December Arrives

A stroll in the garden last Thursday reveled only one thing.  It’s boring.  Boring is probably not the worst thing since there have been tours which brought on anger, apathy, or disgust, but the tour did not bring on wonder or excitement, and for me that daily change or new surprise is what makes the yard so interesting.

cyclamen hederifolium foliage

The hardy cyclamen (this one is Cyclamen hederifolium) is pretty exciting now that the foliage is up, but I’ve seen it all before, and should really give a few of the cool new seedlings some room to develop.

I suppose I could find something to do and give the garden a scorched earth cleanup, rounding up every stray leaf and eliminating every dead and dried stalk, but that’s even more boring.  The birds will need something to pick through, and in January a few old seedheads holding the snow will give a little more interest to otherwise dull drifts.  So instead I cut and placed a few chicken wire cages to protect the most treasured shrubs from their annual bunny shearing.

rabbit shrub protection

Previously the rabbits around here were as lazy as I am, and if they had to even push aside a tuft of grass to get to a carrot they wouldn’t bother.  But now they’ve become empowered, and I have to protect things like this ‘Diane’ witch hazel with these attractive wire cages.

My friend Kathy was right.  Deer may not like witch hazels, but bunnies do, and if you’re thinking good for me to put this protection in place before any real damage occurs, you’re being excessively optimistic in regards to my laziness.  The new witch hazels should have been caged up weeks ago as more tender things in the garden dried up, but no, it wasn’t until the first one was nipped off at four inches that I figured it was time.  Fast forward another week when the second hazel was nipped to the ground that I finally got moving.

Echeveria runyonii 'Topsy Turvy'

One last succulent has earned its right to a winter spent inside.  After Echeveria runyonii ‘Topsy Turvy’ survived a few heavy frosts and downright freezes I could no longer turn my back on the pot and into the garage it came.  I wonder just how hardy this thing really is?

I actually did find one bit of excitement while planting some not-really-wanted colchicums (they were supposed to be white… not pink).  The excitement wasn’t the tulip bulbs I sliced through when digging a hole, the excitement was a stray snowdrop in full bloom in a spot where I’ve only ever planted spring varieties.

fall snowdrop

A November snowdrop.  Two years after planting bulk Galanthus elwesii here, this one decides to beat the neighbors and open a few months and a whole season early.  I’ll be curious to see what it thinks next year.

Not to end on a down note, but this little November snowdrop is now encased (hopefully not entombed) in ice just waiting for the first larger snowfall of the season to happen.  I’d show pictures but would prefer to keep this a family friendly blog and will instead show a photo from the Thanksgiving trip which the impending storm cut short.

deer on Long Island

Deer along the beach of the Long Island Sound.  The wide open blue skies of the beach always recharge my outdoor batteries in a way the woodsy mountains and valleys of Pennsylvania don’t.

Things can’t be all that bad when you’re cozy inside and the weather happens on the other side of the window, so I can’t complain, but what ever storms come your way I hope they’re easy on your neck of the woods, and even if they’re snowy, I hope you have a great week!

Winter Ennui

From Merriam-Webster online; Ennui –  a feeling of weariness and dissatisfaction : boredom

On this day after Christmas I’m missing winter.  Winter is a time of year which really needs some good press and I for one enjoy the clean crispness and simplicity of the season.  On the other hand this weather we’ve been having seems like an endless autumn, and those who read this blog may already know my lack of enthusiasm for that season.  If I was forced to rate seasons, autumn wouldn’t even make the top three.

home grown winter decorations

The front door did get some holiday attention this year with a homegrown selection of evergreens and bits from the woods.

Regardless of my feelings of ennui towards the garden, and my wish that the seasons would just move on with it, I have managed to get a few things done.  The Christmas lights and holiday decorations have never gone up as comfortably, and even though they’re a mismatched collection of leftovers and scavenged pieces they suit us just fine.

staghorn sumac winter decoration

Staghorn sumac (rhus typhina) seed heads catching the solstice light.

I often admit to ‘economizing’ my actions in the garden, and some equate this to laziness, but sometimes this leads to a few nice surprises.  Without freezing temperatures it was much easier to push evergreen boughs and branches into the soil of this summer’s planters rather than working out something new.  Imagine my surprise when on the  way out the door for Christmas dinner I was treated to the most perfect gerbera daisy rising up out of the dried debris.

winter gerbera

A single gerbera daisy welcoming Christmas.

I’ll admit a single daisy is not quite as thrilling as a hedge full of blooming camellias or sheets of early snowdrops but it does make the lingering autumn a little more tolerable.  Also making the autumn more tolerable are new bits of winter interest such as my growing evergreens and this nicely colored red-twig dogwood (Cornus sanguinea ‘Midwinter Fire’) which a friend surprised me with.

dogwood cornus midwinter fire

‘Midwinter Fire’ dogwood belongs to the tribe of redtwig dogwoods.  I love how the branches in the inner portion of mature plants get a yellow orange color while the ends turn darker red. 

The long autumn hasn’t been a complete bust.  Between leisurely bulb planting and leaf cleanup I’ve still managed to drag myself out for a few other small projects.  I finally removed the invasive burning bush (Euonymus alatus) which anchored the end of the front border.

invasive burning bush

Bright autumn color wasn’t enough to save this wolf in sheep’s clothing.  There are other burning bushes (Euonymus alatus)  planted throughout the neighborhood but I’m not going to let this one contribute to all the invasive seedlings which have begun to show up.   

I can see why the bush did so well in this poor spot.  The roots became a thick fibrous mass in the six years it’s been here and I’m going to be on the lookout for root sprouts in this area over the next year or two.   

removing invasive burning bush

A prime clear spot in the front border. I promptly filled it with daffodils and tulip bulbs, yet will need to watch for burning bush seedlings and other invasives.  One of these is the Korean feather reed grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) which still turns up three years after the mother plant was evicted.

What I should really get done is more bed prep.  Fall mulch and compost are the best things for this but my spirit is slightly broken in this regard.  This fall I did my usual whoring around in neighbor’s gardens, selling myself for far too cheap for the chance to take home some beautifully chopped autumn leaves.  It was all going well until I discovered my haul was missing.  Who had been watching and waiting to steal my treasure?  The six bags of mulch were tucked out of sight behind a large panicum clump next to the driveway just waiting to bless my compost pile with leaf mould goodness.  They were heavy.  I know that because I lugged them out of the neighbor’s backyard and jammed them into the back seat of my car to get them home. 

Long story (and several phone calls around town) ends up with the township yard waste collectors trying to “get ahead” in their collections.  They came up the driveway, found the bags, and hauled them away to the dump.  My only consolation after calling all over to “get my leaf bags back” is that I found out where free mulch is available, and if I can drive, lift, and lug for a few trips I might be able to ease the pain.  

preparing new flower beds in winter

Another bed expansion with a nice edging trench, leftover lawnclipping ready to spread to smother the turf, and a topping with township mulch.  Chopped leaves would have been nicer.  Just saying.

Other beds have been cleaned, other plants have been moved, bulbs are in, weeds are out.  There’s always plenty to do but my heart’s just not in it.  I’m moving into winter garden mode and hopefully between now and New Year’s I can get that set up properly.  Snowdrops are coming after all.

Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus Hiemalis Group ex Montrose

My first snowdrop for this year. I have it on authority it’s a Galanthus elwesii var. monostictus Hiemalis Group ex Montrose… unfortunately the label needs supersizing before I can update.

So that sums December up.  I hope it’s been a merry Christmas and I hope the holidays are going well for all, and here’s for a wonderful start to the new year!  Best wishes 🙂

GB Foliage day -winter greens

I’m a day late minimum with just about everything lately and this post is no exception, but I wanted to squeak in one more Garden Bloggers Foliage Day post with Christina for the 2014 season, since who knows if we’ll have anything other than snow next month… so here goes!

juniper 'old gold'

Even after a few days of shockingly cold days and nights the grass is still green and juniper ‘old gold’ still fresh.

With the autumn leaves gone, foliage is down to the evergreen plantings.  Evergreens are more expensive than perennials and don’t grow well from seed… hence do not match up well with my frugal gardening 🙂  I’ve been doing my best though, and some such as juniper “Old Gold” are finally showing off  -finally- after five years in the ground from a $4 rooted cutting!

A more recent addition are three new rhododendrons which look absolutely overgrown and lush considering the $12 I spent on the bunch.  This purchase went absolutely unnoticed when I mixed it in with a cartload of mortar and tile from the Depot.  You could almost say they were free with purchase, right?

planting rhododendron

Look at the buds on this $4 rhododendron! The plant and price make me understand how hard a nurseryman’s business must be, I’m sure he made no money off this purchase…..

Small patches of winter color are beginning to show up in the backyard too.  This is the first year my boxwood cuttings are big enough to look even remotely like a hedge, and when the grass goes completely brown these bits of green foliage will at least look slightly hopeful.

boxwood cuttings hedge around vegetable garden

My design makes little sense, but hopefully in a few years the vegetable garden will at least look “interesting” even if it never makes it to beautiful.

The only winter color here when we purchased the house were a few foundation plantings along the front, and a line of meatball yews along the south facing side.  After three years of sweaty summertime hedgetrimmering I said ‘screw this’ and let them do their own thing and break away from their tight ballism.  Now I have to chose between the abandoned house look and the bare look of a brutal trim-back.  Any suggestions?  I probably wouldn’t mind trimming them back for a straight hedge along the side,  I could remove them completely, or I could leave just one between the windows and let it get even bigger….. I need a plan though, eyebrows are already being raised here in my end of suburbia and the MIL will soon question my motives since it faces her house 😉

overgrown yew hedge

overgrown yew hedge

Man cannot live on green alone (even with a little yellow) so I foolishly placed an order for some last minute winter foliage via Conifer Kingdom.  God must love either procrastinators or he loves winter garden interest because although Pennsylvania froze the week after I ordered, the box full of evergreens showed up the minute the thermometer went back over freezing.  Today will hopefully top off at 50F (10C), the gale force winds have died off, and it should be perfect for getting these guys in the ground.

Not to overstep my boundaries, but I smell a 50% off sale on fall bulbs at Brent and Becky’s for the day after Thanksgiving.  I will not be able to resist, so I guess we’re going to see how God feels about late bulb orders.

conifer kingdom purchase

My Conifer Kingdom purchase made me happier than a cat in catnip. In a few years I hope to really ‘up’ the level of my garden’s winter interest.  Just look at the needles on that pine! ( Pinus densiflora ‘Burke’s Red Variegated’)

Premium conifers might be as cheap as marigolds in your neck of the woods, but not so much here, so mailorder is my weapon of choice.  For those interested, here’s the breakdown on my order…. $127 total including $25 shipping and $20 discount via a Facebook coupon code (fyi code expired 😦 Nov 21st).

purchase Picea omorika 'Peve Tijn' graft

A free gift included in the order, you can easily see where this dwarf Picea omorika ‘Peve Tijn’ (Serbian spruce) was grafted onto the rootstock.

There’s a reason you can pay through the nose for many of these treasures.  Two of my purchases are 1 year old grafts and really don’t look like much yet,  but that’s because they start life as run of the mill conifer seedlings grown on for a few seasons and then a small bit of the desired cultivar is grafted onto the stem.  Once the graft puts on some size (a slow process at an inch or so of growth each year), the original seedling is cut off and the new plant takes over.

purchase Picea pungens 'Walnut Glen' graft

Dare I say I spent nearly $30 on this little spit of conifer? It’s picea pungens ‘Walnut Glen’, a blue spruce which develops a yellow tinge in the winter. I expect great things form this little guy!

So how’s that for a foliage post?  A November report which speaks of excitement, hope, and anticipation for the future!  Not bad considering the weather, I just have my fingers crossed that I don’t have to re-title this to “That Was Stupid” in another year 🙂

If you’d like to see what foliage is contributing to other gardens across the globe pay a visit to Christina’s blog “Creating My Own Garden of the Hesperides“.  I believe you’ll find some bloggers who are enjoying good foliage now, and not just in their dreams for the future!

Garden Bloggers Foliage Day -Aug.2014

For nearly three years Christina of Creating my own garden of the Hesperides has been hosting the meme which focuses on foliage in the garden.  I believe her intention was to explore the important role which foliage plays in the garden, and remind everyone that although flowers often steal the stage, foliage remains to carry the show.  Going out this week with the intention of focusing on foliage surprised me in two ways.  First of all I always assumed I was one of those “immature” gardeners who always falls for the flash of flowers and doesn’t have much foliage interest.  That was wrong….  apparently nearly all flowers come with some kind of foliage (who knew!) and even the most flower blinded gardener will have foliage.  Secondly I learned another important revelation…. my garden looks much, much better in close-ups!

Powis castle Artemisia, snow on the mountain, nicotina, and Echinacea

I’ve grown Artemisia “Powis Castle” before, but never here in Pennsylvania. It was planted this spring and I love the gray foliage mixed with all the other stuff that seeded in with the compost. (fennel, nicotina, Echinacea, snow on the mountain)

 

 

Starting with A and Artemisia is as good place as any, and while we’re here I guess we’ll just keep going along the front street border.  Soil improvement this spring and moving things around brought in plenty of seed-laced compost, and “Hopi Red Dye” amaranthus is easy to spot with its dark red leaves.

amaranthus hopi red dye

Amaranthus “Hopi Red Dye”, as easy to grow as its more weedy relatives.

I like purple leaves, but I don’t think I can resist a plant with yellow foliage, and this “Golden Sunshine” willow was an impulse buy last year.  Rabbits mowed it down last winter but willows don’t sulk and this one bounced right back.  Actually I think cutting this one back to the ground each spring would probably be the best way to keep the bright new foliage coming.

golden sunshine willow

Salix “Golden Sunshine”… or at least I think that’s what this willow goes by.  I really need to have a better recording system for my plant IDs.

If pushed I might even admit to having too much yellow foliage around the yard.

arundo donax variegata in perennial border

Arundo donax “variegata” in the front perennial border. An explosion of color with “Black Knight” buddleia, pink agastache, and yellow fennel blossoms. Btw, the arundo is probably 8 feet tall and the butterfly bush 6. Also it’s unusual for the grass to have this much color so late in the summer. Usually the heat makes it go all green.

Here’s a little blue in the blue spruce I moved last spring…. and more yellow.

sumac tiger eyes with blue spruce

Have I ever mentioned my love for the foliage of “Tiger Eyes” sumac? It suckers around a bit, but in my mess of a garden that’s no big deal. I haven’t yet decided if this is a formal enough planting for the front of the house though.

A foliage post without mentioning a cyclamen is just crazy, so here’s my little c. purpurascens plant (probably two or three plants since I see at least two leaf forms).

cyclamen purpurascens foliage

Good things come in little packages, this cyclamen purpurascens is a baby at only maybe 5 inches across but it might be my favorite cyclamen right now…. I’m sure that will change as others appear 🙂

I took a lot of pictures so this may be all over the place, but I’ll try to finish up the front yard first.  Sometimes people think of hosta when they hear the word foliage, and I’ve seen them in a few gardens here and there (just a few!).  Here’s “August Moon” a favorite old variety which lightens to nearly white when in full sun.

hosta august moon

Hosta “August Moon” in one of my few shady areas.

Moving into the back near the (another yellow) sunflowers is the new heuchera patch.  Someday you’ll suffer through an all out heuchera post, but until they grow in a bit I’ll let you off with just one.

heuchera circus clown

One of several new heuchera plants, heuchera “Circus Clown” is off to a good start with a nice mulch and some much needed rain. It’s amazing how the colors on these plants change throughout the year.

The reason the heuchera can survive here is from the shade of a Seven Sons shrub/tree (heptacodium miconioides).  My plant gets cankers and loses trunks every now and then but I hope it someday gets past that.  Right now I’m enjoying the rich green of the curled stiff leaves.  Kind of a coarse look, but for a guy with so many cannas and dahlias refinement isn’t one of my strong points.

heptacodium miconioides leaves

Heptacodium miconioides leaves against a perfectly clear blue sky.

Enough with the babbling.  Look but don’t touch.

Ptilostemon diacantha

Ptilostemon diacantha with verbena bonariensis blossoms. Of course this is where all the missed baseballs end up rolling.

Almost good enough to eat, plants in the vegetable garden (or potager when I’m feeling fancy) also can put on a good show.

red cabbage and fig leaves

Red cabbage and fig leaves, the fig would be happier in Christina’s Mediterranean garden but it hangs on here and the perfectly cut leaves make up for not getting any actual figs 🙂

Not all the foliage news is good.  Miscanthus giganteus was off to a good start but our dry spell threw it for a loop and killed off all the lower leaves.

miscanthus giganteus

Miscanthus giganteus wants the steady moisture which I’m too frugal to supply. It might be easier to get something else for this spot.

Back by the house is a panicum “Cloud Nine” which is much more comfortable with drought.  I hate this bed and constantly neglect it, but nature did its own thing and filled the gaps with rudbeckia, phlox, and patrina scabiosifolia seedlings.  Sure beats the boring mulch I had there before.

panicum cloud nine with patrina

The stepchild bed with Patrina, panicum, rudbeckia, and phlox.

So much for anything that even approaches subtlety.  My tropicals come next, and first off are the geraniums (pelargoniums) which in my delusion and denial I have added to the overwinter and collect list.

zonal geranium

I have to dig up the name for this one, it’s in its second or third year with me and keeps looking better.

A scented leaved geranium (pelargonium actually) with cut leaves, variegation and scent.  Too much or something for everyone?

scented leaf geranium

This scented geranium is another plant who’s ID is lost in the pot-full-o-tags database. I should probably work on that.

Another one to overwinter in the garage, my first aeonium is looking well.  Hopefully it can handle the high-water location I planted it in -a pot with a variegated hebe and cape fuschia (phygelia).

aeonium with variegated hebe

This one’s label must still be near the top of the tag bucket since it’s a new purchase. A good gardener would go out there, find it and label it…. but all I’ve got for you is it’s not “Schwarzkopf”.

Now to wrap things up (so I can finally get to work on the stupid basement tiling job I started) here are my foliage stars.

canna tropicana

Canna “Tropicana” might be the most obscene show of gaudy color in my garden. I love it with the dahlias and rudbeckia.   Good thing there’s some green nearby to calm things down.

Morning light on the sunflower patch.

canna in the garden

My ‘Polish cannas’ were a gift which traces it’s history back to a friend’s old Polish neighbor. It’s probably really canna indica “purpurea” or “Russian red”.

And same cannas at noon.  A sculptural plant I think.

canna with perennials

The small blooms aren’t much for a flower lover, but they have a graceful look and the hummingbirds appreciate them.

So that’s my foliage, thanks for sticking it out.  I did manage to keep all the coleus out (but of course there’s still all of September for that) and I hope that gave a little relief, but I was really surprised by how much color and interest I get from foliage.  Maybe I am growing up and my tastes are maturing…. but I hope not.  I like my messes of color too much!

Thanks Christina for hosting and thanks for opening my eyes to all that foliage does in the garden.

Midsummer night’s dream

There’s a “pink spires” summersweet (Clethra alnifolia) growing just below the covered porch, and since we’re using the porch much more this year it’s blooming has not gone unnoticed.  In the warm summer afternoons and evenings the heavy, sweet scent drifts up and around the garden and brings in dozens of bumblebees and honeybees to the pink bottlebrush flowers.

Clethra alnifolia "pink spires"

Clethra alnifolia “pink spires” is a pink version of the normally white summersweet.

Summersweet is a good name for this fragrant native shrub, but having it planted so close to the porch might be a little too strong and sweet a scent for my taste.  Coming across a patch in bloom while hiking the woodst is a pleasant surprise, but drowsy afternoons spent out on the porch border on naps, and who knows what kind of dreams will be experienced with this perfume wafting through the air?  Or in the words of a less fragrance-friendly member of this household, “one of your flowers really smells out there, it’s giving me a headache”.

Clethra alnifolia

Very popular with the bees, Clethra alnifolia likes a nice moist spot. The only reason it’s surviving in my dried up garden is that it’s planted right at the downspout from the roof.

I may have to move it, but where to?  Right now it’s exactly where water from the roof comes down and it would likely die out in the drier parts of the garden, so my options are limited.  We’ll see what happens.  I’d like to redo this area within the next two years so I have time to think about it.

Am I the only person who thinks some fragrances are just too much?

The Foundation Planting

Our latest arctic blast has got me going through old pictures, and I found a few that have been sitting around for a while.  They’re all about the bed along the front of the house, and they all relate to a redesign I attempted this past spring.  Let me know what you think!

The house we live in now was built by my wife’s grandparents in the late 1950’s, and is probably still considered stylish by many.  Unfortunately we don’t share that retro-Italianate taste in ranches and set about to change things up while remodeling.  This was our front view circa spring 2009, not long after we moved in.retro landscapingThe combination of toddler, new baby, and home renovations is a fun mix, and outside changes were mostly put onto the back burner,  but that summer I did manage to get out the salmon colored edging and covered the colorful red bark mulch with a more natural shade.  I’m not saying it looked better, but at least it’s a little less sterile looking.Summer 2009If I was forced to give an answer I would probably say I hate the orangey color of our brick.  We’re stuck with it though, and since there’s not much of a design flair in me the collector gene took over, and all the cuttings and divisions I collected easily found a home in the vacant mulch beds.  By 2011 the mess was spreading and in an attempt to reign in the disorder I consulted with the ‘can’t beat em join em” theory.  I tried to embrace the orange by entering into a red phase.  I figured if I planted an even brighter scarlet then perhaps it would be bright enough to distract viewers from the orange brick…. or maybe I was trying to offend the neighbors, I don’t know- but I would like to challenge anyone out there to show me an example of red salvia used tastefully 🙂Late August 2011

Maybe Secretly I delighted in reds and chartreuse, and I think I still do….. just not in the front bed highlighting the orange brick.  This lovely combo has been saved and moved to the tropical bed to face down the already-overwhelmingly tasteful white vinyl privacy fencing there…. I’m not sure it looks much better there, but at least I’m sparing the neighbors from this assault of color. (fyi the hummingbirds loved it)the landscape's red phase

Now what to do?  The next year I had no enthusiasm for the bed without my lovely coleus and salvia.  A few perennials filled in to give it a fuller look, but it still lacks something.  The blue spruce was getting too big for under the window, and the Chamaecyparis too tall….. and I was getting tired of trimming the silly pompom juniper. Fall 2012So late that fall I laid out a bed expansion.  Truth be told I over estimated the space available for tulips, so after lining out the new border I dug tulips in all around in the lawn and then left the grass for spring removal.  Dec 2012That spring as the tulips came up through the overturned sod, I finished digging under the rest of the grass.digging under the turf

Moving the spruce was no picnic, and I almost thought it would die (considering how many roots I cut) but I think it will be much better off in the new position, and give a nice anchor to the end of the bed.  Fortunately for me, just when the shrub moving started to get too back-breaking, a buddy stopped by to help.a friend stops by

Soooo, here’s the finished product.  I moved a small paperbark maple over a few feet to be included in the bed, lined it with blues fescue divisions, and placed three tiny holly bushes where the spruce was.  Against all other urges I tried to limit the plant choices and plant in groups.  The curve is a little odd, but I’ll work on that during the next expansion 😉the "finished" product

With mulch applied and tulips blooming, it didn’t look half bad, but to be honest I still didn’t like it.  (one of the reasons you rarely see pictures of this border)foundation planting with tulips

I do like the yucca “color guard”.  It and the blue fescue seem to be a nice fit for this border.yucca colorguard with blue fescueBlues, yellows , and greens seem to complement the house better than all the loud mixed up flower colors.  For a couple weeks I didn’t mind this look, even as the tulip foliage yellowed and died off.  But then boredom and excess plants struck, and I was back to my old ways of sneaking in a few new plants here and there. dying foliage of tulips

Red cabbage wasn’t the worst color to add, but maybe it was just a little inappropriate for a front yard foundation planting.  Coleus crept in again, and the sunflower seedlings looked so innocent in the early summer…. but the lavender with the yucca and blue fescue kept it respectable.red cabbage in the border

Sunflower explosion.  Still better than my red experiment, but not yet the look I was going for.  midsummer abundance

Maybe annuals are just not a good choice for this bed.  I’ll rethink it next year and maybe skip the dahlias too 🙂   For now I’ll use the excuse that they distract you from the too-small hollies planted under the window…. better to be distracted than to be downright bored I think….  By the way those hollies better get growing, I want them nice and big and prickly by the time my little daughter starts to consider things like sneaking out a window or meeting some Romeo who comes by throwing pebbles.too much color again

The border last month (before winter and winter boredom hit).December 2013

Four things:  bigger plants, get rid of the grasses, remove the tall evergreen, and stick to a mellow color palette…. and of course expand the bed just a few more feet 🙂  Any other suggestions?  I know there will be some good ones and I’m looking forward to hearing them as well as hearing some more criticism.  I can take it, and I’m hoping it will get me back on the path that leads to me finally liking this bed!

Hang in there Summer!

Cooler temperatures and earlier sunsets.  There’s no denying that summer is losing its grip, and with the kids starting school this week I guess it’s time to face reality.  Summer will not go on forever.  But delusion is a beautiful thing, and that’s what I’m sticking to, and for now at least I’ll focus on late August flowers….. not September.

The front border is hanging in there in spite of the dry weather, and my half hearted watering seems enough to keep it this side of parched crispy.  Agastache “Tutti Fruitti” (I think), Russian sage, and the seedheads of “Karl Foerster” feather reed grass carry the show.

agastache tutti fruitti drought tolerant plants

Further into the bed it gets a little messy, and I bet deadheading the butterfly bush would help, but in the meantime it’s all almost one big wave of buzzing, fluttering color.  Lower left is “Karley Rose” pennisetum, basically carefree but not as sturdy as “Karl Foerster”.  The Russian sage and butterfly bushes just keep going….'karley rose', 'pink delight' butterfly bush

From the street it looks a bit messy, but maybe it distracts people from the dead grass…. here’s ‘Royal Red’ Butterfly bush (Buddleia).  It’s a little thin this year for some reason, but I’m sure it will be back to normal next year.

buddleia 'royal red'

Also from the street, “Limelight” hydrangea paniculata.  Probably my favorite hydrangea, and it can get as big as it wants here.  The flowers start with a tinge of limey green, go white , and then blush with a bit of pink and red, and believe it or not the blooms are small this year (probably due to the dry summer).  Still there’s plenty of white flower overkill going on here!hydrangea "limelight"The extra water I give the hydrangea seems to be welcomed by its neighbors.  I love that this little milk thistle (Silybum marianumhas) sprouted up under the hydrangea.  milk thistleI don’t think it will amount to much this year, but maybe I’ll get lucky and have it overwinter and bloom.  Up till now I’ve only been successful with it as an annual.

If you’re bored, look up the history of milk thistle.  It’s been used medicinally for over 2,000 years and is still recommended today for the same liver disorders as it was in the middle ages.   Liver cancer, hepatitis, liver damage due to toxins…. mushroom poisioning….all this and it’s spiny with great foliage.  I love spiny!

The far end of the street border is still filling in.  I can always count on the no-name, purple leaved cannas to give a nice background, and the ‘Wendy’s Wish’ salvia looks good in front of them.  I tried a couple marigolds in here too this year, they’re still small, but are taking the dry heat without a single complaint.  One of the great things about annuals is the chance to do it all differently next year.  I’m not sure if the brown-orange color is one I’ll chose to repeat.purple canna with 'wendy's wish' salvia