Tag Archives: verbena bonariensis

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

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

Today I had in mind a particular style for my vase: asymmetrical, loosely arranged, strongly textured yet airy, whimsical and light. Though not completely true to my vision, it does fairly dance. For its vibrancy and color I am happy with how this one turned out.

I don’t use a lot of yellow but in the garden strong yellows of rudbeckia and tansy have come alive in the past several weeks. Tansy with its rich textural characteristics ended up being a good material to define the shape and tone of the design. I used rudbeckia to continue the color while changing the texture. While cutting the tansy, heart-shaped leaves from a young redbud seedling caught my attention as well. These items, along with everlasting sweet pea seed pods, were the starting point for the vase.

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

Next I added stems of verbena, achillea and salvias and then finished with dahlias and phlox.

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

Because the weather has been so hot many of the flowers are not pristine, but I cut as many as I could find, using the imperfect ones as well. The vase may not last long but it was fun to create.

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

Materials
Flowers
Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)
Antirrhinum majus ‘Speedy Sonnet Bronze’ (Snapdragon)
Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Adonis blue Butterfly Bush)
Dahlia sp.
Dahlia ‘David Howard’
Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Deco’
Dahlia ‘Tsuku Yori No Shisha’
Phlox paniculata ‘Robert Poore’ (Garden phlox)
Rudbeckia laciniata (Green-Headed Coneflower)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)
Tanacetum vulgare (Tansy)
Verbena bonariensis
Foliage
Cercis canadensis (Eastern Redbud)
Dahlia leaves
Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)
Vase
Crystal pedestal dish

The flowers were styled with floral foam in a plastic 6-inch Lomey dish that sits inside the low crystal pedestal vase.

In A Vase On Monday – Texture And Whimsy

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place in a vase this week.

Between Morning Showers In Early June

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

A series of light showers this morning were welcome after the previous two days of temperatures in low 90s. Gardenias are fully awake today; a few more red lilies shout their presence.

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

Gardenia jasminoides ‘August Beauty’

Lilium ‘Black Out’ (Asiatic lily)

American Goldfinches keep us entertained. Today I watched one floating from flower to flower on Blue Sky salvia, the slender stems arching gracefully downward with the bird’s weight, then popping upward, the goldfinch having moved on to the next flower effortlessly, like an acrobat on a trapeze .

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

Salvia uliginosa ‘Blue Sky’ (Bog sage)

I do not have an adequate camera to film birds but you may be able to see four goldfinches sitting atop sturdy stalks of echinacea in the meditation circle yesterday. All too soon one signals, “let’s go.”

Verbena bonariensis is going to seed and needs to be trimmed back. The finches love it at this stage so I will leave it a while longer.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Among the signs of early summer in the garden are this lusciously deep, purple gladiolus just coming into bloom.

Gladiolus ‘Purple Flora’

Gladiolus ‘Purple Flora’

Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Deco’ embraces the hot weather.

Dahlia ‘Gallery Art Deco’

From the back porch I spied a black swallowtail, I think, on this bush. I searched later but the butterfly had moved on.

Buddleja davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Adonis blue Butterfly Bush)

In A Vase On Monday – Cup Of Color

In A Vase On Monday – Cup Of Color

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share a vase highlighting what is growing in our gardens.

The rich colors this week seem autumnal. Several chrysanthemums began blooming this weekend beside the garage where their plastic pots had been unceremoniously abandoned last fall and given not another thought over winter. Last week I noticed they were green and healthy and in bud. For today’s vase I picked the deep wine mums to feature.

Chrysanthemum

Verbena bonariensis has been lovely this spring, but some of it quickly began dropping flowers in the vase.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

I included several stems of asclepias, also just coming into bloom. The rich orange nearly overshadows the chrysanthemum as the main focus.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed)
In A Vase On Monday – Cup Of Color

Materials
Flowers
Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly weed)
Chrysanthemum
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Foliage
Vase
Ceramic mug

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower-filled vases across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place in a vase this week. Good health and peace to you.

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Looking a bit ragged now, Verbena bonariensis has been a hot spot in the garden for weeks. When not occupied by 7 or 8 American Goldfinches swaying gently on it, bees and butterflies are seen enjoying it.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) and Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood)

I can’t seem to get a picture of the goldfinches but it has been fun to track the pollinators around even just after noon on this scorching day. Finding the verbena an irresistible lunch was today’s special visitor, a lovely Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes).

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

Black Swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

I did not think to use slow-motion video, but this 10-second clip will give you a sense of the butterfly’s fluttering lifestyle.  (Also try setting the playback speed).

Before seeing this one today, I’ve observed three other Black Swallowtails (one on July 21, 2015 and believe it or not, two exactly a year apart on August 27, 2015 and  August 27, 2016) and this caterpillar on July 20, 2015.

July 20, 2015. Aegopodium podagraria (bishop’s weed) with Eastern Black Swallowtail (Papilo polyxenes) caterpillar

(By the way, it’s too late to tell me I shouldn’t have planted Aegopodium…just one of many garden aggressors.)

Are you observing lots of butterflies this summer?

 

Lunchtime In The Garden

A couple of weeks ago the weather was unseasonably hot and dry. These are photos from May 27, 2019. Lots of butterflies were visiting the garden then, flitting from one flower to the next (especially popular was Verbena bonariensis—must be quite tasty.)  This is an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus). Females are dimorphic and can be yellow or nearly black. Blue spots along the hindwing indicate this yellow form is female.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

At some point this swallowtail apparently escaped a bad encounter, but managed to get back to lunch.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

At first I thought this next one was a female dark morph of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail—I noticed it nectaring on Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue.’ The coloring didn’t quite seem right though and I finally decided it is a Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus). The spicebush has blue markings, one of which is missing its orange spot.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

I followed the same butterfly around the garden. It stopped to enjoy the Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ before moving on to the verbena.

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus)

Verbena and penstemon are also popular with bees. Shown here is an Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) sampling the buffet.

Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)

Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)

Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica)

In A Vase On Monday – Echinacea And Grass

In A Vase On Monday – Echinacea and Grass

Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement every Monday using materials collected from our gardens.

In spring I needed some instant color at the front steps and so bought a pre-planted container with a purple grass, petunias, verbena and something else (I cannot find tags for any of the items).  The grass quickly took over the entire pot and is all that remains.  So many gardeners enjoy grasses I feel there really is something missing in my own gardening DNA that I do not find them very exciting. So I decided to trim and use the grass for today’s vase before the container contents are composted. The grass is paired with two echinaceas, Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ and Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown.’ White Swan is having a banner year. Big Sky Sundown blooms less eagerly and needs to be relocated where it will receive more sunlight.

Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ with grass and Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’

Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’

For a change in texture I included a stem of Celosia plumosa ‘Castle Mix,’ thinking its color would echo Big Sky Sundown. The celosia is more orange and the stem was too short, yet I kept it just for its fuzziness.

Celosia plumosa ‘Castle Mix’ and Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’

As pictured the arrangement feels too sparse and is too tall for the size of the vase. I did not have time for a redo. It would have been nice to cut additional White Swan Echinacea to fill in, but some hours later after having photographed the flowers, I did actually trim and reduce the height of the tallest elements and that improved the proportions somewhat.

The vase was a gift from my sister-in-law last year.

Ceramic ikebana vase with 3 integrated ceramic tubes

Ceramic ikebana vase with 3 integrated ceramic tubes

 

Materials

Flowers
Celosia plumosa ‘Castle Mix’ (Feather Celosia)
Echinacea ‘Big Sky Sundown’ (Hybrid Coneflower)
Echinacea purpurea ‘White Swan’ (Coneflower)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Foliage
Unknown Grass
Container
Ceramic ikebana vase with 3 integrated ceramic tubes, built-in stem holders. 6 x 6 inches.

Just a note: Some of you may recall earlier in spring, around mid-May, I ended up rescuing a number of peonies after a storm and stored them in the refrigerator.  Finally I needed to free up that space so the last of the peonies were released this weekend. Three had several brown spots on the petals, which were easily removed; generally the condition was good and the fragrance still strong.

Refrigerated Peonies Released

Refrigerated Peonies Released

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us an opportunity to share flower designs across the world. Visit her to discover what she and others found to place In A Vase On Monday.

In A Vase On Monday – Oakleaf And Verbena

In A Vase On Monday – Oakleaf And Verbena

Each Monday Cathy at Rambling In The Garden invites us to share an arrangement using materials collected from our gardens.

As the garden transitions toward summer Verbena bonariensis orchestrates the views, diverting the gaze away from peonies past their prime, directing attention to newly unfolding scenes in the borders.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

In today’s vase the verbena appears to leap above everything else, demanding attention. The intended focus of today’s arrangement, Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers,’ needs more time to develop before it can fully command the vase.

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

Husker Red penstemon is in the early stages of bloom in many spots around the garden.

Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)

Pink achillea, gaura and a sprig of lavender foliage fill out the design.

Materials

Achillea filipendulina (Fern-leaf Yarrow)
Gaura lindheimeri ‘Passionate Blush’ (Butterfly Gaura)
Hydrangea quercifolia ‘Ruby Slippers’ (Lil’ Ruby dwarf Oakleaf Hydrangea)
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender)
Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue)
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Vase
Hand painted Fenton Glass Vase – USA

In A Vase On Monday – Oakleaf And Verbena

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting and giving us a chance to express our flower arranging passion. Visit her to discover what she and others found this week in their gardens to place In A Vase On Monday.

Butterflies and Glad Tidings

Throughout the day yesterday I glimpsed this male swallowtail nectaring at this large stand of Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena). The day before the garden had been filled with colorful American Goldfinch (Carduelis trusts) also enjoying this plant. The verbena has scattered itself all around the borders, so this year I have been able to share some with friends.

male Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

male Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

male Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucous) enjoying Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

male Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucous) enjoying Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

male Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

male Eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus)

About a month ago I noticed a Monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus) fluttering around, just for a day, but I could never get a picture. Then again on Saturday another passed through. Still no picture of the butterfly, so I will share its host plant, Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant).

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Plant)

This spectacular gladiolus below is from a package of blue shades mix planted last spring. The bulbs performed poorly last year, so seeing this royal spire each day thrills me. Although the tip of the stem is out of view, at this stage the gladiolus is half blooms and half buds.

After Aquilegia canadensis (Eastern red columbine) finished blooming here in the western border, I cut it back leaving this section looking particularly bare. Now that the weather has finally warmed up, everything should fill in quickly: Buddleia davidii ‘Adokeep’ (Butterfly Bush), Helianthus angustifolius (Swamp Sunflower) and Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox). I am still deciding how to replace the gardenia hedge that once lined this fence along the back.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

This is the same flower after a rain a few days earlier, with the northwest corner in the background: ‘Carolina Sapphire’ (Arizona Cypress), Phlox paniculata (Garden Phlox), Callicarpa americana (American beauty berry), Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood). In front of the planter Allium atropurpureum are preparing to  bloom.

Gladiolus

Gladiolus

In A Vase On Monday—A Sweet Fragrance

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

Once again I am joining Cathy for In A Vase On Monday, a weekly invitation to fill and share a vase using materials gathered from one’s garden.

With a large pass-along gardenia starting to flower last week, what to use in my vase this week was an easy decision. Gardenias are quick to brown and I find them difficult to photograph, but these minor flaws are easily overlooked with one whiff of their sweet perfume.

Gardenia jasminoides

Gardenia jasminoides

The entire experience of gathering, arranging and photographing these gardenias was accentuated by the remarkable fragrance of the flowers.

Gardenia jasminoides

Gardenia jasminoides

Three stems of Verbena bonariensis inserted into a small, one inch floral pin holder doubled as  an armature around which the gardenias were added.

In A Vase On Monday - View From Above

In A Vase On Monday – View From Above

Today’s container is a traditionally-shaped pressed glass dish that had belonged to my aunt. Rarely used, it is the perfect size for the number of flowers I collected. The arrangement adds an graceful detail to the dining room buffet.

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

Materials

Flowers
Gardenia jasminoides
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Gardenia jasminoides

Gardenia jasminoides

A big thank you to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for welcoming everyone to join her in this addictive Monday diversion. Please visit her to see what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

In A Vase On Monday—Traditional Marble

In A Vase On Monday-Marble and Red

Each Monday brings an opportunity to join in Cathy’s weekly challenge called In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials collected from the garden.

The temperature dropped more than 25 degrees F. Saturday night delivering a fresh, autumnal crispness to the air. In response the Dahlia ‘Blue Bell’ (that turned out to be red) is finally blooming with more intensity. I was able to cut three fully open specimens this morning to include in today’s vase.

Dahlias Covered In Morning Dew

Dahlias Covered In Morning Dew

One Iceberg rose was in prime condition this morning and I brought it inside to serve as a focal point for today’s arrangement and to add contrast in texture and color.

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

Freshly formed palmate leaves of lupine radiate outward and provide an interesting background for the white rose. (Thanks to Cathy at Words and Herbs for the suggestion to use lupine foliage in a vase.)

Palmate lupine leaves provide background for Rosa 'Iceberg'

Palmate lupine leaves provide background for Rosa ‘Iceberg’

For a container I selected a marble, urn-shaped mortar that is substantial enough to offset the mass of the heavy, richly-colored dahlia flowers.  The shape of the mortar together with the old-fashioned quality of the dahlias inspired this week’s rather traditional design.

Marble mortar anchors the arrangement.

Marble mortar anchors the arrangement.

Silvery sprigs of lavender echo the gray marble in the base while adding lightness to the design. Hovering above the dahlias a few Verbena bonariensis flowers complete the arrangement.

Verbena bonariensis and lavender sprigs are used as fillers.

Verbena bonariensis and lavender sprigs are used as fillers.

Verbena bonariensis and lavender with Dahlias

Verbena bonariensis and lavender with Dahlias

Materials

Dahlia ‘Blue Bell’- 3 stems
Rosa ‘Iceberg’- 1 stem
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)- 7 stems
Lupinus ‘Woodfield Hybrids’ (Lupine)- 3 stems
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender)- 5 stems
1 Florist’s Frog
1 Marble Mortar

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Discover what delightful things she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday. Perhaps you will be inspired to share your own vase.

In A Vase On Monday—Late Summer Basket

In A Vase On Monday - Late Summer Basket

In A Vase On Monday – Late Summer Basket

Today, the first Monday in September, is designated as Labor Day in the United States. It has been a federal holiday since 1894 to recognize the importance and contributions of workers. It is also time again to join in Cathy’s challenge In A Vase On Monday. The goal is to fill a vase using materials gathered in one’s own garden.

Although I love blue-hued flowers my garden most often seems to be filled with pink ones. Since for today’s arrangement I avoided reusing multicolored Zinnias and yellow Rudbeckia, today’s Monday vase is also filled with pink flowers.

Everlasting Sweet Pea is blooming better than it did at springtime and Obedient Plant is in its prime. Most of the Echinacea is attractive now only to the American goldfinches, but I found one large, fresh bloom to include. For a touch of blue I also chose a handful of  Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’ and more pink, a few stems of Verbena bonariensis.

Pinkish hues dominate the garden's blooms: Everlasting Sweet Pea, Obedient Plant, Echinacea

Pinkish hues dominate the garden’s blooms: Everlasting Sweet Pea, Obedient Plant, Echinacea

 

I collected a mix of greenery to support the arrangement, so much in fact I later had to remove quite a bit to allow the flowers to stand out. The foliage is dark green Japanese holly, bright yellowish-green, Wintergreen boxwood and silvery Dutch Lavender.

Dark and light green and silvery foliage was used for this late summer arrangement.

Dark and light green and silvery foliage was used for this late summer arrangement.

The arrangement was created using floral foam in a shallow, plastic dish. The vase today is a small potato basket.

In A Vase On Monday

In A Vase On Monday

The basket is one of the first baskets I made one autumn many years ago during a 4 or 6-week program at The Arts Center in Carrboro.

Potato basket-detail

Potato basket-detail

Potato basket-detail

Potato basket-detail

Materials
Flowers
Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)
Lathyrus latifolius (Everlasting Sweet Pea)
Physostegia virginiana (Obedient Plant)
Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue’
Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)
Foliage
Buxus microphylla var koreana ‘Wintergreen’ (Wintergreen boxwood)
Ilex crenata (Japanese holly)
Lavandula x intermedia ‘Dutch’ (Dutch Lavender)
Mechanics
Lomey 6″ clear designer dish
Floral foam
Handmade basket

I found this old photo of my baskets. Commercial dyes were used to color the reeds and the color has faded considerably. The egg basket handles were formed of wisteria vine, a material easily found in my yard at the time. For several months my kitchen was filled with basketmaking materials. I made baskets for my daughter, my sisters and a special friend and gave them as Christmas presents that year and then never made another one.

Susie's Baskets

Susie’s Baskets

Thanks to Cathy at Rambling In The Garden for hosting. Discover what she and others are placing In A Vase On Monday.

Garden Recordkeeping Part 5

As September 2013 winds down I have some photographs and notes to record. This is the fifth and final post in this series.

The Southern side path leads from the left front of the house toward the garden in the back. Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass) is blooming there currently. It sits at the bottom end of the path, just before the walk turns right to guide visitors through the white picket gate entrance.

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass) in Southern Side Path

Muhlenbergia capillaris (Pink Muhly Grass) in Southern Side Path

Other plants featured at this time in the Southern side garden are Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage), Lavender, Artemisia ‘Powis Castle’ (Wormwood), Salvia guaranitica ‘Black and Blue.’

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

Perovskia atriplicifolia (Russian Sage)

An Iceberg rose belonged to a dear friend and though I am not much a a rose grower, this one is special for sentimental reasons. Since the weather cooled it has been reblooming.

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

Rosa 'Iceberg'

Rosa ‘Iceberg’

I keep trying Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena) in various spots around the garden. American Goldfinches love the seeds and look pretty against whatever remaining lavender flowers have not gone to seed.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower) is reliable and that is reason enough to like it. Although it is always listed as drought-resistant, it really did a lot better than usual when we were having plenty of rain.

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Echinacea purpurea (Purple Coneflower)

Last year I planted a row of three Italian Cypresses in back along the Northern border. Most of the time since, they have not looked quite convinced they should live and thrive, but do seem to be growing now a bit. Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood) is planted nearby.

Italian Cypress and Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Italian Cypress and Cornus florida (Flowering Dogwood)

Self-seeded Zinnias are still blooming in the northeast corner of the garden, as well as in a border near the back steps. These are the giant variety so they add some much needed height to the garden. I have not seen any butterflies around them lately, but earlier they attracted many Eastern Tiger Swallowtails.

Zinnia

Zinnia

Almanac
Partly cloudily, 66.6°F. at 7:25 pm, heading toward low tonight of 54°F. Warmer days for the rest of the week. No rain forecast. Waning crescent moon.

Sunday Garden Vignettes

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

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

Late October Garden, Up Close

From late this afternoon here are a few close-ups of the October garden.

Purchased this spring, the ‘Appleblossom’ yarrow performed poorly all summer. It is located in two sections of the garden, neither of which was to its liking. There were only a few blooms but perhaps it will put on a show yet. The feathery foliage looks very healthy now and several flowers promise to open soon.

Achillea x 'Appleblossom'

These chrysanthemums are one of many pass-along plants from a dear elderly cousin. The extra rains this year have given them a better than usual chance at putting on a nice show this year.

Chrysanthemum

The Verbena bonariensis has had an extended blooming period this year. Several new plants were added around the garden this year and all are doing well.

Verbena bonariensis (Tall Verbena)

Several Ornamental Sweet Potato vines have given a great show this year. This one survived being nibbled to a nub by deer early in the summer.

Ornamental Sweet Potato Vine

The NC State Fair ended today and frequently garden displays there use Ornamental Chili Peppers. Inspired by those showy displays, these pots of peppers add some nice deep Fall color.

Ornamental Pepper

Blooming In Mid-September Part 4

This completes a series illustrating the variety of blooms found in this garden in mid-September.  Once extreme heat and drought set in during July the garden looked browned and parched. Now, eight weeks have passed with little maintenance, and the garden has awakened. Cooler temperatures and some key rainfalls have brought out a burst of blossoms.

Echinacea

Echinacea (purple coneflower) is planted throughout the garden and these perennials have remained in bloom longer this year than usual. As the petals drop the seed cones provide food for the American goldfinches. Most of the Echinacea have dried up now and the brown stalks and cones are being left for winter interest and for the birds.

Crape Myrtle

A pair of pink dwarf Crape Myrtles at the front entrance took forever to bloom this year, while these Southern favorites were coloring the landscape all around town (and even in this neighborhood). The peak flowering period seemed to be about mid-August.

Periwinkle (Vinca)

Because this annual is so commonly used, bringing it home was merely an afterthought at the garden center in early summer.  During the worst of the dry, hot July days though, it added happy spots of color (both pink and magenta) to the border.

Cosmos (Cosmos bipinnatus)

Only a few cosmos self-seeded from last year’s effort to fill the side border with feathery greenery and delicate blossoms.  Usually these are very simple to grow but last year neither these nor the zinnia seeds produced a reward.  The deer still graze down this side garden and seem to be attracted to the cosmos.

Cleome

Cleome or Spider Flower is a magnificent accent in the border. The complex structure of the blooms and the long seed pods forming below the flower give this annual an architectural look.  This is an old-fashioned flower that is remarkable.

More In the September Garden

Ending the tour of blooms in this mid-September garden, there are several flowers blooming for there are no accompanying photographs, but they have been featured before: Pink YarrowDianthus, and Verbena bonariensis. The pink yarrow bloomed profusely in the spring before browning in the heat.  Only a couple of these are in bloom now.  The dianthus was planted this spring and did well with deadheading though early summer before fading in the heat. It has revived somewhat but is not significantly showy. Verbena bonariensis, a tall plant with small flower clusters on long stems, has been blooming since mid-May.  Yellow American goldfinches love them and love to sit on them, bending the stems eventually. Several new ones added to the garden in late spring survived.

Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed)

While this Asclepias tuberosa is not actually blooming now, the seed pods are interesting. Milkweed is the host plant for the monarch butterfly. The caterpillar is feeding on the leaves and storing energy for the pupa stage.

July Flowers

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

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

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

Among the interesting blooms in the garden this week are:

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

Morning Garden Walk

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Almanac

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

A Few Hours In the Garden Today

After a wet spring with moderate temperatures, the heat of the last few days has seemed to shock the grass, but so far the garden is holding its own. A very brief, early morning thunderstorm brought little relief, as it was more thunder than rain.

Several perennials await planting.  There are three lovely yellow-pink, peachy Yarrows for height in the back border. There are also five Verbena bonariensis, which are planned for the meditation circle.

Spruced up the garden for a few hours this morning, trying to shape and edit along the way.

  • Trimmed back Tradescantia (Virginia Spiderwort) that had grown too tall in front of the borders and had expanded into too much of the midsection.
  • Cut back the iris stalks, but kept the leaves to die back naturally.
  • Removed some large branches from a Buddleja davidii ‘Black Knight’ (Butterfly Bush) that did not get its proper trim back in February. It was overshadowing the recently added Gaura.
  • Pruned back the Iceberg Rose that had bloomed so well this spring. Suddenly it looked completely spent.
  • Trimmed the Meadow Sage by half to encourage new blooming. Pulled up stray Rose Campion and Stachys(Lamb’s Ears) in the side path to open up the path again.
  • Cut back the blooms on many of the Stachys, but left as many for the bees which were enjoying them so much.

As always, there is more to do tomorrow.

Transitions

In early spring first the lenten roses, then the daffodils and spirea dominated the garden. By mid-April the first bearded iris had opened. Now, three and a half weeks later, a few irises, along with the old-fashioned rose and the clematises, remain in bloom.  Take a quiet stroll around the perennial beds and it is easy to notice the garden again is in transition.

Verbena bonariensis

A verbena bonariensis is blooming and echinacea (purple coneflower) are beginning to open.

Several foxgloves are forming their complex flowers. Nearby an ‘Irish eyes’ rudbeckia already has reached two of its expected five feet.

The monarda (bee balm) also is tall and seems primed for a big display of red and fragrance.

A soft gray mound of artemisia accents the border and a perennial Dusty miller is creeping through the garden. Asclepias tuberosa (Butterfly Weed) will soon add its bright reddish-orange color to the blue palette that has predominated the garden in early spring.

Penstemon

The very tips of the white tubular flowers of Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’ (Beardtongue) are becoming visible.

These two penstemon are planted inside the meditation path forming a wall at one of the turnaround points.

Yarrow

One of the small pink yarrow is just beginning to open among the lamb’s ears. Rising only 10-15 inches, it has a lacy flower and a dark green, feathery-soft foliage.

Lavender will soon be adding its beautiful color and unique fragrance to several locations. The lavenders responded positively to severe pruning in February.

Lavender

A Garden Highlight

An exciting highlight is the single bloom on the peony recently added to the garden, Paeonia ‘Pink Parfait.’  Although its planting tag indicated a June bloom, it was ready yesterday without regard to the calendar, as was the gardener.

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Paeonia 'Pink Parfait'

Changes Bring Chores

As the focus transitions away from roses and irises there are many required tasks this week that will help keep the garden looking nice. The faded iris blooms and the bloom stalks need to trimmed back to tidy up, although the leaves need to remain for several months before being trimmed back to 6 inches in a fan shape. Is this the year the irises will finally get divided?

Rose Campion

The southern path is full of white rose campion, but none of the favored magenta-hued rose campion survived the winter.  Deadheading is a must if they are to continue to look attractive and to keep them from self-sowing so heavily.

The many Eastern Red Columbine is done for this year and needs to be cut back severely; it will maintain a nice green mound all summer.

Tradescantia is pretty now but needs to be thinned, as it has spread too widely. Many were sheared heavily ten days ago. The daylilies, the sweet peas–all overgrown.  The spirea finished its bloom weeks ago and should be pruned back hard to maintain its size. Other chores abound.  The fence installation was completed last week and paths to the gates need to be improved.

How to finish planting the meditation circle is still an interesting problem to solve, something to ponder while working on these maintenance tasks this week and contemplating transitions.