Looking back on the weather, I believe I picked the hottest days of the year to do my digging, transplanting and bed expanding. It’s cooled a bit recently but the strong sun and spotty rain combined with my thin skin of topsoil have left things a little tired looking. Crispy tan grass dominates the yard, but here and there is some fresh color to keep me motivated.
Here’s how the new transplants are doing. The ‘Tropicanna’ cannas love the heat and don’t look bad next to the airy fennel that’s trying to take over the mailbox. It’s been cut back a bunch due to the huge numbers of pollinating wasps drawn in to the flowers… no one needs a mailbox that buzzes.
The street side of the border isn’t nearly as well kempt as the freshly weeded, freshly planted house side, but it looks interesting with a lively mix of Russian sage (perovskia), sedum, and lamb’s ears (stachys ‘Helen von Stein’) with all kinds of self-sown volunteers such as phlox.
I’ve been busy re-taming this border after returning from our recent Florida vacation. Ten days of living the suburban dream of Disney and a tropical beach in late July, it doesn’t get any more relaxing than that. Pulling crabgrass in the blazing August sun (without a million other people) was a refreshing return.
The annual coleus and zinnia seedlings liked the heat and it also brought out blooms on the butterfly bushes and ‘Limelight’ hydrangea.
I love the hydrangea, it’s getting to be on the big side but I’m all for big plants in the garden. ‘Limelight’ is a type of hydrangea paniculata, a group that blooms in late summer (usually white or pinkish), tolerates dryer soils, welcomes full sun and flowers reliably each year. It blooms on new growth, so you could take a chainsaw to the thing in spring and still get a mass of blooms later in the year. ‘Limelight’ has a nice greenish tint to the new blooms and has stems strong enough to keep the heavy flower heads from flopping.Another all-summer bloomer is rose of Sharon (althea syriacus), they laugh at heat and drought and are nearly impossible to kill. They have some well known faults, and two of the biggest are it’s late leafing out and it’s enthusiastic reseeding habits, but I grow it anyway. ‘Diana’ is a sterile white cultivar and an awesome plant, but with all the white vinyl around here I can only fit in so many bright white flowers, so the one I grow is ‘Blue Bird’. ‘Blue Bird’ earned its spot because of the trouble free blue color of its blooms. I don’t think it’s as showy as some of the others but the color is worth a little seeding around. Every now and then I think it has a little look of weediness to it, and even though in my garden this isn’t a noticeable fault, in some more refined plantings this might stick out. I guess that’s a cross better gardeners are meant to bear.
Drought tolerance is something that everything in this street border has to deal with. Perovskia, self-sown gloriosa daisies (rudbeckia), and ornamental grasses all take it in stride. It’s a little messy, but right now I think the color holds up well to the bright sun and higher temperatures…. no room for pastels here…. The purple ‘Laura’ phlox gets extra water now and then, it handles a little dry weather and heat, but complains the whole time.
‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grass doesn’t complain about anything. A haircut in the spring is all the maintenance it needs and if you like the grassy look this is what it gives you all summer, fall, and winter. Doesn’t reseed, doesn’t need fertilizer, looks good all year…….I’m a fan.
‘Karley Rose’ fountain grass is another good one. It can get floppy after a rain, and doesn’t hold the good looks through the winter like Karl does, but makes a nice accent.
Hopefully the annuals planted last month will fill in and make an accent before frost. The newest plantings look more like a late May picture than an intro to August, but such is procrastination. At least I’ll have a few empty spots to shoehorn spring bulbs into once that planting season starts. 🙂
Best wishes for your August garden!