This might be the driest this garden has been in about four years and that’s ok. Warm and dry means the lawn stops growing, and unless I’m being really obsessive about clover flowers, I can just leave it unmown for a week or two and it doesn’t look much worse for the neglect. Obviously my vote is always for less work, and the few bees which forage the lawn seem happy with this arrangement as well, but I do notice that none of the other lawns look as nicely “decorated” with flowers. Again, that’s ok. It’s dry, but not too dry, and although a few wilted things here and there tug at my conscience as I walk by, it’s not enough to bring me down. When things go crispy that’s when I start mumbling and luckily we’re not there yet.
The front border is again being dominated by the more drought tolerant plants. No jungle this year.
Weeding has been a breeze with less water around. I just hit the sheets of verbena and fennel with the hoe once and most dried up in the sun the next day. The prickly lettuce is stunted, the crabgrass is anemic. It’s kind of quiet out there.
A few years old from seed, kniphofia caulescens is finally putting on a nice show this year. I love the color and shape, but they pass so quickly so I’m pleased there are still a few more stalks on the way.
There was a decent scattering of clouds yesterday morning so I hurried out to see if I could get a few photos before the glare of the sun returned. My photo skills are like that and I don’t think I’ll ever amount to anything more than a point and shooter, so I just wait for overcast moments and then take as many as I can. Funny how I always seem to end up admiring the weeds more than anything else.
Yes, I still love thistles. These approve of the drier soil and the stunted sunflowers. (Scotch thistle, Onopordum acanthium
So I’ve recently gone on and on about my mullein and I’ll spare you from that for a few more days, but there are some nice thistles around the yard and I’m thinking I need more again. Obviously they’re easy to grow, so a good choice for me, but other weeds are also doing well.
The fresh chartreuse of ‘Sunny Side Up’ pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) coming up strong in the front border. I apologize to those of you who are tired of seeing this amazing plant yet again.
Just for liability reasons, let it be known milkweed should never be planted in a perennial border. It will spread all over and you’ll regret it.
Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) spreading throughout the border and welcoming guests to the front porch. It’s a few days away from blooming and I’m looking forward to enjoying the scent as it drifts through the air. Maybe I’ll pull a few shoots after the bloom ends… maybe…
I wonder if any of my neighbors realize just how many of the plants here are considered weeds. A parent came by to pick up a child and said the yard looked nice and it seemed like I had quite a few unusual things growing. That could be good or bad, but I chose good, and hoped she didn’t notice afterwards that the daisies are remarkably similar to the ones all along the highway and filling every vacant lot along the way. I suspect nothing was noticed. Actually my mother in law asked me later that day if she should plant a few in a problem spot behind the house. Not a bad idea I said, but then shot myself in the foot when I pointed out the dried remains of all the daisies she sprayed with roundup the week before. She told me to forget it, she’ll see what they have at Lowes…
Something else. Sand. A couple tons of it.
Having several tons of sand sitting in your driveway can go a long way towards distracting people from the fact you’re growing a lot of weeds. It’s a big pile and that hasn’t changed much since it was delivered Monday, but I’m quite happy about it, and the sand has me feeling rich because (1) there’s so much of it and (2) it’s soooo nice and clean and gritty, and (3) it’s part of the finishing touches for the potager reboot.
Here’s where we’re at. It looks terrible but I’m blessed with the gift of seeing things how I want them to be rather than what they really look like. Give me another week or two and maybe I can explain my “vision” 🙂
In spite of how it looks, the potager has been on the receiving end of most of the attention and fussing that the gardener has been passing out this year. Everything else has been forced to tough it out sans water, but the veggies are weedfree and irrigated, and I even had to drag in seating so I could just sit and admire the new space. Sadly this enthusiasm doesn’t extend past the raised beds, and if you look just two feet over, all the promise of a bed filled with poppies and garden phlox is yellowing as it awaits moisture.
A little water would have gone a long way towards making this bed a showplace…. but it didn’t happen and the ‘Patty’s Plum’ poppies are starting to dry up just when they should be covered in flowers.
Sorry poppies, you’ll have to set your seeds and hope for better year in 2021. I hear that’s a common sentiment. In the meantime, other plants are ahead of the game and have already gone through some funny business in regards to seed setting. The yellow foxgloves (Digitalis grandiflora) took advantage of some lazy deadheading and then some lazy weeding and have formed a nice patch of seedlings where there was but one yellow foxglove last year. A curious thing happened though. I believe Mrs. Yellow Foxglove has not been faithful to Mr. Yellow Foxglove and instead has been entertaining Mr. Rusty Foxglove (Digitalis ferruginea) from down the street. The proof is in the shading, and I’m sure the delivery room was quite the agitated place as Mrs. F tried to explained all the rusty children to her equally pale husband.
Yellow foxglove in the back with various hybrids in front. I don’t think it’s uncommon for foxgloves to cross like this and of course I like the diversity it adds to the garden.
Another blooming surprise is taking place on the swingset. The native Dutchman’s pipe (Aristochola macrophylla) has taken off this spring and is full of the curious little pipes which this vine family is named for. They’re not the showiest things and I think the only reason my attention was drawn that way was through the overheard conversation between my daughter and a friend about the plant taking over her playset. I think it’s just fine but apparently they think it’s a little too much, so I guess some day soon I’ll be giving it a trim. Maybe. Probably later rather than sooner since right now I’m quite pleased with all the big felty leaves hanging all over the place. No surprise there since the species name macrophylla means just that, big leaves.
The oddly shaped flowers of the Dutchman’s Pipe (Aristolochia macrophylla)
The Dutchman’s Pipe family is quite the group with annual and tropical members and even more bizarre flowers being the rule rather than the exception. The tropical Pelican flower (Aristolochia gigantea) is the gigantea version, complete with face-sized fleshy looking flowers. Very cool to see… and look at that, it’s available online for a click… but let’s stop there before I get into trouble. There’s another native macrophylla in the yard this year, a magnolia in this case.
Magnolia macrophylla, the Southeast US ‘bigleaf’ magnolia… planted way too close to the house of course.
Three or four years from a seed, this magnolia has recovered from a late spring freeze and is now enthusiastically putting out a few of the huge leaves this species is famous for. Famous might be an overstatement, but I love it, and right now while it’s still below eye level and looking all cool I’m not even thinking about its mature height or its very inappropriate placement.
Big hand on big leaf. The underside of these leaves also have a cool fuzz, and in the fall they dry and curl and the fuzz is even better, and they’re still big, and….
There’s a more dwarf form of the bigleaf magnolia (Magnolia macrophylla ssp. Ashei) that would surely have been a more sensible choice for this garden, but again I digress. Let’s just abruptly end here since after all these photos were taken the sky became even darker, thunder began to rumble, and we enjoyed a nice summer downpour… which oddly enough was just a few days too early to destroy the delphinium show.
Also unaffected by the storm were the pseudata iris (Iris pseudacorus x ensata ‘Okagami’).
So the ground is refreshed and now the lawn needs mowing, vines needs trimming, the weeds will erupt, the sand is heavier, and the bugs have been energized. Actually it’s pretty awesome even with all the additional work, so let me go and get busy out there before the sunshine and pool distract. Hope it’s a beautiful weekend where you’re at as well.