Once Again, Summer

I’m going to start off with a little bragging.  These old things?  They just grow like weeds each spring and there’s no big secret behind them.


Another stellar delphinium season.  Ample rains, just enough fertilizer, in-the-nick-of-time staking with no major weather events, and the stars have again aligned for a decent show.

I’m going to take another year of wonderful delphiniums because history shows that this won’t always be the case.  Actually they’re just one strong wind away from being decimated so let me show off while I can.  They look great from a seated position on the front porch.

Actually I haven’t been as lazy as usual and the garden is showing some signs of attempted control.  The delphiniums were staked at a decent time and are now shamelessly showboating, but there are plenty of other early summer workhorses and tiny treasures who are enjoying their rescue from the weed tsunami.

allium cernuum nodding onion

The nodding onion (Allium cernuum) is a sturdy enough native allium which doesn’t mind a crowded spot… unlike some of its more delicate cousins.

Oddly enough the potager benefited from a good amount of attention this past weekend as well, which is odd because usually this is one of the last spots to feel the love.  The weeds were still plenty big when pulled, but a couple of the beds also received a nice top dressing of compost which should do wonders for the thin soil.  As you can see there’s even less room for vegetables this season.

june potager

Regal lilies (Lilium regale) are just beginning alongside the first phlox, and if you look super carefully you may notice the foliage of a few onions.  Actually there’s celery as well, so I guess this flowery area still has enough vegetables to qualify as a potager 🙂

Rainy neglect did manage to take its toll on several areas, and a little work did go into providing triage for these plants.  Phlox paniculata always has some complaint here and surprisingly I think it’s annoyed with all the rain we had.  Here in one of the soggier beds we’re establishing some intensive care for all the powdery mildew and general stuntedness.  That sounds promising but in reality all it amounts to is ripping out everything but the phlox and then shoveling some compost around and hoping for the best.  I may be weeding and shoveling and finally getting a few things done, but I’m still far too lazy to spray anything.

phlox mildew

Phlox in poor condition is just asking for powdery mildew problems.  Hopefully some delicious compost and a nice mulch of lawn clippings can give this guy a good leg up, I’ll let you know if it works well enough to turn the mildew tide.

I’m also far too lazy to deal with another budding problem.  When the wall was built the fence between us and the industrial park was removed, and although I’m quite pleased we don’t have to look at the old chainlink, apparently it did provide a nice line of defense between us and the hordes of groundhogs on the other side.  That’s gone now and the woodchucks just stroll right in whenever the mood strikes.

woodchuck in the garden

So far the woodchucks have been ok with just nibbling clover and the lushest of the lawn weeds.  I’ve already bought a trap for the day this changes…

So as the manicured lawns of the industrial park pump out groundhogs and Canadian geese and my own garden struggles with weeds… and the gardener struggles with a relatively small pile of mulch in the driveway, I’ll continue to enjoy these first few blissful days of summer.  A little mildew on the phlox is nothing compared to where things usually go so you can bet I’ll take this while it lasts.  In the meantime here’s something from the latest obsession file, the first season of flowers on my “eyeshadow” iris 🙂

pseudata iris okagami

Pseudata iris ‘Okagami’.  Pseudata are a relatively new iris form resulting from crossing two species, the yellow flag (I. pseudacorus) with Japanese iris (I. ensata).  Many of the hybrids display a strongly outlined “eye” on the falls, hence the term “eyeshadow” iris.

Hope Friday finds you well and here’s to a great weekend.

-and don’t forget… if you’re near the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre PA area, tomorrow is the big day for the Back Mountain Garden Tour!  A day of touring local gardens starts promptly at 9am and all proceeds go towards supporting the Anthracite Scenic Trails Association.  Hope to see you there 🙂

18 comments on “Once Again, Summer

  1. Tim Calkins says:

    looking great!

  2. johnvic8 says:

    I am a great fan of various irises. Thanks for introducing me to the eyeshadow development.

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh be still my heart. Those delphinium are magnificent. Spires of blue does make one sit up and take notice. Well done, I don’t even notice the staking.
    That iris is an eye catcher too. I love iris and they seem to do well here but…my bearded iris have contracted iris borers. I wonder if they will spread to the other irises??
    Sure wish I could do the tour. No tour in my little town this year and I was rained out at one about an hour drive from here. SiGH…
    Do have a good weekend. Cheers.

    • bittster says:

      The tour was great, I need to get things together and post before I forget everything! Unfortunately this is the only tour thing for the next two years. This isn’t exactly a gardening hotbed!
      I’ve found that the iris borers do spread to other kinds. Not as badly but they do make pests of themselves all over. That reminds me that I need to go through the iris clumps and yank out anything that looks borer-ish. It’s a pain to pull the fans out and cut out the borer but it seems to help.

  4. Enjoy those delphiniums while you have them. Not sure why I thought they were eyelash irises instead of eye shadow irises, but my misconception has now been corrected.

    • bittster says:

      haha, I think you can get away with using either form of eye makeup when describing these iris. That’s the good thing with common names!

  5. Kevin says:

    Wow! Everything looks so lush! Beautiful garden!

  6. Eliza Waters says:

    Gorgeous delphiniums! And the iris x is beautiful as well.
    Two things I hate to see in my garden are woodchucks and powdery mildew. I’ve cut out and thrown away countless phlox, just as they are about to bloom, in order to try to rid myself of this plague. As it overwinters in the soil to emerge the following spring on new foliage, I have all but given up on having phlox at all. Such a scourge!

    • bittster says:

      I bought a woodchuck trap last month and they must have heard since I haven’t seen a soul since. I bet they’re just planning their next attack.
      I have to admit I just ignore the mildew. Last year and this were some of the worst years with all the rain, but at least there are no spider mites. I love my phlox but it barely tolerates me and my garden. Oh well 🙂

  7. Cathy says:

    Your delphiniums are fantastic Frank! Lucky you! I have never grown them as they are loved by slugs and snails, and would probably struggle with our dry ground anyway. The iris is really sweet too. Have a great weekend!

    • bittster says:

      So many other delphinium have given their lives in order for me to find this one spot where one plant can survive. I’m sad to say the location is getting shadier and I know this won’t last forever so I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!
      In the meantime I like to remind myself that I should stick with plants well suited to my conditions. It rarely works though.

  8. Those Dephiniums – wow! I don’t even bother trying.

  9. Oh, how I envy your delphiniums, Frank. Mine should look like that — I’m the one with the English-style garden — but few survive the winter. Powdery mildew is rampant in my garden on phlox and beebalm, but only to be expected with the horrendous downpours we are having. Enjoy your front porch show. P. x

    • bittster says:

      We had company and a friend was telling me how my garden was absolutely an English garden. I smiled and nodded but inside I was laughing and thought of your garden!
      I’m convincing myself that after two sunny days the mildew has not spread on the phlox. Mildew is easier to ignore if I think it’s not getting worse.

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