references indicate that ‘Husker Reds’ from seeds will not have the same dark red leaves that plant divisions would.
  • Thymus x citriodorus (Silver Edge Thyme) – Not thriving but doing ok. Conditions have been too wet for this herb, but the thyme is beginning to improve and look healthier. May gradually replace them after they bloom.
  • Silver Edge Thyme and Penstemon mexicali 'Pike's Peak Purple' (Beardtongue)

    Penstemon  mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) – This penstemon has a wilder look than the Husker Red and seemed scraggly last summer, but during fall and winter looked very green and strong. It was severely sheared in March and has returned with strong, lush look. This plant may become too wide and grow too far into the path.

To complement the perennials, yesterday I added fifteen Angelonia ‘Blue’  between the two left-most paths. Angelonia are annuals that bloomed until October last year, providing a lush look for the meditation circle without much maintenance. Angelonias tolerate heat and humidity, are deer-resistant and do not require dead-heading. They did outgrow the narrow 6-inch space between the paths and had to be trimmed back several times, but the cuttings made lovely and long-lasting indoor arrangements.

Fall Gardening – Falling Enthusiasm

The garden needs attention and a spate of recent mild autumn days has left little excuse for not tackling a long list of fall garden chores. Yet, the irises are not thinned, the replacements for the Arizona Cypress that died are not planted, the weeds are not pulled. There are no interesting bulbs waiting to be planted. Enthusiasm and motivation for gardening, so easily tapped in springtime, readily elude this time of year.

Meditation Circle

November 10, 2011

One chore yesterday left the meditation circle in a disruptive state. I pulled the filler plants-marigolds and angelonia-that had provided intense color all summer.

The design goal for landscaping the labyrinth is eventually to fill the borders between the meditation path with evergreen or semi-evergreen plants so as to avoid this lopsided, barren look.

I have experimented with several types of plants in the meditation circle and am really happy with the performance of a long-time garden favorite in this garden, Iberis Sempervirens (Candytuft). Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) is also working well for sections where extra height is wanted at the turn-arounds. These taller plants serve as visual cues for guiding visitors along the path.

The thyme is unimpressive so far. During the past six weeks, the Penstemon mexicali ‘Pike’s Peak Purple’ (Beardtongue) has bloomed much better than it did all summer, winning it a bit of a reprieve, but it has a wild scraggliness that is unappealing for the meditation circle. A landscaping friend is coming to walk the meditation path this week and I am eager to hear her ideas.

October Meditation On The Meditation Circle

April 15, 2011

In winter 2011 planning for a garden renovation was underway and one idea was to include a meditation space. By mid-April installation of the meditation circle and labyrinth was completed. Even in its then totally bare, stone and mulch state, the circle immediately became a dynamic focal point for the garden.

Throughout spring and summer perennials and annuals were added between the paths of the labyrinth. Various plants were chosen as experiments to see what would grow (and not outgrow) the narrow, six-inch wide path; what would survive the summer heat and dry spells; and what would contribute to understanding how to walk the labyrinth.

Five Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) and eighteen mounding thymes were among the first introductions, added in March and early April respectively. Coreopsis was considered, but eventually planted elsewhere.

Early April 2011

By the first of May two Penstemon ‘Husker Red’ were added to demarcate turn-around points in the labyrinth.

May 1, 2011

Angelonia angustifolia (summer snapdragon) provided dramatic color in the meditation circle. In the foreground is Angelface Blue.  A lighter shade, Wedgwood Blue, was added later along the lower left path.

May 1, 2011

In early June ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon (Beardtongue) was used to complete the plantings between the walking paths.  This proved less successful than any of the other plants. This native penstemon is wilder and more scraggly in stature, and less colorful than the ‘Husker Red’ it was meant to complement.

June 20, 2011

At July’s end the meditation circle garden was filled out and beautiful, transformed into a richly colorful space. The candytuft and thyme formed soft mounds, never encroaching beyond the designated space. Marigolds and the angelonia had to be trimmed back from the path several times–the cuttings made long-lasting indoor arrangements.  After a summer rain the angelonia stems fell over onto the stepping stones, but were easily uprighted.

July 31, 2011

Now, well into October, the annuals continue to bloom. French Marigolds at the entrance and profusely blooming Angelonia along the left side add welcome color and help serve structurally as a gentle guide for how to walk the labyrinth.

When frost eventually forces their removal (October 24 or so) the circle will look much different. The plan is for the evergreen plants of thyme, Penstemon (both ‘Husker’s Red’ and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’) and Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) to continue to provide winter interest.

Blooming In Mid-September

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

Blooms, Blooms

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Meditation Circle

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

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

To Be Continued

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

July Draws To A Close

July 2011 will be remembered as an extreme month of drought and heat, with the last week registering highs of 101,97, 93, 99, 102, 104, 100 and heat indexes that make one wilt. It is 74 now, moderated by storms that passed through and brought not just thunder and lightning, but actual rain.

This garden relies mostly on perennials, but at this time of year the garden’s perimeter beds have been browning and parching, with many plants barely hanging on.

A few plants have thrived as the summer progressed though the searing days of July, mostly those in the meditation circle’s labyrinth. The thyme, the Penstemon (both ‘Husker’s Red’ and ‘Pikes Peak Purple’) and the Iberis sempervirens ‘Purity’ (candytuft) are doing well. Here though the real stars are two annuals, the angelonia and the French marigolds, which seem to take strength from the strong sun. These provide the midsummer garden’s main color and impact.

Mediation Circle After July Rain

New Labyrinth Perennials

The meditation circle plantings have been incomplete as I studied, evaluated and fretted over what to plant.

Two ‘Husker Red’ Penstemon have performed well in the meditation circle, along with Iberis sempervirens (Candytuft) and the fantastic annual, Angelonia. A grouping of thyme has survived, even bloomed, but is too finely textured to contribute a strong show and disappointingly has no scent.  An initial planting of French marigolds at the entrance, added just to get started with something, is an incompatible, jarring color and has bloomed unevenly anyway.

Happening upon a bargain this morning, I hesitated only two minutes before I decided on a perennial I hope is a good choice to help fill in the labyrinth’s wall.

Pikes Peak Purple

I selected eighteen ‘Pikes Peak Purple’ Penstemon (Beardtongue) that had come into the garden center fresh from the grower recently.

This plant is a hybrid. Among its desirable qualities, it is deer-resistant, drought-tolerant and attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Its mature size (12-15 inches tall by 10-12 inches wide) and its upright growth habit makes it suitable to fit within the 12-inch space between the labyrinth’s stepping stones. It is evergreen and during its long blooming period, the violet-purple color will work well with the rest of the garden’s color scheme.

When the heat subsides this evening I will try to get them all planted.

Meditation Circle

Completion of the meditation circle has been a good impetus for bringing friends to visit the garden this spring. Generous rains have made the irises and roses look healthy and strong and have helped get the circle’s “wall” plantings established.

So far though only a few plants have been selected as the wall between the paths and at the turnarounds: Thyme, Penstemon, Angelonia, and Marigold, the last two being annuals.  Eventually the goal is to have a full, varied, perennial border within the circle.

Meditation Garden Progressing

The roto-tilling work was completed late tonight. Still some grass remains but it will be easy to remove if necessary. The soil is pretty smooth, nice rich soil at that, and now the meditation garden is ready for laying out the path and planting.

Tomorrow morning’s weather is predicted to be fierce: thunderstorms, possible tornados, but clearing by lunchtime. The winds today have been blustery.  At a garden center where this afternoon I picked up twelve more red concrete stepping stones, plants were being toppled right and left into the aisles.

The stones that will form the path in the labyrinth are accumulating slowly–84 of the estimated 160 are on site.  It is less costly to pick them up a dozen or so at a time than to pay for delivery and it is fun to peruse the aisles each visit to see what new plants have come in to the garden center.

Today I purchased three compact coreopsis and a flat of French marigolds, which along with yesterday’s flat of thyme and about eight candytufts will be used to begin to form the walls. I have been giving a lot of thought to what kind of plants to use. In researching ideas I came across an inspired garden labyrinth from Cornell created from bulbs.

As lovely as that is mostly I want to choose low-growing, evergreen, clumping forms to help maintain the definition and structure year-round. Also selecting plants that require little water is important as this region has been drought-prone for quite a few years. It will take time to fill in the entire plantable area of the labyrinth. Using seeds will help make it more affordable and there are some plants in the garden that can be transplanted.  But getting it all right, creating a perfect balance of color, form and texture will be a big challenge.

Thyme Mystery

On a whim I purchased a flat of thyme today to use in the meditation garden, but am not sure it is correctly labeled.

The tag says thyme, silver edge and Thymus x citriodorus. The tag does not call this Lemon Thyme but online references do. They also mention the fragrant lemony smell but these plants do not seem particularly fragrant and definitely are not lemony. As for the name ‘silver edge,’ the leaves do not seem to have a silvery edge. Eventually I did find a nursery selling it under this name so perhaps it is indeed correct.   The tag indicates it will form a 9-12-inch mound which should be lovely along the garden paths.

‘Silver Edge’
Thymus x citriodorus