Tuesday, August 15, 2017

GBBD: Mid-August Doldrums

It's time for another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day, but I must confess I haven't been in the garden much this past month.  I wish I could say it's because I have been off traveling the world or doing something equally as fun, but no, I have been busy with mundane things like cleaning carpets and other household chores  I've also been chauffeuring grandkids around to their sports practices, because, well, that's what Grandmas do.  But I've also been pretty lazy--by late July, I'm tired of constantly pulling weeds and deadheading and would much rather just sit back and enjoy the garden and think about changes to make next year.  So let's stroll around the garden and see what is blooming--I might find something that surprises me as well as you.


The daylilies of June and July are pretty much done blooming for the year, but there are two later lilies in full bloom now, including 'Autumn Minaret' above.


'Challenger,' an heirloom lily, is the other one.  These are both tall daylilies, which are nice because they draw the eye upward, away from the dying foliage of the rest of the daylilies.


The coneflowers are still blooming, though many are looking pretty tattered by now.  I cut back some of the ones that look especially bad, but I leave most of them up for my pretty visitors above.  The goldfinches love the seedheads on coneflowers and are busy feeding on them all through the day.


While I have the native Echinacea purpurea throughout all my flowerbeds, I do have two hybrids, both 'Cheyenne Spirit.'  This is one hybrid that has done well for me, and the cool thing about this plant is that it can have different colored blooms on the same plant.  The one above had orange blooms when I bought it, but you can see it also has some pink on the same plant.  The other 'Cheyenne Spirit' I have has yellow blooms.


The other plant that is still going strong is my 'Vanilla Strawberry' Hydrangea.  I made my husband take this photo of me just to show how large it has grown in just a few years.  I'm 5'8", or I was before age started taking its toll, so this shrub is at least 6 feet tall.  The photo was taken a couple of weeks ago, and now the blooms have turned a darker pink with tinges of brown, but it's still lovely.


The 'Limelight' Hydrangea, however, is just beginning to bloom
 and keeps soaring ever higher each year.


The phlox have a second flush of blooms.  The white one is 'David,' but I'm not so sure about the pink--I think this might be a volunteer, since I also have some pink ones in my shade garden that I know I never planted.


The 'Radsunny' Knockout rose also is beginning a second flush of blooms.  It must have heard me telling a friend that I thought I might dig it out next year and plant something else.  We'll see--I have two, and unless the second one starts over-achieving, it may be destined for the compost pile.


Containers are still looking good, for the most part, though some of my petunias are getting rather leggy.  I had to share this container on the back porch, though--these caladium leaves are huge!  They are at least 10" across and 12" inches long.  I received these bulbs last year from a fellow volunteer at the County Nursing Home who passed away unexpectedly this winter.  I hope they make it through many more winters as a reminder of his friendship and generosity.


Okay, so let's move on to some new blooms or ones I haven't shown in previous Bloom Day posts.  'Wendy's Wish' Salvia is so hard to capture on camera, but it's a hummingbird favorite, just like its kin, 'Black and Blue.'  Next year I plan to plant one near the front porch where I can see the hummingbirds in action from my seat on the porch swing.


It's been so dry here for the last few weeks--I don't remember the last time we had a good rainshower--that about the only garden work I've had time for is watering.  Lantana, though, is one tough annual that seems to thrive in the heat and drought.


Volunteer Cleome are just beginning to bloom.  


A new perennial in my garden this year is Calamintha.    After seeing this at the Olbrich Botanical Garden in Madison, Wisconsin last year where it was swarmed by bees, I knew I had to add it to my garden.


I don't usually think to include my hostas or their blooms, but this is a new hosta I planted at the end of last season that I really like.  Not only does it have pretty blooms, but I love the color and and edging on these leaves.  And 'June Fever,' unlike some of the other hostas right now, doesn't have a single brown leaf.


No August Bloom Day post would be complete without my favorite late-summer annual, the 'Zowie Yellow Flame' zinnias.  They started blooming a couple of weeks ago on rather short stems, but as the days have gone by, they have gotten taller and filled with blooms.


August has never been my favorite month.  It's usually miserably hot, and I still think of this month as the end of summer and having to go back to school, even though I no longer have that deadline.  The garden is often looking a bit worn-out as well.  But one aspect of August I do love is that there seem to be more critters visiting my garden than earlier in the summer.  The hummingbirds are in a frenzy of activity right now, and there are more and more bees buzzing about.


After seeing few butterflies this summer, I am finally seeing many more of different types.  Sunday I spotted the first Buckeye of the season on the Nepeta.


The first Black Swallowtail in some time also appeared on Sunday.


And finally, there are so many Painted Ladies.  This lady fluttered about, but seemed to enjoy the tall Liatris most of all.


Even the 'Zahara' zinnias were sampled.  

Seeing all the butterflies and other winged visitors enjoying the garden this time of year makes me happy.  And while I may not be working much in the garden, I am enjoying just standing back and enjoying some of the fruits of my labor.  Garden chores can wait till September!


It seems as though I haven't had much time/motivation for blogging the past several months, so I especially want to thank our hostess Carol of May Dreams Gardens for continuing to host Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day each month and giving me the nudge to get busy and record what's blooming in my garden every month.


Sunday, July 16, 2017

July GBBD: Mid-Summer Perfection

Most gardeners are never satisfied.  They always see some plant in their garden that should be pruned back or even removed, or they want to do a complete makeover of all or part of their garden.  I'm no exception, but if there is one time of year when I sit back and say, "Wow, I love my garden!" then it is now.  Right now I can look at my garden without thinking I need to add something here or there or focusing on the weeds; instead I am just enjoying it.  Daylilies and coneflowers are at their peak, and the garden is a riot of clashing, but gorgeous color right now.


When it comes to daylilies, I throw out any color scheme and plant according to height and wherever I can find an empty spot of soil to plant "just one more."  I don't even remember planting these yellow lilies, nor do I remember where they came from, so it's just a happy accident that the hot pink phlox in the back provide some contrasting color.


I do remember the names for many of my daylilies, however, especially what I call my "literary lilies," plants I purchased solely because of their names, not their appearance.  'Tennyson' is one of those who also happens to be beautiful.


'Divine Comedy' is another.


And there is my personal favorite, 'Mistress Prynne,' who is just starting to bloom.


There are several others with literary names that I won't take time to show you today, including 'Romeo Lies Bleeding,' a red lily with a yellow throat and edging.  I searched and searched for a Juliet to go with him, but had no luck.  So when I found this one-of-a-kind hybrid at a local daylily farm, I bought her and named her Juliet myself.  You won't find her registered anywhere; she only grows in my garden!  The daylily growers hydbridize many lilies and then decide which ones they want to propagate.  "Juliet" didn't pass the test, so that is why she is one of a kind, but I think they made a mistake--she is a fair beauty and frankly, surpasses 'Romeo' in size and number of flowers.


'Yellow Pinwheel' doesn't have any literary connections, but I couldn't resist this tall, large beauty.  It's supposed to be a later lily, which is why I purchased it, but it's early this year.  So many plants in my garden this year seem a little off schedule.


There are also so many NOIDs in my garden, some because I simply have forgotten their names and some because they were passalongs.  Above is one of the lilies given to me by my aunt, so I simply call them "Nettie's Rubies."


This is a passalong from friend Beckie, who can't remember its name.  I usually gravitate toward pastel colors in lilies, but this dark bloomer has really grown on me--its throat positively glows in the sunlight.


Another no-name; I think it also was a one-time hybrid from the daylily farm.


Another one-time hybrid I planted several years ago that I named "Prairie Sunrise."  My friend Beckie and I have purchased several of these hybrids over the years, partly because they're a bargain, and partly because it's fun to name them ourselves, knowing we have something unique in our gardens.


I won't take time to show all my daylilies here, or this post would be much too long, but I have to share this one.  This beauty just appeared this year--I swear I have never seen it before, and I'm 99% positive I didn't plant it.  I'm thinking it might be a volunteer that is the result of cross-pollination between two nearby lilies.  I suppose I'll never know, but it's a welcome addition to the garden!


Besides the daylilies Hemerocallis,  a few Orienpets are also blooming.  This is supposed to be 'Black Beauty,' but I'm not so sure.


Now this is the color 'Black Beauty' is supposed to be, I believe.  Perhaps a case of mislabeled bulbs or my faulty memory--it really doesn't matter, I enjoy them both.


The Orientals are also beginning to bloom including 'Salmon Surprise,' which is having to fight for room among the spreading coneflowers.


Lilies aren't the only blooms in my garden right now, however.  Blackberry Lily, Iris domestica, took awhile to get established in my garden, but now it is spreading, which makes me happy.


Phlox, including the white 'David' and an unknown pink, provide a lovely backdrop for shorter blooms in the Arbor Bed.


Hydrangeas are just starting to bloom as well.  This is a new cultivar given to me by a friend who is with Bailey Nurseries, called 'Bloomstruck.'  It's supposed to be an improved version of 'Endless Summer,'  producing more blooms, but what has struck me so far this year is that the blooms really are blue!  In my alkaline soil, "blue" hydrangeas always turn pink.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this stays blue.


Another new bloom in my garden--the first time I've been successful with Crocosmia.  I think this is 'Lucifer,' but I'm not sure.


In the butterfly garden, the native gray-headed coneflower Ratibida pinnata rises above butterfly weed and other natives.


And, of course, no summer Bloom Day post would be complete without showing off my beloved purple coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea.  


While originally planted in the Sidewalk Garden in the previous photo and in the Roadside Garden, they have spread to most other flowerbeds as well, including the Arbor Bed above.  I know many of you have commented that you have no luck in growing these, and while I'd like to take credit for my success with them, the fact is, they simply like Illinois prairie soil.  And yes, I know this area is reaching jungle proportions--the result of my habit of plopping new plants in any bare inch of soil I can find😊


Occasionally, I dig up volunteer seedlings and share them others, but I have a hard time thinning these out, because the bees and butterflies love them.



Sadly, I haven't seen many butterflies this summer other than the Red Admirals.


But look what else has been enjoying the coneflowers!  You may have to enlarge the photo to see him, but this little hummingbird has been sampling them the last few days--I've never seen a hummingbird in the coneflowers before.


Coneflowers are usually a butterfly magnet, and my patience finally paid off yesterday when the first Monarch since spring arrived.  I certainly hope to see more of these as the summer continues.

There is so much more going on in my garden right now that I haven't included here, but if you're in the neighborhood, stop by!  I can't think of a better time in my garden than mid-July.


As always, I'm a day late to the party known as Garden Blogger's Bloom Day, but I have a feeling this party is going to go on for awhile.  Thanks, as always, to our hostess Carol of May Dreams Gardens.

Friday, June 16, 2017

June GBBD: Almost Summer

If I had written this blog post last night, it would have been another one of my whiny, grumpy posts.  It's been in the 90's here this past week, and I don't do well in heat--I turn into a complete grouch when sweat starts running down my face.  As if that weren't bad enough, it's been bone dry without a drop of rain for two weeks or more.  About all I've gotten done outside lately is drag hoses around to water and then water some more.

That is, until last night--it rained!!  I don't know how much rainfall we received since I discovered my rain gauge is cracked.  But whether it was 1/2 inch or an inch, my garden--and this gardener--is so much happier.  It's still unbearably hot, but I'm so thankful for rain I'm not going to complain today.

So, let's take a look around the garden and see what is blooming on this Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day in June.


People may turn up their noses at the ubiquitous 'Stella d'Oro' that seems to be the staple of every commercial planting.  But when they bloom this prolifically every June, I just don't have the heart to tear them out.


And who knew the bees like them??  Actually, the bees much prefer the 'Walker's Low' Nepeta next to the Stellas, but this bee seemed to find something to his liking in the lilies.


Another plant one of my gardening friends considers a weed rather than a flower is Yarrow.  This is 'Appleblossom,' and the blooms are actually much pinker than this photo shows.  Yarrow is one of those plants that will spread, but it's easy to pull out wherever you don't want it, and I happen to like it, especially since it's such a tough plant that doesn't mind the dry spell we've had.


While we're talking about plants that not everyone likes, the Chicory is blooming.  It's another one of those weedy wildflowers that I happen to like, especially when it is blooming along the roadsides.  For me, it's hard not to like these pretty blue blooms.


In the butterfly garden I have a new addition that I'm sure I didn't plant--Evening Primrose, perhaps??


Another volunteer in the Arbor Bed--Nicotania.  I haven't planted any of these for five or six years, yet every year they keep coming back.


Back to the butterfly garden, the Butterfly Weed is just beginning to open up.  You can barely make out the blooms behind them of Phlox Pilosa, which have been blooming for more than a month.


The native/wildflower I am most excited about right now is the Indian Pinks, Spigelia Marilandica.  I planted these three or four years ago, and they are finally spreading out--a bit.  Although these are considered natives in Illinois, they are not found very often in natural settings, especially in central and northern Illinois.



Elsewhere in the garden, a couple of Asiatic lilies are blooming.  Both of these are NOIDS, probably passalongs from a friend.


I much prefer this brighter red one, but it's rather hidden away under taller plants at the back of the Arbor bed.  Maybe someday I'll get around to moving it to where it can really be seen.


The last two weeks have been poppy time.  I don't have as many as usual this year--I plant them in late winter, scattering them over the snow, so they tend to pop up in some strange places.  But we didn't have any late snow this year, so I have a feeling many of the seeds just blew away.


I don't grow many roses, but 'Zephirin Drouhin' is doing well climbing the arbor trellis, though the heat and drought have taken their toll on her, too.


Only a couple hydrangeas are blooming so far, including the 'Annabelles.'


I've planted two different hydrangeas at the back of the shade garden in the last few years that have really grown. One is a 'Mary Nelle,' a unique variation of 'Annabelle,' but I have no memory of what the other one is!


Another mystery at the front of the shade garden are these little purple blooms.  They seem to be coming from an Epimedeum, but I'm not sure--anyone recognize this plant?


The rest of the shade garden is growing to jungle proportions as usual.


Nearby, the miniature Japanese garden is almost ready for visitors.


Spirea blooming along the front of the house.


In the sidewalk garden one lavender plant is blooming, which makes me happy since I cut them back to the ground in the spring, not knowing at the time you should cut them back only by a third or so.


Some of the lamb's ears in the Lily Bed are sending up their quirky blooming stalks.

I took a break yesterday in the middle of writing this post, because I wanted to finish planting while the ground was soft from the overnight rain.  I can finally announce I have ALL my new plants planted!  (Well, except for three new shrubs . . . but they're going to wait till it's a little cooler.)  My back porch and patio no longer look like I'm holding my own plant sale:)  Some of those plants, I'm embarrassed to admit, had been sitting there since April 24, my first plant shopping trip.

I did lose a few annuals by holding them so long, some to poor watering by the gardener, and some to toads.  We have quite a family of toads here, much to the delight of the grandsons and Frank (the pug) and Teddy (the mini Yorkie).  While I'm happy to have them, they like to burrow into the moist soil of the pots.  Many times I've been startled while planting containers when a toad jumped out of one of the annuals!  It's not a problem, except when small pots have been sitting too long, as mine have,  and one of the fatter toads has burrowed in and out of the same pot, displacing some of the soil. Now that I've planted all those small containers, I'm not sure where the toads will sleep--I'd better not dig too deeply in my large pots:)


I think I went a little crazy this year buying annuals, especially petunias.  I won't show you all my annuals--this post is getting too long already--but I do want to share a couple of my favorite petunias.  This is 'Johnny Flame'; it really caught my eye when I saw it at our local nursery, and I quickly snapped up the last three, with no idea where to plant them.


Two favorites I buy every year--'Royal Velvet,' a dark purple planted in the porch planter here as well as several other containers, and the contrasting 'Bordeaux.'


One of my favorites I plant every year--Supertunia 'Raspberry Blast.'


Two new varieties I just couldn't resist this year--'Latte' and 'Black Mambo' (I think I have those names correct.)  I'm not usually a fan of black petunias, but I like this combo.


Although it seems as if I have a lot of blooms, most of my garden is still green right now.  The summer show of color won't begin for a couple more weeks.  Echinacea 'Cheyenne Spirit' is one of the early arrivals for the summer riot of color.


'Moonlit Masquerade' is always the first daylily--other than the Stellas--to appear.  It will soon be joined by many more.


And, of course, my summer garden wouldn't be complete without purple coneflowers.  A few are blooming, but the mass of blooms is still a week or two away.  I'm hoping they will bring back the butterflies that seem to have disappeared.

This weekend is the annual Garden Walk of our local Master Gardeners group, and I'll be very busy, especially since the nursing home garden, where I volunteer, is featured on the walk this year.  But I'll catch up with everyone's Bloom Day posts in a few days.

Thanks, as always, to Carol of May Dreams Gardens for hosting another Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day!