Rollin with Summer

August approaches, and with it come some of the best outdoor moments of the year.  I love how the garden comes together now, and how everything is just full of humming and buzzing and color.  It’s a treat each day, and my only complaint is how fast the days fly by.

front border

The front border on the last days of July.  Less annual color this year but still a few interesting things to check out each day.

We were away last week on vacation and missed some of the hottest days of the year, but that’s fine with me since it was plenty hot on the island we visited.  The heat here in Pennsylvania was tempered by a few downpours though, and even after a week of neglect the garden still looked fine.

mixed perennial border

I’m starting to wonder if I should try and tame the inner reaches of the front border.  This time of year it starts to look a little messy with self-sown rudbeckia, sunflowers, and phlox.

The fact that the garden carried on fine without me is a little insulting but when it’s messy to begin with I suppose a little more messy doesn’t show.  I’ll take that as one of the perks of having a far from perfect garden, but I did devote a Friday evening to mowing, and a Saturday morning to deadheading and weeding the front borders and I think it did make a difference.

squash seedlings

Neatness would be much improved if I would only stand up to the interesting little things that show up on their own, but I can’t, and although good design never called for a squash patch on the front lawn, it looks like that’s what we’re going to have.

Everything out front is about the same as it always is but I did notice one change.  There seem to be fewer wasps and bees this year, and more flies.  That of course could change in a week, but as I was staking the steely blue eryngium I didn’t have that usual fear-of-sting like I normally do, and I was surprised.

hydrangea limelight

Hydrangea ‘Limelight’ with rudbeckia triloba, eryngium planum, and a few branches of willow ‘Golden Sunshine’.  Yes.  It’s messy here as well.

Hopefully the missing bees and wasps are just an annual blip in bug populations, but I halfway think it’s got something to do with all the bulldozing and construction that went on behind our house.  When they finished off the industrial park, a big chunk of rocky, scrubby, weedy, woodsy habitat was leveled off, and is now either mulched or turf and not at all interesting to anything other than woodchucks.

mixed perennial border

Sedum ‘Bon Bon’ is looking exceptionally nice between the blues and the yellows of the front foundation plantings.  Yes it’s messy here as well and I really need to edge and divide the blue fescue, but that’s not something I’m willing to give up pool time for.

Not to look forward to messiness, but I did go back there this weekend with a sprayer of roundup and an eye for anything particularly invasive.  The weeds and brush will return on their own, but I just want to make sure things like Japanese knotweed, crownvetch, bindweed, and poison ivy don’t gain the upper hand.  I guess you could say I’m a weed connoisseur.

But don’t let all this talk of weeds become too distracting.  I gave the front yard a once over and then did the backyard on Sunday.  Neither looks too bad now and I’ll post more photos shortly, but in the meantime I’m particularly happy with the hardy agapanthus ‘Blue Yonder’ which is slowly clumping up for me at the far end of the front border.  I think this is year three for it, and each spring when it comes back I’m always excited to see a few more shoots, and each summer when it blooms I’m wowed by the saturated color.

agapanthus blue yonder

Agapanthus ‘Blue Yonder’ handled -5F last winter without a problem or any kind of protection.

So that’s it for now.  The heat of summer has things slowing down a bit, and as long as I don’t slow down as well there might be a chance of catching up on projects.  We’ll see.   There are two more trips planned and that’s always a lot more fun 🙂

21 comments on “Rollin with Summer

  1. You had me at hardy agapanthus. I’m trying to grow some in a pot, but so far no flowers.

    • bittster says:

      Once mine gets a little bigger I’ll give you a piece. Even if you have to throw the pot in a cellar or something for the winter it’s worth it to see that blue!
      I’ve heard they’re tricky in pots.

  2. I wouldn’t call your borders messy. I call them exuberant and interesting. Sometimes a border can be boring if too tamed. Hardy agapanthus?? I didn’t know there was such a thing. It sure is a beauty. Have fun while you can. Winter will soon be upon us.

    • bittster says:

      I like how you think 🙂
      I do admire those professional English borders with each plant in it’s place and just the right color, but I do like my surprises even better!
      Don’t even think of winter yet. Late summer maybe, but let’s give it a few more months before winter!

  3. rusty duck says:

    Agapanthus ‘Blue Yonder’ is stunning. They seem to do quite well for me too which is surprising given the winter wet. I’ve been encouraged to get more this year so we shall see. Cue the coldest and wettest winter on record.
    In England squash in the flower border would be called a potager. And they’re a really ‘in’ thing. Go for it Frank, you’re trending.

    • bittster says:

      Haha I would never have imagined I’d trend!
      Lucky you on the agapanthus success, I hope they continue to do well and the new additions grow with vigor. They always seem so exotic to me, I never imagined some might be reliably hardy and also bloom without a complaint.

  4. Eliza Waters says:

    A hardy agapanthus? Now that is exciting. Maybe if I mulch it well and find a warm spot close to the house it might make it through a zone 5 winter, ya think?
    I recognize in you a similar gardening soul in that I let volunteers grow in my beds all the time. Squash in the sweet peas? No problem! 😀

    • bittster says:

      I think you would have a very good chance of this agapanthus overwintering, especially in a spot with decent drainage. I wish I had more of it so I could send you a bit, although I did pamper mine indoors the first winter.
      I have a few supposedly hardy seedlings coming along. Maybe I can add a few colors to the show… assuming I can keep them going that long!

  5. Lisa Rest says:

    I think messy is quite fine this year with the way the weather has been. I too have noticed fewer bees, wasps and butterflies and I don’t have any construction events happening nearby, so I’m afraid it’s become a general worldwide malaise. My bees have never threatened me so I guess I must not be a very enthusiastic gardener. But yes all the colors are riotously happening.

    • bittster says:

      As an odd coincidence I received my first yellow jacket bite this weekend, serves me right for commenting on how sparse they were this summer! I was visiting my parents and offered to mow the lawn… and found not just one but two ground nests.
      All the old familiar stingy things have shown up now that the summersweet is blooming. I’m actually quite pleased and even though the big black iridescent mud daubers look deadly they’ve never given me even the slightest threatening glance.

      • Lisa Rest says:

        Ouch. Yellow jackets are nasty. Come to think of it I haven’t seen any that I can recall but the summer isn’t over yet. I don’t have enough lawn for anything to nest in, but I’ll be more aware. Generally I have to look out for the ants I disturb.

  6. Annette says:

    I must admit that I’m a little envious of that lushness and beauty, Frank. No wonder all the bees and folk gather in your garden, can’t blame them. Warmth and adquate rainfall make such a difference. The Eryngium looks fab next to the hydrangea and your Echinacea are adorable. Keep enjoying 🙂

    • bittster says:

      We have been lucky to have a second summer filled with ample rainfall. Last year was a little overboard but this one is actually somewhat enjoyable. The plants love it and it shows, and when the plants are happy the bugs follow… and have so far been mostly friends and less foe!
      I hope you’re enjoying things in spite of the heat, I’ve been behind in my blog reading but did notice you’ve been traveling again, and you always find the most exciting and beautiful locations!

  7. Chloris says:

    Your late summer garden is always fabulous. Lots of colour. How do you get your hydrangea to look so lush?

    • bittster says:

      Thanks, it’s my favorite time in the garden, and a nice break from the fast pace of spring!
      The mophead hydrangeas struggle here and bloom sparsely (if at all), but the paniculatas excel, especially the newer cultivars. Full sun and decent water and the foliage can nearly disappear under the mass of flower heads. I guess there have to be some benefits to our climate!

  8. Love it! Great color and texture. And the squash vine is the piece de la resistance! The blue Eryngium is very handsome.

  9. Cathy says:

    A hardy Agapanthus sounds tempting – have never had much luck with them in pots. love that view with the Rudbeckia and Eryngium.:)

  10. Your front border looks amazing, as always.

    I have a suspicion that squash seeds survive in my compost bin and then travel around the garden with the “finished” compost. This year, I ended up with a cute little white ornamental pumpkin. It’s certainly not anything I planted, but I have a vague memory that one of the kids came home with a similar gourd a couple of years ago.

    • bittster says:

      My squash seeds also hitch a ride in the compost, and from the looks of it the ones out front are going to be the small orange and green gourds rather than pumpkins or spaghetti squash (which is what happened last year). I like the surprises of having a couple unknown squash here and there.

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