Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Hazy, Lazy Days of Summer: GBBD August

There is a reason they call these the dog days of summer. For the past month, we have been living under a "heat dome" with so much heat and humidity that even my dogs don't want to go outside during the heat of the day.  I'm a wimp when it comes to heat, too, so about the only gardening I've done lately is pick green beans in the early morning or just before dusk and drag around the hoses to keep everything watered. For at least the past two weeks we haven't had more than a drop of rain, so keeping everything alive under the blistering sun has been my main priority.


Until today, that is.  The rain started last night, and by early Monday evening we had received almost three inches of welcome rain. My thirsty garden is so happy!  The late-blooming hostas--Hosta plantaginea, I think--are soaking up every drop.


Some of the hostas in the shade garden are beginning to turn a bit brown around the edges, but for the most part, everything is still looking lush and green.


The wild colors of July have pretty much faded away, but there are a few new blooms here and there.  The new Ligularia 'Desdemona' is putting out quite a few blooms in its first year in my garden.  I really think I ought to add an 'Othello' to go with her, don't you?


The dark red coleuses I like to put in pots in front of the house are getting taller and taller.


The elephant ears in my new huge pot have done well, too, 
in spite of the lack of rain the last few weeks.


The surprise lilies or naked ladies, whatever term you prefer, are done now, but a week ago they were in all their glory.  I still see many blooming all around town.


Rudbeckia triloba, or Brown-eyed Susans, are adding some much needed color to the Lily bed.  Even though I thought I had dug most of them out this spring, a couple seedlings managed to hide from the spade.


The 'Vanilla Strawberry' Hydrangea has been loaded with blooms this year.  I only wish the pink petals would last a little longer: I took this picture a week ago, and now they're turning more vanilla-chocolate.


Although the daylilies have been finished for awhile except for a few re-bloomers, this late daylily just began to bloom.  'Autumn Minaret' is a tall lily, a good pairing with 'Challenger,' which is still blooming, too.


Finally, some of the seeds I direct sowed in late spring are finally starting to bloom.  'Knee High Sonata' Cosmos is just starting.  I've been disappointed, though, that I haven't seen a sign of the taller cosmos I planted.


Zinnias are also blooming in several places.  You can't go wrong with these old-fashioned favorites.


And speaking of zinnias, my very favorite 'Zowie Yellow Flame' has not disappointed me.  I had intended to get a better photo, but the rain kept me from going outside with my camera today.  But I'm sure you'll see more of these next month:)


Here's a better photo I took last week while watering at the Nursing Home Garden.  I've raved so much about these 'Zowie's' that I have convinced my cohorts who volunteer with me to plant them here as well.  They really are butterfly magnets!


Another photo from the Nursing Home garden could have been taken in my garden as well--the bumblebees love Russian Sage.


While I haven't been doing much work in my own garden, I have been enjoying watching the visitors the past few weeks.  This Tiger Swallowtail was a blur of fluttering wings as it enjoyed the verbena in a container.


And, of course, my usual visitors as I sit on the front porch.  I could watch them forever as they dance and dive through the air--occasionally buzzing my head as they zoom to the feeder.


We have had so many moths lately, especially at night, that they're rather annoying. 
 I thought this daytime visitor was rather pretty, however.


The coneflowers I've pictured for the last month or more are finally fading away.  Just as I was contemplating cutting back some of them the goldfinches arrived.


Needless to say, the coneflowers won't be cut down any time soon.

Tomorrow is the first day of school for most children in the area, the symbolic end of summer even though there is still a month or more of summer left.  Soon it will be time to start thinking about fall chores and ordering bulbs for the spring.  For now, though, I am enjoying the last blooms of summer.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is hosted the 15th of every month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.  Thanks, Carol!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Wildflower Wednesday on a Sunday

It's been a long time since I've participated in Wildflower Wednesday, almost a year in fact. But that doesn't mean I don't enjoy reading and learning about all the native plants that Gail and others post each month.  Actually, native plants and their importance to pollinators have been on my mind a lot this summer.  Last week I attended a workshop on "Pollinator Pockets," a program developed by our local Master Naturalists and Master Gardener programs to educate the community and encourage people to plant more pollinator-friendly plants.  It's a great program, and now I am officially trained as a Pollinator Pocket presenter, so I will share more about this program later--probably this winter, when I'm not knee-deep in weeding and dead-heading,

For today, though, let's look at a few of the natives blooming in my little butterfly garden, now officially designated as a "Pollinator Pocket."


For the last few weeks, the gray-headed coneflowers, also known simply as yellow coneflowers, have been commanding attention in the Butterfly Garden as they sway in the breeze above the shorter natives.  Although they are called coneflowers, they are not an Echinacea at all, but belong to another genus Ratibida pinnata.


The drooping florets are topped by a head that initially is green/gray, but gradually turns brown.  I've found no info to support my theory, but it appears that the head slowly turns brown from the bottom up, kind of like a reverse balding process.


Growing up to four feet tall, the gray-headed coneflower is a common sight in many prairie plantings and is especially attractive to many species of bees.  It's easy to grow, adapting to many soil and moisture conditions, and--so far--doesn't seem to be an aggressive spreader.


Another native blooming right now is Joe-Pye Weed,  Eutrochium spp.  Actually, I'm not sure what type of Joe-Pye weed this is; as I've mentioned before, mine looks quite different from most Joes I've seen in gardens.  The flowerheads are fluffier, the stems aren't purple, and well, frankly, it's not as pretty as other Joes.  I suspect it is a straight species of some type.  For a much more attractive plant, check out Gail's post featuring the Joe-Pye weed this WW.


Joe-Pye weeds are such bee magnets, they are a great addition to any pollinator garden.  But for gardeners who don't have room for these 5-7' tall beauties, 'Little Joe' is an excellent alternative, growing only to 3-4 feet tall.  Notice the much prettier flowerhead on my 'Little Joe' and the purple stems compared to the tall one previously.


Every spring I weed and thin out the thugs in this area and plant some new seedlings, but after that, it's pretty much on its own.  So you never know what might pop up during the season.  Smack dab in the middle of the garden right now is this Queen Anne's Lace, Daucus Carota.  Many people think of this plant as a weed, but I've always had a special fondness for it and am happy to see it make an appearance this year.  For the past couple of weeks the roadsides have been lined with Queen Anne's Lace and Chicory, one of my favorite wildflower combos that always brings a smile to my face.


Another plant that popped up rather out of place is this hollyhock.  Once I had many hollyhocks, descendants of plants from my grandmother and my husband's grandfather.  But in recent years they have fallen victim to rust, so when a new plant springs up--no matter how out of place it might be--I let it grow, hoping I'll eventually get a healthy crop of them once again.


One plant that has really grown taller this year is Tansy, Tanacetum vulgare.  This is one of those plants I purchased at a gardener's plant sale without knowing much about it.  It's actually not a native, having been introduced from Europe many years ago, and can be invasive in some places.  But it does provide nectar and pollen for small bees, flies, and wasps, and I think the button-like flowerheads are kind of cool.  We'll see if it gets too aggressive in my garden--it will have to duke it out with the asters and goldenrod first.  Sticking up in the forefront of the photo are the seedheads of blackberry lilies, whose blooms faded before I ever got a chance to photograph them.


Peeking out behind the Tansy is the Butterfly Weed, Asclepias Tuberosa.  While I have trouble getting other milkweeds to grow here for some reason, Butterfly Weed has done well, though it takes time to get established.


There are other plants blooming as well right now in the Butterfly Garden including a few coneflowers and Black-eyed Susans hiding out at the back.


Not so shy, though, are the Brown-eyed Susans, Rudbeckia triloba, blooming along one edge of this flower bed.  This plant is not for the faint of heart or one with limited garden space.  The first year it mysteriously appeared here I had one plant, the next year two or three, and this year--well, let's just say, I did a lot of digging and sending perfectly robust plants to the compost pile.


Still, these cheery blooms put on such a display late summer through fall that I just don't have the heart to eradicate them completely--as if I could:)


Native plants aren't the only choice if you are planting a pollinator-friendly garden.  Volunteer dill in the vegetable garden has been a tasty treat for some very hungry caterpillars.


You know I couldn't write a post in July without just one more coneflower:)  If I had to choose one summer-blooming plant that attracted a host of pollinators, it would have to be purple coneflowers.  Butterflies and various bees including this very large bumble bee have been enjoying these flowers since they first began to bloom in late June.

Wildflower Wednesday is held the fourth Wednesday of every month, and anyone is welcome to join in.  Thanks to Gail for always being a great hostess and welcoming even those of us who are late to the party.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

July Bloom Day Late Edition

I'm several days late for this month's celebration of Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, but I couldn't miss this month--it's the height of the garden season, the time of year when everything seems to be blooming in my garden.  Garden work has been put on hold the past two weeks, but the blooms keep a-coming without any help from me.


Daughter and her family, including youngest grandson, were here the week of July 4, so naturally I was focusing on lots of hugging and play time, not gardening.  As soon as they left, Younger Daughter and I took off for nearly a week in Washington, D.C.  It was my first trip ever to D.C., and I hope it won't be my last--there is so much to see and do in this city, I  didn't get to see everything I had wanted to see, though we certainly tried.


While we were gone, Mr. Procrastinator, also known as Mr. I-Don't-Garden, volunteered to keep all my containers watered.  He did a great job, although a downpour one day helped:)  The little red wagon I planted just before the Fourth of July is looking much better than before I left.

This is the time of year when I would welcome visitors to my garden.  Coneflowers are everywhere and attracting bees and butterflies galore.  If you want to see all my coneflowers, check out my last post.  But they're not alone:  my addiction to daylilies the last few years has resulted in an explosion of color that has lasted several weeks and is still going strong.  I have so many different daylilies that rather than show individual photos, I decided to make a collage of some with i.d.'s below.
 Top Row:  Nettie's Rubies*, NOID passalong from friend Barb, NOID yellow.  Middle Row: 'Little Grapette, mystery NOID, newer unnamed hybrid. Bottom Row:  'Tangerine Orange Ruffle', Andrea's Dragonfly*, Prairie Sunrise*.

*Those marked with an asterisk are not registered lilies, so please don't report me to the daylily police:)  They are either passalongs from friends or relatives or one-of-a-kind hybrids that I purchased from our local 5 Acre Daylily Farm and decided to name myself.

Clockwise from top left: Passalong from friend Beckie, Nettie's Coral*, 'Susan Webber,' Spider lily, and 'Tangerine Orange Ruffle'...again.


I'm doing my best to remember all the names of these lilies, but with misplaced tags and my unreliable memory, it gets harder every year, especially when I seem to have so many peach and orange-colored lilies.  Then there are the mystery lilies, like this one that I forgot to include in a collage--I have absolutely no memory of planting this one!

The names I definitely remember are my small collection of "literary lilies" below.  Even though I don't know where I'll put them, I hope to add even more in the next few years as I find them.

Clockwise from top left: 'Divine Comedy,'  'Tennyson,' 'Romeo Is Bleeding,' no idea, 'Canterbury Tales,' and Juliet.*

These are doing well, especially Juliet, one of my self-named lilies.  
She produced so many blooms that poor 'Romeo' looked pretty puny next to her this year.


My favorite deserves a photo all by herself--'Mistress Prynne.' 
 No scarlet letter here--I love her pale ruffled petals.


Besides the daylilies, the Oriental lilies have begun to bloom in the last week.  I'm not sure there is anything that can rival 'Stargazer' for sheer beauty.


Unless you prefer the pristine white and intoxicating fragrance of 'Casablanca.'  A swallowtail butterfly apparently prefers it, flitting among the many blossoms as I was taking photos yesterday.


My love for lilies has branched out to other types as well.  Last year I planted some Orienpets 'Black Beauty.'  I'm glad to see how tall they have gotten this year, tall enough that I don't have to bend down to see their blooms.


A new lily this year growing next to 'Black Beauty' is this one which has me scratching my head.  I remember planting something called Turkish lilies, I believe.  There is a native lily called Turk's cap, but I thought it was only orange.  Hmmm, will have to check back through my records to see if I can find the real name of this one.


Although coneflowers and lilies draw most of the attention in my garden, they are not the only flowers blooming right now. Gray-headed coneflowers Ratibida pinnata rise above the mass confusion in my butterfly garden.


A new bloom that greeted me when I returned from D.C. was the Nicotania.  For the past several years it has re-seeded all over my arbor bed, threatening to take over at times.  I pulled most of the seedlings this year, but I always miss a few.  A few are fine with me, especially as a backdrop for 'Wendy's Wish' Salvia.


Another volunteer/gift from the birds, the pink phlox in the shade garden is beginning to bloom.


Meanwhile, back in the Arbor Bed the 'David' phlox is thriving this year.  I love these pure white blooms!


The annual hibiscus planted in a container is finally producing more than one bloom at a time--unfortunately, they are quickly devoured by Japanese beetles.


The shade garden is lush--and crowded--as it is every summer.  I wish I knew the name of this hosta in the forefront of the garden.  It's one of my favorites, and it is getting huge!


Not everyone likes the blooms on hostas, but I enjoy them, and so do the bumblebees.  This fellow was crawling into every bloom, coming out covered in pollen.


Sophie likes this garden, too--no wonder I can't keep the bird bath filled!


One of my favorites in late summer/early fall, the 'Limelight' is already starting to bloom.  I pruned it quite a bit this spring, but obviously not as much as I thought--it's already reached the roof of our one-story house.


I just can't leave here without one more photo of one of my many coneflowers.  I was thrilled to have another visit from a Monarch on Sunday--this one is a female.  I hope she finds some milkweed in my garden to lay some eggs!

July is such a beautiful, colorful time in the garden; I wish I could stop time for awhile.  It's been very hot so not much garden work has been done, but that's okay--I am content to just sit back and enjoy all the blooms in my garden.

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day is brought to you the 15th of each month by Carol of May Dreams Gardens.  Thanks, Carol, for hosting this showcase of blooms around the world once again.