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.

delphinium

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 🙂

Garden Dolphin

Ok, so it’s kind of a dumb title but the name delphinium derives from the latin word for dolphin.  Something about the inner parts of a delphinium flower reminded someone somewhere of the shape of a dolphin.  Good enough for me, but last night’s deluge drowned all my little dolphins.  The rain was too much and nearly every single bloom is bent over or snapped off.  Fortunately I can remember them through last weeks pictures.

This is the sole survivor of a packet of “New Millenium” seed.  They sprouted well but a week of neglect in July left only this one.  Several more weeks of neglect stunted the seedling but then for some reason a late fall planting in garden soil and a winter rest inspired it to send up a bloom stalk.  My vote is nay on the fuzzy brown/black center but others are in favor.

New Millenium delphinium  I’m much in favor of the dark center of this violet(?) bloom….. (sorry but my color vocabulary doesn’t go much further than blue and purple).  Note the permanent crook in the stem that comes from waiting too long on staking.purple delphinium

This is another which was inspired to bloom well this summer.  It’s possible the cool weather has had a lot to do with this.sky blue delphinium

These blooms are nothing compared to the flower show this plant is capable of.  Growing delphiniums is a borderline activity anywhere temperatures routinely go into the hot and humid range, and if you’re the type of person who enjoys spending the summer poolside or shaded under the porch (or hidden away under central air) well then you’ve probably got the beautiful summers that delphinium hate.

This amazing plant was obviously not the product of my upbringing.  Purchased this April for maybe $4 it’s worth every cent.  Unfortunately I can’t find any good pictures from when it was opened, just this starting view.  If you’re selecting a delphinium in the spring, look for one with a strong single stem, not multiple growing points.  One with a flower stalk showing if possible.delphinium

One day I might give these plants what they really need.  In my zone (6-ish) that means morning sun, rich soil with no root competition, regular watering, and any soil amendment you can spare.  They are heavy feeders and if you noticed the yellowish leaves on my plants you’ll know I don’t fertilize them like I should.  Maybe somewhere deep down inside I know delphinium season always ends badly, and this year is no exception.  Summer storms and snapped stems let me cut what I never would have thought of cutting and bringing indoors.  The kids have something nice to look at today while they eat their breakfast.cut delphiniums