And Then It Was Summer

Well now it’s official, the first roses are in bloom.

rose john cabot

Rose, possibly ‘John Cabot’, opening up at the far end of the front border.

I don’t think anyone out there dislikes roses.  They might not like growing them, but to dislike them or harbor worse opinions seems out of the question and even borderline suspicious to me.  There are a few roses around here but I’ve tried to hold back.  Rose Rosette Disease is in the wild roses all around us, and I’d hate to see it jump into the garden and decimate any big plantings I might end up putting in.  Unless they’re irresistibly fragrant of course.  The workhorses I have right now are barely fragrant, and at the start fo each summer I always give a little thought to adding something with a fierce perfume.  This year I’m thinking rugosas, and we’ll see if I can hold strong or not.

lupine red rum

A surprising return from last year, ‘Red Rum’ lupine.  I still think it’s amazing and of course want more.

The front border along the street is still riding high with the last of the iris and alliums and a returning lupine star from last year.  I was sure the lupine would would be a one and done wonder but here it is in year two looking even better.  Between the lupine and some new allium schubertii I’m really pleased how it looks.  Usually the iris are followed by a lull, but not this year!

allium schubertii

A closer look at Allium schubertii.  Not super showy, but definitely super cool.

You may have heard it mentioned that someone here is going through an iris phase.  It’s true, and I guess it’s been building for longer than I’d care to admit.  Two years ago ‘Bayberry Candle’ was added, and this year I’m seeing how a flower which is not bright nor flashy, can still be rich and amazing.

iris bayberry candle

Iris ‘Bayberry Candle’ (1966)

It’s possible there have been other iris as well.  ‘Gerald Darby’ was showing off his purple foliage earlier in the year and now has sent up several purple tinged flower stalks topped with several elegant (purple of course) flowers.

iris gerald darby

Iris ‘Gerald Darby’ in bloom.

These later iris are part of what I call the ‘water iris’ group.  That term would likely make a more knowledgable iris grower cringe, but for me it’s one of the beardless iris which do well enough in occasionally soggy, and my always clayish soil, even to the point of sitting in water.  I put the invasive yellow flag (Iris pseudacorus) in this group, and although it’s a little too sloppy for me I do have the brown veined ‘Berlin Tiger’ version which will hopefully not seed around and spread as much as the standard variety.  This one has the distinction of being one of my most expensive iris, since even though the original plant was free from a friend (thanks Kathy!) I may have been tempted to search out similar varieties, order them from far away, and then add other things just to round out a decent order…. and I’m still thinking I should add a few more this summer…

iris berlin tiger

The finely veined flowers of iris ‘Berlin Tiger’ are pretty darn interesting.

Moving out of the iris world it’s also peony season.  On the plus side my garden is too small and this gardener is too fickle to invest in bunches and bunches of these.  I’m counting that as a good thing since if it weren’t set up that way I’m sure I could devote quite a few beds to these opulent flowers and surely I’d go overboard.

peony Do Tell

Peony ‘Do Tell’ wallowing in a weedy side bed.  I hope you believe that it’s been cleaned up since this photo was taken 😉

At this time of year the gardener is spending most of his time weeding and mowing, but what he really needs to do is finish planting.  Last weekend overwintered bulbs went into the tropical garden, and in an attempt to buy some time from the weeds the lawn clippings were collected and spread around as a mulch.

the tropical garden

Not the most attractive soil cover, but it sure beats an ocean of verbena and prickly lettuce seedlings.  In a few weeks you hopefully won’t even notice it under all the new growth.

I do prefer thick perennial plantings as a way of crowding out weeds rather than the trouble of mulching and cultivating, but a full bed in June doesn’t leave much room for all those annuals I’d like to still add.  Hopefully this doesn’t become a regret in August.

allium nigrum amsonia hubrichtii

Amsonia hubrichtii in front with its oddly icy colored pale blue flowers, and Allium nigrum rising up in the center.  I’ve been warned that the allium will be impossible to get rid of, so I pretend to be happy with its multiplying and just let it be.  

Maybe I will whack a few things back today and sneak a few castor beans and cannas in.  I also have a few orange marigolds which should really class things up, so maybe this weekend…  In the meantime here’s one more picture of my little darling ‘Red Rum’ lupine, I honestly look at this plant a million times a day.

lupine red rum

One last view of ‘Red Rum’.  The color is exciting, just try to avoid spelling the name backwards.

All the best for this weekend.  Hopefully you are either well into it or have already had an excellent time of it, I know I plan to 🙂

I just have to avoid the temptation of nursery hopping this weekend… in the hopes of finding some fragrant rugosa roses.  We’ll see.

29 comments on “And Then It Was Summer

  1. ‘Bayberry Candle’ is now officially on my want list. I hope you’re happy. And I like that Red Rum lupine. I have just the ordinary purple ones, and I’m fine with that. For now.

    • bittster says:

      Well well well. I’m sure we can work something out 😉
      I’d love to have more lupines, but after a fantastic burst of bloom ‘RedRum’ is now looking much closer to death than to floral perfection. I see shoots though, so there’s some hope.

  2. March Picker says:

    So much to see and enjoy there! Love that vibrant lupine. I’m also very unfamiliar with iris varieties and fully appreciate your classification of ‘water irises’. Hahaha. Out of all my roses (not very many) the rugosas are the most fragrant, so I wish you great luck in your search.

    • bittster says:

      I made a half-hearted attempt to find a fragrant rose which seemed both a good grower and healthy bloomer, but after sniffing quite a few decided I might have to wait until the mailorder season opens up again. I don’t trust those catalog descriptions at all, but with a little research maybe I can settle on a winner.
      I was distracted by a few more iris though 😉

  3. I would definitely enjoy mixing a rum drink and pulling up a lawn chair to view that red rummer lupine, amidst all the beautiful blooms! Iris are gorgeous.

  4. Christina says:

    Your lupin is really eye catching, no longer you keep looking at it. I hope I’ve written this before you’re tempted to the Rugusa roses (which I love, by the way) as they are the only rose that prefers a sandy light soil so would probably hate your clay! I haven’t tried them yet but I think they might do quite well in my garden which most roses hate. Another interesting thought – to you roses mean summer; here they mean mid-spring which luckily is continuing here this year; we’re still having rain and cooler evenings and thunder storms.

    • bittster says:

      I bet by now spring is only a memory for you!
      If I do settle on a rugosa I’ll make sure to plant it in one of the better draining spots. I did have one for a few years but a late freeze killed it outright one spring.
      I have a feeling I’ll be ordering something online this winter. I’m obsessing about fragrance even though my workhorses are putting on a decent show…

  5. Eliza Waters says:

    Looking good, Frank! That is an extraordinary lupine, for sure. I. ‘Berlin Tiger’ is quite attractive. Believe it or not, I managed to kill my yellow flag iris by overcrowding. It isn’t the worst invasive I’ve ever met (stoloniferous bamboo and houttonyia are 😦 NEVER plant them!). I love A. schubertiii – very Sputnik-looking!
    I planted three different cannas this year, partly inspired by your border. They’ve sprouted, so let’s hope they like it here.

    • bittster says:

      I bet your canna are going to love the upcoming heat! I only just planted the last of mine this evening… well almost the last. There are still a few strays which need to go in, hopefully they take off quickly.
      Ugh. I have heard so many horror stories about chameleon plant and bamboo. Those and chinese lanterns are on my ‘don’t be stupid you know better’ list… as opposed to my ‘you know this is stupid’ list… which usually ends up with me wondering why I’m so foolishly stubborn.

  6. susurrus says:

    Lupins seem to be very popular this year. The peony looks lovely, as do the irises.

  7. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Red Rum is handsome. I don’t have luck growing lupine. They might make it one season but then poof they are gone. The peony has such a pretty face. My irises have all stopped blooming. Shopping for roses sounds like a good way to pass the weekend. Good luck. Have fun.

    • bittster says:

      Sometimes I look at the tubs filled with plant labels and realize I too have many plants which just go ‘poof’. I should really toss them, it’s sort of discouraging every time I think about it.
      I did go rose shopping and I did not buy one. That might seem like some impressive willpower, but only if you ignore the two iris which followed me home 🙂

  8. pbmgarden says:

    So many nice views. ‘Red Rum’ lupine is lovely. Your irises are wonderful too.

  9. Red Rum is lovely, and ‘Gerald Darby’ is my favorite of your irises this week. I like the more informal look of the elongated inflorescences and open flowers more than the big, sturdy beardies.

    • bittster says:

      I was sitting on the porch this afternoon and remembered reading somewhere that as a gardener matures they learn to appreciate things like subtle color play and the value of foliage over gaudy blooms. I do like the informal and open look, but apparently I’m still absolutely immature in my love for big gobs of color!

  10. Great post! Those Red Rum Lupines are awesome! I haven’t had a lot of success with Lupines here. They flower then die when it gets hot.

    • bittster says:

      Yeah. There’s a very good possibility that mine will also die as it gets hot.
      I wonder if you would have luck with bluebonnets down where you are. They don’t overwinter here and don’t do much as annuals so not much success in this garden.

      • I did a little research… I typed in Bluebonnet and the Wikipedia lists six species in the Lupinus genus. Then I cheked with Plants of the World Online to see their distribution map for each species listed(which isn’t 100%). None of the species are in Missouri although Lupinus argenteus is pretty close. The USDA Plants Data base shows it’s native range is the entire western half of the U.S. There are supposedly species in the genus that are native in your state, I think, but none in Missouri. I don’t know what species they are but Plants of the World Online lists 638 acceptes species in the genus. It might be worth checking into a wildflower website for your state. Of course, they may look nothing like what you want in your yard. To bad such beautiful plants don’t last longer.

  11. My lupines bloomed for the first time this year after years of trying. Mine are a boring blue, not the hot red of yours. It is gorgeous! P. x

    • bittster says:

      I love the ‘boring blue’ lupines and I’m glad to hear yours have bloomed this year. Between that and your delphiniums you are really having some great success with a few of the plants which I struggle to grow well. Although today the delphiniums look good, the lupine is another story completely!

  12. Indie says:

    What a gorgeous lupine! I don’t think I’ve seen one quite that color before! I love that ‘Bayberry Candle’ Iris. I try to restrict myself with roses, but it’s because I always regret putting thorny plants in my garden right around weeding time…

    • bittster says:

      There seem to be a lot of thorny plants in this garden. I just don’t understand what was going on in the gardener’s foggy head when he put some of this stuff in. Just last week I had to nurse a sore finger for days after a cactus spine pierced my glove and went right in after I foolishly grabbed the wrong thing. Maybe I’ll be more careful next time…

  13. Oh, no! Berlin Tiger just went onto a new must have list. Everything looks lovely and a rugosa rose would be a nice addition. Your red lupine reminds me of when I saw a photo of one in a P. Hobhouse book on color in the garden. This was pre-internet days and I never found one to buy. It may be time to look again. Just planted my most recent mail order plants and am hoping our intense heat does not immediately fry them.

    • bittster says:

      Hopefully your latest plantings have had time to settle in because I’m going to guess you’re getting some more heat over the next few days… or at least I know we are. I’m feeling guilty about all the pots still sitting around and hopefully the joy of them getting into the ground won’t be overshadowed by the stress of baking in sweltering sunshine.
      Oh well. Should have thought about that a few weeks earlier!

  14. Looks great! If you take out all that lawn and replace it with plants, you won’t have to mow it! Peonies are beautiful, but their blooms are so fleeting I took out loads I had planted in my old garden for perennials that had longer bloom periods.

    • bittster says:

      I already have a new swath of grass which will be going under the shovel this year. My guess is I have about four times as much gardening space as I can reasonably care for. Might as well make it five!
      Between you and me I dug up a peony and threw it on the compost after a rainstorm wiped out the flowers after just four days. The foliage would mildew as well. Who needs that!?

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