It’s another Tuesday and although I missed last week due to a quick summer jaunt up to the mountains of New Hampshire, this week I’m back to joining in with Cathy at Words and Herbs in order to look at the weekly progress of the tropical border. Heat, humidity, regular rain showers, and strong summer sunshine in between have brought on an explosion of late summer growth and the purple leaved cannas now dominate the bed.
Purple leaved canna indica, maybe ‘purpurea’ or ‘red stripe’ or ‘Russian red’… I don’t really know since they were given to me years ago as just plain old canna… have now topped off at around 8-9 feet.
You’ll probably notice the small red blooms the cannas have put out. They’re nice enough as a little decoration up top but hardly enough reason to grow these plants. It’s all about the foliage and it’s looking particularly good on this deliciously cool and clear, breezy summer day.
Canna indica ‘purpurea?’ blooms against the bright blue of a clear summer sky. A very popular flower with the hummingbirds.
Have I referenced “summer” enough yet? I’m hoping that if I keep saying the word it will hang on forever, and we’ll never have to deal with the cold little deaths called autumn and winter. Surely it’s a part of life here in Pennsylvania, but I don’t mind if it holds off for another two months at least.
I need to add more coleus to the bed next year. As things grow so does the shade, and this coleus (maybe ‘Alabama Sunset’) fills in nicely rather than fading away like some of the zinnias.
There’s a whole back half to the bed which has been blocked off by the main clump of canna. It’s a little messy but hopefully in the next few weeks a dahlia or two can break through and add a little color as other things begin to fade out.
Is ‘Tropical Weed Patch’ a look? If I can only think of a better name maybe it will catch on but in the meantime you may notice the salvia ‘Caradonna’ which constantly annoys me is still exactly where its always been. Sometimes things don’t move too fast around here 🙂
With such a mess of randomness there’s bound to be a surprise here and there, and sometimes that surprise even turns out to be a nice one. This week it was the salvia which has just come into bloom. My favorite version of the stout, too-red, gas-station salvias (Salvia splendens) are the ones which don’t look like they’d end up in a gas station planting at all. They’re the tall and lanky ones which are sometimes referred to as Salvia splendens ‘Van Houttii’ and up until now I’ve only succeeded with a peach colored one. But last year I did have a short purple bedding type nearby, and apparently things happened at night and lo and behold this year one of their children is a tall, lanky purple.
At about three feet tall this purple salvia bloom has all the grace and style which its shorter cousins lack. Even better was that I found this as a self-sown seedling and was lucky enough to nurse it on to blooming size. This makes me wonder as to what the other seedlings will look like.
I’ve shown it before but have to show one more photo of the castor bean. The bright seed pods look perfect amongst the purple foliage.
The spiky red (and remember poisonous as well) seed heads of castor bean ‘carmencita’
This afternoon the sun hit the back corner of the bed perfectly. You don’t even notice the weeds when the light is like this.
Verbena bonariensis is the workhorse of this bed and although it threatens to swamp everything else here it’s still worth any bit of trouble it causes.
At this time of year it’s easy to ignore any maintainence and just enjoy the plants as they slide on into autumn, but dahlias are yet to come and dahlias need staking. Two weeks ago would have been the best time to do this but things happen and when things happen the dahlias fall over. It will require twice as much time to carefully put them back up and some might just stay where they lie. It will be more of a groundcover look, but with the way they are stretching away from the canna’s shadow nearly all the plants have verticality issues which might not be worth fighting.
There are dahlias in them thar purple verbena, but for now lets just focus on the panicum ‘Northwind’ which is turning into a tight fountain of frothy seed-heads.
Dahlias will hopefully be staked tomorrow… or Thursday. Weekend at the latest. It’s so nice right now with green grass, butterflies, and flowers who wants to stake stuff? Plus I needed to tackle a hedge of crabgrass which sprouted overnight in one of the other beds, it’s an embarrassing mess, but at least it’s green and green is so much nicer than the dead brown which surrounded me last month.
Mess or not I hope you enjoyed the view and if you’d like give Cathy a visit and see what this week has brought to her garden and others. It’s a nice way to keep tabs on things over the season and it’s also a great way to get things staked and weeded. Shame is a great motivator and even if it means I have to stake with one hand and take pictures with the other, the job will get done long before I even consider publically admitting that the twine has defeated me 🙂